Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hours are 6-8 p.m.

My small town has announced that Halloween Trick-or-Treating will be on Monday (the 31st) and that trick-or-treating hours will be from 6 to 8 p.m.

Did I miss something here?

From what S tells me, many towns in OK not only dictate what DAY trick-or-treating takes place on, but what TIME the kiddies can solicit free treats via knocks and doorbells.

Now, for the last four SoCal Halloween celebratrions, we had some record breaking, 300+ handfuls of candy nights. Ankle-biters and their tag-along mini-Snickers mooching parents (c'mon, folks, at least put on a costume for a free treat), would start showing up just after the old 9-5 day ended - not even dark yet.

On our street, kids were being bused in from surrounding neighborhoods. One night, a fella with a 15-passenger van parked in front of our house, dumped his load of kiddies, and sat in his land yacht while his charges pillaged and looted our block. Later, when the van, now full with kids and candy, refused to start, I went out and gave them a jump.

We'd finally shut off the pumpkin lights and locked up the candy corn chute between 10 and 10:30 p.m. -- well after the last lurkers came a'knockin.

I am of the mentality that I will never run out of candy and will welcome any and all trick/treater's until they decide their plastic pumpkins have enough provisions to last through the next 11 months. Has to do with some personal scarring suffered as a tot in my own trick-or-treating days.

As a result, I am slightly irritated that a town can limit the hours of this long standing tradition of spooks, goblins, and dental decay. I understand the reasoning behind the limits and safety procedures, and times today are much different than when I was a cantalope-sheeted ghost (Mom wouldn't let me use one of her good white sheets, besides, as Mom put it, "it was dark and who would notice?" Um, just everyone with a porch light, Mom.)

I'll be manning the candy bowl next Monday, while S and my in-laws take the girls on their limited hour run around the neighborhood. Our porch light will shine brightly, as will our oversized, plasticized plug-in pumpkins.

I may even leave our light on a few extra minutes past 8 p.m. Just to see what happens.

Danger is my middle name.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Oh, the horror!

Yesterday, the girls and I took the two block trek out to the local county health dept. office for our free flu shots, courtesy of the state of Oklahoma.

I went first while PK napped on my shoulder. NP

PK was still snoozing for her shot, so no problem there -- or so I thought.

She woke up momentarily upon insertion of the pointy object, and probably would have gone right back to sleep, had it not been for the pre-innoculation-blood-curdling-hair-raising screams emanating from the deepest bowels of C's nightmare-on-elm-street inner pained self.

I had to get another nurse to hold the now wailing PK, while I picked up and held onto C during her shot.

Held? More like anaconda-gripped, tightest-burrito-you've-ever-eaten wrapped up to contain her kicking legs, flailing arms, head-butting head, and kung-fu grip hands.

Good thing I trimmed her nails the other day.

As most shots go, it was over before it started and we were all sucking down ice cream scoops at Braum's Dairy soon afterward.

Normally I wouldn't partake due to my lactose intolerance, but I ordered a double shot of chocolate chip cappucino to help heal the emotional scars of the experience.

Upside to this anecdote came as we were leaving the building, both girls in semi-recovery of their senses. I told C that she didn't have to get another flu shot until next year.

She muttered to herself, "..I'm gonna tear that building down before then."

She's a slugger, that one is.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Kleenex box follies

On the average, how many boxes of kleenex (tissue) do you have in your house?

1, 2, 3?

I grew up in a home that had one box of tissues in just about every room in the house.
Each bedroom had one.
Each bathroom had one.
Kitchen, one.
Living room, one.
Dining room, ditto.
Hallway, you got it, just the one.

So, now that I'm a grown-up with my own mortgaged dwelling, I'm following suit with my childhood hovel habits in trying to populate it with multiple boxes of tissue as well.

Much to the chagrin and constant ribbing of my spouse.

She thinks it's a California-thing, as she's only witnessed this one-box-per-room phenomenon in friends and family dwellings back there.

Out here in Okie-land, it appears not to be the norm.

Darn inconvenient when you want to blow your nose in the living room, but have to migrate to a central tissue-bearing point in the house for a good hooter-honking.

Monday, October 24, 2005

So long, skeeters

Mosquito tally for this summer stands as follows:

Me - 14 bites
S - approx. 7 bites
C - 4 bites
PK - 19 bites

Family total - 44 bites

That almost matches the number of sand flea bites I got from a long weekend in St. John, US VI a few years back for my cousin's wedding.

That just about equals the number of times I watched S wince as our nursing daughters chomped down on their milk maid meal ticket.

That comes close to the number of licks it took me to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop.

That equals exactly the number of times I've bit my lip when watching people buy a Windoze box over a Mac.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Butterflies are free...and plentiful

I've seen more butterflies in and around my small town in the last three months than I have my entire lifetime.

There, I said it.

You heard me, butterflies.

Let me just stay that if these insects were called anything else other than butterflies, men wouldn't feel strange about dreamily watching their elegant flight paths that act as a stimulant to compose cheesy poetry worthy of a Susan Polis Schultz Blue Mountain Card.

Right this very instant, there are what my non-entomologist eyes tell me are three monarch's slurping up nectar from a yet to be identified white-flowered bush outside my kitchen window. A menage a Danaus plexippus.

All my life back in So Cal, I don't think I've seen more than a dozen or so butterflies.
Moths, sure. Turn on a 40-watt on your porch and you can catch and torture as many as you want.
But butterfly sightings were a rare and treasured occurance. At least in the San Gabriel Valley.

However, after 3-months of the winged beauties flittering around, I find myself sadly jaded to their multitudes.

No longer feeling sorry for the stray one that gets splattered on my windshield at 65 mph, or the one who finds itself helplessly lodged underneath the tin arm of my windshield wiper.

Fact of life that beauty in the millions becomes ordinary and if you ask out 1000 super models, at least one of them is bound to say "yes."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Career Day, or lack thereof

Yesterday was Career Day at C's school.

Neither S nor I participated, so I won't be too critical of those who did. In fact, I should be thankful that some brave parents did show up and do their best to present their job choices in a positive light.

My sincerest thanks.

However, when I perused through C's book bag at the end of the day, I discovered a plethora of souvies and handouts apparently presented to the kinder waifs by the visiting Career oriented dignitaries.

From a medial professional of some type, two rubber gloves, a medicine cup, some band-aids, and a sterile mask.

We blew the gloves up into Mickey Mouse hand balloons, washed the medicine cup for future liquid children's benadryl applications, and drew a mustache on the sterile mask, which drew chuckles from the peanut gallery at home. The band-aids will go into our stash of band-aids, since the girls have determined that any "boo-boo" feels better by the magical antiseptic and pain-killing properties found in each sterile, sticky, beige strip.
Who knew?

A banker left this exciting, action packed picture for the kiddies to color to their hearts content.

I don't think we have enough gray and black crayons for C to complete this picture. Perhaps a dull brown or boring beige will suffice. Mind the criticism, at least the guy showed up and had something to hand out. Although I think some fake money (or real money) would have been a more interest-inducing hand out for this particular group of 5-year olds.

My favorite tchochkie from her day was this coloring book, from a visiting beef rancher.

I love this coloring book. It's filled with all sorts of facts on the Oklahoma beef industry and traces how we get our various beef products from farm to table. Of course, the slaughterhouse segment is glossed over (by omission), but everyone knows how humanely we kill our cows here, right?

I'm sure PETA would approve. Just look at how happy that young girl is to be appearing on the cover of the coloring book? She must be performing the ritual "cow-going-to-slaughter" dance -- note the twisted position of her left foot, and the semaphorically saluting position of her arms.

In tribute, I attempted chicken fried steak for dinner last night. With sausage gravy, bacon fried green beans, and chocolate pudding for dessert.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Squirrel Nut Zippers (the candy, not the band).

Every year, on our wedding anniversary, my wife and I pull the name of a state from this glass Ball jar, to determine where we'll be for our next anniversary.

It's a tradition that has guided us to visit many states in our wonderful country, that neither of us would ever dream or dare of visiting.

Last year, on the observation deck of the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois. we pulled Massachusetts.

Which is where my wife and I just returned from a few days ago, after an extended trip away from our small town.

Some observations relevant to my small town blog.

Massachusetts is covered in trees. When we spotted a road sign indicating "Gas Food Lodging" we had to trust it's validity, since the trees surrounding the highways and exits afforded no view of any road side establishments.

We logged over 800 miles on our Jeep-for-hire, in search of fall colors. Sadly, the bulk of the leaves hadn't yet turned, and the rainy weather dulled our retinas to the colored leaves that were staunchly hanging onto the branches.

Massachusetts has a severe lack of roadkill. Which is amazing since the entire state is covered in trees. Trees, to me, means abundant wildlife. Abundant wildlife, to me, means roadkill. And yet, our pristine 4x4 ran over not a single dead dog, cat, coyote, deer, opossum, raccoon, armadillo or other nocturnal marsupial. These yankee varmits could teach our local population a thing or two about the rules of the road.

Rotary(s) (aka roundabouts) intersections are cool. I loved them when driving in England and Scotland. I love the one in Santa Monica, and I loved the ones we spun around in on Massachusetts' intersections. I enjoy driving round and round and round. It affords me time to decide which is the exact exit I need to take, gives me the thrill of NASCAR (left turns only), and provides me the entertainment of watching S get car sick.

Okay, that last one is neither fun nor funny.

Dunkin' Donuts are as common as all-night taco stands in East LA. They seem to have perfected the art of drive-through donut consumerism. Bless them and the donut wagon they rode in on.

Massachusettese is not a pretty accent. Say what you will about LA flop slang, and Okie twang, but when some fella is telling you about his hunting trip and he says, "when I staart'd the caar an the daags staart'd baarkin'," you start to appreciate the sections of the country that have no accent -- if they indeed exist."Everybody says words different,' said Ivy. 'Arkansas folks says 'em different, and Oklahomy folks says 'em different. And we seen a lady from Massachusetts, an' she said 'em different of all. Couldn't hardly make out what she was sayin'!"

-- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939

And finally, what do Squirrel Nut Zippers have to do with our trip to Mass? Revere, Mass is the home of Necco, the New England Confectionery Company, makers of the legendary Necco Wafers and the ever popular, Squirrel Nut Zippers (of which I am chewing on now).

Gimme a second, these suckers are chewy.

For those interested, for next year's anniversary, as the great Ray Charles sang it so beautifully, "...Georgia's on my mind."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Teacher with a good grip

C's teacher and I have a lot in common. She milks cows in the mornings before going to school and I pour milk onto the girls cereal in the morning.

Will things like that ever cease to amaze me?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

All things Apple

Mac users
Mac users are scarce here in my small town, but I managed to find one.

Standing on a street corner waiting to cross the street, of all places.

He was searching his 1st gen iPod for a particular song and was carrying a notebook on which was stuck the trademark frosty Apple sticker you get when you purchase a new Apple computer.

A definite user.
Me - (pointing to his Apple decal), how do you like your new G5?
MacGeek - (grinning) I wish.
Me - Yeah, me too.
MacGeek - Dual 2.7 G5's...awesome.
Me - You seen the new Nanos?
MacGeek - Only online. Bet they don't make it here for a few months.
Me - When's the Apple Store opening up at Penn?*
MacGeek - Supposed to be by Christmas.
Turns out he's studying web programming (likes Perl, hates Java, can't seem to grok CSS's just yet). He was a Windoze user until a prof at Tuttle turned him onto the Unix/Mac operating system on his iBook.
Then he got his iPod on eBay.
Then he got an Apple loan for his iBook (where he got his decal).
Hasn't looked back since. Yet another switcher.

Also gratifying to hear that there are some safe and sane tech profs at the vocational school level that aren't blindly preaching the benefits of what I consider to be the lowest common denominator of operating systems, windoze.

We mac geeked out for awhile, then I started to get that old feeling of Steve Jobs worship, so I had to leave.

Steve Jobs is not a God. Steve Jobs is not a God. Steve Jobs is not a God.

.mac account
Just had to renew my .mac membership for $108 and some change. Worth every penny of it, but I only mention making the payment since a co-worker at my old employer would get it comped for me -- u da man, Seth, baby.

Not much I miss about the old cube farm (other than the people, the work, lunches with the nerd herd, comped .mac account, new Mac's every other year or so to work on, friendly competition between us and the Windoze engineers, my Herman Miller Aeron chair, etc.).

*Working for Apple
I got a call a few weeks back from Apple-Cupertino about a resume I had sent in last March. When I was still in my job-hunting phase of our move to OK, I was thrilled to see that an actual Apple Store would be opening at a nearby mall.

Intrigued, but not at all interested, I called the Apple person back, we spoke.
A different Apple person called back, we spoke some more.
The first Apple person called back and wanted to set up a face-to-face.
I told them I wasn't interested at this time.
They said they'd only keep my resume for 6 months. I said fine and asked when the store would open.
Holiday Season 2005.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Stairway to Heaven

Spotted this abouut 20 miles south of our small town. Historical marker identifies it as the former site of a Mennonite enclave.

You can almost hear Page's telecaster and JP Jones recorder in the distance.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Hey, get your car washed today...

Car washes are not a luxury item here in my small town. You can find multi-stall do-it-yourself car wash joints in just about every town with running water.

This land isn't called Red Earth Country just to pay homage to it's original residents. Oklahoma's trademark dirt is red, sticky, and refuses to stay on the ground. Dry, wet, windy, humid -- no matter what the environmental conditions, Oklahoma's top soil WILL end up on your vehicle.

CLK to F-150 -- sano your ride for $.75

Why do the varmints cross the road? I've blogged this before.
Here, here and here.

From completely intact bug carcasses, to road kill remnants stubbornly sticking to the ribs of your aging sexy import. Dead or near dead impromptu hitchikers can add severe poundage to the GVW of your ride.

Grand Am to Grand Prix - expunge the carrion for $.75

One thing I noticed at our local car wash was an extra setting on the select-o- dial labeled "Engine Cleaning and Degreaser."

Steam clean your Tonawanda built big block V-8 for $.75

This engine cleaning setting was outlawed in California about the time I was in high school, looking to steam clean the grease off the chrome laden small block in my hot rod Nova.

EPA didn't like the thought of millions of gallons of soapy motor grease running out into the Santa Monica bay.

No such restrictions here (least not for the time being). Wonder where all the millions of gallons of soapy motor grease runs out to here in my small town?

Funny tasting well water for $.75?

Yes, we have a reverse osmosis filtration system on our drinking water.

Who stole the IKEA catalog?

File this under, "if you can't get it here, it must be cool."

At S's office, a floorwide e-memo circulated regarding the missing IKEA catalog from the break room

Seems someone wasn't willing to share the 150 page treasure trove of Danish furniture and accessories in living color with their fellow employees. After a brief, but happy existence atop the magazine and catalog pile in the breakroom, it went missing.

And the uproar began.

Having spent the lat 18-years in LA, S was rightly confused as to why this would cause such a ruckus amongst her fellow floormates.

A co-worker in an adjoining office summed it up and made the entire incident clear as she described her recent vacation to Minnesota.

She described some of the sights, sounds, and interesting people her and her husband experienced in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. However the main destination of their trip was their two-day jaunt (yes, they spent two entire days) at an IKEA store.

They cruised the aisles of pressboard furniture and overstuffed pillows.
They marveled at the directional arrows painted on the floor.
They dined on swedish meatball plates and lingonberry juice.
They became different characters, fitting the mood and decor of the mini-decorated dioramas on the showroom floor.
They filled their yellow sack with small household items with names such as "britta" and "gorn" and "cmirt."

It was the highlight of their trip.

As you may have guessed, IKEA has not yet made it to the dusty cosmopolitan roads of Oklahoma.

There are three in Texas, but our big ugly neighbor to the south is a big a*s state -- and someones got to furnish it.