Saturday, September 29, 2007

High / Low

Thing 1 spent the night. Son and Thing 1 have been running around like two boys that are 12 and 13 years old, respectively, because that's what they are.

Thing 1 is in that awkward stretch where his voice is a child's voice in one breath, and a teen voice in the next. Plus, the kid tends to narrate what goes on in his head, so there was this weird performance going on in our back seat while we were driving to dinner last night. "So my brother doesn't want to play the guitar any more. He started playing the saxophone. My sister is playing the guitar now. I don't know what I want to play." It sounded like Jekyll & Hyde.

He also spilled his root beer at the table. We cut him some slack. I distinctly remember being 13.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Advertising - Duh

I just saw a commercial for an antiperspirant called Degree. The narrator said, "Did you realize that one quarter of people think that they sweat more than normal?"

That means that at least half of those who sweat more than normal don't realize it.

UPDATE: Upon further reflection, I suppose there could be a large number of people who sweat exactly the "normal" amount.

Matthew Shepard Act, Seriously

I have had a policy here not to dive too deeply into the political sphere, except to mock excess or stupidity. I suppose one could make the argument that this post falls into that category, but I doubt anyone would buy the argument. (Mmmm... bitter mockery.)

The U.S. Senate just passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act (a.k.a. Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007) this week. The U.S. House passed this act back in May. Now it goes to the White House guy for signature. He's indicated that he'd veto the bill if it hits his desk, but I haven't heard anything since yesterday whether he still plans to veto it. Congress could override a veto if the bill had passed both houses with a 2/3 majority (288 in the House / 67 in the Senate). Neither vote yielded this majority; the vote was 237 in the House and 60 in the Senate.

Many opponents of this bill decried the bill as providing special rights to homosexuals. They said that people of faith who believed that homosexuality was against God's will and who spoke out against it would be arrested and jailed for their faith. They said that the Shepard Act would create a class of thought crimes that could be prosecuted beyond actual crimes of physical violence. They said that it was ridiculous for the government to confer these special rights on people who practice homosexual behavior, because it was chosen behavior, and people who choose to be part of a group should expect no special rights from that membership. Presumably, this sets homosexuality apart from race, into which one is born. (Discussions of race as a social construct are for another day.)


The Matthew Shepard Act will allow the federal government to assist local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute any crime that is a violent felony motivated by a victim's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. Unless we live in some kind of Bizzaro World, spewing vitriol doesn't count as a violent felony. If it did, most of the radio personalities on AM radio would be in prison.

Similar protections have been part of U.S. law since 1969 for people based on race, color, religion, and national origin. The Matthew Shepard Act is noteworthy for adding gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability to the existing law. What you don't see these "people of faith" doing is calling for the existing law to be nullified. You know - the existing law that covers religion. It doesn't seem like it's "special rights" in that circumstance. It appears that it's good for me, but not for thee. Frakin' hypocrites.

These folks seem to hold our Constitution in pretty low regard. Any law that impinged on free speech would fall under intense scrutiny in light of the First Amendment. It's unlikely that such a law would remain on the books any longer than it would take for a lawsuit to get in front of a judge in federal court. Of course, this group overlaps heavily with the set of people that want to reshape America as an official Christian nation without regard to the first clause of the First Amendment. [citation needed]

Bullsh*t upon bullsh*t.

"The homos are choosing this behavior, so they don't deserve any protection for that." Prima faciae, I suppose that this could be a coherent statement, if the premise were true. There is a growing body of evidence to support a genetic link or even cause of homosexuality in humans. People who choose to ignore this evidence are either amazingly obtuse or willfully decpetive. However, if we might point back to the lack of opposition to the 1969 law, I'd like to point out that membership in a particular religious group is almost always by choice, and nobody is arguing that because religions are chosen, they should receive no special protections. In fact, again, the vocal opponents of the Matthew Shepard Act seem to be saying that this act would intrude on the special protections they already receive. Frakin' martyr complex.

So, if the argument is that homosexuality is a chosen behavior, and therefore not worthy of protection, then the people that are arguing against this protection without arguing to remove the protections based on religion are trying to impose a double standard. If homosexuality is not a chosen behavior, then arguing to exclude it from protection, given that there are scads of documented hate crimes against LGBTQ(etc.) people, is plain mean.

We will now return to our regular program.

Foto Phriday

I found this leaf in my dad's yard when we were up for Brother 2's wedding.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Turn of Phrase

I was reading an opinion piece that said something like, "If Martin Luther King, Jr. hadn't been brutally murdered, he would have been able to speak about this matter himself."

How is one gently murdered?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Same Homework - Now with Pictures!

...or picture. Here's a photograph of the drawing from the menu. My favorite is the Mystery Fries. We laughed for a while about that. The picture of the fries is a deep fried question mark.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's Homework Season Again!

I love these school assignments. Son has to create a menu for a fictional restaurant. They're studying persuasive advertising. He asked me for some help, and between the two of us, we came up with these things.


The AB Burger - 10 oz. of thick, juicy, beefy goodness on a fresh baked sesame seed bun, topped with two slices of cheddar and mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle.

Mystery Fries - Some kind of vegetable sliced up, deep fried, and salted to perfection.

GDad's Quadruple Bypass Chocolate Cake - moist chocolate cake with creamy chocolate icing, covered in chocolate chips, and smothered in dark chocolate sauce.

Lemon Blast - Fresh squeezed lemonade from California - better than Florida.

Just $14.99 at Son's Beef Barn, located in downtown Small Town. Look for the Barn - downtown!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Importance of Being Scripted, part 3

I really need to post this link.

Elegant, Beautiful, Strange

I just got an e-mail from a colleague. It's standard practice in our department to send out an e-mail across (peers), up (manager), and down (direct reports) whenever someone will be out of the office. It's sort of like a virtual Lucy van Pelt "The Doctor is In/Out" sign.

Except for the redacted name, here is the subject line of an e-mail I just received. There was no body to this message. "OOTO" means "out of the office."

Me - OOTO 2:30today - Outpatient Surgery

I love this. It provides exactly the information that our custom demands, and it completely fails to inform us on what we want to know as concerned co-workers.

I'm always intrigued by things that happen just for the formality that are devoid of any meaning. "The wedding magazines say that we need to have this particular kind of flower on the table, so we're going to have that flower!" Similarly, our local school district has a collection of forms to enroll new students. Nearly every form asks for name and address, even though many of the forms end up processed by the same people at the same time, and they go in the same folder.

I'm sure there's a lot of study around the idea that we impart significance to ritual, even when the ritual no longer has or never had real meaning. Maybe I'll continue that thought later.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Amazingly Inappropriate Coincidence

Son is trying to wake up this morning with Son's Older Brother. They're watching Spongebob Squarepants. There's an episode where Spongebob is listening to a limerick. The poet describes the one where a Peruvian falls asleep in a canoe. This isn't the dirty one (or one of the dirty ones), but rather the one where his dream of eating his shoe is accurate.

Of course, I thought of the one I had heard in high school, and as I was standing there watching the poet close the tome of poems, a huge spurt of white goo shot all over the screen. What the...?

It was one of those intrusive full-screen ads for another show, Back to the Barnyard, starring cows. The white goo was milk. The timing was impeccable.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Great News and a Conundrum

And by conundrum, I mean definition 2b, not definition 1.

We're getting the ball rolling to bring Son's Older Brother into our home in order to adopt him. He's 16, and his life story has been similar to Son's at a high level but different enough in the specifics that it wasn't possible to consider Son's Older Brother for adoption when Son joined our family. We're all very excited by this new development.

The problem I'm facing is how to refer to this young fellow in this blog, given his new status.

  • Son 2 - this implies that Son is first in numerical order, which is true chronologically by adoption date, but not birth date.
  • Son B - similar issue.
  • Other Son - um, no.
  • Older Son - maybe. I'll have to change Son to Younger Son.
Meh. Any suggestions from the intarwebs?

Foto Phriday

This is me with Son. We're standing at a pond behind Marcot Ravenswatch's and Eggbert Terwilliger's house about a mile down the road. For the record, I was just helping him bait the hook. I was not fishing, in case you are an agent of our state's natural resources department.

The Angry Language Guy

Attention, users of any language construct more complex than "Run, Spot, run!"

The correct term is almost always "magic bullet," not "silver bullet." Silver bullets are carried by the Lone Ranger, or they kill werewolves. Magic bullets solve several problems at once.

That is all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Day Late, a Rupee Short

I sometimes try to coin new words in this blog. I thought "manumatrimony" was certain to be a new word, meaning something like "marriage to one's hand." It turns out that there is web site that matches Indians seeking other Indians for marriage. It is, of course,

Wedding Photo Challenge

As the bridesmaids were distributing the one-use cameras before the wedding, I asked SILA2, "How many pictures of butts and naughties do you want on these?"

She laughed, and answered, "At least a few. I'm sure this side of the room will take those pictures without any prompting."

I suggested that she should have a contest where people could write their names on their own butts with Sharpies, then take pictures of their artwork. SILA2 thought that was great, but she was too busy to think up what kind of prize to give away to the "winner."

Grammarians, Avert Your Eyes

At Brother 2's wedding preparations, the groomsmen were wandering around trying not to get into too much trouble. The facility staff was putting out the decor and munchies, so we were able to occupy ourselves by shoving food into our food holes.

One of the bridesmaids put out those one-use cameras on all the tables. I saw a great opportunity for a fun picture. I put two giant cans of nuts on a counter with a note next to it saying, "Your nuts for getting married". (Forgive the period outside the sentence, but the note didn't have one.) It's grammatically correct in this context, but it makes your eyes hurt. (Or, for the grammatically sloppier, "you're eyes." For the grammatically stricter, "one's eyes.")

Captain Ruffles and the Case of the Haunted Bridge

One of the quirkier things about Captain Ruffles is that he loves to manipulate photographs to make scenes of things that don't actually exist. In the times that I saw his output, I learned that he loved to put pictures of local celebrities into pictures of Victorian and Edwardian era photographs. The results were a bit disturbing. I think that's what he was going for, but it's so hard to tell.

Here's a (bad) example of the kind of thing that he'd produce.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Robert Jordan is no longer with us. Those of us that were fans of the Wheel of Time through book 7 or 8 had hoped he'd finish it before he died. Alas.

More In a Theme

Speaking of Daleks, I had a flash of inspiration today. Behold. I drew the Dalek in Paint.

Valley of the Dals

Or Kaleds. Not sure.

I was wondering the other day if an ugly person on a Segway is functionally equivalent to a Dalek. I mentioned this to Hojimoto, and he agreed that it was, but only if the person wore a monocle and carried a plunger.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Repartee After Breakfast

After the manumatrimony remark, we headed over to the local Home Depot for some stuff to finish up the latest project. Son was sniffling in the back. "Man, my nose is really runny."

I quipped, "Your brains are coming out."

Son replied, "Oh man, now I forget how to play the Legend of Zelda."

The kid is 12.

This Will Be Embarrassing in Two Years

GPop, Son, Son's Older Brother, and I were on our way to a doughnut/coffee place for breakfast this morning. I asked Son to tell Son's Older Brother about the wedding.

He mentioned that SILA2 had kept saying that she was really nervous. "I don't understand why she was nervous. All she had to do was say, 'I do,' and kiss the bride."

"Kiss the bride? She'd be kissing herself!" said GPop.

I made a little Señor Wences hand-face and started kissing it. "Mmmm... kissy kiss."

Son laughed. "I meant kiss the groom. Hey, I think when I get older, I want to marry my hand."

Skepticism in Action, or Messing With the Norms

When GPop, Son, and I were gathering up our formalwear for Brother 2's wedding, we found ourselves in the mall where I worked, oh so many years ago. There was a kiosk there hawking new-agey skin care cr@p made with salt from the Dead Sea. Somehow, this is supposed to be good for your skin. As one of my friends stated, "If it's so good for your skin, why is everything in the Dead Sea dead?"

Anyway, we had split up to make our shopping experience more efficient. Alas, I should have remembered from my years of watching Scooby-Doo that nothing good ever comes from splitting up. This kiosk had two salespeople staffing it. A young woman with a heavy accent of some kind accosted me and demanded to know what I used to wash my face. Unfortunately, I didn't think fast enough to say, "Whale placenta," so instead, I just said, "Soap."

She recoiled from that response as though she were a vampire and I had severe garlic breath1. "Soap? Soap? You use soap on your face?" I might as well have been using Soft Scrub on diaper rash.

"Give me your arm." I decided that since I didn't have a pressing time commitment yet, I could afford to play along for a moment. She grabbed my arm and started her spiel. "Have you heard of the Dead Sea." I answered in the affirmative. "Do you know why people go there?"

"It's sort of a spa thing."

"That's right. The Dead Sea has many health benefits. This soap, made with salts from the sea, is specially balanced to exfoliate and remove toxins..." OK, if human bodies needed as much help removing toxins as all the skin care products claim, we'd all be dead of toxicosis before we were old enough to reproduce.

"Let me show you." She dipped the soap in water and smeared it on my arm. "Can you feel it working? You only have to leave it on for a few seconds, then you can wipe it off with a damp paper towel." She wiped some of the soap off my arm with the damp paper towel. "See how it exfoliates? Look at that dirt!"

I wanted to say something to the effect of, "The soap is the color of charcoal, so whatever you wiped off my arm is probably some kind of residue from the ALMOST BLACK soap," but I also wanted to punish her for accosting me, so I thought I'd play along with her power pitch up until she had rung up the sale, then I'd walk away without purchasing anything.

She pulled on my arm, and said, "Step in to my office." She aimed me at the cash register.

The random factors always seem to conspire to keep me out of trouble, because GPop appeared out of nowhere, tapped me on the shoulder, and murmured that we had to go - now. "I'm sorry, miss, we have to go."

We shopped a bit more in one of the mall's anchor stores, where I washed the rest of the soap off my arm. As we walked back down the mallway, I rubbed my arm furiously to make it red. I wanted to stop back at the kiosk and tell them that their stupid soap had caused a rash on my arm. GPop wouldn't let me. Darn Jiminy Cricket.

1For the record, she was not, and I did not.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Foto Phriday

This is our garden a couple of years ago on a misty morning. Notice the Great Pumpkin at this end of the garden. We cheat with our gardening. In the autumn, I mow the leaves from some trees. Then we rototill the leaves into the soil so they decompose all winter. In the spring, we till again. Then we run a drip hose around the garden, and attach it to a spigot on a timer. We cover the hose and the whole garden with landscaping cloth. Then we cut holes in the cloth to plant the plants from the nursery.

Kick back, wait two months, and then harvest things. The hose waters every day. The cloth keeps weeds away. The leaves provide organic matter each year for fertilizer. We get fresh tomatoes, peppers, and pumpkins. Life is good.

Captain Ruffles Rides Again

In spite of not having spent any time of note with Captain Ruffles, he seems to be the source of a lot of my stories. I guess some people are just larger than life.

One of my closest friends (as an adult), Baldo McNerdy, has had a number of jobs in the technical support field. He once worked as a field technician who traveled to customer sites (commercial and residential) and repaired PCs for a large technology retailer.

Baldo told me once of visit to a customer's home where the customer had the worst set-up for a PC ever. He had it in a small cubby, which closed off the ventilation. He also had animals in the house, which caused the fan to suck up a lot of hair and dust. The guy also smoked like a chimney, which caused the components to be covered in a brown layer of smoke residue.

This customer had done something to his PC that prevented it from booting to the OS. I think he had deleted some critical OS files or something, but it doesn't matter. His instructions to Baldo were, "Fix it, but make sure you don't delete my pictures."

Baldo never did tell me exactly what those pictures were. He did indicate that law enforcement wouldn't be interested, but the pictures must have been pretty disturbing.

Of course, you've already guessed that the customer was Captain Ruffles, and that the two were reintroduced at my Halloween party a few years later.

It's a world of laughter
A world of tears
It's a world of hopes
And a world of fears
There's so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all

The Further Adventures of Captain Ruffles

GPop and I used to attend the GLBTQ(etc.) Pride March in Capital City each year. Invariably, the event organizers managed to pick the hottest day of the year (so far) for the event. When I started marching, in 1992 (before I met GPop), there were about 8000 people in attendance. When we stopped, in about 2003, there were bazillions.

One of the entertaining aspects of this party is that Capital City, in a rare bout of equality, or more likely, simple oversight, has never passed sharia-like restrictions on public dress. Because of that, any citizen can be shirtless in Capital City, including women. There was a big kerfuffle about 12 years ago when a woman was mowing her lawn, topless. She was charged with public indecency or somesuch, but when the lawyers combed through the city code, they couldn't find anything that outlawed her behavior. That was the first summer of the Topless Frolicking Lesbians at the LQTBG(etc.) Pride March.

Over several years, the TFLs became less of a shock and more part of the overall spectacle. Because the day was always hot, many people ended up shirtless. The gym bunnies need somewhere to show off, after all. I, however, have a healthy dose of Body Shame. Also, on the melaninometer, I rank somewhere around here.

In 1999, maybe, or 2000, GPop and I were wandering around at the festivities. I looked over to my left, and I saw yet another shirtless person. My thoughts were, "Oh my, that's a rather saggy woman. Oh. My. God. That's not a woman! It's Captain Ruffles!"

Wow. I thought I'd managed to repress that memory.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Evil Queen Comparisons

Once upon a time, GPop and I hosted a big Halloween party at our house, which sits on a flat 2.2 acres. We had a bonfire, booze, food, costume contests, and games. We did this for a couple of years until we got tired of it.

At the first party, we invited a bunch of people from a musical performance organization to which we belonged at the time. The invitation was essentially an open one, so people felt free to bring their spouses, partners, long-time companions, garçons du jour, or whatever.

One gentleman, CB, brought his partner, Captain Ruffles (long story; different party). I had never met Captain Ruffles before, so I introduced myself and did a mini-tour of our new (to us) house. Captain Ruffles fancied himself a bit of an architecture maven, and he had one of those Paul Lynde voices, but with more gravel from smoking.

At the end of our little tour, Captain Ruffles looked me in the eye and said, "This is more of a cottage than a house."

I used to have filters between my brain and my mouth, so I didn't actually say, "You're more of an intruder than a guest."

I told Son this story the other day, and he thought it was hilarious. He started whining things like, "This is more of a snack than a meal," and "This is more of a notepad than a notebook." He was mostly saying these things to get a rise out of GPop, who played along nicely for about 20 minutes.

This evening, Son is playing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. He was getting frustrated, and he said, to himself, "This is more of a puzzle than a game." GPop and I laughed. We're so proud.

The Wedding Sermon Irony

The minister tried to make a joke. He said, "Don't carry grudgeses, um, grudges. Grudges are where you park cars."

That line was the least funny line in the whole sermon.

The Wedding Feast

The wedding was held in a facility that has the phrase "Party Centre" in its name. Aside from the metric spelling of the name (h/t Dave Barry), the Centre was pretty standard for rentable banquet halls. There was a large room with controlled lighting, a stage, and a dance floor. The ceremony took place at one end, and people were already seated at the tables where the dinner was to be held. No muss, no fuss.

Bride's Underage Brother (BUB), was reputed to be a shy young man. He sat three seats down from me at the "shoulder table." The head table was for SILA2, Brother 2, BM, and the maid of honor. Brothers 1 and 3 were between me and BUB, so I didn't get much of a chance to speak to him during the dinner. There was some minor family drama that kept us occupied and/or entertained during the meal, so I sort of figured that I would catch up with BUB at some later family function.

SILA2 and her mother had made one of the smartest banquet seating arrangements I have ever seen. Both families were seated on one side of the banquet hall, and the friends were all on the other side of the room. This allowed the dance floor to separate the blue hairs with the one glass of wine from the 20-somethings with the fifteen shots of rotgut. BUB ended up gravitating toward the friend side of the room.

Because there were family members around that I hadn't seen in 10 or more years, I wandered around to chat with a lot of people. As we approached 9:30, some of the older and younger folks for whom I have some responsibility were starting to wind down, so I finished a few conversations and headed toward the door. Maternal Aunt (MA) followed me to the foyer to sign the big picture of the lovely couple. As GPop, MA, and I were standing there, BUB came up and started getting really chatty. I guess he wasn't so shy after all.

"I really liked the wedding. You know, I wasn't sure that Brother 2 was right for my sister, but now I think he's really cool. I normally don't drink, because I'm underage."

MA asked, "How old are you?"

"I'm nineteen. The bartender asked me for an ID, and I slipped her $5. She said, 'OK,' and started giving me drinks. I think I've had eight, no... nine shots. And a beer. Or was it eight?" He draped his arms over GPop's and my shoulders. "You guys are great."

I thought I'd mess with him a little. "BUB, do you think you need both of your eyebrows?"

Three owlish blinks later, he replied, "Huh?"

MA put her hand on my arm and whispered, "GDad, don't!"

GPop pulled him aside and tried the "You're running through the woods" gag he plays on drunk people. It invovles trying to overstimulate their eyes and sense of balance so they fall down. BUB, to his credit, remained upright.

I've read that the term "sociopath" refers to someone who has no sense of remorse. I once felt bad that I lost my favorite pen.

I made sure BUB wasn't planning to drive home and advised him to take two aspirin and lots of water before bed. I did the same for Brother 3, who was in a similar state. Then we left.

The next day, I found out that when Brother 2 and BM tried to retrieve BUB's tuxedo from him, BUB fell down no fewer than four times while trying to remove his pants. He also told his mother, on the way home, that he had to puke. Now. She pulled over, and he opened the door, but he didn't quite get his head all the way out of the car.

Ah, to be nineteen again.

The Wedding Sermon

Brother 2 married a wonderful, beautiful woman on Friday. If they have children, those kids will be models for fashion magazines before they are out of the hospital.

The ceremony was conducted by an ancient gnome ("Mmmm... When 900 years you reach, look as good, you will not...!") who was definitely not in the top 5 10 15 people they had researched. Brother 2 said that it was difficult to find a minister when you didn't attend a church, and my dad, who sometimes does attend church, described several of the previous choices for officiant to be "Satanists" in the same tone that he might use to tell me that they were "Liberals."

Brother 2 and Sister-In-LAw 2 (SILA2) had argued with the minister before the shindig about the length of the ceremony. A tux is definitely not Brother 2's color, and his tolerance for pomp and circumstance is generally limited to asking politely for someone to pass the bottle opener. Somehow, Brother 2 embodies the sometimes oppositional concepts of "no-nonsense" and "laid-back." If you were to talk to him, you would think immediately of Butt-head from the late, lamented teevee box program, Beavis and Butt-head. Brother 2 and SILA2 told the minister that they wanted the ceremony to come in under 25 minutes. The minister wanted to do some preachifyin'. At last, they reached the reasonable conclusion that since Brother 2 and SILA2 were writing the check, and since they could hardly be excommunicated from the Jedi Order, they should get the final word on the content of the blah-blah-blah.

As a kind of passive-aggressive response, Yoda skimped on the instruction during the rehearsal, and we got the Executive Bullet-Point Summary of who should be where and in what order the events would happen, although not everything was presented in chronological order. The end result was that we managed to muddle through the "who goes where when" steps until the sermon. Oh my, the sermon.

Every wedding I've ever attended has had a similar theme to the pontification. The points can be summarized thusly.

  • You weren't married a few minutes ago.
  • You are now.
  • This is a Big Deal.
  • Don't screw it up.
Yoda started down this path pretty early in the sermon. When he got to the point where he would normally read from 1st Corinthians, he veered off the path a little and started talking about fashion choices. "The wardrobe you wore before you were married is different from the one you wear after you are married." OK, this is different. Where is he going with this?

"Before you were married, you could wear any old sloppy clothes, because you were only dressing for yourself. Now that you are married, you have to be aware of what you're wearing. The foundation of any good marriage starts close to your heart." OK, I'm getting it. He's going all metaphorical. I have a degree in English, so I totally grok that.

"You start with the undergarments of compassion." WHAT?

"These will keep your hearts warm to each other. Then you put on the socks of togetherness." OK, first of all, socks of togetherness would make it incredibly difficult to walk. Second, WHAT?

"You next put on the shirt of trust." At this point, it would be good to set the scene. Brother 2 was standing in front of his bride, staring adoringly into her eyes. "Best" Man (BM) was next, then me, then Brother 1, then Brother 3, and finally Bride's Underage Brother (BUB). BUB's story starts after the ceremony.

The "shirt of trust" remark started my shoulders shaking. Just when I calmed down and stopped, Brother 1 made a small snorting sound right behind me. I started shaking again.

"Next are the pants of understanding." I started to bite my lip, hard, and began to scratch my palm with a sharp fingernail. Laughing right now would mean the wrath of the bride. I've already thought of a remark I could have used at the previous wedding I was in, had I screwed up, but it wouldn't have applied in the current circumstance.
Bride: You RUINED my wedding!
GDad: Technically, I only ruined the reception.
The pants of understanding caused Brother 3 to make a small snort. That set off Brother 1, which set me off again. My stupid fingernails weren't sharp enough to make my palm bleed, and I'm too much of a wimp to actually bite through my lip.

Scarf of belonging, shoes of warmth, gloves of mirth, hat of reliability, +4 greaves of ogre strength, whatever. Brother 2 seemed to be oblivious to this hilarity, until The Word.

"Once you have on your wardrobe, you have to remember to do your duty to each other." Brother 2 snorted when the minister said, "Duty." Heh heh. He said, "Duty."

Finally, the sermon was over, and Brother 2 and SILA2 were able to kiss, and everyone up on the stage was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Wedding

I went to Brother 2's wedding on Friday evening in City near Home Town. It's about a 2-hour drive. So many people were in from out of town that we ended up avoiding the couch-and-air-mattress discussion by staying at Motel 6. Son loved the pool and hot tub, so it all worked out. Motel 6 is a fine institution (standard disclaimer applies if I later find out that they promote child labor, or discriminatory practices, or whatever), but keep in mind that they are very bare-bones. Please remember to take your own shampoo.

There will be several entries on the hilarity that ensued this weekend.

Fun Facts Learned at School

Son has revealed a number of fun facts that he learned at school. I doubt he learned these from his teachers. These underscore the importance of parental involvement in education.

  • The Statue of Liberty is 300 miles tall. (Source: "Some Girl's Report in Front of the Class")
  • Farts leave your body at the speed of sound. (Source: unknown)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Foto Phriday

This is Son's artwork from last year's Bring Your Spawn to Work Day. I kept it up for a while, but eventually, I needed the whiteboard. I've photographed it for posterity.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Car Thing

I saw a Toyota Highlander the other day. I wonder if there can be more than one.

New Project - Need Input

I'm thinking about putting together a small web application that pretends to be some kind of personality test based on simple preferences of numbers, colors, and shapes. Basically, it will display a series of colored shapes in various configurations so it will eventually hone in on the "right" combination. At that point, it will provide a description of the user's personality.

Here's the thing, though. The personality description will basically be about as accurate as the personality descriptions on the little Chinese zodiac place mats you see at Chinese restaurants. Or, if I want to get even more scientific, the western zodiac star sign descriptions. I think I may quote some relevant research published by Professor Herbert West of Miskatonic University to lend credence to the test.

The part that makes this an application rather than a bunch of static pages is that it will randomize the personality descriptions, then it will collect feedback about how accurate the test was for the user who took it. Those responses will be recorded somewhere.

Here's the request. Can anyone point me to a list of generalized personality descriptions that are in the public domain or usable via some license? Alternately, can anyone give me some personality descriptions and titles? Here's an example.

You are an Operator.
Operators appreciate the beauty of a well-ordered process in the workplace. Operators routinely balance new experiences with their own personal history in order to create a consistent internal view of the outside world. Operators have a tendency to connect with close friends, but keep more casual acquaintances at arms' length. Operators dislike too much chaos in their personal and professional lives and prefer a balance between the two that leads them toward accomplishing their goals.

I'd love to see whether people believe that a random descriptions fits them well. I'm sure this is pretty routine in psychological circles, but my formal exposure to psychological education includes about a thousand instances of the word "lesion" and passing references to Phineas Gage and a guy named Broca.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


The other night, I had a dream that I found a book open on a table. The book was something like Zagat Survey of Military Dictators. It was open to the Stalin page.

It described Stalin as a "mustachioed fellow with a good sense of humor and excellent hair." The little table of pros and cons said, in the pro column, that he wasn't one of those dictators that wore funny hats. In the con column, it said that he had an unfortunate tendency to use his people as cannon fodder.