Five for Friday

The vast majority of people who read this blog (or discover it through a search engine) are using a computer somewhere on American soil. Makes sense. 100% of this blog was written within American borders.

Yet, I'm amused to see where my words have been seen, globally speaking. And for those of you who are equally intrigued by trivial data that serves no real purpose, the following non-American countries have contributed the most visitors during the month of May. (ranked most frequent to least) Yes, i do realize that three of the five are English speaking nations, but the towns and cities in this list are all places I'd like to visit someday. Except Winkler Canada. Who vacations in Winkler?

1) United Kingdom: with views from London, Manchester, Yeovil, Taunton, and Coventry.
2) Italy: with readers from Verona, Rome, Milan, Osimo, Carbonara Di Bari, and Lecce.
3) Philippines: 100% of Philipine visitors were from Manila
4) Canada: My northern neighbors came from Thompson, Laval, Winkler, Toronto, and Brantford
5) Australia: With Aussies from Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth


Truth and Lies and Politics

Constitutional law affords us liberal rights. The right to independent press, unrestricted speech, and the ability to protest. While I believe that modern America has taken these rights to extremes beyond what our forefathers ever intended, these are essential liberties. There is something that is inherently American in expressing dismay, discontent, and dissatisfaction. It is impossible for any individual to be 100% satisfied with the actions of their government, and that is true globally – not just in the States. What sets us apart is how we’re not only allowed to be unhappy, not just permitted to express our disgust, but we’re encouraged to flaunt our political ire and angst. You don’t like our current administration? Join the crowd.

In that vein, it doesn’t bother me when people state their distaste for President Obama. There is plausible basis to not like the guy. The valid reasons to not approve of our president are almost as plentiful as the hair on Robin Williams’ back. (I say almost because Robin is an excessively hairy guy. Mr. Williams is the best evidence we have that Sasquatch is real.)

He smokes, he’s a democrat, he seems to speak without a filter and offensive language often slips into his candid remarks. You don’t agree with his stances on abortion, or health care, or the environment, or spending. You disapprove of who he picked for his cabinet or his advisers. You might not like his pre-presidential membership at Trinity United Church of Christ or his voting record as a senator. So many good reasons, and yet they're all ignored by the people who most despise him.

Why is it the people who adamantly detest President Obama frequently ignore the facts? Why is it that the president’s detractors rely on urban legend, rumor, innuendo, and flat out lies to support their loathing of our nation’s leader? Why do many of these people call themselves Christian?

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Christians should approve of all things Obama for moral reasons. And I’m not inferring that those who don’t like Obama are not true Christians. But those that I’ve seen with the most ardent obsessions in passing along lies to promote anti-Obama sentiment are Christians.

If you believe in what the Bible says, then you should believe that God is love. You should trust that Love rejoices in truth. How can God delight in His people when they knowingly use falsehoods to justify their opinions? Sounds so contradictory. God says that He is love, commands us to love our neighbors and our enemies, and tells us that an aspect of love is a celebration of truth. Then we turn around and spread lies to tarnish the image of America’s elected leader. How much more could we defy our God?

You don’t have to like the president. And you don’t have to like the next one. Or the one after that. But please, find a truthful reason to dislike President Obama. Stop the easily debunkable rumors. He was not born in Kenya. He is not using a fraudulent SSN. He is not a Muslim. He is not the anti-Christ. He is not skipping Memorial Day to go on vacation. His campaign was not funded by Hugo Chávez. And he does not have a Sarah Palin voodoo doll that he stabs every time Sarah makes a public appearance.

Also, he’s not perfect. And let’s be honest. The only person qualified to be president and run the nation the way you believe it should be ran is you. No one else can meet those standards. So if you don’t like President Obama because he’s not measuring up to what you want out of a president – great. Vote against him in 2012. But don’t make stuff up to prove why he’s a bad president. And do a little research before you pass along all things that paint him in a negative light.


TP in Abundance

Sign of the apocalypse number 846: Stockpiling inconsequential necessities.

In my office's men's room stall. In it's unual spot.

A little extra on the hand rail.
And in the corner.

Overkill or an overflow of abundance? Either way, I guess our janitors don't want us to run out.


Five for Friday

My next five days.

1. Tonight: Cleaning (everybody’s favorite past time). I’m not even sure what I’m doing for my year of celebration project, so that remains to be determined.
2. Tomorrow: The start of my 4 day weekend. I might mow the lawn if the weather is good. My wife’s older sister and her husband are rolling into town sometime in the middle of the day and Bekah is going to be at work for a while, so I’ll be entertaining the kids and the sis & bro in-law.
3. Sunday: Church. Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding. Coma. Maybe some party games.
4. Monday: bleated birthday party. I’m taking the day off and the current plan (subject to change) is to go bowling.
5. Tuesday: Adoption Day!


My daughter's logic

Zu is an early riser. 6:30am, for her, is sleeping in. This forces me to be an early riser (which isn't a bad thing on days that I work as I'm usually up) because she will wreck havoc* without the supervision of an adult awake and alert in her vicinity. There are two things she wants when she wakes up: she is hungry, and she wants to watch TV.

This morning was a bit different. I was on facebook when she got out of bed. She tip-toed into the living room and climbed onto the couch behind me. She stood on the couch cushion in silence, observing me. After a few minutes, she spoke.

This should give you some insight into the way her brain works.

"Daddy," she said, "Say 'why.'"
"What?" I asked. I could not tell if she said why or white. Either way I was perplexed.
"Say 'why,' Daddy."
"Because the other kids are sleeping. That's why."

Then she sat down and watched the morning news. She usually prefers Nick Jr, but the news is what I was watching.

What was the purpose behind that conversation? What clues does that give as to the workings of Zu's innermost thoughts?

I have no idea. I was hoping ya'll could help me out on that one.

* One morning, after I had left for work and before Bekah migrated out of bed, Zu raided the kitchen and ate most of five bananas. In one sitting. On other mornings she's been known to dump an entire box of cereal on the living room floor so that she has something readily available to munch. I wasn't kidding when I said she's hungry when she gets up in the mornings.


tidbits: the in-laws edition

The back yard is completely mowed. The front yard is still unkempt. I intended to cut the grass in both sections, but two things conspired against me.

One: I flooded the motor. Two: It was starting to rain. (OK, it was only a sprinkle. It was precipitation with a slight but ever-present potential for a downpour.)

My father-in-law also felt the drops of water falling from the sky.

"You could mow in the rain," he said. "If we lived on the Olympic Peninsula that would be the only way we could get the lawn mowed."

I nodded, then he asked, "Did you mow in the rain a lot when you lived in Seattle?"

"No," I relied, "we just let our grass grow."

You think I'm kidding. I'm not.

* * * * *

My son has texture issues. This makes him the pickiest of picky eaters. One of his greatest food barriers are sauces. Anything ranging from spaghetti to pizza sauce, to ranch dressing or ketchup. He won't eat it. Zu, however, craves saucy textures. Whenever we feed the kids foods that normal people would dip in some form of condiment, Zu and the Tank are both served ketchup. Christian doesn't want to be the only kid at the table not dipping his chicken nuggets or fish sticks into something, but he won't get over his texture avoidance. He's a bit more creative. (Side note: odd eating habits is one of the possible symptoms cluing in to a possible aspergers spectrum diagnosis)

My mother-in-law is our primary weekend babysitter, but tonight she had a migraine. In lieu of her abilities, my father-in-law pinch hit for her. I had to explain Christian's strange habits when detailing dinner plans. The following transpired after I gave him the cooking instructions for corn-dogs.

"Should I give them something extra?" he asked.

"Pretzels, Goldfish, Pirates Booty." I answered. "Whatever is easy for you."

"What about granola bars?"

"Sure. You can do that."

"Do they get ketchup or anything like that?"

"Zu and the Tank will want ketchup. Christian won't want any." I said. "He may, however, want peanut butter."

"Peanut butter... for his corn-dog?"

"Yes," I answered, "he doesn't like to be left out."

* * * * *

After being absent for two hours, I called to make sure Dad had not been tied up or incapacitated in any way. What he told me, I wasn't expecting.

"I called in your mother-in-law. I got in over my head." He said.

"Awww. I'm sorry. What happened."

"They were playing in the back yard, and I poked my head out to see how they were doing. Zu was completely gray."

Gray? Brown I could understand, that would mean they were playing in the dirt (which they often do). But gray?

My father-in-law gave the details. The kids were playing on the deck - which we don't allow, it's the yard or inside. Come up to the deck and you come inside. That rule was not communicated to my father in-law so he thought nothing of it. That is until he checked on their actions. While on the deck, Zu dug into the ashes under the Webber grill sitting in the corner of the deck. She danced in it, rolled around in it, and coated herself from head to toe.

The cavalry with the migraine was called in to assist with the bath.



"I’m not the brightest light in the bulb."

It shows. When you mangle a simple yet cliché adage describing yourself as a dim bulb, you prove the saying as true. Are there any other aphorisms we can fumble?

Not the sharpest color in the crayon.
Not the only tool in the shed.

Why not just say "I'm not that bright." At least then we could give you the benefit of doubt and assume you're being humble.


Five for Friday (x 2)

For those of you in North Idaho that prayed for no winter this past year, congratulations, you got what you wanted... with a price. We didn't get a winter, but spring has also abandoned us.

We've endured weeks of torrential rains, wind, and colder than average temperatures. In the first seven days of May, we've seen our breath condensing in chilly air, awoken to frost, and commuted through wet pellets of snow.

There is good news. It looks like summer is starting. So to commemorate the warmer weather that has settled upon the Coeur d'Alene area, I have a Five for Friday list that is too grand to be condensed into a singular five options. So I'm giving you a double sized list.

When warm weather descends, there is an arsenal of music that begs to be played at full volume, in your car, with the windows down. (Full volume with the AC on just doesn't have the same effect.) So here are the top five (plus an additional five) summertime albums that I most enjoy listening to when cruising around town.

1) The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Let’s Face It: I got bit by the ska bug in the mid 90's and this album was purely infectious. Granted, I only listen to the album now if it's sunny and hot outside.
2) Less Than Jake - Hello Rockview: Ska part dos. However, with songs like Last One Out of Liberty City and Five State Drive, this is also great road-trip music. Furthermore, History of a Boring Town reminds me of growing up in Marysville.
3) Wyclef Jean - The Carnival: When I was working in a record store, this was the rap record that I recommended to people that didn't like rap music. I also know dozens of people who claim this as the first rap album they ever purchased. Clef's deft mix of hip-hop, R&B, and reggae; the blend of English, Spanish, and Creole vocals; and the organic musicianship with rich baselines makes this a great summertime album... Provided you skip over the annoying skits.
4) Joy Electric - Melody: I had a hard time deciding between Melody and Robot Rock, both albums are filled with catchy hooks, deep low ends, and joyful melancholy. But Melody was Ronnie Martin's first record, and it remains one of my favorites 15+ years after my first listen. This is synth pop at its finest.
5) 311 - Soundsystem: The lyrics of Come Original describes the sound of this album, hip-hop beats, dancehall rhythms, and punk guitar. Yet, even at it's heaviest moments, Soundsystem (from start to finish) has a Caribbean vibe to it as the band was heavily influenced by Jamaican culture. It just begs to be played when the weather is warm.
6) Matisyahu - Youth: If there are two words I would have never imagine paired together, those two words would be "Hasidic reggae." It's mind boggling and defies logic, but it works. This is music that you'd imagine hearing in Jerusalem or at the beach. And What I'm Fighting For is the epitome of a campfire song.
7) Silage - Watusi: There are two albums I bought after graduating high school - a sort of self-congratulatory present - Watusi and Switchfoot's Legend of Chin. I played both records all summer long. While Legend of Chin became the soundtrack to my life, Watusi was the essential cruising music. From the bass laden Double You Es to the Beach Boy cover Be True to Your School, Watusi is fit for summer.
8) Soundtrack - 50 First Dates: I'm not sure if I'd classify this as a soundtrack (as it's missing Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's fantastic rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World) or if I'd call it a tribute album. Track by track (and ignoring Sandler's contribution at the end of the record) this is a summertime love letter to the 80's.
9) Rancid - ...And Out Come the Wolves: This album (as far as I am concerned) is iconic. I've mentioned before it's impact and it remains one of my favorite records of all time. From Roots Radical to Lock, Step, and Gone to You Don't Care Nothin', this is a record that must be played as loud as possible.
10) The Presidents of the United States of America - The Presidents of the United States of America: It's goofy and rambunctious and everything that makes you wish you were 10 years younger. And if you don't find yourself singing along, there might be something wrong with you. While PUSA have released better quality albums, their first is still there funnest. (and for some strange reason, it sounds better through car speakers than it does in a home stereo system)


Conversations with Christian.

My son doesn't talk with people, he talks at people. This makes dialog with him a trying experience, often frustrating but frequently amusing. Even when there's no one around for him to use as his person to talk to, he still talks. It's like he is constantly recording voice over for his own documentary.

But if you listen closely, he gives you brief glimpses into his complex mind - a place that is equally frightening and fascinating.

Take, for example, his inquiry about dinner. He wanted to know when I was going to make dinner, but rather than ask me and wait for an answer he filled in the blanks on my behalf.

"My belly keeps saying 'when's dinner?' And I said, 'When Daddy makes it.' That's what I told my belly."

He wasn't addressing me. In fact, I don't think he was directing that 19 word speech at any specific person. And he said all of this while walking around in a circle from the kitchen to the dining room, into the living room, then back into the kitchen.

It's as if there is some invisible audience that is oblivious to the workings of human life in all it's absurdities and the fate of all mankind rests in Christian's abilities to explain every detail.


Monday Matinee

These two guys have way too much time on their hands.