Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Diapers

Being a father is a wonderful experience, but with it comes a lot of new worries.

Take our finances, for example. With Betty no longer working, and after putting money away for Anne's college fund, we have a lot less disposable income than we're used to. Sure, we can cut back on stuff that we don't need, but how does a family go about determining what to cut out and what to keep?

To find the answer to that question, I decided to do a cost-benefit analysis.

Betty suggested a few things that we could "do without." I then took the amount of money that we would save by canceling or abstaining from those items and compared that with the amount of misery and suffering that we would endure by not having those items. For instance, if we got rid of our Internet connection then I couldn't write the blog, and that would make me sad, so that got shot down. And since our Internet service is bundled with our TV and phone, those have to stay as well. Since we're keeping our TV then there's no point in getting rid of TiVo.

We determined what items we want to keep. So what can we cut back on?

The answer: Diapers.

My cost-benefit analysis shows that diapers cost an average of $12 for a pack of 44, at least for the size that Anne currently wears. If Anne goes through a minimum of 8 per day, then that $12 bought me 5.5 days of coverage. So a full year's worth of poopy protection at this rate totals $796.36 plus tax. As Anne grows and the dollar weakens, the cost-per-diaper is only going to go up. Add to that the cost of going to the store to pick up diapers and you can see my dilemma.

Instead of buying diapers, which are expensive and are not biodegradable, we have two options.

The first option is that we can invest in several cans of Resolve Carpet Cleaner, which retail for $6.49 per 22 oz. If we use 2 oz per day, that's 11 days that we can use a single can of Resolve, which totals $215.35 for a year's supply of Resolve. That's a saving of $581.01! To put that in perspective, that's the same cost as 12 new Wii games!

But that's only assuming that we can get Anne to use the bathroom on the same spot of the carpet so that we'd only have to spray a generous amount of Resolve on a single spot once each day. It's possible, but....

Our second option is that we can invest in a steam cleaner and just clean the carpets every night. A decent steam cleaner only costs $99 at Target. That's a total savings of $697.36 for only the first year, then we'd save the full $796.36 (plus inflation) thereafter.

Hopefully you've learned that performing a cost-benefit analysis of your own expenses can be helpful, as long as you're willing to accept and embrace new ideas, such as letting your child poop wherever he or she sees fit. If my plan works out as well as I think it will, we can even say goodbye to my own slacks and blue jeans!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Celebrating Memorial Day, Tantrum-style

Monday is Memorial Day, and that means that once again I'll be cruising the streets of Baton Rouge, looking for protesters to beat up. I'm not targeting anti-war protesters, because as far as I'm concerned they're right on track. Plus, I'm all about people exercising their Freedom of Speech.

But every once in a while you'll find people who are so vehemently against the war that they end up protesting the military personnel. And that I will not tolerate.

Hulk smash!

Take these idiots from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, for example. This church group shows its love for God by protesting military funerals, saying that God is punishing America (via terrorist attacks, hurricanes, tornadoes, Dancing with the Stars, etc) for tolerating homosexuals.

On the one hand, I know that I won't see anyone this crazy in Baton Rouge, because in general, Baton Rougeans are pretty cool. But on the other hand, I really hope that I see someone like this in Baton Rouge so I can beat the ever-loving shit out of them.

It's not enough that we have the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act. The Law can only do so much. And if people aren't smart enough to realize that the people serving in our military don't necessarily determine our foreign policy, then they deserve a good beating.

It would be great if the anti-military protesters will have colorful signs to easily identify themselves, so I don't have to waste too much time looking for them. And hopefully their protest signs will be sturdy enough to be shoved up their asses in one piece. Also, I hope these protesters are passionate enough to protest all day long, otherwise I might miss them due to getting out to a late start, it being a holiday and all that.

I have a lot of pent-up frustration to get out of my system, and beating someone up this Memorial Day seems like a good way to relieve some stress. If only David Archuleta would have won American Idol, maybe things would have been different.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Honeysuckle Tanory

I have a new nickname for my daughter Anne: Honeysuckle.

I call her Honeysuckle because she's my honey and she loves to suckle. Just look at my honey suckling away:

[Picture: Honeysuckle suckling.]

I also have a nickname for my wife: the Milk Truck. It's kind of like when the Ice Cream Man turns on his siren song of "Pop Goes the Weasel" and the kids go running. Well, Anne is the same way, except she doesn't run, exactly. She just gets really excited and starts making suckling motions. I figured "Milk Truck" was better than "Milk Bar" although Betty does have milk on tap.

I have a nickname as well. "In Big Trouble." At least I think that's what Betty's now calling me. I just heard her say, "You're In Big Trouble." I don't think that name will stick as well as Honeysuckle or the Milk Truck, but I guess only time will tell.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Wal-Mart: Low Prices, High Aggravation Levels

I have some breaking news for the greater Baton Rouge area: a 6 month-old baby was taken into custody by the Wal-Mart on Airline Highway in Prairieville. Either someone abandoned their child there or Wal-Mart intervened in a messy situation, but either way it's heartbreaking.

This also just in: Wal-Mart slashes prices on used babies.

Yes, that's right, you're hearing this first from the Tantrum. Our senior "Wal-Mart / Baby" correspondent, Betty, was live on the scene and was able to speak to the night manager about the incident.

You see, Betty did the unthinkable and tried to use the Self Checkout line. I don't know how many times I have to say it, but apparently it needs to be said again: If you're ever in Wal-Mart and have more than 10 items in your cart but every other line is 30 people deep, don't wait in line! Just push your loaded-down cart to the "10 Items or Less" aisle and start unpacking. They will have absolutely no choice but to check you and your $278 worth of groceries out.

Unfortunately, my wife is one of those people who respects other people and respects the rules, and that is why she is the topic of tonight's blog.

Betty self-checked out $50 worth of frozen food and billions of dollars worth of non-frozen goods. But then the receipt didn't print out. She figured that she might need to return one or two items down the line since she bought different diaper sizes for Anne, etc, but in order to return any items she would need a receipt. So like any rule-abiding citizen she asked the person who helps the people checking out at the Self Checkout registers for help.

Let's talk about the person who mans the Self Checkout counter. This is a person who generally is not trusted enough to scan other people's stuff through the counter, and as a punishment, is forced to help people as they curse their way through the Self Checkout lane. It's basically where Wal-Mart pledges are hazed before they can join the Eternal Order of the Wal-Martians.

Also, apparently the task of changing the paper roll in the Self Checkout register is limited to the one person who rules Wal-Mart with supreme executive power: the manager. Not the floor manager or the register manager, but the friggin manager manager.

The Self Checkout manager called the real manager on the loud speaker ten times, but no manager appeared. Several other lesser-demon managers appeared but could not conjure the key to the Self Checkout register's paper roll dispenser.

After a while Betty just wanted to leave, sans frozen food, since it was melting all over the floor. But she had already paid for it, and couldn't return it without a receipt. So she kept waiting... and waiting. 45 minutes went by, and Betty was getting more flustered as time went on.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Anne and I were watching the biography of Steven Spielberg on the Biography channel.

Finally, the manager appeared and apologized to Betty. She said that there was an incident with a 6 month-old baby and that she had to stay back there with the baby until the authorities arrived. The manager started bawling in front of Betty. Then Betty, once furious, now sympathetic, started thinking about her own baby and started crying herself. The manager gave Betty a $50 gift card, which we plan to spend on a quarter tank of gas the next time she needs to fill up.

And to think, if Betty would have just not followed the rules and more importantly had not tried to use the self checkout line, all of this could have been avoided.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

American Idol Totally Screwed Me

My wife and I bet on who would win American Idol. I thought David Archuleta would win, and Betty was pulling for David Cook.

To make the bet interesting, we each named one thing that we would like if we won. Betty chose a solitary nap. I chose something similar to a nap, but involving less sleeping and more friction.

Damn you, Archuleta! How could you let me down like this?!?

Of course, had I paid a little more attention to the finale then I would have noticed that all of the signs were in Betty's favor. Just take the first round's songs: David Cook started out with U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Yeah, me neither, thanks to you, asshole! Then Archuleta countered with "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." Italics can be fun.

My wife is now gloating about her nap, but I demand a recount. All hanging chads will be reviewed for accuracy. Text the word "VOTE" to 55378008 to vote for me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Laser Tag Lotto

I just came up with a flippin' brilliant idea: Video game-themed Laser Tag, where the players dress up as video game characters.

In regular-ass Laser Tag you line up to get your mundane, run-of-the-mill laser gun and vest. Your vest and gun have multiple sensors which go off when your opponents shoot you. Running is discouraged, hand-to-hand combat is illegal, and if you get shot once then chances are some young punk is going to follow you around and shoot you the moment you become active again. Yawn.

But with video game-themed Laser Tag, you'd get to dress up as one of your favorite Nintendo or Xbox characters. Each character would have its own powers, and the laser tag landscape would respond to each character differently. And best of all, you'd get to kick each other's butts in new and exciting ways.

Imagine that you choose to be Mario. Mario can shoot fireballs from his hands after he picks up a Fire Flower, as everyone born after 1975 knows, so your "laser gun" would be a power glove and you'd make throwing motions with your arm in order to throw fireballs at your opponent. You could gain extra points by jumping and hitting the underside of the enemy's base, mimicking how Mario jumps and punches bricks. Or you can just gain points the easy way, by jumping on an enemy's head.

If the Mario costume is taken then you could be Samus Aran, the human bounty hunter from the Metroid series. Your laser gun would be an arm cannon. And if any of your friends make fun of you for choosing a girl character (b/c Samus Aran is a lady), just call them a dork for even knowing that (even though you've always known and have secretly wanted to get it on with her inside her Chozo armor).

Or you could be Link from The Legend of Zelda, although your sword would probably have to be a Nerf sword of some sort. Nerf swords are lame, which is why you'd also get a really cool shield to block incoming laser attacks. Plus you get to wear a tunic.

The only catch would be that at least one person would have to dress up to be the princess who gets trapped by evil-doers and gets locked in a tower for the entire game. Since most Laser Tag players are guys, that means one of the gang has to don a dress, put on a wig and some rouge, and stand in a cage for 20 minutes. If nobody volunteers for this role, a "Laser Tag Lotto" will be performed and the loser (or winner, depends how you look at it) will be tackled, tied up and thrown in a cage.

And whoever chooses to be Sonic the Hedgehog is the automatic loser.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Museum, Muppets and Metal, Oh My!

Saturday we took Anne to the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum (LASM) to see a special exhibit on Jim Henson, called Jim Henson's Fantastic World. This exhibit is part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit Service, so you know it has to be good.

The exhibit showed Anne a first-hand glimpse at Jim Henson's creative process. A couple of Muppets were on display, such as Kermit, Bert and Ernie, Rowlf, the King of Eight, etc, but what made the exhibit so interesting was all of the drawings that Henson had made that outlined how to create a new Muppet as well as how to stage a new skit. The exhibit did not only focus on the Muppets and Sesame Street, but also showed drawings and videos from The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and Fraggle Rock.

Some interesting things I learned was that Oscar the Grouch was orange in the first season of Sesame Street, but Henson didn't like the color so they made him green. I also learned that Cookie Monster is based on another character called a Wheel-Stealer (which went through other evolutions, like becoming a Computer Monster) that Henson first made for a commercial.

While walking down a hallway to get to the elevator (because the Henson exhibit is on multiple floors and Anne hasn't mastered the stairs yet), I noticed that I was surrounded by horses, tigers and dragons made out of scrap metal. It was awesome! I started inspecting these pieces closer and it looked like everything was made out of chains, saws, horseshoes and other scraps of metal.

[Picture: Han Horse Head by Richard Swenson]
Han Horse Head by Richard Swenson

The artist is Richard Swenson, and he is a retired scientists who used to restore John Deere tractors, then started creating insects and small animals out of the leftover scrap metal. As people showed interest in his work he started working on bigger projects. Richard Swenson doesn't sell his work, but if he did then I would have a huge metal dragon protecting my house from zombies.

Both Jim Henson's Fantastic World and Richard Swenson's Scrap Metal Sculptures will be at the LASM thru June 22.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Umbrella Policy

I didn't quite make it to work on Thursday.

I meant to. I got up, shaved, showered, admired my body in the mirror, ironed, made my coffee, hopped in my car and slowly backed out of the driveway. But when I looked to see if any other cars were zooming down my street, I saw that my patio's umbrella had migrated from the back yard to the front, where it was protecting the neighbor's driveway from the harsh torrential downpour that was ongoing since the night before.

I hopped out of my car and sloshed my way through the front yard towards my umbrella. The umbrella looked haggard: the fabric had come off of the poles in several places, and part of the top of the umbrella had snapped off. I used the umbrella to shield myself from the rain as I wrestled with it to get all the poles back in place.

Did I mention that it was raining?

"Raining" may be too weak of a word to describe what was happening right about then. I almost had to use my umbrella as a boat to float myself back towards my house. I dubbed the rising water in my front yard "Lake Tanory." I was drenched from head to toe, and I had only been exposed to the elements for about 20 seconds.

I used the fireman's carry to bring the umbrella back to its home on the patio. I fit it back through the hole in the patio table, only to find that part of the umbrella stand had come out when the umbrella been ripped out it. Irritated, I yanked the umbrella back out, at which point I accidentally smacked the gutters with the top of the umbrella, which made a loud clanging sound which woke up both Betty and the baby. I fixed the umbrella stand, fit the umbrella back through the hole in the table, then stripped and wrung the water out of my clothes.

I was wet and irritated, the baby was crying, I had a lot of work to do and was going to be late for work. What was I to do?

Like any red-blooded American man, I decided to not go to work.

But just because I didn't go to work doesn't mean I didn't work. I VPN'd into work from home and finished several of the billions of projects on my queue. And because I wasn't present at work, I didn't have the usual interruptions that would have occurred during the normal workday, which meant I got more done on Thursday than the rest of the week combined.

So I guess I should thank my umbrella for trying to escape from my back yard. If it weren't for you, Dearest Umbrella, I would have never had the chance to spend all day with my ladies while working from home in my underwear.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Poozooka

In yesterday's blog I renamed my daughter's "laser beam butt cannon" to be the "doody catapult." But my creative brother-in-law Danny came up with something even better:

The Poozooka.

The Poozooka is the combination of "Poo" and "Bazooka." And just like a bazooka, the Poozooka is a fun yet portable way to combat your enemies and destroy them in a towering pyre of flames and doody. Just feed your baby, wait two hours, then drape the baby over your shoulder. Pull up on the shirt, yank down on the diaper and aim for your nearest arch-nemesis, and voila, instant ownage.

I will now demonstrate the correct way to hold your baby in the poozooka position. Please note: I have not exposed the Poozooka's gun barrel so I don't accidentally unload its arsenal into the wall (again).

[Image: The Poozooka!]
This is the proper way to deploy a Poozooka against your enemies

[Image: The Poozooka (Part 2)!]
Never point a Poozooka at anything unless you don't mind killing it

[Image: The Poozooka in Action!]

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

An Untimely Explosion

In the past I've written about my daughter's "laser beam butt cannon." Several of you have taken exception to my use of this term, so I'm changing it to something more appropriate, like "doody catapult."

Don't believe me? The proof is in the pudding, or to be more specific, splattered on the door.

Last night as I was changing Anne's diaper, holding her legs up with one hand while reaching for a wipe with another, I heard a loud rumble and the room briefly shook. I would have thought it was a minor earthquake were it not for the loud splatter at the other end of the room.

In the few moments when my hand wasn't holding up her diaper she had managed to unleash a deadly assault from her doody catapult. The door was dented from the impact. And the carpet, well, let's just say we're thankful there's a lot of blacks and browns mixed into the pattern.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and I'm sure the following pictures are going to amount to a thousand choice words from my daughter to me during therapy when she turns thirteen, but I can't help it.

[Picture: Doody catapult results, part 1]

[Picture: Doody catapult results, part 2]

[Picture: Doody catapult results, part 3]

What can I say? Like father like daughter.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sweet Wishes

One of the parents from Betty's school opened a cupcake shop called Sweet Wishes in Baton Rouge. It's right down the road from Betty's school, and every day while Betty was preggers she would have to drive by Sweet Wishes on the way to work and hanker for a cupcake.

But alas, she couldn't have one because of her gestational diabetes.

So the only thing that Betty wanted after the baby was born was one of those cupcakes. She didn't want to really see me or admire the flowers I gave her. No. She wanted one of those cupcakes. And she let it be known in no uncertain terms that unless I had a cupcake for her that I could go try to make another baby with myself.

Fair enough.

The morning after Anne was born Betty had company, so I took that opportunity to go home, take a shower, try to nap and maybe rock out on Guitar Hero for a little while. My parents were at my house and we had planned on carpooling back to the hospital. I told them about my plan to get cupcakes and my parents looked up Sweet Wishes' phone number. And wouldn't you know it, they were closed.

Closed! Nooo!

But how we found out they were closed is that someone at Sweet Wishes actually answered the phone and told my dad that they were closed. Now I don't know about you, but if I'm at work and we're closed then potential customers can kiss my fanny because I'm done for the day. But lucky for me the people at Sweet Wishes go above and beyond.

I heard my dad say, "Oh, you're closed? That's too bad." Wet, naked and now scared that I could not get my wife her cupcake, I jumped out of the shower and sprinted out to the living room, snatching the phone out of my dad's hands. While my parents recovered from seeing my naked body glistening in all its glory, I told the girl on the phone my plight in one quick breath. I must have packed two hundred words of pleading into ten seconds. And my cries of desperation worked: she agreed to stay open for another half hour or so.

To make a long story short, we bought all the cupcakes they had, Betty got her cupcakes, and I got to not go make another baby with myself. And we learned that Sweet Wishes can come true, and they can also come in chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch and red velvet.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

To all of you mothers out there, as well as all of you bad mother-watch-yo-mouths, Happy Mother's Day!

Last year for Mother's Day I said, and I quote, "Mom, for your mother's day gift I'm going to work on getting you a grandbaby. It will either be a really cute, happy and smart child (just like me!) or will be adopted from Africa."

Well, Mom, I did not tell a lie. I did work on getting you a grandbaby, and I succeeded. Your grandchild is really cute, happy and smart (just like me). All it took was a lot of alcohol (for Betty) and a single iTunes download of the Rocky theme song played at top volume for endless hours (and by "endless hours" I mean two minutes).

In honor of my mother I'd like to tell the story about how I was born, and I'd like to tell it in terms of a children's book, which my mom can then read to me while she reminisces about those good old days when I was a kid.

It's called...

How I Made My Mother the Happiest Woman in the Entire Universe

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a king presided over his castle in a place called Tanory Land. The king, known to his peasant serfdom as the Little Duke, had a beautiful queen named Queen Lynn, whom the peasants called Lynn-of-the-Wild because she was not of the same culture as the Little Duke. Some said she was an angel, and others said she was a mixture of English, Scottish, Irish, German and Native American, and others thought she was of the fairy world and had mystical powers. But all agreed that she was beautiful.

[Picture: Storyboard image 1 - Tanory Land]

One day the Little Duke and Lynn-of-the-Wild decided that they needed an heir to the throne. So they got it on and nine months later there came a baby boy which they named Toddliwinks. Toddliwinks was a mischievous child with a huge head, but nevertheless the Little Duke taught Toddliwinks everything he knew about how to run a kingdom.

[Picture: Storyboard image 2 - Prince Toddliwinks]

Soon the Little Duke and Lynn-of-the-Wild had another baby, this one a beautiful baby boy whom they named Bobooska. Bobooska was strong, handsome and tall (for a Tanory, anyway) and soon became a favorite of all of the maidens of the court as well as with the royal family.

Bobooska was such a great child that the king and queen decided to have another baby, in the hopes that the third child would be as beautiful and wonderful as Bobooska. But the third child was a girl which meant she could never rule over Tanory Land based on the paternal laws of kingdom-owning as decided by the original founding Tanory clan, and so on and so forth, and so both Toddliwinks and the young girl (simply known as "the Princess") were banished to the west to live out their days in a place called "Houston." We will not dwell on that demonic place in this story.

[Picture: Storyboard image 3 - Houston]

Eventually Bobooska was declared the "Favorite Child" and came to rule over Tanory Land. He was a great, charismatic leader whom everyone loved, and while under his rule the Tanory clan multiplied to the joy of all. Lynn-of-the-Wild was so happy that her son was so terrific that she soon became the happiest woman in the entire universe. Bobooska soon declared that pizza should be eaten at every meal and afterwards everyone in Tanory Land lived happily ever after.

The End.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

P.S. Betty, thank you for being such a wonderful mother to our daughter. You have a big job taking care of both me and Anne, but I'm sure you're up for the challenge. Enjoy your first Mother's Day! I love you!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Baby Announcements Apology

A few days ago I posted a blog entry about our baby announcements, where the link to the alleged announcements actually went to the You Got Rick Rolled website. For those of you who know what Rick Rolling is, this was a low moment on the Tantrum. Yeah, Rick Rolling is nearing its 15 minutes of fame, and I apologize.

I've caught a lot of flak from family and friends for my "Rick Roll." But some of the stories people told me about it were pretty funny. For instance, my mom said she was so confused when the announcements didn't appear and instead "some weird music started playing" that she kept trying to open the link, and even went so far as to reboot her computer and try the link again. After I quit laughing, which took several minutes, I started to feel bad that I had done that to my own mother - and so close to Mother's Day.

So here is the real link to the baby announcements. Please accept my apologies.

Click here for the baby announcements.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

My Tiny Head

My brother always told me that I had a tiny head. Since he is my big brother and it's his job to pick on me, I never really believed him. Instead, I always thought my head was within the normal standard deviation of head size, but that his head is just humongous, making my head comparatively smaller than his.

Unfortunately, I must face the facts. I have a tiny head. Also, it seems I've passed this feature onto my daughter.

Monday was my daughter's first month checkup at the pediatrician's office. They measured her (she's right about 21 inches), weighed her (8 lbs, 7 oz), then measured the circumference of her head. And wouldn't you know it, like father like daughter: Anne was in the 5th percentile for head size.

A tiny head can be caused by several factors. The first factor is genetics. The second factor could be caused by the plates of bone in her head fusing too quickly, which can distort the head as well as potentially cause issues for the brain. This was our main concern so we brought her to the radiologist.

Everything went fine at the radiologist, and thankfully everything is normal with Anne's head size. She just has a smaller-than-average head at this point.

In the meantime, I've been reflecting on all of the times that my brother teased me about my tiny head. Man, it really sucks for him to have been right all this time. To help ease the pain of learning that my brother was justified in his cat-calls of me having a tiny head, here's a photoshop of his huge noggin compared with my tiny one.

[Picture: Bob and Todd's comparatively different heads]

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Baby Announcements

A couple of weeks ago our good friend (and professional photographer) Nicole came by and took some pictures of Anne. The pictures were so good that we used one of them for our baby announcements. And our baby announcements came out so good that Betty and I just can't wait for everybody to see them.

We're mailing out all the baby announcements sometime this week but we think snail mail takes way too long... so we want to give everybody a sneak peak ahead of time because they are so cute!

Click here for a sneak peak of the baby announcements!