Family

You can tell you’re a parent to a three year old girl when…

…you realize that Sully in “Monsters Inc.” is a riff on Beast in “Beauty and the Beast”, including a certain hand gesture when both say “now” to their female companions.

…if someone were to stage a production of “Beauty and the Beast” next week, you would be ready, since you could recite all the lines in your sleep.

…you know all the words to every “Veggie Tales” song.

…the last book you read cover to cover was “Madeline Goes to London.”

…you know every last mark on the back of the toddler swing at the neighborhood playground.

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Family

You can tell you're a parent to a three year old girl when…

…you realize that Sully in “Monsters Inc.” is a riff on Beast in “Beauty and the Beast”, including a certain hand gesture when both say “now” to their female companions.

…if someone were to stage a production of “Beauty and the Beast” next week, you would be ready, since you could recite all the lines in your sleep.

…you know all the words to every “Veggie Tales” song.

…the last book you read cover to cover was “Madeline Goes to London.”

…you know every last mark on the back of the toddler swing at the neighborhood playground.

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Family

Bottom feeders are more fun

Zoë has a 10-gallon fish tank with two goldfish in it, Flippy and Finbar. The fish were acquired for about six bucks (along with their unlucky former tank-mate, Nemo, who sadly got sucked into the filter intake and didn't quite have the same luck as his movie namesake). And they have all the personality that six bucks can buy–they eat, they crap, they grow. Both are now roughly three times their original size; we've only had them since just before Christmas.

There's this little problem: these six dollar fish are basically rats with fins. No, I take that back–rats don't eat their own feces, last I checked. And they certainly don't bite their own feces, spit them out, and then bite them again because they forgot what they had just done.

Cleaning up after six dollars of fish can be quite an undertaking. Given what my usual hourly rate for the odd consulting job is, I figure these fish are into me for close to ten grand at this point just for algae scraping and gravel vacuuming. So, the time had come to outsource to cheaper labor.

A friend of Paula's suggested one of those sucker catfish, the black things that sort of glom onto the side of the tank and hang there. But apparently, by just doing that, they can grow to be up to a foot long, and we really don't want to have to buy another aquarium just because the hired help doesn't fit in it anymore, now do we?

Or, we could buy some snails. Snails are fun, in an invertebrate, gastropod sort of way. Unfortunately, we've been down that route before–only to find that goldfish actually eat snails. They suck them right out of the shell.

So Paula picked up a trio of algae eaters, little suckerfish that zip around and masticate the green sludge off of the bottom and sides of the tank. They're so small “they don't even count as a fish” for aquarium planning purposes, said the salesperson.

Now, here's the sad part: the algae eaters have more personality than the goldfish. They can hide in the little castle that the goldfish once, unbelieveably, swam through; they dodge from plant to plant in search of appropriate cover. Then they swim up to the side of the tank, adhere themselves, and hang there for a minute or two as they ingest some small amount of photosynthetic plaque. Meanwhile, the oafish goldfish stare at any human that comes in range of their questionable eyesight, flapping their lips and using their limited body language to beg for more food.

Maybe we just need algae, algae eaters, and snails for entertainment in our aquarium. Anybody want some goldfish?

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buzzword compliance

I Are A Network Engineer

So, it's a sad state of affairs when you have a network outage because of the way your kids put things away. But that's what happened in our basement family room, where the kids shoved so much crap onto shelves that it pulled down my homemade wire run. That, in turn, put just enough strain on the terminals in one RJ-45 jack in my wiring closet – slash – network hub rack – slash – WAN equipment area (the place where my hub, router, and cable modem live) to cause a pair of wires to touch, creating an interesting cross-talk problem that took me a while to track down.

Apparently, that was all it took to push a 10-year old pocket hub that had been holding together my second-floor segment of the household LAN to decide its time had come, and it crapped out completely. It seems it was for the best anyway–my network speed has improved radically, so I suspect the hub was causing some latency or collision problems that I had never noticed. Hasta la vista, hublet.

Meanwhile, for a week, my sons had no Internet access while I tried to find the time to isolate the wiring problem and fix it. Tonight, I found the offending wiring block and re-did the punchdowns; within minutes, they were watching the new Harry Potter trailer.

Yet another reason to go totally wireless in our house, I suppose. But if we did that, all my 10Base-T skills would go to waste…

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Family, politics

State of Grace

This morning's news featured a discussion of the “Kerry Communion Scandal” — John Kerry, who is divorced, apparently took communion at the Catholic Easter mass he attended this weekend, sending the Opus Dei set into a tizzy.

The only difference in this regard between me and John Kerry is that my first marriage was annulled by the Catholic church (because it was officiated by a Methodist Navy chaplain, and not a priest) and my ex never got around to the details required to get our marriage blessed before she fell in love with the assoicate pastor and… well, there's a novel in that story. So, even though I have two children from that marriage, I get a Catholic “do-over.”

Kerry apparently doesn't rate one, and in the eyes of some he therefore is not in a “state of grace”–and should therefore be refused communion, or have the common sense to stay seated while the queue forms. Others tut-tut, but say that it's up to the individual to determine whether he or she is in a “state of grace.”

Forget if a politician could *ever* be in a state of grace, by definition. What ever happened to, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?” Oh, I forgot, this is the juncture of politics and religion, where the first stone is cast in order to appear to be without sin.

And you'd better be casting a stone if it's a Sunday, because the Pope just told Australian bishops that all secular activities should be avoided on the sabbath–so throwing a baseball on the sabbath is a sure path to Purgatory. Get your indulgence payments ready.

I spent Easter morning in church with my wife, children, and (erk) ex. She came in cursing her father and sister over how he had given her the furniture out of his condo that he had just sold, fuming over how he had never asked HER if she wanted any of it, and how her sister had slighted her in so many ways over the weekend. She then took communion. Was she in a state of grace when she did so, still muttering words of hate under her breath?

When so-called Christians shower hate upon people who are different from them, are they in a state of grace? When we sit by as a country and let our leaders send our brothers, sisters, and children off to kill on a whim, can any of us be in a state of grace?

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Family

Three, Ten, Thirteen

Today was my son Jonah's tenth birthday. Falling on Good Friday as it did, he had something of an extra treat for his birthday; no school, a family day off, a family brunch out, his grandparents arriving for the weekend and a big family birthday dinner (crabcakes, in observance of Good Friday, at his request). His present arrived on time (a big Casio keyboard–he wants to take lessons), and we spent a good chunk of the day at the zoo.

Good times, as his brother Kevin would say.

So now, I have a three, ten, and thirteen year old. The oldest is the age of the sum of the younger two; a mathematical alignment we won't see again. The three are as different as three children can be, and yet so tied together. I clung to each moment of today, watching them interact; Kevin, the 13 year old, responding well to the additional responsibility that comes with his age (he can be left in charge of his siblings for short periods of time now, and he revels in that role); Jonah, blossoming socially and showing more of the depths of his talents; Zoe, the youngest, yet somehow clearly in charge of her brothers.

At the end of it all, his mom (my ex) prepared to depart with him and his brother for the night. “Why do I have to go to Mommy's house on my birthday?” he moaned. There's a lot behind that question, too much context for me to deliver here. I answered, “Because she loves you too, and wants to spend time with you. And we'll be back together on Easter Sunday.”

It's hard to watch the boys go, not just because I know they really don't want to, but because it breaks up the trio for a little while. Things don't run as smoothly with all of them when they're not a unit.

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