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Thankful for the Spare Tire, part 1

Thanksgiving morning I was driving our minivan out to pick up some breakfast from the only fast food restaurant open that morning (Bojangles). Turning onto a section of the main road in my hometown, I felt a strange rumble in the ride. At first I thought it was a bad section of the road, but after a few seconds, I realized it wasn’t the road.

I pulled off the street and into a gravel parking lot. I got out, walked around the van looking at the tires, and found the front passenger side completely flat. Well hell.

The morning was cold, and I was in just a long-sleeve t-shirt with no coat. This was not going to be fun. Changing a tire in the cold, in a gravel parking lot. Yeah, it had “blog whine” written all over it.

We had just driven into town the night before, so our travel junk was still scattered about the inside of the van. The trunk area was full of two scooters (with helmets), a bag of books that had spilt its contents, a folded stroller (Why do we still have a stroller in the van?), and various other family van crap that just gets in my way all the freakin’ time.

I started pulling the junk out of the back of the van and moving it to the middle area so I could get to the spare tire. After clearing the back, I discovered that the spare tire is not in the back. Well where the hell is it?

I pulled the owner’s manual out of the glove compartment. Reading the relevant section, I found that the spare tire is under the floor in the middle of the van — where I had just moved all the back junk to. Son of a bitch!

I moved all the junk back and cleared out the middle of the van to get to the spare tire under the floor. After moving all the first junk, I then had to move the box of toys, the sundry other scattered debris that boys leave in their wake, and the extra floor mats (’cause we have messy children).

I opened the floor section and unscrewed the bolts holding things in place, and at last tugged and pulled the spare tire out of the car. But there was no jack or lug wrench. What the hell?

I went back to the owner’s manual. According to the book, the tools are kept secured in a secret compartment in the trunk area — where I had just moved everything back to after moving them out of the way at first. Oh for fuck’s sake!

I moved everything out of the trunk again, and found the secret tool compartment. I pulled out the lug wrench, but then I couldn’t get out the jack. It was in its slot very tight; it wouldn’t even budge or wiggle. I checked the owner’s manual. I’m supposed to turn the jack screw to loosen it (contract it) in its position.

I stuck the back end of the lug wrench into the jack screw to turn it, but in its position, I could only turn it a quarter turn — not enough to loosen it. I tried turning the screw with my fingers, but it was too tight (or my hands were too cold). Damn this whole mess straight to hell!

I thought for a moment and figured, OK, I can call my mom to bring out her car. I can use her car’s jack to raise up this van and put on my spare tire.

To be continued . . .


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Washing the Falcon

From this recent raid in the junk of my dad’s attic, I brought home the box of Star Wars action figures, the Millennium Falcon, and my two of the Shogun Warriors. (Dragun and Mazinga are my two, Godzilla and Raydeen are my brother’s.) The Falcon and Warriors, I’m giving to my boys.

I had to clean them up before handing them over, though, as they were covered in a dirty dust from around 30 years of being stored open in an attic. I gave both boys a wet paper towel and let them clean up their respective Shogun Warriors.

When I first showed the boys their new toys, Calfgrit8 immediately jumped to picking which he wanted. Calfgrit4 had a sad face as he looked at the unpicked one, “I have to take the serious one,” he said with a pathetic frown.

Both Warriors have robotic faces, but Mazinga (the one CG8 initially picked) has a big metallic grin, and Dragun (the “serious” one) has a simple frown-like expression.

CG8 is always jumping first to claim a toy over CG4. This presumptuousness combined with CG4’s disappointed eyes made me say, “Wait, wait. I was going to give Mazinga to CG4 because he’s mostly blue (his favorite color), and Dragun to you, CG8, because he’s red (your favorite color).”

CG8 paused a moment, but he took the suggestion. CG4 burst into a grin as big as Mazinga’s and ran to grab up his new toy.

While the boys cleaned up their robots, I set about cleaning the Millennium Falcon. I tried just wiping it down with a wet paper towel, but good lord it was dirty. And all the nooks and crannies of the ship made wiping it only half effective. I eventually had to actually take it apart, removing all the screws and carefully removing the top.

I filled the bathtub with water and soap, and let the ship soak while we ate dinner. You can see in the picture how dirty it was compared to the white of the bathtub.

I did eventually get it mostly beige instead of dirty tan. I dried it off with a hairdryer, but I have to glue back some broken pieces — 30 years in a non-temperature-controlled attic made some of the smaller plastic pieces brittle.

Watching me wash the Falcon off like this prompted Calfgrit4 to want to wash the little spaceship brain from Mazinga’s head. He filled the bathroom sink with water and soap, and cleaned that little red spaceship to sparkling.

After dinner, the boys played with their new robots toys and seemed to be having a real ball. They’re very anxious to include the Falcon in their play, but they’ll have to wait till at least tonight for me to get it all back together.

* * *

This morning, Calfgrit4 came out of his bedroom carrying his new-old Shogun Warrior. It’s almost two-thirds his height. It stands on the floor next to his chair as he eats breakfast.


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Village People Trading Cards

In yesterday’s post, there was a picture of some KISS trading cards. Those weren’t the only band trading cards in the box — there were The Babies, Queen, and the Village People.

My brother and I both claim these cards belong to the other, but I honestly don’t remember these cards at all. I don’t remember either of us being even the slightest bit interested in the Village People. Although it would embarrass both of us for there to be any proof that these did in fact belong to one of us, really, we were around 12 and 8 years old in 1979 (the copyright date on these cards).

So I imagine whichever one of us these belonged to just thought the pictures of singing soldiers, cops, construction workers, Indians, and whatever the black leather dude is supposed to be were cool. I mean, it’s not like we had any idea about the background culture.

It’s kind of funny: we’ll both admit to being fans of long-haired idiots that wore makeup (Brogrit – Motley Crue), or pouting pretty boys that wore florescent blouses (me – Duran Duran), but we both get nervous at the thought of being pegged as a Village People fan. Even when our fandom days would have been our innocent and ignorant childhood days.


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Treasures In The Attic

My brother and I were in our hometown this weekend, and one of the things we got together to do was go through our dad’s attic to get rid of a bunch of junk. Our dad lives in a new house in a new neighborhood way out in the country with his [relatively] new wife. But he still owns and upkeeps his old house on the edge of town, though it is not lived in by anyone.

We found lots of old treasures in the boxes from the attic. I took pictures of the items (a mixture of mine and my brother’s) that most made me smile
— all this stuff is from the 70s and early 80s:


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