Sunday, November 25, 2007, posted by Q6 at 8:54 PM
My daughter came out for this Thanksgiving (odd years are mine). She and her brother have lived apart for a number of years now, and I begin each of her visits with a bit of trepidation. Will this be a "nothing but fight with each other" visit, or will this be a "how cool is it that they're getting along so well?" visit? The latter seems to be happening more often than the former in recent months, and I hope it only improves with time. This visit--four days!--they seemed to get along with each other both in and out of my presence. On a trip to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, I snapped this photo:

Man, I do love it when they get along.

*Anybody remember this comic strip? I loved it, and was sorry to see it go. My kids behaved like those two.
Thursday, November 22, 2007, posted by Q6 at 9:52 AM
My fifteen-year-old son asked me if I was going in to work during the Thanksgiving break (I have Wednesday through Friday off). I told him that any work I have to do, I'll do from home. If I go into the office, I told him, there will be other people there and I'll get roped into doing more work than I'd planned. "The best way not to get hijacked is to stay off the plane," I quipped.

"Man, don't tell me that," he replied. "I fly to mom's house, like, twice a month!"

"You fly to Oakland, dude. Anyone who hijacks a flight to Oakland has bigger problems."

"True," he nods. "You know who's just asking to get hit? Los Angeles."

Oh, I think to myself, we're gonna have one of THESE conversations now. "There's nothing to hit in Los Angeles," I tell him. "Los Angeles is built out, not up."

"Oh, yeah." (Pause.) "New York!" (Pause.) "Oh, wait--"

"Yeah." I don't know if he heard me over the rolling of my eyes.

"Well, what other city is built 'up?'" (Wait for it.) "I know: Japan!"

I just blinked at him. "I can't have this conversation with you anymore."

It took him another five minutes to conclude that Japan is not a city, but a country. Honestly, my son and I riff like this a couple of times a week, and although they (like this one) might be mildy embarassing for him, I enjoy these conversations for three reasons: he ends up learning something from each of them, they can actually be quite humorous, and he is extremely eloquent and mature when he tries to communicate on a grown-up level.

I mean, there are probably some adults out there that think Japan is a city . . .
Wednesday, November 21, 2007, posted by Q6 at 9:29 PM
Back in my hometown, my mother must be laughing her ass off.

Parenting is, simultaneously, everything I could have ever hoped for AND everything I wish it weren't. Weird, but true. It doesn't surprise me in the least that every time I think I have it figured out I discover that I've only scratched the surface. I've been ready for that. That, I expected.

What I didn't expect was the counterintuitiveness of it all. Over the last six months I feel like I've had the words "evil parent" tattooed on my forehead (my son sees them constantly, yet my mirror reveals nothing); over the last year that warm, fuzzy "rewarding" feeling one gets from parenting has been on vacation somewhere; over the last two or three months, people tell me what a good Dad I am with bizarre regularity. I'll know what it feels like if one day I'm at an intersection and both the red and green lights go on at the same time.

I've discovered something this evening, however, and I'm hoping I didn't discover it too late. Maybe my mother said it to me long ago, and maybe others have said it, too--I'll admit that I must not have been listening, 'cause I just figured it out. If I discipline my child, or set limits to his activities, or require quid-pro-quo for privileges, I am playing the "bad guy," but I am doing it for the welfare of the child. The maxim for MY parenting, therefore, is this: The quality of one's parenting at any given moment is inversely proportional to the way the parent feels about it in that same moment. So if a parent sets such limits or erects such barriers and feels good about it, he's probably not done it properly.

If that's true (in my case, at least), I must be doing a brilliant job; because I feel like a complete heel.

*This quote comes from 1983's "Mr. Mom." He didn't think he was doing it right, either.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007, posted by Q6 at 8:36 PM
My son lives by the same Halloween Credo I did at his age: November is all about planning next year's Halloween costume; October is all about doing it at the last minute. He didn't work for days on his costume for school--he just bought some face paint and colored hair spray the day before. (Ever been to one of those seasonal costume shops on October 30? It's like a lottery prize . . . LOTS of zeros.) The specialty contact lenses he ordered didn't arrive until November 5th, so those aren't featured here. At school, on Halloween, he looked like this:

This is, by the way, the only photo of my
son's face I'll post on the Internet. He only
really looks like this when I wake him up in the morning.

For his evening costume, however, he did work for a few days cutting all sorts of cardboard and stuff--including several of his shirts--to create a DIY Boba Fett getup. For only a few days work, it wasn't bad:

You have to picture him standing next to his friend
in the Chewbacca suit. I didn't get that picture, but
there's a lot of things about this Halloween I didn't really get.

Of course, the boy would not be satisfied until he had the whole thing just right. After all, if his creative juices are flowing, who am I to dam them up? Who needs some stupid holiday to create a costume? As it turns out, his school's Homecoming theme was "Epic Series," and his grade level was . . . wait for it . . . Star Wars themed. So he spent a few days making a complete mess of his room to perfect his suit. And I gotta say, he didn't do a half bad job:

Funniest thing about this picture?
When I put him in the pose, he said,
"Oh, we're doing a 'Captain Morgan' thing now?"

Sunday, November 04, 2007, posted by Q6 at 7:44 PM
I received some good feedback on my last book post, so I thought I'd throw a few more up here:

After reading The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, I'm convinced that there isn't a bit of Americana that didn't orginate or pass through the 1892 Chicago World's Fair. It's a non-fiction book, but because it follows the creation and execution of the Fair itself as well as a string of serial murders that took place at the same time, it reads like fiction. Larson does a great job of bringing the time period alive on the page (which inspired me to Google photos from the Fair itself), and anyone who enjoys history will love this book.

The title and the premise of this book seem sacriligious, but Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal is very well researched. Moore himself takes the trouble to, in the afterword, explain his motives and approach. The book is a look at the first thirty or so (unchronicled) years of the life of Jesus. Naturally, there's a lot of humor involved--Christopher Moore has become known for that. His humor is an acquired taste, and I highly recommend that you acquire it as soon as possible (two of my other favorites are Bloodsucking Fiends and A Dirty Job). The big irony here is that my brother, a Christian pastor, would find this book hilarious--but he's so busy at the church that he can't find time to read it.

Timeline is one of my favorite books of all time, for a number of reasons. First, Michael Crichton knows what he's doing when it comes to period pieces; this fiction book has a four page, two-section bibliography on Medieval France (where most of the book takes place) and Quantum Physics (which is how the modern-day protagonists get there). Second, this book's chapters are titled simply by a countdown, which helps to build the suspense of an already fast-paced adventure; in short, this book sucks you in and won't let go. Finally, this was the book I loaned to my fiancee on our first date; since we're getting married three years to the day that I loaned her this book, my copy will probably never leave my library again.

, posted by Q6 at 7:35 PM
My son is taking American Sign Language as his foreign language in high school (where the hell was this when I was in high school?), and he's become pretty good at it. I don't know how conversant he is, but he's learned a lot in a short time. He came home from his second or third day of school able to spell his name and some other basics. My fiancee and I have been trying to learn some of it, little by little, partly because we didn't have this opportunity growing up but mostly because we don't want him using it against us.

Anyway, some of the signs are very similar; we all got a good laugh when, in a moment of educational frustration, one of us blurted out, "That's not 'Grandma,' that's 'vomit'!" (Note: the signs for "Grandma" and "vomit" are quite similar; grandmas and vomit themselves are not.)