5 Things: Tuesday Night

Here are five thoughts on this Tuesday night.

1. Whenever the baby arrives, the first nine hours I spend with him/her will surpass the total amount of time I’ve been in charge of a baby ever. I can think of just three times where I was at least partially in charge of watching an infant for any amount of time. In 2003, Jordan and Calvin left me alone with Peyton in their Vermillion apartment for a couple hours, and she screamed the whole time. In 2008, Pete and Sarah left me and Lauren with baby Abby for 3-4 hours, and she screamed the whole time. And in 2014, Brian and Kristin left baby Lexi with us for 2-3 hours and she screamed the whole time.

That’s it. Those are the only three times I’ve ever been responsible for a baby, and two of those times Lauren was there basically doing all the work. So really only one time ever have I been solely responsible for the well-being of an infant and that was 11 years ago. This will truly be a learn-as-I-go sort of thing.

2. I go to San Francisco next week for an e-mail conference. It took me a long time to decide whether or not to go. It’s exactly one month before the due date. If it had been one week earlier, I’d have had no issues deciding to go. If it was one week later, I’d definitely have stayed back. But it was right in this gray area where I couldn’t decide. Aside from learning all about e-mail marketing stuff, I may get to meet popular music artist John Legend and go to a private B-52’s concert. I’m also intrigued to fly Virgin Airlines for the first time because of this awesome looking blue and purple tinted cabin.

3. I usually make a point to watch every All-Star Game, but this year I’ll be totally blocking off the schedule Monday and Tuesday to watch every televised All-Star event. Believe me, if we were still in Minneapolis, I’d be taking several days PTO and taking in every last thing. But, as it is, I’ll have to settle for watching from afar. I am super jealous of the many friends I know who will be there for parts of it! But also happy for them.

4. I wound up ordering 16 old Sesame Street books online, many of which were as little as 1 cent + shipping. Today I got “Ernie Gets Lost” and read it cover-to-cover, proving I can read books… as long as they are intended for young children and wrap up quickly and tidily with plenty of colorful illustrations. I still wonder about Ernie and Bert’s relationship. Ernie is clearly a child who needs neighbor Maria to take him shopping and hold his hand, yet he and Bert live together and are merely friends. Where are their parents? Or is Bert older and a legal guardian? I guess it’s up to each child’s imagination.

5. I am currently watching the Twins/Mariners game and drinking a Sam Adams White Lantern beer. It is 11:08pm. Good night.

I Can’t Read Good

I’m actually very concerned about how difficult of a time I have reading a book. Lauren has purchased close to a dozen baby books and has been ripping through them and passing them off to me, and there they sit. It took five months to get through a book for dads-to-be. Not because I wasn’t interested or didn’t pick up the book and try to read, but I simply cannot read a book! Really! I’m obviously not illiterate, but I am 90% unable to comprehend the words on a page.

I open a book, read the first paragraph, and then stop and realize that I have no idea what I just read. I comprehended absolutely nothing. My mind literally immediately began to wander the instant my eye saw the first letter of the first word. I go back and re-read the first paragraph. Again, you could ask me what I had just read and I wouldn’t know if it was about parenting or whales or ice cubes. In fact I read about four paragraphs before snapping out of it and realizing I had been reading but not comprehending anything. So I go back, and slowly, word by word, re-read very carefully the first paragraph. Still nothing. I am now making a conscious effort to not let my mind drift off, but it took so much mental energy to keep my mind from wandering that I still haven’t comprehended what I’ve read. By the fourth or fifth time of re-reading a paragraph, I maybe have a clue and could answer a few questions on what I had read.

And then it’s on to the second paragraph of page 1 of the Introduction.

And that is how it took me five months to read a 300-page book, despite picking it up just about every day for some amount of time.

Quick research online shows this is a telltale sign of ADD, inability to focus on anything or get bored too easily. If that was true, how am I able to routinely sit and watch 3+ hours of baseball every single day, when only 14 minutes actually involve real action¹? How can I happily sit on an airplane for 3+ hours staring at the back of my seat without getting bored? How have I been able to write 1300 lengthy blog posts? It doesn’t seem to add up. It’s just reading adult books that throws me off so bad. If anyone has any advice or tips, I’d be open to it!

Barty Party, Express Highlight 4th

Our Fourth of July weekend has been full of celebrations and libations as we took in the second annual Ryan Bartholic Independence Day Bash in Cedar Park. Considering the Barts have only been in Texas a little over two years, they know a LOT of people. I think 50-60 people showed up at their party, which was highlighted by free-flowing beer, brats, yard games, and debauchery. Lauren of course wasn’t real enthused about spending her day surrounded by us drunken fools, but she was a good sport and left me to carouse with the gang well into the evening.

Saturday I again tried to sell the pickup, fielding a handful of offers and showed it to a few more interested folks. Everyone that has seen it so far has left super interested, and then I never hear from them again. I guess no one in a major metropolitan area has much use for a 20-year-old farm truck. All the people who have seen it so far have come from out of town. Meanwhile, Lauren cheered on her beloved Netherlands team in World Cup action as they knocked out Costa Rica.

At night we were invited out the Round Rock Express game vs. the Nashville Sounds with our friends the Andersons and Viviritos. Our local Rangers affiliate won, and after the game there was a pretty decent fireworks display.

Using my good old 2008 Canon PowerShot, I arranged a timer to go off and jumped in my own photo at the last second. I was in charge of documenting Bart's party.

Using my good old 2008 Canon PowerShot, I arranged a timer to go off and jumped in my own photo at the last second. I was in charge of documenting Bart’s party.

Emily, Duane, Elizabeth, Lauren, and I at the Express game Saturday.

Emily, Duane, Elizabeth, Lauren, and I at the Express game Saturday.

4th of July Since 2001

So it’s the 4th of July tomorrow! When I think back on Independence Days of the past 12 years, I am reminded of mosquitoes, crowds, humidity, extra law enforcement on the streets, and even long hours at work.

Tomorrow we’ll be taking in one of Austin’s biggest private celebrations–the one taking place at the home of Ryan and Heather Bartholic, who expect 50 guests at their backyard party. I’ll check back in the archives and remind myself of all of the past July 4th celebrations.

2013 – Party at Bart’s
Same as this year. I arrived early to help Bart set up.

This is what was left of the crowd after fireworks around 11pm. Lauren of course was long gone as she had to work Friday.

This is what was left of the crowd after fireworks around 11pm. Lauren of course was long gone as she had to work Friday.

2012 – Casual Grilling at Bart’s
The Bartholics had just arrived in Austin and invited us over to their apartment pool for grilling and swimming. Hot Lunch was also in town for a few days.

Hanging with the Bartholics on the 4th.

Hanging with the Bartholics on the 4th.

2011 – Exploring Austin
I had just arrived in town, and after only two days of work I had a 3-day weekend. I took in a Round Rock Express game and hung around with Mark Addison that weekend.

2010 – Family Reunion in Doland
Lauren and I trekked from Minneapolis to Carpenter for the Bell reunion during Back to Doland Days, stopping to camp for the night at Lac Qui Parle State Park on the way.

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2009 – Camping En Route to Carpenter
2009 was another year where we headed west to South Dakota for the long weekend, this time camping at Upper Sioux Agency State Park. On the 4th of July, Lauren, Alex, and I attempted to go fishing at both Dry Lake and Lake Byron to much disappointment.

Our rustic camp site at Upper Sioux Agency State Park.

Our rustic camp site at Upper Sioux Agency State Park.

2008 – 125th Willow Lake Alumni Celebration
I forgot how we had gone to South Dakota three straight years, but the records show Lauren and I went straight from a tubing expedition with Walsh, Sarah, Nick, Feeney, and friends straight to Willow Lake. 1923787_506598566726_1503_n

2007 – New York Trip
Walsh, Nick, and I were in New York for the 4th, taking in Twins/Yankees games and touring NBC Studios, with frequent stops at a dive bar called Detour’s.

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2006 – Patrick and I Explore Minneapolis
We took in the Body Worlds museum exhibit, Taste of Minnesota, and then drove around trying to find a spot to see the fireworks over the cityscape. Just a couple of dudes on the town.

2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 – Working Long Shifts at Valleyfair
Although one year I believe a bunch of us that didn’t have to work a late shift went to a Shakopee park for a grill-out and flag football, as seen below.
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2001 – Road Trip to Michigan
Brandon, Guy, and I were fresh out of high school and hit the road to visit Jesse Van Heukelom in Mattawan, Michigan. We stopped off in Minnesota for a Twins game and a Bon Jovi concert before visiting Mr. Ehrke in Chicago.

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That’s all the further back I have records of. I’m sure prior to that most years were spent lighting off some fireworks on the farm!

Sh!t Got Real in the Wal-Mart Parking Lot

I did not sell the pickup as quickly as I had originally thought. A kid was all set to buy it Friday night, but bailed when his dad apparently surprised him with a better vehicle. Other inquiries have been for much, much less than what I was seeking. So in the mean time, friends have continued to borrow the truck for hauling various items.

On Sunday night, I helped Bart pick up some patio furniture from Wal-Mart. He was inside paying and I was standing outside with the pickup parked by the curb with the hazard lights on, waiting for the giant box to be loaded. As I was standing there, a woman walked by awkwardly pushing two carts filled with giant plants. I saw a car slow down as it passed by her, words were exchanged, and fingers were pointed in my direction. I could hear the lady with the carts say “no, he didn’t even offer!” and then the car approached me. I could tell exactly what was coming. The window rolled down, and inside was a 60-ish-year-old woman glaring at me, giving me a very evil eye.

devil“WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?! DIDN’T YOU SEE THAT POOR WOMAN IN NEED OF HELP? WHAT THE F&#$ WERE YOU THINKING?! WHATEVER HAPPENED TO CHIVALRY?! YOU’RE STANDING HERE TWIDDLING YOUR THUMBS AND SHE NEEDS HELP!! YOU GET YOUR ASS OVER THERE NOW AND HELP HER LOAD THOSE PLANTS!!!!!!!!”

It was a scene straight out of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and I was Larry David. I momentarily considered saying “No hablo Ingles?” but choked under pressure. Shaking in fear and shock, I did as demanded, leaving the pickup unattended, and trudged across the parking lot to help this woman put plants in her pickup while the other woman made damn sure I went over there before driving off. The woman was in fact in dire need of help and was very thankful I eventually offered my assistance.

True, I did observe this disheveled woman looking for a helping hand and ignored her. I had momentarily thought about offering some help, but I didn’t want to leave the pickup idling curbside. Plus, if she wanted help all she had to do was ask! I may have not been very gentlemanly, but that old cranky bitch was a far worse human being than me! I hadn’t been yelled at like that since my 7th grade football days with my mortal enemy Sumpy at the helm.

So, lesson learned, I guess. Next time I see a woman in need, I’ll be the first person on the scene.

Rock Climbing Misadventure

20140628_182853Saturday afternoon, I was invited to go indoor rock climbing at the local entertainment venue Main Event with friends Rob and Elizabeth. I had never tried rock climbing before and thought it sounded like a fun challenge. When we walked in, the place was littered with little kids’ birthday parties. Kids were routinely just shooting up these steep inclines with no effort, then happily bouncing back down the incline thanks to the safety harness attached to a heavy-duty rope. “Must be pretty easy!” I thought to myself.

It was not.

These ropes are really helping pull a lighter person up to the top. If you were to take the rope off the clip and let go of it, it would shoot to the top of the rock very fast. So the reason these kids were just flashing to the top was because they could virtually just stand there and this rope system would eventually pull them to the top without them having to move a muscle. The heavier a person is, the less help that rope is. And for me, it did nothing. Every foot I climbed took pure grit and muscle. Likewise, it made the drop back down much more terrifying and faster. I’d watch these 7-year-old kids glide to the top, ring the bell, let go, and enjoy their joy ride to the bottom. I would get to the top, lunge for the bell, let go, and crash back to the padded ground thirty feet below.

Elizabeth courageously reaches the top of an advanced rock wall.

Elizabeth courageously reaches the top of an advanced rock wall.

Thirdly, the heavier a person is, the more painful the harnesses that strap around your crotch/groin area are, obviously due to the laws of physics, with excessive weight pulling downward into these nylon straps. Not only that, but the harness creates this awkward triangular bulge right in the male genital area, making grown men look all the more perverted playing in a rock area occupied mostly by little kids.

It was a disaster right from the start.  It was taking a toll on my fingertips and forearms to support my weight. I was hunched over trying to get my breath back after falling from two feet off the ground. And once I did get higher up, it was very scary surging down. On my second climb on one of the beginner rocks, I was careening down and got wildly off-course, spinning around aimlessly, and my foot kicked a young boy in the back of the head/neck/back area somewhere. I was yelling “watch out!” as I came down errantly but it was to no avail. The kid shrieked and began bawling and ran to his mom. “Mommy, that man kicked my head!” he wailed, pointing at me.

In the end I made it to the top of three beginner rocks. There was also a smaller rock area for training purposes with large padded matts below. I could essentially reach the top ledge from the ground, so I stood there and happily completed several obstacles without leaving the ground. In the end I was exhausted. It was frightening. I felt like a jerk kicking little kids. It was not much fun for me. But it was a new experience, and I can check that off my non-existent list of activities to try.