Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thanks for the Laundry Tip, Mom!

One of the blessings of living in Thailand was that our housekeeper did our laundry.  She'd wash it, fold it, and deliver it to our rooms.  Yeah, it's pretty tough when all you're responsible for is putting the stuff into the correct drawer.  Well, I did insist on ironing my own shirts, but that's mainly because I find the whole thing weirdly therapeutic.  Plus it gives me something to do while I watch TV.

So now that we're back in the United States and housekeeper-less, it's back to the good old days of doing our own laundry.  Goodness gracious, we go through a ton of laundry.  Thank goodness for a neighbor who loaned us a television so we can watch the US Open while we fold the piles and piles of clean clothes.

A month ago while we were visiting my family in Utah, my dear mother clued me in to a fantastic laundry tip she learned while she and my father were missionaries in Mongolia.  I was getting ready to wash my clothes and asked her if she had any Fels Naptha soap so I could scrub my collars.  I have been scrubbing my collars with Fels Naptha as long as I can remember, because that's what my mom taught me.  In Thailand I taught the housekeeper to scrub my collars--between the hot and humid weather, the pollution, and all the construction, ring-around-the-collar was a constant.  It could be so bad that I refused to wear the new shirts I had made right before we left until after we left Thailand.

Well, my dearest mother calmly informed me that she no longer scrubs collars with Fels Naptha.  While in Mongolia somebody told her the trick was to put the white clothes into the washer, let the tub fill up and agitate for about a minute, then stop the machine.  Now here's the kicker--you let the clothes soak.  For at least one hour, preferably longer.  Like overnight.

Naturally, this intrigued me.  I do not enjoy scrubbing my collars.  I have never liked doing it, but I did it because I thought it was necessary.  So naturally I was ready to try Mom's Mongolian Method (Triple-M?) and see what happened.

If at this point you expect me to say that the experiment was an abject and utter failure, well, I hate to disappoint you.  Of course it works like a charm!  I won't say that I'll never scrub another collar again, but I'm willing to be so bold as to say that regular collar-scrubbing has gone the way of my once-bleached bangs--an historical sidenote that we'll likely just leave in the past, until we need to dust it off in some form of a morality tale for our kids and grandkids.

On that happy note, good-bye August!

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's Good to Have Goals...

...but what if they're unrealistic?  For example, earlier today I was thinking that it would be a good goal to post on my blog once a week.  You know, kind of like I try and write in my journal every Sunday, I could make it a plan to whip up something snazzy for my blog every Monday night, after the kids are in bed.

But then I realized that would require discipline, planning, and perhaps even actual thinking.  And that just won't do, not on a regular basis.

Come to think of it, my diet and exercise goals seem to be running into those same challenges.  Weird.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Random Musings

Watching Brazil-Mexico play in the Under-20 World Cup semifinal match and I've got all sorts of things running through my head.  Many thanks to my good friend Lance for inspiring me to post completely non sequitur thoughts.  I make no promises that I'll reach 100 entries, but it's good to have goals.

1. Muchas gracias Galavision por la difusión de la Copa Mundial.
2. Letting my child "test" my Cherry Coke when she should be trying to go to sleep is probably counterproductive.
3. Mexico's number 10 totally left his leg down on purpose and should've been given a yellow card.
4. Why do the TVs in this hotel automatically revert to the Home Shopping channel every time they are turned off and then on again?
5. These Mexican and Brazilian footballers are fast.
6. I was faster when I was under 20, but I was never this fast.
7. Found upon delivery today that the moving company "misplaced" two of our air freight boxes.  They said the mix-up happened in Thailand.
8. I really hope they find those two boxes like they promised, because that's where our bedsheets and blankets are.
9. In the boxes they did deliver today was my scale/body-fat monitor.
10. I have mixed feelings about this particular piece of equipment.
11. The bad news--a month of living out of suitcases and eating out has taken a horrible toll.
12. The good news--I think I can only improve from my current form.
13. Said form sadly resembles a pear more and more each passing week.
14. I really, really need to start running regularly.
15. Forget the kid laying off the Cherry Coke.  I need to lay off the Cherry Coke.
16. I think I should feel guilty that I haven't read much news about Thailand since I left Bangkok a month ago.
17. My nascent guilt is assuaged by the fact that when I have looked at the news about Thailand, it has pretty much been exactly what I expected it would be.
18. Is it just me, or do Spanish football commentators speak really fast?
19. What's the deal with those ugly block numbers on the Brazilian jerseys?
20. The number 8 player looks like he's got a giant "i" on the front and back of his uniform.
21. Why does my three year-old daughter insist on sleeping just left of center on a queen-sized bed when it's just the two of us on the bed?
22. Yes, that means she's encroaching on my part of the bed.
23. I shouldn't complain too much, because I do love it when she snuggles up to me.
24. I don't like it, however, when she kicks me in the middle of the night.
25. I don't habla any Espanol, but I'm pretty sure the commentators just said that the referee for tonight's game is addressing both teams in English.
26. I'm sure that's working out swimmingly for everyone.
27. Oh, my daughter went to the bathroom--I should try and reclaim some mattress-space.
28. Please don't tell my wife, but part of me actually doesn't want to move out of this hotel until after Saturday evening.
29. Why Saturday? The U20 World Cup final is Saturday night. And we don't have a TV at our house yet.
30. Our televisions are somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, I think.
31. I really hope our household effects are over the ocean, not in it.
32. Brazil's keeper looks like he's been in a cage fight, not a soccer match.
33. Exactly what is in that magic spray that football physios use?
34. Am I being a pretentious git by continuing to refer to soccer as "football?"
35. My excuse is that's what it's called in Thai.
36. For those who have not been paying attention for the last two years, my family and I spent a little bit of time in Thailand.
37. And for the record, I spoke a little bit of Thai during those two years.
38. With the guys I played football with every week, among others.
39. I hope Mali and Anne are having fun at girl's camp.
40. I've seen their so-called "camp" and it's much more civilized than any camp I ever went to.
41. When I camp I really like to feel like I'm roughing it.
42. That said, I don't mind camps that have more modern restroom facilities and not just a hole and a plank.
43. That blocky font on the Brazilian jerseys makes the player's names look almost like they are in Thai.
44. Or maybe I'm just missing seeing/reading/speaking Thai every day.
45. Apparently the referee has finally decided to watch the same match as the rest of us.
46. Once we move back into our house, I promise to drastically reduce my intake of carbonated beverages.
47. This time I really mean it.
48. Really.
49. I like the way this announcer says the name of Brazil's number 7--Dudu.
50. Say it with me--"doo-doo."
51. Now say it like you're mimicking a kazoo and you'll get the proper effect.
52. Speaking of doo doo, there's a small train at Fairfax Corners called "The DuDu Train."
53. My son thinks the name of that train is funny.
54. I love my son's appreciation of scatological humor.
55. Being five years old has its advantages--like getting away with obscene amounts of scatological humor.
56. Fairfax Corners also has a really cool fountain that my kids like to play in.
57. That fountain is much more fun to play in when it's hot outside.
58. My kids have not told me that it's too hot outside since we left Thailand.
59. We all got a huge laugh out of the teenage girls at Fairfax Corners getting repeatedly sprayed directly on their backsides by the fountain.
60. I'm not entirely convinced that those girls didn't know exactly what they were doing.
61. After 85 minutes of Mexico looking more threatening as a team, Brazil has scored twice and the wheels appear to be coming off the Mexico bus.
62. The kid has realized she has a lot more mattress space on which to spread out.
63. I'm sure that in 15 minutes or less she'll be right up next to me again.
64. And I am totally okay with that.
65. After two completely cynical fouls (one per half) Mexico's number 10 is lucky to still be on the pitch, let alone still not in the referees little black book.
66. Not to besmirch the Mexican national teams, but it seems to me that whenever they get behind in a match, they get really chippy.
67. I love the fact that Rafael Marquez often turns into such an emotional midget when he plays against the United States and gets himself sent off.
68. The soccer match ended in time for me to see the end of a new episode of "Deadliest Warrior" on Spike TV.
69. I probably shouldn't admit this, but I've missed watching "Deadliest Warrior" and I love that they've added the guy who analyzes tactics and strategies.
70. Tonight's episode pits Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard against Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge.
71. I find this match-up more than slightly disturbing, yet engrossing.
72. Kudos to the hosts for saying that both of these men were psychologically imbalanced and their groups are not to be admired in any way.
73. Not that I'm rooting for the Khmer Rouge, but the fight is being staged in an urban environment that I feel favored Saddam's tactics and training.
74. I need to check and make sure that the US jerseys don't use the same block font as Brazil's.
75. Just checked--they don't.
76. I'm totally on board with Jurgen Klinsmann's decision on US jersey names and numbers.
77. As much as I've blogged about running, I really cannot explain in any language how much I enjoy soccer, just in case you haven't noticed.
78. I don't think I'm going to make it to 100 on this one.
79. As funny as Brendan Fraser can be, Pauly Shore is equally annoying.  Perhaps even more so.
80. ABC Family is not kidding with their tagline, "A new kind of family."
81. That line-up is nothing like my family.  Thank heaven for that.
82. I don't want to end this blog post on that note, but it's late and I'm getting tired.
83. Why was it that the entire time we were in Hawaii I had songs from "Lilo and Stitch" running through my head?
84. Okay, me and this wee one are going to tuck ourselves in an go to sleep.
85. Can anyone explain to me why the kids who rented our house put tape over the part of the tub that keeps it from overflowing?
86. Good night my friends, sleep well and keep the password a secret.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back in America--Initial Observations

Despite the title of this post, we didn't exactly just arrive in America.  We left Thailand almost a month ago, and after a brief few hours in Japan headed to Hawaii for a few days.  After that we flew to Utah to spend over a week with both my family and Mali's before driving across this beautiful country.  In the intervening month I made the following startling observation:

America is big.

Now the obvious logical conclusion is that I'm talking about the geographical breadth of this great country we call the United States.  While it is indeed true that it takes several days to traverse America by car, I am not referring to how wide this country is.  Perhaps what I should have said was:

Americans are big.

Granted, I just spent two years in Thailand, where the average person tends to be a wee bit shorter and more slim (petite?) than the average American.  After going to church with my parents, American women have big hair (that might just be a Utah thing, and Thai men definitely have bigger coifs than American men, in general).  Not only that, it seems that everything in America is big.  The houses are big, and they have big yards.  The cars are big--holy cow are the cars big!  Restaurants have big portions, and usually the checks for those restaurants are also fairly hefty.

I knew this would happen though.  I knew I would compare the United States with Thailand, and that I would miss Thailand.  Strangely enough, I miss driving on the left-hand side of the road (thankfully there have been zero mix-ups for me).  I miss outrageously delicious food for ridiculously inexpensive prices.  I miss going to the movies almost every week with my wife.  I miss being able to speak Thai every day.  I miss the wonderful friends we made in Thailand.

That said, I don't miss Bangkok traffic and crazy Thai drivers--more particularly I do not miss Thai motorcyclists.  I do rather enjoy the sense of order that comes with driving in America.  I don't miss the daily power outages (even if I wasn't always home when they happened) or the obscene amounts of insecticide used in the seemingly futile attempt to curb the mosquito population.

Last observation and another topic for another day--apparently while I was in Thailand, about half of America's adults got visible tattoos.