Corona-crappy-diem

First chicken pox, then bird flu, and now this‽

The following is inspired by true events…

The other morning when my wife was taking our three-year-old to the bathroom, I overheard a brief exchange that went something like this:

Toddler: “We can’t see grandma n’ grandpa right now cause a’ da carvana virus.”

Mommy: “Yeah, the coronavirus really stinks.”

Toddler: “But why does it stink? Did it poop? Stinky poo corazon-virus!”

It was something like that. Either way, yes, the coronavirus is stinky poo. Remind humanity never to do this again please. The kids have a cabin fever of 110o and are losing their little minds. For me, I’m an introvert, so it’s been great having a socially acceptable excuse to socially distance from people. It’s totally not weird now when I refuse to shake strangers’ hands or I ask them to please stay away from me (at least six feet of course).

The moral of the story? Don’t be like the coronavirus unless you want to be flushed down the toilet.

Alexa, Tell Me the Story of “I, Diaper”

So, after posting a recent blog admonishing Huggies for their superior diapers, we were sent a generous gift of, wait for it… two separate $1 off coupons (that cannot be used simultaneously).

Preeettyy exciting I know. And honestly, it’s appreciated because I didn’t expect anything. But here’s what’s funny:

Just a week or so after, Pampers sent us a free coupon in the mail for $5—oh yeah, that’s right, 2.5 times more in diaper purchasing power! Pampers just declared war. Or I suppose it’s a diaper war that has raged for eons. (I wonder if we could get more free stuff by complimenting other company competitors…?)

In other recent events, our now totally three-year-old has figured out how to make purchases using Alexa. Now, her and Alexa go way back and have been conversing for some time, having become quite chatty friends and quite the fans of the Disney princess soundtracks. So what did she do with this newfound super power?

She ordered the Extreme Farts Extension Pack. She loves it and thinks Alexa’s medical-grade flatulence condition is hilarious. This lovely compilation includes the all-time greatest hits such as: crispy fart, cheeky fart, engine rumbler, wet and squeaky, quick and squelchy, short and gassy, ketchup fart, triumphant fart, happy birthday, Beethoven, farting around the house, machine gun, unicorn fart, dinosaur fart, shy fart, donkey fart, the dreaded pants ripper, and of course, my favorites, Sir Farts-A-Lot along with Farty McFartems. Yes, hundreds of on-demand wind breaks of which the combinations and permutations are infinite.

And just in case any of you were wondering, Amazon does not let you return digital purchases.

This is capitalism at its zenith my friends—both the light and the dark. A world where diaper design battles it out on the frontlines of bowel movements in a complexity comparable to Leonard Read’s famous “I, Pencil” essay, and a world where your toddler can order the ultimate farting album just by talking to a little, glowing hockey puck.

Stay safe and dry my friends.

Double Entendre Diapers

Don’t judge—we all have our regressive states during a crisis!

Now that we’re on our second child, we’ve obviously become baby-rearing champions. We know basically everything there is to know. Just don’t ask us any specific questions.

However, if there’s one thing we have learned over the past few years, it’s this: Huggies “Little Snugglers” are literally the only diaper worth it (by it, I mean your money, your carpets, your laundry, and your sanity. [Also, Huggies company, feel free to pay in diapers for this unsolicited endorsement!]).

Look, we’ve tried them all. Every variation of protective baby-bottom wear that you can imagine. We’ve done all the major and minor manufacturers. We’ve tried reusable and all-natural. And by the end of it all, only the Little Snugglers worked consistently at keeping the floodgates at bay and secured within the fluffy, absorbent folds of the package. In other words, they’re not as prone to leaking out everywhere.

There are few things more frustrating than going to all the trouble of putting a diaper on a spastic baby just for that diaper to not do its job. Our first child was like trying change a tornado. She squirmed, rolled, and rotated throughout the entire process. Our second, now he is like a broncing, bucking bull. He kicks and flares like he’s playing in the World Cup. Changing a diaper is like performing a medical procedure on a patient without anesthesia. Like playing the game “Operation” but if you lose, instead of a red buzzer going off, you get poo everywhere. It’s like disarming a bomb rotating in three-dimensions that even after you think you’re safe, it can still go off again.

But the real reason why the Little Snugglers are my favorite? Because they’re the Winnie the Pooh brand. Winnie, his friends, some balloons and clouds, and other happy designs decorate the plump potty pockets. The pun possibilities are just too perfect. The wordplay is whimsical. The innuendo is ingenious. The snuggly suggestiveness is simply stupendous. A paradox of pint-sized people-pollution packets.

In case you missed it. Let me spell it out. There are pictures of Pooh Bear on the diapers which are meant to contain baby poo. Pooh on poo. I can’t help but giggle like an immature middle schooler. For Huggies to obtain the rights to print Pooh on their poo pouches has got to be one of the best investments a company has ever made. It’s just the best.

It’s also, potentially, very philosophical. Where does one Pooh start and the other poo end?

So, whenever life feels weighed down by excrement, don’t be an Eeyore, be a Pooh.

For those that are familiar with the story: I now want to play Pooh Sticks. For everyone else, I leave you to the Internet.

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. – A. A. Milne (aka Winnie-the-Pooh)

The Great Equalizer (aka The Big Mac)

Da, da, da, da, da… I’m in love.

Many have called the new strain of coronavirus “the great equalizer.” Historically, that title has been reserved mostly for death, as the true, ultimate equalizer.

But I’m not here to wax poetic and spew esoteric, philosophical jargon. No, I’m here to argue and advocate nonsense on the Internet.

You know what the real equalizer is?

McDonald’s.

Yes, McDonald’s—the world’s largest fast food chain, a behemoth of an industry and a poster child for capitalism with its nearly universally recognizable golden arches (arches that probably resemble the erratic bleeps on a heart monitor after eating too many of those eternally durable fries).

I know what you’re thinking: “How dare you sir, I would never be caught dead at such a place.” Maybe. It might kill you. But most of us are just deceiving ourselves. Look, the place serves something like 70 million people a day in over 100 countries; they bun up over 75 burgers a second. So… someone is lying. Someone is definitely eating it up at that joint. Some few million someones.

Hey, whatever, it’s ok. Judgment free zone. Like I was saying, Micky D’s is totally “the great equalizer.” It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, young, old, foreign, domestic, male, female, big, small, republican, democrat, or imaginary. You probably have a McDonald’s on your block. I have literally witnessed every shape, size, color, affinity, and temperament of humanity imaginable over the years patronize the establishment. The Big Macualizer. They’re even more ubiquitous than memes and political ads.

Seriously, we once inadvertently exited off the interstate near Disney World into one of those high-class, ritzy neighborhoods to discover perfectly manicured shrubs and a pristine, towering yellow “M.” A McDonald’s where you have the choice of having gold dust sprinkled on your fries instead of salt, your soda comes in an exquisite chalice, and your burgers are tenderly swaddled in fine imported silk linen. Contrast this with our McDonald’s around the corner which hasn’t changed out its grease pan since the days of horseback postage, your seasonings are most likely to come from human sweat, and you need to bring your own toilet paper if you want a napkin.

And then there’s the infamous Thailand trip in which when we first landed in Bangkok, and there was some sort of mix-up with our hotel reservation so that our first night was spent in the “red light” district, and the only place we felt safe enough to take a bunch of high school teens was the city square McDonald’s (a run-on sentence I know, but I’m in a hurry so give me a break, and this is obviously not some grammar blog, and who made you the grammar sheriff anyways?).

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and delicious artery-clogging, fried potato sticks that never decompose. When I eat them, I feel like I absorb their preservative powers of longevity and immortality. Or maybe that’s just indigestion.

We may not be able to agree on politics, the economy, or how to handle this global crisis. But there’s one thing I think we can all agree on: the Oreo McFlurry should receive a Nobel Peace Prize.

Maybe we’d all be a little bit nicer to each other if we just got a daily Happy Meal.

Thai Tickle Torture Trip

Phew, I really needed this spa day…

I have this secret about me that I’ve always been hesitant to share for fear of the social consequences that inevitably come about at such a reveal. I’m ticklish. I mean, like, I’m very ticklish—arguably, unreasonably so. Like I have an unhealthy, debilitating fear of all things feathery and fluffy. I hate soft, cuddly things so much so that after a shower, I forgo the towel and dry off with sandpaper instead.

And now, I fear, that I’ve passed on this incurable condition to my son. I never thought being ticklish was genetic. But I also didn’t think newborns could be so ticklish. Alas, he has inherited my burden; suffering from generation to generation, which sin of the father I do not know. I pray that he will be strengthened in the years to come as others seek to take advantage of this ailment. Humans, after all, are anti-fragile. We must experience the purifying crucible of trials and tribulations if we are to become who we are meant to be. Stand firm and courageous, my son, as I have had to do…

Such was a time as this, years ago, in a faraway land of Pad Thai and spring rolls that I overcame a significant trauma: a full-body Thai massage (loud, ominous music plays in the background).

One summer for a college program, I led a team of high school students on a mission trip to Thailand. We were mostly in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, working with different student ministries, teaching English camps, and serving in mountain village orphanages. At the end of our monthly stay, the national missionaries that we were partnering with took us all out for a day in the city. We experienced many of the fun and joyous activities of both locals and tourists: riding elephants, haggling in the market, drinking Thai tea, eating locusts, finding pirated DVDs, and eating at McDonald’s. Don’t worry, I’m just joking about some of those. Of course, we didn’t eat McDonald’s—this was a mission trip after all.

But before the night was done, my team asked the local missionaries if there was one more thing that they should all do before leaving the country. One unique Thai experience to take home with them in their cherished memories forever. After thinking for a bit, they said, “For the time and cost, you should all get an authentic Thai massage and/or pedicure!”

Immediately, I protested, “No thanks! Y’all enjoy that and I’ll stand guard outside to make sure no one steals our bootlegged merchandise.” I should have known better. The team of irritating teenagers immediately started to taunt and bully me. Sometimes, being a leader means doing inspirational and sacrificial things. But in my experience, most of the time, being a leader means doing ridiculous and embarrassing things.

Eventually, I coalesced and accepted my fate. I cannot exaggerate when I say it was pure torture. It was supposed to be on the condition that I just got a normalish back massage. I didn’t want someone touching my feet or putting weird oil on me or anything. But oh, how self-deceived I was. The whole team was so excited. Some of them got full pedicures and some of them tried other bizarre spa treatments. Afterwards, they all expressed such refreshing delight at the pampering and relaxation they received.

But me, the horror, oh the horror. Mind you, this was one of those institutions where you weren’t allowed to wear your own clothes. Everyone had to change into these designated pajama uniforms. It felt like prison clothes. As I walked with a few of my team to one of the massage parlors, I thought we’d all be in the same open room with chairs. Looking back on it all, I believe it was a cruel conspiracy against me arranged by the missionaries. As my team was seated, I was coaxed farther into the depths of hades to a back hall and then a back room where I was instructed to lay down on a mat. Just moments later, a sadistic employee of torment entered the room of which the cruelest war interrogators would cringe. There was no escape from the five foot, ninety pound executioner with her iron, spear nails and torture death hands (and feet, oh yes, and they stand and jump on you). I’ll save you from anymore imagery. Although the imagination is probably the most terrifying. I shouted for help. I cringed and flailed like a fish suffocating on a sun-beaten concrete slab. I pleaded for mercy but there was none as I was twisted into a pretzel and contorted into an abomination of humanity. It became one the most spiritual moments of my life as I sought God’s forgiveness for any and all of my transgressions.

I literally could not stop laughing for the entire thirty minutes (felt like thirty years). And the lady—well, she just thought it was hilarious. Half-way through, I don’t even think she was trying to massage anymore. I think she just switched over to straight-up tickling. I could hear from the other rooms my teammates laughing as well. Death by a thousand cuticles.

But I have survived to tell the tale. My son, listen to me, heed my warnings: never, ever under any circumstances repeat your father’s errors. Never get a Thai massage… so that you may live a long, prosperous, and blessed life.

Birthdays

I had a birthday a little while back. I don’t know, sometime ago or something. Some people are all about birthdays. They live for it (I guess literally, they live because of it). Like my wife: she doesn’t have a birthday—she has a birthweek. And then she also has a half-birthday and extra special celebratory milestone birthyears like when numbers match or add up in some weird way. But me, I’ve never been really big into my birthday. Most years, I completely forget until someone else reminds me. When I was a kid, I couldn’t remember when my birthday was. It always made for a nice surprise.

Like this one year, when my grandparents took me to the toy store to just “look around.” I asked them if they could please get me this action figure for my birthday. They then proceeded to put the toy in the buggy (shopping cart for those of you linguist sheriffs out there).

I said, “No, no, it’s okay. You don’t have to get it now—for my birthday.”

They replied, “Oh yes, fine, well we’ll just get it now and save it until then.”

Later that day when we arrived back home my extended family was all there waiting, and it looked like there was some kind of party or gathering. I asked, “What’s going on? Why is everyone here?”

“Umm, Finley… today is your birthday.”

“Ohh… wow. Cool.”

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against people who love their birthday. And it’s not like I hate birth or days or fun. I just, I don’t know, I never really got into it. For one, I hardly even remember being born. It’s pretty hazy, so how am I supposed to properly celebrate some occasion that I don’t recollect. It’s not like I have all these fond memories of exiting the womb and entering the cold, chemically disinfected hospital air. For two, I don’t like having so much attention on me and everyone being soo excited that I’m another year closer to death.

I have heard though, that those who have more birthdays tend to live longer. So that’s a thing.

And I do love all the free coffee and donuts I can get on my birthday. Makes it worth staying alive for another year.

More Things That Don’t Make Sense To Me

Again, without any effort whatsoever to conduct any research

The world is still a confusing place. So, in no particular order, here are some more things that just don’t make any sense to me:

Pennies

They’re absolutely worthless. Actually, they’re worse than worthless: they’re expensive. We (our country) spend more money making a penny than the penny is actually worth. If you see a penny laying on the ground, it’s not even worth your effort to pick it up. It’s basically expensive trash; some pseudo-copper hot garbage. We’ve gotten rid of plenty of different currencies throughout history once they became irrelevant. So why do we still have pennies? The same reason for most everything else that’s illogical and inefficient about our government: lobbyists. The people that make money off of making the penny lobby the government so that the American people can continue to be ripped off in small and subtle ways that eventually lead to our total bondage and destruction. Not to be overly dramatic or anything.

Daylight Savings

Okay, so this one really gives be a brain wedgie! First of all, what a terrible name. You can’t save daylight! That doesn’t even make any sense. The day is what the day is, and we’re gonna have the light that we’re gonna have. What do you mean “save?” Second, almost no other country in the world follows this nonsense. Third, literally no one wants this thing around. It’s inconvenient, irrational, and dangerous. Millions, if not billions, of dollars in productivity and system transitions are wasted each year because of the time change. The time change was originally meant as a temporary war-time effort during WWII to save money and energy. And guess what, it didn’t even work. We ended up spending more money and energy. Don’t believe that stuff about farmers either because that’s just a myth. Farmers don’t want daylight savings. Why would they? Hey, here’s a little secret: farm animals don’t care about daylight savings time. They still sleep, wake, and function based on the same time frame as before. And as a parent of small children I can tell you this: kids also don’t acknowledge ambiguous time changes. So twice a year, our entire lives and schedules are rattled for seemingly no purpose.

Taxes

No other nation has such an aggressively negative relationship with its citizens in regard to taxes than America. There’s no reason for taxes to be so overly complicated. And it’s a double annoyance because we’re actually having to pay the taxes to support the ridiculously convoluted tax system. It’s an irony of the highest order. A type of tragic self-cannibalism. Think about it like this: what if the credit card companies all sent us these blank bills, told us that we need to go back and fill them out correctly to make our payment, and then if we make a mistake, we’ll be severely penalized for it? That would be stupid. They keep records on everything, so they know what we owe. But this is exactly what the government does to us. Why? You already know: lobbyists.

Dogs Licking Faces

And since we’re on this “frustrated with my government” kick right now: dogs licking faces (totally awesome segue and definitely still on topic). What’s up with that‽ Please, someone explain this to me. I am so grossed out and disgusted. I realize I’m offending some people, but I’m too horrified to care, and I threw up a little bit in my mouth. You realize that dogs eat their own poop and vomit right? Fantastic. Oh, a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s you say? Wrong! That doesn’t make any sense either. Even if it were true, who cares? They still have poop on their tongues! A dog simply has the bacteria in its mouth necessary for it to eat all of those repulsive things and not get terminally ill. Obviously, if a person ate all of those things they’d just die. It gives a whole new meaning to a kiss of death. So why do people allow this? Lobbyists probably.

I blame everything on the lobbyists like a faceless, generic hoard of comic book movie villains that I’m incapable of sympathizing with.

So, what other weird wonders of our world leave you wandering and wondering?

A New Year’s Disenchantment

I remember the first time as a kid that I was allowed to stay up until midnight for New Year’s Eve. My family watched the ball drop in Times Square on the tube (although this TV probably didn’t have tubes, I don’t know).

I remember being so excited, thinking, “Wow, that’s a really big disco ball! And it’s dropping down to the ground while there’s a countdown! Everyone’s shouting and counting in excitement and anticipation! The ball is getting closer. I know what this means… obviously, that ball is going to explode! Oh yeah, it’s gonna blow up with lights, confetti, and sparkles when the clock hits midnight! This is so awesome!”

And then…

Disillusionment.

I was like, “Wait, what? That’s it? How anticlimactic (yes, I’m pretty sure that’s what I thought even at such a young, prepubescent age)!” Nothing happened. Not even a wet noodle of a toot. The ball just drops and then goes back up I guess. It was then that I realized the world is full of disappointments. Vanity of vanities.

I also thought, “I stayed up for this? What a rip off! I’m tired and grumpy. What’s wrong with adults? They think this stuff is fun? Why would they keep themselves awake just to watch some lame ball slowly descend while waiting for the clock to change numbers? It’s all rather ambiguous, actually, the whole new year thing. You know what’s fun? A piñata. They should make that ball a piñata and fill it with candy and prizes. Now that would be a New Year’s to celebrate!”

So yeah, I hope everyone has an awesome end of the year into the new of the year these next couple of weeks. Whatever that means.

Things That Don’t Make Sense To Me

Get outta the way! I don’t have hands!

Without any effort whatsoever to conduct any research

The world can be a confusing place. I’m perplexed on nearly a daily basis. In no particular order, here are some things that just don’t make any sense to me:

Road Rage

Before there was the Internet. Before virtual trolls. Before there was social media and tweets and the comment section. There was the highway. Road rage like digital rage takes place in this weird space of social limbo where offenders are protected by the anonymity of their vehicle or their computer. People act like absolute idiots toward their fellow humans when behind a wheel—yelling, gesturing, throwing a total toddler tantrum. And why? Seriously, would you act that way if the person was face-to-face? If yes, then surprise: you have no friends. And what does it even matter? None of your cursing or obscenity makes one bit of difference to the other driver. It just makes the roadways a more dangerous and annoying place. So please stop it.

Glitter

And on that note: what is up with glitter? It is by far one of my least favorite things. A bane to torment my soul. It gets everywhere and it never goes away. In your eyes, ears, and esophagus. In just all the orifices. ALL of them. It’s these tiny fragments of sparkly synthetic carcinogen specks. Plastic dust that gives you respiratory issues, itchy eyes, and early onset madness. Just the worse.

Unicorns

Why are they called unicorns; shouldn’t they be called unihorns? It’s not like they have a stalk of corn on their heads. If you ate the magical horn would it taste like corn? If unicorns fart rainbows and poop rainbow sherbet, then does that mean that their horns make rainbow kettle corn? I wonder what unicorn meat tastes like. Now I’m hungry.

Celery

Seriously, what’s the point? Hey, here’s an idea. You know how cardboard is really great for packing things and holding them together. Well, what if we had a tube of green cardboard and called it a vegetable and told people to eat it because it’s maybe healthy or something like that? Wouldn’t that be a hilarious prank? Plus, it can be really stringy like the packing tape so it gets impossibly stuck in between your teeth until your next dentist appointment. Celery basically tastes like dry sarcasm because that’s what it is. You know a vegetable is bad when they just give it away for free as a garnish on plates. Celery definitely wasn’t in the Garden of Eden. It was a part of the thorns and thistles that came with the Fall.

What weird wonders of our world leave you wondering?

Convalescence Coalescence

FREEDOM!!!

Disclaimer: Some readers may find today’s post slightly insensitive and/or politically incorrect. Please consult your doctor before reading if you are pregnant, nursing, take heart medication, or in general just have a weak countenance.

When I was in high school, my youth group occasionally served with a convalescent ministry. Basically, we would visit assisted living facilities and meet with the residents. We might sing songs or help serve lunch or something, but mostly, we were there to bring the warmth and kindness of genuine human interaction to those that many in society are comfortable to ignore because they’re kept away in forgotten places.

Believe it or not, these visits were always events of hijinks and hilarity; mischief and mayhem; shenanigans and silliness. Something interesting was always bound to happen.

On one such particular occasion, a friend and I were walking down one of the hallways to find someone to visit with when we heard a call from one of the rooms. A crispy voice implored us to come inside. We turned and looked inside a room with the door wide open to find a petite, elderly woman sitting in a chair. She reached out one feeble hand and with one wrinkled index finger curling in and out, she beckoned us to come inside.

As she was summoning us, she said with a soft, crackled tone, “Come here young man. Come closer. Closer.”

We obeyed. “Yes ma’am, how are you today? Can we help you with anything?”

With sharp, piercing eyes and firm, raspy voice, “Do either of you boys have a pocketknife to cut me out of this chair? I gotta use the bathroom.”

It was then that we realized that she was harnessed into the chair with straps across her lap and torso. I stuttered a reply, “Umm, no ma’am, I’m sorry, but I don’t have a pocketknife. Would you like me to go get a nurse to help…?”

“No!” she exclaimed, quickly cutting me off. “No, no, no. No need for that. Just come here closer. Closer. See if you can loosen these straps for me.”

I cannot justly describe this scenario in words. But the combination of her calculated mannerisms, her menacing tone, and her unblinking stare of death had us terrified. The entire time she smacked her lips as if she was about to savor more than just the sweet taste of freedom from her shackles. Was this a Hansel and Gretel situation? Which was I—Hansel or Gretel?

I can still hear those smacking lips. In my nightmares.

As we spoke, we inched our way methodically backwards. “Sorry ma’am. I think we should get some help…” As soon as we were out of the doorway, we sped down the corridor to find a staff person. When we recounted our encounter with a nurse she coolly stated, “Oh yes, her, don’t worry about her. She’s always trying to escape.”

As odd and as frightening as this incident was, I’ve also found myself inspired by this woman who’s name I never caught. She lived in the moment. She lived with purpose and intention. She had a plan and goal. Many of us are content to live in our self-made prisons and self-locked chains. We’re okay to just let life happen to us and never take charge. We let circumstances define us, sitting in the cuckoo’s nest and never taking a chance to fly. We’re spoon-fed the soylent green of the media. We’re too consumed by our past and too preoccupied with our future that we never truly live in the present. Be thankful for your life. Be thankful for today and the time you have on this cherished earth.

As this elderly woman’s words have lingered over—haunted me—I am motivated to strive to live everyday full and free. Also, if I ever need to live in a nursing home, I’ll be sure to stow away a pocketknife just in case.

“All good things are wild and free.” – Henry David Thoreau