Thursday, June 30, 2011

On Your Permanent Record

15 clever quips

I have only one thing to say about this photo I took in my local supermarket:


Rose Marie Gallace, you are not the brightest bulb in the marquee but, dang – do you have nice penmanship.


Thank you, VeriFone.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Little Charity that Could

12 clever quips

SEATTLE – As a non-runner, my main job on charity race days is usually one of logistics. This is a polite way of saying I lug supplies and pick up trash. 

the things cure jm tentThis year, I would also set up the Cure JM tent in the finishing area of the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon. Hang banners, blow up balloons, lay out snacks and ready literature to hand to passersby. After, of course, I schlepped said stuff to said tent.

The tent serves as our foundation’s headquarters for the day. Our volunteers  gather here before heading off to their duties, be it handing out water or food to runners on the course or writing down racers’ bib numbers and times when they finally crossed the finished.

The tent would be where those runners braving the miles of Seattle hills on behalf of a child with juvenile myositis would meet up with that child, family and friends after their journey.

It would be where our JM children could hang out in the shade, play and just be kids while we adults did what we could to draw attention to their cause.

If only we knew where this tent was.

The race organizers had chosen cancer to be the “exclusive” disease to benefit from the day’s profits and publicity, so our little autoimmune disease was even farther below the radar than usual with the people in charge. No official I talked to at the staging area had any clue who we were or where we should go. In essence, without a tumor, we were personas non grata.

In desperation, I wandered the grounds until I found “Charity Village,” the section where groups like ours normally are placed. I headed to the tent of one of the international cancer mega-charities, which was festooned with its signature purple and green colors.

Unlike our mishmash of big-hearted volunteers, the folks working for this group are fundraising professionals. They register their cause as a major sponsor in thousands of races a year, recruiting hordes of runners and volunteers from around the world. If one of its runners raises a certain amount of money, the charity picks up their tab not only for the race entry fee, but often hotel and travel costs. About a year before Thing 1’s juvenile dermatomyositis diagnosis, My Love ran a half marathon in Alaska on behalf of this group. In exchange for her raising $3,000 for their cause, the charity picked up about $1,500 in her expenses, meaning only half the money she raised really went to the cancer cause.

If anyone would know whose cage to rattle about our tent, it would be these folks.

Sure enough, once I explained to one of the guys there that the name of my charity was the one plastered across the bright orange T-shirt I had on (“Cure JM. No, not Cure Jim. J. M. Juvenile Myositis. Yeah. It’s no cancer, but it keeps me busy.”), he hit a couple buttons on his phone and in a minute, I had my answer.

“Great, thank you so much,” I said. “By the way, how many runners to you have in the race?”

“About a hundred,” he said.

“Really? We have about a hundred, too,” I said while nodding.

Then I walked away, thinking to myself, “Wow – you folks are really slacking off.”

+ + +

The whole weekend was a huge success for Cure JM.

The foundation raised more than $180,000 with more more still coming in. Team Uncool hit its $20,000 goal (thanks to all of you who donated and for those of you who didn’t, our FirstGiving page is still open).

In addition to our 100 runners, we had more than 40 families – including one from Abu Dhabi -- attend the education conference we put on and more than than 40 medical professionals, including an Order of Canada winner (that’s the Canuck version of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom), come to the daylong medical forum we held at Seattle Children’s Hospital to help doctors and health care personnel learn more about diagnosing and treating juvenile myositis.

Here are some photos taken by me and some of our great Cure JM participants from the weekend. Enjoy. And again, thank you.

team cure jm seattleJust part of Team Cure JM at the race.

cure jm chairmanCure JM Chairman My Love lectures us. Yeah, don’t look surprised.

me-and-my-loveMy Love and I, post-race, mid-beer.

legOne of our runners listed some of our Cure JM kids on her legs.

armAnd arms.

bananasBanana, anyone?

me-and-the-girlMe and our cause.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Graduate

8 clever quips

She hastens down the aisle to Vivaldi. Joins in the chorus of voices singing In My Life and Lean on Me, her eyes and head swiveling with impatience.

Her name is called. She stands and I resist yelling her name to show her how proud I am in front of the hundreds of others there because it will only embarrass her at the moment and me in the reassessment.

She’s not the star pupil, not by grace of her report card or test scores or attitude or ambition, but she’s as bright and luminescent as they come to me even when she greets my “Morning, Sunshine!” with a grunt or answers an inquiry about how something went with her default adjective: “good.”

She is the third to last student to leave the elementary school stage, the ironic end for one always in a hurry to finish every assignment every given to her.leave-stageShe refuses to pause and pose whenever I get near. In nearly every photo, she’s a blur.

Much like these six years gone by.

Congratulations, Thing 1. Please, take your time.


+ + +

As of this morning, our family needs less than $650 to meet our fundraising goal of $20,000 to help The Cure JM Foundation in its mission to find better treatments and a cure for juvenile myositis, the potentially devastating autoimmune disease Thing 1 continues to battle. Please be consider giving a small charitable, tax-free donation to help our daughter’s cause.

Visit our FirstGiving fundraising page to donate online by credit card or to find instructions on how to donate by mail-in check.

Thank you, all.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Love’s Just Not the SAHM

19 clever quips

job application formAs if the Uncool world were not upside down enough, what with the Autoimmune Wonder Twins and all …

My Love is “between jobs.”

Since March.



Holy guacamole, am I going to need to get a real job again? I’m not fit for 9-to-5 any more. I bruise! I’m A BLEEDER!


Actually, it’s not that bad. We parental Uncools are a fiscally responsible lot (ahem, coughcough-CHEAP-cough). We are in good standing thanks to our savings, investments and a wicked global demand for my plasma and blood platelets. (Bet My Love is regretting making me snip The Boys now. Then we’d have another $37.83 a whack, I mean, week.)

We are also covered as far as Thing 1’s medical expenses go. Mortgage, no problem. Cars, paid for. Yep, the only thing at risk of being lost around here is someone’s sanity.

Surprise! It ain’t mine.

My Love loves working. LOVES it. However, when the time came for her to make a radical career change, she vowed to do the same with her work-life balance.

“I’ve been working since I was 14, detasseling corn in the arid fields of Nebraska during the day and slaving at a 7-Eleven at night. I’m taking the summer off,” she declared.

“My Love, I give you two weeks before you are willing to clean the grease traps at Burger Sling for minimum wage just to get away from this domestic life.”

“Pfft,” she scoffed in a “there, there, my little at-home daddy” tone.

“I know you, ex-executive goddess. You worked through maternity leave. Both of them. I’d come home and you’d be holding a baby to your boob with one hand, banging out PowerPoint presentations with the other. You are not cut out for laundry and chauffeuring children to playdates. That’s a man’s job.”

Of course, I was wrong.

It took not two weeks, but two months for her crack.

She spent most of her first week of freedom cashing in some of the zillion airline miles she had accumulated from her old job to go skiing with friends in Colorado. Then she took a weekend jaunt to Vermont with some her ex-coworkers. When not gallivanting about, she spent her mornings and afternoons meeting people for meals or coffee or finally using the half dozen spa treatment certificates I had gotten her as presents over the years.

“Honey,” I said one day, “can you take Thing 2 to his baseball game today? I’ve got to coach Thing 1 at soccer practice.”

“Can’t. Having tapas with Pippa Middleton.”

“How about picking them up from school on Thursday? I’ve got a dentist appointment that might run late.”

“Nada,” My Love said. “I’m meeting David and Victoria at the beach.”

“Did I say ‘dentist’? I meant ‘tumor removal surgery’.”

“Still can’t. Sand. Becks. Posh.”

“You know, your being home hasn’t help me out one bit. And when did you start hanging out with English celebrities?”

“I don’t want to disrupt your routine, dear,” she said. “I know how important that is to you.”

My Love soon hit the reality I quickly encountered early in my at-home dadness. It’s fun to play while everyone else is at work, but it quickly becomes hard to find anyone to play with during that time. (I know what your dirty little minds are thinking. She could play with me. But remember, folks, My Love wanted to preserve my routine. That means no weekday extracurriculars with the testiculars.)

In a fit of desperation, My Love made the mistake of all rookie at-hommies. She volunteered to chaperone on a school trip -- escorting Thing 1 and her fellow fifth graders on a trip to Ellis Island to learn about immigration.

Let’s put this in context, shall we:

  • Ninety 10- and 11-year-olds.
  • Bus trip from Connecticut to New Jersey.
  • During both rush hours. On a Friday.
  • Plus a ferry ride.
  • Weather forecast: frequent rain storms.

Eight weeks out of corporate life and My Love forgot all she knew about doing a pre-project cost-benefit analysis.

Let me sum up her experience by quoting the text message she sent me that afternoon:

“Today is the first day
I wish I was at work.”

Welcome back, My Love. Now, let’s take a look at that resume of yours.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

“They talk of my drinking but never my thirst.”

4 clever quips

st. pauli girl beer wench Looking for a last-minute Father's Day gift for a dad who has an iPhone4 and a thirst for life?


Want to watch me drink a lot of beer while attempting to give a coherent product review?

Still no?

Well, maybe you want to see what My Love looks like dressed like as a St. Pauli Girl beer wench?

Ah – that’s it! Then have I got a video for you.

It has music! Comedy! Graphics! Me and a lot of beer.

Click the link at the end of this sentence to watch the special video I made for called “When Technology and Alcohol Collide.”

# # #


If you have yet to give to the Cure JM Foundation’s search to find a cure to Thing 1’s juvenile dermatomyositis, then now is the time.


Because a friend has come forward with an offer to match every dollar our family raises between now and race day (June 25), up to a total of $3,000.

No one knows what dollar will find the cure. Let’s hope it is yours.

What are you waiting for? Give to Cure JM now!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Go Back to Go Forward

12 clever quips

Thing 2’s Little League team started the season 0-8 this spring and the only bright side to that is that I’m not to blame.

You can look it up. My name is nowhere on the official league coaching roster.

I put in for the job but, as seems to be the case every year with our Little League, the folks on charge passed on me. They obviously aren’t aware of my work in the dreaded local youth soccer league where I have proven my obvious talents for coaching youngsters, a deep respect for authority and, most importantly, my patience to tolerate the little nosepickers week after week.

Instead I’m one of those dads. You know, the fun and helpful ones trying to relive their childhoods. I show up at practice in my old softball cleats, wad of top-shelf Bazooka in my cheek and a load of ultracheap Dubble Bubble in my pockets for the kids. I pitch batting practice, shag flies and try to impart wisdom about the finer points of the game like everyone lining up in parallel lines to play catch so an errant throws doesn’t clock one of your teammates in the back of the head.

I also try passing on the wisdom learned from my many years of playing ball. However, since I spent most of my time in high school warming up pitchers in the bullpen, I’m pretty much out of material once I explain the importance of a proper fitting protective cup.

cal and billy ripkenI did prepare just in case I made a leap to the bigs this season. Over the winter, I bought a few instructional videos in which Hall of Fame infielder Cal Ripken Jr. and his less talented but far more entertaining goofy little brother Billy pass on “The Ripken Way” of playing the game. It’s good stuff. They explaining basic skills and drills, breaking everything into digestible nuggets and what kid doesn’t love nuggets?

One principle they teach in hitting is the need for the batter to shift his weight get more power into his swing. The best way to do this is for the batter to bring his hands back a bit before swinging to gather his energy and strength, as they note, like a cobra that is about to strike recoils before attacking.

You have to “go back to go forward,” they each repeat several times.

I’ve been thinking about that mantra a lot lately, but it has nothing to do with baseball.

I spent this past Wednesday driving 70 minutes each way to the children’s hospital with Thing 1 asleep in the backseat most of the way. In between her snoring and my skipping back and forth across the tracks of a Stone Temple Pilots compilation CD I made 10 years ago, we visited our local specialist to update him on her juvenile myositis flare.

While the rash on her body looks better, Thing 1’s neck and trunk muscles have grown weaker in the past few weeks even with all the IV steroids and other meds coursing through her veins. She’s not falling over when sits on the couch, like she did at her worst at the tender age of 33 months but she’s not quite the spunky tween I knew only three months before.

The local doctor consulted with our specialist in Chicago and they agreed Thing 1 should go back on methotrexate, the foul yellow liquid I injected into her thigh every week for six years. It was the medicine that made Thing 1 puke simply by me telling her it was time for the injection.

“Go back to go forward,” Cal Ripken Jr. said into my left ear.

Through all that Thing 1 has gone through since this relapse two months ago, the news of weekly injections was the first to bring on a full-fledged meltdown.

“No no no no,” she cried, bawling into a pillow on the couch. “I don’t want shots. No no no no no. Don’t make me get shots again.”

“It’s only for a little while, sweetie, it’s to make you better so we can get you off all these other medications.”

“No no no no,” she wept, refusing to pull her face out of the cushion. “No more shots, Daddy.”

Thing 2, like any little brother, is normally his big sister’s mortal enemy. But there he sat on the lounger across the room, his lips curling and eyes welling. Then he ran into the kitchen and offered to his sister the Whoopie Pie dessert he had been hoarding.

He even offered to take some of the shots for her. I think he would if he could, at least until he saw the uncapped 27.5 gauge needle in my hand.

“Go back to go forward,” Billy Ripken said into my right ear.

I wish I could go back, even if it was just to two months ago. We wouldn’t need to go forward after that. We could just stop time and live forever in the moment.

# # #


If you haven’t donated to help Cure JM Foundation put an end to this disease that Thing 1 can’t seem to shake, then I have good news.

A special donor has come forward with an offer to match every dollar our family raises between now and race day (June 25), up to a total of $3,000.

So your $3,000 plus the donor’s $3,000 would put us just shy of the $20,000 fundraising goal our family has set for this year.

What are you waiting for? Give to Cure JM now! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

They Called the Band ‘Poison’ for a Reason

8 clever quips

bret michaels celebrity apprentice poison to your ear drums Remember your parents always complaining about how the music you listened to wasn’t as good as the stuff they did the boogaloo to when they were kids?

Well, guess what? Now you’re the parent. Time to learn from some of your youthful foolishness and make better decisions when sharing your tunes with the wee ones.

Here’s the start of what I wrote yesterday on on the subject …


I "get" the concept of Kidz Bop.

Take the pop hits of the day. Sift the bump-and-grind rhythms  through a Size 45 Lawrence Welk cone filter. Scrub in some Ajax to remove any hint of naughtiness from the lyrics ("brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack" in Tik Tok by skank dance queen Ke$ha becomes "brush my teeth and then I go and pack" ... yet it still leaves a scummy film on my skin after listening.) Finally, let a Holiday Inn warbler share the lead vocals with some truly average sounding children who fill in the chorus and harmonies with their screeches.

Bland as instant oatmeal but, geez, it beats that Satanic turdgrinder Raffi. His music has been known to wake coma patients just long enough so they can unplug themselves.

Now, the whole Hair Metal scene back in the '80s -- that I never understood …

Read more …


My Uncool Past