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Friday, January 30, 2015

Confusion And Delay

Come with us to the beautiful Island of Sodor in the worst Thomas video you'll ever see.


January 30, 2015 in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, January 29, 2015


Ericka got a nice kid shot in Mount Peculiar whilst I was at a State Dem Cmte meeting last winter.


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Thursday, January 22, 2015


This is sweet:

As a lover of illustrated biographies of cultural icons — such as those of Pablo NerudaJulia ChildAlbert Einstein, and Maria Merian — I was thrilled to stumble upon a wonderful take on the early life of one of my greatest heroes, Jane Goodall, and how she came to live the dream that bewitched her at a young age. In Me…Jane (public library), celebrated cartoonist, author, and animal rights advocate Patrick McDonnell tells the story of how the seed planted by a childhood dream blossomed, under the generous beams of deep dedication, into the reality of a purposeful life.

A copy of this will be arriving here in a coupla days for Sadie.


January 22, 2015 in Family Life, Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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Thursday, January 01, 2015

Als Das Kind Kind War

Reflecting on the New Year and passage of time...

Sometimes while watching a movie, Sam will note that a grown up character was a child earlier--for example, George in It's A Wonderful Life, which he spontaneously asked to watch the other day--and how they're both different and the same.  He also observed to me at the store when we were grabbing some vittles for NYE that he is, in fact, he and not me.

Which reminded of a very early post on the kids' now moribund blog, and the poem linked therein:

When the child was a child, 
It was the time for these questions: 
Why am I me, and why not you? 
Why am I here, and why not there? 
When did time begin, and where does space end? 
Is life under the sun not just a dream? 
Is what I see and hear and smell 
not just an illusion of a world before the world? 
Given the facts of evil and people. 
does evil really exist? 
How can it be that I, who I am, 
didn’t exist before I came to be, 
and that, someday, I, who I am, 
will no longer be who I am?

We talk a lot about all those questions, which often becomes exhausting.  But I'm glad he poses them.  And now I wonder when I can get away with showing him Wings of Desire.


January 1, 2015 in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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April 2014.  Mila and Furio are a little bigger and more active these days.


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Friday, December 26, 2014

Is That In Our World?

Since I alluded to the "kids don't believe in Santa because Physics" article, read RMJ's take.  My comment over there:

I enjoy the various movie explanations about Santa's powers, and watching them with Sam. Oh, he can manipulate space-time, etc. We speculate about which possibilities are more likely, always acknowledging that nobody really knows, which is why there are so many different versions of the story...

There will be a time, naturally, when our kids dump this particular myth (hopefully not the spirit).  But it's fun now, and I think we explore a lot about what's possible and what's fantastic in our world.  In fact, Sam will often ask when we read a book or see a movie or discuss any number of things, "is/are X in our world?"  We like to figure stuff out.  And sometimes there are presents.


PS--Guess I coulda called this post "Yes, Samuel, Santa's In Our World."

December 26, 2014 in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, December 25, 2014


One thing that's unclear in the family lore: whether or not my Jewkrainian greatgrandparents took the kids out for Chinese on Xmas.


PS--I think my grandfather is a Vulcan.  And his little brother is an elf from The Santa Clause.

December 25, 2014 in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hebrews 13:16

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have:

I accept that it is more efficacious to give a check for $365 to a food bank than to hand a dollar bill each day to whichever panhandler happens to catch my eye. With each of those dollar bills, though, more transpires than money moving from one pocket to another. The bridge goes both ways. Perhaps we stop a stomach from grumbling, perhaps we spark a feeling of hope—but we also nourish our own capacity for generosity. We enlarge our ability to imagine other lives.

Yes, it is possible the woman on the subway would use the $20 to get a fix or a drink or some pills—and if I had her life, I might do the same. Still, I believe her that she also wants a clean, safe place to sleep. We all do. 

I'm reminded of some good Sorkin writing from Sports Night:

Isaac: Danny, every morning I leave and acre and a half of the most beautiful property in New Canaan. Get on a train and come to work in a 54 story glass hi-rise. In between, I step over bodies to get here. 20, 30, 50 of them a day. So as I'm stepping over them, I reach into my pocket and give them whatever I've got.

Dan: You're not afraid they're going to spend it on booze?

Isaac: I'm hoping they're going to spend it on booze. Look, Danny, for these people, most of them, it's not like they're one hot meal from turning it around. For most of them, the clock's pretty much run out. You'll be home soon enough. What's wrong with giving them a little novocaine to get them through the night?

Gave somebody an Andrew Jackson the other day as the kids and I were finishing up our regular trip into the big city for supplies.  Sam asked why the guy was there and why I gave him money.

I explained that, at least according to the cardboard sign he was holding, a family of four was hungry and homeless.  "Why don't they have a home?"  Dunno, I can speculate any number of things, but it's not really my concern.

So I gave the man almost all of my cash (I kept a couple bucks), and when he noticed a 20 on the folded up bill, his eyes grew wide.  The man was clearly was ready to thank me soon as he saw me driving over with my window down, but his entire countenance changed when he realized just how much he'd gotten.

He managed to croak, "Thank you.  You have a nice day."  I'm glad he didn't say "God bless you" since I'm already blessed, lucky, whatever.  And that's why, I said to the kids, we help people whenever and however we can, no matter who they are--through trivial acts of kindness, through small gifts when we've got extra coin, through taxes and advocacy for social services and the like.  We have enough to share.

Sam considered for a moment, then moved on.  It was time to bug me about what he wants from Santa (the guy who gives stuff away without expecting anything in return).


December 24, 2014 in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, December 18, 2014


Chilling in the April sun back our first year together (2006).


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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Depressing Sporks

Via Facebook:

The spoons model of disability works like this:

Imagine that you have a certain number of spoons. Every time you do something, you have to pay a certain number of spoons: eating is one spoon; showering is three spoons; going out and socializing is ten; having to give a speech in front of ten thousand people is a hundred. If you’re out of spoons, you can’t do anything. Most nondisabled people have more than enough spoons to do everything they want to do. Their spoons are overflowing the kitchen drawers. However, disabled people often have to watch their spoons. If they shower today, they might not have enough spoons to go to class.

The spoons model has been elaborated upon in various ways. Two of my favorites are the concept of multiple kinds of spoons, so you may be out of language spoons but not out of self-care spoons, and the concept of “borrowing” spoons– using emotional energy now at a high cost in the future.

The spoons model is an excellent model. However, in thinking about my own mental illness, I have discovered that it is, in fact, the exact opposite of how my mental illness works. Therefore, I have decided to coin the forks model.
You would think that you would start doing productive things and then wind up in a beautiful virtuous cycle where you do things, and the things give you more forks, and then you spend more forks on doing things, until the forks are not only spilling out of the drawer but they’ve filled the kitchen and are making headway into the bedroom. This is probably true of some people: they’re triathletes with four successful startups who are considering going for a PhD in physics (you know, just for the fun of it).

Unfortunately, some people– like me– are, for whatever reason, stuck with chronically low forks. Chronically low forks leaves you in one of the most perverse situations ever: when you know that if you did a particular thing, you would be happier and more able to do things, but you don’t have enough forksnow to do the thing. (Unlike spoons, you cannot borrow forks from future selves.) If I worked on my homework, after like fifteen minutes I would feel like I could take on the world, but right now all I have the energy to do is browse Tumblr. If I ate, I would totally be able to cook an awesome meal, but right now I’m too hungry to cook.

The utensil construction is a bit goofy, as the author notes, but my dog, this is precisely something I have never been able to articulate well.  I'll also add one more problem to the scenario: it costs forks to not do the things you know would make you happier.  

So if you have something hanging over your head that you desperately need to get done, there's an extra emotional burden.  A heavy amount of guilt, maybe, or just spinning your wheels thinking about thinking about thinking about maybe thinking about getting started as soon as you have enough forks to think about starting, etc, which takes away forks.  That makes it harder to deal with the damned task.  

It becomes a negative feedback loop, and the loss of forks in that instance can hamper other aspects of your life as you lack forks to deal with those, too.  Then exogenous things can become problematic because you don't have the forks to handle them, or you spend your forks on those things and thus can't address the regular parts of life, even the most basic, that are always there (work, housekeeping, self-care).

So there it is.  Although I'd use coins or chits or something instead of forks.


December 14, 2014 in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, December 12, 2014

#throwbackthursday On Friday

Tweens Lola and Dear Departed Vinnie ponder the snow dumped here during the Valentine's Day Storm of 2007.


PS--Got about 32" all told at my house.  Made me miss a teaching gig for the USPTO, and our road wasn't dug out for a couple days.  I snowshoed to the General Store for wine.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Snow Day

Dog help me if school's closed tomorrow, too.


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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Princesses Can Be Scientists

Having played a few songs from Frozen for Sadie just now, this resonates:

When my 4-year-old told me the other day that she was “ready for princesses,” part of me died. Not just because the day had finally arrived when that virulent meme had infected her, but also because of how utterly powerless I was to contain it. Let me be clear: These weren’t progressive princesses like Adventure Time’s Lumpy Space Princess and Doctor Princess (that’s just her last name). This kind of princess forced my programmer wife and I to do what we swore we’d never do to our child, which is deny our daughter a book. The one my kid picked up in the bookstore spent more pages describing its characters’ future husbands than the princesses themselves, and when a book about girls for girls fails to pass the Bechdel test, something is pretty wrong. Other princess books she looked at weren’t much better. 

Yet we've decided to indulge rather than deny her.  We model, encourage other options, etc, but if she wants to do the princess thing, that's what she wants and we roll with it.

An exchange at the start of our YouTube session:

Daddy, I want Queen Elsa!

Okay, hold on, I'll find Let It Go.

She's so pretty.  [sotto voce, hands on cheeks]

Yes she is.



Sadie also likes Taylor Swift and Pink (the singer and the color).  What are ya gonna do?  It's not like princesses can't grow up to be scientists or programmers or presidents.

*exits singing Shake It Off*


December 3, 2014 in Family Life, Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Potty Mouthed Pritskys

We're doing it fucking right!

[A]llow your child to use the swear word within limits. “Tell her, ‘Some people don't like that word, but in your room you can say it anytime,’ ” Klein says.

This gentler, more empowering approach also circumvents what might be called “the shame problem.” As Klein writes in her book How Toddlers Thrive, parents often unintentionally shame their young children when they criticize them and try to control their behavior. “If the message to the child is that these are bad words, never to be used, then the child can feel that she is a bad person for having tried them out,” Klein explains. Plus, chances are, your kid doesn’t know what these bad words actually mean and why they are bad; she just knows that you have anointed them as bad. Some research suggests that children who’ve been made to feel ashamed are more likely to withdraw and hide than own up to future mistakes. (This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t discipline your kids or set limits; just be careful not to chastise them in a way that could make them feel humiliated.)

I do feel compelled to note it ain't my fault Sam observed during last week's storm: "holy moly, that's a shit-ton of snow!"  But we haven't been called into a teacher's conference yet, so everything's good...


December 1, 2014 in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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Thursday, November 27, 2014


A young Sam the Cat tries an attack from below on Dear Old Saffron (Thanksgiving 2003).


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Thursday, November 20, 2014


From my Quixotic pre-Selectman days.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Broadcast From The Future

Hecate has an interesting exercise:

One of the most powerful magical acts that I know is to take some time and really envision the life that you’d like to be leading five years from now...Where do you live? What time do you wake up? Who do you see throughout the day? What do you wear? What occupies your time? What things that are currently in your life are banished? Journal or draw or dance all of it.

Now, ask yourself what underlying assumptions you’ve made. For example, do you assume you can turn on the tap and get clean, potable water? That you have access to medical care including birth control? That you can communicate without Big Brother listening?

I would've not even considered the water issue, if we had not lost a controller for our well pump this summer which caused a couple days of more complicated life living as we did in simpler times.  Not to mention the time just before Xmas a couple years back when we were without hot water for weeks because of gas company shenanigans.  

And health care?  I assume we will still have it thanks to being Vermonters, but I'm getting a little worried that our move to single-payer by 2017 might be derailed.

I will have to ponder this further.  I'm not sure 5 years ago I could've imagined the life we have today.


November 19, 2014 in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Snowydayblogging

Make way for Mila!

I've decided to join a monastery.

Furio seems unconcerned about my new career path.


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Thursday, November 13, 2014


Missing the old girl something fierce today for no particular reason.


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Saturday, November 08, 2014

Photos Don't Lie, People Do

I have a real problem with this essay:

No one’s life is just pumpkin patches and happy outings, but there’s no mention of the mediocrity- the exasperated expression we give our spouse when we’re stressed and tired and he forgot to do the one thing we asked of him, the countless children’s fights broken up, complaints whined, the orders shouted. We don’t post status updates about our kids’ failures or struggles, only trophies and achievements. We don’t post about the times we don’t get to the gym, don’t prepare a Pinterest-worthy dinner, don’t feel up for a family outing.

We fail to mention that we snapped at the kids in the pumpkin patch because all we wanted was one good picture and that shouldn’t be too much to ask for; that we spent most of the time at the aquarium in a desperate search for a bathroom, first for one kid and then the other because she didn’t think she had to go when we were just in there; or that shortly before we went out for ice cream cones our kids asked if we are getting divorced because they overheard us arguing.

I’m not suggesting that we all must either stop posting happy photos or start posting about some of our lesser moments. Of course we want to share the cute apple picking shots and our trip to Disney. But, as we rely more and more on platforms like Facebook to maintain our friendships, and less and less on phone calls and actual get-togethers, we are only seeing a narrow view of our friends’ lives. Without ever seeing the full picture, soon we wonder: everyone else is so happy all the time, why aren’t I? What am I doing wrong?

First of all, I'm not sure that, even if people only posted unicorns and rainbows, we'd only see so narrow a view of our friends' lives.  It's simply one view in the public sphere.  Seeing how they see themselves and/or as they want to be seen, is still a significant component of all lives.

What's more, I'm fairly sure we all know that everyone poops.  And has bad days.  So who the fuck cares if folks share only the good things?  Maybe they just want to celebrate positive stuff and not dwell on the not so fun.  There's always more negative undercurrents, and we don't need to know the details to be friends, online or otherwise.

And I don't know who this person's friends are, but I see all sorts of bad shit posted.  Death.  Frustration about family.  Job losses and rejected resumes.  Photo fails.  Whatever.

Seems to me the whole essay says more about the author's issues than any problem with how people interact on Facebook.  So yeah, she should wonder what she's doing wrong.


November 8, 2014 in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack