Sunday, December 14, 2014

fatherhood

Being the father of a newborn is easy and very rewarding. Here are a few pointers for new dads in order to help you be a Superdad, or what other people might call a barely functioning mother.1

Be involved in your child's life

This can mean anything from holding the baby when he's not crying, or working from home and putting in earplugs when he screams in the swing and mommy is showering. The great thing about babies--especially for their mothers--is they are so cuddly and lovable for anywhere from seconds to minutes at a time, and when they start getting annoyed, it's pretty obvious they want their mommy back, so be sure to say things like, "I'd keep holding him, but your emotional neglect will obviously result in his eventual multiple drug convictions", or, "look how hard this little angel is crying for his mommy who is too tired to just take her baby for another hour or two or three."

Give helpful suggestions as a father

Sometimes babies cry because they are hungry, sometimes because they are sleepy, and sometimes because they want their mommy to hold them and definitely not daddy. There are a few exceptions to this rule: the first one that should come to mind is teething. People have told you about teething, which could start anywhere from just after birth until age one, or more realistically after four months, but it can't hurt to mention that as a possible source of your child's crying, maybe say, every time he cries. If he cries for any reason at all, suggest he could be teething because someday you'll be right, and you can remind mommy about that for a few years.

Show empathy

Being a stay-at-home mom with a newborn is tough work, so it's helpful if you can show empathy for mommy by reminding her that you "worked" all day long too, and be sure to hold your ground that going to a winery and playing bocce ball with coworkers is work because you are an introvert and navigating complex bocce ball social dynamics is difficult, so you can understand why her back hurts and the house is in disarray and the baby screamed for four hours and she wants you to bend over backwards and hold the baby while she cooks dinner.

Following these simple steps is the fastest way to fatherhood glory and a trip to Oahu by way of paying penance.

1. You may have resented society's low expectations of you in the past, but you're going to revel in false glory now!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

phrases that signal church is about to get real interesting

"I asked the Lord a lot of questions in the vision that I had."

"What are some of the elements of evolution, this theory, that don't agree with the gospel?"

"Women's priesthood calling is Mother."

"Why aren't people following the commandments and having as many children these days?"

"My first wife's mother was incapable of ever telling the truth."

"You can gauge the righteousness of a society by how many lawyers there are."

"Google is trying to get your kids to look at porn."

"Give me the bottle of wine; I'll pray about it."

"In heaven, everyone's skin color will be white."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

orange marmalade is the secret to happiness

To be clear: my reduced blogging isn't because I've stopped thinking of things to blog about, or stopped trying to write; I just think all of my stuff is no good. I have about three dozen bits sitting in my brainstorm doc I maintain, all of them okay-ish, none really perfect. I think it may be that I feel less pressure to publish, and/or my quality bar has jumped.

In order to counteract that, I'm going to be boring today, and ignore how unfunny it is.

A story.

I once served a church mission in Argentina, and at one point I was assigned to room and work with a man named Pablo. Pablo remains one of the most interesting figures I've ever encountered in my life. He grew up in the slums of southern Argentina, and had tattoos all over his arms, which he would always keep covered with long-sleeved shirts under any condition. He was about 6'2", tall for an Argentine.

He and I worked together for about a week before we walked outside one night and a dark figure approached us with a hand in his coat pocket, pointing an object at us. He motioned for us to get against the wall and give him all of our money. I, being the sissiest person who ever walked those streets, immediately backed up, hands up, and prepared to give him my wallet. Pablo, however, started advancing.

"Do you have a gun?"

"Yeah, of course I have a gun!"

"Well, show it to me!"

"I'm not going to show you my gun!"

"Well, SHOOT! SHOOT!"

And with that Pablo rushed the dude. The man saw six feet two inches and about two hundred and twenty pounds of very angry Argentine, and turned tail and ran as fast as he could. Pablo returned moments later. I of course was scared out of my mind, having prepared to die.1 In order to help assuage my fears, Pablo then told me it was the worst performance he had seen in his life, and he knew this because HE USED TO BEAT AND ROB PEOPLE HIMSELF. He spent the rest of the evening telling me about how he would jump people, and I spent the rest of our time together trying to stay on his nice side.

So this is the man who would steal my food. Constantly. Seeing as how I would never stand up to him (see: sissy), I had to figure out how to still eat with a thieving roommate. And this is where the life lesson kicks in.

See, I bought orange marmalade one day as a joke, and the weirdest thing happened: it didn't magically disappear from the fridge. Pablo thought it vile. I discovered that if I restricted my grocery purchases to things he hated, I'd save money.

And therein lies your lesson today. Find things that people dislike, and learn to love them.2

I went through a round of performance reviews at work a few weeks back, and the common thread was, "Chris does the stuff nobody else wants to deal with." It's because I found some things in life that nobody else likes, and learned to love them.

Today as I walked out of the office, I picked up the last drink in the fridge: my favorite. It's always available because nobody else likes it:)

1. In my defense, a good friend of mine was shot in the back a few blocks from there months later. He recovered fully.
2. To be clear: this lesson is in no way applicable to dating and/or my marriage.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

pharmacies

The jury is still partially out, but unless there is a gigantic miraculous reversal, it appears I have a lifelong incurable autoimmune disease.1

It's not the worst incurable disease one can get; certainly better than cancer or its ilk, but it's certainly not something I'd describe as "comfortable" or "enjoyable" or "allowing me to travel far from refrigerated medicine" or "providing me a life free of invasive procedures in awkward places".

That said, the most hellish part of the lifelong component of this disease is the sinking feeling that I am doomed to interact with pharmacies on a regular basis for the rest of my life.2

Pharmacies are bastions of inefficiency in a technocratic age. The answer is never, "we have that ready for you right now, here you go". There are two modes of pharmaceutical operation: please wait an hour, or please wait an hour and then we'll tell you we don't have it. We recently had the most amount of fun with our former pharmacy, as they played the game of if you call, we'll tell you it's ready, and if you come in, we'll tell you it doesn't exist in the state of California.

I've tried every pharmacy within five miles of our house, and this type of interaction is obviously enshrined in the state constitution.

The usual pharmacy experience goes something like this:

Beg your wife call to renew your prescription, asking very nicely and mentioning your incurable disease as leverage.

If your wife isn't around, try renewing by email, because the pharmacy just emailed you saying you can.

Get the email back from the pharmacy saying you can't renew by email.

Bite the bullet.

Wait an unspecified time period, usually somewhere between one hour and six months.

Go to the pharmacy. Avoid the glaring homeless people outside (there are ALWAYS glaring homeless people outside of a pharmacy. This is another state law.)

Stand in line with the cast of The Walking Dead.

Die of natural causes.

Get to the front of the line. Wait for the pharmacist to literally check every single storage area for your prescription, and ask every single other employee where it is3 while the ex-cons behind you get impatient.

Get your prescription renewal.

Go home and discover it's a "partial" renewal, and you have to go back again in another unspecified time period: between one and twenty-one fortnights.

If you're going to incur a lifelong illness, might I recommend one that can be treated with over-the-counter medication.

1. Two older siblings have various other autoimmune diseases that onset about the same time of life, so I should have predicted this, but unfortunately foresight is not my forte.
2. Not really hellish, but annoying: my insurance's suspiciously timed recent increase in co-pays for medication treating chronic conditions.
3. This is no lie. Every time.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

new babies

New babies are pure, innocent reminders of all of the good things in life, parcels of joy, and constant fountains of pee.

There are plenty of cliches and old gags about the kid peeing on you: everyone has that one story of the baby peeing, but our little boy was alive for less than 24 hours before he targeted his grandma with deadly accuracy. And it's not even the sneak diaper-change attack that he's perfected: he wages a constant yellowy war of attrition with his woefully inadequate diapers. We've had the kid for less than a week and he has peed through every single blanket, every single article of clothing, and every piece of furniture in the house, including some walls. He has literally christened every object he touches within hours, and some within seconds.

There are two perpendicular 180 degree arcs along which the firing mechanism may freely operate under unconstrained conditions, and the diaper provides liquid containment assurance along approximately 5% of that matrix. If you happen to position the firing mechanism just right, and the kid doesn't move at all, you're in the clear. Any missteps, and you're washing every linen you own. Again.

The diapers at this point are mere formalities, something we keep on him so that when guests stop by they don't think us heathens, because there is nothing that is going to stop this kid from his mission.

pregnancy

Every pregnancy is exactly the same.

Knowing this, next time you meet a woman who is having a rough pregnancy, be sure to tell her what she is doing wrong. If she has spent every waking moment of her life sick in pain and misery, maybe tell her that she's not eating enough protein or carbs or fat. Surely in the constant waking hell she finds herself never would she have thought to change her diet on her own accord. Also, slyly intimate that she's eating too much sugar.

She also probably hasn't thought to try ginger as a remedy, never mind that she has been desperate for any sort of relief for months, and that it is the first thing recommended basically everywhere on the planet.

Pregnancy is also a great time to live it up before the kid comes and ruins your ability to go out at night. Sometimes living it up means eating a gourmet dinner of cereal as your wife chokes down the last food on earth she can bear eating, sometimes it means scouring Netflix for the eightieth time looking for something watchable while your wife moans in pain next to you, and other times it means coming up with fun games the two of you can play at home when you're not holding back her hair as she pukes.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

hospitals

Hospitals are like cheap European hotels: the bed is uncomfortable, you share a bathroom, people are yelling outside your door, and occasionally someone comes by offering drugs or trying to stick you with sharp object.

Hospitals are also great for people who can't even touch a bathroom door handle without gagging, because every surface, including elevator buttons, the cafe items, and the counters, have been touched by people with horrific communicable diseases that are only read about in places like the New England Journal of Painful Ways to Die.

My dad, a cardiologist, likes hospitals because everywhere he goes people bow down and throw money at him.1 I like hospitals for the opposite reason: everywhere I go I am asked to bow down and throw money at people.

I especially like this because I like rewarding efficiency. For instance, when we show up at a hospital at the prompting of a nurse, I think it is especially efficient to wait for three hours in a room with blood stains on the ceiling and a bed that was designed by Stalin for the Gulag before they do any work.2

It's also nice because I like rewarding places that have good customer service, places where the people attending to you interrupt blood drawing in order to have a conversation on the size of the cake from the last party they went to.3

Of course, I love everyone who works in hospitals because they are literally surrounded by people who could infect them at any time with ebola, but I'll admit that sometimes I find myself siding with hospital-avoiding fundamentalists when the nurse sees me eating a fun-size bag of potato chips that cost three bucks and was caked with a substance whose last stop was an abscess and proclaims to my wife, "well he's eating enough for the two of you!" Because a granola bar and ten disease chips really fill you up when the last thing to enter your body was consumed 16 hours ago and you've been up since two.

Let me end by stating that medical professionals are totally underrated and underappreciated, and do wonderful amazing things so please do not send me hate mail, especially the half of my family that are doctors: you already make more money than me so you can let this slide. Also, Britt is doing much better after getting two liters pumped into her via IV. And she was still dehydrated. Yikes.

1. This is a lie. He does not like hospitals. Especially given that he died in one. He came back a couple minutes later just to prove I will never equal him in toughness, but still, the death thing stings.
2. Could we just be on hold while my wife is in bed, and then you call us in when the afternoon A-team who does amazing work shows up?
3. This reminds me of my dentist who, in my last appointment with her, drilled my teeth while on the phone with her son. I am not lying. She was drilling, filling a cavity, prodding, ALL WHILE PROPPING A PHONE ON HER SHOULDER AND LAUGHING. I have complained about this here before, and I will again. Sorry.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

everything my grandma ever made for me is bad for you

Everything my grandma ever made for me is bad for you.

This has been a really harsh realization of my adult life.

Up until six months ago, I had pretty good plausible deniability on the health qualities of my grandma's meals. Sure, we all knew that Blonde Brownies, while a solution to all of the world's problems, weren't exactly "health food". And I could have told you that Scotcheroos were probably not the best, the health qualities of Rice Krispies being somewhat compromised by the liberal drenching of mixed butterscotch and milk chocolate.1 But I was living in denial about the rest.

For the past six months I've been eating in company cafeterias where they label the food red, yellow, and green, based on the healthiness of the food. And my childhood has come crashing down one label at a time.

White bread? Red.

Mac and Cheese? Red.

Potatoes? Red.

Funeral potatoes? Red.

Mashed potatoes? Red.

Mashed potatoes with corn flakes and cheese sprinkled on top and baked to perfection? Red.

Baked potatoes? Red.

Twice-baked potatoes? Red.

Russian potatoes?2 Red.

Potato soup? Red.

Potato salad? Red.

Yams...covered in brown sugar and marshmallows? Red.

Frozen orange juice concentrate? Orange juice??? Et tu, Orange juice? Red.

Food has betrayed me. The government with their "food pyramid" has betrayed me. It turns out the only things healthy for human consumption are raw oats and kale, and I can assure you that those liberal ingredients aren't allowed past Utah's state line.

This week they tore down the 49th Street Galleria, an old dingy arcade attached to a grimy skating rink and a run-down mini golf course combined with a rusty bowling alley...and that was when it was first built, let alone what it became. They tore down my High School, they tore down my Junior High, they tore down Video Verns, and now they're attacking the very food I grew up with. IS NOTHING SACRED TO YOU PEOPLE? ALL I WANTED WAS A CHANCE TO EAT A DIET OF NOTHING BUT POTATOES AS I SKATED AROUND RUSTY NAILS TO 70s TUNES AND YOU WON'T EVEN LET ME HAVE THAT.

Our grandchildren aren't going to have very fond memories of eating with us when they age. Thinking back to kale smoothies doesn't quite charm like reminiscing about the day I ate five slices of pie, ten brownies, and five cookies for the main course.3

But they're going to live longer than me, gosh darn it. At least they'll have that.

1. The corn syrup and sugar mix doesn't help either. The recipe literally calls for corn syrup. You might as well eat diabetes.
2. These are mashed potatoes with added sour cream and melted cheddar cheese on top. Also I'm clearly stretching credulity in claiming work, let alone anyone outside of my extended family, has ever made these.
3. To think my mom asked me just last week how I became known as the fatty in the family.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

skiboats

Soon after my parents divorced, my dad began purchasing items, which, if my dad's children weren't some of the more difficult humans on earth to live with, could be construed as his attempt at luring the kids to hang out with him. My mother played the same game by making us wake up at 5:45, read scriptures, and then practice instruments before sending us to the lions den early morning classes at school.1 I'll let you take a guess as to which one was trying to get us to move to dad's house.2

Along with the N64, that terrible horrible misery-inducing time sink the rest of you know as Myst, my dad bought a skiboat. This was a good idea because if anyone in the neighborhood were to have assigned an adjective to the Perrys, they certainly would have picked "coordinated". If you gave them enough time and money and threats. We were also known for our love of being outside, our unused and crumbling half-court basketball court in the backyard, and our permanently pasty white skin a testament to our commitment to the sun.

Dad loved that skiboat. You know he did because he spent so much time trying to get it to start. I think on one occasion over the course of its lifetime it started with the turn of the key, and that was at the dealer. Every other time we'd launch the boat and drift in the harbor waving at the other boats avoiding us, while he opened up the engine, violently muttering something about winterizing.

The most exciting part of the boat trips were always getting to and from the lake, because our old Pathfinder, roughly the same size as the boat, had a hitch, meaning it could "tow" a boat. This meant that, on a straight track on a sunny day, you could get up to speed over the course of a few miles. It also meant that if you were going downhill and the light turned red, you would flash your brights and honk like crazy as you careened out of control through the intersection.3

Largely due to that experience, my dad bought a Suburban and gave the Pathfinder to my brother, who let it rot in my mom's driveway for six years before making his wife drive it, who promptly, and correctly, demanded he sell it and buy a working automobile.

My most vivid memory is of our trip to Lake Powell, when my dad's girlfriend decided we'd all vacation together a la brady bunch. We divvied up into cars, and for inter-car coordination I brought along my most recent Christmas present: a set of walkie talkies, which I'll add, for the record, are more useful when you have friends to actually use them with. My lack of field testing was made apparent when we discovered on the freeway that their range was approximately ten feet. There was more violent muttering and some hasty freeway exits and more involved coordination before the trip was re-commenced.

I have fond memories of that boat. Hiding from the sun under a beach towel up front, finally learning to ski out of shame as my little sister schooled me, listening to the one Paul Simon tape that never left the boat, and spitting out the clouds of gnats that crowded us every time we stopped.

1. I had a great set of early morning religion teachers: one of which held the record for shortest punt in University of Utah football history, and another who made a point to inform us that he donated a million dollars to the church because he was so righteous.
2. I'll give you a hint, and it rhymes with smoth of them
3. This is a true story.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

23 ways in which western civilization is crumbling before our eyes

Have you ever noticed there's never ten ways? Not fifteen? Not twenty? Lists containing multiples of five are so passé. In the new age, we only use odd numbers to enumerate, preferably prime.

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, our elementary school teachers told us that newspapers were deforesting Brazil and by the time we were in high school we'd be lucky to see a tree on a talkie if the human race hadn't descended into chaos due to the ever-present risk of nuclear annihilation.

It turns out, things are even worse than that. Instead of mass extinctions and the destruction of our biosphere, newspapers are dead and now the entirety of the modern economy revolves around linkbait blog titles.

Take a recent one making the rounds. I refuse to link to it on principle, and I'm hesitant to even write it here lest you look it up and give more pageviews to the turd that wrote it, but here goes: Why I'm getting a divorce in 2014.

If you were one of the many who posted that article, it's okay, I forgive you, I myself have been hacked by Nigerian scam artists before, as I'm positive that is the ONLY REASON YOU COULD POSSIBLY SUPPORT SUCH A DESPICABLE ATTEMPT TO GARNER PAGE VIEWS. I'm reliably informed that the first line of the piece (which I refuse to read as I am a cranky old man and stick to inconsistent principles that change based on how far I am from a bathroom) goes something like this: Before you think the contrary, let me assure you I'm not divorcing my wife.

OHHHHHHH. I SEEEEEEE. Because a normal human would make that deduction, not from any sort of reading between the lines, but from ACTUALLY READING THE LINES? From literally interpreting what you wrote?

The rest of the article describes how the individual (hopefully nobody I know, but I guess I'll never know) will be getting a "divorce" from a cell phone. SO CUTE. AREN'T YOU ADORABLE. I bet never in a million years you didn't think of that analogy so that you could further contribute to the fall of Western civilization by inundating us with meaningless linkbait drivel.

Ways 2-23 revolve around how Bioethanol steals food from poor people, how every time I leave a bathroom I'm stuck trying to decide where people who don't wash their hands touch the door handle, and how every time I open the Google Maps app it zooms impossibly far down: I'm basically staring at my head (which is, admittedly, large) and I spend the first ten seconds trying to zoom out, then picking up my phone because I dropped it because it's IMPOSSIBLE TO ZOOM OUT WITH ONE HAND.