Tuesday, March 29, 2016

This Is An 11-year-old

Happy, but not too happy, on the streets of Portland.

Keep up the good work!



Monday, March 28, 2016

Comic Book Shop Yields Exciting Material

Apparently cats are being irresponsible with their weapons and have been subverted from their Creationist beliefs.
Although we don't have an actual cat, the daughter bought these pamphlets to help combat the spread of pernicious lobbying against gun violence and science.

The cats of our neighborhood have come under a liberal influence that is worrisome to pet owners.

I gather from the American Association of Patriots that thoughtful feline dialogue can dispel wanton influences.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Haman hams it up while the Devo-inspired narration team adds the color commentary.
The creativity is always off the charts at these things. Due to a technical glitch I didn't get the kid's showcase. Stay tuned for another video.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Nimona" Excellent Graphic Fiction

The daughter had been nagging me to read "Nimona" for months and I finally picked it up  -- a truly fun, captivating, exciting book. Here is the slug from the jacket:

As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are. 

Explosions will be involved. 

Science and sharks will be, too. 

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

  • Nemeses!
  • Dragons!
  • Science!
  • Symbolism!

All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson, based on her award-winning web comic.

My daughter, who is fourteen, has a delightfully irreverent sense of humor so I can see immediately why she so clearly identifies with the protagonist.

The story is an enchanting dance between drama and comedy, subverting the Arthurian legends and heroes in general. In this more egalitarian and empathetic world the mad scientist is a woman, a crusading warrior needs a hug, and two knights fulfill the ideal of romantic love.

The art is vibrant and evocative, with each page having panels of swirling flame and clouds of lime green magical elixirs.

Really good stuff.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Astronaut Scott Kelly Inspires 11-year-old

A truism of these Dad blogs is that us dads say stuff, like, "I can't believe I've turned myself into my father. The old man always said crap like that, and now I'm saying it."

Well, rest assured I've not turned into my father. But who have I exactly turned into lately?

All this came around when the 11-year-old began to take serious interest in Scott Kelly, the astronaut who logged 340 consecutive days in space. The kid now knows many facts about how the international space station functions and various details about the lives of several astronauts.

Together we listened to a podcast about how one plays guitar in weightlessness, as well as enjoyed Scott Kelly's video appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Cobert.

During a moment of rebellion when the kid didn't want to do his homework, I heard myself saying, "You need to do your homework, if you want to be an astronaut."

I honestly believed what I said, but my tone and phrasing sounded vaguely artificial and a bit strained, suggesting I've become a fictionalized father, some sort of hybrid between Ned Flanders and Robert Young -- the reruns playing for eternity on my imaginary Youtube.

I will own what I've become.

Favorite Ned Flanders quote: "Call me Delta Airlines, because I can't handle all your extra baggage."

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Analysis Of Car Repair Costs Brings Brutal Self Reflection

I finally got rid of the 2003 VW Passat, after much complaining. I felt it always needed an expensive repair.

I was comparing the Passat to the 2001 Nissan Maxima, which I called the Finest Car Ever Made.

Once again the narrative fallacy, our tendency to construct stories around facts, reigns triumphant.

The Passat came to me only in 2010, its seventh year, and immediately needed an expensive repair, thus setting in my mind that this was a car prone to breakdowns.

With the Maxima we had those initial seven years with virtually only oil changes needed, thus putting into my mind that this was a great car.

The last five years of Passat ownership cost me $7,000, while the last five year of Maxima ownership cost $13,000.

I realize from an economic point of view I am deluding myself that the Maxima was great while the Passat was a lemon.

But self-delusion in this case is complete, and I continue to wax nostalgic about the Maxima with such chestnuts as taking the newborn kids home from the hospital in that car.

Automotive Stoke!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Powerful Display Of Faith At LAX Sends Important Message

How someone could leave a bag of potato chips so exposed, and have faith rewarded, motivates me to put more trust in humanity.

Returning the rental car at LAX I jumped into the shuttle and put my suitcase in the rack. Soon after a man entered with a few pieces of luggage, putting them on the upper shelf.

He unburdened the items in his arms on the luggage shelf, one of them a bag of potato chips.

There was room on the shelf for other people to plop down a heavy suitcase and plenty of other people boarding the shuttle.

Somehow no one set a bag even near the chips, a lady even remarking how such a fragile snack item could be left in a place where hasty luggage placement is the norm not the exception.

We arrived at Terminal 5 and the man gathered his gear and left the bus, chips intact.

I am covetous and protective of my snack food, to the extent that I shut out the beautiful possibilities of this world. I will learn from this and hopefully become a more enlightened person.

For academics and serious amateurs, on my flight to LA as I went through the TSA security check I forgot my roller bag at the inspection point, much the way I forgot my laptop on a different trip.

Something about having to put on shoes, wristwatch, find the phone -- basically reassemble myself as if I was dressing first thing in the morning again, means my brain shuts down completely.

For a long 90 seconds I walked away with a vague sense something was missing. Once again the question, "Am I totally insane?" was posed. I am happy I did not speak this question out loud.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Papers, Please" Is An Excellent, Bizarre, Fun Video Game

The notion that a captivating game can be based on travel document inspection boggles my mind.

Last night I was playing Turbo Dismount with the 11-year-old, gelling with the kid over the pure joy of carefully watching stuff get wrecked.

He then showed me the other game he is excited about, a topic that I resisted believing for several moments as it is so preposterous -- passport inspection.

The game is called Papers, Please and is an indie game with the following set up:

The communist state of Arstotzka has just ended a 6-year war with neighboring Kolechia and reclaimed its rightful half of the border town, Grestin.

Your job as immigration inspector is to control the flow of people entering the Arstotzkan side of Grestin from Kolechia. Among the throngs of immigrants and visitors looking for work are hidden smugglers, spies, and terrorists.

Using only the documents provided by travelers and the Ministry of Admission's primitive inspect, search, and fingerprint systems you must decide who can enter Arstotzka and who will be turned away or arrested.

This is a puzzle-type game with many political overtones. The sheer creativity of this game underscores why people say video games will be the influential literature of future generations. I believe it.

I'm continually thrilled with the stuff the kids gravitate towards. I admit my mind is rooted in 1970s Minnesota concepts of education which, in many cases, is problematic.

Time for an update -- Stoke!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Turbo Dismount Huge Hit With 11-year-old

The greater the damage one can inflict on the crash-test dummy, the more points one scores.
The son came into my room the other day, convinced he would show me a game so excellent, exciting, addictive, I would waste no time and immediately install it on my PC, phone, and laptop.

The game was Turbo Dismount, the object of which is to put a crash-test dummy on all manner of conveyance and launch it off/into a series of obstacles.

I have yet to install this on any device, but I immediately saw the appeal of this game. The connoisseurship of havoc is something 11-year-olds of generations past have cultivated.

In the game, after the crash has been created, the player can replay the event, moving the point of view to many different perspectives to truly appreciate the destruction.

I might be happier if the kid was super excited about, say, math, but this is the world I live in.

If anyone wants to see this game played, below is a video. For those who are jittery about public safety, viewer discretion is advised.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tradition Of Zombie Culture Lives On

Zombie head that had animated elements at the school's maker room.
The 11-year-old is continuing the tradition of this family by celebrating zombie culture both at home and at school.

We salute your creativity!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Preparing For A Ride With Mel

Once we hit the pavement we are good to go.

My friend Mel and I like to ride our bikes and trikes. I show up at Mel's shop and he throws some gear together and off we go.

This short video illustrates the unique preparation process:

Monday, March 7, 2016

Daughter's Hand Gestures Analyzed

We're not sure what these gestures mean, so we are proceeding with caution.

I saw the Daughter in a photo in the class blog. I immediately alerted the Portdaddia team to get to work to uncover the hidden message in the hand gestures.

Initial inquiry put forward a few assumptions: the Daughter is not part of the Illuminati nor a Freemason; she most likely is adequately hydrated; she is not a fan of Star Trek.

Our team will put together a working hypothesis shortly. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Class Trip Excellent Even If Stereotypes Not Dispelled

These are actual camels, not animatronic rides found in theme parks.
The daughter is in Israel doing serious stuff, learning about culture, religion, history.

Yes, she is riding a camel, but don't think for a minute this fun activity negates the seriousness of the excellent educational opportunity.

I lived for six months in the small town of Arad, in the south of Israel. The local Bedouins kept camels, which roamed freely around the outskirts of the town, a hobbling rope tied between their front legs keeping them from going too far astray. Their bemused expressions added unique local color to the desert environs and nearby shopping mall.

The locals were visibly annoyed whenever I mentioned the camels, feeling the town's cultural attributes were made small by the Lawrence of Arabia shtick the camels represented.

From my current perspective, the fear is that if one has too much fun in Israel one can be accused of "fun-washing" the more pressing issues of the day.

On the flip side, we must not let ourselves become too hardened from the political realities of the world, so remember your buddy the camel.