Saturday, January 29, 2011

Baton Rouge's Extreme Sports Park

Betty and I took the kids to a newish skate park in Baton Rouge. The park is called the Extreme Sports Park, and it's located on the corner of Kenilsworth and Perkins.

It was amazing! Who knew that we even had anything like this?!

The last time I saw a skate park was almost ten years ago in Seattle, by the Space Needle. I remember thinking how great of an idea it was to have a skate park. It gives the young hooligans a place to practice, gets skateboarders off the sidewalk, and gives spectators a great place to see people fall and smash their faces in the pavement.

It's like the greatest idea for a park ever!

Our skate park has a handful of half pipes for skateboarders, bikers and for people who just want to see how far up the wall they can go while running at full speed. I didn't get a good picture of any of the half pipes because I didn't want to distract anyone and have them fall and possibly smash their faces to pieces. But I should have just taken some pics, because honestly, it seems inevitable that these skateboarder kids are going to break a few bones anyway.

There's enough room between the half pipes for people to skate around on, and there are also a couple of ramps, steps and rails in random places. People were doing tricks off of every imaginable surface, including other skateboarders.

[Picture: The skate park]

We couldn't let Annie just roam around the park, because skateboarders and bikers of all ages were flying by every second. And although I'm generally a nervous parent, I was nervous for a lot of other kids out there today!

Take this one five year-old on training wheels... he went up two ramps that had slopes on each side, so he could slowly pedal his way up the ramp and then just zip down the other side. But then he went up a large ramp with no down slope... so how did he get down? He fell, of course. But don't worry, his face broke his fall. (His mom was having a nice chat on her phone while her five year-old was attempting to Evil Knievel the skate park.) I'm sure the kid lost a couple of teeth.

Which leads me to an obvious point: I have to hand it to some of the people skating, as I wouldn't have had the guts to do some of the things these guys were doing. For starters, I don't think I could have even gone down into one of those half pipes. I would have just fallen and busted something. It just looked too dangerous.

That's why Pete and I stayed up top and did some 360s off the ramps in his stroller. EXTREME STROLLING!

[Picture: Pete's 360]

So I've been calling this place the "Skate Park," but in reality it was much more than just a park for skaters. There were all kinds of other stuff for kids of all ages! For example, there was a bike track (Betty says this is a velodrome because she's fancy)...

[Picture: Bike track!]

a rock wall (which opens at 1 PM every day, so we couldn't go)...

[Picture: Rock wall!]

and a huge play area for the kids!

[Picture: Kids play area]

The kids play area was awesome! Betty and I took turns playing with Annie, mostly because we both wanted to play on all the toys. I've always wanted to climb a rock wall, but since the rock wall at the park wasn't open while we were there, we had to settle for the "Hill Wall" in the kids' play area.

[Picture: Climbing the Hill Wall]

Some other cool things there: there were two speakers on opposite sides of the play area that you could talk into. Annie and Betty spoke on one side, while Pete and I listened on the other end. These things were great, because if you wanted a kid to get off a toy, you just had to talk through one of these speakers and pretend to be a ghost of the playground, and the kid usually got scared and ran away.

[Picture: Speaking thingy]

There was also a big net thing that Annie liked to climb. She called it a spider's web, and she pretended that she was a spider.

[Picture: The spider's web]

But our favorite thing was this little seat that went up and down a curved bar. It didn't have any handles on it so I'm not sure how a kid is supposed to ride it by him- or herself, so Betty and I got our exercise in running back and forth while holding Annie.

[Picture: The iron bar seat thingy]

Once were were sufficiently tired out, we needed some grub. Luckily, the Taco de Paco food truck was at the park today. I got the "Dat Foo" taco, which has pulled pork in it. It was an Extreme Sports Taco!

So... that was our day at the skate park! Thank you, Baton Rouge, for having such a cool place for my family to hang out for the day!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pinching Pennies

The economy is still in the dumps, so Betty and I decided to start pinching pennies.

I sifted through my kids' piggy banks until I came across a nice, shiny penny. Then I tried to pinch it.

But where to pinch a penny? It's not like Abraham Lincoln's rump is on the backside of the coin. Believe me, I looked.

So I decided to take a different approach: I'd pinch a real Penny. I found a girl named Penny that worked at JC Penny's, then tricked her into helping me gather Larges and XL garish sweaters that I had no intention of buying. When she bent over to pick up a sweater that I purposefully knocked off the rack, I pinched her.

When I came home, nursing a bruised face and ego, Betty was cutting coupons.

"What are you doing wasting time doing that?" I asked through the one side of my face that still worked. "We're supposed to be pinching pennies!"

"I am!" she said, happily (as always). "I'm saving money by cutting out these coupons. I also went to the library to listen to the woman who runs the My Baton Rouge Mommy site speak about how to save money. Now we're all signed up for LivingSocial, Groupon and Bargain Bee. Plus I downloaded CardStar for our iPhones so that I'll always have our discount cards handy."

"Oh," I said. "Well while you were doing all of that, I pinched Pennies today."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My First Gray Hairs

I recently found my first gray hairs. I didn't panic like I thought I would. Instead, I calmly assessed the situation and reviewed all of my options.

First, I could simply do nothing. My hair will turn gray over time, and it will either make me look more mature or more like a fat Q-tip. Only time will tell.

Second, I could dye my hair. But that then leads to a lifelong struggle against gray hairs, as well as a lifelong lie. I don't think I have the energy to spend on that.

So I took my third and last option:

I grew my hair out into what can only be described as a Conan O'Brien hairdo.

[Picture: My awesome new 'do]

My hair is now extremely long. I just had it cut, but I got the mullet cut: 5 on top, 3 on the sides, and don't touch the back, Jack!

[Picture: My awesome new 'do]

I've gone ahead and taken a mug shot to save the police the trouble, because when people see me walking down the street with my new 'do, I'm going to cause all kinds of traffic accidents. Mostly because drivers won't be able to see over my head.

[Picture: My awesome new 'do]

Keep in mind that I'm not using any gel or hair products at all. My hair just naturally stands up straight like this (after brushing it nonstop for five minutes).

[Picture: My awesome new 'do]

Now, be honest: are any of you looking for gray hairs? No! You're looking at my massive head of hair!

And that's how you hide gray hair, kiddoes: in plain sight.

[Picture: My awesome new 'do]

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Public Schools

I'm a product of public schooling, and proud of it. But lately I've been thinking about how to improve the public schools around Louisiana. The public schools here aren't what you'd call "great." We're only #1 in the rankings if you're looking at the worst states first.

Lately I've been reading up on states with good public school systems. And most of the schools with great public school systems are in the north. Minnesota comes to mind.

So then I started thinking about what makes Minnesota so special. Do they have a voucher system? Are their parents more involved? Is there a low rate of teen pregnancy?

And that's when it hit me. I thought myself, "What is Minnesota if not the personification of cold itself?"

Then I had a revelation: Minnesota has a great public school system because it's too cold to go outside for recess. The kids have no choice but to stay indoors and learn math and science. Even the highs in the summers are below freezing. The alternative to staying in school is freezing to death on the playground. So of course the kids are going to do well in school!

But down here in Louisiana, it's usually extremely hot and humid. And high heat means light clothing, shorts, short skirts and low-cut blouses. Which all lead to wandering eyes and minds. Which then leads to teen pregnancy. Which leads to a high drop-out rate. Which leads to more children, which equates to more people in school, who are then themselves hot and therefore scantily clad, which then starts the vicious cycle over again.

So how can we correct this problem?

My suggestion is to make Louisiana colder by running our air conditioners with our doors open.

I don't really know if that will work or not. I went to public school, remember? And maybe we don't want it to work. Maybe we like having scantily clad people running around making babies.

So, Minnesota and other northern states, you can keep your good public school systems, and we'll keep our scantily clad population. We'll see who has the last laugh.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Draft

Santa brought me some pajama pants that look like blue jeans, and I wear them pretty much every night. Sometimes - mainly on the weekends - I wear them all day, too. I go out in public with them all the time, and usually nobody notices that they're pajama pants. Sometimes I even tuck my shirt into them, like so:

[Pic: Me rocking my jean jammies!]

So last week when I went to the store late one night, I decided to just go in my jean jammies. Nobody would care. And if they did, I'd just give them a round house kick to the face in my bad boy jammies.

Although I wear my jammies all the time, the one thing that I've never noticed is that there's no way to keep the fly closed. There are no buttons, no zipper, no string, no velcro... nothing.

And on this particular night, I was wearing boxer shorts.

While at the store, I saw an item on the top shelf, and being the short stack that I am, I stood on my tippy toes, reaching towards the top shelf with both arms to get an item, when all of a sudden I noticed a draft. Down there. And by "down there" I mean my crotch.

When I had raised my arms, my shirt was lifted up slightly over my belly, leaving my fly exposed to the world. And low and behold, while my two hands grasped a large container of diet soda off the top shelf, my third arm was pointing at something on the second shelf that it apparently wanted really bad. I had no choice but to buy whatever I was unknowingly pointing at, which ended up being brownie bites.

It might have a mind of its own, but at least when it comes to food, we're on the same page.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Polarized Congress Fights Over Twilight Saga

Amidst the recent issues in the American economy - calls by Treasury Secretary Geithner to raise the debt ceiling, the highest level of unemployment since the Great Depression and rising economic competition from the Far East - the US Congress decided to have a team building exercise tonight in an effort to form a cohesive unit that would be capable of taking on these and other challenges.

Based on the recommendations of Senator Chris Coons (D - DE), Congress spent $4.99 plus tax to rent The Twilight Saga: Eclipse from the Blockbuster at 410 8th Street Southeast, then watched it on the House floor's projection monitor.

Speaker of the House Boehner (pronounced: Boner) used his impressively large gavel to bring the movie into order. After the shushing of several talkative Democratic representatives, the movie began without a hitch and both parties keenly observed the story of a young girl (Bella) in Forks, Washington, who falls in love with a vampire (Edward Cullen) but is also attracted to a scantily clad werewolf (Jacob).

Senator Susan Collins (R - ME) presented a bar chart to Congress explaining why it's possible for Jacob's werewolf form to have more mass than his human form, then immediately raised a resolution to have the United States officially recognize Team Jacob as Bella's preferred love interest.

Democrats quickly rallied for Team Edward, noting that not only were Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell both Democratic senators from Washington and therefore held jurisdiction in Forks, Washington, but also that Edward Cullen was totally hot, never aged, and sparkled when exposed to sunlight.

In a conciliatory effort, David Vitter (R - LA) and Mary Landrieu (D - LA) sought to add an amendment to the resolution stating that Jacob was indeed extra sexy without his shirt but also that Edward had a high level of moral authority since he was a vampire that did not drink human blood, and therefore both should be considered suitors of the lovely yet melancholy Bella. They also noted that several scenes for the Twilight movies were shot in Louisiana. Vitter then led several other senators out to a bar, then presumably to a brothel.

Norm Dicks, a Democratic Representative for Washington, then filibustered the rest of the movie by first explaining that this was not the first nor last time a Twilight movie would be shown on the House floor's projection monitor, then read from passages of the first Twilight book until the movie was over.

The airing of the second half of the movie, which most of Congress missed due to all of the polarized arguing and filibustering, will be played tomorrow night if Senator Coons is able to get another $4.99 plus tax from the taxpayers to rent the movie for another night, which he's expected to receive pending a deduction from the Education fund.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Imagination

I wish I were a kid again. When you're a kid you can pretend to be anything you want and everyone thinks it's completely normal. It's the power of imagination!

When I was a kid I'd pretend to be an astronaut by sticking a fish bowl on my head, putting on my dad's overalls and walking slowly around the house, examining everything like it was an amazing new discovery the likes of which had never been seen before. I pretended that my sister was some sort of alien life form, and my brother was an evil sentient race which had to be destroyed. And of course, only I knew the secret to destroying it - by throwing it's hair gel in the garbage and eating all its Tic-Tacs.

I'm older now and don't have all day to play anymore, but I love watching my daughter play. She's so imaginative! I love when Anne pretends to be a doctor. She'll grab her doctor kit and have all of her dolls lined up and ready to have their temperatures taken. She even gets my son Peter in on the act - he gets to make copies of all the dolls' health insurance cards and accept their co-pays, then make them wait in the waiting room for an hour, only for them to find out that their birth dates are wrong on the insurance form and therefore they'll have to pay in full. Genius!

[Dr. Tanory]

But it's hard to be an adult and still use your imagination. Society frowns upon adults pretending to be something they're not. Like, you can't walk around pretending to be a cop. Try explaining to a police officer that you BOUGHT a used Lofton Security jacket at a thrift store and weren't actively trying to present yourself as a cop in public. And don't even think about chopping up herbs from your garden, putting them in a Ziploc bag, and planting them on your friend when you frisk him. Other adults can't handle this level of imagination.

[Officer Tanory]

They say that having kids keeps you young. But really, I think that having kids allows you to do all of the fun things that you still want to do as an adult, but don't have any other outlet for. Like, I love watching Winnie the Pooh, but it would be kind of weird for me to sit in the living room alone at night watching Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story or Princess and the Frog every night for months on end. But when I'm with my daughter, it's perfectly natural. It's quality time!

I don't know if my daughter will pretend to be a doctor, a cowboy or a My Little Pony this weekend, but whatever she decides to be, I'll be right there with her. I might even patrol her play area in my Lofton Security jacket.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Cleaning Day

I read online somewhere that there's no greater turn-on for a woman than to see her husband doing housework, so I did what any sane man would do and immediately started cleaning the house.

I first vacuumed. I thought this would really make Betty go wild, but unfortunately I decided to vacuum while my son Peter was sleeping. So that woke him up, which made Betty mad, and needless to say my cleaning scheme failed.

Or did it? There was still other stuff to clean, wasn't there? I thought that maybe I could clean myself out of the mess I had made.

So I called one of our neighbors and asked to borrow their steam cleaner. Imagine Betty's surprise when she caught me steam cleaning our living room after first moving most of the furniture out of the room! I could smell her pheromones raging!

[Picture: Sexy cleaning!]

I actually had to steam clean the living room twice, first because I ran out of water due to my heavy use of the "Surge" feature, and second because our living room was absolutely disgusting! We vacuum a lot, but we wanted to steam clean because Peter is starting to crawl around now, and we didn't want him crawling in icky germs.

So I wasn't surprised to find that the steam cleaner picked up a lot of crap... but I was surprised that the end result looked like someone had a diarrhea explosion into the steam cleaner bucket.

[Picture: Barf in a bucket!]

I thought I'd tell this clever joke to Betty, forgetting that doing so would put her out of the mood that I had tried so hard to get her into.

Oh well. There's still more work to do around the house, like dusting, windexing and cleaning the gutters. If I do a few of these activities during the Saints game today, maybe I'll redeem myself with Betty.

Or maybe the article that I read online about how women are turned on by men doing household chores was actually written by a woman who just wanted her husband to do some work around the house. I think I've been had!

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Beginning of Things

It's funny how things start.

Think about it: how did you get to be where you are today? At what point did you say, "I want to be a teacher?" or "I want to be an electrical engineer?" or "I want to run a nudist colony, and I don't care if a bunch of fat people join."

I knew I wanted to be a computer programmer after seeing a Q Basic program run when I was a junior in high school. I was helping another kid debug his program and once we fixed a single semi-colon, the monitor lit up into a fireworks program that changed how I thought of programming forever. I knew right then and there that's what I wanted to do.

Likewise, I remember starting the blog. My buddies and I were sitting around at work and making fun of Subway's term "Sandwich Artist". So I created a blog so that I could write about it. When I published my first blog post, I was nervous and scared, but excited.

Betty knew she wanted to be a teacher while in college. When she was a sophomore in college, her sorority volunteered to work at the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Clinic and the Louisiana School for the Deaf, and after working with the kids she knew that's what she wanted to do with her life. (She also says that she hated the Business Calculus courses she took while undecided, so there you go.)

I'm really looking forward to 2011. Who knows what's in store for us? And who knows how those great things will begin?!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Stutter Step

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to do the things that I've always wanted to do. And I've always wanted to write about my stuttering, in case anyone who stutters wants to read about an incredibly handsome, talented and successful (and did I mention handsome?) person who just happens to stutter.

So I've started a new blog called Stutter Step. I hope to update it once a week or so. I don't expect that most people who read this blog will be interested in Stutter Step, but if you have a friend or family member who stutters, please send them the following link:

http://stutterstep.blogspot.com/

My goal is to engage other stutterers online so we can have a discussion about our hopes and fears. I don't really want to talk about how to stop stuttering or what "cures" are out there for it. I just want to talk about how stuttering affects me on a day-to-day basis, so younger people can at least see that stuttering shouldn't stop them in their tracks.

Thanks again to all of my friends and family who have been so patient with me over the years. I absolutely hate to listen to myself on tape or see myself talk on video. So I sincerely thank everyone out there who listens to me and hears what I'm trying to say and not necessarily how I say it.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

And So It Begins

Thank God that 2010 is over.

Sure, there were some GREAT things that happened in 2010: My son Peter was born, my sister got married, and I got my first gray hairs and nobody noticed.

But there were just so many bad things that happened, it's hard to be upbeat about 2010. There was the recession, the BP oil spill, the earthquake in Haiti, TSA gropings (if you don't like that kind of thing), Peter going to the NICU, and Betty's kidney stones.

Hopefully 2011 is a much better year. And so far it looks like it's shaping up to be a great one. We have a lot of fun things to look forward to: Betty turning 21 for the 10th time, our trip to Disney for Anne's birthday, Peter turning one, and of course my new flock of gray hair will make me look very mature. All great things!

Plus, I've already moved a bunch of stuff up into the attic, and Betty has promised me that I won't have to go up into the attic again for a few months.

Jackpot!

(It's the small things that make me happy.)

Moving stuff up into the attic was part of my New Year's Resolution. In broader terms, one of my resolutions is to do all of the stuff that I put on my To Do list. In addition to Operation Attic, I also just bought Carbonite backup for my computer, since that's been on my To Do list for several months now.

Next on my To Do List?

World Domination!