May 31, 2006

How to make ten minutes of work take two hours

Here's a posting from Emmett. Can you tell that school is winding down and some things are getting a little screwy?

There's this student in my class—we'll use the initial "H"—who hadn't finished some Language Arts homework due to being absent. Our teacher, Mr. Miller, sent H to the School Library to finish it, and for the rest of Language Arts there was no sign of H.

Then we had Social Studies class. Still no H.

We moved to another classroom, Miss Lesko's room, and toward the end of our Health lesson, H finally showed up.

"Where have you been?" Miss Lesko said.

"In the Library. Nobody came and got me."

"What were you doing in the Library?" Miss Lesko said.

"My homework. Mr. Miller sent me there two hours ago."

"It took you two hours to do your homework?!"

"No, I was done in ten minutes."

"So you've been sitting in the Library for an hour and fifty minutes?"

"Well ... yes."

"Why didn't you just come back to Mr. Miller's room?"

"I didn't want to get in trouble."

"In the Library, were you reading?"

"Well ... no."

H was just sitting there.

All I can say is: H, YaGoof!

P.S. This isn't the first time that this happened with H.

May 29, 2006

Oh, the Pastabilities!

There's a new restaurant in town: The Pastaria.

We'd heard it was a new concept. At our first visit, it felt like a new concept. There were some moments of confusion about how it all worked. Okay, many moments of confusion.

What makes this YaGoof! material? Well, if the concept doesn't work, some will say to the operators: Ya Goofs!

Our party (including all four of us in Team EEK!) was divided about our experience. One point of view was: This is cool! Now I kind of get how it works, and I'll be back! This place has a chance!

Another point of view was: This bites! Now I kind of get how it works, but if they don't fix X, Y and Z, I won't be back, and they're doomed!

Here is a transcript (sort of) of our visit:

Oops, no cars in the parking lot! They're not open?
Sure they're open! The lights are on!
That signs says "Aperto?" Does that mean "Open"?
Yeah, in Spanish.
No, "Open" in Spanish is "Abra."
Wouldn't "Aperto" be Italian? This is a pasta place.
I can see why they wouldn't want to put "A Bra" on the door.
Well, it would attract some people.
There's people in there. Let's go in.
This guy greeting us must be one of the owners. Friendly.
He's telling us how to order. That's nice.
On the other hand, is ordering so hard that you need to be trained?
So we choose one kind of pasta, two edibles and a gravy.
Gravy? Don't they mean "sauce"?
It's just they're way of saying "sauce." See, they also say "Pastabilities."
And we can choose a booth or a table in the family room or eat sitting on a couch.
Eat pasta on a couch? Isn't that asking for trouble?
Imagine having to clean pasta stains out of a couch.
And if you want meat, it's $2.00 more.
Of course I want meat! Everyone wants meat! Everyone will have to pay $2.00 more. It's a crime!
Everyone will have to pay $2.00 more! It's brilliant!
Okay, this ordering thing is taking some time to sink in. It's a good thing other people aren't in line behind us.
Oops, here come some more people. Think, think! What do I want?
I think I'll just take one of the pre-fabricated dishes.
Okay, these chef guys taking the orders need to pay more attention to what we say. We've had to repeat everything to them.
On the other hand, we could enunciate much better, too.
But they'll be other customers who don't even enunciate as well as we do.
What did you say? Stop mumbling.
Is the salad included? It is?
How about the bread? Is it included? It is?
Hmm. So these are not fast-food prices, but the dishes are plastic.
That's because you can either eat here or take the food to go. They can't give you food to go on china.
Hmpf. If I'm paying this much, I want real plates.
I asked for meatballs and got sausage.
I asked for pepperoni and didn't get any.
Oh, so you have a sign for Discover, but Discover isn't working yet? I'm glad I have a Visa, too.
Wait a minute, the gal already rung us up, and didn't charge for the pepperoni that had to be added afterward. Oh, well ...
So the drink case is after the cash register? That's not real smart.
Oh, will you stop talking about wanting real plates?
Well, I'm just saying ...
Look, you get a decent amount of food. We can just split an order the next time.
... I'm just saying that they're not going to give real plates, they can't charge those prices.
You gotta love any place that has a TV playing.
This table is kind of narrow. Where do we put the trays?
How about up here on the window sill?
But look, they stick out.
I need another knife ... fork ... spoon ...
Is there butter for the bread, Mr. Owner? Oh, it's already in the bread? Thanks!
Now that he's walked away, I still want butter.
If I don't like this sausage that I didn't ask for, I'll give it to you.
I already have some, and I like it, but I'm not going to have room for yours.
Hey, this food is good!
Just too expensive.
Two words: Entree-splitting.
And it's on plastic. It's just doesn't match the decor.
The decor is pretty nice, all right. These booth seats are really comfortable.
Maybe too comfortable. People will stay all day. Will they turn over customers like they need to?
People could come in and buy a dollar soda and sit on a couch and watch TV all day.
But they don't give refills.
I have to get a lid to take the rest of this to go. Let me out.
Geez, did you get enough take-out bags?
Well, the dispenser thing just gave me too many!
Hey, now I have pride in being a trained Pastaria customer! It's like a badge of honor!
That's not a good thing.
Shh! Keep your voice down. Mr. Owner is coming back around.
Hey, at least we don't have to tip.

So you get the idea of what our meal was like, and the division in our ranks. We strongly recommend going or not going to the Pastria and confidently predict that you will like it or not like it. Furthermore, please cut them slack or come down on them like a hammer.

May 24, 2006

The hacker attacks

Ethan has had a cough for several days, particularly in the morning and at night. It's a seasonal thing. On weekday mornings, it's usually just him and me at breakfast, and each day this week his refrain has been, "I'm still coughing."

I'm of the mindset to just let a cough play itself out, but the last time we let a medical complaint with Ethan go, we found out that he didn't just have a slow-healing sprain, he'd had a fracture for two weeks (fortunately it healed just fine.) So I said I would call the doctor.

The doctor called in two prescriptions, and I picked them up this afternoon. Fifty bucks! Even after my insurance! I think it's because we were paying the yearly deductible, so I guess it's a good thing that we haven't bought any medicine yet this year. On the other hand: Fifty bucks for a cough!

And then when I showed Ethan the medicine, he said that he had planned all along to just let the cough play out. So he was just talking to talk and not angling for me to do anything about it? I'm still processing that one.

Ethan, Ya Goof! Take your medicine!

Sometimes you can only shrub your shoulders

It began like so:

DAD: Ethan, get the hedge clippers and trim the grape vines sticking into the Elcove.

"The Elcove" is what we Eldreds call our backyard gazebo. Go ahead, roll your eyes at that name, but we like it. Last evening, we were grilling some food and eating out there.

Here's a picture of the vines I was talking about:

What Ethan heard me say was: Get the hedge clippers and blah blah blah blah blah. Dadspeak is only partially understandable to him.

Bustling around grilling and bossing, my next line to Ethan was: Bring out some plates.

ETHAN: But you said to clip the hedges.

DAD: Oh, yeah, carry on.

What I heard was: But you said to blah blah blah. With my tendency to pepper out directions, I've heard "But you said to ..." so many times that my mind simply inserts an earlier directive.

That was the crucial exchange, though we didn't realize it until later. Notice that Ethan, now holding the hedge clippers, assumed that he was to clip the hedges. Kind of a natural assumption, I must admit.

So without my noticing, he went to the front of the house and started clipping one of the hedges.

Fast forward. The food is ready.

DAD: (to Emmett) Go find Ethan.

What Emmett heard: Go find Ethan. A miracle! Perfect translation!

Except Emmett came back and said: I can't find him. I looked all over the house.

DAD: (calling out to the world at large) Ethan!

Ethan: (from the front of the house, where he was clipping a shrub) Coming.

Emmett: (after Ethan appeared) Where were you?

Ethan: Clipping the hedge like Dad told me to.

Dad: No, I said to ...

And you know the rest. Here's a picture of Ethan's work:

The thing is, these days our lives are so busy that I didn't dare leave one shrub trimmed and not the rest. Who knows when we'd actually have the time and weather to finish the job. So we ended up racing the setting sun to get the trimming done.

As Emmett declared after we sorted everything out: A double YaGoof!

May 23, 2006

YaGoof! goes to Washington, Part 2

(continued from previous entry)

3. On Day 2, we arrived early to try to get a good parking spot on the street (free!). I parked, soon realized I was in a tour bus parking spot, moved to another spot only to discover that it was marked 2-hour parking only, went back to the original spot thinking maybe it was okay after all, then thought better of it and discovered a pay parking lot that was fairly cheap and convenient—except by then the best spots within that lot were gone.

4. That evening, we drove around for about an hour looking for 201 K Street, the address of a coffehouse I had read about, and we (sort of) found that address multiple times, because Washington has both southeast and northeast Second Avenues, but we never did spot the coffeehouse. The next day, I found out it was actually at 201 F Street.

5. On Day 3, I was primed to get another early start, but Janet has this thing about sleeping in. I managed to make use of being awake by showering and dressing without waking her, then arranging the van, which was piled with those freebie books. It took me about an hour, and when I got back to the room at 7:30, I fully expected to see Janet dressed and ready to go. But no, she was still snoozing. I have to hand it to her for being ready to go within a half-hour, but then ...

6. ... as we rode down in the elevator to the parking garage, she looked in her big shoulder bag for this fanny pack that she'd been wearing at the show to carry money and other important stuff—but it wasn't there. She went back up the room while ...

7. ... I stewed in the van even as I had to back-and-fill over and over because someone had parked us in. As I sat and waited, I decided to paw through Janet's big shoulder bag, and the fanny pack was in there after all. I dangled it out the window when she finally came from the elevator.

8. One of the reasons I wanted to get an early start was to be sure to get to a service at a cool church that meets in movie theaters in Union Station. I proposed that we park near the Expo site (the Washington Convention Center) and take the subway to Union Station. Those things take time, and you have to start early to have a chance at a free street spot (I couldn't let go of the dream), but it was not to be, and again, we had to settle for a less-than-ideal spot in the fee (rhymes with free but it's THE OPPOSITE) parking lot.

9. Then we couldn't figure out how to work the subway farecard vending machine and had to ask for help from an attendant who moved slooooooooooowly.

10. Then we were still unsure which train to take and had just figured it out when a fast-moving gal excused herself past us and threw us off just enough that we fell back into discombobulation and missed the very train that she was rushing to catch.

11. So we had to wait or so minutes for the next train.

12. And when we got to Union Station ... we were right in time for the service. We had zero boring waiting-around time. So I had been pushing and fretting for nothing.

Doesn't all this just make you want to sign up for a YaGoof! Caribbean Cruise?!

May 22, 2006

YaGoof! goes to Washington

Haven't posted in a while! Sorry! Janet and I just got back from Book Expo America, the nation's biggest annual book trade show, held this year in Washington, DC. We went as library director (Janet), library volunteer (me), and as authors (both of us). Yes, a long weekend without kids! They were back home with Gram.

For this forum, the main thing is our goofs during the trip. This will take a number of installments. Here goes:

1. As we neared Washington DC, my navigator (Janet) was not functioning (i.e., asleep), and I got off course. When she stirred, I was just starting to realize that we were headed toward Missouri, or thereabouts. We ended up entering Washington through Arlington.

2. One of the great things about the show is FREE BOOKS! The show is for promotion, after all. Publishers hand out samples right and left. Janet totally went out of control. At one point, we walked different parts of the show, and when I found Janet again, she was dragging two full bags (companies also give out a lot of promotional totes at the show). I had two bags myself, and I took everything to the car. Let's just say that I couldn't exactly stride along smoothly. I weighed similarly-loaded bags later, and the contents came to 84 pounds. All together, we brought home 289 pounds of books and about another 40 in promotional literature.

(to be continued, gotta go!)

May 15, 2006

Guys, I have bad news ...

Our first international YaGoof! story. You can read a full article about it here, but a brief summary is:

A guy named Guy was waiting at a BBC television studio when another guy came in after a different guy named Guy, and the first guy (the wrong Guy) ended up on live TV being interviewed about internet downloads. The other guy (the right Guy) saw this happening, and thought: "Hey, they got the wrong guy!"

BBC, Ya Goofed!

May 14, 2006

H2O x 2 for you, Mom!

Happy Mother's Day! We both got you the same gift ... water in a plastic cup!?!

Guys! Ya Goofs!

Okay, okay, these are actually pictures of Emmett and Ethan as servers at "Luigi's Restaurant" in the basement of the Hollidaysburg Church of the Brethren on Saturday evening. Mom was delighted to eat in such a fancy place with such handsome waiters.

May 13, 2006

We'll get the hang of this TV thing yet

Last Thursday was voting day on American Inventor. If you haven't watched the show, learn about it here.

The consensus family choice was Janusz Liberkowski, inventor of the Anecia Survival Capsule, a promising advancement in child safety seats. So when the show was done, I dialed the number set aside for him, 1-866-U-PICK-04, and I instructed the boys to hit redial until we had used up our maximum of five votes per phone number. I went up to bed to read.

They came up shortly and said, "Dad, you dialed the number to vote for Matt Galant." (Matt Galant is the host of the show.)


"You dialed 1-866-U-PICK-05." They gleefully showed me this on the phone's digital display.

Dad, Ya—

Oh, but wait a second: Today, we were talking about the show, and I double-checked that the guys used all of our votes for Janusz.

"Yeah," said Ethan, "and then I called five times for Erik (another contestant)."

"Well, only the first five calls will count," I said. "There's a limit of five calls per number."

"Erik was number 1."

"Five calls per phone number."

"See?" Emmett said. "I told ya."

So I'm not the only one who can't follow Reality TV instructions.

Dad and Ethan, Ya Goofs!

May 8, 2006

Beware of (wish of could tell you)!

A killer goof story came my way today. I don't want to embarrass the person involved, but I must tell this story. It's just too rich. So I'll split the difference between protecting and telling like so:

(By the way, this is a CLEAN story.)

What happened was, a couple that we know through (can't tell you what) were (can't tell you what they were doing). And (this thing that they were doing) involves (doing this particular thing). But by mistake, the wife used (can't tell you what) instead of (also can't tell you)! And this boy who was there had just (can't tell you what he did) and then (can't tell you what else he did)!

Fortunately, the wife immediately realized that she had used the (stuff) instead of the (other stuff). They called after the boy, and he spit out the (something that you can spit out), and got some water to rinse out his mouth.

Man! That just goes to show that you have to be careful when you (see above), not to mention when you (also see above)!

And it also means that we have to say: (You know who you are), Ya Goof!

May 5, 2006

Ouch, frozen-dairy-treat-induced color blindness!

Okay, see if you can follow this:

Emmett's Little League team had a game tonight at 6:00. His team was 0-3 (two close losses and one not-so-close), and Coach Ottaway had emailed earlier today that he planned to take the team to Meadows afterward, win or lose. (Attention, non-local readers, Meadows is the place to get the world's best frozen custard and a cherished after-game tradition around here.) Coach O also noted that tonight's opponent was also winless, so the evening could get interesting.

The thing is, Emmett had to miss the game. He sang at a county-wide Song Fest tonight at Northern Bedford High School. Over 100 singers in grades 5 and 6. A very nice event.

It happened to finish around the same time as the game would have, so it looked like we could get to Meadows about the same time as Emmett's team. But when we arrived, no one from Emmett's team was there. We figured they had come and gone. We went ahead and ordered.

As we were licking and spooning, however, one of the players' mom's appeared, and I started to notice boys in uniform lining up at the "player window" at the side of the stand. Emmett came over and said that his team was just then arriving—after a win that went to an extra inning!

It made me smile to see Emmett in his dress pants and shiny black shoes—which he wears next to never—amid his teammates in uniform. When he drifted closer to Ethan and me, I said, "Guys, look how the lights from the stand make the uniforms look purple." (Emmett's team wears navy.)

"Da-ad!" they both said. "That is purple! That's the other team!"

Apparently, the other team (now 0-4) had also decided to go to Meadows win or lose ... and Emmett had been talking to some kids he knew from the other team ... and the players kind of all look alike to me ... and I need to say: Dad, Ya Goof!

May 4, 2006

The accidental Queen of Spin

This is not a review of the TV show American Inventor; I promised not to do any more reviews. But here's a quick story after tonight's viewing.

If you're not familiar with the show, it's on ABC, and it's basically American Idol with inventors. Same kind of process of funneling down wanna-bes. Hundreds bring their inventions; fifty are chosen; then twelve; and over the most recent four shows, a final four. Next week, the winner will be chosen by viewer calls.

The final finalist, chosen tonight, is Janusz Liberkowski (first name pronounced yah-NOOSH), a man who developed a car seat that spins rather than restraining like a traditional car seat. His work has a sad origin; it began after his infant daughter died in a car crash. He reports that every day, three children die in car accidents despite being in a car seat. He's determined to save lives with a seat that drastically reduces impact on children. Truly inspiring.

Like all twelve semi-finalists, he got a month and $50,000 to spend developing his prototype. An engineering firm brought the device a long way, and a crash test did indeed show potential to reduce impact on children and save lives . A high-speed camera showed that the test model spun its baby completely around but prevented injury.

The new prototype is large, and that's a strike against its feasibility. However, the inventor predicts that carmakers will respond to the demand for greater safety. Janet was impressed by the statement.

"It's revolutionary," she said.

"Revolutionary," Ethan repeated. "Get it?"

"What?" Janet said. "I don't get it."

She made one of the great puns of all time and didn't know it.

If you don't get it either, just think for a minute, and it will come to you, like it soon did for Janet.

Still, for being slow on the uptake, we have to say it: Janet, Ya Goof!

Start every day with a good bicker-fast

Due to getting up at different times for school, Ethan and Emmett usually don't eat breakfast together. Thank goodness. I prefer not to start the day with bickering. It's bad enough at the end of the day.

At the end of Every. Single. Day.

This morning, however, the boys did eat breakfast at the same time, because Emmett has an early orchestra practice. Here's what Emmett chose:

And how did that create friction? Not because Ethan wanted the same thing. Not because Ethan wanted the microwave at the same time. Not because Emmett took the last of the ketchup to accompany the eggs.

No, it was too much hole-poking.

You know how with frozen meals, you poke (or peel back) the plastic to let out steam? Well, Emmett poked and poked and poked and poked and ...

"Emmett! That's enough holes!"

Emmett launched into some defense of the number of holes. And the bickering was on. Sigh.

I counted the holes. Thirteen.

Guys! Ya Goofs!

May 2, 2006

Gothic Raccoon to the rescue!

Tonight was the long-awaited performance of the play "Mr. Toad's Mad Adventures" at Longer Elementary School. Congratulations to Director Melissa Diminick (the better half of my fellow New Pigger Scott Diminick) and the hard-working "Drama Mamas" who produced the show. Not to mention the fine cast and crew. My favorite actor was Team EEK!'s own Emmett Eldred.

Oh, yeah, this forum is about goofs ... How about this: In a late scene, the crew and actors were scrambling to clear away furniture from the previous scene. Emmett seized a chair that someone else was dragging off, and we could tell from the body language that the other person had forgotten that the chair was needed in the next scene. Indeed, the character Rat stood up on it to address the crowd. Way to go, Emmett! You deserve all the invisible cheese you ate in that scene! (It was a party scene.)

So the chair-dragging was the goof? Yes and no. When we got home, Emmett mentioned that at when the play was performed earlier in the day, he was the one mistakenly removing it. "I was dragging along three people who were trying to stop me," he said. No wonder he remembered tonight. So ...

Emmett, Ya Goof!

P.S. Here's a picture of Emmett in his role as the judge, along with his pal Roman Drake as Bertie, a motorist. Janet wasn't happy with how she applied makeup around Emmett's eyes. But Emmett didn't mind; he was rather pleased to look like (in his words) a Gothic raccoon.

May 1, 2006

But the show must go on

This morning, I dropped Emmett at orchestra practice. The spring concert is this Thursday. This afternoon, I asked him how it went. He reported that the practice went well, but that there was an accident at the end. One child tripped and fell into another and ... SNAPPED THE NECK OF HER CELLO! Just after the last practice! Oooooooh, that hurts. I can't address anyone as Ya-Know-What. I just needed to share.