Monday, July 31, 2006

A Pink Hello Kitty Stratocaster

Caroline saw the ad for the Pink Hello Kitty Stratocaster. She wanted it. I wanted her to have it. Molly said that if we buy her a guitar before she is ready, she will just get bored with it, and then not want to play it when she is old enough to play. I'm not entirely sure I understand. Who would be bored with a A Pink Hello Kitty Stratocaster ? Still, I am willing to bow to Molly's wisdom.

But how long do Caroline and I have to wait? I ask you, the internet, when should a young girl be started on guitar lessons with her own Pink Hello Kitty Stratocaster?

And we should also have a word from Jonathan Richman

Oh you shoulda known it right off the bat
One look and you know it would sound like that
Fender Stratocaster
Like gasoline in the sand
Fender Stratocaster
Like a motorcycle at a hotdog stand
Fender Fender Fender
Like a Dunkin Donuts in Mattapan
Fender Stratocaster
Like a Thrifty Drugs in Santa An
Fender Fender Fender
Oh the sound so thin that it's barely there
Like a bitchy girl who just don't care
Fender Stratocaster
Like WooWoo Ginsberg at the jukebox joint
You hear the sound and you get the point

Co-op kid profile: K-K

K-K is slightly younger than Caroline, and has Joey's blonde hair and irresistible cuteness. He has also learned how to use his cuteness to create interesting social situations. Today, when I was watching the day care co-op, I had approximately this conversation while trying to read a book to Caroline and K-K.

Me (reading): “Lisa lives in Louisiana. Her best friend is Lila. They sell lobsters” Hey, Lisa, Lila, Louisiana and lobsters all start with L. Do you guys know any other words that start with L?

K-K: Poop.

Me (unphased): Poop doesn’t start with L, it starts with P. Lets go on. “Mary lives in Minneapolis. Her best friend is Mickey. They sell Martians” Hey, Mary, Minneapolis, Mikey and Martians all start with M. Do you know anything else that starts with M?

K-K: Poop.

Me: No really, poop beings with P. Trust me on this one. You can say “poop” in three pages.

K-K (grinning): Me eat poop.

Me: Do not. Silly.

K-K (Grinning wider): No, me eat poop.

At this point I realize that the best epithet for K-K’s grin is “shit-eating.” Here is this tow-headed, angelic child, grinning like a lottery winner, announcing that he eats poop. It is too much for any adult to bear. “Ack, stop saying you eat poop,” I say. “Poop!” says he. At two and a half, he knows how to manipulate everyone around him.

His mother actually has the same smile. It took me a while to notice, because she never is talking about poop when she flashes it, but it is definitely the same smile.

Another fun fact about K-K: he is always the first child to get naked. Our day care co-op has many occasions that allow for nudity: sprinklers, kiddie pools. K-K is a real trend setter on summer days, and is always pushing the birthday suit fashion. (This actually makes me a little uncomfortable, as I was not raised in a children-running-around-naked family. But it is clear that I should simply adapt to the conventions of my community.)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

On Being Medium

Part 1

One early morning at the beach, Caroline woke me up with this

Caroline: Daddy? Did you know? Some trees are medium.

Me: ?!?

Caroline: I said 'Daddy, did you know some trees are medium?'

Me: You mean, like, some tress are tall...

Caroline: Yeah, like this big [holds hands way apart] and some trees are like this [holds fingers close together] and some trees are medium.

Me: Can I go back to sleep now?

Part 2

Caroline, Joey and I are walking down the street, and Joey is riding on my head.

Caroline: The boys are together!

Me: mmm-hmm.

Caroline: And together, you're medium!

Me: How do you mean?

Caroline: Joey is small, you are big, and together you are medium.

Me: No it doesn't work like that when you put heights together. If you put something small on something tall, you get something that's extra tall. You don't average them.

Caroline [petulant]: No! You and Joey are medium.

Me: OK, fine, we're medium.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mommy Staring

Conversation 1 (This was several months ago)

Molly: Have you noticed that this vein pops out on my boob when I'm nursing?
Me: No, I haven't on you, but I have noticed that vein on some of the other co-op moms who are nursing.
Molly: Other moms?
Me: Yeah: R., T.
Molly: Are you staring at my friends' boobs?
Me: No, no, I'm not staring! I just noticed!

Conversation 2

Molly (Noticing that this window, from this post, is still open): Are you staring at Dr. B's naked torso?
Me: No, no I'm not staring! Someone left the window open.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

licensing genetic enhancement is a really fucking stupid idea

I have a review up at metapsychology of a book by a law professor named Maxwell Mehlman who has a spectacularly bad idea. He wants the government to have total regulatory control over how people alter their genes. This would involve creating a database of every American citizen's complete genetic sequence, and then testing people throughout their lives to see if they have enhanced themselves genetically without the appropriate license. The monitoring would include mandatory genetic tests for everyone returning from a foreign country in case they have visited an unauthorized gene clinic.

The book is blurbed by some pretty important people in bioethics, like Glenn McGee, but I get the distinct impression that Mehlman got his understanding of genetic enhancement by reading X-Men comics. He then responds to the technology like the misguided politicians in the comic book, demanding constant surveillance of the mutants--and everyone else.

For more detail, see my review. I'm thinking about making this into a talk perhaps to give at an APA, or one of the New York regional conferences.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The North Country Academy for the Excuciatingly Fine Arts, DC Extension Campus

Originally uploaded by rob helpychalk.


Featuring Cousin Katelynn!


Unka Wob, we are making a new sidewalk. If a stranger came, they would say "what happened to the sidewalk!"


There is actually some very nice layering and bluring of chalk here that couldn't come out in the photos. Katelynn would mark up an area with chalk and then smear it with her hand. Caroline then came along and drew more lines on top of the plain field Katelynn had made. The resulting textures were beautiful.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Kotsko On Shabbiness

Adam Kotsko has a cool post up about wanting to be shabby. I, too, gravitate towards anything that looks untended, unplanned, and cheap. As Heraclitus says, "The fairest order is a heap of random sweepings." My preference for this look has different origins than Adam's, to be sure. I have a different class background, and my parents never ran a store for Country Style home decorating. Still, I think we have arrived at the same place. via unfogged

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Learning how to watch TV

Vacation indulgence continues: Caroline is watching a lot of TV, largely so that I can grab a chance to finish reading Coetzee's Age of Iron which I started on the last beach trip, but didn't finish.

Here's the scene: because Caroline's exposure to TV has been so minimal up to now (she watches a Dan Zanes video and a fairly crappy cartoon version of Madeline in London, never more than a half hour every couple days) she simply isn't very good at watching TV. She has a great deal of trouble following story lines. She generally asks me what is going on with every scene change. I thought all her picture books would give her a sense of how to follow a visual narrative. When I read to her, I always try to point out the ways that the pictures illustrate and augment the text. But TV shows like Spongebob and the Care Bears still leave her behind. At least she is asking questions, though. She expects to process and understand what is going on, not to zone out.

There are a lot of things on these shows that are new to her, too. I did my best to explain the idea of a commercial to her. "This is not a part of the show, this part just wants you do to something that you don't have to do. Here to let you know the difference between the shows and the commecials, I will mute them." I think she got it, but when she watches TV with other family members, they don't always mute the commecials.

Also, the shows she sees now have bad guys. Evil wizards, stuff like that. All her books so far have been about family things: a dinosaur who doesn't want to go to bed, a little witch who has to learn to get along with another little witch at witch school. Dramatic tension comes from misunderstandings, and when they are resolved, everyone is friends again. (Liszka calls this the Thalian moral vision.) I'm not comfortable introducing Caroline to the idea of a bad guy, but I suppose she will have to learn about it eventually.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Its me again.

I'm still stranded in a hotel room with two small children. The little one just woke up, and the big one just fell asleep. If only they could get their sleep synchronized I could catch some Zs. We drove all last night to get here, so no one is particularly well rested. I've had about an hours sleep in a bed and three hours in a car. Molly had three hours in the car and a half hour in bed. She's out driving now to pick Amy up at BWI.

Caroline just got her first exposure to comercial television. We watched Spongebob and a dog show on Animal Planet. I muted the comercials every time they came on and repeated to her that they were not for fun, they were trying to get her to do things that she doesn't have to do, and probably shouldn't do. I'm not sure if that got through, but she eventually bored of the TV and asked me to read to her. Then she fell asleep and Joey woke up.

If they are ever awake at the same time, we can try going to the hotel pool. Caroline is opposed to the idea of swiming any way but naked, but she may come around. We can't leave the hotel room while one child is asleep, though, so for now our world is really restricted. We have some snacks, mostly these dried, salted vegetable chips. Wish me luck.

vacation indulgence

We are at the beach! On vacation! Whoopee!

And I stranded in a hotel, with Caroline and Joseph, and it will be six hours before Molly comes back with the car!

The only solution: let them watch TV! Rules are suspended! Its vacation!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fwd from Miss Vicky

Deer Tick Warning

I hate it when people forward bogus warnings...but this one is real, and it's important. So please send this warning to everyone on your e-mail list:

If someone comes to your front door saying they are conducting a survey on deer ticks and asks you to take your clothes off and dance around with your arms up, DO NOT DO IT!! IT IS A SCAM; they only want to see you naked.

I wish I'd gotten this yesterday.

I feel so stupid now !!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Ediedog, She Is Sick

Two fridays ago Edie started limping, refusing to put any weight on her left front paw. We couldn't find any obvious injuries, thorns or other irritants. All the vets had closed, but we were able to find a vet in a neighboring village that was open Saturday morning. After a somewhat worried evening, we took Edie to the vet and...she started walking normally again as soon as she saw the vet. The vet did a physical exam and found nothing wrong. We decided to write it off as an anomoly.

So yesterday, another Friday right after all the vets had closed, Edie started limping again. What to do? Caroline is being very nurturing. She made a picture of a bed for Edie to remind her to get lots of rest. Still, I would some stronger medicine.

My current theory is doggie arthritis. Edie is about seven years old, assuming she was one year old when we found her. Any advice from the internet hivemind?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

More handiness

Originally uploaded by rob helpychalk.

The other crazy thing about the swingset is how huge it is going to be. For comparison purposes, here is the construction site shown in front of the broad side of a barn.

Our new swingset

Originally uploaded by rob helpychalk.

Check out Molly being a handy craftsman person type! Coming soon to our house: three swings, a slide, and a two level fort. We were originally going to put sand in the box beneath the playset, but it turns out that woodchips are much safer. A kid can fall twice as far without lifethreatening injuries if she falls onto woodchips.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Theocracy's Next Big Move

A 12,000 member church in Tennessee is spending $260,000 to build this 72 foot tall nail in the coffin of the separation of church and state. (via Pharyngula)

Added: PZ also offers up a good one to use in the marginal science section of my scientific reasoning class.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Jesus Fucking Christ, How Goddamn Hard Can It Be to Eat a Piece of Fucking Broccoli?!

I mean, God's balls, it shouldn't require an hour of fucking negotiation to get someone to put two fucking pieces of broccoli, the size of yer goddamn thumbnail, in their fucking mouth, fucking chew, and fucking swallow.

You know, I wanted to go out for ice cream tonight. When Molly suggested it, I thought, that’s great, Caroline will eat her broccoli, and then we’ll all go to Morgan’s and eat ice cream. But noooooo! Someone thinks she’s too goddamn good for fucking broccoli.

Have you ever seen anyone bite off just one of the little nubs of a broccoli flower? Not the whole floret, just one of those little, tiny stalks with the green pinhead on it. Christ on a stick, I’ve seen more progress in Middle East peace talks than I saw at the dinner table tonight. And you know what takes the cocksucking cake? Joey, crawling around on the floor, picked up one of the broccoli pieces that Caroline threw aside and then ate it. And when we set him at the table, he ate the rest of the broccoli.

Christ’s tits, no wonder parents let their children get obese.