Tuesday, August 31, 2010

News to me.

Dear Internet,

You weren't around back then, but I had a relatively easy puberty. One day I was a happy child playing with the chattels of childhood typical for the time and place, and the next day I woke up with an amazing lack of desire for these, replaced by a new and more enlightened view on girls.

And a rather disturbing and unexpected follicular flourish under my arms.

But other than the sudden obsession with girls and my active disinterest in the decently-sized collection of the toymaker's art, everything else remained pretty much the same. I still holed up in my room as I had always done, I still devoured books by the bushel, and I still pursued rather odd little hobbies.

I didn't have one of those boyish puberties that involve jockeying for Alpha male status, as one sees on nature documentaries. I didn't even back-talk -- possibly because I was in my room reading and nobody came to issue conversational volleys for me to return -- or otherwise make much of a nuisance. I also strategized on how I could best assure that my efforts* in the girl dept. were repaid handsomely.

I only had a sister and, unless I have been the victim of a practical joke, sisters tend to have an entirely different pubertical experience to boys.

So, basically, I am somewhat unprepared for NOS's first, experimental free-sample, travel-sized delivery of testosterone. Which will only increase with time, I expect.

What puzzles me (for now, I am sure other stuff will come along to puzzle me even more) are the questions he has reserved for me, the dad. (What questions he may have -- or even whether he has any -- for Mother are as yet a sealed book to me.)

NOS: (watching some program on TV) Dad, do you think [insert name of 20something actress] is hot?
Me: (looking up from some work stuff) She does look feverish...

The correct answer is "She looks as if she has taken more than once cycle of antibiotics in her life."

or, better yet,

NOS: (entering into my den) Dad...how do you pick up girls?
Me: Not with anything you get in an email message.

The correct answer is "Not with the intermittent and abbreviated shower regimen you've developed as a habit."

You see what I am dealing with?


* The initial efforts went over as well as Wile E. Coyote's more elaborate stratagems.

Posted by Joke at 9:56 AM 1 comments

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Erm...don't help."

One of the things I like the most is being able to contribute to a pluralist society. We all have our likes and dislikes and we combine, ideally, to form a social mosaic that, ideally, propels civilization forward. We acknowledge differences where necessary, dialogue where possible, and cooperate where mutually beneficial.

We try, Internet, not only to not muddle things, but to have our children not muddle them as well.

So, because NOS is doing the whole athletic thing this year, we go to a certain dept. store to get miscelleaneous things. The sporting goods section is cheek-by-jowl with the toy section. So, while we're in aisle X contemplating which brand of socks will raise the lad's performance to the pinnacle of human achievement, others may be in aisle Y rummaging through board games, or Barbie dolls.

In this particular branch of this particular chain of dept. stores, the part of the toy section immediately adjacent to the part wherein we were occupied (deliberating whether carbon fiber or activated charcoal in shoelaces yields the greatest net results for the budding Olympian) happens to (and there's no getting away from this) contain toy guns. Not so much toy versions of real guns, but trigger-operated things whose purpose is to launch small foam objects in weak arcs of about 10 feet. I s'pose there very well may be toy versions of real guns elsewhere in the toy section, but these were not visible to us.


As we were engrossed in the decision-making process as to which shade of blue strikes the most fear in one's opponent, a small child of a guesstimated 8 years of age went up to one of those gun-ish looking things (a particularly shoddy looking orange one) and pressed the trigger and the apparatus in question emitted the sound of flatulent ennui. The mother of the boy turned to him and said something like: "[Child's name] put that down! We don't play with guns! Guns are bad!"

The disappointed boy puts the gunlike toy implement ("New! With PhoamPhart® Action!") back on the rack and begins to walk away. It was then NOS addressed the boy (and by extension his nearby mother) with a suggestion he thought was both soothing and helpful, saying, in as bright and cheerful a voice as his desire to be useful to one's fellows can muster:

"They have swords on aisle Z."

Posted by Joke at 3:31 PM 5 comments

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Where we are right now

We're on day 4 and I am tired. And we haven't even gotten to the exhausting part.

NOS has (so far) come home, plopped down and dutifully finished his various assignments and projects without being exhorted to do so. As I type, he is quietly studying for a math quiz.

NTS hasn't had all that much, assignment-wise, but he is also in a jovial mood and has been doing his readings without much drama.

But NOS has to be schlepped to golf practice and NTS has had a couple of appointments and TFBIM has been up to HERE with some office stuff. Plus there's the generic getting-to-know-you conversations between the New Teachers (ever eager to expound volubly) and me (ever eager to say "OK, great, bye!" and leap into the car).

Plus work stuff that, for the first time in two years is actually positive on average. (But my brain's work side had begun to atrophy, so that makes recovering the pace less than easy.)

So I am tired.


I have to finish up a report. 20something pages by tomorrow a.m.

And I could stand to have a soothing tumblerful of something, too.

Posted by Joke at 8:44 PM 4 comments

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

...aaaaaand they're off.

Third day of school and I am already exhausted.

NOS on the golf team, NTS has a couple of afterschool things from before, NOS's homework is getting overwhelming in terms of complexity and volume.

In combination with work stuff both good and bad (50-50 these days, which is a colossal improvement from the Very Dark Days of 2009) I am EXHAUSTED.

I am tempted to relax with a soothing grownup beverage -- today is National Whisk(e)y Sour Day -- but I know that if I did, I'd collapse in a comatose heap.


Posted by Joke at 7:14 PM 1 comments

Monday, August 23, 2010

The First Day of School

Both warring camps having spent their ammunition yesterday in the Battle of the Bookbag, today was a slow, exhausted affair. Lots of eyerolling, but not much energy for actual fireworks.

The real problem, from my perspective, about the first day of school is that for some children it's the first EVER day of school. This means a throng of -- there's no getting around this -- mothers gathered around the school gates weeping.

It looks like a reenactment of the Rudy Valentino funeral.

And it makes parking a bloody nightmare, because instead of parking, walking the wee tots to the assigned walk-them-in spot, kissing them with maternal tenderness on the fore'ead, and departing for parts unknown, they walk the wee tots to the assigned walk-them-in spot, kiss them with maternal tenderness on the fore'ead and both cheeks and then repeat this bussing cycle 4-5 times, and go beyond the gates to stare and weep as if they had just handed over the little darlings to Dr. Mephisto and His Evil Medical Experiments. More importantly, they do not vacate their parking spaces which, because there are far fewer of these spaces than there are wee tots, means an ever increasing contingent of parents -- some growing more lachrymose and some (hi!) more irritable -- must circle like underfed makos for the rare opportunity to station the vehicle within reasonable walking distance for our lad.

Our lad, incidentally, must elbow and push -- thiose who know NTS will readily attest this is NOT something that engages his conscience's dilemma mechanism -- his way past the contingent of people photographing the Very First Time The Wee Tot Listened To The Loudspeaker In The School Courtyard. There is less photography going on at a Presidentian inauguration.

But we have survived, again.


Posted by Joke at 9:55 AM 9 comments

Context, subject to revision and extension.



The lovely and gracious bb demands context to the photos appended in the penultimate series of posts.


There were:
650 different "official" cocktails served.
13,000 pounds of ice.
16,000 mint leaves
16,000 lemons
14,250 limes
212 pounds of sugar
224 pints of blackberries and blueberries
120 gallons lime juice
102 gallons lemon juice
55 gallons grapefruit juice
31 gallons pineapple juice
35 gallons tomato juice
95 gallons simple syrup
950 Luxardo cherries
450 cucumber wheels
10 gallons double syrup
8 gallons honey
100 pints of raspberries
1400 orange twists
1200 lemon twists
1250 lime twists
940 lemon wheels
400 lemon wedges
430 lime wedges
350 sticks of celery
18,000 bottles of mineral water.

The most popular people there were Australians* whom I contend were really ministering angels. On Sunday morning they saved countless lives with their soothing, prayerful words:

"Bit of Berocca'll fix you up, mate."

I have NFI what Berocca is, or whether it's a byproduct of sacrificing innocents, but it certainly ranks up there with likely candidates for raising the dead. What it did for a rather exuberant contingent of some we're-here-without-our-families Bostonians must rank up there as the most impressive comeback since Lazarus.

All the time I was enjoying these potables, my family was hiking (!) through the wilds of Tennessee, touching leaves and treading on insects. I had to excuse myself because of a) this and my responsibilities to you, The Internet, b) Me, hiking? outdoors? are you mental? c) there was a cabin involved and d) no wi-fi. (I know!)

So while those I had offsprung were forced to ride horses and crunch twigs underfoot, I threw myself into my work, so zealous I am for my vocation.




* The best bar tools, bar none and by unanimous acclaim, are from Australia.

Posted by Joke at 9:15 AM 9 comments

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Okay. That was weird.

Blogger would not let me blog.

Which is pointless and stupid as that's pretty much anything called "Blogger" is good for, as is self-evident.


Today is the last day of the "academic" summer and as has been every year since I've had a child who is past the age of reason, the worst day of the year.

My beloved, for all her manifest glories, is one of those people who love the whole school experience. She adores shopping for new pencils, pencil cases, pens, markers, notebooks, composition books, agendæ, paperclips, highlighters, stationery, bookbags, uniforms, erasers, folders, files, binders, textbooks, workbooks, dictionaries, compasses and rulers. She loves assembling them in little monuments to scholastic organization, coded, arranged, and supremely organized.

The boys?

Not so much.

So she takes great umbrage and even greater personal offense the boys do not relish the task of taking all those new pencils, pencil cases, pens, markers, notebooks, composition books, agendæ, paperclips, highlighters, stationery, bookbags, uniforms, erasers, folders, files, binders, textbooks, workbooks, dictionaries, compasses and rulers...and then assembling them in little monuments to scholastic organization, coded, arranged, and supremely organized.

In fact, it has been expressed with a great deal of warm frankness that having a strabistic dentist performing unanesthetized root canal with a corkscrew and a garden trowel would be preferable.


It's been tense.

Especially this year as NOS' mind has just begun to pickle in the first, experimental shipment of testosterone. Smart answers, general recalcitrance and back-chat are the order of the day. (NTS just complains loudly to nobody in particular and howls dolefully.)

For my part, I have taken the sensible way out and hidden under a sofa in the darkened last room of the house, trying to breathe through my pores; hoping against all hope not to be noticed and dragged into the melee.

This will not end well, I guarantee you.


Posted by Joke at 5:38 PM 4 comments

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Context to follow, part 4

This is the final, catch-all, post. Photos in utterly random order with even less context than usual.

(This video shows a medium-sized sampling of what went into the various goody bags.)

Posted by Joke at 7:32 AM 2 comments

Friday, August 13, 2010

Context to follow, part 3

The rather soggy "Jazz Funeral" for this year's Bad Drink.

Posted by Joke at 9:30 AM 2 comments

Because I'm all about asceticism and self-sacrifice

...I am foregoing attendance at AutoBlog2010, to coincide with the Monterey Hysterics Historics, Pebble Beach, etc.

More photos of That Other Event to follow.

Posted by Joke at 9:28 AM 0 comments

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Context to follow, part 2

Poppy texted me while I was in CA, demanding to know when the Hell I'd get around to posting those photos.

Posted by Joke at 11:08 AM 4 comments

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Context to follow, part 1

Posted by Joke at 9:25 PM 2 comments