Friday, October 10, 2008

California Vacation Summary

After writing a compelling title like that, I'm concerned that I can't possibly live up to it. I'll do my best.

Legoland vs. Disneyland

We borrowed my parents' car to drive to Legoland. Their car includes a Garmin GPS system they call Gertrude. It's basically like having someone read MapQuest instructions to you. "In one mile, turn right on Legoland Drive." The only problem is that she doesn't quite pronounce street names right. She told us to turn on "leGOland" drive, not "LEGoland" drive, which isn't a big deal, but "leGOland" sticks in your head. I kept asking the boys if they were having fun at leGOland and asking them which leGO toy they wanted to purchase. It caused confusion.

Legoland isn't as well-maintained as Disneyland, nor does it have the same weighty history. But Legoland does have a little water park. It was 100 degrees on the day we went, so the mini water park was a welcome relief. You can change into your swim suits and run around a big water structure. At Legoland, there are water slides and mounted water guns and spray fountains and huge buckets that fill up with water and then tip over, creating a huge loud splash every few minutes.

Legoland also isn't as crowded as Disneyland. The longest we stood in line at Legoland was ten minutes. Disneyland felt like it was one big line. I still prefer Disneyland. The music is more soothing.

Swimming

In her glass-half-empty moments, Wendy sometimes refers to ways in which we're not doing our jobs as parents. For one thing, our boys didn't know how to swim. Wendy wanted to keep putting them in swim lessons, but I thought swim lessons were a waste of time until the boys learned how to swim. This made no sense to Wendy, and I'll admit that it doesn't seem logical on the surface, but Wendy didn't take the boys to swim class -- I did. Max was so miserable that he refused to get in the water, despite my best threats and bribes.

Luke was game, but he spent most of the time shivering on the side of the pool. When it was his turn, he kicked his feet or whatever, but it wasn't doing any good. In the final lesson, the instructor -- a useless dope with an upturned nose -- took the kids for a spin around the pool in a boat. I guess she wanted to teach them how to fall out of a boat, only she didn't tell them that. As she turned the boat over, one terrified kid let go, but Luke hung on and got trapped under the boat. Little Miss Pigface then struggled to turn the boat over, and I debated whether to jump in and help Luke get out from under the boat. Luke finally came out terrified and bawling. Ugh.

Fortunately, both my parents and my sister Shari have pools, so the boys learned how to swim. Max was the first one to swim across the pool. Luke wasn't able to make it, so he got discouraged. I tried to buck him up by explaining that different children learn at different rates, etc., but it was all just words to him. He was sad. Then he figured out out how to jump off the side of the hot tub into the deep end and swim across the pool by himself. Then it was Max's turn to be sad. Both boys can dog paddle across the length of a backyard swimming pool and pick up rings on the bottom of the hot tub. Now it's time for swim lessons.

Lisa

One of the main reasons we went to California again this year was to spend time with Lisa and Hannah, who celebrated her 2nd birthday last week. Lisa's particular form of lymphoma appeared to be life threatening. Fortunately, she's responding really well to chemotherapy. My father and brother and I went over to Lisa's house to plant bushes that she'd bought for her already plush back yard, which she's transformed into a mini wonderland with a tiki hut. My Dad planted one bush, I planted five, and Mark planted none. Now you see what it was like growing up in our house. Sometimes I wonder how my family survives in California without me.

The Great Depression II?

While the family was on vacation, we lost a good chunk of our life savings. The college funds for the boys, our retirement accounts, and any extra money we squirreled away in mutual funds are nearly half gone. I keep thinking we've hit bottom and it's too late to sell, but obviously others disagree and keep selling off.

I know that Democrats and Republicans both encouraged the housing bubble to continue, and that Wall Street lobbyists donate heavily to legislatures of both parties. Given that Republicans are hell-bent on deregulating the financial industry and that the Bush administration was in power during this time, the objective part of me would put 2/3rds of the blame on Republicans. But deep down, I blame it all on George W. Bush. How come no one calls him the Disaster President? I'm starting. He's The Disaster President. Think about it. Bin Laden Determined to Attack in the United States. We'll Be Greeted in Iraq As Liberators. Brownie's Doing a Hell of a Job. The Underlying Strength of Our Economy Is Strong.

Is my venom comparable to that of the Clinton haters? Am I being as irrational? I doubt it. Clinton left the country in good shape, but even moderates were talking about "restoring dignity to the White House." Call me a partisan hack, but I'd rather have a president lying about blow jobs from interns than a president who runs the country so far into debt that we're financing botched wars with money from China, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil. We ran a surplus under Clinton for the last two years! Ugh.

Sarah Palin

If Obama wins this election, I'll look back at Sarah Palin with some fondness. If McCain can somehow pull it out, I will become a religious man again -- a deeply religious man -- and I will pray to every God for McCain's health. I will even get elk antlers like the cook in Deadwood and bow before a mounted animal. "Please, please, please, let McCain live." If that doesn't work, I can make a run for the border and pick fruit in Mexico.

Question: What's the rule with referring to a woman as "Ms." instead of "Mrs."? Specifically, I'm thinking of Sarah Palin. She took her husband's last name, so shouldn't she be "Mrs. Palin"? Is "Ms." used for professional women and "Mrs." for homemakers? Can a homemaker who took her husband's last name ask to be called "Ms."? If it's a matter of preference, does calling Sarah Palin "Ms." put off conservative voters?