12/27/2010 - pic from this summer
We share this
planet with whales. Humpback whales make
you pause. They are majestic, huge,
graceful. They don't care who we are.
Oblivious to our boat, they blow bubbles to the
surface, confusing a school of bluefish.
They then rush to the top to hunt.
our humpback's name: Grackel. We say:
"You've been Grackeled!"
The world-champion Giants believed. The US
Hockey team in 1980 believed. So who
knows? Maybe there will be an NHL player
born and raised in San Francisco. Until
then, it's fun to skate for free thanks to U
Rip Van Bloggerhead 09-03-10. In July, I started pen/ink drawings. I
see one major obstacle to my becoming a great artist: I cannot draw.
But why let that stop me? The change in perspective this exercise
gives me is awesome. Everyone should read
Drawing from the Right Side of the
Brain - a book Oren told me about years ago. I now look at
people and think: "Wow. Her tip-of-nose to end-of-ear to
tip-of-chin triangle is not quite a perfect isosceles."
I'm not sure
why this desire to draw hits me now. My
philosophy is that crosswords are fun but they
leave you with nothing. If I draw
something, it's like journal and a crossword.
Keeps me calm and I get something in return.
takes an amazing amount of time to churn out a
pretty mediocre product. Strange.
Some classic kid quotes:
you draw our hallway? That's the most
boring thing in the world. Who would want
to look at a picture of our hallway??"
That doesn't really look like me. It
doesn't really look like a person."
In that picture, you look maaaaaaad."
Kids on Computers 09-03-10. It may come as a
surprise to some, but in this house, we are not chaining our boys chairs
and having them study C# and VB. In fact, I asked Mon about
possibly getting the new xbox console in there - with Kinect technology
- and she promptly put the big ol' xbox cabash on that one. Dash
likes playing with the netbook and (gasp) they both like the iTouch for
They get 20
minutes of computer OR 1 TV show (usually 30
minutes). And that's how we roll in
ludditeville stalag 13.
I once sat
down at my computer and saw a notepad open with
the word "USA" written all over the place.
Your humble blogger,
being crushed by Carlin Falls near Camp Mather.
standing, folks, I'm treading water. My
friend Adam egged me on. I was a little
wobbly, after leaving the water, but was very
glad I swam out.
What is it
with waterfalls? Why do we love them so
much? Maybe that's where we're from.
Are we salmon with legs? Perhaps.
But no capers and no lemon, please.
thoughts like this that enter the slightly
damaged brain of a waterfall swimmer and
I remember my friend Tim Carter from Atlanta
once said: "When you start dating some girl,
she's all into camping. 'Sure! I'll
go camping with you!' she says. She just
looooves camping. But then you get married
and she says: 'Camping? No, I was just
foolin'. Don't ever take me camping
again!" Monica is not like that! And
it's another reason why we love her!
When is the right time to let your kids jump
into waterfalls? Without mentioning my
favorite parenting book again (NURTURE
ASSUMPTION), I'd say that parents do have a role
in setting boundaries. But these
boundaries have to do more with not jumping in
water falls (even though your father does) and
not walking in the middle of the road. The
rest is... our own convenience.
Saying 'Dec likes trains' is like saying 'fish
like water' or 'humans like air.' Trains
are a part of his thought process. He has
told me he plans to work for either BART or the
MTA. In both cases, I'm told Mon and I
will have free rides. And the MTA will run
from Gloucester to San Francisco - a full day
trip. In this pic, he sets off like a
steam engine 'blowing steam' along the track.
We found part of the Hetch Hetchy railroad
during our Mather visit.
If your mom looked like this, you'd be a very
polite little boy. The ladies took their
lads to archery class (note the three little
boys on the left). This is true San
Francisco values. We're always ready to
fight, but we only fight with 'organic weapons.'
Most people say Dash favors the Gibbons side.
I look at this pic and I see Monica. Maybe
a bit of Meme...
Pollywogs and frogs. At Birch Lake, Dec
followed the technique of some of the older kids
and ended up with buckets full of frogs and
pollywogs. This was quite a change over
last year, when he would barely touch the huge
frog someone caught. We tried and tried to
snag this one turtle, but he was too smart and
too fast. In the water, turtles fly.
Assess this situation and determine how many
asses you see. Should I leave this ass-is?
Can you ASSist me in this decision? Ass I
see it, there is certainly more than one ass.
Ass Shakespeare would say: "Ass you like it."
It's tough playing ping pong with kids.
First of all, both my kids refer to ping pong as
'table tennis.' Dash says: "Daddy, 'ping
pong' is what the Chinese call it." I
start to challenge him on this point, but then
think: "Gosh. Is he correct?" Kids think
they're good at ping pong, but they're terrible.
They just whack the ball in the air - and I have
to go run and get it. I thought making them pick
up the far-away ping pong balls would discourage
them. But no! They're ready for more
I was lagging a bit behind the team in the
waterfall hike. Everyone said: "Don't go
in that cave! Avoid the cave! You'll
DIE in that cave!" I came whistlin' around
the corner and said: "Hey dudes! Look at
that CAVE! Let's check it
out!!" Mon sighed. I took Dash
through first and on the way back we all went
through. In mid-cave, with 6 boys crawling
next to me, I thought: "Don't snakes like it
where it's cool and shady?"
If you give a man or a boy a pile of rocks and a
clear view into a body of water, he will be
happy for hours. If you give a man or a
boy a stick and some matches, you will soon have
fire. If you let a man or a boy shout into
the loud wind, he will smile and be happy the
rest of the day.
The gang. Matthew, Beckett (behind),
Declan, Dash, Cooper and Nate. This photo
gives my heart a twinge because I feel that our
friends did not have the best time ever
at Mather. I think they liked it OK, but
it did not rock their world. This bums me
out. I'm not offended, just disappointed.
It's like this... If I took you to a Tommy
Flannagan show and you yawned mid-way through
his version of CC Rider, it would sadden me
greatly. But only because I want everyone
else to love what makes me happy. In the
end, we all have different opinions. For
the record, if you do yawn during
Flannagan's CC Rider, there's something
wrong with you.
Dec is 3 days
deep into his summer break. I'm not sure
he really understands how much time he has off.
Like his dad, Dec's concept of time is pretty
loose. His only 'below average' score in
testing was naming the days of the week and
months of the year. No surprise there, as
I have trouble remembering what day it is,
during the day that it actually is. Isn't time a prison
I remember the
first few days of summer. Sheer bliss.
stretched out like a beach horizon. The hours
and minutes were mine again.
I could do anything.
There was no long time.
There was summertime.
Shut the classroom door
Dump those books on the floor
Let the waves crash against the rocks
Let the chimes of freedom ring
Let summertime begin
Dash started his hockey
class this past week-end.
He falls a lot, but gets
right back up. At one point, he sees me
through the glass and gives a little wave.
He looks small on the rink and it reminds me of
those days when he first started walking.
I remember feeling so proud and so scared.
Hockey is Dash's own
thing. He wants a San Jose Sharks uniform.
Dash, good friends, getting ready to hit the ice.
Boys! This is
where you live! It's where you're from!
I hope the boys are proud
of where they're from. I hope they really
identify with San Francisco. If you have a
mom as cool as Monique, you'd find these cool
Adolf Sutro (yes, of
Sutro lights) built these
salt water baths near the Cliff House.
He also built a train to bring people to this
freezing cold water. He called the water
'organic' and made millions.
The place is wild.
It's part haunted house, part amazing view.
We even went into a spooky cave for a bit, until we saw
the sign that said DO NOT ENTER had been knocked down. Actually, I saw it
before we went into the cave and I was hoping Mon wouldn't spot it. But
I kept yelling above the wind: 'Boys! This is where
you live! Can you belieeeeeeve it? It's where you're from!'
They just laughed.
Windows 7 baby! This is where we live.
Dec has 'choice time' at
Kindergarten. The kids can do whatever
they want: color, play with toys, etc.
What did Dec do? He
built a Windows 7 Laptop! Yeah baby!
You might say: 'This is a
sorry state of affairs where a kid is so
brainwashed that he builds a Win7 laptop...'
I'd have to admit that
Windows 7 gets some serious airtime at our house
(see lingo table below). But over-all, I
love this. And besides, Dec
complained to Mon that 'A lot of other kids put
Apples on their computers...'
I love what I do. I love that my kids know this and
know they can make me happy by being proud of me. We spend so much time
thinking about being proud of our kids. But it's just as important that
our kids have times when they can be proud of us.
Windows 7 baby!
I got a new position
within Microsoft. From now on, I'll focus
on one customer and really try to understand
their technology roadmap and strategy.
This table summarizes
photos I considered sending for my new position.
I love technology!
Technology, love, and flowers
Cool! Technology! Give me a hi-five!
Team player (I went with this one)
We have our own little
language, like most families do.
Get zeroed (v, tr)
Buckle your seat belt. When loading into
the car, we used to count down 5-4-3-2-1-zero!. Declan came up
with the phrase: "I'm getting zeroed."
Get rid of. 'I adiosed that piece of paper.
I threw it out.'
Shakey Milk (n)
Milk shake. Declan called milk shakes 'shakey
a very early age. The name stuck and now we all refer to milk
shakes as 'shakey milks.' There's also a fantastic kids music group
who took this name.
Buy their CD!
Bubbly juice (n)
Soda, any flavor.
Peeps and PJs (n)
Get ready for bed. This is more of
collective phrase. You can probably figure out what it involves.
Windows 7! or Windows 7 Baby!
Awesome! This is generally shouted out at
anything you find particularly great. If you see a chopper bike drive by and
the engine ROARS, you say: 'Windows 7!'
'Windows 7 baby!' is usually accompanied by a
Play with me!
Saturday mornings are
busy here. Lately, I've been worried about
Playing with my kids.
I prefer actually being close to my boys when
they play, but like staying 'uninvoled.'
Most times, I'm too big for thei towns and I end
up just getting int he way.
But they ask: 'When are
you coming to play with me?' So, I usually jump
in. It's an interesting conundrum.
It takes imagination to
turn a rug with bumps into a mountainous city
perched high above the earth. It takes
imagination to turn our front room into the
Stanley Cup Finals rink.
Do we lose this ability or am I just lazy? Should
we actively play with kids all the time and seek out moments to join their games
or should we always wait to be asked? Do we help or hurt our kids'
I try not to make suggestions. Unless the train
tracks don't fit or someone obviously needs a hand, I try not to say: 'Hey let's
put this house over here.' My ideas sound bad to me, out-of-place.
Most times, my boys don't ask me: 'Dad, what do you think?' so... I don't
But I love watching the boys play. And I wonder:
When did I lose the ability to turn a bumpy rug into a town? Curtains
aren't clouds to me and a cup can't be a pirate ship. It's a curtain.
It's a cup. But I clearly remember turning a table and pillows into a bus.
When did I stop believing?
(photo by Jean)
I have discussed
Thumbing through pics Jean took while he was
here, I came across this gem.
The coffee is definitely
buzz-in-your-ears type stuff. But the
flavor is exceptional. Better than in
France? Mais oui, malheureusement pour les
But it's more than the
black oil and foamy steam. This place is the
crowd most people would label 'typical San
Franciscans.' Lots of tattoos, lots of
alternatives. All people.
Celebrating each other.
Is it more important to be tolerant or to be free?
I would say 'free' because you can't be tolerant unless you're free.
Tolerant people are comfortable in their own freedom, and they let others be
But beyond tolerance, there's celebration. It's one
thing to be tolerant, it's another thing to celebrate the differences of someone
Look at the tattoo on that dude's nose? Would you
do that? I dunno... Hey Dad, go ask him if it hurt.
Clean your room.
Don't clean your room. It doesn't matter.
Everyone knows how into
Judith Rich Harris
I am. This woman
gets it! And the newsflash is that parents
But if parents really
don't matter (and they don't) then what about
room-cleaning? Asking a kid to clean his
room has got to be the most obtrusive,
tyrannical and useless request a parent could
room? Why should I clean my room?
The one place in this house I can really be
myself and let it hang out. The one place
where people can't bug me - and you want me to
My mom and dad never made me clean my room, which may
explain things about my personality. But I really believe it's wrong to
ask kids to clean their room. I'd say we draw the line at clothes - they
do belong in the hamper or else they stink the place up. But otherwise:
Toys are tools
Unkempt is cool
And a mess is an artist's path
finding his own school
Stuff I say to my
kids (followed in parentheses by what I
Declan, you cannot have
3 Oreo cookies, 2 is plenty (and we need to
save these for later, as I will surely chomp
down 6 while watching the Sharks game)
Yes Dash, Pokeman is
cool (actually Pokeman scares the sh.t out of
me - I mean: what are they actually SAYING?
It doesn't make any sense and seems to be
selling me something)
I'm telling you this
because it's a lesson you need to learn (I'm
making you do this because it's convenient for
Everyone has a job. Your job is to go to school (I never liked school
either. I always wondered: Why does the teacher get to pick the books?
If you wanted to leave school and hitch-hike down to Mexico, I'd probably shrug
It's not funny when you hit your brother (It is
funny when you two fight and it looks like Moe and Larry falling all over each
other. The Three Stooges had to be influenced by kids fighting. I
envy that closeness. To know someone so well that you feel compelled to
punch them. Only a brother can feel that, a close brother.)
Do you want a hug? (I really need a hug and I'm
worried about how I'll spend the days when you're off in college. You can
stay at the house until you're 40.)
Dash, band-aids will help you (How
can that blood dripping down your finger not freak you out? Just put this
stupid band-aid on, man. How can the band-aid freak you out and the blood
not cause any reaction?)
Dec, answer your brother when he asks you a question (It
breaks my heart to see you ignore Dash, but I know why you do it. I think
I'd probably do it too. It's easy for you to get his goat, and there's
something in your blood and mine that simply loves getting people's goats.
We are goat-getters.)
Dashi, let go of my arm... (When you cling, I must
admit, I don't mind much at all. I'm more surprised than anything.)
I have trained myself: Every time I start to say 'no'
to my kids, I ask myself: 'Why not?'
I don't always get this right, but I try.
Top 3 Reasons to
1. You can pretend to
listen to your wife.
2. At Giants Ballpark
they have a slide and a mini-baseball field.
If you go to Giants stadium with DecDash you
will see about 5 mins of actual baseball.
3. You can blog while
Dash on second. Dec in center.
Auctioneer / Blogger
Our friend Sara asked
Mon if I was still up for running the auction
I was still
At times, I dreaded
this night. I almost chickened-out that
very day. But in the end, I did it.
Sara is such a great
friend. She told me once: 'Some people at
Miraloma think you're too low-key for this job.
Can you talk to them and, well you know, just be
During the auction, I sometimes forgot the original bid
number. This lead to much bidder stress, I can assure you of that!
Other than that, we raised some serious cash for Miraloma and Mon bid on the
Sara and I were the Regis and Philbin of pre-school
charity auctions! Also see Cortney smiling there in the bottom right
Sunset Talkin' Smack
(Photo by Jean)
Jean and Florine
settled in for some serious baseball on Saturday
embarrassed, but I like talkin' smack when the
boys play baseball. These absolute
LOOOOSERS from the Richmond sauntered into
Sunset Field like they owned the place.
this in my pocket? Why! Look-see
look-see! It's a can of Richmond whoop-ass.
The extra large kind! Yeah!
We spanked them and
sent them home cryin'! As i tell the boys:
This is not about meeting new friends and having
a good time; it's about CRUSHING your enemey!
Dec takes a serious lead at second. Creepy guy
from Richmond doesn't like it...
(Photo by Jean)
Dash definitely has
his own drummer clicking along there. He
understands numbers very well. He tells
Mon: 'My brain figured it out' when she asks him
a tough math question.
Tonight, he shows me
his six new coins in his special no-touch box.
I say: 'What if I took 1 coin away? How
many would you have?' 'Um. five,' he says.
Impressed, I say: 'What if I took 2 away?
How many then?'
'Four,' he says,
'But please don't take any away, OK Dad?'
My sister Oren drew a picture of me sitting in a chair,
and it's exactly the same pose as this photo Jean took. Dash often sits in
his chair, thinking.
I remember doing the same thing. But I cannot
remember what I was thinking about. Maybe trucks.
Declan lego videos
Martin Scorsese of lego layouts graces us
with some serious vids here.
In the fireboat
video, Declan seems unsure if Uncle Charley is
older or younger than daddy. Tragic as it
sounds, this hesitation cost Declan his 529
account! So it's love from Uncle Charley
and typing school for Declan!
Bus and Bus Stop
Fire Boat, Fire
House and Dash
Pizza Place and Bike Shop
The videos are worth watching. This might be
over-kill parental love, but some of the side comments really are great.
It's interesting to note how much Dec copies from videos he sees on Youtube.
Kids upload 'Lego
Reviews' all the time. He uses some of their approaches, and inserts
his own style.
Ayn Rand Household
Dec wanted a 'Bus Stop'
lego set that cost 60 bucks. We're not
sure how it started, but he got to know math
pretty quickly. He asked me ten times a
day 'Dad. How can I earn... say... 20
dollars? That's TWO tens.'
So. We put him
to work. Man! The house is
sparkling. I seriously considered asking
him to clean the gutters, but backed off.
I mean, it would have cost me about 300 bucks.
We were supposed to stretch out the dollar-earning time
period so that he would earn his new Lego set right before Tara and the gang
arrived, but I must have miscalculated how much he made. One day, he says:
'Hey! I just finished counting! I have 64 dollars!'
And he did! Ayn Rand, she smiles upon us.
capitalist is born. I love his philosophical response to my kinda dumb
question. He's 6, and I'm already a step behind.
Well... maybe Ayn
Rand meets Mr Rogers household
Dashi is more of
socialist, or a fiscally responsible Democrat
with a strong penchant for race cars.
While Dec was
washing the car, Dash was playing race cars.
His races are complicated, and I still haven't
figured out how he manages to push three race
cars at once, but he does.
The races are even, and sometimes his friends win. He always has the
same three or four guys racing: him, Jack, Beckett and Matthew.
It's also interesting to note on the video how Dash
gets very close to his cars, right at nose level. Boys do this.
Girls do not. Not sure if it's related to boys being more visual, but you
will always see boys play with toys up close.
Later in life, this leads to a refusal to ask
directions of strangers.
Coolest Mom ever (parte
Picture by Dash!
Check out that
necklace and funky glasses!
She's the best!
We love mom and we're lucky to have her.
We try to keep our
home girl-friendly but it's tough. We're
not even sure what girls like, and it's tough to
get any of them to actually talk to us (besides
Reading an alphabet book about boats tonight, the
G-word is 'gondolas' in Venice. The caption reads: 'Watch out. This
may get romantic.'
Dec: 'What does romantic mean?'
Me: 'Well... When a man and a woman have a
special friendship, they want to spend time together and sometimes they kiss.
It's like me and mommy. Does that make sense?'
Dec: 'Is it always on a boat?'
Coolest Mom ever (parte
we tell you our mom is the best? We
expect dad to think that playing
hockey in the front room is a good idea.
In fact, this was his idea.
But mom? She loves it too! This we
did not expect.
She cheers us on and
says 'sweeeeet' when we get a goal. If
it's not too noisy, she even knits in her chair
while we play.
Lately, we've been
listening a lot to The Who while playing hockey.
Dad says this is the best way to listen to The
Who and Guided by Voices...
The first day, we lost all the pucks.
Somehow, we managed to find all three again and we're back at it!
Since we're still learning numbers, the game's score
can change from 3-2 daddy's winning to 12-nothing, daddy's losing - with just
one goal. This is amazing! And true!
Daddy has never won a game. Not. One.
Single. Game! Yeah baby!
Advantages of losing
your front tooth, along with some quotes
1. straw fits in the
2. gives me a cool lisp
3. can play fight
during our hockey games and pretend I lost my
4. can stuff french
fries into 'perfect french fly slot'
5. makes it easier to
pick at my other front tooth, which is now loose
Funny quote: 'I need a credit card.
I'm tired of this saving money all the time.' (We have Dec on a
Save/Spend/Charity program, and he's itching for this new Lego set. He's
like the IMF: he wants to help, but...).
Serious quote: 'You're around now, Dad, but you might not be around when I'm a
man. So it's good for me to love you, but it's good for me to be separate
from you too.'
Advantages of having
all your teeth, along with some quotes
1. a full set of teeth
goes better with curls
2. it's strange that
my brother is losing his teeth. why don't
they just stay in?
3. look at that
smile? why wreck it?
4. since I'm not
losing my teeth, can I eat more sweets?
5. tooth fairy seems
cheap to me. 50 cents? Com'on, I'm
Funny quote: If I win, I win.
If you lose, you lose. But I win, pretty much almost always.
Serious quote: 'When you die, you go to a different
house. Santa doesn't go there.'
Jim Watson gave Dash
his nickname. We were visiting Gloucester
and Jim kept singing softly: 'He's a dashy
Dash.' This name stuck. And we call
him Dash, Dashi and (usually if we're mad) the
He knows that 'dash'
also means to 'run fast.' When we
encounter the word he always points to it on the
page and smiles at me. I swear he's
thinking: 'Damn cool name, Dad. Nicely
But the truth is
that Dash was almost Graham.
It was wrong of me, but I cornered Mon in the hospital
after Dash was born. We hadn't 100% decided, but I wanted to have a name before
the kid was born and was doing my
Mon spent a moment looking at his
little head, and said quietly: 'Are you a Dash? OK. I think you
And that's a brief history of Dashiell, Dash, Dashi
and someone I, from time to time, call 'curly cue' or just 'The Q.'
Dec is digging heavy on
Highway 61 Revisited. His favorite
song is 'the mail train song' which we play
together, him on drums. Sometimes he'll
play my guitar tuner like a harmonica.
This is interesting
I have always thought
that Bob Dylan's harmonica playing was some kind
of terrible private joke gone horribly wrong.
Every time I hear Dylan play the harmonica, I
think: 'Is he serious?
He can't be...' He (Dylan) sounds exactly
like Declan playing my guitar tuner. They
both sound interesting, great and god-awful all
at the same time.
Oh God said
to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’
God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
God say, “You can do what you want
The next time you see me comin’ you
Well Abe says, “Where do you want
this killin’ done?”
God says, “Out on Highway 61”
like that one, but it is strange
singing it to them.
what do you think Highway 61 is?'
Just someplace far away where things
No wait! Paint!
In approximately 60
minutes of play time we:
- built a helicopter
out of wood
- painted on wood
- played soccer (Dash
won, see quote above)
- played football
the American flag in the tree house
Great friends, Dash
and Jack - 02/23/10
You can tell great
friends by how much you can leave them alone.
Dash and Jack head to our backyard and keep
themselves busy for hours.
I could not get a
picture where they were both facing the camera,
so I favored Dash (it's my blog, after all).
It's interesting to
note how kids form friendships. It's
surprisingly similar to how we adults form
- Do you like soccer-football? This game makes no
sense, but is quite fun.
- Do you like long
discussions about what Green Lantern means to the whole Batman team? And
why does Green Lantern get a rocket ship, while Robin has to ride on that silly
OK! Cool! You're my friend!
Speed skating -
Here we are at the starting line of the speed
skating '1622 rink.' It's the
berry - 03/01/10
teacher's name is Mrs. Waterberry.
At dinner, we decided
to call Mrs. Waterberry on the 'water phone.'
This phone does not
work as well as a windows mobile 6.5 or 7.0
phone. Reception is sounds a bit like a
Bobsled - 02/28/10
The boys love bobsled,
with a strong preference for the 4-man team lead
by Steve Holcomb.
Check out the video.
We made Steve Holcomb
Super Hero Yoga -
looks like a pretty inadequate
You call that a
That daddy super-glued
my foot back on and I cannot move it. That
idiot couldn't save humankind if it slapped him
in an elevator.
Just your foot?
He glued my arm and part of my leg back on.
And I still do a mean
Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Where did that cute
Superman, you never
I'm serious. Does
she do yoga?
No. She knits.
All. Day. Long.
Hmmmm. I have
knitting and yoga are similar. So...
Short Track -
We are big Winter
Olympic fans here at 1622. I think Mon got
me into this a while ago.
Dec and Dash pretended
to be short-track racers.
Watch the video (complete with wipe-out).
It's interesting to watch kids imitate TV.
Listen to this
interview with Team Canada (Dash) and Team USA
Not sure why Dash
associates with the Canadians but he does.
Check out how they both sound like athletes.
'Well, you know Bob...'
Watching the men's
downhill, Mon says: 'This run would take me,
probably, all day...'
Mag turner -
Dashi loves flipping
through magazines. I wonder if he'll do
this later in life. He likes marking pages
and even circling some super-hero stuff he
This week, we check his
pages while he's asleep and order some stuff
You like that Batman
cave, my man? Maybe one is on the way..
Legos and Yarn -
Look at this
inventiveness. Dec uses Mon's yarn and the
Lego boat he got from Charles to setup a harbor.
He says he wants a
sister, but 'she has to be older. She
can't start as a baby.'
The worst music you
never heard - 02/07/10
The latest in
Danish-American music comes our way. We
thought long and hard about providing these
links; here they are on the right. These
two avant-garde virtuosos provided for us a
veritable voyage of Zappa-esque licks and
thoughts, dreams and codas. It's music
that changes your life twice. Once, when
you first hear it. And then once again,
when you throw the MP3 player through the
nearest open window.
Juleshannah or "J and
H' as they sometimes go by, really rocked the
Groove Lounge Studios. Click the links at
the right, but remember:
There's your whole life
before you clicked the link, and then your life
after. And nothing will ever be the same.
jules hannah take 1
jules hannah take 2
jules hannah take 3
jules hannah take 4
jules hannah take 5
jules hannah take 6
Cousin Jam -
No matter what the
context, a picture of bunch of people in a
studio always looks serious. If I told you
these four kids were working on a song-by-song,
pound-by-pound, punch-by-punch, lick-by-lick
Revolver, you'd say: 'Well, that makes
sense. They sure look serious. I bet
their album kicks bum-bum.'
Do the knobs and dials
give us credibility? How about all those
great blue grass albums with some dude with one
tooth? They're still great albums, but you
wouldn't guess so by looking at them. And
Lynard Skynard album covers were all lame, but
This is a pretty
meandering post - even for me. But the
premise is this: If you want to be taken
more seriously as a musician, get a picture of
yourself with some dials in the back-ground.
Don't smile. Hold a guitar. Go far.
Parents are dead,
long live parents - 02/07/10
I'm reading Judith
latest book, which is great. This
picture could go on one of her book covers.
The younger kid following the slightly older
ones. This week-end, the twins taught Dec
that he could climb around the entire yard on
the fences. I thought this was cool.
Grant and I admired their climbing ability and
didn't think the fall was that
far... Sunday morning, I heard Mon shouting from
the window: 'No! No! No!
Absolutely not! Get down from there!'
The kids all looked at me. I cut in, 'Ah,
Monique. I thought it was OK that they...
um... climbed on the fence...'
Many of you have heard
me wax on and on about how parents don't matter.
Since I know I'm right, I'll try to condense my
argument into a few key points.
Why parents don't
matter, or how I let go of my ego and learned to
love Judith Harris.
It's our ego that tells
us we matter. We really, really want
to matter. But we don't. Let that
go! It's so easy. Trust the force
Luke! This flies in the face of a
billion-dollar book, magazine and academic
hysteria party bent on telling parents how bad
we are. Imagine if
none of what they said
mattered. Imagine how happy you'd feel.
Your kid will have
100's of people influence him. Teachers,
friends, bullies, some dude in Jazz band.
A parent's job is not to be the central figure -
but the invisible one. Anyone who 'thanks
mom and dad' when they win the award is really
saying: 'Here I am with this huge accomplishment
but my parents were so goddamn domineering that
I have to thank them first.' Nobel peace
prize? Super bowl ring? And your
parents did that for you? Please.
When I realized how
unimportant I was to my kids, I realized how
much I could learn from them. Everyone
says they learn from their kids; it sounds
corny. But it's really true. If your
kid says: 'I'd like chocolate cake for
breakfast' the best thing is to think about it.
Chocolate. Cake. For.
Breakfast. It's actually brilliant.
I became a better parent as soon as I realized
how little I mattered and how much I had to
learn from my kids.
We teach our kids
one thing and one thing only:
Love. Only parents can teach this.
Even marriage (and believe me,
I've tested my
marriage)has some very clear conditions.
No one will love a kid the way a parent does.
No one. We're the ones you call from jail.
The ones you call for money. The ones who
never lock the door, never say 'get out' or 'go
away.' We're always there. That's
our lesson. We teach kids what it's like
to have someone who always has your back,
someone who loves you no matter what.
My parents taught me this, and this is all they
taught me. It's the only lesson I needed.
We do one thing for our
kids - and one thing only:
I want to make sure DecDash have a safe, fun
environment at home, at school, etc. Of
course I'm part of that environment, but I want
to be the smallest part. I want to
influence that environment, but not rule it.
In fact, it's not mine to rule. To the
extent we can, parents should influence their
kids' environment to reflect their values.
Life lessons come from others within this
Parents are dead.
Long live parents.
Brothers Part 2 -
The picture is
deceiving because this post is about my brother
Den, not about these two navonod characters.
Den and Mike (his son,
my nephew) came to visit us in SF a couple years
ago. I promised Den time off, site-seeing
in San Francisco and a
concert Monday night to cap it all off.
All I asked - my measly request - was that he
'help' me build a tree house in the back yard.
Over a 4-day stay, Den
and Mike worked 14-hour days (we gave Mike a 1/2
day free on Saturday). I made at least 30
trips to Home Depot.
There were a couple
1. I told Den I
could hammer a nail as well as any man. I
showed him by whacking away at nail and
two-by-four. He said, in that friendly
Denny way: 'That's great. You're in charge
of PAINTING the tree house. Don't touch
another piece of wood for the rest of the
2. To make way
for the tree house, we had to cut quite a few
bushes from our back lawn. Mike really
took this task to heart and I dubbed his venture
the 'Dick Cheney forestry association.'
It's motto: 'Trees are Al Queda.'
night. Me and Den. It's dark.
The taxi cab is out front, honking. We
have a flashlight and we're trying to nail in
the last couple pieces before the cab takes us
to the Pogues concert.
Neither Den nor Mike
ever complained. They actually saw San
Francisco for a total of, maybe, 20 minutes.
I felt terrible, and told Den I was sorry - that
I really thought this whole thing was only going
to take a few hours.
Den said: 'I don't see
your boys often. This is how they'll
And he's right. This is Uncle Denny's
House. We still have to get the 'Double D
Ranch' sign. It's a special home to all
'Double D's' - Denny D, Declan D and Dashiell D.
When I say: 'What are
you guys doing in there?' They say: 'We're
really busy in uncle Denny's house!'
Trust your kids -
I have no idea how this
happened. We're in the back yard, I hear a
lot of noise coming from the Double D Ranch, but
I can't see what's going on in there. Dec
and Dash have tied the play stove and have
figured out some pulley system that allows them
to drag the stove across the tree house floor
from over 20 feet outside the tree house itself.
I don't even understand
how they tied the knots to make the pulley
system - but it works.
It ends with this shot,
and Declan stuck on the top deck of the tree
'Dad!' he yells, 'Get
Blue Skies -
What a pic of the Dec
man! He's on the top deck of the Double D
Ranch here, smiling down.
Declan is happiest when
- working with
- watching trains
- building Legos
- talking with
- starting a
sentence with 'Well... Let me tell you..'
- making up rules
- changing rules
he just made up
Like most boys, he gets
very close to trucks or cars he's playing with
and watches them roll along the ground. I
have seen many boys do this, and am certain it's
some genetic pre-disposition. It has to
have something to do with vision.
Coach Dashiell -
'You be the coach,
Dad,' he says, 'You have to hold your hands like
this!' And he shows me by pacing back and
forth along the edge of the grass with his hands
crossed behind his back. His brow creased
in some deep, painful coach-like meditation.
Dash is coming along
quite nicely. He will not lag in his
brother's shadow. He's his own man,
Dash has an easy smile
and wants only that you laugh with him at
whatever he happens to think is funny. As
a baby, Dash didn't like being held much and he
never came into bed with me and Mon. But
he's grown into a curly little cuddler and I
I do feel sad sometimes
when I hold him close. I know those days
are numbered. Dash is growing up -
cuddling with Daddy will soon go the way of Puff
the Magic Dragon. But he loves wrestling,
tackling, running - anything physical. He
is more squarely built that his big brother and
can take the Dec man down easily. Dec
respects him on the field, and tries to out-wit
him or use sheer 6-year-old force to get by.
Dash is not a sore loser and laughs off his
losses. 'Dec got 6 goals on me Dad!' he
shouted one day - happily.
Sometimes when he calls
Dec's name I can hear the hope in his voice.
When he asks Dec if he likes the Lego truck he
built or if Dec wants to play a game. He's
asking: 'Do I matter? Am I important?'
He knows that Mom and Dad will always include
him - but that makes them nice and boring by
default. The real test is the world, and
that starts with Dec.
I love his curls.
I love how he wants to read Declan's school book
for beginning readers - and sometimes can!
Dash knows how to reach out to his friends and
talk with them (not at them). I've seen
him do this.
They will be
Will my boys be
friends? This worries me. But like
Judith H says, so little is in our control.
Some of my friends try to make sure their kids
act as a team, almost never compete with each
other and 'take the family's side.' For
better or worse, I'm not like that. It
feels to forced to me.
I really, really want
my boys to be friends. I want them to be
close and rely on each other like I've relied on
my brothers (and sisters). But if they
don't. If they choose to be independent,
far apart, or if the world pushes them that
way... That'll be OK too.
The French say: 'La
famille, on ne la choisit pas.' It's true,
we don't choose are family. We choose our
friends. And this is important to
remember. My kids might grow distant; they
might leave. It breaks my little PFO-heart
in two more pieces to think about it, but it's
true. And that's OK. It's tough, but
it's alright. They are a gift, but not
ours to keep.
Right now, it's all Mon
and I can do to keep them from killing each
other. Competition is important -
especially to Declan. Winning is important
to them both. Points are important.
Rules are very important.
They are min-hunter
gathers and we love them for it!
Kids in control -
The Randall museum lets
kids drive trains this Saturday. Dec and
Dash take over. It comes down to pulling a
lever from the red square to the green square,
but hey, 'control' is 'control.'
This Randall museum is
great. It has just the right mix of trains
and live animals. Unlike the zoo, which
has animals everywhere, the
Randall has a couple bats, some snakes, a frog,
some turtles, and trains. Lots of trains.
What makes us want to
grab that handle and rock the train world?
When you're a kid, you control nothing.
When you're an adult, you think you control
In both instances,
My life involves
trains, super-heroes and strange and wonderful
technology I don't understand.
I love all my boys,
but sometimes I look at Barbie Dolls and sigh.
I understand that
boys like rules. Moms with boys are a
different breed. Here is what we
understand about boys:
- They need rules
- They are
violent, sometimes surprisingly so. This
- They assert
themselves in ways that seem silly, but are not
silly. If it's important to a boy, it's
Do I ever wish I had
girls instead of boys? Never! But I
did dress as a fairy at Halloween. My boys
Can I teach you? -
This ones for all those
people who frown when a kid sits next to them in
an airplane. This one is for all those who
think a crying kid is a brat. This one is
Ah forget it.
Just look at the picture.
Where we live -
We are San Franciscans!
No suburbs for us baby!
It's chips with
walruses for us
A Scientist of
I will probably be an
engineer. My drawings are amazing.
Show me a bridge and I think in circles and
When I work, I'm
completely focused and often cannot be bothered.
My projects are serious
work. When I play, I learn.
my head turns quickly
(against my will?)
and I see it -
not a luggage cart,
not a truck, but a-
bird! A bird!
(a raven, I think,
but I have no idea)
he's a black paper
bird cut-out against concrete grey
the jet engine roars
and then slowly winds down - a few feet away
the bird dips his
beak and drinks from a puddle that is jet fuel
I think two things:
1. Will my kids ever
see a live bird?
2. Why am I here and
not with my kids?
The man of the house -
Dec and I talk in the front room. We're playing chutes and ladders and at
one point he says: 'Well. Anyway. You're not the boss of me!'
'Really?' I say, 'Who is the boss of Declan?'
'Declan is the boss of Declan!'
'Yeah. And I'm the man of the house here, you know.'
'Really? So what makes a man a man?'
'I dunno. I used to know. Then I forgot.'
'Mom! You gotta hear this!'
Mon comes out.
Dec: 'I'm the man of the house, Mom.'
Mon: 'I don't think so...'
Dec pictured here with his birthday shirt - his drawing of an N-Judah train made
into a t-shirt by our friend and super-artist Cortney.
Dash's World - Teddy! -
Dash took a lot of pictures of cake, me fixing Legos and other film-noir angled
living room shots. But he also took this one of his cousin Teddy.
Dash loves Teddy. When Teddy left, Dash said: 'I wish I could see Teddy
EVERY day!' He dotes on him, always making sure he has the toy he needs.
Sometimes he gets too close, but mostly he gives Teddy space. He always
encourages him 'That's GREAT Teddy!' Mon won't have a third - I get the
'NO WAY' look when I just joke about it. But Dash makes me want to have a
third kid. He'd be a great big brother. I'd be a better father.
My friend Jeff said that parenting is like walking backwards into a brick wall
that's right behind you, but constantly moving. The job left behind is the
easier; the one ahead is always the tougher.
(NOTE: Teddy is wearing a hat knit by his Aunt Monica!)
Dec is 6 -
Remember your birthday when you were young? That magical stomach-tingly
feeling? When we first lived together in Atlanta, my birthday was coming
up and Mon said: 'What do you want to do?' I said: 'I dunno. It's
just another day.' Mon looked at me, all serious: 'No. It. Is.
Not. It's your BIRTHday.' She taught me how special birthdays are.
Now I feel like this photo - and it's fun to see the boys look this way.
Check Dec out! He's got the conductor hat on, a pile of presents AND he's
on the TV!
It's your birthday! You're ten-feet tall and wearing a mile-wide smile!
Santa didn't tell us he was leaving behind all these cardboard boxes. One
family's holiday waste. There's a dude (I won't say Hispanic dude because
that would be racist) who drives a pickup full of cardboard. He must drive
around looking for cardboard and then sell it to someone. Anyway, I want
to flag this industrious gentleman down, but Mon says it's illegal.
Bridge across fear -
I once picked every high tourist destination in a city I lived in, and visited
one per week for over a year - just to over-come my vertigo. It didn't
I also get no sense of accomplishment from 'taiming my fear.' After
finishing my walk across the bridge today, Mon says something. I respond, rather
rudely: 'Doing it is one thing; enjoying it another.'
Chris, Dec and Cooper peer over the edge and see sharks. I zip by - not
even able to peek at the edge. I keep thinking about the lion tamer and
the lion (see Oct18th 60-to-90).
I tell myself: 'My fear is the chair and the whip, but this city view is the
lion tamer...' But that imagery is, well, strange and doesn't stop blind panic.
Dash and I walked way ahead. Dash says: 'I want to go home.' I say:
'We're almost there, don't panic' which makes no sense - I'm not even sure Dash
knows what the word 'panic' means.
Why does fear drive obsession over fear? Should I cross the Golden Gate
Bridge once a week in 2010?
Brothers - 12/31/09
I feel like a spy, snapping pics of Dec and Dash playing football in the
backyard and then 'fishing' from the top of Denny's Tree House.
A friend of ours (a mother of two girls) once saw Dec and Dash playing behind me
and Mon and said: 'Excuse me, your two kids are killing each other..' We
turned to look and replied: 'That's just football.'
But they must love each other. Some mornings, Dec comes down from his top
bunk and joins Dashi in his bed and they sing songs. Mon went in there
once and said: 'This is great guys, but can you keep it down?'
And in this pic, they work together, throwing the line out, yelling for fish (if
you watched Sesame Street, you'd know why). Dec makes Dash his own fishing
line and shows him how to throw.
Will they love each other? Will they be 'close' or not? Will one
move away? Will they call each other on Christmas? The French say:
'La famille, on ne la choisit pas.'
But I hope they stay close.
Building a new room - 12/30/09
I worked for an Irishman who almost murdered me one day at a construction site.
I had put on the quick-dry bathroom caulking all at once and made a newly built
shower unit look like a cave from Star Trek. I realized - too late - that
'quick dry' really meant 'really f..kin' quick' and I couldn't remove ANY of the
caulking. Mick, my boss on the job, had the Irish temper big time. I
really thought he was going to kill me. I thought I was going to die in an
abandoned shower at the hands of an Irish immigrant.
But no! I grew up and shopped at Ikea! What a place! I don't
care if they make their Swedish meatballs from left-over particle board.
This place is great.
Following directions, however, is not my forte. At one point, I tell the
boys to let me put in all the screw holds - 'don't touch!' I say. Dec goes
ahead and puts one in while I'm not looking. I see it and let out this big
sigh of frustration. I look at it, pause, and realize that he has put the
thing in correctly, while my other 3 are backwards. 'I got it right,
didn't I Dad?' he says, meekly, respectfully, but smling all the while.
Big Trouble, Little Shirt - 12/29/09
Hiking with friends brings wide smiles. Only a kid can show you what
friendship really means.
Being a teacher must be nice because you must hear that unfiltered, unashamed,
reckless, kid-laughter every day.
The Artist's Touch - 12/28/09
'I get these things in my body that tell me what to draw,' says Declan. He
has the artist's touch for sure. His approach to drawing and painting is
Look at the carrots and the flowers on the plants. He works non-stop until
the painting is done. He says to me: 'If I wake up early, I might just
head right over and finish that painting tomorrow.'
I'm a big believer in
genetics + environment, but it's flattering to think Dec reflects me and
Where does that confidence go? Why do we have to seek later in life what
kids know implicitly?
BALUG - 12/27/09
What is Declan doing in
this picture? If this website is still up when he's a teen-ager, he'll
have the right to ground me. And for anyone in my family who thinks I only
make fun of my brothers and sisters, well, you're probably right. But
simply by showing this photo, I'm sending a message. No one is safe.
The Bay Area Lego Users Group (BALUG) hosts a Lego town in Palo Alto every year.
And we hit that baby hard. Boy, Palo Alto. Who
are these people? How many strip malls
can one town have? They should call that place 'Stripo Malo.' Their
city motto should be 'Not Houston yet, but tryin' real hard ya'll!'
I'm glad I'm a snob from New England. That's right, a place with zoning
laws. I remember when Meme and Grampy fought the whole town of Lynnfield
on that strip mall expansion plan for the place across from 567 Main. They
could have used Meme and Grampy in ol' Stripo Malo.
Declan's expression makes a lot more sense now that you know where he is.
in fact, that's exactly how I feel about Palo Alto. And on the plus side,
the boys are wearing sweaters from Meme!
Who put the 'Ho sh.t it's
Christmas!' back in 'Ho Ho Ho!'
A common question we ask ourselves this time of year is: 'How much do I really
enjoy Christmas?' along with the other favorite: 'Is family time way over-rated
or just over-rated?'
Look no further than this great family pic.
Jim is thinking of fixing that leak in the bottom of Marlin and thinking that
would be more enjoyable than this picture. Lea is thinking that whoever is
taking this photo (and it could be Ansel Adams, for all we know) just does not
understand photography at all. Zan is far away, and worried - he looks
downright stressed (is he farting?). Fraser is thinking about his beard -
and why is his dad so mad that he has a beard and a mustache? Keara smiles
and thinks: 'I'll be living in France and done with this sh.t for ever!
Heaux! Heaux! Heaux!' That's French for 'Ho! Ho! Ho!'
A savior? For someone with strong pagan beliefs, I really enjoy religious
music. I love chorales, the godlier the better!
Christmas to me is the ultimate pagan celebration. Gifts. Mystery.
An unknown character who might bless you or might not. It all depends on
The front room is transformed into Donovan speedway. Mon watches the
I hope Matti Makes it!
On Christmas Eve Day we made trains at the Randall Museum!
From left to right it's Dec, Simon, Mon Dash.
We read The Best Christmas Ever before going to sleep. Dashi is very tired
and puts his head on the pillow. But Dec is into it. 'I hope Matti
makes it home, 'I say. And I think: 'Would my sister Lea send us a
terribly sad Christmas tale?
The answer is No! We learn about giving and why gifts are important - no
matter what they are. There's a point in the story where Erkki looks at
his Dad thinking 'Man he's old' right when his Dad says: 'I'm still a young
man.' I watch Dec after I read this part. He's listening, thinking.
I wonder when he'll think that about me.
Happy to be alive. Happy it's Christmas. And look at those trains!!
Give a kid a camera
Another installment of Declan's world.
I love Mon. I learned from her that letting the boys mess with stuff is A
OK. We often give Dec the camera and let him go nuts with it. His
photos are crotch-view and crazy. He gets fixated on something, in this
case, fish at the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco.
And look at this shot!
Give the kids all the most expensive toys and laugh when they break them in two.
In order to work at this office, the question they ask friends is: 'Are you a
Microsoft guy?' If you answer 'Yes' then you get a seat on the couch.
How much of what we say every day influences our kids? I find it's the
most mundane little thing that I say that gets repeated
back to me.
Well... whatever... Nevermind... It's not important... It doesn't
matter to me... I'm busy...
Careful with these words. You say them around your kid and they'll get
said back to you. Sometimes on the phone I'll say: 'Is he a Microsoft
guy?' The boys copy me now at their 'work.'
So asking if you're a Microsoft guy? That's totally A-OK in this house!
Buy me a pair of sunglasses and a piece of pizza. Take me to Santa.
Love me, love me, looooooove me.
Everyone says Christmas is materialistic. I don't think it's materialistic
enough. Christmas is when we show each other that a little gift, a
surprise, a wrapped little package, can bring joy. Sometimes it's exactly
what you wanted. Sometimes it's what the...?
But it's Christmas. It's gifts. It's fun. The Christmas
Killers come at us with their holier-than-though malarkey about too much
Do you want to steal that kid's smile away? Are you so self-righteous that
kids having fun has become a sin?
I say bring the noise and bring those toys Mr C.
Sometimes, we give Dec the camera. He takes great
pics and they always surprise.
Puzzles, drawings, Dash jumping off a chair (sans pantalons), trains, his feet -
all objects important in his world.
4.0 assignment: Pick up a camera and randomly take pictures of your world.
What's the first non-human thing you capture? Why is that important?
I love Dec's pics because they remind me how big the world is - how big it can
One of the best Dash-Mom pictures! If you don't know
Blue Blue Bottle
Coffee, then check it out. The second-best coffee available in SF.
They sell bags full of "Bella Donovan' coffee, so who can beat that?
What about kids who are exposed to good coffee drinking? Will they be
artistic? Vote Independent? Be more jittery than their peers?
If you're wondering what Mon is up to, look no further than
this photo. She has taken to knitting like a dog to a bone. And we
love it here at the house.
A woman who knits is a mystery. Everything Mon does is a mystery to me.
What is she thinking about?
Remember that woman from A Tale of Two Cities? Madam De La Farge?
That's Mon. She's knitting, not saying anything. But she sees all...
When we get close to what we want, we often back away.
The boys talk non-stop about Santa. 'Let's put that on the list!' they
say, when they get a new gift idea. But
when it comes time to sit down with the big man, well, that's another story
Aren't we all similar, though? When was the last time you got what you
wanted and jumped at it?
At Declan's school, the kids will sing:
- 'Happy Holidays'
- Chinese New Year
- Chanukah Song
While I'm not turning all news channels to Fox, it does seem strange.
We're celebrating everything except Christmas. Is the C-word dirty?
Anyway, we owe it all to the pagans.
Curly Hair - 12/15/09
Dash calls his curls 'circles.' And there's no doubt about it; 'circles'
are cool. Curly hair has its own personality. It's like having a
neighbor follow you around, except the neighbor would be on top of your head.
Dash looks a lot like Meme. In photos like this one, the resemblance comes
out. And the curls! Dash once asked me: 'Why is other hair
straight?' What a Zen thing to say! Why is any hair
Also note how Dash and Meme both tilt their heads when they
smile. Tara does this as well. Maybe I do, I'm not sure. It's
one of those mannerisms that makes us look similar, as a family.
The Mall - 12/14/09
The mall is a fascinating thing. Malls are a perfect of example of
something that makes sense in concept, but in implementation becomes downright
creepy. Malls make sense. You want to buy stuff? Put it all
close together and serve lattes; people will come. Sweep the floor and add
some sparkly lights for the ladies and put in some gadget stores for the guys.
But things go terribly wrong. You end up with people in logo-emblazoned
shirts, holding trays of pink yogurt shouting: 'Hello sir! Would you like
to try our candy cane mocha chip gellatinianno today?' And some of these
stores sell... exactly what? A pillow case that doubles as an iPod holder
with room from a built-in frog sanctuary? Two for 50 bucks? Well...
Now that we're talking price that doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Where
does all this stuff come from (I mean before it's made in China)? Where is
it all going? When will we run out of plastic?
Brothers, part 1 - 12/13/09
Grant and Charles have always been the 'west coast' brothers to me.
It's interesting, thinking that most of the family thinks of me as a west
coaster now. I don't know if anyone knows how much Grant and Charles have
helped me. When I moved back from France, Charles gave me a job at his law
firm, while I was living at his house. He never rushed me to move out,
never complained about my stature as 'not sure what I'm doing here.' That
may be because he convinced me to move back, but that's another story.
We'd play guitar together, swap songs, it was fantastic. Grant got me an
interview with Constructa. They hired me as a 'French Project Liaison.'
This was my first real job. Before that.... well... before that
there's a long story but I hadn't really worked much before that.
At Constructa, I worked for an absolute nut named Jeff Poetsch (whom I still
talk to). Jeff got me into programming and said: 'You should leave this
translation thing behind and go full bore into technology. You're damn
good at it.' I took his advice and got a job working for a pen software
company in Atlanta. So depending on how you look at it, these guys get all
the credit or all the blame!
I still talk to these two a lot, and I'm thankful for it. So even
though I'm cynical this 4.0 non-web thing can be quite touching, even a little
hallmark-y. I owe Grant and Charles a lot!
This photo is from Charles' wedding last year. Grant was the minister,
a thought which sends chills down the spine of even a die-hard pagan like
myself. But Grant really rocked the part. Charles looks quite dapper
and the place he and Doreen got was perfect. At dinner, everyone was
sharing stories about Charles and Doreen. As the best man, I suddenly
realized I had to think of some funny story to share about Charles. My
challenge was not thinking of one; my challenge was
which one. Anyway, I stood up to deliver
my eulogy and suddenly Dec reached across my lap and slapped Dash in the face -
real hard. It was a
smack-down take-no-prisoners-I-don't-care-if-you're-on-Dad's-lap slap.
They both start fighting right there at the table. It was all Mon and I can
do to wrestle them away from the dinner party. 'Sorry!' I shout, over my
shoulder, 'I'll be right back!'
I regret not telling that story, and also regret that I've forgotten which
story I was going to tell!
Jump in every puddle you can find - 12/12/09
This is serious, mud-flying, boot-filling, teeth-chattering puddle jumping.
Dec pours water out of his boots afterward. I suggest you jump into any
puddle you can find. I went record shopping with my Dad a long time ago.
I was hemming and hawing over some Thelonious Monk Japan pressed vinyl I had
never seen before. He said: "You gotta buy it. You'll always have
twenty bucks in your pocket, but you might never see this album again."
Well I didn't buy it - and he was right twice.
Jump in every puddle you can find. If you're not pouring water from
your boots at the end of the day, then you haven't lived.
Kids teach you to live life twice - 12/11/09
There's a left-hand turn we take off seventh avenue. The left-turn
light is slow and we often have trouble making the turn. Lately, the
construction crews are 'improving' the road, which means they make the road so
bad you wish it would just go back to its old terrible state, then they finish
up and it's not much better, but it's way better than it was during
construction. So you think 'Well, they must have done
Dash and I are in the car one day, waiting for that stupid left-turn light to
turn green. Dash says: "Dad! Look! They're dumping coal in
that truck!" I say: "I think that's tar-" "Quick!" he says, cutting me
off, "Take a PICTURE!" I
fumble my phone and can't get the camera option to come up; the guy behind me
leans on his horn, which makes me laugh. Dash laughs: "Is that man upset,
Dad?" "I dunno," I say, "He's gotta be mad at someone." I snap a
couple photos (a great one has the cab of the truck - not shown here).
I don't think much of it, until later. Dash asks to see the photos, so
I load them onto Mon's computer. He's very serious about the whole thing,
not real excited, a bit grim actually. He explains to Dec what the trucks
are doing. We all talk about the road. Dash really thinks about
this. It's important to him to have these photos.
It makes me think of all the beautiful things I breeze by because I'm so
focused on the horizon. Stop and smell the roses? I have better
ideas... Stop and hear the dump trucks. Stop and smell the grime.
Stop and taste the acid rain. It's all a beautiful circus. Without
kids, I think I'd miss most of it.
When you can't be funny, steal a joke - 12/10/09
My friend Al sent me this photo and an email from someone at his work.
I really hesitated before putting this on the 4.0 non-web site. It's not
my joke; the photo is not from our family. But sometimes, something is
simply too funny. I cannot be improved. I cannot be altered.
It must be passed on. After much deliberation, almost as much
deliberation as my PFO, I
decided to include it here because
Bruce (whom I've never met) would fit right in at Centre Farm. It comforts
me, in fact, to know that Bruce is out there. When I wonder: 'Is there
anyone in the world crazier than I?' I will now hear a resounding: "Yes!
We shall henceforth celebrate April Fool's Day in your honor and call it
'Bruce Addis Day.' We will celebrate by taking our humor 'outside.'
Thank you Bruce!
Sent: Monday, December 07, 2009 2:26 PM
To: Al Burdulis
Subject: Merry Christmas
"Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my
Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days.
I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever. Great stories.
But two things made me take it down.
First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost
wrecked when they drove by.
Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself
putting it against my house and didn't realize it was fake until she climbed to
the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of many people who
attempted to do that. My yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few
tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard."
Neighborhoods - 12/09/09
For those of you who don't know Declan's friend Nate, all you have to do is
look at this picture. You see that yellow-hooded blur with a smile?
That's Nate in his natural habitat. He's a ball of energy and smiles like
you would not believe. Many have tried to photograph Nate, and many have
failed. That neutron squashing machine in Switzerland is 1/2 the speed of
Nate. Years from now, we will measure distances between galaxies as 'Nates.'
But I digress...
Declan considers this cafe his. It's called
and it's the best coffee you will ever drink in your life. We live in the
Sunset, which is the best
neighborhood in the world. If you walk the length of Judah Street, you
will hear 4-5 different languages and most signs will be in Chinese, with some
in Russian. Irish bars still survive (I mean, who ever thought an
Bar was a bad investment?) but they're disappearing.
From our house west, it's all nicely trimmed homes and over-cast skies.
When you hit the 40's, you begin to see the surf community. If there's
good waves, you'll see commuter-sized groups of people in wet suits walking down
the street, headed for Ocean Beach.
A couple blocks west of Trouble Coffee, the Pacific Ocean. It opens
like a blue lawn stretching the horizon. I often walk to 30th Ave and peak
over the hills at the ocean. This is where we live! Declan and
Dashiell will say 'I grew up in the Sunset.'
How cool is that? A neighborhood.
Marriage - the great catastrophe! - 12/08/09
If you want to worry about your marriage, look no further than this
article in the NY Times. I just finished it. It's not really
worth the read, but for someone out-of-work, it certainly made time pass.
But look at these two here in this photo! One time, when visiting Dad at
Sunrise, I told Mon: 'Get ready. This is where I'm headed.' She
said: 'Ok. I'll bring my knitting.' I had no idea what that meant,
but a few weeks later I had a stroke. And Monica brought her knitting!
She stuck with me big time.
Read the blog if you don't believe me.
Marriage is such an interesting thing. Were Mom and Dad masters?
Did they even know what they were doing? Since their generation had less
tolerance for 'choice' (whatever that means), did they feel compelled to make
things work? Did they ever think: 'We have no choice'? Did their
faith 'force' them to stay together? Only they know for sure, but here are
some key things I saw.
- Dad always talked about how great Meme looked. Always. He
would compliment her 20 times in one dinner. You would have thought he had
just met her and was trying to woo her away. He flirted with her
endlessly. She would smile, knowing he was hers.
- Meme always knew what Dad liked. On nights when he didn't have to go
back to the hospital, she would open his beer and put the newspaper by his
dinner plate. I knew this meant that Dad had the night off. On
nights when he was on call, she'd put coffee and no newspaper (not sure why no
paper). A small thing that I'm not sure Dad noticed - maybe he did.
- They laughed a lot together. The only thing I saw Dad enjoy
immensely, while Mom scowled, was
The Benny Hill Show.
It still amazes me that Benny Hill was on PBS. Anyway, Dad loved this show
and he used to let me watch it with him. Mom did not approve.
Otherwise, Mom and Dad really seemed to laugh at the same things.
- Dad always bought Mom stuff, surprises. He always kept her
guessing, which I think she enjoyed.
- They travelled a lot together. I do think travelling bonds people.
You figure out directions, check into strange hotels, listen to the accents of
the people, discover new music and art. You eat strange foods and laugh at
your belly aches. Travel turns a couple into a team. This was true
for Mom and Dad for sure. One time in Hawaii, Mom, Dad Tara and I were so
lost (on an island!!) that we started following the setting sun, thinking it
would at least bring us to the western part of the island. At one point,
we stopped at this lumberyard. Dad asked the woman there for directions.
Trying to help, she came out of her office to point which way - and ended up
locking herself out of her own office! We four were laughing so hard,
trying to hide our chuckles but unable to. The funniest things happen when
you travel together.
- They read books together. They didn't necessarily read the same book
at the same time, but I remember them talking about books. Oddly, I don't
remember Mom talking much about Melville (whom Dad loved) but otherwise, I
remember them talking about books a lot.
- They shared a faith. I remember Dad once saying: 'I was reading this
book about how someone thought God could be a woman. How ridiculous!'
He laughed and laughed. Meme said: 'Well. She could, you know.'
And they talked and talked. Dad's point was actually very interesting.
He thought that, since the spirit 'entered' us, then God had to be male. I
was pretty young when we were discussing this, and I thought it was fascinating.
I remember watching Dad pray at church and wondering at how weak he looked.
He would take his glasses off, holding them in one hand. He brought his
other hand over his eyes and bend his head low. He looked so troubled,
hunched over with some great weight. I still wonder what Dad prayed for.
I watched him pray; I'd always sneak glances. It terrified me to see him
- They didn't worry about money. I never saw them argue about money.
While it's true that we certainly had a lot, I remember Mom telling me recently:
'People always thought we were swimming in money; they didn't know how far in
debt we were!' She said that with a laugh, and then explained to me how
much they had to borrow to buy One Salem Street. I was amazed.
Personally, I have not taken the same risks. I don't have the guts.
They really were living on a string for a long time. But I never saw them
fight about it. In fact, one year, they were audited by the IRS. I
remember this very well! There were piles of tax files in the ballroom at
Centre Farm. It was even more insane than normal. At one point, Dad was
explaining to Mom all the different files, which years they were, etc. and
he just started busting up laughing. He and Mom were laughing hysterically
for about 10 minutes. It was all so ridiculous, so terrifyingly Kafkaesque
that all they could do was laugh. I think of that and smile. They
never took themselves too seriously. They never fought about money.
My favorite part of Mom and Dad is that they did not teach me by telling me.
They simply did what they did; it was up to me to follow. I try to do this
with the boys, but it's tough. Other siblings will have their own
versions of Mom and Dad and they're all true.
(And thanks to Lea for the photo!)
We're lumberjacks, and we're OK! - 12/07/09
Sometimes, you're handed a little gem. This is the barn at Centre Farm.
One day, in a stroke of genius, someone said: 'Hey! Let's have a hoe-down
in the barn and all act like we're from Texas!' As you can tell from this
crowd, it was probably Lea's idea. The only one smiling is Lea - and it's a big
damn smile. This proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the hoe-down was
Lea's idea. Maybe Protestants dress like this!
Let's take each of these characters one by one and savor the moment.
Meme. Her smile is strained. She's saying: 'I'm gonna get Lea for
this one...' You can also see that glimmer in her eye. She's
thinking: 'There's so much space in the barn. Hmmm. Should we go
shopping after this?'
Lea. I saw those pants on a homeless guy in 1987 and his friends we're
making fun of him! Look at those pants! Those pants could start and
then stop World War III. Your hat is bigger than God and your hair looks
fantastic! You are savoring the moment of getting everyone to dress like
cowboys. Who can manipulate the wills of men like Lea? Even now, if
Lea said: 'Simon, you'd look good in chaps...' I'd resist, but I know I'd soon
find myself, lasso in hand, singing Buck Owens tunes.
Me. There's only one thing to do in this situation and that's give the
peace sign. You know, in London, this means something else entirely.
And my mouth, it's turned up at the corner. I think I'm in the middle of
saying: 'Please save me from these people!'
Ed. He is thinking: 'I left med school for this?' Also, Ed looks
pretty dangerous. Is he reaching for a gun? And that vest! Ed
should wear that vest over his lab coat. Advantages:
- Keeps any blood stains discreet.
- Who would mess with a cowboy doctor?
Grant. Does anyone know the band Phish? Grant actually sings lead
for them. Grant looks thoughtful. He just moved back from Steamboat
and he's thinking: 'I leave, and everyone is normal... I come back, and
they all dress like people from Steamboat circa 1903. Is this some strange
Dad. He's saying: 'You don't like these over-alls, then come over here
and f..k with me!' The only time I saw Dad looking that mad was one time
when I told him I didn't think taking out the trash was work that suited me.
Of all of us, Dad looks the most like he actually came from the fields, tilling
the earth on the farm.