Is this the best?

January 15, 2019

So, apparently this has caused an uproar:

CNN has two articles about it. Gillette’s youtube, which I’m not going to bother linking to, is a toxic mess of guys taking offense to it. I don’t see how people can take offense to this ad. Though folks clearly do, apparently upset that standing up to bullying and sexual harassment is antithetical to manhood.  

Personally, I can really relate to parts of it. I could be a real son of a bitch when I was a kid. I was a little bigger than most. More to the point I could just be a hell of a lot meaner. Picking on kids and making their lives hell wasn’t a 24/7 job for me, I wasn’t the cartoonish bully that chased the nerd home from school on  my bike. Hell, I was a nerd, too. But I could make someone’s life pretty miserable when I decided to.

The hell of it is that I still think of those moments. I still regret them, though they’ve probably become something less than footnotes to everyone else. at least I hope they have. And I still remember the kindness and strength of my elementary school principal who took me aside and just showed some kindness to me, some understanding. And how that has echoed through my life.

This ad is asking for more people to be like that principal. To be kind. To be understanding. To build up. To protect. To nurture. To give a damn and behave with thought and empathy. Yes, the world can use so much more of all of that. 

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Fussin’ About

January 13, 2019

This weekend my wife tackled the litany of photos we have swimming around the house, trying to put some order to them, cram them into photo albums, etc. Apparently I have a few hundred I need to get printed so that every aspect of our lives has been properly documented.

I’m  not huge on photos. Not any more. My mom looks through hers quite a bit, I guess. we’ve had so many people die on my side of the family, basically my mom’s entire family and 2/3 of them went within a year. Yeah, it was fucked up.

I used to look at photos. To miss them. To remember. Now I have a little girl and we have pictures of her all over the house, her first four years on this planet arrayed pictorially throughout our home. I watch her grow up every day. Today she made an odd paper assemblage of bits she cut out, folded, drew on with blue or black pens, and glued together with a glue stick.

Watching her grow up scares the hell out of me. There are days where I watch her do something and step into the kitchen to bawl my eyes out for a bit. Or when I drop her off for school. Or a million other little things. Children. It’s something you only really understand when you have them and no, folks, your dogs don’t count. Not even close.

But I don’t really want a ton of photos of her stuck into a photo album and I don’t ever want to sit down and start paging through the thing. It kills me. I see pictures of my grandpa. My grandma. My Uncle Jim. And I miss them. The pictures just hurt. I remember their faces fine. I can call them up in an instant. But it hurts. It’s not really comforting.

No, I’m not big on picture albums and leafing through the past.

It just tastes better

January 11, 2019

So, I made the mistake of getting involved in a twitter back and forth with a nut job. Of course about something stupid. Of course I wish I hadn’t bothered. Of course it still bothers me.

Here’s what it was: fresh veggies versus frozen.

Now, I use frozen veggies. Too often, in my opinion, just because time is never on my side. But I do use them, I don’t think they always taste bad, but they are almost always on the mushy side. Their flavor is never as big as fresh veggies. They absolutely can not be eaten by themselves, raw, at least not if you want to keep your soul.

Yet, this guy is willing to defend them to the death. If only you dump enough butter/salt/pepper on them they are fantastic.

No, they are not. They are edible. Good? I don’t know what anyone else’s expectations are for labeling something “good” but mine are just slightly higher  I guess.

And what seals it for me is my 15 year old. He notices a difference and admits that the fresh veggies are always better. My wife hates onion but can only stand them in dishes if they are frozen. Why? Their texture is so different. they are mushy.

Part of me is surprised this is even debated. If you have ever had the same dish, one made with frozen veggies and the other with fresh, you can’t help but notice the difference. One (the latter) is clearly preferable to the other. The difference is loud and clear.

I wonder if part of it is a class thing. People defending their depending on frozen over fresh for whatever reason. Or maybe it’s a need to attack people who are different (the poor, minorities) who have to depend on frozen but want access to fresh. Or maybe it’s just weirdness. I don’t know.

For the record, my preferred use for frozen veggies are soups, casseroles, and ramen. I’ve had to use them in stir-fries but those stir-fries are noticeably less popular among the family.

He Should Have Popped Him One

October 25, 2018

Well, we’re seeing the natural progression of having a political party spend the past ten (30?) years demonizing their opposition. A raft of what is being assumed to be functional explosives have been mailed to a host of Democratic or perceived Democratic figures. And we have a president who still doesn’t take any ownership of the power of his comments. I’m not sure he’s even made a comment condemning this terrorism, instead just retweeting something his vice president posted. Instead, of course, he’s blaming the media. Throwing more fuel on the fire to tacitly encourage more extremism. Like sending explosives through the USPS.

What this brings me back to is the GOP primaries a couple of years ago. Ted Cruz is feeling some heat in Texas and he’s crawled back to Trump asking for help. For anyone who does’t remember, Trump publicly savaged Cruz’s wife, attacking her appearance. Trump also accused Cruz’s father of being implicated in the Kennedy assassination. And Cruz’s response was…as far as I can tell it was to drop out of the contest.

it makes me think about what we are supposed to do when confronted with bullies. With people who  decide to act way outside the norms of our society in a way that invites chaos and violence, who abuse our unwillingness to physically confront them to allow themselves to behave as horribly as they desire. Regardless of how much the GOP wants to bang the drum about how unsafe our society is, it’s actually safer now than it has been in a long time. Compared to the 70s, 80s, and 90s we are living in a veritable wonderland of safety where the likelihood of being a victim of physical violence is actually pretty low.

But then we have people like Trump.

Which makes me ask this question: should Ted Cruz have walked over to Trump during a debate and just punched him in the mouth a couple of times? I’m not advocating physical violence as a first resort, not by any means. But even Jesus got physical at times. He didn’t have a polite conversation with the money lenders. Trump had attacked Cruz’s wife. He had attacked his father. I don’t remember him immediately apologizing for it, he probably threw a meaningless apology out after Cruz dropped out, but nothing at the time.

At some point you have to stand up to bullies. You can’t always walk away, you can’t always appeal to a higher power to remedy the situation. This doesn’t always justify physical violence, but I’m not sure it’s something that should also be automatically off the table.

And the hell of it is that I think it would have helped Cruz in going after the nomination. A Democrat wouldn’t have been able to get away with it, but a Republican from Texas who had seen his family brazenly disrespected? Yeah, I think punching Trump in the face might have been able to be spun in Cruz’s favor. Maybe it’s crazy, but within the environment of the Republican primary, with that group of people involved, a physical confrontation might just be okay in a way it wouldn’t be okay with the Democrats.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a product of a different time and place. I would have liked Cruz more for standing up for his wife and family like that, though. And I think people who behave like Trump, without remorse or tact, simply have it coming.

three weeks of misery

October 10, 2018

So, I’ve been sick. Spent a lot of the past three or so weeks (maybe just a straight up month) sleeping throughout the day and desperately flailing at enough competance to get the kids to and from school and to put something resembling food on the table at the appropriate times.

The past couple of days have been the first moments in awhile that I’ve felt anything close to normal again. I still get tired quite a bit quicker than normal. My ears are still kinda…funny. And I still wake up with some gunk in my eyes. But I don’t feel like hell has been unleashed on my head and maggots have nested in my chest and throat. Goes to show how subjective “better” can be, I guess.

What I’m working on now is simple motivation. I know I have things to do, but I’m having a hard time moving on them. Part of it is just getting bogged down in trying to get the house back to normal. A month of what amounts to neglect tends to add up. It’s not pretty. It’s hard to tackle with any sort of enthusiasm because it doesn’t appear to ever end. It just…goes.

Beyond that I have a ton of work on the actual physical house to do. Something I was beginning to dig into again when I got sick, what with both kids being in school and suddenly having the bulk of my weekdays opened up.

I was also trying to start a walking regimen. trying to.

 

Alright, it’s not three days later. Because life. I’ve continued to feel better but the walking thing hasn’t been able to get going. The kid’s school schedules have had some weird fluctuations with starting/ending times because of test taking and what not. We have family in for a couple of days. At this point I’ll just take the feeling better and run with it, though.

He’s just another Republican

September 3, 2018

On the one hand I totally get how so many people so loudly object to Trump. His actions, his words, his demeanor, it’s not just a disgrace to the office, it’s a totally lousy human being. If there is anything redeeming to him he has yet to show it.

On the other hand, strictly from a political angle, how is he surprising anyone? I mean, he’s a bit more up front with the crazy, hateful, angry crap he does but…he’s really just pushing the GOP agenda that’s been their talking points for quite awhile now.

Hates immigrants unless they’re white? Yep.

Hates any social institution regardless of its necessity and good? Yep.

Hypocritically embraces ideas, programs, and laws that they would normally rail against? Yep.

Gives as much money and power as possible to those who already have an abundance of both? Yep.

I mean, there are aspects of the conservative ideology that could be argued in something resembling good faith, but the stuff that seems to really set people off and appears to be shoving them towards the ballot box this fall to vote for a Democrat? That stuff seems like nothing that should be a surprise to anyone.

I’m not a hyper political person, but all that’s happened over the past 18 months, politically, just hasn’t been very surprising considering who is in power. If anything, I think there’s been less accomplished than what we should have expected because they are so damn dysfunctional and nuts.

I’m not going to argue over more people going to the ballot box but, like, where were you before?

So, the hate is on

August 22, 2018

The story of Mollie Tibbetts has become a tragic and sad one. No one should be cut down so young, especially in a way so undeserving. At the same time, politicians shouldn’t be using this as red meat for anti-whatevering such as being done now with their already using this as a bludgeon against immigrants.

The person who did this clearly has something wrong with them. Immigrants, legal or otherwise, don’t have that problem as a group. Statistically they’re not any more or less likely to commit a crime here than anyone else.

But they’re the Other. They are different. We need  a scapegoat other than rich white people to explain income inequality, the inability for our paychecks to keep up with our costs, etc. It’s those damn foreigners taking those farm labor jobs, those kitchen jobs at restaurants, etc.

Just like when some white guy kills someone it’s not an indictment against white guys everywhere, when some South American migrant kills someone it’s not an indictment on South American migrants. That needs to be remembered.

Fa-Fa-Falafel

August 13, 2018

The wife and I love a good falafel, but we’ve never been able to get it right at home. We depended on the box mixes, which are really just glorified pancake mixes. They didn’t always taste bad, and we sort of handicapped ourselves a bit by sticking to mixes that didn’t have to be fried. It’s just a mess neither of us wanted to deal with.

I’d came across this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen (ATK), though. I love ATK. And their recipes consistently work out well for us. They have a recipe for bibimbop in their recent vegetarian cookbook that just nails it

We didn’t have The Boy for the weekend, so I decided to finally try it. The Boy hates falafel for reasons we don’t really understand. I think it’s just one of those stupid, unreasoned bits of defiance and bitchiness that defined all of us as teenagers. Not wanting the expected negativity, I had avoided fixing it.

The falafel turned out well, though. I didn’t have the fresh herbs, so I subbed in what I had in the spice cabinet which was just Italian seasoning and parsley. The Wife doesn’t care for onion, but she’s fine with onion powder, so that got thrown in. I used 1.5 teaspoons of each.

The flavor turned out well, easily better than the boxed stuff we usually got, and it wasn’t super messy. I don’t have a fryer, and I didn’t want to use nearly that much oil. I used  a smallish sauce pan, maybe a cup and a half of oil. Enough to (mostly) cover each piece. It took about three minutes before I turned them over and made sure I got the other half of each piece. There was some splatter, but it wasn’t more than expected.

A positive to the frying that I hadn’t thought of was that they reheated really well by just popping them into the microwave. They just sucked up that oil from the frying and it helped keep them from being hard little rocks when nuked.

We also didn’t make the tahini sauce because I didn’t want to make an extra trip to the store for the greek yogurt. Instead, we used ranch salad dressing. We liked it. Knowing how well the recipe turned out, we’ll probably be more likely to go the extra mile and getting all of the ingredients and doing it right. Though, it’s always good to know you can do the recipe quick and dirty, with ingredients you can keep in the cupboard and not have to go out of your way to get.

We just went on a five mile hike this morning

August 7, 2018

This is really a small thing in a conversation. What did you today? we went to a metro park, took a hike. It was fun.

It’s also something my wife and I just can’t do.

We went out to eat at the new seafood place.

Well, the couple we were talking to did. My wife and I didn’t. Again, it’s just not an option.

This is what bothers me when people act as if their pets are children. This is what humors me about childless couples. It’s their choice, and that’s fine, just as having kids was my choice.

But don’t act like your springer spaniel is equivalent to my three year old.

Thought a lot of this is beside the point I really want to get to, I’m just struggling finding the way. It’s not so much that other people have more freedom that they really don’t understand they have, it’s that I don’t. And I have a feeling a lot of parents are in the same boat, and people who aren’t parents don’t get that. The Wife mentioned she is really looking forward and hoping to get the VW Microbus when it’s brought back out in 2020, and how the configurable interior is a massive selling point for her.

And the folks we were hanging out with didn’t really get it until the wife looked over and said, “it’s like they have our dog, but three of them (referencing our kids and the dog we’re planning on getting). Then it made sense.

Other than the fact that it took comparing our kids to dogs for this to sink in, the very idea of being able to move around the seats in your vehicle, easily move them around, and set up different areas where you could play a board game, watch tv, etc. was so incomprehensible. Yeah, we’re parents. Customizing a space to fit our family, to fit our kids, would be a really big thing.

We can’t go on a five mile hike in the morning, at least not easily. We have a three year old who would have to go with us. If we want to put up the fight, the 14 year old would be going, too. There is all of the packing and preparing that goes with ranging from drinks to snacks to change of clothes to toys for the car to sun screen to bug spray, etc. etc. etc. What should be a relaxing hike becomes a foray into the wilds where I may or may not have to carry a three year old for several miles.

And lately this lack of freedom has been getting to me.

Such as right now. The Boy wanted money to go out to lunch with the other kids in his section at band camp. Yesterday, lunch was at 11, so when 11 rolled around and I didn’t hear from him I figured I was in the clear until later this afternoon. So I started in on a project of hanging a wall length shelf in his room, and moving some other shelves around to accomodate it. Forty minutes in, I get a text.

He wants picked up for lunch.

He doesn’t want to go to Chipotle.

My start on this project that should have been small is now going to drag out through the rest of the afternoon and become a pain in the ass because it will bleed into the time to pick him up, which will bleed into the time to make supper, which will bleed into library time, which will take my entire day and flush it.

Something will get done at some point, though, right?

Right?

A Perpetual State of Mental Exhaustion

July 26, 2018

I’m not sure why people find kids the most exhausting when they are babies. Looking after my 3 yr old when she was a baby was far easier than now. Yeah, she was more dependent on me for pretty much everything, but it was mostly just physical stuff. I had to clean her, feed her, dress her, etc. But it was a veritable vacation mentally.

As she’s gotten older, the mental load has intensified. As she gets more mobile, she finds more things to get bend to her trouble making. As she gets more talkative, I get to hear about it all.

Which just wears me down. I pop on a podcast or something just to have some counter noise, but what I really want is just some quiet in the middle of the day.

My wife then doesn’t know why I’m not looking forward to her starting preK again this fall. But I only get this once. When my little girl grows up, she’s grown up. There’s no going back and we’re not planning on having another. While the daily grind of it is exhausting, I’m not ready for this to be over. I’m not ready for her to grow up.