Friday, December 5, 2008

There's Someone for Everyone, if a Butterfly Works Hard Enough

My son was thoroughly engrossed by the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records. He ran upstairs to show me a picture of Manuel Uribe, the world's heaviest man. We'd seen Manuel in the news, and in fact, I'd tried to use him as an object lesson, once, to get my son to eat his veggies. "If all you eat is french fries and burgers and chicken nuggets, this will be you, one day." It almost worked, too - he'll eat three broccoli florets and a Granny Smith apple, now.

Manuel has been back in the news, lately; not only has he lost a considerable amount of weight - going from just over 1,200 lbs. to about 800 lbs. - he has inspired others and he has found love, recently marrying his longtime girlfriend, Claudia Solis. The two have known each other for four years.

The new Mrs. Uribe is an attractive woman:

My son pondered the pictures for a while. "You see?" I said. "Manuel found a pretty girl to love him. There is someone for everyone."

William nodded, then said quite solemnly, "A butterfly in China was flapping its wings awfully hard."

Winter Concert, and My Favorite Violinist

<brag alert>

Monday night, we attended Katie's first college orchestra performance. For days, she'd been walking around muttering expectation-leveling things, like, "We're gonna suck." Since I suck every time I open my mouth to speak or to sing, or fire up my word processor to write, I know. I know. It's going to be craptastic. Not. But if everyone comes to the event with low expectations, they can't help but be pleasantly surprised.

I don't even bother arguing after the third, "We suck."

"Probably, but it's good to get experience performing in front of a live audience. Would it help if I stood at the door and inspected everyone for rotten fruit and stinky projectiles?" Of course, I don't say these things out loud. It only invites more protestations of suckiness, and the only cure for it is to get through the concert and on to Tuesday.

So, whatever you do, don't tell Katie that I shared this with you. Because I'll admit there's a slight possibility (like 0.0001) that I'm just biased and wouldn't know "suckage" from "symphonic," but I think that's highly unlikely after nearly ten years of schlepping this kid to her violin lessons and UIL competitions. Would I risk life, limb, and the wrath of Katie for "suckage"? (Because I may have to flee the country once she sees I've posted this.) Not bloody likely.

No offense to the other musicians - they all did an excellent job - but I focused the camera on my own kid, 97.2% of the time. That's my prerogative as her mother. Next time, bring your own.

I only wish I'd captured the whole piece. I wasn't sure the memory card would hold it all.

Winter Concert from Holly Jahangiri on Vimeo.

</brag alert>

Katie's boyfriend, Rian, his sister, Holly, and his mom, Darla all came to hear the concert:

Before Katie could leave the stage, Rian presented her with a dozen red roses:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Open Letter to Frito-Lay, Regarding Grandma's Homestyle Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I applaud the latest trend in showing Nutrition Facts as they really are, instead of saying silly things like "Servings per container: 3.14." (Hey, I like pi as much as the next guy, but who gets the ".14" serving?) Today, while looking at the pack of cookies I bought from the evil genius known as "vending machine," I noticed that a two-pack of cookies is meant to be two servings. I don't know about you, but no one in my office is sharing these things.

What really left me scratching my head, though, is your statement that one cookie has 150 calories, but two cookies have 290 calories. My math skills aren't all that, but how do you take 150 plus 150 and squish it to 290? Which cookie is the bigger of the two? How many cookies do I need to eat for this to qualify as a diet food? (Okay, I did admit that my math skills are lacking, so maybe there's a flaw in my logic, but -10 calories times 10 means I should be able to eat 10 packs and call it even, right? No?)

I've said it before, but I'll say it again - you need a warning on these packages!!! What's better than a nice, warm cookie with your afternoon coffee? The vending machine is conveniently located next to the microwave. Are you seeing where I'm going with this? From the outside, it looks like a normal, plastic wrapper. Like most vending machine snack foods come in. But open it up, and it's...foil!? News flash: Plastic-coated foil wrappers are not microwavable, and cookies with a spider web of metallic shrinky-dink embedded in them are not particularly tasty. Been there, done that (not today, but I'm still appalled that you don't have a warning on the wrapper) - I don't recommend it.

In typing this (and double-checking to be sure there's no warning label printed in itty-bitty 2-point type somewhere in the crease of the packaging) I see that these were "Guaranteed Fresh" Good job. I think they still were (and even if they weren't, they were pretty tasty), but that's cutting it awfully close!! Whew.


P.S. I tried submitting this on the site, and got "We're sorry. Your form cannot be submitted at this time due to a system error. Please try to submit your form again later." Is that the high-tech version of a postage-stamp-sized complaints box?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Family Life

Requirement #4 for the Family Life Merit Badge: With the approval of your parents or guardians and your merit badge counselor, decide on and carry out a project that you would do around the home that would benefit your family.

The Project: Repair two holes in the drywall. One is in the laundry room and another larger one is in the upstairs hallway.

The first step is a trip to Ace Hardware to ask the pros for advice and buy equipment. Came home with drywall compound, self-adhesive silicone tape, a putty knife, a drywall saw, and a Choco-Taco. We later bought texturing spray at Lowes.

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The first hole was easy, and the laundry room is the perfect place to practice, since it's mostly out of sight. Just used silicone tape and drywall compound to cover and fill the hole. Let the drywall compound set for 24 hours, then sand and apply texturing spray (not shown above). The second hole was a little bit bigger - about 4"x4" - the size of big sister K's knee:

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Mom's breaking out in a light sweat as her twelve-year-old saws through the wall to make the hole square - and it gets bigger. This is an individual project - mom gets points for (mostly) keeping her mouth shut and limiting advice to "read the directions" and "go watch that video on YouTube." W's self-confidence is amazing. Of course, he doesn't own the wall he's sawing through.

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W. cut it into a square, measured, then cut a piece of drywall to fit, leaving about an inch of paper on all sides as shown in this video. He then added some reinforcements with self-adhesive silicone tape. That wasn't in the video, but it doesn't hurt to improvise. (Mom has her fingers crossed and hopes that's true!)DSCF5502 DSCF5516

See, Mom? The house didn't fall down. The hole's all gone. All that's left is to let the drywall compound dry, spray it with texturing spray, and paint.


A job well done! Dad agrees. Mom's proud - and a little relieved.

Submit a report to your merit badge counselor outlining how the project benefited your family:

According to, "...we know the national average for drywall repair is about $525. Our Houston drywall repair projects show a similar average, but also show small repair projects that consistently cost $50-$250 and larger projects that run around $700-$900." The cost of these repairs? About $40, and W. learned some basic home repair skills.