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VIDEO, HUMOR (permalink) 04.30.2010
truth in advertising

FAMILY (permalink) 04.29.2010
my little, big nurturer
i came home from work yesterday feeling dour. because this is not a mood or emotion that hits me often when the stars align in certain ways against me, the results are amplified. i sat through dinner quietly, distantly, while my family engaged in one another. i was so occupied, i hadn't even noticed that everyone had left and i was sitting alone in the abandoned dining room. i pushed my plate back and rested my head in my hands, massaging my temples. after an unknown number of minutes, i sensed a presence next to me and glanced to my left. alex was standing there staring at me. when i looked at him he didn't say anything, he just inched slightly closer to me. when i didn't respond he inched forward again to where his shoulder touched mine. at this contact i sat up and he slid onto my lap. i leaned back and he snuggled into my chest. if someone happened upon this scene, they might think they were watching a father comfort a son without realizing it was truly the other way around.

KIDS, ART (permalink) 04.28.2010
helpful on a low esteem day.
a note i received from one of bella's classmates (i think).

HEALTH (permalink) 04.27.2010
it's quite amazing any of us are any sort of normal or sane.
after bella asked me about girls and bras a few weeks back and i had to confess ignorance, i emailed a girl i knew in my elementary school days who has a son around the same age as bella. it read:
hey carrie,
if you help me answer my daughter's questions (link), i promise to help you with any curve balls your son may throw your way.

reliable as always, carrie responded, and in great detail, with the following:
The short answer is YES! And the long answer starts way back at Bauder Elementary school in the 5th grade! My guess is 5th grade is closer to 3rd grade in this day and age. It all started with one girl, who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, who matured, filled out, developed long before the rest of us! Once she got a bra, it started the bra rolling (I mean ball rolling). Then each day someone new came with one, this had nothing to do with whether or not they actually needed one. Let me just say, some of us may not have ever needed one until child birth, but that is another whole story of how children change your life forever! So yes many of the girls followed suit and got bras. The crazy thing is that the girl who started it finished her growth spurt by 6th grade and never got any taller. The rest of the girls who were further behind still grew taller and taller. So what may have seemed like an advantage (1st one to get a bra) turned out to not be such a advantage at all.
then days ago marty was telling me about a friend of ours whose daughter just got a breast bud and how that phase of maturity would be starting for us soon. i first asked marty to describe what a breast bud was. she did. i next asked marty if she meant to say that the girl got just one, and if she still had one budless side. marty said that yes, that is what she said and that is how it tends to happen. marty went on to tell the story of when her first breast bud popped, she was sure it was cancer and remembered specifically thinking about how sad her mom was going to be that one of her daughters was dying.

the blank, lifeless stare i gave marty during my breast bud tutorial was not due to a lack of understanding. it was due to an exaggerated sense of understanding and an immense gratitude that when it all began for me one of the two face-down cards i was dealt had a giant Y on its face.

KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 04.26.2010
let's call it my winter coat
on wednesdays i try to eat lunch with bella and alex. unfortunately for my time efficiency, bella and alex have different lunch and recess times. how this plays out is that i have lunch with alex, and then recess with his class, and then i have lunch with bella and then recess with her class. it is worth noting that at their recesses i play ogre. ogre in this scenario entails one 41 year old dude chasing thirty plus running, climbing, sliding and screaming elementary age children around a wood-chipped playground for twenty break-free minutes.

this last wednesday while having lunch with bella's class, bella's best friend, a girl named fautou, saw me walking to the table and called to me. when i leaned down to her she said the following in a stumbling and hesitant manner:
i'm not saying you were fat before but you look less fat than you used to. i mean you look skinnier than you used to. but i'm not saying you looked fat before.
smiling at her struggle to get the observation out, i told her that that was the nicest thing anyone had said to me all week and i appreciated her taking the time to share it. and i do believe her compliment put a little extra bounce in me for that days round of ogre with her and bella's class.

KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 04.23.2010
yeah, mine too kid.
after getting the boys ready for bed, i read them books alternating between ones each of them have picked out of their book bins. at 8:00 i say lights out, turn off the bedside lamp and we all hunker down, snuggle up and close our eyes. sometimes the boys try goofing around playing tunnel and touching each other with their feet but i'm quick to squash such nonsense telling them the days over and it's time for sleep. i'm quick to protect this time because most nights i take this moment to catch a twenty minute nap which works well for modeling because i'm usually the first of the three of us to fall asleep (i set an alarm for 8:30 to prevent my naps from going until 3am). last night as i was drifting to sleep anthony brought me back with the following.


yes anfer.

my penis feels like metal.

stop touching it and go to sleep anfer.

it is rare that one gets to feel like such an authority on matters as when it comes to fathers advising sons on their penises.

KIDS, ART (permalink) 04.21.2010
from my agent and handler
a 2009 father's day card i found in my desk that somehow didn't get posted here yet. it was made by my daughter, to me, her father, who was adopted, which, as noted, was sad and good.

see larger images

QUOTES, KIDS (permalink) 04.20.2010
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.
i get your wieners

KIDS (permalink) 04.16.2010
i remember calling them over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders bella, but that's about it.
bella asked me if when i was her age girls at school started wearing bras before they should have.

she asked me this question the same way she may have asked if i played tetherball at recess, or if i brought or bought my school lunch. but instead of one of those possibly expected questions, she asked me when my female classmates began wearing bras and if they had any business doing so when they started.

and, do you wanna know what i did?

i answered my daughter's question. and i answered it seriously. and i answered it thoughtfully just as i would have if she had asked about tetherball or lunches. granted in answering her i had to confess i had no worldly idea when girls at my school started wearing bras and if when they did start they had any business in one or not.

i've already placed this moment just to the right of "cut through human umbilical cord" on the shelf in my brain reserved for unexpected moments in my life.

TV, QUOTES (permalink) 04.15.2010
that's how you do more than just tv mr fitzsimmons
i'm not mad at jay that he went to 10:00. i'm mad at the guy that runs nbc that decided to take prime real estate that puts thousands of people to work and said we crunched the numbers ... you don't crunch numbers in entertainment ... you have balls ... you have a soul. guys like brandon tartikoff that used to exist. they would look at shows and they had a vision and they believed in talent. hbo, when they looked at larry sanders and said, you know what larry, do a show, here's the keys, lockup when you're done. do twelve episodes. if it's good we'll do another season. that's how you do tv.

comedy writer, greg fitzsimmons, speaking in an interview on the recent-ish late night host debacle (and the state of television in general)

WIFE (permalink) 04.14.2010
not your typical saint, but saintly all the same.
last weekend marty took bella's girl-scout troop camping. what this means is that bella (who stopped going to meetings four months ago) stayed home with me and anthony while marty and alex (the most enthusiastic member of bella's troop) took eight third grade girls and one mom camping. of the nine people who went with marty and alex, not a single one of them had ever camped before. here's one of the the more delectable highlights from the report as told to me by marty:
they got two rounds of polite, courteous marty. then at ten o'clock they got the get your butts to sleep (!!!) marty. i told those girls i was born in march and went camping four months later and three times a year every year after that which means i've slept in the woods more than 120 times in my life and never once did i die in the night and none of you are going to die tonight. so you will go to sleep! and you will wake up in the morning! and you will be better people for it! but for now, GET ... YOUR ... BUTTS ... TO ... SLEEP!!!
of the eight, only three girls cried and only one wet the bed in the night. but they all did finally go to sleep and as promised woke in the morning and there wasn't a one of them that wasn't proud as heck, walking taller, and bragging it up to anyone who'd listen. when they came to marty's tent at 6:30 in the morning chittering excitedly, she sent them to the tent of a group of ninth-graders who were up making noise well past midnight.

when i first saw alex i asked him how things went for him. he said good. i asked him what sorts of stuff he got to do. he described several crafts and games they played. i asked him what the worst part of the weekend was. he said some girls (those same loud ninth graders) were making fun of him for being the only boy at the event. i asked how they were making fun of him. he said they were saying he had very long eyelashes. smiling, i told him i didn't think they were teasing him but that they may have been doting on him. i asked him what his favorite part of the weekend was. he said when he made friends with one of the teasing girls and now she, a girl named lexi, and he were friends.

after marty partook in a shower and nap, we chatted on the porch. after most of the recounting and laughter (my laughter) was done, i asked her if she had to choose between taking nine never-been-camping third graders out again or repeat the ten day hike at philmont (the boy scout's mecca) she did some ten years ago, which would she do? without hesitation, she said philmont. but then she smiled and said that having now been through this once, she thinks she could handle, far more easily, a bunch of camping newbies were she confronted with that again (and she wonders how she keeps getting drawn into these situations).

kudos to you walter for persevering (once again) against such odds. several of the girls were heard to already report looking forward to next year's adventure as if last weekend's affair was nothing but puppies and poppies. it's moments like this when the source of bella's spirit and vinegar and mettle are so obviously rooted (although i'll take credit for alex's eyelashes). i honor your work marta and your contribution(s) to the future adults of our world.

HEALTH (permalink) 04.13.2010
troy augmented
a friend made a great observation/addition to my natural gift theory. first, a refresher:
i believe all people get dealt one natural gift and one demon. the natural gift is something they can do better than 99% of people without even trying. the demon is some non-positive trait they will struggle with even when exerting great will against the vice. through these i believe one's satisfaction, success, and fulfillment in life comes from one's ability to (1) identify and leverage their gift and (2) tame and control their demon.
to this my friend added that the very most effective, and successful people are those who not only identify and check their personal foe, but also turn it to their favor, using it as fuel for some productive or competitive element. in example, an athlete using a rage issue in their sport or a compulsive person using their obsessions for detailed labors such as art, coding or other creative outlets.

in thinking on this for a moment, it seems this fella is a natural to point this out because when he was in his twenties he swam the english channel and two summers ago, while in his early-forties, he ran an unsupported fifty mile foot-race on the spine of a mountain range. i believe the race was called the devil's backbone. i also believe that in addition to carrying his own water filtration system, he also had to carry a can of bear mace. i guess once you've put your personal demons behind you, a bear on the weekend is nothing but child's play.

KIDS, PHOTO (permalink) 04.12.2010
lots of questions. scant few answers.
they say a picture is worth a thousand words. rarely does it seem this true.

KIDS (permalink) 04.09.2010
if she says sit, you better sit.
i believe all people get dealt one natural gift and one demon. the natural gift is something they can do better than 99% of people without even trying. the demon is some non-positive trait they will struggle with even when exerting great will against the vice. through these i believe one's satisfaction, success, and fulfillment in life comes from one's ability to (1) identify and leverage their gift and (2) tame and control their demon.

while in some regards it's too early to tell for sure, but if i were pressed to guess bella's natural gift, i'd say it is in someway leadership-related. i point to this because of bella's ability to orchestrate, motivate, and move individuals and groups of people, both young and old. i offer the following three examples in support:

bella's grandest demonstration of making things happen occurred two years ago when she put together a stage production of flipper in our front yard using kids from the neighborhood. there was a script, there were rehearsals, as well as (kinda) auditions. adults were summoned and lined up on the sidewalk to watch the drama. some brought lawn chairs to sit in while others leaned against trees. the staging area was in our foyer and mostly involved bella encouraging (and at times threatening) the actors to go out and do their best. it was about a twenty minute affair and i believe that no more than two of the performers cried from the pressure.

bella's most productive example of leadership can be seen in her impromptu selling stands which take advantage of a high traffic footpath near our home. if bella, or her friends or her siblings ever identify something they need money for, bella will have a selling stand in place within the hour. these stands have sold drinks, cookies, books, artwork and toys. bella is currently working on her most ambitious selling stand yet which involves knitting hats and scarves on her own and through knitting parties she plans to organize at our house in the summer months. she is building a stock so on the first snow day next winter she'll put up a stand and sell hand-knitted hats and scarves (and hot-chocolate i'm sure) to the underdressed college kids walking to and from class. she plans to use the money to buy animals for impoverished countries via the heifer fund and such. (ed note: if you don't know or are wondering, bella turned nine last month.)

and lastly, where you will see bella most often ply her powers of persuasion is getting her siblings, neighbors, and classmates to play a game where they (they, not bella) act like dogs. panting, scratching, licking, pawing, thankfully not urinating dogs. bella plays the role of the owner. everyone else plays the role of dog. whenever i see this game happening i completely marvel at how fully these children, these human, willful children give themselves over to this charade. it has now happened with such frequency that its specialness has even been moderately lost on bella. there are times when she appears to tire of the game and will go into another room to start doing something else. these temporary canines will awkwardly trail her, still in character and nudge her leg with their bowed head for notice and attention. bella absentmindedly pats their mane or coos at them for a moment before returning to her other more interesting distraction as if this child-dog has been in our home for years. given her proclivity and skill to make people act like domesticated curs, i predict that as an adult bella will either be a new york city dominatrix or a fortune 500 CEO. truth told, of those two i'm torn on which i prefer because it sure would be nice to have family in NYC.

as for bella's demon, i'd say it's too soon to call. obviously, marty and i still have plenty of years to mar and traumatize the child so the air is rife with possibility.

WEB, FRIENDS, SOCIETY (permalink) 04.08.2010
and then this woman just walked up to me and punched me in the face.
i forgot that i had one more facebook morsel to share, which i do realize takes me further from my seven sentences goal. a friend forwarded a message they received from another facebookian they didn't know. here's a name-protected version of the message:

Subject: Hello from another [smith]
Hello! I enjoyed checking out your facebook page. I read a few of your entries. Is your son, [john], special needs per chance? A couple of your entries referred to his developmental milestones which is exactly the type of thing we say about our son, [ted], who is special needs.

Again, enjoyed checking-out the site.

i fear i'm unable to share the exact wording of my friend's message to me because i don't think i'm able to sanitize it enough for this public space without it losing all meaning or coherence. the gist of his message was simply asking how one should respond to an inquiry of this nature.

as far as conversational mis-steps go i put this right up there with asking a woman who is not pregnant what trimester she's in or when the child is due. i've been lucky enough to witness one of those first hand and for however uncomfortable the next few minutes were, i gotta say i'd rather be dealt that (says the man) than asked if my child, who is not mentally disabled, is mentally disabled.

after pondering my friend's fix for a moment i suggested he say no, his child is not special needs and that after receiving her inquiry he looked at her page and wondered if she is expecting again or is merely struggling with the baby weight from her last child.

and yes, my mother did raise me better than that (she would have asked me to share this point with you).

and yes, these sage advice services are also available to you. and get this, they're completely free of charge. i know, thoroughly unbelievable.

WEB, GEEK, FRIENDS (permalink) 04.07.2010
6 friends, 15 enemies, and 23 haters.
i need to make a clarification about yesterday's post. while i did receive an email about it, the email i received was sent from facebook because grammar-dave posted the message on something called "my wall". i'm not entirely certain what my wall is. i've been told by more than one person that if i'm going to have a wall, i should at least know what it is. i told them that having or not having a wall was never a choice i was asked to make and it was only emails like this one that even made me aware of my wall-ownership.

and speaking of facebook, i bet you cash-money i can summarize my facebook thoughts and experiences in seven sentences or less:
  1. in april of 2006 i created a facebook account after i was hired by a university because i was told that everyone at the university had a one and it was the proper thing to do.
  2. in 2008 i used my facebook account for the first time to look up 40 students i was teaching and then told them in class there were five of them i wouldn't hire for a job based solely upon what i found on their facebook pages.
  3. i've never seen more blood leave more faces more quickly, like ever.
  4. i log onto face book every three to four months and accept every friend request that has been made of me whether i know the person or not.
  5. when asked by someone why i friended everyone, i said because it just didn't matter enough not to.
  6. a female student at my school had a job with facebook where she received the questionable material reports and had to make decisions about if the material was questionable enough to be stricken from the record.
  7. it's very possible the questionable material job is the only job i might enjoy more than the job i presently have.
  8. the last time i looked in on my page a woman i know asked a question about my photo contest and when i didn't answer after a few weeks, another friend, who knew me but not the woman, answered the question for me after saying he was pretty sure i never looked at the page.
  9. when i saw that that exchange had occurred, i experienced my first ever warm feeling towards facebook.
ok. so i couldn't swing it in less than seven sentences. de-friend me. and if you're wondering what this might have looked like for myspace, i'm reasonably confident i could have wrapped that up in one sentence.

QUOTES, FRIENDS (permalink) 04.06.2010
no smoking food or drink!
most guys obsess about fried food, hollywood starlets, first-person shooter games, fast cars and/or fantasy football. i used to work with a guy who obsessed about grammar, or more accurately, broken grammar. for this guy my site and its quickly penned material was like porn of the highest caliber. most correspondence i receive from him contains a bulleted list of errors he's found in my ramblings. that said, the latest message i received from him surprisingly did not contain a litany of my blunders.

I saw something that, for reasons I can't figure out, reminded me of you... or at least struck me as something you'd have liked. It was a SUPERB example of the importance of punctuation, particularly commas (the prime example is "Let's eat Grandma!" vs "Let's eat, Grandma!". It was on a blog (a technical forum, not that it matters). There had been some good-natured back and forth banter and one person had thought the level of ribbing was not up to par, so he posted "C'mon! We can do better guys". And not two minutes later someone else posted "What's wrong with the guys you're doing now?"

first off, he's going to have a hard time convincing me he didn't pen that retort. and secondly, i for the life of me can't imagine why that banter would lead him to me.

WIFE (permalink) 04.05.2010
the gift that keeps on giving, like it or not.
for christmas i gave walt some babysitting coupons. each certificate was redeemable for four hours of babysitting. she had one for every week of the spring semester (because that's when i had ready access to a mess of college students).

in february marty came to my desk and handed me two of the coupons. on each she had written a date and time. she had also scratched out the GOOD FOR dates. the dates for both of the coupons she gave me were expired. casually, i looked from the certificates to her, offered them back saying they were no good, and she would have to get ones good for the weeks in question. marty studied me momentarily before snapping the two scraps from my hand. she leaned into me, close, and said these coupons were a present to her and she had every intention of using them, all of them, expired or not. after feeling the breath of the last word pass over my face (and the vitriol it was coated with), she straightened herself, putting a normal distance between us again.

being the male of the relationship, not to mention the man of the home, not to mention the spiritual head of our family, i softly said ok and pulled the coupons from her clenched fist.

click to enlarge

COMPUTER, GEEK (permalink) 04.02.2010
under-respected & under-appreciated no more!
my childhood home's first computer was one called a TRS-80. i was twelve or thirteen at the time. of the early home PCs this one made by radio shack was one of the lesser coveted models, but for someone who thought the nascent computer revolution would pass him by completely, i was seven kinds of thrilled to be part of the history. little did i know how much this foreword thinking purchase on my parents part would affect me then (and for unpredictable decades to come). much of my understanding of logic and process stemmed from the early poking and hacking and noodling i did on this unheralded footnote in the early PC landscape.

the computer, and the television it was connected to, sat on an old wooden card table in my home's basement. my dad expressed little curiosity in the contraption as he passed my hunched over frame while he moved to and from the garage. one time something on the screen stopped him. after a few minutes, he asked what i was doing. i told him playing a game. he asked what the point of the game was. i said to eat all of the dots without running into a bad guy. he asked if he could try. i said sure. i stood and he took the seat. i remember him looking uneasy and out of place at the helm of something that was so connected to me and so not connected to him. i handed him the joystick and showed him how to start a new game by pressing the space bar. his first-ever gaming experience lasted less than a minute. instead of handing the controller back to me for my turn, he reached forward and pressed the space bar starting another game. he died again in short order. this time he turned to me and commented how it wasn't as easy as it looked. i nodded in understanding. space bar again. death again. spacebar. death. spacebar. death. he became so rapt on the objective he didn't even notice when i walked away.

my mom spotted me upstairs looking sullen. she asked what was wrong. i said nothing. she asked why i wasn't on the computer (it was still new enough that it was pretty much all i had done for weeks). i told her dad was using it. surprised she asked if she heard me right. i told her she had. i went to my room and read a book.

the next time i sat down at the computer, on a tablet of paper was written a number with an emphatic underline beneath it. it was in my father's handwriting and it took me a moment to realize it was a score, his high score, to the game. it was also higher than my highest score to date. i was duly impressed. i fired up the game and sat down convicted to best my father's mark. when i did, i enjoyably scratched his number out and wrote mine below it. several nights later when i sat down, i saw that my number was scratched out and replaced with one of his. and like that my father and i for several months engaged in a wordless form of togetherness that to this day stands as one of my warmer, more special childhood memories.

i was at a lunch the other day when the topic of early computer experiences came up. it made me remember the above story. i pulled my pen from my shirt pocket and wrote the words MEGA-BUG on my hand. later that night i set out in search of the game and as usual the interwebs delivered. should you like to experience the game that brought a young awkward boy and an old-school father closer, i invite you to do so. it also doesn't hurt that to this day i consider this to be one of the most quaint and thoughtful computer games ever devised.

to play:
  1. go to this link (link will open in new window so you don't loose the instructions).
  2. if prompted to trust the site, trust the site.
  3. click the SETUP button.
  4. click the MEGABUG button from the list (12th one down).
  5. after returning to the green screen type CLOADM and hit enter.
  6. wait a minute or so while the game loads.
  7. when given an OK prompt, type EXEC and hit enter.
  8. as the story says, press the space bar to play.
  9. use the arrow keys to move.
  10. as in the real world, you only get one life, so make it count.

i challenge you to clear a board in less than 100 attempts. surviving more than a minute is even a bit of a feat. if you clear two boards, both my father and i bow to you in great homage and respect.

KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 04.01.2010
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.

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