Wednesday, March 30, 2005


I've mentioned this before, but as a man with a technical background I find myself doing everyday things but thinking in a technical context. Efficiency is one of those things that comes to mind a lot. I've actually had college courses in efficiency. As an undergraduate I learned time-studies, where we would actually take a stopwatch to a machine-shop floor and record peoples' movements, looking for possible improvements. Ideal training, except that all the really cool sweatshops are in Southeast Asia or Central America. As a graduate student I'm learning about market efficiency and efficient portfolios. I flunked the mid-term, so I'm not learning all that much, but it's being taught nonetheless.

In my everyday life I occasionally think about efficiency in terms of stuff like what order in which I'm going to run my errands. I refuse to just get in the car and go to the closest place, or whichever one is first (alphabetical or otherwise) on my to-do list. I will stop and think about what I'm going to do (i.e. Will I have groceries that need to be refrigerated after that stop?) as well as what side of the street certain things are on and what route will take me to all of my stops with the least amount of backtracking in one direction or another. I guess it's part of my orderly existence.

But tying in with my last few entries about germs and messiness, I had Easter dinner with the family, including the sticky boys and the new baby. The new baby is doing fine, thanks for asking, but she didn't let me hold her. I guess I don't smell enough like mommy (actually a good thing) because as soon as my sister handed the baby to me she (the baby) started screaming and only stopped when I handed her back. It was at the dinner table that the concept of efficiency popped into my head though, watching the two boys cram food in the general direction of their faces.

I don't mean to brag, but I'm pretty good at eating. I haven't actually taken any measurements, but I figure I get better than 95% of the food into my mouth. Again not having taken actual measurements, I figure the older boy is at about 50% and the little one gets maybe 30% into his mouth. They're both good eaters in the sense that they aren't picky and they're always hungry, not unlike myself. I know you're thinking it's not fair to compare myself to a 4- and a 2-year-old, given that I have almost 30 more years of eating experience than they, but considering my ex-wife on a good day would get maybe 75% into her mouth it's not a foregone conclusion that experience equals efficiency. Those of you without kids or a messy eater in your life might be wondering what happens to the other 5-70% of the food? Clothes are largely the victim of the experienced, yet inefficient eater. Hair seems to run a close second there. For the inexperienced eater, add hands, face, nostrils, ears, and often the back of the neck to the list of things needing to be cleaned after a meal, not to mention floors, walls, and ceiling. The interesting thing though, is that despite the inefficiency of consumption that the boys exhibit, they're still growing. Logically I would have thought it made more sense for people to start out as highly efficient eating machines, when the body needs fuel to grow, with efficiency tapering off once we stop growing. I would expect to see a lot more 30-somethings with food all over themselves, not just my ex-wife.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


I totally left out the part yesterday that had me thinking about phobias and specifically misophobia. Quick background for the foreigner(s) about owning and operating a car in the States: First, obviously, a driver's license - a meaningless slip of laminated paper most often used as identification for buying alcoholic drinks. Second, your vehicle must be registered and inspected yearly. Registration is basically the yearly payment of license plates while inspection is your standard safety equipment check and, depending on the part of the country, emissions testing. Virtually every inspector (at least in these parts) is an easily bribable gas station attendant, and you didn't hear that from me. We may not actually be concerned about the environment, but it's the thought that counts. Finally, proof of minimum liability insurance is legally required, but if you get in an accident you will undoubtedly get hit by someone without insurance. There should be some sort of statistical equation that governs that, but the reality is that you're the only one on the road with insurance.

So Thursday, on my way to the hospital to see the new baby, I decide to go ahead and get my car inspected since it expired in January. I pull into the service station and am told by Kazim, the attendant, that he needs another 15 minutes with the car ahead of me, so I wait. The guy finishes up with the previous car, which wasn't an inspection but a tire rotation (yes, it took him 15 minutes to rotate the tires...don't ask) so he comes to get my keys. While he waits for his buddy to tighten the last of the lug nuts on the beater ahead of me, Kazim puts my keys in his mouth. Not all the way in his mouth, mind you, but enough that my eyes do that thing where they bug out of the sockets and my skin literally crawls. Perhaps he senses my discomfort (or hears my whimpering cries) so he takes my keyring out of his mouth. As the other attendant working hops into the other car to pull it out of the stall, Kazim scratches himself with my keys. Granted, he was scratching at his temple, but whatever it was that made him itch is now most assuredly all over my keys. At this point I'm on the ground, fetal, swallowing my tongue.

The rest of the inspection was uneventful, with the unavoidable exception of itchy Kazim getting in and out of my car. Upon returning home, no lie, I boiled my keys for 10 solid minutes.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


I think I'm becoming a germophobe. I've noticed over the last few years that I've grown slightly more compulsive about washing my hands, and the sticky nephews have certainly accelerated that. I recently saw The Aviator and I'm happy to report that I'm not quite that bad. In fact, I don't necessarily need soap when I'm just rinsing off, but I frequently get up to just rinse my hands under running water. And yes, I do wash (with soap) everytime I make potty.

Anyhow, germophobe isn't the right word, so I went looking and quickly found Phobialist. This is my new favorite website. Let's go down the list and pick out a few:
-Misophobia: Fear of being contaminated with germs
-Spermatophobia: Fear of germs
-Verminophobia: Fear of germs

Those are obvious. How about some not so obvious:
Acarophobia, amychophobia, automysophobia, aphenphosmphobia/haphephobia/chiraptophobia, bacillophobia/bacteriophobia, blennophobia/myxophobia, molysomophobia, panthophobia, parasitophobia, pathophobia, and pediculophobia/phthiriophobia.

And that's just the ones relating to germs. If we're going to include my "quirks" we could add asymmetriphobia, ataxophobia, athazagoraphobia, coulrophobia, pnigophobia, and taphephobia. There are others, but you don't need to know about that...


Thursday, March 24, 2005

A niece

The newest member of my sister's family arrived shortly after 10am today. Don't ask me how many pounds/ounces or how many inches she is. HellifIknow. Hard to say which side of the family she resembles at this point. I think she looks like the Pope.She's a sweet little jelly bean with the requisite 10 fingers and toes. She's also got 2 big brothers who are going to punish the hell out of her until she can defend herself.

Good luck kid.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Fine, fine- My apologies to all the cat people whom I offended by pointing out that cats are stupid. Whether I'm right or you're wrong, I promise I'll keep that tidbit to myself next time.

Next, kudos to Tuesday's "Blogger of the Day" - Tasty Stacey. She never fails to find the hidden little joke, whenever I'm clever enough to hide one. Not today, however. Or did I? *evil laugh* What does Stacey win for being BotD? For the remainder of Tuesday I've changed the name of this blog to "as told to Tasty".

Several of you asked if "destroy the village and obliterate the crops" from yesterday's entry was a euphemism for something. No, I'm sorry, it's not. It's just me stomping around on my deck making a growling sound and batting at the shrubberies in slow motion. Next thing you know the neighbor's dog is barking up a storm and I retreat back into the house. (Ok, nobody asked, but I would have kept it anonymous if you had.)

My sister is scheduled to be induced into labor tomorrow evening. They're expecting it to be a baby girl, but I still think it'll be another sticky boy. I've seen what the first two look like, and there's no reason to believe that this one will be any better, but I know some people think all babies are cute. Any consensus whether I should take some pictures to post next week? (Seriously, day one babies rank just below dead rat-bird offerings on the cuteness scale. But I never said this wasn't a horror-blog.)

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Offering

I walked out onto my deck the other morning, something which I don't normally do. First of all, I'm not normally awake in what most people consider "the morning." And then there's my deck, which isn't all that conveniently situated in relation to the logical ingress and egress from my home. Nevertheless, I was on my deck and it was morning. (Look at that, 46 words to say the same thing twice and 18 more to point that out.) Near my front door I discovered something that owners of outdoor cats are well familiar with, the offering.

I'm neither a cat owner, nor a cat person really, but my forays into the world of women have introduced me to this strange phenomenon so I recognized it as such. For those dog-people reading who aren't aware, the offering is a sample of the outdoor cat's fresh kill delivered to your doorstep like a bizarre Hickory Farms package delivered by feline FedEx, only you don't have to sign for it. Often, I'm told, the indoor-outdoor cat will bring the offering into the house to present it to the upright hairless God that provides said cat with treats with names like "Pounce" or "Aquari-Yums". Despite attempts to discourage such behavior, cats will continue to produce the offering from time to time because they are stupid.

The cat(s) that left the offering obviously aren't mine otherwise they would know my comings and goings. However, their stupidity caused them to leave it on my front doorstep instead of near the garage where I would have found it sooner. The morsels (yes, ploural) that were left on my doorstep had been there a few days, but for your sake I won't elaborate on how my forensic skills led me to that conclusion. I do believe, however, that if my doorbell were a few feet lower or perhaps closer to the railing, the cat(s) might have made an attempt to notify me of the presence of the offering. According to National Geographic, we see that in primitive tribes as well- An offering is made, followed by ceremonial horns, bells, or drums to awaken the God(s). (To my knowledge, ceremonial bass guitars are rarely used, perhaps due to the scarcity of extension cords long enough to reach deep into the jungle.) Now all of this is well and good, you might say. Or, like me, you might say this is sick and bad. However, with no one else in the vicinity you'd be talking to yourself again and, although your therapist wants you to quit internalizing everything, talking aloud to yourself is generally considered bad form. I decided to fulfill my role as upright hairless God and closely inspect the offering before deciding whether or not to destroy the village and obliterate the crops. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that the offering was the disembodied head of a rat and the disemheaded body of a baby bird. This did not please me, so I destroyed the village and obliterated the crops after scooping up the offering and double-bagging it into the trash, just as Kong would have done were Jessica Lange not such a tasty morsel herself.

It was later suggested by a friend that perhaps the offering wasn't designed to curry favor but to implore my assistance. Perhaps the cat(s) didn't mean to kill their woodland friends and, after seeing me fix the rusted-out lock on the fence, thought I could reassemble the bits. Cats are just stupid enough to believe that.

Sorry, I didn't take pictures.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


I'm pretty tired, so I'll just post a quickie- another snippet from my favorite book, Providence of a Sparrow:
Christmas Eve in less than two weeks. I'll sit with B in the early evening, Handel's Messiah playing on KBPS. In keeping with a tradition said to have originated with King George II, I'll rise to my feet for the Hallelujah Chorus. I never hear this music without imagining the composer's ghost walking the streets of London searching out an orchestra to conduct. There could be fates worse than pursuing in death what we loved in life. A more appealing alternative than an eternity spent in conscious disconnection from the world, from even the underrated details of living that we dismiss as chores. Longing to pee, not because we must but because the ability to do so no longer exists.
Don't let that scare you off. The book is neither focused on the metaphysical or urination, but like all of us, the author's thoughts do drift there occasionally. I just really liked that turn of phrase, "fates worse than pursuing in death..."

I spent a few hours at the park with a good friend. Everyone wants to know, is she more than a good friend? Will she ever be more than a good friend? These are not easy questions to answer. Instead I'd ask you, what's wrong with good friends? As someone with few friends to begin with, a good friend is a cherished item indeed. A bit of my precious (a la Gollum) to horde and hide away perhaps. Well, not so much mine. Quite the contrast to the mediocre friends populating most of the rest of my address book. Granted, they're still friends which isn't nothing, but few guys would hold hands and stroll through the park with me, let alone coo over the baby ducks. (Pictures of said baby ducks can be found here, in the "Hermann Park" album- the last 4 pictures.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Your words, not mine

Why am I soft in the middle? The rest of my life is so hard. I need a photo-opportunity. I want a shot at redemption. I don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard. There are millions of people in worlds of their own. And two of them can't let go. If you search for tenderness, it isn't hard to find. You can have the love you need to live. But if you look for truthfulness, you might just as well be blind. It always seems to be so hard to give. They like to get you in a compromising position. They like to get you there and smile in your face. They think they're so cute when they've got you in that condition. Well I think it's a total disgrace. Don't think me unkind, words are hard to find. They're only checks I've left unsigned, from the banks of chaos in my mind. I feel like I'm pounding on a big door, no one can hear me knocking. I feel like I'm falling flat to the floor, no one can catch me from falling. My life is a house, you crawl through the window and slip across the floor and into the reception room. You enter the place of endless persuasion like a knock on the door when there's ten or more things to do. Who's going to tell you when it's too late? Who's going to tell you things aren't so great? You can't go on thinking nothing's wrong. It's a sunny day in sunny California. That old sun is shining on me right here at home. It's one of those days when those great ideas they just seem to fall out on you, and they always fall the greatest when you're falling all alone. This is the room where I sat and waited until the morning. Watching the door you slammed so hard it broke the windows. Love can be a many splendored thing, can't deny the joy it brings. A dozen roses, diamond rings, dreams for sale and fairy tales. You don't need it every day, but sometimes don't you just crave to disappear within your mind. You never know what you might find. Took a midnight train headed way back east. Left behind some pain in hopes of finding some peace. I fortunately caught one bound for my old neighborhood. Either way, between us, it's good. Oh what a lovely day to have a slice of humble pie, recalling of the while we used to drive and drive. Here and there going nowhere but for us, nowhere but the two of us. Now I can remember like it was only yesterday. Love was young and foolish like a little child at play. But oh how lovers change -- I never dreamed how easily, 'cause now I'm just a shadow of the boy I used to be. I was feeling cold and tired, yeah, kinda sad and uninspired. And when it almost seemed too much I see your face and sense the grace and feel the magic in your touch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Life imitates art

I previously mentioned life imitating art when I remarked that my sitemeter stats had yet to record anyone searching for something sexual and finding me. That has since been remedied (Shout out to all you freaky Pakistanis) though the majority of searches remain along the lines of "Another word for kneecap". Such is my lot in life. A friend of mine used to joke that he wasn't hetero-, homo-, or even bi-sexual. He said he was just asexual. To which I would reply, "You're not a sexual anything." This time however, life imitating art refers to the equivalent of actual hate mail. Yesterday's entry about hate mail was obviously just a joke. One or two of you get a little over-excited if I don't write something regularly, but I know it's because you want me to write more, not less. I had to fight with two different people today, and all evidence to the contrary, I'm a lover not a fighter.

The first fight was with my sister who called to complain that we stayed at the livestock show longer than she thought we would. My sister is overwhelmed by her two boys and her current pregnancy. My take is, if you can't handle the two you've got, why are you making more of them? But in general I keep that opinion to myself. She is all too happy to have other people take her boys for the afternoon and my mother happily obliges. In fact, my sister would be screwed if my mother wasn't there to bail her out. Well, we weren't gone that much longer than planned but my sister got worried when nobody returned when she thought. When she finally called me, about an hour after I got home, she told me how worried she had been. I said something about not being all that late and nobody thought she'd be worried because she's usually trying to get rid of the boys. She let me have it for that, and went so far as to criticize me for not calling her on other occasions to volunteer to take care of her boys. In case you missed the significance of that, I'm the asshole for not taking care of her responsibilities. I let it go, since there's no arguing with a pregnant woman and if I aggravate the situation she'll just call our Dad and have him chew me out.

The second fight was with my best friend, with whom I hadn't talked in almost a week. She's been a little snippy about that since we usually talk every day, but she's been too busy with her own life once or twice to stop and talk to me. It happens, it's not personal. I was telling her what's been going on lately when she cut me off to insult me. I was in the middle of my story, building up to the really good part, but she'd already decided how it was going to turn out so she passed judgement. Yes, I too thought she might be kidding and asked her to explain, but no. That's where I hung up.

I don't need this kind of shit from my best friend or my family. I don't know any of my regular commenters and I wouldn't recognize you if I passed you on the street. You're better people than those who do know me. How sad is it that my pretend life really is better than my real life?

[Comments disabled - please don't comment about this on any other entry.]

Monday, March 14, 2005

Hate Mail

It seems I'm not immune to the hate mail that's been going around. I promise they won't chase me away, but so that you know what I'm dealing with, here's a sample of the hate mail I've been getting:
Dear Tinyhands,
I hate you. When are you going to blog again?
(Name Withheld)

Dear Tinyhands,
I hate you. Please write about what you did last weekend.
(Name Withheld)

Dear Tinyhands,
I hate you. Your father and I are going to see your
grandmother. Please check on the dog.
(Name Withheld)

Dear Tinyhands,
I hate you. Please send me some more mp3s.
(Name Withheld)

So as you can see, all is not well but I think I'm handling it. To relieve some of the stress I went to pet a goat today. (No, that's not a euphemism sicko.) I took my nephews to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo today, though we skipped the rodeo because that costs extra and my nephews would never know the difference anyway. Recall, my nephews are almost 4 and almost 2. Highlight of the day was the petting zoo where we saw goats, sheep, deer, pigs, ducks, chickens, wallabies (don't ask me), bunnies, and a llama. Also high on list of favorites were the pony rides, the milking demonstration, corndogs, and climbing all over the tractors. High on my list of favorites were all the bowlegged women in tight Wranglers.

A word of advice for the neatfreaks- Avoid the livestock show. Sure there's the abundance of poops and droppings, but I really think I may be sliding off the deep end into the realm of obsessive-compulsive handwashing. The livestock show really creeped me out. I loved watching the nephews both get really excited about every little thing but they are clearly not my sons because it only takes about 5 seconds for them to go from petting a goat to the hands back in the mouth (also not a euphemism, sicko). I still shudder to think about it. My kids are going to be bubble children.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Love in the Business School

She was in accounting. He was in finance. She was looking for a White Knight, but he was a bit of an odd lot. As he passed her in the hallway he exercised his lookback option. She was looking too. Despite the GAAP between them there was accrued interest. With great anticipation he wrote her a note. It was boilerplate mostly, since he wasn't much of a writer. Was she callable? Was she a book entry and what was her ask price? That was a standard error, and she recognized him as common stock, but it was a tender offer so she agreed to go out with him. She still had reserve and was factoring all of his liabilities. She told him that because of his maturity, her expected return was well before midnight. He took her at face value and made allowance for this shortened duration.

They never should have told their friends. Hers thought it was an adverse selection, that he had no real assets, that there was no chance for partnership, and that they wouldn't date him for any dirty price. His friends just wanted to know if she had any standard deviation, if there was a naked option, and if she would straddle him in a horizontal merger. He didn't think one date would warrant that kind of talk, no matter how he played his CARDs. After all, she was the controller and the preferred stock. His friends were just WACC. After a haircut, he set out to pick her up.

He straightened his collar, which looked like he had used a coupon at Goodwill. Although his CAR was a convertible she finally realized that they had no future together. As he fumbled with a CD, she began to think this date would last in perpetuity. This date had no salvage value and even a blind man could see the validity in her position. She gave him credit for trying but she just couldn't appreciate his present value. As she lept from the car she lost her balance and fell flat on her back-end load.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

My interview

Truthfully, I wasn't going to write anything today. Some of you expected to hear about my weekend, my day, or my grocery shopping for foods that start with the letter N. Unfortunately I had an exceptionally bad day today, and since none of you have paid your subscription dues to this blog in a really long time (seriously, the fines are racking up people) I feel no obligation to write.

Nevertheless, Badaunt (who will forever be Theic to me and no, I won't explain) ensnared me in a blog-interview and I figure I can crank this out pretty quickly and wipe this day off the books. Apparently the rule is that the first 5 people to comment on this get interviewed by me, and so on. Therefore, if you don't want me asking you questions (and I intend to make them quite personal), keep your yap shut.

1. The phone rings. You answer it. Someone says, "Remember me?" Who is it?
It's my mother. I could tell my mother's voice apart in a stadium of 75,000 rowdy fans and yet, as I imagine your mother does too, she announces who it is whenever she calls. Nevermind the caller-ID. She does, in fact, ask "Remember me?" because it's been all of a week since we last spoke. No, not who I was hoping for either.

2. You did it! Nobody thought you would, but you did! What did you do?
Good question. My dad would likely say "get a job." My mom would likely say "remarry and have lots of babies." My sister would likely say "go to church." They'd all be wrong, since it's not all that farfetched that I'd do any of the above. Similarly, I'd like to say that I'd get my pilot's license, move to a foreign country, or make a million dollars but those aren't all that outrageous either and probably wouldn't surprise everyone. Realistically, the thing I'm least likely to ever do is participate in a triathlon or similar event requiring physical exertion. It would shock the hell out of me too.

3. What was your greatest fear when you were 10(ish)?
I've always had a fear of abandonment. At age 10(ish) I went shopping with my parents and grandparents to the largest mall in Houston which is my 'regular' mall now and naturally isn't that big and scary anymore, but it was a big deal back then for all of us being from the suburbs. At some point I either wandered off or missed them wandering off so I was alone in the big city. I panicked, ran out of the store, ran back into the store, screamed bloody murder, only to see my grandpa in the window of the adjacent store watching me and laughing.

4. What's the meanest trick you've ever played on anybody?
I'm the reason high school boys shouldn't be allowed to drive a car, any car. My parents provided me with my own transportation starting somewhere around age 16.5 and I drove as fast and recklessly as is possible to do without loss of life. I say that, only to preface the meanest trick- while driving with my then-girlfriend I once shouted "A deer!" and then slammed on the brakes. Why I did this isn't real clear, especially since the result of her not being properly buckled-in was that she hit her head on the dashboard with an audible thump. Not hard, mind you, especially since the car was an enormous Detroit gas-guzzler with a huge padded dash. Still, I laughed, and it was quite mean. No, she wasn't hurt, just stunned.

5. What's the last thing that made you laugh unexpectedly and loudly and without restraint?
Unexpectedly, loudly, and without restraint? If you're going to pin it down that tightly I might not be able to remember a time when I did so. Sure, I've laughed recently, such as at a television programme on Cartoon Network or at some of the blogs I read online. I had a couple good chuckles recently enjoying the day/evening with a good friend. But unexpectedly, loudly, and without restraint? I'm afraid it's been a really long time. I'm sure I'm overdue.

Monday, March 07, 2005

March Market Madness

I went grocery shopping yesterday. I bought Milanos, Mochi, Malomars, M & Ms, Milky Way Dark, Moon Pies, malted milk balls, marmalade, marzipan, mousse, muscadine jam, marshmallows, and mini-muffins.

I also picked up mangoes, melon, macintosh apples, maize, mandarin oranges, mint leaves, mushrooms, macadamia nuts, mixed nuts, and maraschino cherries.

I needed more merlot, marsala, madeira, malaga, muscatel, malt liquor, mescal, mimosas, milk, mineral water, mochachino, moonshine, and Moxie.

Rather than make another trip when I run out, I stocked up on melba toast, macaroni, margerine, maple syrup, macadamia oil, matzos, mesquite chips, mincemeat, miso paste, molé, mustard, mozzarella, and mortadella.

Finally, I got a little mackerel, marble rye, meatballs, Mongolian beef, monkfish, muligatawny, mutton, and mussels.

I feel like I forgot something though...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I Could

I could ask them to play your favorite song.
I could quote the lyrics.
I could scream at the top of my lungs.
I could write my own poem.
I could pound on the keys.
I could race over there to see you.
I could gather you in my arms.
I could balance your checkbook.
I could sway gently in the breeze.
I could plant a flower garden for you.
I could remember your birthday.
I could take your mind off of work when you come home.
I could explain to your mom that you're not here.
I could cook with a little less garlic.
I could tell you what a fool he was.
I could confess what a fool I was.
I could keep quiet during your favorite show.
I could request a quiet table in the back.
I could hold your hand when it hurts.
I could assure you that I don't mind.
I could show you off to my friends.
I could bring you to my favorite bench in the park.
I could be wasting my time wishing.
I could make you ring the bell a second time.
I could let you in.
I could go on and on.