Monday, August 11, 2014

My Crack At Parade

Does anyone read Parade magazine? It's an insert that comes with the Sunday newspaper. It claims to be America's most read magazine, and I guess that's because it takes all of five minutes to read. Parade has a lot of fluff and it makes Reader's Digest look like muckraking journalism.

One column is called "Walter Scott's Personality," where some guy named Walter Scott answers readers' questions about celebrities and entertainment. Each week I'm shocked that people actually take the time to submit questions to Walter, and I seriously believe that they're all made up.

After reading this week's "Personality" column, I figured I'd take a crack at answering a few of the questions myself. 

Q: Does The Profit's Marcus Lemonis have any tips for kids running a lemonade stand? - Zach R., Columbus, Ohio.
AZT: Really? You hope to maximize a kid's entrepreneurial potential through a lemonade stand? You're missing the entire point of a lemonade stand. The kid sees that you have to make the stand, make the lemonade, set prices, wait for customers to come, provide good customer service, etc. They realize that there is actually quite a bit of effort into making money, and they learn a valuable lesson. The lesson is: Work sucks. Avoid it as long as you can.

Q: Would Joy Behar ever return to The View? - Diana T., Annapolis, Md.

AZT: My word. No one should want Joy Behar to return to The View. Everyone knows that Meredith Vieira was the best person to ever sit on that illustrious panel! If you agree, please visit my Facebook page "Meredith, Please Come Back!" And don't forget to Like the page. Thanks!

Q: Does Derek Hough have a favorite dance partner from Dancing With the Stars? - Sheri A., Arvada, Colo.

AZT: Sheesh, Sheri. The guy's been paired with Shannon Elizabeth, Brooke Burke, Joanna Krupa, and Nicole Scherzinger. That's like picking your favorite Lamborghini. Like he has any room to find fault with any of them.


Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Smallest to the Biggest

If any of you are as nerdy as I am, you're going to love this. It shows you everything from the Planck Length to the whole frickin' universe. In six minutes! Holy crap! I will warn you to mute this video and put on better music. Pink Floyd would work well. Classical music would do.

Any way, enjoy. I've watched this at least a dozen times.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Why I Don't Want to Get Another Pet Ever (evidence from my day)

5:40am - My alarm goes off. The cat greets me at the gate we have on the bedroom door. We have the gate on the door so the dog won't sneak out in the middle of the night and crap or pee on the living room rug.

5:42am - I let the dog out to do his business. The cat goes out too.

5:44am - I really have to pee. I can't see if the dog has finished his business, and I know that if I go to the bathroom, he'll want to come in and will start barking at the back door. And the barking will wake my wife, who doesn't have to get up until 7:30. So better to just hold it.

5:46am - The dog approaches the back door, wipes his butt on the cement porch, sniffs it, then comes inside. The cat remains outside.

5:47am - As I finally get to pee, the dog bursts into the bathroom and paws at my leg until I say good morning and pet him.

5:55am - I'm starting my computer for work (I work from home every other Friday). The cat scratches at the back door. I let her in.

5:57am - The cat is hungry and tells me all about it. I put a can of cat food in a bowl, set it on the top step of the basement stairs, and close the door. I do this so she will eat, and the dog can't scare her off and steal her food.

5:59am - The cat is done eating, so she scratches at the basement door. I let her back upstairs and close the door.

6:01am - The dog begins whining because he can smell the cat's food but can't get to it because the door is closed. I bring the bowl upstairs and set it in the kitchen so he can finish what she left in the bowl. Because who doesn't want picked-over cat food? Keep in mind that I'm trying to log in and start doing work through all this.

6:06am - A gentle serenity sets in. The dog is sleeping on the couch, and the cat is either sleeping or grooming herself somewhere (turns out she's sleeping at the foot of our bed). I actually can do a little work and have a cup of coffee. It's quiet, no other creature in the house is awake, and I have coffee. This is my favorite part of the week.

7:35am - My wife gets up and so do the cat and dog. When my wife goes to the bathroom, the dog also barges in on her and demands some attention. The cat comes into the kitchen and begs for some milk, of which she takes a few sips and walks away. Why would she ever drink more than a teaspoon of milk that she begged for?

7:43am - The dog is back to sleeping on the couch, and now the cat wants dry food.

8:39am - Amid my wife and kids starting their day, the babysitter arrives with her son. The dog goes absolutely berserk. He loves getting company, especially the babysitter. But her son is terrified of the dog. So I have to let him say hello to them for a moment while this little kid is crouched into a ball to avoid him. Then I have to try to lure him back into the bedroom with deli turkey. But the dickhead keeps hiding under the desk in the kitchen. Finally, my wife and I cooperate to get him in the bedroom and put up the gate to keep him out of the way. He barks periodically until my wife leaves for work.

9:02am - Things are pretty well settled with the kids, babysitter, wife, etc, so I go to my office in the basement. I throw a dirty towel in the laundry room and notice that the cat has taken a huge dump in her litter box. Eh. I'll get to that a little later.

9:03am - I notice the cat has puked under my desk. I spend the next 10 minutes cleaning it off the carpet, because the pets never puke or pee or crap on a wood or cement floor that cleans easily.

9:14am - Might as well empty the litter box while I feel completely gross after cleaning cat vomit.

10:47am - As I'm preparing for a conference call, the dog is barking and whining upstairs. I guess he has to pee. Now if I just open the gate and let him out of the bedroom, there is no way in hell that he will just go outside. I'll have to coax him out with turkey or cheese. So I pick him up, step over the gate and carry him out. I stay outside while he pees. When he's ready to go back in, I pick him up and set him on the other side of the gate in the bedroom. Remember that our babysitter's son is terrified of this 30-pound monster, so I need to keep him in the bedroom where he can't bother anyone.

11:11am - The dog barks ferociously at a delivery truck. Judging from his reaction, the truck must be full of psychotic arsonists or something. I have to explain to everyone on the conference call what the background noise is.

1:19pm - The cat emerges from under the guest bed in the basement. She demands attention by rubbing on my legs and pawing at me for the next 45 minutes. I finally open the door to a closet so she can go in there and snoop around for a while.

On days I work from home, I'm usually done around 3:30. For most of the rest of the day, the cat and the dog both nap. Why would they bother me now that I'm done working? But once our kids are in bed, the pets realize that they can demand our attention again. So they beg for food. They want to go outside, come back inside, get on the couch, and on and on. The dog goes outside and barks at other dogs that are barking in the neighborhood, so we have to chase him back into the house before the neighbors get pissed. The cat gets in fights with other neighborhood cats, so we have to break up the fights.

I used to say that once either of them died, we would stay at one pet. And then once that pet died, my wife could choose whether she wanted a cat or a dog, but we would only have one pet whatever her choice was. I've reneged. I'm going to need a total pet respite for a while once these two are gone.


Monday, July 07, 2014

My New Addiction

People who have known me for a long time know that I drank professionally from my late teens to mid 20s. Well, I didn't actually get paid to drink, but I was certainly at a level where I could have been a pro drinker if that was actually a thing that a person could do.

After a few big life changes (career, marriage, kids) I realized that I couldn't be a functioning adult and continue to drink the way that I did. So I quit drinking for 15 months. It wasn't the easiest thing to do (especially at first) and a lot of people really couldn't understand why I did it, but I felt better. I was happier. No more hangovers. I saved money. I didn't have to worry about "time traveling" (or as you might call it "blacking out").

Although now I still have the occasional drink, another substance has entered my life: coffee. And the reasons that I gave for slowing down drinking (career, marriage, kids) are the exact reasons why I need coffee now.

I didn't even drink coffee until I had been dating my wife for a while. (And my caffeine habit pales in comparison to hers.) Then my daughter came along, and the occasion cup of coffee turned into a semi daily thing. Just because I couldn't be a zombie and be part of society. But when I started my federal job, getting coffee with a coworker 2-3 times a week became a daily occurrence. Now I need coffee. NEED IT.

I don't have a ridiculous habit like some people. I have two cups in the morning and sometimes a cup in the afternoon. And those afternoon coffees make me feel like I'm being shockingly decadent.

If I don't have coffee, I will have a splitting headache by 9:30 in the morning. So I've given in to my mild caffeine addiction, and not just because I like to spend a lot of time reading in the bathroom. I like the taste. I like the social aspect of coffee.

But there are times when I need to check myself. The other day, my wife drank the last of a pot we had made that morning. But I wanted more coffee and didn't feel like making another whole pot. As I was about to throw out the used coffee grounds and filter, I looked it and thought, "If I rolled that up and smoked it, what would happen?"

Maybe it's time to cut back a little bit.


Friday, June 27, 2014

A Good DC Week

I’m taking my break from my usual snottiness to say that I love being in DC this week. It feels very alive. There was a taxi cab protest, cannons were fired on the National Mall, I saw a woman with a grossly swollen arm, people packed bars and public screenings of Team USA’s match against Germany. People seemed to be very energized this week. It’s what you always want to see in your city, but you don’t always get it.


Friday, June 06, 2014

Phrases That Need to Go: It Is What It Is

I'm not even sure where to start with this one. It really pisses me off.

It's a little embarrassing to admit this, but I really started to notice "It is what it is" when I used to watch the show American Chopper. I know. It's kind of a meathead show, but it was entertaining and I like watching people make stuff. If you're not familiar with that show, the father and son, who worked together, would get into a screaming match nearly every episode, and then the camera would cut to a side interview with the son who would be like, "My dad's tough on me. It is what it is." And when you analyze that sentence, what he really means is, "My dad's tough on me. He's tough on me."

An nice little addition that many people include with "It is what it is" is either a shoulder shrug or hands raised with the palms upturned. Like, "I don't know and I don't care."

And that's really what they mean. Whenever someone says "It is what it is" they're basically saying is, "I care so little about this current conversation, I'm not actually going to put any thought into it. I'll drop this little phrase into it, and it'll sound just snappy enough that you won't notice that I just wasted your time."

Each time someone slaps me with this one, I stop them. "What does that mean?"


"'It is what it is?' What does that mean?"

This momentary challenge is usually enough to make someone realize that they just verbally farted in your face. Then they can reset and get on to making their point.

Because whenever someone uses "It is what it is," what he or she really means is "the situation can't be changed so I may as well just accept it." I know that's a mouthful, but Jumpin' Jesus on a pogostick, it sounds a lot more intelligent.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Phrases That Need to Go: At the End of the Day

In the current cycle of phrases are used that pop up in media interviews and even casual conversation, there is a glut of sayings that are completely pointless and annoying. Topping my list is “at the end of the day.” People throw this one around like it’s candy corn on Halloween.

Here’s a sample of this phrase in use. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the kids.” What the hell does that mean? At the beginning of the day, it’s not about the kids? So first thing in the morning, “Screw the kids. It’s anarchy and debauchery today. Let them parse the world out themselves.” However, during the course of the day, a gradual change of heart occurs. Amongst all the sinning and depravity, a person finds the will to care for the most innocent and defenseless of humankind. The tender soul prevails at the end of the day!

You hear this crap from politicians and athletes, too. “At the end of the day, we need to provide the best health care for our veterans.” “At the end of the day, we just didn’t do enough to win the game.” Again, are things any different when you wake up?

The only time anyone should use this phrase is truly when one’s focus or intentions change during the day. So if a father were to say, “The hours of prostitutes, boozing, and street fighting are fun, but at the end of the day, it’s all about being at home with my family,” that’s a correct use of the phrase.