Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Days of Slides and Bluebonnets

Yesterday we tried to accomplish the 2009 edition of the Texas Obligatory Bluebonnet Photo, but it didn't go well.

Luckily, some playground time with the coolest slide we've ever seen soon set things right. Are you coming?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

High Water Mark

My first scar, according to family lore, came when I was around two and fell out of a high chair. The cut was high on my forehead. Through my childhood, it moved up into my hairline, disappearing from sight and from mind for a time. I remember being told, or perhaps making it up myself, that the scar was migrating and would eventually end up at the top of my head. Maybe my father told me that; he was fond of duping me with tall tales, like how he got his gall bladder scar sword fighting pirates in the Navy. I suppose, on reflection now, that my hairline was just lowering slightly as I grew out of toddlerhood and into childhood. It's since reversed the trend, and the scar is plainly visible. It's now like the high water mark after a flood: back in '74, it was all the way up to here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Me Myself Personally

Velvet Verbosity's latest challenge: "myself." Ergo:

I have a friend. She likes to use the phrase, "Me myself personally," as in, "me myself personally, I can't abide a know-it-all." Or, "I never watch that kind of movie, me myself personally." Given my history of deep disdain for other people's grammatical mistakes, superfluity, and other personal quirks, it should irritate the hell out of me. But some part of me finds it to be a charming iteration of self, a progressive statement of being, a declaration of individual value, tripled. And I like it. I applaud her, and her joyfully repetitive celebration of herself. Me. Myself. Personally.

For Grandma

So, this tiny, little spider climbed up a water spout. Then what happened?

Family Time

My printer was jammed. Just figured out Thumper decided to store 6 pawns from the chess set inside it. Of course!

I didn't have any ushering jobs this weekend, so even though I did a bunch of copywriting(elegantchicsophisticatedsturdystabledurablemobilecreamyrichwarm), I still managed to spend some time with both my child and my wife. At the same time! It was a refreshing change of pace that I thoroughly enjoyed. We ate out at an actual restaurant on Friday, and played together on Sunday.

Aerie thought Thumper would enjoy a sandbox, so we made it happen. Turns out she was right.

Hours of fun.

Digging and dumping, digging and dumping.

Sand everywhere.


Thursday, March 19, 2009


I haven't had that much to say lately, perhaps because I've been generating thousands of words about baby products and don't have many words left over for myself. But we're still here, Thumper and I, doing our thing.

Thanks to an infusion of additional Lincoln Log and Tinker Toy materials handed down by Uggy Buggy, Freckles, and Robert McGee this week, our tubs runneth over.

With such infinite possibilities, we've been spending much of our mornings in construction and demolition. We believe in division of labor, so I focus on the construction, and Thumper's our demolition expert.

There's been a lot of roadwork going on in our neighborhood. Yesterday, as we walked down to the playground, Thumper almost screwed his head off watching them work as we passed.


"They're making a new road."

"Road. Doing?"

"They're making a new road." Etc., etc.

At night they store the construction vehicles where the road dead ends behind our house. The past several mornings, when the engines fire up and rattle the picture frames on our walls, Thumper runs outside to watch the daily deployment.

And yes. Yes, I do let my kid sit around the house in his underwear. Does that make me a redneck?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Finest Hour

I'm in my second year of ushering, and my first year of supervising ushers. I tend to think other usher supervisors know better than I do. In fact, I'm often fairly sure I don't have any idea what I should be doing.

But today, I rose to the occasion.

High school basketball tournaments operate by sessions, with two games in each session. The first game plays, then the winners of the first game are presented their medals or trophies or Denny's coupons or whatever it may be during the halftime of the second game. Often, this means that the arena-level student section of the winner of the first game empties en masse after halftime. This also means that the students for the current game, who are in the mezzanine because their student section sold out, see the mass exodus and move down, also en masse, to occupy the abandoned arena-level seats.

Are you with me so far?

So I'm working in the arena, and I get a call on the radio from the mezzanine seating supervisor warning me that School X is rushing down to occupy School Y's abandoned seats. We have no plans to do anything about it; they are occupying seats that no one will return to claim, and if they do return, we'll resolve individual conflicts as they come up.

So School X, who all hold tickets for seats upstairs, are now sitting downstairs. Everybody's happy, right? No. The people behind them, who have no particular affiliation to either school but have come to watch the entire tournament and who have no interest in standing and cheering, are unhappy that School X is now standing in front of them through the entire game.

So what are you gonna do? Ask basketball fans not to stand and cheer for their team? No. Policy is, you are entitled to stand and cheer in front of the seat you paid for if that's what you want to do. But a patron complains. I explain that I understand that his kids can't see, but it's a basketball game, people stand and cheer at basketball games. He persists. I offer to move him and his kids to a different section.

Other patrons complain. Suite holders complain. That tips the balance. Maybe it's not fair, but the squeaky wheel that paid the most money and knows the most people gets the best grease. There's talk on the house radios about moving School X back to their mezzanine seats. Supervisors hem and haw. No one's eager to jump into that mess. There's discussion on the radio of involving police. There's talk on the radio of involving school administrators.

Seeing the lack of desire to get involved among some of the more experienced supervisors, I think, OK, well let's just see what happens first. Before we bring in the cops and turn it into a whole thing, let's just see what happens if I ask them to sit down. So I did. I yelled the school's name into the crowd of 70 or 80 students a few times until I had a good number looking at me. There was a lot of noise. I put my arm straight out, with the hand open and the palm down, and I pushed it forcefully downward. "You can sit down," I yelled. Then I pointed with authority up to the mezzanine. "Or you can go back upstairs." I repeated this performance 3 more times.

Let me tell you, my friends, there was no one watching who was more surprised than I when the entire pack of kids sat down as one.

I tried not to let my surprise show on my face, as I thought it might undermine my authority in the crucial moment. One girl yelled back to make the other school sit down. I told her they paid for those seats, and they can stand in front of them if they want to. She said they paid for theirs. I asked for her ticket. She had nothing else to say.

And that was it. Crisis averted. Complaining patrons and suite holders satisfied. Inexperienced supervisor's confidence in himself boosted. It was a good night. I think if I didn't have my football supervising experience under my belt, I wouldn't have stepped up. I've learned to tell people "no," and to like it. I'm trying to remember that my instincts are as good as even more experienced supervisors, and that sometimes what matters most is decisive action.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Uggy Buggy

For those of you keeping a scorecard at home, Uggy Buggy is the sister-in-law formerly known as Social Worker Sister-in-Law ("SWSL"). She once, in her trademark high voice, yelled "Lovey Buggy!" when she saw Thumper, and he's called her Uggy Buggy ever since, even when he sees her picture when I'm on Facebook.

I picked my current book selection (God's Grace by Bernard Malamud) because Uggy Buggy wanted to take Thumper to Book People to buy him some books, and I went downstairs to let them consult with each other on what titles might be best (the signed edition of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems was particularly entertaining. As a result, Thumper likes to say, "Dive da bus? Noooooooooooooooo. Peeeeeeeze? Noooooooooooo."). God's Grace was the one on the sale rack that caught my eye.

So, thanks, Uggy Buggy, ya big lurker!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Blue Lollipop

I have no time this week, so I'm cheating and letting Thumper do it for me. If he had his way, he'd see how long he could survive on a strict diet of raisins, milk, M&M's, and lollipops.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not Progressing

Since I stopped counting Weight Watchers flex points, many months ago now, my weight loss has stalled. My enthusiasm for working out has cooled. And my caloric intake from alcoholic beverages has not gone down. So, here are some new goals:

No drinking Monday through Thursday.

Workout based on performance goals rather than time goals. If my goal is to work out for 45 minutes 4 days a week, it's too easy to jog for a bit and then walk the rest of the time. So goals based on average speed, I guess? I'll have to figure this one out. This may require some mathematics.

Wow. That was a lot shorter of a post than I thought it would be. Hmm. Oh, one of the guys at the SAHD playdate had a gender observation. I thought SAHD'ing would be fraught with sociological ponderings, but it just ain't. So I best take advantage of them when I can:

So we're hanging out at the playground, standing around talking while trying to keep our and others' kids from taking a swing shot to the head, when one of the dads says, "See, if that was a guy..."

He gestures, and we all look up. There's an SUV parked at the edge of the parking lot that overlooks the playground. Its engine is running. The driver is alone in the truck and appears to be watching the kids play. The driver is a woman.

"If we were moms and that was a guy, the police would already be here."

Aha! An opening for a thoughtful discussion on the implications of the perceived level of threat of a man versus that of a woman engaged in identical behaviors? Perhaps an exploration of the relative levels of cooperative action among groups of women versus groups of men? An opportunity to compare anecdotes of gender bias we've each experienced in our own lives?

No, not really. We just kind of glance at her for a second, and then we keep talking about Vegas. We're guys. That's what we do.
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