Microwave R.I.P.

Friday night, our microwave oven broke. It was a Christmas gift that we received right after the wife and I moved in together (we were living in sin at the time). That would make the thing over five years old (counting from December 2000, though it might have been 1999 for all I know...gods, this "getting old" thing isn't easy on the frontal lobes).

I was going to cook a hot dog. I punched in 33 seconds, hit start, and there was a momentary buzz from the oven before it went totally dark and silent. The LED display flickered off.

All things considered, I'm glad it went with a wimper, rather than a roar.

So a new microwave was added to our list of things to buy. I was considering waiting a bit, but after the first night we decided that not being able to heat up Stephen's milk in less than thirty seconds was going to be too large a handicap.

It was Saturday, then, after lunch, when we ventured out to Target to pick up a new microwave oven. Amy had a laundry list of other items on her mind. In no time at all, we'd filled the cart with goodies. By goodies, I mean: a laundry hamper, a new dish strainer, new shower curtains, a shower curtain rod.

Oh, and the microwave, let's not forget that. It's a little 0.7 cubic foot, 700 watt model that is surprisingly heavy for its size (especially compared to the old one). I'm not real impressed with the internal dimensions, but I will make due. For $30, what do you want?

Check-out was the fun part. The girl at the register scanned our microwave's UPC code before delivering an unexpected PSA:

"A microwave? Didn't you know, microwaves are bad for you?"

I wonder what would've happened had I answered, "You know, you're absolutely right. Can you fetch your manager? I want to let him know that I'm appalled that Target would sell such dangerous machines to an unsuspecting public!"

Instead, I replied, "We just use it to heat up milk."

Driving home, I looked to Amy and said: "That girl just made my blog."

I'm working today. Well, not right this second. This is my warm-up web log entry. Gets the juices flowing before the real creativity comes boiling out. Knock on wood.


Pictures of my Boy (As Promised)

Assaulting his paparazzi. This picture was taken shortly after Stephen had awakened from a nap. Suitably cranky, he insisting on crying sporadically as he watched television. I took a series of photos, of which this one was the last. He eventually grew so annoyed by my picture-taking that he decided he'd had enough.

This is what happens when I'm not at home. This picture shows the proud young lad taking up residence in my sock drawer.

Oh, yeah...the Aquarium photos...here you go:

Unfortunately, this is one of the only interior aquarium photos that managed to come out well enough to post. Even then, you can see the camera flash. Eh, well.

Tidepools filled with all manner of marine life were one of the attractions for the child at the Aquarium. Stephen has this thing for water, especially bath water. He likes to splash, splash, splash. Here he is, reaching out to touch the surface of a tidepool.

Here he is, looking for a place to go. Stephen has a disturbing tendency to pick a random direction to go, and he moves fast. It's funny, yeah, but on the other hand, it's kind of worrisome. I try to keep a close eye on him at all times, and I joke about buying a leash to put him on so that he can't get too far.

Stephen likes lemons. Wierd, hm? If we have ice tea at a restaurant, he practically demands that we hand over the lemon wedges so that he can eat them. In this picture, he really looks like a little boy. I mean, heck, he practically looks like he's 4 or 5 years old, instead of only just pushing a year and a half. He's definitely not a baby any more.

Wiped out! After a day watching fishes, running away from his mommy and daddy, and sucking on lemons, Stephen likes to pass out in his car seat on the way home.


Friday Eve

It's been a long week, low on sleep and high on priorities.

I should have a couple of new photos of the sprout to put up this weekend. Last Sunday, the three of us took a trip to the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. This is the boy's second outing to the aquarium, though I tend to doubt he remembers the original expedition.

He seemed impressed by the sharks that were hanging from the ceiling; then, as we entered the aquarium (which is necessarily dim), he began to look around pretty intently at the fish-filled tanks. Looking into the tanks would cause him to smile, which I suppose is a good thing.

It's neat to show him new things and see his reactions to them. Everything is new for Stephen, and to observe his obvious wonder is a true (and vicarious) gift.

So, those pictures will show up sometime this weekend. Stay tuned.



No, not that crummy movie with Kurt Russel.

Driving to work yesterday morning, the serpentine belt in my car spun off. The thing had been squeaking and making some silly noises over the past week or so, which must've been the belt fraying. The water pump, either by process of age or the belt flying off, was also demolished.

I spent 1/2 an hour at work before the AAA tow truck arrived to deliver my ailing car and I to my parents' place. My step-father and I picked up the parts, and he put it all back together for me. I even got to wash the car, something I hadn't done in a long time.

We finished with it around 11:30, and I drove back to work to finish my day since my department was down by one other person. I'd've preferred to go home, given that Amy's not feeling well and was home alone with the boy. She needs her rest, and I'll be the first to admit that he can take a lot out of you when you're feeling fine, much less when you're sick.

When I got home, I sent Amy to bed, and the boy and I played and watched Time Bandits until it was time to prep for dinner (something about the little people in that movie catches his eye). I cut up a butternut squash, coated it with olive oil, sprinkled it with kosher salt, and then grilled it. I also coated a kielbasa with BBQ sauce and grilled that, too.

Amy wasn't real hungry, and the squash didn't thrill her overmuch. She's more fond of summer squash than winter squash, anyway. The boy seemed to be able to take it or leave it, though he preferred the sausage over the veggies. After Stephen went to bed, I spent much of the evening reading.

That's pretty much my life yesterday in a blog-shaped nutshell. Not necessarily exciting, probably pretty mundane. All I can think now is TGIF.



On July 4th, my wife's grandfather, Paul, took part in a parade in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He's a member of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, and "each year some of our group ride in a big Army truck and are displayed like we were someone important. We get lots of waves and hand clapping by the parade watchers."

As well they should.

This is one of the photos that Paul sent to me. He's not present in the photo (after all, someone needs to take the pictures, and he was lucky enough to be the one with the camera).

I have a lot of respect for Paul. I've only spent a little bit of time with him -- on a couple of occasions when he and Helen have come to visit the Left Coast, and when Amy and I spent our honeymoon in Pennsylvania (Ligonier, Harrisburg, and Gettysburg, specifically). In the brief time I've spent with him, I've learned a lot about his life. One year, he sent us a printed autobiography that he'd put together which illuminated his life experiences even more.

The photos he sent on the 4th, as well as the remarks he made, really made me think. What would the world be like now if not for men like Paul and the other Veterans who put their lives on the line? What would have happened had America not been drawn into the Second World War?

I'm not going to compare the current conflict in Iraq with WWII; the two wars don't compare, in my opinion. I have the utmost respect for anyone of any gender who wears a uniform and, as part and parcel to their occupation, goes into harm's way, and that includes the men and women of our modern military. Yet comparing the conflict in Iraq to the war that was fought across the globe between 1939 and 1945 isn't possible. At least not for me. I have my own political views to blame for this perception, and I don't plan to delve into them. This isn't the proper forum for that. *

Paul saw a lot in the time he spent in the service, and like many of the men who fought in Europe, he returned home, took up a career, and built a family. He's a humble man who obviously prefers to downplay his participation in the war, and I guess that's another reason that I have a boatload of respect for him.

Yet to guys like me, who have only seen these experiences on the film screen, between the covers of history books, or in the painstakingly-crafted miniatures used in wargames, Paul and the fellows in the picture above are giants. Their contribution to society should not go unrewarded, and they deserve every clap, wave, and cheer that they get. They deserve more, in my opinion.

My grandfather, too, fought in the Second World War. He was a sailor in the Pacific theater. I never heard many war stories from Grampa; I reckon he was just as humble as Paul is, and the memories were probably painful, too. He once told me that his ship shot down a Japanese Betty bomber, but that was probably the most detailed account he'd ever relayed to me about his experiences in the Navy. I wish I could ask him to tell me more, but he's gone now, and all of his experiences have gone with him.

The memories of WWII grow dim for much of the country today. There are lessons to be learned in wartime; lessons of sacrifice, tactical lessons, lessons of both human and economic costs. How much have we learned? How much have we forgotten? People around the world continue to suffer and die daily, and I am constantly amazed (horrified?) by the headlines I read.

I've never served in the military. I've been lucky, I suppose, to have been spared the experiences of the battlefield. I am thankful for the peace that I have known in my life. I am a father, too, and I look at my son and I pray that he is as fortunate as I am.

* Just to note, I've always tried to make a point of steering clear of politics in my posts on this weblog. I may one day venture into discussions of local politics, such as those concerning school board elections or homeowners meetings. As to national politics, it's enough for me to say that I'm fairly moderate in my views. Whether I agree with the current administration or not is irrelevant to the manner in which I raise my son.


Additional Birthday Swag

I never forget these things on purpose. Honest. But I did get a few more goodies on G-Day than I mentioned, and I want to make sure I single out the folks who put forth the effort to give them to me.

First off was a copy of the Robot Chicken DVD and a new pair of shoes from my brother, Jim. I don't know what to make of Robot Chicken just yet, but I reckon it will be entertaining. As for the shoes: I love footwear, so it's a winner. My son, though, is the king of footwear. He's got more shoes than Imelda Marcos. Of course, he continues to outgrow them, so it's a constant struggle.

Secondly, JD and Keri dropped by on Sunday to give me a gift: an AT-AT miniature for the Star Wars Miniatures game. Amy commented: "It's more of a 'maxiature' than a 'miniature'." What a witty wife I have.

Now, as far as I know, that covers it. All of it.


I Guess I Forgot

I mentioned in my last post that Stephen had been sick, and acted as if I'd get to it later in that same post.

I never did. Shame on me.

Basically, the boy had a reaction to one of the vaccines he was given at his 15-month check-up. His leg swelled up, he developed a light fever, and he slept poorly for about three or four days. Due to the pain in his enlarged limb, he didn't want to walk at all for the first couple of days. Amy stayed home with him one of those days. He was whiny, but nevertheless content to sit and watch television or read books.

As first time parents ought to be, we were alarmed enough to call the doctor and ask for advice. What it came down to was thus: "Keep him hydrated, give him infant Tylenol, and wait for it to pass. If his fever rises above 103, or if he begins to convulse, take him to the emergency room." Toddlers and babies, being small, have higher body temperatures than adults. This is something that never ceases to alarm me. When my wife tells me that Stephen's temperature is 102.6, I get edgy. To the doctor, such a reading is technically a "low-grade fever."

By the weekend (and the birthday party), Stephen was back to normal...more or less. Still a little crankier than usual, sure, and with a slight rash on his torso, he managed to get through the ordeal relatively unscathed. We had a few sleep-deprived nights, but that's the price of parenthood. I guess we'd better get used to it.

In other news...

The dreaded birthday has passed me by. I've been 33 for a day now, with no ill effects. We went to Claim Jumper for lunch with my mother, step-dad, and brother. As far as giftage is concerned, I came away with some new DVDs (The Fifth Element "Ultimate Edition," Ice Pirates, and Underworld: Evolution), a CD (Rob Zombie's Educated Horses), some clothes, and four new tires for my dirty old Corsica.

I'm seriously considering a change in my dietary habits, starting as soon as this week. The pants I wear are a bit tighter than I'd like them to be, and there's no question that I've put on a few pounds since the sprout was conceived. If I'm going to be chasing him around, I'd damn well better get into some kind of chasing shape.

This week is a short work week. Neither Amy or myself have Monday off, but we do get the 4th of July to ourselves. We'll likely spend it with family, and take Stephen to witness fireworks after dark. He'll be up past his bed time, but I'm sure it will be worth it. At three months old, he seemed to enjoy them last year. We'll see what he thinks now that he's forming his own opinions about his life.