Stats

When I was a kid, I used to listen to almost every Milwaukee Brewer game on the radio. I was obsessed with the sport, the players, the statistics, and generally every nuance of the game. It was so bad that I kept my own statistics on every player through the season so I could add it to the year before’s statistics of every player. My math had to be perfect so I would check and double-check my stats on those rare days when they didn’t have a game. When I couldn’t listen to a game for one reason or another, I would anxiously get my stats from the newspaper the next day. I say anxious because I always worried the newspaper would get something wrong and screw up all my work.

Anyway, one day I was listening to the game and it was either Briggs or May that hit a second home run in the same game. Of course, nowadays that’s nothing special, but back before rumors of a juiced ball or steroids, a two home run game was a big deal. The radio announcer said it was that player’s first game with more than a single home run. That didn’t feel right to me, so I checked my stats for that player and found out he had done it before when he was with another team (yes, I was that meticulous). For some reason, it bothered me so much that I took my radio and my stat papers and went to the phone…remember, phone’s were attached to a wall back then…and made a call. After about 5 minutes, I was connected to somebody I could talk to. They checked my stat and agreed that they made a mistake. We said goodbye and I took my radio and stat papers and went back to my room. I did my job, I just hoped they did their’s.

A couple minutes later the radio guys brought it up:

SPORTS GUY #1: We received a phone call from 10-year-old Dazeodrew from Milwaukee that corrected a statistic we reported about the two home run game.

SPORTS GUY #2: Oh yeah? 10 years old?

SPORTS GUY #1: Yeah. We incorrectly reported it was his first time doing this, but he actually did it a couple years ago for the first time.

SPORTS GUY #2: It took a 10-year-old boy to discover this? We should hire him! Fire the whole lot of stat checkers we already have!

I was so proud! I had done something I thought no other 10 year old had ever done! I corrected grown-ups! I was now a force to be reckoned with! Of course, this was a fleeting feeling because the radio guys kept talking.

SPORTS GUY #1: We may as well hire him. If he’s that into stats, what kind of life is he going to have? He’s certainly never going to get a girlfriend!

SPORTS GUY #2: Ha, ha, you’re right! That’s probably why he does stats! He’s a pathetic little lonely boy with no friends because he’s such a little Poindexter!

SPORTS GUY #1: That’s right! We should hire him just to give him a life!

SPORTS GUY #1 AND #2: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!

Ok, that second part didn’t happen. It could’ve, but it didn’t. Sometimes I certainly felt that way. I was the smallest kid in my class and only had a couple of friends. Some of that was because we moved around a bit before that point and I was on my 4th school by age ten, but the fact remained, I was a bit of a nerd. I got perfect grades, I could read adult books, and my math skills were way beyond grade school level. I guess that would make me a full-fledged nerd at the time. The only thing I didn’t have was a thick set of glasses…or even a thin set.

My baseball sickness went even further than what I’ve already told you. Much further.

I used to go into my backyard with a little souvenir bat I once got at a game and a couple of ping pong balls. I would stand on the sidewalk facing the clothesline poles and hit the ball. Anything not in the confines of the poles on either side was an out. Under the poles was a single unless the ball dribbled past the second pole, then it was a double. Hitting the second pole was a triple (didn’t get too many of those) and hitting it over both sets of poles was a home run. I would do this by myself and would play a complete nine-inning game if I could, batting for both sides. The sickness came in because of the fact that I kept complete statistics for the game and compiled all of them, complete with league standings, at the end of every day. Except, of course, if I had a rainout.

In a way, I had already created a fantasy baseball league before that was even a thing. I did the same thing during football and basketball seasons but played a little different with each sport. With football, I used playing cards because let’s face it, there is no way to play football by yourself. For basketball, my dad had put a small hoop up in the basement for me and I would play with a six-inch rubber ball and, yes, I would keep stats sometimes. Mostly I just played with my imagination.

ME (talking to myself in an announcer’s voice): And Dazeodrew gets the pass, fakes left and then fakes right before driving down the lane and SLAMS IT HOME! Wait, was he fouled on the play? Yes, yes he was! Now Dazeodrew will go to the line and try to convert a three-point play! What a game Dazeodrew is having!

ME (now talking in my own voice): What am I doing? I feel like a pathetic little lonely boy with no friends because I’m such a little Poindexter! I don’t really want a girlfriend just yet, but I might someday! I need to change. I need a life…

ME (back to the announcer voice): After a brief injury timeout, Dazeodrew is back in the game! What heart! What spirit! Dazeodrew is what the game is all about! Watch as he sinks this long jumper! Ok, but at least he got the rebound and put it in!

Sometimes, I still feel like that nerd of long ago. I no longer keep stats, other than basic ones in my head, but I still play good basketball in my dreams when I go to sleep. In my dreams, my 5’8” body is perfectly capable of dunking the ball. In real life, I would probably trip on my way to the basket. Even if I did reach the basket, at my age I would need to do a little stretching before I jumped my whole vertical leap of about 6 inches, leaving me a good 2 feet short of the rim…

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The Blue Pool

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I decided to take a mini-vacation and we went to Clear Lake in the Oregon Cascades. My wife had been there a few times, but this was only my second time. It’s a beautiful glacier-fed lake (yes, freezing cold) that you can see the bottom of even at 75-foot depths. It’s amazing to float over ancient trees and actually see trout swimming around dozens of feet below you.

The resort (not really a resort) has about a dozen rustic cabins that can be rented out for the nights and we rented one. By rustic, I mean you have to hike to the bathroom and get your water from a pump outside. Very cool.

The first time I went with my wife, she enjoyed it so much I literally couldn’t get her to leave…seriously. Checkout was at 11 am and she went out on her paddleboard at about 8 am. Every time I looked out on the lake, she was just floating there, capturing every last sunray she could. I decided to let her be and I packed our stuff, cleaned out the cabin, checked out, and moved my Jeep to the parking area. Then I went to get my wife. I saw her floating about 50 feet from shore.

ME: It’s time to go!

MY WIFE:

ME: We need to be getting back!

MY WIFE:

Then she stood up on her paddleboard and I watched her paddle away. She finally came to shore after about two more hours and it was a quiet trip back home. She really, really didn’t want to leave. I wasn’t even upset at the late departure because I knew how she felt. I didn’t want to leave either.

The second time we went, I planned the departure better. I gave her something to look forward to. On the way home was the National Button Society convention. I didn’t have any problem getting her off her paddleboard this time.

While we were there the first time, we played in the water (what my wife loves) and took a hike (what I love). Of course, the hike didn’t go exactly how I thought it would. I was looking to get some exercise for my legs…but this happened instead…

MY WIFE: Oh! Look at that volcanic rock! I really want it!

ME: Um, that’s about twenty pounds and we’re about five miles into the hike.

By the time we got back, I was lugging 3 of those big rocks. I really do love my wife…

The second time we went, we did a little of the same thing. We played in the water then took a different hike. I had read about a little place nearby called The Blue Pool. It was a pond at the foot of a small yet high waterfall and was about a quarter acre in size. It’s surrounded by cliffs almost 75 feet high that the adventurous would jump off to land with a hard slap into the frigid water. Yes, the pool was very blue!

It was a steady two-mile hike to the pool. By steady, I mean steadily up and down, up and down, up and down…you get it. It actually felt more like five miles. When we got to the pool, it was worth it. We had to do some serious rock climbing and descending to get to the shore, but that was worth it too. There were about a dozen people down by the shore and my wife wasted no time getting into the water and making her way to the waterfall. If you read my blog post “What Fence?” you would already know that she was going to climb the waterfall. I just sat by the shore and absorbed the beauty and refreshed myself with the cool spray. After about a half-hour, my wife signed to me from a distance that she would meet me at the top as she continued to climb next to the waterfall. I nodded my agreement and made my way back up the trail. At one point, a young lady commented to me.

YOUNG LADY: Is that your wife climbing over there?

ME: Yup.

YOUNG LADY: She’s awesome! I hope I’m just like her when I get to be, um, uh…

ME: Our age? Yup, I hope so too although she’s getting harder for me to keep up with.

YOUNG LADY: I’ll bet.

We met at the top and gratefully only carted little rocks that fit in my pocket for the walk back. It felt like a longer walk than the walk to the pool and it wasn’t helped by the dust from the dry path all the way back. Funny how we didn’t notice it as much on the way there, but it really messed with my wife’s lungs going back. We made it to the Jeep and felt like all the refreshing we felt at the pool was wiped out. Still, it was well worth the hike.

After that, we went back to Clear Lake and spent our final night in our little rustic cabin. Our legs were sore, our feet were sore, but our spirits were high. We needed this getaway and now we find ourselves wishing we had stayed a few more nights…but then we would’ve missed the button convention. Hmm.

Herd of Turtles

When I was in fourth grade, I got into some trouble. Enough trouble that my dad realized I needed a change. It wasn’t my grades, they were perfect. It was my inability to control my temper that got me into trouble.

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you’ll know that my parents were deaf. Along with this deafness came the inability to speak as a hearing person could. In other words, to someone who hadn’t been around deaf people before, they sounded unintelligible. To kids my age, that provided just enough of an excuse to say mean things. Mean things made me angry. Anger made me fight. Fighting got me in trouble. The worst part is, I was not a very big person and got the worst end of the fight half the time.

The one thing I learned about fighting is that the more you did it, the less you feared being hurt. Instead of one or two punches being thrown, you would fight until you won or you were broken up, usually by a teacher. Where the real problem came in for me was that during a particularly nasty fight, I was so angry that when the teacher pulled me off the kid, I swung and hit her leg. That earned me a 3-day vacation.

I think my dad suffered from a mixture of pride and frustration. On one hand, he was proud that I would stand up to mean kids, but on the other hand, he was frustrated that I had to keep standing up to mean kids. He would tell me to stop fighting when kids made fun of them, saying he didn’t need me to fight his battles. He had put up with meanness for most of his life because of his deafness and tried to get me to understand that fighting wouldn’t change a thing…those kids would continue to be ignorant and mean. He was right, of course, and I should’ve listened…but I just couldn’t.

A couple houses down from us was an insurance agent who wasted little time welcoming us to the neighborhood we moved to about six months prior. He had a couple of kids the same age as me and my oldest brother and used that to get to know us. Sure enough, my dad changed insurance to his and us kids did become friends. It was him who suggested to my dad that I should attend the Lutheran school with his kids. My dad liked the idea, but as most of you know, private school isn’t cheap. It didn’t seem like this could happen.

As it turned out, each grade at the school had two spots open for kids to attend on a grant. The grade I was in only had one of those spots filled so I was able to switch schools. Of course, even though I was good for all the academic subjects, I would be starting Fifth Grade without a real education in religion. Instead of falling behind, I embraced the studies because frankly, I was bored with the academic subjects and the religious studies gave me something new to learn.

The school was about a mile away from our house and in the morning I would catch a ride with the insurance guy and his kid who was my age. He also gave a ride to two other kids in the neighborhood, both of whose parents had bought insurance from him…imagine that? Don’t get me wrong, he was a good guy, that’s just how he made his living. The fact that he gave me a ride every morning showed he was a generous man.

Every morning was the same. We would all meet at his house, pile into the station wagon, then hear the same thing without fail.

INSURANCE GUY: We’re off like a herd of turtles!

We would all roll our eyes, even his kid, and the day would begin.

I’d love to say I never fought again, but that didn’t happen. Things did improve, however, because I only had one substantial fight in the four years I attended the Lutheran school…and it wasn’t about my parents. It was about a bully.

The problem began in Sixth Grade when this bully became my classmate. He originally was supposed to be in Seventh Grade but was held back. He was about a foot taller than me and outweighed me by at least 30 pounds. Unfortunately, he was also one of the kids that rode in the car with me every morning. His idea of fun was to pinch my leg and say over and over again, “Are you gonna cry?” Of course, I never did. I put up with this for about a week before something happened on the playground.

I was running to the baseball diamond with the other kids when the bully grabbed my arm and then swung me as hard as he could into the backstop fence. I bounced off and hit the ground. Then the anger came. I jumped up and hit him as hard as I could in the stomach…I had to bring his face closer since he was tall and it worked. He doubled over and I went to town on his head. By the time the teacher broke it up, he was bleeding pretty well from his nose and, yes, he was crying.

The only thing that saved me was that the teacher saw the fence incident and even though nobody approved of my reaction, I didn’t lose any school time over it. I did, however, have to learn extra bible verses. It was worth it…the bully never bothered me again, nor did any other bully at that school.

Soldier for a Day

My dad was drafted in about 1950 when the Korean War was really starting to take off. At the time, he was a farm boy living in Central Wisconsin. He had a 6th-grade education and lived with his mom and stepfather on the farm his real father built. His dad died about 9 years earlier and his mom married the first man willing to take on both the farm and the kids. My dad’s stepfather was a cruel and sadistic man and even crueler to my dad because he thought my dad was inferior. If you’ve read some of my previous blogs, you’ll remember that my dad was deaf.

Anyway, my dad was drafted and was to report to the military processing station in Milwaukee. They even gave him a bus ticket to get there. Even though my dad was deaf, he didn’t have a choice but to report. He was actually happy to get away from the farm for a couple days and get away from his stepfather’s cruelty.

When he arrived at the military station, he just followed the other draftees around because he obviously couldn’t hear the instructions. The guy next to him introduced himself and when it was sorted out that my dad was deaf, he laughed and laughed at the absurdity of it all. He also helped my dad listen for when his name was called to go in for the physical. When the time came, my dad went into the physical room and sat in the chair provided. When he looked at the doctor, he could tell the doctor was agitated and yelling something at him. I imagine it went like this:

DOCTOR: Did I say for you to sit?

MY DAD:

DOCTOR: Are you not listening to me?

MY DAD:

DOCTOR: What are you? Deaf?

It took them a few hours to sort it all out. When it was determined that my dad was indeed deaf and not faking it, they told him he could leave. My dad found a piece of paper and wrote, “I have no money.” Then a hat was passed around to collect enough for a bus ticket and my dad was on his way to the bus station. It was about a mile walk so he took in the sights on his way through the city. He made his plans.

When he arrived back at the farm, he went right to his room and started packing his things. His stepfather interrupted him and asked what he thought he was doing? The last thing his stepfather wanted was for my dad to leave the farm. He was needed for all the work the cruel man didn’t want to do. Once again, I imagine it went like this (with some sign language, of course):

EVIL STEPFATHER: What do you think you’re doing?

MY DAD: Leaving.

EVIL STEPFATHER: No, you’re not.

MY DAD: Yes.

EVIL STEPFATHER: Where do you think you’ll go?

MY DAD: Not your business.

EVIL STEPFATHER: You’re too stupid to do anything. You can’t leave. Put your things back.

MY DAD: No.

Apparently, after the exchange of words, his stepfather started to pull clothes out of his bag. My dad pushed him away. His stepfather swung and missed. My dad swung and caught him square in the nose.

When my dad got back to Milwaukee, he found a job right away working at a slaughterhouse. It was an awful dirty job, but it was his. He no longer had to put up with the cruelty and abuse and now it was time to take measure of himself.

Years later, after I had left the service after 8 years, my dad would like to joke that he was a veteran just like me…only he served a little less time. One thing I do know, however, is that if my dad could’ve served, he would’ve. He’s honorable that way and I couldn’t have wished for a better nor greater father to bring me through life. I miss him dearly.

Hammerin' Nails

When I was 9 years old, I used to go with my dad to his second job. I did this until I was 16 years old and enjoyed all my time with him. At first, my older brothers also went, but they soon found their own jobs and left. Yes, I used to work with my dad. Yes, technically it was illegal for me to work there at such a young age. No, I was not abused. Instead, I loved it.

What we did was build pallets, or skids. If you don’t know what they are, they’re the wood base platforms that nearly everything getting shipped in bulk is stacked on. This was the 1970s and we built them by hand at first. My dad was paid by the pallet so the more he built, the more he was paid. After school, I would make my way there and put in 4-5 hours pounding nails, stacking pallets, driving a forklift (how cool is that at 9 years old?), and generally spending some good father-son time together. If I had a school project or too much homework, I would skip going, but otherwise, I never missed and always showed up.

What this experience gave me were skills like driving (even though the back wheels do the turning on a forklift and it took an adjustment when I switched to cars), using a hammer with both hands, surgical-like ability to remove wood slivers, and pride in my work. All of these things came in handy later in life. A good example was when I was stationed in Germany. Every Fall we went to the giant festival in Stuttgart. There was lots of beer, music, food, beer, games, beer, and plenty of beer. There was one game that drew my attention and after some beer (did I mention they had a lot of beer?) I went to play. The object was to pound a string of 20 nails into a block of wood without missing or bending the nails. If you did it, you got a HUGE stuffed animal. Seeing as I was trying to impress a German girl at the time, I saw this as a great opportunity. I walked up to the game.

GAME GUY: Ah, are you American? (They could always tell).

ME: Yes…how much?

GAME GUY: 5 Marks. (I handed him the money and he handed me a hammer. I put it in my right hand.)

ME: (Pound, pound, pound,…pound, pound). There. (I handed the astonished man his hammer back).

GAME GUY (pointing above him at the animals): What do you want?

ME: The bear and I want to play again! (So I did).

ME: (Pound, pound, pound,…pound, pound). There!

After winning the second animal, he wouldn’t let me play again. The next night, I returned to the game. Same game guy, same answer.

GAME GUY: No! Not you! If I let you play, I lose my money!

ME: I’ll do it left-handed this time.

GAME GUY: Ok, American. Let’s see.

ME: (Pound, pound, pound,…pound, pound). There!

He wouldn’t let me play again after that. Apparently, I annoyed him so much he actually remembered me the next year and still wouldn’t let me play.

So, we determined my hammering skills were good for obtaining large stuffed bears. We also determined that my early years of driving a forklift helped with driving cars later…except that rear wheel turning bit. Also, the surgical sliver removing skill came in very handy when I had kids. There’s only one skill I haven’t mentioned yet.

When I was closer to 16 years old, the pallet place had gone through some changes. We were now using pneumatic nail guns instead of hammers, there were about 12 of us working there now, and some of these new employees were violent. What happened was, the owners of the company decided it would line their pockets more if they hired guys on work-release programs. They could pay them less because all these guys wanted was any job to get them out of jail for the day. Most of them were nice guys who treated my dad and I really well. One day, however, things got out of hand.

Two of the work-release guys seemed to be mortal enemies. They were always shouting at each other and if my dad knew what kind of words they were using, he might’ve had a word with them or sent me away. If you’ve read some of my previous blogs, you’d know my dad was deaf, that’s why he didn’t know what was about to happen.

It was a quick escalation between the two. One minute they were yelling at each other and then they turned their pneumatic nail guns into weapons. They began to fire at each other and I hit the floor along with most of the other guys. I began to crawl towards my dad because I wasn’t sure if he knew what was going on yet. I reached him and found him blissfully building pallets with not a care in the world. I tugged at his leg, saw the look of confusion on his face for a second, then watched as he took in the scene. Then I watched as my gentle loving father transformed into a force of nature.

“SONFABITCH!” my dad bellowed. If we would’ve been in a forest, the trees would’ve swayed backward from the force of his yell, it was that powerful. Everything went quiet and the nails quit raining all over the place. The two enemies just stood there as my dad laid into them. They actually looked scared and I never looked at my dad the same after that. He didn’t back down because he felt I could’ve been hurt and he let them know what would’ve happened if that had happened. The looks on their faces showed that they believed him and everyone went back to work. This is why my dad is the only person I’ve ever really looked up to. He was the real deal.

So what skill did I gain from this experience? How not to get shot, of course. This skill came in handy when I joined the military. I can honestly say I’ve never been shot. Well, there was the BB gun when I was younger, but we were just being stupid boys and seeing if we could take the pain.

A Tale of Pygmy Goats

When my kids were still young, I rented a place that had a little acreage. It wasn’t quite big enough to get a horse, but it was big enough to get a couple of Pygmy Goats…so we did. We actually got a good bargain seeing both of them were pregnant. My kids were excited.

The fenced field we kept them in was about 2 acres. There was an old bathtub to keep water in and I built a small shelter so they could stand out of the rain if they wanted. The adult goats were a little boring, being pregnant and all, but we knew the day was coming when we would have some little ones to enjoy watching.

Behind the fenced pasture was a senior trailer park and the people who lived there were very nice. At least the ones we met were. They would always wave and seemed to enjoy sitting in their backyards while watching the goats. It was a good place to be at the time.

One of the things I regret is telling the kids that they could each have a baby goat to call their own when they were born. Had I thought it through, I would’ve considered things like, what if there were only two or three baby goats? I had four kids. Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry, though I did at the time.

The first mama goat gave birth on a rainy night to a single kid. My daughter was the oldest so she claimed it immediately. She picked it up and carried it to the shelter to get it out of the rain. This mama goat had been smaller than the other so I still held out hope we would get enough babies from the other one.

Two nights later, the other mama started giving birth. It was another rainy night, but that didn’t stop the neighbors from the trailer park from watching the event unfold. The first kid came out and my oldest son laid claim to it and carried it to the shelter. About ten minutes later, another kid came out and my second youngest son picked it up and carried it to the shelter. I stood there with my youngest son and prayed. He was only about 3-years-old, but you could see that he was undeterred in his hope that another one was coming.

God heard my prayer and sure enough, we had another kid come out. I was so proud as I watched my youngest wipe the afterbirth off the baby before picking it up in his little arms and carrying it to the shelter. To our surprise, the trailer park people began to cheer.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a baby pygmy goat, but they are the cutest, most hilarious little creatures on Earth. They bounce all over the place, head butt each other, and climb things. In our case, they turned the bathtub into their own little mountain to hop up and down on. They would also hop on each other. Their exuberance was contagious and my kids couldn’t wait to get home from school every day so they could play with the goats.

The best day with the baby goats was when we packed them into the van and took them to my youngest son’s daycare so he could show them off to the teachers and the other children. We put up a makeshift pen and all the little ones were able to pet and feed the goats after my youngest son showed them how. They didn’t even mind when a baby goat would head butt them and they would fall to the ground. They would just laugh and laugh. It was a joyous scene and a wonderful day.

That was a fun experience and we all enjoyed our time with the goats.

Angel on Earth

There are some people who come into your life that completely change it for the better or for the worse. Their actions have such an impact, the rest of your life decisions derive from meeting them. Their memory enters your thoughts at various times and you contemplate how things may have been different had you not met them. This blog post is about one of those who made my life better.

Since I don’t use real names in my blog, we’ll call her “Rain,” which is appropriate because of the blessings she rained on me and my family. She was a no-nonsense woman who handled things in her own way and even though she had a guarded and private personality, she had an enormous heart. She is the reason I didn’t end up homeless and hopeless many years ago.

I first met her when I went to look at an apartment after receiving notice that we were losing the one we lived in. I had lost my job, we were 2000 miles from family, and I was dealing with issues from my time in the military. Things were very bleak at the time and I had little hope to get housing for my family before it was too late. I wasn’t even sure why I was looking at the apartment because I didn’t have the money to move in. She showed us around and I realized I finally had to tell her.

ME: Um, I don’t have any money just yet.

RAIN: That’s ok, here’s the keys.

Just like that. Seriously, just like that. In a matter of one statement, I went from dread to shock. She didn’t even want to talk about how I might get the money later. She just insisted we move in. For the next couple years, we were going to be her project to help and see through to hope. The cool thing about her was, we weren’t the only ones she helped. There were other families in the same apartment complex that she was helping as well.

I remember when she asked me to show a vacant apartment. She told me that whatever the person said, tell them it was their’s. She explained they just had a tragedy in their family and needed a place to live. Give it to them.

PERSON: Um, I don’t have any money just yet.

ME: That’s ok, here’s the keys.

At the time, I was using an old IBM Selectric Typewriter so I could try to write a novel. I had only been out of the military for a year and I was determined to write a book. It was slow-going since I never learned key-boarding and typed with just my index fingers (I still do, but can get up to 45 wpm if motivated). One day she showed up with a computer. I let it sit on the floor for a few days before finally opening the box and setting it up. I crashed it within minutes, fixed it, and was hooked.

A year later, she offered to let us move into her house in the country. She moved upstairs and gave us free rein of the main floor. It was a beautiful change for us and we woke up to a wonderful view of Mount Rainier every morning…when it wasn’t cloudy. I was inspired and wrote furiously at that time. Of course, other things happened in life and it all came to an end, but I ended up back in school and on my way to a better life. None of it would’ve happened without Rain. She was my angel.

Years later, in fact not too long ago, I had the chance to see Rain again. It was as if nothing changed. She looked exactly the same (which solidifies my angel theory) and it was so moving to see her after all the years. This post really doesn’t do her kindness justice, because she did so many other wonderful things for us, but I hope if she ever reads this, she’ll know she’s appreciated and a Godsend.

Identity Theft

It seems like every other week I get a notice that my identity has been compromised. I get these notices of the compromise, then I get a notice from a law firm stating I’m part of a class-action lawsuit and if I want to be a part of it, “do nothing”, then out of the blue I get a check for $6.32 which is my part of the settlement. I usually celebrate my windfall by buying my wife a LARGE cup of espresso and then laugh gleefully because I have about 32 cents left to spend any way I like.

Seriously, identity theft can be a frightful thing. About ten years ago, I had my identity stolen and my accounts raided of nearly $5000. Insurance covered the loss and it never happened again. Still, I keep a close eye on our accounts. Not for the reason you think because nowadays I don’t have much in my accounts, but I’m rather hoping the tables get turned by their theft…

THIEF: I’d like to make a withdrawal.

BANK: Are you Mr. Dazeodrew?

THIEF: Yes, I am.

BANK: Are you aware you have a negative balance of $107,986? How would you like to remedy this?

THIEF: Wait, there must be a mistake…

BANK: No, Mr. Dazeodrew, there isn’t. We’ve been looking for you.

THIEF: No, wait, I’m not…

BANK: Our secret locator has just found where you are making this call from and law enforcement is on its way.

THIEF: WHAT?!?! No wait…what’s that noise?

BANK: We’re coming in!

THIEF: NO! I’M NOT WHO YOU THINK I AM! LET GO OF ME! THIS IS ALL A BIG MISTAKE!

Just once I’d like to hear a story like that. Or let’s say I’m late on the power bill…

BANK: We’ve located you and since we’re in cahoots with the power company, we’re shutting off the power at where you’re staying now.

THIEF: Wait, what? Hey! The lights went off! I was just popping popcorn in the microwave so could you give me another 3 minutes? Hello? Hello?

I figure since the thieves wants anything positive I have, they should also inherit the negative. It would be so nice if I could let them take my credit rating along with my account information.

ME: What do you mean I have perfect credit?

CREDIT AGENCY: Well, Mr. Dazeodrew, your bad credit has been stolen by a bad guy, so you get to start fresh!

ME: Oh yay! What a great bad guy! Can I send him a thank you card?

CREDIT AGENCY: You can try, but we have his home scheduled for demolition at the moment, your card might not get there in time.

ME: Oh, ok. Well, it’s the thought that counts, right?

CREDIT AGENCY: Absolutely! Hey, maybe we can charge this inquiry to his credit report? That would be a nice way to thank him!

ME: That would be wonderful! Can you put a note to him with that? Something like, oh, maybe, “Thanks for stealing from me. Love, Dazeodrew?”

CREDIT AGENCY: Nice.

I know, wishful thinking. It would be so awesome to give away your troubles to a bad guy. We could even go further with the identity theft.

THIEF: You’re arresting me for WHAT?

POLICE: 200 unpaid parking tickets, Mr. Dazeodrew. Up against the wall, please.

THIEF: No, wait! I’m not Mr. Dazeodrew! I’m just an identity thief!

POLICE: Well, you were very thorough. You have the right to remain silent…

Maybe we could even pass along other problems…

THIEF: What do you mean I have to pay Jimmy’s tuition? Who’s Jimmy?

Or…

WIFE (not mine, someone else’s): So, you stole my identity? Oh good! Now you’re married to that bastard!

THIEF: But I’m a man!

WIFE: Perfectly legal in this state. Do you get the kids too?

I would be a whole lot more supportive of bad guys, at least identity thieves if we could do this. Heck, we could even contract with a bad guy if we want to start fresh. They could compete with each other on who gets your bills and bad credit. Don’t like your spouse? Call the bad guys. Can’t pay your power bill? Call the bad guys. Need to disappear for a while? Call the bad…wait, maybe not…

Diapers of Mass Destruction

My last blog entry talked about my daughter and a bucket of chicken. It’s hard to fault someone who needs a midnight snack, but apparently, it’s a genetic thing…

Once again, it was the middle of the night and I heard noise. At this time of my life, I was definitely hypervigilant. We were waiting on our orders to go to the Mideast so I swear I only slept with one eye at a time. I didn’t want to miss the phone call because I was part of the forward crew and it was a twenty-minute drive to my post during the best of traffic.

As I said, I heard a noise. This time there was little mystery about the sound because it was the television and it was on a German station. I got up out of bed and made my way to the living room. I fully expected to see either my daughter or oldest son, but what greeted me gave me a little pause.

Sitting on my favorite chair, a tan recliner I loved, was a little brown moving mass wearing my army boots. When I heard the giggle, I realized it must be human. Not a fully grown human…not even a half fully grown human. This little brown moving mass was about 15 months old if my guess of identity was right. At the time, he was my youngest son.

What I saw was a giggling little boy with a brown blob in his brown little hands. When the television changed to a different German channel, I realized the little blob was the remote control. I took a step closer to try to identify the brown substance. A quick glance on the floor revealed a cleaned out pan with very little remnants of what it used to hold. I recognized it as the very same pan that once held a batch of fudge, oh, probably only an hour ago. Now, most of the fudge coated my little boy…and the remote…and my boots…and my chair. As if to put a period on his pre-toddler statement of affairs, he reached over and took a swig of soda from a can he cleverly concealed in, wait for it, fudge. He was a work of little brown moving mass art.

It took me an hour to clean everything, little boy, chair, and all. Luckily, I didn’t get the call that night to deploy. I believe that came the next night. I was also lucky because I found out second-hand what a pan of fudge will do to a fifteen-month-old child, or more notably, his diaper. Um, apparently for more than a couple days.

Moral of this story? Although there’s not many things worse than going to war, I have to believe I dodged a different kind of bullet in this case. Or should I say, weapon of mass destruction?

Bucket of Bones

Have you ever had a kid that liked a certain food so much they would do anything to get it? I’m not talking about candy, cookies, or other snack food. I’m talking about real food like what would be the main course in a meal.

It was the middle of the night when I woke to a strange noise. Being military might have made me hypervigilant, but this happened while we were stationed in Germany in the mid-eighties and I hadn’t been to war yet. This was government housing and generally very safe, so the sounds coming from another part of my apartment was alarming…unless, of course, there were kids.

I got out of bed very quietly and slowly made my way to the hallway before stopping to listen again. There was nothing for a few seconds and then I heard a different kind of noise. This sound reminded me of the sound of a mouse eating something off the floor, only a little louder and crunchier. Now, a mouse is something I could deal with, but we lived on the third floor and I had never heard of rodent issues in our housing complex. Besides, the sound was a little too loud to be a mouse.

I worked my way down the hallway and looked into the first bedroom. There were 2 boys sleeping quite soundly in that room. I moved on a couple feet before stopping to listen again. “Crunch, crunch, smack, crunch,” is what I heard a little ways ahead. I moved forward and peeked into my daughter’s room. I became alarmed when I saw the bed was empty and apparently, so was the room. I looked back towards the bathroom but the door was open and the lights were off. Next stop, kitchen.

I walked quietly but stopped when I heard the noises again coming from behind me. “Crunch, crunch, smack, crunch.” The sounds were definitely coming from my daughter’s room. I turned around and went back to her room to look closer. The night light was bright enough for me to see so I went inside and started looking around. The sounds stopped, so I figured I had been heard and stopped trying to be sneaky. I looked under the bed, behind the bed, and around the bed. Nothing.

Just when I was ready to give up searching her room and checking the rest of the apartment, I suddenly focused on her closet. A little sound of movement from behind the closet door confirmed my suspicion. There was something in there. Despite knowing I’d been heard, I moved quietly towards the closet door. I put my hand on the handle and yanked it open. There, lying directly in front of me, was the leftover bucket of chicken from our dinner, only there were very picked clean chicken bones lying around it. The bucket looked empty. Then I heard the whimper from behind the hanging clothes.

Part of me was very impressed. That leftover bucket had about a dozen pieces of chicken left that we were going eat the next day. All that was left were the clean picked bones. The other part of me was trying to be a parent. There was no way this was okay, but to dole out a punishment or yell would disturb the rest of the house. We picked up the bones together and I threw the bucket of bones into the trash.

Moral of this story? I’m at a loss…but it sure is funny now, 30 some years later.