Friday, October 31, 2014

The Kids Haven't Done Anything Blog-worthy So I'm Re-writing My Mission Statement

This is what I look like when I'm deep into philosophizing about high-level blog stuff.
The kids haven't done much of interest as of late and my audience demands content. So I decided to write a first draft of a Portdaddia mission statement:

Portdaddia is an inspiring blog that builds flexibility, intelligence and strength while helping deepen the relationship with your authentic parenting self. We use text, videos, and photos in vigorous sequences of posts to sweat out toxic and stoopid concepts and release tension. As you progress through my thinking, you will learn to safely tailor each idea to work best for you and your family, particularly with physical and emotional jokes designed to release flatulence and tension at all hours. Portdaddia challenges you to heal, grow and welcomes your own unique style of parenting (but my way is best).

You're welcome!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Teacher Reports Cursive To Be Dying

This photo is to illustrate that reading off paper is still practiced.
Recently at curriculum night the fourth-grade teacher said although cursive was being taught it was unpopular when students were given a choice of how to record their thoughts. He thought cursive handwriting was dying out to be replaced by keyboard skills.

Not sure what to make of this development. I enjoy writing in cursive, but not if anyone really needs to understand what I write.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kid Finds Cool Star Wars App

First thing, any time I blog about a product or service, somehow I am talking about Disney, no matter what. I can try and snark all I want on the company, but in the end I worship at the alter.

Anyway, the nine-year-old installed an app on an ipad that allows a user to create a battle. The app is called Star Wars Scene Maker and can be found here.

Later I was reminded that Disney now owns the Star Wars franchise.

The battle that the kid chose to create was Ewoks (flyblown, gangster teddy bears)  battling Storm Troopers ( a misunderstood class of conscripts). Needless to say the battle did not go as I suggested.

What was so excellent was that the kid was able to direct how many creatures would battle, which two specifically would tangle, weapons they would use, and a host of other variables.

This brought me back to junior high school where I would surmise with friends the outcome of hypothetical epic battles: Who would win if Hulk Hogan was locked in a double-wide with Barry Manilow. Hogan would have a weekwacker but have a snowboard strapped to his feet. Manilow would have a chainsaw but a limited amount of fuel.

I suspect there is an app for the above scenario.

Scene Maker really brought out the kid's creativity and impressed me enough that I want to create a battle scene. Its a fun app worth the download and the price is right -- free.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Xbox Trickery Continues To Provide Entertainment

What do the kids like to do with their free time? They like to go to the Netflix app on the Xbox and by pushing a secret combination of buttons recombine movie titles with pictures. The above image is not from the animated film Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2.

 Anyway it's raining and I want to think drier thoughts.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Gravity Falls" Television Show Earns Family Approval

The above image resonated strongly with the crew. Yes, those are underpants.
I know I like to bag on Disney, but once again they have created a fine cultural product that does not include princesses or singing.

My kids like to introduce me to shows they enjoy. They want my seal of approval because I like to laugh, and it seems their average age, 11, apparently is where my funny bone resides.

The show gets its name from the fictitious town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. Although the art and animation initially made me wince, reminiscent of crappy Hanna-Barbera productions of the 70s and Family Guy, the quirky plots and characters caught me.

I've seen two episodes, which obviously qualifies me as an expert. If you would like me to speak on your panel please click here.

In one episode snarky gnomes tried to force matrimony on Mable Pines, while in another a crazed hillbilly built a robot monster that lived in a place that highly resembled Crater Lake.

Good plot and pacing, weird characters, and enough snark for young (I mean really young) urban sophisticates.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Kids Figure Out Cool But Useless Thing With XBox

The kids figured out that when they access Netflix they can hit a combination of buttons on the Xbox controller to merge a picture with different text.

Jack Black, pictured above, is actually not the presenter in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Blogger Reflects On Excellent Birthday

I asked for, and received, a silly hat. So far the new chapeau has lived up to expectations and is adequately silly.
No more children's menus taped to my head for blogging -related photo shoots. I'm big time, baby, with excellent new headgear to do what needs to be done -- more posting of blog stuff!

Such is what happens when it's birthday time.

This delicious German chocolate cake makes deft reference to my affinity to randomly yell exacting enthusiastic statements.
The team made me feel terrific with custom works of art. We all celebrated by eating sushi and later enjoyed the cake. A great day!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Let The Kiddos Have The Run Of The Place And Don't Sweat It

An airplane parent? Yes! Helicopter? No!
On Oct. 12 I read Pamela Druckerman's op-ed A cure for Hyper-Parenting.

I liked hearing about how the phenomena of helicopter parenting is not confined to Portland, or even the US. The industrialized world seems to have been bitten by the bug, all except France, that is.

The article had several salient points. Here are three I found memorable:

  • A Dutch father of three told me about his Buddhist-inspired approach: total commitment to the process, total equanimity about the outcome.

  • Don’t worry about overscheduling your child. Kids who do extracurriculars have higher grades and self-esteem than those who don’t, among many other benefits, says a 2006 overview in the Society for Research in Child Development’s Social Policy Report. “Of greater concern,” it noted, “is the fact that many youth do not participate at all.”
  • Most parenting crises are caused by exhaustion. Force yourself to observe the same nighttime rituals as your toddler: bath, book, bed. When you feel an adult tantrum approaching, give yourself a timeout.  


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Kid Is Kicking It Old School With Correct Spelling

Not only did the nine-year-old spell all the words correctly, but he also indicated he knew the meaning with a graphic illustration.
The son showed me some of his schoolwork today and I couldn't be more proud. He is doing the stuff he is supposed to be doing with added flair and zest.

How to bust out mad rhymes? Have a solid command of language! M.T. Freezer, my son's rap personae, continues to do well on spelling tests (the teacher had to write his real name on the paper).

Friday, October 10, 2014

Happy Double Ten Day Taiwan -- Rock The ROC

This is an earlier incarnation of Portdaddia, circa 1990-1, at a National Day celebration.
October 10 has a special meaning for me, as I spent several of them on Taiwan between 1989 and 1994 -- the date being the National Day for the Republic of China.

I'm pictured in front of the Presidential Palace, a line of security guards behind me. I'm wearing a "Sun Yat-sen" suit, an item grossly out of fashion even in these early years. This was the attire of low-level bureaucrats and chauffeurs, those who didn't have air conditioning. People of more import would wear a coat and tie and crank the AC.

In the `60s and `70s this was the official business suit of the Kuomingtang, the Nationalist Party of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. I had the suit made to my specs at a tailor shop in Tien Mu.

I would wear the suit to work and around town, locals my age perplexed why I would dress like their aged relatives; foreigners, like myself, wondered if I had completely lost my mind.

Like many sojourners eager to appropriate local culture, I was overly earnest and admittedly a bit nutty about the political history of the island.

But I did have a touchstone in my mind about the above picture in particular. Sometime in the 1980s I saw an exhibit in Greenwich Village of Tseng Kwong Chi -- an American artist, who started out Joseph Tseng, before developing his artistic personae. He went all over the US, and the world, photographing himself in a Mao suit in front of landmark vistas and historic properties. His work appealed to me as a seriocomic ritual of cultural diplomacy.  

I have the above print in my home and enjoy the feeling of goofing on those who take too seriously a man wearing an unusual suit.

Each year Double Ten Day comes and I think of Taiwan and the fun I had wearing dark glasses and the suit, extending Tseng Kwong Chi's notion of an ambiguous ambassador, projecting art or culture or who-the-hell-knows-what out into the cosmos just for the sake of it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Zoo Still Meaningful And the Kids Like It Too

The thermal image represents vision through a snake's eyes.
This past summer I was at the zoo with the nine-year-old boy. We live nearby and used to go four or five times a year. Lately we've only been going once every six months.

Usually I'm the one who suggests the zoo to the kids. Compared to other entertainments such is the choice of last resort. I tell them it's a nice walk, plus you get animals.

Once the kids get inside the gates all is well and they geek on new aspects of the zoo. Last time it was the dwarf mongoose that held our attention the longest.

When I was a new dad I would take the baby in the stroller and look at the animals I wanted to see, which usually was the polar bears and leopard.

The big ticket item I have yet to see is a fresh road-kill deer carcass delivered to the cougar. I might get more enthusiasm if I relate this, somehow, to The Walking Dead television show.

Getting Crazy With The Temporary Structures

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bald Man Likes Silly Hats -- A True Story

One time at Benihana and I need fancy headgear to blog.
My birthday is next week and I have asked my family for a silly hat as a gift.

I enjoy a variety of headgear, like many bald men, and I suspect that if the new one is adequately silly it will become my official blogging attire of the 2014-15 Portland Blogging Season, which officially started September 26.

I will be sure to keep everyone in the loop, especially if we return to Benihana's.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Some Of My Favorite Toys As A Kid Were Guns

The kid enjoying imaginary play with his Nerf gun.
At the moment I'm joining a gun control advocacy group. I personally don't own a gun, even though I'm a former soldier, or feel people need to pack heat when a cup of coffee is purchased.

Still, I think toy guns, like the Nerf gun pictured above, are fine toys. I mainly feel this way because as a boy some of my favorite toys were guns. I had my Daniel Boone phase when my mock Kentucky long rifle was the coolest thing. Then I had a Star Trek pistol that flung many miniature disks as fast as I could pull the trigger.

The feeling that toy guns give rise to violent children doesn't resonate. I see my son having a good time and I'm reminded that toy gun play is more akin to playing dressup, assuming a role or pose and having a few props to bring the look forward.

Both my kids have a large array of images and objects in which to construct their identities. Allowing foam swords and toy guns lets them act out their favorite characters from film or book, which perhaps is a healthy way to deal with aggressive tendencies. 

I realize I may just be rationalizing. But I suspect if the Nerf gun wasn't around other, less cool, objects would become de facto guns, such as sticks or a thumb and forefinger.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Kids And Their Art

Ice cream sand painting. The girl kid.

Man riding in a helicopter at dusk with a sledge hammer. The boy kid.

Broccoli, a loving portrait (!) The girl kid.