Thursday, December 31, 2009
Ten years ago...
I had just declared bankruptcy. Moved in with my brother because I had nowhere else to go. I had just gotten a new job which was going really well - my first year in the nonprofit world.
I can't remember exactly what I was doing, but I think my brother and I just stayed in and watched the fireworks on tv. Or else I had gone somewhere to sing karaoke with a bunch of drunken strangers for New Year's, hoping to get lucky.
The WTO protests had just happened in Seattle, and everyone was feeling a little edgy. Seattle's New Year's celebrations were scaled dramatically. The fireworks went off as planned, but Seattle Center was shut down to the public. Some guy named Ahmed Ressam had been caught smuggling explosives on a ferry into Washington State, and he said he was planning to blow up LAX.
What a difference a decade makes. Happy New Year to all of my beloved readers.
Sometime, if I get around to it next week, I may put together a list of my favorite albums of the decade. But for now, here's my fave albums of two-diggity-diggity-nine. In no particular order. (That's not really true.)
Wilco - Wilco (the Album)
Predictable, sure. (After all, they did borrow my name for their previous album.) But I really loved this album. They continue to produce sweet, introspective songs like "One Wing" and "You and I", and added some new classics like "You Never Know" and "I'll Fight." A great album, all the way through.
Taken by Trees -
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis - Kitty, Daisy & Lewis
Passion Pit - Manners
Dark Was the Night - Various Artists
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I was asked recently if I knew any good storybooks for kids that involved dads. It's a much harder question than you would think.
- Owl Moon - Jane Yolen
- The Ice Palace - Deborah Blumenthal
- Baby Brains (and the other related Baby Brains books) - Simon James
- The Gruffalo's Child (okay, it's about a monster and his dad, but that
- counts, right?) - Julia Donaldson
- Daddies are for Catching Fireflies - Harriet Ziefert
- Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti - Anna Grossnickle Hines
- The Angelina Ballerina books
- The Lilly the Mouse books - Kevin Henkes (Henkes always does a great
- job giving dads and moms equal time)
- Enemy Pie - Derek Munson (another great bonding book about dads and sons)
- Born in the Gravy - Denys Cazet
- The Summer My Father was Ten - Pat Brisson
- Kevin and His Dad - Irene Smalls
- Danny, the Champion of the World - Roald Dahl (probably for older
- If I Were Your Father - Margaret Park Bridges
- The Trumpet and the Swan - E.B. White
- Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg - Dr. Seuss (not about dads exactly, but Horton = nurturing male role model)
- Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too (where the dads walk their kids to school, and they end up saving the day!)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I have to share the amazing feat I just witnessed.
Oliver got a lovely present from his grandmother - a copy of "The Night Before Christmas." It's one of those books that Hallmark sells where you can record your own voice reading the book. It's pretty clever. The pages all have sensors on them, so every time you turn the page, her voice begins reading the words on the page.
And he loves it. He's listened to it probably a dozen times in the last two days, over and over again. And one time, we saw him listening to it, and we noticed something interesting. After grandma was done reading her page, he would repeat everything she just said, word for word.
So tonight, he listened to it one more time as his bedtime story. And then he had me read it. But here's what happened. He started reciting the story along with me, so I started reading lines and then stopping to let him finish the line.
And then he took over. He started reciting the poem from the names of the reindeer - "On Dasher! On Dancer!" - all the way to the end, on his own. I didn't have to prompt him once. We just watched him, jaws hanging open, while he delivered the entire poem all the way to the end. All I could do was turn the pages, one by one, and stare at him. He didn't skip a single word.
That is a complicated poem, full of long sentences and quirky words. And he just rolled right through it, like he was doing Mary Had a Little Lamb. It was one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I ordered a vanilla latte, and the guy obviously grabbed the wrong bottle of syrup. So I ended up unexpectedly with a toasted marshmallow latte.
The taste was at once bewildering - delightfully pleasurable, and completely disarming at the same time. Every time I took a sip, my mouth would react like "Mmmmm. Wait, what the hell is going on here?" The flavor was that cottony delicious sugar rush of marshmallow, with just a hint of charcoal and caramelization. It was a strong enough flavor to completely overwhelm the taste of coffee. I don't know what kind of chemicals they put into that syrup to generate those sensations, but it's amazingly lifelike.
Drinking a toasted marshmallow out of a cup feels completely wrong to the senses. It's like petting a shadow on the head, or tucking a sunbeam under your pillow, or listening to the pages of a book.
That being said, it was delicious.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Saturday, December 05, 2009
I know very little about this case. I have avoided stories of this story feverishly, even though it is a story that touches many of my neighbors. Even though the accused lives in the same city, the same neighborhood, as my family. However, I feel called to talk about it because it is so close to home, literally and figuratively.
I have avoided this story the way I avoid all stories of murder: gruesome murder, celebrity murder, exploitative stories about murder, tragic stories about murder. I avoid these stories. I don't watch movies that talk cavalierly about murder, or movies like Pulp Fiction that use dead bodies as a punch line. I wince at the way murder is treated in this country, and especially in the news.
So I did not seek out and I do not wish to know more about the Amanda Knox story: about her alibi, her claims of innocence. I do not wish to hear the cries from her family that she could not possibly have done something like this. I do not want to know. I don't follow murder stories.
My brother was murdered fourteen years ago, you see. (Some of my longtime readers have heard me talk about this before.) We found out weeks after it had happened. They found my father's address in his personal effects and were able to track him down, and they called him to identify the body of his son.
One of the killers was found and arrested, years later. He went to trial. I was asked to attend as a witness. I saw photos of my brother's body, taken at the morgue, depicting the blows that ended his life. I saw the evidence of what had been done to him. I saw these things and I wish that I never had.
I saw the man who was accused of murdering my brother. I heard the prosecutor and a witness to the crime describe the things that had been done to end my brother's life. I heard his attorney offer alibis, explanations, reasons why their client could not possibly have done these horrible things.
I met his family, the murderer's family. They couldn't understand how such a mistake could have happened. They were upset, angry, confused, and they know their son was innocent. They just knew it. He wasn't that kind of person.
He was found guilty by a jury of his peers, and was sentenced to life in prison. I have not seen him since that trial and I don't know if I will ever see his face again, except in my dreams, except when I want to think about my brother and instead, I see the ruddy face of the man who took his life.
So no, I don't want to know more about Amanda Knox' situation. I don't want to know the holes in the prosecution's case. I don't want to know the alternative theories of how the murder transpired. It's not that I dislike Ms. Knox or that I've prejudged her. I just don't want to know any more. I can't do it. I choose to just close my eyes and let the system do its job.
I know this, however. I know that Italy is a nation of laws, a nation with a legitimate government. I know that Knox' trial was not conducted by reading goat entrails or casting runes. I know that her trial was carried out in a legitimate court. And if the jury said that she was guilty, then I have to believe that she was guilty. A person was murdered. Meredith Kercher's family deserves justice. I will not, I dare not question the judgment of that Italian jury. It is not my right. None of us has that right except the judge and the men and women who made up that jury. That's how it works.
I believe that the jury who convicted my brother's murder carried out their role and meted out justice. I believe that the jury who convicted Amanda Knox did the same. I have to believe that. There are so many murders in this country and around the world that go unsolved, their perpetrators left to roam free, the families of the victims left with gaping wounds in their hearts. I have to believe that justice was carried out here, and I do believe that. It is disrespectful to Meredith Kercher's family, to that jury, and to the entire country of Italy to claim otherwise.
And that's all I can say about that.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I bought a scale. Yep, finally.
Friday, November 20, 2009
I just got a comment on an old blog post. I wrote a smart-alecky post about some clown driving around with a "Hustler" bumper sticker. The commenter wrote - and let me quote here -
Don't be a hatter
A hatter? I'm not supposed to be a hatter? I thought he was making some kind of tricky allusion to "Alice in Wonderland," and then I realized what he was saying. He misspelled "hater."
So I'm not supposed to be a hater. This word gets thrown around all the time - don't be a hater, don't hate, why you gotta hate on blah blah blobbity blah. If you don't like a tv show, you're a hater. If you don't like a song by Katy Perry, you're hating on her. If you don't like someone's outfit, someone's music, someone's style, a book, a movie, a car, what-the-fuck-ever, you're a hater.
Well, okay then. Screw it. I'm a hater.
While we're at it, I hate the term "hustler" in general. The term got popular because of hip hop songs as a way of saying "someone doing whatever they need to do to survive." Most of the time, that means - at least, in the songs' worldview - selling drugs, doing petty crime, robberies, pimping, etc. That's what a hustler means.
I don't want to be a hustler. I want to be someone who works hard. I don't call myself a hustler, and I sure as fuck don't call myself a pimp.
Other Things to Hate:
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I weigh more than I've ever weighed in my life. I can no longer accept this. I've got to get serious about losing weight.
I've made some half-hearted, haphazard attempts to lose weight in the past. I've never taken it seriously before. Not really.
I exercise, when I think of it. We own an elliptical machine, so I don't even to go down to a health club to exercise. But I only use it about once a week. Twice a week, on a good week. When I feel like it. When it doesn't feel like too much of a hassle to get up off the couch.
I've pretended to watch my portions before, but not really. I'll skimp at lunch, only to serve myself an extra scoop of ice cream on dessert. I'll open a bag of tortilla chips and just eat handful after handful, not even thinking about how many calories I'm cramming in my mouth. One handful just leads to another, and then another.
I eat seconds for dinner, just about every night. I finish the leftovers on Oliver's plate. If there's an extra spoonful of mashed potatoes in the pan, I'll finish it off.
I went to the doctor last week for a freak injury. They took my weight, and I discovered I'm twenty pounds heavier than what's listed on my driver's license.
I don't know what I expected, but I didn't expect that. I thought I'd been watching what I eat. I thought I was doing all right. I was wrong.
And the thing is, I knew it. I'd been denying the truth even as it stared me straight in the face. I've gained weight around my waist. A noticeable amount of weight. I can't fit into pants I wore a year ago. I had to buy new pants in a larger size when I went back to work in August. There are few things more humiliating than realizing, while buying pants, that you are no longer the size that you thought you were.
I have more asthma flareups now. There's a connection. I'm carrying too much weight. I'm having pain in my feet now. There might be a connection there, too.
I can't chase Oliver around the park for ten minutes without getting winded. I HATE that.
So I'm getting serious now. I'm using a program on my iPod touch called LoseIt! to track my daily calories and what I'm burning from exercise. (That has been a fascinating and humbling experience. More on that soon.)
I've worked out on the elliptical twice in the last three days. I started a small additional exercise routine - situps and pushups every morning. Right now, it's only ten of each, and I'm sure that I look awful doing them. But it's something. It's a start.
I want to lose thirty pounds by next summer. I'm not going to post my weight here, in order to preserve a bit of my dignity. But that's my goal. Thirty pounds, a pound a week. (And no, I don't own a scale. I'll take care of that soon.)
I'll keep you posted as to my progress on this blog. If I go more than a week without talking about it, remind me. This is serious this time. I have to get myself down to a dignified weight. I have to do this, for my sake, for my health, for Oliver and for Mrs. B. I have to do this.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Guy shoots up Fort Hood in Texas. Kills 13, wounds 30 more. How could we have possibly prevented this? Was it caused by depression? Anti-military fervor? He's a Muslim - was he a terrorist? (You know how those people are.)
How could we have stopped this?
The next day, a shooting in Florida. One dead, five injured in a highrise building. Oh, but this is totally unrelated to the Texas shootings. That was a military base, this was in a place of business. No connection whatsoever.
Last week, a police officer was shot and killed here in Seattle, shot in his own police car. But undoubtedly, it was unrelated to the other shootings. Different place, different motive. No connection whatsoever.
Yesterday, there was a shooting in the town where my wife works. Attempted murder-suicide, according to news reports. But of course, that had nothing at all to with the other shootings. No connection whatsoever.
Tonight, a man will be executed for committing a series of high-profile shootings in the Washington D.C. area. Any connection to the other crimes? Oh no, of course not. This was a serial killer, a psychopath, totally unpredictable. His crime was an aberration.
There's no connection at all.
Here's the pattern that I see. Shooting, shooting, shooting, shooting, and another shooting. The connection is guns. The connection is unmistakeable, unavoidable, and undeniable.
On the day that the Fort Hood shooting occurred, dozens of other shootings also happened and most of them never even made the news. Shootings in this country are an epidemic, and we're so inured to them that all we do is shake our heads when another one happens. What a shame, we say. Another senseless crime. Another unstoppable crime. We throw up our hands - what can you do?
Here's what you can do. You can call your member of Congress, call your city council, call your town's mayor. Ask them what they're doing to reduce gun violence, and make them get specific. Call the president and tell him to make gun violence a priority.
What can we do about it? Support sensible gun laws in your state and in federal law, like closing the gun show loophole.
What can we do? Support local organizations that are fighting the scourge of guns (we have a great local organization called Washington Ceasefire), or support the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Don't just turn your head. One hundred thousand people are shot in this country each year, and over ten thousand people every year die from gun violence. Our children, our neighbors, our families are all suffering from this plague. According to the Center for Disease Control's Leading Causes of Death Reports, from age birth until age 65 firearms are consistently among the top ten leading causes of death in our communities. And among our young people aged 15-24 firearms rank in the top three leading causes of death. Firearms take twice as many lives as AIDS does each year. (Thanks to the Brady Campaign and Washington CeaseFire for the statistics.)
These are preventable crimes, but we have to be brave enough to fight in order to prevent them.
Friday, November 06, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Parenting is hard.
There's so much I want to be excited about. So much I want to talk about here. His speech has taken remarkable leaps in the last few months. His focus is amazing. We can sit down and read twenty, thirty, forty pages of a book and he just sits, enraptured. And his dexterity, his confidence in his body, are growing every day.
But I need to get this out of my system.
Yesterday, Oliver hit Mrs. B today in the face. Not bad enough to leave a mark or draw blood, but still - he hit her in the face.
He had already done something else that was not allowed, and she was trying to bring him into his bedroom for a time-out. And that's when he smacked her in the face.
Earlier in the day, he also threw a shoe at her.
This isn't the first time he's hit one of us, and it's getting more and more frequent. He's getting more physical with his displeasure about things - kicking at us, throwing things, hitting. I see a glint of pleasure in his eyes sometimes when he's trying to hit me and I'm telling him to stop.
When he's angry, I've talked to him about throwing stuffed animals or hitting pillows, like you're supposed to, but he always seems to end up throwing something hard and usually in the direction of one of us.
Time outs don't seem especially effective, mostly because it's so damn hard to get him into his bedroom for a time out and usually he tries to hit or kick again. We're trying to adjust things a little bit. Our previous routine was that with time outs, we'd just put him in his room until he calmed down, give him a chance to apologize, and then let him come out. We've been looking at one of the Love and Logic books and changing our routine a bit. Following the book's suggestion, we're going to start having him sit for a few extra minutes in his room just to make sure he's completely calmed down before he comes out. It also seems like it's in the spirit of what I understand time outs to be: a change in the energy of the situation.
I hope this is just one of those things he has to go through, because right now, this sucks.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
The boy has been coming up with some hilarious turns of phrase lately. None of this will be interesting to anyone who has a kid, and then it will only be entertaining once you realize the kid is only four. Or hell, maybe it's not entertaining to anyone but me. Tough cookies.
Here's a few examples of his verbage:
I was at home with Oliver one day, and I was playing Living Colour. (What?)
Oliver loved it. He started dancing and running around the living room like a maniac. I commented: "I forgot what great dancing music this is. Do you think it's good dancey music, Oliver?"
Oliver: "Uh huh. And runny-aroundy music, too."
And then he commenced to run around the place some more.
He was describing a story that someone was reading at his school. I asked innocently, "Oh, was one of your teachers reading the story?"
"No, someone interesting."
This morning, he was trying carefully to craft a prepositional phrase. You could practically hear him diagramming the sentence in his head.
"By watching you guys..."
Long pause. Then he tried again.
"By watching you guys do it, I think I know how to button my buttons."
It seems like such a small phrase, but it was just so great to see him carefully put the sentence together in his head, and then try and recite what was in his head. He really wanted to say it exactly right.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
In which I vomit out all of my feelings about Roman Polanski, in hopes that I never have to think about him again.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
It's a damn shame what's being done to ACORN.
Disclosures: Most of you know that I'm a former community organizer. I have never worked for ACORN, but I have worked for organizations that worked with ACORN. I worked along the same territory as them - fighting for the rights of low-income, disenfranchised people.
I have written pretty bluntly about ACORN's failures in the past, so you know I'm not a cheerleader for them. They have screwed up massively in the past, and like most large organizations or companies, they will probably screw up again sometime in the future.
Having said that, they don't deserve what's happening.
For those who haven't been following the stories, there have been a series of videos supposedly showing ACORN workers giving two individuals - a "pimp" and a "prostitute" - advice on setting up a brothel. The videos have been shown repeatedly on Fox News and have been picked up to a lesser degree by other media. The "pimp" was O'Keefe, wearing a completely ridiculous outfit. The "prostitute" was Giles, masquerading as a prostitute who apparently favored the name Kenya. (There's nothing racist at all in her using that name, I'm sure.)
This is character assassination, plain and simple. Two people with a hidden camera are targeting ACORN offices, recording embarrassing videos of staff members. Both of the participants, Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe, have admitted to having a political agenda. They're not out to find the truth. They're out to get ACORN. They're out to get ACORN, because in the feverish minds of some conservative activists and writers, ACORN is at the heart of Obama's election and bringing down ACORN will inevitably lead to Obama's collapse.
Look, I've worked as a door-to-door canvasser and I've worked as a community organizer. I've walked into some situations I thought were a little sketchy. I'm pretty sure that if someone wanted to catch me on video saying something embarassing, and they followed me around for long enough and caught me off-guard, they might be able to do it. It might happen. And so it's gone with ACORN that they've caught some workers saying some fairly embarrassing things.
Do the videos show the truth? Well, some staffers probably said some things they shouldn't have. But we don't know the whole story, because the full unedited videos haven't been released and probably never will. They could be edited. They could have manipulated the audio, or the video, or both. We don't know what actually happened in those rooms, and we will almost certainly never know.
Is the behavior of the ACORN workers criminal behavior? There have been no criminal charges filed in any state in connection with these videos. Why? Well, O'Keefe and Giles aren't police officers, they're private citizens. They have no legal authority to conduct "sting" operations. They aren't out to find criminal behavior - they're purely interested in embarrassing ACORN, and they have.
What criminal activity? All of the criminal ideas came from O'Keefe and Giles. They posed as a pimp and a prostitute and talked about setting up brothels. They talked about bringing in underage immigrant women to work illegally as prostitutes. All the criminal activity came from their own twisted minds.
As it turns out, there has been one lawsuit filed in Maryland in connection with these videos. ACORN filed it. Turns out that it's illegal in Maryland to record audio of another person without their permission. Guess our cutting-edge filmmaker didn't take the time to check out wiretapping laws before swooping in with his super-fantastic sting operation.
One ACORN worker, after giving them advice on setting up their house of ill imagination, allegedly confessed to having murdered her husband. That got her a call from homicide detectives and the local newspapers, where she admitted that she made up the whole story because she know that they were trying to set her up. (She also mentions conversations she had with O'Keefe and Giles that never made the video tape that ran on Fox. Big surprise.)
Another worker called the police after the clowns/filmmakers came to them with a story about smuggling underage immigrants for sex work.
Think about this:
- We know that one of the videotaped workers lied to the filmmakers/clowns deliberately. We don't know how many others may have made up stories, or deliberately given false advice, because they knew they were being had.
- We know that one worker called the police on them after his visit. We don't know how many others called the police.
- We don't know how many offices the filmmakers/clowns visited in order to get their supposedly incriminating videos.
- We don't know how many offices threw them out without a second glance.
- We don't know how many staff members they actually talked to.
- We don't know what actually happened on the tapes, because no one except O'Keefe and Giles has apparently seen the unedited videos.
And over all this, Congress has seen fit to withdraw all federal funding going to ACORN, an organization which has been helping people of color low-income people in this country for thirty years. Over all this, people have been declaring ACORN to be a criminal enterprise. Over all this, ACORN has been denounced by left and right and in the halls of our Congress.
President Obama was right. There needs to be an investigation into these videos. There needs to be an investigation into these malicious filmmakers and their gutter tactics of manipulation, distortion, and character assassination.
ACORN has made mistakes in the past. That is different that what's going on here. What's happening now is that someone with great friends in the media has gone on a personal crusade to destroy a social justice organization. He's doing it for ratings, for personal glory, to raise his own profile as an "activist" and as a "cutting-edge filmmaker." Well, he can call himself anything he wants. What he's doing is shameful, despicable behavior.
(Photo taken by swift447)
It was the strangest thing.
The mornings are getting later, and so this morning as I was driving to work, I saw the sun coming up. I could just see it peeking over the clouds, and it was the most startling blood-red sun I had ever seen. It was astonishing, almost unearthly.
See that picture above? (That's not today's sunrise, for the record, and it's not even Seattle.) It was weirder than that. The color was darker, more viscous. You could practically see it dripping.
I tried to find a spot to pull over. The sun rose in seconds, the blood-red crown rising into a full scarlet sun burning the sky, menacing all of us down below. And suddenly, before I could snap a picture with my cell phone, the otherworldly color was gone. It had transformed.
And then the sun was its normal color - that lovely friendly goldenrod yellow that we all think of as the sun's true color. But for a moment, it was the color of nightmare, warning, fear. I felt the way you'd feel if you caught a glimpse of a werewolf changing back into its human form. I had seen something I wasn't meant to see - the sun in its true diabolical form. The sun as a wild snarling beast of nature, warming us not for our pleasure but for its own amusement.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
It's over. At long last, it's over.
I filed for unemployment for 27 weeks.
I submitted applications for 94 different jobs.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I have this pair of Levi's. I bought them, thought they looked good in the store, and then realized that there was an unfortunate reason that I couldn't wear them. My spare tire, um, was pushing the jeans down my body so they hung at around my hip bones. The result of which was that they were too long. I was mortified.
So they've lived in our basement for a couple of years. They lived the life of skinny jeans: designated to be forgotten until the wearer decides to challenge their self-esteem by trying them on. If they fit, joy and fireworks. If they don't, they go away again.
So I tried on my skinny jeans, not thinking of them in those terms at all. They were just those jeans that didn't fit. I was cleaning out the basement and came across them and thought, oh what the hell. And I tried them on and they fit like a glove.
I told Mrs. B about it. "Why did I think these pants didn't fit before? They look great now."
And she reminded me of the previous indignity. Apparently, my spare tire had shrunk - not disappeared, just shrunk - to the point where they sat properly on my waist. They fit now. I'm wearing them at this very moment. It's a small victory, but it's a victory.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Credit to Daily Kos' Suburban Blue for finding this golden nugget.
Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.Health-care reform is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible, and that we have the freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.It's become a sensation. There's a new Facebook group dedicated to boycotting WholeFoods because of Mackey's comments (I joined - it's over 5,700 members in less than two days.)
I AM AN AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE SHITHEEL
This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the national weather service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US Department of Agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.
At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issed by the Federal Reserve Bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.
After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to ny house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal's inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.
I then log on to the internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post on freerepublic.com and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can't do anything right.
The only reason government doesn't work is because conservative Republican administrations defunded and/or patronage staffed them with people with ties to special business interests: to wit the last FDA, Dept of Interior and Agriculture under Bush. No one seems to have a problem with pumping over $500Bil to the Defense Department which last I hear is a socialized entity.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
I've been watching Death Cab for Cutie on Soundstage. I was about to write a different post about the band, and then they began performing a song that completely changed my opinion of them.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
We did the "three questions" thing again tonight, and he's still asking bizarrely eclectic questions.
1) Why are you and mommy married?
2) Why do we have a fan in our room?
3) Why do we sleep on pillows?
Seriously, this kid makes me think. I mean, think about it. Why do humans sleep on pillows? He won't take an answer like "just because." He wants a real actual reason. I told him it was easier on your neck to sleep on a pillow, but fuck if I know.
Later, he was telling me that there were monsters everywhere. Monsters in the ceiling - "and they have really long arms, and they can touch the door and touch the fan at the same time! And even your guitar, too!" Monsters were in our bedsheets. They were living inside the fan. "And they even set up a house next door to the fan where they live!" Suddenly, inexplicably, our bedroom was lousy with monsters.
When he presents a problem like this (i.e. sudden monster eruption), I don't bother trying to solve it anymore. When he was younger, I had a can of air freshener that I relabeled as "Monster Spray" that I'd spritz around the room to scare away the monsters. Or I'd dutifully look under the bed, in the closet, under his pillow, and shout to scare away all the monsters. Now, I just make him deal with it.
"So, Oliver," I ask, "what should we do about the monsters?"
"I don't know," he shrugs.
I tried to guide him to a solution. "Will your friends -" the various stuffed animals on the bed with him - "help get rid of the monsters?"
"No," Oliver shrugs," they don't have power like me."
"Oh, well then, how are you going to get rid of them?" I ask. "What kind of power do you have?"
"I can shoot fireballs out of my penis!" he shouts gleefully.
He gestures toward his crotch region, imagining a giant flamethrower rising out of his pull-up. And makes fireball-shooting noises. Pew pew pew! He does this for a minute or two. Shortly after that, he drifts off to sleep.
I wonder if he does this with Mrs. B.
Friday, July 17, 2009
For the last couple of months, Oliver has insisted on us telling him a story every night. It's exhausting. Usually, we're exhausted by the time we get to putting him to bed, and the sheer brainpower to come up with a new story is painful. Usually, I resort to telling him fables or new versions of old stories: "Once upon a time, there were three bears, and they lived in a third-floor walkup apartment..."
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
This is going to be a little bit self-indulgent, so bear with me. I just saw a preview for Julie & Julia and I got unexpectly choked up.
I'll explain. Julie Powell started her Julie/Julia project as a Salon blog, around the same time I was starting up my original blog. I feel a kinship to her, even though we've never met and for all I know, she's never even looked at my blog. She was one of us, along with Meg and Patia and the Grumpy Girl and Phil and Nancy and
And then Julie exploded into a huge phenomenon. I don't think I knew at the time how big it had gotten, but I knew she had gotten to a level that most of us hadn't and probably weren't.
But that's was cool. I'm proud of her, even though, again, nothing whatsoever at all to do with her success. I can't wait to see the movie. And when in the trailer, they showed a quick shot of her computer with the old blog banner (albeit a completely different blogging service), I got a bit verklempt.