Tuesday, January 29, 2013

“You had me from...'eh- lo?'”—Baby Boomers, Technology, and Multi-culturalism

Picture it:  My husband, Bill, sitting at the kitchen table which doubles as his home office (yes, that’s material for another post), laptop open in front of him, flip phone pressed to his good ear, eyes squinted as if listening intently.

Bill: “Excuse me. I didn’t catch your name.”
Bill: “Yes...uh...Wamika, this is William Chumley. I’m having a little trouble downloading some tax  soft—”
Bill: “DUBYA...EYEEE...EL...EL—” (His volume level has now risen a few decibels. He informs me later this is not due to frustration but rather to a bad satellite connection between Edmond, Oklahoma, and New Delhi.)
Bill: “No, that’s DUBYA—”
Bill: “No...DOUBLE  YOO as in...ah...uhm...Wamika!” (Eureka! His face lights up, he nods his head enthusiastically.)  “Yeah, yeah! That’s right! Okay. DOUBLE YOO...EYEEE...EL...EL—”
Bill (holding up two fingers): “No, that’s TWO ELs.” (He stops. From experience, I know his next words will be is there someone else I can talk to.) “Is there someone else I can talk to?”
Bill (rubbing his free hand over his face): “Look, this just isn’t working.” (Apparently the connection became weaker at this point because his voice grew even louder.) “Is there someone there who speaks Eng—”
Bill: Yes, but I can’t understand you, you can’t understand—”
Bill: “DOUBLE YOO...EYEE...EL...EL—Oh, for crying—”
(Sound of flip phone snapping shut)

I look across the table at a defeated man, eyes glazed over, flip phone tossed onto the table. He rises and pours himself a cup of coffee, buying time to gather himself before attempting another call. The odds aren’t good, but maybe next time he’ll have more success.
“Why didn’t you hang up at WEEL-YUM?” I ask.
“Because I’d already waited twenty-five minutes to talk to Wamika. I hated to lose her.”
Valid point.

Bill wouldn't pose for a picture, so I had to improvise. Work with me here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Master Brooks's Bookses: If You Give a Pig a Party

     You might recall a few months ago, I mentioned I would be getting a new baby brother and a new room. Well, guess what? BOTH have finally arrived! And I’m enjoying them both. Bennett—that’s my new brother’s name—can’t play with me yet, but I do like giving him kisses, patting him on the back, and holding him (with some assistance). But I’m REALLY excited about my new playroom! It has lots of storage for my toys and lots of floor space for playing with my Legos and trucks. What I like best about it, though, is my book nook. That’s right. There’s a cozy place for getting comfy while someone reads me my favorite stories.
Master Brooks's Book Nook


    Lately, one of those favorites has been If You Give a Pig a Party. This is from the delightful series of If You... books, written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. The stories are based on the ol’ “slippery slope” theory. You know how it goes: If you do one thing, it sets in motion a chain of events—all of them bad. Except in these stories, the events that follow are good...VERY good. Events like a bumper car ride, a game of hide-and-seek, a sleepover, a pillow fight. The pictures of the crazy, winsome characters like Moose and Mouse make these events all the more hilarious, resulting in a truly delightful read. But I must add a word of caution. If you own this book, you’ll want to remove the jacket so it won’t get torn. Then you’ll want to sleep with the book hugged against your face. While you’re sleeping, you’ll start to drool, and you’ll wake up with a purple stain on your cheek. It won’t wash off, and you’ll go to school looking like you have Kool-Aid on your face. This will concern your mommy a lot more than it does you. And that’s not theory. It’s fact.     

When Bennett gets older, I'm going to read my favorite books to him!

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 Father of the Year, Bill Clinton--The Perfect Choice

            In a cartoon in the Wall Street Journal, a rather academic-looking sort complains to a colleague: “The only way to create a sensation as an essayist these days is to write something mean about cats.”
            Oh, dear. As much as I’d like to create a sensation, I can’t do that. I’m not a cat-hater. I’m not even a cat-disliker. I enjoy cats as long as they belong to someone else. And, as many of my friends are avid cat-lovers, I don’t want to offend them. So for this post, I chose a slightly less sensational topic: Bill Clinton, Father of the Year.
            This morning as I assembled my breakfast, my husband read aloud a few of the news items of the day. I listened with half my brain, using the other half to concentrate on my omelet.
“Bill Clinton Is Named Father of the Year,” he announced.
Now he had my full-brain attention. 
            Of all the names I would’ve expected to receive this honor, Bill Clinton’s was not among them. Anywhere. I’m not a Clinton-hater. Not even a Clinton-disliker. I consider him neither any better nor any worse than other politicians we’ve dealt with over the past twenty years. I think he has certain admirable traits. He’s smart and charismatic, and he makes excellent speeches. He was able to work with a Republican Congress to actually balance a budget. And I’m sure there’s a host of women across the country who can testify as to his charm and persuasive powers. Had he been named Communicator of the Year or Compromiser of the Year or Negotiator of the Year, I’d have had no problem. But Father of the Year?
            Don’t think for a minute I hold one unfortunate incident against him. If his wife saw fit to forgive him, who am I to be less tolerant? Who among us hasn’t made a mistake of some kind? But if you believe that little romp with Monica was his one and only indiscretion, I’ve got some overnight wrinkle-remover cream I want to sell you.
            You might suggest that as proof of his fathering capabilities, I look no further than his daughter. I’ll be the first to admit she appears to be a likeable, intelligent, responsible young woman. She has managed to marry well and, for the most part, stay out of the tabloids, preparing for the day she’ll run for president. But I wonder how much credit the former President can take for her successes. In my twenty-something years of teaching, I learned the best efforts of good parents can sometimes fail. And sometimes children turn out well despite their parents.
            So in an effort to understand what I considered a dubious choice, I sought out the USA Today article which reported this news. I was curious to find out exactly what the selection criteria was. In my naiveté, I assumed the list would include the old standards. You know, those out-dated, boring attributes like honesty, integrity, loyalty, fidelity. Boy, was I wrong.
            According to the National Father’s Day Council Chairman, Dan Orwig, nominees are recognized for their “...profound generosity, leadership, tireless dedication to public office and philanthropic organizations.” Oh, yeah. Organizations like the William J. Clinton Foundation. This award has a lot to do with money. The choice was beginning to make sense. Orwig went on to say this award goes to “contemporary lifestyle leaders of our culture.” And then it became crystal clear. In fact, based on that criterion, I agree with the selection. Because if anyone reflects the “contempary lifestyle” of our culture, it’s William Jefferson Clinton.