Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Suffering Bears Fan?

Here's just the thing.

Found this at the store today and thought it just about sums it up.

I wish I'd had this yesterday.  Well, as we Cubs fans like to say, "Wait 'til next year."

Personally, I think this is such a great idea, I might look into the possibility of manufacturing some Cubs tissue...

Hmmm. Beer.

But as I sat there, I began to notice things about this map. Strange things. Like for instance, Greenland doesn't run east-west. I know this for a fact. I fly over Greenland almost every week. And just look at Italy. I wouldn't be caught dead in boots like that. The most sinister thing in all this is the United States. Our continent of North America has morphed into a fat amorphous blob that quite frighteningly resembles most of us.

How hard would it have been to make the map look realistic? All of us have seen normal-looking Mollweide projection maps in classrooms across the country. (You can feel free to use "Mollweide projection maps" in a sentence this week, too.) Then I had the idea, maybe the folks at Heineken wanted to display the world view you get after consuming a little too much Heineken beer.

Here my husband helps me with my theory by handing me a factoid from history, a little quote: "God made the earth, but the Dutch made the Netherlands." And now a horrible, terrible thought creeps into my head. You see, the Dutch did make a lot of Holland by putting up all those levies and dykes and creating all that land, raising it right up (not far!) but raising it right up out of the North Sea. Maybe this map isn't as innocent as a beer ad. Maybe it's really the secret Dutch plan of world domination! They're going to install levies and dykes until they've created much larger continents to take over, or maybe at the very least, until no one wants to vacation in Cabo anymore. ( I mean, look at it.)

I think we need to keep a very close eye on those Dutch from now on. As a matter of fact, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to keep an eye on those folks over at Heineken, either.

Fair Weather Bears Fan? Time to Fess Up!

The big game is this Sunday and of course we're going to watch it. Go Bears! But it feels sort of pretentious to me. We are Bears fans, but we rarely sit down and watch the games. The last time I tried it was the Sunday we played the Patriots, and just look at how that turned out.

Being hard core Chicago baseball fans (the Cubs) I'm already more than a little annoyed with us and our rather fair-weather Bears fandom. I mean, I know how annoyed I get at fair-weather Cub fans. You know the ones. They go to the game, drink beer and talk the whole time like they're at any old park as opposed to a baseball park, Wrigley Field, no less. They don't feel the pain of an injured Zambrano or a Fontenot trade or an error in the top of the ninth, so why do they get to feel the excitement and joy at the winning double play or home run? My guess is they don't feel it the same way. Not really.  Not like us hard core fans, anyway. They're just pretending they do. Posers.

And I can't even truly call myself a fair-weather Bears fan. At least not in the same way I'm totally a fair-weather Blackhawks fan. I watched two periods of hockey last year (at least I didn't say quarters), but still wanted to run out and buy a jersey (I know, you call it a sweater) after the Stanley cup. I grew up in a Bears house. I joke that the SNL skit, Superfans, is my family right down to the heart attacks and kielbasa. It was an annual ritual on our way to my mom's house for Christmas Eve to wager on "minutes to Ditka" and "minutes to the '85 team." And if you guessed more than thirty, you would lose.

Early in my airline career, I even got to fly a Bears team charter to Minneapolis. For Christmas that year my parents received a framed poster signed by the team, which still had a lot of the '85 players on it--Kevin Butler, Jim Harbaugh, Keith Van Horne, William Perry, to name a few. I was beside myself excited, especially when the Captain of the flight wanted to set me up with Jim Harbaugh, which would have been fantastic had I not thought my husband would mind. These days that poster is the only thing saving me from bastard child status when my folks realize I can't even comment intelligently on the team's offensive line.

But this week we're not eating cheese at our house and we're wearing our Bears hats and jerseys and come Sunday at two we'll park our poser butts down in front of the TV for the big game. We'll feel excitement and joy at a winning touchdown pass or interception and all the hard core fans out there can take solace in knowing it won't be the same level of excitement and joy they're feeling. But at least I'll have the good sense to not ask what inning it is.

The Sun Sign Person Formerly Known As ♋

Finally. Someone has come along to explain the mayhem in my life.The New Zodiac  And to think all this time I thought I was a Cancer married to an Aquarius with two Capricorn and one Sagittarian child. Now, I can see the root of the problem. I'm really a Gemini married to a Capricorn with three Sagittarian children. No wonder my life is crazy! I'm an air sign living with three fire sign children. It goes a long way toward explaining why, on some days, I feel like I'm being eaten alive.

The first crushing blow in all this came when I learned I wasn't a Cancer. And I know a lot of people out there must have felt the same way. We should start a support group, but we'll have to get creative with the name. Maybe we can call ourselves "The Sun sign people formerly known as Cancer2.jpg because I think any title with "Former Cancer" in it sounds a little moribund.

I don't know how much weight you put into Astrology, but just about everyone knows their sign. It's a part of who you are. Years ago when I first read the description of the Cancer personality, I felt like I should send them my picture to put next to the description in the book. Same with my husband and the kids and their respective, albeit former, signs. Of course it feels like the earth has tilted off its axis--because it has. And just imagine being labeled an Ophiuchus! I wouldn't even know how to say it.

What a shock this all is.  I mean, if you can't believe in Astrology, what's left to believe in?

Okay, self disclosure. I actually think there might be something to it. Not the horoscopes you read in the paper, although I enjoy reading my husband's, which is always funny in an ironic way. For instance, when I'm trying to talk him into buying something, a new car, say, his horoscope will inevitably read, "Don't get talked into making any large purchases, like a new car, say."

I did once have a reading from a "certified" astrologer a while back and it was right on target. Scarily so. I tried to interview her for this, but she hasn't gotten back to me yet. I imagine she's busy. (and I thought MY world got upended) She knew only the date, time and place of my birth and yet she told me about my careers (yes, both of them), all about my personality traits, about upcoming travel delays and even a construction project we were thinking about for our house.  She talked fancy, using terms like "Chiron," "Progressed Moon" and "Mercury sextile radix Venus," and then told me the lower back pain I would feel in December would benefit from hot oil wraps. She even gave me dates to play the lottery. And we won. Twice. But even with that extra five dollars, I still didn't feel very comfortable retiring.

I believe there is a lot more to our world than what we can see with our own eyes and over the centuries humans have turned to all sorts of things to explain life, the Universe and everything. I don't see why Astrology couldn't prove to be one of them. In the meantime, this new Gemini at least has an explanation as to why it feels like her hair is on fire every day.

And now, I think I will go douse it with my tea, so I can read the leaves.

A City Mom Targets Dominick's

Dominick's, would you please target your market?  Every time I hear your radio ads with that twenty year-old California girl doing the voice-over, I want to turn off my radio.

I mean what were you thinking? I'm a middle-aged Chicago woman. A Chicago native. I do just about all of my family's grocery shopping. (If I don't say "just about" and mention that once or twice a year my husband does go to then store, then he'll never do it again, which would be terrible, because then what would we do for Beef Jerky?) Do you really think I want to hear some California valley girl tell me in bubbly Southern California-speak how great your vegetables are? How fresh your values are?  Like, I'm so sure. It's like having Bill and Ted's little sister give me advice on my middle-aged mundane world. What does she know about Ingredients for Life? As if.

This woman's voice grates on my nerves like salt in coffee. To be fair, I should admit her voice really isn't that terrible as far as voice-over talent goes. It would be perfect for, say, selling surf boards. And I know Dominick's was bought by Safeway, which is a California company and so, I guess, in these harsh economic times you want to consolidate your commercial voice-over talent and have her do all of your radio ads at the same time, you know, while she's there. But seriously. Couldn't you have found someone with a neutral accent? A Midwestern accent?  Say, what about a Chicago accent? I could do da spots for ya. "Tanks for shoppin' aht (I'll draw out the "a" sound and make it all nasally) D"ah"minick's." Better yet, call over to WXRT and get the "Regular Guy."  Even if his thick Chicago accent might annoy some people, at least you can tell from his voice he's actually old enough to buy his own groceries.

Jewel had the sense a while back to hire Patricia Heaton to do their ads. I don't know if she actually slogs up and down a grocery store aisle several times a week, but at least she played someone who did on TV.

So, in protest of Dominick's ridiculous radio ads, this curmudgeon of a mom is going to boycott them until they change. And with the way my kids eat, you know they're going to feel it in their bottom line.

When you've had enough of this fiscal pain, Dominick's, you know where to find me. I'll be slogging up and down the aisles, buying my Ingredients for Life at da Jewels.

Don't throw sardines at your neighbor's house

Don't throw sardines at your neighbor's house. It will only confuse your dog. 
This is a cautionary tale, but not in the way you think.  It's a warning you need to be very careful what you say in front of your writer friends, even your oldest, dearest friends, because what you say could end up in what they write.
I had breakfast today with some of my oldest and dearest friends, the mothers of my sons' grade school classmates. We all met about ten years ago when our kids were four.  We hadn't seen each other in a while. Many of the kids have switched schools. But as a group we still get together about once or twice a year simply because we really, really like each other.

When my boys started at their pre-school, the principal told us to look around the room at the other moms, because the friendships made here would last us our lifetimes.  She was wrong. About those moms, anyway.  But what she said did hold true for my boys' Junior Kindergarten class.  When my sons switched schools in seventh grade they mourned what they thought would be the loss of these friends.  I told them it was too late for that. Those kids were going to be their friends forever and we would be seeing them a lot because I had hopelessly and irretrievable fallen in love with all their mothers.

Which brings me to my point, finally.  At breakfast my dear friend, we'll call her  "Janet," told a hilarious story about seeing a stray cat that seemed to be living in the empty house next door.  Janet is the kindest soul you'd ever want to meet and even though she's allergic to cats, she began throwing fish at her neighbor's house.  Sardines, to be exact.  She said the cat would turn it's nose up and away in disgust at the offering, but when it thought Janet wasn't looking, would hurry over and gobble it down.  Turns out, it's bad to feed sardines to cats, (Part one of the cautionary tale. This is actually true. Sardines are NOT good for cats to eat.) especially if, when you throw them over the fence they sometimes get stuck on said fence and then freeze, and maybe even accumulate snow. This is the part that confuses your dog, who will stand in your back yard for an inordinate amount of time staring at the impaled sardine and wonder whatever it is that a dog would wonder about while tilting it's confused head at an impaled frozen fish on a fence.  (Part two of the cautionary tale.)

But I think the most important caution is--and you're wrong, because I've changed my mind and I'm not going to say you should never admit to throwing fish over your fence into your neighbor's yard while you're in the presence of your blogger friend--to never underestimate the bond of motherhood, the power of female friendship and, okay, how really funny flying sardines can be when you've had way too much coffee.

My Mornen is Like This

My husband is an intelligent man. But lately, he's been doing something that's not so smart.  He's been messing with my morning coffee.

mama bird1.jpg
Mama Bird

For me that first cup in the morning is like a religious experience.  Most days, the smell of it brewing downstairs is the only thing that gets me out of bed.  My favorite coffee is Douwe Egberts brewed in a French press. Since my husband, Jeff, routinely gets up before I do, he's the one that usually gets it going, God bless him.

However, over the past few days Jeff, aka The Quicken Nazi, has been substituting Maxwell House French Roast for my Dutch Douwe Egbert. I know!  Wednesday evening he even said to me, "You didn't even notice I'd switched up the coffee the past two mornings, did you?"

I stared at him, mouth-breathing, with a swollen red nose and bloodshot eyes, a crumpled tissue in my hand. A hand that was clenching into a fist.

'Oh yeah. You have a cold."

I hadn't tasted anything in four days.

My son made the "Mama Bird" drawing you see here.  I keep it in a frame on my desk. It cracks me up.  Actually, Jeff doodled the Mama Bird, but Kyle put in all the rest: the hand holding the steaming coffee cup; the box of coffee; the caption at the top, "My Mornen is Like This" and the dialogue balloon with Mama Bird saying, "Ohboyoboy."   When my son was seven, he understood the significance of my morning cup of coffee.  Something that my husband of 21 years apparently has yet to learn.

Today was the last straw.  Maxwell House. No French Press.  He used the dreaded coffee maker. I'm not a real high-maintenance lady (Get your own blog, Honey). I don't wear designer clothes or have the need to go out to fancy restaurants or spas all the time.  But my coffee.  I am particular about my coffee.

Since last night was the first time with this cold that I didn't have to slug down any Nyquil to get through the night, I actually tasted my coffee this morning.  I had to cut it with more than my usual amount of cream. And I am already known for my proclivity to use a lot of cream in my coffee. "Extreme cream" is how I order it when I'm at work. (In light of the recent ill-fated airline coffee event, Coffee Spill Diverts Flight, I must speak up here in favor of drinking coffee in the cockpit.  We do not drink it because we're thirsty.  We drink it to help us stay awake.  And since those jets do NOT fly themselves, this, as you might imagine, is important. Like I told Jeff, if they ever try ban coffee in the cockpit there won't be any non-stop flights to anywhere, because we'll all be landing short so we can sit down and have a cup.)

I am hopeful tomorrow my husband will change his errant ways and get back to the regularly scheduled morning coffee program. I fear if he doesn't, he may end up as Jeff, aka The Weight Watchers Nazi, because he'll find himself married to a whole lot more Mama Bird.

Tooth (Fairy) for Tea

I'm sick.  But if you're a regular reader of A City Mom, then you already knew that.  Today, however, I don't mean sick in the sense that I have a bad sense of humor, but sick in the sense that the inside of my skull feels like a cement mixer. I have a really bad cold.

But I believe this cold is evidence of one of our motherly super-powers: the ability to postpone getting sick or even avoid it completely.  Because what mom out there has time to be sick? So, we choose, sometimes more forcefully than others, to simply not be sick.

Two weeks before Christmas, my daughter complained of a sore throat, and I kindly and with concern, replied, "No! You do not have a sore throat!"  Have I mentioned in the last fifteen minutes all three of my children have birthdays in December?

Positive parental reinforcement aside, my daughter did get sick first. Her cough became so bad we went to the doctor, who suspected Pertussis, which is also known by the much more fun and exciting, onomatopoetic name of "whooping cough" (and no, I didn't lose a bet that required me to work the word "onomatopoetic" into a sentence) because it's going around, and treated her with a round of antibiotics. Turns out, it wasn't Pertussis after all, but that didn't stop my son Kyle from getting whatever it was. Or my husband. Or my other son, Ethan.

I remember thinking, NO! I absolutely cannot get sick! I've got Christmas presents to buy and wrap, and birthday presents for three children to buy and wrap and one birthday slumber party to plan and host and...and...and...I didn't get sick. Because I just couldn't get sick. It would be like the Grinch coming and stealing Christmas and their birthdays. And I believe I used my motherly super-power of  choosing to create my own reality to do this, at least temporarily.

Unfortunately, I woke up on New Year's day with a sore throat. I remember having a few self-indulgent thoughts about how it wouldn't be so bad to be sick, because I could snuggle-up in bed with a good book and a box of tissue and maybe someone would bring me a cup of hot tea. You know, someone like the Tooth Fairy, because she would be my best shot at getting a cup of hot tea delivered to my bed.

You see, this week, I have time to be sick. No one's Christmas or birthday will be ruined because I can't lift my head off a pillow. And if I were sick, going to work tomorrow would be out of the question, because the FAA frowns on pilots with skulls that feel like cement mixers  flying any heavy-jets. Those self-indulgent thoughts are what did me in, I know it. But don't feel too sorry for me and my congested head. As soon as I post this, I just may take to my bed with a good book, and wait for the Tooth Fairy to bring me some tea.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Battery Anxiety

Battery Anxiety.  I may be suffering from it and I didn't even know it. In fact, you may be suffering from it, too. Recently, Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, mentioned this affliction in a recent press release about the Kindle.

Third-Generation Kindle Now the Bestselling Product of All Time on Amazon Worldwide

I happen to own one of those LCD tablet devices he refers to, an iPad, which I imagine is an iThorn in Jeff Bezo's iBottom line.  After reading about this battery anxiety of which he speaks, I now find myself looking somewhat askance at my beloved iPad. Is it really secretly causing me anxiety? Is it creating iSubterfuge, making me worry, perhaps even subconsciously, about its battery life? And to think, all this time I thought battery anxiety is what happened on Christmas morning when you realized Santa had forgotten to go to Walgreen's to buy enough Double-A's to go with all his many battery operated gifts.

I love the way marketing works, implanting in our brains anxieties and worries we didn't even know we should have. As if I didn't have enough to worry about. Now this. Now, Battery Anxiety. Bezos goes on to say the Kindle, "with its paper-like Pearl e-ink display that reduces eye strain, doesn't interfere with sleep patterns at bedtime..." Oh no. Now I'm really looking sideways at my iPad. Stealthily interfering with my sleep patterns? No one gets away with that.  And I know he couldn't be referring to any kind of self-inflicted sleep pattern interference, like maybe when I stay up too late mindlessly trolling Facebook.

On my kitchen counter this morning, I noticed an empty box of Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theater Butter Gourmet Popping Corn. Annoyed, I started to throw the box away (and yes, I am the only person in my house capable of throwing away trash left out on the counter. Ahem.) when I noticed that at the top of the box it said, "100% Whole Grain."  Really? They felt the need to say this?  Do they think Mom's at the grocery store will look at the Movie Theater Butter Popcorn and think, "Ooh. Whole Grain! How healthy!"  Or maybe they mention it's whole grain to differentiate this product, perhaps from some other, less successful version of their popcorn, which was made with partial grains of corn.

I'm not quite ready to seek treatment for my Battery Anxiety and I haven't noticed any serious sleep pattern interference, but I will be much more wary of my iPad from now on. And the same goes for the grocery store, where I will keep my eyes-peeled for that evil, and clearly unhealthy, partial grain popcorn.