I Fancied a Barbie Once

I had a Barbie doll once. I’d actually asked my mother for one. I wasn’t queer or effeminate or anything. The other side just had something that I didn’t and I wanted to know what the deal was. All the girls had them and seemed to love them, so clearly there was something cool about them and I was determined to find out what it was.

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It’s gotta be the shopping for accessories. Look at those pants!

So when I got one, I took it with me totally unashamed. In a time when being either a nerd or having a Barbie doll would get your ass kicked, I incredibly made it through unscathed as I was both was a nerd and carried a Barbie. Perhaps it was my gaze that kept people from taunting and dolling out endless wedgies. As I combed her hair and changed her outfits, my look was not one of joy and amusement but one of science and determination.

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FOR SCIENCE!

Alas, through all my study, I never discovered the joy that could be had in Barbies or dolls in general. Disinterested and unamused, the doll went to the wayside. I honestly don’t recall doing anything else with it, though I feel as though I would’ve had much more joy with it had I decapitated the damn thing. In fact, I hope I did, though I cannot say for certain whether I did or not.

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And totally would’ve been at the hands of Storm Shadow.

With a second child on the way, if it turns out to be a boy whom I shall teach manly things, I worry about the time when he too yearns to decapitate Barbie dolls. For my daughter loves dolls and even has a Barbie. How shall I react when the time comes to wrestle with my desire to defend my daughter from terror and horror and my delight in destruction of all things not manly. Oh, the struggles we must face as parents.

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Like “Should I put that money towards my child’s education or build that life size replica of Abe Lincoln out of ravioli.” What would make Jesus more proud? Does he even like ravioli or does he prefer tuna?

Duck & Cover

Most young adults today are much to young to remember to the Cold War, yet since they are perhaps the most vocal crowd in media, it’d be easy to for them forget that it wasn’t that long ago the Cold War came to an end. Less than twenty-five years ago, actually. The Cold War was a magical time of spies, espionage, no actual war, and constant threat of nuclear annihilation.

As a child growing up in the eighties, the Soviets were always our biggest fear. The world maps in our classrooms didn’t help matters any. Every country was color coded so that you could distinctly discern borders. Looking at a map you would see lots of small colors and then there would be this giant red mass labeled U.S.S.R. That thing was terrifying and the only thing keeping us safe from the Ruskies was ocean. And then we learned about the Bering Strait and realized that they could attack us from Canada if they so desired.

terror map

This is what a map made entirely out of terror looks like.

The movie Red Dawn didn’t help things any either. I hadn’t even seen the movie at that point and yet there were many times I worried that I’d look out the window and see Russian paratroopers falling out of the sky. Remember, this was a plausible scenario back then. We already knew that there were Commie spies among us; we just didn’t know when they’d strike. Thankfully, we could take solace knowing that Patrick Swayze and Sylvester Stallone would be there to save us should things ever go down. That is if they didn’t drop the bomb on us first.

This being the Cold War, the possibility of nuclear winter was always a reality. The federal government made sure we were all prepared in case such an event happened. As elementary school students, we learned the importance of Duck and Cover. What’s that, you may ask. Duck and Cover is what you were to do in case of a nuclear attack. While you may all be familiar with fire drills, we had nuclear bomb drills. There was even an alarm for it. When the alarm would go off, we would stop what we were doing and hide underneath our desks. The drills were common enough that I can remember looking nervously out the window of my classroom at the water tower and expecting to see a mushroom cloud in the distance. The real terror came if we had a fire drill and had to run outside to a designated area in an orderly fashion. What if the Ruskies had decided to drop a bomb then? There were no desks to protect us. Why the school never had like five giant sized desks outside I’ll never know. Underfunding I suppose.

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No joke, this would save your life from a nuclear explosion. Don’t you dare question it!

Speaking of underfunding, I never realized just how underfunded the school system was until the Cold War ended. At the beginning of every school year up until freshman year of high school I think it was, out teachers would point to the big red spot on the map and say “By the way, that doesn’t exist anymore.” For the record, I started high school in 1996. 1996 and we still had maps that depicted the Soviet Union. When they were finally replaced, it seemed so surreal. No longer was there a big red menace casting it’s shadow on the world. Instead, there was just Russia and the world suddenly seemed a bit more open.

I’ve heard stories that Vladimir Putin is trying to bring the former Soviet countries back into Russia’s fold. Perhaps they have a lot of old maps that they still haven’t replaced yet. If this happens, I hope they at least have the good sense to call it the Soviet Reunion. I’d hate to see them blow an opportunity like that.

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“Hey, let’s get the gang back together and start Cold War 2: Cold Harder.”

Logic and Resolutions

On December 31st, I decided that I wasn’t going to wait until the new year to start getting in shape, I was going to start it right then and there. My faulty logic being that if I waited until the 1st then it would be a New Year’s Resolution and since New Year’s Resolutions are universally meant to be broken within ten to fourteen weeks, I should start beforehand to improve my odds.

Now, I knew that in order keep going, I needed a good workout app. There were some criteria that needed to be met before I would decide on the app I would use. First, it had to have week long routines pre-built into it. I knew I would make poor choices if I had to make my own AND I didn’t want to risk getting bored doing the same workout everyday. Secondly it needed to be intense but not overly long. Workouts twenty minutes or less are a lot easier to get in when I can than carving out a block of forty to sixty minutes on a regular basis. And finally, the workouts needed to be bodyweight. I didn’t want to risk getting equipment out to become a chore and I wanted to be able to do this anywhere.

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“What do you mean I forgot the bench? I don’t need no stinkin’ bench!”

So with that criteria, I found a great app that met my needs. It was called Home Workout MMA Spartan Free. Excited to get into it, I took my lunch break, locked myself in the back room, took my shirt off, and loaded it up. I was promptly greeted with Leonidas in track pants, shirtless and screaming in my face.

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Clearly a workout designed for if I should ever need to kick someone into a hole.

I could tell that this was going to be intense, so I started with the newbie routine. Twenty minutes later, I was beat. It kicked my ass and I felt great. On New Year’s morning, I woke up and my glutes were so sore. The first words to my wife that morning were, “My butt hurts.” She responded with, “I promise I did not spank you in your sleep.”

It was then I remembered workout I had done the previous day as a sly smile and an elongated, “Oh yeah” came across my lips. I’m about halfway through my second week of the routine and it’s still a beast, but I must say I feel great and it doesn’t feel like a chore. Once the newbie routine starts to become easy, I’ll jump to the next routine up. Here’s hoping I keep with it.

Basic English

I keep hearing people talking about hoverboards and how cool they are. As someone who was lied to about hoverboards as a kid, I’ve maintained a healthy dose of skepticism. Still, we’ve made some incredible technological strides in the past few years alone and with this year being the year of Back to the Future 2, the excitement was there telling my more reasonable self to go die in a closet. So when I actually started reading articles proclaiming that you can actually buy them on places like Amazon.com, I got pumped. Could we finally be getting what I’ve waited nearly my entire life for?

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Lol, nope!

And then I saw them.

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Pictured: not hovering

I think we need to reinstate a literacy program in the United States because we’ve clearly forgotten the what basic words mean.

hov·er

ˈhəvər/

verb

1.

remain in one place in the air.

“army helicopters hovered overhead”

synonyms: be suspended, be poised, hang, levitate, float;

fly

“helicopters hovered overhead”

noun

1.

an act of remaining in the air in one place.

If your product relies on wheels to get from Point A to Point B, then it is not hovering. It is in fact rolling. Rolling involves resting on a surface which as you may know is the exact opposite of hovering. It’s as though Segway was making a last desperate attempt to be cool and decided to enter the skateboard market while completely ignoring the fact that you only looks stupid on a Skateboard if you suck at it and even then, you can sometimes look cool. This product, however, appears to be made for the sole purpose of making you look stupid and if you are on one, the product has succeeded splendidly.

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Pictured: Also not hovering

 The concept of a hoverboard is surprisingly simple. Take a board and make it float in the air. With so many other boards succeeding at their name, why do we feel the need to make the hoverboard not? The skateboard skates. The surfboard is used on surf. A bodyboard is a board you lie your body on. So why the hell are people calling a board that does the exact opposite of hover a hoverboard? So far, the only who seems to have it right is Lexus. Sure, it requires a special magnetic track to work, but at least the damn thing hovers.

lexus-hoverboard

Pictured: hovering accompanied by cool smoke effects.

In my personal opinion, it’s all a marketing scam. 2015 marks the year of Back to the Future 2 and if these companies can create the devices used in the movie, it would be huge bankroll for them. Or, if they can’t create the item, flat out lie to the consumer and hope they’re too stupid to understand basic English. Considering that the hype is working, I think it’s safe to say that the stupid gambit worked.

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This is what came up when I searched for stupid gambit. Not was I was hoping for, but can’t say that I’m disappointed either.

Oh God!

A week or so ago, we as a family were sitting down to a dinner. As it was, we happened to be consuming pizza. As we were eating, my wife and I were discussing our day as our daughter sat in her high chair eating her portion. As my wife conversed, we suddenly heard loudly from the direction of our child, “Oh God!”

We stopped suddenly and looked at each other, eyes wide with shock. I could tell by looking at my wife that she was thinking the same thing as I was. Our thoughts were, “Oh no! Our daughter must have heard one of us in some moment of frustration saying something we ought not say.” It was a perfectly reasonable thought. Everyone says things they wish they didn’t when they’re mad or frustrated and I don’t exactly have the most delicate tongue when I am such a state. This isn’t an excuse for any sinful actions I may incur; I’m merely just pointing out how sometimes our sin gets the better of us and sometimes we show more than we desire to.

Anyhow, when we turned and looked to our daughter, we were pleasantly surprised. There she was with her head down, eyes closed, and hands clasped, continuing her prayer. After the forcefully loud words of, “Oh God!,” we here the much softer words of, “Mama and dada,” and then a few seconds of silence. Before we could get an “Awww,” in, however, there was another boisterous, “Oh God!” followed a more normal toned, “the pizza. Amen.”

It was sweet, really it was. Though I realize I need to take better mind of my own tongue. Considering how loud the, “Oh God!” was compared to everything else in the prayer, I’ve little doubt that she must heard me exclaim it in frustration at some point. However, considering her use, I must presume that she saw it as some form of prayer.

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A very powerful prayer…

It reminds me of that certain amount of innocence in a child. There’s something really special about that. I’ve always stated I wanted to raise my children to be better than myself. This is a good reminder that although I’ve got a long way to go, I’ve at least got them started on the right path and that I need to make sure I don’t wander too much myself lest I lead them astray.

My First Beer and then Some

I had my first beer around the age of two or three years old. I believe it was Budweiser and my dad had set his down and I asked if I could have a sip. Knowing full well that I wouldn’t like it, my dad said yes and as he correctly predicted, it was the nastiest thing I’d ever tasted in my life.

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Not what I’d call a quality beer.

I didn’t try beer again until sometime when I was a teenager. My friend Andrew’s family lived in an old house that previous tenants had passed away in. In the barn, we found all sorts of cool stuff. One of those cool things we found was a can of beer that was dated somewhere between the 1930s and 1940s. Wow, what a cool gem this was. It was still perfectly sealed and everything. Had we been smart and not stupid teenagers, we would’ve tried to see it for a pretty penny. Instead, being stupid teenagers, we had other ideas.

“Hey,” said Andrew. “I heard beer gets better with age.”

Well, that was all the motivation I needed. We popped that can open and each took some big swigs of that over half a century old beer.

Beer does not get better with age. That’s wine. Beer, in fact, gets worse with age.

oldbeer

There’s a reason all beers now have an “enjoy by” date on them.

Disappointed with our find, I didn’t drink beer for quite some time again after that deeming beer to just flat out be nasty.

When I was fifteen, my family was entertaining for some guests. There were mixed drinks to be had and I saw that my family was using rum. I casually asked my second father (my first one passed away) if I could have a shot. Though I don’t think he ever met my birth father, he apparently had the same thinking. Knowing full will that I would not like this unmixed, he gave me a shot with no mix or chaser. Well, that shot of rum burned going down and I ran to the bathroom for water to get the nasty taste out of my mouth. It wasn’t until sometime later that rum could be a tolerable experience with some Coca-Cola. Live and learn as they say.

When I got my first apartment, the previous tenants had left a Budweiser in the fridge. Yep, still nasty as I had remembered. For a while after that I simply stuck to rum and wine coolers. You know the stuff, Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Silver. Yes, there is much shame admitting that. Then, after I had turned twenty-one, my uncle offered me a Sam Adams Light. I was impressed. It didn’t taste like crap. In fact, it tasted good. Shortly after that I tried a Boston Lager and fell in love. I learned that beer didn’t have to be nasty or an acquired taste. It could in fact be quite delicious.

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Turns out Samuel Adams always really is a good decision.

From that single Sam Adams, my pallet expanded immensely. I learned there was a whole world of amazing flavors out there. A local pub served a solid black stout every winter called the Viking Plunder that was 11.5% alcohol. It was amazing. Sadly, the brewery that made it no longer exists.

Some years after drinking beer exclusively, my friend and I saw some Smirnoff Ice in the store and we decided to grab some for old times. Oh it was so damn sweet. How did we ever drink that to begin with?

My pallet has refined itself quite a lot over the years. I consider myself an IPA man, the more hops, the better. And I love a whiskey on the rocks. Whenever I’m in a new town, I always try to sample the local flavor, but if I can’t find something new or just need something classic, I always go back to that Samuel Adams Boston Lager. When it comes to beer, that was my first love. I love my IPAs (especially from Stone), but a Boston Lager is the perfect any beer. Always perfect for whatever the occasion. Cheers.

Picking Scripture

When my daughter was born, I held her in my arms and read chapter one of Genesis to her. It was a touching moment and something I had pledged to do long before she was born. It just somehow seemed appropriate.

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Genesis 1 on the day she was born.

Yet now with a second child a mere six or seven months away, I want to do the same thing but I have yet to figure out what I shall chose for him or her.

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Really hoping I don’t find some years down the road that the appropriate scripture should’ve been Revelation 13.

I suppose this presents me with a good opportunity to buckle down on scripture, something I’ve been neglecting a bit lately. It’s interesting to see how these little nudges come when they’re needed. Now, I’m not saying it’s some cosmic force that’s pushing me into immersing myself into the scriptures when I really need it. It could be mere coincidence. I’m not willing to assign happenings to God based on a feeling. That would put me in dangerously close proximity to the false prophets camp.

Anyhow, any suggestions would be great. This being my second child, I would like to pick something that would be appropriate. With my first, I started with the beginning and since I don’t think this will be my last, I don’t think I should pick something near the end. I’ve always been quite partial to the story of Joseph in Genesis and the book of Mark if you’re looking for an idea of my tastes.

I’m Drinkin’ Beer

My little brother was only a few months old, so that means I was eight and in the second grade. Mary, my babysitter and best friend’s mom had a film crew over that day to film a commercial for her daycare. They were recording us throughout the day to get good shots for the commercial. Mary had the incredible task of caring for a large group of children while carrying my little brother around and filming a commercial all at the same time. I got special mention in the commercial as I was the first kid she took care of which started the whole daycare thing. If you think I didn’t use that special mention to my fullest potential, then you’ve got another thing coming.

Mary had a small bar in the kitchen surrounded by stools. It was snack time and kids were running round with their sugar biscuits having the fun that only small children can have with a sugar biscuit. Me, I was just calmly sitting at the bar drinking my cup of apple juice and minding my own business. This being a fairly quiet part of the room, Mary had brought the camera crew over do some talking about the daycare. She was holding my little brother and said something to the effect of, “This is Brad’s little brother. Now Brad was the first child I took care of.” Those weren’t the exact words, but that was the basic gist of it.

Anyhow, as the camera panned down to me, I turned and looked right into the camera. With a big confident smile, I raised my clear plastic cup full of a golden-yellow apple juice high above my head and proudly proclaimed, “I’m drinkin’ Beer!”

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Beer, apparently.

I believe Mary choked on the air. Incredibly, she did not drop my little brother.

Anyhow, the rest of the commercial was filmed throughout the day and I believe they wisely kept me away from the camera if I recall correctly. My grand scene did not make the final cut that aired on TV, but I do believe that Mary does have an unedited copy of it somewhere. I should see if I can get a hold of that.