Category Archives: Contests

A Little Challenge between Friends

Last Friday evening, while looking through my Facebook feed, I took a call from my nephew.  He had gotten me into rideshare driving a few months ago.  In the course of our conversation it became obvious that we would both be heading out to do a little “driving” that night.  Not sure why I put quotes around that word since we would, in fact, be driving vehicles.  Anyway, there’s this thing between he and I.  It exists because we’re guys.  It exists because we’re family.  It also exists because apparently we’re competitive and didn’t realize it.

“Wanna’ make a friendly wager?” he asked.

“I’m not making any bets,” I said, “but it would be fun to see who could earn more on the night.”

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Nephew, drink with me… to RIDESHARE!

We agreed to certain parameters.  He’s an hour ahead on the East Coast, I live closer to a major airport.  These factors and many others kind of evened us out on the starting scoreboard.  We agreed to a two hour window since neither of us really wanted to be out driving on a Friday night.  We laughed about how we’d both much rather be at home with our wives but that they had ditched us with other plans.  In his case, his young bride went out with friends.  For me, my darling wife took out kids to a talent show.  There was only one more word of encouragement from my nephew.

“You kind of need to hang up the phone so we can get started…”

Right…

I hit the road.  Or perhaps the road hit me.  Man what a bizarre night.  First up:

Curry Catfish and the Quarter-mile Crawl

Alliteration is so amusing.  I promise I’ll stop now.  My first call was to an Indian restaurant for a food delivery.  Perhaps I’m showing my racist lack of tolerance and sensitivity here but perhaps it wasn’t exactly Indian.  It was some kind of South Asian.  I can’t tell you with certainty.  My employer won’t offer South Asian sensitivity training until 2018.  I walked into the restaurant to discover a white board with the specials written on it.  “Brain Masala,” it read.  I know I didn’t read that wrong.  And there’s pretty much nothing else that could be.  After waiting ten whole minutes I snatched the food order out of Hop Sing’s hands (I promise you that was his name) and hit the “begin” button.  Do you know that the lazy sonofabitch who ordered this nasty food that was going to smell up my car for the rest of the night lived across the street?  I really just kind of took my time delivering that one.  “Oh, I can only turn right out of the parking lot and then I have to go around the whole big block?…  What a shame.”  This brought me to my second ride and:

No Lines, No Waiting

The second ride was boring.  Let’s skip them.  As I dropped them off I discovered that I was not only near the entrance to the airport but that the airport queue looked small.  My plan was to drive into the airport, park in the rideshare staging area, and grab a smoke before being pinged.  I never had that chance.  The queue went from 55 cars down to 1 in the time it took me to go through the toll plaza.  I literally got a call as I was about to drive past the terminal where the passenger was waiting.  No surge but it was certainly efficient.  And she was going downtown so it wasn’t a terrible fare either.  Shows what you get for planning out a smoke break.  And since one airport was good to me, why not try:

Feeling the LOVE at the Other Airport

I totally didn’t just give away my location or anything.  Where my last passenger had me drop her was close enough that I could see the queue for the other, smaller airport on my app.  And the queue there was also dropping like the f-word at a family reunion.  What?  Must be just my family.  I pulled into that staging area.  I texted my nephew (who is an awesome guy, by the way, and I just wanted to state that here).  Sent him a picture of my earnings thus far and the fact that I was waiting at an airport with an active surge.  Unfortunately, my surge went away three cars before I was called but that’s OK.  If I hadn’t waited I wouldn’t have met the greatest passenger of all time.

Before I put my car in gear to drive to the terminal I got a text in a warm tone instructing me how to locate him.  The text described the logo on his hat and the fact that he was a big dude with a big red beard.  “This is going to be fun,” I thought.  Truthfully I can always tell before I collect them who’s going to be college-drunk and likely to vomit in my car (which has not happened yet, thank God) and who’s going to be respectable-drunk like he just came off a flight and he’s nervous about the take-off cycle because he’s watched too many air disaster shows and who are you to judge me!!?

This guy…  Dave.  Yes it’s his real name but what of it?  You don’t know him. and lot’s of men have that name.  Before I had left the airport and started out on a 25 mile ride (love those airport trips) Dave had told me about his flight, his reason for travel, and his job.  The flight from the state capitol an hour south was fine.  He taught the passenger next to him how to play blackjack.  She was connecting on to Vegas.  He was in town to visit his dad and his sister.  I believe his mom and dad are divorced.  It’s sad really.  He caught her cheating when Dave was 11.  It was an ugly mess.  Keep in mind we had not hit a traffic light yet and this is a small airport.  All the while I’m nodding my head and saying things like “Yeah, I completely understand.  Isn’t that just the way?”

His job?  This deserves its own paragraph.  Our friend is a military biologist.  I thought he was joking or I had misheard him.  I was waiting for him to tell me that he was responsible for putting Jaime Sommers together after that freak accident.  In reality, he told me enough about viruses and other biology-y stuff that I knew he was serious.  I asked what he loved about his job.  Why not?  He had already discovered I was a teacher.  They always ask what I do for my “real job” and I tell them.  He told me “It’s so cool but we’re working on a new treatment for burn victims!”  I just about fell out of my skin.  This sounded awesome.  I have known burn victims and it is among the most painful and horrifying things to undergo (being a burn victim, not simply knowing them).  Not wanting to sound too forward but hoping he could divulge some information I spoke up.

“Is it a pill, or something topical, or…”

“Nah,” said drunk Dave.

“It’s a fuc*ing laser!”

“A what now?” I retorted.  “A laser!  Isn’t that so cool?”  “Well, Dave,” I rejoined, “Isn’t it always the thing you totally don’t expect?  I mean, someone’s skin just got crisped worse than good bacon and to cure them…  let’s burn them some more with a laser.”

“DUUUDDDDD,” he said.  I was really thinking he would hurl at this point but he took a deep breath instead.

“DDEEEEEEEE, I’m gonna’ be famous for this.  I mean we still gotta’ get FDA approval which we might not get but you know what?  F the FDA, right?  What do they know?  Look at all the workout supplements out there.  They’re not FDA approved.”

“I know, Dave, I know all too well,” I said looking down at my pathetic arms.

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I removed Identifying stuff (town names, company name, etc.).  I win.

A laser?  Man, that just made my night.  I got young Dave safely to his single dad’s house in suburbia, even made sure he stumbled up the right steps before driving away.  I think he had it.  The guy who answered looked just like him but older.  Then I thought of my dad and wondered if he’d get a kick out of any of these stories.  He’d probably ask why I’m doing this in the first place.

Then I thought of the burn victims of the world who are likely to be incinerated by the Dave-zer® sometime in the near future.  Man, that’s gonna’ be fun to watch.

Oh, I beat the nephew by $4 but I really think I won in so many other ways this night.  Now is where I bury something for a particular reader.  A while back I shared my referral code with a friend.  He admits to having driven somewhere around 19 times.  If you’re reading this, buddy, take the 20th ride, for me, please?  There’s a cash bonus for me when you do.  You want me to be able to write more laser-curry-catfish-airport stories, don’t you?

Thought so.

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Widget Time!

Zero to Hero suggests we add some widgets.

Done!

I like the idea of adding an Instagram widget but I’m not sure I want to meld that much of my personal life into my blog.  Huh?  Wait a second.  Well, anyway, I’m not sure all of my Instagram pics would make sense on the sidebar of my blog.

So I’m adding the “Posts I Like” and “Top Posts and Pages” widgets.  In addition, I’m removing my “Badges of Blogs I Like” widget which was really just a series of  image widgets showing pictures associated with several of my favorite blogs.  But, since I already have a Blogroll (which also needs to be updated), I figured the “badges” thing could go away.

As always, let me know your thoughts.  Is my rights side too heavy compared to my left?  I’m always worried that the whole thing looks too busy.

An Award? For Me? It’s An Honor Just To Be Nominated.

I was just nominated for the Sunshine Award by the wonderful proprietor over at SchizoIncognito.

I'm so touched!

I’m so touched!

The rules for this award are as follows:

Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
List 11 facts about YOU!
Nominate 10 other blogs to receive the award.
Announce the nominations to the nominees.

So here goes:

Thank you SchizoIncognito!  I am always honored to be, um, honored!  It is an honor I shall not soon forget.

11 Facts About Me:

  1. I live in Texas but I’m a Jersey Boy.
  2. I have 15 siblings from the same mother and father.
  3. I am the baby boy in my family.
  4. I once sang in a choir as a first tenor.
  5. I love traveling and have a goal to visit all 50 states (39 so far).
  6. I have a twin sister.
  7. I can quote three movies start to finish (Airplane!, Month Python and the Holy Grail, and The Fighting Sullivans)
  8. My favorite piece of music is Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach).
  9. My second favorite piece of music is tied between Copacabana (Manilow) and Bad Girls (Donna Summer)
  10. I am a loyal son of the Church (cradle Catholic) and a devotee of the late Archbishop Sheen.
  11. I have several passions — my faith, my wife, my two beautiful children, teaching, and writing.  I try to tie all of these together in my blog.

My Nominees:

  1. Photos and Facets
  2. This Ordinary Citizen
  3. A Parent in Silver Springs/America
  4. Romancing Reilly
  5. My Cuppa Irish Tea
  6. Bridget Green’s Fabulous Life at Le Rheims
  7. The Little Idiots We Are
  8. Transcending Borders Blog
  9. D. P. Grady’s Blog
  10. Bill Chance
  11. Through My Daddy’s Eye’s

Thank you all very much for sharing your creative vision of the world with me!

What’s In My Name? Or As My Son Would Say: “Huh?”

DAY 2: WHAT’S YOUR NAME?

For this second day of the Zero to Hero Challenge the task is to tinker around with our titles, tag lines, and “who is this guy” blurb.  Here is where I think it will be very exciting and beneficial to be part of this challenge.  Ready for it?

I NEED FEEDBACK!

There, I said it.  I’m not proud.  I… I need you, fellow bloggers.  When I titled my blog I chose to incorporate my pseudonym into the title for some reason followed by an in-title tag followed by a secondary tag.  I guess I was thinking that people would see the name, be intrigued, and say “Hey, why aren’t I following this guy?”  So let me bring you in on some things in case “Harvey Millican” wasn’t enough to captivate your Bond-sensibility.

Not exactly Harvey.  Then again, neither am I. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons (pd)

Not exactly Harvey. Then again, neither am I.
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons (pd)

Harvey was the name of my cat when I was a boy.  Harvey was still my cat through my later childhood.  When I became a man Harvey was still with me.  It wasn’t until I went into grad school that old Harv’ finally went off to that padded scratching post in the sky.  Actually, he went into a shallow grave in my parents’ back yard only to be exposed a year later when they installed a pool after my dad retired.  Either way, even though he hated me (as all cats hate their human companions) I know deep down that he really only disliked me.  In going all cloak-and-dagger I wanted to honor his memory.  As a theologian I can tell you that this is about as good a tribute as he’ll get since he mortal animating principle was reduced to the potency of his lifeless matter many years ago.

Huh?

Whatevs.  Ermalerd!  My teenage students have finally gotten the best of my vocal skills.  So, where’s the Millican from?  I’ll never tell!  Any of you.

Some of you may have read that last line in a sing-song-y type of voice like that freaky girl in that freaky horror movie.  I can’t remember the name so we’ll move on.

Bottom line, I have been pondering changing things up and making my title

Raising Your Kids Without Lowering Your IQ

And giving it a tag line of

Harvey Millican’s Battle for Sanity with the Insanity That Is His Kids.

Thoughts?  Also, what do you think of my “Welcome!” message?  I kind of like it. Another blogger gave me the idea a few years ago; but I’m always open to suggestions.  Is there a better place for it than the left column?  TELL ME!!!

Celebrating 1100!

Not entirely approving of my scheme.

Not entirely approving of my scheme.

As in 1100 posts!  And what better way to celebrate my one thousand, one hundredth post here on WordPress than by engaging in that which I do best.  That’s right, we decided to do an ordinary thing in the life of any young(ish) husband and father simply to watch insanity unravel all around me so that I could write about it and see how many of you, my lovely readers, believe that the madness actually transpired!  Also, our kitchen is still under renovation.  We went out to dinner tonight.  I include the caveat about the kitchen because I have had friends ask me if we ever eat at home anymore.  Yes, we eat in quite often when we have 1) an oven, 2) a countertop, 3) a working f-ing kitchen, and 4) you know what?  Can it.  You’re just jealous because these bizarre things (such as I am about to describe) never happen to you.  Let me set the stage for you.

2-4-6-8, Daddy's dinner's gonna' be great!

2-4-6-8, Daddy’s dinner’s gonna’ be great!

After my wife asked me for the third time where I wanted to eat tonight, for I could not think straight under the blistering Texas sun, I told her that I was going to evening mass and I would let her know when I got home.  As luck would have it, there’s a Denny’s right next to the church.  Denny’s, being the first thing I saw upon exiting mass, made the cut  as our dining locale for the evening.  After the Joe’s Coffee Shop fiasco of a few nights ago, I figured it couldn’t be too bad.  Now before any social media flunky at a keyboard at corporate headquarters writes to me with a “please be kind to us in your future postings or else” letter I want to make something perfectly clear.  I like Denny’s.  I just don’t have that much experience with the place.  Where I grew up, in the Fatherland, New Jersey, actual diners are plentiful.  In fact, there are over 550 municipalities in the Garden State and just as many diners.  True fact.  But the last time I ate in a Denny’s was about five years ago in the tiny hamlet of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  I found it to be exactly what was promised — decent food, decent price.  But tonight my wife was feeling clever and decided to make my sacred dinner into a game.  “We can go to Denny’s,” she said, “as long as you order off of the 2-4-6-8 menu.”  I looked at her rather puzzled.  “What in the hell is that?”  “Well,” she replied, “they have a menu that has items on it for $2, $4, $6, and $8.”  Again I was puzzled so I asked her to clarify these instructions.  “Is this a challenge?”  “OK,” she said, “you can order whatever you like so long as it totals $8.”  I locked eyes with my beautiful wife.  “Game on, lady.”

Maybe I should have just ordered the Moons Over My Hammy...

Maybe I should have just ordered the Moons Over My Hammy…

We entered the restaurant with our game faces on.  Actually, my game face was on.  I was missing the eye black but that’s another story.  My wife seemed to be wearing her “I can’t believe I married this guy” face.  But I was a man on a mission.  My mission was food and I love to eat.  We were ushered past a few older couples and seated in a booth.  Again, as with Joe’s, I was beginning to think the time of day we were frequenting these places might have something to do with the monastic grand silence.  No matter.  I didn’t care.  I was prepared to see my menu, like a prize fighter eager to face an unknown opponent.  I wondered to myself what kind of food they served here again.  It’s been a while.  We took our seats and I immediately tore open my menu.  This startled our waitress.  “Can I get y’all something to dr -”  “NOT NOW.  Where’s the odds/evens menu?” I barked.  My wife clarified to the lovely server what I was looking for.  She gently reached for my menu, opened it up, and pulled out a tall insert.  Handing it to me, she said “This what you’re lookin’ for, hon?”  I apologized for my rudeness and went about my task of matching up different combinations of appetizers, soups, dinner plates, and desserts.  Math is totally not my thing but I figured I wouldn’t have too much trouble with simple even digits under 10.  All the while I was glued to this single laminated sheet, I don’t know quite what my kids were doing.  I think they were coloring or something.  You really can’t issue a food challenge and expect me to focus on much else.  I am, after all, the cornydog king of the State Fair of Texas.  Mind you I came in next to last in that contest and the title is self-proclaimed, but so what?  Within minutes, I had found, I believed, my perfect combination.

Then and Now

Then and Now

Our waitress came back to us.  My wife had already told me she “knew what I was going to order”.  But this time I had been more clever than she.  A look of shock and surprise came over her face as I started to order.  “I’ll have the biscuits and gravy with hash browns, the chicken quesadillas, and the fried cheese melt please.”  The what now?!  Let me explain.  The first item was $2 and seemed like a decent breakfast choice.  I specified the hash browns because it came with that or an egg.  In truth, I should have taken the egg because I ordered so quickly that I mistook the term “hash browns” which I like for “corned beef hash” which I love.  OK, rookie mistake.  Won’t happen again.  The second item was something I knew to be marketed as an appetizers but which, when served right, always eats like a small meal.  Also, this came from the $2 menu.  If you’re keeping track, that means I have exactly $4 left to spend.  That brings us to item #3 – the fried cheese melt.  I don’t know what genius thought this baby up but he should be canonized; unless he’s still living in which case he should live a long life, then, after he dies, he should be canonized.  So I like a good grilled cheese and I like mozzarella sticks.  Why not throw ’em all together?  Exactly!  This $4 beauty is a bunch of mozzarella sticks fried into the middle of a grilled cheese sandwich and served up with an order of fries.  I haven’t been this excited about a sandwich since that thing from KFC where fried chicken breasts served as the bread.  I was satisfied with my selections but I glanced at my wife and nodded my head to see if I had indeed come in at the right price point.  I had!

Jackpot!  And it only cost $8!

Jackpot! And it only cost $8!

Closer look at the Cheese Fry thingy...

Closer look at the Cheese Fry thingy…

The waitress, looking at me like an escaped mental patient, nervously said “Well…  Someone’s hungry!”  We tried to explain our game to her but she had already walked away.  I spent the next ten minutes helping my son to color his kids menu.  I was starting to bounce off the walls in anticipation of my bounty arriving.  I glanced at my own menus still sitting on the table.  It took me a while to realize that they were attempting some kind of “then and now” branding by juxtaposing a 1950’s-era image of Denny’s patrons with more contemporary images.  Also while waiting I overheard a couple in the next booth.  Their waiter sat them down and then gave them the bad news.  “There is no more food because the jackass across from you ordered it all.”  No, actually, it was something like this.  “We’re out of waffles.  Oh, and we’re out of ice cream.”  Wouldn’t you know that the couple had come out specifically for waffles and ice cream?  Sucks to be them.

I made my son proud (I think).

I made my son proud (I think).

Then, rounding the corner, just past the giant claw machine filled with stuffed toys, and pacing down the faux wood floor on her way to my booth was our waitress.  She was carrying the meal that would make me legendary.  What to some might appear as a bizarre hodgepodge of breading, cheese, and potatoes was, to me, a glorious victory.  My wife laughed.  My waitress delivered our food and ran.  My son and daughter asked if they could “help” me finish it off.  I let them have a few fries.  And we all went home full that night.

Remember When?

I would like humbly to submit my request for your suggestions.

Remember these guys?  I had so much fun back then.

Remember these guys? I had so much fun back then.

I remember when I used to post fun stuff, themed stuff, even wacky stuff.  Can we say Weebles, anyone?  But alas, my wife threw out most of the Weebles because they were just, in her words, “lying around the house”.  Ironically, Weebles are incapable of lying anywhere.  My point is that I want you, my wonderful readers, to suggest to me topics, titles, themes, and pure wackiness that you would like to read about here on this blog.  I’m desperate for a bit of a change so it probably won’t just be a “winner takes all” format.  In other words, I’ll probably go with every last suggestion thrown my way.

Here’s the deal.  If you stopped by to read this post, just click on “reply” and tell me what you’d like to see.  Look, Holy Week is coming up and I’ll be busy so if I can bang out any of your topics over the weekend and pre-date them for publication during the week, I’d love to do just that.  It doesn’t mean I won’t also post daily updates of the goings-on of my kids.  I might just post twice a day.  We shall see.

Dadbag: Memorial Day Edition

OK everybody… Time to play everyone’s favorite guessing game. What’s in dadbag today?

I will dedicate a blog to whomever comments correctly identifying at least five items in the bag.

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