Monday, June 20, 2011

The Entertainer

Keeping my kid occupied on summer break is a full time job. We've been spending a lot of time together. A lot of time. Don't get me wrong, my daughter is awesome - she's fun, creative, smart and witty. She's also stubborn and wouldn't mind additional time spent in front of the TV watching the Wizards of Crappy Place, or whatever it's called. So, what's a parent to do? There's lots of choices:
Summer Camp - she's doing this for several weeks when I start my new job. Because I've been off for a while I didn't want to sign her up right away. It was time for father/daughter fun.

Play dates - both away and at home. these are great. I set these up with  my friends and the kids get to do various things with their BFF's.

TV - ok, we touched on this one. Don't let your little one sit around all day zoning out. I mean, that was my generation. That's taken. And that's right - the computer, cell phone, iPad, and whatever else you can stare into is also part of the deal. It's fine in doses, but it's not a baby sitter.

Parks - easy one. you can even meet your friends and their kids at a  park. Bring stuff. Go in the garage right now and revisit your historical outdoor purchases that you haven't seen in a while. Think of it as a really close "Play It Again Sports" store.

Camping - go. KOA's are everywhere. They're like the Starbucks of camping.

Swimming - we don't personally have a pool. But we know others that do, and there are always community pools. We have a couple 'round these parts that are pretty nice.

Road Trip - haven't seen your bro and his kids in the while? Pack your car, including the kids, and go west young man (or north, south, etc..)

Movies - ok, I ragged on the whole TV thing. But go see a movie once in a while. It's an American tradition. Get the popcorn with extra butter, and a delicious $6 snicker bar. Yummy.

Read - my daughter and I read tonight. very cool. I think there's something to this reading thing. Have them read a bit to you as well.

Draw - buy one of those huge pads of paper and dig out your colored pens, pencils, stencils, utencils...whatever makes your creative juices flow. I've noticed that I draw the same stupid sea creatures that I used to in jr high. nice.

Finally, I have to say that breaks are good. You and your kids can get sick of each other, and that's where the crankiness sets in. Make sure you give each other some space, even a few hours helps, and see how this makes the rest of your play time go.

I'm sure there's more - let me know what you do this season. Peace.

ps. For the record, I love drawing stupid sea creatures.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mother Nature lost her calendar

I've seen the comments on FB and I am right there with you. Where is the friggin' sun? Why does it have to look like February every time I look out my window? This is whack. I've got a refrigerator filled with delicious summer beer (try Anderson Valley BrewCo's Summer Solstice, it rocks!) and visions of barbeque's in my head but alas, mother nature is crying again.

Is this global warming? Is it a sign from God? (his last sign was apparently incorrect). Is there some really scary conspiracy theory about a giant weather machine that the government is controlling? Perhaps the ice age is coming back and extinction is on the horizon? Where is the horizon anyway?

Days like these are making me crave movies like 2012, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and When Worlds Collide. Oh happy days...

But as I write this, I realize that being a Californian, I am a bit more of a complainer when it comes to the weather. And rightly so! We live in Cali BECAUSE we demand great weather! Do we simply like to live in a more expensive state? Hardly. We need our sunny days for beach trips, hiking, wine tasting, bbq's...I mean the list goes on....

But hey, it's probably best to have a good attitude. Like always, the weather will get better. Just hope it's in my lifetime!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's a small world after all

My family and I journeyed to good old Disneyland last week. Had to admit, I expected to spend the day in lines watching interestingly-dressed human beings of all sizes, shapes and cultures to pass my way. While the latter was true, and actually one of my favorite things about the park, the lines were not that bad!

Let's talk about the "interestingly-dressed humans" we encountered. Kids - you know 'em, and we all have that love/hate relationship with 'em. Some were screaming from their suburban Jeep strollers (you know the ones, with the fat wheels and the off-road capabilities that will no doubt keep the diaper bag and random bottles of baby bottles securely in place), others were simply asleep, while still others were staring into space with random bits of  food strewn across their faces.

We also encountered many Jack Sparrows. Adult ones. Big adult ones. With makeup, the pirate hat, long dreds and a swagger that would make Mr. Depp very proud. While I take my hat off to the Sparrows I encountered, I often wondered if these same gentlemen wore these outfits outside of the park, on a random tuesday, to the office? Not sure if they would be as highly regarded as they are in Mickey's paradise.

There were also lots of tweenies and teenagers at the park. Look out your front door for more information (or there's always Wikipedia).

Suffice it to say that we had an awesome time. I went on my favorite rides; Pirates, Haunted Mansion ("there are no windows and no doors..." - one of my favorite lines!), Matterhorn, Mr. Toads Drunken Extravaganza, Space Mountain, and plenty more. It's funny that as an adult one feels a bit oversized when climbing into some of these rides, but that is the price one must pay.

We also hit up California Adventure on the second day of our trip. Didn't spend as much time, but I've got to say that the Soaring Over California ride was fantastic! Love the smellovision. I just wish that it was about 20 minutes longer and that one would be allowed to smoke cloves whilst making the journey.

The Aladdin show at C.A. was simply fantastic. To be honest, I didn't have high expectations as I thought the show would be aimed at the little ones, but I was pleasantly surprised at the random social commentary and extravagant, "over the top" props and special effects. And the Genie stole the show. Once he appeared the show took on a whole new dimension. It was like stand up. Really good stand up. Go check this out if you haven't lately.

I knew I was enjoying myself when I glanced down at my watch and noticed it was 3 hours later than I thought. be lost in the happiest place on earth and lose track of time. Money well spent.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rude Awakening

At 4am in the morning I was the victim of a vicious attack. There were two of them. They were merciless. Evil. Quick. Cunning. And Cute. Yes, the 2 cats that we rescued a few years back were being asses. Have you ever seen that old Chuckwagon commercial? no? well, go here now, you gotta see this:

So, this is what it was like this morning. Attack of the cats. It sounded like the ground was quaking under me. But no, it was my 2 formerly homeless cats chasing each other downstairs, upstairs, up and down - through the hall, right into my bedroom. They are not the biggest cats in the world, but I swear that it was like a scene from 2012 when John Cusack is racing his limo through around and over disaster upon disaster.

So what did I do to end the tyranny and get back to sleep? I took my large laundry basket to block the path from my bedroom to the hall. Did it work? Yes, for about 3 minutes. Then they simply and with great skill, went around it.

Why didn't I lock the bedroom door? because my lock is crap. You could blow on my bedroom door from the outside and it would probably open. You could think about opening the bedroom door and...whammo...your wish is granted.

I think I got up 4 times before the anarchy finally was over. What was my solution you ask? nothing. They got tired and went to go eat. Or should I say refuel?

Friday, May 13, 2011


Google it! Great word, though I cannot pronounce it. It's Friday the 13th - the luckiest day of the year! Forget all that humbug about how this is an evil or unlucky day. Screw that. This day rocks. It's the last day of the work week (for those that are working), and the weekend is on the horizon. There's a lot of superstition about this day and how danger lurks about, but I swear good things always happen to me on this day.

So, why is this day supposedly cursed? Let's ask Charles Panati. Based on the paragraph below, he's wise and knows how to use spell check:

A theory by author Charles Panati, one of the leading authorities on the subject of "Origins" maintains that the superstition can be traced back to ancient myth:
The actual origin of the superstition appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil — a gathering of thirteen — and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as "Witches' Sabbath."

It's Frigga Friday! Yes, there is evil in this world, like that song "Ummm Bop", Mariah Carey and the general lack of daisy dukes in the world today, but some things just cannot be helped.

So, while you are surfing the web, working, sitting at home eating dinner for breakfast, or just pondering life, make today a good one. Be nice to your pets, call grandma, write a blog, make a smoked turkey dinner. Have some Frigga fun for god's sake.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Crock Pot

Ok, so being a male, the crock pot is one of my best friends. It's pretty easy to create a concoction of simple ingredients - meat, onions, liquid, and  more meat. I love it. Chop it up, add a dash of this and that, pour a cup and a half of broth and voila!, 8 hours later a culinary masterpiece is created.

Is there a Top Chef Crock Potsters? There should be.

However, there can be a downside - being creative in the crock pot world can take you down....and quick. My first dish this week went well; chicken, garlic, onions and spices over a bed of rice. Pretty damn good. My second one was crap. And it looked like it too. Why do you ask? Creativity. It started off nice enough - sweet Italian sausage cut in 1 1/2 inch pieces, rice, onions, beans, broth, condensed soup (doesn't condensed soup make your mouth water?), spices. Then I did the unthinkable - craving pork at that moment, I added an old favorite, Chorizo. Chorizo to me is the Mexican version of the hot dog. What's in there? What's it made of? I don't know and I don't want to know, but give me more! So I added a bit to be creative, and it sucked. Hours later, I lift the steaming hot lid to reveal something that is more akin to being in a baby's diaper than in a crock pot. It was just mush, with a few poor sausages trying to survive to crappy-ness from which it was engulfed in.

Two bites in, and I was pulling out the old cereal bowl. Sugar-frosted flakes have never let me down...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ahhh...glorious Tuesday

It's Tuesday, and I'm feeling busier than when I had a job right? I'm doing lots of fun things - buying strawberries, visiting thrift shops, eating on an hourly basis, going to the DMV without the proper paperwork and did I mention the eating thing? There's nothing like consuming mass quantities of whatever is in the 'fridge to pass the time. Food is great. Me likey.

I am a bit excited today (besides it being Taco Tuesday at Compadres!) because I've got an interview with a very cool winery. They make fantastic wines and seem to be pretty recession proof at the moment (yes yes, we are in a recession. I listen to NPR, so I know everything). So, send me your good vibes and a tax deductable donation when you have time.

Ok, back to food. We're growing vegetables in our tiny backyard. We are not good at this. We didn't label the items we planted, and can now not tell what is a weed, and what is actually going to be edible. We did get some turnips recently - we could tell because they started to come out of the ground. Is this normal? Perhaps I'll visit the god known as google after I finish blogging to find out. It will be interesting to see what pops up. I know I planted lots of cool stuff, and hopefully I will be able to eat some of these damn things. I am considering going to the fresh veggie section of my local Safeway, purchasing some items and them shoving them in the ground of my garden only to remove them in front of some friends of mine. It would be fun to say, "Look what I can do!" Ah, I am a juvenile at times....

Monday, May 9, 2011

Life in the Whine Country

“I got the best parking spot at Trader Joe’s!” This is my mindset today as I continue my current unemployment status here in Napa. It’s been about a month now since the “workforce reduction” and as many of us know, one goes through a variety of emotions each day varying from manic to just plain goofy.

But I get it. Companies are struggling to make money, revenue is not generated and one of the most expensive assets to a company is payroll. No brainer. Not rocket science here.

So I made it my job to find a job – I’m networking, tracking my progress on spreadsheets, speaking with recruiters and sending resumes via email. I’m actually carrying resumes with me when I’m out and about – you never know who you’re going to bump into. It’s old school, but I think a great way to network – handing out resumes. No, I’m not standing in front of Target and pretending they’re fliers…not yet anyway.

It’s interesting to see how many people are actually hanging out in Napa on a random Tuesday at 10am. Do they have jobs? Are they trust fund babies? Are they lost? Self employed? Self destructive? Do they have fashion sense? Many inquiring questions come to mind as I explore workweek-daytime Napa. Some people I get, and some just are plain strange. It definitely is worth a $4 coffee if you have an hour to kill during the week. The song “People Are Strange” begins to play in my head…