Friday, April 25, 2008

Who could have seen this coming?

Back in January I made some predictions for the coming year. I wrote what I thought could happen this year, and then, thinking I was too far out on the fringe, reined them in a bit. I shouldn't have. In fact, maybe I should have gone the other direction.

In January, I guessed the average price for gasoline would hit $3.50 a gallon this year. (Remember, it was about $2.75 at the time, even as we hit $100 a barrel.) Well, we're not even to May yet and we're already at $3.57. That's a 30% increase in just a few months. Not that I have to tell you this. $4.00 gas, here we come.

In January, I guessed that the banking industry would consolidate, with at least one mega-merger. Well, we've seen a few mergers (including one big one: Bear Stearns + JP Morgan Chase, if it can be called a merger), and lots of shakiness. Citi, the world's largest bank is apparently on the ropes, and Washington Mutual, Morgan Stanley, Countrywide, Wells Fargo, Lehman, Wachovia, and many others hanging on for dear life too. And we haven't even peaked on house foreclosures yet, much less gotten into the rising tides of problems with credit cards, auto loans, home equity lines, etc. Perhaps worse, the credit troubles have spread to Canada, the UK, and cracks may be forming in the eurozone and elsewhere.

In January, I guessed that oil would hit $130 a barrel (though I apparently forgot to put it in my blog post). We're at $120 already, and seem destined for $150 at this rate. And this is while global oil production has actually increased slightly. What happens if it starts to decline?

Some of my other predictions are looking a bit iffy. But hey, it's only April. And here we are looking at food riots in a dozen countries and rice rationing right here in the US. I don't know of anybody who predicted that for 2008.

Since it's becoming fashionable to do so, I blame China. After all, I'm sure you've heard of the Chinese Curse, "May you live in interesting times..."



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Other people's stuff

Sorry for the quietude around here. It's been, um, busy. I promise I'll have some interesting stuff to tell you about what we're up to before long.

In the meantime... Let me tell you about cool stuff other people are doing instead.

First, my good friend Morgan - the one who gave us all that baby stuff - is starting a new photography business. Take a look at her work: Fields of View Photography. Don't be shy if you see something you like. Or if you don't, just ask and she'll shoot something just for you. With her camera, of course. If you want something shot in a different sense, well, maybe she knows somebody who knows somebody.

Second are the various challenges my bloggy friends are sponsoring: Chile's Cut the Crap decluttering challenge, Burbanmom's Giving Challenge and Crunchy Chicken's latest Diva Cup Challenge. None of which I'm participating in, because I'm a loooooser. Though I think I can get a free pass on that last one.

Speaking of Crunchy Chicken, she is singlehandedly pushing the limits of what can be accomplished through blogging. In addition to her steady flow of challenges, book clubs, and ideas, check out her truly inspiring work. She went from reading an article to setting up a charity to delivering goods to girls in Kenya within a matter of weeks!

Oh, and all this while her husband is suffering from incurable cancer. If anybody has earned the right to ask for a donation, it's her. But she's not just asking people to donate to the Multiple Myleoma Foundation - she's pledged to shave her head if she reaches her goal.

I can't top all that. But I have been roped into a cool new project. As one of my cohorts described it: "All I can say is that it involves Poultry, English Pub signs, Victory Gardens, Boobs and Beer - and that’s just what we’ve come up with so far." So stay tuned.



Friday, April 04, 2008

Paging Mike Rowe

Gather 'round, friends, 'cause I've got a story...

I'm just about to call the guy from Dirty Jobs to come to our house. I don't know if this day can get much dirtier, and it's not even dinner time yet...

I've documented before how my daughter is an Agent of Chaos. And let me tell you, she is miffed that I didn't acknowlegde Autism Awareness Day yesterday. Believe it or not, I wasn't aware. I guess I'm not the only one. I don't refer to or think of Amelia as "my autistic kid" in the same way I don't refer to or think of her and her brother as "the twins." They're just who they are, every day.

Anyway, I guess Amelia must have gotten wind of the big day yesterday, and is apparently upset that we didn't get her a present or something. Never mind the fact that she's never been officially diagnosed with autism. (Or anything more specific than "developmentally delayed," for that matter.) Or that she doesn't understand more than a handful of words. She was ticked off and decided to show it.

Her usual chaotic ways were not enough today. Oh sure, she still took all the cookbooks off the shelf to agressively flip the pages, in her quest to gradually make them unusable... despite being told "Those aren't your books!" for the twentieth time since breakfast, and being led to her very own collection of out-of-date encyclopedias, almanacs, dated hairstyling guides, trashy novels, and anything else that seems suitable for her destructive needs. And of course, she dropped and or spilled snacks that didn't meet her very high quality guidelines. And she naturally dumped folded laundry on the floor as she always does if you leave it for more than a moment.

No, this was a step beyond.

First she found a way to get her hands on a full container of soy sauce. Not those wimpy little jars you usually see either - this was a big, honkin' 1.25 quart jug of the stuff. Then, she found a way to get the cap off. And after that, she found a way to turn that combination into a joyous fountain of reddish-brown, briney, Asian goodness.

Her reward for this creative play was to get a bath. As is so often the case for her, gaint mess = bath. Did I ever tell you about the time she ahd her brother made flour angels on the kitchen floor? Probably not, since that was back in the pre-blog days. Allow me to illustrate:

Ok, so back to today. She's in the bathtub, squealing and splashing away. I come down and get out an old towel to sop up the mess. Then I mop up what's left. As long as I have the mop, I figure I'll mop up our 20+ year old cat's new favorite place to pee. (Hint: It's not in his litterbox. And don't leave your shoes by the front door if you come to visit.) And his favorite place to barf. Well, I take that back. He has a whole top-ten list of favorite places to barf.

Anyway, since Amelia's still happily occupied, and since Lori's still being sucked dry by the Incredible Growing Baby (almost 2 lbs gained in under 2 weeks), I thought I'd take the little guy for a bit to give Mom a much-needed break. I rock Baby O to sleep, eventually, while Lori tries to sneak in a nap.

He finally sacks out. Now it's time to go check on Amelia. It's never a good idea to leave her unattended in the bath tub for any length of time. No, there's no fear of drowning. She just tends to spill water on the floor. Like so much water that the glass light fixture on the ceiling below the bathroom once filled up with about a cup of water before I unscrewed it and got a free shower.

She also likes to throw her bath toys across the room. And if you don't give her any, she'll reach out of the tub to get them from the basket, so she can throw them anyway.

Oh, and she likes to poop in the bath.

Yes she does. And this isn't some cute little baby poo either. She's almost five, eats a disaster of a diet, and she can really drop a disgusting load.

So it was with a bit of trepidation that I walked up the stairs, not knowing what I might find.

A tell-tale smell made me wince. And hesitate for just a moment.

But as I rounded the corner, I was surprised to find no unsavory surprises in the tub. The bath mat was wet, and the toys were scattered everywhere, but not as bad as I feared.

I walked up to the tub to pull the drain plug out, feeling relieved. And as I stepped up to the tub, I felt an odd sensation on the bottom of my foot.

Did you ever walk in that thick kind of mud that just builds up on your shoes? With each step, more mud cakes on, and your feet get bigger and more unweildy?

Yeah, it was kind of like that. Stuck to the bottom of my foot was a giant clay-like, squishy, smelly clod of poo.

That's right. She crapped in the tub, found it offensive, and so picked it up and threw it on the floor.

Now I've stepped in a lot of poo: Horse poo, goat poo, donkey poo, dog poo, cat poo, pig poo, alpaca poo... but somehow Amelia poo is far grosser to me right now.

Especially in bare feet.

Amelia, Lori and the baby are all asleep right now. And e5 is at his grandparents' house.

And I am in the fetal position, in the darkest corner of the darkest closet, rocking slowly and humming happy melodies to myself as I type this.

Anybody know a good therapist?


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