Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Break Past, Present, and Future

     Spring Break is here!  School is out, and the kids are home with dear old dad.  This time around we've got back up here, because Grandma and Grandpa are down from Wisconsin.  This takes the heat off of me for a little while, and the kids love spending time with their grandparents.  Well, in my spare time I began to think about all the Spring Break's of past years.  Boy, how things have changed.  Spring Break from 20 something years ago is much different than Spring Break of today, and I'll bet  Spring Break 20 something years from now will be even more different.  To quote day time television's greatest show ever, "Like sands through the hourglass so are the Days of our Lives."  Don't lie, you've watched Bo and Hope a time or two.  While I was in this state of mind I thought I would write a few things down about Spring Break, past, present, and future.  So, enjoy your taste of the warm weather to come.  Sit on the beach with a cold drink in hand or just chill anywhere you can.  Soak it up, because it'll be gone before you know it.

     Lets see, about 25 years ago I was hanging in good old Panama City Beach, Florida for Spring Break.  The trip was eventful and included changing hotel rooms for undisclosed reasons, toting an oversize cooler for what felt like 10 miles, a bottle busted on the head of a good friend of mine, and an unfortunate Body Glove spandex incident.  The names will be withheld to protect the guilty, but we had a blast!  I would never want my children to do the things that I have done, and I chalk it up to the times.  It's just like the people that lived before the automobile.  They didn't drive cars.  Same thing about the folks that were around before Television.  They didn't watch TV.  Well, we didn't have any sense, so we didn't use any.  Panama City was always the destination of choice for any beach getaway, and my friends and I had cornered the market on cheap accommodations.  For example, the Bahama Motel was about $20 a night, and came with a color television, running water, and even had pets already in place for your enjoyment, although you wouldn't want to pet them.  All inclusive it was not, but how much time do you really spend in a hotel room at the beach anyway?  Especially when you're 18 years old.  I suppose I can tell these stories, because the statute of limitations is surely up on crimes against good and normalcy.  Not that we were that bad mind you, but a little reckless and rebellious for sure.  We were like many young people of the time, wannabe renegades with restless spirits in search of a certain meaning and direction for our lives.  Well, that's just a poetic way of saying we were young, stupid, and made a whole lot of mistakes.  Fun mistakes at times, but still mistakes none the less.  What would I do if I had to do it all over again?  Probably the same thing minus any intoxicating substances.  Do away with the bad stuff and have fun.  I am anti-alcohol/drugs these days, and looking back we probably could have had just as much fun without all that garbage.  Who knows, maybe more fun.

     Spring Break this very week is a rocking and rolling adventure!  I've been watching TV Land, and my days have consisted of Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Andy Griffith, and Gilligan's Island.  I like to walk on the wild side, and live on the edge.  Don't hate.  I have discovered that TV Land programming during the day has commercials that are geared toward a select audience.  I have to sit through commercials about comfortable lubricated catheters, reverse mortgages, adjustable back braces that are easily hidden under clothing, and the advantages of life insurance for not leaving the burden of funeral expenses for your loved ones.  I think that I would fit right in with over 80 set, and we seem to like the same television programming. Well it does make you wonder if this is what I have to look forward to:  catheters, running out of money, a bad back, and death.  TV Land commercials aside I have enjoyed watching my boy Jesse play some baseball, and I love to watch him play!  I love me some baseball, and that is mainly because of my wonderful son and his exploits on the baseball diamond.  We are fortunate this year, because we are making a transition into a different league and skill level of baseball, and the kids, parents, and coaches are top notch people all the way around.  We're looking forward to more good times around good people and good baseball!

     I have to say what I look forward to least during times like Spring Break is food preparation.  Especially if I am the only one doing said food preparation.  My past reads like a Stephen King tale of horror when it comes to cooking or anything to do with feeding my children.  I can pre-heat an oven with the best of them and I am the King of all things Microwavable, but that is about the extent of it.  Maddie survived on Milk, Mac and Cheese, Sweet Potatoes, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch for the first 3 years of her life.  I have been known to mix up a concoction of yogurt and bananas and call it my "Banana Surprise."  The other day I made Jesse a fine Roast Beef and Swiss sandwich that I was really proud of, but he wasn't a fan.  He said, "Dad, I don't like this."  I asked him, "Why, Jesse it's really good."  He replied, "I thought when you said Roast Beef you meant Arby's."  I looked him in the eye and said, "How in the heck am I supposed to come up with an Arby's Roast Beef sandwich in our kitchen?"  Jesse confidently told me, "You can do it.  I look up to you Daddy."  As if that would make any difference at all.  I ate the rest of his sandwich.  It was good, but it sure wasn't Arby's Roast Beef.

     What will happen in the Spring Break of the future?  I'll set the scene for you about 20 years in the future.  My lovely wife and I will be residing somewhere in the Caribbean.  We like to call our home the Oasis, and it was bought and paid for after the publication of my first novel, "Tales from the Dadside."  I'm kind of a big deal in the future.  Jesse has become the first ever Professional Baseball/Football player who moonlights as a Brain Surgeon and Nuclear Physicist.  We're extremely proud.  He is married to a Victoria's Secret model who is also a member of MENSA.  They have four beautiful children 2 boys (Chris Jr., and Chris III) and 2 girls (Christy and Christina.)  They come down to the Perry Compound every Spring Break to see us.  Madison Leigh, my lovely daughter, also visits us every Spring.  You may have heard of her, she is the first ever Woman President who also is an MMA fighter when she's not handling national and international business.  Nobody could tell her she couldn't be President, and fight in a she did them both.  That's just how she rolls.  She never married though, because I could never find a man good enough for my little girl.  Well, that part is probably more fantasy than any of the rest of it, but the sentiment is definitely true.  I surely hope my Spring Break of the future turns out like the above description, and my kids don't end up in Panama City at the Bahama Motel getting beer bottles busted on their heads.  I hope and pray.  Happy Spring Break!


Monday, March 17, 2014

The 1/2 inch Binder Incident and Last Second Math Jump Shot

     How difficult is it to find a 1/2 inch binder with a clear front cover for a 5th grader?  Undoubtedly, more difficult than one would assume, and we all know what happens when we assume, right?  However, the 1/2 inch binder with the clear front cover was only part of a challenging day of parenting for me, and I decided to detail the entire day.  Well, at least the high points of the day, or would that be low points?  You be the judge.  Welcome to the Jungle....

     It started off with normal morning activities while getting ready for the day ahead.  My wife had to leave early to take care of important Dr. Cheryl things at work, and left me flying solo.  I can be dangerous when left to my own devices.  This has been true from the jump.  The first wild card that I was dealt was syrup in the hair of a 5 year old girl.  Syrup is a pain to get out under normal circumstances, and if you don't really have time for a proper bathing ritual then you have to get creative.  I have become the creative hair guru around here.  I am a ninja master at the art of using hot water and apple flavored hair detangler as a pseudo shampoo method.  However, we were out of apple flavored hair detangler on this morning, and I decided to use an old hair mousse trick I learned back in my 80s mullet days.  I had a fine mullet by the way.  Well, it was going pretty well until I turned around to check on Jesse, and when I turned back around Maddie had used more mousse than originally intended.  A whole lot more mousse than originally intended.  I should expect this from the girl who leaves Blue Bug Juice bottles all over her room after a particularly wild night.  She's like some kind of sugar water drunkard or something.  By the time I was finished in a futile attempt to remedy the situation her hair looked fossilized.  Well, technically it would be lithification.  I'm more acquainted with rocks than I ever have wanted to be previously.  So, I reckon I should know the correct term.  No matter.  We had to move on to the next episode.

     The next episode of note just happened to be a quest for a 1/2 inch binder with a clear front cover that Jesse needed for school.  Undoubtedly, obtaining this folder was of extreme importance, not only for Jesse's teacher but also my wife.  The teachers don't really put a lot of fear in my heart, because I've always been a bit of a non-conformist with a rebellious nature.  However, I have to live with my wife and harmony in the home is important to me.  Plus you can't break the law when you're sleeping with the to speak anyway.  Maybe not the best analogy.  My first stop on my 1/2 inch binder quest was the Dollar store.  I love the Dollar store.  I'm a Dollar store addict, and I go there for just about everything.  The only problem is that I never get out cheap, and the whole Dollar store idea is kind of lost on me.  Regardless, I went there first.  No Dice!  They didn't have this particular binder.  Next stop was Target.  Target is an option when you don't want to deal with all the negative aspects of Sam Walton's mecca of everyday low prices....the dreaded, the horrible, the place where you see things that can't be unseen....Wal Mart!  Unfortunately, on this day Target was of no assistance at all. No binder. No help. I did find some cool Marshmallow Crispy Oreo Cookies, though. I knew that the only option I had left was dancing with the devil. Wal Mart was in my future, and this was of great concern. I don't like Wal Mart. Period.

     Wal Mart is hell on earth.  It is the Joker to my Batman, and because of so many unfortunate incidents in this pit of evil over the years I try and avoid it at all costs.  However, I really needed this 1/2 inch binder for my son's continuing educational advancement.  Just the other day Jesse asked me, "Dad, can I go to and discover what my brain can do?"  Needless to say, he really needs that 1/2 inch binder.  I'll do anything for that boy, and this is only one instance of many.  It was pretty early on a Thursday morning so the fires of hell at Wal Mart hadn't exactly started raging yet.  I ducked and weaved my way through, and went to the school supplies section without being accosted.  However, they did not appear to have this particular folder.  By this point I was getting a little irritated, because I was spending entirely too much time looking for this item.  I approached two ladies working in the school supplies section, and against my better judgment asked for assistance.  It's been my experience that asking for help from Sam Walton's minions, you don't always receive the help you're looking for.  The wonderment of this deal was that these very nice ladies helped me.  They helped me a whole lot.  Not only did they assist me in my plight for this item, but they went to the back to retrieve a 1/2 inch binder with a clear front for me.  I thanked them, and as I was leaving I wondered if this wasn't a sign from above.  Maybe.  Just maybe.  The man upstairs wants me to make peace with Wal Mart.  I kinda felt like Abraham for a moment when he was commanded by the Almighty to do away with his son Isaac.  I did put that whole idea into perspective after a couple of seconds, and I may just give Wal Mart a second chance.  At least until some half crazy wild eyed nut with back boobs rolls up on me in the produce aisle asking the question, "Can you thump my melon?"  I have seen the light!  Well, maybe.

     Things have been really busy around here lately, and while this is not unusual, the business of running the Perry household can be hectic.  The daily grind coupled with my second life as a 42 year old college senior can bring many challenges, some fair and some unfair.  After a day of the student life in addition to my quest for a 1/2 inch binder with a clear cover I finally came home to enjoy a little Gunsmoke or Gilligan's Island on television, but I had to take an online Math quiz.  The quiz was on Quadratic equations and the Zero factor theorem, and I think I'm nauseous.  Yea, I am nauseous.  When I attempted to take this quiz my math tutor Dr. Cheryl was taking a much deserved nap on the couch.  These quizzes are timed by the way.  I realized a few minutes in that I may be in a little trouble.  Not because I don't know what I'm doing, but because sometimes during the learning process it's difficult to determine which of the infinite number of Math rules that have been presented should be used for any particular problem.  I've been in high speed chases, arrested people who were literally trying to kill me, and have pretty much been thrown into all kinds of dangerous situations in my past.  However, this math quiz scared the hell out of me, and I panicked.  I was concerned with time, and I forgot everything, it seemed like.  I began clearing my throat really loudly in hopes that my lovely math tutor would awake from her slumber and bail me out once again.  The longer it took her to realize that I was in math distress the louder the ticks of the clock began to get.  It was like the Tell Tale Heart math style.  Just when I thought all hope was lost my tutor rose.  It was like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, and I knew I had a at least a punchers chance to finish gloriously with the assistance of the smartest person I know.  She checked my work, and corrected some of my stupid math mistakes.  She told me the best method to use in working the problems left on the quiz.  The clock hit 1 minute left, with one problem remaining.  Brains active, pens running across scratch paper feverishly, and all sense gone!  The time finally got down to seconds remaining, and my mouse cursor was hovering above the "submit" button.  Then finally.......Somewhere children are playing, somewhere families are frolicking, and somewhere life is as if it were Heaven-sent.  Could there be joy in the Perry house after math....the answer is yes, because Chris just made a 100 percent!  Thanks Cheryl.  Last second math jump shot saved the day! 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Zombies Among Us

     I knew a man once who said, "Death smiles at us all, all a man can do is smile back."  To be honest, I'm not sure if I actually knew that man or if the quote is from a movie.  Probably a movie.  The point is that some terrible stuff will rear it's ugly head, but how bad it is all depends on how you handle it.  My tribe has been hit with an awful Zombie stomach virus that had to be created by the devil himself.  Any sickness that involves emptying stomach contents in any form or fashion is on my crap list, no pun intended.  I've had my bouts with humorous nausea in the past, but this wasn't humorous at all.  This is not your too many Long Island Teas at El Palacio kind of sick- this is Ninth Circle of hell kind of sick.  I'm trying to smile in the face of this demonic spawn of the flu, but it just ain't that easy.  It's like this bunch of mine got into a bad chocolate fountain at the Golden Corral.  It's up to me to tell their story.  A challenge that I am up for most definitely.

     First it was Jesse that got hit with the bug.  My sole male heir is not the best sick person either.  He doesn't handle sickness well, and it's almost like he turns into a different person.  He won't listen to reason...but come to think of it he doesn't normally have the best listening skills.  Surprisingly, when Maddie was struck with this horrible malady she took it on like a boss!  She wouldn't give the virus from hell the satisfaction of knowing it got to her.  Which fits her personality to a tee.  Cheryl was infected last, and probably she got the worst of it.  At the time of this post, I was still the sole survivor.  Ironically enough we had just watched the movie "Gravity" this past weekend (SPOILER ALERT) and if my luck holds up I'll make it out alive, just like Sandra Bullock.  Come on, you knew she was gonna make it!  Clooney on the other hand was doomed from the start.

     This virus was like a bully and it picked on my poor defenseless family with extreme prejudice, and no quarter was given.  It reminded me of a conversation I had with Jesse the other day concerning bullying in general.  He told me about someone in his school that may have had an issue with bullying, and the teachers were told about the potential incident.  I asked him, "Has anyone bothered you?"  He responded, "No."  Then I said, "You know what to do if someone does try to bully you, right?"  He looked at me with that look of skepticism and irritation that he undoubtedly got from his mother and said, "I know what your going to say."  I said, "That's right.  Punch 'em in the throat.  I guarantee they won't bother you anymore."  Jesse looked at me with disgust and said, "Dad, I avoid violence when handling situations like this."  Which to be honest I was glad to hear that he tried to use reason first, but I responded, "Just give it time brother you'll change your mind on that one."  To be clear I hope he never has to "handle" his business like that, but I'm a realist.  The odds are definitely against it.  My philosophy, "Punch the bully in the throat as, let's say, a wake up call."  As a former Defensive Tactics instructor I know just where to strike, and I have passed this knowledge on to my children, at the displeasure of my wife.  The thing is, if these kids that are bullies aren't getting any raising at home from their parents that's a problem.  Furthermore, if they want to try and bully another child then a throat punch could be called for.  Just my opinion, but I'm kinda off topic, I'll segue by saying:  I only wish I could punch this stupid Zombie virus in the throat and get it out of here. That's the bottom line. True story.

     If there was a good thing that came out of this situation it was the discovery of Netflix.  Yep, good ole' Netflix.  Where else in the world can you watch, Spartacus, Gunsmoke, a biography of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Cinderella, and Sense and Sensibility all in the same place!  Truly a gift from the heavens.  Benjamin Franklin once said, "Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy."  Well, I quit drinking many moons ago (Straight Edge!), so I changed the beer part to coffee.  Dunkin Donuts coffee to be exact, but now I think Netflix could be substituted also.  Heck, a cup of coffee and Netflix, now that's happiness.  Having nearly unlimited movies and TV shows of all varieties comes in very handy when 3/4 of your family is incapacitated.  We watched all kinds and types of programs, some good some not so good, and some maddening (see any Barbie adventure movies).  Netflix is a good thing, and you can even watch Zombie shows while infected with a Zombie stomach virus.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  This is the greatest country in the world.  Zombie movies for everyone!!

     They say that all good things come to an end, and the same can be said about bad things.  Jesse was the first to beat the bug and he returned to his life as a 10 year old baseball playing heartbreaker and all-around awesome guy.  Maddie followed by defeating the Zombies and going back to being her cute little self with the attitude of a bare knuckle fighter.  Cheryl too returned to being who she was before, the finest human being I have ever known.  I'm not saying she wasn't that while infected, mind you, but the Zombie plague does strange things to a person.  Yours truly on the other hand was the 1/4 of the family that did not get infected, at least not yet.  I'm back to doing my normal thing sans Zombie virus infected family.  The last time something like this happened I was the last one to get sick, and by that time everyone had returned to normalcy.  I had to endure the most horrid stomach flu I have ever encountered solo, and several times I thought I was going to die.  I didn't.  This time I think I may get out without emptying any stomach contents, and that's a good thing.  I still have to identify rocks as a 42 year old college senior who is about to graduate, and really needs that last Science lab credit.  Rocks are better than Quadrangle Maps by the way, and in fact I had such a hard time with that nonsense I looked at the guy sitting across from me in lab the other day, handed him a ruler (that I was using to measure I don't know what on a map) and said, "Would you please beat me death with this?"  Unfortunately, he refused.  I will abide.  That's all I got.