Monday, October 20, 2014

Random post: Scorpion vs. Stooge

This probably qualifies as fan-fiction - I don't really know because I don't really do that sort of thing.

Anyway, is anyone watching "Scorpion"?  Network television drama.  The Scorpion team is comprised of geniuses and they assist the C.I.A in solving crimes.  It's a rag-tag fugitive group - like a hyper-Mensa bus crashes into the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine.

After watching a few episodes of this, the formula seems pretty straightforward:  Genius crime-fighters deserve genius crime-committers.  In the end, the good guys manage to outthink their opponent with logic and grace.

So I thought it was time to upset this balance.

I've watched my own genius at home - he's now thirteen.  He is able to figure out complex algebraic equations, navigate his way through a cookbook recipe, construct virtual worlds out of digital bricks, and make sense of his universe each day.

With one exception.

His little sister is the antithesis of logic and order.  If he is Science officer Spock, she undoubtedly is the loud, brash Klingon.  His attempts to apply sensible boundaries continue to go unheard like a Tazmanian Devil through cotton candy.

It is this exact scenario that I would like the Scorpion team to encounter - and ultimately fail at.

In the show, there is Happy Quinn.  She is an Asian-american engineering savant.  Show her a mechanical device and she can understand it and make it obey.  She draws strength from the engineers' design.  She is confident because she can rely on her tools.

How then, would she fare when faced with the plumbing job that Curly had wrought?

Toby Curtis is a genius at reading people.  His ability to deduce someone's behavior based on subtle clues and tells has him at a distinct advantage against an unknown adversary.

But we already know everything we need to know about Stooges.  They fight amongst themselves.  Trying to deduce why they fight is futile - they just do.

Sylvester Dodd is an obsessive-compulsive mathematical anomaly.  His eiditic memory allows him to create order from numbers and probabilities.  His weaknesses are a paralyzing fear of germs, chaotic randomness, and driving.  You put this guy in a cream-pie fight and it's game over.

The founder of the group is Walter O'Brien.  He doesn't exhibit any obvious personality deficiencies except for perhaps an overbearing need to succeed with a side-order of hubris.  He is THE wise-guy.  We all know how Stooges react to wise-guys.

Paige Dineen is the handler.  She represents the link between the geniuses and the rest of the world.  She is also, understandably, attractive.  She may be the only weakness that the Stooges have.  They aren't too concerned with people smarter than they are, because, frankly, EVERYONE is smarter than they are.  Yet they always seem to find a way to one-up everybody else.  They're the idiot-underdogs that payoff on a million-to-one odds.

Anyway, whenever the writers of this show start running out of ideas, I'd really like them to consider this one.  And make the Stooges female:  Maureen, Laurie, and Curly.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halloween is Happy

Online relationships.  IKR?  Hear me out.

About 2 years ago, I joined this online community called "Mommyish".  They dig parenting.  I dig parenting.  We dug each other.  It was great.

We splintered off into a Facebook group that I called "The Taco Belles".  Yes, I commandeered that logo, what else is my Photoshop good for?  This group, I have to say, is just an incredible collection of like-minded moms that I'm proud to be a part of.

So, Eve (you all know Eve) sets up a gift-exchange for Halloween.  We draw names and have ~$20.00 to gift each other.

I drew Jennifer Mahoney-Sty.  She lives in Arizona.  She likes bubble baths.  I get to work.

1.  I decided on a Lush bath bomb.  Not just a bath bomb, though.  I wanted a spooky bath bomb.  In the past, Lush offered Halloween-themed items.  However, as luck would have it, nothing this year (times be tight, yo).  So, while a normal-brained person would just fixate on some other gift, I was not so normal-brained and decided to MAKE IT SPOOKY.

I really like Dia De Los Muertos Calaveras (sugar skulls).  They are just so colorful and vibrant on an otherwise grim and deathly concept.  Why not combine Day of the Dead with Bath Bomb?

I had plenty of patterns and footage to design from.  The only real considerations were:  what ink or paint to use and how to carve it out.  I could choose between acrylic paint, watercolor, and Sharpie marker.  In the end, the Sharpie ink won because it was highly controllable, non-toxic, and wouldn't dissolve the bath bomb as I worked on it.  After some X-Acto blade work, I had a really nice present.

But I needed more.

Eve (you all know Eve) had mentioned a wonderland of a candy store in New York.  Dylan's Candy Bar, it is called.  Those of you who are not familiar with Dylan's - I'll just say it's the only candy shop that I've been to where you can get drunk.  It just so happened that I was taking my family to New York City to vacation for an extended weekend.  Timing could not have been better.  There was really only one choice for this gift, though - that would be Dylan's collection of Dia De Los Muertos chocolate bars.  Maintaining the theme, right?

It was at this point I started conceptualizing the packaging.  I had to ship these gifts so they would arrive intact.  Chocolate - in Arizona.  I actually looked up a company online that provided free samples of water-activated freezer packs to keep food cold.  That combined with a styrofoam wrapper should be enough, I decided.  I had a really nice stockpile of foam packaging to keep everything stable and lots of cardboard to fashion boxes out of.  Logistics aside, now it's time to design.

I had one Treat.  Might as well make the other a Trick.  Throughout this planning, I started collecting boxes of all shapes and forms.  The hobby store had pre-made boxes with lids for $2.99 each but, again, abby-normal me rallied against it.  I did pick up a spool of black ribbon, a spool of orange ribbon, and an orange vinyl tablecloth.  This stuff is really cheap after coupons.  You really want to know how deep this rabbit hole went?  I considered making the treat box (with the chocolates inside) not-black to keep it that one-degree cooler.  Anyway, I found two box patterns that would hold my items and enough foam insulation to work comfortably.  Gloss black spray paint for "Trick" and Orange vinyl with spray adhesive for "Treat".  Contrasting ribbon work on each along with hand-made bows and chevroned tips.

I really like Victorian scrollwork and antiquated typewriter fonts for this.  Out of the myriad of fonts freely available online, I found one called "Underwood".  PERFECT - because I just finished watching "House of Cards".  Not satisfied with defaults, I customized the Victorian border with a skull.  Photoshop allowed me to match the contrast levels so it produced a fairly seamless design.

I felt I should also include a note inside the boxes - sort of like that Whitman's sampler map they give you.  Just so everybody is on the same page.  More Underwood font and tentacles.  Because cephalopods are so sexy.

That was it.  I really loved putting all this together.  It really is my favorite holiday of the year.  Jennifer was also very, very pleased.

Oh, one other thing.  During all this, Jennifer gave birth to a beautiful daughter.  I really wrestled with trying to find something for the baby but, in the end, I decided that this box would be totally hers.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Another Botched Execution and Horror

News Radio gives me stuff to think and write about.

Last night, Arizona tried a new drug combination to carry out the execution of inmate Joseph Wood.  The process required 117 minutes before Wood was finally pronounced dead.

I have written about botched executions before and, while other executions have been done without incident, it is still disturbing that there are so many recent failures.  I believe it is because we no longer have a source for obtaining the drugs that are known to work - and now states are now left with trying new and unproven methods for lethal injection.

All this I can understand.

But what really got my jaw on the floor was the statement by Richard Brown, brother-in-law of Debbie Dietz' (the victim whom Mr. Wood murdered)  He is quoted as saying:

“This man conducted a horrific murder and you guys are going, let’s worry about the drugs.  Why didn’t they give him a bullet, why didn’t we give him Drano?”

I understand the pain of loss.  That senseless murder.  The need for justice.  I know there are masochistic monsters inside us.

But we have to evolve beyond that and we have to be better than the murderers.   We develop lethal injection because, in the view of U.S Court, it is legally acceptable.  When it deviates outside of the normal is when the law must take notice and take action.  It has yet to be determined whether the process that happened last night was a violation of Mr. Wood's Eighth Amendment Constitutional Right (where a government cannot impose cruel or unusual punishment or torture).

Should we even consider those who are wrongfully-imprisoned?  A recent study says we get it wrong more than four out of one-hundred times.  Does an innocent man deserve Drano?

Ask yourself, if you were to be murdered, would you want your kids to avenge you - risking their own futures?  Or would you want them to forgive and live on?  If they were murdered, do you think they would want you to seek blood in return?  How much blood do you think they would want?  Or would they rather see you better than their own killer?

Forgiving a killer does not lessen your love for those around you.

This is why cease-fires are so difficult to attain.  Right now, the death toll in Gaza is over six-hundred.  That's six-hundred individual instances where they have to put their bloodthirst aside for peace.  Six-hundred individuals must unanimously decide for forgiveness.

It's just about unfathomable.  Especially if the social-constructs that bind people together, be it government or religion, don't foster the idea of forgiveness or, worse yet, proclaim revenge-killing as acceptable.

It's very hard to forgive, I won't deny that.  And if some radical comes around saying "it's OK to kill your killer." that's pretty enticing to someone who has just lost their entire world.  But we should try to retain that little voice that tells us something's not-quite-right about that.  Something we realized in kindergarten.

We'd have more time to play on the swings if we weren't so consumed with revenge.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Daddy Issue: Drug-Sniffing Dog Services

Here's another one from an NPR snippet:

Parents can now hire the services of a drug-sniffing dog to search their homes for illicit substances.  During the interview, a dog and handler were able to locate a private stash of heroin that was hidden inside a family recliner.  The quantity was, in the handler's opinion, not enough to warrant police involvement and the father's mood changed from immediate disownment to wanting to help his daughter get clean.

I can understand the recent popularity of these types of services - parents become more and more distant to their aging teenagers and communication breaks down quite easily.  Teenage independence gives way to invasion of privacy - which the article also touches upon.  I can just imagine that calling for a drug search means you have a suspicion of what is going on in the house, but you somehow need that final confirmation to act upon.  Moms and dads start looking for EVIDENCE and talks become defensive and confrontational - if there's even a talk to begin with.

We can all become out-of-our-element when dealing with our own children.  I think the key is to earn the respect of our kids - talking becomes easier when both parties are seen as equals.  Especially if illegal drugs are involved, then we're way past grounding or spankings.  Know that heroin in the home is a reflection of the entire family - and blame should be acknowledged equally.  Try to reach that common ground on why drugs were tried in the first place and progress from there.  Show your child that you have that unlimited amount of love and forgiveness, no matter what they've done or how bad the situation is.  If they need rehabilitation, they're going to need your strength as well as their own to get through it successfully.

Ignoring it makes it worse.  Incarceration makes it worse.  Turning them away altogether makes it worse. 

Make it better.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Daddy Issue: Male Birth-Control Research

Right now, there's a company called the Parsemus Foundation that is working on (still in animal trials in the U.S) a very important product.  It is a form of reversible male birth control called Vasalgel.

A little bit of history, male birth-control similar to Vasalgel has already been in use in India under the name RISUG for fifteen years.  The U.S has not adopted RISUG because of stringent FDA regulations, hence the market for Vasalgel.  How, exactly, does Vasalgel work? 

1.  A chemical is injected into the vas deferens where it stays active for between TEN and FIFTEEN YEARS.
2.  The chemical's positive charge, in effect, shreds the spermatozoa as they travel through the gel.
3.  To reverse the control, another opposite-charged solution is injected.


Yes, dudebros are now clutching their Ed Hardy necklines, bemoaning the fact that they have ANOTHER thing to be responsible for - not to mention they may be averse to anybody injecting anything with any kind of needle anywhere near whatever a vas deferens is.

But, as my hero Bill Nye would say, "Consider the Following":

1.  This renders you seedless like a grape*
2.  No more unwanted requests to be on "Maury"
3.  This is totally reversible*
4.  It only has to be done once and will probably outlast your procreative years*
5.  It gives you EVEN MORE control of your own fertility - no more relying on her daily pills or norplants or copper wires or vampire-bat-blood
6.  Bro, it don't even hurt*
7.  No side-effects for her anymore
8.  No side-effects for you*  The gel does not impede the flow of other fluids through the vas deferens.
9.  The drug costs less than the needle they use to administer it
10.  Hobby Lobby most-likely will allow it under their health insurance plan

I am ALL DONE having kids, so I've subscribed to their newsletter in the rare chance they need test-subjects in the New England area.  I do regret not getting a vasectomy when presented the chance.  Men, it's time to man-up and take the shot.  Give her what she wants and don't give her what she doesn't want.

Currently, the Parsemus Foundation has successfully completed tests on rabbits and are now seeking funding for tests on baboons.  Once that phase is successful, then human trials begin.  The Parsemus Foundation is a charity, not a for-profit organization, so public fundraising is currently underway and donations are gratefully accepted and desperately needed on their homepage.

Caveat:  This is only, I repeat, ONLY for contraception.  This will NOT PREVENT the transmission of any sexually-transmitted disease.  That is not what this is designed for.  Please practice safe sex every time.

Can I just say vas deferens one more time?  No?  okay.

*-pending test results

Close Quarters: Moneyballing Mates and Munchies

Here's what I'm reading this morning:

Moneyballing (yeah, I'll learn that later) certain aspects to get a lasting relationship.  According to Tasahiro, moneyballing is "..all about finding undervalued traits and assets in the dating market. And, just like with baseball, it starts with trying to ignore the superficial indices of value — attractiveness, wealth — in favor of hidden attributes with a stronger correlation to long-term relationship success."

It's not a matter of lowering one's expectations - rather, it's about changing the expectations altogether.  Instead of looking at the cover-of-the-book, it's advised to look at other traits that will strengthen both of your compatibility and lead to better sex and a longer lasting relationship.

One of my biggest flaws choice of food.  Now, I'm not at any immediate risk of a heart-attack - according to my excellent doctor who doesn't put me through a horrible quality-of-life.  But I will admit (I am munching on a Frosted Brown-Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tart at this moment), that my food choices are not-ideal - in that they are not kale.  I know this is a sticky point for my wife, because she also has as much willpower against ice-cream that I do.

I can't be the only one in this situation.  My metabolism allows me to somehow eat all of this delicious chemistry and not gain weight from it - but my wife is not so blessed and bemoans the bathroom scale.  She relies on me for the food shopping and cooking, so it is a challenge to undertake researching healthier foods to buy and prepare while not going bankrupt at our local Whole Paycheck.

I mentioned quality-of-life and I need other people to recognize it as well.  Many will argue that a life spent eating kale and raw oats is not life at all, especially when compared to a life of eating perfectly-prepared bacon.  Us New Englanders are all-too-familiar with Puritanical doctrine and we are quick to equate SUFFERING with Godliness (really, it's the only way to survive the winter Nor'Easters).  I find the zen buddhist approach more attractive in that "If you are hungry, eat."  Also, mad props to Buddha for appearing as a happy, fat, Asian dude.

So, this is one struggle that we are battling in our lives.  Yes, our pet iguana eats better than we do, but at least we're happy sharing a chocolate shake together.

Take that, kale.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Daddy Issue: The Economic Impact of Dad

I was listening to my other NPR station on the drive into the office today (yes, I have two to choose from) when I caught the last few minutes of a piece on fatherhood and the impact it has on the larger society.  If WGBH happens to post it, I'll update with a direct link.

The statement that drew me in was "a deadbeat dad has a measurable and significant cost to taxpayers in the form of incarceration, lowered education, and unemployment"  What is really significant is that this effect doesn't end with just one man - it is perpetuated into the next generation in his children.  Social programs have been trying to make fatherhood a more-attractive lifestyle choice and one place where it is being focused is in prisons.

A social-worker commented on how she viewed a recently-released prison inmate.  She saw him in his car driving along and he had his children in the back.  This was success.  Not just re-integrating a man back into society, but having him assume his responsibilities as a father.

One of the interviewees simply put it as "growing up" and I do agree.  Being able to "put aside childish things" and placing the needs of others (especially when it's your own child or your niece or nephew or your wife) before your own is a stage of maturity.  Staying in school, toughing-it-out in some cases, recognizing that these efforts do eventually lead to better opportunities and an easier life later on is a gamble worth taking.

So how can we keep families together?  We as a society must spend an embarrassing amount of money, time, and personal resources when we don't get along.  What can we do to stay together and live harmoniously?


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dad Tech: Kudoso Kickstarter and the Chore-Router

Now, more than ever, it seems that internet access is becoming more-integrated in our daily lives.  We seem to be tethered to our personal clouds and social circles.  Keeping our secure information online seems routine now as opposed to ten or even five years ago.  Online storage has proven itself more-convenient over maintaining your data in your own basement.  In extreme cases, people prioritize high-speed internet connectivity over water.

My home is no exception - it seems the kids are always consuming media or socializing with their remote friends whenever they have a moment of down-time.  For the majority of the time, it has not been an issue.  However, it only takes that ONE time where I end up texting the wife something like:

They were delicious.

Well, they would've been, if I were a less-patient father.

Which is why the Kudoso Kickstarter caught my eye.  They are developing a home-internet solution where the internet access is controlled by an application.  This application is then able to meter internet usage based on certain criteria - like chore completion.  You can install this on any compatible router, or purchase the router and software together.

So, if Megan picks up all of her fuse-beads, she can be rewarded with internet access time.  If Cameron unloads and loads the dishwasher, he earns enough sessions to complete his Minecraft pagoda.  You get the idea.

It's the same as earning an allowance, but without the hassle of having to handle currency (who uses cash anymore, anyway?)

I know there are those of you out there saying "just TAKE the computers away?  Why do you need to complicate it with spreadsheets and routers?!?"  and that's a fair point.  But I think this technique teaches the kids about currency, value, work, and reward instead of just "you can't have this - PERIOD".  When you say they've earned 45 minutes of surfing time, it's exactly 45 minutes - no more, no less, no arguing, and no drama.

And if they don't learn that, they'll probably learn how to reset a router.  I can't be angry at that.

I suppose it'll be just a matter of time before a child is in the middle of a crucial online campaign when the time runs out and they start begging mom to let them do the laundry.  (Yes, I dream big).  Who knows?  Eventually, they may even just do their chores without having the bandwidth limitations in place...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Overall Health

Cholesterol results are in!

Jacqueline: "well...what is it?"
Me: "You gonna guess?"
J: "Lessee....threee....."
Me: <side-eye>
J: "....fiddy-seven."
Me: "Woman! It was two-fiddy-fi *after* BaconWeek las year!"
J: "Well, you a LEE!"
Me: "it's two forty-four"
J: "...that's still high."

That's what happened this morning.  For those not familiar with my medical history, let's just say that eight years ago, my cholesterol level was in the upper 400s.  I mean, sure, that sounds like a LOT of deep-fried Krispy Kreme, but let's step back a moment.

As my darling wife has stated, I am a Lee - thus you can conclude that this sort of hyperlipidemia runs in my family and you would be correct.  Practically every male in my family is on a statin drug now.  At Thanksgiving, we have Lipitor pie for dessert.  We cannot escape genetics, but modern pharmaceuticals are doing their best to improve them.

Also, I don't really feel any more-or-less healthy than eight years ago.  I find that most-curious.  This value which many would argue is a harbinger of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) doesn't really present itself in any way I can feel.  I'm not short of breath but I'm also not filled with any newfound energy to go run marathons.  My blood pressure has always been normal and I get the average number of sniffles during the wintertime.  I am intimately familiar with Five Guys burgers and fries but I indulge with moderation.  As long as the numbers keep improving, I will be taking these tasteless pills right before bedtime.  To me, it is just a number - a hoop that I jump through to keep living based on the best medicine we have today and that's an acceptable quality of life.

Medical history is something that you should take seriously.  I was tempted to ask my wife what her level is.  After giving it a lot of consideration, I decided against turning this into a video game.  There's the easy temptation to cholesterol-shame your spouse and nobody wants that.  I know she is proud of me in her own special way. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Scaring Children

I read Eve's article on how little girls should not take makeup too seriously and posted Megan's Halloween picture.

This got me thinking more about Halloween and horror movies and the subject of this post.

What are my kids afraid of?

For my son, it's flunking.  Not joking.  He *REALLY* obsesses about studying and being on top of his exams.  The MCAS?  Forget it.  You even mention that it is remotely attached to college (not high school, college) and he's all over it.  I know I instill a healthy respect for education (what responsible parent wouldn't), however I believe I've created quite the monster.  It hasn't reached problematic levels yet - while he does stress about tests, once they're over and he brings home his "A", he levels-off pretty quickly.  Also to our benefit, our daughter is 4 years younger so there's no competition academically.

But that is his nightmare.  If he somehow missed or failed an exam - it would be world-shattering.  Note that my wife and I would totally understand and not make such a big deal out of it (I mean, c'mon, these are middle-school quizzes) but he would be so self-deprecating - it would take effort to pick him back up and dust himself off.

My daughter is still a kid.  So the expected things frighten her.  Strangers, riding in a car with no seatbelt, riding a bike with no helmet, large barky dogs, bees (omg, the bees), and being alone.  These are all understandable and shows a pretty good effort toward responsible parenting (see what I did there?)

Now, there are some that believe the only way to overcome your fears is to confront and move past them.  Clearly, I'm not going to sabotage my son's academics just for a psychological experiment.  However, if the law of averages has anything to say about it, he will come home with a less-than-stellar mark eventually and we'll progress as a family.

For my daughter, the dogs will appear smaller as she gets larger.  I have no idea what to do about the bees, though.

One thing that I am looking forward to is when they're old enough to enjoy horror movies.  I have a slight reservation that I'm not the cool-relative that's supposed to be exposing them to these, though (I'm the DAD)- it should be a cousin that sneaks a DVD or a Netflix download when nobody's looking.  That makes it all the more taboo and engaging.

 I'm glad I have them.  The alternative is just too chilling even for me.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Vodak, Febreeze's Worst Nightmare

Today, I get to behave like a TRUE blogger.  Yes.  I get to write an article about something I have absolutely NO personal experience with.

I happened across this Pro Life Tip:  Vodka is great at removing odors from clothing.

The above-mentioned article details how even cheap Vodka (nevermind what are you doing with CHEAP VODKA in the first place?!?) works at eliminating offensive smells from your clothes.

For even more veracity, the Mythbusters team confirmed this through a very elaborate study involving a very unlucky laundromat and an even unluckier nose.

As previously stated, I have no experience with vodka, expensive or cheap, and less experience with bad-smelling clothes.  However, if you happen to find yourself with just a few ounces of Stoli and no quarters for a proper wash-and-dry, then at least you can avoid smelling like a hobo.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Mommyish Name Generator

At first, I couldn't figure out how to inject my own HTML code into a "blogging" environment.

So, I searched for a free host that would allow custom HTML.  That sandbox is at:
 - that might be blocked from some providers as it may have a low web reputation.

This solution is preferred.  I've already found the customization settings for width and color (yay).

I can still experiment with it - especially with the name handling.

Share and enjoy. Name Generator Script Demo
This generator is developed with help from the online name generators.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Irony of Father's Day

I was reading Beth's post on Mommyish about Inexpensive Father's Day Gift Suggestions...

Dad's are so varied.  Some do carpentry, some wrench on cars, some golf, you get the picture.  There's this pressure to pigeon-hole and classify all of this variation in the name of commercialism.

We are fathers.  We're DADS.  I want to feel proud of my kids - fortunately, that's not at all hard to be right now.  My daughter is strong, adorable, talented, and well-liked by her peers and teachers.  My son is academically excellent, handsome, and creative.

I'm not looking for a canned, family-team-building exercise.  I don't need to be Gus Griswold suffering through outdoor camping at the expense of the rest of my family.  Just that spontaneous moment where we're all getting along together, having a good time over ice-cream sundaes.  Nobody is screaming at each other to "put that DOWN, it's MIIIIIINE!!!!" or "please don't fart in your sister's face."  I'll have to meditate on why we do these things to each other to begin with...

If that's too difficult, then I would welcome the ironic present - having a day apart from the children - those exact things that earned me the title of "father".  I've got drum machines to build, brackets to fabricate, components to fix - all of this takes a lot of time, preferably interruption-free.

I do get that there is pressure to BUY me something.  My suggestions now are:

1.  Dim sum brunch in Chinatown:  This isn't for everyone.  But if you do have dim-sum available where you are and you have NOT gone, then you are truly missing a joy in life and you have my pity.  It's not terribly expensive and you have a wonderful palette of tastes to choose from.  A perfect venue to be a little daring - try something outside your comfort zone, you could surprise yourself.

2.  Pastries from the bakery and no shame:  Yes we have elevated cholesterol and we've got pounds.  You stow your guilt for twenty-four hours because today is our day.

3.  Compression wear:  I'm looking for new swimwear - probably because of too much of items #1 and #2.  A new rashguard, a pair of boardshorts, and some water shoes.  Rashies are great for making me look more-athletic than I am and also save my skin without needing to apply sunblock.  I can probably get these for under $100 total.

4.  Uterus head pillow:  Accept no substitute.

Things to avoid:

Neckties - If I need one, I'll choose the sexy, sexy pattern myself

Socks and underwear - I got my share of these at Christmas HOWEVER, if you think these undies will make me look sexy, then I'm okay with that.

"Best Dad Ever" T-shirt - sorry, Beth.  I can only imagine running into another dad wearing this on the same day and fisticuffs ensue.

My mother-in-law mentioned getting my father-in-law an eReader.  I'm more than willing to entertain this, but have to resist the urge to root it and make it more technically-challenging for them.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The liberal hidden agenda is - little girls

TLDL:  Social-scientists from U. Rochester and Harvard analyzed the rulings of 240 judges - found that judges with female children were 7% more-likely to rule in a feminist favor.

To put that 7% in more-relative terms, seven percentage points is about half the difference between democratic and republican judges - pretty striking.  Furthermore, the difference is strongest among republican men.

This hits my awesome-receptors in so many ways:

First, it illustrates that judges, like the rest of us, are influenced (consciously or not) by our children and are not 100% impartial.  

Second, it demonstrates how a father can hold republican ideologies up to a certain point.  Once it starts "hitting home", as it were, their view changes. 

Third, it infers that if the conservative parties want conservative judges, they either have to look for judges with no children, or judges with only male children.  I seem to recall other cultures where girls were looked down upon....hmmm....give me a second....

In closing, if we accept that judges can be influenced by this and, presumably, by other life-experiences, then the best scenario we can hope for (in regards to fair justice) is to bring as much DIVERSITY to our judges as we can.  If we seek to avoid "overloading" on one particular influence, then we can neutralize it across the entire judging population.

...or we can just say that girls have cooties.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Elementary School Teacher institutes pay-for-potty policy. Pee-larity ensues

** Abe Simpson mode on **
Do you remember when America was great?*  We were a nation of builders.  We blazed trails instead of trailing the blazers.  We survived on our own wits and conquered nature.  We won wars and baked lattice-crusted apple-pies to cool on our suburban windowsills while our 2.5 children played with the family golden retriever inside the white picket-fence.

**Abe Simpson mode off **
Now, it's all about how great American cities are crumbling.  Some are declaring bankruptcy.  People of noble stature and high office are embroiled in scandal and ridicule.  Domestic events and family secrets aren't handled behind closed bedroom doors anymore - they are broadcast across the planet at the speed of light.  America is seen as lagging behind other nations in manufacturing, industry, and education.

We appear to know too much and not enough.

This one Washington state teacher in particular decided to try a non-sanctioned program to introduce economics to an elementary school class.  (S)he instituted a form of play-currency among the third-graders.  Students could earn money through various tasks, but also had to pay money to do certain things. of which was to get permission to use the toilet.

Yes, you've already imagined the inevitable has already happened, but let's entertain this a bit further.

I am reminded of the wise-words my most-brilliant and favorite Latin teacher once told me:  "I don't have to do anything but die and go potty."

Sure enough, everything else outside of those two life-options was in one form or another - optional.  This underscores the importance of the toilet in our existence.  It is unavoidable.

It is probably the unavoidable-ness of the potty which this teacher chose to focus on.  (S)he no doubt wanted to stress the validity and power of currency by linking it to such a vital need.  I imagine asking the students to pay for breathing would've accomplished the same goal.  However, (s)he is asking a room of third-graders to budget-their-funds-in-advance.  Let me stress that I am a forty-three year-old male and I require retirement-planning assistance.

As an exercise, I'll just rattle-off some concepts associated with this economics lesson:
1.  Emergency fund planning - the children should have money set-aside for one emergency
2.  Biological monitoring - the children should have an accurate projection of their bathroom needs for each day.  Only then can they foresee their economic needs for using the toilet.
3.  Dietary monitoring - the children should be aware of what they are consuming each day (food and drink) and recognize how that will impact their economic needs for using the toilet.
4.  Economic scale - the children should recognize how much effort and work is required to earn enough to meet their economic needs for using the toilet.
5.  Predatory practices - the children should recognize when income versus expense ratios are unfair and either demand increases in wage or protest.
6.  Alternative methods to earning - the children should embrace their entrepreneurial spirit and seek independent means (legality notwithstanding) of generating income to satisfy the economic needs for using the toilet.

I'm certain there are other aspects which were not even considered by this teacher - but it is apparent that the students were very intimidated by this situation to the extent that their clothes were soiled.

This is not making America great at all.

I *WANT* teachers to make pro-athlete salaries.  That is how vital I view quality education.  That is how much trust and respect I place in my children's teachers.  I don't want off-the-street Joe-the-plumber teaching my kids.  I want someone qualified, certified, recognized, and well-respected.  Someone who connects with my kids for LIFE.  Someone who wouldn't think of starting a capitalism lesson for third-graders involving biological functions and pay-on-demand policies.

* - for the record, I will always view America as the greatest nation on Earth.  I think knowing is better than not-knowing.  I think children, teachers, and the planet are the greatest investments we have to ensure the future of humanity.  How's that for an economics lesson?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Horror Game: Among The Sleep

I'm mentioning this game because it uses a radically different perspective.

You are a toddler.

You are not Angelina Jolie with two nine-millimeters on your hips.  You are not Jason Statham with choreographed fight scenes.  You are not James Tiberius Kirk and your phasers are not set to stun.

You are a child and you might have a teddy bear.  Your goal is to find mommy.  The only thing standing in your way is a house full of haunt.  Welcome to that world.

Among The Sleep is said to support Sony Playstation 4 and their new VR headset - Project Morpheus, you know, for an even more-immersive psychotic episode.  Those on PC, Mac OSX, and Linux can also play along with Oculus Rift support.

Quit trying to set your teddy bear to stun.  It will not work.

In-game screenshot - work in progress

Friday, May 2, 2014

My newfound respect for Chemistry teachers

Yes, we are all aware of Walter White.  He made chemistry teachers sexy.  But that was last season.

What really draws my attention to chemistry teachers now is all the focus on botched executions.  Much attention is being paid to all the little details involved in delivering lethal injections to execute a criminal:  what drugs are being used, who is administering them, what procedures are in place, who is overseeing the process, what involvement does the doctor or on-site medical professional have, etc.

I did recall the story about how America was running low on the supply of certain components needed for lethal injection.  Apparently, we were importing sodium thiopental (this is the barbiturate first administered to anesthetize the subject) from a U.S company, Hospira, based in Italy.  As it turns out, Italy is against capital punishment.  The U.S company then ceased production of sodium thiopental out of fear of prosecution from the Italian government.

America was then forced to look for its lethal-injection compounds elsewhere.  Denmark (who is actually pro-capital punishment) also agreed, then later disagreed, to supply the U.S. with sodium thiopental.  The U.K. was considered but supply was questionable.

So, this one question kept arising in my brain:  "Why can't we make our own Sodium Thiopental?"

Clearly, we have the resources -  Hospira clearly has all the technical and legal knowledge to execute whatever protocols are required to manufacture this compound.  They just need the political permission (man, that hurt just typing it). 
From Wikipedia - "Hospira manufactures this product because it improves or saves lives, and the company markets it solely for use as indicated on the product labeling. The drug is not indicated for capital punishment, and Hospira does not support its use in this procedure." - Hospira Spokesperson

I will share this one Forbes article which made my jaw drop.  "[Sodium Thiopental]
is typical of a wide range of advanced products that are no longer made in the United States – products that in the fullness of time the United States will probably lose all ability to make. (Advanced manufacturing knowhow is acquired through years or even decades of learning-by-doing and once lost is difficult or impossible to reacquire.)

HOW IN THE WORLD would we "lose the recipe" to make something?!? THIS is why I am praising Chemistry teachers today. They can look at the structure of a sodium barbiturate and understand
the alkylation of ethylmalonic ester with 2-bromopentane in the presence of sodium ethoxide.[5][6] The product ethyl-(1-methylbutyl)malonic ester undergoes heterocyclization with thiourea, using sodium ethoxide as a base.

..and subsequently make a brazillion dollars.

The fact is, America is not going to stop executing criminals.  Our mindset is not even close to that.  Until capital punishment is abolished, we will continue to have a "Death Row" in our prison system.  That being said, we do have a moral obligation to make the executions as humane as possible.  This requires us having the right resources in place at the right time.  The drug manufacturer stated they had an objection to participating in capital punishment and it is now appearing that the criminals are suffering for it.

Now I have to scrub my browsers because I googled "how to make sodium thiopental".

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bending the rule

Parenting drives you crazy.

I'm just gonna let that sit there for a moment.  Put that on the back-burner of your consciousness for just a few minutes.

In 2001, there was a fifteen year-old boy in Australia.  He was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He, his parents, family, friends, and caregivers all realized his mortality and that his time was short.

He was also a virgin.

The laws of Australia state that the age of consent is sixteen.  This teenager's last wish was to have sex.  To experience the love of a woman before leaving this Earth.

Before I continue, I'll posit the question "What would you do in this situation?  If this teenager were your son/nephew/cousin/brother/patient/friend?"  Clearly, he is asking you to violate a longstanding law of the nation.

But we've all been teenagers.  We've seen and felt the raging hormones (yes, whenever you talk about them, they're ALWAYS RAGING).  Most of us have experienced great sex.  Some of us have had bad sex.  If you asked fifteen year-old me what "bad sex" was, I probably couldn't have told you - I thought it would've all been great.

Cancer is such an ugly disease.  You hurt, you ache, you are constantly tired.  You look bad.  You smell bad.  You bleed and vomit.  You are angry and sad and afraid and confused and frustrated.  You are told to fight each hour of each day without clear reward.  Every needle, every poison, every radiation beam TAKES and you're never really sure what it gives back.

This teenager's psychologist and the teenager's friends did arrange for him to visit a prostitute.  I would have done the same.  Call me crazy.

The Child Psychologist classified the trip as therapeutic.  There are "comfort dog" services for trauma patients which have a significant effect on rehabilitation and healing.  The Dutch have a policy of using sex-workers to help newly-disabled individuals cope with their injuries.  Prostitution itself is legal in Australia and many would say it is safer than in cities where it is not legal.

Another interesting detail of this story is that the boy did not want his parents to know.  I can actually understand this from the boy's perspective.  Sex is a private thing.  We put up these mental-shields separating thoughts of loved-ones from thoughts of love-making.  As a parent, I'd still want to know EVERY aspect of my child's treatment and hopefully convey that nothing would be considered shameful or embarrassing and that we all want him to have the best of life however long or short it is.  But maybe those parents weren't like me.  Maybe they had a more-conservative mindset and would've been against this whole operation.  It puts the child psychologist in an interesting position, though - weighing the benefits of therapy against the parent's need-to-know.

The teenager eventually succumbed to his illness - but he did not die a virgin.  May he rest in peace.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Brazilian Bugs and their No-No places

The journal Current Biology documents the discovery of four new species of Brazilian (how much is a brazilian anyway?) insect.  Of particular note is in these four species - the females have penises and the males have vaginas.


During mating, it was observed that the females use their penises to enter the male and gather his sperm packets to fertilize her eggs.  The article also notes the presence of spikes or barbs on the penis to ensure secure transfer of the packets (which may take upwards of SEVENTY HOURS) and that the packets also contain nutrients that are crucial for the survival of the female in the harsh Brazilian cave environment.

Rodrigo Ferreira, co-author of the article states "This elaborate female penis is completely unique."

So I salute you, Genus Neotrogla, for taking a Honey Badger-esque attitude toward everything we previously knew about sexual roles.  You saw a need to grab that genetic material for reproduction and devised your own Dyson sexvac.  Female Penis-envy might become a thing and males across the planet can wonder whether this is a harbinger of things to *cough* come.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Lingxi Lu
Krystle Campbell
Martin Richard
Sean Collier

The 264 injured.

Yesterday, the city of Boston observed the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.  We paid tribute to those names I just listed as well as the first responders, medical personnel, physical therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and the overall generosity of people in New England and around the planet.  Even the Red Sox were acknowledged.

This I understand.   I understand how beautiful a thing it is to watch Keith Lockhart conduct the greatest orchestra in the world.  I understand the pride I feel seeing Tom Menino carry a binder with my alma mater on the cover, right before giving that awesome, yet barely-intelligible speech.  I understand being quiet at 2:49 says something to so many so far away.

I do not understand how a 14 year old girl in the Netherlands conceives the idea of tweeting a terrorist threat to American Airlines.  I do not comprehend her thought-process of valuing her popstar fan-account over scaring ordinary people.  I do not understand her race-laden apologies or how she planned on hiding all of this from her parents - when the Netherlands police came to arrest her.

I do not understand how a 25 year old male from Wakefield thinks to put a rice-cooker inside a backpack and place it on the Marathon finish line the very same day we were honoring victims.  I don't understand why I wanted to know his name.  In fact, I wanted *EVERYONE* to know his name.  I wanted every school administrator, every bartender, every cabbie, every person he would ever interact with in New England to know his name.

Is that strong?

I won't blame the waitress for any unexpected delays for his food order.  That's reactionary.  Private businesses have the right to cater to their clientele.  I can't fault the clerk at the 7-11 for not accepting his money and asking him to kindly leave the store.  I can't find any wrongdoing when so many exhausted MBTA riders with aching knee joints can't find the strength to give up their seat for him.

It's petty.  It feels good.  *SO* good.  But it is petty.

Boston Strong means acknowledging this.  Accepting this.  Just one MORE thing on top of everything else to put behind us.  He will have his day in court.  Justice will be meted.

I don't understand how it feels to be ashamed of your child.  That unfortunate family in Wakefield must be inundated with phone calls and news crews.  If it were me, I would apologize profusely on camera for what happened, state how great a country it is to have freedom of expression, and reaffirm my love for my child - even though we do not understand each other.

We'll all put this behind us, taking another step farther away from this while getting closer to the finish line.  I've never wanted a Monday to come so badly.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Catching devils, deliciously

If you watched "True Detective", you'll remember those voodoo-like sculptures called "Devil Nets".

I decided to put my idle hands to some devil's work and make some nets of my own - using pretzel sticks and some melted chocolate.

 I really can't think of a better Christmas Tree ornament right now.  Having 4 or 5 of these just dangling from some branches.

I'm tempted to make a little devil for inside.

"Every single one of us - the devil inside."

Share and enjoy.