Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Random Thoughts 8

  • I have decided to build and offer Second Aid Kits. This seems prudent for two reasons:

1.      The first aid kit market is already over-saturated.
2.      The expectations are lower with a second-aid kit.

This would be for people who wish to offer token support in the event of a medical crisis. I haven’t settled on the contents yet but it will probably include a box of Dollar General Band aids, expired aspirin, a King James Bible and, depending on how effective the first aid kit was, either a Get Well card or a note of condolence.
  • Judge me if you will, but my son loves it when I read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to the tune of Regulate by Warren G.

  • I enjoy it when people interject political ideas into the commentary section pf otherwise unrelated YouTube videos. There is nothing like watching, say, a miniature pony arc-weld and then scrolling down to find “Once Obama’s third term starts he will implement sharia law and mandatory unarmed abortions.”
  • There is so much irony when a 24hr news network convenes a panel to discuss the proliferation of mass shootings and a participant laments that such tragedies tend to be spurned by “excessive media coverage.”

Ultimate Country Song
I was born on an old dirt road
So poor that momma’s birth-plan was the commode
Drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon on a Saturday night
It gets hard to tell who your kinfolk are in the pale moonlight.
Her eyes danced in the taillights of my four-wheel drive
Singing along to A County Boy Can Survive
It ain’t easy being a cusband and a father
Can’t mix Brittani-Sue’s formula with pond-water
Family tree got messier than an ink-blotter
Why’d I have to put the moves on Uncle Cooter’s only daughter?
Looks like we got another bun in the oven
We keep this mobile home rockin’ like a tornado’s coming
Fingers crossed and Good Lord willin’
I’ll get my new boat when she shatters Wal-Mart’s glass ceiling

  • Not long ago, I found myself in a drive-thru line behind a woman in a Volvo SUV that featured the personalized license plate “HURTIN.”

1.      She is among the millions of Americans who live with chronic pain.
2.      She is facing financial insolvency.
3.      Hurtin is her surname.

I really hope it is the second option because that would mean that someone paid extra to affix a personalized license plate to a $45,000 SUV for the purposes of advertising their poverty.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fun With Childcare!

Recently my wife and I had occasion to seek full-time childcare for our kids. When you have multiple children, the white whale is to have them all placed at the same facility. It quickly became apparent that this would be next to impossible without a few well-placed bribes and a possible religious conversion so we began looking separately while holding on to the hope that we could pull off a miracle.  

First was my son, who has literally been on daycare waiting lists since he was born two years ago. We finally located a reputable and highly-recommended local program only to discover that his hairstyle was in direct violation of their dress code which forbade a boy’s hair from covering their eyes or touching their collar. I can only assume that this is to prevent the proliferation of marijuana use among the toddlers. This was not necessarily a sticking point as we had already decided to have his hair cut, but part of me wanted to push the issue and demand cornrows as a compromise.
I was also somewhat disappointed with the payment options offered. I was hoping that I could place non-sequential un-marked bills in my son’s lunchbox along with an ace of spades, but sadly they only accepted bank auto-draft. In advance. From a Swiss account. I assume that there are a large number of kited checks in the childcare industry. I hope they have someone named “Vinny” who performs collections and finds it necessary to lift you off your feet during conversations about bringing your account current.  

There are also extremely strict late-fees. These tend to be the dollar-a-minute variety and when you are getting that granular I feel that an atomic clock should be provided by the facility. Otherwise, who is to say they aren’t a little short this month so somebody decided to move the minute hand forward and make a quick profit. Who resolves these time disputes? Does the national observatory weigh in? Is it from the time I get through the front door or the time that I legally take possession of my offspring?

Once we had finally decided on a place and resigned ourselves to having our child there, we received a call from a place that could possibly place them both. All of this was contingent upon several unrelated events (personnel change, parole revocation, el nino) occurring within a given time frame. As remote as the possibility was, the prospect was alluring enough that we dropped our original plan for him. Sadly, this was after we’d had his hair cut.

This left my daughter, who we needed a backup plan in case the "white whale" scenario fell through. Like all infants, she was tougher to place. There are several reasons for this:

1. The state required caregiver-to-child ratio was much lower for infants therefore reducing the profit margin for those who offered it and creating an overall shortage of openings.

2.  For the spots that are available, priority is given to siblings of children already enrolled and since our son had never gotten in she was susceptible to rejection by non-association.

3. My wife is fiercely protective of our children.

We found one place that was amazing but they had a fairly ambiguous facilities citation on their report card from the state, so I placed a call to the inspector for our area. While we waited for the return call, I speculated as to what would constitute a facilities violation. Did the play room share a wall with a metal foundry? Was it the asbestos activity center that drew the government’s ire?

Once the call was returned, we discovered that the violation occurred because they had neglected to turn down the default setting for the hot-water heater thereby creating a situation where a child could potentially scald themselves. I feel like there should be an easier to decipher rating system for these inspections. Like  sad-face=hot water in sink and skull and crossbones=unattended firearm in crib.

Almost universally, the daycare brags that they will care for your children there just as you would at home. I have always wanted to respond by telling them that I consider myself a subpar parent at best and for what it costs I would prefer that they actually treat my children better than I would at home.

The naming is so important with these facilities. There was even one in our town that had a number 2 after it implying that it was the sequel to an earlier (perhaps heavily litigated) daycare. I half expected their motto to be “this time will be different.” In that spirit, I have created a list of names that should be avoided at all costs:

They Were Like That When You Dropped Them Off Children’s Center
Little Blisters Preschool Work Camp
A Felon’s Touch Daycare
Factory Seconds Crib Proving Ground
Take a Kid, Leave a Kid Exchange Club
Once Upon a Plea Bargain’s Discount Sitter Services
Big Jim's Clinical Trials Playschool

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Just Fine

Several weeks ago I found myself standing in line at the local Walgreens waiting for a pharmacy refill. As I waited for the next available associate, I could not help but overhear the phone conversation of the pharmacy tech directly in front of me. She was calling someone about a refill and toward the end of the conversation she said, “That will be just fine.”

The moment might have passed unnoticed except the gentleman behind me in line began parroting the statement with a strange inflection. Over and over in a deep baritone, he would say, “That will be juuuust…fine…….” He would occasionally pause between repetitions to chuckle in amusement and then continue the mantra.

After a disturbing amount of time, he leaned forward so that he was almost over my shoulder and said, “Hey man. You remember that?” Since we were the only two people in line I knew he was addressing me and I had no choice but to turn around. I found myself facing a stocky gentleman in his twenties wearing a backpack. His demeanor indicated that he still wanted me to answer the question and I was unsure how to respond since I could interpret his inquiry a number of ways:

1.      He was asking if I am lucid enough to recall the pharmacy tech utilizing the phrase just 30 seconds ago.
2.       Do I remember him saying it over and over again until I wish I had never switched pharmacies?
3.      Did the two of us have had a prior encounter in which the phrase played some significance?

Just as I was contemplating which answer would be the least likely to prolong the interaction, his face lit up in anticipation and he said, “Darkman! Liam Neeson! 1990!” Relieved to at least have a point of reference for one of the strangest interactions I have ever had, I responded that while the title sounded familiar I had not seen the film.

Undeterred, he continued to describe the phrase’s use in the film until he introduced himself as Kirk. He also revealed that he was a small business owner who specialized in the “delivery of Hollywood hits directly to your home” and began removing his backpack. In short order he had produced a gigantic spindle of burned DVD’s and selected a copy of the Colin Firth movie Kingsman: Secret Service with his cell phone number on it. 

With a hint of pride, he informed me that he “did his own previews” and that had several theatrical titles available for purchase. Delivery anywhere within the city limits was just $2 and he often ran BOGO specials. After assuring him that I would “tell my people” about his services, he handed me the disc and I retrieved my prescription.

When I got home and relayed the story to my wife, her response was, “You accepted the disc? Why?” I replied that curiosity got them best of me and I wanted to see what he meant by “doing his own previews.” Did he add his own voiceovers to current movie trailers? Did he use Final Cut Pro and actually re-enact movie trailers in his bedroom? Was this an FBI sting operation?

Needless to say I found an old laptop, placed the disc in, and was presented with a scrolling warning against a red backdrop that read “DO NOT PLAY THIS DISC IN A VIDEO GAME CONSOLE!!!” I found this to be odd since you actually have to play the disc to see the warning and presumably by that time it would be too late. This went by several times until the message began to elaborate:

The warning was so comically over-the-top I was tempted to borrow someone’s XBOX to see if it would burst into flames. Finally, the previews began and they were for movies so new I am pretty sure at least one was still listed as currently in post-production on If the previews had been any fresher he would have been required to shoot the footage himself.

The film itself was clear and featured what looked to be Cambodian subtitles (although the spoken language was English) and I couldn’t help but admire Kirk’s chutzpah. It takes fortitude to hand-write your name and cell phone number on the piece of evidence most likely to be presented against you at trial. Even drug dealers aren’t that brazen. All I know is that if I worked for the FBI’s anti-piracy division this would have been the easiest case ever. I would just call and have him deliver to the office; and when I told him that he had the right to an attorney he would reply, “That will be juuuust…fine…..”