Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kid Writes Essay About International Experience With Monkey In "Jungle Fun"

For the initial reporting on this moment go here.

Jungle Fun 
(translation of attraction's name)

When I was in Eretz Yisrael for two weeks I went to spend two days at my uncle’s kibbutz. It was old, rusty, and rundown, but the best part was the tropical jungle!!!!!!

Ok, I was exaggerating it was a zoo, but all the animals were roaming around. I had to watch my step because there were anteaters, crowned birds, weird tropical birds, a peacock with a 5 foot tail, a tortoise, a donkey and more. There was an ostrich my size that came so close that I could feel its breath.
But the best part was the squirrel monkeys. In case you don’t know what squirrel monkeys are, these next words are for you. Squirrel monkeys are cute monkeys that have that have incredible acrobatics(about 90x better than a cat). Anyway, we went into a chain linked fence dome(a dome so the monkeys would not escape even though they were climbing on the fence) on a bridge with capybaras below and parrots overhead and of course the SQUIRREL MONKEYS!!!!!!!! When we walked in the monkeys started to climb on us.
My dad snuck in his Iphone (shout out to apple) and filmed a  FUNNYvideo. When they brought the monkeys food they put it on a thingy  5 feet from the bridge and the monkeys jumped onto the thingy and ate there. 

(For the record I did not smuggle a phone into the monkeys' habitat. I was advised not to bring it lest the vile critters steal it and order cigarettes and Bacardi over the internet. They did try and take it from me, but at least in this test of strength I triumped over a 16-inch, 5 lb monkey.)


Monday, September 29, 2014

The Crazy Kid Stuff -- What Is That Parkour Thing?

Parkourinos at Revolution Parkour in Beaverton.

From Wikipedia: Parkour is a general training discipline that developed from teenagers watching military obstacle course videos and sniggering compulsively. Practitioners aim to get from A to B in the most efficient way possible, given the extreme difficulty of finding normal ways of egress, such as a door or stairs. Parkouring is done using only one’s own human body and the surroundings for propulsion, with a focus on maintaining as much momentum as possible while still remaining safe, albeit while turning somersaults over cement and urban detritus. Parkour can include obstacle courses, running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, chewing, rolling, making weird expressions, and walking like a chicken, depending on what movement is deemed most suitable for the given situation.

The nine-year-old kid is, after two weeks, way into Parkour. Thankfully he practices at a gym under the guidance of relatively sane instructors. 

I took him to an open gym this weekend, where the kid could do as he pleased, and observed what he actually did. Here is the video:

I am happy the kid is enjoying himself, running around and practicing maneuvers. Once again I celebrate a new form of stoke being channeled in creative ways in the pursuit of pure awesomeness. Whoooo!

Friday, September 26, 2014

"School Of Rock" Big Hit For Family Movie Night

"Dude, I serve society by rocking."
After a day of piety came family movies night where we enjoyed School of Rock with Jack Black. The film is about an egotistical would-be rock star who stumbles into a gig substitute teaching at a posh private school.

I've enjoyed Jack Black's musical satire for years, so this film was pure candy -- even better in that my daughter, a budding rocker, liked it too. 

The film was not without its spiritual dimensions as well:

As a star vehicle this film was nearly flawless. I give it such high marks because of its restraint rather than an ability to soar recklessly. Careful decisions to avoid a love interest or paint the parents of the kids in too broad strokes made this film feel just right.

In the end the film is a joy as the character, even one so overblown and comical as the one created by Jack Black, is someone we have met in our lives, with Chevy van with bubble rear window and an unquestionable devotion to AC/DC, Deep Purple, Led Zepplin and the like.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Homework Contract -- Yet Another Ruse For The Benefit Of Humanity

This was the actual contract that resulted in lemon bars.

I will try anything to bring the desired result of fancy dessert for all.

Monday, September 22, 2014

2014 Official Condiment Report: Bring On The Aardvark!

Full disclosure for the record.
The most important condiment in our family, the one that brings gnashing of teeth and tearing of garments when it's not around, is Aardvark  Habañero Sauce.

This is related to the fact that many dinners have melted cheddar cheese upon a variety of surfaces. These are our "Mexican" -themed dinners and are always in dire need of hot sauce.

Like the best habañero sauces, this one has a smokey sweet build up and a tangy-spicy finish, not a thermonuclear blast, but a slow twist of the rheostat so the voltage spikes.

We have ketchup and mustard, all necessary in their own right, but most of the time we're reaching for the Aardvark.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Kids Challenge Dad To Make Ridiculous Amount of BBQ Ribs

Sushi, guacamole, barbeque ribs -- some food never generate leftovers.
Every time I cook ribs no matter the quantity the kids complain there isn't enough.

Fair to say I have failed to prepare sides that are delicious.

The main hurdle is to get a nine-year-old to ignore the ribs and eat some vegetables, any vegetables, no matter the preparation. Some sides may sound and look good, but this is a difficult nut to crack.

My philosophy here is that every now and then we should have the modern day equivalent of a medieval feast -- where people get to eat and drink only what they want and plenty of it.

Birthdays, of course! But there are only four of us so if we celebrate St. Crispin's Day who can blame us?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Our Family Develops Philosophy That Doubles As Kōan

One needs to chant this for a good 90 minutes before the subtle layers of meaning can be parsed.
I praised the kid for solving a problem using a phone, or modern communication technology as I called it, and thus our family philosophy was born.

This is who we are, what we are about, how we interact with the world, and what we talk about incessently.

Are we insufferable? Most likely. Adorable? Definitely.

Come to our home and weigh in on how best Minecraft should be played; how MS Outlook contributes to mental equilibrium; how to avoid the haters on Facebook; which YouTubers are worthy of emulation.

I suppose I should have seen this coming, being a blogger of sorts. So mod com tec it is!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Homework With Friends Can Be Fun, Learns The Kid

Actual site where group homework with friends was attempted.
As a helicopter parent I expect the moment my child is left alone all hell will break loose. And I mean this in the best way possible.

So when the 12-year-old hung out with some friends after school I had visions of pandemonium, of running around screaming (the kid, not me), even though the kid is mostly polite and well-behaved in public.

Imagine my surprise when the kid was seated at a table with some friends with their books spread out before them, all of them chatting amicably. I basically had to invent some pretense to sound all fatherly. Jeez. The hoops I have to jump through.

Anyway, we drove home and I became aware of a vague notion that some paradigm shift had occurred and I was the last to know.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nine-year-old Giving Parkour A Try

His ability with the French language remains in dispute. However, the kid's overall leapyness is A-okay.
The kid is trying a new after-school activity that involves leaping off of things, jumping, rolling, and looking cool in urban environments. This is parkour.

I haven't spoken to him at length about his experience but I suspect we have a good fit. More to come.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wholesome Activity Fails To Alter Snarky Malcontents From Portland

Stevenson, Washington where the motto of the town is "Rig big or go home -- this is the Gorge".

We were out in the Columbia River Gorge this past weekend where the September sun shines so perfect one wants to cry, make snarky comments, or, at the very least, exploit natural resources for short-term monetary gain.

This is our problem, even though we are exposed to some of the most perfect scenery on this planet, we being who we are can't seem to get to the truth of it all and instead wallow in a snark-arama of our own making.

I did make a video of us at Kiyokawa Family Orchards, a wholesome place for decent people to pick apples and buy Asian pears. Still, they allowed us on the premises and no charges are pending.

Here's a video I made in hopes of casting a better light on our conduct.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Great Day -- Salmon Fishing On The Columbia (No Fish Were Harmed In The Production Of This Post)

6:30 am at the boat launch.
Ever since I first visited here I wanted to go salmon fishing. I kept thinking it would happen by accident, somehow I would stumble upon a group of people who would insist I join them.

Weird when things actually happen the way you imagine. I mentioned to a friend I always wanted to go salmon fishing and he insisted we go, sending me a link to a guide and boat.

Marvin picked us up at the dock early and off we went into the current south of the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. We anchored in about 20 feet of water, fishing with weighted lures enhanced with "smelly jelly," a type of fish perfume.

"Governor Kitzhaber ain't worth nothing but crab bait," Marvin started out. For a moment I worried we would have to hear the Tea Party venting at us for eight hours, but such was not the case. Marvin had a full range of colorful political views, but his main beef with the governor was byzantine rules and mismanagement of Columbia River fisheries. In a nutshell, there exists an animosity between sport anglers and commercial gillnetters similar to the farmers and free-range ranchers a century previous. Apparently the gillnetters have the upper hand at the moment.

Thus began an eight-hour conversation scarcely interrupted by fish. We did have two strikes but were not able to land the fish. Part of the challenge is that barbed hooks are not allowed, so when a fish strikes the lure only a careful hand will bring it to the boat. The inexperienced, like us, get mocked (good naturedly) by Marvin.

A warm sun shone, a gentle wind blew, and I luxuriated in the exercise of philosophic waiting that is fishing. Certainly there are worse ways to pass time. I can't wait to try again next September.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Kid Creates Cool Op-art For Homework

I don't know much about art, but I know what I like.
The assignment had something to do with math, or numbers, or something educational-like.

I'm a proud dad as this really really shows that hard-core sciency stuff can look excellent.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Big Shout Out To Midland Walkie Talkies

When we were camping the nine-year-old was having the best time with his walkie talkies. I was having fun, too, communicating pseudo-military gibberish on the trail.

The kid squatted down to wash his hands in a stream and one handset slipped off his backpack strap and fell into the water.

The unit was submerged for a good two minutes before we found it and fished it out.

We were all devastated -- it seemed too much to hope for that we could get the handset working again.

I took the handset apart and packed it in rice for a day. After charging all works fine.

Thanks for a fine product Midland!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Irresponsible Dad Leads Successful Camping Trip To Crater Lake

Wizard Island at sunset: The water at Crater Lake appears as blue as the photo owing to its exceptional clarity -- the lake is fed by rain and snow melt.

We took the kids camping and everybody survived, although some more than others. LSS came down with a head cold and the kids developed various ailments as a result.

Still, everybody felt they had witnessed a truly spectacular natural environment.

The air was cool and dry (no bugs!) at a smug 6,000 feet of elevation.

We had such a great time we did the irresponsible thing and decided to let the kids self-regulate their s'more intake. One kid developed a stomach ailment which probably was a result, but, hey, only one way to know your limits.

The big ticket item for us was the boat ride around the lake with a stop to hike Wizard Island.

A great weekend with friends. Can't wait to do it again.