Curing 30 Years One Month At A Time

April 1, 2009

A Bun In The Oven, A Pea In The Pod And An Eggo That’s Preggo

Filed under: indecisiveness — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 8:46 pm
Looks Can Be Deceiving

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Come nine months from now, there will be a new addition to the Ripa household. Hopefully the world is ready for it because a mini-me is on the way. That’s right; Jenn has a bun in the oven, a pea in her pod and finds herself in the family way.  Plain and simple, her eggo is preggo and I have the pregnancy test to prove it.

Before my mother has a massive heart attack, I should reassure her and everyone else that we are in fact ‘without child’ even though there was a fifteen minute stretch where I wasn’t so sure thanks to an elaborate April Fool’s joke orchestrated by Jenn. Yes, mom you can blame for your rise in blood pressure. Now you may be wondering how I got duped. Let me explain how your sweet and innocent daughter-in-law played me for a fool.

The night was going along as usual. We had finished up dinner and were taking the kids upstairs for a bath when Jenn asked if I would grab their shampoo and soap from our bathroom.  Thinking nothing of it, I pick up the necessary bathing products and turn around when I notice something on the sink. No….it can’t be what I think it is.  Why would there be a pregnancy test sitting on our bathroom counter.  I took a closer look to see if it had been used.  And, what the heck… it’s positive?!?  How in the world? 

Back upstairs I go with the soap and shampoo wondering what just happened.  When I got upstairs, I stopped in the doorway of the bathroom and looked at Jenn, who smiled back at me when I asked her if I just saw what I think I saw.  She said yes, it was true: there was a positive test downstairs.  In disbelief I gave her the shampoo, stared into the mirror for a good long minute, hung my head and began to feel a little dizzy.  I kept asking Jenn and myself if this was really happening.  I sat down on the floor, put my head between my knees and breathed. 

It is what it is.  I mean, we’ve been careful and responsible and if this is what God has decided for our family, then so be it.  But, is this really happening?  Jenn insisted that it was true.  How can you argue with a positive pregnancy test she asked.  She said she was as surprised as I was but that it makes sense since she has been feeling slightly nauseated and exhausted for the last week and a half.  I have to say, I was surprised but then again, I guess it made sense. 

So, still in shock I sat on the floor just outside the bathroom. Jenn climbed into my lap, I gave her a kiss and she said to me, “So, I guess you should update your Facebook status… Asheley is pregnant.” And then she laughs.  She got me!  Asheley is our good friend who is pregnant with her fourth child.  Apparently, Jenn and Ash got together this morning and Ash helped her out with her conspiracy to play the April Fools joke on me.  Nice one, Ash.

Funny how this all took place the same night when I was trying to figure out how to sum up these past 30 days of attempting to cure my indecisiveness. The more elaborate the prank the greater commitment it requires. You have to be decisive in your delivery. There can be no second-guessing your decision. When you go for it you have to be completely sure this is something you want to do.  Jenn hadn’t the slightest clue of how I would react, but that didn’t affect her in the least bit. Ash peed on a stick and dog gone it Jenn was going to pull off one of the greatest pranks ever. Well done, my love, well done.

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March 25, 2009

5 Is The New 25: You Cannot Stop A Facebook Phenomenon, You Can Only Hope To Contain Them

Filed under: indecisiveness — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 12:01 am

 

Have You Caught The Facebook Funk?

Have You Caught The Facebook Funk?

 

 

The Carolina Crud, the ILM Ickies, The Plague, The Two-Day Disaster. These are just some of the names given to the stomach bug on steroids that seems to be making its’ rounds recently amongst our friends. For a 48-hour stretch one is knocked completely out of commission and dead to the world. It feels like someone or something yelled ‘FIRE!’ in your lower intestines forcing your insides to bum rush every available exit way. Let’s just say it is not a pretty sight or smell. The only benefit of this bug is that you finally have a legitimate excuse to lounge on the couch in your pajamas and watch reruns of Judge Judy all afternoon.

The outbreak incubator begins to heat up especially if you have children.  Luckily, so far (fingers crossed) our family has been spared the torture of bowing down in worship to the porcelain God. Not wanting any possible bad mojo to come our way, I have avoided crossing the “O” and “U” shelf at Blockbuster just to make sure I have no possible contact with the movies Outbreak and Quarantine.

Judging by the Facebook statuses of my family and friends, a different virus seems to be spreading. It appears to be a mutation of a vicious strand of the 25 Random Things About Me which reached its’ potency peak in January of this year. Nearly 20 million people in the United States alone visited the Notes section of Facebook during that month. To put this number in perspective, this is roughly 4 times more people than the usual traffic it gets.

How quickly the disease went viral was mind-boggling.  At first, it appeared to only target the self-obsessed individual who updated their status every 5 seconds just to be sure everyone knew how much they loved Fruity Pebbles. Then something unexpected happened. A glorified forwarded email became all the rage allowing the disease to spread and get stronger. Suddenly, no one seemed to be immune to its’ clutches, even your retired grandmother in Florida who got tagged by all of her Red Hat society friends.

Every time you logged on to Facebook you nervously wondered if this was finally the day you were tagged. When the initial signs of outbreak made an appearance, the choices were to quickly take antibiotics (hitting ignore) and get better or allow it to fester and leave yourself vulnerable for infestation. The mind became weak as you began to wonder what pieces of information you could share. The nuggets included the highly personal (you’re a bi-polar schizophrenic who has daddy issues), completely random (you only eat Green M&M’s) and stuff bordering on TMI (your feet smell like corn nuts).

Some withheld giving in, but many contradicted this mini autobiography disease. Unfortunately, a new mutated gene has quickly become a hot bed of activity flooding my news feed. The viral marketers of LivingSocial.com have cloned the DNA from the “25 Things About Me” craze by creating the “Pick Your 5.” I guess you could say that 5 is the new 25.

The premise seems simple enough, which explains why it so addictive. Pick the 5 televisions shows you’ve seen every episode, your 5 all time favorite movies or the 5 albums that you can listen to from beginning to end.  Come up with your contenders, whittle down the list, make your final decision and then post for the world to see.

Back in January, I humored you (or bored you…depending on who you ask) by completing the 25 Random Things About Me in an effort to cure my socially stunted disorder, which just happened to be the focus for that month. Fast forward to today. March is coming to a close and I need to know if I have made any progress towards my goal of curing my chronic indecisiveness. Considering the wealth of time I waste filling my noggin with random pieces of pop culture, deciding on something like the 5 CD’s that defined my college years would seem to be near to impossible. But, I’m going to give it a shot by filling out a few of these lists. So, here it goes.

 

Five Albums That Shaped Me

1.     August And Everything After by Counting Crows

2.     Under The Table And Dreaming by Dave Matthews Band

3.     Room For Squares by John Mayer

4.     The Joshua Tree by U2

5.     MTV Unplugged by Dashboard Confessional

 

Five Recent Albums I Dig

1.     Let The Woman by Andy Davis

2.     The Bens by The Bens

3.     We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things by Jason Mraz

4.     Gossip In The Grain by Ray LaMontagne

5.     The Glass Passenger by Jack’s Mannequin

 

Five Best Television Shows

1.     Lost

2.     How I Met Your Mother

3.     The Office

4.     House

5.     Friday Night Lights

 

Five Books I Recommend

1.     Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

2.     Half-Life Die Already: How I Died And Lived To Tell About It by Mark Steele

3.     Divine Nobodies: Shredding Religion To Find God (and the unlikely people who help you) by Jim Palmer

4.     The Year Of Living Bibilcally: One Man’s Humble Quest To Follow The Bible As Literally As Possible by A.J. Jacobs

5.     A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering America On The Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

 

Five Movies That I Will Watch Over and Over Again

1.     Office Space

2.     Rudy

3.     Good Will Hunting

4.     Old School

5.     Saved

 

Alright, as riveting and difficult as this is for me, I’ll stop while I am ahead. I think we can all agree on two things if you have read this far: (1) You must be extremely bored or have way too much free time on your hands (2) One cannot stop a Facebook phenomenon; you can only hope to contain them.

March 22, 2009

Swiping Travel Size Maple Syrup Causes Me To Get Roasted By The Gambler

Filed under: indecisiveness — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:26 pm

 

The Gambler Is The King Of Cracker Barrel

The Gambler Is The King Of Cracker Barrel

A normal visit to go see my family in Maryland should take approximately 6 hours and 45 minutes. Silly MapQuest with your “estimated” time and distance. You’ve obviously never taken a car ride with the Ripa clan. Haven’t you heard of potty breaks, switching of DVD’s and the numerous stops we make to stretch our legs?

This is not even taking into consideration the “I’m so tired of being stuck in my car seat that even watching the last installment of the Shrek trilogy will not suffice” freak out that takes place every trip somewhere around the city limits of Tyson’s Corner, VA. Experiencing a double helping of the meltdown to end all meltdowns always serves as a great first memory of our vacation.

The long trek up north not only leads to cramped legs, but clogged arteries as well. The dining options on I-95 are less than stellar. The majority of places right off the highway are fast food joints where the focus of feeding the masses doesn’t lend itself to achieving anything better than the remedial level of sanitary scores. It gives a new dimension to the saying of stopping for a ‘quick fill up for gas.’  If you are feeling extremely daring and venture a few miles into an actual town, you normally come across a greasy spoon where the local yokels don’t take kindly to Yankees who order un-sweet ice tea.

This means when you need an extended break from the ‘are we there yet?’ chants coming from the peanut gallery in the back row, your only option is to head to the place where Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers are king and queen. The restaurant I speak of is Cracker Barrel and there are no fewer than 8 locations scattered throughout our trip. For those unfortunate souls who have never experienced this hallmark of the south, you go for the Chicken Fried Steak, but come back for the Old Country Store. While waiting to be seated, you have the opportunity to peruse rooster lamps, Mork & Mindy DVD packs and inspirational salt & peppershakers. 

Each store also has a giant checkers board set out on display for those who have already purchased their John Deere Neon Wall Clock. Unfortunately, after the typical spanking I receive from Jenn at checkers, my Sawmill Gravy often does not taste as hearty as I imagined it. Look out Scrabble, there seems to be a new addition to the list of games Jenn beats me like a rented mule at every time we play.

How can this possibly be? In order to excel at checkers, a person needs to possess the ability to examine every possible move before they make it.  A plan and forethought is needed to be successful because every move you make creates numerous other possibilities. If this is the case then checkers should be right in my wheelhouse.

As odd as it might sound, it is a game tailor made for those with indecisive tendencies like myself. Worry and stress would appear to be attributes a checker grand wizard should posses. Indecisive people are known to make the simplest of choices larger than life. We fret over every decision that needs to be made.  If you think we are a little obsessive over silly choices like pepperoni or cheese and The Office of Grey’s Anatomy, you have no idea what grief is caused by the big time decisions of purchasing a home, having kids and the grand purpose of your life. The fear of the worst-case scenario often causes me not to act.

Even though I know there can only be one outcome to every choice I make, it does not stop me from stressing about a thousand different scenarios that I “believe” could take place. Not wanting to be caught off guard, I try to prepare myself for how the cards will fall if I chose what is behind door number 1,2, or 3. The longer I sit on making a decision the more outrageous and extravagant the possible outcomes become.

In my indecisive mind, something as simple as deciding to swipe the travel size maple syrup containers off the table at Cracker Barrel causes my mind to race about the possible results of my actions. Needing a sugar shot of adrenaline to keep me awake behind the wheel, my sticky fingers would lead to a slower reaction time and the possibility of a fender bender on the highway. I could become addicted to syrup leading to high blood sugar and an early death. Years later I could get a call from the cops saying Maddie or Paige were caught shoplifting and when I begin to lecture them they say, “Dad, the thought that crime was a viable career option started that one trip up to Granny and Pop-Pop’s house when you said you had a hankering for pancakes.”  Not being so stealth, the waitress could catch me slipping the syrup into Jenn’s purse. She grabs me by the arm and takes me back to the stock room where none other than Kenny Rogers interrogates me. Luckily, after roasting me for quite a while, he decides to take it easy on me. He says he always has a soft spot in his heart for a gambler. 

March 19, 2009

The Magician Of The Mundane Has Fooled You All…

Filed under: indecisiveness — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 9:34 pm

 

Don't Let The Boredom Fool You...

Don't Let The Boredom Fool You...

From the outside, I appear to be a set in my ways and highly structured. Every Tuesday night you will find our family dining at Atlanta Bread and afterwards letting our girls run wild at Barnes & Noble. Like clockwork, Saturday mornings means pulling the trifecta of bagels, Target and Costco. Sadly, or should I say pathetically, numerous evenings are centered on when the television shows I can’t miss are playing. If heaven forbid there is a rerun, I am beside myself as to what to do.

The insanity of being a man who ‘likes what he likes.’ even trickles down to what I eat. My drink of choice is caffeine free Diet Coke. Only one flavor of ice cream will do: chocolate chip cookie dough. I might get a bad case of the Outback’s after every time I dine there, but the fact remains I don’t have to open my menu knowing I’ll get the Outback Special with Aussie Cheese Fries every time.

Since I was 14 years old, Santa has always left Hot Tamales and Slim Jim’s in my stockings, along with gym socks for some odd reason. There will be some who think I am taking creative liberties and stretching the truth to serve my own purpose of making a point. However, I invite those individuals to join me for lunch at the Subway in downtown Wilmington, NC and watch what happens when I walk in the door. I can guarantee you that the lady behind the counter will instinctively prepare the ‘usual’, which is a turkey and pepper jack cheese on honey oat bread.

The predictability of my life shows up in other ways. Turn on my ‘in town’ car and sports talk will be playing on the radio. When I hop behind the wheel you could blindfold me and not be scared to ride shotgun. I’ll take the routes I know without ever veering off course. After work I’ll drive by Auto Wholesale and lust after cars that are way out of my price range.

The madness of the mundane continues even further. Some believe the information you can find off websites goes on forever, but after checking Facebook, Twitter, ESPN and my fantasy sports team, I feel like I have finally reached the end of the Internet. Ask me to help with a task at work and you can be guaranteed your typical “yes” man will oblige.

When I’ve mentioned to family and friends that for the month of March I am focusing on dealing with my indecisiveness, almost always a puzzled look comes across their face. You indecisive they say as they scratch their heads. I have to fight the urge not to crack a smile. It looks like my diabolical scheme has worked flawlessly. My routine life has masked my indecisiveness. I am a magician of the mundane. In a way, I’ve distracted them through sure boredom. 

March 15, 2009

Sorry Dickie V….. I Am Listening To The Physicist When Filling Out My Bracket This Year

Filed under: indecisiveness — Tags: , , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:50 pm

 

Dickie Vitale = Duke Homer

Dickie Vitale = Duke Homer

 

 

If I devoted as much time and energy to studying in college as I do in filling out my March Madness brackets, I would of graduated Magna Cum Laude instead of Praise The Lord-e. Chugging a combination of Mountain Dew and Red Bull in order to stay awake, I was the guy hunkered down in the computer lab at 4 in the morning just starting his introduction statement for the 12 page paper due for my 8 o’clock philosophy class. Procrastination pretty much summed up my work ethic while in school.

However, the complete opposite is true when it comes to my dedication towards March Madness. Only a few minutes after the brackets are announced I begin racking my brain over matchups, statistics and data. I scour rosters looking for teams with solid guard play and senior leadership. Going into my man cave (okay, the living room once the girls are in bed), I break down game film that would make Dean Smith and Bobby Knight proud.

For some strange reason, around this time of year I pay extra close attention to Disney Princess movies just in case it gives me an edge in picking this year’s Cinderella. The internal debate rages on over which team’s bandwagon I should jump on and ride to the finals and which wagon I should avoid at all cost because it is going to break an axle ala The Oregon Trail by losing in the second round of the tourney. Instead of sleeping at night, I toss and turn pondering sleepers. After all, who needs shut eye when bragging rights around the water cooler are hanging in the balance?

There is a fine line between over thinking things and being knowledgeable. Sadly, my head always seems to overpower my gut. Most years the hours of studying result in me being nowhere close to feeling secure in my picks. The problem that arises from cramming your noggin with data is that it can be skewed to make it say whatever you want. This causes my indecisiveness to kick into overdrive. I fill out bracket after bracket after different bracket.

With fifty or so brackets in hand, one would assume this would be the end to the silly charade of proving my basketball I.Q. Anyone else in their right mind would be tying up loose ends by making sure they have Buffalo Wild Wings on speed dial and practicing their best phlegm cough so they can call in sick Thursday and Friday in order to watch the opening round games. However, my lack of self-control finds me heading over to popular sports websites like ESPN and CNNSI to see how my picks line up with the “talking heads.” After all these years, I haven’t the slightest clue why I still listen to “experts” (I use this term very loosely) like Jay “Flip Flop” Bilas, Dick Vitale, Andy Katz and Digger Phelps. I am convinced that on top of being members of the sports media they all have side jobs as used car salesman. Somehow they can make their bracket appear like it is top of the line when chances are good all they are offering is a clunker. Yet, if their selections differ from mine even in the slightest bit, it means yet another bracket is created.

All of the blood, sweat, tears and heartburn I experiencing during March Madness is in hopes of achieving the elusive perfect bracket. It is similar to the quest for the Holy Grail as many have told stories about knowing a friend of a friend of a former college roommate who pulled it off, yet no one has ever seen concrete proof that sheet ever existed. Just for giggles, I decided to do a little research on the math behind the madness that comes with trying to reach perfection with your bracket. Here is some information I found from the American Institute of Physics, you know since the average physicist is concerned over who is going to come out on top in the 5 vs. 12 matchup:

Since there are 64 games and two possible outcomes for each game-a win and a loss-the number of possible outcomes for the tournament is a staggering 2 to the power of 64–2 multiplied by itself 64 times–or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 if you want to spell it out. With that many possibilities, every man, woman, child and baby on the planet could fill out 2.8 billion brackets–each of them completely unique–and still not exhaust the possibilities. Forget about winning for a moment. How about writing out all the possibilities? Even if you could write all your predictions for one bracket in one second, it would take over 500 billion years to write all the possibilities–much longer than the age of the universe. If you could get a billion close friends to help you and each of them could fill in one bracket per second, then you would be done in about 500 years–the 26th century.

Even though it is pretty obvious that luck plays a significant role in winning your office pool, I see filling out brackets as a challenging to my manhood. The beauty of March Madness is that everyone loves the possibility of telling everyone else that they were right. Even the 75-year-old secretary loves to gloat about picking George Mason to go to the Final Four back in 2006. What Beatrice neglects to tell you is that she only picked GMU due to her bad eyesight and thinking it said Perry Mason, which was one of her favorite TV shows back in the 60’s.

Now that I’ve decided to fill out a single bracket this year, I am contemplating throwing all caution to the wind and utilizing these kooky techniques some use in picking out their winners. I could go with the best names in college basketball approach. If I do then that means I am praying for a deep run for Wake Forest (Al-Farouq Aminu meaning ‘The Chief Has Come’) and Michigan State (Idong Ibok). When faced with a tough matchup, I might force the Mascots to throw down MMA style by entering the Octagon for a fight to the death. This technique will only be used as a last resort because it does not bode well for my Maryland Terps considering their first round opponent is the Cal Bears. Chances are good Yogi and Boo-Boo would be enjoying some turtle soup as an appetizer. Considering I live in the hotbed of ACC country, the “D’Oh! Factor” or better known as the “Reverse Homer” pick should be used to give me a leg up on the competition. This means the Duke Blue Devils and UNC Tarheels are out as champs on my bracket as everyone and their mother will have them cutting down the nets in the pools I enter.

I wish I could say how freeing it will be only have one bracket to worry about over the next 3 ½ weeks. But, in actuality my stress level is at an all time high knowing once my bracket is busted it is busted for good. What if my gut lets me down this time? Should I go with my heart or my head? What if God forbid, my mom, Jenn or even my 4-½ year old daughter Madison comes out on top?  After attempting to get over the shame and embarrassment, I’ll throw out the physicist’s card. Since they spent more time studying in college then I did, I can trust those smart physicists know what they are talking about when they say the only thing you can count on during the tourney is the pure unpredictability of it all. Let the Madness begin!

 

Who Will Be Cutting Down The Nets?

Who Will Be Cutting Down The Nets?

 

DON’T FORGET TO JOIN THE 30 TO CURE 30 MARCH MADNESS BRACKET CHALLENGE.

Follow this link to join (the necessary info is found below):

30 To Cure 30 Tourney Time

Group ID #42855

Password: 30 To Cure 30

 

**DON’T FORGET – Be sure to complete your brackets before registration closes at tip off of the first game of Round 1 on Thursday, March 19**

 

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