Our Toddler the Inventor

While driving to day-care yesterday, our three-year old told me he wanted to play “The House Game”. The parameters of this game were rather fuzzy, at first, but it eventually became clear that he wanted to design imaginary houses with me.

I’m not sure where this idea came from, but by the third try, we had a rhythm. I’d ask him about some aspect of a house, he would answer, and when we had five or six details nailed down, I’d sum it up in a one-sentence description. This would elicit a big grin and a giggle, and he would shout “Again!”

On try number four, we got the following attributes:

  • Shape: Round
  • Color: Black
  • # of floors: “All the floors” (we’ll go with “really, really tall”)
  • # of windows: None!
  • # of doors: One, “and a secret one”
  • Roof: (paraphrasing for length) “A big orange light, like the sun, only it’s an eye”

Sauron’s castle. My son, who has never remotely been exposed to the Lord Of the Rings movies, just invented Sauron’s castle.

I am simultaneously fascinated and terrified…

Posted in Family, For Facebook, Geeky, General, Personal, Uncategorized, Whimsical | Leave a comment

Trendy Again?

I’ve watched a lot of trends come and go. I’ve been forced, because nothing else was available, to wear shorts that were whoa-short, past the knee, and everywhere in between. I’ve been stylish in shirts from Oxford button-down to “bowling” to crushed velvet with embroidered dragons (kinda miss the mid-90s on that point).

But there’s a much slower trend cycle I’ve noticed: men’s facial hair:

Not Me

When I grew my first serious beards, in the twilight of the 80’s, beards were weird. My full beard got me called “Grizzly Adams” (You’ll get it if you’re old). My Van Dyck got me called “Freud Dude” (Also a reference you’ll only get it if you’re old). My Imperial got me called “beatnik”. My Goatee + Moustache got me called “D’Artagnan”/”Ming the Merciless”.

Things stayed that way for a long time, but but the late 90’s, my now signature close-clipped, jaw-hugging beard was uncommon, but provoked no particular remark. On occasion, one would actually hear a woman commenting favorably on a man’s beard, and there were at least one or two bearded men on television who weren’t “the bad-guy”. Not leads, of course, but they were there.

Also Not Me

In the early 2000s, when I switched to an Imperial to reduce grooming-time, I got jokes about having a “wussy-beard” or a “soul-patch”. I once actually had a particularly drunk woman in a bar tell me “I bet you could grow a full beard and look really manly. I suppose I would view this as the height of “beard=masculine” in my lifetime, but they *still* weren’t something I would have considered trendy.

By the late 2000s, I had moved to a Van Dyck, and never got a comment on it ever, not once, until today.

Today, someone trying to make a point in an online discussion tracked down my picture from one of my blogs and and told me that my beard made me a “hipster douchebag”, and that “all that beard oil” must be affecting my brain. Creepy stalker vibe aside, this inspires several thoughts. First, I’m starting to actually believe the hype that Millennials have lost the ability to even insult someone in a sophisticated manner. Second, people really hate hipsters, which is annoying, because I’ve always been more one of them than not (yeah, that’s right, I was a hipster before it was cool!). Third, I think beards are finally trendy. This weirds me out a little, because I’m kind of a hipster, and it would seem hipsters have ruined my hipster thing!

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Moments of Joy

It occurs to me that all the meditative and religious traditions of the world, at their core, are about finding a way, despite all the terrible, stressful, depressing things in the average person’s life, to find some joy.

I’ve spent my entire life studying martial arts, physics, religions, philosophies, yoga, dance, etc., and in retrospect, my interest in each has always boiled down to that search. I’ve always just known, at some level, that happiness is a lot more about who you are than about where you are in life. I’ve succeeded, from time to time. After an intense meditation session, a day-long dance competition, lost in contemplation of the universe’s deepest rules, there have come moments of deep, consciousness-pervading peace.

Surprisingly, those moments come more often the older I get, and from much more surprising places. Despite life accelerating, despite the bad and good things coming more frequently and more unexpectedly, despite my body’s mounting failures and pervasive pain, I’m happier than I have ever been more often than I have ever been. I sometimes wonder if those religions and philosophies all started with some very old person who just lived long enough to find peace naturally trying to trick the young’ns into finding some relief from their suffering…

Anyway, today, I shaved. Nothing I haven’t done a million times before, but one thing was different. For the first time in perhaps two years, I was completely alone in the house this morning, with no job to go to, no activities scheduled, no diapers to change, no immediate chores to do or projects to plan, just at loose ends for the first time in so long I can’t remember. Since I had time, I did it right.

I shaved with a blade. Slowly, carefully, and with copious, well prepared lather, I carried out what I’ve always considered an utterly pedestrian pursuit with a studious attention to detail. I let the blade slide across my skin at whatever speed it seemed to desire. I reapplied lather whenever there was the remotest chance it was thinning. I didn’t think about what I was doing, I just did. It was utterly blissful. It was a precious moment of quiet, ecstatic peace.

This is my yoga…..

Posted in Family, For Facebook, General, Personal, Philosophical, Rational | Leave a comment

Why Can’t Anyone See The Big Trump Picture?

In the ongoing bullshit-apocalypse that is modern American politics, it is de rigeur to point to any of our new president’s many faults for purposes of fear mongering or mockery: “He’s provoking China to start a nuclear war!”; “‘Great’ is his enormously favorite word!”; etc…

However, between social media and a number of news outlets (most recently this article on mic.com) we have in the last couple of weeks been inundated with weird stories about how the president uses scotch tape to secure the tails of his ties. They aren’t just stories, though, there is ample video and photographic evidence to prove it’s actually happening.

Predictably, virtually every response swings either to fear-mongering (“A Howard Hughes style nut has his finger on the nuke button!”) or mockery (“He doesn’t know how to shop!”; “He’s so cheap he won’t buy a proper tie!”; “He’s obsessed with his appearance!”), and both, of course, entirely miss the point. The most practical of the responses simply note that it “isn’t very presidential”, but this misses the point too.

The tie-tape is a silly thing, but it speaks volumes about the thought processes of the man supposedly leading the free world. Forget being “not presidential”, this is “not anyone-who’s-older-than-twelve-ish”. Think about it. Is this the act of a wealthy, successful businessman, or of a not-so-wealthy-as-he’d-like-us-to-believe but nonetheless successful con-man (the two apparent extremes of current political thought on the man), or is this the act of that kid who totally forgot it was class picture day and faked it at the last second with whatever he could borrow or scrounge from the bottom of his locker? Think about it. This is the kid who always astonished everybody by not studying for tests, but then wheedling a better grade out of the teacher after the fact. Every. Damn. Time.

This is the act of a man tho just doesn’t care about anything of substance. A man who lives his real life like it was a ‘reality’ TV show, where nothing matters as long as you can get one camera angle that looks good enough to sell the scene.

My concern here is that all the superlatives and overwrought hand-wringing the media direct at Trump distracts from this essential fact, that the man is just useless. His sole motivation in public view is to find some angle to present that looks OK so he can go back to screwing around and pretending he knows what he is doing. If Donald really does start World War III, it seems far more likely that he will do so through inattention than malice! Where Bush was accused of being a “useful idiot”, the Donald is a “useless slacker”.

What can evil men do in such a vacuum of concern?

Posted in For Facebook, General, Political | Leave a comment

The Magic of Winter

It is once again time for my annual recitation of the love I feel for the season!


The Magic of Winter

Evil, heavy, wet, and cold
they sit upon the ground.
They clog the air in scads untold
and muffle every sound.
A snowflake is a pretty thing
its facets sparkling bright,
But in its ultimate demise
I find a great delight.
For snow has made my life like hell,
my back to ache, my arms as well.
And travel, you can just forget,
my car’s a ski, can’t land a jet.
The upshot, friends, it’s sad to say,
our day’s deprived of light.
There’ll be no joy outside today,
forget about tonight.

Posted in For Facebook, Geeky, General, Personal, Uncategorized, Whimsical | 1 Response
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