Thursday, October 31, 2013

What Kids Do #1

An actual kid doing what he does.
I was going to do something Halloween, but I'm just not on it.

Instead I'll offer a tutorial on how actual kids behave.

The following is for regular people as well as academics and serious amateurs.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rights Of Food Ownership Extend To Home Refrigerator, Reminds Child

A delicious mac and cheese was not to be forfeited.
The kids understand that when we eat in restaurants what each person orders "belongs" to him or her while we are seated at the table (unless we eat family style, which usually happens in Asian restaurants).

But when leftovers come home what happens to them? Who gets to eat them? Usually I do, unless, of course, there are specific instructions indicating otherwise.

I figure there should be a 24-hour rule. If the food is in the fridge more than 24 hours then it should be for whoever wants to eat it.

I'm glad the kids want to protect their leftovers, as it makes me feel eating in a restaurant is not being taken for granted.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Internet Has Spoken...And The Voice Is Ukrainian!

When you chat with Hassan Rouhani ask him what he thinks of the blog. The above statistics represent the last seven days of page views.
Part of the fun of writing a blog open for all the world to view, is actually seeing which geographic area is peeking in (I don't have any more detailed information). As you can see, Ukrainians are my number one fans this week.

I don't know exactly why I'm so popular in Odessa, but I can only hope they are laughing with me and not at me.

In my heart I would like to believe that my Eastern European genes have expressed themselves in a thought that has resonated with my fellow Ukrainian dudes.

To you, my friends, I say give thanks for all the blessings and proclaim your stoke!

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Eye Of The Tiger" Interpreted By 8-year-old, Critics Rave

Yet another generation is captivated by this ultimate workout song.
The first time the kid heard "Eye of the Tiger" we were at a martial arts tournament and another kid was using the song as a backdrop for "open form," where moves are put to music. 

As a result of the tournament I was reminded of the song's kickass opening chords and began imitating them for general encouragement.

The kid could stand such playful cultural references no longer, so he looked up the lyrics, played the video from Rocky III a few times, and the rest, as they say, is history.

In 1982 Mr. T was a formidable presence, long before catchphrases and action figures reduced his tough-guy profile.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Geeking Out On The Feng Shui Of Sporting Goods

Although this board is firmly attached to the car, the upturning of its contours are in contrast to the lines of the roof -- bad auto feng shui. 

I like geeking out to sporting goods, especially surf-type boards of any ilk, bicycles, and skis. I'm not to the point where I fill all empty space with these things, but I have a few of each.

When I'm busy I like to be sanctimonious and say how the fetishization of each and every part of a bicycle diminishes the simple joy of just jumping on the thing and riding down the road.

Despite such bold declarations, when I actually get a chance to do these activities I'm unabashedly a celebrant and critic of the minutiae. Also, my family has seen me pause more than a few times outside the bike store window to ogle the merchandise.

I also like the look of an automobile with sporting goods on the roof rack. That is assuming the driver has put the stuff up there in an elegant manner.

The above picture is from this summer. I put the board on the roof with the fin pointing down because the board was awkward to move and we weren't driving all that far. I realize my mistake and promise that it won't happen again, unless it's absolutely necessary.

It's Friday and I've got nothing -- enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Productivity Center, Sort Of

The Productivity Center is, oddly enough, a productive place.
Now that the daughter is in the thralls of sixth grade certain patterns are taking shape. No more roving homework stations, instead we have the Productivity Center (actually the dining room).

We are like many families in that we usually chow down in less formal circumstances, leaving a big table in another room clean and ready for exciting homework action.

The daughter spreads out her books while I sit close by ready to lend assistance. Unfortunately there have been too many examples of me over-complicating things, especially math. But then again, I'm not supposed to be present -- homework is supposed to be the teacher's insight as to what the kid has absorbed in class.

My contribution, if in fact I'm any influence at all, is to try and teach process. I'm hoping that I can help install a relaxed patience which lends itself to doing stuff adequately, sort of. 

Nothing like a pushy parent demanding perfection!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What Would Darrel Dixon Do?

Darrel Dixon, a character in AMC's "Walking Dead," is happy to shoot any problem with a bolt from a crossbow.
Academics and serious amateurs will note my family's appreciation of the "Walking Dead." The show, set in the zombie apocalypse of present times, showcases a group of rugged survivors as they make their way through the devastated landscape of the American South.

Part of the melodrama is who will survive the assorted challenges, so characters come and go and only a few core characters remain after four seasons.

The character my kids most celebrate is Darell Dixon, a chopper-riding, crossbow-wielding, muscle-shirt-wearing son of the South. What little back-story I have picked up on (I haven't seen all the seasons or episodes) is that he lived a hardscrabble life before the apocalypse which trained him for a life on the run from "walkers". 

He doesn't say all that much, but is very effective at knocking out the zombies. I would like to believe this highly effective trait of getting things done (in the zombie apocalypse) is the reason he is popular with the kids.

I like the action of the series, but admit that I find none of the characters all that appealing. Rick, the obvious protagonist, spends way too much time in stupors of rage or lamentation. All the reasonable characters were killed off, so perhaps by default Darrel Dixon is the most compelling.

The season we are now watching has the survivors at about 10 months after the "outbreak." They use an assortment of weapons like crossbows, swords, hatchets, crowbars, and machetes in an effort to save ammo and keep themselves covered in sweat and zombie gore.

In much the same way I geeked out on "Lord of the Rings" so, too, do I see this happening with this series. In the "Rings," fans gravitated toward different creatures based on temperament and weapons. For examples, dwarfs were stout and stubborn and fought with battleaxes, while elves were nimble and used bows and arrows.

For a while the daughter was impressed with a katana-weilding wild woman, calling her a major source of bad-assery, but eventually she succumbed to the laconic Darrel, who thoughtfully takes a moment to don a leather vest or tie a bandana to his head before joining the others on a gore-splatter mission.

I doubt the writers will challenge Darrel with nuances of the tax code or have him calculate the emotional needs of his companions, but, hey, this is the apocalypse, and shooting stuff with a crossbow is pretty cool.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Top 10 List Of Son's Favorite Animals

Important information should always be written down.
This morning the son gave me this list and suggested I put it on the blog. He wanted to be clear which animals he preferred.

The narwhal made an unexpected appearance based solely on this video. Don't watch this video more than once, otherwise the song will be stuck in your head.

Sloths were appropriately ranked number one. The kid has long appreciated their laid-back expressions and lack of haste.

Horse, sheep, and cows seem to be Minecraft references.

Mongoose at #10 is because the Portland Zoo has a truly adorable one in a very cool habitat.

Please refer to this list unless notified of a change. Thank you.

Stoke Sloth

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fashion Udate - Never Miss With Cool T-shirts and Sweatpants

Leggings like these deserve a standing ovation.
The horn hat is another favorite.
 Hard to believe, but when the time is late and the pressure is on the daughter actually asks my opinion on what she should wear to school.

Jeans and a cool T-shirt, I usually say, thinking about what I would wear in the sixth grade.

Can't go wrong with the classics.
Pirates and Minecraft go together like pepperoni and cheese on a pizza.
Sweatpants, sweatpants, sweatpants.

The son is less indecisive as any anxiety is aleviated once the appropriate pair of sweatpants is found.

I, on the other hand, drape myself in green velour for a rigorous session at the keyboard.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cool Stuff Enters My Life - William Shakespeare's Star Wars

Ian Doescher lives in Portland, yay!

A fine book, good verse - but let's cut to the chase. Does this adaptation add a deeper understanding to the film Star Wars? Does it further refine characters or step away from controversy in the name of being coy and fey in a fit of Shakespearean whimsy?

When Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi enter the star bar looking for a ship they find Han Solo. Soon after arranging transport off Tatooine, Han Solo is confronted by Greedo, a bounty hunter eager to collect a debt Solo owes.

Shooting ensues and Greedo is killed.

Who shot first is a point much debated and considered. If Han shot first, that would make him more mercenary and not as likable as if he shot in self defense.

As the above illustrates, the text steps gingerly around this with Solo's aside that "...whether I shot first, I'll ne'er confess."

I suppose this is a wink by the author that he'll not rewrite scripture, but he could have at least added enough ambiguity to mirror that found in the film.

Still, a very enjoyable book.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Kid Shares Art - Everything Still Fine

Alien invasion is always a good choice for art.
All this talk of zombies left my son feeling that there were other creatures that needed to be dealt with harshly.

Today he presented me with the above work as a reminder to be vigilant not only for the zombie apocalypse, but also alien invasion.

I am forewarned.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dad Gets Into Zombies In Spite Of Himself

A good time playing "Walking Dead" outside.
I pride myself at being a "hands on" dad. I like to see what the kids are up to, what they're all about.

Usually this means asking them how was school and nodding earnestly when they mutter "fine."

For the last six months zombies have figured strongly into casual discussion as the little nippers have worked themselves through the series "Walking Dead." The older one is reading the novel "World War Z" and we all saw the movie.

To glimpse into this world, I also read "World War Z" and began watching "Walking Dead." Two great cultural products, although the later is perhaps a tad overly melodramatic. But both bring on the weapons and walkers with aplomb and abandon.

My appreciation of zombies lead to an earnest discussion with my daughter why the M1 carbine would not be the best choice of firearm for the zombie apocalypse. Other good moments have included serious discussions about scavenging food versus growing it.

Delicious steak or result of zombie attack?
 My daughter complains that in her class there aren't any other students who are into zombies. I can tell her with absolute certainty that when she gets to high school this will not be a problem.

Until then she will have me and the rest of the gang to watch "Walking Dead" with -- I can't wait.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Yoga and Martial Arts

Satellite photo.
Recently I traveled to the East Coast, where several people assumed I was way into the LOHAS lifestyle because I live in Portland. I am a dorky LOHAS kind of guy, but if it helps elevate my sustainiblity cred because I live in Portland, go ahead and knock yourself out.

Today was some high-water mark in self-reflective LOHASian revelry when a yoga teacher remarked that kids can't really practice yoga because they're too social. She explained that when most adults do yoga they sink into themselves in a quasi-meditative state of repressed anxiety and suppressed flatulence and often don't want to interact with other human beings.

That is totally me. I do yoga to get the back to stop hurting. When the pain recedes I just want to soak in the good feeling without distraction. Let the other guy compare sticky mats or tell the tale of the mung bean that got away.

The teacher continued that in her mind the activity for kids that is equivalent to adult yoga is martial arts.The kids learn respect, self control, and discipline (in theory).

The teacher did not know my kids are big into martial arts. All this made me think that I need to start preparing the kids how to safely journey outside our LOHAS bubble.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cool Authenticity Or Vapid Poserdom?

Time to replace the sandals?
When I was in college I was concerned about authenticity - meaning that I wanted my clothes, attitudes, and general existence to reflect a careful consideration borne of research and experience. Clothing well-worn, preferably by me, was held in high regard.

The opposite was being a poser - someone who lacked such careful consideration and quickly acquired the attitudes and clothes without the required period of apprenticeship or idiocy so prized by me at the time.

Now that I'm middle-aged I can be so authentic as to appear homeless. So the pressure is to update clothing and attitudes so I don't look or sound so shabby.

I remember hanging out with friends years ago and remarking on another's good fortune. "Yeah but he's probably wearing yellow-pitted undershirts and saggy briefs," a friend said, trying to alleviate envy by pointing out that despite this person's great success he had neglected an important element of personal attire - one that we would never overlook. This was the theory, in the practical sense I don't know if it holds.

I confess the disease of attitude made me dress weird, but now I dress worse. Worse in that I generally wear clothes in good condition, but lacking in careful consideration.

I'd like to think my thoughts are authentic - but I suspect I am a poser. So much the better, life is lighter this way.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Curriculum Night Lets Me Know I'm Outdated

Rare photo shows interior of third grader's desk.
My 8-year-old son took a field trip and later did a powerpoint presentation. He checks his homework assignments online.

I'm pleased that the school curriculum is keeping up with changes in technology and society.

My middle schooler is practicing using an on-line calendar.

I went to curriculum night thinking I would know what's what. Little did I know that as my kids get older the chances I'll have any background in their school material diminishes.

The only hope is to stumble upon some vague philosophical truth and lord it over them for years.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sixth Grader In Constant Search For Homework Station

Sometimes the floor is the only option.
Middle school has hit us by storm. Homework is now part of the fabric of our lives. To help the kid get a grip on these new expectations, the team has pitched in to give her our support.

There are many obstacles to doing the homework; one of the most significant ones is deciding where to unpack the books. The desk is too cluttered, the bed too inviting for sleep. So our intrepid middleschooler must set out on a journey of discovery.

Last night the dining room table was a fine alternative, tonight who knows. So far only the bathroom and our bed are off limits.

We will keep everyone posted as this story develops.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ask The 8-year-old Expert (About Minecraft And Horses)

My son, who does not have any special relationship with actual horses, has equestrian ability on Minecraft.
When my son tells me he want to teach me about Minecraft I listen.

I do so for two reasons: 1) Parents need to occasionally listen to the kids to check if they're on fire or something; 2) Minecraft is cool.

I still haven't actually sat down and played any form of Minecraft, but every time I observe my kids playing I'm always impressed at the intricacy of the game's functions. For example, to ride a horse in the game the player must first spawn some horses for the created world, then get thrown off the horse a few times until a heart appears which signifies you and the horse have bonded. The horse can then be ridden.  

Older people may have issue with the block graphics but as so much of our lives depend on a suspension of disbelief, so too does Minecraft.

I filmed the proud nipper showing off his expertise.

Monday, October 7, 2013

We Want To Be Famous!

A still picture from our star vehicle.
Do we want to be famous? Of course we do.

An actual producer of a television show surfed YouTube and found our spit take videos, both this one as well as this.

I know what your thinking, that this "producer" wants my credit card number and has requested I wire all available money overseas to save a Nigerian princess held captive. To prove that the show this person represented was real she sent me this clip.

The show is called "Guinness World Records Unleashed" (previously "Guinness World Records Gone Wild"). 

After I sent the footage of the spit takes and signed the release forms the producer told me that based on our family's moxie that we could submit a longer piece of the four of us spit-taking. 

As we are all in rock-solid belief that any video we appeared in would not only be aired but also catapult us to stardom, we all wholeheartedly agreed to produce another video.

Below is the director's cut.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Glasses, Chips And Mental Equilibrium

Never before has the interior of this cabinet enjoyed such precise arrangement. 
Basically a guy needs to be a real whack-job to be me, and I mean that with love in my heart. I accept who I am, weird mental ticks and all.

For instance, when I go to get a glass I'm overcome with a sense of well-being when the cabinet is orderly and plastic bins and lids don't come cascading out.

But such good tidings can be quickly washed away by a creeping dread that we will soon run out of tortilla chips.
I like always to have extra for emergency deployment. At current levels, radical depletion could come at any moment.
The kids keep me sane, in a way, or they encourage me in my eccentricity, I can't decide. I suspect they'll get out in the world and realize there are other ways of doing things.

Until then it's time to stock up on snack food so I can have a moment's rest.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Great Kids Welcome Home Weary Travel Dad

How did I get so lucky?
I came home from the East Coast last night after midnight. The kids got out of bed to come and give me a hug.

There are all sorts of good things in this world -- this is a special flavor not to be traded for anything.