Saturday, July 27, 2013

Front Kick Breaking Board

The test day means a celebration of awesomeness (and doughnuts).
Once again the bar is raised as our guys move up the belt ladder, all thanks to great instruction from the team at Ernie Reyes West Coast Martial Arts Portland.

The video: 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Strange Sights Indeed - The Empty Backpack

So much stuff can get stashed away and forgotten.
Part of the summer evaluation of our kids, gear, kids' gear, and our emotional ability to handle everything, we emptied our daughter's backpack.

Obviously we found all that had been lost, plus lots of hair clips.

More importantly, the daughter found a pocket she didn't even know existed -- and she's had the cavernous thing for over a year.

Even though it's still July, we're seeing the start of school racing towards us. Every year we think we're going to figure something out, arrange something so the outcome is better, but usually things remain the same.

No, but seriously, this year will be different, we're all going to be on our game and the backpack's contents will be known.

If not, well not the end of the world, I guess. I suppose it's better to have some mystery rather than a sanitized dystopia where the homework never disappears.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Am I Roughhousing Enough With The Kid?

Special photography (phone) captures not-so-rare moment of kid attack.
I am a man who has wide swings of emotions. I laugh boisterously, I weep uncontrollably. Part of this tendency shows itself when I enter a room and see content children sitting quietly. With the smaller one I often have the inclination to hold him upside-down.

I like doing this because he likes it too. Sometimes he says he would prefer not to be inverted, and I respect his wishes.

The challenge is to get him to respect my wishes if I'm in a calm mood. Sometimes he gets too physical with LSS, who does not embrace a tradition of scrappy play, so I don't want to roughhouse with him too much lest he always expect inversion from a parent.

But how much is too much?

Also, if I do get into it with the 8-year-old the 11-year-old is certainly entitled to join in. Then my goose is most definitely cooked. At 90 lbs inversion is just not a safe option.

So as a father I must negotiate the fine line of enough roughhousing to ensure a happy frisson but not to the extent that it encourages hyperactivity or the hurting of others.

Whatever. The kid's going upside-down again soon.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Despite Screen Addiction, The Kids Rock Large Vertical On Bikes

At the mention of a "mega-challenge" he said bring it! (This wasn't taken today as it was hot, hot, hot)
I take bikes seriously and I live in Portland, not because.

I want what's best for my kids, which, of course, means bikes, and plenty of them.

I have been perplexed why the kids don't choose to ride their bikes around the neighborhood more. But then again days like today come along and I realize I need to dig a bit deeper to find anything to complain about.

Late in the afternoon when the temperature hovered around 89 degrees I asked if my little screen babies were up for a "mega-challenge" on bikes. An unequivocal yes was the reply.

We then did about 800' vertical on roads close to our house in the hills.

A Tour de Triumph!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Training With The Master Ernie Reyes

We have experienced the awesomeness in person.
Ernie Reyes, the martial arts master, came to Portland to give classes at the dojos bearing his name. We had seen him in films, videos, and our expectations were high.

He did not disappoint. His presence was a good blend of self-mastery, philosophy, and compassion. He spoke no angry words when a four-year-old began to cry (most likely the reasons for the outbreak were not related to the instruction).

One of the many reasons I hold Ernie Reyes West Coast Martial Arts in such high regard is that the school holds personal development central to the practice of martial arts. When imparting the lessons I'm relieved that the instructors don't mention any sort of god, leaving that up to the individual.

As someone who grew up in Minnesota in the 1970s and 80s and enjoyed Scouting, I recall evangelists often showed up at camp bearing spiritual messages. I understood then that the preachers intended to bring a basic message of understanding and humanity, but it always rubbed me the wrong way as I feel there is plenty to talk about without invoking religion (also I'm Jewish).

Seeing Ernie Reyes make jokes, tell tales of tournaments, punch and kick, underscored how all the instructors in the program radiate sincerity - their life's journey has been improved by martial arts and they readily share examples of triumph and failure. When dealing with a franchise one can easily grow suspicions that things may be different at corporate headquarters. Now that I've seen the guy at the top, I am very much reassured.

Here's the video (sorry this can't be viewed on a mobile device):

Monday, July 22, 2013

Negative Media Depiction of Moles

Evil mole from the motion picture Rango.
My kids don't see a lot of dead things. When the kids do, the critters are usually in the street, victims of automobiles or heartbreak or too many fermented acorns. No joke, we once saw a squirrel fall out of a tree and hit the pavement hard and begin to spasm. I honestly thought the jig was up, but it rallied and scampered back up the tree.

The only thing I actively set my mind to destroy are the moles that ravage our lawn. I'm frequently teased about this, the usual joke being my single-minded obsession is the same as Bill Murray's character in "Caddy Shack." 

But each summer I kill a few moles.

"The Underminer" from the movie The Incredibles.
Perhaps the greatest trauma I inflicted on my daughter last year was pulling up a scissor trap with the mole still very much alive. I then killed the mole with a shovel while the family hid in the house.

My daughter tells me to leave the cute moles alone. "They're evil," I say, then point to all the examples in the media that paint the mole as a hideous monster.

This weekend I got another and I invited the kids to look at the tiny creature that caused so much destruction. The son wanted no part of this, but the daughter came out and had a careful inspection. The actual creature didn't do much to encourage her to love moles.

Now 72 hours later our replacement mole has arrived and the game begins anew. Why bother? After a decade of this I have realized that although the present situation is far from perfect or even good, to abandon the pursuit of moles is to host about five of the pests instead of one.

I've told my daughter that when she's 21 I will pass on to her my mole-trapping skills. She says she'll never need them, but fate has a way of digging up the lawn.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pokemon Cards Provide Personal Growth When Discarded

The idea that this is a sleepy Pokemon who may inflict damage on others or himself seems oddly apropos.
The son decided that Pokemon cards are no longer his thing. Until recently he had collected and coveted them, organizing a thick three-ring binder to contain his collection of a few hundred.

Like many who collect porcelain cows, Romanian coins, nostalgia from the 1990s, barbed wire, and Israeli phone cards, the value a collector places on his collection may not reflect what the market will pay.

The kid's desire to cast off his cards is a good opportunity to instill some lessons. LSS took him to a place that bought cards, giving him half of what the cards would sell on ebay -- a shockingly low amount in the kid's estimation.

After the rarer cards get a few bucks, LSS is hoping the kid will tap a philanthropic vein and give the cards away to others still suffering the fever that is Pokemon.

I've asked the kid to give a valuation on the entire collection, what would giving up every single card be worth to him. Previously he had only calculated the projected worth of any individual card.

Perhaps the value in Pokemon is learning, the hard way, what investing in collectibles is really worth.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How We Manage The Estate And Grounds

The vermin in the backyard

A few months ago I noticed a rabbit in the backyard, “Hey, kids, look – it’s Oscar the rabbit.”

Somehow the kids accepted the name and all of us would comment on Oscar’s moods and habits.

When a bunny appeared I referred to it as Vladimir. 

I guess I jumped the shark with this one, for instead of the name being viewed as coming from a sacred source the kids began to suspect I made it up. 

Now every time a bunny appears it could be referred to as Vladimir, Hugo, Caramel, or Slipper. Also, Oscar’s wife, who has not actually been viewed, has been named Sasha by the daughter.

Weird and happy, our lives continue.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Special Day

As stated previously, wish fulfillment (as well as reasonable bedtime and teeth-brushing) are what we're all about here at Portdaddia. Last week LSS  found some small gifts that made a good day a little bit better for our daughter.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Daughter Creates Rock `n' Roll Attire

Got to dress the part.
In yesterday's post about Rock `n' Roll Camp for Girls I neglected to mention that the girls also did their own costuming.

Not content to just silkscreen her band T-shirt, the daughter took matters into her own hands and modified the shirt with scissors and safety pins. 

Part of the sheer excellence of this camp was the complete rock show experience. In the photo above the lanyard contains her all-access pass and earplugs.

When reviewing the photos and video segments I felt I was previewing my daughter as an adult. She worked hard to get her ideas out there and looked the part. Rock on!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rock `n' Roll Camp For Girls

To those girls who rock, we salute you!

Rock `n’ Roll Camp for Girls was a great experience for our daughter (11), who in one week formed a band, wrote a song, created a band T-shirt, drew a zine, and totally blew the minds of all in attendance at a sold-out showcase at the Alberta Rose Theater. 

The camp, for girls 8-17, covered many aspects of the rock band experience – music lessons, self-defense classes, photo-shoots, and back-stage credentials, to name only a few.

I very much like the idea that there were no prerequisites for this camp, the girls didn’t need to know how to play an instrument or sing or even like rock music. All that was needed was an itch for self-expression, however defined. And express themselves they did. Here are a list of the bands and the songs showcased.

Flaming Angels “Lost Me”
Invisible Blobby Penguins “Natsu Tte Saiko (Summer is Awesome)”
The Mice Riding Fire Breathing Donuts “This is Rock `n’ Roll”
Neon Konverz “The Spark”
Bubble Creatures “Monsters In Space”
The Purple Firebreathing Monkeys “Purple Firebreathing Monkeys”
Queen Bee Sting “Neon Cola”
The E.N.D. (Epic Ninja Dragons) “I’m Still Me”
Spork “Summer”
Voyage “Changing Pathways”
Barefoot in a Bowtie “Raggedy Man”
Porta Party  “Escape from Llama Mall (The Palindrome Song)”
Captains of the Outcast “Hopeless”
Guilty Innocence “Stupid Little Crush”

The daughter was the guitarist for Queen Bee Sting and below are lyrics for her song:

Neon Cola
I’m just causing a radical scene
You’re so jealous you’ll never be the queen!
I don’t care what you say
You know what I’ll do
You better start to pray
`Cuz I’m out for you

I don’t want that old brown stuff
I don’t want the cola that lights it up
Neeeon, neon cola
It’s bright it’s fizzy
It makes me kind of dizzy
Neon cola, neon cola

Don’t start again
This is what you get
If you go on like this
You’ll be hated more than Boba Fett
So sick of your single watt mind
If you’re any slower
First grade will leave you behind

Friday, July 12, 2013

What Summer Is About #4

Squinty Portdaddia imposter beckons the unwary to pick delicious fruit.
Cherry picking. Who doesn't love it? This is my favorite way of making an argument. I like to point to evidence that superficially confirms my position while blatantly ignoring any significant truth that might contradict it.

Then in the summer, I actually pick cherries, which makes the practice acceptable during the rest of the year.

And yes I can live with myself just fine.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What Summer Is About #3

Old-timey derring-do.
Have to put it to rest. We do leave the house. All of us. And hike in places without wifi. Despite the extra production value of the photo, we actually got out of the car and hiked a bit before this shot was taken (No, I didn't edit out the parking lot).

We all survived another day to blog about it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What Summer Is About #2

Muffins made with fresh blueberries, tea, and watermelon. No need for Hallmark to over-sentimentalize stuff -- I did it myself!
Summer is all about food. Fresh ingredients, a bit more time to cook, and perhaps sharper hunger from doing activities.

Blueberry muffins are part of the Portdaddia ethos. So much the better when the kids pick the fruit themselves.

I particularly enjoy seeing the kids get a break from their Cap'n Crunch cereal that they usually mix with Mt. Dew or Red Bull. The kids totally get it that we go all wholesome just for the photo shoot, then all's back to normal.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What Summer Is About #1

Fourth of July Parade: We live in America where one can call it like he sees it.
I returned from a nice week of vacation where I did all sorts of summery stuff. As I live in the over-earnest town of Portland, I will now commence to digest these experiences as blog posts.

July Fourth isn't necessarily the official start of summer, but in my book it is -- for the main reason that the weather can now be counted on to be pleasant, or too hot. I spent the holiday in Hood River where I witnessed the parade which had a full spectrum of civic clubs, talents, and temperaments.

I very much like the idea the man pictured above had something to say and brought it to the point where he made a placard and marched in the parade. I've heard that almost anybody can be in the parade if the $10 participation fee is paid.

The small town parade has a great feeling to it, all sorts of hot rodders, holy rollers, ski teams and dogs on surfboards can come together in celebration of America. The Hood River parade continues to be a great co-mingling of the community's different currents, complete with fire engines, a woman in a carrot suit, and the high school electric vehicle club.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why the Corporations Win

The Bizzard at DQ is so wrong it feels right.   

I grew up going to Dairy Queen. Nothing says summer like the treat of ice cream. I haven't been so overly strict that my family hasn't enjoyed ice cream, just not DQ's until recently.

My daughter had a DQ Blizzard when visiting with a friend and reported how she loved it. This brought back the memories. So when the unit had finished dinner we set out -- I made everyone walk about 3 miles, to make sure only those truly committed to the experience got the treat. I realize I am ridiculous (but I accept who I am).

I had a Blizzard with Oreo blended into it and in a flash I was back in Minnesota being bitten by mosquitoes. Still, this was a good memory.

Despite my Michael Moore-ish tirades against "the system" I have nothing to counter this delicious dessert item. In the end we all break.

I suspect before the summer is over I will have forfeited any right to ever speak negatively about high fructose corn syrup. Get thee to a Walmartery!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Father and Son Equally Militaristic

When the temp goes over 85 we have our set style.
I've long championed my camo cargo shorts, even before the daughter went to boot camp. But on a walk today with the son I realized the boys in the family have developed a hot-weather uniform.

Unlike others who don't realize the potential of cargo garments, I make good use of the big pockets. I carry my phone and glasses -- whoo!

If I get into web gear then you'll know I have jumped the shark and landed in Weirdsville. Anything short of this is A-Okay.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Boot Camp - An Inside Look

Despite the martial attire, lots of laughter was reported.
During the debrief, the daughter told of the final challenge. She arrived at the dojo at 5:00 pm, took part in a demonstration that involved plenty of calisthenics and fighting with sticks, and then said farewell to the parents.

The recruits then ran to a swimming pool, changed into non-military-issue swimwear, and played in the pool. No enemy combatants were located on the water slide.

They then did some night marching to a parents' backyard for roasting of combat marshmallows, before returning to the dojo around 1:00 am for a bit of shut eye.

The daughter recruit said it was just about the best time ever.

I made a video of the demonstration.