Caught in their tractor beam

Here’s a thought. Is it just me? (and it very well could be) or do you find yourself unwittingly being drawn in to any and every baby conversation that takes place within a 100 ft radius? It’s like the millenium falcon being drawn toward the death star.

I’ve noticed this happening to me often ever since Nora was born. People at the office (normally women) will be talking about their babies or trading tips and stories, and without even thinking about it I suddenly find myself standing there next to them, chiming in with my own stories and anecdotes.

Why is that? Some kind of “force” beyond our control? Or is it some sort of “proud parent” instinct? Like it’s coded into our genes somehow that if a baby conversation is taking place nearby, we are instantly compelled to get involved in said conversation?

Same goes for the urge to talk to complete strangers, for no other reason than the fact that they have a baby that looks like it might be somewhat close to the same age as yours.

“Oh how cute, how old?”
“they grow up so fast don’t they?”
and so on…..

Sound familiar?

Maybe it’s because, as a new parent, your social life immediately dwindles upon the arrival of the baby, and you must desperately grasp at any and every opportunity to be social with someone other than your spouse (which is of course not to say that you do not love your spouse any less).

Or maybe we just feel a new and strange bond with complete strangers  – our fellow padawan learners – because we know exactly what they have been through, or are about to go through. Or perhaps they are already a Jedi and we can turn to them for wisdom as to what we might soon expect?

Luke: “what’s in the Babies R Us?”
Yoda: “only what you take with you”

It’s hard to say what the real reason is. And I guess there’s no sense in fighting it. Just sit back, give in to the force, and enjoy the conversation.

“These are not the binkys you are looking for”
“You can go about your business”
“move along”

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Photographic memory

I had a couple of moments yesterday that are so cheesy I just have to talk about them. I don’t know if this sort of thing is strictly a father daughter moment or not, but yesterday after a short morning hike down in SC, we were trying to get Nora to go down for a nap. Naturally she wasn’t having anything to do with it, so we resorted to the electronic babysitter in hopes she would calm down enough to sleep. I wrapped her up in a fuzzy blanket (she still loves to be swaddled), laid down on the couch and propped her in a sitting position on my stomache facing the TV and an episode of Little Einstein. I was the first to doze off, not surprisingly, and when I awoke (Shelly actually nudged me awake) I saw that Nora was still in her upright sitting position, and had also nodded off. Wrapped in her blanket, sitting upright, and completely asleep. It was so funny and cute all at the same time, and I didn’t want to move and risk waking her up. Eventually Michelle hoisted her upstairs to her bed where she of course woke up immediately. She’s a stinker that way.

Later that evening Michelle had gone out shopping with her sister and I was tending to the rug rat. I had a couple pillows stacked up on the couch and placed her down on top of them in a sitting position. We sat and watched a tape delayed UFC fight from Friday (she’s a bit of a sports fan and was loving it). Then all of a sudden, she leaned sideways and put her head on my shoulder. I have no idea if she really knew what she was doing, but it was one of those moments that took me by surprise and reminded me how truly amazing it is to be a father. Not to mention the father of such a wonderful little girl.

I hope I never lose that moment. Ever.

I’m offended by all this offensive behavior of people being so easily offended!

(Just a plain old rant)

I saw a story this morning on The Smoking Gun about a group of students at a small college in Texas who are on the hot seat for throwing a party on MLK day. It wasn’t so much the act of throwing a party as it was the photographs that were posted on an internet site afterward showing partygoers dressed in faux gang apparel, eating fried chicken, and drinking malt liquor from bottles wrapped in brown paper bags. Condemming their acts as being rooted in racism, prejudice and bigotry, school administrators are now considering disciplinary action against the students in question, which could include expulsion.

Expulsion? Really? For throwing a costume party?

It seems there have been several cases of students coming under fire for throwing parties wearing costumes perpetuating “gang-banger” stereotypes, some of whom were actually expelled because of it.

Now I will grant you that I don’t know any of these kids from Adam, but from what I have read of the party (and the other similar instances) it seemed nothing more than a fairly harmless themed college kegger.

There is another article I read on the same topic, citing one of the other instances where the offending student was actually suspended. Here’s what Dr. Richard Cravatts had to say about it…

“He (accused student) received his punishment (expulsion), not because he participated in actual illegal harassing or intimidating behavior—such as burning a cross on the lawn of a black fraternity, making racist death threats, or following someone of color across campus while taunting them repeatedly with racial epithets, behavior that might more easily be defined as unprotected expression—but because some individuals were ‘offended’ by speech that was not even made directly to them.” <Click Here to read the entire article>

Now I concede that the theme of the party was in bad taste, or at the very least the decision to Hold it on MLK day was not particularly bright, but does it really warrant suspension? Why does this act cause outrage when seemingly similar acts (at least in my mind) do not? Is donning a sombrero and pounding coronas on Cinco de Mayo any less offensive an act? How about something as simple as celebrating Thanksgiving or Columbus day? I venture to guess a number of American Indians may not find much joy in these holidays, much less agree with their observance, yet mainstream society doesn’t seem to have a problem turning a blind eye to that bloody piece of history (and before anyone even brings it up, banning American Indian sports mascotts does not count as an act of remourse or request for forgiveness).

It seems offended people are more and more on the offensive, and continually getting their way. We’re turning into a victimized country of crybabies. What are people offended about these days?

A Rabi got offended that there weren’t any Hanukkah decorations up in the Seattle Airport, and in the end all decorations were taken down entirely (correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Hanukkah pretty much the LEAST important off all Jewish holidays? Why then was it such a big deal?)

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports that the glass Cube Apple erected earlier this year on New York’s tony Fifth Ave, dubbed Apple Mecca by many of the Mac faithful, is offensive to Muslims due to the Cube’s resemblance to the Ka’bah (aka The House of Abraham). The report goes on to say that there’s a genuine belief that the design of the store was specifically meant to provoke Muslims and cites other contributing insults such Apple housing “bars” that sell alcoholic beverages within the Cube structure and it being open 24/7. <read more>

Here’s a good one from a couple of years ago – The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Saturday criticized Mexican President Vicente Fox’s comment that Mexican immigrants to the United States take jobs “that not even blacks want to do.”

Perfect, now we’ve got minorities offending other minorities…

And Rosie? Well she seems to be offending everyone.

You know what I’m offended by? Fred Phelps, a now disbarred lawyer and Baptist Pastor who, along with his entire “family” like to stand out on street corners and hold up signs that say “God Hates Fags”and “Fags Die. God Laughs”. Small children barely old enough to read, (and generally members of the Phelps clan) made to stand and picket military funerals, gay pride gatherings, and high-profile political gatherings, arguing it is their sacred duty to warn others of God’s anger. Being from Topeka, KS I had the distinct displeasure of growing up a regular spectator of these events (their picket place of choice was just down the street from where I grew up). And as much as I despised every last one of them, I still acknowledge it was (and is) their constitutional right to stand out there and hold their signs and damn to hell anyone and everyone as they see fit, so long as they do it within the confines of the law.

And with that I close with another thought from my good friend Dr. Richard Cravatts who observes that all too often people “…hold the notion that free speech is only good when it articulates politically correct, seemingly hate-free, views of protected victims or minority groups.”

and finally, “free speech (is) of particular importance, not only to allow discourse of popular topics, but, even more importantly, in instances where unpopular or hateful speech is deemed offensive and unworthy of being heard. If there is any principle of the Constitution”, he observed, “that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought—not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

AlternaDad

I came across this book review recently and although I haven’t read the book myself, it definitely looks like it’s worth a read. Here’s the full (albeit brief) review, courtesy of Wired Magazine’s Monthly Top Ten Playlist:

Alternadad by Neal Pollack
Writer and aspiring rock star Neal Pollack chronicles his journey from single hipster pothead to married-with-child hipster pothead. While the genre – unlikely parental candidate explores the decision to breed and its consequences – isn’t exactly unique, Pollack’s take on the milestone’s of fatherhood (like how he coaxed a wayward noodle our of his 2-year-0ld’s nose) is.

Happy reading.

Blame game

News Story that caught my eye this morning:
MySpace sued by Parents who don’t keep an eye on their kids:
This isn’t a surprise: News Corp is being sued by four families whose underage daughters were sexually abused by people they met on MySpace. The families, from New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, filed separate suits on Wednesday in the Los Angeles Superior Court. News Corp stands accused of fraud, negligence, recklessness and negligent misrepresentation – essentially, that MySpace does nothing to prevent these events from occurring. (No word yet on what the parents did to prevent it.) MySpace is currently developing tracking software for parents, but too late to prevent these cases.

Click Here for the original post.

MY RESPONSE:

Nothing pisses me off more than these types of lawsuits. Don’t get me wrong, the perpetrators did deplorable things and are/should get what they deserve. But it’s the blame game that gets me so riled up. When are parents going to take responsibility for their kids? Society can’t be to blame for every bad deed your kid does! Here’s a great quote from the story above that puts it in perspective. “…If these predators had communicated with the kids via phone calls, the phone company wouldn’t be to blame.” My point exactly! Regardless of how these kids came into contact with bad people, at one point each of them left the house and their parents had no idea where they were going. With all of the predator stories floating about it is beyond me how a parent can NOT know what their kids are up to when they are online. Maybe it’s not as simple as that. My daughter is only 7 months old and has not yet mastered the computer. Hopefully by the time she does, these sorts of events won’t be as prevelant, but regardless I will make damn sure that I know what new risks and threats are out there. If I don’t or just choose to ignore those dangers, who the hell am I to sue someone else for my ignorance?

Car description a stretch (well…not really)

The wife and I have started doing some initial car searching for a new “Family Truckster” (that’s a station wagon for those of you who never saw National Lampoon’s Vacation). So here’s my question. When did the hatchback suddenly become the compact wagon??? A wagon? really? Let’s just compare a couple of current one’s on the market shall we? Take the VW Rabbit Hatchback (yes, VW does still refer to it as a hatchback) and the Suzuki SX4 Compact Wagon.

Suzuki SX4

The VW has the same amount of front headroom and MORE rear headroom. The XS4 is shorter in length than the VW and has a slimmer wheel base than the VW, yet somehow it’s a “compact wagon”? Somehow, the XS4 claims a (questionable) 38 cubic inches or trunk space to the VWs 15. This annoys me for no other reason than it requires me to sift through all of the faux-wagons in search of an actual wagon wagon that is still cool enough to not make me look like a tool while driving it. Though that’s a pretty tall order for any car company…