Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Monday, November 28, 2005 Toys in the Attic
Once I showed a toy to a three-year-old kid and he asked me, "What does it do?" I didn't say anything, but this was my unspoken answer:
What does it do? What does it do? It's a toy, you ungrateful little beastie. You play with it. Sure, it's just a little wooden truck, but look! The wheels spin! Not by themselves, or anything, you have to make them do that. But since when do toys have to do anything for them to be fun? When I was your age, I was an early adopter of technology as well, in the form of Matchbox cars with doors that opened. But not all of them did, and even that was okay, and once I'd lost them all under the furniture, I played with sticks and rocks and I liked it!
"What does it do?" Why, I oughtta…
Did I mention that this was about fifteen years ago? Now that same kid is old enough to vote, and he was probably all disappointed when they sent him into the booth with a marker instead of a VR helmet that showed him interactive footage of all the candidates.
Toys are "doing" even more than they were then, of course. I've got this one-year-old living in my house, and he owns several bins of toys which are distributed among various rooms. And I'm embarrassed to say that the vast majority of them "do" something. Even things that don't look like they do something do something. Like blocks. Blocks, right? Not wooden ones yet -- I don't think he's ready for those -- but soft, squeezable ones. What could be more basic and low-expectation-setting than a block of foam rubber sewn into a fuzzy cubic cloth envelope? And then you pick it up and squeeze it harder than you meant to and it quacks at you like a duck. Unnerving.
I think this has not only to do with advances in technology since I was M. Small's age (and I hope I'm not dating myself when I confess that there may have been one or two), but also newer manufacturing techniques that make it possible to mass-produce cheap electronic devices that can survive being dropped, thrown across a room, stepped on, rolled over by an occupied rocking chair, vigorously gnawed, and tossed through the window of a moving car without ceasing to function.
Or maybe it's just because of the breakthrough that occurred when somebody in the industry realized that you could put screws on battery compartment panels.
Whatever the case, my son already has more electronic devices in his possession than I owned in my entire first two decades on this planet combined. They range from educational toys that play classical music and teach children about numbers and colors, to items whose sole purpose is to make a godawful racket.
ZV's brothers have kids, and the very first thing one of them used to do when the tots got a new noisemaking tool -- before even putting in the batteries -- was to take it apart, find the speaker, and put a piece of tape over it beneath the shell to muffle whatever's going to come out of the thing before the kids get a hold of it. I could do that, but now so many things come with the battery already inside (you can spot these by the "TRY ME!" sticker) that I'd probably electrocute myself. Hell, with my level of technical aptitude, I'd probably juice myself even without batteries by touching the wrong capacitor or diode or whatever. So our kid's toys are twice as loud as they should be thanks to my ineptitude. Screw the biological clock; the main reason you want to have a kid before a certain age is because you want to be young enough to be able to stand the levels of random cacophony that can burst forth at any moment.
The trickiest bit is cleaning up the living room after he's gone to bed. You know how on TV, whenever a harried mom or dad slumps into the couch and there's inevitably some toy under the parental ass that gives an offended little squeak? I wish. Some of these things are on a hair-trigger to launch into their lengthy sonic productions at the slightest lateral movement. Naturally, those are the same ones that don't have off switches. You heard me, no off switch. There's one thing in particular that plays "This Little Light Of Mine" on synthesized bass clarinet with farting alien accompaniment, and once it starts, you have no choice but to let it play through and hope it ends before it wakes up the kid. But then we found out how to stop it in mid-tune: you slam it down hard on the floor. Great. Much better.
So what all has he got? Maybe you'll get to see later this week. And maybe, if I can figure out how to get Audioblogger working, you'll get to hear as well.
In the meantime, I take great joy in the fact that of all of his stuff, his favorite items appear to be his books. That's my boy.
Today's best search phrase: "Can goldfish eat oatmeal." I don't see why not. But I'd advise you to let it cool down a bit before you drop little Blinky in the cereal bowl. posted by M. Giant 8:32 PM 9 comments
Hee. We haven't had the singing toys for a while, but we do have a "christmas decoration" my aunty bought us a few years ago. A dog that barks Christmas carols and simultaneously waggles its ears if you clap in front of it.
Just WAIT until the batteries start go dead on these things that come with impacted batteries and are too difficult to open. Some of my favorite memories are of my kid and I cracking up at the last few distorted rounds of Old Mac Donald coming out of the plastic cow.
You do realize that all of these things pale in comparison to a nice big cardboard box, right? That, and bubble wrap. Oohh, the joy M. Small will experience with BUBBLE WRAP!
M. Giant and Trash lurve me because of what I got M. Small for his first birthday. I seriously hope there is audio, because... come on! Awesome!
My three-year-old son wants to take apart every toy he gets. Everything. He has always been more into sticks and rocks and tools than any child I've ever met. People give him too many toys and at the inappropriate age. A perfect example of this is the bicycle his maternal grandmother bought for him before he was three months old because she had a dream she was going to die. This is the same grandmother who filled my yard with every broken down gaudy plastic garage sale toy she could find. It got to the point where she was told that for every additional item brought into the yard something had to leave. She doesn't care for me. I am fine with that.
We have friends who decided to give Lucas some toys that their son had outgrown. How much fun is it hearing "If you're happy and you know it..." blasting, I mean BLASTING, out of an obnoxious Blues Clues alarm clock, over and over and over again? Lucas seems to think it's a ton of fun, judging by the way he keeps hitting the "snooze (by which they mean "repeat") button" before the song is even halfway done.
So... not okay if I get the kid a drum set, then? Harumph.
The ones that get me are the books with sound effects on the side. My sister never reads the book, she just taps the most annoying sound over and over and over.
Hee. I don't have kids, but my husband and I have Disney's Lion King sound effects book like you described above. When you press the button corresponding to the Rashiki character, he sings out something that sounds very much like "squashed bananas up my ass! squashed bananas up my ass!" Comedy gold at parties.
Sunday, November 27, 2005 Summer Hiatus
My last Television Without Pity recap for the first season of HBO's Rome went up yesterday. I've been averaging more than one recap a week since the beginning of the year, which isn't so prolific compared to the output of some other recappers, but it seems like a lot for me because I'm not as talented as they are. Believe me, I'm not complaining. It's a compliment to be asked to cover a show, and I was glad to have an excuse to pay for HBO for the past five months, and recapping's a fun time. It's just a lot of fun time, and after I sent off the last piece to Wing Chun, I got up from my computer and the baby was gone and there was this toddler who looked just like him running around in my house instead.
In any case, I'm all done with recapping for a little while. Most recappers do get a summer hiatus, and this is mine, except it falls during the holiday season. Which is a relief, just because there's so much to do this time of year. There's all the Christmas shopping, wrapping, scheduling, Christmas card-writing, and everything else that goes along with it. So I'm glad that I've been freed up to cheer on Trash as she does all that stuff.
So this means I'll be updating more often, right? No more silences of a week or more? There's no reason to quit spending a couple of hours a night writing just because deadlines and paychecks aren't involved. And where's it all going to go if not here?
Um, yeah, about that.
There's this other project I'm going to be working on for a while now. I can't really say anything about it, except that I'm hoping to have some real progress made by mid-January. Beyond that, it's way too early to give any details. In fact, I've already said too much. There's no mid-January deadline, self-imposed or otherwise. There's no progress. There's no project. In fact, you're not even reading this. Quick, minimize the window; your boss is coming.
So if my updating doesn't get more frequent over the next couple of weeks, it's not because anything is going on. I'll just be hanging out here at home with my family. Maybe I'll teach M. Small to use Blogger so he can start pulling some of his weight around here and I can slack off even more.
Until 24 starts again in January with another grueling, M. Giant-punishing four-hour! Season! Premiere! Event! Yeah, I say that like I'm not looking forward to recapping a show with commercials again.
Today's best search phrase: "I want to see real bubs." Don't we all? posted by M. Giant 8:26 AM 3 comments
Quick, minimize the window; your boss is coming.
Can we guess what's coming up in Jan.? Will you tell us if we are correct? It's not another kid, is it?
Swell recapping. Jolly good and all that....
Wednesday, November 16, 2005 Home Free
About a year and a half ago, Trash and I were busy getting our house in shape for our adoption home study. One after another, all of the most glaring problems with our house were addressed and resolved. From repairing the oxidized ruin that was out bathroom medicine cabinet, to patching the wall in front of the exposed wiring of our entryway light switches, to nailing down the step on our bedroom stairs that doubled as a ramp, one domestic glitch after another fell before our energy and determination (and that of my parents, of course).
The whole time, I was looking forward to being done so that I could spend more time relaxing and enjoying our newly-perfect house. Plus I had heard somewhere that a house in great shape could go about seven years without any major maintenance. So I was looking forward to, if not seven years, at least five of not having any major home projects to work on.
So then we got done in May, and we had the home study. And then I found out a few weeks later that I was going to be done at the radio show by the end of the summer, so then I was busy pursuing and doing freelance projects. And then I was working at home all day, which was nice because I wasn't always seeing things around the house that needed to be fixed, but on the other hand I was too busy to enjoy it. And then a few weeks later we found out about M. Tiny, and a few weeks after that, M. Tiny actually arrived, and I was back to working in an office full-time, and while being at home with the child is certainly enjoyable, it's not always relaxing. So relaxing and enjoying the perfectly fixed-up house didn't quite happen the way I'd hoped.
And now the place is falling apart again.
It started a couple of weeks ago, with an ominous clunk coming from somewhere inside our dishwasher. And then the next time we opened it, instead of the smooth motion we were used to, the door swung free--unencumbered by whatever mechanism allows it to impersonate something other than a precariously balanced forty-pound iron slab--and slammed against the limits of its hinges. Now, there are a lot of things you can have in a house with a one-year-old, but a forty-pound iron slab that swings straight down at toddler-head level is not one of them. So obviously that needed diagnosing, and when I took the access panel off and pulled the dishwasher out to figure out what the deal was, I ruined three of the floor tiles I installed in '02. So those were going to have to be replaced, but it would have to wait until I could mail-order a replacement for the broken spring I discovered, so I shoved the beast more or less back into place for a week or so. At least I didn't have to look at the trashed tiles during that period, thanks to the towel rolled up at the bottom of the machine. Oh, did I forget to mention that I'd done something to make it leak?
Anyway, I eventually got around to fixing spring, leak and tiles. It took me a lot longer than I thought it would, and by the time I finished I was totally ready for bed. Before heading upstairs, I flicked on the downstairs switch to the light in our upstairs bedroom. Nothing happened, of course, even though I had replaced the bulb days ago. I think that's because there's a failure in the actual switch. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem; I'd replace the switch, and we'd be good to go. Except that one of the first things we did when we moved in twelve years ago was to install another switch for the same light upstairs in the actual bedroom, so that we didn't have to go all the way downstairs every time we wanted to turn the light on or off. And at the time, I congratulated myself for my cleverness in finding a wireless three-way switch that I could just screw to the wall and stick a battery into, saving myself the pain, heartache, mess, and certain failure of attempting to run electrical conduit lines through the walls and under the stairs. But of course, now the main switch has failed, the light won't go on at all, and I can't for the life of me find a replacement. I suppose I could replace the switch with a regular old vanilla switch, but some part of me is insisting that not having to go up and down the stairs to turn off the light is better than not having a light at all.
And then there's the gorgeous suspended ceiling in our basement that went in a couple of years ago. We installed new recessed lighting at the same time, and the most important fixture was the one behind the bar. So that we could see what kind of beer we were pulling out of the tiny fridge. The bulbs are kind of a pain in the ass to change, but that's okay because they're supposed to last seven years anyway. Except, of course, the one behind the bar is out. Two years later.
I took a look at this to see what was involved in replacing the bulb, and noticed that the ceiling tiles themselves were somewhat askew. I took this as a related mystery and let it go, until the night Trash called me downstairs to alert me to an odd phenomenon that was taking place over her head: soft, feline footsteps traversing the entire length of the basement along the suspended tiles. We hadn't really load-tested the things when we installed it, so we weren't prepared for the fact that we would one day have a brown-and-black cat named Phantom who enjoyed exploring up there. I suppose I should be grateful that she didn't electrocute herself when she inadvertently disconnected the light behind the bar, because it would have been a bitch to get her down.
And then there's the shingles on the roof that are beginning to slip out of place, just in time for winter. And the fact that I put my foot through a floor grate in my study yesterday (at least I didn't step on any apples). And the fact that our thermostat is heating the house five degrees hotter than we actually want it, no matter what number we set it on.
So, really, even though my period of perfect-house enjoyment never fully materialized, I'm glad that these things didn't start cropping up until M. Small was a little less high-maintenance. We'll get them fixed, in good time. Just not as quickly as we did when we had a deadline and no children to take care of. So my period of perfect-house enjoyment will simple have to be postponed a bit. Say, until M. Small goes off to college.
Today's best search phrase: "Portable BMI calculator." You know, I think they're pretty much all portable these days. Sure, the original BMI calculators were computers that filled up entire rooms, but there have been a lot of advances since then. posted by M. Giant 10:17 PM 5 comments
You don't have to wait until M. Small graduates. You just have to wait until he is old enough to work on the house with you. Or better, FOR you.
But the grass out back finally looks nice...
...just in time for snow, though, right?
"Plus I had heard somewhere that a house in great shape could go about seven years without any major maintenance."
Heh heh heh. Several years ago, my cat found a way to get up into the suspended ceiling in our family room, from the unfinished basement on the other side of the wall. She was cured of her penchant for going where no cat had gone before when she crashed through the tiles and hurtled 8 feet to the floor. It was like a feline atomic bomb going off in the middle of the room. She actually warped the metal grid things that hold the ceiling tiles up, even though she was a relatively small cat. So if you can't figure out how she's getting up there and put an end to it, you may soon have yet another household repair on your list!
Saturday, November 12, 2005 Overheard
At the Albertville Outlet Mall, on the way into the Bombay Company store
He: Have I ever told you that if you ever leave me and I have to get my own place and all new furniture, I'm buying it all here?
She: Do know what is so wrong about that?
He: [Expecting an offended speech about how we should never even say things like that] What?
She: So am I.
* * *
In the living room
She: Why do you have his noisiest toys all gathered in front of you like that?
He: No reason.
She: You're not going to make them all go at the same time.
He: How do you know?
She: Please don't.
He: Why, do you have a headache?
She: I will.
He: But it's for the boy. He'll love it.
She: He's way over there. He doesn't care.
He: It's for science?
She: It's for when I'm not here.
* * *
Right before bedtime
Child: [Hops excitedly up and down in his crib right before bedtime]
He: [Hops excitedly up and down right back at child]
She: One of you is supposed to be the adult here.
He: I think that's a lot of pressure to put on him.
* * *
Also in the living room
She: I thought he really liked apples.
He: Doesn't he?
She: [Slicing off a chunk of apple] Not as much as I thought. The other day I was giving him pieces of apple and he'd walk away and then come right back for more, and I was thinking, Wow, he really likes apples.
He: Well, that's great.
She: [Handing a chunk of apple to child]
Child: [Takes chunk of apple, walks around behind his ball pit, crouches down, and drops apple down heat register.]
He: [Laughs hysterically]
Child: [Returns for more.]
She: Who showed you how to do that?
She: You suppose the cats could teach him how to use the litter box, too?
* * *
Today's best search phrase: "Prevent of throwing silverware in garbage." We hardly ever throw silverware in the garbage. Some slips down the garbage disposal, sure, but it always gets fished out. The bigger danger in our household is when we go camping, and wash the dishes in a Tupperware bin after dinner. The water gets a little dingy and sudsy (not to say opaque), and it's usually getting dark anyway, so it's not always easy to see whether we're done or not. So there are probably any number of our camping utensils scattered in woods throughout the Midwest. Except that one time, when the water got thrown out before we remembered to do any of the silverware, so the jangling of all of our knives and forks hitting the tree kind of gave it away. posted by M. Giant 8:15 PM 3 comments
I'm so happy for you and your family... good people who deserve each other.
My son Trey takes small snack foods like chips or crackers and hides them in this cube he has that opens up. Then later he will surprise us by suddenly having something to eat that we didn't give to him. I guess I should feel lucky that his space isn't in the heating vent.
I suggest sprinkling a little cinnamon in your heating grates - the whole house will smell like apple pie.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005 A Weighty Matter
I went to my annual physical the other day. On my way back to work after the appointment, I called Trash on my cell phone.
Trash: So how did it go?
Me: Well, I'm fat.
Trash: [Laughs] You're not fat.
Me: That's not what the doctor says. The doctor says I'm fat.
Trash: She didn't say you're fat.
Me: No, you're right. She said I'm, like, "not quite obese."
Trash: What?! [Hysterical laughter]
Me: I don't feel obese. I feel kind of doughy, but I don't feel obese.
Trash:[Still laughing] You are not obese.
Me: No, not quite. I think I'll grab a sundae in the Skyway somewhere and see if I can't make it official by the time I get home tonight.
Trash: By what definition are you "not quite obese?"
Me: Definition? She pulled this little BMI calculator wheel thingy out of her pocket and lined up my weight and my height and came up with "M. Giant is a lard-ass."
Trash: Okay, so it's overweight, and then lard-ass, and then obese?
Me: I was like, "I'm not six-one-and a quarter, I'm six two! Recalculate that shit, bitch!" No dice.
Trash: Come on, how much do you weigh now?
Me: Seven metric tons.
Trash: [Laughing] No, seriously.
Me: Well, what do you expect? The past year, I've been doing nothing but working on my Office Ass--Writer's Gut, in my case. There's all this Halloween candy in the house and the office that I can't stay away from, and the only exercise I get is picking up the kid. Which you do more than I do anyway. Now it's only a matter of time before I go to wipe my ass and find a sofa.
Trash: We'll get you started on a diet.
Me: Screw that. I just need more exercise. Let's make the kid fatter.
Trash: [Still laughing] We're not making the kid fatter so you can lose weight.
Me: Why not? This is my health we're talking about here. Don't you realize this puts me at risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes? Don't you want me to live long enough to see our son develop heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes?
Trash: You know, one of the biggest things that makes you gain weight is soda.
Me: Oh, great, my one vice.
Trash: What was that you were saying about the Halloween candy?
Me: That's a seasonal vice.
Trash: Yes, but you buy enough to make it last until the Girl Scout Cookies come.
Me: That's a completely different seasonal vice.
Trash: I still think you're sexy.
Me: Thanks, Chubby Chaser. I have to go now. I'm taking the stairs back to my office.
Trash: You work on the twenty-fourth floor.
Me: Well, maybe I'm not too tubby to make it to the fifth without having a thrombo. If I don't make it, send my pants to the Save the Whales people.
Okay, I exaggerate. But as per the doctor's advice, I do plan to lose weight. And I promise not to turn this into a weight-loss blog. Unless I lose a whole shitload. posted by M. Giant 9:36 PM 7 comments
you'd be surprised how much fitter you'll get taking the stairs each day - even if it's only a couple of floors. Start out slow - do one flight up and one flight down on day one, then add a flight every couple of days. You'll be skinny in no time!
You know I love halloween candy. Save some for me, I'll be up soon!!! Can we call you M. Gigantor, now? And I'm right there with you, pally. My boyfriend from London and I will be losing 10 stone before I see him again (that's what he told me). I don't know how much that is, but seriously how much can 10 stones weigh? I'm out like Noah's water battle scene in the Bible...
The BMI calculator is a cruel and merciless thing. Keep in mind, though, it's not a complete thing, it's a piece of the puzzle.
Oh, and high fructose corn syrup is the devil in liquid form. At least drink diet. The cherry stuff you like comes in diet, and tastes a little less like brake fluid.
According to the BMI, Tom Cruise is fat. I wouldn't worry too much about it. Doctors aren't immune to obesity hysteria. Exercising is always a good idea though.
OK, the best part about this entry is that there is an ad on the right for an Obese dating site. You know, just in case Trash decides she isn't a chubby chaser after all.
"Seven metric tons."
Tuesday, November 08, 2005 Thing nobody tells you about parenting, number 920,029,872:
Shortly after M. Small's birthday, Trash and I rotated the baby car seats in the vehicle to face the front. This was preferable on several levels. Mainly. M. Small likes it better that way. When we drove down to Iowa the following weekend, Trash was able to turn around in her seat and entertain him when he got restless, rather than slithering into the back to he could see her. We think he'd rather see where he's going than where he's been. And of course, it's easier for us to check up on him. Before, I would have to wait until a red light before I coud lift and twist in the driver's seat, craning my neck over the back of his seat to ascertain whether he was asleep, or awake, or whether his head had tipped to the side in an crampogenic position, or whether it had rolled clean off at that last speed bump. Now a glance in the rearview mirror could instantly tell us the state of his consciousness, his mood, and which of his toys he was attempting to dismantle.
But to our disappointment, it still took an awkward shift in either posture or mirror position to get a gander at him. So we each got one of those rearview mirror mirrors. You know, the kind that clips on right below the main mirror so you can check on both your precious offspring and the angry truck driver you cut off seventy miles ago in the same quick glance.
It's just one of the many little things I do to help keep my family safe, because that's my top priority in everything I do.
Plus, the mirror swivels independently, so it's great for scoping out chicks. posted by M. Giant 9:57 PM 1 comments
I find it very amusing that this post has no comments. Evidently the sweet females who always gush over your kindness and family-loving posts don't have the same appreciation for your humor regarding scoping out chicks.
Thursday, November 03, 2005 Ktgdeekhx!
I'm the first to admit that I'm pretty out of touch with what's going on in the world. I remember when I used to write long, digressive posts about various arcane aspects of pop culture, and now I'm not even qualified to do that any more. Maybe it'll get better in January when I start recapping 24 again instead of all these HBO shows and I'm actually exposed to a commercial once in a while. We'll see.
But even in my little hermetic bubble, occasionally some tidbit from the outside world gets through. Like, I keep hearing about birds in flight. Actually, it seems to be just one bird. Seriously, I hear thirty seconds of news in the radio and everyone's talking about how some bird flew somewhere. I tune to NPR and it's "bird flew" this and "bird flew" that. Isn't this kind of a dog-bites-man story?
Oh, well, if I'm going to be missing the news, I'm just glad I'm not missing much. I'd be pretty grumpy if I was tuned out while things were actually happening.
* * *
M. Small went on a lot of evening walks with his mom over the summer while I was busy recapping Six Feet Under. So he knows the neighborhood pretty well. Now that it gets dark before 6:00 (grrr), there aren't so many walkies. But Monday night, he got his first good look at the neighborhood after dark, from a vantage point other than a car seat. Let me see, what was it we were doing on Monday night? Oh, now I remember:
Little known fact: The Red Baron wasn't actually shot down, he was abducted by aliens and forced to undergo a 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque transformation. No? Okay, fine then. But isn't Trash a good sport, putting on that mask for the picture?
Oh, all right, fine, it was me. I didn’t wear the mask out of our front yard, though.
We hit about four houses (including that of our niece Deniece, who was oddly enough dressed as the devil for the occasion), me trying to get M. Small to say "Trick or Treat" the whole way. At some point he said something like "Ktgdeekhx" out of sheer frustration with me, but I think it counts. Even if we were between houses at the time.
You'll notice he doesn't have a jacket on over his flight suit, because I always feel bad for kids who have to do that. But don't worry about him being cold. Underneath his costume, he was wearing a onesie, long underpants, a long-sleeved onesie, sweat pants and a sweatshirt, a ski jacket, a snowsuit, one of my flannel shirts, an electric blanket, and Turtle. He looked inflated. I don't think he would have felt a thing if I'd dropped him. If only I'd remembered to put a diaper on before all of that, I could have saved myself so much heartache later in the evening.
It was a big night for both of us: his first real Halloween, since last year he a) had been home for less than thirty-six hours and b) weighed less than the total amount of candy we handed out. His birth parents came over to join us for the trick-or-treating, which made it even more special.
But next year, he's going to have to do a whole lot better than this:
Today's best search phrase: "Dead rat smell." I don't think that's something you can download. posted by M. Giant 9:25 PM 5 comments
Very cute flight suit, M Small. All style.
Please tell me where I can acquire a baby-sized flight suit. My nephew neeeeeeeds one! (Although he will be hard-pressed to look as cute as M. Small. Dammit.)
Great costume! M. Small's costume is cute, too.
Saw the hairy arms in the first pic and thought "No way can that be Trash!". Yay, I was right.
I thought that with the flight suit and the blond curls on the infant, M.Small was the Lindburgh Baby. THAT would have been cool.