Apr 29, 2006

The family that goofs together ...

A few of this weekend's goofs:

. . .

I reminded Janet to pick up Emmett at practice. She went to two different baseball fields, then came up to the house to see if Emmett was here, but he wasn't, so she went back to the first field to look again, then came back to the house, where the phone rang. It was Emmett.

"Where are you?" he said.

"Where are you?"

"At play practice!"

. . .

I dropped into Tractor Supply to get some grass seed. A staffer showed me seed for shady areas (which is what we need), but my eye landed on a bag that said "Easy Start, Low Maintenance," which is what *I* need, so I got that. I assumed it was also seed for shady areas, until I got home and saw that it was color-coded for eight hours of sun a day. The return round trip was nineteen minutes.

. . .

All of Team EEK! was invited to a party, but on the way, Ethan was reading the invitation and came to the part about bring folding chairs. I forgot about that, so we turned back to get them. After we arrived twenty minutes late, I forgot the chairs in the car and had to walk back to get them. After having a great time, we were about to pull out when Emmett remembered the chairs. Ethan jumped out to get them, raising Emmett's suspicions. "Bet you ten dollars that he comes back with another Pepsi from the cooler up there." He was right.

. . .

That bet reminded the guys of another bet from a time when they were swimming at Canoe Creek. Apparently, Ethan had bet Emmett that he could skip a rock over his head. Emmett took the bet and lost. The rock hit him on the cheek.

"Ooh, you didn't even throw up your hands?" I asked.


. . .

Team EEK!, Ya Goofs!

Apr 27, 2006

Failure to launch

Tonight, Emmett played his first Little League game ever. He authorized this play-by-play report:

"And here comes Number 13, jogging to the plate ... Lucky number 13, according to him ... The coach let all the guys choose their number, and this was Emmett's choice ... That says something about him ... We don't know what, but it definitely says ... something ...

"Anyway, did we mention that he's jogging? ... Good hustle ...

"The sturdy-looking fellow settles into the box ... Waits for the pitch ... He doesn't seem especially nervous, though this is a big moment for him ... His first Little League at-bat ...

"Here's the wind-up ... Emmett lets that one go by ... Good choice, because it was a ball ...

"Emmett gets ready again ... The coach might want to talk to him about keeping that bat back a little bit ... See, he moved it back just a bit before that swing, and ... Strike One.

"Emmett shakes it off ... Gets ready again ... The pitch ... Emmett swings again ...

"And CONTACT! Not earth-shattering contact, but contact! It falls short of the mound, edging a little toward first ... The pitcher and catcher both lunge for it ...

"And Emmett's not moving! ... He seems to be taken by surprise! ... Shocked that he hit the ball!

'Go, Emmett, go!' (Said your play-by-play announcer) (And others.)

"Now Emmett is moving ... But the catcher has the ball ... He throws to first ...

"And Emmett is out."

(End of play-by-play.)

Emmett confirmed later that he was indeed surprised that he put the bat on the ball, and he thought it was a foul.

It was a good start to a Little League career. No one is going to dwell on that little pause. (Except for Ethan ...)

But if you forget to run again, Number 13, we're gonna have to say:

Emmett, Ya Goof!

Here's a picture of ol' 13 in the dugout:

Apr 22, 2006

Beware of flying remotes

Emmett tossed me the remote just now.

No, that's not correct.

He tossed the remote in my direction. But Muffy caught it. Upside his head. Crack!

Muffy is our little dog.

Emmett didn't know he was next to me on the couch.

Come on, Emmett, get with the program! You know that Muffett is so old now that he's basically a furry pillow! He's always on the couch!

Ya Goof!

With a smile and with love, Dad

I hate it when he does that

The scene just now at YaGoof! headquarters:

Dad growls at Ethan and Emmett as they noisily scuffle.

DAD: Don't!
ETHAN: Don't what?
DAD: Settle down!
ETHAN: Got it, don't settle down.

Ethan, Ya Goof!

EMMETT: Wait, that should be—Dad, Ya Goof!

Work on those consonants, honey

Emmett helped Janet today at an event at Penn State Altoona. He reported a great spread of free food for volunteers, as well as overhearing something funny from a little girl. As she left, she waved to the Altoona Curve mascots, sweetly bidding them farewell, but what she said was: "Die, Steamer! Die, Diesel Dawg!"

We can't say "Ya Goof!" to a cute little girl! We'll just say: "Awwwwwwww!"

Stop me before I review again

I promised to explain why if you don't watch the TV shows American Inventor and 24, you deserve to hear: "Ya Goof!"

First, let me say that since this is a family-friendly blog, I can't encourage kids under 17 to watch 24, because they might find it disturbing. Some over 17 might find the same. It depends on how strong you like your action. Some might just find the show preposterous (including me, but I find that that only enhances the experience).

Secondly, after much drafting and re-drafting of my comments on 24, I find that I'm not much of a TV reviewer. I need to leave that to my fellow blogger Ray Eckenrode. When I try to write about 24, I sound like any other rabid fan, of whom I find growing numbers. I'd rather admit that than post something weak. Sorry. Let me leave it at this: Watch 24. If you're new, I'd start with the other seasons on DVD. It'll only take you 96 hours of viewing (minus time for commercials) to catch up.

As for American Inventor, watch it with the whole family. What an education in what it can take to create a successful product! I tank when it comes to trying to write about that show, too. I can't do it justice. It's simply a treasure. I say that after being involved with product development for many years in a lot of different ways. It's a trip in real life, and it's a trip to watch on TV (granted, TV with enhanced reality). The best I can do is recommend this excellent series of reviews and summaries. It's not too late to start viewing! There's lots of competition left!

Sorry for the weak entry. This makes me say something that I've said before and I know I'll say again: Keith, Ya Goof!

Apr 20, 2006


To all who DON'T watch the television shows 24 and American Inventor, I say: YaGoof!

It's too late for me to expand on why. But I will. Promise.

Apr 18, 2006

I (now) brake for (suspected) moose

Another story from Easter vacation in Vermont ...

The area where I grew up is moose country: mountains, woods and bogs. "Moose Crossing" signs are common. However, living in Vermont for 23 years, I saw moose only a handful of times. They were memorable times, though.

One time, I was riding home with my Uncle Earl late at night past Belvidere Bog. He suddenly braked the car and calmly said, "There's the moose." And there it was, caught in the headlights, with legs long enough to step over the car—or so it seemed. It crossed the road in a flash, but without hurry.

Another time, word got around that a moose was simply hanging around this one particular field and not leaving. The whole town went out to see it. On second thought, that would only have been a couple hundred people. A number of towns went out. And indeed, the moose did seem as content as a cow to simply stand in the field as car after car pulled up and people jumped out. Parents hung onto their kids to keep them from getting too close. My father pointed out Bill Burt in the crowd, a wiry World War II veteran not fazed by much. "I bet Bill would walk right up to it if all these people weren't here. He just doesn't want to show off."

There's just something magical about a moose on the loose.

So I do understand why my wife desperately hopes to see a moose in a field every time we go to Vermont. She's never had the pleasure, through dozens of trips to Vermont during our marriage. I admire her enthusiasm, I just get tired of trips out of our way on the slim chance of seeing a moose.

This last trip, she and I spent a rare evening alone, eating at a restaurant and then driving up Mount Mansfield, which has Stowe ski resorts on one side and Smugglers' Notch Resort on the other, connected by Smugglers' Notch itself, a winding pass that is closed by snow through the ski season. I doubted that the Notch was open yet, but we drove up toward it anyway. As we climbed, we came upon a couple cars pulled over, with people standing peering into the woods for no apparent reason.

"I bet they saw a moose!" Janet said.

I rolled my eyes. See above about the people looking into the woods for no apparent reason. There just wasn't a moose to be seen. I was driving, but Janet could look out the window all she wanted.

"If you don't see a moose, why do you think they see a moose?" I said, trying to make her shiver before my vast intellect.

"Well ..." She didn't have an answer. Just hope.

I drove on for about a quarter of a mile more, and indeed the Notch was closed, so we turned around.

One of the cars was still pulled over. As we passed it again, Janet said, "Wait! Stop! Look!"

Back in the woods a short distance, were ...

"Horses?" I said.

"Moose!" Janet said. "I told youl!"

I pulled over.

"They look like horses," I muttered. They were a ways into the woods, so we couldn't see them very well. No big horns—but then moose don't have their big antlers in the spring; the antlers shed and regrow each year and get larger through the summer.

"Don't let your door make a sound and scare them off," Janet hissed. I used both hands to ease my door shut, and I didn't latch it, I just slid one hand out and let it sort of rest unclosed in its frame.

We gingerly crossed the road, where a man was kneeling to see better through the branches. He smiled at us. His teenage daughter had edged into the brush down over the bank.

"Horses?" I whispered, sort of hopefully, because otherwise my driving onward earlier had likely blown Janet's best chance ever of seeing a moose.

"Moose!" he said with a broad smile. He gestured to the tracks beside the road, which were split. Not horse tracks. "They were right up here beside the road for a while!"

If the situation were reversed, and it was I who was crazy to see a moose, and Janet blew my chance—well, things would have gotten ugly. But thank goodness my wife is a far better person than her husband. She didn't add anything to that one reflexive "I told you!" earlier. She simply took on a kind of I've-finally-seen-a-moose glow.

When we got back to my parents' house, right away she told them, "We saw two moose!"

It wasn't much of a moose sighting. I now have a guilty wish that I could deliver Janet a better one. I hope it's not her last chance. I made a point of driving her past moose bogs at dusk (prime viewing time) during our two remaining days in Vermont. But no sightings. Keith, Ya Goof!

Apr 17, 2006

A neck-cellent ending

Here's a goof that happened during our Easter trip to visit my family in Vermont.

A bunch of us were sitting around yakking about the past. I happened to think of something that we used to do as kids at our grandparents' house, when the whole clan gathered: we would leg wrestle. Two wrestlers lie on their backs, hip to hip, facing opposite directions. On the count of one, each swings his inside leg up, then down. Same on the count of two. On the count of three, the wrestlers lock inside legs and try to flip each other. My long-legged older cousin Valerie always used to flip me.

I called in Ethan and Emmett, and the whole group of us set about teaching them how to do it. Bad idea. Ethan made a strong move, and Emmett, who had no idea what to expect, rolled straight backward and cried out in serious pain. There was some swelling at the base of his neck. Nothing to fool around with, so we took him to the emergency room (at the hospital where I was born, I might add).

Thankfully, he was fine. Not to diminish our concern for him, but I must say: Dad, Ya Goof!

P.S. This goof introduced us to something new. The hospital examining room had this cool kids' wall puzzle unit that had pieces behind clear plastic that you move around with magnetic "handles." First time we'd seen something like that. I spent a long time trying to arrange the pieces to spell Emmett's nickname, "Tug," and Tug himself finished it up:

Apr 9, 2006

These two goofs walk into a restaurant and ...

Emmett and I bonded for sixteen hours yesterday, on a bus trip to Baltimore with a church group. We visited the Mother Church of the United Methodist Church (fantastic acoustics) and the National Aquarium, then had a couple free hours until we had to meet the bus. We used the time to make a YaGoof! field trip to Camden Yards to see the statue of Babe Ruth that famously has him holding a mitt for a right-handed player, though he was left handed.

HOWEVER, I read in Wikipedia that this isn't a goof, because the statue shows Ruth during his days at St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, when Ruth had no lefty glove, according to his autobiography. Ha!

BUT we still mangaged to snag a goof from the walk, because our plan for a special chowdown at the ESPN Zone near the Aquarium fell apart. We waited about 20 minutes for a table, then decided we were running out of time. So we handed in our buzzer and ended up getting something from ... well, here's your clue:

Ah, well. We'll eat fancy another time. Poor time management. Dad, Ya Goof!

Apr 6, 2006

Ya backpack rat!

Today is a big day for Emmett. He's on a team of fifth and sixth graders traveling to a reading competition. Since January, they've had a list of 40 books to read, and today they compete with teams from other schools in answering questions about the books' content. Emmett has made Janet and me extremely proud by reading 31 of the books. The team will be back on the bus soon, and we'll hear all about how it went.

Emmett's been counting down the hours to the competition. This morning, he was up early, and he and I went over what he needed: jacket, water, dinner money. He put the money in his backpack. Since he'd have the pack with him on a long bus ride, I asked if there was anything he could take out.

"No, I just cleaned it last week."

"Oh? What's this?" I pulled out a clump of papers and books.

"I need this and this and this." He plucked out a few books and papers.

"But not the rest?"

"Well ... I guess not."

Here's a picture of what he didn't need:

All together—two-and-a-half pounds of paper. Emmett, Ya Goof!

Apr 2, 2006

Little Chicken

I was probably about eight years old when this happened. It was a big misunderstanding that required unique ingredients: my anxious imagination; a Protesant father who never failed to take us all to church on Sunday; and a Catholic mother who sometimes gave the family a night off from Saturday evening mass.

One Saturday afternoon after a busy day, I was unusually tired, and I stretched out on my bed and fell asleep. My sleep couldn't have been more sound. I was still dressed in my Saturday clothes upon waking, but I was certain that I had slept all night. That could only be Sunday morning sunshine streaming in my window (of course I didn't note that it was coming from the west). My family must have seen how exhausted I was, and they just let me snooze.

I went downstairs to a breakfast of ... hamburgers and homemade french fries? On Sunday morning? And no one was dressed in church clothes?

"We're not going to church?" I asked. I meant Sunday church, but we also called mass "church."

"No, Mom's too tired."

I nibbled at my impossible breakfast burger. Mom's being tired simply wasn't a reason to miss Sunday church. Dad would just take the rest of us. But everyone was buying this? Who were these people?

It was like the Twilight Zone.

After eating, I made my way to the front porch to ponder everything. And who did I see sailing by in her car—and not going toward church—but my cousin Fern! Who also never missed church.

I jumped up out of my chair and just ran, filled with alarm. I ran to the top of the big hill behind our house. That's when I noticed all the light draining from the sky.

Obviously, the world was coming to an end because we were skipping church.

I numbly walked back inside the house as darkness fell. After all, you want to spend your last hours with your loved ones. Not that they seemed to notice that life was drawing to a close. We watched some comedies on TV. They laughed, while I simply watched the sky grow. By 9:30 a.m., time for church, it was like India ink.

Everyone went to bed., including me. I lay there a while with my eyes as wide as tennis balls. No good. Dark or not, I couldn't go to sleep at 10:00 on a Sunday morning.

I snuck back downstairs and watched TV. A cop show where lots of bad stuff happened. I never know there was TV like that on a Sunday morning. Oh, wait, maybe today was just different. Of course—by now Satan had taken over the airwaves.

The show ended and—whoa—the picture condensed into a tiny prick of light (the way TV did back then at the end of a broadcast day). That was enough to drive me back upstairs. But on my way to my bed, I crept over to my brother's bed.

"Michael—why is it so dark?!"

"Because it's the middle of the night, Ya Goof!"

Okay, that's what he would have said if we used the phrase "Ya Goof!" back then.

Suddenly, all the pieces fell into place. It was Saturday night, not Sunday morning! I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge after he got his life back! I was not the same boy I had been that afternoon!

Now I can look back on that scared and confused little boy and affectionately say: Keith, Ya Goof!

Apr 1, 2006

I'm sorry I didn't remember brushing you off

Janet and I were at a YaGoof! party tonight. Okay, that's how I thought of it. There were about fifteen of us there. Without knowing anything about the YaGoof! blog, the hostess invited everyone to tell a story about, yes, goofing up. There were hilarious tales—just the kind that I hope can fill YaGoof! every day. I'll try to get permission to share some of them.

One story that I can share is the one that Janet told (I have her permission). It was from a time very shortly after we met. She was disappointed that I didn't remember it until after much prompting—and so am I, because it was special.

At the time, she was a district manager for Waldenbooks. She worked out of Utica, New York, but she lived in East Freedom, Pennsylvania, and frequently flew back and forth. Her own car was at the Pittsburgh airport, and she was using a rental car in Utica. She was also responsible for the store in Burlington, Vermont, where I worked, so when she flew in, she had a second rental car.

One night after closing the store with her help, I walked her to her car carrying a box of her stuff. Or at least I tried to. She couldn't find the car in the big mall parking lot. Heavy snow had been falling, and she couldn't remember what it looked like, anyway. Remember, it was her second rental car.

She had a rental slip with the license plate number, and we went around brushing snow aside so we could read various plates. Apparently, I kept saying that we should get help from mall security. That's one of the details I don't remember, but alas, it does sounds like me to be such a stick-in-the-mud ... er, snow.

Janet is also crystal clear about the fact that I let her plod through snow in a business suit and heels, while I wore my warm coat and cap with ear flaps. Okay, I kinda remember the suit and heels, but the hat? Sounds like a remnant from the (second) Bob Newhart show.

Anyway, we finally found the car, and Janet tells me that I did show a little bit of gallantry by brushing the snow off of her, including her feet, before helping her in the car and then brushing it off.

Even though it was Janet that lost her car back then, I'm the one who somehow lost a fine memory, so I earn the closing shout: Keith, Ya Goof!