Point Proven

It's no secret I don't have a ton of confidence in my ability to actually achieve things by myself, but I'm usually determined enough to successfully finish anything that I happen to start.

This weekend I set forth to tackle my first car repair (besides brakes) entirely on my own, because I didn't want to bother anyone else with my incessant need for fixing cars. Also partly to prove to some people that I'm perfectly capable as they'd been doubting it. Suddenly, my confidence in repairing a car on my own has skyrocketed.

In the last nine years that I've been delivering papers I've employed the help of my father-in-law quite a bit to save money when things on my car break. Mostly I've just watched and helped him when he needed it, which has given me some amount of knowledge but not really made me fluent. This time I wanted to set out to replace the control arms by myself, to prove that I could and to not waste his time.

The first one took me the whole day, though, I was quite lackadaisical about it. I was nervous to go about each of the steps right away and much more cautious about it since I didn't really know what I was doing. I also made a few mistakes that took awhile to correct. But by the time I had to hit the sack Saturday afternoon so that I could wake up at midnight for papers, I'd finished one side of the car by myself.

That was the confidence boost I needed, and I also knew what I was doing at that point. I started back up after papers on Sunday with renewed vigor. My father came out to the garage to say he was going to pick something up at the store and get breakfast at McDonalds. Before he even got back I'd gotten the old control arm off. I came inside to eat some breakfast and he asked how it was going. He looked amazed when I told him I'd already gotten the old one off. It's not often my father is impressed with something I do.

I headed back out and in another half an hour I'd put the new one in place. I tightened everything up properly and set to cleaning up all the tools. My mother popped her head out to see if I needed anything and was shocked that I'd already finished. Soon my father as well came out to marvel at my handiwork.

Look, I know this sounds like I'm gloating, but I'd grown tired of my father's way of talking down to my abilities. When my car needed it's transmission replaced, and he called upon my future brother-in-law to help fix my wife's car for us, he'd taken to frequently talking up how great he was at fixing cars. Honestly, it got pretty annoying. Yeah, yeah, Sean is brilliant and wonderful and I'm so lucky to have him helping me.

Well, maybe now my dad will think of me a little bit differently. I'm not completely inept, I just don't have the time to try to do it completely by myself when someone else can help me do it faster. It may seem weird to be so proud of successfully achieving that little goal I set for myself, but it feels pretty good anyway, so I'll just pat myself on the back a little bit and allow myself the good feelings for once. Much better than not having confidence in my own abilities.

Something to Prove

Nine years ago I didn't know the first thing about repairing cars, but when you deliver papers for so long you pick a few things up. Trying to fix things as cheaply as possible means I've employed the help of my father-in-law as often as I can, and I've watched him every time. Of course, there's a big difference between watching and actually doing.

The lower ball joints are so bad in my car that my brand new tires went completely bald on the inside part of the tread in about a month. Already owing a bunch of money to my parents and future brother-in-law to fix my wife's car (which I can't even use because the window doesn't go down), I'm not about to pay a mechanic to fix it.

I would ask my future brother-in-law to help, given he doesn't have a job at the moment and is more experience than me, except my father pretty much used him as free labor for working on the last car. Now he just ignores my text messages, so I guess he's sick of helping out.

And that's the thing, when my father was using him, he wouldn't shut up about how great he was at working with cars. He just assumes I don't know anything, because that's what he does. Fixing it myself is a bit of a screw you to him. Though, he won't care.

Mainly it's that I don't have another $200 to pay a mechanic, though. Tomorrow it all goes down. The parts are in my trunk now. Wish me luck.

Cautiously Helpful

As I climbed down into the ditch to shovel away the snow packed up under my car so as to hopefully drive away without sliding further in, a man in a truck pulls into the driveway across the street and gets out. I assume he is the owner of the house I was delivering the paper to.

"Hey. I'm kind of in a precarious situation here with your metal mailbox." I say as he walks up.

"Oh, it's not mine. I just stopped to help." he replies.

"Oh great. Well, I've got a tow strap, I think you can pull me away from the mailbox if we hook it up there on the passenger side."

"Yeah...have you hooked it up before?" he asks awkwardly.

"Yeah, plenty of times." I say.

"Could you hook it up then?"

I've become very accustomed to that kind of exchange. Doing papers in Michigan means I've gotten stuck countless times throughout the years. It's why I carry a tow strap with me in my trunk. The first time a helpful stranger stopped to give me a hand, that back and forth left me a little confused. I didn't have my own tow strap at that point in time, and didn't have the first clue about where would be the best place to hook one. He'd stopped because he was in a truck and had his own tow strap. Surely he must have a better idea of where to hook one up, so why was he so adamant that I do it myself?

After I fumbled around and found someplace I could wrap it around the frame, it struck me. He was worried about getting sued if it had somehow damaged my car. Well, that got must have been a tad too paranoid for his own good I thought, and scoffed it off.

It didn't stop with him though. Every single person that has ever stopped to help pull me out of a snowbank has made the same demand. Not that I'd expect they lay down on the ground and hook it up themselves when I'm the one that needs help, but they always lead off with that request. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear that everyone was put through a strict course upon purchasing a truck where it is pounded into their heads to never hook up a tow strap to someone else's car.

The more likely scenario is that our society has made everyone scared shitless of being sued. The kind stranger stopping to help someone in need on the side of the road is often rewarded with a big fat lawsuit when the flimsy plastic body of the needy person's car is cracked in the process. It's sad, really. Even the few helpful people still out there have to be cautious about it.

I Apologize for Filler

Doing this One A Day thing has left me completely without ideas sometimes. So, I just write some filler content and call it good. I'm not proud of it, but it gets the day done.

I've had this personal blog for as long as I've had Cerebral Pop, and even longer than I've been writing for Bitmob, yet, it mostly sat unused. Something would happen to me, or I'd want to get my feelings about something off of my chest and into words, and I would procrastinate doing it until the words had long since passed me by. 

When I started writing it was entirely for myself and it made me feel good when I was down in the dumps. But as Cerebral Pop grows its stopped scratching that itch, as I have weekly features to tackle and reviews to write and deliver back to PR companies. So, over time I've stopped thinking of writing as something I do for myself to get things off my chest, and something more like a job (even though it has yet to pay me).

Signing up for the One A Day Project was my way of forcing myself to stop procrastinating and actually write about personal stuff as it happens to me. That being said, I have a boring life. Sometimes I have no idea what I can write about. I stared at the screen for hours last night trying to come up with something and I only ended up with those two sentences of pure filler. I guess I could just write about video games or something, but I always envisioned my One A Day posts as being completely about my life or how I feel about other things going on in the world, and if possible I'd like to keep them that way.

That might mean that I write pointless filler sometimes because I'm out of ideas, but the simple fact that I have to write every single day means that when something actually does happen I'll have it cataloged. I'm proud of a lot of the posts I've written for the One A Day Project. Not because they are expertly written, because editing and grammar is the last thing I care about on this blog, but because they are a still frame of my life. They capture a moment that my stupid forgetful brain would normally just let fade away. It's like a public diary; Even if no one else is interested, I'd like to look back at this stuff in the future.

So, if for some reason you're also interested in my personal life and feelings about things, then I apologize for all the filler. At least a couple times a week I tend to write something that I'm really glad I put to words, and maybe you'll enjoy that as well. In the future, I'll try to keep the filler a bit more relevant by peppering in things like "Things Emmy Says" or an "Interview with Emmy." Something that doesn't require a lot of thought, but I can still look back on and get something out of it.

Sue Me

I've starting trying to write my one a day article at about 6 pm. It is now almost 9:30 pm and I haven't written a thing. I might be out of ideas. I'll get back to you tomorrow.

Wishing Winter Would End

After we finished cleaning up from the biggest snowstorm since the seventies, a solar flare gave us all a much needed break from dealing with the snow. Almost all of the snow melted away last week, and I got to enjoy driving down a road without worrying about sliding off of it. Sadly, on Sunday morning we were dealt a harsh reality; it isn't Spring quite yet.

There wasn't as much of a fuss about this snowstorm, but based on the shoveling I had to do after both storms I'd say we got near the same amount of snow. The real problem is that our county barely has any money for snow removal this year, and the storm decided to come around on a Sunday when they'd have to pay overtime to all the plow drivers. Couple that with the fact that today is President's Day and they probably assumed not many people would have to work, and I had a rough time of delivering my paper routes.

I approached the first street I normally turn on and hesitated, but turn I did. I barely made it to the first driveway, where I wisely decided to bail out while I still could. I passed by the the three customers on that street and moved onto the next ones. After I got past the last possible place for me to give up and turn around, I realized I probably shouldn't have come this way either. I slowed to a stop in the middle of the road, with snow packed up under my car. I could move forward and backward, but not for more than a couple of feet. I was stuck.

I called my father-in-law, and waited to be rescued. He had to pull me at least a mile before we reached a road that hadn't been completely drifted over. I told him I was just going to skip the rest of the country roads and head straight into town to deliver those papers. I gave him enough papers to finish the country should he feel so inclined and ventured off.

Luckily the rest of the day went much better, and my father-in-law finished the country before I could get back to help him. I got home and started shoveling. Two hours later the driveway was finished, and I was exhausted.

It's not even that today was that much worse than some days I've had this winter, it was just that week's reprieve that got feeling fond of the springtime weather to come. Now that I've been thrown back into the harsh reality of winter, I want out. Really bad.

Having a Kid Made me a Sucker

*Spoilers for Benjamin Button, unless you took a minute to think logically about how that plot would logically end.*

As we sat and watched the end of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and that little baby closed it's eyes for the last time, my eyes welled up. It wasn't even the quality of the movie, I just immediately thought of my daughter when she was a baby, and it crushed me.

Recently a trailer was released for the upcoming Dead Island video game, and while most games shy away from including children in any sort of chaos, this one had one at the forefront of it all. Now, of course, the actual game might not be anything like that trailer, but either way, that trailer got to me in a way that a majority of gamers overlooked.

It starts with a little girl lying dead on the the ground and zooms out from her eye. In reverse, she flys upwards through the air, into a window, and onto a mans back where she takes to biting his flesh off. Inter-cut with the reversed drama inside the hotel room, is the normal forward-moving panic of the little girl trying to outrun a horde of zombies to get to the hotel room. She stumbles in front of the door, and the man who we've by now assumed is her father runs to pull her to safety. As the camera slows and focuses on his look of horror while he tries in vain to rescue his already doomed daughter, I turn into a sucker.

When any sort of media involves a child in danger, or dying of any cause, I inevitably think of my own. I live for that kid, and any thought of harm coming to her tears me up inside. When the window crashed down on her and cut open her nose, I was the most scared I've ever been. I clutched her against my chest as she bled on me and rushed downstairs yelling for Zoe. I've never felt that way before, but it's par for the course when it comes to parenthood.

I've always had a weird sort of complex. As I sit on the toilet in a truck stop bathroom, I start to think about what I would do if someone busted into my stall with a weapon, ready to mug me. I imagine that the best way to fight them off in that situation would be to use the top of the toilet tank to bash over their heads. Where I was, that'd easily be the best weapon at my disposal.

Since Emmy was born, that odd thought process has only increased, only now it revolves around Emerson. I constantly run through worst-case scenarios in my head. Hopefully one of those never comes to pass, but I guess I'll be prepared if they do. Because as a parent it is my job to make sure that the stuff I watch in movies and play in video games never happens to my kid.

Present Bias

On a past SModcast, Kevin Smith talked at length about people having a "present bias." They would assign so many tasks to the future, but once the future came they'd slack off. It's the classic "I'll start my diet tomorrow" issue that almost everyone has found themselves in. This is my problem every single day.

The bad part about delivering papers is that I have a lot of time to think, and absolutely no ability to do. Every day I craft long lists of everything I'm going to finish once I get home from work, and almost every day I fail to finish them. I'll open a new blog, and then I'll stare at it for awhile. Then I'll check Reddit. Then I'll get distracted by the TV.

Before you know it, the computer tells me it's bed time. I pump out my one a day post as fast as I can and close the laptop. Usually my biggest problem is how hard it is for me to concentrate with people talking, the TV on, and a child that either needs something or wants to watch cat videos on the computer that I'm trying to use to write.

The best way I've found so far is to put on headphones and play some sort of ambient background music loudly enough to drown out the distractions. Of course, this doesn't work for the visual distractions. Inevitably something will catch my eye and my "present bias" will kick in. "I kind of want to watch what's happening on this show instead of finishing this article." my mind foolishly thinks.

If only I could build some sort of chamber around my chair.

This One A Day Thing is Hard

When deciding that I would write one post a day on my personal blog for the entirety of 2011, I knew it'd be hard. I wanted a sort of snapshot of a year in my life. A catalog of what it was like raising Emmy, frustrations, triumphs, and all.

Of course, in order to have something to write about every single day, something somewhat significant needs to happen to me every single day. I live my life doing the same things and going in the same directions every day. I drive 130 or so miles in every 24 hour period, and it is literally the exact same path each time.

Makes it kind of hard to write about. If I make it through the entire year, I get the feeling I'm not even going to want to look back through these posts. Maybe I'll just start writing every single thing that Emmy does throughout the day.

On the Detroit RoboCop Statue

It is now official; Detroit is getting a statue of RoboCop. Of course, the fact that a ragtag band of Internet jokesters have managed to succeed in their somewhat ridiculous goal has angered many people.

Of course that 50,000 dollars could be used for something much better, but you don't have to all of a sudden come to that realization when people are having fun. A statue of RoboCop is a stupid way of spending that much money, but the people that put forth the money most likely wouldn't have spent it otherwise. You, the whiny complainer, could use the effort it takes to whine about it and actually attempt to raise money for something positive.

Start your own KickStarter campaign that piggybacks off of the Internet buzz from the RoboCop statue and presents a goal for something more deserving in a fun way. Chances are everyone else that thinks the statue is dumb will jump on top of it. At the very least just find a better cause and pass that link around on the net in place of your stupid complaining.

If you really want to get into it, what else does Detroit have? I live a mere two hours from there, and I have never once driven over for anything other than a concert. There's a zoo, and some other things that my kid might enjoy, but it doesn't really seem like a worthwhile trip. A funny statue based on a movie just adds one more thing to that list. It's probably worth it just for the stupid TwitPics and Facebook profile pics I can get out of the whole experience.

In a town that is filled with houses like the one above, abandoned and forgotten to run down neighborhoods, they could use a little bit of fun. The mayor is doing things to take care of the serious issues, like paying people to take and restore those dilapidated houses. Sure, the Internet's power could be used for good, but more often than not it is used for fun. It's up to you to throw a good cause in front of that wave of fun.

Here, I did a Google search for you:
Charity Motors takes donated cars, repairs them, and sells them for cheap to poor car-less folks in Detroit.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides food, clothing, and shelter to the poor.
Maybe The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is a tourist destination you'd approve of.
Here's the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit.

Ruining a Life (For the Children!)

She's just begging to have her innocence exploited.

Local news sources are buzzing about the case of Evan Emory and his "disturbing" YouTube video. The 21-year old musician asked a teacher if he could play in front of her classroom of first graders and record it for his portfolio. He then replaced the audio with another one of his songs, which included sexual situations, and put it up on YouTube.

Now, I'm not completely defending the guy, because it was pretty stupid of him to go about it that way, but the way it's being handled makes me a thousand times more sick than the video itself. Honestly, I've seen the joke a thousand times from professional comedians. To open his set on his Bigger and Blackerer DVD, David Cross had a child come out on stage dressed as him and start to tell jokes, only to go off on someone taping in the audience and let out a stream of f-bombs then storm off stage. I'm fairly certain that I there were skits of Dave Chappelle and Sarah Silverman saying inappropriate things in front of little kids on their respective shows. The only difference is that those people likely had parents sign contracts before they hit record.

Did ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead get arrested when they edited children into their song and then cussed at them? Of course not.

If my child was in his video, I would be upset. Only, all I would demand is that he took the video down, if that. Some people have a lot of problems with their little kids appearing on video, though I've never been 100% sure why. Is some sicko honestly going to track down your kid because he saw them on a video? Calm down a little.

You might be asking yourself why this whole thing bothers me so much. They're saying that he could get 20 years in prison. At the arraignment there was talk of him not being allowed to be in the vicinity of children without supervision. Seriously people, he looks like a frat douchebag, but let's not ruin his entire life over a joke.

BUT WE HAVE TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN! I'm honestly sick of this shit. Just like neutering recess of everything fun, and slapping "Adults Only" warnings on Sesame Street, we're blowing everything out of proportion. I'm scared to be raising a child in this day and age. Not because of the things that can hurt her, but because of our constant obsession with keeping kids away from things that could hurt them.

It's stupid to be so scared of bumps and bruises that we remove things that they use to have fun, but it's even more insane that we've now graduated to pretend threats. YOUR CHILD WASN'T EXPOSED TO VULGAR LANGUAGE, IT WAS EDITED! Congratulations on successfully protecting your child from something that wouldn't have negatively affected them at all, though. Just remember, Evan is 21 years old. He's still a child, really. 21-year olds do stupid things sometimes, I'm sure you did as well. What happens when your kid is twenty something and somebody deems something stupid they did as "disturbing" and chooses to ruin their lives? Will you think back to how you crusaded against Evan and see the irony, or will that fly right over your head? I'm guessing the latter.

Making My Own Future

I'm not good at looking for jobs. After numerous seemingly sure-fire positions fell through, I've gotten pretty discouraged. Sitting down to fill out applications seems almost pointless. In fact, according to NPR it probably is because some 70% of jobs out there are never listed, you just have to ask around and get in from people you know. They recommend contacting old employers.

When I was 16 I worked at a grocery store for maybe eight months. It's now closed. After that I worked at Arbys for, like, five years. All the managers out there liked me a lot, and I'm sure I could easily get hired again, but even if I could get a managerial position it probably wouldn't pay more than what I'm already making. Mostly, my entire working career has been for the Grand Rapids Press, jumping between new routes as they open up. I've had a total of six routes, trading them for higher paying ones when I can, but all its left me is a lifetime of minimal connections and very little experience in any field that might prove useful.

So, I've started to wonder about striking out on my own. My father and his brother both owned their own businesses, and I got that same bug. The problem is having the balls to dive-in headfirst when I still have a family to support.

For awhile I've wanted to open an arcade. It might not seem like a great idea nowadays, but in our tiny town the kids don't really have anything to occupy their time. I could have a stage for bands to play, and hold tournaments and such to help keep kids coming. Hopefully it'd become the go-to hang out place in town. I'm just not sure about taking out a big loan to buy a bunch of machines and a building when those upfront costs might take forever to pay back.

Enter my future brother-in-law. His parents bought the old lumber business in town. It's a huge lot with a bunch of different buildings, and they actually own the entire section of street between them all. They plan on opening a styrofoam recycling business, though, that wouldn't take up very much of the space they have. When I half-jokingly suggested him and I start an arcade there, he was on board. Of course, I'm not entirely sure if he'd actually do it should it come time to actually start it up.

Maybe a slow build would be best. Drop some of our tax return on a couple of good machines, and go around town looking for businesses that will let us set them up. After those start bringing in some money, buy a few more machines. Once machines start breaking down, or I have more than I do places to put them, I bring in the future brother-in-law. Offer him a cut of the money for a place to work on and store the extra machines. By the time I have enough to actually start a full-fledged arcade, it'll just make sense for us to open the doors of his building to the public and actually start our own business.

To me it makes sense, but I'm not sure it would go down as easily as it does in my head. So maybe I'll make some repairs on the games I already own (Space Invaders, Hyperball, OXO, Captain America), and find a place around town to put those. NPR mentioned using contacts from old jobs, well I used to deliver papers to almost half the stores in town, so I know a lot of people that might allow me a small part of their store.

That's my idea. I just don't know if I have enough balls to actually do it.


When my friend called me, it was a Friday night, sometime around 7pm, and I had fallen asleep watching TV on the couch. Suffice it to say I didn't lead a very exciting life back in high school, and I still don't. But that night I met up with my friend, a girl he was friends with, and her friend; my future wife.

She was my first girlfriend, and has earned the title of being my only girlfriend, because after five years of dating, we married. And almost four years into our marriage, I know I'm not going anywhere, so long as she doesn't.

I've never had a lot of confidence in life, but since I was 16 years old she's been there to help me along. If it wasn't for her, I would probably be a gigantic loser on his parents couch, falling asleep to some crappy reality show.

This Valentine's Day wasn't exactly special. We both got each other cards, and I got her a Toblerone and Peanut Butter Twix (her two favorites), but otherwise we're dead broke, trying to pay back borrowed money from family to catch back up from the car apocalypse we just fended off. I could quote a thousand songs:

"Even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with you honey."

"I'm sorry, I can't afford a Ferrari, but that don't mean I can't get you there."

But no matter what life throws at us, we'll pull through together. Because I know I sure as hell couldn't pull through by myself. If it wasn't for Zoe, I'd have no ambition. I live so that I can make her happy. I may not be able to afford a big Valentine's Day present for her, but that's not what's important. Love is important, and good lord, I love her immensely.

Bath Time

Bath time has always been my duty, and despite the some annoyances I enjoy it. Mostly it involves filling the tub, dumping the toys out and then letting Emmy play for at least an hour while I sit on the toilet (not using it) and get some writing done. After awhile I quick wash her hair and body and get her out, though, I still have to almost force her to get out.

She's told me on multiple occasions that she wants to live in the bathtub. I tell her she wouldn't be able to sleep and she acts like she's sleeping. I tell her it's morning and she has to make breakfast, so she designates part of the tub as the kitchen and pretends to make food. After an hour or more the water that I purposely made quite warm has turned cool, but it always takes convincing to get her out of the tub.

We recently bought her a bathtub paint set, which basically amounts to extremely watered-down paint and some crappy foam brushes. It also came with a stencil of a heart, and the first time she used it I wiped it off the edge of the tub when I went to wash her. It was like I'd stabbed a puppy in front of her. She was screaming "I made that heart for you!" and balling her eyes out. I felt so terrible. I grabbed her and hugged her, soaking my shirt, and told her I didn't know and we could make another one. She calmed down and we painted together.

Sometimes she drives me crazy when she insists on filling up toys with water while they're on the edge, inevitably dumping water out on the floor, but I'm sure I'll look back on bath time with fondness.


I spent almost the entire day off of the Internet and without Twitter on.

That was weird, huh?

I mostly worked on a car. Like, I was manly or something. Don't worry, I don't get it either. I'm just gonna go to sleep now.

Becoming a Polar Bear

As a result of my broken-down car, I've been forced to drive my wife's seldom used vehicle for what will likely be several weeks. Fortunately, GM is paying to replace my transmission, but that sort of thing means they're going through the entire process with a fine-toothed comb. They don't just yank it out and put in a new one, they take it apart piece by piece to figure out if they can save money by fixing it, so it can be a long process.

Unfortunately, the first day I started driving her car I put the window down and I haven't been able to get it back up. That means I've been driving around in 20 degree weather with the driver window down for a couple days now, and will have to probably all next week.

The thing is, I've kind of gotten used to it. After 20 minutes or so, I adjust and don't have much of a problem. I've begun to think I could probably hang with those Polar Bear people that jump in lakes in the middle of winter. I'm sure it would take some getting used to, but I could probably handle it.


I enjoy sitting down to take a load off just as much as any other man, but I might go overboard sometimes. Often, I sit on the toilet until my legs fall asleep, reading a magazine, playing a handheld game, or surfing the Internet. When I got my laptop, there was a good month where I refused to have it cross the line into the bathroom with me. Eventually, I broke that rule, and I've never looked back.

Now I have the entire world at my fingertips while I expel the evil from my rectum. I just hope none of the process transfers from my fingertips to the entire world.

The only bad thing about pooping is the clean-up process, and that's the part I like to put off for as long as possible. It's like prolonging an orgasm. I sit down and have an immensely satisfying poop, then I put off the unsatisfying part of it until the act of putting it off actually becomes a nuisance. When the tingling in my legs is too much, the cleaning up of my bottom no longer seems that bad of a task.

Look, we all know that you watched that episode of Home Improvement where Tim Allen shows of the Man's Bathroom and thought, "Hell yes!" Don't even try to judge me.

By the way, I wrote all of this while I was putting off the clean-up process. Now, to get to work.

Piling IOUs

Sometimes, even though a lot of things are happening, you don't always feel like sitting down to write about them all. Every day is a slew of new tasks to get a car running, or to get it properly covered by insurance, or to find the appropriate paperwork so that the car company will pay for the repair of one. It's not exactly fun or exciting. Mostly it is just a growing pile of IOUs.

I owe $85 to my dad for paying the dealership to look over my car to see what is wrong, even though he took my car there without my knowledge. Now I owe my future brother-in-law for working on my wife's car, even though I didn't want to get that running, I just got shoved into it by my father who seems to think helping means taking complete control.

Now I owe even more money to my sister's boyfriend for tires to put on the car that I didn't want repaired because it's got 190,000 miles on it and the struts are going. If we were going to repair a car, it should be my old car. Sure, it's got more problems to fix, but it had a transmission put in it right before the head gasket went and I was forced to buy the current car which is about to get it's third transmission. But, I can't really say anything when they want to fix the car that will take the least amount of work so that I can stop borrowing theirs. It just means I have to drive around in the middle of the winter with a window that takes an hour of fussing to get up or down.

$85 for the dealership. $200 for the tires and rims I didn't really need. 200 something to get the car I didn't want repaired insured. 60 something for the parts to fix the car that will likely break down again in a month or less. I got paid 550 dollars this week, and 200 went onto the empty gas card so I could fill up whatever random tank I happened to be using each day. Then there are those pesky bills. It's hard to not be annoyed that we haven't even touched my old car, the one that I could drive for another few years on that new transmission if we'd only fix the problem I've been trying to get someone to fix for over two years now.

But I can't complain, because that would be rude. They're trying to help, and without the help I wouldn't be able to do my job. This is sort of par for the course with my father. When he helps you, he mostly just takes control of the situation. Somehow my future brother-in-law became the god of car repairs, despite the fact that I've brought him directions supplied by my father-in-law every single time he's fixed something.

My father doesn't see every car repair I've done myself, so he assumes I'm bad at repairing cars. He talks to my brother about music because he assumes my brother likes better music than I do, but we listen to the same stuff. My father isn't even aware that I write. Par for the course. He doesn't listen, because he knows best. He just does it. My wife and I joke about when he says something that is factually wrong, and we point that out. His back-tracking mumbling is well known.

I try to say that it'd be a much better choice to fix my Taurus, but he really doesn't listen. So I just go with it. When I was a teenager I'd bash my knee through the basement door causing a ceiling tile to fall on his head and the situation to escalate. It's not worth it anymore. I just watch the IOUs pile up because it's certainly well within his rights to want me to stop borrowing his car. I'd be selfish if I pointed out that I can't afford to fix a car that'll likely break down again in a month if it doesn't cause me to freeze to death before then. Most people seem to think I'm selfish already, so I guess I shouldn't press the issue.

Not Enough Time

I barely have enough time to do my online duties these days what with all the car stuff going on, so this is going to be extremely short and completely random.

Emmy opened her little mini-trampoline tonight. She seems to like it alright.

Um, I'm just going to go to bed and regroup in the morning. I'm sorry you had to read this.

It Was the Transmission

You know when you get really bad news, and you have that sick feeling? I've become accustomed to that feeling when it comes to money. After only one year of having to fight to get the dealership to replace a transmission that only lasted me a couple months, I have to do it again.

If they choose to ignore me this time, I guess I owe almost $10k on a gigantic paperweight. It's never even a feeling of anger, more helplessness. This is going to be short, because honestly, I'm kind of in the middle of a whirlwind of activity right now and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about everything. I'm sure there will be plenty of ranting at a future date.

SuperBowl Snacking

My favorite part of the SuperBowl is gorging on a bunch of food that I really shouldn't be stuffing down my throat when I'm already so pudgy. Either way, a plate full of buffalo wings, mini tacos covered in Frank's Red Hot, mozzarella sticks, pizza rolls, and chips sits before me, and I feast.

This year, something made me feel a little bit shittier than normal about the whole thing, even before I was on the toilet that night. Venturing to the store to get more food supplies, I figured I'd stop at McDonalds and get one of those 50 packs of chicken nuggets for the ridiculously low price of $10, because, why the hell not.

I was handed a box with 50 chicken nuggets, and a bag with six packets of sauce. Six. There is no way that is enough sauce. You get, maybe five nuggets out of a sauce packet. How many people are eating those 50 nuggets. Hopefully at least three people, meaning each gets two packets of sauce and there are 20 nuggets left over without any sauce. Eating a chicken mcnugget without any sauce is like chewing on styrofoam.

But let's really get into the nitty-gritty here. 50 chicken nuggets for $10 means each nugget costs 20 cents. Ignore the fact that you're eating a piece of "meat" that only cost you 20 cents for a moment. After they give you six packets of sauce, McDonalds charges for any more sauce you might want. How much do they charge for each subsequent sauce packet? 20 cents.

Yes, we've arrived, America. The food we are eating is now worth as much as the condiments we dip it in. Feel the pride, we've earned it. It took a lot of work to make our food products so cheaply. I'd like to congratulate the giant labs filled with people in white lab coats that made this all possible. You guys are what makes America great.

The Handheld Wars: Which to Choose?

It used to be I never played handheld games. Nowadays it's much easier for me to play a handheld game than it is a console game, given my work schedule, the child, and everything else I've elected to do with my free time. It's so much easier to be able to play a game on the couch, on the can, or while walking out to the kitchen to make sure Emmy isn't making a mess than it is to confine myself upstairs for an hour or more.

Only, my PSP-1000 is broken, and my old, ugly, fat DS leaves much to be desired, and is also falling apart. So this year I want to spend my Speedway Rewards points, or maybe a small part of our tax return, on a new, shiny handheld to do my gaming on. Problem is, I can't decide. Here are the pros and cons of all the possibilities I've thought about. Feel free to help me decided by adding your own perceived pros or cons in the comments. If I agree, I'll add them. HELP!

Nintendo 3DS

Concrete price that I can manage.
Should have enough Speedway points by the time it's released.
New. Shiny.

The 3D might annoy me until I turn it off, making it pointless.
No games in launch window that I need to have.
I didn't actually buy and play a lot of DS games with my DS Fat.
$40 - $50 games is something I'd always avoid. I'd wait for them to be $20 and then forget.

Sony NGP

Newer. Shinier.
I loved my PSP because of the downloadables. $6 PS1 RPGs were great.

My 30-40 UMD games will be useless.
If it's more than $250, I'd feel like shit for paying it.

Used PSP-3000

I already have a ton of UMD games, many that I haven't played.
Tons of cheap UMD games I never bought.
Can still play new games put up on PSN.

Not new. Probably not shiny.

iPod Touch

Possibly cheap if I buy used old model.
Bunch of super cheap games.

I'm completely sick of having to get my current iPod fixed.
Unlike some people, I like having a full-blown game experience on a handheld.

Interview with Emmy

As I was sitting here trying to think of what to write about, Emmy was pestering me to watch videos on YouTube of that talking dog, Mishka. So I thought I'd just ask her some questions and write down the results. Bonus questions from Twitter!

What's your favorite color?

I can't tell you.

Why can't you tell me?


Because why?

Because I can't.

Is it a secret?

Uh uh, it's a surprise.

What's it a surprise for?

It's for that we come up and give somebody it.

Um ok, can you tell me your favorite toy?

Um yes, my favorite toy is a duck. A present duck.

What's the difference between a boy and a girl?

I don't know.

You don't know?

Uh uh. Please can I watch the dog talking?

OK, fine.

Twitter Questions

Why can't you look at the sun?

Because it's dark.

What is a Unicorn made of?

I don't want to say a unicorn!

Why not?


You don't like unicorns?

I like some but not a lot.

What's it like to be happy?

What's more awesome, bunnies or kittens?

Why? Bunnies or kittens. I don't know.

Where do fairies come from?

No one.

I'm Switching to Horses

Remember that $15 part that I hoped would fix the car problems that started the other day? It didn't. My car is now playing games with me. Sometimes it moves, sometimes it doesn't. Here's the thing, I've been trying my best to ignore the fact that it has the exact same symptoms it had almost exactly a year ago; when I needed a new transmission.

One year ago -- a mere 3 months after I'd bought the car -- I had to replace a transmission that only had 40,000 miles on it. I had to fight tooth and nail, making countless phone calls and sending angry emails to anyone and everyone I could find at the car dealership to get them to replace it for me, but eventually they did. Now, a mere year later it probably needs to be replaced again. Clearly I bought a car that couldn't handle the paper delivery business.

We still owe almost 10 thousand dollars on it still, and I honestly have no idea about selling a car before you've even paid it off. That's not how I function. So, I'm clinging to the false hope that maybe it is a smaller problem, because I'm not really sure what my next step should be if it's the transmission. I guess I'll start experimenting with ways to strap bundles of papers to a horse.

Determination is All I Have

Last night Michigan got hit with the worst blizzard it has seen since 1978. Right before that storm hit, my car crapped out in the middle of my paper route. It limped it's way all the way to my parent's house, and I took my mother's car off to finish papers.

We barely finished in time to rush back to town and make the city council meeting where my dad was getting a lifetime achievement award for his coaching. Of course, the winds had already started, and the sudden whiteouts on the way home were nothing to trifle with. After the meeting, we celebrated Emmy's birthday as the snow fell outside.

I woke up to more than a foot of snow, and the shoveling began. Before we could even finish the driveway I had to go do papers. My mom's car could never handle all that snow, so they picked me up in my dad's truck. We fought through barely plowed roads, I trudged across parking lots that hadn't been touched and down roads that we were worried we wouldn't make it back up, and some six hours late we had about 75% of my papers delivered.

We called it quits since it was already past the normal delivery time, and people would most likely just assume the paper wasn't coming at that point. I turned my focus to figuring out what was wrong with my car, but I couldn't even get it out of the spot in the driveway where I'd left it last night. So I plopped down $150 deposit on one of AutoZone's little code-reader doodads and took it back. According to the codes, it is likely some sort of sensor that will cost $15. Tomorrow morning I'm gonna pick one up and meet my future brother-in-law at my car to get it replaced. Hopefully it fixes everything.

I found it funny that a little computer thingamajig can cripple your entire car when it malfunctions. Seems like when cars were more simple they didn't nickel and dime us to death. Aah, the good old days.

A lot of the other carriers hadn't even picked up their papers when I got to the depot to grab my second route, so I assume they weren't even trying. The mail certainly didn't come, and the paper I deliver gave out a free online version to all customers in case they couldn't get their papers, so I guess they had every right to just give up. Somehow, I never learned to function that way.

I've driven through some pretty awful weather. One night a few years ago we had an really bad storm that melted all the snow and caused flooding. On top of that, trees were being blown down everywhere. I drove through water that came halfway up my car door, and helped other drivers move full-sized trees out of the road so both of us could keep going.

Another time we had an icestorm and even the slightest hill proved impossible for my car to manage, so I got out and walked down every hill and got everybody their papers on time. I never really even questioned it. Usually if the weather is going to be bad, Zoe tells me I shouldn't go, and should tell them it's too bad out and my car got stuck or something. I just can't do that. I have to do the job the best I possibly can, no matter what the situation.

I don't have a degree. I don't have any experience in anything that an employer might be looking for. The only thing I have is my determination, and hopefully in the eight years of working my ass off to do my job as best I can, I've impressed a few people that can vouch for me. Otherwise, I don't have much else to offer up when trying to impress a potential employer. I just hope they'll listen long enough for me to get that across.

Emmy Turns Three, Still No Baby

Today is Emerson's third birthday. Most people say something like "They grow up so fast!" at this point, but to me it seems like she's always been this age. Watching someone grow day by day leaves you unable to really see what big jumps they're making. When I look back at pictures of her when she'd just turned two, I'm amazed that she looks so different than she does now. To me, she looks exactly the same.

The one thing that hasn't come about so far, is a new sibling for her. My sister is two and a half years older than me, and my brother is two and a half years older than her. Maybe when we were young that didn't make as much of a difference, but probably somewhere near middle school it started to seem like we were light years apart. Five years seemed like an eternity, and the disconnect between my brother and me was too much to overcome on a regular basis. We liked each other just fine, but we certainly couldn't relate to each other's interests with that sort of age gap, much less hang out with each other.

That's why Zoe and I always talked about getting started on our kids young, and pumping them out maybe only a year and a half apart, or at least only a little bit more than that. So the day we signed our marriage certificate, we started trying. Amazingly, Emmy was conceived on our honeymoon. It seemed like this was going to be incredibly easy. The rush of our first-born child was a brand-new experience, but one that we adapted to quickly. I soon learned what it felt like to be living for people other than yourself. I had a family, and that is the best feeling I've ever felt in the world.

More than a year ago -- when Emmy wasn't even two years old -- we decided we really had to get to work on the next kid. It had already been longer than we had originally planned for it to be, but adapting to that first child was a rollercoaster ride of emotions that we weren't necessarily expecting. So we sat down with my parents and hers, and informed them we were going to start trying for a second child. The birth control pills got shoved away somewhere in the medicine cabinet, and the next installment of our lives lie ahead.

Remember how I said Emerson was ridiculously easy? I guess that kind of spoiled us. The last year has been kind of tough, because at this point, when I think of sex, I think of the best time of the month, and the position that yields the greatest likely percentage, and a drawer filled with dollar-store pregnancy tests.

It's hard not to feel a little defeated. What once seemed like the easiest thing in the world, now seems almost impossible. Don't get me wrong, people like my cousin Alison -- who tried for years to conceive, only to have complications late in her eventual pregnancy that led to the little child she'd worked so hard to create dying after only a few days on this Earth -- are the people that have truly struggled. Eventually she was able to get pregnant again, and now has a healthy baby girl that she will no doubt treat like the blessing that she is.

So when I think about our situation, I find it hard to talk about. I feel like I'd be whining about something that isn't really that big of a deal. We already have Emerson, and she makes me happier than I ever knew I could be. Coupled with my amazing wife, I really should feel like the luckiest guy in the world. But I can't help but put my head in my hands every once in awhile and think, "Goddammit, where is the rest of our family? Why is this so hard?!"

Ultimately, if the rest of our family never comes, I'll still be the luckiest guy in the world. Zoe and Emmy transformed my life, and I would be a complete loser without them. Still, I want another baby so much.