Monday, June 30, 2008

Y Chromosome Linked Trait Confirmed

I find it interesting that at Scott's stage in life, "the paper" is a map of SeaWorld. Gotta stay on top of how many waterslides they boast this week...

"This paper contains facts. And this paper has the eighth highest circulation in the whole wide world. Right? Plenty of facts. 'Pregnant man gives birth.' That's a fact."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

How to Ruin Your Car... In a Jiffy

Once upon a time...

I'm a poor college student and my car needs an oil change. Every time before this I've been able to do it when I'm back in California at my parents' house. But not this time. And I live in apartments that won't let me work on my car. Dang it! I'm going to have to *gulp* have someone else change my oil...

But I've heard so many horror stories. Like the guy who used to work at an oil change place and told my dad about how they would lose track of whose oil drain plug was whose, so they'd just grab the nearest one and keep twisting until the oil stopped coming out. Stories of messy disasters, or worse yet, engines that drowned to death because of overfilled crank cases. Or the people who thought their car sounded funny after an oil change and discovered after driving away that there was no oil in their car. [Look guys, it's pretty simple. In essence, a 2 step process. #1 Drain the old oil. #2 PUT NEW OIL IN!!!]

Well, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. I guess I take my car somewhere... But wait! They'll use cheap dino oil. AND A FRAM OIL FILTER!!! (For more on this see "Filters to Avoid: Fram Extra Guard" here.) No, it will be okay because I will bring my own synthetic oil and oil filter and have them use it. Sure, they'll charge me the same as a regular oil change, but it's a whole lot cheaper than paying them to put their synthetic oil in my car. I guess that just proves that regular dino oil is so worthless, they don't even charge you for it!

Okay, so now I'm sitting here in the waiting room that smells like stale cigarette smoke, waiting for them to finish while I worry about how they're messing up. I HATE having people work on my car. Car mechanics always treat me like a dumb broad, no matter how well informed I come across. [Flash forward: I can now confirm this is not just me crying "sexist." I always make M talk to car mechanics because he gets radically better results. He and I can ask the exact same question. I get a one sentence blow off. M gets a 20 minute in-depth explanation.] But wait! Did I just call these guys "car mechanics"? Because seriously, these guys aren't even. They're lower than mechanic scum. Mechanic school drop outs. These are guys that couldn't cut it as actual mechanics!!! And I'm trusting them with my car?!?!?

Okay, breathe. Breathe. I'm going to be okay. My car's going to be okay. But I have to do something. I'll just stand up and hover a little. You know, give them the evil eye through the big windows. Watch 'em like a hawk. I can almost hear them laughing at the crazy girl in the waiting room that brought her own oil and filter. Yah well, laugh if you want. But if you screw up my car, you won't be laughing anymore. Now pay attention to what you're doing, ya drop outs!

[Flash forward again: M discovered a much more effective technique for "hovering." When you see them struggling to figure out how to get to the oil filter on your Passat, lean your head out onto the floor and gently suggest that they're either going to have to move the coolant reservoir or else take the air hose off the intake manifold. After that, they pretty much know you're going to notice that they never lube the seal on the oil filter, let alone if they neglect to put any oil back in your car.]

Okay. Here comes the annoying part where they tell me about all the other maintenance I "need." Blah, blah, blah. Whatever it is, no! I can put new windshield wiper blades on myself, thankyouverymuch. And I can barely stand to let you change my oil. Do you really think I'm going to let you flush my transmission fluid? I don't want you anywhere NEAR my transmission. In fact, does this mean you LOOKED at my transmission? Oh man. If it breaks now there's gonna be hell to pay. I'll know you guys jinxed it and now... Wait! Did you just say I need a new air filter?!?!? Okay, now that's just rich. If we consult my trusty logbook that has a record of everything I've ever done to my car (including the date, mileage, quantity, and price of every gas fill up), you'll see that I just changed my air filter 1,000 miles ago. (And now that I've spilled the beans about my logbook, all of you can just stop laughing at my anal retentiveness now. No really, stop!)

Phew, okay. They're giving me my car keys back. I inspect my car. It looks okay. I start it up. It sounds okay. There's just one last problem. What kind of fool do they take me for? So I go back to one of the guys. They look at me confused. "That's it. You'll all finished," they tell me.

"No," I say, "I want the rest of my oil. I gave you a five quart jug of oil. My car takes about three and a half quarts. Where's the rest of my oil??? Who do you think I am? Some idiot who's stupid enough to have other people change their oil???"

Do I Look Like the Fish?

Remember my claim about the fish from Sea World?
I've had a request to prove it. And I'm always one to bring it. Bart, this one's for you:

My hair. Air dried. No product. Brushed out. (Just don't let Sarah see me like this!)
Maybe a little more poufy and a little less striped, but I still think that, like the fish, it screams,
"Do not touch!"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Come On Ride the Train...

What was I thinking?!?!? Why again did I get out the little potty?

I suppose somewhere in my subconscious I was deluded into thinking that maybe the only thing stopping Scott from flawlessly potty training himself with no effort on my part was the absence of an appropriate receptacle. I got the little potty out and I've been letting him occasionally sit on it. Very non-committal on my part, really. I figured I was just getting him "comfortable" with the whole idea. I mean, I don't ACTUALLY want to potty train him yet. I'd prefer to wait until he's about 5 1/2 and then just before he needs to enter Kindergarten, we will simply inform him one day that it's time to stop pooping in his pants, and that will be it. Actually, in reality I'd rather wait until we don't even have to tell him that and he just decides on his own, but those pesky Kindergarten teachers can be so unreasonable about changing poopy diapers.

Now you're probably wondering about Claire. I admit it. I did a pretty close approximation of the whole "Potty Train in a Day" gimmick (and it worked pretty well) and we did it when she was a little over 27 months old. If we do the same thing with Scott we should be starting about NOW. Yah right! You see, with Claire I was motivated. Motivated and naive. Motivated because Scott was already born and I thought I should try to only have one child in diapers at a time. Naive because I thought how much easier my life would be once Claire was potty trained. HA! It's two years later and Claire is finally accident free, unless we have house guests. And then she wets her bed EVERY night and has at least one, if not three, accidents during the day. But anyway, that's a whole different issue...

Scott has started wanting to get on the potty all the time. And not only that, but he's actually doing more than just sitting there. Apparently the candy rewards have sunk in. I mean, I couldn't NOT give him a reward when he actually starting using the potty. But seriously, that wasn't actually supposed to work! He does have his quirks though. He will only "perform" if we give him some privacy. My favorite part is that when he's done he likes to empty his little potty into the big potty, then he rips off a square of toilet paper and throws it in for good measure. That's what the toilet bowl looks like after Mommy or Claire finishes, right? Then he flushes it all down.

Sure, it's great progress, but I don't want to potty train him yet. I mean, it's really so easy the way things are right now. Scott doesn't even poop every day like Claire did. Fresh diaper when we get dressed in the morning. Fresh diaper if he happens to make a solid deposit during the day. Fresh diaper when we put on PJ's at night. That's it. (Go ahead and fill the comments berating me for not changing diapers more often if you must. But neither Scott nor his nether regions seem to mind and the diapers don't leak. As long as his shorts can hold the bulging diaper, we're good. If you change toddler diapers more often than that, all I can say is, "Sucker!")

Tonight after Scott got his reward for peeing in the potty, I teased him (for the sake of M who was listening), "Are you trying to potty train on me?"

Scott's eyes lit up and he asked me, "Potty TRAIN??? Choo-choo?!?!"

DANG! I gotta stop inadvertently motivating him...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Kids Think It's Called "Wal-Fart" - I Wonder Who Taught Them That?

Today is just one of those days where I could really use a do-over. Yuck. What could possibly console me? Ah, I know. A little Wal-Mart bashing always puts me right back in a good mood.

My friend Kristi posted yesterday about not having a problem with Wal-Mart. Well, I don't have a problem with other people going to Wal-Mart. I just don't want to go there myself. I started a comment on her post that was getting so out of hand that I just quit and decided my two cents needed it's own post.

You see, my gripes about Wal-Mart are not what you probably think. I don't care if some people think they're borderline monopolistic. That's what you get for living in a small town. I don't care if they coerce suppliers into giving up their first-born children. I'm all about capitalism. I don't care if they run sweat shops. Crack that whip if you must, Wal-Mart. (Of course this is all easy for me to say since I have no part in it...) No, my real problem with Wal-Mart is much more superficial. I just hate being in Wal-Mart. I couldn't care less about all the high-minded objections to Wal-Mart out there based on actual meaningful ethical stances. As for me, I guess I'm just snooty.

You see, I used to go to Wal-Mart. I mean, I do love to get a good deal, so I should always check there, right? But I kept coming home miserable and telling M that I just HATED going to Wal-Mart and NEVER found what I went for. He accused me of being a melodramatic snob. (But not in so many words, he's much too nice for that.) So I kept trying. I kept trying them as an alternative for sewing supplies that was closer than the fabric store, but they never had what I needed. I kept trying them for kids' shoes, but they never had anything that fit Claire's fat toddler feet. Lots of trying with little to no success. Over the course of about 4 years I determined that I had only really found something I was pleased with when I went to Wal-Mart for sporting goods (READ: guns and ammuntion) and automotive supplies. And then they stopped carrying the AC Delco oil filters I wanted. I associate Wal-Mart trips with misery, disappointment, and wasted time. Let me tell you about a few of my choice experiences.

Once I went to Wal-Mart looking at window unit air conditioners. The older gentleman that "helped" me could not tell me which unit went with which price tag on the shelf. He could not tell me if they normally carried a unit with a certain number of BTU's in stock. He could not tell me if they would get any more in, let alone when. Basically I was left looking at random boxes and having no idea how much anything cost and wondering if the half empty shelves would ever be replenished.

Another time I went to Wal-Mart looking for an ironing board cover. I did eventually find one, but they all had hideous designs on them. Cats with baskets of ivy and big floral prints that looked like cheap motel bedding. The compromise of my style was not worth the 11 cents I was going to save.

Once I went to Wal-Mart looking for a ride-on toy for my daughter. The one I wanted (the one without obnoxious TV characters my kids had never heard of and that didn't play brain lacerating sounds at top volume if you looked at it wrong) was almost sold out except for one way up on a very high top shelf. I'm tall, but not that tall, so I had to ask someone to help me. I looked and looked but the only Wal-Mart employee I could find only had one arm. Now I think it's great that Wal-Mart employs people with disabilities and I'm not blaming this woman and so on and so forth with the politically correct stuff. It's not her fault there weren't any other employess around, but in the end I had to wait around for her to slowly conclude that no other employees were available, then awkwardly carry a ladder over. Then she climbed to the top of the ladder and had to figure out how to carry this fairly large ride-on toy down the ladder with her only hand. Suffice it to say that it took a long time and I was tormented by images of this woman toppling from her precarious perch to her death. With the toy I needed clutched in her arm. That would have been a real dampener on my toy purchase plans. I mean, I wouldn't exactly have been able to pull the toy out of her grip and make a run for the check out without a) feeling really guilty that I was giving my daughter a toy bought with a human life and b) undergoing extensive questioning and possibly mental health evaluation when the police caught up with me. So yah, Wal-Mart didn't really leave a good impression that day when they left that poor woman as the only available employee.

One time I went to Wal-Mart looking for a prepaid wireless phone card. I talked to the employee in the Electronics department. HE DIDN'T KNOW WHERE THEY WERE! Even in his own department??? After wandering around for quite awhile, he asked another employee who found them around the corner from the electronics department desk. Maybe this time the guy who helped me was blind...

The last time we went to Wal-Mart was when M and I were looking for a forward facing car seat/booster seat for Claire. I was not terribly thrilled because Scott had outgrown his infant car seat at 4 months old and it was time to play musical car seats. So we really didn't want to spend much money. Wal-Mart to the rescue?!?!? Maybe? We tried to do our research online, but you see, there used to be this other problem with Wal-Mart. The products on their website frequently had NOTHING to do with what they carried in-store. They have since remedied that, but too little too late. Anyway, as we were trying to come to grips with the hideous prints (okay, strike "we," maybe only I cared) on all the options that were "good deals," it happened. We had to move a package of fresh sausage off of the one the boxes so we could look at the specs of the car seat within. I'm talking about the kind of sausage that should be kept refrigerated. The kind you buy in the meat displays with a thin plastic film over it's now rotting contents. That was the last straw. M finally agreed with me and we stopped going to Wal-Mart after that.

So there you have it. I just stopped going.

I've had enough of TV's blaring the obnoxious "Wal-Mart channel."

I've had enough of coming home empty handed or worse yet, wondering if I'd just bought a special "crappy Wal-Mart version" of a name brand I trusted that was going to fall apart the next time I looked at it. I mean, it's not like you can actually compare apples to apples since the items they sell at Wal-Mart frequently aren't sold anywhere else. Do you really think that Sony CD player that only Wal-Mart sells and that just so happens to be five bucks cheaper than any other Sony CD player you've ever seen is really the same quality? If the Sony CD players aren't the same, and the Levi jeans aren't the same, maybe the tube of Colgate toothpaste isn't the same too. I can't trust any of it anymore. Go ahead and take the blue pill if you want.

I've had enough of helping to pay the salary of the old lady at the front whose sole purpose seems to be prepping and distributing shopping carts and slapping yellow smiley face stickers all over everyone under 4 feet tall who comes in the door. ("I can pick my own, non-wobbly wheeled cart, thankyouverymuch. And Claire, take that sticker off or someone might know we've been here...")

Now so far I've mostly addressed the non-food side of Wal-Mart. I know a lot of you out there grocery shop there too. I don't because white people food is such an insignificant part of our menu. I have enough trouble finding all the ingredients I need at a store dedicated to selling you food. Do you really think I have any luck at Wal-Mart? That being said, there is one thing (besides ammo) that we go to Wal-Mart for. When we make a quick run for ice cream, Wal-Mart is the place to go. Excellent selection of fattening packaged foods... I'll resist the obvious jab here.

You Wal-Mart grocery shoppers must be the people that say Target is expensive. Because, yes, Target has ridiculously overpriced food. But for everything else it usually goes something like this: Target = $3.99 Wal-Mart = $3.88 And the Target one might actually be kinda pretty to look at. If those 11 cents are really going to make or break you, you probably shouldn't buy the four dollar piece of junk anyway. And if you really need that item? Personally, my dignity is worth 11 cents. Not to mention all the 11 cent savings it takes to repair that ding in my car door from it's stint in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

So after quitting cold turkey, I thought I would be plagued by visions of all the money I wasn't saving. I mean, I'm such an obsessive cheapskate at heart. But it turns out I'm just happier instead.

We can all theorize about what the root of the problem is. Maybe the store is to blame. Or maybe it's the people who shop there. But does it really matter? All that matters is that I feel out of place in Wal-mart. I know, I know. It's because I'm stuck up right? Well, if you want to be a "shopper without borders" and brave the disorganization, useless sales associates, and rotting sausage, be my guest. I won't stop you.

In fact, you won't even have to worry about getting hit by my car when I'm passing through the the parking lot and you jump out in front of passing cars without looking as if leaving Wal-mart with your haul of cheesy junk gives you the right to stop ALL traffic in both directions FOREVER and the power to suspend the laws of physics that say I may not be able to stop in time...

Breathe, G, breathe...

Did I mention that we don't even drive through the Wal-Mart parking lot anymore? It takes fewer years off my life to take the long way around.