Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Where am I?

Woof! Woof woof woof woof. Woof woof, woof woof woof! Woof woof ARF!!! Woof woof.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Where have all the Red Sox gone?

Oh, this does not look good. I know it's only spring training, but take a look at the box score from the Sox-Yankees game. Take a look at the players....

DHing for the Red Sox....MAnneeeey RaMIRez! The rest of the list - who ARE these guys?

Then take a look at the Yankees' line-up. We KNOW who those guys are. Most of them, anyway.

Here's hoping the new guys on the Sox can play well enough to make us want to know them...and that the next Sox-Yankees box score shows a win for the good guys!

PS - Johnny doesn't look good in pinstripes. Just as we're learning to cope with the Sox roster changes, now we have to find a decent kicker to move into Vinatieritory. Act now and you can save a ton of money on McGinnest, Vinatiera, Givens, and other Pats merchandise at the fire sale at the Pats Pro Shop....

Adam Stern CF-RF5131012.429
Alex Cora SS4010000.273
Trent Durrington 2B-3B1000000.190
JT Snow 1B2000000.308
Ian Bladergroen PR-1B0000000.500
Manny Ramirez DH2000000.370
Enrique Wilson PH-DH2000000.300
Mike Lowell 3B3111000.270
Ignacio Suarez PR-2B0000000.000
Wily Mo Pena RF4120012.375
Ron Calloway PR-LF0000000.227
Dustan Mohr LF3000000.333
Willie Harris LF-CF1000000.188
Ken Huckaby C4011000.286
Javier Cardona C0000000.000
Alejandro Machado 2B-SS3100000.275

Johnny Damon DH4110000.500
Kevin Reese PH-DH1000000.279
Derek Jeter SS3010000.417
Felix Escalona PR-SS0100000.265
Hideki Matsui LF1000000.294
Bubba Crosby CF1000000.182
Gary Sheffield RF2000001.077
Luis A. Garcia RF11100121.000
Alex Rodriguez 3B3000000.000
Russ Johnson 3B0000000.190
Jason Giambi 1B4100000.227
Andy Phillips 1B0000000.333
Bernie Williams CF-LF3131011.364
Kevin Thompson LF1000000.386
Robinson Cano 2B3010001.339
Miguel Cairo 2B1000000.273
Kelly Stinnett C3011000.296
Omir Santos C1010000.222

Keep the cell phone abusers off the planes!

The FAA and airlines may soon allow the use of cell phones during flights. I think the powers that be need to look at security issues other than possible electronic interference. I think they need to consider protecting the passengers from each other! One can only imagine the horror stories that will become all to familiar when we throw unthinking cell phone users into the mix of what is fast becoming the sardine can method of travel. (Allowing the use of quiet, non-intrusive email would be a suitable alternative. I also think the use of laptops and DVD players should be restricted to quiet use - or use headphones.)

I was on a flight recently that was held on the ground for thirty minutes due to weather conditions at our destination. The captain announced that we were free to use our cellphones for a time so we could alert people at our destination that we were delayed. Several people took advantage of this, as did I. Almost all of us had a brief conversation passing on arrival information, hung up, and turned the phones off. Unfortunately the immature, misogynistic medical student with the foul mouth sitting across the aisle from me used this opportunity to regale his far away buddy with his weekend partying experiences and his opinion of "Harvard Law School girls who only want to talk about shoes and purses." Though for now he's stuck in a lab while the others in his class are doing rotations (leaving one to wonder why he's still "stuck in the lab"), he's apparently looking forward to his rotations at the hospital where all the desperate nurses try and hook up the med students with their daughters. He'll "gladly take advantage of it" but he wouldn't want to settle down with any of them. Boy, was that entertaining...NOT! After about twenty minutes of this, as his increasingly loud voice carried his profanity up and down the aisle, I finally asked him to keep his voice down. Yup, that made me the bad guy, the jerk who had the audacity to infer that his behavior was rude and obnoxious (though several nearby passengers thanked me for speaking up. Why did they feel they couldn't do the same?). Had I not had control of my manners, I would have just come right out and told him he was being rude and obnoxious.

There were no safety issues involved in this situation, although I can see the potential for serious harm should cell phone use be allowed in-flight. Imagine if more than one person had been using their phone in the same manner, and at the same volume, as he was. How long will people put up with this kind of boorish behavior before a serious altercation erupts? Will we have to enlist the aid of air marshalls to control the peace? I think that cell phone use in such a restricted, closed-in atmosphere is a recipe for disaster. Cell phone users will claim a right to use their phones as they want, the rest of us will clamor for our right to a peaceful environment. Why are the airlines even considering opening this can of worms? There are few people in this world whose responsibilities will not allow them to be out of touch with their jobs, families, or friends for a short period of time. If you can't bear it, take shorter flights, or better yet, stay home and leave the friendly skies as they are. I, for one, don't want to be subjected to a cacophony of cell phone users, many of whom don't realize the use of a phone precludes the need to yell so they can be heard, as they all try and scream over each other with the detritus of their sorry, can't-survive-an-hour-without-my-cell-phone, what-do-you-care-if-I-like-to-drop-the-f-bomb-three-times-in-each-sentence, my-needs-are-more-important-than-yours, lives.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

How to Pick a Driving School - or not

Remember how I said earlier that my niece is learning to drive? Last week I had to cancel one of her in-car driving sessions with the driving school. Being as lazy as I am, I decided to look up the school’s info on the web. I mean, how hard could it be? The computer was right in front of me, the phone was next to the computer, and making the call was on my list of things to do. While I was browsing the search results for driving schools in the Potomac area, I started questioning some people’s choices when it came to naming their businesses. I know people say the most important thing for starting a business is location, location, location. But you gotta take a little care in choosing a name as well. The names of some of the schools were very professional and instilled a sense of safety and seriousness. Some were straight forward. For instance, the school I needed to call, where kids in Potomac go to driving school, is called, interestingly enough, Potomac Driving School. See? What you want is a driving school. And you’d like one that’s not too far away, probably locally owned. Well, fairly locally since it’s actually located in Rockville but that’s within easy…ummm…driving distance from Potomac.

And, there’s a special advantage the Potomac Driving School offers. It provides instruction in Tagalog. I’m not sure where they speak Tagalog but I’m sure the drivers there must be very good, especially if they took lessons at the Potomac Driving School. By the way, if you want to learn to drive a stick shift at the PDS, it’s an extra $50. I think that’s very reasonable considering if you try and teach your kid to drive your Porsche with the manual transmission it’s going to cost a lot more than $50 to replace the clutch.

Anyway, I feel much more comfortable that the sixteen-year-old is taking lessons at the Potomac Driving School rather than, say, the ELS Driving School. I don’t know what language they use in their lessons but if it’s not English, she’s not going to learn a whole lot. Oh, wait. Nevermind. It’s the ELS Driving School, not the ESL school. My bad.

Now, since she wants to take lessons in Montgomery County, she could have chosen Ed’s Driving School, or maybe Greg’s Driving School. They’ve both been teaching for ten years, and there’s only $9 difference in their prices, but Greg specializes in teaching teen and beginning drivers. I’m not sure how much sense it makes to point that out but it seems to me that’s where most of your business is going to come from. You know. People who don’t know how to drive.

Ed and Greg might both be really nice guys, but when it comes to driving, I’d take the business a little more seriously. It’s not like you’re looking to buy an ice cream or something. Let’s see, Ed’s Ice Cream vs. Ed’s Driving School. Maybe Ed could put a drive-thru window at his ice cream shop. Though I’d prefer to buy my gourmet ice cream at a shoppe. No, you’re entrusting your precious (or, in some cases, and you know who you are, not so precious) child to these people. That’s why I’d lean more towards working with the fine folks at the Maryland Driving Academy. Now doesn’t that instill confidence? I might even consider the Ryden Driving Institute. Sounds kind of exclusive, doesn’t it?

I’m not sure a beginner would be prepared for the techniques taught at the Advanced Driving School, unless the people at Advanced are just trying to BS their customers and really teaching beginner classes. And how do you choose between the Easy Teach Driving School and the Easy Method Driving School? If you can’t make up your mind but still want to go the easy route, check with Mr. B’s Drive with Ease.

Blue Bird Driving School…sounds like a place you’d send your pre-schooler to learn how to drive that Little Tykes minivan that’s just like mom’s. Or where you can learn how to drive a school bus. Actually, I think the classes are taught by a little old lady who only teaches on Sundays and never endangers your child by teaching highway driving.

Great Commission Driving School. Maybe it’s not a bad idea for the instructor to get paid commission. It gives them more incentive to make sure your kid passes the driving test. Though I might be more tempted by the Arrive Alive Driving School. That sounds like a pretty good incentive.

You know, there’s more than one way to learn how to drive. There’s the Nu-Way and then there’s the Riteway. Tough choice. The Nu-Way might just be better than the old Riteway. But do you really want your kid being the one to find out? Plus, if the owner can’t spell Right right, how do you know he’s going to teach right. Right?

I might be tempted to check out the Safeway Driving School. It sounds kind of, well, safe. Until you remember you do your grocery shopping at the Safeway. I want my kid to learn how to drive a car, not push a cart.

Do you want to learn how to drive from the Top Dawg or the Top Driver?

Places I’d definitely stay away from? How about the AA Driving School? Hmmm. Did they pick AA to be at the beginning of the alphabetical listing, or does the AA actually stand for something. You’d have to be MADD to send your kid there.

The AB Discount Driving School is also kinda scary. You get what you pay for.

Even scarier is the 123-ABC Linnell Driver Training School. Again with the pre-schoolers? Sounds like it should be the 123-ABC Potty Training School.

But the number one school I’d stay away from, even if because I just didn’t want to tell anybody the name, is Peggy Pusey’s Driving School. “Miss Pusey says you should always use your turn signals.” “Miss Pusey says you should look both ways before entering an intersection.” “Miss Pusey says…” “I don’t care what Miss Pusey says! I don’t ever want to hear that name again!” (My apologies to the Pusey’s of the world. Just be thankful you’re not related to Gary Busey!”)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Outta town or outta my mind

Friday, repeat Wednesday morning’s wake-up routine. The twelve year old asks if he can wear his slippers to school. I figure he’s not awake yet. When I say no, he asks if he can wear his pajamas to school. I’m worried he’s missing his mom and experiencing some kind of regression and thinks he’s in pre-school. I’ve already gotten the pants/dress shirt/tie combo ready and his jacket is downstairs waiting. Then he tells me it’s free dress day. Well, that explains the odd clothing request. But somehow I don’t think casual dress includes Homer Simpson slippers. Battle ensues. I enlist the aid of the sixteen year old. No, free dress does not mean pj’s. We finally decide on his Yaz shirt and his camo shorts (if you don't know who Yaz is, you're obviously not a citizen of Red Sox Nation). Shoot. Can't find Yaz T-shirt. Schilling T-shirt is dirty. Finally settle on the authentic "Big Papi" Ortiz Red Sox uniform shirt. And no, you can't wear it to baseball practice. It is NOT a play shirt.

Drop the twelve year old at school. Phew! Nobody is wearin' their pj's. Good call. Check the list. We have a busy afternoon ahead of us. Guess what? The twelve year old starts baseball practice tomorrow. He needs new baseball cleats. And while we're at it, he needs some lacrosse gear. Oh yeah, he's playing soccer, too. But first he has to go to the end-of-season bowling party with his hockey team. Did I mention the kid's a sports nut?

Okay, pick up twelve year old at school, go to sports store. Shopping with a tired twelve year old is not fun. In fact it is sucking the life outta me. Which is not a good thing because it’s only 4 and, though I don't know it yet, my day won’t end for another five hours.

Lacrosse cleats…check

Baseball cleats...sorry we only have metal cleats in his size. Metal cleats are illegal for twelve year olds. For good reason. Especially when your twelve year old is the catcher.

Okay. He can wear the lacrosse cleats for baseball. I think. And soccer. I hope.

Baseball pants...check

Lacrosse pads...check


Head home to drop off the twelve year old before picking up the sixteen year old at lacrosse practice at 5:30. Get stuck in traffic...oh did I say traffic? I meant the parking lot...on the beltway. Go one exit. In forty minutes. Realize you can't take the twelve year old home and get to lacrosse practice on time, so head to sixteen year old's school while twelve year old sleeps in the car. Lucky stiff. Sit in traffic going the other way. Get to lacrosse practice at 6:15. Fortunately practice has run late again. Why don't they just change the schedule? No time to take sixteen year old home before returning to downtown Bethesda for twelve year old's hockey party. Try to figure out how to avoid traffic. No mapquest. No GPS cuz we're drivin' the Beemer. Fine time to switch cars.

Somehow find our way to bowling alley, drop off the twelve year old. Drop off the sixteen year old's friend. She had no idea she was going to be driving an hour to get home, which is ten minutes from the school. Take the sixteen year old home. Take a bathroom break. Go back to Bethesda to pick up twelve year old. Hang out in the bowling alley. He's having a GREAT time. And he's bowling pretty well, even if he is wearing goofy shoes. Finally get home at nine. Remember to get baseball gear ready. Everybody stays up late.

Saturday. Get up at seven thirty because the sixteen year old may need a ride to lacrosse. Phone rings. She has a ride. Feed dogs and let them out. Go back to bed for an hour. Go to wake twelve year old. He's already up. The Dad came home late last night and got up early to help him. Tear the twelve year old away from his new computer game (Wednesday's mall trip!) and send him back upstairs to get dressed.

Twelve year old announces the baseball pants we bought yesterday don't fit. He wears last year's pants, which don't fit either, but he likes them better. He wears the Yaz T-shirt. It was in his hockey bag. (YES, I washed it! Sheesh!) Tear the twelve year old away from the computer game. Again. His ride will be here any minute. Tear the twelve year old away from the tv. His ride will be here shortly. Tear the twelve year old away from the kitchen tv. Still waiting on the ride. Ride arrives, twelve year old off to baseball and a sleepover. I miss him already. But I get over it and go back to bed.

Dad has offered to pick up the sixteen year old from lacrosse and take her to the mall to see her favorite tv show's cast. I'm free til seven. I attempt to wash the car. Skip the roof. It's an SUV. Nobody's tall enough to see it anyway. The bed is calling me...

Get back outta bed and take a shower. Wait til seven thirty to pick up the mom and the eighteen year old at the airport. Home. Dinner. Bed.

Sunday. Get up late. Throw everything in my bag and go home.

Make plans to go back again in two weeks. You know what's really sick? I actually enjoy this!

PS - no, I didn't forget about the dogs. But their routine doesn't change much. Let them out. Feed them. Let them back in again. Regain possession of my socks from Scout the Wonder Dog. Take kids to school. Go home and let the dogs out. Go to the park and let them chase the ball. Go home. Let them out. Pick up the kids. Feed the dogs. Let them out. Let them out again before bed. Repeat process each day. They never tire of it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

sorry about not posting

Okay, so I haven’t posted in a while. Whenever that happens you can be pretty sure I’m outta town. This time, back in Potomac, kid and dog sitting. I was supposed to come down on Monday. The 1:00 flight. At ten am I am awoken from a sound sleep.

“I just wanted to make sure you were coming down…”

“Uhh, yeah. Tomorrow, right?”

Oooh, that’s not good.

After some juggling we got new tickets for Tuesday morning. Whoops! That’s gotta instill a lot of confidence in the mom, right? But hey, my track record speaks for itself. In thirty years this is only the second time I messed up where the kids are concerned. And I’m not sure the first time counts because all I did then was forget to pick up Casey to take him golfing. It’s not like I left him somewhere and forgot to go get him. And I’m not sayin’ there weren’t times I was tempted to “forget” one or two of them somewhere. But they’re all still around. I haven’t lost one. Not yet.

So I get to DC on Tuesday and have a couple of hours before my tour of duty starts. I think I remember getting some rest then. It seems soooo long ago.

Tuesday was pretty easy. Go watch the sixteen year old’s lacrosse game, wait for her to get her stuff, then go pick up the twelve year old at the school library. Pick up dinner (hey, if I cooked that woulda meant I’d have to do dishes too. Not on the first night.)

Homework goes well. Everybody gets to bed on time.

Wednesday, get up at the crack of dawn and start the day. Did I mention I’m not a morning person? Guess what? Neither are the kids! Hmmm. I wonder where they got that from?

Awaken the sixteen year old. You can pretty much wake her and forget her. Despite not being a morning person, this kid’s really got it together.

Gently awaken the twelve year old…
awaken the twelve year old again…
go in and pull the covers off the twelve year old…
go back in and grab the twelve year old’s feet and drag him off the bed. He’ll wake up when he hits the floor. Trust me. It works.

Go downstairs and let the dogs out (Who? Who? Who let the dogs out? I did. That’s right, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.) Yell up to the twelve year old to make sure he’s getting dressed. He has his pants on.

Feed the dogs. Then let them out again. Yell up to the twelve year old. He’s thinking about putting his T-shirt on.

Let the dogs in. Hey, ya let ‘em out, ya gotta let ‘em in again. Yell up to the twelve year old. He’s workin’ on putting his dress shirt on. The twelve year old wears a suitcoat and tie to school. That is soooo cute. But it’s also extra stuff he’s gotta put on.

Ignore the dogs. Yell up to the twelve year old. He’s on his way down. He’s trying to tie the tie.

Check on the sixteen year old. She’s pretty much ready to go out the door. The twelve year old is still workin’ on the tie. I have no idea how to tie a tie. He’s on his own. The tie gets done. He’s actually pretty good at it. And he DOES look cute! Ooops! Don’t tell the twelve year old how cute he is.

Okay, time to leave. The only way I can do this without totally screwing up the kids’ morning is if I have specific instructions. And a timetable. Too bad plans change after the mom leaves and I just have to fly by the seat of my pants. Thank God for the sixteen year old…and the GPS system in the car. Mapquest ain’t got nothin’ on that GPS guy. Mapquest isn’t as demanding as the GPS guy, though.

“In 300 feet, Turn Left.”

“In one hundred feet, Turn Left. At the intersection.” (duh)

“Turn Left.”


“I SAID turn LEFT!!!”

Okay, okay, I just thought I’d wait for traffic to clear first.

Drop off the twelve year old. All the kids are in khakis and jackets and ties. They look so grown up. And yes, they are soooo cute.

Switch seats with the sixteen year old, who is learning to drive. She’s so good I keep forgetting I’m supposed to be watching her. Then she kinda drifts to the right and I remember. Drop the sixteen year old at school. Go home and let the dogs out. Take a nap.

Pick up the twelve year old. Take him to the mall, drop him at home, go pick up the sixteen year old after lacrosse. Go home. Make dinner. Do homework. Wash dishes. Do more homework. Oh oh. The twelve year old has forgotten his science homework paper at school. How can we fix this? He decides he’ll go to school early so he can do it before school. Good decision! I'm very impressed. But not as impressed as I'll be in the morning!

Awaken the twelve year old at 6:45 instead of 7:00. Let the dogs out. Check on the twelve year old. He’s already out of bed and half dressed! Feed the dogs and let them out again. The twelve year old is standing in the kitchen, ready to go with a smile on his face. We leave before 7:15!!!

Thursday afternoon, reverse carpool. Pick up the sixteen year old at lacrosse practice, which has run over a half hour. Change of plans. Pick up the twelve year old BEFORE dropping the sixteen year old at church youth group. Get the twelve year old home and feed him. Start homework. I'm learning a lot about General George Brinton McClellan. I bet none of you knew he was Abe Lincoln's challenger in the 1864 presidential election. Now you know. There may be a quiz later.

The sixteen year old comes home. First crisis of the night…the sixteen year old needs a wristband to see her favorite tv show cast at the mall this weekend. The mall that is an hour away and closes in fifty minutes. Make a deal with the sixteen year old. Help your brother with his homework and get him to bed, I’ll go get the wristbands.

Unbelievable. There’s traffic on the beltway. It’s nearly nine o’clock. There’s not supposed to be traffic on the beltway. Get to the mall at 9:27. Mission accomplished. Get home. Twelve year old is in bed, sixteen year old is done with her homework. She's ecstatic when she gets her wristband. Her happiness is infectious. We chat about the tv show and cast. Time for bed.

I'll let you take a breather and post about Friday another time.