Archive for August, 2013


I’m Not Sure the Professor Was Talking About Math

ProfWords1AlgebraThere’s a large pond (almost a lake – maybe a Pake? A Lond? I don’t know, it’s a ‘Tweener’.) near us which was drained, dredged and generally beautified over the summer. They finally put the water back in about three weeks ago and it was – rather instantaneously – filled with weird muck.

We drove past the pond not long ago and the Professor noticed the muck. The result is captured in vivid Dad-Moon-O-Vision (copyright 2013) above.

I’m not sure he was talking about math, but perhaps the local geese were into algebra and the Professor was just more perceptive than Alpha Tween or I.

The “algebra” has since been cleared, maybe for some science or word problems.

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The Professor Takes a Heel Turn

image via

So when you have kids, inevitably they will fight. Often, it’s the bickering-arguing kind which is harmless beyond setting your teeth on edge.

Sometimes it’s more.

Such was the case this Monday when both Alpha Tween and the Professor had friends over for the day. Mostly our boys are good playing with each other’s friends and the friends tend to be happy to allow the siblings to be involved.

At some point the four boys were outside playing tag. I heard an argument and raised voices, but didn’t move because 1) I was working and 2) these things need to work themselves out.

Nine times out of ten, it gets settled and forgotten.

This time Alpha showed up with a bloody nose.

From what we understand (and we lack the resources of actual CSI type folks) the boys were playing tag and Alpha was chasing the Professor.

Alpha dove to tag him, grabbing at his shirt as he fell. Instead of the shirt, Alpha grabbed the shorts and in seconds the Professor was without his pants.

Now I am told that everyone, including the Professor, had a good laugh. No big deal. Then the Professor picked up a stick and walked towards Alpha with it, still apparently in good spirits.

“Don’t do anything to me with that stick,” Alpha told him, I can imagine only half serious because why would he be concerned, really? His younger brother doesn’t tend to use violence.

I’m sure it took him by complete surprise when the Professor slugged him with it.

Currently, the Professor (Prisoner #432453278) has been sent to bed right after dinner. No screen time, no reading, nothing.

As I have told my wife many times, this was bound to happen and frankly, I’m shocked Alpha didn’t strike the first blow long ago. That’s often how it happens in my experience. And honestly, siblings will physically hit each other and fight. It’s going to happen again.

However, there is zero tolerance when someone uses an object in their altercation.

Or really, the violence is unacceptable in general, but the punishment for assault with a weapon is worse.

It’s so very out of character for the kid that my wife and I both went through the “what could be wrong with him/what on earth possessed him?” thought process.

Until my wife reminded me that when we first moved to New York, Alpha had a series of fights at after-care. Not scuffles, but full-blown fights. We chalked it up to the stress of moving, but he was the exact same age as Professor is right now.

Maybe there is something about that age, where they are trying out new ways of standing up for themselves and to do so physically just comes naturally to boys. Maybe he’s been angry a long time and just now lashed out. Although, he really has been a bit of an asshole in general lately.

It’s hard to wrap my head around the idea that this kid – who is a fairly gentle guy – whacked his older brother with a stick and drew blood. I don’t even want to think about what else could have happened – that Alpha could have taken the stick in the eye or something.

I’m really still not sure what to make of it. My wife is still pretty upset, especially since she’s generally anti-violence period. (I’m not pro-violence per se, but it has it’s time an place. That’s another article.)

All we can do is make sure he serves his term in punishment and stress to him how wrong and unacceptable his actions were.

And hope we can help him find a better way to express himself next time.

By the way, “heel turn” is a wrestling (I mean rasslin) term which mean the wrestler (I mean rassler) was a good guy and turns evil/and or into a ginormous douche.

Have your kids assaulted each other with illegal non-WWE approved foreign objects? How do you handle it?

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Jack-of-All-Trades, Master of an Axe

Here is a conversation which took place at dinner with the extended family last night. It involves The Professor and my uncle, who is a firefighter down in Florida.

This is paraphrased because it was told to me secondhand, but it seems to have started when The Professor asked my uncle what he did.

Uncle: I’m a firefighter, EMT and a teacher.

Professor: Shouldn’t you just stick to one thing and do it right?

If you think about it, it’s a fair question since we’re constantly on him to focus on one thing at a time. On the other hand, it’s not exactly the most polite thing he’s ever said.

Also there was this gem:

Professor: So if you’re an EMT, a teacher and a firefighter, do you chop students up so they can get shown how to be put back together?

I have no idea where he gets this stuff.

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Orange May be the New Black but Larry is Just an Old Jackass

“Waahhhh my fiance is in prison it’s so tough on meeeeeeeee… can you hand me another scotch and the TV remote?” image via

So I finally finished the first season of Orange is the New Black, one of Netflix’s batch of original series (all of which have been interesting and well executed efforts).

For those who don’t know, Orange is the New Black is the story of Piper Chapman, a woman serving a prison term for carrying drug money for her former girlfriend, Alex, when she was younger. Life had moved on for Piper, known among the prisoners as Chapman, but her past eventually caught up with her.

I know it’s been pretty hit or miss for people so far but overall I liked it quite a bit.

What I haven’t enjoyed has been the character of Larry, Chapman’s fiance.

Oh, by the way:

seriously kids don't open that door if you don't want them

seriously kids don’t open that door if you don’t want them

I suppose in order to contrast the insanity and abnormality of prison, the creators of Orange is the New Black decided they needed to balance it out with the normal world outside the barbed wired fences and prison walls.

Hence Larry, the fiance.

Any scene with Larry’s character is one, long, whine-filled segment of annoying filler.

Mind you, it’s not the fault of Jason Biggs, the actor. I don’t mind him, though he plays virtually the same character in everything I’ve ever seen him in.

No, the problem is that the writers have done a bad job of making him sympathetic. It’s really hard to feel anything but loathing for a guy complaining that he’s oh so lonely because he wife is in prison when he complains to his yuppie friends in his comfy pub while his wife is having her sleeping cube tossed by douche-bag the guard.

It’s like “hey I’m sure it’s really rough for you having to masturbate instead of having sex with your girlfriend but you know she’s in prison right?”

Followed by “feel free to finish sipping your Blue Moon beer and watching the end of the Yankee game before you answer, I’m sure your fiance will wait while she gets searched for contraband.”

The problem is that we only see Larry – or Chapman’s mom, her brother, her fiend Polly, Larry’s parents – occasionally and briefly. It’s not his show. It’s Chapman’s and as she’s in prison, well, that’s where the show is.

Unfortunately, since we’re supposed to see some of the life she is missing, we get stuck with Larry. Just not enough to show him in a sympathetic light.  In fact, just about every person in Chapman’s pre-prison life is a complete ass.

Even when Larry finally gets his “big break” as a writer, he (and it) comes off as self-serving. Larry writes an article about the effect of her incarceration on them as a couple, but while Chapman seems fine with it he clearly goes into details she’s not OK with. He then follows it up with an appearance on radio where he tells even more stories out of turn, which makes her life a nightmare.

At that point he’s found out that Chapman is sleeping with Alex Vause – the woman who got her into this mess in the first place. Instead of calling Piper on it or talking to her, he dodges her calls (a pretty petty thing to do to an inmate) and then heads onto the radio to blab about things he shouldn’t.

Even he says it’s childish and vindictive.

There’s an interesting angle here – that we often spend parts of our relationships pissed off at how our partner’s issues impact us, not them – but if that is subtext here, it’s so deep that we can’t see it.

So for Season 2 of this show, I truly hope that if Larry returns (and one assumes he will) they find a way to make him an actual character and not just a whiny douche.

Either that or have Pennsatucky survive and shank him in the Visitor’s Room.

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One Mile Down, 10 lbs to Go

image via

So, I just finished my first mile.

I haven’t jogged in about four years and even then it was on a treadmill.

And I’m sure not certain I ever did a mile either.

But today I did.

The distance around the block is about 1/4 of a mile.

I started out with 1/2 a mile in mind. But around the end of the 1/2 mile I thought to myself, “Hey, what’s another lap?”

About halfway through that third lap, my legs started to hurt. I mean, “Holy crap, when did I step in lit napalm?” kind of hurt.

So, I started writing out a few articles in my head (one of which you’ll see later), ignored the pain and kept going.

I’ve never seen the appeal of running. I mean, I like being outdoors and moving but I never really understood the appeal of making yourself run.

Today though, I got it. That mile was a chance to sort my thoughts, to have a little bit of time for myself and some peace. It’s not like I don’t have quiet during the day (yappy dogs aside). But it was nice to just have time to think with nothing else on the agenda.

I think I’ll do another mile tomorrow.

Unless my legs collapse in which case I’ll probably sit on my rear end and watch Netflix.

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There’s No Page on Having to Wipe Your Dog’s Butt in the Ownership Manual

She hasn't actually been to Colorado

She hasn’t actually been to Colorado

You can look up how to take care of a pet on the internet and find all sorts of useful tips and warnings.

None of them say anything about having to wipe your dog’s ass.

And yet I found myself doing that last week.

Now, I was fully committed to wiping the kid’s butts. Hell, I’ve done it for kids who weren’t mine.

Dogs though? No, that wasn’t in the manual.

Runny poop? Not in the manual.

Of course, it’s better than crap smeared on the rug or couch I suppose.

It’s not all bad. Dog is very entertaining.

Here she is, thinking she is a hobbit.



And here she is befriending a bug.

*sigh* It doesn't talk much but it seems nice.

*sigh* It doesn’t talk much but it seems nice.

It’s a damned good thing she’s cute.

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Attack of the Helicopter Parents: When Gymnast Mom Strikes

image via

I’ve been threatening this column for a while and I figured that with football season starting it was about time.

However, I’ve had some subjects for posts I really like show up in my brain, so I kept pushing this one back.

Then my wife came home with a peach of a story and I figured “That’s a sign.”

First, you may not know what a helicopter parent is.

Well, helicopter parents (known in entertainment circles as stage parents) are parents who hover over their kids when they do whatever it is they do. Most commonly found around kids who play or do something that could end up making them famous or money, it’s a parent who sees that Johnny can shoot a basketball or Sue can dribble a soccer ball better than any of the other kids and decides they’re going to “help them” make the most out of their skill.

image via – and it’s a brilliant shirt

Often it’s the parents living vicariously through their kids—they were never talented enough to make the high school wrestling team and get a full ride to college, but Harry can—but sometimes they’re just way too enthusiastic in general.

There are different flavors—from the mom who won’t let her son drop violin because “he’d be wasting his talent” to the dad who micromanages his son’s life so he can become the ultimate quarterback.

Anyone who is my age and follows football thinks of Todd Marinovich, the former USC and Oakland Raiders quarterback whose dad was working to make him a quarterback when he was a toddler.

That’s not even all that uncommon really, though the extreme side of things.

We’ll see some nuttiness in these columns but let’s start with what my wife witnessed at gymnastics last night.

The Professor is starting to play team sports, but he really likes the individual ones as well and as nimble as the monkey is, gymnastics has always been a great fit.

Tuesday night was a makeup class for him in place of one he missed when he was visiting his grandparents a few weeks back. It was a slightly lower level then he normally does (he’s intermediate level #humblebrag), but as always, he had a good time.

image via

While he was doing his thing, my wife waited in the lobby. You can watch the kids, but there isn’t much space to do it so she was sitting and hanging out while he had his class.

At some point a woman came in trailing two little girls and the three of them went to one of the glass doors to watch.

The woman began criticizing (in a loud Jersey accent which my wife described as “Snookie”) one of the girls in the class for not holding onto the balance beam.

“Oh she’s not going to do it. She has to hold on when she does that. She’s just being lazy.”

She then shooed the other two girls away, blaming them for the gymnast’s struggles because “they were distracting her.”

Then, obviously the gymnast caught her mom watching her as the women started directly talking—through the glass door and very loudly—to the girl.

“You have to hold onto the bar. You’re not holding onto the bar. You have to do it or you won’t be able to do the stunt.”

Eventually she let it go, exasperated, and sat down. My wife said she then started a loud conversation across the room with another parent discussing at length how her daughter was lazy, complained too much, wanted to do the gymnastics but won’t practice, wasn’t going to put in the effort she had to and oh no, now she’s going to complain because cheerleading is starting and she won’t want to do that either.

And then she started having a loud conversation about her daughter’s body and how she would be getting breasts soon (apparently she was about 12, though my wife said the girl was very short so she didn’t know).

You know, because that’s a conversation for public consumption.

Sidenote: I have noticed the last few years that people will say the most private, not-for-public things in public places now. I don’t need to know your daughter is hitting puberty, I don’t give a damn if you think so-and-so drinks too much or how much money you make. Keep it to yourself.

image via Huffington Post

The daughter then came out for a water break and the woman began berating her. Just telling her all the same crap she did through the glass, but now in front of everyone in the lobby.

The girl snapped back at her—”I’m trryyyiiiinnnnngg”—in a tone which my wife said she’d have never tolerated. Until she considered that the mom was dressing down her kid’s skills, attitude and desire in front of a group of strangers at a very loud volume.

They ended up in a super loud argument (something which is always embarrassing to witness) that resulted in the girl huddled up on her mom’s lap sucking down a Gatorade and in tears.

Now, I don’t know what the mom’s issue was. Maybe she’d had a bad day and this was unusual. I will say that the story has the feel of something frequent, but I don’t know.

I don’t know if she thought her daughter could be a gymnastic star or was lazy or any number of things.

But good lord lady, it’s your daughter.

If you have an issue with her effort, you talk TO her about it not rant AT her about it. And here’s a pro-tip: do it away from other people and listen to your kid. Maybe her arm hurts. Maybe she’s feeling ill. Or maybe, even though she loves it, two hours straight of gymnastics is too much for her. Perhaps a shorter class or lesson?

image via

If your kid wants to do something, you have to be the one to see how much effort they—and you—can put into it and adjust the activity accordingly. It’s one thing to make a kid practice—we make Alpha practice his guitar—it’s another to make them practice to the point where they are exhausted and stop liking what they are doing.

It’s insane. I’m proud of my wife for not saying anything because that sort of thing is hard to witness silently.

Your kids are just that—kids. They need your help managing their time and they are not small adults. They don’t cope with things the way you might.

Just try and remember that the next time the kids aren’t quite putting as much effort into something as you think they should.

Your biggest concern should be that they are having a good time and smiling a lot.

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Neither of Us Know What is Going On

I’ll have some more various thoughts about coaching later this week, but for now, here’s a funny Alpha Tween moment.

My son has, for the entirety of Summer, been expecting a packet from his school detailing what classes will have, as well as books he is supposed to read.

He’s been very anxious because said packet has yet to surface. We’ve told him over and over not to worry but—well he’s my son.

That’s how I roll.

Anyway, at the end of today’s football practice we sent all the kids to carry equipment to the field house while the coaches stood around and chatted.

All the kids came back, but I didn’t see Alpha anywhere.

I waited and waited until finally I saw him walking across the field with another boy.

As they drew near they waved goodbye and my son made his way over to me.

“Who was that?” I asked.

“Oh, that was a guy I know from school,” was his reply.

A few moments of silence went by as we walked to the car.

Then he said, “He hasn’t gotten his packet either.”

He looked at me and shook his head.

“I don’t know WHAT is going on over there….”

Neither do I son, neither do I.

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Coaching Dad: Two Practices Down, a Billion to Go

Shit just got real. I have a whistle.

Shit just got real. I have a whistle.

So as you may remember, I started coaching youth football last week.

We had a couple of false starts due to enough rain to make the field too much of a mess to practice on, but we finally got practices in on Friday and Saturday.

It’s a big group of kids and we don’t know where everyone will go right now—different abilities, age ranges and weights aren’t set into their various categories. And more kids will show up over the next week.

Right now I’m not sure exactly what they need me to do—in part because I don’t know where Alpha Tween will be and I will be coaching his team.

We don’t put on pads until we have 10 hours of conditioning at minimum, so until at least the middle of this week, we’re just running, doing agility drills and throwing footballs.

I’ve been—I was going to say “utility infielder” but that’s the wrong sport, H-Back fits better for football—helping out everywhere.

Basically I do whatever they need me to. Friday it was try to direct little flag football kids to run where they were supposed to run, while Saturday (in the rain) was passing the football on short routes to the older kids (which angered the flag kids



who weren’t getting the ball).

It’s been a lot of fun so far and Alpha has been OK when I coach him. He’s been a lineman to this point, so I’ve been working with him and the other kids to get their stances down.

He can be a little silly—not paying attention or goofing around. But it’s the first week so I’m not worried.

Once they put on the pads, he’s always more focused.

It’s been fun so far.

Even if Saturday saw me icing my shoulder for the first time in a decade.

I’m off to practice #3, so we’ll see what I’m icing tonight.

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ow ow ow ow ow

ow ow ow ow ow


My Dog Murders Innocent Dog Toys

You try to raise them right. It’s all you can do, isn’t it?

And yet then they turn into murdering nutjobs, spreading chaos and death across the whole house.

Not the kids, I mean the dog.

Dog has claimed another victim in her never-ending fight to destroy any and all squeaking stuffed toys put in her way.

This weekend, Bacon the Pig bit the dust. Dog was working on his (her? it? I never asked) ear and finally tore it off on Friday. She then pulled stuffing out on Saturday, I can only imagine attempting to divine the future from his fluffy innards.

He was buried in the garbage Saturday night after a small candlelit ceremony which took place only in my head because come on people he was a dog toy.

Farewell porker.....

Farewell porker…..

Farewell Bacon. Enjoy that great big dog toy park in the sky.

Bacon is survived by Roadkill the Squirrel, Ferret, three dog bones, Mr. Moose and some balls.

Dog is currently sleeping on the futon in the office.

One can only assume she is merely biding her time before she strikes again.

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Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages