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KIDS (permalink) 01.22.2016
well, when you put it that way
one night at bedtime anthony suddenly became very sad, distraught even. in trying to calm him down, marty learned that he was upset about a school assignment. it turns out that he had fallen behind in a in-class assignment because he was getting pulled out a bunch for other programs he participates in and as result he was very behind and even concerned that he might have to repeat the third grade. when marty told him that was silly and would just never happen, anthony replied:
but i got a worse math grade than joe, and he doesn't even know how to spell thumb.
that being the case, i reckon i'd be a tad irked as well.

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MUSIC, VIDEO (permalink) 02.05.2010
i got some serious, like, gansta skill, ya know, on the mark
what follows is an unusual type of content for this site but someone sent it to me and it stands as one of the most surreal and mesmerizing things i've seen in some time. if i had to liken it to something i would call it a mashup of the castle, an american movie, multiple david lynch films sprinkled with various other movie and music influences too numerous to name.

caution: there are some naughty words and stamping visuals so if such things vex you, may i suggest some old parker lewis clips instead.

and there's definitely more humor at their website including a more ambitiously produced ninja video.

monthly archives

KIDS (permalink) 01.21.2016
left field
Where I'm From
by Alex DeArmitt (age 12)

I am from PC to Xbox.
I am from the black controller to the keyboard
From Minecraft to Halo played with my dad
Grateful that he's taking the time,
hoping he keeps his job but always has time for me.

From the life and deaths,
From the scary games to the funny games.
I am from the musty blue couch
to the fluffy black chair next to my brother.

I am from friends, family and pictures.
From teachers to the students that work every day,
From the cuddles to the unsuspected death of my dads mom
that left me feeling empty like a dried up grape.

I am from the wooden house in the forest that we visit.
I am from the musty inside that makes me glad.
I am from my step-grandma who makes my grandpa happy.
I am from the birds chirping and the dog barking and the smell of the forest.
From grandpa to grandma that make my life complete.
I am from the feel of the grass to the hugs and kisses.
I am from the snow like fur of Gilly the silly dog that makes my family happy.

I am from Bauder and Blevins doing my best.
From the homework to school work.
I am from mathematics to science,
From fun and delightful G.A.T.E. to Spanish,
I am from the black beautiful Chromebooks ready to go.

I am from the surprises waiting at my house.
I am from Easter to birthdays,
I am from family reunions to my brother fighting viciously.
I am from presents to and from my family to the candy that will rot my teeth if I don't brush.
I am from the creamy chocolate and smells to the cold touch of it
and the sound of the it sloshing around my moist mouth.
I am from these moments, riding them like a rollercoaster,
riding all of the ups and down, and twists and turns of life.

marty walked into my office and handed me this. she then watched me as i read it. when complete i looked up at her and we just looked at each other for a few moments, both speechless. then after a few moments she said, "there's a lot packed into that young man". i could do little more than nod my head in agreement.

WIFE (permalink) 01.20.2016
teachers' dreams
marty dreamt about an obnoxious student, fictional, in her class that came and spread out a bunch of electronics on his desk at the start of class. she repeatedly told him to put his toys away. after not complying she walked up to his desk and had the following exchange:

i've told you four times to put that stuff away.

i guess now you're going to have to tell me five times.

to this unexpected response marty held up her hand as if to point a finger at him, but magically clutched in her grip was a butter knife. using this opportune dream-development she brought the flat edge of the knife down sharply hitting the boy on the forehead. shocked and mildly hurt the boy said:

hey! you can't do that. i can get you fired. i'm going to get you fired.

MARTY a little stunned
well ... well ... not if i quit.

marty then promptly went to her desk, dashed out a quick resignation letter, grabbed her backpack and high-stepped out of the room.

the next day marty shared this dream with another teacher. he lit up and said he recently had one of those (it turns out these sorts of dreams may be more routine than one might expect). in his he got so frustrated with a student he strangled him, like to death. the curious thing he said was that after it happened he wasn't shocked or alarmed but turned away with a sense of satisfaction as if he'd just graded a huge stack of papers. it wasn't until his co-teachers in the room chastised him and said he shouldn't have done that before he felt bad about what had happened. it is important to note that he recalls not feeling bad about the limp student but he felt bad that he had disappointed his friends and co-workers.

LIFE, FRIENDS (permalink) 01.19.2016
the ultimate re-gift/thank you/karma
speaking of random acts of kindness.

we have some new neighbors. they moved in about a year ago and have a young girl who just turned two. the little girl is quite awesome, in part because she thinks i'm about the coolest cat on the block and lights up a big smile every time she sees me. being a young family just getting on their feet, marty and i usually offer them kid-related things we have outgrown and are giving away. one thing we gave them shortly after they moved in was the changing table we used for all three of our kids as our humans had finally (thankfully!!!) outgrown the need for it.

a few days after christmas, marty answered a knock on the door. she opened it to find neighbor jeff there holding a cutting board. after exchanging the usual pleasantries, jeff held the cutting board forward, offering it to marty. before she could say anything he said he would like to return the changing table we gave them. taking the cutting board, marty asked what he meant. he said the drawers in the cabinet broke and while he was breaking it down he noticed the top board was a really nice block of maple, so he cut it down and made an end-grain cutting board for us using the wood from the piece of furniture all three of our children came up on.

i'm not willing to say bella's act of kindness spurred this karma on but i would be comfortable asserting that my neighbor is probably way cooler and more awesome than your neighbor.

LIFE (permalink) 12.11.2015
inky johnson
if this guy/story can't get you fired up, you're just broke.

KIDS (permalink) 12.10.2015
unusual practices
before bed, marty reads harry potter to anthony and i. we are on book 5. this is her second time through the series as she read the books to alex and bella several years back. i read the first four books to anthony but we flamed out as i kept falling asleep during my reads. this is why marty took over. she is admittedly way better at reading poter than i am as she does animated voices and has an enviable reading stamina, even when she is exhausted. while she reads i work on my crossstitch. anthony, well, he usually jumps around either walking back and forth on the bunk bed rails (until he slips and painfully wedges himself between the bed the and wall) or plays hot lava traversing the room by jumping from object to object. the only time he is still is when he's eating an apple, his pre-bed snack. this allows him to be just as loud sitting still as when he is balancing, climbing, jumping about the room. part of his apple ritual stands as one of favorite anthony-isms though. when he is done he goes to his second story window, loudly throws it open and chucks his apple core on the front yard. the first time i saw him do this i asked, a little alarmed, what he was doing. he casually said he was giving the rest of his apple to nature, you know the squirrels and birds or whoever might come upon it and need a snack. when he saw the expression on my face he added, "mom said it's ok". then the next morning as we head off to school, he will sometimes point out his apple, saying "hey there's my apple from last night" and he will sometimes glance at an empty part of the yard and wonder aloud who got to enjoy his apple last night. i'm left wondering (not aloud) what the hell i'm going to to do for entertainment when my children are grown and gone.

PHOTO, LIFE (permalink) 12.09.2015
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.

KIDS (permalink) 12.08.2015
so, how are the kids?
at a holiday gathering someone asked me how the kids were doing. the following stories spilled out and i thought i'd share them with those of you i might not bump into at a holiday event.

i was approached by a parent at anthony's elementary. she introduced herself and explained someone told her that anthony might be a good fit for an equations team her husband runs. i told her that anthony did seem to like math so, yes, he may be interested. she said that the program was for older kids and that they had already started the training but it might not be a bad idea to get him in this year so he could familiarize himself with the process. i took anthony to their next meeting. the "coach" got the other kids working and said he was going to be over here getting anthony setup. the man proceeded to unpack a game. while doing so he started asking a third grade anthony questions like:
  • do you know what the square root of 9 is? he did.
  • how about the square root of 81. he did.
then he asked if anthony knew what powers were. he did not. the man explained and then ran anthony through some problems which anthony answered without fail. he then taught anthony how to play the game. after the session i thanked the man for teaching anthony and letting him sit in this year. to this the man said, "sit in? i'm going to have anthony compete this year! he's great!". if great means that in third grade he already knows more about math than i ever have, yes he is great.

alex is in a robotics club. in this club the team gets a challenges to solve and then works as a team to solve the challenge. this year the team assigned nicknames to all the members. alex's nickname was "the guy who can fix anything". not too bad a designation on a team that exists to solve problems.

bella is at a new school district. we were a little curious how she would fare entering an entirely new population of people without a history or reputation. two months after her arrival she was chosen as one of five female school ambassadors. these ambassadors are existing students who show prospective students around to interest them in the school. this is obviously a role the school's administration does not take lightly and for bella to get tapped this soon after her arrival gives marty and i the sense that our baby girl will perhaps be ok out there in the bigger world.

WIFE, LIFE (permalink) 12.07.2015
makes me wonder what else i could shed to simplify things
remember my financial fast (ref)? as of today i am 41 days into my ban on personal and/or frivolous spending. curious how palpable such an adjustment in one's lifestyle is? marty looks in our credit card statement online after she pays the prior month's bill off to get a sense for what the next month is starting to look like. a week in she usually encounters anywhere from $500 to $1500 dollars depending on what home repairs and doctor visits are on the schedule. this time, it sat at just over $100. i don't think i've seen marty that giddy since we figured out how to go on a nine day vacation for under $500 bucks. granted, this christmas season is about to take a big brown one on that low balance, but at least it will be short one burden (me!) this year.

KIDS, SOCIETY (permalink) 11.13.2015
i used to hide my money in a band-aid box in an air vent.
while walking to school with anthony he asked, after a natural pause in our conversation, "so dad. what is something you really want, that cost less than 20 dollars?".

while i was reflecting on things i talked about how the best present for someone was something they really wanted but for whatever reason wouldn't buy themselves. after a few minutes i told anthony that something i've been intrigued by for a number of years were mounted insects. after explaining what they were he asked why i would want that. i told him that from my photography contest i've come to be amazed at some of the insect-photography, especially the up-close macro images that people have sent in of bugs and stuff and that they are really very extraordinary and if they could be enlarged to, say, the size of one of these houses we were walking by they would be the most extraordinary things we've ever seen, both in their beauty and detail.

a few days later i mentioned anthony's question to marty. she told me she was well aware of the conversation because anthony then went to her and said he needed her to help him buy me a mounted insect for my birthday. after looking a bit, anthony found one that was $30. when marty asked him if he had $30 he said sure, walked to and opened one of his bedroom windows, pulled a velcro wallet from the outer jamb and produced the requested $30.

yeah, what, like you don't keep your money hidden in a window jamb?

and for reasons i can't explain (in that marty has confessed ignorance) both of my boys have taken a great interest in getting me a birthday gift this year. i'm admittedly a little easier to shop for since i went on my spending fast (ref). also, i'm a little more eager for the goodies given i'm no longer buying myself each and every bauble that catches my eye. i have the sense it's all going to taste a bit sweeter this year.

KIDS (permalink) 11.12.2015
what nine year old uses the word "glum"?
anthony got a typewriter for his ninth birthday. occassionally you'll find a sheet of paper full of typed text laying about the house. i've learned to stop and read them as i find the open narratives of a young child fascinating. the one below i read to the end and found myself looking around, a bit more desperately than i should feel comfortable sharing, for the next page. i was riveted. granted i'm his dad and probably find it all more interesting than you will or think i should but dang, i could read this stuff all day.

click to enlarge

LIFE (permalink) 11.11.2015
when you want it as much as you want air, or sex
i've recently stopped spending money. i have my reasons and they are good ones. and because they are good ones, i may have a prayer at rocking this financial fast.

the first and best thing about making a serious declaration to stop spending money is the liberation that comes with it (remember this guy). it frees up like fifteen to forty percent of your mind as you get to simply dismiss all of those little nags that happen through the day in this world of shiny material and digital things, all of which are vying for your attention (and money). now i just get to say "nope, not an option" and move on. as i said, liberating.

marty fluctuates between jubilation and frustration over my new declaration. she's jubilant in that she's been trying to get me to stop mindlessly spending money for better than twenty years. she's frustrated that the answer was as simple as putting the right vision in front of me. i can't be to blame in that though. i've been a vision-centric person since my earliest memory. without an end goal in mind (an end goal i viscerally want), i can't marshall a single neuron to act. i have sixteen years of unimpressive school transcripts to support this trait. a piece of computer generated paper with an A on it held no appeal to me (granted, i lacked the vision of the potential enough of those As held for me and my future-self). but, give me a tantalizing goal on the horizon i would love to possess, and my record, to date, has been perfect.

i heard a talk by a life coach who acutely and succinctly addressed this specific foible. she talked about men who would come to her and say they wanted to get in shape. she would ask them why they wanted to get in shape. they would say so they could be healthy and live longer. she told each and every one of those men she couldn't help them. when they asked why she told them their vision was too soft and she couldn't work with it. she instead needed them to say i want to get healthy so i look hot and girls want to sleep with me. to that response she would say, that i can work with. now let's go get you laid.

it's all about that wanna-have-more-sex kinda drive that makes something happen. and i finally found mine in regard to money.

SOCIETY (permalink) 11.10.2015
i hate that shit!
marty, bella and i were walking home. as we were crossing a street bella yelled "SLUG BUG!" and gave me a hard shot in the arm. that side of my body sagged from the unexpected blow (she is not the small and defenseless girl she once was). as i began my whiny "what didya do that for?" the guy inside the vw beetle guffawed and yelled out his passenger window, "Man! I love that shit!". his comment got bella and marty laughing. the humor missed its mark on me and my sagging arm.

KIDS (permalink) 10.23.2015
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.

WIFE, LIFE (permalink) 10.22.2015
perception is overrated. delusion is the way to go.
marty and i went out on a date night. this might be the second one of these we've been on in the last five years. i took her to a new eatery i recently discovered and then we went to see kathleen madigan at one of our cities swankier venues (the peabody). after the show marty and i remained in our chairs as the other patrons streamed out. they seemed as intrigued by us keeping our seats as we were with their immediate need to vacate the premises (and willingness to fight the throngs of people). as we watched the parade before us, marty commented at the age of the crowd in they seemed a lot older than we expected. as we did our accounting marty leaned in adding, "or maybe we look like them and are old too". huh? what? when exactly did that happen?

and, it seems we are not alone in experiencing this odd phenemenon.

KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 10.21.2015
reminds me of the beaver.
a few kidisms i've recently enjoyed:

we have some new neighbors. they are very much like marty and i were when we first moved into the community. early thirties. just starting their family. the guy is very young at heart and it is not at all uncommon to find him doing flips on the tramp with the kids or crouched behind a bush set to nerf-ambush someone. the other day he was out watering plants when alex walked by. he snapped the hose in alex's direction sending a quick spray of water over alex. to this alex said, "jeff, you can't spray me. these things i have are highly flammable." the men chuckled at this defense. but the moms took the time to explain the hole in the logic.

then a few days later anthony showed his own verbal creativity when he excitedly described a book he was making at school. he stepped through all the real-book parts it was going to have. a cover. a binding. pictures. and, even, a Table of Contests.

WEB, PHOTO (permalink) 10.20.2015
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.

QUOTES (permalink) 10.19.2015
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.

QUOTES, KIDS (permalink) 09.25.2015
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.

WEB, PHOTO (permalink) 09.24.2015
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.

HEALTH (permalink) 09.23.2015
check it out
in february of 2014 i said,
it is easy to wreck a strong exercise regimen with a bad diet.

and, it is impossible to wreck a good diet with a bad exercise regimen.
and in september of 2015 some really smart people said,
The diet vs. exercise debate has been in the spotlight since an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine earlier this year caused a stir with its authors' blunt message: Physical activity does not promote weight loss.

"You cannot outrun a bad diet," they wrote. "Many still wrongly believe that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise."
those brits should have just called me. i could have saved them oodles of time.

KIDS (permalink) 09.22.2015
sometimes when your computer gets hacked, it's good
as bella worked her way towards her teens, numerous people warned us of our pending doom, advising us to enjoy our little girl while it lasted. not having navigated the waters yet, marty and i found it hard to make a qualified defense to the assertions. so instead we kept saying and believing that it didn't have to go that way. the other night after reading to the boys for bed, i sat down at my computer to tend to the day's email. filling the screen was an open word document. it read:

Hey dad,

Everyone says that becoming a teenager is hard and that everything will change your relationship with the ones that you love, the amount of sleep that you get, your free time, the things that you're interested in. A lot of these things have begun to change in my life already, but if there's one thing that I want to make sure doesn't change it's the relationship that I have with you, mom, Alex and Anthony. I love each and everyone of you and I've noticed myself becoming more and more distant, you have to. I'm going to do everything that I can to show that I love you and the rest of the family. I just wanted to let you know because I know that you've noticed the changes and I want to make sure that you know that I'm going to try.

So this is my promise that I'm going to do everything that I am capable of to keep my relationship with the people in the family as wonderful as it is right now.

I love you and I'm going to continue loving you until the day that you die (which won't be very long, sadly). I know that in the future we're going to have some big fights and I just want to make sure that if I ever say something or do something that makes it seem like I don't love you, you know that I do love you and will never stop.

Love you, forever and always,

regarding these "inevitable" fights, i believe i have come upon a secret weapon which can mitigate both the frequency and volatility of these altercations. i call it, blandly, the twenty minute rule. the twenty minute rule states that if you ever see a family member, especially a child, coming off the rails you need to evacuate the area, isolating the failing human as quickly as possible for approximately twenty minutes. most typically, once a reaction begins, there's no preventing it. thinking you can steer around it would be like thinking you can stop yourself from projectile vomiting by holding your hand over your mouth. so evacuate the building. don't look the infected human in the eyes. move everyone out of the blast radius and quarantine the affected human so that when they do blow there are no innocents within shrapnel range as this can lead to chain reactions, sometimes bringing a whole home into emotional ruin.

guided meditations often point out that just like with weather, there are always blue skies overhead. it's just that sometimes we can't see them because a cloud front has moved in, blocking the view. the thing that makes the twenty minute rule work is that the systems are always in motion and if unprodded will typically move past just as swiftly as they rolled in. but if they are provoked they will grow in size and temper. give them space, they will move on and before you know it, you'll be looking at blue skies again. this is one of the advantages of an ever-changing universe and understanding that in the time it took you to read this sentence the world about you is forever changed and never to again look the way it did when you read the first word of this sentence. so let it change. embrace the change. and when you see dark skies, seek cover because oftentimes the storm clouds will move out as swiftly as they moved in.

also, i've learned this technique also applies with adult, professional relationships but for reasons both obvious and nuanced, the window is more like 24 hours instead of twenty minutes. the classic example here is not sending that angry email at the peak of your angst, but waiting until the next day, re-reading it, and seeing if you think it would be sensible to send it on. rarely have i looked at that email after a night's sleep and thought, yes, this is the push in the shoulder that's going to make this human act more civily towards me.

here you can see the twenty minute rule taking form several years back.

LIFE (permalink) 09.04.2015
my favorite piano song ever, the waltz of amelie
below is the musical piece i'm trying to learn right now (right now in this case equalling the last year). and no, i don't know how to play the piano. this is the first song i'm learning. presently i'm up to the 45 second mark, but as you'll see that's where things get interesting.

LIFE (permalink) 09.03.2015
a solid question to start your days with ...
What's the best thing you could be working on, and why aren't you?

- As derived from Richard Hamming (of Bell Labs)

KIDS (permalink) 09.02.2015
here i offer a glimpse into a newly minted nine year old's mind
click to enlarge

WEB, PHOTO (permalink) 09.01.2015
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.

QUOTES, KIDS (permalink) 08.07.2015
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.

KIDS (permalink) 08.06.2015
backyard thunderdome
multiple people commented on the family pic a few weeks back that showed marty and anthony on the tramp (ref). they liked how the poles for the safety enclosure were stacked up on the side of the tramp, precariously close even. one commenter (bookguy, ahem) suggested i situate the poles around the tramp in some sort of mad max like configuration to further incent younglings to not fall over the edge. obviously i would never do this, but i also wouldn't make the suggestion aloud in front of two of my three kids.

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.05.2015
summer vacation 2015
we are recently back from a week of tent-camping in northern michigan. i would say where exactly but since i'm pretty sure we will return, i'm not looking for any more competition for campsites, so the specific place we like shall go nameless. some highlights of the week though:
  • i slept outdoors in a hammock all week. our location was remote enough the sky was fully peppered with stars--so much so that you could make out the hazy stripe of the milky way. the scene was so rich that i kept my glasses in a little pocket connected to the hammock so when i stirred in the night, instead of going right back to sleep, i would fumble around for my glasses, put them on and take a few minutes to take in the sky through the gaps in the trees above me. i had to do this odd ritual because i went to bed before the sky was in full bloom.
  • i began every day, save one, with a 30-40 mile bike ride through rolling michigan hills.
  • i concluded several of the afternoons with a multi-mile paddle board adventure along the coastline.
  • i didn't shower for 8 days.
  • i swam with olympian-speed (for me) to save anthony (8) who got caught up in a riptide. *
  • via yelp, we once again discovered an eatery the whole family enjoyed so much, we are tempted to make a weekend trek back up there just to enjoy it again.
  • on the way home we intended to stop for a hotel but after running into (a) very few hotels, and (b) no hotels with vacancies, we ended up driving straight through. when the day began i expected to be asleep by midnight or one at the latest. when i finally laid my head down on my own pillow on my own bed, i glanced at my watch--it read 6:00am precisely.
* regarding the riptide event. we were on a strip of beach where a large lake and a small lake were separated by about forty feet of sand. a little kid, around four, and his father dug a small trench between the two so the boy could float his boat through the channel. four hours after they connected the two bodies of water the trench had grown to be forty feet wide and possessed a waist deep (for me) current that was hard to stand against as the water from the smaller lake was pulled into the larger body--creating an instant riptide of sorts. as the channel and the current grew larger (as it was continually eroding the fragile sandy banks) so did its reach or push out into the larger lake. of course this new feature proved to be huge fun for the kids playing on the beach as they rode the waves on boogie boards or just simply threw their bodies into the strong current to be rolled along. for the several hours this went on i stood sentry at the bank, twice having to step in and grab kids who were having problems in the waters. the six kids with us (my kids plus three from a family we were traveling with) were having so much fun i offered to hang back while the other adults headed back to camp to get dinner going. i figured this would give them another hour or two of play in this unique water feature.

once the time had passed and we needed to head back to camp ourselves, i called the kids over to help collect our gear. just as i thought we were ready to go one of the young boys who was playing in the water came up behind me saying "mister! mister!" when i turned he pointed out into the water, past where our riptide's sharp current ended. bobbing in the water i saw anthony (8), a single arm waving in the air. i dropped what i had and sprinted into the shallows and once it was knee deep dove and began swimming towards him. i didn't do my usual freestyle technique which would have allowed me to swim faster because intuition told me to watch where he was positioned should he go under the water. sadly this change in form did not make me swim faster. when i arrived to him i saw he was clutching onto a kick board (thank god) but panic set in when i turned to the shore to see how far out we were and realizing how fatigued i was in getting to him. just before the panic took full root a voice behind me said, "would you fellas like a lift".

i spun further to see a man kneeling on a long paddle board. i had spoken with the man and his wife hours earlier, initially about their paddle boards but also about the area and such. he had been resting on the beach with his wife when the boy had pointed to a wayward anthony. alert and astute he followed me out to anthony and thank god he had because when i looked at how far we were out i was not confident about getting not only me but me and anthony back to shore. so i need to thank that three dollar kick board that allowed anthony to stay above water until i got to him and dan, the wildly calm and cool (and ripped) middle school history teacher and track coach from kalamazoo who definitely saved the chili of both anthony and i on that day. thank you dan.

KIDS (permalink) 08.04.2015
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.
dream fail

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