Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hello MotherGoof, Hello FatherGoof, Greetings from Camp...

GoofBoy flew off to camp today, he will be gone for four weeks. I expect he will have a fantastic time. I am hoping, perhaps in vain, that he will take a few minutes off from wedgie contests and staying up late with the other boys making flatulence sounds and write to us. To inspire him, I shared an early missive I sent Bubbe Goof from camp when I was about his age.
June 28, 1978

Dear Mother,

I have been deceived about this camp. There are a great many children here and you know how I feel about other children. After you dropped me off, I tried to sign up for library. I was informed that this was impossible.

Instead, I was forced to play dodgeball. Thankfully, I was immediately pummeled in the head and my glasses broke so I didn't have to play anymore. But when I asked again to go to the library, it was again denied. I am beginning to suspect that there is no library on these premises.

Unfortunately, tape was procured for my glasses, and my participation in outdoor activities is apparently mandatory. After lunch we are going on a "nature walk," which I believe is a euphemism for death march.

I despise this place. Please be prompt at 3PM pickup.

Your Son

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, June 22, 2012

Vignettes on Yelling

Why do I keep posting these entries of “vignettes”?  Because these are bits too long for Tweeting – I just can’t get them down to 140 characters.  But I feel that a blog post under 200 hundred words is kind of cheating (unless there is a really cool video – cool pictures on their own don’t count with the advent of Instagram.)  So that just me.


GoofBoy is going away to sleepaway camp next week.  He will be gone for four weeks, and this is his first year.  He has some trepidation, but is excited.  He is in a bunk with a bunch of his buddies who are vets.  He will have a blast.

Since this is his last weekend home before he goes away Mama Goof and I decided to let him choose what to have for dinner.

“Come downstairs please,” Mama Goof called.

Naturally GoofBoy did not hear her because he was too busy watching a video about Giga Pudding on his new Kindle Fire.


GoofBoy ran downstairs, his eyes wide.

“Wha…what?” he asked.

“Since you are going away next week, I was going to let you pick dinner for tomorrow night,” Mama Goof explained.

“That’s what you wanted, why did you scream at me?  I thought I was in trouble.”

I started laughing.

“Grrrr!” GoofBoy yelled as he jumped on me.  

It’s okay, we have four weeks of wrestling to get out of our system.


The little Goofs have not adapted to their new camp schedules, with a later leave time.  Instead they wake up early and watch the Giga Pudding video (it is pretty catchy…)  MamaGoof and I have readily adapted and enjoy our extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning.

This morning as we tried to stay awake as Garrison Keilor droned on, we heard the little Goofs shouting at each other.  I went to make peace, which I did, and returned to bed.

“What was up with them?” MamaGoof asked.

“I dunno,” I replied.

“I just heard you talking to them, what did they say?”

“I dunno, I asked them what was wrong.  They said some stuff, then I asked if they had had breakfast.  Then they went and made themselves breakfast.”

“But what were they fighting over?”

“Who cares?  I really find things go easier if I don’t pay too much attention.  It’s like when Ecuador and Peru have a boundary dispute.  You let them sound off for a while and then you mention trade policy.”

As soon as I mention something that has to do with international affairs, MamaGoof’s eyes glaze over.   

My approach has multiple applications.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Celebrating Two Nations at the Sailabration

The Goofs went to the Sailabration - the big party in Baltimore's Inner Harbor celebrating two hundred years since the War of 1812.  (The real action in Baltimore actually took place in 1814, so we expect to be back.)

There were crowds and all kinds of activities.  There were the Blue Angels flying overhead.  And there were ships, lots and lots of ships.  Big ships and little ships, sailing ships, modern warships, and working boats.  I love ships and was in heaven, running onto ship after ship.  The little Goofs, got tired and lost interest pretty quick (you can get a glimpse at some of their doings on my Twitter and Facebook feeds).  GoofGirl did get pretty comfortable in the captain's chair of a Canadian warship.  But they were even underwhelmed by the Blue Angels roaring around overhead.  I briefly considered getting new kids.  In fairness, the Blue Angels are kind of hard to follow.  By the time you hear the roar of the jets, they are already gone - which is disconcerting.

Knowing that the little Goofs' endurance might not be great, I insisted that our first visit be to the Buque Escuela ARM Cuauhtemoc.  A beautiful ship, it serves as a training vessel and ambassador of goodwill for the Mexican Navy.

Abuela, the late and beloved grandmother of the little Goofs (I'll write about that some other time), was born in Guadalajara, Mexico.  Mama Goof has been wonderful in embracing my background and beliefs and the lives of the little Goofs are infused with them.  But I do not want to neglect their mother's heritage - and we owe this rich inheritance a lot more then frequent trips to Baja Fresh for quesadillas (not that we don't love them!)

As a Mexican naval vessel, the Cuauhtemoc is sovereign Mexican territory and so, in a small way, on a day they celebrated the country of their birth, the little Goofs had a little visit to the land of their ancestors.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Boys at Play

GoofBoy had a buddy over after the last day of school.  This is the game they invented.

I videoed only half a minute, but I assure you there was a half-hour of:

Owww! That hurt!
Let's do it again!

If this surprises you in anyway, you don't know much about little boys.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Harry Potter 8: The Muggles Rising

 This is the final installment of my brief adaptation of the Harry Potter series to include a bit more robust activity by the Muggles.  The first installment, here, takes place at the beginning of Book 6, when the Minister of Magic meets with the Prime Minister.  The second installment, here, takes place at the end of Book 7 during the Battle of Hogwarts.

This final piece is effectively the beginning of a hypothetical (and never to be written) Book 8.

Anthony Goldstein was dreadfully uncomfortable in his Muggle uniform, but regular clothes lacked the proper decorum for a military vessel and his Wizarding Robes made the Muggle crewmen nervous. Of course, they were skittish around him no matter what he wore, except for the captain. He treated Goldstein with the same genial contempt with which he treated all of his crew. The man had been in dogfights and landed jumpjets on carriers in the stormy gray skies and seas around the Falklands, he was man not easily spooked.  But a bit of discomfort was a small price to pay for being the Chief Magic Officer on the HMMV Dumbledore, the very first magic-infused spacecraft.

"Final check, all systems operational?" the Captain demanded.

Anthony began the final systems check. It was a tricky job. Magic and electronics did not get along well.  When Anthony first started at Arthur Weasley's new office at the ministry they were trying to mix magic and jet-fighters.  It had been a disaster.  But when they pulled some old mothballed Spitfires into service and added magic, the results were incredible. Muggles could manipulate magic infused systems pretty well, as long as they had an interface.   The Captain had been a test pilot and shot down a dragon in record time.

But you couldn't build a spaceship without some electronics, so keeping the two systems from interfering with each other was his main job.  They didn't even know if magic would work in space. Professor McGonigle was at Oxford now, discussing that problem with Muggle scientists. Rumor had it she was quite taken with one. Whenever anyone mentioned Professor Hawking, she flushed and muttered, "He's like a Muggle Dumbledore!"

Anthony finished his systems check and gave the all clear.

"Engage magic drives, ignite engines!" the Captain ordered.

The Dumbledore began rising, silently, like an enormous elevator.
Less then one hundred people knew about this launch.  The British Muggle-Wizard alliance was still a secret.  Shacklebolt as minister spent all his time keeping the wizards in line with the new order of things, he'd even had to send some particularly indiscreet wizards to Azkaban.  The leaders hadn't quite figured out how best to use their new capabilities. If word got out, other countries had wizards too and Britain would lose its advantage. Hermione was at the Defense Ministry studying the problem, he'd seen her lecture on it - game theory, comparative advantage, Magically Assured Destruction, it had been dreadfully boring.

Although they felt nothing, the Dumbledore was moving very fast. In moments the gray sky of England gave way to deep violet and then the inky star-studded blackness of space. The ship was silent as the crew stared out the portals in awe. Then, spontaneously they broke into song:

 God save our gracious Queen
Long live our noble Queen
God save the Queen
Send her victorious
Happy and glorious
Long to reign over us
God save the Queen

Anthony listened for a few seconds, then surprised, found himself joining in.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Harry Potter & The Muggles at Hogwarts

This is part two of my re-write of the Harry Potter series with a more active role for the Muggles.  The first installment, set at the beginning of Book Six when the Prime Minister meets the Minister of Magic, is here.  This part takes place at the end of Book Seven during the Battle of Hogwarts.

The Battle of Hogwarts was going very badly.  The defenders were slowly, but surely being driven back.

Suddenly, Death Eaters began collapsing, blood streaming from their heads across the floor.  Large numbers of men, wearing green and brown swarmed into the room.  They were incredibly fast and moved silently, making rapid hand gestures to one another.

“Those are funny shaped wands, and I’ve never heard of a spell like that!” Ron yelled, startled.

“Those are Muggle soldiers!” Hermione said, surprised, “How are they…”

Voldemort’s pale face broke into an enormous grin.  This was even more frightening then his previous expressions of anger.  But as he turned to face the newcomers, his wand ablaze, two jets of flame shot into him.  There was an enormous crashing sound and the building shook.  When the noise and dust cleared there was no sign of Voldemort.

A pair of Muggle soldiers with metal tubes on their shoulders nodded to one another.

The rest of the Death Eeaters surrendered quickly.  The wizards milled about, confused.  But the Muggle soldiers did not.  Still silent, but moving snake-like around the room, the soldiers surrounded the wizards.

The silence was broken when a Muggle soldier spoke, not loudly, but in a voice like cut glass, “Wizards – wands on the ground and hands in the air.  Now!”

The wizards moved as though under a powerful imperius curse.

The Muggle soldiers shifted slightly and a short, stocky man emerged.  His glasses were smudged, his tie was soiled, and his shirt was stained.  He blinked and moistened his lips with the tip of his tongue.  Despite these nervous gestures he had an aspect of preternatural calm.

“I’m Geoffrey Grimace, MI-5,” he began, “Shacklebolt, I assume you are in charge now.  The Prime Minister has authorized me to present you with an updated version of the treaty governing Muggle-Wizard relations.  We are open to amendments to ensure more effective implementation, but the main thrust of our changes are not open to negotiation.”

He handed over the papers and the wizards gathered around and began looking them over.  A voice called out, “Muggles and wizards have been separated for centuries, you can’t change that! We won’t stand for it.”

“Yes we can and yes, you will,” Grimace replied, still calm.  “The government of the United Kingdom can no longer tolerate this separate community with extraordinary powers, operating without proper oversight.  We have demonstrated that you are not immune to our kinetic methods and we are prepared to use them to a far greater extent then what you have just seen.  There are explosives planted throughout the grounds.  Our first move will be to reduce this castle to rubble.”

“You know, electrical devices cannot work at Hogwarts,” Hermione spoke up.

“You must be Ms. Granger.  I had a most revealing interview with your parents,” Grimace said, without a hint of menace.

Hermione gulped audibly.

Grimace continued, “We have encountered a comparable situation before.  In the fighting in Northern Ireland, the terrorists were using radio signals to detonate their explosives.  We developed jammers and they countered with some very innovative non-electrical detonators.  A quick search of our archives presented a number of options.  I am curious as to their efficacy.”

Grimace turned, “Sergeant, let us try the emplacements in sector D.”

“Yes Sir!” one of the soldiers replied.

An instant later, there was a deafening thunderclap and an enormous cloud of smoke and dust appeared out the window.  One of the far turrets had been  pile of rubble.

Shacklebolt’s face was ashen and his voice ragged, “I will visit the Prime Minister as soon as possible.  I have a great deal to do here.”

Grimace retorted, “The Prime Minister is very busy and does not have time to attend to this personally.  At the back is a schedule of meetings between our representatives.  You shall need to appoint your delegation promptly – the Prime Minister will not be pleased if this matter is delayed.”

To be continued!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Harry Potter & The Revenge of the Muggles

I’ve written before about how I’d like to see a more activeMuggle role in the Harry Potter series (in great part motivated by the Percy Jackson series where humanity matters quite a bit.)  I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands, and write some slight changes that would make the series work better for me.  My first addition should be placed at the end of the very first chapter of the sixth book, Harry Potter and theHalf-Blood Prince.  The Minister of Magic and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom have just met and frankly I don’t believe the leader of a major country would simply roll over and accept the situation.

The Prime Minister slumped back in his chair.  It had already been shaping up to be a trying day.  There was a domestic terrorism threat to monitor, some members of his party had to be pushed back into line on the economic crisis, and there was a special operation in Afghanistan awaiting his decision.  Now this, wizards running a muck and there was nothing he could do about it.

His intercom buzzed and the now familiar deep voice announced, “The briefer from MI-5, a Mr. Geoffrey Grimace, is here.  Shall I send him in?”

The Prime Minister’s jaw set and his eyes narrowed.

“Yes,” he replied, “Please send him in.  Oh, and Shacklebolt, I’d like you to join us as well.”