April 30, 2014

One of those days


April 29, 2014

Honor Due

I work with a Vietnam veteran that often shares stories about his war experience.  He has learned that I am familiar with the military, and that I am fairly well versed in history, and, perhaps most importantly, that I am a good listener.  As much as I enjoy his stories, I realize that his time in my office is often about him needing to say the words out loud.  Sometimes it is a date, sometimes it is just a random memory that spurs him to talk.  I have learned the names of those that he served with, I know how his first squad buddy, 'Tex', lost his life, and the pain my friend feels because of the circumstances.

His cohorts keep in touch, and, in their retirement years have found the time and tech savvy to do things like create a website with photos, stories, and contact information.  Often, my colleague will call me in to show me something new that was posted, or share with me the passing of someone from his unit.

This makes me all the more sad to think that some veterans have been left behind - not MIA, or buried on foreign soil, but their bodies returned home, prepared for burial, and then never claimed.
Volunteers with a group called the Missing In America Project are now scouring funeral homes to find the remains of thousands of such veterans.
"We physically go to every funeral home," said MIA chaplain Warren Wurzburger, a Navy veteran. "For us, it's finding them. And if they're veterans, we should take care of them. It's very sad to know these folks sat on a shelf."
Wurzburger said since the project launched in 2007, volunteers have found the ashes of about 2,000 veterans.
They include two brothers from Indiana whose remains had been neglected since the Civil War. They are now interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
The 12 interred in Killeen Monday were the first to be found in Texas. Wurzburger said they were from the Austin area, but had been moved to a storage facility in Missouri. They served from World War II to Vietnam. Some served during all three wars.
The remains of World War II Army Staff Sgt. John Clevlen was unclaimed for 32 years. It was 12 years for Army Corporal Donald Klein; he earned a Bronze Star during World War II combat.
I am sure that there are any number of circumstances that contribute to this situation, but to me it seems unthinkable, that a loved one's remains could sit, seemingly forgotten, for decades.

I haven't read too much into it, yet, but, part of me wonders how in the world responsible funeral homes could let this situation languish for so long.  No one takes notice of the fact that there are remains of Civil War soldiers sitting on a shelf somewhere?

My hat is off to the Missing in America Project for the work they are doing.

April 28, 2014

NO FOD

Going to bed, and then waking up to the daylight photos of the tornadic devastation across Arkansas and Oklahoma left me lacking the initiative to make catty comments about the jerk in the White House.

I grew up in Tornado Alley, I live in the southern part of it today, and I hate everything about springtime storms that spawn these outbreaks.

So, no FOD today.  Instead, keeping a good thought for those affected by the storms.

April 27, 2014

Send 'em back to driving school

Years ago, while my family was stationed overseas, we traveled to Paris.  I had the unique and horrifying experience of navigating this traffic nightmare in a hulking American crew cab pickup truck:

"The Place Charles de Gaulle, historically known as the Place de l'Étoile, is a large road junction in Paris, France, the meeting point of twelve straight avenues including the Champs-Élysées" - Wikipedia
Yep, TWELVE streets converge in a huge traffic circle surrounding the Arc de Triomphe.  It is one of the most well-known, and daunting, traffic circles in Europe.  We made it through unscathed, though I think we went around twice before exiting to the street we were looking for.
This successful navigation of an American land yacht, no doubt, thanks to the requirement that we take international driver training before we moved to Germany.  
For reasons I do not understand, traffic engineers in north Texas have shown a recent, and sudden, affinity for traffic circles.  They are remodeling intersections, removing 4-way stops and installing traffic circles at an alarming rate.  Alarming, because Americans don't have any experience, nor are they receiving any training, on how traffic circles (are supposed to) work.  There is no yielding, no merging - it is pure anarchy in motor vehicles.
This is the only reference to roundabouts in the Texas DMV driver handbook:
Yeah, that explains it.  No wonder all those soccer moms think that they have the right of way - entering, leaving, changing lanes.  All SUV, all the time, just stay out of their way!  Wouldn't it be great if the police, after witnessing uneducated driving habits, could not only ticket, but send those people back to re-test, making them show proficiency in the area that they got a ticket for?

April 26, 2014

That flies and honey thing

Yesterday afternoon, I spent a few hours in spa luxury; mani-pedi, facial, and, well, the package included a massage, but I don't do massages, so I upgraded my hand and foot treatments to replace the hour of someone torturing me with their hands massage.

This pampering being the ONE annual employee appreciation sort of day that the female paper pushers at the office get have, somewhat loosely tied to administrative professional's day.  There are three of us in my building, and every day we deal with the fact that the two bathrooms in our entry foyer are both marked 'MEN', and the female bathroom is tucked away in a dark corner at the back of the building, behind the kitchen.

My female cohorts process the expense reports of male co-workers that get car allowances larger than some people's salaries, dining tabs with big bar tabs, flights around the nation, golf, clay shoots, crawfish boils, balls, conventions.  Our field employees get a big BBQ or steak cookout at the end of each job.  You know how it goes.  We are all well aware that our industry is still very male-dominated, and we don't suffer much at the sights and costs of this Good Ol' Boy way of doing business.  There are some daily perks, but we do deserve a little something extra every now and then.

So one day out of the year, our office manager plans to take us to lunch and a spa afternoon to keep morale up.  Earlier in the week, she sent out an email reminder that several departmental functions (Payroll, HR, AP/AR, Contracts) would be unavailable at the end of the week, and politely asked for everyone to address their issues with that in mind.

And some asshole complained.  Some testicularly-challenged tool of man, whined that five women would be getting special treatment for one friggin' afternoon.  A complaint logged after he returned from his daily two-hour lunch.  He didn't mind so much that the girls were getting an afternoon out, but felt that the email just rubbed it in everyone's face.  Like seeing his check stub and expense report each week isn't a constant reminder to those 'girls' of how hard his job is.

I feel a real work slow down coming the next time this jerk needs anything from admin in the coming weeks.
  

April 24, 2014

Field Trips

This week I spent most of my Wednesday chaperoning a small group of first graders to the zoo.

I am still somewhat sane.

This field trip proved to be quite popular in the parental volunteer department, so I was actually only responsible for one child other than my own, though he was a challenge.  It will suffice to say that it is upon such occasions that I am reminded that some families have very different methods of raising their children, and that discipline, apparently, isn't part of their strategy.

It was lovely weather for the zoo, warming into the mid-eighties.  We met at midday to distribute the sack lunches from coolers.  Another memory-stirring event that left me wondering how in the world we all made it adulthood without teachers icing down our lunches on field trips, or insulated lunch bags and ice packs keeping our PB&J cool each school day.

My stellar memory of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and my grandparent's stories, indicate that meals were once carried to school and work in tin pails, or wrapped in a piece of cloth.  I remember my father's huge metal lunchbox, with a place in the lid to affix the Thermos of coffee.  The only insulated item being the Thermos.  I sported the metal Holly Hobby lunchbox in elementary school when my food wasn't in a plain brown paper bag.  And the bag ruled exclusively on field trips.  I recall wrapping a can of Coke in several layers of aluminum foil for a field trip - I wonder how well that worked.  

My kids have lunch bags with a gel liner that they freeze overnight.  They have ice blankets and ice packs.  They freeze juice boxes and tube yogurts to insure a cold treat at lunch.  

How in the world did we ever survive our room temperature food and drink?  Why aren't we all dead of botulism or salmonella?

Similar thoughts crossed my mind as some of the more, um, intense parents doused all the kids in hand sanitizer before the meal.

We are an over-tempered, over-de-germed, over-cautious society.  And the irony that I made that observation at the zoo is not lost on me.

April 22, 2014

Douchebaggery at its finest

I have no clue who this character, Mike Elk, is.  I gleaned from the linked article that he is some sort of 'labor reporter'.  Reading his bleg post on gofundme, I gather that he is a union member that travels around walking picket lines and reporting on other union member's 'fights'.

Apparently, union reporters don't make enough money to take vacations, so Mr. Elk crowd-funded a recent beach vacation for himself.

Shortly after his 'free' vacation, Mr. Elk found out that he is going to be laid off in June.  He quickly took to gofundme, again, to start soliciting donations to cover living expenses, even though he is two months from the layoff.  He makes this compelling argument:
While I don't mind sleeping on an air mattress, I do still have to pay the bill at Waffle House. Likewise, I need money to pay for plane tickets, rental cars, and really horrific airport food so that we can keep getting you an exclusive in depth snapshot of what is happening during one of the most important union drives in a generation.  
This 'most important' union drive is that of the UAW trying to organize workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Mr. Elk's statement perfectly summarizes the union mentality.  How many people get two months' notice that they are losing their job?  If I had eight weeks' advance notice, I think I would immediately start securing another source of income - NOT commit myself to continuing to do a job that they were going to stop paying me to do.

And I can't imagine any scenario, in which I, as an able-bodied American, would choose to beg people for charity when I have the means and resources to support myself.

April 21, 2014

April 18, 2014

Record Store Day

Tomorrow, the third Saturday of April, is 'Record Store Day'.  A self-promoting event dreamed up a few years ago by record store owners, it nonetheless evokes memories of many an afternoon spent flipping through albums as a kid.

I am old enough to remember when department stores had record departments.  Even as malls became 'the thing' and record stores became stand-alone ventures, there were still great independent shops that did nothing but sell music, and dole out opinions from the shop workers on what the next great band or record release was going to be.

I have always loved music.  I miss albums.  I love the cover art and the liner notes.  I always kept my albums in alphabetical order, but, even if I hadn't, I could identify most of the titles from across the room, just by the look of the spine.  I kept my albums in a wooden fruit crate and would sit for hours, reading, listening, tracing album art.

My children are just as fascinated by the albums as I was.  Most of them I own on a more current medium, but my kids like to hold the albums, open the double record set covers, look at the pictures.

My allowance as a kid was spent, primarily, on two things - music and roller skating.  And I can't help but think that I wouldn't have spent much time at the roller rink if they hadn't played such awesome music.

I don't know that I will take part in any official sort of Record Day activity.  There is a lengthily list of special releases to celebrate the occasion, covering music of all types, old and new.  None of it really inspires me to get in my car and drive to our local record store - though the list did stir a desire to add a few new songs to my iTunes library.

Hey, I love records, but what I really love is the music, and the clarity and portability of digital files just can't be beat.

April 17, 2014

Celebrating Small

As a child, my birthday was often celebrated with an adult family member that had a birthday just a day or two from mine.  I don't remember much about them, but there are several years worth of photos of the two of us side by side with our birthday cakes.  One, in particular, has always delighted me - I am probably 4 or 5-year's old, posing behind my Barbie Doll cake, and next to me, with a beer in hand, is my uncle, with a classic 1970's 'bikini cake', which, as I recall, required the integration of two Hostess Snowball snack cakes for the top.

The teenage years centered on friends and less family, and as I have aged, I don't have many specific memories, other than a trip to Benihana on my 18th, that included a broken English version of the birthday song, and a truck and tractor pull for my 21st.  I am still amazed at the things my boyfriends thought I would enjoy.

I am content that this time in my life has brought celebrations back to family, with Boom at college, I have a constant reminder that it really won't be that long before all the kids are gone.  I appreciate that the years have brought contentment in simpler things, a place many people never seem to reach.

I sometimes feel guilty that I am not a big party planning mom.  We shuttle the kids to a select few birthday parties each year, but don't reciprocate with lavish bashes.  Instead, we typically celebrate smaller, and more family-oriented than other people do.  Easter this weekend will center around a family meal, and our annual family egg hunt that includes prize coupons for extravagant things like getting out of chores, extra dessert, and mild sibling torture (the 'make my bed' coupon is popular).

I hope my kids grow to value family over store bought fun.  I hope that a raucous game of Yahtzee or corn hole in the yard outshines Chuck E Cheese skeeball or an afternoon at a trampoline park.  Sure, there is fun to be had for a price, but my hope is that my kids will see more value in family, and the fleeting time we have to spend with them.

April 16, 2014

Remembering Ruth

I went to the best kind of funeral this morning, if there is such a thing.

It was the funeral of a life fully lived, 95 year's worth of hard work, one marriage, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, love, faith, friendships.

There aren't many more like her out there - people who have seen such change in our world, yet remained true to a work ethic and moral base that is nearly extinct in today's young people.

The preacher remembered her thusly, "I knew her long, I knew her well, I loved her much."

I hope that when my time comes, there are those who will say the same about me.

April 15, 2014

FIRSD

Today is tax day, and, I am writing the IRS a hefty check.

I normally try to break even, and have never had to write a check this big before.  It is painful.
For years we have gotten refunds, though tax planning and jacking up our withholding exemptions kept the refund amount small, and allowed us to use our money throughout the year, rather than loaning it to the gummint.
My CPA pointed to what he described as an"Imperfect Storm" of life and tax events that combined to nail us this year.  And, this tax day serves as an excellent benchmark for planning purposes to make sure we aren't in the same position next year.  
What chaps my hide the most is seeing the total tax due, and trying to correlate what government services my family benefits from that justify the amount.  I can't come up with much.  
Financial experts often suggest that people with limited budgeting willpower use an envelope system to divvy out their money.  This involves putting cash into categorized envelopes, and paying for the specific expenses out of those envelopes.  When the envelope is empty, you aren't supposed to refill it from the ATM, or borrow from another envelope.  One of the reasons this method tends to work is because there is a psychological effect felt from paying cash for items.
I have long advocated for an elective system wherein tax payers can choose from an a la carte menu of government services and agencies that they want to support.  If you choose not to pay into the welfare system, then you simply can't ever receive benefits.  All the bleeding heart liberals that want to support deadbeats are likely to think twice if they have to fork over their own cash to do it.
Withholding taxes (and SS and Medicare) from paychecks has made our working class ignorant and apathetic with regard to how big and greedy our government has become.  If every company had to pay their employees in cash each payday, and then the employees had to step up to the next window and pay the government from their fistful of cash, there would be a revolution.

April 14, 2014

FOD

Golf Count: 9 rounds this year, totaling 166 since taking office.

Vacation Count: I think three so far this year.  The Obamas kicked off the year in Hawaii, then the separate vacays in Cali and Aspen, then a weekend in Key Largo while Ukraine burned last month.

May will argue that we are better off when the president is out of the Oval.  I still bristle at the thought of the leader of our country having enough time to golf and vacation while I burn the midnight oil earning a paycheck that the government takes 28% of.

FOD, indeed.

April 13, 2014

Where flowers bloom, so does hope

I am too young to have anything other than a jaundiced historical view of the Johnson presidency.  I do, however, love me a Texas roadside in the spring, and I have to give credit where due, and give thanks to Ladybird Johnson.

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush decorated miles of highway shoulder on this weekend's travels.  New England may have the market cornered on fall color, but nothing compares to Central Texas in the spring.  Sure, there are other wildflowers, but nothing is quite as breathtaking as the purplish-blue hue of our state flower. 

Except, maybe, that certain hybrid developed by a certain Texas university, that has been popping up in the unlikeliest of places...




April 11, 2014

If I were a political cartoonist

Today, I would be sketching a scene of rats fleeing a sinking ship.

The rats would have faces resembling folks like Kathleen Sebelius, and all of the other members of his administration that have left, or been asked to leave the service of President Barack.

Keep watching, as anyone with future political aspirations will soon be headed for the door, anxious to put distance between themselves and this administration.

April 9, 2014

Mid-week FOD

9:05 am || Departs White House with the first lady
11:30 am CT || Arrives Killeen, Texas
2:00 pm CT || Attends a memorial service for the Fort Hood victims
3:30 pm CT || Departs Killeen 
4:20 pm CT || Arrives Houston
5:00 pm CT || Attends a DNC fundraiser; private residence, Houston
7:20 pm CT || Delivers remarks and answers questions at a fundraiser for House and Senate Democrats; private residence, Houston
All times U.S. Eastern except as noted
If anyone has the time, I would appreciate a full accounting of each and every douche bag that helped formulate this schedule.  That would start with whichever opportunistic jerk saw that the president would be traveling to Texas, purportedly to pay his respects at the Fort Hood memorial service, and saw an opening for a fundraiser. Who would have thought that we would ever have a president that held American soldiers and their families in such low regard, that he would squeeze in a glad-handing session just after pretending to care about the tragedy that will forever touch their lives?

List for me, if you can, each and every attendee, donor, valet parking attendant, and catering employee that doesn't have enough patriotic gumption to refuse to participate in this event.  Heck, Barack should decorate his lapel with these candidates' campaign buttons at the memorial service - I am sure the DNC would delight in the amount of television coverage they would get.

Gah.  I have always said that there is no reason that I would get within spitting distance of this president, but I sure would like to get within crotch-kicking distance.

April 8, 2014

FBGD

Taking off of the FOD theme, I am declaring today F*ck Bill Gates Day.

Yes, I am still running XP on at least one of my computers.

My home desktop came with XP and a Vista upgrade certificate, which I never bothered with, as the complaints were many and frequent, and XP suited me just fine.  It still does.

We use Windows 7 at work, and I am adept at it, but still prefer XP.

I don't like getting new computers.  Too much hassle, too much stuff to move, too many programs that become unusable or take an act of Congress to find correct drivers for.

As today approached, I considered a new computer purchase.  I have clicked around and compared features and prices.  Likely the exact scenario that Microsoft was envisioning.  I learned that in addition to their new OS, they also are shifting the way that they sell and license their Office Suite.  What they want you to do is buy a subscription to 'Microsoft 365', at about $100 per year.  They argue that the monthly or annual subscription means that you always have the latest version of their office productivity software, and, because it is cloud-based, you can access it remotely (as long as the computer you are using is running Windows 7 or 8).  But you never own the programs, no matter how many months or years you pay.  Stop paying for the subscription and your installed Office programs switch into read-only mode.

Someone in charge of developing new revenue streams in Redmond just got a new corner office.

It is a massive tech shake down of the masses, and I am not tech-savvy enough to dodge the virtual bullets.

April 7, 2014

FOD

I realize I have been lax in posting.  Unlike the president, I choose to work hard, help others, complete tasks, and attempt to make a difference in this world.  The past several weeks have been quite busy.  I wish I had time to play golf every Saturday, but, I suppose the president plays enough to cover my shortage.  Current golf count: 8 rounds this year, 165 since he took office.
This morning as I drove to work, I was listening to the news on the radio, as they discussed continuing, and escalating, tension in Ukraine, as well as our country's announcement that we are deploying two more ballistic missile defense destroyers to Japan, to address concerns with North Korea.

The radio host then asked the guest commentator if he could name the greatest foreign policy accomplishment of the Obama administration.

After stuttering for a few seconds, he said that he guessed that the U.S. lead-from-behind policy regarding Libya in 2011, was the best he could come up with, pointing out that the success was short-lived and certainly overshadowed by subsequent events.  The speaker then admitted that he was 'stretching' to come up with that item as an 'accomplishment'.

How do you get past the 5 year mark in a presidency without having a single event in the foreign policy plus column?  Has any other president been such an abysmal failure at foreign relations?

Russia, China, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Iran...someone should put the leaders of those countries together in one of those poker game paintings, with all of them flying the one-finger salute toward a picture of Obama.

Last week, in a post responding to Samantha Power's comments to Congress on the Palestinian Authority and the U.N., Keith Koffler had this to say about our president and his administration's foreign policy reputation:
What people like Samantha Power don’t understand – a group of people that includes the president of the United States who appointed her – is that spinelessness has its own dynamic.
When the jackals who roam the earth – many such jackals run very powerful countries, BTW – see weakness, they begin to salivate. They decide it’s okay to turn the world order upside down, to ignore the United States, Paper Tiger that it’s becoming, and pursue their own reckless, vicious course of action.
That’s why Iran will soon have a nuclear weapon. That’s why China is threatening our Asian allies. That’s why Syria has become a training ground for a new generation of terrorists, why Iraq is incurring unprecedented violence and the revival of al Qaeda in Iraq, why the Taliban awaits its opportunity, and why there is fear in Europe.
Because everyone knows Samantha Power and her boss will stand down when challenged, because they see them standing down all the time.
Ms. Power doesn’t get that small capitulations on principle to gain a short-term “practical” advantage are signals sent out that will eventually come back and bite her in the ass.
People know that when you have no principles, you have no backbone. Our enemies have principles. They’re bad principles, but they are principles. And they’re willing to die even to make a small point.

April 4, 2014

Mall Rules

I generally try to avoid people.  Crowds of people.  I chuckle each time we gird our loins and make the trek to Ikea.  Those Swedes tried so hard to bring the European model of shopping here, laying out the store with a deliberate path, indicated by painted arrows on the floor and spotlights shining down on them.  Americans insist on knocking around like a pinball, we can't even manage to keep everyone walking on the right side of the aisle.

I had occasion to visit our local mall.  It is a relic, in the midst of, by my count, its fifth complete makeover since I moved here in 1985.  There is something to be said for a surviving mall of any sort, I suppose.

Shortly after my arrival, a young man jumped out in front of me, somewhere near Bath and Body Works, demanding to know about my skin care regime and thrusting some dish of crystallized matter at me.

A dozen or so steps later, someone wanted to curl my hair, which was ironic, as I normally dry it straight, but didn't this morning because of the humidity and wind.  So, they offered to curl my curly hair.

Further down the mall, some twit was flying some remote control contraption around his little kiosk.  The result being every boy and man trying to walk and look upward at the same time.  Luckily, they took the fountains out during remodel number two.

After side-stepping the distracted shoppers and saying "no thank you" to the umpteenth mallware hawker, I decided that some sort of demarcation system is in order.

I propose that each kiosk have a ring of, say, green floor tile.  This would indicate a free-to-roam and accost shoppers that wander through it area.

Next, a concentric area of yellow, the classic 'caution' color.  If a shopper wanders through it, the salesperson could engage them verbally, but not shove anything in their face or entangle a scalp massager in their hair without asking.

And, you guessed it, next would be the red zone, and beyond it, the normal flooring choice of the mall, a place where kiosk salespeople needn't tread, unless they are coming or going to their workstation.

Some people like these sales methods, so the yellow and green areas would give them plenty of space to peruse the wares of the pushy.  The rest of us could walk right on by, ignoring the hard sell, and not being hindered by the idiots that engage in the banter.

April 3, 2014

Prayers for Fort Hood

There aren't any answers right now, and if I hear one more idiot reporter ask a Lieutenant General how he feels about the shooting on his installation, I will likely put a boot through my television.  These are war fighters.  This is a mass casualty situation.  If his priority was to think about his feelings and gauge his emotions, he would feel the same as the rest of us do.  Fortunately for the men and women in his command and the families at Fort Hood, his priority is handling the tragedy, from securing his base to investigating what motivated someone to kill.

Prayers for Fort Hood and the families of those lost and injured.

April 2, 2014

They might have come out ahead.

I have been shopping for a new (to me) vehicle for some time.  My SUV was a borderline lemon since day one, and during the most recent round of repairs, my mechanic basically told me to run, not walk, to a car lot and unload it before the rear-end went.

I cleaned it up, but, there are some things that you can't hide on a 10-year old car.  I knew that it was auction-bound if I traded it, and would bring a lower price from a dealer.  But, knowing all of the unseen problems made it such that I didn't feel comfortable selling it privately.  I don't want the next owner having my phone number.

I did all the modern car shopping things.  I used the internet, I searched for months.  I had a couple of salesman at different dealerships keeping their eyes open for what I wanted.  I checked out the car buying services offered through my bank, insurance company, and Costco.  Consumer Reports, Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, TrueCar, I did my research. When I found the vehicle I wanted, I  knew that their advertised price was a fair deal to start with, even giving other salesmen the opportunity to beat them, which they couldn't.

The vehicle was at a dealership about 100 miles from my home.  I took my mom with me, as I don't play the sales game, and I was fully prepared to drive both vehicles back home, if they wouldn't give me a fair price on my trade.  Heck, I was fully prepared to walk out on the whole thing, despite the commute, should they not deal fairly with me.

In the end, I got the new-to-me SUV, and traded the old one.  I was satisfied with the trade price, though in hindsight, I think they jacked up their dealer-added 'documentation fee' to make up a couple hundred dollars.  But, I left them with an empty tank and demanded a full one, so I probably made that back up.

Still, as with many major purchases, spending that amount of money causes a few second-guesses.  I wondered if I should have played it a little differently.  Maybe I should have started to walk out.  Maybe I should have employed a little more PSYOPS.  With buyer's remorse niggling at the back of my mind, I sat down at my computer to finalize the insurance changes, removing the old vehicle from coverage and adding the new one.  Just a few minutes later, I settled in to watch the late news.  And there it was, on the meteorologist's magical green screen...the radar view of the hail-laden storm system sitting right on top of the dealership I had purchased the car from.

I hope for their sake that the hail was enough to total my old vehicle, then they might actually get their money's worth out of it.

April 1, 2014

Parent of the year

I feel the award slipping away...

Subtitle: Why are March sunburns so much worse than summertime ones?

Bang has a beautiful complexion.  Kind of a waste on a boy, as no woman is likely to appreciate it the way she should.  His skin tone (with a little sun) is a lovely honey-brown color.  And, he normally turns brown pretty quick when overexposed to the sun.

Saturday morning was cold, windy and cloudy.  It was only supposed to reach 75.  We forgot to take sunscreen to the track meet. The clouds cleared, the temperature soared.  We fried.

My face and arms are a little toasty.  My forehead and nose are flaming red, even now, three days later.  Bang is a lobster.  

I tried to be somewhat responsible, realizing my error, sending The Princess under the bleachers in the shade for most of the afternoon.  I am not sure how that parental concern and forcefulness didn't transfer to Number One Son.

Instead, his grandmother and I sat in the stands making comments about how pasty white all the kids were in their skimpy track outfits.  We commented on the beached-whale whiteness of Bang's thighs as he relaxed between races, sprawled out on the infield grass.  Why didn't it occur to me to call him over and make him go in the shade?  Why didn't I get in my car and go buy some sunscreen?

Thanks to the media, I will now have nightmares about the future skin cancer I have caused my son.  I do realize that it is a real danger, and we normally take reasonable precautions.  And yet, I don't believe I have seen any statistics that show a marked difference in the number of skin cancer cases over the past several decades, enough to warrant the dermatologist and sunscreen industry-fueled frenzy of keeping every man, woman, and child looking like vampires.  I don't put sunscreen on my children every morning before they walk out the door.   I don't hover over them with an umbrella as they play outside. We used to slather oil over our bodies and bake in the sun for hours and we turned out moderately well. (And yes, we know better now).

I know I didn't earn a parent of the year award, but I swear if another crunchy granola, gluten-free vegan mom looks at my sunburned kid and then tsks me, I'm gonna punch that pasty scowl of judgment off of her face.