Scary Bad Parenting, “Functional” is Not the Same as “Normal,” and Don’t Stifle My Creativity

Just blow that second-hand smoke all over your child’s developing lungs!

I have to admit, nothing contributes to the desire to chain smoke more than dealing with infants and toddlers, unless it’s dealing with automotive technicians.  At one time I had to contend with both, though in the end, chain smoking just feeds the nervous tension.  Thankfully I had taken a three-year hiatus from smoking, beginning a year and a half before the illustrious offspring arrived until about a year and a half after the illustrious offspring arrived. At least I didn’t knowingly contaminate the child whilst he was in the womb- mostly because I feared giving birth to a drooling slack-jawed cretin should I indulge in an aspartame-laden Diet Dr. Pepper, or a hit off a cigarette, or God forbid, a cup of coffee.  He’s potty trained, literate and gainfully employed, and he can pick his nose with his tongue!

I blame the tongue thing on the Sudafed.  One stinking Sudafed in week 3 of gestation, and the kid’s born tongue-tied.  Let that be a lesson.

Lávese las manos!  In NC, the obligatory employee bathroom instructions are only in English. In some parts of Ohio there’s 14 different languages on the sign – and there’s still millions of crusty people who don’t wash their hands in the bathroom.

I always wondered, since there’s dippy pictorial signs everywhere, either for the illiterate or the non-English speaking or both, why not a universal “wash your hands after using the crapper sign? ”  My art skills are pretty rudimentary, but here’s a thought:

Here’s my contribution for the betterment of humanity.  Enjoy, and wash your damned hands!

The cigarette jones is a strong compulsion, though. I know what possessed me to pick them back up.  I was stressed, sleep deprived, working a very shitty job with very shitty pay after I’d been promised all kinds of things that never materialized, and in the process of getting a divorce.  I was driving back from some backwater town running titles (which wasn’t what I was hired to do, but getting out is getting out) and happened to stop at a gas station for more coffee when I saw the Marlboro sign.  After three years of no smoking at all- from 1989-92, I bought a pack of Marlboro Menthol Light 100s and hot-boxed half the pack on the way back home.  I was a two-pack a day smoker for the next ten years, sometimes lighting one right off of the butt of the one I’d just smoked.  I apologize to Steve-o for letting him think that smoking was OK.  Strangely enough, he took them up three years after I’d quit (God willing for good) in 2002.  But he won’t smoke his cigs in that high faluting Audi, because he doesn’t want to “stink up the leather.”

No smoking in the Steve-o ride.  It might make the leather stink.

I’ll never make any sort of claim that I’m “normal.”  Functional, yes, but that’s not quite the same thing.  Rednecks piece together machinery and devices that are functional, but not exactly in the ways the designers had originally intended.

I don’t need no stinkin’ latches!  Though I think the bungees are holding the decklid and the rear fascia on too.

The Marion Walmart never disappoints as far as the panoply of redneck engineered motor vehicles in the parking lot.  Sadly this poor Pontiac is 1.) likely totalled and/or the one who hit it had no insurance or 2.) the one driving it when it was hit had no insurance, and making a police report would have cost him/her his/her license. Or, 3.) the driver of said Pontiac took the insurance settlement and spent it on crack.   If I were a betting person (which I’m not) I would wager on #3.  Perhaps it’s mean of me to photograph others’ misfortune, but it’s funny in a tragic sort of way.  I’ve driven my share of shitty cars, but that was in the days before digital photography made the disasters so easy to share.

What I don’t get about this 70’s Midol ad is the guys deserve some of the aggravation right back at them.  Especially Jerry.

Another thing I discovered about menopause is that you don’t need Aunt Flo as an excuse to channel your inner bitch.  I can be bitchy all month long AND wear white pants while I’m bitchy, even when I’m sitting in the freezer.  The hot flash thing isn’t nearly as bad as it was a year or two ago, but it’s still bad when I’m watching polar bears on TV and at times I wish I was hanging out on the icebergs with them.   I don’t think I’ve worn a sweater for years, or more PJs than light PJ pants and a t-shirt.  I would probably be smothering to death if I had long hair.  Now I know why old women have short hair.  It’s easier to color, yes, but it’s also a hell of a lot cooler.

I have every right to keep on bitching!

Really? What Message Are We Sending Here? and Deliverance (Less the Mountains and Canoes)

Wrong on Many Levels: “Grillz” Candy

Just when you thought candy cigarettes were beyond the pale, we get another frightening candy choice marketed to the unwashed masses.  What’s so terrible about “Grillz?” you implore?  Well here we go:

1. Appealing to “gangsta” culture, which is inherently inappropriate for children.  I can just imagine the kids playing “Let’s Make a Dope Deal.”  Why not just play “Hos and Johns and Pimps” too?

2. Undermining parents’ efforts at teaching dental hygiene.  Eat this candy-rot out your teeth-get yourself a gold grille.  That’s the message I’m getting here.  I’m sure the dentist would love this one.

3. Check out the chick with the downright yellow teeth on the wrapper, as if she’s proud of it or something:

Now you could take it one step further and go directly from ghetto ho to trailer queen:

Still not a role model, even if she does look like your mama.

There’s a certain irony that I got this candy at the dollar store.  They are getting the demographic right- let’s just say the “Baby Einstein” crowd does not generally shop here, and “designer” children aren’t eating candy anyway.  While the One Percent’s offspring are eating organic fru-fru granola made with actual fruit, yogurt and grain, (have to say these days I’m right on that healthy eating train) here’s what the ghetto babies and neophyte rednecks are treated to.

I know my sisters and I munched a LOT of equally disturbing and unhealthy candy- candy cigarettes, Lik-M-Aid, Pixie Sticks, and other stuff that was just plain noxious on the sugar content alone.  The 70’s were the Glory Days of candy though- Tootsie Rolls, Hershey bars, the cinnamon gum shaped like hot dogs, Bottle Caps, root beer penny candy and so forth, but probably the closest things to socially objectionable candy were the candy cigarettes.

In the 70’s, smoking wasn’t considered socially objectionable.  You could tool right on in the supermarket burning one, and even hang out inside the hospital whilst enjoying a Marlboro Red.  The Dr. I went to as a small child smoked cigars in his office.   So nobody really thought the idea of candy cigarettes to be as abhorrent as people do today.

Just another motivational illustration on the “Steve-o, Stop Smoking Crusade.”

I hate smoking, but then the most militant anti-smokers of all are ex-smokers.  He’s turning those lovely crowns (I paid dearly for) a rather nasty shade of pasty yellow, and that sort of torques me.  Jerry, well, he’s incorrigible, but Steve-o is still young enough to ditch the cig monkey and get over it.  He already doesn’t smoke in his car (doesn’t want to ruin the smell of whatever fine leather upholstery the folks at Audi installed in his ride) and doesn’t smoke in the house.  Just take that next step and stop altogether already… but that’s probably my inner Joan Crawford going off again, except that Joan Crawford was a chain smoker.  Never mind that analogy.

Perhaps it was a bit ill advised of me to let Jerry eat Isabel’s food Saturday.  I let my penchant for passive-aggressive revenge get the best of me.  That stuff is $1.10 a can.  There’s cheaper things for Jerry to eat in that fridge. If he’d developed a taste for Miz Izz’s food it would cost me a fortune, when you figure that a can of tuna (intended for humans to eat) is only 70¢.

Over all I can’t complain about the illustrious offspring too much.  I think I might just get him that rebel flag decal he wants.

Some things never change.  You can’t necessarily take the redneck streak completely out.

Some Pigs are More Equal, Vertical and Breathing, and Fun With Cars

 The French, God love them, in spite of their penchant toward socialism and love of abysmally designed motor vehicles, have a saying: Plus ça change, plus c’est la méme chose.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The difference today is, sadly, that there is still a pro-slavery crowd preaching the morality of forced servitude to the masses.  It is a far more deceptive form of servitude, though.  The preachers of the religion- and it is a religion in which Government is God- of socialism keep telling the masses that we can reach some grand utopia if only we let government have all of our resources…so the government can “redistribute” them.   I can go on and on ranting on that point, but suffice to say that someone has to pay for all the “gimmes” to the entitlement crowd, and it seems that “someone” always ends up being people like me.  It’s just a tad bit grating knowing that all the money I pay out in taxes and insurances goes toward other people getting (for free) things I can’t afford.  If I think about it too much, it really pisses me off.

I can’t stress it enough.  Read  George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Which pigs are more equal?  Of course, the phrase “more equal” is an oxymoron to begin with, but the political correctness movement has brought us an era in which being some sort of protected minority du jour buys one privileges that the rest of the population is not accorded.   Is it truly in the interest of “equality” to give special scholarships to black students, while white students with better GPAs and more notable achievements are denied, or to hire a person who belongs to a minority group who is less qualified to do a job?  Doesn’t this send the message that ____ group is inferior and can’t achieve anything without someone fudging it for them?

I am all for equal rights, but I despise “affirmative action,” which is simply reverse discrimination.  It’s an attempt to make “some pigs more equal than others.”  There will never be equal rights in this country until or unless there is no preferential treatment given to anyone on the basis of race, religion, gender, disability, national origin, sexual preference, ad nauseam.  No one has equal rights until no one has special rights.

Ok, I’m done with today’s rant on government and society, before I piss myself off too much.

You win some, you lose some.  I do well to remain breathing and vertical.

Speaking of remaining vertical, tomorrow my illustrious son and his buddy are going to go to Cinci to retrieve his car, saving me at least part of the road trip, and I get my car back. I want to go hang out with Dad for awhile but I’m trying to think of creative ways to avoid having dinner at the nursing home.  I’m still having nightmares about that shrivelled up piece of sausage (?) and whatever that dried up film was on the outside of the coffee cup, but there are times when dining is more about being social and polite than it is about pretending to be a frigging gourmet.    Perhaps it is a sad commentary on my life that I am looking forward to driving a Yaris, but I have driven far worse in my life. I’ve owned a plethora of cars in my time- some good, some abysmal, some classic, and some forgettable. Maybe I can remember them all:

1979 Subaru DL- it was completely trashed long before I got it, but memorable because it was my first car, and when I got it there was a behemoth pack of Trojan rubbers in the glove box.

1975 VW Rabbit- this car completely sucked because it was a (rare) carbureted Rabbit – (same powertrain and induction as an old Dodge Omni… those one barrel Solex carbs sucked… and just as depressing to drive) and it had a number of bizarre electrical faults. It would not start if you turned it off at Burger King, for example, which makes no rational sense.

1977 VW Rabbit- ugly as hell but would run like a raped ape because we put the air distributor from a Porsche 944 on it (more air=more fuel on the old mechanical Bosch CIS injection systems)- this was the car I beat the boys with the Novas and Chevelles with the 350 engines and 411 rear ends in the quarter mile.  I know, drag racing is bad, but when you’re 18 and like to teach young punks some simple physics, it was really fun.  Horsepower means nothing unless you have the low end torque to back it up.

1972 VW Super Beetle-my first and last air-cooled VW- had to sell it to the ex to have money to move.  Loved the car, in spite of getting frostbite in my ankles from driving it in winter, but sometimes getting away from an ex is worth the trade-off.

1979 VW Rabbit- not as fast as the ’77 but it was my very first 4 door, and my very first Blaupunkt stereo with 16 speakers and 100 watt power amp.  Led Zeppelin cranked up in this car was awesome. Spending $800 in repairs in one month- brakes, control arms, front shocks, rear shocks, tires and a starter,  was not so awesome.

1990 Chevy Cavalier- worst piece of shit I ever owned- and I bought it new.  The week after I bought it I had to have the hood painted.  The lifters clanged like a diesel’s, and the oil pan drain plug was stripped from the factory. I was glad to see that son of a bitch go.

1983 VW GTI- I could kick myself in the ass for selling this classic. Damn, it would run fine…  But it was black, a 2 door, and the A/C didn’t work.  Plus, at the time I had an infant in a car seat, and that does NOT work with a 2 door that has no A/C.

1988 VW Fox- not magic, not tragic- it had 4 doors and working A/C, but I sold it before I ever had to have the clutch replaced.  Clutch replacement on front wheel drive cars with longitudinal engines is a bitch, and a repair that’s way too expensive for me.

1994 Toyota RN series truck- I loved this truck.  It had 250K on it when I begrudgingly let the old man trade it in on his ’99 Tacoma. The old 22RE engines were virtually indestructible.

1998 Toyota Corolla- It was purple and I loved the color.  But I made the mistake of putting aftermarket aluminum wheels on it and had nine kinds of trouble with them, and then I became enamored of the Celica I saw in the showroom.

2000 Toyota Celica- Another car I could positively smack myself for trading in.  This beastie was fun to drive and fast as hell.  But Steve-o couldn’t fit in the back seat, and the lease was up so I had to trade it in on something.

2005 Scion XA- This car was fun and it had 4 doors and more room in the back seat.  The only reason I traded it was because the lease was up.  I don’t see myself doing leases anymore.

2008 Toyota Yaris- I liked this car too, until I got rear-ended and was paranoid taking it back even after the body damage was repaired- and I was offered a hell of a deal to just buy a new one with more safety features on it.

2010 Toyota Yaris- This is my current ride- exactly like the 2008 only with power everything, cruise and side airbags. Why the hell they don’t make the sedan anymore is beyond me.

In all honesty it is difficult to find a decent car if you’re one of the 13% of American drivers that prefer a manual transmission.  The Europeans offer the best rides for those who like to shift gears themselves- but they’re also the most expensive.  The Japanese do offer manual transmissions in a variety of models, but most of those are base model econoboxes, (my vehicles of choice) so if you like options you’ll likely end up dealer trading for them or special ordering them.  I’ve gotten lucky with most of the cars I’ve bought recently- nobody wants the manuals with all the toys- so I get better deals.

Steve-o found out today that his automotive hypocondriasis was exactly what I thought it was: something stupid.  Steve-o is also a member of the 13%, and he’s also aware that the Europeans have the best offerings for those of us who pass by all the cars on the lot that only have two pedals.  Audis, especially turbo Audis with 150K+, are very temperamental when they have vacuum leaks.  He had an improperly sealed valve cover and a slightly cracked flange leading to one of the vacuum lines. It was miraculously devoid of the catastrophic failures he envisioned, and frankly, I barely noticed the trivial, almost indiscernible miss on cold start before he took it in for repairs.  He would crap himself if he had to fire up Dad’s ancient Mazda van and listen to the lifters clang like a diesel’s until the temp gauge gets at least half way up.  That disturbs me- and I try to be very easy on it when it’s cold- but I admit the play in both the ball joints scares me more than the lifter noise.  I hope to avoid the larger potholes and divots with this thing.  At least I get my car back tomorrow, after I hear his whining about how it hydroplanes in the rain (no shit when you’re going 85) and the wind blows it around. I’ve not heard any whining about the 40+ MPG it gets on the highway though.

I have to wonder what kinds of drugs the artist of this painting was on.  Cats with umbrellas, in the snow?