Monday, July 21, 2008

strikes me funny

A buddy sent me a pic of the dress his daughter wanted to wear to the prom:
And a pic of what he had had in mind...


Thursday, July 17, 2008

No, I have no point...

I've always felt like I'd like to have spent more time with my kids. I've traveled for my job off and on, sometimes as much as 20 weeks a year; and now Hannah and I share custody, so I only get them half time.
However, I was on a date with Samantha tonight to see the movie Hellboy (not exactly Citizen Kane, but not bad.) On the way back we started talking about the books I'd read aloud to her and David, and there were quite a few, which made me feel better.
But what I'm really interested in is what other people have read to their kids -- and what I could still read to my kids that would be interesting to teenagers.
So if you feel like it, give me some ideas in the comments; in the meantime, here's what I remember reading to my kids...

Lots of Dr. Suess
Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the Prairie
Tom Sawyer
Huckleberry Finn
The Yearling
Where The Red Fern Grows
The Survivor
The Giver
A Wrinkle In Time
The White Mountains
The City of Gold and Lead
The Pool of Fire
The Hobbit
Cheaper By The Dozen
The Enemy
Mama's Bank Account
Old Yeller
Savage Sam
Have Space Suit, Will Travel
The Education of Little Tree
The Bible (no, not the whole thing)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


From my cousin: play a game and feed hungry people! How cool is that?

Check gas prices in your area.

See (roughly) how much $10 in 1977 dollars is worth now with the inflation calculator...

From my daughter, a Russian poop joke...

From my sister, a cool stunt/performance piece/whatever.

Check this out:

And also, a talking parrot:

Oh, and for the record: I think Zuleikha Robinson is about to bump Jessica Alba out of Bryan's list of the top 5 most beautiful women in the world...

Monday, July 14, 2008

conspiracy theorist

Am I the only person I know who thinks that the govt and the military-industrial complex is pleased with high gas prices because it'll make us all forget about the seals and caribous and fishes and whatnot and be happy to see more arctic and offshore drilling opened up?
Just asking...

Friday, July 04, 2008

various and laundry


Laundry because I just returned from a backpacking trip with my brothers. Pics below. Wore the same socks for three days straight. Had a great time. Much laughing and manly mocking of each other took place, as well as spitting and passing of gas without judgment or condemnation.

Spent the second night 11.5K feet; it was a little brisk, but there were windbreaks (ie, rock walls) so it wasn't too bad. Had to melt snow for water. Not sure if this was the most strenuous hike I've done, but I definitely had a heavier pack than I've ever carried before (probably around 45lbs + water). I was carrying my new Washburn Rover, so that was part of it, but it was cool to be able to play and sing under the stars...

Back in civilization now, at brother #2's house in CA celebrating the 4th. Home again tomorrow afternoon, then off again on Wednesday for a family reunion in CO.


Yesterday I lost a bet with a client -- I insisted that Hector Jimenez (Jack Black's sidekick in Nacho Libre) played Mr. Tumnus the faun in the first Narnia movie. Turns out I was smoking drugs -- she was right, it was James Mcavoy. I got Jimenez stuck in my head because he played the faun in Epic Movie, which spoofed the Narnia movie, among others...


Life is good. Busy as always. Had some holes in my schedule this summer -- decided to take advantage of the time off, which I usually don't get in the summer -- a lot of my clients (school districts) tend to do IT projects then so I often miss out on the nice days in Seattle. As they say, the Pacific Northwet has two seasons: Winter and August.


I've been dating a bit -- my idea is to be casual and not get into anything too serious for a while. Given my tendency to attach, that can be hard if you meet someone you really resonate with, but for the present I'm continuing with my program.


I highly recommend a couple of books I've read lately -- The End of Blackness by Debra Dickerson, and White Like Me, by Tim Wise. Dickerson's book has been criticized (by some) as anti-black, since it often runs afoul of Movement orthodoxy. At the risk of vastly over-simplifying, the first half of the book is devoted to the sins of white America; the second to what black America can do / should do / is doing to overcome the past and reclaim or redefine what it means to be black in this country. Wise's book seems more directed at white people. Both are thought-provoking, and worth reading whether you agree with every idea in them or not.


The books above -- plus my general thinking lately -- have impressed on me how powerfully what we believe is influenced by what we want or need. I believe I've blogged ad nauseum about this before, but it *is* my blog so I'm pretty sure I get to repeat myself if I want to. (Even worse, if I want to list the names of all the kids in my kindergarten class, I could...) But my point is that we are experts at believing what makes us feel best. In the words of Scott Adams, "Humans are delusion machines."

Think about what psychologists call "ego defense mechanisms" -- the way we protect ourselves from something that "makes us feel bad." In case you're unfamiliar with the concept, I'll give you a so-oversimplified-and-possibly-error-filled-as-to-be-almost-worthless explanation here:

Our mind has numerous techniques for avoiding negative feelings or desires we consider inappropriate (ie, worry, anxiety, shame, sadness, embarrassment, fear, lust, etc), including:

denial ("You must have imagined that your stepdad touched you inappropriately; he would never do that.")

fantasy ("Someday my *real* parents will show up and take me out of this house.")

repression ("No, I'm not upset, everything's cool.")

projection ("You're so critical. Why do you always do that?")

humor (make a macabre joke about a friend's recent death)

displacement (yell at your kids because you're angry at your spouse)

regression (retreat into less mature behaviors: cry, go to parents house, have a tantrum)

sublimation (expressing inappropriate feelings/desires indirectly: a violent person becoming a soldier; photographer focusing (get it?) solely on nudes)

reaction formation (converting unwanted impulses into their opposites: being cold to your friend's spouse because you find him/her attractive)

dissociation (just don't think about it)

intellectualization (analytical blogging about exactly how/why your marriage failed; drawing up elaborate budget spreadsheets to avoid the anxiety caused by being deeply in debt...)

rationalization ("She deserved it; she provoked me.")

Again, we are delusion machines. The above examples are about defending against negative feelings, but we are equally skilled at believing something that gives us great positive rewards.

Example: Being in a gang, or in the Hitler Youth for that matter, would handily supply quite a number of emotional needs (belonging, purpose, camaraderie, protection, security, etc); is it any wonder kids were/are drawn to that, and don't wish to question it or look critically at it?

Example: if we're really really crazy about someone (and they about us), we can convince ourselves it's okay to be with them even if they're currently married to our best friend and have four kids at home...

We all wish to believe we deserve what we have. No one wants to be told that we didn't earn everything we own. So rich people have lots of rationalizations for why they live well while others starve "I worked hard." "My money is at risk." "I provide jobs." And on and on. So they can buy $100 argyle socks while babies and old people go without medicine.

Similarly, white people don't want to believe that they have more privilege than black and brown people do. We are in deep, serious, and consistent denial about the benefits of whiteness. We'll bring up any number of anecdotal stories and half-assed arguments to deny that white privilege exists. "All that" was years ago, we say. Things are good now. But consider this, paraphrased from Tim Wise: white people have been saying that for years. We have *always* said it.

In 1963, when Jim Crow ruled the south, we said it ("Negroes have as good a chance as white people to get a good education.")

In 1863, we said it ("Our darkies are contented and well-cared for, and have a good life.")

And we've always been wrong.

So what are the chances that now, suddenly, white people -- who have been willfully blind or clueless for hundreds of years -- are the ones who see clearly on this issue, and black and brown people -- who live it every day -- are now the ones who are confused? I think the chances are low. We think we're rational beings, but over and over again we choose to believe what makes us feel good, without even knowing we're doing it; we filter out data that would make us feel bad, and go with what keeps us feeling the most comfortable.


I would welcome comments (assuming anyone actually still reads this blog) on this issue. Please be polite. I don't know everything, and am willing to be corrected if I'm wrong about something. But do yourself a favor, also: before you write your idea, check to see if it sounds like any of the ego defense mechanisms above -- you might be surprised how many of them do...