Saturday, July 23, 2016

End-of-Vacation Googles: Vacation Report, Part III

rodeo, rodeo queens, colorado, vacation

Women in Rodeo: The Eagle County Rodeo was less neutral than I expected.  First of all, the comedy routine between the announcer and the rodeo clown featured several problematic "jokes" about gender and Asian languages.  Further, we were asked to subscribe to American Exceptionalism, as we gazed at "the greatest flag in the world: (the stars and stripes), sang "the best song ever written" (The Star Spangled Banner), and practiced "religious freedom" by joining in a group prayer to the Christian God.

I also noticed that in the first hour of the event, the only women I saw were the rodeo royalty (pictured above) and the trick riders, who wore skin-tight sparkly onesies.  On our way out, I asked the Rodeo Queen and Rodeo Princess how they got their titles.  "It's basically a pageant, but also with horse stuff," said Maddy, the queen on the right.  Back at our rental, I googled "Women in Rodeo" and discovered that prior to 1929, there were actually many women competing in rodeo events like saddle bronc and steer wrestling. Now, they're pretty much only in barrel racing. Barrel racing is also cool, obviously, but not the marquee event. What happened was that a bronc rider named Bonnie McCarroll died during an event in 1929. Gene Autry then became the head of rodeo and started banning women from the main events.  That sucks, but I'll be honest and say that rodeo doesn't seem safe for people of any gender.

Hot Springs and Psoriasis: My one trip to the Glenwood Hot Springs has made an incredible difference in my psoriasis.  I'm not even kidding.  I have partial clearance in the tricky areas and pretty much full clearance on my limbs. As we don't have a hot springs in Minnesota, I spent a lot of time googling substitutes that I could use at home in my own bathtub.  Here's what you need to know: sufferers of psoriasis flock to the Dead Sea, which is like a hot springs with super high salination.  I knew this, but a trip to Israel isn't currently in the cards for me.  Here's what I didn't know: I can order Dead Sea salts from Amazon and reap the benefits at home.   I had tried Epsom salt baths, but never mineral baths with salts from the actual Dead Sea.  My friend Tracy is worried that I'll accidentally purchase inauthentic salts, but I'm going to trust the companies when they promise they're real.

How Long Will it Take for AC to Cool My House: I'm happy to have missed most of the brutal heatwave my Minneapolis neighbors have been experiencing.  When we walked in the door, the temperature in our family room was a very stuffy 85 degrees. We switched it right on, but our brand new air conditioner is having trouble getting its legs under it, and it's still 76 in here. Hopefully, it'll keep trucking things down to a chilly 68.  I have faith in you, air conditioner. Let's do this.

Desperate Googles from 2009

Googling poems and reading them with high schoolers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fire in His Heart, Light in His Eyes: Vacation Report, Part II

We shot the Class III rapids like champs and in the car on the way back to our rental, we sang along to John Denver.  At home, Dan made me a gin and tonic after I returned from a walk along a picturesque Colorado creek.  Tomorrow we're headed to the hot springs pool where I'm convinced my calm and optimistic mindset coupled with the healing sulfur waters will alleviate my psoriasis.

I have pretty much never been happier.  I'm already planning next summer's out-west vacation.  I haven't gotten 100% buy-in yet for Mount Rushmore, but I'm pretty sure that once I set an itinerary filled with adventure and family bonding, everyone will be totally pumped.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Vacation Report, Part I

vail, vacation, colorado, rocky mountains

We're in Vail, Colorado. This is Dan's dream, as we've been here many times in the winter, but never in the summer, and he's indeed dreamt of seeing it  in the summer.  I'm out-of-this-world happy because I was raised on out-west mountain vacations.  Of course, in my time, we got in the Dodge Ram Conversion and drove 12 hours at a time, my brother Kevin and I sprawling on the floor without seatbelts.

That's not the way Dan rolls.  We flew into Denver yesterday and rented a Ford Expedition, which is huge and requires safety.

We're in a fab VRBO with our bosom pals, Adam and Tracy and their three kids. Today we spent the whole day at a mountain-top adventure park with zip lines, ropes courses, and alpine slides. We're all tired and tan and ready for a chill evening of Netflix and hot-tubbing and of course, the card game that Adam and I generally lose but pretend to win.  Things could be so, so much worse.

Penguins of Madagascar Movie Review

The Benefits of Knowing the World's Best Librarian, JW

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Self Examination: And How Are YOU Crazy?

are you crazy? this american life, marriage

On a recent This American Life, which I obviously love, Ira Glass interviewed famed author Alain de Botton about how often people choose the wrong people to marry.  It's all the time, as it turns out.  Most of us who are married are, in fact, committed to the wrong people at this very second.  The reasons, de Botton says, are that we don't know ourselves and we idealize our partners and we have inflated ideas of what marriage is supposed to be.

If we're miserable only half-to-most of the time, it turns out that's actually a successful marriage.

I myself am miserable in my marriage only rarely, which is good because I have an exceptionally low tolerance for misery.  It's a character flaw, maybe.  To ward off unhappiness in marriage, de Botton suggests that you ask your partner on an early dinner date, "And how are YOU crazy?"  That way, it's all on the table. Maybe the reason Pronto tolerates me so well is that my crazy is highly visible.  I have no secrets.  I'm a heart-on-sleeve type with a revealing face.  Here are some obvious flaws that Dan discovered in the first month of so of dating:
  • I can't make even the simplest of decisions sometimes.  "Do you want Mexican or Japanese?" Dan might ask. "I don't know, you decide," I'll say.  "Just tell me what you want," he says. "But I don't KNOW what I want," I insist.  "What do you feel like?" he asks kindly.  "I don't know!  SHUT UP! SHUT UP! I need to THINK!  Just leave me alone!" And then the crying.
  • I eat random stuff.  I wish I were kidding.  Sometimes, I'll take something off the ground and think, I wonder what this would taste like. Once on an early date, Dan watched me notice a piece of scotch tape on my sock, peel it off, and bring it to my lips.  "No, no!" he said.  "We do not eat the tape from our feet."  I wish I were making this up.
  • I have mild OCD. I'm not being insensitive to those with this condition.  It's actually true.  I am one of you! I just discussed it yesterday regarding the cyst. This has its benefits - I learn all kinds of things all the time.  When I say I will do something, I most often do it. I will find us the most energy efficient washer and dryer after days of frenzied research.  Sadly, I will also try to sneak a look in your ear canal to check out your wax situation.  I will try to do it surreptitiously, but you might notice.  I'm sorry, but I've been obsessed with ear wax for a couple of years now.
What about you?  How are YOU crazy?  I'm really feeling obsessed with knowing. Seriously. Write a comment. Do it. Do it. SHUT UP!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Status Report II

Horn Removal: That photo above depicts a cyst that I've had in my head for a couple of years now.  It started pretty small, and whatever, I ignored it.  Then, it started to grow and had reached the size of one and-a-half centimeters.  For your reference, that's about the size of a fingertip. It became a compulsion to rub it and wiggle it, which I would do several times per day.  I made my friends and kids feel it occasionally, regardless of their desires to do so.  Obviously, the cyst, presumably pilar in nature, was impacting my mental health and my relationships.  It had to go.  The doctors exclaimed about the cyst's beauty and perfection as it cleared my scalp.  I asked for a photo, and they obliged. I think we can all enjoy it more now that it's no longer embedded in my scalp.

Movie Camp: Probably my most successful summer endeavor. We've seen movies on most of the Tuesdays.  Of all the movies I've seen so far, I'm going to say that The Secret Life of Pets is my favorite. I read some reviews on Rotten Tomatoes about this fine film, and some of the critics are complaining that there isn't enough serious meaning and subtext in the story.  Critics, get over yourselves.  That angry fluffy rabbit cutie pie made me laugh so flipping hard.

Professional Writing: I'm totally making progress.  The book has expanded by 10,000 words since I began my class.  I'd like to pick up the pace a bit here, but there are some barriers like full-time parenting, parent-teacher committee chairing, curriculum planning, and marginally-effective dog training.  Also, now, Pok√©mon Go. Still, let's celebrate my success.  I'm loving the book, and the storyboard is growing.  Win.

Annals of Medicine: Skinny Poop

When Shef was obsessed with the vacuum cleaner.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Annals of Summer: Bad Parenting

texting, parenting, good parenting

Our kids are so big these days that it turns out it's easy to lose track of them.  For instance, I texted Dan asking how Mac was doing at the hockey store.  Dan, as you can see above, texted back that Mac was actually home with me.  Oops!

I checked, and sure enough, he was indeed in the house, locked away in the attic playing Plants vs. Zombies. Phew.  A minute or so later, Dan wanted to know how he actually was.  Maybe he was worried that I wasn't taking adequate care of our precious child.

plants vs. zombies, attic, parenting

I was just kidding about him being a pain.  He's totally not a pain, and we would never call him Captain Surlypants.  Dan was just kidding about that, too.

Whether or not to assign chores

When Shef was obsessed with NASCAR (and Budweiser)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Annals of Summer: Racial Violence

Everyone's probably noticed that things with race-related shootings are really terrible right now. This particular flare-up hits home: Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer here in the Twin Cities. The confrontation began as a routine traffic stop.

As much as we wish they would, shootings like this one are not going to stop happening.  All of our systems in the United States privilege white citizens over brown and black ones, and our long history of racial segregation and oppression leads to trauma and fear and continued violence.

Because the problem is so big, it's hard to figure out what to do.  My reaction in times like this is to focus on my professional training, which is as a teacher. I try to engage my students and my own children, pictured above, in frequent conversations about race, racial violence, and privilege.  "I know this stuff," my oldest said this morning when I talked again about whiteness, blackness, and fear.

"I know," I said, "but it's just that as a white boy, you have a very big responsibility to work for change."

We all do, really. What are my next steps?