Sunday, November 30, 2008

Velcro: One Less Knotty Problem

I've praised velcro before for its ease on morning when untangling knots is a Sisyphean task. But I've grown to appreciate it on other levels as well.

My son is now seven and he can't tie his shoes - neither can any of his friends. I don't know what they learned in kindergarten - I remember shoe-tying being the focus of my sixth year on this mortal coil.

But this is ok. When my son and a buddy are over, and I've dozed off on the couch, I don't need to worry that they are going to tie my ankles together. They try, but they just sort of tuck the strings into the couch pillows and do not get the pleasure of watching me stumble.

It is also one less torture I have to worry about him inflicting on his sister. I recall my friends and I bored after school lassoing my brother - it isn't the sort of thing one should put past any little boy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nothing to Fear Factor

So my wife really likes horror movies. I cannot share this passion with her. You see, I get really, really scared.

For a long-time I elided the problem. When it was time to pick a movie, I could usually steer us towards something more palatable and less scary. Then she started to figure it out. She'd ask me about classic horror movies (like The Shining) and my responses would be unclear. I could fake it for a while because I had read the Mad Magazine parodies of a lot of the movies. But this facade could not last forever.

The other night she tried to bait me into watching The Exorcist - but I've already had enough experience with demonic possession.

I should start out easy on this. My son and I are listening to the Harry Potter series together. He loves it, I'm having nightmares.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


"Hey kids, we have a new President!" I announced this morning.

"Was it the brown dude?" my daughter asked.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Essence of Fatherhood: Little Sacrifices

Last night I saw the essence of fatherhood.

Because his school was closed I let Goofboy stay up late and watch Monday night football. A very big, exciting thing for him.

I have (besides a residual hatred for the Yankees) absolutely no interest in sports. I was looking forward to getting in some good treadmill time and watching my idiot sitcoms. I am attempting to maintain spiritual balance - as I do something good for my body, I pump garbage into my brain. Alternately, I eat Twinkies when I read Kierkegaard.

But my son kept coming downstairs to see me. He looked despondent and a little lonely.

"Hey buddy, put the game on downstairs with me - let's watch together," I told him.

So, for 90 minutes I watched a game that I had no interest in, while listening to his extensive color commentary and fury at officials. It was a tiny sacrifice to make the night special for him.

The big sacrifices (like money and time) are barely noticed as the years go by. And the dramatic ones - like rushing him to the hospital in the dead of night - are really nothing but human decency. I'd like to think I would do those things for anyone in dire need.

But to give up a little pleasure to give him a great one - that is what being a dad is all about.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Show & Tell Stimulus Plan

I have come up with a fool-proof plan to re-invigorate the American economy and thus save the international financial system. It is so simple, so obvious, and so perfect.

The key is to target a tiny, but critical segment of the economy that leads to a ripple effect that extends to other critical sectors.

No government outlays are necessary, the key is very simple. Congress should immediately mandate daily (or more) show and tell sessions for all school children: preschool through college - graduate school will be exempted.*

What will that do?

Typical households will quickly run out of things to show, necessitating continual purchases of toys, stuffed animals, souvenirs, knick-knacks, collectibles, baubles and other somewhat interesting items to be discussed at circle-time.

Thanks to the explosion of China as a manufacturing power, tchotchkes are less expensive then ever before in human history - so this would cause undue fiscal hardship on only a small percentage of families. For those families that had trouble purchasing a steady stream of doo-dads a modest financial aid program, perhaps modeled on food stamps could be initiated.

Again, what will that do?

The point of the program is not to stimulate small manufacturing (in China) although that would be a useful by-product. As families found their homes flooded with a never ending flow of objets d'show'n tell they would need larger and larger homes. They would begin looking into expanding their living quarters, taking advantage of the depressed housing market. Soon, home sales and new home starts would begin to rise. This is the crucial element of the economy that needs a jump start.

What if people just ignore the "Show & Tell Act of 2008"?

No law is effective without enforcement, and the most effective enforcement in this case is that students who fail to bring something in for show & tell will be dismissed from school for the day. This guarantees that parents will make sure their children bring something to show.

In Conclusion

This plan is too late to help either candidate win the election. But whoever wins should build a bi-partisan coalition to enact this low-cost policy, with almost no downside.

A highly skilled visionary will be needed to oversee this complex, revolutionary, and essential program - and I know just the graduate student in public policy to run it.

*I'm in graduate school. Isn't my macro-economics class serving me well?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Youth Vote at My House

My son has been firmly in the Obama camp for a while (despite an early flirtation with Huckabee.) My son's argument was simple, we've had lots of old Presidents.

My daughter's stand was unknown, she expressed a fondness for McCain, because he was "wrinkly" but I doubted her level of commitment. If I read the fuzzy bathtub letters right (and it's tough to say, since, at four, she can't read or write), she's made her call.

The truth is, over at Goof Manor, only one man in the world could compete with Obama -

That's right! We're talkin' bout Taft.

For the youthful generation, no President is a greater source of interest or fascination than old #27. Whether it was his need for a plus-sized bathtub, or his fixation with canned ham, or maybe those terrific pictures of him golfing there is no President better for a good belly laugh than Taft.

Can ya dig it?

Taft has become a regular subject of discussion in our home. The other day my daughter had an enormous poop (she's potty trained, but still needs a little supervision). I won't go into details, but it made me recall the middle school science unit when we learned that there are over 20 feet of intestines inside the human body. Potty time is, unfortunately, a family affair so my son got involved and offered color commentary. My daughter looked up from her throne and asked, in a strained voice - her face showing the wear and tear of production, "Is it because I eat like Taft?"

Two Versions of "Taft" to the tune of "Shaft"

The kids love this one.

This one is a little raunchier.

This is totally different, not "Shaft" themed but very informative.