Insanity on Wheels: The Final Chapter

You may recall that we had decided to buy a used vehicle, sight unseen, from an out of town dealership. Indeed, the Older Daughter and I flew to Portland over the weekend. We took a quick test drive, had lunch with our family there, then drove home.

It was an extremely long day. However, the RAV4 is exactly what we were looking for and this appears to be a good pick. There are a few minor cosmetic things that we need to get fixed up. But for a 10-year-old vehicle, it is in excellent condition and runs great.

And here is the Older Daughter beaming with pride. Of course, you can’t tell because I have blurred her face out of my extreme paranoia.

Insanity on Wheels: Go With Throttle Up

You may recall from a previous post that we are considering buying a vehicle in another city without actually touching it and test driving it ourselves. We have a little bit of an advantage in that my brother-in-law lives near the vehicle in question and was able to test drive it today for us. The report came back that it drives and looks great.

So…we’re going for it. I’ve made a deposit on it and booked flights for me and the Older Daughter this weekend. We’re going to fly over in the morning, go take care of the paper work and payment, and then start driving.

The flight is with Alaska Airlines on a Bombardier CRJ-700. I really don’t like these planes. They are “tiny” and only seat 70. They bounce around way too much for my liking versus the big planes. Oh well, that’s how things go. I’ll update you soon…assuming we don’t die in a fiery crash.

50 Random Things About Me

Thanks to John via Chris for this one.

Here’s a meme with 50 seemingly random questions that I will answer with my expert writing abilities.

  1. What do you add to your coffee? I love the smell of coffee but generally need creamer to withstand the taste. Actually as I age and my taste buds die off, black coffee is starting to work for me.
  2. What are you reading now? I have kids. When do I have time to read? During vacation next week, I plan on reading Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca? by G.M. Ford.
  3. Do you own a gun?  No, two (evil laughter).
  4. Are you registered to vote? Absolutely. If you don’t want to participate in our democracy, shut up if you don’t like what’s going on.
  5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Doctors freak me out. I have to lay down when they draw blood out of fear of passing out.
  6. What do you think of hot dogs? I love them, but don’t ever tell me what’s in them or how they are made. 
  7. Favorite Christmas Song? No contest. Bing Crosby’s White Christmas
  8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Diet Mountain Dew
  9. Can you do push ups? I don’t know. It’s better that I not try…I might be embarrased.
  10. What was the name of your first boyfriend/girlfriend? I’m such a freak. My first girlfriend’s name was Lee. And this was in college (laugh amongst yourselves). The kicker is that I turned her into a lesbian. Yes, I was the last guy she dated before switching teams.
  11. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding ring is my favorite (and only) jewelry I wear.
  12. Favorite hobby? I have kids. When do I have time for hobbies? I guess the closest thing I have to a hobby is blogging.
  13. Do you work with people who idolize you? (Dies laughing and is unable to answer)
  14. Do you have ADD? I do not believe so.
  15. What’s one trait that you hate about yourself? I’ll answer tomorrow.
  16. What’s your Middle name? Too paranoid to answer. You might track me down.
  17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment. How can I find a way to be on vacation permanently? Pizza rules. Beer rules.
  18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday. Gas, t-shirt, dinner at Subway.
  19. Name 3 beverages you regularly drink. Diet Mountain Dew, water, beer.
  20. Current worry right now?  Being successful in my new job.
  21. What side do you dress to? I’m not really sure what this means. Left-right? Gay-straight? I don’t know how to answer.
  22. Favorite place to be? The Oregon Coast
  23. How did you bring in the New Year? I watched New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with the Younger Daughter.
  24. Where would you like to go? Hawaii
  25. Name three people who will complete this. No
  26. Whose answers do you want to read the most? I want everyone to play along. Do it.
  27. What color shirt are you wearing? Dark blue
  28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?.  No, I’m not a chick.
  29. Can you whistle?  Yes
  30. Favorite color? Red
  31. Could you be a pirate? Unlikely
  32. What songs do you sing in the shower? Our of respect for my family members, I do not sing in the shower.
  33. Favorite girls name?  Heather
  34. Favorite boy’s name? Jeff
  35. What’s in your pocket right now?  Cell phone, keys, and $0.50
  36. Last thing that made you laugh? I looked in the mirror.
  37. Best bed sheets as a child? Star Wars
  38. Worst injury you’ve ever had? I sprained my ankle so badly when I was a junior in high school that I was on crutches for several day.
  39. Do you love where you live? I like it, but don’t love it.
  40. How many TVs do you have in your house?  5, but only 2 are used regularly.
  41. Who is your loudest friend?  Probably John (sorry John)
  42. How many dogs do you have? Two
  43. Does anyone have a crush on you? Not that I’m aware of.
  44. What are the most fun things you ever did? I don’t know.
  45. What are your favorite books? Refer back to #2.
  46. What is your favorite candy? M&Ms
  47. Favorite Team? Portland Trailblazers
  48. What songs do you want played at your funeral? I don’t want a funeral. Please have a party and laugh about the good times we had.
  49. What were you doing at 12 AM? On the computer when I should have been sleeping.
  50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? Morning comes much to early in the day. Can we start it at about noon?

Pay it Foward

We try not to get too sappy here at DITH. However, this simple story of selflessness is touching and deserves a wider audience. Please take a moment to read “A flight of compassion“. It reminds us all that we to think of the needs of other sometimes rather than just ourselves.

Finally, a Change

So I’ve been complaining about the cloudy, rainy weather all this week during our stay in Portland. Well, I finally got my wish–a change! Yesterday, there was this bright, glowing ball that appeared in the sky for a few short minutes. I feared that it was a nuclear explosion or an alien invasion. However, apparently the locals call this thing the sun. And get this: we are lucky enough to be here for its semi-annual appearance. How sweet is that?

Furthermore, we awoke to snow on the ground on the ground this morning. It quickly melted. Now we are in a vicious cycle of clouds, hail, rain, clear, sun, repeat. Now that’s change I can believe in.

Hold on, it looks like I’ve got some moss starting to form on my back from all the rain. I’d better take care of this. Signing out for now.

Hit or Miss

Despite being on vacation, there are a few things I miss about being home. Let’s take a look at what I miss and don’t miss. That way, we can determine if a prefer vacation or the daily grind.

What I Miss

  • Easy access to a computer: I mean, it’s right here in the spare bedroom and they have high speed Internet access. But they don’t leave it on all the time, so I have to wait like 5 minutes for it to boot up. Plus I feel guilty about hiding away.
  • Our best friends: We hang out with our best friends just about every weekend, and so we probably won’t see them for a couple weeks now.
  • Traffic: It may sound strange, but it’s true. We live in the country, so there is no traffic compared to Portland. A traffic jam in the country is getting caught behind some slow-moving farm equipment.
  • The Older Daughter: She went to Disneyland with her best friend and her family. I’m jealous, but miss her just the same.
  • TiVo: I’ve come to a point where I don’t watch anything live. I record it with TiVo and watch it later so that I can skip past the commercials. Plus it’s nice to be able to skip back a few seconds to catch the dialogue I missed when all the dogs bark their heads off.

What I Don’t Miss

  • Work
  • The alarm clock
  • Worry about looking for a new job
  • The daily routine
  • Having absolutely no free time
  • Getting up early: I’m a night owl and love to stay up ridiculously late and sleep in
  • Brown: I do love the green of western Oregon over the brown of southwestern Idaho.

So there we have it: I have 7 things I don’t miss and 5 that I do. So I think that I should just stay on vacation forever. What do you think?

Where am I Anyway?

I mentioned that I am on vacation in Portland, Oregon this week. Well, that not quite correct. I’m actually in Vancouver, Washington. The people of Vancouver probably don’t like that I am saying Portland. However, it’s just easier than trying to explain where Vancouver is. Plus, if it weren’t for the Columbia River, this would be Portland. So there.

However, this got me thinking about all the places I’ve lived that have an identity crisis. I’m afraid it’s running rampant. Let’s take a look at them:

  • I was born in Lebanon–no, not the Middle Eastern country: Lebanon, Oregon
  • I then moved to Ontario–no, not California or Canada: Ontario, Oregon
  • My wife is from Vancouver–no, not Canada: Vancouver, Washington

What Day is it Anyway?

DITH will be reporting to you for the next week from our branch in sunny rainy Hawaii Portland. Most often, I’ll typing my posts while sipping margaritas Diet Mountain Dew from the beach a cramped spare room. My nerves will be soothed frayed by waves crashing gently on the shore screaming kids and barking dogs.

Having said all that, I am actually having a wonderfully relaxing time so far. We arrived on Saturday. So far, we have mostly visited with family, watched TV, slept in, and eaten. The most exciting thing we have done so far is visit the IKEA store this afternoon–yes that legendary vacation destination.

I’m seriously not complaining though. I woke up this morning and didn’t even really know what day it was. That’s a fantastic feeling. I’m also not wearing a watch and don’t know or care what time it is.

The past few months have been tough and the remainder of this year could prove even more interesting. So I’m really looking forward to just unplugging from all the negative stuff going on–just for a few days. However, I’ll try not to disappoint my devoted followers. I plan on checking in with any interesting things that happen. Stay tuned.

8 Things About Me I’m Pretty Sure You Don’t Care About

Okay, my posting rate has been a little slow over the last few days. So I’m lifting a meme from John to get things moving along again. With this meme, you basically tell 8 facts about yourself and then tag someone else. I’m not going to officially tag anyone, but be a good sport and play along okay?

1. Both of my grandpas were named after famous people: Jesse James and Benjamin Franklin. Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure meeting either one (neither the grandpas nor the actual famous people).

2. I have ridden in the back of a police car and briefly checked out the county jail. You see, back in junior high, we had a zero-tolerance policy for fighting. If you were caught, you automatically got to ride to the county jail–about 13 miles away. They scared the hell out of you by showing you some cells, then your parents got to come pick you up. The fight was so minor that it was not worth it. No charges were filed. In retrospect, I should have drawn some blood or something for all the trouble of having my parents pick me up from jail.

3. Several years back, I was a good sport and took Irish dance lessons with the Younger Daughter. For the record, she grew bored of it and decided to quit–not me.

4. My biggest traffic pet peeve: Not using your turn signal. In an earlier post, I threatened to develop a tactical nuke capable of taking out a car. I would definitely use this on those who can’t be bothered with such formalities as signalling turns.

5. I am a sucker for cats. I could easily be one of those freaks that has like 47 cats. I hope this doesn’t threaten my Man Club membership.

6. In junior high, I once told a counselor that my goal was to be an NBA basketball player. For some weird reason, he thought I should have a backup plan, but I didn’t think so. For the record, I never even tried out for basketball. Oh yeah, and I’m 5’9″. Thankfully, I did come up with a backup plan.

7. I was so painfully shy in my younger years, that I never attended a single dance–not even the big ones: homecoming, prom, etc. That’s probably my single biggest regret from my youth.

8. Many years ago now, John and I decided at around 3pm to drive from Portland, Oregon, to Vancouver, B.C…for no particular reason. And we just turned around and drove right back after grabbing some fuel and snacks in Vancouver. A 12-hour round-trip if I remember correctly. Crazy. And one of my fondest memories.

Boise: A Terrorist Target?

According to a recent study of 132 urban areas in the United States, Boise, Idaho is the 10th most vulnerable to a bio-terrorist attack. The study was funded by the Department of Homeland Security and headed up by University of Arizona mathematics professor Walter W. Piegorsch. Boise was the only city west of Texas to make the top 10 list. That’s right, cities like Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles are not considered highly vulnerable–at least according to this study.

The three factors considered in the study included social aspects, natural hazards, and the construction of the city. What’s important to realize is that this study measured the vulnerability of cities to attacks–not the probability.

Boise has three large dams upstream. 2 of them are earth-filled: Lucky Peak and Anderson Ranch; Arrowrock is concrete. With the Boise River running through the heart of the city, the failure of these dams (whether intentional or accidental) could devastate the downtown district of the city and many surrounding cities.

The metro area is largely surrounded by federal- and state-owned lands that are composed of mostly grasses and sagebrush that are quite vulnerable to wildfires during the summer months.

While most agree that a terrorist attack in Boise is not likely, local officials are rightly taking the report seriously. They plan on discussing the findings with the authors of study and the FBI.

Childhood Flashback: Saturday Nights

As a child, I lived in a small town and we were pretty poor. So Saturday nights were pretty simple. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m actually thinking back on those nights with a great deal of fondness. The evening largely revolved around watching TV. Let’s take a look at the Saturday evening lineup that dominated most of my first 12 years:

  • Wild Kingdom: Marlin Perkins was a pioneer of wildlife shows filmed in the field. He set the stage for the many shows that would follow–arguably even the development of the Animal Planet network. I have always loved animals, so I enjoyed his weekly adventure in the wild. Having said that, he certainly was not as brave as people like Steve Irwin. Do you remember that he would be hovering in the safety of his helicopter while his staff would do much of the dirty, dangerous work? Just an observation. I also remember the annoying Mutual of Omaha (the show’s title sponsor) commercials . I can still hear the song to this day: “Mutual of Omaha is people…you can count on when the going’s rough.”
  • Hee Haw: This was a corny, but enjoyable, country variety show. It had a mix of country music, comedy skits, and corny jokes and puns. For most of the years, I enjoyed the corny entertainment. However, as my teen years approached, I also developed an appreciation for the buxom Southern belles that adorned the show.
  • Lawrence Welk: This was another variety show, but more sophisticated than Hee Haw (okay, that’s not saying much). It was also corny, but on a different level. I see it today and say to myself: “What were you thinking?” Yet every year, when PBS has it’s annual fundraiser, I find myself watching the Lawrence Welk special and enjoying the quick trip back 30 years.
  • Portland Wrestling: Prior to the 80s, “professional” wrestling was largely a local affair. Each large city had its own wrestling association. The matches were held in relatively shabby buildings. The wrestlers were gritty, working-class guys that just wanted to beat the crap out of each other. Of course, it was just as fake back then as today. However, it seemed more realistic than today’s highly commercialized, glamorous, wrestling productions. We lived in western Oregon at the time, so we tuned in to Portland Wrestling every Saturday night without fail. Throughout the 80s, these local venues slowly faded away. Very few of the wrestlers were able to make the transition to the new, highly polished package of the new professional wrestling. One notable exception was one that you might recognize. Former wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura got his start in Portland back in the 70s. I even have his autograph from attending a live event!

Another memorable part of Saturday night: popcorn. I’m not talking about microwave popcorn or a popcorn machine–I’m talking about cooking it in a pan! First, pour in enough oil to cover the pan bottom. Next, add the corn–but not too much or it will push the lid off during popping and popcorn will go every where. Once the corn starts to pop, slide the pan frenetically back and forth across the burner to keep it from burning. When the popping stops, dump the popcorn into a bowl. Top it off with melted butter and a few shakes of salt. It may just be fond memories, but I don’t think any of our “modern” methods of cooking popcorn has yet topped the popcorn I last had over 20 years ago now.

If you grew up during the 80s or after, this may have been a fairly boring post for you. But for those of you that lived through the 70s, I’m hoping that I was able to spark a fond memory that you haven’t thought about for awhile. Feel free to reply with your own Saturday night memories or post your own and give me a shout back.

Friday, February 22, 2008: The End of the World?

This has been a really freaky week with “natural” events in the west. Let’s take a look at what has happened so far:

At this rate, I fully expect tomorrow to be the end of the world.

Oregon Special Edition Barbie Dolls

If you are not familiar with Oregon, some of the humor of this post may be lost on you. However, you should be able to identify with areas in your own state where these special edition Barbies could be easily adapted. Feel free to create your own and post to your blog. By the way, for reference, I lived my first 12 years in Lebanon, Oregon and had relatives in Sweet Home. Now you’ll understand what I’m up against just based on my early years.

Mattel recently announced the release of the improved limited-edition Barbie Dolls for the Oregon market:

Lake Oswego Barbie

This princess Barbie is sold only at the Pioneer Square Mall. She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog named Honey and a cookie-cutter house. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with the augmented version.
 

Beaverton Barbie

The modern day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Windstar Minivan and matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily and has no full-time occupation. Traffic jamming cell phone sold separately.

Woodburn Barbie

This recently paroled Bilingual Barbie comes with a 9 mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife, a Chevy with dark tinted windows, and a Meth Lab Kit. This model is only available after dark and must be paid for in cash (preferably small, untraceable bills) unless you are a cop, then we don’t know what you are talking about.

Bend Barbie

This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won’t be able to afford any of them.

Sweet Home Barbie

This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR t-shirt and tweety bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud light and a Hank Williams, Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken’s butt when she is drunk. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free.

Lebanon Barbie

This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased beer-gutted Ken out of Sweet Home Barbie’s house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see-through halter-top; also available with a mobile home.

Eugene Barbie

This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair, arch-less feet, hairy armpits, no makeup and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her Willow. She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two Eugene Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free.

North Portland Barbie

This Barbie now comes with a stroller and infant dolls from two different races. Optional accessories include a GED and bus pass. Gangsta Ken and his 1979 Caddy were available, but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the second infant.

Also don’t miss, Idaho Special Edition Barbie Dolls

Naming Rights for This Blog Now Available

Apparently the Rose Garden Arena in Portland (home of my beloved Portland Trailblazers) is one of the last NBA arenas that has not sold naming rights. I just found out from John that this will not be the case starting with the 2008-2009 season. Yes, the beloved Rose Garden sign will be removed forever and replaced by the corporate logo of the highest bidder.

I am really conflicted on this. The sentimental, near-life-long fan in me definitely does not want this to happen. The Rose Garden name has meaning; Nike Arena (or whatever it turns out to be) is meaningless. However, the capitalist in me says go for it and make every penny you can. That’s the American way.

It’s not likely anything I or anyone else says will change their minds. I’m going to just give up and join in the cash bonanza. So this blog is announcing the sale of naming rights. I understand that the oil companies and Microsoft have lots of spare cash. Perhaps they’d be willing to throw some my way. As soon as the check clears, the Dad in the Headlights moniker will be removed forever and replaced by the winner’s company name and logo.

Now Mr. CFO, you may not think that this would be a very good investment on your part. On the contrary; you need to be aware that this blog generates tens of hits per day. This will indeed be mutually-beneficial partnership. Make your bid today in the comments section.