Reduced To A Taxi Driver And A Banker

A father can serve many roles with his children throughout the years:

  • Janitor when she makes a mess
  • Teacher when helping her with homework
  • Chef when preparing a lunch or dinner
  • Doctor/nurse when she is sick
  • Inventor when helping her dream up a play-time scenario
  • Architect/Builder to make that scenario happen
  • Mechanic when fixing that broken toy
  • Counselor when she needs guidance on a problem

    As the years wear on, she is often less and less interested in these roles. However, there are two roles that remain for me: Taxi Driver and Banker. Sometimes I feel like I spend my life in the car shuttling the kids all over creation. And of course, there’s nothing more expensive than raising kids. I will see the Taxi Driver role start to fade as the Older Daughter starts driving next year. It’s bittersweet. I want her to grow up and be independent, but dads like being useful.

    Why Do We Need A Border Fence?

    A previous post, Christmas Wish List For The United States, is starting to generate some discussion on my item about building the border fence. This is a good thing. Let’s talk these things through as a people and figure out the best approach. However, I need to take a step back and make the case on why we need the fence. So after the first of the year, look for a series of posts in which I will lay out what the root problem is, why it is a problem, and one of possibly several steps we need to take to solve it. So stay tuned and do some research on your own if you have time. Let’s have an honest, intelligent discussion based on facts.

    Because I Said So

    Thanks to Nectarfizz for sharing this clip. She’s got some funny stuff–check her out.

    Most of my posts are from a dad’s point of view. But let’s take a moment to honor moms. In my household (and many others), if it weren’t for The Wife, things just wouldn’t get done. Seriously, if I wasn’t married, I would probably sign up for a grocery delivery service, move the fridge to the living room, and have the couch surgically attached to my butt. That’s how lazy I would be.

    In this video clip (Mom’s Overture by Anita Renfro), she has taken all of the things a mom says to the kids in a day and condensed them down into just under 3 minutes. She sings them to the tune of the William Tell Overture. Enjoy…

    Dumbest Person, Part II

    You may recall from an earlier post (I’m The Dumbest Person On The Planet) that The Older Daughter apparently doesn’t think I have the brains to read a movie listing in the newspaper. And that because of this, I believe she now thinks that I have no more functioning brain cells.

    Well, it is with deepest regret that I announce the death of The Wife’s last brain cell today. Let me explain. The Daughters have been in soccer for many years now–I think we figured out 10 years to be exact. The Older Daughter quit playing a few years back, but now wants to get back into it. Well, of course, all the gear (shin guards, shoes, etc.) is now too small.

    So The Wife is talking with the Older Daughter and saying that they need to go gear shopping soon. You would have thought that The Wife had grown a third eye. The Older Daughter could not fathom that mom could know anything about what kind of items were needed to play soccer. Nope, The Wife has been doing this shopping for 10 years and even coached for a few years, but how could she possibly know what is needed? The Older Daughter thinks that a soccer-playing friend of hers is some sort of gear expert, so she wants to go with her. I get it, she’d rather go shopping with her friend than mom. Why not just say that rather than implying that mom could have no idea how to shop for these items? Oh well, such is parenting in the perilous teenage years.

    Anyway honey, sorry about the loss of that last brain cell. You’re in good company with me now.

    I’m The Dumbest Person On The Planet

    I think my last brain cell just died…at least in the eyes of the Older Daughter.

    A few weeks ago, The Older Daughter wanted to go to a movie with some friends on a Saturday night. They had some time constraints, so she needed to know the times the movie would be shown. I located the newspaper and found the movie listings. I showed her the listings and had this conversation:

    Me: “Hey, I found the show times for that movie. It looks like it’s not showing at the time you wanted to go.”

    Older Daughter: “Well those are not all the show times.”

    Me: “Yes these are all the times. The want to sell movie tickets, so they list all of the show times.”

    Older Daughter: “You don’t know that.”

    I’ve been around for 39 years and thought I knew how to navigate a movie listing in the newspaper, but I guess not. I’m the dumbest dummy around.

    Gotta Love Public Educashun

    Our family had dinner at Garbanzo’s (the best pizza in the Treasure Valley by the way) last week. While waiting for our pizza, we were going through one of those trivia question things that you often find on the tables in mom-and-pop restaurants. Things were going pretty well until we came to the question “What country is north of Idaho?” The Younger Daughter (4th grade) answered Alaska (hello, that’s a state, not a country); The Older Daughter (9th grade) had no clue. I was floored. I consider myself reasonably intelligent and thought that The Wife and I (and even the public schools) had done a good job of educating our kids. How could they not know that Canada is north of the United States?

    To give them a chance to redeem themselves, I asked a follow-up question: “What country is south of Texas?” Crickets could be heard as I waited for an answer. Once again, they had no clue. How is this? What geography are the public schools teaching our kids if not such basics as what countries border the United States? I am now convinced that our country is doomed.

    Follow-up To Bathroom Rules

    You may recall my previous post on Bathroom Rules for men. I ran into this YouTube video “Male Restroom Etiquette” today. It is absolutely hilarious. Check it out.

    Open Minded?

    Don’t I only need to be open minded if I don’t have the right answers already? 😉


    You Are 48% Open Minded


    You aren’t exactly open minded, but you have been known to occasionally change your mind.You’re tolerant enough to get along with others who are very different…But you may be quietly judgmental of things or people you think are wrong.

    You take your own values pretty seriously, and it would take a lot to change them.

    Christmas Music

    The Christmas season is a time of rich traditions. Music plays a big role in making it a special time of year. Certain songs can take you back in time and can evoke emotions. For instance, hearing Gene Autry or Alvin and the Chipmunks takes me back to childhood because we used to listen to their albums every Christmas; a particularly beautiful rendition of O Holy Night or Silent Night can actually get me a little misty (please don’t revoke my Man Club Membership).

    In general, I prefer the more “traditional” renditions of Christmas songs. Having said that, I find Mannheim Steamroller’s unique arrangements (“18th century classical rock”) to be particularly soothing and uplifting to the soul. I also enjoy the parody hack jobs done by Bob Rivers.

    However, in thinking about Christmas music, I realized that the rendition of a handful of songs by particular artists really epitomizes Christmas. That is, they have really become woven into the fabric that makes the season special. I’m not a big fan of federal mandates, but I’d almost be willing to support a federal law banning any further releases of these songs by other artists. So below is my list of songs that I think should be retired, because no one can possible do a better job than the artist listed.

    • White Christmas – Bing Crosby
    • The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Johnny Mathis
    • Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)
    • Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
    • A Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
    • Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry
    • Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town – Gene Autry

    There are a few more songs that I think probably should be retired, but I’m not quite ready to lock them in. So the songs below are candidates for retirement in the future:

    • Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
    • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Dean Martin
    • Winter Wonderland – Tony Bennett
    • Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms

    Christmas Wish List For The United States

    We’ve got a lot of problems in our country today and it doesn’t seem like the politicians are paying any attention to the real issues. So with Christmas coming up, I’d like to give Santa my wish list for our country. Maybe he can do what the politicians won’t.

    Build the border fence

    This is such a no brainer that I don’t see why it’s not getting done. Illegal immigration is going to destroy this country if we don’t stop it. It’s draining our resources in terms of additional strain on social programs as well as exporting billions of dollars that are sent to Mexico. More importantly, we risk that terrorists are going to cross into the country from either Mexico or Canada and instigate an attack that will make 9/11 look like a day in the park.

    Fix Social Security

    The Social Security system is on a course for disaster. Everyone knows it, but it seems that we can’t get our politicians to do address it. If we don’t do anything, we’re going to end up with drastically lower benefits for retirees, sharply higher taxes for workers, or crushing debt for our children and grandchildren. In all likelihood, it will be a combination of all 3 of these things. It’s time to move toward privatizing the system while guaranteeing that current retirees and those nearing retirement get the benefits we have promised them. I have been in the workforce for almost 17 years and I would be happy to opt out of Social Security right now and redirect future withholdings to my 401k plan.

    Lower the corporate income tax

    The United States has the highest corporate income tax rate in the world. This is one of many reasons that jobs are being shipped overseas. A sharply lower tax rate would help slow, or maybe even reverse, this trend.

    Eliminate the personal income tax

    The current tax system is incredibly costly and onerous to comply with–not to mention that it is profoundly unfair. We need to scrap the current income tax system in favor of a national sales tax. With a sales tax, you would get your entire paycheck. From that point on, you determine how much tax you pay: The more you spend, the more tax you pay. If you choose to save your money, it would grow tax free.

    So there you have it Santa. Can you give us a hand? There are plenty of other issues, but take care of these first while I work on compiling the rest of the list.

    Kohl’s Sucks

    Okay, it’s time once again for a rant on a business. In the cross-hairs today: Kohl’s department store

    As I acknowledged in a previous post (Fuddruckers Sucks), any business can have a bad day. So I’ll always give them a couple of tries if things are not going well. Kohl’s finally opened in our area about a year ago. Well, we have been there three separate times now and have had problems each time. They have what appear to be some good deals, but the quality is severely lacking. Each time we were shopping for clothes and each time we ended up with a damaged article. The damage ranged anywhere from a stain to a tear to a failed seam.

    We haven’t been back since. However, I was just talking with a friend recently and heard about their experience. They were shopping in the toy section. When they got home and tried out the toy, it didn’t work. So they returned to the store and exchanged the item. Same story with the second today…no worky.

    I don’t think it can be chalked up to coincidence that every Kohl’s shopping experience I’m familiar with has had a problem with the merchandise. So I don’t really recommend Kohl’s. But if you do go, check out what you are buying very carefully to avoid a return trip.

    Unexpected New Uses For Bathroom Items

    CNN posted a story today entitled Unexpected uses for bathroom items. This immediately drew my interest despite all the other stories on silly things like the war, the economy, horrific weather, death and destruction….yawn. In the story, CNN has pulled some of the finest suggestions on alternative uses for bathroom items from the Real Simple website. (Wait, so I’m a website, reviewing another website’s review of yet another website? If CNN happens to review my blog, I think the world will explode.)

    Below, at no extra charge, is my expert commentary on a sampling of the items from the original article.

    Baby Oil

    • Remove latex paint from skin. Pour a generous amount of baby oil on a cotton ball and scrub.

    I can be rather lazy. Let’s avoid getting paint on the skin by just not painting to begin with.

    • Slip off a stuck ring. Massage oil onto your finger and rotate the ring until you can slide it off. (This trick works to get body parts out of a number of sticky situations.)

    Hmmm…I’d like to hear more details about that last statement. Do you happen have a link to a website with stories and pictures?

    Dental Floss

    • Save a necklace. Rescue a busted strand by threading the beads onto dental floss for a quick, sturdy fix.

    Classy. You’ll get raves about that necklace at your next dinner party.

    • Hang a painting. To hang lightweight artwork that’s not in a heavy frame with glass, use dental floss in place of picture wire.

    I don’t tie very good knots to begin with, but isn’t floss so slick that the knot would just slip out anyway? Now it’s going to come crashing down on my head. CNN, I hope you have your lawyers ready for the lawsuits on this one.

    • String a popcorn garland during the holidays. Just thread the floss through a needle as you would ordinary sewing thread.

    Does anyone actually do this anymore? Plus, why waste perfectly good popcorn on a decoration? However, maybe they are on to something here: You could string the popcorn on the floss, then eat it directly off the floss. That way you can eat the popcorn and floss at the same time! Now that’s efficiency!

    • Tie your hair back before you wash your face if you don’t have an elastic.

    Again, wouldn’t the knot just come loose?

    • Cut a cheesecake. Use unwaxed, unflavored floss to slice any soft cheeses, layer cakes, or homemade cinnamon buns from a roll.

    In these parts, we have things called grocery stores. You can buy food already prepared–and in most cases already cut—there.

    Antacid Tablets

    • Clean a toilet. Toss in two dissolving antacid tablets, such as Alka-Seltzer, wait 20 minutes, then brush.

    Better yet, go to your friend’s house and dump a whole box of Alka-Seltzer in. Then seal the lid. The fun just never stops!

    • Remove a stain from a vase’s bottom. Drop a tablet in a little water and let it sit for several minutes. Wipe and rinse.

    I can honestly say I’ve never thought for a minute that I needed a vase bottom to be immaculate. Maybe it’s that lazy thing again.

    • Impress a kid with a fun science experiment. Pour water into a plastic 35-millimeter-film canister until it is one-third full, drop in a tablet, replace the lid, and quickly place the canister upside down on the ground. Stand back. In 5 to 10 seconds, the gas pressure will make the canister pop its lid and shoot several feet into the air.

    Okay CNN, if you didn’t need the lawyers for the falling painting, you’ll definitely need them for this gem. You know that some moron will stand right over this and get his face blown off.

    Cotton Swabs

    • Touch up paint on cabinets or walls, or use a swab to apply wood stain to elaborate carvings on furniture or scratches on furniture and floors.

    I refer back to my statement above: don’t paint. But if you must, wouldn’t the fibers from the swab stick to the wall?

    • Tote touch-up makeup in a tiny evening bag by rubbing cotton swabs in concealer and eye shadow, sealing them in a plastic bag, and tucking the bag into your clutch.

    This is a great idea. I already do this.

    • Take a shine to your silver. Use a swab to apply polish to crevices in flatware or tea services.

    Okay, so you’re too cheap to fix a necklace with anything more expensive than floss, but you have silver that needs polishing?

    Bathroom Rules For Men

    We were having dinner with our best friends last night and after several people came back from the restroom, we started discussing public restrooms and how people use and misuse them. I know, this is already sounding disturbing: discussing bathrooms at the dinner table in a restaurant. However, the discussion got me thinking about some unwritten rules about using a public restroom that I have followed for years. So now, whether you want them or not, I am now publishing the rules. The background on my reasoning for a couple of these rules is explained in a previous post, Men and Public Restrooms. You may want to read that post first if you have not already done so.

    Talking

    • Talking is not allowed while using a toilet or urinal. The only exception is a life-threatening medical emergency. Even then, it’s preferable to get out of the restroom before talking.
    • Talking is acceptable while using the sink, but it must be with someone else. No talking to yourself.
    • Talking is tolerated, but highly discouraged, while standing in line
    • Cell phone usage is not allowed anywhere in the restroom (see life-threatening emergency exception above)
    • For purposes of these rules, the definition of talking is expanded to include: whistling, humming, singing, moaning, and groaning–basically any sound generated from the neck up.

    Flushing

    • Always flush when you are finished
    • It’s acceptable to pre-flush a toilet if the last person was not considerate enough to do so. However, you don’t need to pre-flush a urinal. I’m pretty certain your urine combined with someone else’s will not create a toxic cloud or cause an explosion. Save the water–but flush after you are done.
    • Don’t flush with your foot. There are way more germs on your shoe than the handle. You’re are just compounding the problem. Plus, you should be washing your hands right after, so if there are any germs they’ll be washed away.

    Stalls

    • A casual glance to see if someone is in a stall is fine, but no up-close peering (Senator Craig). The best test is a gentle push on the door to see if it is locked.
    • If all stalls but the handicap one is in use, use the handicap stall so long as someone in a wheelchair is not in line behind you. There are no fines for using a handicap stall.
    • Always lock the door
    • Unless the seat is obviously messy, there’s no need for cleaning. I’ve listened to some several-minute-long rituals of spraying Lysol, scrubbing with toilet paper, flushing, and applying a seat cover. This in a professional office building where the facilities are well maintained. It’s an unnecessary waste of time and money. Think about it, butt cheeks might very well be the cleanest part of the body. You take a shower, then apply a couple layers of clothing. There’s not much opportunity for a lot of germs on the part of the body that touches the toilet seat. Items touched by hands are exponentially dirtier than a toilet seat. (Great, now I’m probably going to have co-workers spraying everything in sight with Lysol.)
    • Never pick up paper off the floor. I think this one is common sense, but I threw it in for Senator Craig’s benefit.
    • If you are out of paper, do not ask for someone to pass paper to you (refer to the talking rules)

    Urinals

    • If all urinals are in use and a stall is available, use it.
    • Always look straight ahead
    • Both hands must always remain “down there”. No hands on the hips, behind the head, or behind the back. No arms resting on the wall.

    So there you have it. You may want to print this out for future reference. That way, if you ever have any questions, you’ll have the answers right there with you. I may consider creating credit card-sized laminated guides for a reasonable price if there is enough demand. I’d also love to hear if you have any additional rules I should consider adding.

    Childhood “Lasts”

    It is an absolute joy to watch a child grow up (perhaps less so as they hit the teen years, but that’s a different story). Starting from birth, children are learning, exploring, developing, and growing at a rapid rate. We mark this development as we observe various “firsts”: first solid food, first time crawling, first steps, first words, etc. As the years go by, the pace of milestones dramatically decreases, and in the teen years the “firsts” become oriented toward becoming an adult: first crush, first date, first kiss, first time driving, first job, etc.

    What we as parents often miss, however, are the “lasts” that occur at the same pace (rapid in the early years–slowing throughout the years). These milestones are every bit as important. However, as lasts, they are more difficult for us to recognize as they occur. We may not realize until years later–oh yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore. As I thought through some of these, it actually brought tears to my eyes. Had I known it was going to be the last time, I would have taken the time to cherish it that much more. So below is my list some “lasts”. If you’ve never thought about this before, you may want to grab a Kleenex. It breaks your heart a little bit when you remember all the little rituals of childhood that have passed.

    As a baby, there was the last time…

    • She woke you up crying in the middle of the night
    • You changed a diaper
    • She nursed
    • She drank from a bottle
    • She needed binkie to fall asleep
    • You dressed her
    • You fed her
    • You rocked her to sleep
    • You woke up to her sweet cooing in the morning
    • You gave her a bath
    • She slept in a crib

    Next, during the toddler years, there was the last time… 

    • She fell asleep watching Barney
    • She rode in a stroller
    • You buckled her into a car seat
    • She sucked her thumb
    • She pulled the pots and pans out to bang them together
    • She wrapped her hand around your finger while walking with you
    • You kissed an owwie to make it better
    • She got chocolate smeared all over her face
    • She pulled on the cat’s tail
    • You tucked her in
    • She woke you up way too early on a Saturday morning
    • She slept for the entire trip
    • She rode a bike with training wheels
    • She needed help tying her shoes
    • You picked her up to help her get a drink at the water fountain
    • You took her to restroom with you
    • She cried when her balloon floated away

    Then in elementary school, there was the last time…

    • She woke up on Christmas morning excited that Santa had been there
    •  She left a tooth under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy
    • She hunted for Easter eggs
    • She colored a picture for you to hang up at work
    • She played in the Playland at McDonalds
    • She sang the ABC song
    • You held her hand while crossing the street
    • You hoisted her up to put the angel on the Christmas tree
    • You pushed her on the swing
    • She asked you to come have lunch with her at school
    • She sat on Santa’s lap
    • You went to Toys-R-Us so she could explore and dream about what she wanted for Christmas
    • She curled up in your lap to read a book
    • She played on the floor with her toys
    • You carried her your shoulders
    • She rode on the kiddie rides at the carnival
    • She ordered from the kid’s menu

    Finally, during the teen years, there was the last time…

    • She went trick-or-treating
    • She needed your help with homework on a daily basis

    Still upcoming for me is the last time…

    • I drove her to school
    • She received an allowance
    • She slept in the house as a member of the household

    (I couldn’t come up with a lot for the teens years. I think this is probably because The Older Daughter is 14 and the “losses” haven’t hit me yet.)

    I have tried to do a good job throughout the years of staying involved and doing lots with the kids. Still, there are regrets sometimes. Occasionally, I’ll think of something that I always wanted to do with them, but now it’s too late because they’re too old. We have lots of pictures and videos, but sometimes I look back and wish we had taken more. I also wish that I had kept a journal. I would give anything to know some of my thoughts during their early years or to have a record of a conversation we had over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch between Barney movies.

    But enough of the regrets. It’s never too late to do a better job. Part of the reason I started this blog was to help record some of my thoughts over time. I also hope that this post can in some way inspire newer parents also. To those new parents: Just remember, while time may seem to be going by slowly now, you’ll look back 15 years from now and wonder where it all went. Cherish and make the most of every moment. Take pictures, take videos, and keep a journal. Most importantly, just take time to be a family. The housework can wait, but your kids will only be kids for a very short time. Make the most of it.

    Men and Public Restrooms

    Okay, now I realize this title could be a bit disturbing–particularly after the Larry Craig incident. However, I assure you this is not like that. This is merely a rant where I assert that 75% of men do not know how to properly use a public restroom.

    Despite the high journalistic standards employed by Dad in the Headlights, this figure is not based on a scientific sampling of public restrooms. Rather, it’s a ballpark figure based on my experiences. Let’s set the stage. Imagine you are at a sports event and it’s halftime. You (a man) hit the restroom to pee because of the beers you’ve been enjoying. Everyone else also waited for halftime, so you are waiting in line.

    Here’s where things start annoying me. 50% of men will not use a stall to pee when all the urinals are taken. Why is that? Do all these people have home urinals, so they aren’t used to using a toilet to pee? The other 50% (those that don’t have home urinals) will actually use a toilet. Great. They are helping use the restroom to its full capacity so that we can all get back to the game faster. Unfortunately, 50% of these folks still get it wrong.

    Of those that use a stall to pee, 50% do not lock the door. What is wrong with you? While privacy may not be as much of an issue since your back is turned, do you really want someone bursting in and smacking you with the door? I really don’t want to peer through the door or under the stall to see if someone is in there (I’m not Larry Craig after all). The test of whether a stall is in use is whether it’s locked or not.

    So there you have it, only 25% of men know how to use a public restroom. Happy peeing!

    Flip This Phone

    We’ve long had an understanding with the girls that we would only provide basic “lifeline” cell phone service for them. That is, they can have any phone that is free and we will provide basic service for them. They have to pay for any phone upgrades, text messaging packages, minute overages, etc. The Older Daughter has been wanting to upgrade her phone for quite some time. She did some research and fell in love with the LG Voyager phone offered by Verizon. Now it is definitely a sweet phone and may give the Apple iPhone a run for its money. The full retail price of the phone is $469, though we have some discounts available that take it down to about $300.

    At 14 and with no steady job, she obviously doesn’t have a lot of money. However, she wants to spend every penny she saved from some work last summer to buy this phone. While The Wife and I don’t necessarily think this is the best decision, we think she is old enough to make spending choices on money she has earned. So we headed on down to the local Verizon store. This is an experience that I rate right up there with going to the DMV. After about a 15 minute wait (okay, so it’s not as bad as the DMV), we make it up to the counter to speak with a friendly Verizon representative. As it turns out, we pick up the last Voyager available in the area. Just two days after its introduction, the phone is already sold out.

    On the drive home, I hatched a plan to profit from the short supply of a hot new phone. I couldn’t convince The Older Daughter to part with her phone to make a nice profit. So I went out to Verizon’s website and confirmed that I could order another phone online for $300. Then I went over to eBay and found that the phones were going anywhere from $450 to $550. How sweet is that? So I ordered up a phone and setup an auction to sell it. Three days later the auction closed and the final price was $575! After various fees, I pocketed around $250 for just a few minutes work. This comes really close to my dream of finding a way to make tons of money with no risk, no investment, and no actual work. However, to my dismay, I was unable to purchase any more phones for the discounted price. Any further purchases would be for the full retail price of $469. So my dreams of becoming a billionaire by flipping Voyager phones were dashed. But hey, I was able to pick up a few extra dollars of spending money. That never hurts this time of year.