Thursday, February 25, 2010

President Obama Stops By for a Chat with Brig... Concensus Reached!

Today was a pretty big day for me.  During the lunch Break at Blair House where President Obama was meeting with a group of angry old white men and Nancy Pelosi, the President decided to stop by my house for a quick chat about healthcare.

The meeting went pretty well, we agreed on a lot of important points including that the bill was a very big stack of paper and didn't include nearly enough pictures.

I was a little confused as to why he decided to bring along a lectern and teleprompter, but he's the president so I guess he does whatever he wants.

When I asked him to just look at me when he spoke, this big burly security guy started to rough me up so I decided to just let him use the teleprompter. 

I guess I could have pulled out some of my newly acquired snow ninja moves and really showed the presidents body guard that he was still boss, but I decided to take the more diplomatic route and hide under my desk until he chilled out.

We did agree that because this was my office, that I could put my bare feet up on my desk as long as they were mostly obscured by his lectern in any photos.  Although he complimented me on my tie, he objected to me wearing pajama pants while we talked, but I explained that this is how news anchors dress and reminded him that at least I was wearing pants in my office, unlike one of his predecessors in the Oval Office... (Oh, that was low even for Brig's Blog, but seeing that about 75% of you reading this are republicans anyway, I'll just pander to the crowd for internet blog ratings.)

What can I say, I'm a people person, I know how to compromise and only take on the important fights.

The President asked me if I was happy with my insurance, and I told him that I was relatively happy with my coverage, but that he would have to talk to Wife about the specifics.

He asked me if I would support having my coverage expanded if it only cost me 75% more than I pay today.  I told him that I was not planning to have an abortion or gender reassignment surgery anytime soon, but that I would talk it over with the wife and get back to him.

He seemed to get upset when I told him that I generally only to the hospital with emergencies.  He told me that I was part of the problem and suggested that his legislation would help me get preventative care before things got so bad that I had to go to the emergency room. 

I told him that I only go to the hospital when I brake a bone and he said that page 1,423 paragraph 4 would ensure that I could have publicly funded access to helmets and pillows for padding when engaging in dangerous recreational activities, he also noted that page 637 paragraph 2 had basically outlawed any recreational activities anyway so he would basically be able to save the country the $3 billion dollars he had originally allocated to pillows and helmets.

He told me this was part of the cost savings that he had engineered.  He was going to spend $2 Trillion over 10 years, but then eliminated lots of things like free home MRI machines and home heart surgery kits for everybody and that basically he had single-handed-ly saved about $1 Trillion by eliminating that important but not critical spending, but assured me that he would work to get that back into the bill in his next term.

I asked him if I could start paying taxes immediately this year if he would promise me that nobody would get any benefit from his healthcare bill for at least another 4 years, and he promised me that my request was already part of his plan, and if the Republicans would just get out of his way, he would sign that into law immediately so that the 30,000,000 people without health insurance would still not be able to get any for at least 4 years.

I love negotiations!  It is always Win-Win-Win!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Central Texas Snow Adventures... Continued

Didn't think there would be more to this story?

So after Little Guy got home from school, we decided to go out and build a real snowman, rather than just enjoy the quickly disappearing little table center-piece that I had crafted earlier.

As you can see, it took just about all of the snow from our lawn to build this beauty, and it was crazy heavy because the snow was pretty wet.

The final product was about 4 feet tall and had very distinguishable features made completely from carrots.  The snowman decided that he did not want his features made from other products because of the impending healthcare legislation.

Chocolate chips, he noted, would promote obesity raising the possibility of heart disease and stroke.  The traditional corn cob pipe would increase his chance of lung cancer and hypertension, and he wanted to promote a more healthy lifestyle to all of the other snowmen and snowwomen on the street (snowwomen because a high number of the snowmen on our street had on pink scarves, so we will consider them snowwomen)

I also found other uses for my snow gear.  When I came inside and found Wife trying to open a can with a broken can opener, I decided to put my stealthy snow-ninja training to good use.

I got a pair of metal shears and ripped into those cans industrial style, making sure to wear proper eye protection.  After a long day of snow-sports, we sat down at the dinner table and were treated to some comforting tortillas and Balboa beans (Balboa is our new internet last name)

I got to pick the new last name, Wife probably would have picked something like Wentworth or Bingley or Darcy or something nutty which would force us into drinking tea in the early afternoons and riding around in carriages chasing old rich men around for their fortunes.  Balboa is more street worthy, so we can go around beating up Mr. T and juiced up Russians, that is way more cool.  My second choice was Bond, but then if you read my blog, I'd have to kill you**, and then who would read my blog?

**Note to FCC ,FBI, CIA, MI5, KGB, Secret Service- the reference in the last paragraph was to a commonly used phrase in the secret ops world and often used by James Bond actors such as Roger moore, Sean Connery and Daniel Craig, and is used here to promote levity and was used only in good humor.  No readers were harmed in the production of this blog post.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why Not Use a Snowman as a Table Center-Piece?

Holy Crazy snow Batman!  We woke up this morning to a snowstorm, now this would not be that big a deal in Dallas where they routinely get like 5 inches on any given day, but this is Austin!

I am seriously thinking about pulling out the snowboard and trying to find a decent hill.

I resigned myself however to making a snowman and then trying to see if it would make a good centerpiece for the dining room table, albeit not a permanent solution, it would work for a while. 

And bonus! What a great way to keep the twins from freezing to death!  I got that tip from the last time CPS (Child Protective Services) sowed up.  Bring the snow to the warmth!  That is what the "Man Upstairs" did, this is Texas right?  So either Hell is going to freeze over, or we are going to build snowmen in Austin.

Wife found a carrot for the nose and I decided to use chocolate chips for the eyes, mouth and buttons.  The mouth ones kept falling off and getting eaten by little boys, but it worked out for the most part.
Don't kid yourself, wife was not impressed with this fun daytime activity, she is just working to be more supportive of my antics by putting on fake smiles and pretending she is ok with having snowmen on the table, inside the house.

In her defense, I'm sure she had a lot of good points of criticism, although I tuned out after some argument about melting snowmen and wet floors and wet socks, blah blah blah.  Who wears socks inside?

I figured most of her arguments were "what if's" so I moved on to finding my outside snow gear.

I found a really cool bank robbers mask, and figured that would probably keep me warm enough, because you lose 90% of your heat through your head, and I had that covered, so the worst I could do was lose like 10%, which is only like 9.8 degrees, so I could be down to 90 degrees, which is probably enough to sustain life.  I'm not usre how much you lose through your feet, so I threw on some flip-flops, you know, just in case.

Little guys had a pretty good time throwing snowballs, although they were confused with the whole cold thing.  I threw them at the fence and laughed as the dogs chased them and tried to eat them.

Monday, February 22, 2010

E-Rock Hoppin'

Little guy and I took a day trip out to Enchanted Rock and had a blast!  The day was met with adventure as well as mystery and tears.
The day started with a quick drive out to Fredricksburg, the community festival capital of the world which displays for sale the best authentic old world German antiques and souvenirs that China can produce!

Only 17 miles later to the North-West, we got to Enchanted Rock, the largest pink granite monadnock in the United States.  You can see Zane with his little guy and mine part way up the summit trail.

This thing keeps getting smaller and smaller every time I visit it.

Little Guy basically ran the entire way up, and by default, so did I.

The only time I lost him was as he crested the near the top, he left my sight for about a minute, thank goodness some scout leaders were there to slow him down.

Little Guy however thought that this was a huge inconvenience, and started to cry.

Along the way, but mostly at the top are several pools of water, the little guys had a blast playing in them.

We discovered that more fun than playing in them, was trying to jump over them.  So we each took turns soaring over the vast expanses with our mighty leaps and skillful cunning.

I think we pretty much made it out mostly dry, except for Zane's little guy who just jumped into every puddle he could find, luckily Zane cam prepared this time with extra clothes for the trip home.

However all of this jumping only encouraged more jumping until Little Guy was jumping off of everything.  Even still, the trip down mostly uneventful.

Zane led the troops down while I fell back to get some good "over the edge" shots.

This rock is actually pretty big as the background of this shot suggests.  I think it is about 450 feet tall, even though from the bottom you would swear that it is a thousand.

Little Guy decided that he should try out some Parkour as the most effective way to get down the monadnock (I keep using that word as if I know what it means.  Even the spell checker thinks it is a joke of a word.)

It has been a long time since I have been to E-Rock, but I think this will  be the first in a lot more trips.

Little Guy loved it and asks almost daily when we are going to go back.  I think next time should be a hike out to the back-country with an overnight complete with a fire and oatmeal.

Then maybe take some ropes, and see how that goes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pipe Dreams! Surfing in Galveston Saturday Night! (Save the Date)

So it looks like my old surfing partner is going to be back in town soon.  This is bittersweet news.  Bitter because it is getting really hard to find the time to get down to the Gulf to go surfing, but sweet because I am getting better at persuading the wife into letting me go on my wild crusades.

This is a crusade long past due.  Although the surfing in the Gulf of Mexico is not ideal, it is still surfing.

So Christine, if you are reading this, get your wet suit ready because I still have a bag full of half used wax from the last time we hit the waves and my longboard is itching to leave the confines of my office and see some action.  (BTW, the shortboard is in pretty bad condition, and will barely function as a PFD, but I am game to try to sink it if you are.)

So Wife, how about a trip to Houston this weekend, we can get in some furniture shopping by day, and some beach fire and surfing by night?  C'mon, you love beach fires out at Galveston!  We can invite a big crew down and make s'mores!  Ride the ferry, feel the salt water spray on your face.  It is going to be fun!  

And look how sad my board looks, it doesn't even have a fin on it!  This would be a humanitarian effort.  Like throwing beached whales back into the ocean!  Save the Surfboards!  (Donations will be taken on the Ferry on Saturday night for the purchase of a new shortboard).

Who's in?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

"Go Green or Go to Jail..." Buy Audi...!

This year was a rough year for Superbowl advertisers.  After the game was over, wife (MBA, Marketing '05) came into the living room to re-watch the game, well not the game, but the commercials.

She DVR'd the game so she could go back and watch the commercials?  Yes, that is exactly what I was thinking.

She was spouting "who got the early spots" and "when are the commercial re-runs going to start" and "who exactly were they targeting here?"

That was tons of fun, believe me (don't).

But one commercial that has been getting tons of attention was the Audi A3 commercial.

It is the one that had the Green Police nailing people for throwing away batteries and not properly composting orange peels.

Now I'm not planning to join the next voyage on the Sea Shepard to chase Japanese whaling ships around the Antarctic (I mean I would, but not for the right reasons, one of which is they have an awesome flag) and I'm not going to chain myself to a tree and block bulldozers (unless it happens to pay really well, which again, is probably not the point), but I loved this commercial.

First, it hit its audience perfectly.  It was targeting guys like me that watch the Superbowl for no reason other than we are Americans and it just seems like the right thing to do.  Following up on that "right thing to do" line, this commercial highlights a lot of stuff that we already do, as long as it is not a huge inconvenience.

Low energy light bulbs, recycling batteries, etc are pretty sensible things to do to conserve energy and ensure that we keep the really nasty stuff out of landfills.  They threw in some of the more outrageous stuff, orange peel composting, Hot Tub is being too hot etc to get people to perk up. Even the Mayor of San Francisco took notice as the orange peel composting thing is a law in SF.

But this commercial was one of the funniest of the year, as well as it appealed to people that care about clean water and clean air, but really could care less about political battles surrounding global warming climate change or whatever we have to call it to fit whatever set of facts are now in fashion.

It was so good in fact, I considered for about 10 seconds trading in my 12mpg LandCruiser (pictured left just after an off-roading trip to Tuttle Kansas) to buy a station wagon (it would have to be repainted to resemble the Griswold Family Truckster).

This commercial is well worth a second look if you have seen it already, and worth a laugh if you haven't seen it yet.

Monday, February 08, 2010


Avatar was a complete waste of $26 (yes, I took a hot date and yes, my wife was cool with it).  Let me get this right, there is one good 3D scene in the movie (the ashes falling part) and I am supposed to think that this is a theatrical revolution?

Seriously, I think I saw better 3D effects watching PhilharMagic at Disney World last year, and that movie is probably 35 years old.  At least in that one I had pots and pans and Donald Duck flying at me constantly, in Avatar, everything just flew off the bottom of the screen, I would have been "scared" if maybe I was sitting on top of a new Porsche at a drive in and thought for a second, it is going to hit the front bumper?

Probably the most distracting thing about the movie were the poorly made 3D glasses.  The rims were thick, and consequently light would reflect off of the inside of the rims, it was really annoying.

The story line?  Eh, don't care.  Yes we have seen this movie a hundred times, but Cameron shouldn't be expected to come up with a good original story if he was truly trying to revolutionize the way we see movies for the next 100 years.  Unfortunately he botched both parts, so at least a good plot would have been welcomed.

I expected some kind of magic, something that blows your mind like the first time we saw the Martix 360 degree shots and light sabres, not a bunch of "looks like" CGI (ala Star Wars eps.1-3) and bad Green Screens (ala Indiana Jones last one).  It was good, but it wasn't that good.

Advice to future filmmakers, manage expectations effectively.  And I am probably the last person in America to see this movie, I had modest expectations to begin with.

Honestly, I had more fun watching the boys fight over the 3D glasses that I purposely didn't recycle (take that "the man") than I did watching this movie.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Peak Baggin'... Mt. Treadmill Adventures

I wasn't sure whether to just write my eulogy today, or save the time and watch some re-runs of the Andy Griffith Show.  It was a tough call, but without the guarantee that the episode would be from the Don Knotts years, I figured that I would just do the eulogy.

As many of you know I have been climbing for nearly 20 years now, I have no plans to stop, but it is getting increasingly difficult to find places to climb (with the exception of brick walls and stairs, side note: now that I have climbed the stairs in our house a few hundred times, I no longer use a harness and rope, although wife gives me goofy looks when I still ask for a spotter, you know, just in case.  Hey, baby steps.)

The hardest part of living in central Texas is that all of the climbing is pretty short, most routes only go about 40 feet, and I really do not get excited about anything under a few hundred.  So don't believe it when they say everything is bigger in Texas, lots of stuff is, like girls bangs and burritos, but not everything.

But alas, I have decided to turn a corner in my climbing career and start looking at Peak Baggin'.  In normal speak, that means hiking up to the tops of mountains.  This has never really interested me before, but my friend Robbie has convinced me to go do Mt. Whitney this summer.

I am pretty stoked to go, but know that I have a lot of work to do to get into shape for the big hike.  I'm not as concerned about falling off the mountain and dying as I am keeling over from a heart attack.  In fact I am typing this post with my right hand because I can't feel my left arm, and I'm pretty sure that is a bad thing.

So, I've been hitting the gym and have settled into a pretty good routine, except for having to use Wife's iPod Touch for music that is loaded with kids music.

You really wouldn't think that Kermit singing "It's not easy being green" would be a great motivational workout song, and you'd be right, it is terrible.  But if Kermit can put on the pack and go for a stroll, I guess his tunes are good enough for me.

I'll be perfectly honest, I'm a lot more scared of the Treadmill at the YMCA than I am of Mt. Whitney.  No joke, the thing tried to kill me on Tuesday, in fact I just took a picture of it in my cubicle to document the evidence.

I was just trying to make the pain of show tunes in my ear stop, but wife has a key pad lock code thing on her iPod and I was trying to punch in the #s when the freaking treadmill caught me unawares and drug me down for a death roll.  I looked like a complete moron at the gym, but I did prevail.

So here's to climbing Mt. Whitney, if i can just survive Mt. Treadmill.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Tales from the Trenches

I have the pleasure of serving as Patriarch over a nuthouse.  I'm not kidding, consider the conversation I overheard during this little diddy of a breakfast:

Little Guy (LG):  Hey Twin # Trouble, guess how many Cheerios I can stuff into my mouth at one time.

Twin # Trouble (TT):  I have no idea, but I will stare at you with feigned indifference while you try to choke yourself on whole grain honey nut goodness if it will make you feel more important.

Twin #1 (T1):  Hey, isn't eating breakfast in laundry baskets in the middle of the kitchen floor the best!  This is like having our own space pods and stuff, like on that show!

TT:  Um, space pods fly and not for nothing, they are in SPACE, they are more like choo-choos as each basket or "car" is separate but closely linked.  Duh

T1:  I said "like"  Did you drink your apple juice yet?  It tastes even better when drinking them in space pods.

TT:  Ugh.  Hey, did mom let you have any banana today?

T1:  No, she always gets mad because I just crush them up and wipe them on the table and on my pants.

TT:  That's why you are still in PJs, just lay off the messes for a while and she'll fall into a false sense of security and let you get dressed before breakfast again, then you can smash bananas into your jeans and we can all get a good laugh. 

T1:  What?  That's not funny.

TT:  Right, how come dad always laughs when you do it then?  Here, take this banana chunk, I'm not going to eat it anyway.  I'm just going to yell until mom puts yogurt and cheese sticks and graham crackers and toast in here in desperation to get me to quiet down, then I'm just going to eat like 5 Cheerios and call it good.

T1:  Why do you like to torment mom?  She is such a nice lady.

TT:  My goal is to do exactly everything exactly like LG does it, it's irrational, but that is the only example I've got, well, except for dad, but LG does everything that dad does, so I figure it is pretty good precedent.

LG:  You guys know that no one has any idea what you guys are babbling about right?  Just saying "Nanana, dada, show, choo choo" doesn't really mean anything.

TT:  Seriously?  You are going to lecture us on babbling?  You know dad just mocks you when you tell him that the Gallardo 911 Countach M38665211 Veyron Roadster Convertible is the fastest car ever because it goes 46 right?

LG:  No way, he loves that car, he said so!

TT:  I can't live like this.  I have little happy sunshine smiles-a-lot to my left and space-cadet pea-brain to my right.  I think I am going to take dad up on his offer to send me to boarding school on the east coast.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Geopolitics Aside... Wife is Happy!

Everywhere you look is wrought with disasters, economic turmoil and strife.  But enough about my living room.  On a positive note, yesterday was Little Guy's first day of pre-school (again) and I will tell you, I have not seen wife this happy since the last time I let her hold my hand in public.

Normally wife is trying to squeeze in a few minutes of Wall Street Journal/ New York Times reading/emailing me (at work) 20 stories (that I have already probably read) over breakfast while fighting off the heathens that cling to her evey leg.  But yesterday was different.

Little Guy was so excited to go to school, he came running down the stairs, ran into our room at about 7:30 yelling "I got up early for school!"

So we got up, I packed his lunch, made sure that his name was written on his sleeping pad and lunch sack, made him a bowl of oatmeal, 2 blueberry waffles and a bowl of Cheerios and shipped mom and kid out the door. 

They were also the first people to the school, and since Little Guy couldn't wait in the car like everyone else for the doors to open, he hauled wife out in the cold to stand at the doors.

No sooner had Little guy been dropped off for the day than wife was commenting on the peace and quiet in the house.

I hear, though I personally did not see, that Little Guy just ran into his class, hugged the teacher and started to play.

When wife got home, it was nothing but bliss.  The twins played nicely with each other,and rather quietly, and that is about it...  Thankfully.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Sweet... Dad's Watching Us! (Reposted from Witness to Insanity)

I decided to copy this post over from Witness to Insanity, our family's "exclusive members only country club style blog where only the individually selected fake champagne sipping uppity blogo-royalty can gain access into our gated blogging community." 

But this was so funny, I thought I would condescend among the great unwashed masses and share a little glimpse into the lives of the solidly middle class and un-famous.

Sweet...  Dad's Watching Us!

So this is the kind of shenanigans that get pulled when mom is out of the house.

At least this explains the wet pajamas that were left on my bathroom counter. 

In my defense, I totally almost was paying attention when he decided to jump in.  By the time I turned around, the only thing I could see were his feet sticking up over the edge of the tub, he totally went in head first, and when he came up he was laughing like only twin # trouble laughs.  

His laugh is a mix of Joker (Heath Ledger) and Barney the Purple dinosaur.  It is playful and giddy, but you know it is hiding something deeply sinister.

He thought he was the king when he pulled this stunt.  The worst part about this was the camera battery was dead, so I had to turn it on while holding down the picture button in order to get this shot just before the camera died again, thank goodness it took on the second try, but it was even better when he had the bucket held high above his head all Braveheart style.

So we only had to go through a couple of different sets of PJ's.  I'd say based on my past performances, this evening was a resounding success.