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SOCIETY (permalink) 08.31.2009
like, pay up sucka
when in santa fe on our holiday we stayed with another family. they had four kids. all but one was older than our kids, their oldest months from driving. one day while we were lazing about i asked the kids if there was a rule in their house they didn't like. after about thirty seconds the fifteen year old boy excitedly answered, "yes, the like jar was pretty lame." his sister immediately seconded the thought. i asked what the like jar was and before my sentiment was even complete, their mother groaned and her head sagged and to avoid her children's editorial she confessed the following, "i just couldn't take it anymore. the word like. it was constant. each and every sentence out of anyones mouth was peppered with five or seven or more likes. it was maddening. so i made a rule that every time someone said the word like in conversation and not in meaning they had to pay the like jar." her son then brightly added, "but it happened so often that mom couldn't keep after us about it and it died after, like, a day or two." i smiled at his enthusiasm as well as his slipping a 'like' into his taunt.

i said to the mother she should have promised them each fifty dollars at the end of the month but each time they said like, the month-end booty dropped a buck. with this she eyed the kids and with that they stopped smiling. or stopped smiling so obviously at least.

PERSONAL (permalink) 08.28.2009
cosmically realigned
i felt a step behind all day yesterday. it started when bella got up at 6:15 to go to the bathroom and the wind from the open window blew the door shut and woke me up. and then while walking to work i just missed crossing a busy street before the eternal light turned green and released an endless throng of traffic. and then there was the painfully slow-moving elevator i arrived to just in time to see the doors pinch shut. then there was the person who called me a second time moments before i returned their first call. like i said, one step slow all day.

then last night i was slated to go for a bike ride. for these rides, i try to leave by 10pm but was still sitting at my desk at 10:30. i didn't actually push off until 11pm. i ride for 30 miles and it takes me two hours. thirty minutes into the ride lightning started flashing in the distance. at the midway point i take a ten minute break. the lightning was intensifying and i smelled rain so i jumped back on the bike after just a few minutes and started back. about ten minutes later i was coming up on one of my favorite stretches of this particular route. it is a long, winding section of blacktop that is slightly downhill and is flanked on either side by stately homes with deep lawns and the occasional hanger-on farm. the road is wide and smooth and on a good day i can maintain a clip of just under 30 miles an hour for a mile or two. i had one street to cross before starting this alpha-stretch and was approaching a green light which meant i could hit it on a run. moments before i would have pulled through the intersection the light went yellow. i pulled up and stopped.

after taking a dejected pull from my water bottle, my mind immediately began replaying all the near misses the day had dealt me. the quiet around me was interrupted by a muscle car coming down the street that currently had the green. they turned onto my road heading in the direction i was waiting to go. after negotiating the turn, the car accelerated with a groan and sped forward. after straightening out the driver didn't notice, see, mind or care about a slight bend in the road and ran his/her car straight into the curb. the raised edge caused the front tire to jump in the air and sent the car crazily veering off to the left. the driver effortfully worked to regain control and once he did he continued down the road like nothing had happened. as i watched the taillights diminish in the distance it occurred to me that had i made it through that light, i would have been in just about the very spot that car hit the curb when it hit the curb. for the first time that day i didn't feel a step behind. in fact, i felt in perfect sync. my light clicked green as did every other light i approached for the next ten miles.

i also beat the rain home.

PHOTO (permalink) 08.27.2009
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.
August 2009

SOCIETY (permalink) 08.26.2009
getting my ricky ricardo on
while walking home from work i ran into two women. it was a mother and daughter. they were visiting the university i work at, considering it for the daughter for next year.

i met them by asking if they were lost or needed help finding something because they seemed perplexed about things. their faces lit up with surprise. then they said they did not need help but immediately commented on how nice it was that i asked. they went on to say that people everywhere here were so nice. nothing like at harvard or yale or the eleven other schools they had visited. i quipped that we run a happy campus but there are a few old cantankerous cranks around, we just don't let them out much. after a few more pleasantries i noticed the woman, the mother, intently staring at my face. when i turned to her, she said in a methodical and careful way that i had a very cuban forehead (i now assumed that both of these bronzed women were themselves cuban). she moved her hand over my forehead like she wanted to touch it but resisted. after a pause while i processed her comment making sure i heard it right, i assured her she was the first person to ever say that particular string of words to me and that i've been told i look like eddie munster plenty but never that i had the forehead of a cuban man. she then told me it was a good forehead clapped me on the shoulder in a familial way and with that we parted ways, everyone the better for the moment we shared.

KIDS, FOOD (permalink) 08.25.2009
for me, short order cook at this hour world mean short-tempered
marty makes lunch for the kids each morning. she does this while they are eating breakfast. how it works is after they wake up and dress they come to the kitchen and pick their breakfast. once they start eating they are handed the "the sheet". from this sheet they are to pick three items they would like in their lunchbox. they call them out and marty acknowledges the request and busies herself in preparing it. this list deal has been around for years but had to be re-done this year now that alex is going to school with bella. i was drawn to the little pictograms marty made next to each of alex's lunch items. there's far more artistry in there than one would expect for such a artifact. startlingly impressive.

i'll scan it again at the end of the school year so you can see how tattered (e.g. loved) one of these gets from being part of a three-child breakfast bar routine every school day morning.

click for larger version

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 08.21.2009
are you the user or the used?
The conviction was growing in me that the besetting problem was our culture's blindness to the distinction between the tool and the automatic machine. Everyone tended to treat them alike, as neutral agents of human intention. But machines clearly were not neutral or inert objects. They were complex fuel-consuming entities with certain definite proclivities and needs. Besides often depriving their users of skills and physical exercise, they created new and artificial demands - for fuel, space, money, and time. These in turn crowded out other important human pursuits, like involvement in family and community, or even the process of thinking itself. The very act of accepting the machine was becoming automatic.
excerpt from eric brende's Better Off

MUSIC, WEB (permalink) 08.20.2009
i need a noun for "useless shower of ..."
it began with a video. the one below. i saw it referenced on a site i frequent and shared it with some colleagues. several weeks later, one of those colleagues directed me to an article about the viral manner in which the song, illegally used in this video, put the band on the map and caused their itunes portfolio to skyrocket. in the article, pissed-off musicians talk about their feelings regarding their record labels and how they, the record people, seem to be completely void of ideas or creative avenues to get their, the musician people, music heard. given the article is about several irate and youthful musicians, it is not for the verbally squeamish. but people who enjoy the unique combining of words, some bluer than the water in the featured video, should ought to enjoy it just fine.

and in case it needs to be said, a video such as this should be watched full screen and without interruption.

Kuroshio Sea - 2nd largest aquarium tank in the world
song is Please don't go by Barcelona

from Jon Rawlinson

KIDS, PHOTO (permalink) 08.19.2009
in case you wondering where bella has been this week, she's around. she's our veteran student and going into the third grade. i figured that with her it was all business as usual. and then i found an old picture someone gave us of bella when she started kindergarten. i was shocked at how different she looked. at the time of that photo alex was three and anthony had just been born. she is almost unrecognizable to her current day self. so much for business as usual.

bella in her kindergarten days

and bella a deceptive three years later.

KIDS, PHOTO (permalink) 08.18.2009
some images from yesterday's milestones

aleo and i moments before walking up to his first day of school

anfer getting some individual attention while his siblings are at school (and he isn't)

KIDS (permalink) 08.17.2009
today i have one boy turning three (anfer) and another starting kindergarten (aleo).

anfer (aka anthony) has been best described as, "just like bella, but male" which if you know bella at all you know just what a terrifying sentiment this is. a three-year old anfer is one year smarter, stronger and more bull-headed than the two-year old variety. wish marty and i strength and patience. and wish anfer continued cuteness for when marty and i run out of strength and patience.

and last night i watched alex fall asleep. while his body relented to the day and his fingers and arms began twitching in surrender, i studied his peaceful countenance and thought how the next day would mark the beginning of a new and long chapter of his life. i fear aleo will dislike many parts of this leg of youth (education) but i'm confident that through the journey he will discover what part of our world speaks to him. at least, i desperately hope he does because should he not find that facet of this universe which interests him more than all others, he may spend more time wandering dimly lit hallways than enjoying what he is meant to do in this world. godspeed my aleo.

KIDS, PHOTO (permalink) 08.14.2009
we operate a clothing optional breakfast bar

KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 08.13.2009
a hemingway moment
yesterday was bella's second to last day working at the horse farm this summer. before leaving the house we were fighting, unsuccessfully, with the zipper to one of her riding boots. she told me i should use a pair of pliers and that's what the boy at the farm did. what boy is that i asked. she said it was julie's son. i asked who julie was. bella said
she is the blonde woman who drinks coffee and smokes and is afraid of horses but is trying to do something about it.
i paused from my work on the zipper to look at bella. i told her that is one of the finest descriptions of a human i've ever heard, that wasn't in a book at least. bella just shrugged her shoulders and looked back to the zipper. then i did too and that was that.

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.11.2009
we're back
after more than 14 days, after more than 3,000 miles, we're back home. as for our destinations, they were:

saint louis, mo to buena vista, co (2 day stay)
buena vista, co to santa fe, nm (7 day stay)
santa fe, nm to fort collins colorado (4 day stay)
fort collins co to saint louis, mo (352 day stay)

i've got more pics and notes from the trip to share but at the moment all i've got time for is this note announcing our safe return home.

i do however have time to share my favorite comment of the trip. it came from bella when she and i were sitting in the back seat of the van and somewhere in eastern colorado. she asked me if i knew why you couldn't tickle yourself. i said, truthfully, that i did not know why you couldn't tickle yourself. she said it was because of your fingerprints. she said that everyone has unique fingerprints and only your body knows them and therefore isn't ticklish by them. but your body doesn't know other people's fingerprints and finds them ticklish to the touch. i gotta say that is the soundest explanation anyone has ever provided to me as to why i cannot tickle myself. i will also say that if you spend enough time in the car all conversations start sounding like late-night dorm-room banter. and by my meager estimation, there is no better form of discourse.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 08.06.2009
summer vacation 09 pics and notes 7
marty found a state park which had old cave dwellings which you could walk through. the experience began with a short walk through a forest and field to the main cave system. a few of the rooms were accessible via home-spun ladders. while the spaces looked spacious for a hole in the side of a cliff, they felt less cavernous once you crammed five people into them. and we didn't even have any of our stuff. like, where would i put my chinese teapot collection?

after working your way through the initial set of caves you hit a fork in the trail. one arrow points you back in the direction of the visitor center and the other sends you on an additional 1.5 mile hike through more woods to the community's defensive lodging. still feeling good, we opted for the extra leg.

when we arrived at the base of the defensive stronghold, you couldn't really see where it was situated in the cliff. but by the placement of the first ladder you got the sense that it was 'up thataway'. we ascended this first ladder and then wended our way through some tight walkways carved out in the stone. we hit the second wood and rope ladder. this one was twice the height of the first one and was bolted to a stone face that was more sheer and ominous than the first. in the below picture, it was about were that man was standing, facing out, with his arms in the air that i lost it. i blame him.

bella went first. then alex. then marty. then anthony. then me. on that ascent at about the point where the man was waving his arms the first wave of nausea hit me, then sweat. i was close in on anthony essentially looking at his butt. when the dizziness hit me i called up to marty saying i wasn't feeling right. marty is well aware of my issues with heights and immediately started talking to me, "ok troy. it's ok. you're almost here. just a few more. just keep looking straight." as soon as my body took in her words of encouragement. anthony let go of the ladder with his left hand swung out so he could turn and look down at me and said

go pee daddy

no pee anthony. not now anthony. turn around anthony.

anthony. not now keep climbing buddy.

go anthony! go now!

as of late anthony is playing this game where he likes to announce when he's going to go pee. when you ask him if he wants to go in the toilet he says no. i think he's just rubbing our nose in the fact that we're about to have some work to do. at seeing anthony hanging precariously off the ladder, holding on with just one hand, i was done and officially worthless. my sweaty hands tightened their grip on the uneven rungs and i pulled myself in closer to the ladder. marty coaxed anthony up the next few rungs and pulled him off the ladder and then talked me up the last few rungs. at this landing was another equally tall and sheer ladder. i looked at it then at marty. she put a hand on the my shoulder and said it was ok and she could handle the kids. which was good because while she was dealing with me, bella and alex already jetted up that ladder and were waiting to climb the next. marty followed anthony up and they continued onto the large cutout above while i sat on the ledge staring at the cliff wall.

marty and the kids returned after about twenty minutes. marty asked how i was doing. i said ok. i had been steeling myself for this moment and was prepared to get back down the evil ladder without issue. this time, alex went first, then marty, then anthony, then me, and then bella. marty was making sure anthony got down ok and was again talking to me. seeing what marty was doing once i was on the ladder, bella jumped in, as is her way.

ok dad. it's ok. imagine that you're climbing on a ladder and that ladder is flying through the air.

oh jesus bella!

MARTY (in a hurried tone)
bella! you need to tell him things that make him feel strong. confident.

ok. ok dad. dad. you're strong. very strong. you're as strong as a dinosaur.

amazingly, i got off that cliff without the aid of a helicopter.

in these woods that led to, and more importantly away from, the hell-cave we found that the trees smelled of cinnamon which for our family made them smell like french toast. bella sniffed the tree. bella hugged the tree. bella said the tree smelled so good she could marry the tree. and she doesn't even like cinnamon. that's my girl, amazingly unpredictable to the end.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 08.05.2009
summer vacation 09 pics and notes 6

the dearmitt clan on television
why we don't own a television

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 08.04.2009
summer vacation 09 pics and notes 5
one of the boys we're staying with is on his high school's swim team. i told him that i was trying to learn how to do flip turns. he eagerly launched into a tutorial starting by asking if i could do a flip. i said yes. he said show me. i did. he then went through the mechanics of the approach, the flip and the subsequent push off the wall. i took my place a few paces from the wall, launched into my stroke and took my first crack at the maneuver. after having actually achieved the approach, the flip and a partial push off the wall i rose out of the water knowing it could be better but amazed it at all resembled what i was after. he was standing ready to deliver his critique, "that ... was ... really ... terrible. i mean it was a complete failure."

speak with your heart and not your mouth and you will be loved.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 08.03.2009
summer vacation 09 pics and notes 4

the only time we eat mcdonalds is on vacations. to listen to our children it is 51% of the reason they like or agree to go on vacations. we are in the tenth day of vacation and have yet to partake in the golden arches. this has mostly been facilitated by the point that we are staying in places too remote for even ronald to hang out.

the good side of this means you get to encounter some of the most unique and quaint eateries you could ever imagine finding. if there's a downside, it is that such places don't do fast food, but the speed factor is nullified in that these roadside diners are so interesting and full of character, they are every bit as fascinating as the destination.

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