The Spawn of Satan

This past Saturday was turning out to be a good day for me. Even though we are fast approaching our busiest time of year the corporate office issued the edict that no department heads are permitted any overtime. As I was busted up pretty good with big deliveries to prepare for the Christmas rush I was getting out almost two hours early. Yeah, enough time to finish shopping for stocking stuffers, go to confession and get a few quick items at the grocery store.

However, I was feeling a little hungry and had a hankering for some delicious McDonald’s French fries. I pulled up to the drive-thru, placed the order…you know the rest of the drill. As I was pulling away I pressed the button on my power window only to have said window stay firmly in the open position. Hmmm, this isn’t good. I can’t leave the window all the way down to go shopping, I don’t have a garage in which to park the van to keep would be thieves and critters from entering, and our area was expecting rain later in the evening. And it was Saturday after 2:30…not an ideal time to find a mechanic. Needless to say, my initial reaction accomplished nothing other than to lengthen my time at confession should I be able to go.

So, I drove to Wal-Mart, with the window fully down in 48-degree weather. With no hat…and my jacket in the seat next to me. If you don’t already know, Wal-Mart’s auto center doesn’t fix power windows. I drove home, a little faster than normal as I was going to look up places to get the window fixed ASAP. As I mentioned, the weather at those faster speeds with no hat made for chilly driving; and there my confession would be further extended. (My apologies to the little old lady who I think heard me.)

So, I learned a few things after making some phone calls. Much like Wal-Mart, Sears Auto Center doesn’t fix power windows, either. And, on Saturdays, the national chain repair centers don’t answer their phones too readily. As a last resort, I tried the local Ford dealership. I was not expecting the repair shop to be open, but – SERENDIPITY BABY – I was patched through! Oh, I get to leave a voice mail? Well, a few more minutes in confession won’t hurt. Then, my wife tried to get through.

Meanwhile, I grabbed a pair of pliers and a paper towel. The window was all the way down and I couldn’t get even my fingernails onto it, but maybe, just maybe, I could get the pliers into the window enough to grasp the thing and pull it up. (The paper towel was in case I cut myself with broken glass…which would just result in a still longer confession.)

SUCCESS!!! You know that sometimes you shout out the same words when you’re ecstatic that you shout when you’re angry? Yup, that made for a longer confession. But at least now with a window in the full up position, I could make it to confession, and shopping, without worrying about someone or some thing getting in through an open window.

It was a stressful, and slightly sinful, hour. And all because of McDonald’s! Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that McDonald’s is the spawn of Satan.

But, man…they sure got yummy fries!

Epitome of Random – vol. 20

  • I’m thinking of starting a restaurant which caters to the white supremecists: I’ll call it Cracker Ass Cracker Barrel.
  • My seven-year-old was looking at the shadows cast on the wall next to our coats the other day. “Look, Daddy, this one looks like a bunny, and this one looks like, um, something else.” Good observation, sprout of my loins; good observation.
  • As I mentioned in a previous post we recently potty-trained the three-year-old. We had a near set-back as she was holding in her poops and getting constipated. The other day we told her she could only watch some YouTube clips if she pooped. While we were in the middle of praying our nightly Rosary she called from the bathroom, “It’s tricky to go poop!” Needless to say, it was impossible to maintain reverence for a few seconds after that.
  • I don’t like cleaning spider webs off the front porch because I want the little fellas to catch bugs and I find intricate webs to be beautiful. The other day I saw a leaf stuck in a web and immediately thought, “Hmmm, a vegetarian spider. Cool.”
  • From the keeping-it-in-context department: The other day I was trying to get my squirming son dressed. My wife told my seventeen-year-old, “Go help Daddy put his pants on.” My daughter and I just looked at each other and she began to shake her head. Yup, she’s inherited my sense of humor.
  • I’ve been losing a little weight. Add to that the fact that my canvas belt is old and no longer holds too well I’m often hiking up my britches throughout the day. So, regardless of the excessive cloud cover in my region, many of my co-workers had a great view of the Super Moon.
  • Another good potty-related story involving my three-year-old: She once again was holding in her poops. So my wife thought offering oatmeal for breakfast would help keep the pipes clear. She asked, “Would you like a bowl of poo? I mean, oatmeal?” Hey, I can’t blame her; we were only one week away from the election and poo was all over.

Thank Heaven For Little Girls

I sure love my girls, but this little shout out goes to a little girl who is not my own.

I had a different-than-usual work schedule this week, allowing me to accompany my wife and kids to the homeschool co-op they attend. During lunch break I took my three-year-old out to the swings. A lot of the other younger children were there, too. One little five-year-old girl was on the swing next to my daughter’s, being pushed by my thirteen-year-old.

This little girl asked me, “What’s your name?” So I said, “Jason.” As I continued to push my girl on her swing this other little girl would chat with us, asking my name every few minutes with a silly little smile on her adorable face.

After one such repeat of her favorite question, I answered, “You can call me the cookie man, because I give out cookies to good little kids like you at work.” She laughed, then asked my name again.

Thinking that adding a title of address may help, I answered, “Mister Jason!”

Bad idea, because she giggled out, “Mrs. Jason!!”

“No, not Mrs. Jason; Mr. Jason.”

“Mrs. Jason!” (giggle-giggle-giggle)

This went on for the remainder of the lunch break, between a few other random five-year-old appropriate conversational topics. It really cracked me up. Especially when she was getting ready to go to her next class and called me Mrs. Jason in front of her mother.

It was a great way to start off my week, because the next two days at work were a little rough. I showed up at 6 (usual starting time 7) to place the order which I couldn’t place being off the prior day; an order due by 8:30am. However, my baker had called out the night before (her shift was supposed to start at 5). So, I had to rush my order then start baking about 1:20 after the baking start time; plus I had to also perform my other duties which should start at 7 but had to be pushed back until the 3-plus hours of baking were done.

The next day our baker was back, but my 8am helper called out. That left me as the sole counter person until my 1:30 clerk showed up…all on the day my previous order was to be delivered and put away by yours truly. Fortunately the delivery was going to arrive at the same time as my clerk. But, when I heard it would be over an hour later, I was getting a  little hot under the collar.

Until I looked about fifteen feet away to see my new-found friend and her mother perusing our Sushi department. I got a cookie and walked it over to them. I asked mom if it was okay for her daughter to have the cookie. She said yes. And upon presenting said cookie to the little cutie she thanked me without any prompting from her mom.

“Thanks, Mrs. Jason.” (giggle)

Thank you, little one, for brightening up my day.

And, in case you were wondering, no I’m not changing this to themrsjasonsmind. I work retail…I can’t afford that kind of operation.

Potty Training

A short while back we began potty training our youngest daughter. Let me correct that, off and on over the past 8 months we’ve tried potty training our youngest daughter, a feat not made any easier by having a very active baby boy in the house. However, our most recent attempt was going to be our final, we had decided.

The first step was actually quite simple. I went to Wal-Mart and called home on the cell phone to tell her what kinds of panties were available. She picked the My Little Pony panties and we told her to keep them clean and dry. Well, that worked, because she didn’t want to give the ponies a shower, neither of the golden variety nor any other. However, we were still having trouble with her pooping. No, she didn’t go in her pants, she held it in like it were money. Yes, this was her stubborn streak shining through.

I’ve heard of lots of parents having the same struggle with their little ones; peeing in the potty works out just fine, but pooping becomes a challenge. Of course we didn’t want her to get backed up, so we had to come up with a reward for pooping in the potty. Okay, let’s be honest, the advice-givers call it a reward but all parents really know it’s just a bribe. Fortunately, we had one on tap. You see, when we would visit my parents she would always ask to play with a toy cat that looked like Marie from The Aristocats. She named it White (because Caucasian is too hard for a toddler to pronounce). So the deal was if she pooped thrice in the potty she could bring home White! And, no, we’re not racists – we don’t believe that three browns are equal to only one white, so don’t go there.

So, after less than a week, White came to live with us. Bribery works! (Just ask any career politician.) And we are certainly happy to close out this chapter in parenting with this child. Granted we’re not as happy as the McNeils (click here, you’ll love it), but I certainly have a new-found appreciation for their overall enthusiasm.

If you’ve ever read my earliest posts you’ll know my little blog has no theme. This entry just proves that I’ll write about all sorts of crap!

A Closer Look At the Candidates

The ballots are set; votes shall be cast; opinions shall fly from all directions; and, come November, we shall see who comes out on top, and who has to wait to try again. In that aftermath, some will celebrate, some will lament, but we will all carry on in our daily lives. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the nominees for the Toy Hall of Fame were recently released, and I, for one, would like to add my two cents. Which I can do here, because it’s my blog. Wait, what did you think I was talking about?

First, let’s look at some previous inductees to gain some insight into what it takes for a toy/game to make it into the Toy Hall of Fame.

Monopoly, I believe the best-selling board game of all time, was one of the first inductees in the inaugural 1998 year. It really is a wonderful choice as the rules are easy enough for families with children to enjoy, yet the competition can be fierce, indeed. Monopoly is perhaps my all-time favorite board game. Happy to see it was one of the first in the hall.

LEGO!! Oh yeah, baby! Nothing says playtime quite like LEGOs. Perhaps the ultimate creative toy, LEGO earned honors as Toy of the Century from multiple groups. It’s easy to see why, just 6 different pieces can be combined in almost one billion possible configurations. The child (or adult) who builds with LEGO bricks is limited pretty much by only his/her imagination. I’m happy to report LEGO was also an inaugural inductee.

Crayola Crayons. I’ve been to the Crayola Experience in downtown Easton, PA, and it’s been greatly enhanced since. If you’re ever in the vicinity I highly recommend it, even without kids. Crayons are a great tool for kids to exercise their own creativity on a blank page. Although lots of other companies make crayons, it’s the story of Crayola that reflects our cultural history as well.

The Stick. No, there’s not a toy named The Stick, we’re just talking about sticks. How many times can you see a child on a playground, in a park or in their backyard just pick up a stick and spend time imagining all sorts of scenarios with just that stick. It was a surprise nominee in 2008, and a better nominee than two people who are candidates in something else this year. (I won’t name names, but they rhyme with Stump and Quinton.)

But enough about previous winners, let’s get down to the hopefuls for 2016!

Care Bears, Clue, the Coloring Book, Nerf, Transformers and Uno are all worthy entries, but not inductee material. Granted that’s just my opinion, but I don’t think they have the staying power of the other possibles. Care Bears only were nominated due to their former fans being older now; Clue, much like Care Bears, is more of nostalgia pick; the Coloring Book wouldn’t be an afterthought without the previous inductee of Crayola Crayons (which can stand on their own); Nerf is too generic, although could be a sleeper pick; Transformers are too connected to a series of violent and not-very-spectacular movies; and Uno is a Spanish word seeking acceptance in a year in which Donald Trump was nominated for President.

So, if they’re your obvious losers, who are the possible winners, The Jason?

Fisher-Price Little People: Okay, I was going to mark them for losers, too, as I don’t think they’re deserving. However, after seven previous nominations Fisher-Price Little People are the Susan Lucci’s of the Toy Hall of Fame. They may get the sympathy vote.

Dungeons and Dragons: No, I’m not saying this because I’m a former D&D geek, but the game has many high-profile former D&D geeks in the entertainment industry. When you have influential friends, you can get your hands on the proverbial hardware.

Pinball: My city recently opened a Pinball Museum, which I really want to visit. Sadly, it’s a little too expensive for me. That said, attendance has been above expectations at last report, from many different types of people. If my little city is a snapshot of America, then Pinball has a shot!

Swing: How many hours of entertainment have children had on swings, whether they be professionally designed or old-fashioned tire swings? How much exercise have parents gotten via pushing their children ENDLESSLY on swings (this daddy included)? And how many hours of entertainment have YouTube watchers received from watching people try to do stupid stunts on swings?

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots: The most directly violent entry on our list, perfect for a society surrounded by violent images on our news, television shows, movies and music. Plus, no toy is more prophetic as we are transitioning to warfare settled by robots and technology (can anyone say drone-strike!). And they were the best non-Disney/Pixar cameo in a Disney/Pixar film! If they don’t get in, I’m going to have to knock someone’s head off!

Vote With Both Hands

2016, and another presidential election – my seventh – is upon us. I’ve known many people, myself included, who’ve had to “hold their nose” to vote for one candidate just so they weren’t voting for the other. This year may feature more of the same as we are presented with choosing between a totally corrupt, power-hunger pathological liar and an unhinged, sociopathic narcissist. Great job narrowing it down to these two; can I hear a chant of, “USA – USA – USA!”

The biggest problem is that most people are ignorant of the fact, or just don’t acknowledge the reality, that there are MORE THAN JUST TWO CHOICES FOR PRESIDENT. Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson (my pick) is on all fifty ballots, Green Party Candidate Jill Stein is on the vast majority of ballots, and Constitution Party Candidate Darrell Castle is on most ballots as well. Even beyond those three, there are still many more candidates on different ballots, even, possibly, Vermin Supreme.

But the electorate has been conditioned to believe that only the two big parties have a chance to win and, therefore, you must “hold your nose” and vote for one of them or you’d be “throwing away your vote.” The Republicans and Democrats are master fear-mongers setting up the game in which you vote for their terrible candidate to prevent the other, worse candidate from winning. It’s the game the two-party system wants you to keep playing. But if you keep playing the game you will keep being played by the game.

I’m not playing that game anymore.

One of the biggest myths is that a non-Democrat/Republican cannot win the White House. I’ll admit that it’s an uphill battle, but it’s not impossible. Even though the polls are set up to keep the “third party” candidates off the radar, we can get them the votes they need for some real change. (Actually, I was called the other day by a polling group. After answering lots of general questions they finally got to the Presidential election. I was given the choice of Trump, Clinton, another candidate, undecided, or not voting. After picking another candidate I was then asked if it was a two-person race would I vote for Trump, Clinton, undecided or not vote. Um, why can’t I have my say for Gary Johnson, and why can’t others have their say for Jill Stein, Darrell Castle, Vermin Supreme or anybody else?)

I’ve done some simple research and have identified a way a third party candidate has a shot at winning. (My methodology will be explained at the end.)

With our dominant two-party system we see election results where the winner gets typically over 50% of the vote. However, looking more closely at the elections in my lifetime, the winners only received between 25 and 30% of the eligible vote; 30% being broken only thrice in my lifetime and one-third never having been attained by a candidate. In a two-party system, failing to get one-third of the population to vote for you just flat out sucks. It certainly isn’t the political referendum they want you to think it is.

Let’s break down some of those numbers…

In 2012 President Obama was re-elected with only 29.7% of the vote eligible population (VEP), second place behind the 41.8% who voted for nobody.

In 2008 Senator Obama won his first term with 32.6% of the VEP (highest in my lifetime, congrats President Obama), but still second to the 38.4% of nobody.

In 2004 President Bush won re-election with 30.5% of the VEP, second to 39.9% of nobody.

In 2000 Governor Bush won, via Electoral College votes and not popular election, with 25.9% of the VEP. The 45.8% for nobody was way ahead of both him and Vice President Gore.

In 1996 President Clinton (hopefully our last) won re-election with 25.5% of the VEP, well short of the 48.3% for nobody.

In 1992 Governor Clinton won his first term with 25% of the VEP, once again short of the 41.9% for nobody.

In 1988 Vice President Bush took a promotion with 28.2% of the VEP, well behind nobody’s 47.2%.

In 1984 President Reagan pummeled his competitors yet still only received 32.4% of VEP, while 44.8% voted nobody.

In 1980 Governor Reagan won with 27.5%, still second to 45.8% nobody.

And in 1976 Governor Carter won 27.4%, even though, like all other presidents named above, still lost to nobody who earned 45.2%.

President Obama in 2008 and President Bush in 2004 are the only two even within striking distance of “nobody,” yet still well behind.

Now let’s make an assumption (based on no empirical data whatsoever) that 10% of the vote for both big party candidates are of the “hold your nose” variety. (I think that’s a low figure, personally, but it’s where we shall start.) Then, take one-half of the nobody vote and throw it into a third-party candidate and you can see things get REALLY interesting. Yes, the eventual winner still beats them out (except for 1996 and 2000), but the margins for the general election are razor thin. And there will always be detractors who point out Ross Perot’s failed bid as a popular third-party candidate who didn’t really do much in the general election. My contention is that I do believe when election time came nearer, the old philosophy of “only two options” took over the mindset of many voters. I may be wrong, but it’s my assumption.

Yeah, you’re thinking, this numbers game is neat, but what does that mean for this, or any, election? Well, imagine if 80% or more of the VEP actually bothered to vote; specifically for someone other  than the two big parties. All of a sudden the reported numbers for those candidates would be truly reflective of about one quarter of the population really supporting them as opposed to the very misleading figures of 55-60%. Even though the current two self-centered big party candidates wouldn’t consider that a statement against them, perhaps the rest of the Democrats and Republicans will notice those numbers and listen more to the people and less to the party line. They all need to be put on notice. Heck, perhaps Johnson, Stein or Castle can win some states here and there, wrecking havoc on the electoral map. Especially if any of the nose-holders vote for one of them along with some of the 45% who haven’t been voting in past elections.

Now, what if you don’t like any candidate, the ones I’ve mentioned or the many others I haven’t? Then do what I’ve done for 1 Presidential, 1 Gubernatorial, and 5 other offices and write your own name in. That way a vote is being cast and NOT counted towards a candidate who didn’t earn it, thereby taking us back to my previous point of generating election results which accurately reflect the VEP’s dissatisfaction with the candidates offered up.

In a nutshell, don’t hold your proverbial nose to vote. Get out there and vote for who you really and truly want, or yourself. Just vote with both hands.

 

A note on my methodology…

I pulled up statistics on the percent of the voting eligible population which actually voted from this page. After that, I pulled up final election results from this page. Then, I took the percentage of votes from the second page and multiplied it by the VEP who bothered to vote to determine what percent of the VEP actually voted for the winning candidate.

How Your Kids See You

We have a Disney version of the classic memory card game. I have played it with the two younger girls on occasion. However, sometimes the three-year-old likes to play with the cards face up. Then I’ll call out a character for her or her sister to find the matching pair for. Then, she’ll tell me which character to find. Kind of takes the challenge out of the game, but it’s good, quality time with my youngsters, and I love it.

However, the other day I was a little concerned with the characters Daddy was asked to find.

Dumbo

Goofy

Dopey

Pooh

Why, pray tell, does my three-year-old associate the words, “Dumbo, Goofy, Dopey, and Pooh” with her father.

Hmmm, I’ll have to keep my eye on this one.