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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer Summary

YES, ONE OF MY CHILDREN IS A STUFFED FROG.
This is going to be an awful summary because I'm going to leave out all sorts of important things just because I don't have the will to describe them.  My bad.

I can't seem to get my stuff together long enough to sit down and write something.  And expecting it to be coherent may be even more of a stretch.

I'm really tempted to just link over to a friend's blog and let her give you the boildown on Jack's 5th birthday party and have done with it.

There were live snakes (5 of them if memory serves) in my living room during the party.  Really.  There were tortoises.  Turtles.  A pirate captain named Drew.  It seemed to really float a lot of little people's boats.  Sure, it gave some of the parents the jimjams, but y'know, you can't suit everybody.

I left all the photographic evidence of this in my other pants, so you can see a bit of the Reptile Regatta here.  (Thanks, Julie.  You're more of a responsible parent to my children than I am.  *Hangs head in shame*)

Jack started school.  I'm told that's a pretty big deal.  He even has classes in a BIG.  REHD.  BAHWN.  This makes a lot of sense as he's spent a good portion of his life either imitating animals or acting like one.  Back home, Jack's absence really bums The Ittybitty out in a major way.

I can't remember if this was before or after the whole start-of-formalized-education thing and/or the critter carnival, but we took Jack to ride the ferry down in Galveston on his actual birthday.  There's a lighthouse down there that I know absolutely nothing about.  At least that was the idea before it started raining buckets and we sat through two or three wrecks on the interstate.  Houston, baby!

But I thought Plan B turned out pretty good, as spur of the moment burfday trips go.  We wound around to the Natural Science History Science Natural Museum.  I think that was the name.  I would suggest that they rename it to the way more memorable and descriptive THE DINOSAUR AND MUMMY MUSEUM OF HOUSTON.

So The Dude got to see real, huge, old, fossilized, dead animals and shriveled, old, real, dead people.  And their gold and alabaster and basalt stuff.  Yeah, I know.  It may have been a bit too intense for little kids, but Jack seemed to dig it.  Whatever, man.  It was raining.  We would have counted tree rings for fun.  Caroline got to the hall with the massive dinoskeletauruses hanging everywhere and pulled her own card.  Nothing would help, and it was time to bolt.

Nerding out, if you didn't know, really gives you a killer appetite, and we were in the right part of town for El Tiempo.  We sat out under the damp patio and had brisket tacos and conchas and watched Jack malevolently abuse a Shirley Temple.  (Unfortunately I'll have to save the Shirley Temple story for another day.)

There's been even more nerding out around here.  Star Wars fanaticism has taken hold.  Jack scored a Lego X-Wing set, and got to watch the movie with Caroline.  They both sat there, transfixed.

At least they were quiet. 





Monday, August 5, 2013

The Electronic Zombie Apocalypse

Photo courtesy: Spikenzie on Flickr
People think it's cute when they first experience it.  And I suppose it is. Or at least was.  Jack will race up to some stranger (of varying perfection) and ask them all about phones and earphones and iPads and iPods and what sort of video equipment they've rigged their house with and if they know what a microphone does.  Or maybe they'll chat about amplifiers.  And you can bet your last square of TP that the wondrous technology behind the electric guitar will be discussed.  If he knew who Les Paul was, I'm sure he'd name drop.

Think about it.  Here's this little guy, just talking you up like some fool twentysomething hawking pricey plastic at Best Buy.  (Jack claims to be twenty, himself, but that's a separate issue.)  Is it fun to watch?  Sure.  They think, now there's a sharp little dude.  I'll be he makes his old man proud.

No.  Well, yeah, I mean of course he makes me proud, of course of course of course, but specifically, in this instance, mostly he just makes me - makes us - crazy with this whole electronics fetish.  Fixation.  Thing.

No powercord in the darn house is safe.  USBs will be unnaturally wedded to HDMIs.  DC power plugs link up with firewire and CAT5.  Or CAT6, s'help me.  Old phone headsets have impromptu cords made out of notebook paper.  Copper speaker twist will hook in PAPER microphones (guitar stands - some stolen, some not - hold the mike in place).  Helium balloons that may have been stolen from your sister are pressed into service as guitar amps.  Stretchy hair bands - I haven't the foggiest as to the actual word for these - become little green heart monior straps for running, a'la my Garmin.

Old bottle stopper thingys are tweeters.  My ancient Casio keyboard is his soundboard.  Still works.  This is the one that no one learned to play but everyone simply HAD to have back in grade school, the one with my parents' home phone written in permanent marker across the front of it (no area code).  An old PC keyboard that I (wisely) trimmed the cord from is set at 90 degrees to the Casio in my old 1980's cubby of a bar.  It's no longer a bar, man.

It's a sound booth.  You heard me.

His idols surround him there in vinyl:  Petty.  Charles.  Mr. Mojo Risin'.  Cash.  Mick and Keef.  Mr. Bono.  Mr. Edge.  Page.  Plant.  They're all there, cheering on the madness.  Toy ukuleles are electric guitars, CDs are coasters, DVDs are CDs, up is down, down is up, minivans are cool, cats and dogs living together, total chaos.

The only purpose for which an object is never, ever used is... well, its intended purpose.  That would be predictable and boring.  Jack is unfamiliar with either concept.

The scary part of all this is that at some point, real-deal, thunderzap-delivering electrical outlets get involved.  You see where this is going.  So, in the worst move since Chamberlain's oopsie at Munich, I brought Jack some (hopefully) non-lethal cords to pie him off.  Don't use my phone cord, use this USB cord that doesn't fit in any electrical outlet.  I thought.  Don't use this videocam link, use this A/V pair I found.  That doesn't do anything dangerous whatsoever.  I thought.  The peace offerings didn't make it 24 hours before confiscation.  We still find squirreled away contraband daily.  (Think a shakedown at Alcatraz.)

Putting Jack back into the stone age (about 1994, by our reckoning) didn't even leave a dent.  He now runs a second-world sweatshop out of his room, cranking out iPhones, iPods, iPads, universal remotes, Bluetooth headsets, you name it... in construction paper.  Each day, each item is lost, thrown away or torn apart by a small sibling, only to be reborn the next.  It's like our own electronic zombie apocalypse.  They'll never stop coming, man.

Yeah, yeah, I'm sure we'll all be quite happy (and rich) when he's invented his generation's version of the iPhone.  WIRED and Time will breathlessly schedule interviews.  "What was it like to raise THE Jack de Frisco de Souza du Monde d'Arriste de Fernando de Leon de Franco Comodoro?"  I'll give the interview in sunglasses and a bespoke velvet smoking jacket that will make The Most Interesting Man in the World go pale.

Who am I kidding?  They'll be mailing my check to the looney bin.