Monday, September 28, 2009

Did I mention that I hate Brett Favre?

Oh, Sunday was a day of a very good high, and an even lower low. This past weekend, my beloved San Francisco 49ers visited the Minnesota Vikings for a showdown of unbeatens. During the season, week in and week out, here in Iowa, I can pretty much count on seeing a Vikings' game on netowrk television. Of course the one week, in which my team actually shows up to Minnesota, network tv will NOT cover the Vikings.

We were forced to see either the routing of the Chiefs by Philadelphia, followed by a Denver/Oakland Game, or we could watch the Rams get smacked down by Green Bay. Obviously the networks weren't too excited about the Detroit Lions game being televised, although they did pull out a win over the Washington Redskins for their first victory in about 21 months with a score of 19-14. Ironically, the two untelevised games being played in the Midwest were the only two games that could be considered competitive. So, my following of the SanFran-Minnesota game was by watching the score updates in the upper right hand corner of the screen. I kept seeing a back and forth game all afternoon. But then I saw the update that showed the 49ers up by 4 points with 1:41 to go in the game. At 0:41 left, I saw the same score, and again at 0:14. I was convinced that me not being able to watch the 49ers playing on tv would be alleviated by them beating down the Vikings, along with the 4th quarter comeback quarterback, Mr FAVRAY himself. Then it happened, the update comes around again...with :02 left on the clock, Minnesota had scored a touchdown, from 33 yards out. I didn't really think I had a heart, until it broke at that very moment. And I'm sure one certain Professor Scott from Maine, one of those silly Vikings' fans, will have something to say in the comments section once he reads this...

It's not like I had any illusions of my 49ers having a perfect season (that would take an even greater miracle than was the Lions having a perfectly winless season last year). But I really wanted the Indecisive One, also known as Brett Favre, be dealt his first loss with Minnesota, while simultaneously securing the 49ers the top spot in their division. I can however thank the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts for beating Seattle and Arizona, respectively, and making the division standings in my favor.

I can only hope that Coach Singletary drills it through the heads of the defensive backs that even a friggin 5 inch margin in the very back of the end zone is way too much room to be giving up, especially with an old codger like Favre that apparently still has enough talent to pull those kinds of stunts off. (On a scale of 1-100, my HATE-Favre-ometer clocked in at a whopping 134.6) Not to mention the incredible acrobatics of the Vikings wideout, Greg Lewis, to not only make a fingertip catch and drag the second foot barely inbounds.

Although, there were a couple good signs shown in this game. The star running back, Frank Gore, left the game with an ankle injury. The 49ers adjusted, and still, with the exception of the last play, just simply outplayed the Vikings, without the "main threat". QB Shaun Hill and TE Vernon Davis hooked up for 2 touchdowns. With Davis showing he is in fact a tough receiver who can be a playmaker, it will open up the wideouts for more plays throughout the season. I just hope that when Gore is out, and Coffee is in for him, that he is a good enough runner to keep the passing game an open and viable threat, to maintain a potent offense that few of us 49er fans remember from the good old days.

Monday, September 21, 2009

From Lil Sis to Big Mama!

Yep, I'm officially an uncle to a blood relative. Not that I don't count all my pseudo nieces and nephews (kids of very close friends who refer to me as Uncle Mikey), but this is a bit different. I'm genetically linked to this newest member of the family. My sister Becky gave birth (sort of) to Sophia Elizabeth Alvarez on Sunday, September 20th, 2009.

Here is the new mommy and daughter. After a C-section birth (more on that to come) Mommy is all smiles. Clearly the result of legal drugs pumping through her system. After long hours of exhaustion, hard work, and then followed up by a surgery to retrieve this kid, a sober mom would look much more haggard. Way to go mommy! First moments with the child and she will be told about how her mom was high as a kite from the get go!

And here is a photo of the entire new Alvarez family. Lil Sophia, not looking all that pleased at the moment. Vic, all dressed up in a hospital provided sterile trash bag garment. And of course Becky still looped.

Becky of course has always been my little sister. Or, if you ask anyone else, I'm her brother...because God forbid I was ever given my own identity. Growing up, dad worked full time and mom worked a lot of part time jobs. So, a lot of days when mom either left for work, or just needed some rest from working the night before, Becky was forced to hang out with me and my friends. She was a blessing and a burden all at the same time. First thoughts were always along the lines of "Why do I have to drag her along when I want to play with my friends?" Oddly enough, I do this with my two sons now. Apparently parenting techniques are genetic and not a learned response, because growing up I was going to be a much better parent than my mom and dad were to us. As I get older, my wife occasionally refers to me by my dad's name. Somewhere in her odd little mind, she sees me turning into him, and does not hesitate to get her digs in whenever she can. Anyways...

Well, growing up in my neighborhood, you played football. That's how it was. The Neighborhood Football League was a staple amongst us boys. Beating each other up
mercilessly in the name of a sport was a requirement. On occasion, some of the kids would be gone for some reason or another, and there wasn't enough kids to play during a day. However that didn't stop my buddy Jay and I from co-opting his little brother and my sister from playing football with us. Of course when I say football, it was more like a game of smear-the-queer. And while we would run around having fun, it was usually at Becky's expense. We would "fumble" the football in her direction and had her convinced she needed to pick it up and run. (here's the blessing part of her hanging out with us) Of course, boys being boys, we commenced to tackling her just as hard as we would anyone else. Even though she threw the football away in sheer terror, she didn't realize we had a penchant for unsportsmanlike conduct of unnecessary roughness, 15 yard penalties be damned! She took it all in stride, mostly. The only time she tattled was the time I damn near broke her neck. It really was one of the biggest and best hits I ever delivered in my sports career!

I believe it was through this hardcore intensive training that I, as her big brother (and required to teach her about the hard knocks of life so that she might be able to survive the reality of life after living with Mom and Dad- excerpted from page 47 of the Big Brother Handbook) nurtured her into having a baby via C-section. The main lesson being: "If you drop the ball, you will still be punished. So make it worth it and hang on!" We boys all learned this lesson playing on the hallowed ground of the legendary Neighborhood Football League venue, Witte's Yard.

It took another 20some years for this big brother to be proud that she had learned this lesson. Late in the Pregnancy Bowl (Sponsored by Clear Blue Easy Digital Pregnancy Tests, and Doritos New Pistachio Flavored nacho chips), Becky had taken the ball and driven to the end zone in hopes of ending this game with a winning score. After making it all the way across the goal line in the biggest drive of her career as the last seconds ticked off the clock, she forgot the rules. (Luckily for her, time had expired and the penalty was after the play. Otherwise Team Fruit Salad might have gotten another chance to drive this game into overtime, with great field position after the kickoff.)
Instead of flipping the ball to the referee and joining the rest of the team for the victory celebration, she just wouldn't let go. It took a team of doctors to drug her up and TAKE the ball (baby) from her.

The official analysis, provided by the great team at ESPN 8 (The Ocho), was that she had tucked the ball (baby) so far into her gut, to avoid fumbling after any contact, that the ball (baby)had gotten stuck and lodged in behind her hip a bit. So instead of being able to flip the ball (still the metaphor for baby)away at the end of the play, they literally had to go in and retrieve the ball(yes, the many times do I need to clarify this?)

So after years of telling (yelling at) Becky: DON'T FUMBLE THE BALL!, we realized she took us a little too literally. How many times do I have to tell you, little sister, life isn't all about football?...sheesh, crack open a book or two on applied reasoning. DORK!

Now of course Becky is all grown up and and about to discover the world of motherhood as we welcome into the world Sophia, 21 inches long and weighing in as a featherweight at 6lbs 10 3/4 ozs. So she's tall, thin, and got one hell of a hair do already. Daddy, aka Vic is, quoted as saying, "She, of course, is cute as hell and we have already fallen in love." I can tell by these words he is definitely talking about his new daughter. I know his wife, so he couldn't have meant any of those words about my sister! (Just kidding Becky)

And now I, Uncle Mikey, have a lot of catching up to do. I have to retain the position of "Cool Uncle", and of course down the road, agree with Sophie's statements of mom and dad being such a drag. And of course inform her that her mother was a druggie when she was born, which explains why mom is such a nutcase now. And, that boys are evil, cootie-carrying dirtbags, who she needs to avoid until she's at least 30. I'm sure her dad will back that last statement up wholeheartedly.

Either way, it will be an interesting journey for all 3 of them. Good luck to the new mom and dad. You thought you've been worn out and tired before, but you haven't seen anything yet. I'll pray for you to get past the stage of New Parent Insanity, to the point where life is a bit more fun and Sophie can do more things to both frustrate and amuse you, often simultaneously.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

To All My Friends Who Are Bears Fans...Sorry?

To all my friends who like the Chicago Bears...sorry, but I have to write this down.

Your team went and got rid of Rex Grossman. Probably the smartest thing the organization could have ever done in their history. The boy, while great at the college level, just never matured to the point of being a great Pro quarterback.

The year that the Bears managed to get to the Superbowl was purely on the backs of a stellar defensive squad. In fact, during the NFC Championship game that year, it was the efforts of the defense that managed to win the game against the New Orleans Saints. And it wasn't enough to win the SuperBowl. The only thing consistent about Grossman's playing was its inconsistency. One half, or one game he'd be great, and then as quickly as the next game he'd put on one of the most mediocre performances ever.

Now you have Jay Cutler. The Green Bay defense hassled him all the first half and he threw 3 interceptions, and they only scored a measly safety for 2 points, thanks to their stellar defensive efforts. Then, in the 2nd half, he showed more poise, completing more passes and avoiding turnovers. He managed to throw a touchdown pass to Devin Hester to make it a competitive game. Brian Urlacher and a couple other defensemen were out of the game due to injuries at this point, and Green Bay's Aaron Rogers took full advantage of this, running a slightly smoother offense and allowing them to win the game. Green Bay's defense kept up and managed to cause Cutler to go back to his uncertainty in the first half mode.

Now, many of you know I'm an avid 49ers fan. And it's been a few years since I've really been able to follow football with my work schedule. so you're asking yourself, "how in the world could Mookie even know what the heck he's talking about?" A- I'm a football nut, who knows a lot about the sport, and B- its mostly common sense.

We 49er fans were spoiled with the combination of Joe Montana and Steve Young over the years. Two of the leagues most prolific quarterbacks over the history of the NFL. And since Steve Young's departure, we have had a litany of QB's come and go, and none of them were really worth a damn. We kept bringing in promising defensive backs, who by the time we trained them up to a level considered more than adequate, we'd trade them to teams who would then beat us with great secondary players we'd developed for them. It's pretty bad to go from being a football dynasty to the farm team for the league we have been for almost a decade now. Part of it was coaching. Most coaches came to San Francisco thinking they could ride the wave of greatness, only to lose a lot of the old team members wo helped make the 49ers a great team. And those coaches weren't good enough to produce the same greatness out of a bunch of 'nobodies.' Luckily for us, Mike Singletary, the legendary Bears defensive player from the 80s is our new coach. He is a no nonsense, high caliber personality when it comes to performing in games and his expectations of players. He isn't going to put up with prima donnas, and allow that kind of drama to take away from our efforts to field a competitive team, so hopefully, our win over the defending NFC Champs, the Arizona Cardinals, will be a sign of whats to come. Albeit, we'd like more than 30 yards rushing per game out of Frank Gore.

So now, the Bears, while they basically have the defense down pretty well, really need to learn to put together an offense to boot. And that starts with the quarterback. Trading for QB's who came from teams with an odd assortment of palymakers to help him, isn't going to be the answer. Otherwise, you'll just end up seeing the repeat of Rex Grossman, over and over and over.

Which brings me to Bret Favre (I pronounce it FAV-RAY because that's how its spelled dammit!) Favre is a great quarterback, no doubt about it. All this retiring and unretiring has dominated the sports news the past couple of years. And it really is tiring to listen too. I've never liked Favre, and part of that is that his Packers kept beating up my 49ers, and I've never been a Packers fan anyways (I lump this hatred as being equal to that of my hatred for the Dallas Cowboys- is there a rule that both can lose the game when playing each other?). The one thing Bret had to add to his great performances were playmakers for running backs and receivers. And he has good leadership qualities about him, to help them out in return. He will be a Hall of Famer, no doubt about it. When he went to the Jets, though, their offense was pretty much all about Favre. His supporting cast wasn't strong enough to get him anywhere significant.
Now he is with the Vikings. They looked okay on Sunday. Running back Adrian Peterson was clearly the star of that game however, and made Favre's efforts and leadership seem that more imposing. It could be that Favre has added his experience to improve the Vikings, or the skill of enough Viking players that will add to Favre's status. Either way, they should have a decent team. Far better than the Bears season is looking, if Week 1 was any indicator. The NFC North Division will be between Green Bay and Minnesota, with the Bears and Lions competing for 3rd place in the division.

A bit on Announcers

I think that John Madden, ever in love with Bret Favre, should be forced to unretire himself since Favre did. Their careers with the football world should (if they weren't to a degree already) be inextricably linked. That way we can here drooling commentary from Madden, over Favre's play, abilities, talents, liekability, etc. Also, more teleprompter drawings accompanying "BOOM, and BAM" (John Madden is the audio equivalent of the old Batman flare words), and other exclamation being used while pointing out generally obvious things to anyone who actually knows anything about football.

And if he wasn't so old, and set in his ways, I'd love to see Mr. Whoa Nellie himself, Keith Jackson, back on the announcing scoop. In my mind he is the best sports commentator ever. Not too much chit-chat during the lulls of the game, and he had a way of really ratcheting up the history and importance of certain games, venues, rivalries, along with the right amount of excitement when necessary. He is truly missed by the old school true fans of sports, not unlike myself. His style is a lost art. He coined University of Michigan's stadium "The Big House", and most viewers of college football knew that if Keith Jackson was announcing the game, it was the big game for that week. You know, back when all the network television stations actually showed you games from all around the country. Then Cable stations stole Americans right to watch all those football games and left them with dumb games like Notre Dame Vs anybody. Ahh, the era of good days gone by...kind of like the Bears Football program.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Maybe My (Sports) Fatherly Wisdom Will Be Accepted

Yesterday was a good day. After church, I came home and was able to settle into the couch for Week 1 of the NFL regular season. I havent truly been able to watch and follow football for a few years now with my work schedule. But as of late I have been getting weekends off, and can now enjoy it. Week 2 will be somewhat off my radar as I have to cover another guys shift, but Week 3 I should be right back on track.

The first set of games was just randomness to me, as it is early in the season. I noticed that the New Orleans Saints (my boss' favorite team) trounced the Detroit Lions. He'll probably return from his vacation and brag about that. And I will laugh as anyone who brags about beating Detroit is scraping the very bottoms of the barrel. I think the local kids I play backyard football with, under my direction of course, would have a good shot at beating Detroit. I figure the 12 year old neighbor girl, who is a monster at times, would have sacked Stafford at least 3 or 4 times on her own. And my son Josh would have picked apart their defense with the short passing game. He still needs to learn focus and accuracy to a point, but he has a surprising arm for being built like a stick figure(just like I was at his age). My other son, Corwyn "Buggy" Lovell, would have just ran all over them. And then, right after scoring would have found the nearest defender and said to him "You remember when I ran for the touchdown and beat you guys?" Somedays I wonder if he has a true concept of time.

The second set of games provided more interest to me. There were three options on Fox. The first was the Washington Redskins AT New York to face the Giants. Then there was somebody or another AT Seattle. And then my beloved (although a decades worth of disappointment) 49ers taking on the Arizona Cardinals in Arizona. This is regionally the closest game to Iowa, but instead of getting to watch THAT game, I had to endure the WASH-NY game. However, it was finished earlier than the SF-AZ game, and FOX is now offering bonus coverage, so I got to see the last 6 minutes of my team playing. Right after I tuned in, I watched my 49ers score a touchdown and go up 20-16 over Arizona and their Iowa born QB, Kurt Warner. I look over and my youngest is sitting there watching it with me. He asks who is who, and who's winning. I explained that, three times. I swear, having a conversation with a 5 yar old can be exhausting at times. But he caught on, as I explained what needed to happen throughout the rest of the game. He seemed almost as excited as I was.

I was about his age when I first started watching football and cheering on the San Francisco 49ers. Back then, the 49ers were an emerging force that went on to become a major powerhouse in the NFL. They have sucked since my first son was born. But not completely. They would win just enough games to ensure that they would not get a first draft pick of the next season. They would find their way into the middle of the pack, barely. But, yesterday was a good day. My youngest watched as the 49ers put on a defensive display to stifle the defending NFC Champs and their potential high octane offense led by Kurt Warner, and securing the win. I even got a high five out of the deal as "we won." Maybe, just maybe, I will be able to continue to course of modern human history in which fathers and sons hang out together watching football games on Sundays. And it will be good. WE'll have drinks and snacks, and I'll teach them the fine arts that football invovles, and maybe someday in the future, they will get their opportunity to play organized tackle football, instead of playing the watered down, weak version of backyard football that kids play these days.

After the game was over, we ate supper, and then took the football over to the park to throw it around some. We used a smaller ball so Corwyn could handle it. Both boys are showing promise of having cannons for arms. I'm quite enamored with such an idea, as a sportsdad-like kind of guy. (We played backyard football the other day, and both boys were picking up on tips I gave them to out-maneuver otherwise better athletes than they were.) We tossed the ball around and played at the park until it was too dark to play anymore. I settled in for the Bears-Packers Sunday night game later in the first half. Corwyn was playing and then had to take a bath. Josh comes over to the couch and sits down. Starts asking me who's who and who's playing. He even got to watch the bears sack the Green Bay quarterback in the endzone for a safety, a rare scoring opportunity. Is this deja vu I'm experiencing? This is GREEEAAT! Both sons taking an interest in the manly art of football? That's just plain friggin awesome.

My wife, after reading this, will probably begin to tremble with a hint of fear and look to putting psychologists' phone numbers on speed dial. I tamed down a bit after my oldest looked not to be the athlete his father had hoped for (although recent events point to my oldest still looking to be that athlete afterall), with my Sports Dad Syndrome (SDS). But who knows, with hope of athleticism abounding within my sons, it may come roaring back! Should the boys ever play competitive sports in school, my wife will probably see to it that I'm banned from fraternizing with the coaches and from standing on the sidelines during practices and games. And becoming a coach will probably be out of the question. I'm really, REALLY competitive, and that can be a good thing, but if carried too far, I might have kids and parents looking at me sideways. I'm all about winning, giving kids their fair time and all, but none of this "everybody's a winner, we don't keep score" crap. My sons will probably not be allowed to ever play in a league like that....uh-oh, SDS is creeping back in...I better go get the kids out of school and hold football practice! (just kidding honey!)

But now I have to go out and get them some 49er gear at some point. So relatives reading this, think Christmas if you get clothes or jackets for the boys!

Friday, September 11, 2009

I Looooove Local Cops!

Random Event #1 that inspires my loving the Des Moines Police Department

I get a call from my supervisor asking me if I am at a certain apartment complex I do patrol duties at. I tell him I left the place 10 minutes prior and am 2 blocks away. He informs me that the dispatcher with DMPD called him saying they received a call that I was getting the crap kicked out of me by a group of people at the aforementioned apartment building. And in the confusion, the call to them was made by me. Three things here. One, if I'm going to call the cops, I'd either do it prior to a situation escalating to a fight, or after myself or the other parties had finished the fight. In the midst of the fight, I'm not exactly going to have the ability to pul out my cell phone and make a call as I am having my head kicked in. Secondly, I would have radioed or called the supervisor alerting him to the situation. And lastly, and most importantly, I'm not about to pick a fight I don't think I can win. I'm sort of partial to living a pain free life.
I look around myself, and notice that outside of the cleaners inside the university, I'm free and clear of any other people by about 2 blocks. Its nice to be getting beat up by people 2 blocks away from where I'm at. All that action and none of the pain. It's kind of like acting tough on the internet. I don't have to prove myself to be a badass around here! Now you're asking yourself, why does this make me love the DMPD? It is because once they were alerted to this Super Rentacop getting beat up, 4, count em FOUR, squad cars made it to my supposed location in record time. Yep, I hold sway with the DMPD. They hear about me getting myself in trouble, and they are right there to rescue my butt from any danger. My supervisor pulled up and said that all the cops had their night sticks out ready to beat up some stupid morons who were daring to harm their precious local security guard.

Random Event #2 that inspires my loving the Des Moines Police Department

2 days after event number 1, I am called to an alarm at a local Midas car repair shop. I arrive to find a rock had been thrown through the glass front door. A small tv was discovered to have been stolen, but beyond that nothing. My supervisor showed up to inspect the damage, and during that time, 2 squad cars showed up and the police entered this building, much of which could be entirely viewed from the outside, with .40 caliber glocks drawn and ready to put down another possible criminal who might have tried to hurt this Super Rentacop. According to my supervisor, the lead officer there was one of those who showed up at Event #1.

I'm beginning to suspect a man-crush is developing between the esteemed officer and this local security guard. I'm not sure how to break that kind of news to my wife, but if there really is a man crush going on, I may be, out of professional courtesy, obligated to return the affection. Now, you might ask, just how I can help protect the fully armed and trained police officer who comes to my rescue regularly? Well, I'll tell you. First of all, I'm highly trained. I watched something like 8 hours of instructional videos before being put out into the field. Second point is, I have a 3 cell maglite. You can blind someone, or mess them up with that kind of armament. While the cop may be in a standoff with an armed criminal, I can easily put myself between the cop and sure mortal danger by flipping my tie and whistle chain at the bad guy, and shining my flashlight on him. And of course, threaten to write up a report. Pretty much upon my arrival, I can send the officer off to other more important tasks for the night, like protecting the local convenience store coffee and donuts. After all, I'm not there, so someone needs to make sure precious such commodities need qualified supervision. And also, my presence alone assures the officer he is safe to "move along, there is nothing to see here."

Surely, no criminal is safe from such harsh tactics brought on by a pretty rentacop like myself. I suspect he'd gladly give himself up to me almost immediately. At 5'8" tall and 175 pounds of rock solid jello-like mass, I am an intimidating S.O.B. I drive a car with a big old lightbar that only half lights up, all white lights, and I can stick my head out the window and make siren noises while flying down the city streets. I yell out "WOOP WOOP, RENTACOPS", and all dangerous situations quickly end! People respect that kind of crazy!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Well, it turns out I was misinformed...(SLIGHT UPDATE)

MY sister is not giving birth to a baby girl after all. She is in fact slowly processing a salad of fruits and nuts, and going to spit that out at the doctor. He should appreciate that, beings its all part of a healthy diet and all.

My sister made mention yesterday that she has a mini-watermelon inside her uterus. Now despite being disgusted at the mention of her uterus, much less any uterus (Hey, I may be a guy who plays doctor on the internet, but I specialize in using non-specific technical jargon to convey vagueries about human biology thank you very much!), I was still intrigued by this comment. Then she sent me this link, which describes the size of the baby as it grows inside her. You can read and view it right HERE

It turns out that Sophia will not be human, but actually be comprised of a series of fruits, nuts and other food-like items. First you add in the poppy seed, about four weeks into the whole baking a baby in the oven process. Wait one week, then add in sesame seed, another week until you sprinkle in the lentil. 7 Weeks in we start getting some fruit action going on with the blueberries,a nd then a week later a kidney bean. A KIDNEY BEAN?? REALLY???? Are we making salad or chili here?? Who eats kidney beans in their fruit and nut salad?

This whole making babies stuff is getting really wierd with all this new scientific comparison studies evidence. I mean really, Just send in the friggin proof of purchase from your Vlassic Pickle Jar, and wait for the stork to come by and drop off your baby*.

Anyways, after that you throw in some grapes, a few kumquats, some fig,a squeeze of lime, some shrimp (Okay, now something is really really odd. You're not supposed to be drinking while awaiting this delivery. I'm beginning to suspect someone is mixing drinks at the minibar. I'm not saying my sister and her husband are a couple of lushes, but they do live down in Florida, retirees live down in Florida, and all good old fashioned retired people enjoy a nice toddy in the afternoon before dinner. Ergo, by my calculations, they should be in the middle of a game of bridge here at the senior center in a few hours, toddy in hand, and wearing their pants up to the chest. All this, just to make a fruit salad baby.

Weeks 14-16 bring us a mixture of lemons, apples and avocados. This is one really messed up fruit salad now. Maybe their toddy's are being alternated with tequila shooters, and they got some kind of weird guacamole stuff going on with a nice big bowl of chips...compliments of the house staff, of course. Senor Juan will be back to take your order shortly.

After your preliminary chips and dip during Happy Hour, We hit weeks 17-19, where we throw turnips, bell peppers, and large heirloom tomatoes into the mix. I'm suspecting someone is spiking the bloody mary's a bit differently down there in Florida. But then again, My brotehr-in-law, Vic, is Cuban, so hey, maybe its a heritage thing, I dunno. Maybe Cubano babies take longer because the stork prefers to do the 90 mile cruise in a raft thing over flying. Meh...

Then you throw in bananas, carrots and Spaghetti Squash. Maybe someone overdid it on the afternoon drinking. Sounds like some V8 is coming to fruition, straighten these old codgers out some. They seem to be leaning over to their left a bit. Add in some Mango for zest, an ear of corn, and a rutabaga, followed by a dash of cauliflower and a whole cucumber. Yep, its some V8 coming their way for sure. Vic and Becky really need to lay off the sauce before this unGodly (but very healthy**) concoction is necessary to keep them stable enough to receive the baby when it comes.

At this point, I'm really hoping that they chose a surrogate baby preparer. At the rate they are going, I'm afraid they might lose a digit, or shave off part of their face while stumbling into the automatic food processor here.

For the next stage of baby development, you need to add in a chinese cabbage, a butternut squash,a dn then a regular cabbage. Talk about regular, you take just these three in any copious amount, you'll be more regular than you care to be on an average day. That's some serious fiber. I'd recommend just doubling up on the Ensure. Much more hassle-free, and it has to be easier on your system, really.

Starting at week 31, you throw in 4 navel oranges, a jicama, and a whole pineapple. You know, all this fruit is gonna make you regular for sure. You may want to try cutting back a bit, eat some red meat for crying out loud. I can already see that by the time the baby comes, this kitchen is going to be one big mess. Why? you ask. Well, I'll tell you why. Vic works hard all day long, making sure that Becky and baby Fruit Salad have a nice place to stay and food to put on the table (you know, to soak up all that drinking we got going on in here). Becky on the otherhand, is an admitted lazy slob sometimes. Yeah, big surprise, right? Yeah, I've come to realize that this pregnancy thing isn't about a baby, its about having a valid "medical" excuse not to do any housework. And when Baby Fruit Salad grows up, Becky will have her own little housework slave, so she can avoid further housework responsibilities while perusing the internet for useless drivel to read and look know, like my blog here.

By now you're going to start seeing the growing baby fruit salad as something recognizeable. Starting with week 34 and going to week 36, you're going to dice up and throow in some cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and a crenshaw melon. Seeing this might take you back down memory lane to when your parents dragged you to family reunions to see a bunch of really old people that claim to be related to you, pinch your cheek and tell you how they remember you when you were just "thiiis" tall, and how big and tall you are now! And somehow, after having been dragged away from perfectly good toys and cartoons at home, this is supposed to cause you to feel attachment to them and reciprocate the love. And how do you do this? You ask old Aunt Beulah where the cookies are! And then KAZAM! you have effectively disappeared to your secret hiding place under the table eating someone's well prepared chocolate chip brownies. But I digress...

As you near completion, you add just a last few finishing touches. It's already coming into picture, unlike that concoction you saw Martha Stewart make on TV that you tried to imitate but failed miserably at, and to comfort yourself, ordered the Snuggie and some "indestructible" flimsy steak knives from an infomercial. Now all we need to do to complete this thing is first, some Swiss Chard stalks, to help with the wrinkly aspect, just in case those grapes didn't turn into raisins in the hot sun. And finally add in some Leeks. Gives it that precious one of a kind, nasty new baby appeal. Kind of sourpusses their faces a bit, since you went and took them out of a nice warm climate controlled oven, and made them come out into your cold cruel world. And while you enjoy your frut salad and eat snacky stuff, they get to look forward to natural or artificial formula for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Yeah, that's real nice. Inconvenience Baby Fruit Salad, and then rub it in her face. Fine parents you'll make. Now, go grab another toddy, and Senor Juan will have your order up in about a week, Becky! Ask your doctor to serve up the dish with the "salad spoons". If Fruit Salad gets half of the combined brain power of you two, the salad spoons will be required to get that brain out!

*Please wait 8-9 months for delivery. Void in Rhode Island---RI voids everything. I think most of their people are born in Connecticut or somewhere else nearby. You want to win the lottery or contests of ANY kind, don't get caught dead living in RI, they'll disqualify you automatically.

**So say these supposed REAL doctors, but what do they know? They're just part of an evil system of greed looking to capitalize on every dime they can squeeze out of you. I say abuse the hell out of yourself and your body, it only makes you stronger. And you can trust me, I'm a fake doctor for chrissakes!

Friday, September 4, 2009

So, I'm Going To Be An Uncle

So, in the next week and a half to two weeks, my sister will give birth to her first child, a girl, Sophia.

Now, there are some kids of close friends of mine who refer to me as "Uncle Mikey", so being an uncle has sort of already happened, but I'm not sure if it is really the same. This one will be genetically linked to me. Not really sure if that's a good thing for her, but whatever. I don't even know exactly how I feel about the whole idea.

For 28+ years I have regarded my sister as an asexual THING. And now, there's a slight chance that someone was actually willing to sleep with her. That gives me the willies. Not from a protective big brother point of view, but as a Calvinesque (The comic character created by Bill Watterson, not the famous real-life Calvin) "EWWWWW" kind of thinking. I'm still wondering if I can't convince myself that a stork is dropping this baby off, and my sister's big belly and cramping are merely the result of some pancreatic infection that has spread throughout her abdomen and caused her to bloat.

I kid. But seriously, I really have no idea what to think about having a new niece. Am I going to become overly protective from a long distance of this little girl? Am I going to be the uncle who spoils the kid rotten before leaving her in her parents' lap and walking away from the situation? Will I be the grumpy uncle who refuses to be twisted around her little finger? Or will I bribe her with money to go do things that irritate my sister and her husband for the entirety of her at-home-with-the-rents life?

It's my understanding that I will meet Sophia this upcoming Christmas when they come up to my folks to visit for the Holidays. Of course at that point in her life, she'll still be a wrinkly ball of flesh and blood, kind of like my kids were when the stork dropped them off. I wonder why they are so wrinkly. Does the stork keep a big water cushion in the blanket to soften the landing for the baby when he drops them off, and it leaks out slowly upon impact soaking them until they look more like a raisin than a human? Do I have much use for a wrinkly little baby? When my youngest son was born, it was easy...get off work, come home, lay on the couch, and when he was finished with his bottle, I stick my pinky finger in his mouth and we passed out together. Dirty diapers??? No problem, mom will be home any moment now (this 'moment' is the same whether it is 8 minutes or 8 hours away)!!! Feeding more was no problem either. Bottle first, finger second, and drift off into yet another nap. Easy business. Sleep helps with ignoring the smell that mommy has to deal with when she gets home. Diapers and changing are not for me, I'd rather go clean the toilet or litterbox out (which ironically the boy used during his potty training once or twice)!!!

Of course, with them living in Florida, and us here in Iowa, is the impact of a new niece really going to affect me in any way? Well it will hit my pocket book, I do know that. Christmas gifts, Birthday gifts, random wife loves to shop, especially for other people. Me, I just ask my wife what we got whoever. Even during her family's Christmas, we draw names, and then she buys a present for whoever I got and labels it from me. I usually find out what the gift I gave was when the recipient does.

I grew up halfway across the country from my aunts and uncles. When we visited out there, I was out to impress my uncle Roger with my abilities, which usually amounted to "getting my favorite uncle another beer" as he so aptly put it. My uncle Doug was a cop and former Marine, so as a fellow adrenaline junky, I thought that was pretty cool and liked to monopolize his time as much as possible. (Stupid adults, however, kept crowding me out.) I once made him jump into a neighbor's yard over the fence to fetch a ball I kicked over there. The neighbor had a rather protective dog that didn't hesistate to chase doug back over to his side of the fence. I was tempted to watch the sheer athleticism over in real life replay, but it had been made clear to em that if the ball went over again, that I would be the one getting it. My aunt Janet, well I never really knew what aunt Janet did, other than give me this high arching eyebrow whenever I did or said something really stupid. I was in awe of "THEE eyebrow", mostly because I couldn't do it. And of course she cooked good food, which is the easiest way to make me love somebody. My heart I am convinced is located literally within the confines of my stomach. On my mom's side, my aunt Denise, was basically an older version of my mom. Mind, mouth and legs always on the move, and God only knows where they were going to take her. Not even sure she was always aware of that either. But she had a kid who had toys, so that was enough reason for me to go over there. My uncle George was the laid back "cool" uncle who played in a band, and did all the shooting like my Papa (my mom's dad). Again, as the kid, I was squeezed out from most interesting conversations with the old standby line "go play somewhere else." FUNHATERS! Although Uncle George always had about 500 good jokes to tell me, some of which I'm sure mom wished he wouldnt tell a little kid. For the life of me, I was always left not remembering a damn one of them. But trust me, they were funny when he told them. He had a knack for being a storyteller.

The physical distance seems to have also caused a relationship distance as well, but then again that may just be the loner type in me ruling that area of life. Maybe its just the generational gap, where our interests differed quite a bit as well. I wonder if the distance between my sister's residence and mine would cause the same thing to happen. Will I be the cool uncle when we're around each other in the future, or just her uncle from Iowa, who always lets mom and dad monopolize his time, while telling her to "go play somewhere else" and feign mild interest in whatever act or idea she is trying to impress us with?

I guess we'll find out. In the meantime I have to plot great uncle-niece pranks for the future, as well as prepare multi-faceted plans to interrogate future boyfriends in the interests of ensuring that they never talk her into letting a stork drop a wrinkly raisin, into her lap.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What Makes Me The Way I Am?

This question popped into my mind late last night, after speaking with my wife on the phone. And, as with most serious questions, my all to often used answer is 'I don't have a friggin clue.' And sadly, it isn't a cop out answer, I really and truly have no idea.

A little over 9 years ago, the pastor who was to marry us, asked us in a pre-marital counseling session "Why do we want to get married?"

Well, being young, immature, and parents for only about a year at this point, the words didn't come too freely. About all I could seem to articulate was the idea that I loved my and wanted to be with her as we raise our child in a (non-broken) home together. Apparently the pastor wasn't overly impressed with my boundless wisdom and the ability to express it.

My wife asked me last night what I expect out of our lives as a couple. Well, apparently the last time I gave such a question a single thought was when the pastor asked us that question 9 years ago, and have expertly brushed the thought off ever since.

My wife and I can basically complete each other. Her strengths and abilities are usually found where I would classify my weaknesses, and vice versa. There is little to no overlap. And when she posed this question to me, I struggled to answer and deflected the question back to her. She gave a very insightful and well thought out idea of what she expected out of our companionship. And of course, being the social genius that I am commented (with strong expertise, I might add) that she is definitely a woman, because I've never EVER heard a man say things like that. Only a woman could ever spew out all that stuff.

As I was growing up, I found myself in an odd social position. I had a few close friends, and then there was everyone else. I liked people, but then again I didn't like people all that much. I was a self-professed loner. I like a crowd, for the surrounding atmosphere that simultaneously provides me with a sense of anonymity. I think I re-invented myself about once a year or more in an attempt to 'fit in', unsuccessfully, and it pissed me off, and yet I alternated between almost hatred and apathy toward the people I sought so hard to impress. I was always best on my own. Whether I was just out wandering in the woods, sitting in my room listening to music, or working out in an empty gym, I felt best. Noone to bother me in any way shape or form. My wife can be apart from me or the kids for a short period of time and start to miss us. Whereas I can go out into the middle of nowhere and be gone for extended periods of time and not really be the type to miss people, even my family. Maybe there is something wrong with that?

I concentrated mostly on activities I could physically control. I got lost in my own thoughts of the world. When pushed into activities with others, I just melted into the background as much as possible, or in the event of me being the expert I pretty much tried to run the show according to own expectations. I only assumed leadership when I had to, and was sure of what I was doing. If I was in an unfamiliar realm, like acts or thoughts of emotions being put on display, I was more likely to withdraw to my own world, and let others figure it out, while I just go along with whatever.

I like to think I know where I stand in the world, and yet I am a conundrum unto myself. I am the walking contradiction, at least in my own estimations. I have really complex thoughts inside my head, but when I try to express them, the words get jumbled up, come out way different once they are verbalized. I've never been very confident in speaking out. Writing is my preferred method of communication, and even then my thoughts (just like this writing is turning into an unorganized and directionless rambling) still come out in type different than in my head.

I want to say that what I expect out of marriage would come out all eloquent, and yet I know it will come out not so much that way. I want to be able to spend time with my wife, have conversations at length with her that don't center on our jobs or what needs to be done concerning housework and bills. More often than not, she does the talking, and I hang out with my great barely monosyllabic retorts from time to time. Something I learned as a teenager and in my early 20s was the more that I spoke, the balance of credibility and baloney tipped more towards the latter. I felt it easier to save my credibility by just shutting up. Better to be silent and assumed stupid, than to open one's mouth and confirm it! That and I sometiems feel I have nothing new to say, and since I hate repeats, I project that onto others, especially my wife.

I've noticed also that when we get onto topical conversation about whatever, I hate it when we disagree. Not that we disagree in itself, but that I marry myself to my idea and end up making some counterproductive statements that may support my side the argument that go so far as to crush her spirit of wanting to even talk to me. And that does bother me. I hate conflict, despite the fact that I'm highly competitive, and always have been. I love winning, and hate losing--at anything. I've been working on avoiding going for crushing defeats in arguments. Not that my arguments were ever truly sound, I just used the bully-pulpit and a loud voice to ensure my opponent's forfeiture, and then bask in a glory that soon felt rather empty. Of course, if my wife and I are talking aout something and she agrees with me, it for some reason ticks me off, especially if she spouts out something that makes my point, only in a much more eloquent or decisive way.

In my mind last night I thought about this some and compared it to the Cold War. During the Cold War, there was the sphere of influence from the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Those were the clearly defined sides. Then Reagan goes and spends the Soviets into collapse, essentially. I remember loving that idea, that WE (the U.S.) won. Like I said, I love winning. And then as I was thinking through this, I had the oddest thought. Did Reagan just commit the ultimate act of dividing the population? Sure we always had partisan politics, but ultimately we were unified against this "Evil Empire." Sure, it's an oversimplification, but it was 'us and them'. Once we beat them, things changed and became more openly complex in the public arena. Maybe those Presidents before him who engaged the Soviets as a matter of the opponent to be tolerated had a higher wisdom, and Reagan ultimately committed a true evil by shifting the balance of power. Yeah, I know, odd thing to pop into my mind when the thought started out as a question posed by my wife, but it relates to my thinking a bit...

It has always been my wife and me. It just "was/is". And now she's (in a loving way) trying to make me think more complexly, and drive me out of the shell of my comfort zone. I work, I blog, I clean sometimes, I play basketball sometimes, and I think. She, on the other hand, FEELS. And she wants me to consider my feelings as well, so that we might be more compatible with each other, and expand our ability to communicate with each other.

As I'm sure I have mentioned before, I easily can emote anger or excitement at things like sports, board games, or certain "mike-type" activities. But when it comes to FEELINGS and EMOTION on the other more humane side of the scale, I have always turned them off. I view crying as a weakness. If I cried for someone else, like a friend or family member, that would be different. but the few times I have allowed myself to cry in my life, it was always for me and my own pity party, which only made me hate it even more, because that's just stupid, in my mind. I hate the fact that I'm ticklish, because its a weakness. And expressing myself in a more beautiful way makes me feel like I'm speaking 'sissy.' And that bothers the living crap out of me. I know, intellectually, that such thinking is farcical, and that a true man is capable of a balance between being the stoic rock to be leaned on, and the caring loving and communicative man. And yet, depsite the truth in that statement, putting it into action is so foreign to me, after all these years of trying to eliminate what I perceived to be weaknesses.

I begin to wonder if I missed something important, some type of life lesson, during all those years of trying to re-invent myself to make my life more exciting than it really was, instead of just being the me I was and accepting it and growing from there.

I mean my wife and I can talk about dreams and hopes and goals. I can dream with the best of them. I usually get to the end product, but the stuff in between to get there...not so much. And of course this frustrates my wife. She wants a partner to share the experiences of the journey and a clear cut plan put into action. I've always been an idea guy, and get myself lost from there. Rather than expose myself to my weaknesses and charge forward to overcome them, I slip back into my comfort zone and continue to churn ideas tha may or may not ever leave the confines of my head.

I guess that's why I like politics so's easy to pick a side on an issue and go with it. There's always a way to objectify anything and keep it as simple, even if that's not the reality of the situation. I can attack it with the exuberance of a 5 year old on a jar of cookies,a nd I don't necessarily have to move past it. And sometimes I wonder, despite my thoughts on what is mature, immature, stupid, or smart....maybe I never matured past the adolescent stage in life. And maybe I need to get past that.