Making up for lost posts

For those of you who have been wondering, I’m still a Happy Husband. I’m just not a blogging husband anymore. Even so, I still think in terms of blogging sometimes. If I’d had the time and inclination over the past few months to actually put my thoughts on the web, these are a few of the things I would have written about.


We’re having another baby. Tomorrow. Literally. Tater is 15 months old. He’s walking, and he says a couple of words, but he doesn’t really talk. We still have to change his diapers. We also have to feed him, thought he’s getting to where he can eat certain things without help. And now we’re having another baby. Tomorrow. I hope I’m not freaking out too much.


I think if I ever get a job at NASA, I’ll make it a point to go to work every day and say, “Come on, people, this isn’t brain surgery!” I don’t think that would ever get old.


My mother knows a couple at her church who recently went through an interesting pregnancy. Their five-month sonogram revealed that they were having a boy. Another sonogram in the eighth month revealed that their child was actually a girl. At the time of delivery, they discovered that there was actually one of each. So I’m a little dubious about the accuracy of our sonograms, especially since there are a few sets of twins in Mrs. Happy’s family. And the sonogram techs and doctors are so cavalier about their infallibility. The tech that did our five-month sonogram said, “Well…I don’t see any boy parts….” Five minutes later, she said, “Okay…um…it’s a girl.” Since our proverbial cup runneth over with pink baby gear now, I seriously hope she was right.


You know what really annoys me about smokers? It’s not that they knowingly pump their bloodstream full of carcinogens, or that many of them feel they have a right to pollute the air of public spaces with secondhand smoke. It’s not even that they litter streets and highways with cigarette butts that take as much as 25 years to decompose. No, what bothers me most about smokers is that they’re so darn picky about the cigarettes they smoke. I understand that it’s none of my business what brand of nail anyone wants to use in his own coffin, but it’s torture when I’m standing in line at a convenience store behind a smoker who can’t fully communicate to the foreign-born clerk that he wants Marlboro Lights Low Tar Unfiltered Menthol 150′s, and not the 155′s that the clerk pulled from behind the counter. Smokers are even worse than scratch-off lottery players in that regard.


I’ve heard that when the body experiences too much sensation (usually pain), it sort of shuts down the part of the brain that registers that stuff. It’s commonly known as going into shock. I’m afraid that’s happened to my emotions lately. I and my family have been through a lot this past year (recap: unemployment—> pregnancy—> Tater’s birth—> move from New York to Texas—> continued unemployment and lots of personal stress—> Tater’s first birthday—> Tobe’s conception—> employment after 18 months of joblessness—> Tobe’s impending birth). It hasn’t all been pain, but I’ve felt so many intense emotions that I’m finding it hard to feel anything at all. On the other hand, I can also cry like a little girl with little or no provocation.


I’ve always had a very low tolerance for noisy children in public, especially in places that require a level of decorum (churches, restaurants, libraries, etc.). At my grandmother’s funeral, I sat with my extended family on my mother’s side while my father held Tater in the rear pew of the funeral parlor. The whole purpose of that was so that he could whisk the baby away if he started making noise. The problem was that my father adores the sound of his grandson babbling and cooing, and assumes everyone else does too. About halfway through the service, I started getting antsy because I could hear Tater making all kinds of noise, and I worried that my fellow funeral-goers would get angry about it. Then I thought, “If Nana were here and I suggested that her great-grandson be taken to the lobby, she would scold me pretty harshly.” I’m glad my dad kept him in the room for the duration of the service.


I’m having to wipe tears away after writing that last paragraph. See what I’m talking about?


In order to forestall criticisms, disapprovals, and suggestions for alternatives, Mrs. Happy and I have not told anyone what we plan to name Tobe. A friend of mine actually threw out red herrings in response to name inquiries before his daughter was born. He told people that “if it’s a boy, we’ll name him Halbert Porter, and if it’s a girl she’ll be Amethyst, with no middle name.” I tried that. I told a few people we were thinking of naming our daughter Penelope, but we would pronounce it to rhyme with antelope, and “we’re still deciding between that and Persephone,” which would rhyme with telephone. I didn’t have the nerve to let anyone believe I was serious for more than five minutes.


Two muffins are sitting next to each other in an oven. One muffin turns to the other and says, “It’s starting to get hot in here.” The second muffin says, “Holy cow! A talking muffin!”


I hate comment spam, but sometimes it’s entertaining. It puzzles me how thousands of cyberscumbags manage to flood blog comments with tripe and yet be unable to write an intelligible sentence or spell the simplest words. The Dadaists sometimes give me a chuckle. A couple of times, though, comment spam has really made a positive impact on me. A few months ago, my life was in a hopeless position. I had a wife, a child, a child on the way, and no job. In fact, I had been unemployed for over a year. I’d had many interviews, but no viable offers. I was on the brink of despair. Then one day I looked at my backlog of pending comments (400 or so pieces of spam) and saw one on a post called Hope for the hopeless. I didn’t remember what that particular post was about, so I read it. It had nothing to do with what I was going through except for the last line: “There’s no such thing as a dead end in His kingdom.” That encouraged me. Had it not been for that post getting spammed, I don’t know how I would’ve coped. What man meant for evil, God meant for good. It’s not Joseph’s story, but I’ll take what I can get.


Did I mention we’re having another baby? Tomorrow morning? I’ll be holding our new baby in about 12 hours. Wow.

Huh

I haven’t looked at Sitemeter, TTLB, or Technorati in about six months. At some point, I just felt ridiculous monitoring all the statistics and rankings, so I stopped. I don’t know why I bothered a Google experiment today, since I haven’t done this in probably two years, but I found that if you do a Google search for the word husband, this site comes in at No. 1. It also works if you search for brotobe and movies with epilectics, though that last one actually lists this site third.

I’m a Dadblogger

Back in December, Doug Henderson contacted me to let me know about a group blog he was starting called Dadbloggers. I responded enthusiastically, saying, “I’d love to participate.” Life and laziness conspired to keep me from contributing. I consoled myself with the fact that I recruited a couple of online friends to participate in the ongoing project, but I’ve lived with a twinge of a guilty conscience for about five months now.

I figured Doug had given up on me, but he sent me an e-mail recently saying I was still welcome to join. I finally did, and my first post was published there today, so check it out. Also, don’t miss Matt’s most recent Dadblog post, in which he explains a nice family project that I will definitely do once Tater starts talking.

A bit of stuff

Not everything I think fits neatly into a blog post. Sometimes I want to express myself but just can’t find an appropriate outlet. Since the practice of blogging allows for periodic self-indulgence, here are some things I’ve been thinking about lately.


Klingons are supposed to be the ultimate warriors, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one win a fight except with another Klingon. Worf once beat up a string of opponents in an episode of DS9, but even Quark, a simpering Ferengi, was able to outwit a Klingon warrior on the Klingon home world, in front of the Klingon High Council. And Worf once got his heiney handed to him by a group of three or four Ferengi. This has been bothering me for a long time.


Mrs. Happy and I tried going on the South Beach diet so that she could take off some of her stubborn pregnancy weight. I don’t really need to lose weight. For much of my life, I’ve been dangerously thin, and only in recent years have I reached what experts consider the ideal weight for a man of my height and frame. I need to eat healthier foods, though, and South Beach is supposed to condition you to eat well. From Wednesday to Sunday, Mrs. Happy lost three pounds. In that same time period, I lost almost six. I don’t have six pounds to lose, so I’m not on the diet anymore.


I love reading Charles Dickens. Great Expectations has long been one of my favorite books. Right now I’m reading David Copperfield, and I like it even more. I wish I had his talent for expression and first-person point-of-view. Tater shows a little aptitude in that direction, I hope, but even he has a long way to go. Here’s a bit from DC that I particularly enjoyed, about the narrator’s wedding day:

The church is calm enough, I am sure, but it might be a steam-power loom in full action, for any sedative effect it has on me. I am too far gone for that.

And after the honeymoon:

Sometimes, of an evening, when I looked up from my writing, and saw her seated opposite, I would lean back in my chair, and think how queer it was that there we were, alone together as a matter of course–nobody’s business any more–all the romance of our engagement put away on a shelf, to rust–no one to please but one another–one another to please for life.


Speaking of Tater, he can sit up now. He can also eat mushy rice, play chords on his four-key piano, and open doors that are slightly ajar. He still gets cuter every day.


I feel like the Michael Jordan of Minesweeper. I got pretty good at it back in the early ’90s when Windows was new, but since I’ve been unemployed, I’m an absolute ace. No mine is safe from me. I will root it out and mark it for all to see. Unless, of course, it’s under one of two adjacent squares, either of which could logically be hiding it. My best time is 143 seconds on the expert level. I’m sure there are people out there who can do better, but I don’t want to know about them.


I’ve always considered myself a “geek by association” simply because it seems the only people who will be friends with me are the intelligent and unacceptably eccentric social outcasts. It occurs to me now that I can’t be an actual geek because no true geek would enjoy playing Minesweeper, much less admit it in public.


I don’t know why anyone would ever go to the effort of making a full-length motion picture with stop-motion animation, but I’m glad they do. I recently saw Corpse Bride and Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Both sound pretty morbid, but both are sweet, funny, original films, lovingly crafted and a joy to watch.


I really haven’t been in a blogging mood lately. I feel vaguely guilty when I neglect my blog, but that doesn’t help me write. I’ve considered scrapping it completely, but I know that as soon as I do, I’ll wish I hadn’t. Instead, I’ll just make it official that this site will not be updated regularly for a while. I’ll only write when I have something to say.

Friends, bloggers

In continuation of my series on sidebar links, here’s why I link to the people in the Friends category:

When I lived in New York, I worked with three guys who I refer to as my geek friends. When I first started calling them that, they adopted it as a group name for all four of us, though my geek qualifications don’t hold a candle to theirs. It seems that no matter where I go, I end up being friends with the weirdest people around. I like to think it’s because I choose to hang around with the most interesting people (and the weirdoes are always the most interesting folks in any room), but the truth is probably just that they’re the only ones who care to talk to me. Anyway, TheWriteJerry is a fellow writer, and the first of the gfs to insinuate himself into my life. He has actually written stories that were published in Superman and The Incredible Hulk comic books, among others, and served as writer for the graphic novel Samson: Judge of Israel. He even wrote a few Hardy Boys novels in his younger days. Jerry is the one who suggested to me that I try writing a regular newspaper column about marriage. I liked the idea, but it sounded like a whole lot of trouble, so I started a blog instead.

I once wrote that “The Mysterious Cloaked Figure and I went to a local cinema to see the movie Elektra.” I spoke to my friend the next day, and he told me he prefers to go by MCF because when it’s spelled out it “sounds kinda dorky.” I said, “I have an overweight friend who complains when he thinks that a particular pair of pants makes his butt look kinda big, but I just tell him, ‘Dude, you’re 5’6″ and you weigh 230 pounds. You’re butt’s gonna look kinda big.’” MCF responded either with a blank stare or a vulgar epithet—I can’t remember—but that’s why I love him. He channels his dorkiness into creativity, poignancy, and hilarious storytelling on MCF’s Nexus of Improbability. It’s one of my few daily reads.

Rey is sort of an exception to the rule that geeks are lonely outcasts who can’t make friends. Even though he can debate for hours about whether Green Lantern or Quasar would win in a fight—and how the various Green Lanterns would fare in that battle—he still manages to carry on normal conversations with normal people. On The Bible Archive, he plunges into Biblical texts and comes out with sound interpretations that regularly draw accusations of heresy from people who disagree with him. Funny thing is, even those people can’t help but like him because of his easygoing manner and winning personality. Or it could be that in real life he looks pretty menacing and unstable, so people may actually be afraid to cross him. Either way.

I met Messy Christian and Adrian Warnock in Manhattan a couple of years ago while they were both in the States on business. MC was still on Blogspot at the time. She had been blogging only a couple of months, but had gained notoriety quickly due to her unabashed honesty in journaling her spiritual struggles. Adrian, on the other hand, is sort of the godfather of the Evangelical Christian blogosphere (his links have boosted traffic to THH quite a bit), and his blog is a clearinghouse for hot topics among Christians. He’s a calm, evenhanded blogger who still somehow ends up in the middle of every controversy that arises among blogging Christians.

As a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, it seems unnatural to include a link on my blog to anyone coming out of Texas A&M University. Aggies are not known for writing ability or coherent thought. Amy, Mrs. Happy’s friend for something like a million years, is an exception. Her World of Random Thoughts lives up to its name with musings on politics, entertainment, personal stuff, and…well…random thoughts.

There’s a long, pointless story about how my college roommate came to register a domain for the town of Peachwater, Texas. Suffice it to say, it’s legendary among my circle of Austin friends. The web site has evolved into a journal and pretty cool photoblog. Lately, he’s been abusing his power as Peachwater’s webmaster by posting personal stuff rather than town stuff. If he doesn’t watch out, he may get fired.

IreneQ is another Malaysian blogger, and the attention she’s given me on her site goes a long way toward explaining the number of Malaysian readers who visit The Happy Husband. I can’t say enough about Irene. She’s the only person on this list I haven’t met in person, but this blog owes more to her than the rest of them combined. I started reading her blog before I began my own, and she offered more advice and linkagery than anyone else, which is why I think of her as my bigblogsister. I think it was back in 2004 that she decided to think up a better word for blog, and I vowed to help her. The best thing I could come up with was porkpie. It never really caught on.

Wives, mothers, bloggers

Last week I explained why I link to the Husbands/Fathers in my sidebar. Here’s why I link to the various Wives/Mothers:

I found Amy’s Humble Musings in my referrer logs about a year-and-a-half after I started this blog. I visited her site to find her writing about me as her stiffest competition in the category of Best New Blog in the first year of the Evangelical Underground Evangelical Blog Awards. She also took pains to point out that since I had been blogging for 18 months, I ought to be disqualified. About a day later, my name was taken off the list. She felt horrible and apologized as profusely as she could. I didn’t hold it against her, because The Happy Husband was not new by any definition. It just happened that one of my bonehead friends wanted to nominate me for something, and THH didn’t fit in any other category. Anyway, Amy’s writing was great. She has a husband and something like six kids, including a newborn son, so she never lacks for interesting stories and new insights.

Julie Ann Fidler has been through more hard times in her marriage than nearly anyone I know. She wrote a book about it, and she also blogs about it at Fidler on the Roof. It’s inspiring to hear from someone in the middle of difficulties who is still determined to work through everything and live up to her marriage vows. On the other hand, it’s a little annoying when she abbreviates the name of her blog to FOTR, and I start wondering why she’s suddenly talking about Fellowship of the Ring. Then again, maybe I’m just more of a geek than I think.

Ben Wilson and Marla Swoffer were the first two bloggers I came across who focused on marriage issues. When I first encountered her online, the title of Marla’s blog was The Proverbial Wife. It has gone through several redesigns and name changes since then, and she focuses a little less on marriage now, but I still like to read pretty much everything she writes.

I’ve had Miss O’Hara in the Friends link category for a while simply because she was single. She’s engaged now, and on the verge of being married, so today I moved her to a more appropriate section. She blogs mainly (and engagingly) about politics, but she’s quite opinionated on the subject of marriage and related topics. She’s also one of the few people I feel like I’ve actually gotten to know a little solely through blogs, comments, and e-mails.

At this particular moment, I can’t remember how or why I started reading Scott and Lori‘s blog. I don’t even remember what they called it at the time, though it has gone through several changes since. I do know that I have enjoyed reading as their relationship has stayed strong even before they were married and separated by an ocean (she in Arkansas, he in Scotland). They’re married now, and living in Scotland.

In November of 2004, I read a post at Thinklings that was 100 reasons one of the bloggers there loved his wife. I stupidly didn’t link to it then, and I can’t find it now, but it inspired me to make my own list. I’ve seen other bloggers make similar lists, but only one that I’m aware of has devoted an entire site to it. Glorybeam is the blogger behind Why I Love My Husband, and I truly hope she doesn’t stop at 100 posts.

Fellow husbands, fathers, and bloggers

A long time ago, I thought it would be a good idea to list some blogs that I visit frequently and explain why I read them. Then I thought it would be an even better idea to explain my rationale for listing the blogs that are in my sidebar. I never did either of those things. I have been stuck for something to write lately, though, so here’s why the sidebar blogs in the category of Husbands/Fathers are there:

Marriages Restored is a blog by Ben Wilson. Back when I was a brand-new blogger, this was the first marriage-oriented blog I found. His marriage survived infidelity, and now he and his wife give seminars and counsel couples who are dealing with that difficult issue.

CoffeeSwirls by Doug McHone really has very little to do with marriage. Doug is a devoted husband and father, but he writes mainly about sports and theology. Sometimes he writes something that makes me glad to know there are people like him out there.

Ryan’s Head is another blog that has brief, shining moments of marriage-loving. For some reason I can’t remember, I’ve always felt a real kinship with Ryan, even though we’ve never met and have never lived within a thousand miles of each other. Maybe some day we’ll meet and I’ll figure it out.

Tony Woodlief writes Sand in the Gears. He is a wonderful if sporadic writer, and the posts he writes about his family are absolutely priceless.

Spare Change comes from the prolific mind of Bryan McAnally. He writes lots of short posts about whatever he’s thinking or reading, and marriage occupies his blogging mind fairly regularly. Now that I’m in Texas (he’s near Dallas, I’m in Austin), he’s probably the nearest sidebar Husband/Father to me geographically.

Bowden McElroy writes Counseling Notes, a blog filled with his thoughts as a marriage counselor. Since he is a professional counselor, his site is full of solid, practical advice for many different situations.

Several months ago, I was invited to take part in a new group blog called DadBloggers. I enthusiastically accepted, but never followed through. I could plead my case, citing specific points in which my life allowed me no time, but it would just be rationalization. The ones who do contribute, though, are invariably encouraging and inspiring.

Steve Lynch travels a great deal due to his job. He doesn’t want to be an absent father, so he gives his children Lessons From the Road. I’m sure that’s not all he gives them, but it’s the only thing he also shares with the blogosphere, and we’re the better for it.

I’m not sure how he does it, but King of Fools manages to make it clear how much he loves his family without ever actually saying so. He blogs mostly about politics, but when he writes about his family, he permeates every word with powerful affection.

Matt Nightingale is my oldest friend, my favorite singer, and a true kindred spirit. I read his blog for his writings about marriage, fatherhood, Christian life, and the arts.

A few things…

If there’s one thing fatherhood has taught me, it’s that a baby leaves you
little time or energy for blogging. Also, you have to get control of his feet
before removing a diaper. I guess that’s two things. I’ve also learned (this
brings us up to three now) that a really good baby can make all kinds of interesting
facial expressions. He
can look intelligent and ponderous and still have trouble finding his own thumb.
He will find it eventually, though, with spectacularly cute results.

But if
there are four things fatherhood has taught me so far, the fourth is that
if
you
can’t
get
noticed
by Glenn Reynolds,
the
next
best
way
to
draw
new readers is to post baby
pictures. That simple act
can
increase
your blog traffic by up to 50% even if you write less.

I guess that’s all.