The Phone Call

My nerves are already shot after the deer incident. I wasn't ready for "The Phone Call".

I'd been at work for yet another 12-hour day...and no, this blog is not my job. I had just arrived home, preparing to go to the health club where I've been a member for a whole 3 days. So I have to FORCE myself to get ready, leave the house, try and find parking, walk inside, stare at the guy with biceps taller than I am, and flash my membership card at him which entitles me to abuse my body with these big metal contraptions - called Nautilus - named after a large metal submarine piloted by a maniac named Nemo - devices created to torture my geek-physique and generate revenue for the health club.

Needless to say I was not in a hurry.

Then the phone rang.

Under normal circumstances, this would be one of those "saved-by-the-bell" phone calls. "Whew, now I don't have to go to the health club" is what I was thinking - at first.

It was my father, who calls often to ask questions related to his agonizingly resistant attitudes about computers - and change. "This will be at least 2 hours", I thought.

He's always asking me how to do something with his PC, and I'm O.K. with that, but he's always limiting my ability to help him by putting conditions and restrictions on the questions. A typical computer-related conversation might start like this;

My Father will say, "I want to upgrade to Windows 2000, but I don't want to get rid of Windows 98 and I don't want to re-install any programs. How do I do that?" (kindly note the restrictions in the question.)

The short answer is, of course, "You don't." (the correct answer is "You can't.)

After 2 hours of arguing in this fashion the conversation de-evolves into something like the following exchange;

I'll agree to a point he's made, "Yes, the install CD does say you can upgrade when you put it in your PC," and then I'll point out, "It won't do it. I've tried it. Its not a valid upgrade path."

To which he'll retort "but it says it will."

To which I reply "It won't. Trust me. It'll just write over, not upgrade. Have you tried it?"

"No. But why would it say it will if it won't?"

This kind of argument gets nowhere fast. I have taken hours upon hours to explain that his PC with Windows 98, now 7 years old and infected with multiple viruses, needed to be wiped clean and all the software needed to be reloaded. The problem is, he's a software pirate and doesn't OWN 98% of the software on his PC, hence his reluctance to re-install ANYTHING. And, as an aside, this also contributes to his serious problem with computer viruses.

Well, my father started today's conversation off by saying, "Well...I installed Windows 2000 as an upgrade, and all my programs are there, but I can't start Windows 98 and none of the programs work."

Windows 2000 will install right over the top of Windows 98, so you have both on the computer AT THE SAME TIME. It leaves the old stuff there, and if there's room on the hard drive, it just installs right over it. Is it an "upgrade?" - NO. He just nuked his PC. At this point, an "I told you so" would be in order...but I'm a computer professional by trade, and I'm above that.

"I TOLD YOU THAT WOULD SCREW UP YOUR COMPUTER, DIDN'T I?!", I said rather aurhoritarianly. (not an "I told you so")

"Well, I can see all the programs, I just can't run any of them. Oh, and by the way, the paramedics took your mom to the emergency room..."

"WHAT!?!?! What Happened?" My voice was already loud, because my dad has trouble hearing. I yelled that question loud enough the neighbors heard me. Now I'm a bit P-O'd. Why in the WORLD did he not mention mom's ambulance ride FIRST?

"Your mom is OK, but she passed out this morning while in the bathroom. I found her a few minutes later and called the paramedics."

It seems my mom, who has been treated for many years for HIGH blood pressure, was now suffering from LOW blood pressure, and blacked out in one of the two most embarrassing scenarios you might imagine. I won't go into details...enough said?

She is hurt, from a short fall from where she was sitting to where she hit the floor. But the blood pressure being low may be a good thing. She may actually be able to get off the blood pressure medication altogether. Her diet - she's lost 100+ pounds in a year - and her exercise - walking at least a mile every day - appears to have paid off, albeit with a rather unwanted result.

Her bruises will heal, but for now mom is in bed on some mild pain medication for some discomfort in her back. She'll recover.

I'm not sure I will. I'm ticked at my dad. Don't get me wrong, I love my dad. He can be extremely stubborn and short-sighted at times like this, forgetting that maybe I'd want to know about mom BEFORE we started arguing about the stupid computer.

I suppose I should be used to my dad's weird prioritizing and continual arguing by now. The real problem is that he lives with my mom in another state - far away from me and my family. That makes for a helpless feeling when something like this happens. They're too far away to reach by car in one day, and there aren't any airports within a day's drive of their home either. So even if this had been a "get here, we need you" phone call today, I couldn't be there until tomorrow night, to help with mom or fix the freakin' computer...again.

What does this have to do with baby wipes, you ask? I needed something to clean my glasses after I calmed down. I had fogged them up, but I'm not sure if it was the argument, or the discovery that mom was in the E.R. today. The wipes were in a pop-up container next to the phone.


The Morning After...

If you read my previous entry, you'll note that I mentioned hitting an unfortunate deer at a high rate of speed. It was late at night, and the full demonstration of physics was not obvious until the light of day. I mean, who knew that a stationary deer could damage a big, heavy pickup truck to the extent pictured here? "You were very lucky", I've been told. Funny, but I really don't feel "lucky".

The deer was large, but was crouched, preparing to jump again, and was struck while in a low prone position. Most of him went under the car instead of over it. Had he gone over the hood and into the windshield, this story would've been VERY different. That's the "lucky" part.

I still have the memory of deer parts flying, and using up all the washer fluid to regain visibility after the imapct.

We have a rental car for now. Rental agencies don't seem to take things like car booster seats into consideration when you tell the agent over the phone, "I have a child car seat. We'll need a car that we can install one into." When we arrived, the agent looked young enough to still need a booster seat to drive himself. Three cars, and three failed attempts to mount the child car seat, and we were stuck with the last thing with wheels on the lot; a red subcompact that smells like a fraternity house after rush week.

The insurance company is already playing hard-ball, insisting that a claims adjuster from about 120 miles away travel here and inspect the car, which won't happen for a few days now. We've turned the car over to the auto body repair center, so there can't be any doubt that this damage was done when and where we say it was. The Highway Patrol report won't be available to corroborate our account of the collision for two weeks. Words like "total loss" have already been used in conversation with the claims representative, even though the car is still driveable (not safely, but there's no frame damage and the radiator is intact). I can only figure that they're going to 'total' it and try to pay as little as possible, rather than pay to repair it. Stay Tuned.

Alas, there is nothing left of the deer, except a rather nasty stain in the roadway...and a memory of a flash in time lasting less than a second...and some regret. But I'm "lucky".


Lessons of Life, Taught by a Deer

There are some things you would prefer that your child NOT learn about in an unforseen, unexpected, uncontrolled blur of an instant. Death is one of those things, better saved for a day when long, provocative talks with you child can be understood, accepted, and rudely brushed off, as in "dad, I already know all that stuff. Can I play my nintendo now?".

Unavoidable as it is for all of us, death still keeps kids from enjoying childhood. They can become obsessed (or maybe even intrigued or fascinated) with the fear of death. I don't even want to get into the whole Teri Schiavo thing.

We know of a child, who is nine years old, and has so many fears and phobias, he's on antipsychotic medicines, and has to be excused from classes at school to eat his lunch 5 minutes early, so he doesn't have to interact with the other kids. He's afraid that their germs will kill him. His fears are so pronounced that he weighs only 40 pounds. Nausea from his fear keeps him from eating. He doesn't want ot go to amusement parks; Disneyland terrifies him. That to my mind is a truly sad thing. The joys of childhood have been replaced with adult-like fears. A young life is supposed to be special and carefree, not so filled with dread that you can't have fun...or friends...or even food.

I just learned of this poor boy's plight this evening. A close friend confided in my wife and talked about her son's difficulties with the fear of death. My wife was retelling the whole account of this poor boy to me in the car when, suddenly, we were faced with death up-close and personal.

That's when the deer hit the windshield.

I was driving. It was dark, and the deer had just jumped into the fast lane on the highway. There was no way to avoid a collsion with the animal at freeway-speed...the deer was going to die and it would be my fault and there wasn't anything I could do to stop it. Any attempt to swerve, change lanes or stop would've caused a more serious accident involving other cars, possibly endangering my wife and son, who were with me in the car. It was my ultimate responsibility to protect them, as the driver and the dad. The deer would lose this moral conundrum.

Its amazing how quickly you can sum up your options at a time of crisis. I was able to determine (a) there were no options; to my left was a guardrail, to the right was another car -- there would be a collision, (b) I needed to put both hands on the wheel and brace for impact, (c) I needed to get to the side of the road NOW, (d) I needed to make sure no one else made any erratic movements on the highway to cause a pile-up, (e) that my wife needed to call the Highway Patrol immediately to report the colliison and remove what was left of the deer from the road so no more injuries or damage occurred. Total elapsed time: Less time than it took my wife to scream, and I'm pretty sure I only blinked once.

I thought briefly about the poor animal, while waiting at the roadside for the Highway Patrol officer. I thought that it was better that I hit the deer square-on and got it over with quickly. Better that the deer die without having time to react or feel pain. Better than making some rash move and flipping the car at 65 miles-per-hour, with family in-tow.

Then, my son, whom I love and hope to raise with compassion and caring, who witnessed the gore firsthand said "wow, dad, is there blood on the tires? I wanna see it." The follow-up was "is the deer dead, or did he just explode? Is his head under the car? Can I keep it?"

I think I was more shocked by my boy's reaction to whole grotesque episode than I was to killing that innocent creature. And believe me, the deer blood-on-my-hands thing messed with my head for a bit. Please pardon the vague Macbeth reference.

It seems, however, despite no conversations from me on the subject prior to the impact, that my son has a pretty advanced grasp of death. In fact, it had been my intention to have "the talk" about death, about our beliefs in the afterlife, and the whole life-death-cycle sometime well into the future when most psychologists, our pastor, and just about every other parent I've ever talked to on the topic, seem to think would be more appropriate. I remember being freaked out by the "...if I should die before I wake" part of the prayer I recited as a child just before bedtime.

"I'll wait until the time is right with my son", I thought. It seems that my son is better prepared than a casual observer (or me, or the pastor, or the child psychologists) would surmise.

"Educational benefits of preschool", I mused under my breath. That's gotta be where he picked this up. Along with about 5 of the seven words you can't say on (non-cable) TV.


Use #13: Hand Sanitizer (or anything ELSE sanitizer).

It should be painfully obvious, after opening a container full of fresh baby wipes which have been sitting in the car for an hour or so, that there’s enough alcohol in those things to kill just about any bacillus or virus attempting to transpirate nearby. The impact of the odor from the baby wipe container can be startling to say the least, and when it hits you square in the face, your eyes do a little sideways dance as you begin to contemplate where to fall when you lose consciousness.

For starters, it is best to keep the wipes tightly sealed at all times, to preserve the alcohol, to preserve the moisture in the pre-moistened wipes, and to preserve your sense of smell. Secondly, open the container AWAY from you, as you would a recently shaken soda can.

There are containers available to carry wipes with you, and the makers of baby wipes often bundle their products with freebie versions of portable wipe carriers. WARNING: they do the job for the diaper bag, but they do not seal well, hence my diatribe at the beginning of this blog entry. So carry the carrying case with wipes in a carrying bag that seals tightly. Or, do as we do and scrap the cheapie carry case for a simple zip-lock-type bag. It does the trick just fine, thank you. And it saves room in the diaper bag for other essentials, such as the MP3 player and the portable gaming console.

The hand sanitize part of this entry should be self-evident; wipe your hands with one and you’re done. This would’ve been a boring entry if I just told you about the sanitize part, now wouldn’t it? The objective here is to educate new or soon-to-be parents on the hazards of parenthood that may jeopardize safety. When I opened the car after our first road trip with my son and his support apparatus in tow, I was totally unprepared for the shock to my system I would receive from CLEAN baby wipes de-gassing in the diaper bag in the back seat. I don’t even want to consider what dirty ones would be like in a hot car…not going there…too…scared…


Got Any Ideas?

Now that I have an official domain, "101 Uses for Baby Wipes dot com", I can now accept suggestions, ideas, criticism (I'm a big boy, I can take it) and editorial comments via the following e-mail address (the syntax is off a bit, to avoid spam);

submit (at) 101usesforbabywipes (dot)(com)

Replace the (at) with @, the (dot) with . and the (com) - well, you get the idea.

Use #12. Vomit cleaner-upper

For parents, especially inept, inexperienced dads such as myself, it is important to watch the visual cues that can indicate the onslaught of trouble...in this case, car-sickness. I lacked such skills, but I am very glad that I had the necessary tools at-hand to protect my car's resale value.

First, the visual cues: There weren't any -- that was the visual cue. My son was far too quiet and removed from his surroundings. He was merely looking out the windows. That's what I'd be doing if I weren't driving. I saw nothing unusual in my rear-view mirror to suggest trouble. But he was also too passive, not playing with anything in the back seat. He has toys to play with of course, but there are greater thrills to be had when you're 4 and in the back seat of daddy's car. Kicking the center console comes to mind immediately. None of this was happening...I should've noticed something was amiss. I was enjoying the drive far too much - that in itself should've tipped me off. It was too quiet to be normal.

Second, the response: My son had eaten a normal amount of food prior to our little roadtrip through Yosemite. (As an aside, I humbly believe that Yosemite is some of God's best work, and I wasn't going to let a bit of vomit - well, quite a bit of vomit - from spoiling our trip through the spleandor of this place). So, before we even started on the trip, I told myself the old Boy Scout motto, over and over, and planned for emergencies such as this one. I had plastic bags on-hand, and plenty of baby wipes. What I didn't have was a wide spot on this windy stretch of 2-lane road to pull over!

5 minutes of searching, and we found a 'scenic overlook', complete with the necessary items for the response...trash cans. The baby wipes did an amazing job cleaning up the mess on kid, child safety seat (or car seat) and car upholstery. It was a warm day, so we pulled the car seat out to sit in the abundant sunshine and let natural sunlight do its thing to dry and de-odorize it.

It's all good, I thought. 15 minutes of delay was OK. Our sightseeing schedule won't be significantly impacted. My son looked a bit pale, I thought, but I'd expect that after what he'd been through. A few minutes in the fresh mountain air and my son looked fully re-charged and ready for anything (wrong assumption #1) so we piled back in the car, strapped in the car seat, then the kid, and off we went, figuring we'd just pull over again if he got sick again (wrong assumption #2). Besides, I thought, surely he was empty already (wrong assumption #3).

About a mile from the scenic overlook, it happened again, with more mass and force than I could have imagined. My little boy even managed to clip the back of my head with the remains of his breakfast. But alas, we're now stuck in a juggernaught of RV's and motorhomes making their way - as tourists do - at a snail's pace down the windy road. The words "Cruise America" are now ingrained in my memory, plastered in bright red in letter 6-feet high on the back of the motorhome we would follow for the next 40 minutes.

Slowness was not good. I could hear my kid's innards gurgling from the driver's seat. There was no car noise - we were hardly moving - but there was no place in sight to pull over. My wife, nimble woman that she is, managed to clean the mess from the front seat, and in her foresight had given the boy a plastic bag to wretch into if the need arose. Turns out most of the discharge made it into the bag, and I merely caught some rebound from the force of the moment. So, once again, baby wipes saved the day.

A bit of advice: If this happens to you, do yourself a big favor and check EVERYWHERE for stray bits of bile. On a hot day, like the day we drove through Yosemite, temperatures in the car can get hot enough to cause the stuff to ferment and really stink up the place. BE THOROUGH - clean everywhere, especially the crease between the seat and the seat back.
Cost: $0 - had the wipes already, had the plastic bags from a spree at Wal-Mart.
Savings: $300 or more, depending on what your car's upholstery costs to clean.

Its Official!

It is now official...http:\\www.101usesforbabywipes.com is officially MINE!

Of course, it points right HERE right now, but its still MINE!

Its just a piece of code in a server on the internet, but its MINE!

I feel like I just bought a condo. I don't really OWN anythning, except for a claim to use the domain. When you buy a condo, you don't OWN the condo, just the airspace that the condo contains. You might own a percentage of the total complex...i.e. if there are 100 units in your condominium complex, and you own one unit in that complex, you may own one percent of the whole complex, and a claim to the air space enclosed by your unit. That 'ownership' depends on the conditions in the sale contract...buyer BEWARE! So by OWNing my domain, I own a teeny tiny piece of the internet.

A friend of mine owned a condo that burned to the ground. Problem is, he didn't own any percentage of the complex, just the airspace. He lived on the second floor, so when the condo burned down, his "property" was a block of air suspended 20 feet off the ground! The complex was never rebuilt, so he has no way to get to his "property" without a really big ladder.

I feel like I bought that air...I own 'something', its just not tangible, touchable, or, frankly, valuable...but its MINE!

Use #11. Makeup Remover.

Admittedly, this is not one of the uses I have personally tried. This one was phoned in, and comes from Laura, in suburban Boston. Apparently, baby wipes are quite useful for the task of removing makeup, and leave a fresh, clean, exfoliated face behind (or so I'm told).

There is just enough texture in the wipe to clean pores effectively, and at the same time enough moisture to break up dried-on makeup. Frankly, with all the exotic biochemicals found in makeup these days, I'd be afraid of spontaneous combustion right under my nose, a sort of chemical reaction with the alcohol in the wipes and the stuff in that bottle of flesh-colored paint. I mean, if they have to test the stuff on animals first, do you think its safe for people on a long-term basis?

I don't wear makeup myself, being a 40-something guy with enough self-esteem and decades of ingrained thinking that "makeup is for women only". I know men wear the stuff now, too. I've seen it on them at work, in public, and frankly it creeps me out just a tad.

I find it amusing, though, when I see guys with makeup chatting with girls with makeup, say, in a restaurant, and they're on a first date -- you can tell its a first date by the discussion topics and the body language -- and they both state that they want a relationship that's REAL...
Cost: $0 to remove makeup. Relationship Therapy is extra.

Technical Difficulties Resolved.

I have resigned myself to simply re-enter the old blog info into a new one, rather than trying to get anyone in tech support to understand my plight.

You may've noticed that there haven't been any new postings here since 2004...that's a long time, isn't it? That's because shortly after I established my original blog back in 2004, the provider was absorbed in borg-like style, assimilated, consumed in-whole, by a larger fish in the blogging world. During this absorption / consumption process, my account information was digested and passed, leaving the new blog organism entirely, never to be found again.

In other words: I had a blog, but I could not log in to add, change, edit or otherwise manage it.

Since I blog for sport and not for profit, I was not terribly worried about the situation. I have a life, a job, a family and all the time-consuming activities that go along with being an active parent, so this little technical glitch was not a concern. I had other ways to use my time. I thought that I'd work the system, allow the tech support folks fix the problem. But in efficient, borg-like style, the automated responses to my e-mail pleas for help always started with "you must log in...".

I could see that tech support had missed the point entirely. If I could "log in" I would. But I can't. You deleted the friggin' login page I used to access my original blog! It doesn't exist anymore. Only the remnants of the original content (and an ad for a company that's out of business) remain.

Someday, I will organize the 1,718 automated responses I recieved from the original blog service...but for now, I will simply say "hi" and "its good to be back".