February 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 62 (Missing mail, Satan skipper, priestly humor and more )

--- 1 ---

This is day five of 7 Posts in 7 Days and 7 Quick Takes Friday all neatly packaged together under one roof. And by telling you this I have already used up one take.


--- 2 ---

I think our mailman is having technical difficulties. The online tracking said a small package I was expecting was delivered last Friday. But actually I didn't receive it until the following Tuesday. That's not too bad, except that the package was one of 19 items delivered to our mailbox that day - three items for us and 16 items for our next-door neighbor!


--- 3 ---

It's amazing how different siblings can be. My older daughter has always been afraid of dogs; in fact, she gets worried hearing the sound of a dog barking. On the other hand, if my 16-month-old sees any type of animal, she will crawl, walk, run, butt scoot or lunge to get closer to it. We went to a birthday party last weekend in a multiple cat household, and she couldn't keep her hands off them.


--- 4 ---

My seven-year-old really likes watching How It's Made on Amazon Prime via the Roku. It's interesting too see how various products are manufactured. But she was really creeped out by two recent segements. And admittedly, I wasn't thrilled with them either. One showed how artificial eyes are made, and it had a few too many closeups of someone's eyelid open with no eye in it! The other one had to do with skin grafts. It was a little weird to see thick pieces of real skin being cut up in a Petri dish.


--- 5 ---

Something else my daughter watches from time to time on the Roku is Gilligan's Island. And this has somehow rubbed off on her when it comes to religious education. One day she was listening to an audio Bible story voiced by actors. When she heard Satan speak she said, "That sounds like the Skipper!" Did Alan Hale, Jr. ever play the devil?

The Skipper or the devil? (Courtesy: gilligansisle.com)


--- 6 ---

I heard a joke in the lobby of my daughter's elementary school, and this same joke was quite popular way back in my school days. One kid asked, "You know what?" The other kid answered, "What?" And the first one replied, "Chicken butt!" Why is it that this ridiculous schoolyard joke has withstood the test of time for generations? I'll have to explore this further tomorrow.


--- 7 ---

Good joke from a visiting priest at Mass recently: A woman lived with her 80-year-old widowed mother. Her mother went out on a date with a 95-year-old man. When she got home after the date, her daughter asked how it went. The older woman said, "I had to slap him three times." Her daughter said, "Why, was he fresh?" The woman replied, "No, I thought he was dead."

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary, and see a list of others participating in 7 Posts in 7 Days here.


February 27, 2014

7 in 7: The Radioactive Booger

[This is day four of 7 Posts in 7 Days.]

There's not much humor involved with pediatric cancer. But since my seven-year-old daughter has been happy and healthy for many years now, I can occasionally look back on a funny moment or two from those otherwise horrible first couple of years.

When she was about 19-months-old, my daughter began three rounds of chemotherapy at the children's hospital in our area. Each round required about five days in the hospital, so my wife and I pretty much moved in and lived in our little girl's hospital room so we could be around her 24/7.

We did a lot of pacing of the halls in the hospital whenever our daughter felt like wandering around (while tethered to an IV pole on wheels). The oncology wing of the hospital was a long dead-end hallway with several nurse station pods in the middle, and patient rooms along the sides.

One day while on one of our many middle-of-the-night walks, we noticed something strange about the last patient room all the way at the far end. There was caution tape covering the door along with warnings about potentially hazardous materials and orders to keep out. It seemed a little creepy, but we went about our business and didn't ask any questions.

When it was time for my daughter's second round of chemo, we moved back into the hospital, and the creepy room at the end of the hall was still blocked. A few weeks later when we were back again, we saw the same thing.

What in the world happened inside this room? One night there were a couple of especially funny nursing assistants on duty. These guys were always jovial, so we thought they'd be good ones to ask. The strange thing is, they didn't really know the full story. But apparently there were some urban legends floating around the hospital about what happened in this room.

They told us that there once was a patient undergoing some very serious experimental treatments, and everyone who entered the room had to put on a full body suit for protection. (That's not unheard of; we saw that once in a while in the hospital.) Eventually when the patient left the hospital and the cleanup crew entered the room, they discovered something on the floor.

A booger! Yes, according to the nursing assistants' rumor, for some reason when this mysterious object that looked like a booger was found, the room had to be sealed off for further decontamination just in case.

I said, "Why not send it to the lab and find out for sure?" One assistant jokingly answered, "They'd put it under a microscope and confirm, 'Yep, it's a booger!'" Or maybe they could have sent in a robot to eradicate the booger.

(Yes, I actually searched "Radioactive Booger" on Google Images and found this. Courtesy: drawception.com)


We never found out what happened to the radioactive booger. I hope people reading this never have to take their children to the oncology wing ("4-North") at Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, Texas; but if you do, steer clear of the room all the way at the end of the hallway on the left. Or the radioactive booger might get you.

(See a list of other 7 Posts in 7 Days participants here.)


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February 26, 2014

7 in 7: A Parting Shot

[This is day three of 7 Posts in 7 Days.]

I don't intend for all my posts this week to be about my late grandmother. But hear me out on one more. Instead of funny things said by me or her in the 70s, this time I will fast forward to something amusing, but not particularly kind, I said the 90s.

I was still living in south Florida at the time, and this was not too long before my grandmother passed away. In fact, this tale started with a stroke that eventually lead to hear death. She was rushed to the hospital emergency room by ambulance one afternoon. I'm not sure that I remember all the details, but I think I found out what happened at the end of the workday. So after work I headed to the hospital to meet up with my parents who were there with my grandmother.

I walked into the emergency room lobby and my father came out to take me back to the area where my grandmother was being treated. My mother was still back there with her. But there was a hospital security guard standing near the doorway, and he must have been keeping close tabs on how many family members were present. He said to me, "You can't go back there. Only two people are allowed to accompany a patient into the ER treatment area."

We tried to talk our way past him, but he still said no. So my father and I pulled a "fast one." You see, he was a doctor and had spent much time during his career at that hospital. So he gave me quick instructions on how to get to the ER treatment area from an apparently secret back way.

I walked out of the ER and through the parking lot to the main entrance of the hospital and strode right past the front desk (nobody even looked at me, let alone tried to stop me). After passing through a few doors and taking a few rights and lefts down various hallways, suddenly I found myself in the presumably private back area of the ER where I quickly located my parents and grandmother who was still being treated.

I stuck around for quite a while, but then when it was time for my grandmother to be moved from the ER to a regular room, I headed home while my parents remained. I left through the main ER entrance, and guess who was still standing there on guard? Yes, Mr. Security Guard was at his post.

Here's my quick disclaimer: I should have just minded my own business, walked past him, kept my mouth shut and headed to the car. So kids, don't do what I did. But after a long, stressful day and my grandmother's life in the balance, I decided to take a parting shot at the guard who wouldn't let me in earlier.

I walked right by him and without making eye contact I said, "I guess more than two people are allowed past you after all!"

[See a list of other 7 Posts in 7 Days Participants here.]

The scene of my parting shot (Courtesy: The Palm Beach Post)


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February 25, 2014

7 in 7: I Don't Smoke

[This is day two of 7 Posts in 7 Days.]

Kids aren't the only ones who say things so funny that you quote them years later. The same late grandmother involved in yesterday's 7 in 7 post said something highly quotable just a few years later. Again, let me take you back to the 70s.

Instead of making her annual trek to south Florida at Christmastime, she eventually moved there full time. She didn't have a car, so my parents used to drive her around quite a bit. When I was about seven years old, we had a family station wagon, not unlike the Wagon Queen Family Truckster, and my grandmother used to smoke in the car. (Yuck!)

Fortunately, she would always open the car window while smoking so we'd have a little fresh air. One day, my parents, grandmother, brother and I were in the station wagon at a red light, and my grandmother had a cigarette in her mouth. I recall that were passing through what was not exactly the nicest part of town.

Suddenly, someone on the sidewalk walked up to my grandmother's window and asked if he could have a cigarette. She took the cigarette out of her mouth, looked at him and said, "Sorry, I don't smoke!"

The light turned green, and off we went.

(See a list of other 7 Posts in 7 Days participants here.)


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February 24, 2014

7 in 7: Sorry, Old Man

[This is day one of 7 Posts in 7 Days.]

Having two children, I know all too well the joy, hilarity and, occasionally, the embarrassment of the funny things kids say. And I was certainly not immune to this during my own childhood. Let me take you back to the 70s for this one.

I was probably about four years old at the time, and my family lived in south Florida. I had a grandmother who lived in Philadelphia, and it was a tradition that she would come down and stay with us for Christmas.

She was afraid to fly, so she always traveled on Amtrak, and our family would pick her up at the train station in West Palm Beach. That's the location where I rattled off one of the craziest kids-say-the-darndest-things lines of my life.

West Palm Beach train station in modern times (Courtesy: trainweb.org)

When my parents, brother and I walked into the lobby to wait for my grandmother's train to arrive, it was very crowded. Luckily, we found four seats together. The seats on either side of these four available ones were occupied. When my mom or dad told me to climb into my seat, I immediately noticed with disdain that I would be sitting next to a stranger.

In my four-year-old mind, I wasn't down with this. So, as the story has been told many times over the years, I blurted out quite loudly, "I don't want to sit next to that gross old man!" Just imagine the panic and embarrassment of my parents at that moment.

I don't know whether the man was truly gross or old (probably neither), but it wasn't my business to point it out publicly. So today, about 38 years later, I'm offering my apologies to him. Sorry, old man!

(See a list of other 7 Posts in 7 Days participants here.)


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February 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 61 (Bathroom trivia, goo sandwich, gel baby and more)

--- 1 ---

This isn't bathroom humor; it's bathroom fact. Back in November I was puzzled about why a popular breakfast restaurant had ice in its urinals. Here's the lovely photo again:

While my mom and brother were visiting from Florida last weekend, we went back to the same place for breakfast. And sure enough, when I stopped into the facilities, the urinals were filled with ice again. So we asked. It turns out that putting ice in a urinal is a well-known method of reducing bacteria and odor. I just hope there's no cross contamination with the ice machine in the kitchen.


--- 2 ---

There was something scary on the menu at another restaurant we went to last weekend. The kids' menu included a Nutella sandwich. Gee, what a healthy idea for children: smearing chocolate goo between two pieces of bread. Does the Nutella company still market its product as a nutritious food for kids? Yikes.


--- 3 ---

Check out the tie my mom gave me as a gift during her visit. The penguins fit nicely with all the icy weather we've had in central Texas this winter. Except right when she got here, our temps shot into the 70s and even hit 80 once or twice.


--- 4 ---


Babies are amused by the strangest things. My 16-month-old daughter has discovered that the gel mats in our kitchen provide an interesting surface to walk on. Sometimes she does laps in the kitchen walking back and forth across the mats. The manufacturer should market these things for kids.


--- 5 ---

My rule of thumb is that any product that says it's easy to assemble or use is actually going to be nearly impossible. That was definitely the case with my daughter's Cra-Z-Loom bracelet maker. Apparantly you need to be a professional seamstress to figure out how to make the bracelets. Well, the instructions looked unworkable to me, but my wife and daughter figured it out.


--- 6 ---

I was amused when we took my daughter to the pediatric dentist the other day. It was funny the way they disguised the big scary tank of gas. Not sure why the horses are upside down though.

--- 7 ---

Our backyard patio project that would never end finally ended. (But maybe I shouldn't tell you that we think the concrete guy may have messed up our sprinkler system!)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.


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February 17, 2014

The Out-the-Door Flower Shop

Wine not included [Photo Courtesy: proflowers.com]

Have you ever noticed that when you are buying flowers online, the prices you see when you are browsing the options are always quite different than what you actually pay when you complete the transaction? Of course we just passed Valentine's Day, but this holds true at other flower-sending occasions such as birthdays, Mother's Day, get-well soon/illnesses, funerals, Easter and more.

Once you've selected your choice you often don't get hit with the other charges until checkout. Somtimes it costs a little extra for various things, such as:

  • The flowers in a vase
  • A card with your flowers
  • The flowers to be delievered by a florist
  • The flowers to be delivered by FedEx or UPS
  • The flowers to be delivered on a Saturday or holiday
  • The flowers to be delivered by noon
  • A mystery "service fee"
  • A mystery "handling fee"
  • The flowers to be alive
  • The flowers not to have any thorns or bees

A business certainly should be entitled to try to make a profit. I'm okay with that. My issue is that I would rather know what everything's going to cost up front. Perhaps the flower companies know that many people are in a hurry when they are ordering flowers, so maybe they won't shop around too much. You know, if tomorrow's [insert your favorite holiday here], then you need to order now. Or if Great Aunt Bertha whom you've never met just died, and the funeral is 1,000 miles away, you need to order ASAP.

So here's my brilliant idea for a business venture. I'm just offering the concept; it's up to someone out there to actually make it happen. It's called The Out-the-Door Flower Shop. It's just like your typical online flower place such as FTD. But when you are browsing the various floral options, you'll see the out-the-door, final, no questions asked price for each one. When you make your choice, that same price shows up in your virtual shopping cart when it's time to check out.

If you look at FTD's service and shipping fee page, there about a zillion different variables that affect the cost, including when you order things that are "highly perishable," which sounds highly amusing. The Out-the-Door Flower Shop wouldn't need a page like this. Maybe every item would just have one flat shipping rate factored into the prices you see no matter where or when you are shipping.

Is this a sustainable business plan?


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February 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 60 (Slappy baby, instant zoo, Hello Kitty/goodbye bugs and more)

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A baby's demeanor can change in a matter of seconds. Check out these three photos my wife took of our daughters. Our little one went from happy to unhapppy to slappy in a moment's notice. Nobody was injured!



--- 2 ---

When you need to entertain young children and you're in a city that doesn't have a good zoo (sorry, Austin), then you go for the next best thing. We swung by the Petco store on Saturday. My 16-month-old thought it was amazing.

--- 3 ---

After the Great Soap Dispenser Confession of 2014, the replacement dispenser brought back some childhood memories:

Hello Kitty/Goodbye Bugs

No, I didn't play with Hello Kitty when I was a little boy. But the fragrance reminded me of something. After smelling my hands for a while, I figured it out. This soap smells like the Off! brand insect repellant I used as a kid in summer camp. If Hello Kitty cleans our hands and keeps the mosquitoes away, that's an added bonus!


--- 4 ---

Speaking of childhood memories, when my older daughter came home from school and said she liked the metronome in music class, I thought she was talking about the real thing. Nope. The class uses a virtual metronome on the SFS Kids site. (Check it out; it's fun.) My eccentric elementary school music teacher in the 70s would be shocked by this advancement in music


--- 5 ---

By the time this post hits the internet, the world's slowest concrete patio expansion project should be rapidly moving closer to completion. When we hired the guy to do the work in our back yard in early January, he estimated it would be a three day job. He just didn't specify that it would be three days in a row. Actually most of the delays were beyond his control. Now that we hopefully have the rain, freezing temperatures, ice storms and concrete supplier delays out of the way, the concrete is supposed to be poured this morning. That is, if all the planets are lined up.


--- 6 ---

Somehow when I wasn't paying attention, central Texas transformed into a winter wonderland. I've lived here for about 14 years and have never seen a winter like this. We usually get an ice storm every few years. But this year's been crazy. My daughter has had three days of school cancelled and three or four other days with a delayed opening all due to icy weather, or the threat of it.


--- 7 ---

Sometimes automatically placed website ads show up in terrible places. Maybe this one's less shocking than the car ad I mentioned in 7QT last month, but it's still bad. Check out the headline and ad below from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (where I get a good fix of Atlanta Braves news) on Tuesday:

When the worst winter storm in 14 years is bearing down, isn't it at least a little bit in poor taste to have a silly gas company ad that looks like a weather forecast on the same page?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary, and pre-order a copy of Something Other Than God.


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February 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 59 (Food splatter, soapy confession, social distancing and more)

--- 1 ---

I witnessed the worst plate-shattering, food-splattering restaurant accident I've ever seen the other day. A server came out of the kitchen right near my booth carrying a huge tray of food over her shoulder. I just happened to look up right at the moment when the tray slid and flipped upside down onto the floor sending pieces of broken plate and food all over the place. The crash was loud, and the whole room fell silent. It felt like the same sort of shock and awe that you experience when you see a car accident right in front of you. Thankfully nobody was hurt, but a guy at another table wound up with food all over his suit. I felt terrible for the server. Is that a firing offense in a restaurant?


--- 2 ---

Check out this soap dispenser confession drafted up by my seven-year-old daughter and a couple of her friends after an incident in the bathroom at our house:


--- 3 ---

I always love a priest with a sense of humor. Last Saturday was our pastor's twenty-second ordination anniversary, so for the 8 a.m. Mass, many parishioners packed into the small chapel where the daily Masses are celebrated. At the end, the pastor said, "Had I known you were going to fill up the chapel, I would have taken a up collection during Mass!"


--- 4 ---

To honor the preist on his anniversary, the bishop in our Diocese celebrated the Saturday vigil Mass at our church that evening. Afterwards, we went through the greeting line to shake the bishop's hand and thank him for visitng. Then as we headed out the door, one of the deacons asked my daughter if the bishop gave her a blessing. We said no, so then he pulled us over to the bishop (who by then had retreated to the sacristy and was not expecting any more visitors) and asked him to bless our family. Pretty cool.


--- 5 ---

This week's big announcement that CVS will stop selling cigarettes reminded me of this really great TV commercial from the 80s:


--- 6 ---

Credit card companies must be extra jittery after the Target security breach. Within minutes after making a small online donation to Catholic Charities Atlanta (wanted to help after hearing all the horror stories about the snowstorm there), I received an email and call from my credit card company asking me to verify if the charge was legitimate.


--- 7 ---

I heard a great new term while listening to a lecture on employer emergency preparedness: social distancing. The speaker said that it's good to be prepared to work from home for long periods of time. For example, workers should have equipment and provisions at home if there's a pandemic flu and they were required to have six weeks of social distancing. As an introvert, I'd like to know where I can sign up for six weeks of social distancing!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.


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