Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Flu: A 12-Step Process

The Flu.

I don't know of anyone who wouldn't rather have a good back hair wax than the flu.

We've been hit in our house with not a shot of the flu but a volley of it. Started with reports of food poisoning and moved speedily (at last count) to over a dozen members of our family and friends.  While I have had the time for the past two days to lay around the house and do absolutely nothing, other than confirm that daytime TV totally sucks, I did reflect on the various stages of the flu along with some personal observations.
  • Stage I - Complacency ~ This is the stage of pure euphoria that you have prior to getting the flu. It's basically your life. Complacency, at least for a guy, has many components; forgetting to wash your hands after using the bathroom, drinking your milk straight from the carton, wearing the same pair of jeans for a week, drying with the same towel for a month, eating a protein rich diet. But you did get your annual flu shot.
  • Stage II – Hints of Things to Come ~ In our case it was just a comment about how someone was sick "the other day" from "food poisoning". We all thought about how horrible he must have felt. Food poisoning, what a way to go. The CDC will soon be on the job.
  • Stage III – It's in the House ~ The problem with smart people is that they don't put puzzles together very well. Morning comes and one of the baby's in the house for the holidays has thrown-up. No let's just say it, PUKED during the night. But nothing major, it's part of having babies, they puke in the night at random times. And on unsuspecting family.
  • Stage IV – This Parties Not Big Enough ~ Let's admit it, if you're going to get a lot of people sick you need a lot of people. Have a family dinner, invite all of your children and their children. Make sure that there is a lot of love going around, kiss that baby, let them eat off your plate, share a fishy kiss, hug and kiss everyone, within reason. And don't forget to go to the store and infect the masses, why should your family have all the fun?
  • Stage V – The Watson Stage ~ Sherlock Holmes would put the puzzle together and exclaim, "I've got it Watson" or something intelligent. The Watson Stage is where Sherlock would have already put it together and minimized the impact. We're more like Watson, we still haven't connected the dots. At church we get notice of our fallen comrades, grandpa, two sons, one son-in-law. All sick and unable to attend. Let's see, 1+1+2+1 equals we're dumb as dirt.
  • Stage VI – Spreading the Joy ~ Another family gathering, more hugs, loves, kisses, kids eating other kids food, adults sharing food with kids. It's an epidemic in hibernation.
  • Stage VII – Joy in Mudville ~ If you are the host of the party it's the highlight of the night when the party is over. It took hours but finally, everyone returned to their own homes. And we three settled down for a long winter night. Who knew?
  • Stage VIII – Say Hello to My Little Friend ~ It hit the wife first. She comes downstairs with a bowl in her hand, I thought that making cookies this late was a little quirky but HEY, I'm not arguing with fresh baked cookies. She announces that she is puking and that as an added gift this particular strain of the flu is choosing two external paths to wreak its havoc upon her body. I'm a guy so the fact that she is going to sleep in the guest room means I'll still be rested for work in the morning. I did offer to go to the store and buy 7-Up and Saltine crackers but was politely turned down.
  • Stage IX – My Eyes Are Open Now ~ By 11:15pm the cloud of death hanging over my house woke me up and told me it was my time to visit the bathroom. The victim of Stage VIII had politely asked me to use the downstairs bathroom and I relocated myself in a somewhat hurried manner to that room. I will admit that I now fully realized what was about to happen. It's like knowing the end of a murder mystery long before anyone else does. No matter how much you try to create an alternate ending in your head it doesn't change the outcome. I realized that the wife and I were both down. In retrospect I don't know if popping my head into my son's room and telling him that his mother and I were sick was just in case he had compassion or a forewarning. What I do know is that a half hour later I could hear him making noises in his room that sounded like the tune I'd been singing earlier. It was now official, this was a serial flu bug.
  • Stage X – The Negotiation ~ Now everyone in our house has the flu. Weakness had begun to set in and I was beginning to make deals with the big man upstairs. They say that there are no atheists in foxholes. I can tell you that there aren't any atheists with the flu either. The whole time you are kneeling down and praying to the porcelain prince you are also promising to do things that you would never do in your right mind. I promised him that I would pray more often, be nicer to my family, start eating right, watch Oprah, actually listen to my wife, finish projects around the house and lose the weight that I need to lose. I also personally committed to ending world hunger, find a cure for cancer and quit shooting, in the butt (with an air-soft gun), the defenseless squirrel that continues to live in my porch roof despite my efforts to evict him. My ace was to become friends with my wife's ex-husband but I'm saving that prayer for when or if my wife wants me to go to the opera with her.
  • Stage XI – The Aftermath ~ This is a strange period of time. I remember calling my boss and telling him I wouldn't be at work. That's about it. The Aftermath is a good time. During the Aftermath you aren't puking, not eating, and drinking water is to a minimum. Having the flu is like being a leper. You only have to tell one person and your social calendar frees up completely. No visitor's also means no one is going to see your messy house, therefore, no cleaning. Also, no dishwasher running, no washer/dryer in use, no vacuuming, and no showers. If you don't take a shower you're not changing clothes, underwear, brushing your hair, etc. You have little contact with society and know what it's like to be a zombie. You sleep away most of your day and nothing, and I mean nothing. You're entire life is based on your proximity to the bathroom. We got to the point where my son called me on his cell phone to ask if we had juice in the fridge. HE WAS UPSTAIRS! And closer to the fridge. But slowly, over a 48-hour period, we all have started to make a comeback. Which leads to:
  • Stage XII – Complacency ~ This is the stage of pure euphoria that you have after you've survived the flu. This is where you go back to all of your bad habits that you promised God you would leave behind. It's basically your life; forgetting to wash your hands after using the bathroom, drinking your milk straight from the carton, wearing the same pair of jeans for a week, drying with the same towel for a month, eating a protein rich diet.
And, remembering that you got your annual flu shot.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Greatest Invention Since…

Ever since I was a young boy I have heard people make reference to a new invention as "The greatest invention since sliced bread". Obviously the invention in 1928 of a mechanical machine to slice bread was a big deal to people in the 20th century. What took them so long to invent a machine with such a simple use is beyond me but I also can spend 2 hours staring at the TV wondering if I want to turn it on and watch it. Before the invention of this machine people, (gasp), had to slice bread with a bread knife one slice at a time. The inhumanity of it all!

History shows that Otto Frederick Rohwedder, originally of Des Moines, Iowa introduced a machine to slice bread on July 7, 1928, a date which also happened to be his 48th birthday. He first came up with the idea in 1912 but apparently just sat in his workshop for the next 16 years trying to find a faster, more efficient way to slice the bread for his daily peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Now Otto, Ot to his friends, wasn't a rocket scientist, primarily because they hadn't invented rockets yet, but he was from Iowa. Now Iowa is a major wheat producing state and I can only assume that there was a plethora of unsliced bread sitting on the shelf at the local general store just begging for this invention. I have a picture in my mind of unruly crowds in the streets of Des Moines protesting the governments inaction in coming up with a better way to cut a slice of bread off of the end of the loaf. Especially since slicing bread required that they make an effort.

Slicing bread wasn't new, the concept of the entire loaf of bread sliced at one time and prepackaged was. My struggle with sliced bread as the greatest invention since 1928 is that it is also a slap in the face to a lot of inventors before and after 1928. If the invention of the automatic bread slicer was the highpoint of inventing then inventing before and after 1928 must have been demoralizing.

Alexander Graham Bell invents the phone, Thomas Edison and his 1,063 patents, the building of the first a-bomb, Al Gore inventing the internet, they all pale in comparison to the invention of mechanically sliced bread.

Mr. Edison, "We have harnessed the power of electricity and directed its flow into this contraption of glass and fiber and have produced artificial light. The world will never be the same."

Assistant, "Unless we could find a way to slice a whole loaf of bread in one go. Now that would be something."

Edison, "Damn you!"

To be fair, Otto did try to multi-task in producing the first bread slicer. Up until 1928 bread wasn't available in a package either. So he had some pressure on him to produce. Not only did he have to slice bread in one go but also come up with the idea of a package for it. As mentioned, Otto came up with the idea in 1912 but apparently just thought about it for the next four years until 1916 when he actually decided to design it. I understand that as sometimes it would take my kids that long to clean up their room after I tell them to.

By 1916 Otto had a factory and a plan and he was really thinking he had something. Sadly and typical of the early 1900's his factory in Illinois caught fire in 1917 and burned to the ground. I think a cow started the fire. Of course the blueprints and his prototype bread slicer were now ashes and molten metal. The thought of starting over, World War I, and the fact that he was making his sandwiches out of hoagie rolls now put the dream of sliced bread out of his mind. In 1926 something happened that would change Otto's place in history.

Someone had previously invented toast but in 1926 Toastmaster invented the pop-up toaster. In 1927, seizing upon an opportunity and using his life savings, Otto pulled himself up by the jock strap, girded his loins, fresh courage took, and invented, patented, and introduced the first mechanical bread slicer and wrapper. It was such a hit that by 1930 Wonder Bread began selling pre-packaged sliced bread and all the bakers in the world copied them. Sliced bread was such a big deal that the sale of toasters skyrocketed. All because Otto's machine allowed for a standard size of bread. How visionary. I'm in awe.

Let's pause out of respect for Otto.

Of course, during the depression and before TV people were amused by the simplest things.

The industrial revolution, based on the invention of the mechanical slicer, peaked in 1928. Now, every new invention is compared to the invention of mechanical sliced bread. Everything invented before sliced bread barely garners recognition. Things that were the best invention prior to sliced bread include; fire, the wheel, dynamite, the light bulb, the flush toilet, waiting in line, two-seat outhouses, locomotives, airplanes, ships, and running water, just to name a few, don't have the appeal to the public of mechanically sliced bread in a plastic bag. And since 1928, TV, cell phones, rocket ships, computers, jet airplanes, Slinky's, the internet, Spam, Twinkies, and the remote control, have all been disappointing failures in comparison.

In Iowa Otto Rohwedder became something of a celebrity. Who can resist the man who invented the mass slicing of bread? But the attention of an adoring public and the paparazzi over his invention eventually drove Otto to take up residence in Michigan where people believed that the best invention before and since sliced bread was something called the automobile. Otto died in 1960 in Concord, Michigan without so much as a mention in the local paper.

I read that his coffin was in the shape of a loaf of bread with a big plastic bag around it and a giant twisty tie.

R.I.P. Otto, we shall never forget you.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

50 Ways To Kill Your Lover

Every once in a while my wife and I get into "bizarre" conversations that have nothing to do with reality but delve into the "what if" pretty deeply.  Most of the subjects that we cover are speculative and harmless. 

We've discussed what we would do if we were to win the lottery.  The amounts that we win increase with each conversation.  Of course you would have to play the lottery to win it, which is what makes it bizarre.  But rest assured that if we ever do win the lottery, even though we don't play it, that members of our family will be well taken care of.

As long as they subject themselves to a periodic drug test.

We'll also own a lot of cars.  My wife will have an old truck, a Porsche, and SUV and some odd makes.  Mine will be all British, mostly MG's and Jag's.

If we played the lottery.  But we don't.

I was driving I-90 by myself recently and I recalled a conversation that my little granddaughter and I had regarding my wife.  Katii and I were discussing how much she loved me and we were imitating some Sandra Bullock dialogue from an exchange with Benjamin Bratt in Miss Congeneality.  She didn't know it was Sandra Bullock but I did.  You know it well:

Me: "You love me?"

Katii: "Yes."

Me: "You think I'm handsome?"

Katii: "Yes." (with great dramatic intensity)

Me: "You want to marry me?"  (pouring the sugar on)

Katii: "Yes!"

Me: "Well you can't!  I'm married to Grandma."  (Bursting her bubble).

And then I added, "unless her brake lines get cut and she dies in a horrible accident."

Katii then rushes upstairs to our bedroom and announces to Grandma that she is going to marry Papa when her brake lines are cut.

Which is why my wife and I had this bizarre conversation about how we would kill each other, an event that I would more than likely experience if I tried to change sides of the bed, her if she continues to try to pass off ground turkey as "tasty and healthy".

The problem with people that kill their spouse is that they get selfish and kill them in a moment of passion.  The problem with passion is that it makes logical people do illogical things.

Not following?

Let me give you an example.  It all comes down to motive.  It my wife wants to get away with murder she needs to convince me to cancel my insurance policy.  That way she would have nothing to gain if I'm dead.  See, no motive, no suspicion.

And if I want to get rid of her I would have to continue to ignore her and not listen.  If I suddenly started to listen to her that would throw suspicion on me.

"I don't know officer, he just started spending extraordinary amounts of time with her."  Yeah, dead give away.

How they died is another mistake often made by a killer spouse.  My wife can't die of drowning or from a high place.  In fact, she's pretty well exempt from being murdered as she has a very healthy fear of water, including the kitchen sink, and anyone that knows her is aware that anything above a step stool is an extreme height.  Falling off the edge of a cliff or having a malfunctioning parachute when she's skydiving will immediately throw suspicion on me.

My murder has fewer limitations upon it.

Here are a number of scenarios in which I could die an accidental death and not throw suspicion upon my wife.  Death by:
  • Skydiving
  • Bungee Jumping
  • Car Accident
  • Power Tools
  • Excessive TV Viewing
  • At work late
  • At work early
  • Cut brake lines
  • Overdose by Almond Joy
  • Choking on my food
  • Popcorn overdose
  • Falling off of ladders/roofs/stairs/scaffolds/bunk beds, etc.
You get it.  I don't have many ways that I can die and arouse suspicion.

I'm not saying that there aren't conditions that wouldn't bring suspicion, like:
  • Dying in my sleep between 6:30am to 9:30pm, seven days a week.
  • While driving my MG (none of them run)
  • Ironing my shirts and getting electrocuted
  • Death by cleaning chemicals
  • While vacuuming
  • While completing a project (I'm told that I don't)
  • Choking on peas
The wife and I have had this discussion not because we're not currently planning each others death, it seems to be a healthy dialogue.  In a bizarre, sick, and psycho way.


Kill him while you cook Brooke

Hit her with the grill Bill

Monday, November 1, 2010

Four-Letter Words Coming Out of My Mouth

Nearly three weeks ago I drove my wife out of our house. Literally, in our car.

I've seen her in the past couple of weeks, just not at my house. The hottie has been 280 miles away helping out around the house as my eldest son brought a new child into the world. Okay, he drove his wife to the hospital, other than that his assistance ended at conception.

I'm usually not a fan of inducing labor but considering the last child was born in their car, I can understand it. Besides, it was plain luck that my son just happened to be in the right place at the right time to catch the baby and they can't afford another car right now.

While my wife has been gone, I found some four-letter words in my speech that I haven't used since my mom would wash my mouth out with soap for saying such four-letter words. Four-letter words like: wash, iron, cook, fold, load, clean, and vacuum. I know that clean and vacuum aren't four-letter words but they make me want to say some others much worse.

I'm doing it all wrong too. I just finished folding clothes in the family room. Standing, in my underwear, folding underwear, watching Top Gear. My wife would at least have a robe on. And it's not that I'm doing this in my underwear, I know that I'm not folding things right. The towels don't look right, the cloth napkins don't have fold marks in the right place and my underwear shows the remnants of the skid marks.

My wife would never fold clothes like me. She's a pro.

The truth is I might have let a few things go over the past couple of weeks with regards to the cleanliness of the house. I'm losing the battle. I tried to leave the toilet seat up a few times but I felt so guilty that after a couple of minutes I ran back upstairs and put both the seat and the lid down. I've vacuumed the family room a number of times but it tends to be where I live at night and I've been losing the battle against the wasps that have built a nest in the wall of my house. A vacuum, by the way, is a handy little tool that can also be used to suck a wasp to death.

I've ironed a shirt or two, and not just the parts of the shirt that are going to show. I ironed the entire shirt. I've sewed on buttons, cooked dinner, breakfast, kind of made the bed, definitely put a pillow case on two pillows for the grandson to use, poured chocolate milk out of the jug into the glass, loaded the dishwasher a gazillion times, unloaded it a zillion, which means that it's full right now.

Now I've committed the unpardonable sin.

I actually did the laundry.

Which I am forbidden to do.

Because… I tend to turn the whites into colors.

One little mistake and I live with it for life.

The good news is that everything came out the right color. The bad news, as previously mentioned, is that I have no concept of how to fold clothes or where the towels go.

And I have one stray sock without a partner, white, ankle length.

As for cooking, I can cook. But I miss chili Tuesday, her meatloaf, our passion for brussel sprouts, trying to force me to eat Romaine lettuce because it's healthier and besides, iceberg doesn't have any nutritional value or taste. She says.

I feel bad leaving the house in the morning and I haven't loaded the dishwasher.

I'm a baaaaaad man!

But mostly I just miss her. When she's here the world is right.

And the skid marks don't show.