Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hung Jury

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate jury duty? I got called AGAIN for Feb 16th. Not only is this a busy time for me personally, but I just cannot stand the thought of taking off work and trudging down to the court house to sit until 3PM before being called in with 300 of my closest friends to see who’s going to be lucky enough to get picked.

This is the 6th time the summons has arrived in the 14 years I've lived in the District of Columbia. Seriously, the average Washingtonian is called almost every 2½ years. It’s depressing really when you think about it. DC is known as one of the highest crime rates so the courts are bound to recycle us all through every two years.

One theory I have is the population make-up of DC is pretty limited as to who can serve. First, we have a huge proportion of foreign nationals living here given the number of embassies. Second, this area is very transient with the government jobs so folks won’t change their residency for the short time they’ll live in DC. Third, well let’s just say that we have a lot of criminals.

Add to the fact that everyone here is a freaking lawyer. Last time I was up, they called a group of 180 potential jurors. Of the eight white guys in the group, I was the only one who wasn’t a lawyer. SIGH. How little a non-profit marketing title can get you these days.

Here’s what I hate the most; during the process of picking the jury, the judge (or someone official) talks about a “Jury of your Peers.” Um, ok not to be picky, but I don’t carry cocaine and drive on expired license while carrying an unregistered hand gun. Sure I sound judgmental, but hey, how many times did I make 180 people leave work to give me a fair shake. Our company let 19 people go once and no one had to take off work to make that happen. (Well, I guess in theory, 19 people did.)

Anyway, I got picked once for a jury. HATED IT. The jury rooms smells; there is one bathroom for all 14 of you; and you can’t read or really talk to people. Then they call you in and you have to pretend you’re interested in what they have to say. Sure, this guy’s life is on the line, but hey, I’d so much rather be IMing friends.

The whole process took like 8 days; three to pick the 14 of us and then five for the trial. I tried to listen, I really did. However, all I remember was that there was crack in this leather messenger bag. Truly, I was concentrating on the satchel since I love bags and am always looking for new suitcases and such. But there was all this stuff about illegal search and seizure that just sort of bored me.

Anywho… come day five and we’re wrapping up. I was going to lobby for guilty, but I would gladly side with the group if they went the other way. I’m really not into commitment; I’d honestly grown tired of the group. (My attention is short with regards to law things like this.) So we’re just about to go into deliberations when the judge announces that two people would be released as alternates. He calls # 6 and #14.

After all that… me… #14 goes home and doesn’t get to fight fate with someone’s life. What the reward in that?

On the plus side, it took me a year and half, but I found the same bag on eBay. Score!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Vegan Chili

We hosted a dinner party this past weekend; mostly friends who used to work with me. If you divided the room in half, the number who were laid off outnumbered the number who left on their own. That tells you an idea of the unruly group I hang out with.

Given that it was January, I opted for crock-pot recipes. Most of those foods are easy to make ahead of time pretty hearty, plus they’re pretty hearty on cold days. Who knew it would be 55 degrees. (We left the windows open until everyone got cold. We like to call that environmental marketing.)

I needed to make two main courses since I had my first Vegan attending. I’m like the polar opposite of vegan so my knowledge in this area is pretty limited. I did rent a beach house with a gluten-free person. We showed up to find the kitchen equipped with two pans. After she described the physical aliments she would undergo if something with gluten touched her food, we jumped in the car and purchased a whole set of cookware.

Worried over what violent illness what might occur, this time in my own house, I began searching the Internet for vegan crock pot entrees. In a fairly short time, I narrowed my decision to chili. It looked pretty easy; you just threw every vegetable known to man in a pot and tossed tomatoes over it.

After spending 15 minutes in the produce section, we visited the let’s-pretend-it’s-meat-but-it-isn’t-really section. My worry was that the normal amount of tomato juice wouldn’t absorb into anything so I decided to brave it and purchase one of the “sausages.”

Larry was my helped as I created the chili and the carnivorous dish, beef stroganoff. We were finishing off the chili, when I handed him the meatless meat. The item looks like a tube of Jimmy Dean sausage patties.

Here, fix this and put it in the chili,” I said.

It says I’m supposed to fry it,” he replied after reading the directions. (He’s helping me so I resist the urge to hit him upside the head.)

Then fry it, babe.

Ten minutes pass. “I don’t think this is right. It doesn’t brown, it doesn’t sizzle, and it doesn’t leak fluids or juices.

That’s because it’s not real food, Larry.

We put it into the chili and let the stuff cook for the next five hours. Our guests arrive and as were gathering folks to the buffet, Larry explained more on the chili preparations.

It has all sorts of veggies in it, plus this soy stuff that looks like wallpaper paste. I like to call it ‘Spackle Chili’.

Our Rachel Ray of endorsements strikes again.

The Blogfathers

OK, through my favorite new link, Laid Off Dad, I have discovered a whole network of stay at home dads. Some of these blogs are absolutely hystercial, so I'm adding them as links.

For the record, I give these guys credit. Corey bounces between two houses with two moms & two dads, and we find we're exhausted after a four day visit.

I'm hoping the more I link, the more I'll get linked into other blogs.



Friday, January 27, 2006

If I could change just one thing in my life I, think I'd have to pick underpants

I, on the other hand, chose the blog.

Sorry folks, but time for a new look. They've added more templates to choose from and this seems to have a more simple look than that obnoxious green one.

Hope you like, but frankly I'm too tired to care.

Jenni, don't change your number

My friend Jenni is back staying with us again. Yeah, the same Jenni who believes there is a young female ghost who inhabits her apartment in Pittsburgh. The way I see it, someone might as well live there since she's always crashing at our place.

I sound bitter, but really that's just a natural state for me when I write. Sarcasm is my way of life. We've always opened our house to Jenni when she's passing through town. Between her & our friend Kate, they've nicknamed our house the R&R B&B. (R&R due to our dogs' names).

Anywho... Jenni comes stormin' into town on Tuesday after driving five hours from Pittsburgh. It was snowing most of her trip and Jenni kept calling until we finally stopped answering the phone. Seriously, like I care that you are passing by the Hagerstown Outlets and there is nothing good on the radio.

I decided that Jenni is like one of the boomerang college kids who never leaves the home. She signs an apartment lease and has moved her things out, but she eats our food and does laundry here. But we love her like our own, so this what parenting is all about.

She even functions like a real daughter. Within 24 hours of being at our place, she got into a car accident and broke our guest bathroom towel rack. She opted to call Larry since she thought I'd be much angrier about the towel rack. As Larry explained, "Well the car isn't ours, so the towel rack will probably have a bigger impact on Steve." I sent her to time out later that night.

Jenni laughed last night as we had dinner. "This is like that old TV show, My Two Dads."

I looked over at her. "Which one would I be?"

Without missing a beat, she said, "Dude, one of them is adventurous & rugged and the other is anal-rententive and neurotic. You figure it out."

I then explained what she could do with the rest of the broken towel rack.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

It ain't Kevin Bacon, but it's close

OMG, I'm linked. Someone actually has ME linked from their blog.

There is a way to a reverse search to see find other blogs that link yours. and would you believe it...I have one link. w00t! I've made it in the blogging world.

I have no idea who this woman is, but you can read her blog here. I should warn you that her posting today is on the pains of breast-feeding, so the humor is very different. However, let's give her a break since she had a baby last week.

Given that someone has linked me, I think it's only fair to do the same. I have chosen a pretty funny blog written by this guy who lost his job and now stays home with his kids. Feel free to check him out at the link on the right.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Uncharted Territory

This past weekend, I was visiting our friends Matthew and Nancy in California. We hadn’t been out there for two years and it was great to catch up. The big event in their life was the adoption of their 14th month old daughter, Alexandra. It was fun to watch her & Madeline, her 4 year old sister, play together and run around the house.

On Sunday, I volunteered to watch Lexy while the family went to church. Since Lexy hadn’t been behaving well at mass and I thought I’d give them break and spend some one on one time with her. There was a small event afterwards as well, so I only had to keep her busy for two hours.

And after all, I have a kid so how much trouble could it be.

It was about 15 minutes after they departed that I noticed the smell. I’m the master of avoidance but the smell grew worse and worse. Parents, you know where this is going. Non-parents, now is the time to run away. Stop reading if you ever think there is a remote chance of reproduction.

I knew I couldn’t last for an hour so I reached over and pulled the diaper back. Yeppers, a mushy one; mushy and stinky.

Nancy had run through the routines; “Diapers and wipes in the drawer.” I’d baby sat for Madeline early on so I knew the layout. I lifted Lexy up and opened the changing table and there were the diaper, but no wipes. No exactly; there were Clorox wipes.

I cocked my head. I’m not a brain surgeon but even Nancy would be that stupid to use those, correct? No way was I going to chance it.

Put the stinky kid down, get 5 wet paper towels and we’re back in business. Up she went, off came the pants and opened the diaper. OMG, this was worse than initial findings reported. It was everywhere.

Lexy was being a trooper. Many kids, mine included, would twist and turn just making it worse. She laid there quietly as Uncle Steve struggled to wipe up as much as possible with the shredding paper towels.

I was down three towels and hadn’t even made it past the first leg. Trouble was brewing and I feared that panic would set in. The last of the paper of towels was gone and there were still remnants that needed wiping. I noticed the box of tissue. Necessity being the mother f**ker of inventions, I grabbed a handful of Kleenex.

Ever try to wipe poop with dry tissues? Nope, not happening. They all ripped and I had to throw them away. The diaper genie was now overflowing with brown stained items. I grabbed another bunch and just spit in them. Gross as it may be, it worked and she was clean. Or so I thought.

Now I have a son, so any place poop can go… well ... is visible. I realized that is not the case with little girls. I looked in the girl parts and… OMG, BLECK.

Now panic sets it. I can’t use spitty tissues there. Drastic times call for drastic measures; I must make her portable. I strip my shirt off, grab the kid and head to the kitchen. Quickly five more paper towels fall into the sink. I soak them and run back to bedroom, dripping water the entire way. Again, I gasp at the impervious smell and clean the remaining grossness.

An hour later, Matthew and Nancy call to say they are the way home. Another stinky arrives about the same time, but I figure if the windows are open, survival is possible. Ten minutes later, as Nancy changes Lexy, I described my dilemma. I am pointed to the secret compartment in the drawer that contains the wipes.

When I get to the part of my anatomical discovery, Matthew rolls his eyes and says, “Of course that’s an area you’d have to check.

Exasperated, I look back. “Well excuse me if the vagina isn’t something I’m quite familiar with.

He thought a moment. “Point well taken.

Monday, January 16, 2006

"Space" Shuttle

So the other day, I was in an accident. Nothing big or deadly, just stupid. I was meeting Larry for lunch and took the Metro to his office. Upon arriving, I hopped on the shuttle that takes people back and forth to his office complex. It’s one of the courtesy things the building management provides.

During the day, there aren’t many people who use these services. As I boarded, I was surprised to find two other people already in seats. Knowing I had five minutes before we’d depart, I settled into the book that I started on the metro. The driver however had other plans as we listened to Missy Elliott rant loudly about some man who had wronged her.

I watched the driver as she began preparations for our trip to the office. She looked displaced in the cab of this shuttle; like a child driving in a monster truck rally. With the music blaring, she took off; grasping the steering wheel as if she were hugging a giant Sequoia tree.

We moved ten feet and then BAM! We three passengers fell to the floor. I hit the head rest in front me, however the woman in the front seat banged her head into the metal pole besides the door frame. As we made it back into our seats, the young woman in front was dabbing blood from her forehead.

Our driver screamed over Missy; “Wow, what was that?

The guy behind me shouted back, “Well, for starters, I’d say you hit something. Can you turn down the music?” Missy rebuffed her ex-beau in silence.

The driver continued to mull over what might have caused her vehicle to go from 10 to 0 miles an hour in four seconds as we checked on each other’s injuries. I had a welt on the nose and the gentleman in the rear was unscathed. Unfortunately, the poor woman was using napkins to blot her bleeding forehead.

The driver got out and then instantly climbed back in as if the asphalt were teaming with alligators. “That’s weird,” she said. “It was like we hit something but I don’t see a car anywhere.

I looked over. “Yeah that is weird, but you did know that you can hit other things besides cars, right?


I realized that if I suddenly lost my job, I knew of one that had little employment requirements.

The guy and I looked out the window and instantly discovered our dilemma. “You hit a parking meter,” he said.

She climbed back out and shook her head, “I did not nope.” (Yeah, that’s exactly how she said it.)

With utter frustration, I packed my things and look at my fellow passengers. “I’m just going to walk over.”

The guy in the back looked alarmed. “You can’t leave the scene of an accident.

Listen McGruff, I didn’t cause the accident. Besides, I’m freaking hungry and they are ordering Thai food.

I got out and walked around the shuttle bus. There, right under the left front wheel, was a pole with a parking meter sticking up through the frame. The meter was slightly hanging off to the side. The driver then bent down and picked up a few quarters that had fallen out. She looked at me and smiled.

Looks like it’s your lucky day,” I said and went off to get my Pad-Ke-Mao.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The True Meaning of Water Sports

Last fall, I decided to take exercising more seriously. I started running 2-4 miles a few days each week. It actually took me four days to build up to this since I had to load the IPod with my favorite songs and create multiple playlists given my moods: happy runner, bitter runner, sexy runner; (I run past Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital and there are some hotties there.)

My friend Emily emailed the other day and invited me to run a 10K race with her. Immediately I went online to a metric conversion site and promptly responded that it would be 6.2 miles. How could she suggest such a crazy thing? I have never run that far and I wasn’t too keen on the idea of attempting it in front of thousands of people.

I began to hypothesize other ideas. “You know those college pub crawls,” I said. “What if we did a Starbucks crawl and just stopped every couple of blocks.

She responded back in her sweet, yet slightly sarcastic tone I’ve come to love. “That’s a possibility, but I’m guessing the other runners might not want a scalding latte spilt on them as you run.

Good point. Those other runners are always such a nuisance.

While I’m hemming over the decision to publicly embarrass myself, I mention the race idea to my friend Georgia. She seems vaguely surprised after my sore-butt-from-hiking incident, but validates my Starbucks crawl idea. While I’d be extending my running time by several hours, she pointed out that I could at least stay hydrated throughout the day.

A thought comes over me. “What if I have to pee?” I say.

Georgia pauses for moment. “Well, some races have pottie spots, but I think most marathon runners just pee on themselves as they race.

I am dumbfounded.

Seriously, they urinate on themselves? That’s totally disgusting.

If you’re serious about running and are looking to get qualifying times, you do what you have to for the best speed,” she added.

I immediately imagine myself in this awesome new running outfit I will be buying for the race; a synthetic, breathable, hypoallergenic and of course, multihued jacket with matching shorts, offering versatility, comfort, and mobility. For three hours I scamper through the first 2 miles with my latte, politely chatting with my fellow runners as they overtake Emily & me.

Then as we finally turn the corner to where Larry will have been waiting, obligated to encourage my fitness efforts, my magenta running shorts transform to a lovely dark orchid color as I release my bladder. With one urination, I ruin an Armani running ensemble, a Coach fanny pack and what will most likely be a very expensive pair of designer footwear.

Or you could just run the race and not worry about the coffee,” Georgia says.

She has a point.

So this morning I signed up with Emily to run the
St. Patrick’s Day 10K
race. My Peggy Fleming-like legs will get the work-out of a life time. That is, after I buy all the new running accessories.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Holiday Hiatus

Too much happening between Christmas and New Year. Posting soon.