Episode 119 For Saturday, December 24th, 2005

Its The Christmas Show!
News: Earbuds - Hip or Harmful, Got Allergies? Read The Label, FCC Delays on Kids TV Rules, Schools Turn Down The Heat, a VAWA Update, more...
Music: (available at music.podshow.com)
Peeper Radio Theatre, "12 Days of X-Mas"
Heth and Jed, "Christmas Sweeter Than Wine"
Chaz, "Gift of Love"
Candy Butchers, "Give Me a Second Chance For Christmas"
The Sippy Cups, "Jingle Bell Rock" (Babywipes Exclusive!)
Allison Crowe, "The First Noel"
- Toontest 12

Follow the link below to find the show. As always, you can subscribe at the Podsafe Music Network, in iTunes, Odeo, Podcast Alley, and wherever fine podcasts are sold.


Merry Christmas from The Daddycast!

Here's a little something for your iStockings...or iPods...or portable MP3 players...

Episode 118 For Sunday, December 18th, 2005

News: VAWA Passes Committee, Cable TV Gets Family Friendly, Parents TV Council Gets Cable Un-Friendly, Take Two Teaspoons And Call Me In The Morning, More Drivers On Cell Phones, FDA Sits on RotaVirus Sidelines, more...

Music: Gidgets Ga ga, "Christmas Wish",
Charlie Crowe, "Joy - Holiday-ish" (music.podshow.com)

- ToonTest 11
- Wipes Use 35

You'll find the show here...but please subscribe via iTunes, the Podsafe Music Network, Odeo, etc. etc. etc.

Thanks To Teri at Feminist4Fathers for her help with the news segment.

Props to Cat at the CatFishShow!


Primer on 'Leet Speak'

Here's a detailed explanation on the IM communication technique (and parental subterfuge) called LeetSpeak, also spelled l33tspe/\k, and 7eetsp34k. There's many other interesting forms, but I just can't think of all of 'em.

Microsoft's "A Parents Primer on Computer Slang" can be found HERE.

Watch what your kids are typing...this article can be your secret decoder ring, or maybe your Enigma machine.


Episode 117 For Sunday, December 11th, 2005

News- Violent Games Beget Violent Kids: Yet Another Study, Babies Having Strokes, Visions of iPods Dance in Their Heads, IM as Teen Literature, Internet Safety Training Coming to a School Near You, more...
Music- Beatrice Ericsson, "Christmas Without You", Chaz, "Gift Of Love", Candy Butchers, "Give Me A Second Chance For Christmas" (music.podshow.com)
- ToonTest 10
- Wipes Use 33
- More STUFF!

The show can be found under the mistletoe, but please subscribe...That's what I want for Christmas!


Episode 116 For Sunday, December 4th, 2005

News - Baby Making Backlash, Blog Your Way Out Of School, "Eat Me" Has A New Meaning in Video Games, Driving High, more...
Music - Candy Butchers, "Let's Have A Baby", Podsafe For Peace, "What If Every Day Were Christmas" (Podsafe Music Network)
- ToonTest 9
- Wipes Use 31
- More!

Please subscribe in Odeo, iTunes, or at the Podsafe Music Network. Yahoo! Podcasts is a good place to find the show, too. Or, you can click HERE and download the show the old fashioned way.

Please VOTE for the show at Podcast Alley! There's a link over on the right for your suffrage convenience Thanks!


Holiday Toy Guide

Here's a link to the holiday toy list mentioned in episode 115. Its an excerpt from a press release from KB Toys. It shows what the toy buyers expect will be the hot toys for the 2005 holiday season.

Happy Shopping!


Episode 115 For Friday, November 25th, 2005

Podcasting from the cab of my wife's pickup truck in Beautiful Yosemite Valley!

Headlines- Know What Your Kids Do On The 'Net - OR ELSE!, PETA Fishing For Attention With Dads As Bait, Fathers Help With Breast Feeding - No, Really!, Gravelle Updates, more...
- Toontest 8
- More Baby Wipes Uses

You'll find a direct link to the show file HERE... But please use the subscription features at music.podshow.com, iTunes, Odeo, or just about anywhere else in the pod-o-sphere! Happy Thanksgiving!


Episode 114 For Friday, November 18th, 2005

News - Lunchtime: Get The Lead Out, Parents Need To "Get Game", Sleep Your Way To School Success, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?", HelpNameOurBaby-dot-com Launch, more...
- Music - Transparent Tim, "SLM"
- ToonTest 7
- Interview: Teri Stoddard, author, Feminist4Fathers, SharedParentingWorks.org

You can find the show HERE...but please SUBSCRIBE so I can brag about how many listeners I have! Thanks!

Other Links Discussed in the podcast:

- Stop PAS
- Live Beat Dads
- Child's Right


Episode 113 For Saturday, November 11th, 2005

We're "On Remote" This weekend. We're podcasting on-the-road from Ontario, California, from the first-ever podcasting convention!

Headlines-CA Prop 73: Parents or teens; whose rights come first? - Judge Attacks "Ignorant Parents" - "Sex Survey" for 1st graders - Internet looming larger in lives of kids, Gravelles want their kids back, more...

Music-BB Chung King and the Buddaheads, "Little Girl" and Alien Cowboys, "From The Well" (garageband.com)

Since we're "on-location", its a short episode. We'll catch up next week. You can find the link OVER HERE... but please subscribe...pretty please?


Episode 112 for Friday, November 4th, 2005

Its the "mellowcast"...
Shownotes -
News: Study-Learning Math is Hard (really?), 20% of Wives Earn More than Husbands, Kids Learn Best when Numbers and Letters Don't Dance, Sill More Studies on Violence in Movies, more...
Music: Anytown, "Feeling Older", Longview, "9 to 5", Nathan Sheppard, "Traveling On" (garageband.com), Will Grega, "Dharma" (music.podshow.com)
-ToonTest 6
-Wipes Use 26
-Tips to Reduce Stress

Here is the direct LINK to the show...but please subscribe by using the links over yonder...and be mellow!


Episode 111 For Saturday, October 29, 2005

Headlines - Teachers Not Safe From Outsourcing, Canadian Child Care Discriminates Against Parents?, Predict Your Child's Adult Height, "Shackle-me Elmo", Longer School Day Tested, more...
Music - The Clintons, "Fan of the Bean", Chip Greene, "Everything About You", The Alien Cowboys Theme...
- Wipes Use 24
- ToonTest 5
- More Listener Comments
- And lots more...

Check out the show right HERE... but please subscribe using the links over to the left there, or search for "101 uses" in the podcast directory in iTunes!


Episode 110 For Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

Headlines: Weighing In on Childhood Obesity, Kids WiFi at Mickey-Ds, Noisy Toys are Big this Holiday Season, Building Baby's Brain with Bach, Some Food Mythology, more...

Music: Lynn Julian, "Get The Picture" (music.podshow.com), Sheva Solomon, "Song For Myself" (Garageband.com)
-ToonTest 4, Wipes Use 23, lots more stuff...

Here's the LINK to the show...but as always, it would really help - IF - you'd subscribe at music.podshow.com, odeo.com, and of course, iTunes. Thanks, Y'all...!


Episode 109 for Saturday, October 15, 2005

Headlines: Violence 'Viewed' as a Crisis, Avoid SIDS, kids In Cribs, NRA Draws Fire, MySpace.com has parents spaced out, ADHD and Caged-Kid Update, more...
Music: John McCloy, "Just Believe It", Full Minute of Mercury, "That Song is Stuck in My Head", (music.podshow.com), Too Old To Rock, "Bingo Night at Emily's" (GarageBand.com)
-Wipes Use 22
-Toontest 3
-Listener Feedback
-Lots More STUFF that I'm to medicated to write about

You'll find the show right HERE but please subscribe at Odeo.com, music.podshow.com or iTunes!


Episode 108 For Friday, October 7th, 2005

News: Amoxicillin- Pediatric Miracle or Dental Nightmare, Surgery Anxiety? Send In The Clowns, Children Blamed for Flu in Seniors, Flunking Kindergarten, UK to Ban Junk Food in School.
Music: John McCloy, "Street Dance in Cairo" (music.podshow.com) - YAY!, Someday Company, "Breathing In", the Nadas, "Going Home" (garageband.com)
Interview: John McCloy - YAY!

You'll find the show right HERE...but please subscribe at iTunes, Odeo, or music.podshow.com. Thank you.


Episode 107 for Friday, September 30, 2005

News: Freeways Cause Asthma, ADHD or Lack of Sleep?, Ritalin New Drug of Choice on Campus, Tonsil Removal as Lifestyle Nervana
Music: "Princess Of Willowcrest" by John McCloy, "Fine Mess" by PJ Smith, "Blister" by Christian Nesmith

-Wipes Use #20: Karate Respect
-New Segment: TOONTEST!
-Listener Feedback

Here's the direct link to the show (warning: its a LONG one) but PLEASE subscribe through the Podsafe Music Network, iTunes, or Odeo. Thanks, Muchly!


Episode 106 for Friday, September 23, 2005

News: No Cell Phones for New Drivers, Minivans Suck in Rear-End Crash Tests, CA Gov. Outlaws Junk Food in Schools, Babies Having Babies and Killing Them, More on Gravelle Caged Kid Story
Music: Cool Waters Band. "2 Car Garage" from music.podshow.com, Jordan Doucette, "Never Good Enough", Tony Deziel, "Jilly Bean" from Garageband.com.

PLEASE keep those comments coming! Here's the LINK to download, but your subscription is important. Puh-leeeease subscribe at music.podshow.com or iTunes...THANKS!


Evan the Engineer

Most kids his age want to be engineers - the kind that drive trains - not my boy. He wants nothing more than to goof off with the mic and the on-board reverb effects. He'll sit there for hours playing with knobs and making all kinds of creative noises. You've heard some of his 'original content' on the podcast.

My apologies for the late post of episode 105.
There were 'feed issues' which have been resolved by the responsible party (not me! I swear!)

Episode 105 for Saturday, September 17, 2005

News: 11 Kids sleeping in cages, Botox for infants, Kids not adults tending the elderly, Students coping with tech overload, Des Moines as a fashion megalopolis...
Music: Justin Hopkins, "Last In Line", Stone Melodies, "This I Know", The Brothers, "Sparks"...
Goofy's Speedway and Use#18 - Splinter Remover!

Click Here for a link to the show...but PLEASE subscribe at Odeo, iTunes or my favorite, music.podshow.com...THANK YOU!



Sorry to those who are commenters on the site, here. I had to turn on the spam protection, because I was getting comments posted, like "Love your blog...you'd be interested in my blog, www.buymyproduct.com"

I have no objection to marketing per se, but do it in your own space!

(my apologies to those who are regulars to this site...if you see 'comment deleted' messages, now you know why)


Episode 104 For Saturday, September 10, 2005

Shownotes: Kids as Marketing Tools
News-NCMEC creates website to reunite families after Katrina, Parents aren't talking to School Counselors, High-tech kid-tracking, Michigan follows Illinois with violent video game bill
Music-Alva Star, "Adore", Bascom Hill, "Angels Weep", Sweet Crystal, "Looking Back" (Garageband.com)
Soundseeing Tour of Toontown!
Here's the link to the show, but please subscribe at iTunes, Odeo or PodsafeNusicNetwork! Thanks!


Marketing 101: Kids Made to SELL

My son just started Kindergarten. He's very excited about the prospect of going to school to learn, get knowledge, and become a marketing powerhouse on the playground.

He's there two lousy weeks and his backpack is already being bombarded with fund-raising materials he can't even read yet!

I'm no idiot. I know this stuff is targeted at me and my wife. And mind you, I have no objections to fund raising in general, or selling in particular. Economies depend on somebody buying something from somebody else. What I do object to is the product choices, the prices, the goals for reward and the lack of suitable sales training.

Let's examine each of these points.
(1) Product Choices: the word "suck" comes to mind in this context. Ugly wrapping paper, seeds for plants that have no chance for survival in this part of the country, childrens books that look like recycled free leaflets at the health center.

(2) Price: With terrible product, even the cutest child will meet with rejection and door slams, which I think is fabulous lesson to teach a 5-year-old - NOT. Add to that the laughable markup charged for the products being peddled, and we have a recipe for esteem-crushing disaster.

(3) Goals: Sell 3000 of item-X (usually the highest-priced and lowest perceived value item) and we'll send you to Disney World! Of course if you do the math, you'll find that you just made $5,000 for the charity, $50,000 for the company providing the materiel, and they're giving you a prize valued at more than the charity makes! Anybody else see a problem with this formula?

4) Lack of Sales Training: With bad product, high prices, and ridiculous goals that can only be met my rich mommy and daddy buying the stuff, kids are set up from the start for disappointment and heartbreak, And anybody who says knocking on doors of total strangers pitching junk is "fun and exciting" will get an earful from me! The schools don't teach kids "how" to sell this junk, they just expect them to "know" how.

I hope that's not the approach they take with reading or math.


Episode 103 For Saturday, September 03, 2005

News: Helmet recall, milk can stop tooth decay, "Bladderman", talking to your kids about disasters
Music: Garageband.com - NEA, "Out of Grace"; Peter Matthews, "Wipe off the Dirt"; music.podshow.com - Adrina Thorpe, "Did You Think"
Use#17, shout out for Matthew and Dougie in Glasgow

Here's a link to the show here but please subscribe to the show at iTunes, odeo.com or music.podshow.com. Thanks!


In the Eye of the Storm

A very close friend of mine just retired to enjoy his senior years in his favorite part of the world - New Orleans.

Fortunately he was in California visiting friends and missed the impact of Katrina's wrath firsthand.

His fiance, however, did not make the trip.

The home they are building together is gone. The life they are building together has an uncertain future.

Ralph, if you can read this, you and Fedilia are in our hearts and prayers. Take Care, my friend.

Please click here and visit my feed site and click the Red Cross banner and donate. Please.


Technical Difficulties (AGAIN!)

I'm sorry to report that my web provider has let me down again! My web server that feeds the podcast is quivering in a puddle of goo somewhere in Minnesota. Apologies, everyone.


The Podfather Part II

It happened again! Only this time I was better prepared. Instead of nearly crashing my car, I only fell out of my chair in the "studio".

Yeah, what once was a guestroom, then a game room, for a time a den, then an office is now, "the studio". Sounds so funny to read this aloud. I think to myself, "geez, I just did this on a whim, and the guy that started the whole thing has taken notice".

I'm of course referring to Adam Curry's Daily Source Code podcast. He mentioned the 'wipes podcast twice last week, and the stats went crazy. Today on his show, he played my promo that I threw together in the aftermath of the heavy demand in an absolute panic, and the download traffic was so high that my server is in a pile of smoking ruin in some high-rise in Minnesota.

Tech-Tip: Don't buy shared web hosting if you can afford not to.

Tech Tip #2: If your life depends on MySQL, get single-premium whole-life (insurance).


Episode 102 for Sunday, 28 August 2005

News: Dad's get postpartum depression, Moms and newborns not rooming together, Video games good for kids and family, Illinois gov. sued over safe videogame law
Quiz: Dads - are you a role model for your kids?
Featured Site: www.newsforparents.org
Podsafe Music: Adrina Thorpe, Syd, Suzanne Smith (from music.podshow.com and garageband.com)
Money Talk: Why 14-yr-olds are an economic powerhouse

You'll find a direct link to the show here...but please subscribe at iTunes, PodsafeMusicNetwork.com, Odeo.com or GarageBand.com. Thanks!


New Podcast is coming...

My apologies - recent technical issues, like the zotob.E computer virus and communications problems with this week's guest have delayed production of episode 102. Yeah, I'd be ticked off, too. But y'know, its free, so relax and I'll get one out to you as soon as I can get in contact with my guest, and get the PC I use for recording immunized. Stay Tuned...

UPDATE: Guess I'd better hurry...got another tip-o-the-hat from the Daily Source Code podcast!


The Podfather

Its been one busy day. First, my son goes off to his first day of school. Then I'm nearly killed trying to drive to work (I'll post some photos as soon as I calm down) And to top it off, I get home, plug in the iPod, start up iTunes, put on the headphones for some relaxing podcast listening...and what do I hear...

Adam Curry, the de-facto inventor of podcasting and host of 'Daily Source Code' mentions 101 Uses For Baby Wipes on his show!

(This is the part where you applaud and I say "I'm not worthy!" and collapse from total shock.)

Many thanks for the call-out, Mr. Curry (may I call you 'Adam', or just 'Podfather'?)

I've posted a promo for the podcast at podsafemusicnetwork.com. I don't dare post one here; everyone will think its a new show!


Evan's First Day of School

Yesterday was the meet-n-greet with the teacher...today is the real deal. Evan starts a journey that we've all taken; the path to intellectual independence. Yeah, I know, its just kindergarten. But it loooks a whole lot different than my recollections of school as a 5-year-old. It seems much less structured, yet more cluttered, noisy, and chaotic than I remember it.

My memories of kindergarten life are full of images of the cute girl I had a crush on two seats over. I still remember her name. I remember the "boy side" and the "girl side" of the classroom. The boy side had cars and trucks carefully placed on little kid-sized shelves; the girl side had mockup kitchens and dolls piled neatly in baskets.

That boy-side, girl-side thing won't fly in today's political climate, now will it?

I remember neat, tidy rows of desks, kids sitting 2-to-a-desk, a large chalkboard and bicycles and balls strewn across the playground. This new classroom had only 2 desks, chairs arranged in a large circle, and no chalkboard to be seen. Strange.

The teacher seemed very uncomfortable talking to the parents, but she could certainly handle the kids! "But why the unease with the adults?", I thought to myself. She is married, has kids of her own, maybe even grandkids...I didn't pry.

Still, it seemed odd. Then I found out she's not used to having that many adults in HER classroom. Then it made sense. This was the first year they had the 'greet the teacher' event at this school. I still thought about the discomfort, though. Hers, and mine, now. It was clear now that I, too, was uncomfortable in the classroom, but why? Because of the teacher's anxiety?

Maybe she was uncomfortable because she was sitting in a chair that was clearly too small for her, as were all of us parents. We were crammed into the kid's chairs! Next time, can we please use the auditorium?


Use #16: Sunburn (ouch!)

We spent too much time in the pool at the gym yesterday. And since I'm a natural redhead, I have absolutely no genetic code in me to allow for a suntan. I'm basically a walking, breathing skin cancer laboratory. I can edit my own HTML, XML, RSS and PHP, but not my own DNA. Is there an 'Idiots Guide' available for that topic yet?

My son, however, much to my surprise, did not inherit this genetic trait and can absorb far more rads than dear old dad. He gets a nice even brown tone, while in the same sun for the same period of time, I look like a warning label.

We forgot sunscreen, naturally, and the indoor pool was closed for remodeling, so I spent half an hour in the full sun, scorched my body from the shoulders up, and now I'm paying the price; pain and discomfort for my carelessness. Its my own fault. And it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with global warming!

But, since this site is about uses for those baby wipes left over from days-o-diapers, here's a tip: the wipes really do soothe the burn quite a bit. Just don't use them too often, since over-use can dry out your skin when it really needs the oils to heal. I used wipes in combination with this magic blue aloe-zylocain-goo for sunburn when I got home. Today, most of the pain is gone and the red is more like a pale pink. Tomorrow I'll be pasty-white again, ready for another megadose of radiation.


Web Host Problems

Please excuse the interruption in our regularly scheduled programming. It appears that my web host, VizaWeb.com, is having technical issues, which is blacking out delivery of my podcast. Looks like I'm in good company, though, as the most popular podcast, 'This Week In Tech', is also blacked out (at least their website is). VizaWeb's own website can't be found, either. As soon as I can get a hold of somebody, and get this fixed, I'll let you know. Pass the monkey wrench...

UPDATE: Web site appears to be up again (for now)...stay tuned...


S'mores, Anybody?

Gotta love camping! And improvisation while at the campsite. Nobody had Hershey bars, so Grandma Anne improvised and used cake frosting. Why she had that in her RV and not a candy bar I will never know.

This was Evan's first camping trip without Mommy and Daddy around. He had a good time, judging by this photo, and by the grime we had to remove from him after only 2 days roughing it. Baby wipes to the rescue again! You getting the idea? After the potty training is over, don't throw 'em away! There are 101 uses! Trust me!


It's iTunes, Baby!!!

Unbeleivable! The podcast has been picked up by Apple's iTunes podcast directory! There's already THREE whole subscribers! Hey - I don't set unreasonable goals - 3 is good...it just got picked up today and was in the top 100 podcasts for an hour or so...not bad for a rank amateur!

I actually just subscribed to my own show in iTunes! That makes 4 subscribers! Wow - that's 25% growth in less than 2 hours! Take that to the bank!

(sorry, I just figured I was talking to myself all this time...)

Geez, now that I have an audience, I guess I'd better get to work on the next episode...stay tuned...and "stay subscribed".


Showtime! Episode 101 Is Here!

At long last, now that my web server is alive and actively talking to the world, I can officially announce the first 'podcast' of "101 Uses For Baby Wipes".

Click this link for the .MP3 file of the very first show!

- U.S. House gets tough on Rockstar for "hot coffee"
- Ill. Governor signs first-ever law to ban sale of violent video games to kids
- Stats of the week

- 'Slap Rockstar Silly'
- Helpful hints on keeping kids safe from e-mail predators
- Fun on the internet for everybody: Toontown!
- A handy tool for 'controlling' what kids watch on TV: The 'Weemote'
- The big guy with no neck redux
- from Garageband.com, "Ikea" by Jonathon Coulton
- from Garageband.com, "Nothing to talk about" by Anders Bau
- from podsafemusicnetwork.com, "Future Hope" by the Rich Hall Experience

Thanks to Radio Jeff at radiodaddy.com for the cool intro voice-over, and to "Cagey House" at podsafemusicnetwork.com for the intro music.

New Addition: Odeo feed:

My Odeo Channel (odeo/3d4addba0ea7e1ae)


The Camera Loves Him

While in attendance at a graduation party, the photographer became enamoured with Evan. She took several pictures, but this one stood out in her mind as "the one". She was kind enough to forward this to us, and asked that we share. And so I have. Thanks, 'Chelle. Thanks very much.

Please visit her website;


and watch her slideshow, "recording love". I did, and it nearly made me cry. Its beautiful. Thanks, 'Chelle for sharing your 'special session', and this great photo.


The In-Laws Are In Town

...so my posts are few and far between while we entertain and have a real life, rather than living in the blogosphere. Evan went to the beach with gramma and grampa today. He did the quality-time thing with them. A fishing trip is planned for Monday.

An important note: Baby wipes are excellent for getting sand unstuck between your toes after a trip to the tidepools...especially if your sneakers slip into the tidepool and turn otherwise loose grains of sand to clumps of gritty toe-jam. Hope you weren't eating when you read that...

In other news: I've secured a web hosting service - now the agonizing part: waiting for the domain name to work! It takes 24 hours or so before it 'propagates' through the internet, so hopefully it'll work tomorrow, so I can put up my first PODCAST! {yay} I've consumed most of the readme stuff and help files, FAQs, eManuals, etc. and I think I know what I'm doing (not)...my brain is fried, I'll admit it...but it IS fascinating.


Is It A Ghost?

If you live in suburbia, like where I grew up, in the greater L.A. Metroplex, you probably don't see a pregnant deer lying in repose in your backyard every day.

I remember growing up in a small town in Orange county, just 100 feet from the L.A. county line, which gave us bragging rights; we were NOT in L.A! We actually had an Amusement park, called "Japanese Village", where they had a petting zoo, called the 'Deer Park', so that all the kids that had grown up and never seen a deer could go and 'hang out' with 'em.

Most of my friends could care less about the deer, and always made a bee-line straight for the arcade. The arcade had Pachinko machines, which are gambling devices in Japan, but kids could play them here.

Personally, I liked the deer park. I liked the peace of it. The grounds were ornate, as you might imagine being a Japanese deer park. There were pagodas, and ponds full of koi, and zen sand gardens - the real ones, not those little desk toys you buy at the bed / bath / housewares big-box store. They had food dispensers, so you could feed the deer if you wanted, er, if they wanted.

Turns out, all the times I went there, the deer were on the opposite end of their vast, ormately decorated, well manicured fields, far away from the viewing areas, and not interested in eating. They looked terrified most of the time, as I recall. I never did get to feed one...I bought lots of deer food from the dispensers...but never did get one to eat from my hand.

And it was that memory of deer that formed my assumptions about their behavior.

Then I moved out of the greater L.A. Metroplex, where I had clearly spent too much time, to a place that has more of a rural atmosphere. A better way to say it might be that because the area hasn't been so overdeveloped, kids actually know what a deer is, they see one in their back yard every once in awhile. In my case, we rarely don't have a deer back there.

My gardener hates them. He says they tear up the grass, pee on it and kill it, they'll eat everything green and growing with few exceptions, and sometimes torment the neighborhood dogs and cats. I can't quarrel with any of that. Seen it. My grapevines are a special treat. And you can see my lawn's dismal shape in the photo.

Fact is, up here, away from Suburbia and parks with pagodas and ponds full of koi, deer are a pest. So are gophers, squirrels, skunks, opossums, foxes, coyotes, bats, and wild pigs. I've moved to Wild Kingdom. I've seen every one of these critters close-up...in the skunk's case too close-up...from the comfort of my own home. My neighbors don't think of these animals as being part of the atmosphere that makes this area of the world so serene and beautiful; they're just nuisances tearing up their professionally-manicured landscaping. Or eating the dog.

Opossums are strange. They're called 'speed bumps' due to their proclivity to wander onto the street and freeze, fall over sideways and 'play dead' just as your car rushes toward them. I wonder; Is that 'playing possum' or 'playing chicken'? No, wait - its playing dead. Too bad for the opossum.

Personally for me, I like the fact that the animals feel comfortable enough with humans to just hang out in the neighborhood. I'm a bit of an environmentalist at heart, I suppose. I like commuting with nature, but not commuting over it, as I did a little over a week ago (see my 'morning after' blog entry). I'll do my part, to my neighbors' dismay, motivated possibly by guilt, to see that these critters have a safe place to spend a Sunday morning.

I've built a bat house, but of course the bats prefer to hang upside-down over the front door and guano on everything. I've researched, read lots of plant guides, and found plants that the deer don't like, but won't kill them if they're eaten. You know, people that wrote plant guides probably visited the deer park for information like I did, because they have no clue of what a deer eats and doesn't. None of my 'deer-safe' plants remain.

Do you think this deer in my back yard knows about my past? My incident with the deer on the freeway? I'd offer my condolences, but somehow I don't think she's interested. My grapevines are much too enticing.

The Japanese Village and deer park went broke many years ago, while I was still in high school. Its beautiful grounds were sold off piecemeal to developers, its office equipment and such were auctioned off, and I think it was leveled for a factory of some sort. I often wondered what happened to all the deer that lived at the deer park. Surely they weren't auctioned. Maybe they were relocated around here somewhere.

I know what happened to the pachinko machines...I'll have to get mine out of the attic one of these days...


It Didn't Look That Big in the Store!

Its not that the bed is too big...its that the house is too small.

Our home was built in the 1970's, a time of avocado colored appliances, orange shag carpet, and smoked-glass globe-shaped light fixtures...and really small rooms.

The shag is gone, the appliances left with the first owner, and I got rid of the light fixtures myself years ago. The rooms are still small. Sadly, I can't fix that with a screwdriver.

Evan's room is actually a good size bedroom for a 5-year-old. He just has way too much stuff in it! His new bed was fraught with problems from the day we ordered it, problems that were an omen ignored by an un-enlightened and over-exuberant mom and dad that ordered the bed for a birthday present.


In reality, we didn't have to have the bed. We wanted the bed, sure enough. But our emotional drive to buy the bed clouded our judgement on the following issues;

1) Does it actually fit in Evan's room? (I told my wife that it wouldn't, she didn't believe me)
2) What will come out of the room to make space? (so far, nothing.)
3) How do we get it home? (we had a pickup truck, but it was destroyed by a deer)
4) How do you make the bed? (you use a stepladder, and it takes a team of experts)
5) What if he has "an accident" in the middle of the night? (no back-up plan as of yet)

Evan now has a cute bed, "big-boy size" instead of a toddler bed, but no place to play in his room. We were supposed to have it in his room nearly 2 weeks ago, to mark his 5th birthday, but there were some roadblocks thrown our way.

First off, the store only had one in white with pink trim. I'm sad to say that my son would have been fine with that, because pink is a color he's comfortable with. I'm not, so I nixed the pink bed on purely sexist grounds.

Secondly, it would be two weeks before the store could get another one. I thought that was OK, that would give us time to prepare Evan's room for the bed. Yeah, right. As if that was gonna happen!

Third, when the store called us two weeks later so we could pick up the bed, we no longer had our pickup truck to retrieve our treasure. Its in the body shop, being repaired after a close encounter with a deer. So we had to borrow a truck, but from who? I asked a co-worker, his was hundreds of miles away. I asked 2 others with similar situations. I was offered a truck to borrow, but when I got there, I was told that the windshield was busted, the air conditioning was dead (on a 110-degree summer day) and that there was no gas in it.

Beggars can't be shoosers. I accepted the offer and drove the near-dead Chevy pickup to the gas station, then the furniture store. Upon arrival at the loading dock (also non-air-conditioned) I stood for an hour, dripping with sweat in the heat of late afternoon, waiting for the shipping clerk to find all 5 boxes to he bed. But, as luck would have it, my frantic search for a truck, my 10 pounds of fluids lost to perspiration, and my patience on the dock were all in vain. The shipment was incomplete, and the parts they did have were the wrong color...PINK!

I bit the inside of my cheek until it bled, just to avoid losing my temper and saying some words my son should not learn until he's at least 18. We had been patient. We paid in advance. We had been screwed over again by a fate. I was turning red, and the girl behind the cash register could see it. Maybe it was too much sun, or the heat, or maybe I was looking around for some duct tape to wrap my head to keep it from exploding.

The girl picked up on my "negative vibrations" and called the store owner. He said that there had been a mixup, and part of the bed was sent to another store. To the owner's credit, he offered to deliver the bed without charge, and apologized for the mixup.

"Fine", I thought. I tried to look at the positive. At least now we have A DAY to get the room ready for the new bed, and I could return this junky pickup truck that much quicker. We worked without rest for the remainder of the day, preparing the bedroom. And sure enough, when promised, the delivery arrived. My wife made sure ther were 5 boxes and no pink.

My wife finished in the bedroom by taking apart Evan's old bed and, in a mild panic, wound up giving it to a neighbor, who apparently could make good use of a toddler bed in the shape of a fire truck...or perhaps she is skilled in all things eBay. Either way, the fire truck bed was gone. One less headache, one less thing to worry about. It was out of the way.

When I returned home from work, I anxiously opened all 5 boxes, to be sure all the parts were here. I was mentally prepared to build this bed and see my son gleefully slide from the top bunk to the floor, squealing with childish joy all the way down. I looked for the instructions. Box 1... box 2... box 3... box 4... box 5... no instructions. Come to think of it, no bag of screws, nuts and bolts, either.

My mental preparedness left me. I bit the inside of my cheek again.

We called the store, but the phone just rang and rang.

"What store in this day and age doesn't have some kind of answering machine?", I thought.

So to sum up, we have 5 boxes of un-assembled bed scattered about the house, a big blank spot where my son's old bed once stood, and no place for him to sleep tomight, because we can't build the bed without the missing bag of screws, nuts and bolts. The instructions would be a nice touch.

This would all be funny if it wasn't just so typical. The word "pathetic" comes to mind, but I choose not to think of my life in that context...yet. We called the store this morning, and after about an hour they had located the bag of screws and the instructions. The bed was done about two hours later. It would've been one hour later, but the instructions appeared to have been translated (badly) from Chinese into English, and apparently the manufacturer has never heard of this marvel of technology called a typewriter. The paper was handwritten, and probably photocopied over and over, such that I was viewing the 79th generation of the original.

And once again, baby wipes to the rescue! We wiped the whole bed down to get sawdust and splinters off the bed for Evan's safety. We also cleaned the slide to reduce friction for Evan's inaugural ride. Then came the reward: The gleeful laughter of a child having fun.

The end result is cute, but massive...and well worth all the hassle. My cheek will heal.


Sushi in Smallville

Ten years ago, or even five, I would not have thought that a pleasant evening in this town I live in would consist of a workout at the gym, followed up by sushi downtown.

GYM? SUSHI? We don't HAVE a downtown!

A new hotel, like the legendary phoenix, has emerged from the ashes that was our biggest downtown eyesore. But unlike its historical roots, this new bird has risen with a sushi bar inside.

Our town was founded by a real certified nut case. Over a century ago, he envisioned dividing up a large tract of land, which he obtained from spanish land holders, into parcels, and selling them to the masses for cheap...with a catch. The catch was, you had to work for him first. Then you could bid on your parcel. I told you -- nut case.

A tent city sprouted, mostly immigrants fresh off the boat from Ireland lived there. The Early 1900s saw the most rapid growth of the city, and after the nut case-turned-founder had his mansion built, on the backs of the immigrants, he lost interest in the city he had so brilliantly designed and focused on trying to stay out of jail for land fraud, embezzlement, grand larceny and other charges. He was not successful and died a poor man in prison.

Our founder was a nut case, but he was a genius when it came to architecture and city planning. Back when he was devising plans for streets, city hall, municipal water, this part of the country was still the Wild West. He had already planned one city using his "master planned community" concept. Our town, the place I call home now, would be the nut case's second attempt at civic perfection through "master planning".

As I read the history of our little town, I realize that our founder was either the most civic-minded idealist, bent on creating Utopia, or a diabolical criminal enslaving thousands with the promise of cheap land. I can't decide which. But he was also a businessman, a publisher, who had the largest printing press on the west coast, until a guy named Hearst -- William Randolph Hearst -- used his daddy's millions to build one bigger. Hearst decided he wanted a mansion, too, just like the nut case founder. Hearst's mansion is just a short drive away. The one-upmanship lives on, as Hearst's home is referred to as "Hearst Castle".

Our founder's mansion burned to the ground, almost as soon as it was finished, due to a fire of suspicious origin. All that remain are some tall palm trees, not native to the area, that our founder had planted to mark the grand driveway to his Utopian estate. you can visit the palm trees. Just go to the shopping center in the center of town. Our founder's home has been replaced with a drugstore, a video rental place, a bank, and a grocery store. Sad.

Besides City hall and the civic center, our founder was also instrumental in the design of the downtown business area, which, like many downtown areas, had been blighted for some time now. At the corner stood a modest, but for its day luxurious, hotel, "The Carlton". Being halfway between the megalopolises of Los Angeles and San Francisco, The Carlton was a place for the well-to-do to take a break while en route between Hollywood and the Golden Gate. It was also the biggest building in town.

But, like most things old, The Carlton fell on hard times. Fires, decay, old age, urban blight all took a toll on the building and the surrounding area. But unlike many cities far larger, our little burg has developed a very active, and I'm glad to say now a very effective, historical society with an eye toward preservation. The Carlton, which sat as a rundown shell of a building for the first 12 years I lived in this town, is now a luxury hotel once again, complete with valet parking.

Our town isn't big enough for a Wal-Mart. We have 8 exits off the freeway. We have one high school for the entire town. "Valet Parking?" I remember thinking when the signs went up. There's a Jack-in-the-box burger joint right across the street. The nearby buildings that flank the hotel are still as rundown as The Carlton was. the Carlton stands alone amidst the rubble -- or ashes -- of my little town's history.

"Are people really going to stay here, eat here, spend money here?" I remember asking members of the community about this grand plan and grand hotel. This town is hicksville, and we have this hotel here. I keep looking for Rod Serling, standing on the corner smoking a cigarette and taking us on a journey not of sight and sound but of mind. This place just doesn't belong here, and I just can't quite wrap my brain around the concept of a luxury hotel in my tiny town.

Don't get me wrong. I think the Carlton is a fabulous place. Its a bit pricey for me. I'd never book a room there. But then, of course, my house is less than a mile away...the town is that small. I think the city council entertained bids to have the whole town carpeted -- its that small.

But you know, on a warm summer evening, fresh from the torture implements at the "club" -- a euphemism for the place I pay mothly dues to inflict agony upon my body -- The Carlton is a very nice place to go and settle my weary self into the plush dining room, scoot the chairs across the hardwood floors reminiscent of days gone by, sip herbal iced tea, order up a couple plates of California Rolls, and think about old Twilight Zone episodes.

I just never would've thought I'd be doing this in my town.


Use #15: The Big Guy With No Neck

Despite my better judgement, or maybe because I have this terrible guilt that I can't keep up with my son because I'm dreadfully out of shape, I joined...a gym -- er -- health club and fitness center.

Bear in mind, I'm 44 and my son is 5, and I doubt that anyone short of Lance Armstrong can keep up with a 5-year old, except perhaps a 6-year old.

His energy is boundless, mine clearly has limits. Now, the dastardly plan formed in my energy-starved brain is to exercise to try and increase my limits without killing me in the process. The plan has flaws.

Enter the Nautilus Machine. These things are cleverly disguised as "fitness equipment". I believe that they are evil incarnate, or at the very least articles from the Marquis De Saud museum and theme park in Antwerp.

Anyway, the "trainer" showed me around the "exercise room", clipboard in hand, noting each and every machine I should use, in what order to use them, and at what "settings" I should operate the torture implement. One of the machines looked surprisingly like one of those medieval racks used to brutally extract confessions during the Spanish Inquisition. It was euphemistically called the "lateral leg lift".

I marvelled at the awesome, sinister achievement of this place. So bright, cheerful and clean, yet each machine had symbols on the side, showing a silhouette of the human body, and just which areas of the body would soon experience excruciating pain. Ironically, those areas were marked in RED. Coincidence? They must've simply forgotten to cover up the evidence of the true nature of these devices of dread.

Next, enter the big guy with no neck and the ability to put the little metal pin in the lowest position (the highest setting) and lift the whole stack of lead weights that deliver "resistance" to the exercise -- er -- torture. I observed as he proceeded to lift the equivalent of my first car over his head, 40 to 50 times, seemingly without conscious effort, though leaving a persistent impression in the seat.

I had been told that after each exercise / torture, that I was to reach to the wall for the spray bottle of green stuff and the cleaning cloth hanging with it on the hook. I was to spray and wipe, everywhere that I touched, or a part of my exterior touched, so that the machine would be nice and clean and germ-free for the next victim -- er, member -- to use.

Apparently, the rule did not apply to the big guy with no neck. Or, at least, none of the rule makers who told him had survived to remind him of the rules today. And I was not about to bring up the subject.

However, this guy with no neck left behind quite a trail, a bit like a snail on a rainy morning, but with more odor. And as I reached for the bottle of green stuff and the cleaning cloth, I discovered that the rule makers were truly dead as I had feared, because the bottle was empty and the cleaning cloth was as dry as the guy with no neck was pungent.

Solution: A gym bag complete with the magic wipes, of course. Baby wipes won't bring back the rule makers from the dead, and they probably won't help in my overall fitness regimen, but they'll protect me from germs left behind by the big guy with no neck. They'll probably make nice applicators of pain rub during my recuperation, too.

Use #14: Digging Pavement Out Of Kneecaps

Ouch! Is there more to say?

Monday was "Kids Day At The Fair". That's right. We live in a small town, near a big rock, and we still have small-town county fairs in the summer. Where else can you have pig sweat, corn dogs, funnel cakes, tractor pulls and Raven Simone on-stage all in one place?

If you're a parent, you should know who the hell Raven Simone is. She's Disney property and a kid on a kid's show on Disney Channel (check your local listings for time and channel).

And if you're a parent, you should know by now that you should be equipped for ANY emergency at any time and in any place...even at the fairgrounds...especially when your kid takes a spill serious enough to bring the paramedics running at ramming speed.

My son tripped, and skinned up his knees just a bit on the uneven asphalt hastily laid down just days before our beloved county fair opened. The fiargrounds are often ripped apart before the event, and afterwards for other uses, so uneven pavement is old news...except for a 5-year-old who is looking everywhere but at his feet.

There's just TOO MUCH to see, too many sights and sounds -- and smells -- at the fair to be looking at the ground. It was inevitable, and frankly, anticipated. My wife and I knew as soon as he saw the giant stuffed animals at the midway, and the car ride pictured here, he'd be too involved in the moment to be mindful of which foot went first.

At 5 years old, that's still an area of mental focus.

The paramedics came within seconds of being summoned by the fair security staff, who witnessed the impact. The security staff were obviously bored and desperately wanting of something important to do that required the use of those cool 2-way radios (with earpieces) that they'd been issued. They got T-shirts, too.

The paramedics were in amazing physical shape. Between the two of them they were carrying a tackle-box complete with defibrilator and portable pharmacy, a back board, and an oxygen tank, all the while sprinting across the fairgrounds during our usual 102-degree summer heatwave. I would have given them a standing ovation, or at least held up score cards reminiscent of Olympic events past, "10.0", but the timing didn't feel exactly right. My boy was hurt after all.

Besides, once the barely-huffing paramedics surmised what had happened, they were a tad miffed at the security staff with the T-shirts and the cool radios, who had clearly over-reached their authority. They cracked open their tackle box and set to work, cleaning up the skinned knee that dad had already tended with -- you guessed it. When one of the 'medics reached into the tackle box and pulled out gauze tape and scissors, I realized that the paramedics, too, were bored and in need of something fullfilling to do. My kid's skinned-up knee would have to do on this hot, sweaty, smelly summer day.

My son was smiling from ear-to-ear with all the attention and the VIP treatment he got just for doing something he does routinely around the house. He got a hug and a fake tatoo from one of the paramedics -- an attractive woman who looked like she could bench press the cotton candy stand. She carried the backboard and oxygen bottle.

The gauze tape and scissors, unused, went back in the tackle box.


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".