Sunday, September 28, 2008

the artful dodger reincarnate

i just read my last post about starbucks, and while i maintain my staunch opposition to starbucks and its emperial forces, i realize that it was a pretty lame post. i was starting to think i was losing my blogging touch (a gift i think i was born with... do you really think the ability to ramble on about nothing for hours on end can be taught?, when a friend at church today told me how much she enjoys reading the blog. i can only assume that by "reading my blog," she meant the stuff that i write on the blog, which means i am making a difference in at least one person's life (and, no, the person to whom i refer is not my wife, i have to pretty much beg her to read the blog or threaten to print all types of libelous lies about her in the blog if she doesn't read it). just so we're clear, aimee does read my blog and she does enjoy it. this comment was included purely for comic relief purposes.

i tell you this, my friends, for two reasons: first, as a self-promoting/self-congratulatory measure and, second, to let you know that my desire to be the greatest blogger to ever grace the face of the earth has found new life. as such, i challenge any and all bloggers who dare to a gentleman's duel, emphasis on gentle, (gentle women may also participate), in my tiny backyard a week from tonight. bring both your laptops and some dignity, but know that you'll only be leaving with one of them.

now, for the post: the artful dodger reincarnate. the artful dodger is a reference to some character in some dickens' novel that i have never read. i think it is the one called oliver something or other (i am too lazy to type in to do some in-depth research... look at that, i just typed in, what a liar). so, as you have surely surmised, i have no idea who the real artful dodger is (i think he was a pick-pocket, not that he was real at all: fiction) and it doesn't matter for purposes of this post because dickens never had a blog and even if he did, he probably wouldn't have been very good at it since i'm sure he can't type. plus, i'm sure he's very long-winded and is incapable of staying on point. in fact, dickens' ghost of novels' past, any of his heirs and/or legal representatives... you are all free to participate in my bloggers gentleman's duel if you feel so inclined. bring it.

back to the artful dodger before this post gets too longwinded or too off point. as a young lad in the cooper clan, i was sometimes referred to as houdini. we all know who houdini is, right? the mastermind illusionist who was slightly more talented than job bleuth. harry, as i like to call him, had a knack for getting out of things. at this point, some of you may be under the mistaken notion that i was known as houdini because i could get punched in the stomach by other kids, as hard as they could punch, while i tightened up my rock solid abs to the point where i barely even noticed the punch (houdini did this, too, in fact i heard this is how he died), but the truth is my family members, being the historical revisionists they are, have fabricated some tall tale about my ability to get out of house and yardwork more efficiently than harry could get out of a chinese water torture chamber as the reason for my "houdini" nickname.

i admit, there may be some truth behind me getting out of a few afternoons of family fun of weeding and digging holes to nowhere in the vegas summer sun, but this did not happen nearly as often as my beloved siblings would like to believe. however, it did happen at least once on an afternoon when i mentioned that i had a stomachache, was excused from working that afternoon and then seemed to quickly overcome what was ailing me just in time to take down five or six pieces of little caesar's pizza. from that point on, my dad affectionately referred to me as houdini and the rest of the family thought his label was just as clever as the shenanigans i would allegedly pull to get out of work... and the name stuck.

to this day, i still hear the accusatory cries of "houdini" as if i were leading some lethargic work-avoiding life (actually, there may be some truth to that given i just started a full-time salaried job for the first time in 3 years), but you'd think that 3 straight years of 2,100 billed hours at an accounting sweathouse firm would dispell some of houdini's notorious "legend." apparently not.

fine. i can't even be bothered by it. my work-ethic self-esteem is such that a few houdidni call-outs won't even phase me. but, if i am going to get a bad rap for avoiding things, i would prefer to be known as the artful dodger instead of houdini. to me, it sounds cooler. and if i am going to be known as the artful dodger, then my son, caleb, shall be known as the artful dodger reincarnate. if i was good at getting out of work in my younger years(which i am neither admitting, nor denying), then caleb is truly gifted (actually, he's not gifted as much as he is stubborn and determined). you see, caleb is a boy who does not like to get sweaty. he declines to help take out the trash, put away dishes, make his bed, put away books, and/or sometimes use the toilet when appropriate all in the name of not wanting to "get sweaty."

it's true, we are a very clean family that tries to maintain respectable habits of hygeine. however, i suspect his pleas to avoid perspiration have more to do with his lack of desire to exert effort than his wanting to remain sweat-free. as an example, i did some yardwork yesterday (which i had been desperately trying to avoid for the last few weeks, but the houdini illusionist acts don't work so well on aimee... i don't think she has an imagination) with some help from my sons. one of my sons was very helpful and useful to have around while the other one might as well have not been there at all. yet, he was there and i love him and he is only 4, but i fear a habit has been engrained within him at an early stage that will require years of bribery and shock therapy to get him to help with chores, yardwork, taking the trash out and foot massages. we'll get through it.

in all seriousness, caleb's just lucky we don't live in some asian nation were child labor is a perfectly acceptable institution. he'd be out on the streets getting all sweaty every minute of every day (at least during the summer). like i said, i love the kid and i would never want him to do something he's not confortable with, like getting all sweaty, so i try and sympathize. maybe he's one of those guys that gets the big sweat rings underneath his armpits while completely pitting out all his shirts. that's just uncomfortable for everyone. we all notice it, but no one can say anything and we're all embarassed for that guy.

there's no way i would want all the hispanic kids he goes to school with pointing and saying behind his back "aye, pero mire a este pibe... como perspira!" (caleb is the only kid who doesn't speak spanish in his class). no parent should ever have to see their child suffer through something as terrible as sweaty pits. and let's face it, he knows his body better than i do, so i guess i should give the artful dodger reincarnate the benefit of the doubt and buy into his "i don't want to get all sweaty" claim.

besides, as usual, this post is about 4 paragraphs longer than it should be to the point where i am getting all sweaty. but, i guess that's what's required of the world's greatest blogger.

remember: gentleman's duel, my house, next monday (opening prayer: jameson, spiritual message: aimee, activity: blogger duel to the death followed by refreshments). see you there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

the land of starbucks: glimpse of the trip and band of brothers

i am still working on putting together some multi-media presentation of our epic trip to seattle. in the meantime, i am posting a video clip of a street band performing in front of the original starbucks in downtown seattle. the starbucks is right outside pike's market which is a really cool open air market on the edge of the downtown area. aim and i spent the morning there meandering through the different booths and set-ups before grabbing some breakfast at a place inside the market. we split a salmon and shrimp omelette that was very tasty. seattle seems to be somewhat known for its seafood (how's that for an alliteration?). after spending a few days there, i saw, and tasted, why. delicisiosa.

seattle is also known for its grunge music and coffee. i can't attest as to whether this designation is merited or not since a grunge band hasn't been popular since 1995 (and i didn't like it then) and i don't drink black crack (or is that diet coke?), i prefer my addictions to be of the ice cream variety. coffee makes me laugh. in my opinion, it smells disgusting and yet its absence would probably be more detrimental to society than a rash of vampires sucking the blood clean out of 90% of the world. for some perspective, think "i am legend" to the tenth power. i am fully expecting the government, at some point in the future, to subsidize devices that will intravenously supply coffee into humans in order to preserve human life and the economy as we know them.

actually, i think starbucks/coffee (i consider them one) is behind the economic downturn we are experiencing. i saw this coming several years ago as a lowly staff accountant at pwc who was picked on and laughed at for not wanting to take a 1/2 hour coffee break in the morning and then another in the afternoon. the only conclusion i can deduce from such behavior is that similar unproductive activity is taking place throughout the world. thus, the economy has crumbled. starbucks is taking over the world. i can hear emperor and empress starbucks cackling now... "ha, ha, ha... insolent fools!!! resistance is futile. we distracted you with walmart, but now you're in our cold unforgiving grasp... so easily duped when you're all hopped up on caffeine." the day is coming. do you think it's just a coincidence that there are more starbucks in the world than molecules? all starbucks has to do is take out diet coke and its cornered the caffeine dependency market.

alright, time to step down off my caffeine soap box.

check out the video below of three of the finest caffeine free strapping young lads you'll ever lay eyes on. these are the type that legend is made from.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

byu home opener: provo and memory lane

before i get to the seattle trip, i wanted to post a little slideshow of the boys with their grandma and aunt tami feeding some ducks. the feeding took place over the weekend of byu's homeowner against northern iowa. we were up in p-town for the game and stayed with kim and gaylin like we usually do. we had a lot of fun being with family and watching byu start the season. caleb came to the game with us and sat through the entire thing. it was hot, but he was fairly well behaved. we had great seats, compliments of my boss.

you'll notice the last photo in the group of the boys with their homemade capes (thanks to grandma hodges). they love their capes. caleb throws his on and thinks he is superman. it's kind of fun until he disappointingly says, "dad, when am i going to be able to fly?", and i worry that he is actually going to try and test the cape out someday.

we always enjoy spending time in provo since it is where aim is from and that is where we spent the first five years of our marriage. aim always runs into at least 4 or 5 people she knew from back in the day there two of which she usually went out on dates with and they sit around and reminisce about the good ol' days... for several hours sometimes.

happy valley brings back memories. some happy, and some not so happy. there's our first apartment which we affectionately refer to as the argentine house. why the argentine house? well, i served a mission in a very poor part of argentina and saw a lot of poverty while there... our first apartment, which was actually part of a house, reminded us of a house you'd see in argentina.

it was great. it had two red doors in the front, but we could only use one (although the one we could use didn't open all the way because the master bedroom was in the way). the master bedroom was a treat. the door to the master bedroom wouldn't open all the way either because the bed was in the way. correction: the mattress was in the way. yes, we didn't have a bed when we got married, nor did we have our own car or telephone service. we didn't have much money either.... but we had the stuff that really mattered, like a tv, a sandwich maker, a blender, an ice cream maker and a brick oven down the street with a pay phone.

yes, you heard me correctly, we did not have a bed when we got married and, now that i think about, we didn't even have a mattress - we had some foam pads that we fashioned together to use as a mattress for our first marital bed. very romantic. the master bathroom (which was the only bathroom) was also one of a kind since you couldn't shut that door either. you learn a lot about a newlywed spouse listening to her shower everyday. we loved that place. we loved it so much, we moved out after two months and moved in with the in-laws for the summer. i won't comment on living with the in-laws since they read the blog except to say that we may have had some grandkids for them a little sooner had we not been living with them that summer.

after the we left the hodges manor it was on to virginia and helen's 200 year old home. virginia and helen were two 80 year old sisters who kind of reminded me of a an ancient version of marge's sisters on the simpsons except they didn't have the raspy smoker voice. they were our landladies and were very nice people, but a little old and a little too content with the house in it's very old state (i said 200 years old). i offended one of them when we were doing a walk-through of the house and asked if some of the wallpaper was the original wallpaper.

that house was fun. for starters, it had no shower... only a bathtub. that didn't seem like such a bad thing at first, but a year and a half later, i was ready for a permanent shower (thank goodness we could go to the temple, do baptisms and then shower there). it was kind of funny watching a pregnant aimee in the tub with her belly sticking out of the water. this is also the house where we finally figured out why that patch of what we thought was immortal snow in the backyard would never melt... turns out it wasn't snow at all. silly us, we should have known that it was regurgitated sewage bubbling up from the sewer opening we had in the backyard. is that up to code? in the 1800s i guess it was.

ask aimee sometime about the dog we kept down in the cellar at that house. actually, ask tyler about it and if he doesn't start shaking and wet himself as an emotional reaction to what has to be a traumatic memory of the time aim told him we had a puppy down in our creepy cellar and urged him to go down and have a look. what she didn't tell him was that there actually was no dog down there at all and when he reached the bottom of the stairs, all by himself mind you, she was going to turn of the lights and shut the door. did you ever see that horror flick, "the ring"? yeah, it was like that... girl at the bottom of the well while her mom covered the well with a stone. tyler probably starts to twitch when he watches that show.

i think he was six years old at the time. he cried and hid under the table when he got back upstairs. didn't know aim had it in her. for the record, she now feels bad about doing this. luckily tyler survived the moment and will not haunt/terminate us as we watch a video someday. we don't have a vcr anymore, so it wouldn't have mattered anyway.

last note about the historical monument house: this is where we met our first married couple friends who occasionally jump on the blog and comment: sean and jasmine (actually, it's shawn, but if i remember correctly he prefers, sean). as i mentioned, this was a house which we shared. as such, we lived downstairs and they lived upstairs. shawn and jasmine were great friends. we had a lot of fun with them. our living spaces were separated by a door inside the house and sometimes it maybe seemed like we were actually sharing the entire house rather than living separately. in fact, we would sometimes come home from school hungry and looking forward to eating some of that leftover pasta roni or frozen pizza we'd had for dinner the night before only to find that shawn had helped himself to a little snack during the day while we were out. we missed them when they moved out, but they got this sweet deal on a mobile home that was bound to make them tons of money, so we understood.

alright, aim said this is too long, so i will stop. memory lane. the nostalgia. someday i'll pick with the next place we lived at after that: the projects. get excited.

is that long enough for you, callie?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

the great northwest

coming soon: pics from our trip to the northwest

a preview...

Monday, September 15, 2008

southern soul: cooper family vacation to biloxi and new orleans

here's the slideshow from the recent big cooper family vacation i wrote so much about last month. i had to split it into two shows because it was too long for youtube as one. enjoy...

first installment

second installment

Sunday, September 14, 2008

lil' c starts pre-school: the art of bribery

big cabes started pre-school about a week and a half ago. he was pretty excited especially since he found out he'd get to ride in a bus in order to get there. aim and i were also pretty excited about not having to drive him there until we found out that the bus would pick him up at 6:50 am which wouldn't be the worst thing in the world except that caleb isn't a morning person (i typically am just getting back from a mini-iron man workout during which i spend time at the peak of mt. chrleston reading scriptures and pondering life around 6:50, so it's not biggie for me... it's cabes that struggles in the morning).

at first, the early mornings were no big deal; but, we all knew that day was quickly coming when it would require an all-out war to get the kid up, on the bus, and off to school before 6:50. unfortunately, the novelty of the situation wore off after only his first two days at which point aim and i had to do what any set of self-respecting, well-grounded parents would do... we resorted to bribery.

my experience is that bribery generally works with most kids. i have also found that by caleb's own admission, i am his "best buddy" when i buy him things that he wants. which is good to know, because caleb is a very formidable, if not masterful, opponent in matches of who can out-stubborn whom. there is no text book for negotiating with a child like our #2 and even if there ever was, i likely threw it out the window long ago while trying to convince caleb to do some tortuous task like eat lunch.

fine. he may be stubborn, but i'm smart. aimee's smart. therefore, together we must be smart squared. that's pretty dang smart (i think my claim of being smart just took a hit). the point? we have learned over the course of our dealings with caleb that negotiations are delicate and unpredictable. one day the threat of not being able to watch batman will work wonders, but then accomplish nothing the next. for me, the trick has been listening to caleb talk about what interests him at the time (i think i may be on to something with this listening stuff) and then using it as a carrot. of course some carrots are bigger than others and sometimes the size of the carrot is not as important as the timing of the delivery of the carrot.

lately, caleb has been wanting to go to chuck e. cheeze's (side note: hand sanitizing companies could increase sales by 200% by simply setting up shop in every chuck e. cheeze's in the country). boom: there's the carrot.

wednesday rolls around. this is a day to day battle. must be nimble. a new day calls for a new carrot. chuck e. cheeze's is a pretty big carrot. should be sufficient to incentivize him into getting up, getting ready and onto the bus without much effort. cell phone alarm clock goes off... hit snooze. goes off again, hit snooze again. goes off one more time, snooze one more time. goes off yet again and now we only have ten minutes to get him ready and on the bus (the school feeds him breakfast thank goodness).

negotiations begin.

caleb: i don't want to get up... i'm sleepy. you never let me sleep (it's true. we keep our kids up all night by spraying water on them as soon as they start to close their eyes).

aim/jer: (thought process: start small, see if it's enough. save cheeze's if possible) but caleb, don't you want to go to class, you're teacher is waiting...

caleb: no, i'm sleepy.

aim/jer: but caleb, the bus is on it's way. do you want us to have to call the bus driver and tell her to turn around because you don't want to go???

caleb: yes

aim/jer: are you sure??? that's not very nice....

caleb: yes, i'm sleepy.

aim/jer: (time is short. initiate plan b, bring out the big guns) caleb, what if we go to chuck e. cheeze's tonight? if you're a good boy and get up and get ready, we can go to chuck e. cheeze's

caleb: //silence// (did he go back to sleep, or is he thinking about it?)

aim/jer: don't you want to go to chuck e. cheeze's?

caleb: yes

we got him...

caleb: but, not tonight... (translation: you have no leverage here. move on to your next bargaining chip).

what??? back to the drawing board.

lately, that has been the typical morning around here. fortunately, caleb is loving pre-school (after he wakes up and gets there). as you can see from the pictures, he was pretty excited to go and has a good time while he is there. this helps get him motivated in the morning. he has been talking about this for months, so we are glad he is finally getting to do it.

i just realized it is sunday night and i have no carrots lined up for tomorrow's negotiations. i'm done.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

pics from the deep south

i finally got around to uploading the photos from our mississippi and louisiana trip. here are some of my favorites. you can catch them all in the video below. many thanks to big jeff and special k for making the trip possible. we loved it and are already looking forward to the next one.

kicking back in the room.

on the river

pulling the waverunner out.

taking it in.

out to the pier for some fishing.

j-man trying to catch something.

getting ready to eat some brazilian bbq.

limo from the airport.

always the watchful parents.

kat and b lemon on the escalator at the aquarium.

g-ma with da boyz.

cool indo american pole at the zoo.

little ones checking out the animals.

this is the bus we showed up to church in. see post below.

this was the view from mine and aim's room.

web from the zoo.

kids jumping at the zoo.

checking out the gators.

video forthcoming.

iinitiate the blog

iinitiate the blog