Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Tanory Tantrum's 2012 Christmas Letter

Dearest friends and family,

I hope this letter finds you well. 2012 was a great year for us Tanorys, as are all years that begin with a little midnight hanky panky (even if one's wife doesn't know it).

This year I was remarkably lazy, even for me. For example, January marked the most blogs that I've written all year, coming in at a whopping 9 blog posts. The four people who routinely read my blog were mad, but nobody else noticed, so I guess it's OK. About the only exciting thing that happened in January was that I bought a strap for my glasses, which I've lovingly termed "the strap-on," and wore it for several months before deciding that my chances of having anyone else talk to me ever again were significantly raised when not wearing my strap-on.

[Picture: Me with my strap-on... for my glasses]

February brought on two of my favorite times of the year: The Super Bowl and Mardi Gras! We made mini pizzas in the shape of footballs for the Super Bowl, but they seemed to come apart whenever we played "Tackle the Person with the Mini-Pizza Footballs." They were also hard to throw as spirals.

The family dresses up for a theme every Mardi Gras, and this year we went as characters from Peter Pan. I dressed up as Captain Hook, but later changed because our little cousin David made a much better looking Hook. But I guess there's a flashing cow in Peter Pan, because that's what I changed into. I just can't help flashing my udders to foreigners during Mardi Gras. It's like I have Mad Cow Disease!

[Picture: Throw me something or I'll make you walk the plank!]

March was actually pretty exciting. First, I baked my first ever cakes for Betty's birthday. They were delicious, except for the part in the very center that didn't get cooked all the way through.

[Picture: Crazy-eyed cake killah!]

We also threw a birthday bash for my daughter, who turned 4 in April but we had her party in March. She got a new car, but her insurance is through the roof.

[Picture: Don't worry, she's got her permit.]

This were going great at Annie's party until my son, the super spy, had an epic chase scene through the middle of our party. Just look at him on his getaway car!

[Picture: This spy car isn't going to drive itself through a chase scene, people!]

March also brought along a tornado. Yes, Prairieville got hit by a twister! But even more amazing, I coached my daughter's soccer team, the Angry Birds, to a 6-2 first place championship in the YMCA youth league. (Well, we were either 6-2, 5-3 or 4-4 depending on if we counted certain scores as actual scores. Some of the kids were still figuring out that they can't use their hands in soccer. But nobody was counting, so we're going with my count.) I lost 15 pounds coaching soccer.

[Picture: Still more exciting than watching soccer on TV!]

April 1st brought along April Fool's Day, and I only tricked one person into thinking that I had quit the blog this year. To celebrate Annie's fourth birthday, Betty and I won her some birthday money by getting first place at the Cajun Code Fest code-a-thon held in Lafayette.

There were several really high points in May! For starters, my son turned two and was officially enrolled in the Terrible Two's Training Program. And my daughter had her first dance recital.

[Picture: Making a wish for more loot!]

Also in May, our good friend Jay got married in Natchitoches. Not only did we eat all the meat pies in the Meat Pie capital of the world, but we also had late night at a Huddle House next door to our hotel. (Note to self: the eggs at the Huddle House are radioactive.) I coached Jay's nephews in soccer so was like a rock star there. No soccer coach ever had it so good! While in Natchitoches, we saw the Steel Magnolias house, then watched Steel Magnolias on NetFlix. Don't believe Betty if she tells you that I cried. I totally saw the ending coming.

In June we went to Washington, DC, to show off the software that made us winners of the Cajun Code Fest. We stayed with my wonderful cousin Elizabeth in the Southeast quadrant of DC but partied with our friend Shelly in the Northwest quadrant. Don't worry, we did the cupcake tour that took us through all four quadrants of DC. While we were away on our trip, my son decided to potty train himself. Either that or my parents potty trained him while we were away. Regardless, now I'm stuck as being the only person who continuously wets his pants every day.

[Picture: This really happened]

Also in June, my extended family made a Happy Birthday video for my dad. No family is cooler than mine!

In July we went to the Great Wolf Lodge in North Carolina. We spent our anniversary there, spent Fourth of July there, and then headed to Atlanta for the annual family reunion on Betty's side of the family - which is one of my favorite parts of the year.

[Picture: Great Wolf Lodge makes us have great big smiles!]

On the way to and fro North Carolina, Betty and I shared The Red Pyramid, book 1 of a series by Rick Riordan. We took turns reading it and raced to see who could finish it first. (I won, because I interrupted her while she was reading. Sabotage!) In Atlanta I jumped off a pier in nothing but my underwear and accidentally flashed my junk to a family member while helping my daughter out of the lake. It was a great trip!

In July, Betty and I also took part in a Cupcake Competition. My flavor, French Toast, got crushed by Smores. I was down in the dumps about it until my cousin Ben started a blog, Napkins from Work, where he posts pictures of the song requests that he gets on napkins at Pat O's in New Orleans. It's ridiculously funny and we haven't stopped laughing about it since.

August brought along the Olympics and Hurricane Isaac. It should be noted that, after sitting in our house with no power after Hurricane Isaac, we purposefully subjected ourselves to post-Hurricane-like conditions by going to tailgate at Tiger Stadium for several hours the following week! In August we also went to the Children's Museum in New Orleans, and Betty and the kids got a spot on their promotional video. (My ugly mug was left out of the video. Either that or they're making a second video, "See, the Children's Museum is for Kids of All Ages!")

September... September... hmm, let me think about what happened during this month. Well, the replacement refs were finally kicked out of the NFL after making a horrendous call in the Packers / Seahawks game. Also, we took my son to his first LSU football game (vs. Towson, alma mater of Elmo) and he was awesome! Peter, despite only being two, called better plays than our offensive coordinator.

In October we became serious about selling our house. So we did all the usual stuff: had a garage sale, put some stuff into storage, and cleaned both the inside and outside of the house. I even found a new love for pressure washing!

[Picture: This is the only SFW pressure washing art from this page]

In October I dressed up as Honey Boo Boo for my office's Halloween costume contest. I didn't place, but I was number one in annoying people that day.

[Picture: Why oh why oh why?]

In November we officially put our house up for sale and then got it under contract the day after Thanskgiving. To celebrate the sale of our house and a new beginning in a new house, my sister gave birth to her first child, John Bobby, Jr!

So now it's December. What have we done in December? It's actually been pretty busy. For starters, we went to my cousin Matt's wedding... er, well, just the reception. I had my first and last martinis there, and got to see friends and family that I haven't seen in a while. We also celebrated my birthday, the Mayan Apocalypse, my brother's birthday and then Christmas, in that order. I quit my piano lessons this month but am still working on improving my piano skills on my own time. (If anybody needs someone to play Meat Loaf's "I Would Do Anything For Love" on the piano, I've got you covered!) Last, we found a new house in Baton Rouge and have signed the billions of forms needed to get a new loan.

Sorry that I'm late with my Christmas letter, but just like everything else this year, I've completely slacked. My resolution for next year is to be more proactive... which will practically be impossible to not be, considering how extremely lazy I've been this year.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, a fantastic 2012, and I hope everyone will have an even better 2013!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The End of the World (As We Know It)

According to people who have no knowledge of the Mayan culture, the Mayans apparently decided that the world is going to end on December 21st.

This is good news for me, as it means that we won't have to celebrate my brother's birthday later in December, so he can't steal any attention away from me. Also, and more importantly, it means that I don't have to buy him a gift, since nobody will be here to enjoy it anyway.

Brother, I would have done something ridiculously special for you this year had we had a chance to celebrate your birthday. Instead, just know that I will spend that money on a slammin' End of the World party in its place. It will be spectacular.

Actually, the Mayan calendar is sort of like the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan: a lot of the foundation was borrowed from other sources but it still makes for a fine work of art, it's really all about a never-ending cycle, and the author didn't live long enough to see its completion.

We know of course that December 21st really just represents the end of the current cycle as well as the beginning of a new cycle. Beginnings and endings were very important to the Mayans. And for people who didn't have the Internet to reference or TI82 calculators to store their calculations in, the Mayan calendar is amazingly accurate. You can read more about the specifics of the Mayan calendar here.

So instead of the gloom and doom of thinking the world is going to end, this December 21st I'm going to look at the day as the end of an old cycle and the beginning of a new cycle. I'm going to not only make New Year's resolutions, but New Cycle resolutions as well. This is a time that we can all decide to be better people and live better lives, or we can continue doing the same old crap as always and be stuck in an infinite loop.

So please join with me on December 21st and pledge to be a better you. Whatever you plan on doing, do it without hesitation or fear of failure, and do it to the best of your ability. And don't care if anyone is watching or hoping that you fail - and there will be many - because those people are just stuck in their old cycle.

But no, Brother, you're still not getting a present... unless the New Cycle includes free same-day shipping.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Barfday To Me!

Happy birthday to me!

My birthday was on 12/12/12. That's what they usually call a Golden Birthday, but I had my first Golden Birthday when I turned 12 on 12/12. So I like to think of this one as my Platinum Birthday.

On either one of my two Golden Birthdays, everything I did was Golden with a capital G. When I ate breakfast it was a Golden Breakfast! When I kissed Betty goodbye when I left for work it was a Golden Kiss. When I took a shower it was a Golden Shower.

Uh... let's scratch that last one, shall we?

Also, 12/12/12 was not so much of a birthday as it was a barfday. That's because my family was sick over the weekend and up through my birthday.

It started with my daughter, Annie. She got sick Saturday night and was sick for most of Sunday morning. She started feeling better around noon, just in time for my son Peter to start puking every fifteen minutes starting at 3 pm. The poor little dude... everything he ate or drank came immediately back up. It was tough watching him wretch into a bowl.

I went to work on Monday, but came back feeling like I was going to hurl and/or blow an O-ring. As it turned out, I did both... at the same time. I was running in and out of the bathroom while carrying our trash can, and at one point had both ends spewing like a fire hose at the same time. It was pretty miserable - but good blog material!

Betty's been pretty healthy so far. I mean, she's been sick and has been achy, but I think has been the best off out of all of us. Which only means that it's a just a matter of time before she gets us all sick again.

The circle of life!

So two days before my birthday, I was barfing. The day before my birthday, I was keeping Charmin in business. The day of my birthday, I went back to work and hopefully infected everyone there.

If I can't have a nice healthy birthday, then everyone else should suffer, too!

Betty wanted to make me breakfast in bed, but since we all have a stomach bug, we settled on toast with a candle in it. It was pretty delicious, actually. After dinner we ate cake without icing, which my son threw up later that night. Watching him throw up made me want to throw up, and so...

It was a very Happy Barfday to me!

Thanks for everyone's birthday messages over email, text, Facebook, snail mail and phone. It really meant a lot to me. It meant so much to me that I'm thinking of doing what I did last year, which was to change my birthday on Facebook to be the current day every day for at least a month. It's amazing how many people forget that they just told you Happy Birthday the day before!

Monday, December 03, 2012

How Not to Sell Your House

I've been perusing other people's homes online and in person for almost two months now, and so I think that makes me an expert in how NOT to sell your home. Here are the reasons why we have outright rejected someone's house (written as if I'm talking to the sellers):

1. Filth

The number one "house killer" for us is if you've left your house filthy. You know who you are. You knew we were coming to see it, you'd moved all your crap out of your house, but you didn't bother to clean the damn carpets, didn't bother to clean the walls, the baseboards were brown from dirt, you dumped mop water into your jacuzzi tub and then didn't clean it and all the spouts were growing fungus (yes, we really saw a house like this), and your fan blades were caked with dust. You are filthy swine and nobody should ever live in your house again. They should firebomb your house to rid the neighborhood of all the pests and bacteria that have been accruing there for the last ten years. The worst part is that you lived in all of that filth before you moved out, and we can't see ourselves letting our kids into your disgusting cesspool that you used to call home. Shame on you!

2. Location

Do the train tracks run ten feet behind the fence in your back yard? Is that why all of your pipes have burst and the floor is all moldy? No? Hmm... well maybe you're the person whose house is in a new and glorious neighborhood but is next door to the ghetto. (Baton Rouge is sadly famous for this.) Is there only one entrance and exit from your neighborhood? Do you live at the front of the neighborhood and so every other resident gets to speed by yours? I have to tell you, if you're going to make me fix up all the pipes because the house shakes every time the train passes by, or if I have to have an armed guard at each of my doors because the crime rate in your neighborhood is off the charts, or if I can't let my kids play outside without fear of them getting hit by your dumbass teenager taking turns on two wheels, then you'd better drop your price another $30K. Which leads me to...

3. Price

I know you love your house. I know you made a lot of great memories there. But dammit, you're selling your house for more per square foot than it costs to buy a new house. Why in the world would I ever pay you more for your twenty year old house, where your AC is dying and your carpets needs to be replaced, when I could get something new for cheaper? Do you not realize how this works?

Oh, and if you're the owner of one of the houses that were filthy, then you have no business marking up the price of your house so that it's $25K higher than everything else in the neighborhood. If you want us to pay top dollar for your house, your house had better be frickin' top dollar! You'd better have your house clean, you'd better have a termite contract, and you'd better have something incredibly awesome in and/or around your house for me to pay you that much. Instead of paying more for your house, I'll give you a dollar so you can buy a clue.

4. Amenities

I'm happy for you if you have a pool. My kids are young, so I look at a pool as a hazard to be avoided. Same goes for a koi pond. When you look at a koi pond you probably see your giant orange and white fish serenely swimming around their four square feet of personal universe and then you feel relaxed. I, however, see a death trap. We can agree to disagree.

But if one of the selling points of your house is that you have a giant master bathroom, then there probably shouldn't be a giant crack along the bottom of your shower. If you accentuate your beautiful light fixtures in your house's write-up, the light fixtures should be fit with working light bulbs and the actual light should not be hanging by a thread from the ceiling. (Again, I'm talking to you, Person-Whose-House-Is-Overpriced.)

If you have a fence that is being held up by another long piece of wood, you should probably get that fixed. If your gate doesn't open and is therefore unusable, I'd probably get that fixed ASAP if your house is marked up. A gate and a fence are great things to have, if they're not going to fall on my kids and crush them. If you have a garage door, it would be great if you left the garage door opener for us to use. If you want to state that the house needs work or is a fixer-upper, or is being sold "as is" then we're cool. If not, I'm deducting $10K from my offer to fix all this crap.

Last, but not least...

5. Smells

Never in my life would I think that the smells of one's house would be a "house killer." I barely have a sense of smell, after all. But one house we looked at smelled of cat piss. Not "cat urine" or "cat pee," but full-fledged "cat piss." It smelled like the cats had basically drank all the milk in Baton Rouge and then made it a point to pee on every square foot of carpet. To make matters worse, some kind of aerosol spray was used in an attempt to mask the cat piss smell.

Look, if you love cats, that's cool. I mean, we all have our flaws, am I right? But for crying out loud, clean your house before you put it on the market. If my wife is covering her mouth and nose with her shirt so that she doesn't have to breathe in the smells of your house, something is really wrong.

Also, if you smoke then you should get your house professionally cleaned before you put it up on the market. Not only is smoking a disgusting (and sadly addicting) habit that will reduce your life expectancy, but if you smoke then you probably don't realize how bad your house smells. It smells really bad. Like, almost cat piss bad. Stop smoking, and then spend all the money that you're saving from not buying cigarettes on getting your house properly cleaned.

In conclusion...

My kids perpetually destroy our house. It's like the ancient Egyptian stories of Ra being reborn every morning and having to fight monsters during the night: we pick up our kids' toys every night, and then the next day they take out every single toy and throw it on the ground. It's a never-ending battle.

But when it came time to have people come over to see our house, we had our house clean. The kids toys were put away, the dishes in the sink were cleaned and put away, and the carpets were vacuumed.

We had a plan: if we got a call to see the house, we threw every piece of laundry into a laundry basket and shoved it into the back of our van. And we made sure that any deficiency with our house was fixed before we put it on the market - we had our tiles professionally cleaned, we steam cleaned our carpets, we power-washed the house, etc. We had some work on the siding that was done after an offer came in, but we had tried to get it fixed before. At least we tried!

So if we can do it, so can you. There's absolutely no excuse for a disgustingly filthy, smelly, overpriced house that needs a lot of work. Because if you do choose to put your house up for sale like that, you will end up on somebody's blog, and it will not be pretty.

Good luck!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Another Successful Tanory Wedding!

My cousin Matt got married on Friday. (Congrats, Matt and Katie!)

The wedding was in New Orleans and a lot of my family came down from Minnesota, Virginia and Texas to be there. We chatted on Facebook and determined that most of my fam was staying at the Marriott on Canal Street, so the night of the wedding Betty and I booked a room at the Marriott on Canal Street.

Wait, what's that? They weren't staying at the Marriott on Canal Street? They were staying at Courtyard Marriott Iberville Hotel on Iberville Street? Yes, we of the Tanory clan are not very good at coordinating activities and schedules. That's part of what makes it so much fun to all get together.

But no worries. Had we stayed at the same hotel as my family, we would have probably all just gone out, got drunk together, possibly tricked our female cousins into going to a transvestite strip club, then gone back to the hotel and played a massive poker tournament until the wee hours of the morning. Instead, we got something better:

A hotel with an Irish Jig competition.

This weekend New Orleans was host to the Southern Region Oireachtas, otherwise known as the Irish Jig Competition in laymen's terms. Girls (and some guys) wore wigs, expensive dresses, lots of makeup and fancy shoes, and jigged around every inch of open space at the hotel. They danced in the lobby, they danced in the hallways... one girl (who won 5th) danced in the elevator for us. They were actually really fun to watch, and everyone we talked to was extremely friendly. It even left an Irish song in my head all weekend.

Having a thousand young girls dancing around me in New Orleans normally wouldn't have been a bad thing, but the Marriott on Canal Street has "fancy elevators" that basically make getting to your room and completely unnecessary hassle. Instead of pushing the "Up" button from the first floor, you instead have to enter your floor number into a large digital pad that is placed between six elevators. Each elevator has a letter (ie, Elevators A - F) and the pad's monitor then tells you what elevator to stand in front of. Also, each elevator takes forever and a day to bring you where you need to go. With hundreds of girls milling around the lobby, it took us longer to get into an elevator than it does to get through the light on Airline and Highland in Baton Rouge during rush hour.

I felt like an old man at that point. I kept muttering to anyone who would listen, "In my day we had two buttons - up and down - and we liked it that way! Gone are the days when you could guess which elevator will open!"

Inside the elevator, there are no buttons. You go where it takes you. And if you get into the wrong elevator, kindly wait 20 minutes for another elevator to pick you up, because that's how long those things take to get anywhere.

I only bring up the Irish dancing and the awful elevators because Betty let me know about them every 10 minutes for the rest of the trip. She didn't want to stay at the Marriott. In fact, she was sure that the rest of my family was NOT at the Marriott, as she had spoken to every other member of my family on the phone or through email whereas I had only Facebooked them 2 hours before the wedding. She wanted to stay at the Crowne Plaza, which is located next door to the Ritz-Carlton, which is where the reception took place. But did I listen? No!

So we walked a few extra blocks from our hotel to the Ritz, because we didn't get to our room in time for the wedding. (The elevators may have had something to do with that.) This gave us a chance to take in some sights, sounds and smells. New Orleans looked and smelled like it always does: like a beautiful, rose-smelling diamond covered in a hobo's vomit. New Orleans is a beautiful and terrifying city all at once. On the one hand, it's the murder capital of the US. On the other hand, it's got some of the best food and music anywhere.

Did I mention that valet parking at the Marriot was $40? Betty assures me that it's probably only $30 at the Crowne Plaza. OK, enough about that!

The reception was awesome! First, it was great to see all of my family from all over the US. We danced, we laughed, we compared unibrow length and thickness. Second, I got to see a lot of my fraternity brothers - some of whom I haven't seen in 10 years! Third, the food was outstanding. Fourth, the band was incredible, and my favorite tune of the night was Sweet Child O' Mine (in which I hit the high note at the end). But last, and key to this blog, was that there was a guy named Craig who worked the martini bar at the Ritz, and we became fast friends.

Craig, if you're reading this, I hate you. I mean, my stomach and head hate you. Also, the rest of me does as well.

Betty and I started out drinking wine. She likes red and I like white. Then I took a shot of something. And then we started drinking blueberry and lemon drop martinis. A lot of martinis. Like, probably 5 each. Or more like 8. I lost count after 4.

So this morning we woke up in severe pain. Our heads hurt. Our stomachs were revolting against the rest of our bodies. I hurled a few times then called for a late checkout and took a nap. When we finally got up, we tried to walk to get food, but couldn't stray too far from our hotel because we needed access to a restroom in case one of us (ie, me) had to puke again.

The wait for the damn elevators took 10 minutes, and then we made six stops on the way down. Betty almost lost her proverbial lunch in the elevator, which would have made for a much better blog post. Our heads were pounding from the Irish dancers practicing their jigs in the elevator.

Finally we made it outside the hotel. Had we stayed at the Crowne Plaza then we would have been close enough to meet my extended family for breakfast. Alas, we were several blocks away, and that was too far for us to sway towards. Walking down Canal, holding our arms out to latch onto light poles and other objects to keep us upright, we probably looked like characters from the Walking Dead. I was sweating profusely by this point, and people were actively avoiding me. I seriously thought about puking in a trash can on the sidewalk. Hey, when in New Orleans, right?

We saw a PJs across the street and made our way across to it, but the line was too long. We settled on getting a Sprite, Powerade and some Ritz crackers from a CVS. Betty checked out while I went outside to get some fresh air. I leaned against the wall outside, hung my head, continued to drip sweat as if I had just run a marathon, and probably looked like one of the homeless junkies swaying and sweating ten feet away from me. The CVS didn't have a restroom, which is lucky for the CVS because I would have destroyed it.

When we got back to the Marriott on Canal Street, I stopped for a brief second while my body told me all the nasty things it was going to do to me. Then I made a run for the bathroom. I was like the star running back on your fantasy football team, sprinting, cutting and bounding away through the throngs of tourists, concierge help and Irish dancers. I burst into the bathroom and shoved aside a kid going into the last open stall, and then puked everything that I had ever eaten or drank in my entire life into the toilet. The automatic toilet flushed. I tasted a hint of blueberry and lemon drop martini, and then I puked again.

We left New Orleans, having done none of our usual activities that we love to do when visiting: we didn't go to Cafe Du Monde or Central Grocery, we didn't get any pralines. We didn't see my family again and we even forgot about the Comic Con at the Convention Center. All we could think of was that we had to get home to our kids. And beds. Because we both needed another nap.

But we did get to see Matt and Katie on their wedding day, and we got to see all our family. And that made it another successful Tanory wedding!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Welcome, Little John Bobby!

I'd like to congratulate my sister and brother-in-law for officially becoming parents over the Thanksgiving weekend!

We knew they were having a boy but they kept the name close to the vest. They named their little dude after his daddy... John, Jr! His initials (minus his two middle names) is JRJR, which can either be "Junior Junior" or "Jar Jar."

Being the Star Wars fan that I am, I obviously vote for Junior Junior. No self-respecting Star Wars fan likes Jar Jar.

Little John being born on Thanksgiving weekend was a blessing in many ways. First, and most obviously, it's a blessing that he was born. Second, he was born while we were in Houston, so we don't have to make a second trip. (Not that we wouldn't have made a second trip, but it was convenient that we were there.) Third, Little John gave his dad instant Karma, and his dad (Big Daddy John Senior) won his fantasy football matchup to keep him in playoff contention in our league.

Little John, I gotta tell you... I was hoping your dad would lose that game. I'm in 9th now, and I need to be in 8th to make the playoffs. But I still love you.

Betty is the godmother. That makes me the godfather-in-law, even though I'm a blood relative. It's a weird relationship, but we're from Louisiana - we're used to that.

Getting to Houston for Thanksgiving was a little hairy. We left Prairieville on Thanksgiving morning, and got out of the house about 45 later than we wanted. But when we were about 30 miles from Beaumont we got a call from my brother saying that there had been a 140 car accident in Beaumont that had shut down both lanes of the Interstate. Two people died, which is awful... but it's amazing that more people didn't die. A lot of people went to the hospital in critical condition. And had we left Prairieville when we wanted to, we might have been right around that area when the accident happened.

So... we have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. We're thankful that we could be together as a family, thankful for our health and safety, and especially thankful for our little JRJR.

My advice to Little John: don't let your dad teach you how to play poker. No, wait, that's not it! Here's my real advice: your mom sleeps with her eyes open because her large eyelashes block the light. It's creepy, but you'll get used to it. Don't let it freak you out.

OK, real advice to the little dude: always be yourself. You've got it made - great parents, the best godfather-in-law that money can buy, and loving grandparents who will do anything for you. So give your mom hell when you're a teenager and I'll help fund your college education. Deal?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Simply the Best

Even though I have an alarm as well as amazing ninja skills, I still occasionally daydream about having to defend my family and house from intruders. I think most men have these dreams. It's an innate characteristic of us men to want to protect our ladies so that they'll think we're strong and thus get it on with us.

That's evolution, baby.

Since my amazing ninja skills relate to being a Network Ninja and not an actual ninja, I have to rely upon weapons hidden throughout the house to be used if I am called upon to defend my family. Because I don't like guns, I've opted to use sharp objects such as knives, elbows and precariously hanging chandeliers as part of my repertoire of weaponry.

The best knife that we have in the house is a Rachael Ray knife. It's sharp, it cuts smoothly, and you can buy a trio of them at Bed, Bath and Beyond for less than $20. I promise you that if you need to stab an intruder, these are the knives that you should use.

For starters, the knives have bright orange handles. This means that you can generally see them even if it's dark. I know that you, like me, probably have night vision goggles so the color of the knife handle won't really matter, but bright colors generally mean "danger" out in the wild. Always be prepared.

Next, the knives are stainless steel. That means that you can thrust your knife through the intruder's abdomen and then turn it (so it tears up the intruder's abdominal wall and can't heal) without fear of breaking the blade. That's very important in home defense, as you may need to stab the intruder multiple times.

The handles also have a patented reverse wedge Gusto-Grip which actively resist forward slip, even when hands are wet with the intruder's spurting blood. This should help you to keep a hold on your weapon, for when you inevitably try to stab the intruder in the face and forget that the skull is not easily stabbed.

The best part is that when you're done disemboweling the intruder, you can then use the knife to mince, pare, slice and core without having to resharpen the blade. The antimicrobial handles are treated to resist the growth of mold, mildew and other microbes on the handles, so don't worry if any traces of the intruder's blood is left on the knife.

In conclusion, not only can Rachael Ray help you make a fast and delicious meal in under 30 minutes, but her brand of cutlery is great for home defense. That's why Rachael Ray is my favorite food celebrity. She and her cutlery are simply the best.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Home for Sale!

My home is for sale and I think you should buy it. Check out the link here.

No, seriously, I'm checking the daily activity on that link, so I'll know if you looked at it or not.

Think about it! You - yes, YOU - could live in the room where I've written practically every blog for the past 7 years. Think about all of the creativity that will be floating around you!

Sure, most of my blogs aren't going to win any prizes (except Best Blog), but wouldn't you rather live in a house where someone put their time and energy into something that they loved doing, as opposed to buying a house where someone may have died in it? You don't want a haunted house, do you?!

I'll admit, someone dying in their house and then haunting it is pretty extreme, but who knows... maybe someone was cooking meth in that other house that you were just looking at online, and then they got caught, went to jail and had to sell their house in order to pay their lawyers. Don't buy their house! Don't support the drug trade! Buy mine instead!

Whew, OK, enough about haunted drug hideouts and back to my beautiful and well-kept house.

We had an "Aha!" moment when we first stepped into our house 8 years ago. We knew that this was the house for us. But we'd like to have another baby and just don't have room for the third kid in our house. (Technically, I'd like to just try for a new baby four times a week for the next few months, then get serious about it. Don't tell Betty.)

If we had two kids of the same gender then we could put them in the same room, maybe have a bunk bed or something. But having my son and daughter in the same room at night is like having a giant python and a tiger fighting in the forest: they're going to make a huge mess, something is going to get destroyed, and at the end of the day there's no clear winner.

That's why we need a new house. Also, our kids are going to private school in Baton Rouge and the school board decided to sell some buses, so now Annie's school will start an hour before Peter's and will end two hours later so that the buses can handle the same amount of kids with less resources. So because the school board is cheap, Betty will have to make multiple trips into and out of BR each day just to pick up the kids from school. It's kind of ridiculous. I keep trying to tell her that there's a brand new elementary school less than a mile from our house, but you know what they say - if Mama ain't happy, nobody's happy! By the way, the schools in Ascension Parish are some of the top-rated schools in Louisiana.

If you'd like a tour of Casa de Tanory, please visit this link here to see the details of our house or click this link to email my realtor. Again, I'm keeping stats on who actually clicks on these links, so you'd better do it or you might end up being blog fodder in the upcoming weeks.

Not buying a new house right now but may know someone who is? Please help me spread the word of my house being for sale! Also, please let me know if you or anyone you know is looking to sell in the Baton Rouge area. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween!

For my office's Halloween costume contest this year, I'm going as Honey Boo Boo.

Warning: The following picture is not suitable for young children.

This is my outfit. Wish me luck!

[Honey Boo Boo says Happy Halloween!]

Anybody have some 'sketty?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Garage Sale!

Betty and I are having a garage sale this weekend. It's on Saturday from 6 am to 1 pm. Please come by and buy all my stuff.

And who knows? If you buy enough stuff, you could be our Amazing Customer of the Day and make an appearance on the blog!

This is our first garage sale, and we didn't even know where to begin advertising for it. Lucky for us, we have friends and family who are expert garage salepeople.

For starters, if you have a blog (like me) then you can shamelessly promote it on your blog. That's what I'm doing, by the way. If you come by and say that you saw my blog, I'll give you a 10% discount off already low, low prices!

We also paid for a classified ad in The Advocate (Baton Rouge's daily newspaper) to appear on Friday and Saturday. In addition, we put up an ad on TheAdvocate.com. You can see our ad here because, well, it's pretty awesome. If we make $25 on our garage sale then we'll break even with what we've spent on marketing.

Is that a tax write-off?

But nobody's contacted us due to our ad on TheAdvocate.com. Instead, everyone is contacting us through Craig's List. (You can see our Craig's List ad here.)

I knew Craig's List was popular, but I had no idea it was so awesome. I mean, I knew that there were ads for prostitutes on Craig's List so I figured that it was probably a pretty frequently used site, but I wasn't expecting to sell a ton of stuff through Craig's List on a single day.

But that's exactly what we're doing. I guess what I'm saying is, by the time you read this blog it might be too late, because I'm apparently selling everything through Craig's List. Basically Craig's List is like a virtual garage sale, with occasional ads for erotic services.

Probably just writing "Craig's List", "protitutes" and "erotic services" has tripled my blog readership for the day. Hey, anyone looking for erotic services on Craig's List, I have a few old LSU shirts that may look great on you while you're having sex with whoever you found on Craig's List to have sex with. So drop by on Saturday! Don't forget to mention that you found our garage sale via my blog so you can get a discount!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Blogging for Boobies

If there's one thing I'm an advocate of, it's boobies. In particular, ta-tas, hoo-hoos, jugs and titties, not to mention breasts. Just look at my record:

In 2006 the Tanory Tantrum joined a coalition of bloggers in turning our blogs Pink for October. It was the first of many such times that my blog has sported pink in honor of breasts and all that they mean to me.

In 2008 I once again joined forces with Pink for October and turned my blog pink. I personally encouraged women to get their breasts examined and offered to examine them for half off what their doctors would charge them. (Please note: I'm not a doctor - just a breast enthusiast.)

In 2009 I wrote about how breasts make the world go round, and how a jiggly bosom makes any day better. I pleaded for the jiggling to continue. Hopefully many women out there headed my call. I also received three pictures of male breasticles from my readers.

In 2010 I vividly imagined a world without breasts and how it would be worse than the apocalypse. This was in an effort to have men encourage their ladies to check their lady bits for cancer.

In 2011 I advocated getting your breasts examined as part of "Test Your Ta-Tas Month."

This year I'm not going pink, although I encourage anyone with a blog to check out Pink For October's site and join up. Instead, I'd like to just tell you why it's important to me that you and your family members get screened for breast cancer if you're at risk.

Breast cancer took my aunt away from us. She had a personality that was larger than life, and the times that I spent with her and her my cousins are some of my favorite memories. They lived in Seattle, so we didn't get to see them much - which made the time we spent with them so much sweeter. And it's kind of crazy because I can't remember anything from my past very well, but I distinctly remember events from my life where she was in them. They're very vivid. I've tried writing them here but words just don't do the memories justice.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you never know what you mean to someone else. And I never took the time to tell my aunt how much she meant to me. I'm sure all of my family knows that I love them, but it's not like I ever got around to telling my aunt, "That time that you and I chatted on the couch made me feel like the center of the universe, because I know that everyone wanted to see you and yet you still made time to focus on just me." We're just not wired that way.

So do yourself a favor, and do a favor to the people who love you and want to spend time with you, and get the necessary check-ups for breast cancer or anything else that you're at risk for. Because I promise you that someone is going to miss you.

I write a blog in which I attempt to be funny. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it's awful. But as long as breast cancer is around, I will be proudly Blogging for Boobies. Now go get yourself checked out.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Squeezing the Meat

My family is of Lebanese descent. You probably already know this because I have a gigantic unibrow that regenerates within hours of it having been shaved, distinctive to those of Middle Eastern descent.

The fun part of being Lebanese is that, when I was young, my grandma ("Gaga") would always have kibbeh (pronounced "kibbee"), grape leaves and hummus ready for us to eat. Kibbeh is like a Greek/Lebanese meat loaf; grape leaves are leaves from a grape vine wrapped around rice dressing mixed with magic; and hummus is a dip made from chick peas (or Garbanzo beans, if you want to be picky about it).

When I was a kid, I thought that was what everyone ate at their grandparents' house. Little did I know that my childhood was enchanted by delicious foods at every corner!

Betty is an honorary Lebanese: not only is she a Tanory, but she also makes a mean kibbeh and hummus. She learned most of these skillz from my mom.

Knowing that my mom is an expert teacher, when my Aunt Tena was in town from Minnesoooota a few weeks ago, she asked my mom if she could show her how to make kibbeh. I'm usually just the taste tester, but somehow I got roped into learning how to make it, too. So Tena and I decided to race to see who could make the best kibbeh the fastest.

It turned out to be pretty fun. This is me cooking. See how happy I am?

[Picture: I was happy enough just to eat it]

I can't list all the steps to making kibbeh, because my mom bought all the stuff, portioned everything out for us, and told me exactly what to do and when to do it. But Betty took pictures, so I'll give you the highlights.

First thing to know: kibbeh is made with wheat. And wheat, like rice, has to be soaked for a long time. Unlike rice, for kibbeh the wheat then must have the water squeezed out. If you forget to soak your wheat in water, don't worry: the wheat will soak up fluids when it gets into your stomach, at which point the wheat will expand (along with your stomach) and you'll either feel really bloated or your stomach will possibly explode, depending on the amount of kibbeh you've eaten. And if you're eating my kibbeh then you're hoping that I made it right. Good luck with that.

That's why step 1 to making kibbeh is: SQUEEZE THE WHEAT!

Here, I'll show you how:

[Picture: Squeeze the wheat!]

That is me literally scooping up handfuls of wheat that has been soaking in water, and then squeezing the bejeezus out of it. And that's my beautiful Aunt Tena in the background. I kicked her ass in wheat squeezing, by the way.

Step 2 is to then mix the wheat with meat. Your meat should be ground three times. And here's a tip: if you go to the deli and tell them that you want your meat ground three times and they tell you that they already grind their meat three times, you should loudly berate them for being lazy bastards and demand that they go back and grind it two more times. We're not making burger patties here, people. Lafayette has a few places that know what "kibbeh meat" means, because Lafayette is awesome. Facebook my mom for details.

[Picture: Lafayette knows how to squeeze its meat, if you know what I mean]

If squeezing meat between your hands sounds kinky, that's because it is. Adding damp wheat to it doesn't make it any less kinky, either. I think that's why kibbeh became so popular in the first place. Just look at how excited I'm getting while squeezing my meat?

[Picture: Squeeze the meat!]

I could barely keep up with all the squeezing. My hands and forearms started to tire out. But I pulled through at the end, and my meat got squeezed and mixed with wheat properly.

[Picture: Consider the meat squeezed!]

The next thing you do is find a big rectangular pan. I guess it could be any shape of pan, but my mom uses rectangular ones. Don't question my mom, she knows what she's doing. Partition your meat/wheat mixture into halves, and then spread one half thinly across the bottom of the pan. Have it go up the side as well.

Next, my mom scooped some other meat (possibly cooked? who knows) that was mixed with pine nuts and other stuff on top of the pan. She did this for both me and my Aunt Tena, although I tried to bump the spoon from her hand on more than one occasion. I take my cooking competitions seriously!

Next, make another layer of meat on top of what's already in your pan. My mom suggests making thin layers in your hand in small pieces and laying them out across the top of the pan. Here's a pic of mine about halfway through spackling the top of it with meat.

[Picture: Spackled with love! Uh, I mean...]

I'm getting indigestion just writing this. I'm also hungry for kibbeh now.

Once your meat is properly spackled, use a knife to cut diamond shapes across the top. Just start at one corner and cut your way down to the other corner, then repeat as necessary. This is what mine looked like when I was done:

[Picture: Diamonds are a girl's best friend]

The last thing to do, before you put it in the oven, is to melt as much butter as you can find and then pour it all over the kibbeh. Seriously, whatever butter you have in the house is probably not enough. Did I say that kibbeh was made with meat and wheat? It's really more like butter, with meat, wheat and a few pine nuts thrown in for good measure. Here's the final product (before it gets ovenized), and you can see the butter glistening in the background.

[Picture: Buttery kibbeh]

That's how you know this dish is good!

I unfortunately didn't take any pictures of the kibbeh after it came out of the oven. Sorry about that. I was too busy eating it. And even though both I and my Aunt Tena made kibbeh, we only cooked and ate mine that night. My kibbeh was delicious! But I think the fact that my parents kept my Aunt Tena's to themselves and ate it the next day means that they probably liked hers better. Therefore I declare my Aunt Tena the 2012 Annual Tanory Kibbeh Cook-off Winner.

Thanks to my mom for letting me help out with dinner, for getting everything ready for us, and for being such a great teacher. I had a blast! Thanks to Betty for documenting the whole thing. And thanks to Aunt Tena for being such a good sport while I made vulgar jokes about "handling my meat" the entire time we were cooking.

I'll get you next time, when we make grape leaves!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Pressure Wash Art

I have a new love: pressure washing.

I'll pressure wash anything, anywhere, anytime. I love it for several reasons:
  1. It's easy.
  2. The results are immediate.
  3. The results are satisfying.
  4. I get to play with water.
  5. I can do it while spending time outside on a beautiful day.
  6. I can do it while it's raining.
  7. I can do it in my underpants (if I'm in the back yard and the gate is closed.)
I've also determined that I have a knack for making Pressure Wash Art. It's easy to do - all you need is a filthy piece of pretty much anything that needs to be pressure washed, and a desire to be a fantastic artist.

Here is my Pac Man art:

[Picture: Pac Man pressure washing art]

And... well, that's pretty much it. Oh, except for the penis and balls that I drew. Repeatedly.

[Picture: Erotic pressure washing art]

Some might call my work "immature." But the human body is a beautiful thing... especially when you have a sack as big as the one that I drew in relation to the shaft on my Twig and Berries artwork. See for yourself in this different angle of the same piece:

[Picture: Twig and Berries in repose]

I made other pressure artwork as well, but really, nothing was as good as the dong art and I had to just pressure wash around the other stuff to erase everything.

If you have any unique artistic talents, please let me know. You know, it's a "you show me yours and I'll show you mine" kind of art sharing thing.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

LSU vs. Towson

LSU is playing Towson tonight, so I thought it would be fun to compare the two schools. I began by preparing to write about each school's football program, but then I thought it would be more fun to compare alumni.

Which school has the better alumni?

Most people in Baton Rouge, including moi, originally asked when we heard we were playing Towson, "Where the hell is Towson?" It turns out that Towson University is located in the unincorporated area of Towson, which is a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. So basically, it's the Prairieville of Baltimore.

According to Wikipedia (which means I'm copying all the rest of this verbatim from Wikipedia), Towson was originally founded as a school for teachers. Since then it's expanded to be a school with 8 colleges and over 20,000 students. Forbes included Towson University in its 2009 list of the top 100 public colleges and universities in the United States. Towson is one of the largest public universities in Maryland, and still produces the most teachers of any university in the state.

OK, so now that we know more about Towson, let's talk about it's alumni.

Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, went to Towson.

OK! Towson wins! Nobody can beat Elmo. I mean, it's not even close.

Well, wait, I did too much research to end on that note. So other notable Towson alumni, especially to people in South Louisiana, are Jermon Bushrod (Saints player) and Joe Vitt (Interim head coach of the Saints). Johnny Unitas served as the school's athletic program's community liaison. So now we know that their football program is capable of producing quality players.

OK, so what about LSU alumni?

Well, there's me, of course. Maybe LSU gets negative points for that one. My wife and most of my family went to LSU.

There's also:
  • Better Than Ezra (band)
  • Dwayne Bowe (probably on your Fantasy Football team)
  • Brian Wilson (probably on your Fantasy Baseball team)
  • Shaquille O'Neal (probably was on your Fantasy Basketball team ten years ago)
  • David Toms (do they have Fantasy Golf teams?)
  • Jimmie Davis (former LA governor, also wrote "You Are My Sunshine")
  • Bobby Tanory, accomplished blogger and lounger

So there you go. LSU has many more notable sports stars than Towson, and also leads in areas of politics, academia, and entertainment.

But nobody beats Elmo. Advantage: Towson.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Flag on the Play!

I'm so happy that the regular NFL refs are back in business... because I can't wait to yell and spit venom at the regular referees once again.

It's sort of a national pastime.

Sure, the replacement refs were awful, but I was never really angry with them. It's hard to blame them for being terrible when they were completely unqualified for the job. Not to mention that they came from other leagues with other rules and had very little time to master the new rules.

Plus, one of the replacement refs had previously been fired from the Lingerie Football League. He was probably too busy looking at boobies. But who can blame him? Isn't that the whole point of the LFL?

The replacement refs were destined to fail. But the real refs are supposed to be amazing refs. And that's why I like to get angry with them when they make a bad call.

I'm not one of those guys who thinks the Saints wouldn't be 0-3 if the real refs had been in the game. Our defense is absolutely terrible. In fact, I don't know who to hate more at this point: Roger Goodell for suspending Sean Peyton for a year, or Steve Spagnuolo (Defensive Coordinator for the Saints) for our defense being last in the league.

Right now I think Spags is winning. And by "winning" I really mean losing. Goodell, can we swap Spags for Peyton?

One thing that I will miss about the replacement referees is the level of creativity from NFL fans. Just take a look at this parody of Flo-Rida's "Whistle."



After receiving a standing ovation from players and fans, the real refs should now be ready to resume their place as the lowest life form in the minds of real NFL fans. Enjoy your moment of glory, because come Sunday around 4 pm, you will once again be the most hated people in the NFL... other than Goodell and Spags, of course.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The World Is Flat... And So Is My Tire

I was driving down Perkins when a young lady started honking at me. I was flattered, but kept driving anyway - sorry, ladies, but I'm taken!

This person was persistent, though. She pulled alongside me and pointed down repeatedly. I assumed she meant that she wanted to either get in my pants or for me to get into hers. When you have a unibrow as large and illustrious as mine, this is pretty normal.

We both stopped at a red light and she rolled down her window, so I did likewise. That's when she told me that I had a flat tire.

Luckily a Circle K was just up ahead, so I pulled into a well-lit area by the air pump. Sure enough, my back right tire was flat. The tread on my back tires was pretty low and I had planned on getting them replaced within the next week or so, but it looks like I'll have to do it sooner - like, immediately.

Changing a tire is one of those tasks that you're always asked when someone's trying to determine if you're competent. "Can you change your own tire?" How should I know, when I've never done it before? Sure, my dad and I changed the tire on his car after I ran over a curb when I was 16. And I helped a friend whose tire was flat back in December. But I've never had to do it by myself.

How hard could it be?

It turns out that changing a tire is ridiculously easy - as long as you have all the parts. Luckily for me, my car magically had everything I needed in the trunk.

The hardest part for me was getting the jack out of the trunk. I kept pulling it but it wouldn't budge. I finally got the idea to turn the screw on the front, which compressed the jack and then I was able to take it out. But I was at it for probably a good ten minutes before this thought came to mind.

The next thing I did was jack my car up. I kept turning the screw with a metal pole from my trunk. I grunted with exhaustion as my hands hurt from the constant, vigorous screwing motions done while jacking my car up. Up, up, up... woo! I had finally done it. My car was now officially jacked up.

Unfortunately, it was jacked too high. I realized that the tire needed to stay on the ground while I tried to get the lug nuts off, otherwise the tire would just spin. So I jacked my car back down.

I tried using my brute strength to loosen the lug nuts, but they wouldn't budge. I tried various ways of getting the lug nuts to loosen, such as twisting, turning and pleading with them, to no avail. Then I remembered that I'm short, stocky and weight 20 pounds more than the upper end of my body type's normal weight range, so I stood on whatever the name of the tool is that you use to loosen lug nuts, and they came right off.

I had called Betty to let her know that I would be home late due to a flat tire, and she called her dad, Jimmy, to come and help me. Jimmy was at my side in about ten minutes. It was actually really great having someone there with me, because I felt exposed and afraid that I would get jumped or something. You know how crazy that Perkins Rowe crowd gets after dark!

Jimmy came so fast that I nicknamed him Triple J. Who needs AAA when you've got Triple J?

I had one profound thought while changing my tire. I think instead of having a small replacement tire in your trunk, you should carry a monster truck wheel. It would look so much cooler.

If you're not an idiot like me then you probably know how to change a tire. But if you need a reference, I recommend this page. I also recommend pulling into a convenient store's parking lot to change your tire, because you have everything you need: good lighting, concrete, access to bathrooms, food and drinks.

If you ever need a hand, please give me a call. I'm now a pro at changing tires.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Romney Top Waiver Wire Pick for Week 2 of Political Season

Mitt Romney was the number one waiver wire pick-up for players across all leagues in Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Politics after Muslims stormed US embassies in the Middle East and killed several people, including the US ambassador to Libya.

Romney's projected score in standard leagues (known as polls in some leagues) was originally downgraded this week after he gave a confusing answer on how much money a family has to have to be considered the middle class.

But in PPR (Points Per Republican) leagues, Romney got a boost after Kanye West had said that "Mitt Romney don't pay no tax," which Neoconservative hawks noted was a double-negative and therefore actually meant in English that Mitt Romney does pay tax.

"It's great to finally have Kanye on our side," said House Speaker John Boehner (pronounced "Boner") on Saturday. Boehner then broke down in tears.

Obama is still the projected leader in all 8, 10 and 12 person Fantasy Politics leagues.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

What We Did After Hurricane Isaac

After sitting in our hot, powerless homes during Hurricane Isaac... after bitching about Entergy not restoring power to our homes sooner (or bitching because we lost power even before the storm hit land)... after grilling everything in our freezer, fridge and pantry before it spoiled and then having no food left except canned taco sauce... after listening to the AM radio for a glimmer of news about the storm... what did we in South Louisiana do two days after getting our power back?

We simulated these same hurricane conditions down at Tiger Stadium on LSU's campus.

Yes, that's right, we voluntarily left our homes - which were now cooled thanks to our power being restored - and went out to sit in the hot, sweltering heat for 8 hours. We did this even though we had power, even though our AC was back on, and even though we could have comfortably watched the game on ESPNU. Some of us even listened to the game on our headsets while at the stadium. And most of us grilled.

Sure, it was hot. It was muddy. It even drizzled a little bit on us.

But we didn't care. We knew we could go home any time we wanted, granted that we would have to sit through two hours of traffic leaving the stadium and probably another hour of traffic when an 18 wheeler inevitably overturns on I-10.

But we're LSU fans. We know we're crazy.

Basically, if you want to keep the citizens of Louisiana happy during a hurricane, just have an LSU game at Tiger Stadium. Let people come out and tailgate. Let them Tiger-bait the opposing team as well as the storm itself. Just let there be beer, and maybe some Manda Fine Meat sausage dogs.

Because we in South Louisiana don't really mind hurricane conditions, as evidenced by our tailgating. We don't mind the sweltering heat. We don't mind being stuck in one place for a few days. As long as there's football, good music and a few Golden Girls, I think everything will be all right.

Besides, everyone knows it never rains in Tiger Stadium. So I nominate Tiger Stadium to be the new hurricane relief center. LSU already has an Earthquake Game... why not a Hurricane Game?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hurricane Isaac

Hurricane Isaac has come and gone, and thankfully it wasn't as bad as previous hurricanes.

Sure, our house was practically the first house to lose power. But we expected it since our power goes out if a single drop of rain lands within 10 feet of the house, so we had cranked down the AC the night before to make the house nice and cool. Instead of being hot and humid, we were pretty comfortable until we got the bright idea to open a window. Then the mugginess set in!

Spending Wednesday alone with the kids was actually kind of nice. We built block towers up until "Hurricane Pete" came and knocked them down. I beat Betty in Rummikub not just once but twice - unheard of! She beat me in our third game but she totally went past her time limit, so I'm putting an asterisk by that game log. The kids napped for close to 3 hours, Betty also got a nice nap, and I read some of my book. And when it was time for everyone to go to sleep for the night, we all snuggled in Peter's big new bed and had our portable fans blowing on us.

On a normal day, we're all too busy to really bond with our neighbors. But in times of need you really find out who your true friends are. We got several offers to stay at friends' houses where generators were available. One neighbor was going to be working through the hurricane and even offered us his generator. Our other neighbors came to check on us and Betty said we were fine, but joked that she just wished she had some coffee. Less than 10 minutes later, our neighbor brought us over a pot of coffee that he had heated up on his gas grill.

We figured that the food in our freezer and fridge would spoil, so we took practically everything out and stuck it on the BBQ pit. We asked our neighbors to drop on by and we had grilled fish, chicken, sausage and pork. I boiled water on the stove and Betty made instant mashed potatoes. For dessert we heated up bananas, chocolate and marshmallows on the grill, and Betty iced a big slab of cake that she just so happened to have laying around. The kids took out every toy in the house, which was fine with us, and we just sat and chatted until it got too dark to see. We all had a great time at our little hurricane party.

We live in Ascension Parish, and the parish community was on the ball as well. On my way to work Tuesday, I saw workers trimming trees around power lines in preparation for the storm. We have a few houses on our street that flood pretty regularly, and the parish dropped off a big pile of sand to make sand bags. Several guys in my neighborhood helped them bag up the sand and put it out in front of their doors and windows. I had already gotten some sand bags from the fire department in Gonzales - which, by the way, thank you to all the firemen out there! - so I went to help out my neighbors with their own houses.

Early Thursday morning we started packing up the van. Had we left 5 minutes earlier, we would have been at Betty's parents house for a bit before making our way to Lafayette to spend the weekend with my parents. But just as we were about to lock up the house, the power came back on! Power!!! So we called my parents and crushed their hopes that we would come by and see them, unpacked the van... and then the power went out again. The power was on and off for the next few hours, and finally we decided that our phones were charged enough that it didn't matter if the power was out - we could finally check Facebook again, so nothing else mattered. It's back to our normal routine where we interact in between checking our Fantasy Football projected scores and posting Facebook messages.

So... all is well in Tanory Land. But some people didn't make out as well. The levees were breached in Plaquemines parish and a lot of houses were completely flooded. The damage there in some areas is worse than from Katrina. Other people have dealt with tornadoes caused by the hurricane.

So today we're especially thankful for our great neighbors, our wonderful friends, and for modern technology. We've made a note that our next house should have a built-in generator. I'm thinking about getting some solar panels or wind turbines.

If anybody needs anything, please let me know! I hope everyone is safe and dry.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Betty and the Kids are TV Stars!

Betty took the kids to the Children's Museum in New Orleans this week, and they just happened to be there while the museum was filming a promotional video for a party at the museum this weekend. Check them out in the video below!



Betty's parents are also in the video. You can see several shots of Peter playing with Betty, and there's a part towards the end where they show Annie playing in a dressing area. They also got close-ups of both Annie's and Peter's faces. And of course Betty looks beautiful, as always!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Doppelgangers

Now that you know that Mitt Romney has selected Paul Ryan to be his Vice Presidential candidate, now's as good a time as any to tell you what I've been thinking for a few weeks now:

Paul Ryan looks like Ryan from The Office.

Don't believe me? Look here!

[Which one is which?]

They even have the same name... Paul Ryan, Ryan from The Office. I should be in casting for movies.

I had also just told Betty that Lolo Jones looks like Rashida Jones but then found out that practically everybody else already thought so.

Lolo Jones, Rashida Jones
The picture above is courtesy of EOnline, assuming they let me hotlink to it.

I have an uncanny ability to spot resemblances. It all started when we determined that my dad looks like Danny DeVito.

[We call him Daddy Devito]

We call my dad "Daddy DeVito," or will now that I've just written that. Here's a true story: my two year-old son saw a clip of a movie or TV Show with Danny DeVito in it. It might have been a clip of Sesame Street or something. And he immediately pointed to the screen and shouted, "Papa!" It was cute and hilarious, but it proves that they do in fact look alike. A two year-old is incapable of lying (although not incapable of destroying a house in five minutes flat).

My mom would also want me to say that my dad looks like George Clooney. But my kids have never mistaken George Clooney for Papa, so I'm not going to post a picture of him.

So now you're thinking, "OK, Smart Guy, who do you look like if you're so good at this?"

I knew you'd ask me that. Here it is. I am Mr. Bean, Rowan Atkinson.

[My doppelganger]
[My doppelganger]

He also stutters, so we've also got that in common. And of course we look exactly alike when we both get our heads stuck in turkeys.

I'm also apparently Hugh Jackman...

[My other doppelganger]

and Jimmy Neutron.

[And my other doppelganger]

Not too shabby!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

New Olympic Game Suggestions

One of my favorite Olympic events to watch is Beach Volleyball. Specifically, Women's Beach Volleyball. Not only are Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor incredible athletes, but they look pretty good in skimpy bikinis. Especially when they're making the other team eat sand.

Sexy, sexy sand.

But Beach Volleyball was only added as an Olympic event in 1996. This only proves that the Olympics is an ever-evolving collection of games and events. That's why I've compiled a list of 10 new games that should be added for the next Olympics.

1. Olympic "Olympic Watching"

How many hours of the Olympics can one person watch? I don't know, but I bet I can watch "all of it." That's why I'm throwing my name into the ring for next Olympic's "Olympic Watching" event. I will compete with viewers from China, Russia, Great Britain, Brazil and Australia to see who will win the gold medal.

If you think this is kind of silly, it's already happening - just in the form of marketing. How does NBC know how much to charge each sponsor, and how do the sponsors know which events they want to run their commercials during? Or how do they know which Olympians they want to sponsor? They've been crunching the numbers on our viewership for decades, and now I not only want to fast forward through their commercials, but I want a gold medal for it.

I think I could win it, too. The Olympics is now on 4 channels, can be Tivo'd / DVR'd, can be viewed live online, and can be streamed on your phone. There's no shortage of ways to watch the Olympics. And it's not like I have anything better to do, other than possibly work or watch my children. That's why I'm a shoe-in for the gold.

2. Olympic Beer Pong

Beer Pong is a staple of college life. It takes skill, determination... and at least one person 21 or over to pay for the Keg. Sure, a lot of teenagers would be excluded from competing, but only if the Olympic Games are played in a place with strict laws on who can consume alcohol. Women's Beer Pong has the potential of being up there with Women's Beach Volleyball, Women's Regular Volleyball, Women's Diving, Women's Swimming - basically any Women's event - as a viewership hog.

3. Olympic Sleeping

Who can sleep the longest? Who can take the quickest cat nap? These events will separate the well-rested from the fatigued. Contestants get points deducted for Snoozing or going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

4. Olympic Eating

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is already a big deal. Why not make it an Olympic Event? The people shoving 68 hot dogs down their gullets in 10 minutes deserve to be on prime time. We could have different heats, like the "1 Minute Hot Dog Run" or the "72 oz Steak in 1 Hour" contest. America should take gold, silver and bronze in pretty much all of these.

5. Olympic Brushing

How fast can you brush your teeth? How many times can you brush your hair in 1 minute? This event could be combined with Olympic Eating and be done right before Olympic Sleeping for a triathlon.

6. Fantasy Olympics

I love Fantasy Football. Seriously, I would marry it if it were legal in Louisiana. Instead I just have to Common Law marry it. But imagine if we had a fantasy draft for the Olympics, and got to pad our rosters with 2 Swimmers, 1 Diver, 2 Track and Field runners and 1 flex player? I'd put up $50 for that.

7. Olympic Shopping

That old TV show Supermarket Sweep was ahead of its time. Having contestants run around, finding specific items in a supermarket in the shortest amount of time, and then finding as many items as possible for under a certain dollar amount? That sounds like an American pastime to me. With the popularity of Couponing nowadays, we could definitely turn shopping into an Olympic event. The contestants could even do all of their shopping in an Olympic gift shop to show of all the goods. The winner's home country could get 10% off.

8. Olympic Pool Volleyball

Beach Volleyball and Regular-ass Volleyball are Olympic events, and even Water Polo is an Olympic event. Why not Pool Volleyball? By the way, I think Water Polo should be played with sea horses.

9. Olympic Jumping

I came up with this idea when my kids were jumping off the couch continuously. At first I was annoyed, then amazed at how much energy they had. Then I tried to do it and forgot that I'm now too old to do anything but blog and sleep.

We have the long jump, the high jump, the triple jump... even the trampoline has become an Olympic event. But do you know what would be incredibly awesome as an Olympic event? Base jumping.

10. Olympic Sex

What are the Olympians doing when they're not competing? Probably joining in the orgy that is known as the Olympic Village. Now we know why some of the track and field people were walking a little funny right before their events. These are the XXX Olympics, you know.

So we know the Olympians are sexing each other's brains out. And we know that porn is extremely popular. (Or so I've heard. I mean, uh... read in Scientific magazines.)

Categories could be just regular sex, Solo sex, and of course, Synchronized Sex. It would take a lot of training to compete in any of these events, though. Also a lot of juice and carbs.

That's it for my top 10 list of new games to add to the Olympics. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment or email me and I'll be sure to send everything to the IOC before the XXXI games.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

SQL Saturday

If you or someone you love lives in the Baton Rouge area, is a software developer, database administrator, SharePoint developer, etc, and is either looking for free training or looking to spend a day with like-minded people, then please direct them to LSU's campus for the annual SQL Saturday in Baton Rouge. It's TODAY, August 4th.

Yeah, sorry it's kind of last minute, but I figured you'd forget if I blogged about it any earlier.

SQL Saturday is a great event for developers. First off, it's FREE. Second, it's put on by people who work in the Baton Rouge area. Third, it's going to be attended by people who aren't forced to be there but WANT to be there.

Let's be honest, it's like Comic-Con for developers.

I love that the people in Baton Rouge do so much to help grow everyone's skills. Thank you to all the sponsors who helped to make this event possible, thanks to the people putting on the event, and thanks to all the volunteers who are giving their time. I went to this event last year and had a great time, learned a lot, and met a lot of really cool people. We had people from Lafayette and New Orleans show up, and even a few people from Texas and Mississippi. Everyone is welcome!

The schedule of events and map of how to get there can be found here. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cupcake Competition Update

Here's a quick update on the cupcake competition:

I'm losing. Badly. S'mores is beating my French Toast cupcakes 78 - 48. That's a cupcake beat down!

My opponent's charity is Yelp! BR. According to their website, Yelp! BR is a nonprofit animal welfare organization that is committed to ending euthanasia of healthy and treatable companion animals in the Greater Baton Rouge Area by:

1. Addressing pet overpopulation and animal suffering through education and appropriate action; and
2. To provide care to animals in need by enhancing adoption and foster rates.

They're so nice and doing such a good work that I should probably send them over a couple French Toast cupcakes.

The good people at Yelp! BR made an appearance at Sweet Wishes on Thursday. They brought their dogs and their wallets, and ate a ton of S'mores cupcakes. So now I'm really in the red.

If you've bought a cupcake, thank you! Your cupcake is a potential $1 donation to the St. Jude's Children Hospital. My cupcakes have to win in order for that to happen.

If you haven't bought a cupcake, or if you want to buy another one, I'll make you a deal.

If you send me a picture of yourself or a loved one eating a French Toast cupcake from Sweet Wishes (located here), email it to me and I'll write a blog about anything you want. ANYTHING YOU WANT. It can be about you, and about how amazing you are. Or it can be about that one time at band camp... I'm cool with that, too. You name it, I'll write it.

You can reach me on email if you have it (I won't post it online b/c the spammers will get it), or you can reach me on Facebook. I have a Twitter account that I never use, but maybe I'll check it over the new few days.

While you're there, be sure to grub up the window in front of the S'mores cupcakes.

Thanks everyone!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Napkins from Work

My cousin Ben is one of the piano players at Pat O'Brien's piano bar in New Orleans. He's an amazing and accomplished pianist.... and now he's also an amazing and accomplished blogger!

His blog, Napkins from Work, chronicles the hilarious, often drunk, and occasionally moving napkins that people write on when submitting their song requests at the piano bar.

Ben's got a unique perspective. It's not like just anybody could write something like this. Only a select few have this kind of vantage point. That he's willing to share that to us is what makes his blog so special.

Also what makes it special: someone misspelling Piano Man by Billy Joel as "Piona Mam Bill Jole".

[From the blog Napkins from Work]

Ben's only been at his blog for a few weeks (although he's been collecting napkins for a while, apparently), but he's already been mentioned in the Gambit's Best of New Orleans section.

I think his blog will catch on. The napkins are too funny, and Ben's commentary on them is too awesome, for this not to become a hot blog.

I can't wait to go to Pat O's and write him a really dirty song request... who knows, he might put it on his blog!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Eat Cupcakes, Help Cure Cancer

A few weeks ago one of our favorite places in Baton Rouge, the Sweet Wishes cupcake shop, posted a cupcake contest on their website (and Facebook and Twitter accounts) called the "Golden Cup." They asked for people to submit new cupcake flavors.

Betty submitted Cookie Dough. She makes cupcakes with cookie dough in the middle, and they're always a huge hit at parties. Unfortunately for Betty, her flavor didn't make the cut.

But, ahem... my flavor, French Toast, is in the final 6! I'm going head-to-head with S'mores, which I think actually sounds delicious. I think someone else also suggested French Toast, so maybe they teamed us up. Regardless, I'm in the contest and now you all have to go to Sweet Wishes and buy a French Toast cupcake (available July 23rd - 27th).

The way the contest works is like this: people submitted their flavors (and optionally included ingredients and even recipes), then Sweet Wishes baked cupcakes using the suggested flavors, tasted them, judged them, and is now doing a head-to-head elimination match of the top 6 cupcakes. Two cupcakes square off each week for the next three weeks, and then the top two go for a final round. Every cupcake sold during the first three weeks counts as a point for that cupcake.

The winners don't get a personal prize. But everyone who submitted a flavor gets to essentially sponsor a charity. Mine (and Betty's) is St. Jude's Children Hospital. For every cupcake sold during the final week of the contest, Sweet Wishes will donate $1 for every cupcake sold of that flavor to the submitter's charity.

Sweet Wishes holds a special place in my heart. When Betty was preggers with Annie, she had gestational diabetes and so was limiting her sugar intake. After Annie was born, all Betty wanted was a Sweet Wishes cupcake. They were supposed to be closed when I called them on Annie's birthday, but after I explained what was going on and how much my wife wanted their cupcakes, they stayed open an extra 30 minutes for me to drive out there.

Basically, Sweet Wishes is a life-saver - in more ways than one!

The top 6 flavors (in order of most points in the original judging) are as follows.

1. BiteandBooze
1. Munchie Macadamia
3. Salted Caramel
4. Mississippi Mud
5. French toast
6. S'Mores

I'm looking forward to covering the rest of those flavors in syrup, sprinkling a little brown sugar on them, and kicking them to the curb. Go French Toast!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How to Win at Mini Golf

Some things are cuter in their miniaturized versions: horses, pigs, humans, and of course wet t-shirts.

But above all, the miniaturized version of Golf, also known as Putt Putt, is by far the cutest.

Why "cute" instead of "entertaining" or "challenging," "badass" or "something we always do when we're on vacation?" I say it's "cute" because most people go into a Mini Golf game thinking that it's some kid's game. They think they're going to "have fun" and "not lose my ball in the creek this time, dammit." They think they're going to get that hole-in-one on the 18th.

But they're wrong.

To excel in Mini Golf you have to have a golfer's mentality. You can't be afraid to test the direction of the wind or the slope of the land. At at our recent trip to the Great Wolf Lodge, which has a fantastic Mini Golf course located onsite, the land sloped so much like an actual course that I had no choice but to treat it like I would any other professional endeavor.

[Bob gets the lay of the land]

And of course I did it all while wearing Great Wolf Lodge wolf ears.

Most people are afraid to lay themselves out on a Mini Golf course and test the slope of the land or the distance to the hole, but not me. I thrive on it! Doing so usually embarrasses your opponents (usually your family or close friends, just the type of people who would not think twice about adding an extra number to your score on a par 4), which then makes them stop thinking about Mini Golf and instead start thinking about how they'd much rather be bashing you upside the head with their Putt Putt clubs, which ultimately leads to them not doing as well in the game.

Strategy!

Here's me taking what amounts to the greatest shot in Mini Golf history (other than the hole-in-one that I got on Hole 3, in case anyone in my group was taking score). It doesn't look like much (yes I know, that's what she said), but this one caused all the rest of my group to stand in awe of my Mini Golf prowess. Or it would have, had they not been preoccupied with my children.

[He shoots, he scores!]

It may have been that I was doing so well at this particular Mini Golf course in comparison to my competitors because my wife was watching one of the kids while her parents were watching the other. I was basically on my own, so didn't have one of the kids at my feet, grabbing at my club as I swung, or picking up and subsequently chunking my ball into the creek on Hole 9. At least that's what I like to tell myself, as otherwise my score on this course was historic and deserving of more attention.

[Peter helps sabotage my opponents!]

So I guess what I'm saying is that the best way to win at Mini Golf is to bring your small children and then let your opponents babysit them while they're playing. Your kids will essentially sabotage their chances at success, so no matter how bad you play, you're still sure to win.

[Shooter McGavin!]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Great Wolf Lodge

We recently got back from a trip to North Carolina by way of Atlanta. Along the way I hit a hole in one in putt putt, jumped into Atlanta's drinking water reservoir in just my underwear, met a real-life Spider-man, and Betty and I celebrated our anniversary in style at a chicken finger chain restaurant. But I'm getting ahead of myself!

Why go to North Carolina? For starters, they have a good basketball program. But more importantly, they have an indoor water park called the Great Wolf Lodge.

Technically Great Wolf Lodge is not only in North Carolina. They have lodges in Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin... pretty much every state but Louisiana. And also, it's not just an indoor water park. They have pools outdoors, too.

But we had already planned to go up to Atlanta for a family reunion on Betty's side, and have family that lives in Virginia, and the Great Wolf Lodge was only 4 hours away, so... why not? It was like a central meeting place for all our family in the area.

An indoor water park is such a great idea. You can go when it's blistering hot outside, you can go when there's a blizzard outside, or you can go just because you don't like putting sunscreen on. Most of their pools are zero entry, meaning it's like walking in at the beach. They have a wave pool, a kid pool with water guns, slides, tubes, basketball goals inside the pools, and all other kinds of fun things. The lifeguards walk around inside the pool so they're right there in case you need them, not flirting while perched atop a tall chair. And the lodge was stocked with food - ours had a Dunkin' Donuts, a Pizza Hut and a buffet.

[Great Wolf Lodge!]

When the kids weren't in the pools they were playing something called Magic Quest. The kids ran around with "magic wands" which were actually pretty cool. They were wireless devices essentially, and when you pointed the wands at an object that was set up to receive a signal from the device, that object would then interact with the kids. So there were treasure chests that opened when you zapped them with your wand, pictures that lit up, lamps that glowed for a few seconds, fairy statues that would talk, etc. Several hallways throughout the park were painted green to look like a forest, and were filled with these magic objects. The kids could check it at different kiosks (hidden in trees or treasure chests) to check their points and get new quests.

Basically, I wanted to play and would have rocked at this game. But I was busy doing adult stuff, like "not playing Magic Quest like a kid even though I would have dominated."

One other fun thing that the Great Wolf Lodge did for the kids that I really liked was story time. Every night the kids would gather in the lobby in their PJs, and some animatronic trees and animals would tell them a story. They also had big Wolf characters walking around saying hi to the kids.

[Great Wolf Lodge!]

But Great Wolf Lodge (or GWL as I'll call it, because I'm lazy) had some great stuff for the adults, too. Like, wristbands that the adults wore that acted as keys for your room so you didn't have to haul a room key around. Just swipe your wristband against your door, and voila! You're in! That was so convenient when you've got two kids holding your hands and are also carrying a bag filled with wet clothes, and couldn't release a hand to reach into your pocket for your keys. The wristbands could also be swiped if you wanted to pay for anything and have it charged to your room. I thought that was pretty innovative.

Well, OK, maybe not as innovative as these amazing water cannons!

[Great Wolf Lodge!]
[Great Wolf Lodge!]

I have so much more to write about our trip, but I think this is enough for one post. Be on the lookout for Spider-man in one of my next blog posts!