NBA, poop, readers forum, sports, Utah Jazz

Where Shenanigans And Poop Jokes Happen: A Special, Non-Utah Jazz NBA Playoffs Readers Forum (or, “If Scott Guldin Told Me Fourteen Years Ago I’d Be Pulling For The Chicago Bulls, I’d Have Sworn He Was Trying To Sell Me A Bridge”)

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The most commented-upon posts in our blog’s brief history are the 2009 and 2010 NBA Playoffs Readers Forums. (Last year’s post had 170 comments, on topics as diverse as Scott Hastings’ Shoe Cam, Yoda’s age, T-shirts you regret buying and whether or not Mike Breen’s eyes are actually located in his colon. Plus there were some diarrhea jokes. Good times all around.) This is in part because the playoffs stretch on for two months (or what feels to Erin like two bazillion years). This is also because Scott Guldin and Denys “Yellow Thunder” Lai are devoted readers and diehard NBA fans, while Matthew Leathers cannot stop rambling on about the Vancouver Canucks.

What’s different about the 2011 NBA Playoffs is that my (Ben’s) beloved Utah Jazz are not in them. It’s been five years since Utah missed the postseason. It did so in stunningly self-immolating fashion. First Jerry Sloan left, then Deron Williams was traded, then — in a perfect summation of the way things went this year — Andrei Kirilenko and his expiring contract missed a layup.

What do Utah Jazz fans do with all this free time in April, you ask? Answer: Photoshop. (To appreciate the humor here, you should know that the theme is “Gone Fishing.”)

What else do we do? Find a new horse. Because I can’t not obsessively follow the NBA, watching a postseason without Utah is usually an exercise in rooting against teams (i.e., the Lakers, Spurs, Heat, etc.). This year, though, I’m pulling for two teams: the Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma City Thunder. I’ve previously written about my change of heart with regard to Chicago. The Thunder are just a likable bunch. They’ll run the Spurs out of town in the second round and maybe, just maybe, take down the Lakers in the Conference Finals.

My preseason prediction was the Lakers over the Celtics in the Finals. My head says I should stick with that. My heart says it’ll be a Bulls/Thunder championship, with MVP Derrick Rose delivering Chicago its first post-MJ title. If it doesn’t happen, Scott Guldin will say I jinxed it. Believe me, Scott — this is not a latent desire to avenge Utah’s Finals losses, or the time you made me wear a Bulls shirt into Peirce. I hate everyone else in the East. Everyone. Plus your Bulls are practically Utah East, what with Boozer, Brewer and Korver. (I’m here for you anytime you need to talk about Boozer’s maddeningly inconsistent postseason play. I’ve been there. It’s not easy.)

Join the conversation in the comment thread.

Go Bulls! And Thunder!

marital tension, poop

Marriage In The Digital Age

NPR featured a story the other day about technology and marriage — specifically, the challenges of intimacy and companionship when there’s an iPhone in the room (or Blackberry at the dinner table, or laptop in bed).

A typical scenario plays out in the South Florida home of Carolyn and Sorin Popescu. With dinner over and the dishes done, the couple might settle in to watch TV. It could be a cozy time to reconnect at the end of the day. That is, if Sorin didn’t have to manage work e-mails on his iPhone — again.

“I would make a reference to something on the TV,” says Carolyn, “and he’d say ‘Huh, what? Oh that’s funny, yeah,’ and put his head back down and keep typing. So, you miss a little bit of closeness that way.”

Sorin can’t avoid working evenings — he manages staff in time zones around the world. Still, the couple have had spats over his iPhone use, including one heated beachfront argument when Carolyn threatened to rip the device out of his hands and throw it into the water.

We’ve experienced our own spats along these lines — like the time Ben moved the microwave to his nightstand.

“What are you doing?” Erin asked.

“Heating up nachos,” Ben said as he crawled into bed. The timer went off and Ben pulled out a hot plate of cheesy goodness. “You want one?”

“No, I brushed my teeth,” Erin said. “Aren’t you concerned about sleeping with that thing twelve inches from your head?”

“Drust me,” Ben said, cheese stringing from his mouth, “dis is wordth it.”

Matters got stickier the following night when Ben and Erin were sitting up in bed using their respective handheld electronic devices. Ben’s beeped.

“Why did you just send me a text asking if I brushed my teeth with dog crap?” he said.

“Because your breath smells like dog crap.”

“No, I mean — I’m sitting right here. You could have told me.”

“I chose not to do so for obvious reasons, namely that I didn’t feel like smelling dog crap breath.”

“Not only is this hurting my feelings,” Ben replied, “but it’s ruining a perfectly good Hot Pocket.”

The following night, Erin returned from brushing her teeth to find Ben sitting up in bed, arms folded, looking pouty.

“Are we out of nachos or something?”

Ben shook his head.

“Oh, we ran out of dog crap toothpaste?”

Ben shook his head.

“Oh, oh, I know. Trader Joe’s stopped selling those microwavable beef taquitos you like so much! I’m really sorry, honey. Life’s just so unfair sometimes.”

“That’s not why I’m pouting.”

“Oh it isn’t? Then what else could it be?”

“Maybe that you tweeted that I’m having back hair removal surgery next week.”

“Oh, that.”

“Honey, why are we doing this? It’s like we don’t even talk anymore. I guess it was a mistake to move the microwave into the bedroom, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, it was. And I’m sorry if I’ve behaved a little passive-aggressively the past few days, it’s just that I think technology has contributed to some tension in our holy matrimony.”

“So we need to set boundaries?”

“Yes, I think we do.”

“Do you want the microwave on your nightstand?”

“NO I DO NOT want the microwave on my nightstand. I want it in the kitchen. Where it belongs.”

“Well. Okay. If it’s tearing this marriage apart, then I can do it. I’ll move it down there tomorrow.”

“I’d like it moved tonight, thank you.”

“But my Hungry-Man Mexican Style Fajitas! They’ll be done in twelve seconds.”

“I will take a sledgehammer to that microwave if you choose Hungry-Man fajitas over your spouse.”

“All right, all right! I’m moving it now. You can be such a Luddite sometimes.”

“I love you too.”

parenthood, poop, Sam

Answers, and The Good Enough Baby.

Thank you to all who participated in last week’s “Sam By The Numbers” quiz. Without further ado, the correct answers:

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Only one person got the correct answer: 500. For the record, all answers were independently checked by a third party who was given total access to the folder of checklists we have compiled in Sam’s first two months — checklists which exhaustively chart his wet and dirty diapers, his breast feedings (in minutes, on the Right and/or Left, with a star to indicate if it was a bottle feeding), and the frequency and volume of Erin’s pumping. Also the number of baths he took. Yes, we know this sounds insane. We don’t care. The chart gives order and structure to Sam’s days and our tireless efforts to quantify (and perhaps justify) our effectiveness as new parents. How long will we continue to use these charts? Who knows? When does one decide to stop breathing? That’s how indispensable the charts remain to us. So judge away. We can take it. Just don’t take our charts from us. THE CHARTS ARE EVERYTHING.

Moving on.

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Though it surely felt like two gazillion times, the correct answer is 509. Whoever clicked the final answer clearly hasn’t the faintest idea about raising a child. You don’t give a baby goat milk. That’s pretty basic. This person should be ashamed. Goat milk. That stuff is disgusting.

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This was, as John Sherck noted in the comments, a misleading question. By “dirty diaper” we meant “poopy diaper,” and yet the verb “filled” could imply either number one or number two. We apologize. This is why we do not design polls or surveys for a living. We should also have noted that our definition of a “dirty” diaper is pretty liberal. Even if there’s just a smear in there, we counted it for the first two months, at which point we agreed to tighten up the strike zone, as it were, and only count the truly dirty diapers which run out the sides if you forget to turn the ruffles out. Seven people got this one right: 435 was the correct response. Again, whoever voted the last response should be ashamed. Baby poop does not smell like roses and periwinkle. It smells like goat milk and fish guts. Except when it smells more like bear tinkle instead.¹

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Though Scooter Thomas drinks himself a lot of Zima, the correct answer here is 50 cans of Coke. (The exact tally from the charts was 609 ounces.)

Thanks again to all who participated.

While on vacation, we happened to read an excellent primer on parenthood by Andy Borowitz called “The Good Enough Baby.” As Mr. Borowitz notes,

As new parents, we hold ourselves to impossibly high standards. We settle for second or third best when we buy a house or a car, and, when it comes to choosing a spouse, ninth best will often do. And yet, for some reason, we throw this time-tested principle out the window when we have a baby. We try to be “perfect” parents and raise the “perfect” baby, even if that means taking care of the baby “all the time.”

For more of his provocative parenting wisdom, click here.

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1. We have no idea if bear tinkle actually smells bad, but it’s funny to say out loud. Go ahead and say it. Bear tinkle. Who’s in a better mood now? That’s right, you are.
parenthood, poop, Sam

Things a New Mom Learns in One Month of Motherhood

Today was Sam’s one-month checkup. I can’t believe that he’s been ours for an entire month. It seems like he was born just a blink ago, and yet it seems like he’s been ours forever. Here are some things I’ve learned so far as a new mom.

1.  Always, always book an eight o’clock doctor’s appointment. I have trouble getting out the door with Sam and making it to my destination (a park, Ben’s store) on time. Thankfully I had Ben’s help this morning. We showed up with two minutes to spare and no one else in the office. No lines, less germs, very friendly faces. Early morning beats late afternoon every time.

2.  I keep repeating the phrase, “I’ve turned into a crazy person.” Now, I don’t really mean this, but I’m certainly leaning toward the neurotic, first-time parent side of the scale. Are my hands winter-dry and bleeding from washing and purelling them before I pick up Sam? Yes. Do I worry he’s not getting enough to eat? Yup. Do I worry that he isn’t alert enough? Awake enough? Yes and yes. Do I worry his stool looks a little too orange, a little too yellow, a smidge browner than yesterday, a tiny bit avocado-ey today? Yes. Do I worry that I’ll smash in one of his cranial soft spots while dressing him in his my favorite onesie? Absolutely. Do I silently judge smokers when I pass them with my stroller and smugly think, “Baby poisoner”? You betcha. But. BUT. I have yet to shield him in a custom-made, germ-free bubble, so I’ve got that going for me.

I love being Sam’s mom. I still love being Ben’s wife. I laugh and am thankful each day. I also cry a lot, randomly, which Ben reassures me is normal. After one month of motherhood, I’ve learned that I need to relax a little and stop telling people I’m crazy.

3. This morning, as we drove to the doctor’s office, I was nervous that he wouldn’t weigh enough or that he’d have an impromptu case of jaundice (see #2) and I cannot tell you how relieved I was when the medical assistant told me that he weighed in at ten pounds, eight ounces — nearly three pounds more than his birth weight! I felt so proud ,and isn’t it a strange thing to be proud of someone who cannot wipe himself?

4. Ben has definitely earned this mug, which I bought him last week. Many times I’ve thought about how hard it’d be to be a single parent; I couldn’t do it and I’m thankful to have, in my opinion, the best husband in the world. It’s just been this week, four weeks into the game, that I’ve started doing the middle of the night changing and feeding on my own. Not once has Ben complained, and more than once he has said, “Any time you want to wake me, go ahead.” Since I’m not working and he is, me taking over the night sessions seems perfectly reasonable, and maybe it will change once I’m back at school, but in the meantime I’ve started to give him a bit more uninterrupted sleep so he can help customers find the latest Tony Hillerman novels.

Ben’s also been introducing Sam to Frederick Buechner. You can never start too early.

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5. Sam is funny. Maybe he doesn’t know it, but he is. He makes this face after he’s fed like he‘s just won the milk lottery. He purses his lips, arches his back, and exudes the contentment of a rich, fat lady reclining on a chaise lounger. This comes close to capturing it:

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Also, he loves for us to change his diaper, and then — while he’s strapped into the changing table as Ben and I wash our hands — release a loud, gurgly poo in his fresh new diaper.

6. It really does take a village to raise a child. Maybe even a small city. I’m not sure I could’ve survived without lots of prayer, or family and friends whose advice and encouragement I’ve needed and gladly received on a daily basis. No man is an island, and no mother is lost at sea when she knows the people I do.

Lost, parenthood, poop, Sam

Random Thoughts On Parenting: Week One

1. Before we were parents, we figured that parenting a newborn was something like Desmond Hume pushing the button in the hatch every 108 minutes. You are bound to a few straightforward tasks — breastfeeding, changing dirty diapers, etc. — that must be completed, day or night, with steady regularity. The trick to being a good parent, we supposed, was disciplining yourself around completing these tasks and not going insane.

This turns out to be a flawed analogy. Speaking from six days’ experience, parenting is not like pushing a button every 108 minutes. It is partly about button-pushing — those diapers do need to be changed, and he does need that breast milk to keep chugging along — but we assumed that in between pushing the button we would be free to do other things, like eat or sleep or read for pleasure or pay the bills and water the flowers.

You can do those things, it turns out. But you don’t get to do them when you planned to do them. The day we came home from the hospital (Thursday), Sam pulled a brutal one-two punch on us: He stopped feeding, and he wouldn’t sleep. Take those two activities off the table, and all that’s left in a baby’s repertoire is “Cry His Little Lungs Out.” We didn’t sleep Thursday night, and we wondered if we’d ever sleep again. That’s not hyperbole. We were up to our chins in exhausted, exasperated misery for twenty-four to thirty-six hours there.

Things got better. Eventually Sam started feeding, and eventually he started pooping, and after six days our m.o. is something like push-the-button-every-108-minutes (the exact time length being flexible as it is controlled almost entirely by the baffling whims of a seven pound, six ounce creature who still has a gross nub where his belly button should be).

But the real flaw with the push-the-button analogy is that it misses the scope of parenting. It implies your job is task-oriented. What we’ve discovered after six days is that parenting is (to borrow from Eugene Peterson’s The Message) your sleeping, eating, walking-around life. Everything you do is parenting. Your thinking starts to change. (Erin: “I do not think I can watch ‘Law & Order: SVU’ ever again.”) Your habits start to change. (We overhauled our budget in June.) You see how the totality of bringing a new person into the world shifts everything a few degrees this way or that way — sometimes not the way you expected.

This is, we’re discovering, thrilling. Even with the sleep deprivation. But it’s also overwhelming. When we look up from what we’re doing, Sam is there. He’s not going anywhere. He’s the button that always needs pushing, and he’s the button we can’t stop thinking about or fussing over or taking pictures of in between.

2. Words of wisdom from friends: “The first three to six months is just surviving. Your job is simply to keep your baby alive.” And, “Patience and resilience. Babies make us better people.” Words of caution too: “Ben, are you going to raise him to be a Bucs fan or are you going to be nice to the kid?”

3. We’ve been tracking every wet diaper and bowel movement of young Sam’s life. During those twenty-four hours last week when we had only two wets and no stools, we asked ourselves every question that harried first-time parents in a similar situation could ask. What’s wrong? Are we not doing something right? Is he constipated? Is our milk bad? Is it even coming out? Is he only pretending to feed? WHY WON’T HE POOP???

Our lactation consultant — her name is Charla, and she is nothing less than a saint — told us that we might need to supplement his regular feedings until his “output” increased. This is a step we would’ve certainly taken for Sam’s benefit, but with the genetic disposition of parents such as ourselves, how long could he really go, honestly, without his number one friend number two? She gave us a deadline: If Sam doesn’t poop by such-and-such a time, we need to supplement. We missed the deadline. She gave us a second one; we missed that as well, but won a small reprieve with a wet diaper. Please, we thought, just give us a little more time. It’s got to happen any moment!

When it did, it was a dam bursting open. Poopy waters breached the levees. Fecal floodgates saturated Pamper after Pamper. The heavens opened and liquidy, mustard-colored rains poured from the skies. Never in our lives had we been so happy to see so much shit.

4. Charla was just one of many remarkable nurses at Christ who ministered to us. A good nurse makes a world of difference. We had only one bad experience. She was a nurse on the night shift with a brusque bedside manner. It was the last night in the hospital, and the first time Sam got fussy about feeding. After trying unsuccessfully for most of an hour, Erin, tears streaming down her face, called the night nurse. “Oh, you’re just getting the blues,” she said right off the bat before launching into a definition of postpartum depression. No, Erin thought, I’m not getting the blues — I just can’t feed my poor baby. The nurse did help with the latch, but left behind an assumption — almost an accusation — that we didn’t want.

5. Baseball fans are notorious stat geeks. So, it turns out, are parents. “Height and weight?” a friend asked on Facebook. “I never knew why people asked this until I had a kid, now I MUST KNOW.”

Why, then, has no one invented baby baseball cards yet? Parents would trade these things like nuts. On the back you could also list things like Interests (“pooping”) or Hobbies (“tummy time,” “pooping”). And if and when your kid one day became famous, imagine the value! A ’61 Obama, say, or a ’64 Cage Rated Rookie — that’d be worth both McCovey and Mays, with Don Schwartz thrown in there for good measure.

6. Your relationship with your parents changes once you become a parent. It’s almost like you can start speaking a new language with them.

Our parents have been amazing helping us through week one. We can’t imagine doing this without them. The Beers have rescued us with meals and caffeine, as well as cleaned our dishes, laundered our clothes and spelled us to take naps. (Never in Erin’s life did she think she’d talk about her boobs with her dad. Or that her mom would help her breast feed her baby. It seems a little normal now. Sort of.) The Vores have provided long distance support via steady encouragement and medical expertise. (Ben’s dad is a pediatrician and his mom is a nurse.) This is the first grandchild on both sides. He is going to be one stinkin’ spoiled kid.

7. Your relationship with your spouse changes as well. Though we always knew we’d one day be parents, it’s something else entirely to see your wife breast feed your son, or your husband burp him at four in the morning. It’s like your spouse’s secret identity has suddenly been activated when baby appears on the scene; your husband or wife surprises you with superhero powers of milk production or unrivaled reservoirs of patience and compassion. It’s a little like falling in love all over again.

8. Scooter Thomas has greeted Sam with a mixture of curiosity and mild disapproval. He sits in the doorway during crying spells with a look that says, What exactly is all the fuss about? Sam’s Pack n Play is a couple feet from our bed; when he’s inside it, Scooter Thomas sits on the edge of the bed watching, calculating. (Or is that a look of maternal concern?) He is certainly not pleased with the baby gate restricting him from moving freely about the house. We suspect he knows he’s not king of the castle anymore.

9. We have been blessed with an incredible community of support. From day one, Sam had a fan club waiting to cheer him on into the world. Besides Sam’s very excited extended families, Crossroads’ friends and Erin’s Bible study stopped by to ooh and ahh at him. We received droves of texts, calls, emails, and Facebook and blog comments. Before, when friends had babies and we sent a quick text of congratulations, we were genuinely excited but had no idea how each tiny relay of communication would be a source of encouragement and excitement. We’ve got a Luddite streak in us (this Gary Shteyngart essay is marvelous), but one benefit of technology is that it can communicate love in a big way when you’re holding something so small.

10. The rhetorical question every parent since the beginning of time has asked: Who couldn’t love a face like this?

poop, sports, things to love about Ohio, Utah Jazz

The Next-To-Last Jazz Post You’ll Have To Suffer Through This Year

STF

The reprehensible Lakers will end it for the Jazz. Ben will have a dark night of the soul.

 

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Let’s start with the bad. Utah’s season is going to end very shortly. At the hands of the vile Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers. 

The good news? You won’t have to put up with another Jazz post (spare a painful post-mortem after the Lakers series, if I can muster the strength) for six months. 

Utah has pooped its way into the playoffs in just about the poopiest fashion possible. The Jazz has won exactly two of its last nine games, falling all the way down to the eight seed — a completely avoidable outcome had Utah, say, won home games against Golden State and Minnesota. Give the season another week or two and Utah may have played its way out of the playoffs and handed the eight seed to the Suns.

How is Jazz nation handling this, you ask? (Actually, I’m sure you’re not asking that question. But I’m going to tell you.) With resigned despondency. The mood on Jazz discussion boards is grim. A random sampling of user comments from SLC Dunk:

  • “Is it too early or in bad form to start talking about the off-season?”
  • “I can’t help but think [Andrei] Kirilenko has already planned his European trip and has his bags packed.”
  • “The bottom line is that the entire team has no life.”
  • “As a Jailblazer fan back in the early 00s I consider myself somewhat of an expert on bad team chemistry. [And] the biggest problem is [Carlos] Boozer.”
  • “Watching this team is like watching 8MM only with basketballs and more Russians.”

Confession: I made the last one up. 

What went wrong? I’ll stare down that question some bleak, sleepless night in the week to come. The short answer is injuries. If Williams didn’t turn an ankle in the preseason and Boozer played between 70 and 80 games, there’s no reason this team shouldn’t have won the Northwest. The rush-to-judgment answer is team chemistry. Specifically Carlos Boozer. Which may very well be a fair judgment considering Utah was actually a better team without him this year. That’s saying something considering Booze was an All-Star.

This is getting too painful to go on. Let’s just cut to a few playoff predictions and be done with it:

  • I’m jumping on the Blazers playoff bandwagon. A Dallas/New Orleans draw in the first round would be ideal, but I think they could beat the Spurs if it came down to it. Speaking of the Spurs, that Tim Duncan is a ham.
  • Orlando is going to beat Boston in the second round. Stephon Marbury has sure made an impact with his 3.6 ppg on 33% shooting. And Kendrick Perkins is delusional
  • I’m sticking by my preseason prediction: Cavs over Lakers in the Finals. Lebron James: Just one more thing to love about Ohio.

 

[photo: nba.com]

poop, Uncategorized

Be Your Own Banksy

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Perhaps in the past you have taken issue with our taste in movies, books and music. Perhaps you simply hate us with a burning passion. Pent up that anger no more! We invite you to take it out on us — and any other site you happen to loathe — with something called Netdisaster. You can deface (or, “improve”) any site simply by entering the target address and then the type of virtual disaster you wish to unleash upon said page. Our favorites include most anything under the “Dirty” bar (Cow Dung, Dog poop, Vomit, etc.) as well as “Demonstration,” “Ants,” and “Chainsaw.” Go ahead. Have at us.

 

(h/t VSL)