I’ve written before about my battles with the groundhog in our backyard. I thought I had chased him away two years ago, but like a bad penny, he’s returned. This time he brought friends. I’ve spotted two separate groundhogs out in the yard and they’ve got two different hideouts. The first and most notable of the two is under the shed attached to the back of the house. I’ve caught them out of the burrow a few times and chased them off. I then filled in the hole with rocks and dirt. The next day — and sometimes even within the hour — the hole would be dug out again. Monica even looked it up online and read that groundhogs hate the smell of dryer sheets so we shoved a bunch in there, but to no avail.
The other groundhog hideout is less of a concern. It’s a hollowed out stump on the edge of the yard near the stream. They can have that. The shed hold is unacceptable. It’s an eye sore and I’m concerned about the foundation of the shed itself. After filling in the hole for what felt like the millionth time, I called a professional. Over the weekend, a guy came and set up a trap to catch one of the groundhogs. It’s a lethal trap which I’m fine with. It’s personal now. He explained that he has to kill them either way due to the law. They’re considered a nuisance or something so he can’t just set them free. The choice would be a lethal trap to kill the thing right there or a non-lethal one that he’d then catch and drown or something elsewhere. Why make the extra work? Lethal it is.
While he was setting the trap, this guy (who was incredibly nice and very knowledgable) explained that sometimes the animal will try to run through the trap. This means that it will spring and only catch their hind legs. He told me that if this happens, just pick up one of the nearby rocks and bash its head in. You know, like you do.
After he set the trap and left, I had to go visit some family. When I got back, my neighbor — whom I don’t care for — was having a small barbeque in their backyard with some friends. Instantly I thought of a scene where the groundhog was stuck in the trap, half dead. I’d find it there and realize what had to be done. I would make casual conversation with the neighbors, waving courteously with a smile. “Beautiful day today, huh?” Meanwhile, I’m picking up a large rock. “Can you believe this weather?” THUNK! The rock lands. Blood splatters. “It’s a shame to go back inside.” THUNK! One more just to make sure it’s dead. I never once mention what I’m doing or why. Then I wave once again and head inside. The sheer thought of this had me hysterical laughing. Unfortunately, the opportunity to do this did not present itself.
Monica came home from work today and reported that the trap had sprung and one groundhog had been caught. He lays there, lifeless, head first in the trap as I type this. The trapper guy is coming to dispose of the body and re-set the trap so we can catch the other one. James: 1, Groundhog: 0. Once the other one is gone, I’ll have to fill in the hole with some extra reinforcement to ensure no other critters make their homes in there. These are the things you have to do when you own a house.
UPDATE: The trapper came and reset everything. The next morning we had caught the other groundhog. The trap was reset once more, but nothing else has come through so I think we’re groundhog-free now. I consider this a victory against large rodents.
My youngest son Parker is now 9 months old. Between him and Oliver I’ve cleaned up my fair share of urine, feces, vomit, and more snot than should be possible to come out of a child’s nose. The most disgusting of these bodily fluids by far is drool. It’s unlike any of the others in that it’s almost impossible to entirely get rid of it. A drip of the stuff can get on your hand or shirt and it just won’t go away even if you wipe away at it countless times. There have been several instances where I’ll get to work hours after dropping my kids off at day care only to look down and find that there’s an obvious drool stain on my shirt. It’s par for the course really.
The consistency of drool is what makes it so nasty. It’s almost oily in texture, allowing it to slide freely from surface to surface, without you noticing at first. No amount of tissues, bibs, and burp cloths can keep the tide at bay. Speaking of bibs, they are a must-have at this point in Parker’s life. He needs to be in one at all times because the drool just keeps coming. If I forget to put on one, his chest is drenched within minutes. Even when he’s wearing a bib, that thing gets soaked so quickly. I’ll pick him up and suddenly get slapped with a piece of wet cloth…only it’s not wet from water…it’s wet with the saliva of my infant son.
You basically just have to try to keep up with the waterfall of spit that’s coming out of the kid’s mouth. Bibs help that. Having tissues nearby is a good backup plan. We were out today and I had neither so I sort of used his arm to wipe it up, like an older person would do. Just use your sleeve, right? He didn’t mind.
In related news, I’ve found that Parker really loves it when I toss him up in the air. I was always cautious of this with Oliver because I thought I’d break him or something. That caution is all but gone with the second kid. I haven’t dropped him or anything, but I’ve definitely been throwing him up in the air a lot more. He’s got a huge smile on his face the entire time too. You might see where this story is going. One evening I was sitting in my reclining chair, casually tossing the kid up and catching him. He’s giggling and smiling. Everything is great. Then I toss him up once more. I catch him and at that moment, the drool breaks free from the dam that is his mouth. Gravity pulls it towards the earth, straight down…and into my mouth.
Despite my instant revulsion, I didn’t just throw my infant son across the room. I immediately moved him to the side and started spitting into a nearby burp cloth. It was gross. It was the grossest encounter with baby bodily fluids I’d ever had at that point. (I’ve since had a worse one, but that’s a story for another day.) That hasn’t stopped me from playing with my kids though, nor should it. This kind of stuff is just part of being a parent. It’s something that someone — a doctor, an elder, anyone really — should tell you about. There’s a good chance your kid is going to drool right into your mouth. You’re going to get poop on your hands. You’ll get peed on. Boogers will be wiped all over you. Just hope none of them puke in your mouth / face. I’ve managed to avoid that up until now.
Please note: This entire post is about poop. If you don’t want to read about that, skip this one. I’m being completely serious. This is all about crap.
We’re currently trying to potty train Oliver. He’s 2.5 years old and knows what the toilet is, but he’s not a huge fan of using it. There are times where he’s clearing shitting his pants (you can tell because he has this weird strained face and he’s standing in the corner), but when asked if he can sit on the potty, he refuses. So, we’re still buying diapers in bulk which are crazy expensive, especially when you consider the fact that my son is literally going to piss and crap all over these things before I throw them in the garbage.
If you actually read the instructions for diapers, they tell you to dispose of solid waste in a toilet before throwing in the garbage. I can tell you that we never did that. Why would you want to scoop out the kid’s crap when you can toss the whole thing? The less contact with poop, the better, in my opinion. The thing though is that with Oliver potty-training, we are trying to show him what he should be doing and that includes poop going into the toilet, so we’ve had to do this a few times.
Here’s something else that no one tells you: A toddler’s poop is shaped strangely. You have an idea in your head as to what poop looks like, right? It’s like a cylinder. That’s how it comes out when it goes directly into the toilet. When a kid craps into a diaper, it doesn’t end up that way. It molds around the walls of the diaper, like a horrible version of PlayDoh, creating a big solid mass of fecal matter.
This was the case earlier this week when Oliver insisted on transferring his dump from a diaper into the toilet. Monica was handling this whole transaction while I was preparing dinner. Then I got a call. I was beckoned downstairs because there was a plumbing problem and I’m the dad, so that means it’s my problem. I entered the bathroom to find a solid piece of crap wedged in the bottom of the toilet. It was as if someone had placed the worst smelling candle in my commode. Apparently Monica and Oliver had flushed a few times and that thing just was not moving. It had taken up residency in the bottom of the toilet and it was not being evicted any time soon. Water was flowing around it fine, so it wasn’t blocking up the pipes or anything. It was just hanging out, like a decoration in a fish tank.
I stared at this dumbfounded. What was I expected to do here? I know what to do when the toilet is clogged. The plunger can just unclog that sucker. This wasn’t so much of a clog as an obstruction. Would it dissolve over time? What if we just flushed the toilet a lot? Should I look this up on the Internet? Is there a video on YouTube showing what to do here?
After laughing hysterically at how ridiculous this situation was, I ended up knocking the thing around with the plunger so it eventually went down the drain. Oliver is still in diapers and we have not thrown any other poop into the toilet since.
I’m trying to figure out the best way to distribute podcasts. For now, I can post them here for your enjoyment. I will have RSS feeds and whatnot worked out soon (hopefully). In related news, if you are an artist or graphic designer and want to help me want to help me out with some album artwork for this and two other podcasts, please let me know. I wouldn’t pay you in “exposure.” I’d actually pay you in money. Same goes for musicians to help out with some intro / outro music, plus some intro pieces for some of the segments in the show.
Here’s the very first episode of Raging Nerdon, featuring the geeky ramblings of James Ferguson and BJ Boothe.
Yesterday my sister-in-law, Lindsay got married. It was a great time and everyone enjoyed themselves. We’re all very happy for her and my new brother-in-law, Kirk. This post is not about that. This post is about how I got bit the F up by bed bugs while staying at the Best Western near the Albany Airport the night before the wedding.
Now, there are many things in that last sentence that should have set off some alarm bells. Best Western is a popular hotel chain, but they’re certainly not a glamorous place by any stretch of the imagination. That, coupled with the close proximity of the airport doesn’t sound like a great combination. It’s not like the place had hourly rates or anything. It just had a slight skeevy feel to it. Monica and I got a room with two beds to house us and the kids. Parker was in a pack-n-play and Oliver had a bed to himself. Everything started normal.
Partway through the night, Oliver woke up and wanted someone to lay with him. Monica volunteered, leaving me in the other bed. I then tossed and turned and generally had an awful night sleep. At some point, perhaps around 1 or 2 AM, in my half awake stupor, I saw what I believe to be a small bug crawling along the edge of the sheet. I try to squash it and say out loud “I sincerely hope that wasn’t what I thought it was.”
I managed to get some sleep regardless of this and the occasional screaming child. I get out of bed in the morning and notice two red marks on my right side, around my waist line. They looked a little like bug bites, but they didn’t really bother me. I didn’t think much of them.
Fast forward a few hours. We’re now at a different hotel, waiting for the wedding to begin. I’m dressed in my suit and my right forearm is very itchy. I’m starting to think this is really a bed bug situation. Monica, Oliver, and Parker are completely fine. Throughout the night, I notice other bites on my right hand and my left leg. That was just the beginning.
After the wedding and reception ended, Monica and I retired upstairs. While changing, I found at least a dozen bites over my right arm, both legs, back, and even one on my face. The worst are two bites on my right forearm which have caused it to swell up to the point where I look like Popeye. This is some crazy shit.
I look up bed bugs online and find that the bite patterns match up to my symptoms. I’m both pissed and worried, especially since my arm looks so weird. I picked up some Benadryl and cortizone cream in the morning which helped a little, but I’m still crazy itchy. On the plus side, I get super strong when I eat spinach right now. No other super powers have been discovered at the time of this writing.
Upon returning home, I called the Best Western. They said they would “look into it.” When I asked what that meant, the manager said that they have a professional they call in to check to make sure if there are bed bugs or not and they would call me back. I’m not expecting a return phone call from them, but I’ll definitely be avoiding them in the future. A quick search online found a review from a year ago that also referenced bed bugs. Clean up your shit, BW.
I don’t go to a lot of sporting events, mostly because I don’t like sports. I have been to a few baseball games, a single hockey game, and a basketball game, none of which I paid to attend. That’s the only thing that will get me remotely interested in going to a game really. Thursday night, my company supplied tickets to the Rockland Boulders game. This is a local CANAM league baseball team with a stadium about 10 minutes from my house. I’ve been to a couple games there before. The place is nice and again, I didn’t pay for the tickets. We took Oliver to a game last year and he lasted a few innings before we called it quits. Now that he’s about 2.5 years old, his attention span is a little longer and we figured we’d give it a try again. Obviously, this time we’ve got an infant too.
The experience wasn’t bad. We ate some complimentary hot dogs and chips, which Oliver loved. Parker was pretty relaxed for the vast majority of the game, only really crying when it was time for him to eat. Oliver had a blast on the playground and patiently waited in line for a ride on the train the drives around the stadium.
What I was most intrigued by this time around were all the strange promotions that the stadium has for local businesses. There’s a Mercedes dealership that will give away a car if a Rockland Boulder hits a home run into his sign in the outfield. Someone did hit a home run and it landed below the sign, but not nearly far enough to reach it. That car is never going to be given away. The bulk of the promotions are in the form of coupons given out at the end of the game if something happens, such as two doubles in a row. The weirdest one was for IHOP. A batter on the opposing team is selected ahead of time. If at any point during the game, that batter strikes out, everyone in attendance gets a coupon for a free short stack of pancakes. The first time this guy came up, he didn’t strike out, but was knocked out pretty quick. The second time was a different story.
When he got up to the plate, the announcer reminded the crowd that if he struck out, we’d all enjoy a short stack of pancakes. This was followed with a Jaws-like rhythm as the announcer repeated the word “Pancakes” a couple times. Then the pitch. Strike one. The crowd cheered and the announcer came back. “Remember everyone, if he strikes out…pancakes….pancakes.” The next pitch was thrown…strike two. The crowd was now blatantly excited. They were on the verge of eating free pancakes and everyone knows that free food tastes better. The announcer was back on the loud speaker. By this point, he wasn’t even bothering with the niceties. Instead, he just started saying “Pancakes” over and over again, with that Jaws tune backing him up. The crowd joined in, chanting “Pancakes” in unison. The stadium was far from sold out, but it was still a bizarre experience to witness as hundreds of people were so singularly focused on what may come next. This is how much people love pancakes. Now, I think the next pitch resulted in a foul ball, but I can’t remember for sure. The excitement came when the final pitch was thrown with the crowd chanting “Pancakes” in a fervor. It came over the plate and…you guessed it. Strike three. Everyone lost their minds. Free pancakes! They’re from IHOP! Woo!
There’s a catch though. See, the only way to claim that sweet syrupy prize was to stay until the end of the game. We left in the middle of the 8th inning, which was already past 9 PM. With two small kids, that’s like 3 AM. I found out later that the game lasted 13 innings and well into the night. I’m glad that I went home and got some sleep instead of staying at the game for another few hours with two kids that would have grown increasingly cranky as the night went on. I’m also willing to bet that the coupon has a pretty small timeframe for usage.
When I recounted this story to my boss the next day, he brought up a good point that works as a terrific closer to this tale. You can be sure that the rest of the opposing team called that guy “Pancake” for the entire ride home.
Oliver is 2 years old now. He’s not quite 2 and a half, but he’s getting there. A few months back, he developed what is perhaps the most annoying habit in the entire world. This sweet, adorable, loving little boy will occasionally and without warning, scream at the top of his tiny lungs while smiling his cute little face off. Just to clarify what I mean by this, it’s more of a shriek than a scream. It’s a high pitched, ear splitting noise that pierces your very soul. No place or time is off limits to this either. He could be in acceptable places like a large outdoor playground or a field or in a crowded supermarket or, my personal…whatever the opposite of favorite is…the car.
We had a long car ride home yesterday from Monica’s family reunion upstate. Parker was sleeping soundly and we figured that Oliver would conk out so we’d have a peaceful ride. No such luck. Oliver was up the entire way back, screaming like a madman. Despite us trying everything we could possibly think of to stop him from doing this short of stuffing a sock in his mouth, he kept gleefully doing it. It got to the point that Parker woke up and was crying. To paint this mental picture for you, we’ve got Oliver shrieking, Parker crying, Monica trying to soothe them both, and me driving with gritted teeth, hoping to get home as fast as possible so I can get the hell out of that car and perhaps jump out of a window.
We got home and I dragged Oliver upstairs, changed him into his pajamas, threw him in bed, and then went to unload the car. Meanwhile, he was clearly not tired, so he proceeded to get up and yell for me at the top of the stairs. After taking a minute to calm down, I went up there, put him back in bed, tucked him in, and then closed the door. This set him off on a fit, despite the fact that he told me to leave and to close the door. Kids can’t make up their minds. I let him cry it out for a few minutes before going in there and calmly tucking him in again. I sat with him for a little while and it was like everything was totally normal. He was my sweet little boy again and all was right in the world. All of the aggravation I had built up during the car ride washed away. Here was my son, curled up in bed, clutching his teddy bear under his Spider-Man blanket and he just wanted me to sit with him for a few minutes before he fell asleep.
That’s the thing about being a parent. It can be the most rewarding, literally awesome thing in the entire world one minute and the next, it can be a terrifying, soul-crushing beast. Despite this, I wouldn’t change a thing. The good far outweighs the bad. Just know that some day I will not only wake my son up in the middle of the night just to hang out, but I’ll also be sure to shriek at an inopportune time in his life. Maybe at his high school graduation or his wedding day. Dad doesn’t forget, buddy.
A little more than two weeks ago, I became a dad again. Parker Maxwell Ferguson was born on Saturday, June 13th at 10:47 PM. This is the story of his arrival.
After going through this twice, I can report that women tend to get to a point in their pregnancy where they just want it to be over. They’re really uncomfortable and agitated about it and they have every right to be. They are creating life after all. Monica reached that point in this pregnancy around the beginning of May. She wasn’t due until June 22nd. She went to the doctor for a routine visit on Thursday, June 11th. The doctor said that she would definitely go to full term. Two days later, as if both her and my soon-to-be-newborn son told the doctor “F You” her water broke.
This happened around 7 AM. I was downstairs with Oliver when Monica came down and told me that she thought her water broke. She eventually called the doctor who told her to come into the hospital around 1 PM. In the meantime, she relaxed, went for a walk, took a shower, and ate lunch. It was like every other day…except for the fact that liquid was literally leaking out of her. Yes, that sounds gross, but how did you think the baby was going to come out?
She also called her parents who agreed to come down to watch Oliver. This was a big concern for us because, depending on when the new baby came, we didn’t really know what to do with Oliver. As a very temporary solution, he could come with us, but someone would have to pick him up. If it was during the week, he’d be at daycare for most of the day. As it turned out, this was probably the best possible situation. It was the weekend. Monica’s dad had just started vacation so he was available to come down. It all lined up nicely.
We got to the hospital around 1:30 after I took at least 2 wrong turns. I can’t explain why this happened. I’ve been to this hospital several times when we were taking various lamaze classes and whatnot but for some reason, I just totally spaced out on the ride over. After getting into a room, the doctor confirmed that Monica’s water did indeed break. As a result, we were stuck there. She was officially admitted to the hospital as they won’t let you leave after the water is broken.
Monica was still mobile and not in much pain at this point. Contractions were coming but not regularly and they weren’t too severe. She was told to walk laps around the maternity ward for about an hour. This helps shake things loose. Again, if this sound gross, sorry. That’s how these things work. We set out for the walk while I was texting family and work folks. While we were walking, I pointed out a white board with “Welcome to the Maternity Ward” written on it along with a number of names. I assumed that these were the names of the new children that have been born. Monica, being far smarter than me, noticed that 99% of the names were female and that was unlikely. I think the one male name was a mysterious “Ray.” On a later lap, the names were confirmed to be those of the maternity ward staff. Then I instantly wondered if anyone heard me make fun of some of the names while we were walking by.
After about an hour walking, we returned to the room for another check. I think this was around 4 PM by this point. Things were progressing steadily. We both rested a bit, Monica in the bed and me in this odd pleather chair / bed contraption. This thing means well, but it’s an uncomfortable pain in the ass. Now, I get that the chair in the labor and delivery rooms aren’t really a cause for concern in the minds of hospital staff. After all, the men / guests aren’t the patients. The important people are the pregnant women who are about to go through an insane experience and literally produce a human being. Me being uncomfortable in a weird pull out bed is the least of their worries. The way this thing was supposed to work was by pulling the bottom of the chair out and then folding the back down so it would turn into a sort of bed. I didn’t figure this out right away so the bottom kept rolling out or the seat would slide forward while I was sitting on it. I didn’t figure out the right way to use it for a few hours. I should also note that this is the same type of chair that was there the last time we had a baby.
This next part gets a little hazy for me. I’m not sure of the specific time frame, but I think we rested and hung out for about an hour or so. At around 6, we were going to go for another walk, but the contractions were getting more intense, so Monica asked for the epidural. This is a magic drug that comes down from the gods to numb pregnant women from the stomach down. It doesn’t paralyze them, but they’re not too steady on their feet. There is absolutely no shame in getting an epidural. I can only imagine the pain of childbirth. I’ve seen two of them and both times the epidural provides a very noticeable relief. There are many women that don’t want to get one when it comes time to give birth. Of those, a large chunk of them get it anyway. Science!
I was kicked out of the room while the anesthesiologist put in the epidural. It goes in as a catheter into the spine so there’s a steady stream of the stuff to keep the pregnant woman comfortable. I think what happened next was I checked in on Monica again and everything was OK. She was going to rest for a little while as the drugs kicked in so I took the opportunity to go downstairs and get a bite to eat. Not eating was a big mistake I made with Oliver’s birth, especially since that turned into a marathon. I subsisted almost entirely on Famous Amos cookies. I came prepared this time with a couple bananas, peanuts, cookies, and some granola bars, but I still needed some real food. I got a mediocre chicken parm in the hospital cafeteria and promptly got sauce on my white t-shirt. After I finished eating, I went back upstairs to find that the doctor was performing another check. She now said that Monica would be having this baby tonight.
A quick note on this. The doctor that said this was also the one that told Monica she would go to full term. So what do we believe, lady? Her estimate would actually get closer, claiming that the current nurse would see the baby born and her shift ended at 11 PM. (To put this in perspective, we went through four different nurses during Oliver’s birth. Their shifts are 12 hours long. Woof.)
We basically hung out for a bit here. Monica rested. I read many comics on my tablet. I read most of the pre-New 52 run of Batgirl starring Stephanie Brown and Red Robin featuring Tim Drake. Both of them were pretty good, but I found Batgirl to be solid for the entire duration. Now I see why people love that character so much.
Anyway, back to the baby. The epidural didn’t work entirely. There was this one spot on Monica’s hip that was throbbing in pain. She got a booster with the epidural that helped a little bit but didn’t fix the issue. This, coupled with a partially completed root canal that was not painful before, but began to throb like crazy, made for an unpleasant experience. Fortunately, she didn’t have to deal with it nearly as long as the first time.
I think it was around 10 where things started heating up. Monica was crazy dilated. The baby had dropped into the -1 position (Look it up!). It was go time. The bed transformed into baby mode as Monica began pushing. She actually had to stop for a sec so the doctor and the nurse could catch up. It was happening pretty quickly. Stirrups were popped out and her feet were propped up. All of a sudden, the baby was right there. Throughout this whole thing, I was at the head of the bed, holding Monica’s hand. I was not going down to ground zero. Let the professionals handle that. I’d just be in the way and there’s a lot going on down there. I got a peek down and saw the baby’s head. After a few more pushes, the baby was out. Just like that. It happened. Again, to put this in perspective, for Oliver’s birth, Monica pushed for a total of six hours. Pushing is the part of labor that you always see in movies. The woman is red faced and screaming and it’s a big hub-bub. In reality, that phase of the labor should take up to a half hour, as was the case here. Oliver was stubborn and didn’t turn the way he was supposed to so he just kind of got stuck until the doctor had to literally suck him out with a little vacuum.
Oh, I almost forgot. With a flip of a switch, a large mirror descended from the ceiling. This allowed Monica to see what was happening as she was pushing. She found this very encouraging and helpful in the act.
Right after the baby came out, I had this moment of panic. They don’t really come out kicking and screaming like in the movies. Parker was rather still and a little purple. All these horrible thoughts went through my head in that instant. Was there something wrong? What happened? Oh no. Then the doctor turned the kid around and everything was fine. He let out a little cry but nothing huge. The doctor let me cut the cord and then plopped the baby down on Monica’s stomach. In the meantime, the doctor pulled out the placenta and showed it to us which I will admit was a little gross. It’s basically a small sack of flesh, about the size of a deflated soccer ball. It was like a show-and-tell. Monica loved it. In the final push to get that out, a gush of blood followed. The doctor said something along the lines of “I don’t usually have my births look like a crime scene.” That was when I looked down and saw the blood splatter just about everywhere. It was all over the floor. Dexter would have a field day in that room.
So, that’s how Parker Maxwell Ferguson came into the world. He did so in less than half the time that Oliver did. Parker was one inch shorter and one ounce bigger than Oliver was.
The next chapter is him meeting his big brother and how the two of them get along.
Today I reenacted a scene from Home Alone because my son needed another pair of shoes. Here’s what went down. Last weekend, Monica and I bought a few pairs of flip flops for Oliver because there was some crazy sale where they were $1 each. We got a variety of sizes and colors so he’ll be set for awhile. Today was the second day that he wore one of these new flip flops. At about 9:30 AM, I get a call from one of Oliver’s teachers at day care.
She informed me that Oliver broke his flip flops and now he doesn’t have any shoes to wear. We send in extra shirts and pants in case he messes up the clothes he’s wearing but we never thought to send in an extra pair of shoes. After I get over my initial stunned silence at the first sentence and my relief that the call wasn’t because he was hurt or had hurt another kid, I had to figure out what to do about my kid’s feet while I was at work. Fortunately, my schedule was pretty open and I was able to run home and pick up a pair of shoes for Oliver. Now that I think more about this, I’m curious as to how he broke them in the first place.
About halfway home, I realized that I had forgotten my house keys. After cursing loudly and repeatedly in the car, I decided to just keep going. I’d figure it out when I got there. How hard could this be? My neighbor has a key and I think that I hid one somewhere on the property (PLEASE DON’T ROB ME) so I can probably get in the house, right? I tried all the doors and they were all locked as always so that ruled out the easy approach. My neighbor wasn’t home and I couldn’t remember where I had hid the key. So now what? Well, we’ve got this one window that I knew wasn’t locked so I figured I’d try to jimmy it open and get in. (SERIOUSLY, PLEASE DON’T ROB ME). I’ve actually done this once before so it wasn’t a crazy thought.
If any passerby were to look over, they would have seen a grown man wiggling through a window, falling over, and then having said window slam closed on his shins. This is where the Home Alone reference comes in. I felt like Joe Pesci trying to break into a house and getting foiled by a child with a variety of fun, yet deadly traps. The only difference here is that I was playing all the parts. I was my own enemy for forgetting my keys in the first place, forcing me to squeeze through a window. I should mention that the shoes were in view the entire time I was doing this. If I was Mr. Fantastic, I wouldn’t have had to get into the house at all.
After tumbling through the house and retrieving the shoes (and a pair of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle socks), I swung over to the day care center to drop them off. Oliver’s teacher met me in the hallway because she didn’t want me to see him for fear that he’d get upset when I had to leave again. I was in and out of that building in less than a minute.
So, the moral of the story: You get what you pay for? Or always be prepared? Or maybe just remember your damn keys.
At the end of March, there was a challenge thrown down with the hashtag #100comics. I heard about it through the ComixTribe newsletter and the Final Issue Podcast. The idea was to attempt to read 100 comics in a week. I read a lot of comics and I figured this would be an easy challenge. After a few days into it, I realized that I was very wrong. I would need to read at least 14 comics a day in order to reach the goal of 100 within a week and I was averaging half that at best. I could have inflated my numbers a bit by counting trade paperbacks as separate issues. For example, I counted iZombie: Volume 1 as a single title, but it’s a collection of the first five issues of the series so technically it’s five issues worth of content.
Having failed at the challenge, I thought I’d turn this into something to make my Data Nerd Sense tingle. I created a spreadsheet via Google Docs to keep track of all the comics I was reading including the title, publisher, type, medium, and date. This would allow me to look at things on a daily, weekly, and monthly level to see just how much I was reading. Was it as much as I thought? Or less? I don’t really know the answer to this as I just thought I read a lot of books. Although I started keeping track of this towards the end of March, I waited until the end of April to really look at the data. That way I’d have a full month work of information to parse through. For the month of April 2015, I read 199 comics.
Of the 199 comics read, 182 (91%) were single issues. The remaining 17 (9%) were graphic novels. These include trade paperbacks and original graphic novels. Highlights for April were a re-reading of Empire by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson, Saga: Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, and iZombie: Volume 2 by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred.
This shows how much I read per day. The weekend is clearly my preferred time to read comics as that’s where the bulk of the books were read. I tend to average a couple issues in the morning and the evening of each weekday, more if I go to the gym in the morning. Yes, I’m the nerd that’s reading comics on a tablet while on the treadmill.
This information didn’t really surprise me all that much. I now read comics almost exclusively in digital. As a reviewer for HorrorTalk, I get a LOT of PDFs sent to me each week. I rarely buy physical copies of books anymore as I have come to prefer the ease of use and variety available digitally through services like ComiXology so it’s not shocking for my numbers to be skewed so heavily in that direction with 94% coming from PDFs and Comixology. The 1% linked to a website was reading the first two issues of Skullkickers online as the comic has been serialized for free. It was a great primer and I’m going to pick up the trades for the series now as a result (especially since it would be a big pain for me to find where I left off on the site as I’d have to click through at least 50 pages.
In looking at this chart, you’d think I was a DC fanboy. The truth is that almost all of that number comes from Booster Gold. I recently picked up the latest series via a ComiXology sale and I was catching up on the series. I read the first 31 issues of the series in April. Actually, now that I look at the list, I didn’t include Booster Gold #1,000,000 so that puts my number up to an even 200 comics read for April. I’m not updating these charts with that now though. I’m on the last one already! The next highest publisher was Image Comics as I was catching up on a variety of titles. Otherwise I had a big variety in terms of publisher.
This was a fun exercise that I’ve continued into May. I plan on doing this for at least another month to see if there were any changes. I’m sure this will be thrown out the window when Ferg Baby #2 arrives in June. I can’t decide if this is the nerdiest blog post I’ve ever written or not, but I think it’s probably pretty close.