Friday, February 28, 2014

Intellectual Honesty - These Are The Apps On My Phone

I suppose the app that makes me cringe (only a bit) is the one for emoticon art.
I tried to think of the reasons why I shouldn't post this picture and came up with: If people knew I was using Sound Hound they would discount my uncanny ability to identify Cramps songs as merely an internet resource.

I got the idea from Productivity gurus post screen shots of their phones to inspire us mortals to learn the true system.

No real surprises on my phone. The real point might be that I only use three of these apps regularly. Somehow having all of them makes me feel fortified to face the unknown -- or a sucker for gross data consumption.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Kid In Motion - The Fashion Post

Fashion is a passion in these parts.

This is what the nine-year-old looks like on a fairly regular basis. I wanted to post this thought so it would be preserved in the historical record of the internet.

The "M.T. Freezer" hat is presumed to be part of his head as he wears it so often, and the Dr. Who shirt is another favorite. Which of the many doctors pictured is his favorite? Such is a moving target.

Not pictured are the dark sweatpants that unfailingly complete every outfit.

The philosophy seems to be that if you find something that works, stick with it. Hard to argue.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Role As A Parent - Become Figure Of Ridicule

"Surf's Up," a once-upon-a-time family favorite.
When I was growing up I was frustrated by my relatives wanting to take me to movies grossly inappropriate for my age. I was eager to see the "Poseidon Adventure" when the adults couldn't wait to take an actual kid to "Bedknobs and Broomsticks."

I vowed things would be different on my watch. Little did I know we become that which we mock.

Everything started so innocently.

When my daughter was three I would watch movies with her in the belief that things might get too intense or that something needed to be explained. She would watch movies several times, memorize the dialogue, trying to figure out on her own what they meant.

By the time she was five after weekday dinners we would retire in front of the television. We would play a game where we each would choose a few of our favorite scenes from a movie and view them on the TV. Sometimes we would use freeze-frames to deeply analyze every action. She would ask me why I liked a particular passage, or what had made me laugh.

From this I learned to appreciate the movies through her eyes, as well as enjoy the many quick jokes often made by secondary characters in busy scenes. The exercise gave me an appreciation of animated films I had not possessed previously.

 The above clip is from "Shrek the Third." Snow White starts out singing her cute song with all the forest creature frolicking, then transitions to Led Zepplin's "Immigrant Song" to attack the evil enchanted trees. My daughter and I must have watched this 50 times together, celebrating girl power as the princesses attacked the castle.

The other night we were fishing for a movie to watch together and I suggested an animated film we had enjoyed previously. "No.Way."

She's only 12, I thought, maybe there could be just a little leeway?

I celebrate being ridiculous.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Antidote To Skiing Is More Skiing - Bring On The Nord Boards!

Old-timey fun created on the skinny skis.

UDG and his wife came to visit and we all went Nordic skiing, not because it was a winter Olympics year, but because such is a pleasant activity.

Alpine skiing is awesome, but such awesomeness comes at a price -- the gear is plentiful and the logistics complicated. Sometimes it's fun to go a bit slower but still have an exciting ski experience.

As we live near a balmy mountain environment we were able to cross-country ski with light clothing. Also, we avoided the crowds at Mt. Hood Meadows by ski med sinnssyke dverger at the Nordic center.

The kids took to the activity with little instruction and fell asleep on the drive home. A good day!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Van De Graaff Generators Always A Hit

The kid was disappointed when he learned the effect was temporary.
Timeless. Turn it on and have a static shock fest or just luxuriate in the pleasure of fly-away hair.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bald Head Provides Dramatic Backdrop For Kid Comedy

I enjoy helping the creative development of my children.
I think the kid was doing some "Lord of the Rings" Gollum-like schtick. Good stuff!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Challenge Of The Third Grade - A Video

The kid waxes philosophical and shares what an ideal learning environment might look like.
The nine-year-old wanted to do an interview video this morning. Who am I to say no?

The following video is for entertainment purposes only. The views expressed do not reflect those of this household. Really. So just deal.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Menu Of Daughter's Birthday Dinner

Chocolate cupcake with salty caramel and lemon tart made a fine celebratory dessert. 

Here at Portdaddia central we take birthdays seriously. Part of the celebration is the birthday girl/boy gets to choose a dinner where she/he sets the menu. Recently the daughter had a birthday.

  • 1 whole roast duck from Chen's Good Taste Restaurant
  • 1/2 lb barbeque pork from above restaurant
  • Wonton noodle soup also from Chen's
  • Stir-fried zucchini (this was added by me)
 We laughed about the birthday where the daughter wanted chicken nuggets, biscuits, mashed potatoes.

A good time was had by all.

When I cooked the zucchini I arranged the slices in the wok in a suitably sci-fi  pattern. Yeah, I do get to post stuff like this.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Grattitude And Being A Middle-aged Parent Cyclist

Some relationships feel naturally right from the start.
I have gratitude for the important relationships in my life. You've heard this before several hundred times. I'm a daddy blogger and so I drone on about my kids and family ad infinitum.

But I have gratitude for other things, too.

The other day I was considering all the cool stuff I have in my life and I relized how much joy my bike stand has given me.

I've always prized having bicycles in decent working order. For most of my life I would work on them wherever possible with only a smattering of specialized tools. In the past few years declining eyesight and a stiff lower back would make it so bike maintenance would be a chore that would leave me grumpy.

Ponying up the bucks for a good bike stand not only saves my back, but the joy of tinkering has returned. Also, when I'm riding I can be a smug bike guy safe in my knowledge that I dripped oil on my chain not so terribly long ago.

There's life in a nutshell. Be the smug cyclist you want to be and leave the rest for commentary.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Kids Continue To Do Weird Stuff

Dramatic photo reveals kid re-enacting Bay of Pigs invasion with updated night vision gear. "This time the good guys get to win!"

If I knew what I was getting into when I became a parent, well, I would say, yay!

So far things have worked out pretty well. I realize that my tastes and opinions are not what the mainstream refers to as "normal." So how the hell am I supposed to have normal kids?

So the kids are doing weird stuff and I approve. Sort of. The problem occurs when the weirdness is directed in a way that does not meet my seal of weird approval. For example, the kids like watching videos of other people playing video games. I say make your own videos!

As I live in Portland, I'm a big believer in doing the weird stuff yourself and not being a passive consumer of generic weirdness.

At the moment both kids are sick with colds and coughs and so we're taking a break in artistic expression and settling in until the winds of health blow us back on course.

Until then stay tuned.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kid's Interest In Cooking Sparked By Walking Dead-themed Cook Book

The recipe for Napalm Chicken Wings has struck a fancy.
The nine-year-old when he picked up the above book was skeptical. "Do they have Daryl Dixon's recipe for possum?" he asked.

The possum recipe included a work-around with chicken.

But the point was made -- when it comes to food preparation in the zombie apocalypse this book is a handy reference.

I haven't had a chance to enjoy the parody or the recipes, but am optimistic that carnivorous fun will be the outcome.

Thanks Karen!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tour of Portland Police Forensics Lab

The seriousness of the building and staff initially curtailed any joking around, but eventually things lightened up.
A big thanks to the officers and criminologists of Portland's finest who led a group of us on a tour of the forensics lab.

All of us tried to get the CSI, Law and Order, and Dexter jokes out of our system before the tour, still we were crime drama fanboys as we were shown the apparatus.

Interesting in that the two main tools of forensic criminal investigation are fingerprinting and photography -- DNA and other tests are used much less frequently than I would have thought. The basic technology of fingerprinting hasn't changed all that much in 100 years, and a decidedly low-tech black powder is primarily used. Super glue vapor, magnetic dust, and a variety of other compounds that adhere to different oils or substances that could be found on a finger were also employed.

The lab did have a Leica 3-D crime-scene scanner that creates a computer image that is used to plot the distances of objects, bullet trajectories and the like, but mostly the cops used cell phone cameras and Nikon D700s.

After the prints are "lifted" they are photographed and scanned for a match in a database.

The closest we came to Hollywood: Horse blood was used for this blood-spatter training demo.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February Photo Essay Of Life In Portland

We are spoiled as it rarely snows here

Cold remedies appear as a blur to me and my phone.

Appropriate footwear.

The boots reflected my feelings at the moment.
Waiting for the physician.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why We Let Kids Watch Edgy Shows

Don't ask.

I like to consider myself a “hands-on” dad. What I mean by this is that when I do something, even something stupid, I am usually fully conscious of my decision. I don’t make excuses such as I was busy or on the phone, rather  my excuses center around having bohemian leanings, unusual upbringing or alien possession, the main point being it is impossible for me to judge what is considered generally acceptable.

More specifically, we let our kids watch such shows as “The Walking Dead” and “Family Guy.” I was reluctant about the former because of violence and the latter for sexual content. So if these are stupid decisions why do I continue to allow viewing of these programs?

The short answer: these are two really great shows and I don’t want to wait until after the kids have gone to sleep to view them.

The longer answer is that I trust my kids to be able to figure out the satire of “Family Guy”  and realize that there is no zombie apocalypse (even in the American South) so looting grocery stores and shooting everything in sight is not appropriate.

If the kids were showing anything but enjoyment from these shows I would end viewing privileges. In fact, “Dr. Who” was forbidden from being shown for a couple of years because the episode where the manikins came to life freaked out the younger kid. 

My kids do read books, see shows  other than the abovementioned, and generally compose their reality with a multi-faceted intake of concepts and images. I want this intake to be diverse as possible. 

At the end of the day I enjoy talking seriously about how I would behave in a zombie apocalypse or what made me laugh while watching family guy. If anything is disturbing to the kids I want it out in the open and discussed.

We have two great kids with unusual and excellent senses of humor, and (in theory) finely honed survival skills.

Works for me!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Actual Ukrainian Sheds No Light On Mystery

I need more Ukrainian content to address my fan base.

Today I met a young woman who grew up in a town east of Kiev. I asked her why on earth anyone in the Ukraine would be interested in reading Portdaddia.

She looked pensive for a moment, then looked away, saying she had no clue.

At that moment I realized that the reason was obvious, but because it was so obvious it was invisible to me. Perhaps some time in the future I will be able to get to the bottom of this mystery, but not today.

I send my good wishes to the Ukraine, hoping for a peaceful conclusion to the protests and that a political and trade deal will be achieved with the European Union. Be safe but stand firm.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Questionable Parenting: Dad Reveals Psych-up Tunes

Sometimes baby needs needs to rock.
When the kids were younger the fun, jump-around song was the "Theme from Hawaii Five-O," an inspiring instrumental surf tune played by the Ventures.

After a while I needed something new so I'd crank "Welcome to the Jungle," by Guns and Roses. That one was never too much of a hit but the scream at the beginning was fun, at least to me.

I suspect that getting the kids motivated by the music was partly related to how much I rocked when the tunes began to thump the floorboards. I have always loved dancing and rocking out with the kids -- I liken it to swimming with dolphins, albeit smartalek-y dolphins that ask weird questions.

Then I began cranking "Hot for Teacher" by Van Halen. This is thematically inappropriate but I figured the kids were still too young to really understand. Still, the bombastic drumming in the intro and ensuring guitar riffs were awesome.

Now the song that I will flail around to when played in the hopes of motivation is "Breed," by Nirvana. The lyrics come off as a nearly incoherent yell while the guitar and bass lines explode like a freight train hit with a Scud.

The daughter is learning to play Nirvana songs on the guitar and has covered her math textbook with a Nirvana-inspired drawing. I am proud she has such refined musical taste.

There is part of me that feels the musical influences I pass on should be less rebellious. Whatever, I'm already too far gone down this road. As they say, it's only rock `n' roll, but they (the kids) like it.