Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer vacation report

The Missus is in NYC on some hush-hush 2-week fellowship, so The Boy, the two worthless dogs and I are on our own out here and having a lovely time so far.

Here’s the deal. Around about until The Boy turned 6 and we started expecting him to meet goals we set out for him (do chores around the house, learn to read, ride a bike, etc.), we had the perfect nuclear family unit. The Boy couldn’t have had a sunnier disposition and our parenting styles meshed perfectly.

Once we started placing development-related goals on him, however, the backlash began and our parenting styles began to diverge. The Missus plays the traditional role of Coddler-in-Chief, while I am the self-appointed drill seargent and  resident Bad Guy. Which is fine, I think The Boy benefits from having both fire and ice at his disposal.

When The Missus is in town, The Boy and both dogs know that, really, any behavior is acceptable because no matter how much discipline I impose, as soon as Mommy gets home forgiveness will be granted, usually followed by a trip to the craft store and lunch at Chipotle. So whatever I try to do, they just ride it out until they can ignore it.

So I always take the opportunity when The Missus is out of town on business to crack the whip. This year again there is an ambitious agenda, stymied partly because of the miserable daytime heat.

The new dog is a pistol. Very smart but very head-strong. For a while after we got him, like weeks, he crapped in the house whenever he was unhappy with his treatment. Always strategically committed and placed. Because the dog knew no matter how Draconian my punishment, forgiveness would be meted out as soon as Mommy got home.

In the absence of Mommy, he hasn’t unloaded in the house all week. I hope to have him completely broken of the behavior by the time The Missus returns.

Also enjoying many “Personal victories” (as they call them in taekwondo) with The Boy. He continues to go to classes 5 or 6 times a week and is developing into a formidable sparrer and is spooky-good at the nunchucks. He’s ahead of most of his class on memorizing his form (imagine tai chi played at 78 rpm) and takes criticism in front of the class with dignity and bravery.

In the absence of The Missus, I have loaded him up with additional chores (the most onerous of which is walking the new dog about a dozen times a day), and so far he’s only gotten pissy once. HUGE improvement.

Today we went to the pool with a pal of his, and this conversation ensued:

Me: You want to go off the diving board? (He never has before)

Boy: Uh… no.

Other boy: Yeah, I do!

Boy. Yeah, me too!

And so they did. Both kids took their first dive off the board and dog-paddled through the deep end to the safety of the edge of the pool.

I have him doing chin-ups (he’s up to three at a go) and most days can get him to practice guitar. He climbed his first tree.

And on my heavy work days, he entertains himself with reading and crafts until I am free. And when crafting, Mommy and Daddy are never far from his mind (see top).

Finally, The Boy has been dealing with some sleep issues this summer—in the form of refusing to go to—which I have developed a system to address that seems to be working. I let him stay up an hour later, but eliminate all interesting stimuli an hour before then. Then I spend the next 60 minutes boring him to death, so that by the time I send him to bed, both his mind and his body are ready to commit to the task.

So there you have it. The Missus is NYC, “kicking ass and taking names,” and I am here at home with The Boy and the Troubled New Dog, taking every advantage to push The Boy closer to edge of the nest. It’s the last thing I want to do, but it is the current parenting imperative.

I still can’t wait for The Missus to return. How anyone single-parents full-time is a bigger mystery to me with every day she is gone.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

This is what officially, financially "totalled" our car:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

As God is my witness, you can find anything on the internet these days

This is a cover of a Tom Waits composition. My ability to recite it was used as a sobriety test one time for two young women who couldn’t decide whether or not to call 911 to help revive me.

Apparently I know this piece even in my sleep.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pretty Picture

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Justice denied

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The spectacle of murder

Tonight’s top headline reads: Ex-chief: Zimmerman probe hijacked

The story goes on to detail how the ex-police chief in the Trayvon Martin murder case is spending his 15 minutes of fame complaining that he was pressured from above to make an arrest because of the high-profile nature of the case and attendant media scrutiny. Which, as anybody who’s watched a police procedural on TV can tell you, is the standing police imperative for any high-profile/media case: Make an arrest! Nobody running the city in which the murder took place wants to look like they’re asleep at the switch.

In this case, the police went out and arrested the man who admittedly shot the youth. Crazy, no? With George Zimmerman having already confessed to shooting the victim, who else were they going to go out arrest? The list of suspects was one name long.

The fact that they didn’t arrest Mr. Zimmerman initially is in itself curious. A dead boy, an armed man with a gun, non-life-threatening wounds and a thin story, and the authorities didn’t find it at all peculiar? Mr. Martin, being dead and thus unavailable for comment, was unable to provide his own version of events, a very lucky break indeed for Mr. Zimmerman.

But quite a happy windfall for the chattering class! Immediately political lines were drawn: Fox News and friends began warning against a rush to judgment, while the liberal victim-huggers lined up against Mr. Zimmerman.

It became clear pretty quickly that the Right’s investment in the killing of Trayvon Martin was that a gun was involved. The NRA’s legislative lackeys come dashing out in the wake of every mass shooting to absolve the weapons used of any responsibility, and to demand tougher laws on everything but guns. And on the Left, whenever a gun is used in a high-profile murder case, they use it to advance their argument for gun regulation.

If a gun isn’t used, however, cooler heads prevail and nobody pays much attention. Partly because the Swiss Army Knife lobby is widely considered to be a joke on K Street, but mostly because the body counts from knife attacks are so damned much smaller.

So let’s pretend cooler heads will prevail, and the case will be judged on its merits. Or my own interpretation of them anyhow, which in the end, is all anyone has.

I don’t feel qualified to weigh in on the vicissitudes of the court case because I really only paid attention to the details of the crime for the first few days after the killing.

At that time, I looked into the beady, calculating eyes of George Zimmerman, listened to his story and examined the photos of his superficial wounds. I watched for a few days as all the MSM news channels obsessively covered the story, then formed an opinion about what looked to me like and open-and-shut case and moved on to the next news-cycle’s Big Story.

And then the political blowback became the next Big Story. A man murders a boy in cold blood and there are political implications? I feel like I’m living in a Kilgore Trout sci-fi novel.

My own acid test for political outrage works like this: Reverse the facts of the case, then ask myself if the same interest groups would be taking the same positions: In this case, say an aggressive black guy approaches a lone, smaller, unarmed white kid in the dark, verbally harasses him then shoots him dead. Do you really see the GOP clamoring for airtime to insist the accused receive a fair and impassionate trial? Do you really see the Left using the murdered white boy as a cause célèbre and fund-raising tool?

Politics has always been ugly, but isn’t one of our goals as a society to improve ourselves? And is it really reasonable to think squaring-off politically over absolutely everything is going to promote a conversation that will lead to improving anything?

But now the court case is wrapping up, and the jury and the public have a decision to make. Whose story do they go with? Does any of it make a lick of sense anyhow?

Here is a scenario that encompasses both sides’ version of the facts and comes to a conclusion that will fully satisfy no one.

It’s also the story the defense is selling.

On the night of the killing, Trayvon Martin was coming back from the store to buy munchies, unarmed and by all accounts minding his own business.

George Zimmerman was on the prowl in his role as Neighborhood Watch captain. He decided Mr. Martin looked suspicious, based on what, people can argue about. So he followed him around the neighborhood for a while.

Mr. Zimmerman became more and more suspicious.

Mr. Zimmerman had a gun on him and had taken some law classes, so he knew all about Florida’s “stand your ground” law—that if he shoots someone while he says he was in active fear for his life, he theoretically could get away with murder.

Mr. Zimmerman approached Mr. Martin and began to interrogate him. Mr. Martin likely became agitated—I hear most folks are touchy about being profiled—and probably told Mr. Zimmerman to fuck off, or words to that effect. Mr. Zimmerman asserted his questionable authority again and at this point, my guess is Mr. Martin again told him to fuck off and probably got up in the face of the bigger, older man. Mr. Zimmerman was not expecting resistance to his assertions of authority and didn’t have time to immediately produce his weapon.

A brief scuffle then occurred which Mr. Zimmerman was losing. He was still screaming like a cat with her tail caught in a door when he finally fumbled his gun out and shot Mr. Martin point-blank in the chest. As soon as Mr. Martin was mortally wounded and the ‘danger’ from the unarmed teen was over, Mr. Zimmerman ceased his panicked shrieking.

Everybody agrees that’s what happened. The only argument is which person was wailing like a banshee during the incident, and I agree with the defense. I think it was George Zimmerman who was losing the fight and it’s his hysterical screaming on the 911 tape.

If that is essentially the case in broad strokes, the only question is, did Mr. Martin have a right to assume a defensive posture when approached aggressively by a stranger under the cover of night, asking questions that weren’t strictly any of his business? As far as I know, Neighborhood Watch is not a recognized law enforcement agency, and Zimmerman’s decision to carry and discharge a gun was his decision, not Neighborhood Watch policy.

Did Zimmerman’s zeal to protect his neighborhood supercede Mr. Martin’s expectation of a full life? Closing arguments in the case were heard today, and it’s expected to be thrown to the jury tomorrow. Whatever verdict is rendered, there is going to be hell to pay.

And political hacks everywhere will make hay out of it.

I have a funny joke

My son is seven and just became a purple belt; when I was his age, I was a purple welt... [pause for uncomfortable chuckles from the crowd, then tap mic] Hey, is thing on?

Hail comedy and accomplishment! Good job, son.

Friday, July 05, 2013

El Quatro del Julio fiesta

Had a great 4th, in spite of it being a holiday.

It started a bit dodgy (I didn’t sleep well last night and had trouble staying awake today) but we saw “Despicable Me 2,” then went to dinner at one of The Missus’ co-workers’ places. Her husband is a prof too, but intense and hilariously ADD. We brought a pink piñata, but first we played badminton—surprise, I was pretty good!— and I came in third (of 5) at croquet. We had ice cream and The Boy never remarked about my fecal state. I’m going to go see “White House Down” with the husband tomorrow (see photo below). But he’s too much an angry misanthrope like me. In the long run, people like me don’t get along well with each other.

But he’s as bad at BBQing at me, which is saying something. His grill is a GRID, and he still rolled two hot dogs through the cracks and onto the coals. And burned my first bison burger to a blackened puck. 

Then we beat the living hell out of the traditional Quatro del julio piñata:

Came home and did G-rated fireworks in the street in front of out house, then I went inside and bought a ticket to see Barry Manilow next weekend. The Missus refuses to accompany me (by the end of the night she was sighing deeply and offering to go, if she must), but I decided not to make her a martyr and just go by myself. It’s exactly one week before our anniversary, when she’ll be on a plane to New York. Maybe I’ll meet some nice bluehair at the concert I can swindle out of her life savings.

In summation, most fun holiday in a long, long time. Thanks, The Missus’ co-workers!