Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Special Kind Of Hypocrite

(NOTE: This is infuriatingly long. It's also not funny. If you come here to try and learn our amazing dance moves, or laugh at my stupid jokes and rude puns then this isn't one of those things. It's a rambling thing that goes on and on. And just to make it even more irritating it's about me and my Christianity. Which I happen to know some of you don't want to hear about. I'd love it if you read it. But you know....)

Let's crunch the main points of this down very quickly. Yes I am a Christian. And yes - I'm a massive hypocrite.

Yesterday evening I told my daughter to go pick a book to read at bedtime. We'd been reading the same three books repeatedly so I anticipated one of those. One is a very poorly written Halloween book. The other two are The Foot Book and The Cat In The Hat Came Back. Then - much to my surprise - she asked me if I'd seen the book that "looks like my quilt." I had no idea what she meant. But she has a beautiful homemade quilt made from hundreds of patches. I couldn't think of any book that looked like it. So I tried to just read something else. But she resisted and said that she wanted to read that book. After a little while she shocked me by saying, "the one about God." She means this one. It was a Christmas gift from her Godparents a little while ago. We had read it for awhile back when she got it but haven't for a long, long time. More importantly it was currently sat in a pile of other Christian books in my bedroom under a pile of old shoes and an old curtain. Which is the first enormously hypocritical thing I'll point out. I'll get to the rest. That is after explaining the point of this long, boring and yes - Christian entry.

Over a year ago on this silly little blog I wrote a rambling almost stream-of-consciousness thing about faith and how I was terrified to teach my kids about it. It's here. The main points of which were -:

a) How I spent a majority of my life ridiculing people of faith as gullible idiots.
b) How I - much to my great surprise - became one of those "gullible idiots". It was rather recently in 2007. I was baptised in Christ Church in Bristol on March 2nd, 2008.
c) How I had faith and belief but I struggled with how and how much to tell my kids about it. You don't make Christians (sorry New Atheists - but that's just how it is). You couldn't have made me one if you tried to.
d) It's a hard subject for adults let alone kids. I wanted my kids to understand a very complex thing and discover it all on their own terms.

One of the reasons I had trouble writing that then was that - as someone who wasn't always a Christian - I perfectly understand why atheists and agnostics don't like hearing about it. It sounds both preachy and wishy-washy. People have very strong feelings about faith on both sides. Frankly I didn't want people to come here and then quickly leave without giving it a chance. Add - in spite of how proudly big and brash some are with their faith - it's pretty implicit early on in the New Testament how your faith should be a private thing. Lastly a lot of people just didn't know I was a Christian. People make massive assumptions. If you mention something about being a Christian all kinds of things are assumed. Surely it means he's a homophobe who rails about abortion, the need for creationism in science classes and blocks his ears when sensible people like Richard Dawkins speak. I bet he doesn't even read Dawkins, Hitchens and Erhman because his whole house of cards will obviously crumble. He swallowed it all wholesale. He certainly doesn't know what the Socratic Method is. I bet he's a mental Republican as well. Uncaring prick. And may I say - he certainly doesn't behave like a Christian.

Mention that you have faith and it really changes how people view you.  Especially in the context of a statement that says "I'm trying to figure out how and what to teach my kids about God, Christianity, unbelief and some other massive eschatological concepts." Cheesy peasy obviously.

Well - since then I left a church I had felt a strong compunction to help grow. My son was baptised in that church. People there helped us in serious times of trial. And even though it was 13 miles from my home I felt a duty to attend that specific church. I still care about many of the people there. But a combination of circumstance, laziness and creeping doubt led me to drift away. My family briefly tried - with not much commitment - a local church. Then we made an empty promise to keep looking for somewhere. At least when we had a weekend free. For me personally a fervor to study turned into concentrating solely on doubts. I read less and my interest waned. I didn't help or volunteer at all anymore. I became a bad Christian in that sense. The kind that bothered the crap out of me. The hypocrisy is noted. More than that I became cynical, mean and rude. After almost a year I returned to the old church. It was part selfish (I needed fellowship and it's easier to go somewhere familiar) and part to get back on board with the whole thing. Civic and Christian duty and all that. That lasted five weeks. I was frustrated that I deeply needed brutally frank conversations about faith and doubt and was met with - for whatever reason - a lack of curiousness. At the end of which I lost an argument with myself after missing three weekends in a row of church for various reasons. I said I'd go that fourth weekend no matter what. Instead - and amazingly - I got really angry with God and told my wife I wasn't going to do any of it anymore. I wasn't going to try and jive the big problem I had with how I could know that the God I had a personal relationship with (no really...) was the same one that I learned constantly about biblically. And how perplexing it is that so many people can believe the "right" things but not carry that out and how that hurts my head. Too hard to do and I was giving up. So I weirdly felt relieved to declare that I just don't believe it anymore. What my wife believes is her business so I won't go into that.

What followed was pretty odd. I felt like I could release a lot of things. I wanted to tell people that I didn't believe. And that I felt stupid to have done so. And that - even though I felt things and knew things that I'm recanting it. So ironically I did the reverse of the private faith thing mentioned above and took the liberty of telling people that I felt that if it were true then God is a callous bully and I won't put up with it. I told people in an almost confessional sense. Some people that I loved. Some that I felt I owed it to. And some people _ I can admit - that I wanted to think more of me by hearing it. Then I started behaving like a bit of a dick. I made fun of people. Joked about terrible things because it made me laugh. Spent a lot of time online just making random insensitive comments about anything that came to mind because why not? I "acquired" a ton of digital music. I refused to forgive people. I was angry an awful lot and enjoyed the freedom to be so. I became selfish with my time and aspects of how I conducted myself. And all because now I told myself I could and should. I was the ex-smoker who won't shut up about smoking.

In a song about losing faith that I like very much called In Stitches there's a line, "the crew have killed the captain, but they still can hear his voice." In which the musician (a progressive Christian who loathed how the right-wing evangelical movement had seized Christianity and desired political power and wealth above anything else) is saying he'd done the same as I - declared that he'd given it all up but God is still there in the background. By the way - if you ever want to hear a breaking-up-with-God song as sung in the style of a guy who dickishly lies to an ex-girlfriend that he never liked her anyway then this is it. As much as I ignored it that was true for me also. I boasted to others of how I had come to see it was all nonsense and tried my best to ignore all the complex things going on in my head and my heart. Really I was infuriated with the religion part of it and confused about a lot of the theology that is genuinely difficult to understand. So instead of trying to figure out why sometimes I felt like God was a callous bully I just chucked it all in. Which was really liberating.

In short though it's all well and good deciding as a person that I don't believe in something, but it's much more difficult to commit to that unbelief when you feel also feel deeply that you're wrong. Because I could still hear his voice - quiet as it was. Fast forward a short while to a few months back when we decided to replace the old dining room floor. I had to move everything out. On a book shelf were all the books about God, faith and parts of the whole thing that I used to read a lot. There were Bibles, study books, a few odd novels and whatnot. I was being pretty ruthless at this point and throwing out a lot of stuff we weren't really keeping. Some decent furniture, art work and some other stuff went out on the street for people to have for free. Other books and things we just didn't really use went in a donation box in the back of my car. Anything not up to snuff got binned. But this pile of "christian books" I couldn't part with. It just felt wrong. I reasoned that if I - when a committed Christian - had made the point to read The God Delusion and God Is Not Great then surely as a lapsed person of faith I could keep these. But oddly I separated them from all the other books. Then - for a reason I cannot explain - I grabbed all the other books in the house that were Bibles, kid books or whatever about faith from all the rooms they were in - and put them with that pile. Then I put some shoes and an old curtain over them. You know - just in case.

I thought about that simple act for days. Because it meant I was confessing that I valued those books as symbols and that I valued what they said. Then I took my own Bible - given to me by my Bible study group I attended in Bristol as a baptism gift - back downstairs and put it on the shelf in the living room. Between the H.L.Mencken book about the American language and a Durant book about Greek antiquity. Books I love. Every now and then I'd think of something random and look at it. A few weeks later I was listening to a Bible study on my Mp3 player that I hadn't finished. I told myself I was just sort of doing housekeeping because it'd be a shame not to have completed it. And again - I told myself that if I could read New Atheist books before then I could read the Bible now. After awhile I started sneaking (yes it felt like that) Christian songs I liked on to my Mp3 player as well. I started checking back in with people from my old church. Saying hello and reaching out. At the same time I was still being a bit of a dick. Still writing asinine pish about nonsense. Still making silly jokes. Still being angry, contrite and rude. But now instead of feeling guilty and angry I felt genuine love. In both directions as well. Which confuses things. So I tried to stop (oh woe is you, you poor little lamb!) being as silly. I felt the longing for fellowship again. I secretly got myself a free Bible for my Kindle and read it instead of the stuff I was slowly plodding through (Frankenstein and Bleak House). I started listening to a lot of lectures and music again. I talked to a few wonderful people about faith, doubt and whatnot. And then about a month ago - like I did years ago before I became a Christian - I stuck an N. T. Wright conference lecture on my Mp3 player and went for a run. And everything changed.

I'll say it again - no-one makes you a Christian. Yes I'm aware that some people are impressionable. But most of the people I've met and known didn't pick from a bunch ideas which one they figured they'd plump for. That's not how it works. It's incredibly hard to explain what happens and frankly sounds unreasonable. On that run I had a divergence of things people had been telling me all make sense and come together. I understood that my problems were with religion. A lot of what I was trying to do was distance myself from people I disagreed with. More than that though - I was mostly afraid of what people would think of me. Christians are stuffy and dull aren't they? They're judgmental and callous? And they're liars and hypocrites. They're certainly gullible and only using the whole thing as a charade to justify poor behavior. That's pretty much the response I'd get from some anyway. Also I'm a Grade A pillock. Some people would tell me - Christians and non-Christians - that a rude, obnoxious idiot like me certainly doesn't seem like one. That was my problem. Terrified of what people thought of me. As if I that is what it's all about. Which is odd because in pretty much every other arena of life I don't care at all about that. Not giving a toss how people view me (but in a non-aggressive way) is fantastically liberating. It's why I could be absurd and silly, nerdy and serious and sincere about certain things and not worry about perception. And I thought it was a great example to give my kids. Be proud of what you are and believe.

This was about a fortnight ago. Since then I feel like a new Christian again. Curious, excited, eager and all that. And I feel Love. I realized that I've been lying to myself about who I am and what I believe. And I'd been using unbelief as the excuse to be a ruder, more offensive version of myself. Sheepishly I came back like the prodigal son knowing that I don't just believe in God, but that I know I am a Christian. I did what I needed to do personally between me and God. And I'm taking gentle steps around other people about it. Because I'm aware that it can seem a little drama-queen to be an  energetic Christian, renounce your faith and then come back a little while later and say you were wrong. But - for what it's worth - that's where I am. I'm a Christian and it's complex, odd and strange and wonderful all at the same time. I'm aware people who think Christians are stupid, mean or bad in some way will have an opinion on that. And I'm equally aware that Christians who have known me a while will have varying emotions too. But for the first time in a long time I'm very happy with where I am.

But just as I was before - I'm aware that there is a very fine balance in what and how to teach my kids about it all. So when my daughter asked to read that book I thought it was weird. Not a sign or evidence or anything else unusual like that. Just weird because I'd hidden it like a weirdo and it's a big, complex thing that I'm afraid to get wrong. So we got it out - read a chapter in it - and I reminded her that this is part of what some people believe. But some people don't. And that I hope she is open-minded in every direction and learns about it all. I felt a warmth and confidence in it this time. I told her that I believe it but there have been times that I didn't. Then I looked at her in that way that indicates that this is important. Then she helpfully said, "Tell me a story about the time you were a little bumcheek Daddy."

And I did.

Wo-Bop, Super Kitten and Mrs. Cheesestick

Since last night my son has been angrily declaring that for Halloween he will be a Wo-Bop.

That's a robot by the way. His mother made him a wonderful dinosaur costume that he genuinely loves. He's been very excited about wearing it. But last night I read him a Curious George story with a robot in it. It's this one.

 And after reading the story and making a protracted silly thing about how scary that robot is supposed to be he begged me to be a Wo-bop today. I said no. This morning he's kept it up. I've told him that it's not possible. He has another costume. We don't have a robot one. So ergo impossible. Judging by his anger and tears he's heard, "I hate you and your stupid face. I'm selling you today for Halloween candy. Because I hate you. Then I will spend the night dressed as a Wo-Bop hunting down stupid dinosaur-boys and taunting them. I am the best and you smell."

That about covers it. The kids outfits look great though. I did actually put together a Captain Cheesestick outfit. But seeing as my daughter chose not to be Princess Bounce and my son didn't want to be Dr. Bonk it seems sort of silly. It also dawned on me that I am not going to a Halloween party. And the costume is so restrictive that I can't wear it to a school party today because you can't drive in it. Add I can't get it on alone. And I'm not putting on what looks like a might be a rape-suit with the aid of my daughter's kindergarten teacher. No sir. All being well - it's pretty odd. If I saw someone show up at an elementary school in it I'd definitely call the police. The long and short if it then is I realized that I'd bought and put together a superhero costume for someone that I made up to wear in my spare time. Which is mental. Here's me in it.

As my wife was taking the kids to a firehall party thing the other night I suggested she try it on. she thought it looked decent but felt awful. She looked much better than me in it. It's probably the boots that tie it together. I realized that the only choices I had were cowboy boots, running shoes, work boots or dress shoes. And you can't wear any of those. You wouldn't want to look ridiculous now would you?

Anyway - here's the three of them scrambling around.

And to tie it all together here are some quickie photo's of Jack O Lanterns we made.

Have a Happy Halloween everyone.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Rake And The Roustabout

Look at him go. It's always wise to put the weak to work.

She's so proud she's giddy.

The Last I'll Say About It

 Daughter: Daddy - do you think they thought it was scarier because it's Halloween?

My daughter is feverishly disappointed that there isn't a visible, massive tornado outside. Correction - she's disappointed that there isn't a massive tomato outside. She was assured by her teacher that it was a strong possibility. I tried to explain the whole thing again. And I also explained that we way up here are not going to get anything like the weather the folks on the coast could get. Then I explained the snowfall amounts in the Appalachians and how that might be a lot (to be honest I'm not sure) but up here not all that weird at all. Two to three feet is irritating and would cause problems - but it's certainly not unheard of at all. Then she looked out the window to check for the tomato again. "Daddy it's not raining...?" she said clearly disappointed.

I thought about telling her about how it's perfectly justifiable to be alarmist if you live on the New Jersey coastline as opposed to 400 miles away but let it go. I actually feel quite strongly about this sort of thing precisely because my daughter was aware that she is supposed to be scared about something that she doesn't understand. I have had someone mention to me yesterday that they thought it was rude that I was saying we weren't in any apparent danger yesterday morning. Well - we weren't. And certainly not yesterday morning. And saying that it strikes me as scaremongering and alarmism combined to close entire school districts in central NY two days before the after-effects of a weather pattern might touch our community is no comment whatsoever on what a storm is doing in Maryland. It's entirely about whether it's appropriate to behave in certain ways when you aren't actually affected by something. It's about expressing concern that people are looking at information and leaping to a conclusion that isn't based on anything reasonable.

There are thousands - possibly millions - of people who believe that autism is linked to getting MMR vaccines. There's no proof of it. I won't rehash the details of it all but the very short version is that there was never any actual proof, the people involved are entirely discredited or even in jail and the conclusion of the whole thing is that the idea that there was something there was made scarier than it ever needed to be by national media. That's pretty much how this storm has gone. It's as if Jenny McCarthy had landed in New York City and warned everyone that she had spilled some autism in Times Square (that's about as scientifically accurate as what she actually claimed about diagnosing and then curing her own child's alleged autism) and that the original 13 colonies of the United States were all at risk of catching it. And - on cue - the news picked that up and has told everyone repeatedly that it's possible that we are all going to get autism now. Same here. Instead of people on the news being responsible, factual and rational they started wailing that everyone from Savannah to Buffalo is in grave danger of a "Frankenstorm." Hurricanes, blizzards, autism and Jimmy Savile are all raging towards the US. And as a friend noted made even odder because it's presented in the vein of, "...we must always keep in mind that this phenomenon spontaneously formed on the east coast of the US and didn't kill a load of people in the Caribbean first or anything."

They could have focused on where the actual problems were and been informative about that. Yes I suppose it is statistically possible that a hurricane could come thundering inland to central NY without changing in any way in it's intensity and linger over central NY. It's never done it before. And thermodynamically it's almost impossible that it could. So instead of whipping up a panic there should have been a responsible noting to people up here that it's always good to be prepared for bad weather - but that the main problems will be endured by people a long way from where we live. Let's focus on them and what they need. But that's not what happens when bad weather hits New York City. No - this shit happens. Even when there are real problems they need to make it worse.

Any hope of s sane, sensible approach evaporated last night when I put the kids to bed. It was still Hurricane Sandy when I took them upstairs. When I came back down it had already been downgraded to a Tropical Storm. But that sounds naff on the news. So instead we got the renamed "Superstorm Sandy." Or the ludicrous "Sandy The Storm" - which makes it sound like the US is under attack from a massive Godzilla-type dinosaur. Still not good weather at all. Again - I'm not at all belittling what this has done where it's hit badly. I'm lamenting that my bloody region that is nowhere near where this is happening saw fit to co-opt itself into the whole crisis for no logical reason. There are fires in Queens. There are storm surges in Maryland. There are millions without power in Washington DC and southern Connecticut. But when I turn on my local weather I don't think it's legitimate to show me footage of a car under water in The Outerbanks as local weather for us here.

So when my daughter asked me why it wasn't scary out I told her it probably is where the bad weather is. But not here because - well - the bad weather isn't here. So she asked if it just seemed scary to people here because of Halloween. So I told her that it's easy to scare people. And that sometimes it's good and right to be scared. But that sometimes it's also wrong to scare others needlessly. I told her that Daddy is a stubborn bastard at times but that's not relevant here. Bad weather requires being smart and sensible. But that bad weather a long way off is scary for those people, but not for us. And that if we still lived in the UK the storm would currently be in Luxembourg. Which is deemed to be so far away that nobody in the UK ever checks the weather there and panics about it. Because that's not rational. And therefore we aren't to be scared. And we are not to behave as if we were lucky somehow not to get the bad weather. Because that's not rational either.

She blinked at that and asked the more appropriate question. "Why was school closed yesterday if it's open today?"

Not a clue dear.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Third

This is a cheap and vulgar moment.

My daughter was rescued from school today at noon. Since coming home I've tried to play as many games as possible that have nothing to do with Thomas the Bloody Tank Engine (banned for a day) or touch on the idea of Halloween at all. I need some respite from that nonsense. Frankly if I had my own way I'd sit in the corner with a blanket, next to my now-empty bag of kettle chips (pardon me, by the way), a nice cup of tea whilst reading C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters. To be honest I was listening to it on audio but John Cleese is the one reading it. And despite him doing a rather stellar job of it there's something odd and strange about Cleese pretending to be a senior demon in a book about the breeding of gradual doubt in Christians. I kept picturing Cleese in his blue suit and stern gaze in 1979 defending why The Life Of Brian as not ridiculing Christ at all, but about the absurdity in everything and that they were ridiculing some of those involved in Christianity (Tim Rice repeats that point in plain English when the two Catholic men refuse to accept that). Which is not to say at all that Cleese reading it is wrong, but just that I kept hearing his point to Malcolm Muggeridge that his faith is unshakeable not due to his resolve against gradual doubt because to him doubt isn't allowed on principle therefore to admit it is a sin in itself.

Nevertheless I didn't do that and we played silly games instead. The primary one being The Burglars. My daughter - as you'd expect - was The First Burglar. My son - although he angrily rejects the notion of being involved at all - was to be known as The Second Burglar. And I was repeatedly reminded that I am The Secret Third Burglar. Sadly with my daughter's slight-mumbling as she hurried through the twists and plot-changes I kept hearing her warning others that that sounds an awful lot like The Secret Turd Burglar was in the house and was going to get everyone.

An Astonishing Amount Of Wind

Over a decade or so ago there was a petrol strike in the UK.

The wife and I were living in dodgy South Wales at the time. We had popped along to Tesco to do our weekly shopping only to find that the panic whipped up by 24 Hour News had led to the store being completely bought-out of milk and bread. And - for reasons that aren't entirely clear - ketchup. I've since suspected that those three ingredients are well-known to most other people as the basis of a crude but nourishing survival-soup come the apocalypse. Or can be combined to make a rudimentary barricade to keep zombies at bay. But what relationship they have to a petrol strike is beyond me.

Anyway I cite that alarmist behavior as I am being urged to pay attention to the warnings about Hurricane Sandy. And by urged I mean the suggestion is that if I don't heed the warnings then I am neglecting my civic duty and endangering the lives of my own children. Now I should point out that while I do live on the East coast of the United States I do live 400 miles inland at the foot of a mountain region. Which doesn't get hurricanes. All the poor buggers who live in actual coastal states need prepare, worry and all that. I need to do a little bit of this and that. We will get a lot of rain no doubt. But not storm surges, twisters or utter mayhem. So on that very-selfish level the borderline panic up here in Nowheresville seems very misplaced and almost rude to those actually in harm's way. Which is why I was a touch aggrieved to find out that all the school districts around here are closing at noon because the after effects of this storm are predicted to touch us around Wednesday lunch time.

Actually I have prepared. Two years ago prolonged rain did flood the basement. Not flood in the sense of the poor bastards on the Carolina shores getting storm surges. But rainwater about 6-10 inches deep needing to be pumped out. So in other words like many, many Americans have to do. There's a bizarre thing in this country where a large quantity of the places that people live we have no business being in. Nobody should be living in Florida. It's a swamp populated by 10 foot long meat-eating alligators that is barraged by hundreds (yes HUNDREDS) of storms every year. Half the Eastern coastline should be uninhabitable. Proven time and again by the fact that properties built along it are often washed into the sea or blown away. It's like that all over this country. New York (especially up here and out to Buffalo) is a wet swamp. People really shouldn't be here. But that unbreakable "nothing can stop us and we always recover!" spirit that makes the US very appealing in other ways is a massive failure on these terms.

Worse than that though is the alarmism is always mixed with parochial self-centered exceptionalism. We do it in the UK too. Eddie Izzard has that great joke about how a tragedy occurs in another country where thousands are killed, even more displaced but the British news is apoplectic about 4 British people who may or may not have got a grazed knee. Here though it takes on a whole new life. This is my synopsis of a weather report I just watched -:

"Hurricane Sandy has now passed entirely over some silly, pointless islands near our glorious country. So pointless in fact that we haven't even written their names on the map of North America we are showing you right now. But enough about them. Probably just cattle and actual poor people. Anyway we strongly advise checking the wall mounts on your massive flat screen television. And for God's sake make sure you have enough Mountain Dew to get through the next few days."

That right there is 24 Hour News mixed with that weird self-view of the US by Americans but also mixed in with the worst of all situations. That being that New York City will get some weather. And that's where all the really important people in this country live. I know some lovely, wonderful people who live in the city. I hope they'll stay safe and aren't going to suffer any problems. But it's on occasions like this you can practically feel a seismic shift in how alarmed people are being instructed to feel. When it was just hitting South Carolina no-one gave a shit. You could literally hear in the weather reports "oh it's just going to hit them. So that's great news!" Now it's rolling up the Long Island Sound it's suddenly clear that proper Americans are in danger.

But I have checked to see if we have batteries and we have LOADS. The power does have a strong chance of going out to be fair. Power lines down and all that. We have enough of those. And I shirked at my wife's suggestion to just fill the bath with clean water so we have a supply. Frankly I suspect the cat would - just to be spiteful - piss in it. And while I feel confident that I could drink around that bit it struck me as more sensible to go to the store and buy some water. I had to go anyway (out of Ranch dressing - and woe betide me if my daughter doesn't get celery and ranch for longer than two days straight). So I went out to get "supplies". Sadly I'm also a First World Idiot so ended up coming home with barbecue kettle chips and some dog treats. Oh - and some York Peppermint Patties. Just in case. Actually on the radio on the way it was announced that a Walmart (in the other direction) was out of ice and water. At my local store the first thing I saw was a guy pushing two entire carts of ice. Unless that guy is transporting a kidney across the state (like in a frantic episode of House) then that guy is surely being alarmist? There was a guy at the gas station too filling up 3 one-gallon bottles. He gave me the knowing wink too. Like he was going to sell it to the rubes once central NY turns into some Mad Max murderous wasteland.

I know I'm being slightly glib here but it just seems unwarranted to treat this like we live in Virginia right in a storm path. We will have our own tribulations and I'll adjust accordingly. But I feel like those times years ago when people - straight-faced and with seeming sincerity - claimed that their little, tiny town in the middle of nowhere was just as likely to incur a terrorist attack as New York City was. It's just not the case. The actual coast of this country will get awfulness. By the time it gets up here it'll be unpleasant but it's just not appropriate to claim it'll be just like when Florida gets rammed by a hurricane. I have appropriately prepared. I've cleared out the basement, checked the sump pump and got all the headlights out. There's bottled water and whatnot. And I have already eaten half a bag of kettle chips to try and add a layer of body-fat lest we need to live amongst the geese in the field out back during the late-Fall. However the emotional angst of the morning has been to much to bear for the rest of my household though.

Gives me a chance to put that ladder away outside.

Quick Sand

There's a storm coming.

It's not going to get way up here in central NY till Wednesday. But that didn't stop the local school from closing at noon today. Bit presumptuous I'd say. And as I have to go out this morning I thought I'd pop this quickly on here if only to say I had to endure local news to check that school closing. During which time I learned that a car accident last night is apparently the first casualty of the storm. And I watched a local mayor make the astonishing claim that this storm has caused absolutely mayhem where it's hit in the US so far. The fact that it hasn't hit the US is neither here nor there.

I got annoyed with that and went on the news website. I clicked through a few of the stories if only to gawk at the comments left. Small-town news websites ar elike Youtube in that they seemingly attract only the most deranged and extreme voices around. So this morning I learned this about the storm from 3 different online stories.

1) The local city deliberately didn't pick up the leaves on Friday knowing they'd be blown away.
2) Why isn't there any news about how to help all the abandoned dogs in Long Island (300 miles away).
3) This is media hype to protect Obama.
4) This would be the coolest thing to happen to central NY ever.

Madness. Anyhoo - I've been told by a combination of the news and the alarmist mayor on the news that I need to fill my car with gasoline in case we need to escape to "higher ground".We may be 400 miles inland in the Adirondack Mountains region - but whatever. I may go up north if the power goes out in a few days to be fair. Because when WWIII hits those little mountain towns will be the biggest places around. All those loons who live in the mountains win. Clever buggers.

I need coffee.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Diary Of A Masked Nutter

Saturday - October 27, 2012

My little brother and I conspired to get Daddy this morning. It worked a treat and I got it all on tape. He was so frightened that he even stopped singing the 80s Europop hit Life is Live he embarrassingly came up with out of nowhere when he realized his kids were coming to surprise him.

The Outlaw

Before I write anything else look at this -:

First up I have a huge craving for chocolate-covered nuts right now. Now even these milk-chocolate peanuts. No - I want the dark-chocolate hazelnuts I used to stuff into my fat mouth back when I was a civil servant in Bristol. That was when the breakfast of champions (that's me by the way) was a fistful of nuts and a bottle of ginger beer. Secondly I'd much rather that photo show up in tags than the other one on this page. 

Anyway let's get on with business. I have had zero success this morning in two areas.

1) My daughter is apoplectic that the heating isn't coming on. She has anxiously asked hte question, "Daddy why isn't the heating coming on?" And then I tell her that means that it's already the temperature she wants it to be. She's already won. Except 20 seconds later she just repeats - with earnest desperation - "Daddy WHY isn't the heating coming on?"

2) My daughter is equally as emotionally certain that getting dressed will not help. Even to the point of making the absurd statement that "clothes make me cold." She said this with all four of her limbs pulled up inside her massive t-shirt. You know - to keep warm.

After a little while she did agree to get dressed. But only on condition that I go get her clothes. This has been her landed-gentry attitude for the last fortnight. And I - like a tit - have gone along with it because it avoided the annoying game she was enjoying of deliberately putting on really poor choices of clothing and then presenting herself to me as a model of silliness. Simply it would be pouring with rain and 45 degrees outside and she'd come down in a pink skirt and a string-back summer dress over it that is so small it's not even long enough to cover the skirt. Just absurd. Which would be fine if we had the time to fart about and she would cooperate afterward. But she stopped doing that and started arguing that the mud-stained light-blue pants that were too short for her a year ago (where she got them from I don't know) are perfectly acceptable for school. So I would get the kid's clothes.

But this morning the kids are being militant little bastards. They're annoyed with everything it seems. My son has been arguing with no-one really that he is going to wear his pajamas today. On top of that he's certain he's wearing the wrong underpants. He picked out the ones he has on. But he went back upstairs and fished out a different pair from the laundry basket. So now he's been wandering about moaning about his underwear and pajamas. He isn't saying it to me - just sort of stumbling around like an inebriated tramp clutching underpants and grunting. It's like being back in South Wales again. Of course when he needed to go to the bathroom I tried to put his old underwear on (he'd dropped his glorious better ones in the livingroom) and he got savagely annoyed at me. To be a twat I started getting him dressed. I got his socks and a t-shirt on before he chucked his trousers across the room and lay down to protest like a pantless-hippy protesting the expansion of a motorway. Obviously I took a photo. Firstly because I knew that would annoy him and secondly because I predicted  yesterday that I'd do something stupid like that.

His sister is also arguing against time itself. She knows what day it is. And - just like every Saturday - she is demanding that she be allowed to watch a TV show that she sometimes watched on a weekday. The basic problems with that are that she did indeed sometime watch that show. But that was over a year ago and at 11am. Considering she generally moans about that before 7am on a Saturday that's a pretty stupid thing to get annoyed about when I explain - again - that it isn't on. Every bloody Saturday she moans about it not being the same as a weekday - but with the added weirdness of being irritated that it isn't a completely different time of day.

I also have an arbitrary rule in this house. If you want to do something so badly that not doing it makes you cry or have a tantrum then you aren't allowed to do it ever. In a reverse order of explanation - if my kids are doing something and an hour later I ask them to stop and they have a fit then that particular activity is OUTLAWED. I actually was saying it like that too in a feeble attempt to feel like a Wild West sheriff. That was until one day we were outside and I OUTLAWED something and then noticed a woman from down the street walking past with her dog smirking (it was a real "What. A. Twat.." smirk as well) at my King and I stance as I bellowed that at the kids.

Anyhoo - my son is under three so he gets like that a lot. But my daughter rarely does. But two-to-three months ago she had a fit about not being allowed to play on my laptop for longer. It was a real teeth-grinding raging fit as well. As it also involved Angry Birds I decided then and there to kill that off. That insipid little game hasn't had a peek into this house since. I also instituted a Game Time. Between 4 and 5pm she is allowed on my computer. She doesn't have to - but that's her window of opportunity. She tends to use it but has skipped out early or not jumped on as well. It's worked really well. Except this morning she has been asking if it's 4pm yet. No - it's 6.38am. No - it's now 6.41am. So already today I've had to warn her that if she asks me again when it's clearly fucking obvious that it's nowhere near the time she usually gets out of school that today's Game Time won't even happen.

I can't endure a day of nagging like that. I sort-of noticed it creeping in last night when my kids really epitomized the definition of sibling rivalry. That being that one child was getting genuinely jealous of the other one because they weren't getting their toenails cut. That's just odd. REally though they are annoyed at the home situation. Their mother has been at work since 5am this morning. Actually that's a lie - their mother has been at work since the last week of August. She leaves before they get up and arrives home either at or just-before bedtime. Seven days a week bar Tuesday's when their mother gets out early to take our daughter to a dance class. Which pretty much involves picking them up from the house - going to a class - then driving them home to bed. It's not been fun for anyone. And now my daughter is convinced that her mother isn't going to make it home for a Halloween party tonight. It's at 7pm. I've told her not to worry about it. It certainly explains why she's worried about time today though. Mind you it's only 7.25am right now.

It's going to be a bloody long day.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Never Ending Story

Aaah aaah aaah. Aaah aaaah aaaah. Aaaah ah aaaaaah.

All bloody day long he's had me hide under a blanket with him and his train while he says "...a ghost!!" and then I have to tickle him. Halloween better hurry up.

The Fork

I think Google is being far to clever for it's own good today. 

The first random visitor to my blog this morning searched for "pretentious hypocrite" and got me. Oh very droll Google. Evidently Google is powerful enough to actually read my mind lately because that's spot on.  Actually I've always been suspicious of the advances in search engines - especially one that clearly sends people searching for unsavory filth to my humble little blog. Even though I'm an educated man a small part of me (no jokes please) still believes that Google isn't big or clever at all. In fact I believe there's no flashy algorithm or anything like that. Instead they've just hired hundreds of millions of Chinese and Indian kids to do manual searches when we type something in. Three or four people deal with a hundred or so people worldwide and all the guff they look up. As someone who is constantly caving into the wanton stupidness of "I wonder what that is?" thoughts in my head I have the two or three dedicated people who do all my searches for me. And on days like yesterday they HATE their job with a vengeance. Why? Because I read an online friend lament about how there is pumpkin in everything in the US at this time of year and instantly found myself looking up "pumpkin Vaseline". Before I knew it I had Googled "bacon lube" (with success by the way) and then genuinely the next search that I made was for John Titor - a guy who showed up on paranormal websites in 2000 claiming with sincerity to be visiting from the future.

There's a weird divergence with this blog. I basically have a few styles of posts I like to write. Most of them are nonsensical. Some are "what me and the kids did" ones. Others are just blathering madness - tenuously related to actual life and based around ideas that I thought were funny. And then - once a week or so - I'll write something relatively serious about parenting, politics or whatnot. Sometimes I really think I've written something funny. This past two weeks (barring the last two days) I actually thought it was funnier than usual. I even had a few people tell me elsewhere that it was "a return to form". That's usually when my numbers drop. And when I write something lengthy and a touch pompous the numbers go up. Which I don't expect at all because those posts are LONG. It's at the same time as the long-winded opinionated posts that the number of visitors who were directed here via vile Google searches increases dramatically.

The irony of which is I write something more meaningful and sensible because I start to think that I've made far too many rude puns, innuendos and dark-jokes. Because that's not who I am. It's part of me obviously. But some of the other sides of me think that guy is a dick. So I'll consider discussing how a larger, more serious issue affects parenting my children. I'll even think about revisiting how my own crisis of faith has affected my parenting and how I sometimes think writing much of this is completely and totally wrong. Usually I'll avoid that though out of fear of sounding preachy. Or a brazen failure for - on the one hand lamenting how turned off I am by a lot of what goes on in American Christianity or churches - whilst making wildly innapropriate jokes about penetrating a dolphin that make me seem very unchristian indeed. Or as Google so presciently noted - like a pretentious hypocrite.

The real divergence though is that when I am more sensible the traffic in seems less so. I wrote about how the pinnacle of the US election season seems to be focused around telling me I might harm my children if I listen to the wrong people and the Google searches were bizarre. Earlier this week after I wrote about how only exposing your kids to what you believe in seems arrogant and wrongheaded I was flooded by people searching for "man fondler" and "between her toes." This seems to happen all the time. The number of people apparently searching for naked "photos" of Ariel from The Little Mermaid and coming to me is alarming. And posting that linked photo of Gaidi di Laurentis' cleavage has opened a sordid door for a strangely large quantity of people obsessed with that woman wobbly bits. I am evidently the world's number one source for information related to "dog licking peanut butter" and the very narrow search term "cow vulva". Add the high number of people who look up "Dan Savage son" is weirdly numerous that it has to be creepy. Not as high by a long shot of people who have Googled, "Harvey the train sex toy" mind you. All I did was mention it once and I probably rival the actual online wholesaler of that item now for hits. The other three major Google-lanches I get are for "cat luggage", "monster munch crisps" and - annoyingly - "farmer porn".

There's plenty that I won't mention because it's bloody horrible. People search for dreadful things. And Google - for some reason - sends them here. And I mean that if you knew some of these people and that they searched for that stuff you'd never speak to them again. Now I'm not an idiot. I get that some of what I joke about is off-color and dark-humored. And I will take the piss sometimes about it. But the really horrible searches that get here make me feel a sense of guilt. Why are they coming here? I'm being silly and vulgar sometimes but I'm not being evil. Not like that.

I don't want this to be a webpage related to any of that. Not remotely. I don't even want this to be a thing that reads like a (not to elevate myself to their level obviously) Frankie Boyle/Charlie Brooker parenting blog. As hilarious as I find Brooker in particular I can't be as caustic and personal as he is with some people. That's just not me. So quite honestly I don't know what to do about it. I like to piss about. And writing this is fun - but maybe the wrong kind of fun sometimes.

Of course it's likely that later on my son will run around half-naked pretending to crap-out Tootsie Rolls all over the house and I'll feel the urge to not only video it but share it here. Hypocrite indeed.

Excuse Me Doctor

But there's something very wrong with you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Are none of us safe?

A Grand Inheritance

You were all wrong. 

"It's too scary" they said. "It'll scar him for life" they said. "It'll look great with your pink dress" they privately emailed me. Well - he's not scared of that mask at all. In fact that's all he's wearing right now and is stood in the window screaming, "Mr. Winkie!" at the UPS man. That's how fine he is with it all.

The Botox Banana Death Mask

"Look Daddy! Finger the weatherman!"

I don't think it matters what the explanation is, but having your daughter say that and expecting you to turn around is an unsettling experience. Fortunately I did have a tiny window into how that appalling statement was made. She was eating apple and cinnamon oatmeal for breakfast. Which generally is called "apples and cinnaminaminamon" in our house. I don't even know how to verbalize cinnamon the normal way anymore. God help me if I need ot say that in public because I'll say it the long way. Actually my daughtre agrees with me that a there should be a cinnamon flavor of M&Ms called CinnaminaminM&Ms.

Anyway - her brother was eating strawberries and cream oatmeal. Which also has also been bastardized to be known colloquially as ROOOOAAAARberries and SCREAM!!! A name that - in hindsight - I wish we hadn't agreed on as it makes breakfast at 6am jarringly loud. Regardless my daughter sought to jazz up the name of her breakfast even more than usual. Somehow she morphed the word "cinnamon" into "weatherman." Then she took this finger-bat (no - I meant to write that) and fed it some oatmeal. Obviously she judged the trajectory all wrong and plunged the little bugger right into her breakfast. And then cried, "Look Daddy! Finger the weatherman!!"

Actually today has been all about terrifying one another. First up I slapped on the rigid, botox-banana-death-mask (send them in Google - and tell them their Home...) that I picked up as a Halloween alternative costume and went after the kids. It is pretty dark in points, but I think that actually helps with the experience.

There's a genuine lilt in their voices there where they are actually a little bit frightened. Which is why my daughter and I put on masks and did it again.

That'll learn him. And just to really rub it in my daughter ran around after him with this scary face she amde at school. I asked her who it was this morning and she just said, "just a monster." I kept asking leading questions like, "is it your mother?" but she wouldn't bite. Not like her mother does.

After his sister went to school I think he thought all the emotional torment was over. But no. Because right now he's mad at me for saying candy is horrible. It is too. I was actually making that bland, vague point that it's bad for you because he seemed to think that it wasn't strange at all to demand lollipops for lunch. But that morphed into me saying "and another thing - I think candy is horrible." Then - in an epically stupid parental move - I told him to try one of the dolmas I was eating. Because as we all know when a kid asks for candy what they really want is a slimy, green leaf that looks like a caterpillar chryssalis dipped in semen. But he seemed to think I was making a declaration and that any differing opinion on the matter is absolutely outlawed. It's sort of reminiscent of that weird political era in 2001/2 when the entire political discourse was dictated by The War On Terror supporters (or TWATS if, you like intentionally offensive acronyms). I tried to let him know that it's just me who thinks that candy is horrible, but he's behaving like I need to apologize for my blasphemy.

Which actually has worked out well for both of us. He's been horrendously clingy this week. This little spat between us has led to him storming off into the other room and playing furiously with himself (a prescient Nostradamus-style indication of his teenage years I feel). Which has allowed me to write this bloody thing this morning. Actually I hadn't even looked at the silly notes I'd scribbled notes I'd written down on the A4 pad in the kitchen for a week and now I can't make head nor tale of them. The first one says "Madonna - like a cat's tongue" which is revoltingly obvious. But the second one says "automatic writing Jim Belushi/Delboy." No idea. Of the other two I can actually read (two lines of incomprehensible serial-killer scribbling are lost to time, it seems) one is about an idea I had for a series of amusing Facebook status updates. The notion being you'd just go quiet for a week or two and then start posting strange but still oddly chipper updates. Just stuff like "Wow. It's really hard to drown the kids in the bath. They're slippery little buggers!"And then half hour later, "One down!" The point and context of all that is lost on my now. The other scribble I can read is the intriguing, "Is my son a horse? Must run tests." I think it's a happy coincidence that my wife sold her old horse saddle at this point.

Anhoo - I'll leave you with this bat-on-a-stick that my daughter made. Halloween in this country is very odd in the fact that it is very big and popular for kids and made safe, cutesy and twee. This bat - a blood-thirsty rabid evil bastard in pretty much every Halloween scenario I can think of - evokes that saccharine cuteness in every way.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Do Not Adjust Your Resolution

My apologies for not writing today.

I've been busy with other things.Mostly with a debilitating headache, a needy child and a foreboding sense of existential discomfort. That seems vague enough. But I did achieve a few things before my son basically demanded to the point of rage (we took turns on who this applied to) that I keep sit with him while he wriggled around. He wouldn't allow me to read, listen to my Mp3 player or actually amuse myself in anyway. Originally I tried to play with him so - with a strangely focused sense of spite - refused to allow me and then just gave up himself. Preferring to just lie on my lap in a way that had to be as uncomfortable for him as it was for me - but made pleasurable for him because I moaned enough about it.

Anyhoo - that was pretty much the entire day. But it ended well. Because I got this monstrosity out of the closet again. What with getting the LL Bean catalog with snow on the cover it now can snow and it's officially not that odd. So - out came the World's Most Stunningly Awful Coat.

Wouldn't put his shoes on though would he - the fussy little bugger.

The Boy And The Screaming Cake

How brave...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Did It My Way

One day I bet Noel Edmonds rips the mask that looks like his face and a massive Emperor Penguin will be exposed underneath - ready to unleash it's hellish campaign to take over the world.

I was stood waiting for my daughter to get out of school yesterday and the topic of conversation turned to the frightening danger of children seeing Ellen Degeneres. In this case the one mother was talking about how her teenage son had asked her point blank if a guy on Saturday Night Live was gay. Amusingly in her retelling of the story she couldn't remember the person's name so sort of grunted and made faces at the listening parents in the hope that they would guess from that which possibly-gay person she was on about. But as they didn't she immediately pivoted to talking about other gay celebrities. Which included Ellen Degeneres and, "that guy from CSI". Not the slightest idea who that is but I'm imagining a very odd storyline involving a character walking into the lab and their entire face glowing under the blacklight.

Then the one parent expressed discomfort about having to explain how it is that Ellen Degeneres is allowed on television. I was secretly hoping one of the other parents would sarcastically suggest that she's not actually supposed to be on there but has - through a blending of her magical gayness and atrocious dancing - managed to avoid being captured by the people in charge. Now she's transmitting her bland, pointless drivel with it's ever-so-slight references to her sexual-preferences against the will of the entire broadcasting Gods. Instead one parent agreed and the other said nothing - either not caring or not wishing to stir the pot. The initiator of the conversation then made reference to how difficult it was to regulate what kids watch on TV these days and repeated a line I've heard many times as if it were dripping with the utmost wisdom. that being, "You have to watch what you watch..."Then after a vague back and forth about the presidential debate it was repeated again that it's so hard to stop your kids seeing things that they just should never see.

This sort of thinking absolutely blows my mind. What would possess a parent from preventing a child from seeing or hearing anything that could potentially differ from a predestined set of things that a parent likes? All this does is assume that you know all that is right and relevant that exists in the world and that educating a child is just about transmitting those absolute truths. Essentially you think you're the one and only perfect body of learning and that to equip your children to make their way in the world you just have to get them to agree with and share your views.

There are a lot of things I think we have to eye with deep suspicion. Aside from penguins, people who like pumpkin spice coffee, that fake white crap on donuts that isn't cream and Noel Edmonds (mark my words - the day will come when he'll remove one of his vile, paisley shirts and reveal a suicide-vest which he will threaten not to detonate lest he be granted permission to personally start a sex-commune in Taunton) I have a limited set of things that I want my kids to avoid without argument. As easy and nice it would be on one level it doesn't really matter that - once they've developed their own understanding - that my kids share my views. I don't want Group Think at all. I'm a nightmare when it comes to absolutes anyway. As far as politics go I've jumped all over the map. I am - what a dear friend succinctly put it - "a twat".

Somehow I've managed to have convictions about things that are entirely different from what I believed a handful of years before. I'm like a bi-polar version of Ariana Huffington - except I look much better in a pantsuit (I'm guessing here). But people who absolutely know the Truth are mental. And their kids are demented for it because they have absolutely no analytical skills at all and nothing you tell them about why they are wrong about something makes a dent. It's the sort of thinking that says that teaching people about contraception gets people pregnant and that dancing equals Satan.

Go even further and my personal feelings/beliefs about religious faith are even more insanely schizophrenic. I've lunged from a solid Hitchens-concentrated skepticism, to spending evenings at a my own church telling curious people about my own Road To Damascus, to losing my faith entirely and finding enormous comfort in angry atheism, to being at a point where now I feel like I suffer from a weird form of christian epilepsy. If I followed the parental method of only relaying what I know to be right in order to prevent exposing my kids to things then I'd find myself having raised kids who are nothing like me at all. And lets just say I did manage to get them to be tiny replicas of me at this very point in time. What a horrible affliction that would be. Even a month ago I felt like I'd traveled out out the end of one set of known beliefs and was stronger for it.

Which is sort of the point. What matters is that I equip my kids to learn about different things and process that information to understand the world in their own way. Not seeing Ellen's horrible dancing isn't going to help with that. Forcing a This-Is-The-Truth filter over everything can only go wrong. It's that sort of thing that leads to parents teaching their kids about a world that doesn't actually exist. One where they angrily boycott books and demand that other people either agree with them or shut up. It leads to this inanity.

I remember years ago watching the Louis Theroux episode where he shone a light over a teenage white-power pop group called Prussian Blue. The point Theroux was making in that whole program was that these pretty young blond girls had been raised with a parental filter that taught them that unequivocally that white power was the only Truth. They were exposed only to one set of ideas. The belief being that if they were exposed to other things they would be fooled into thinking the wrong thing. The irony of course is that the kids in Prussian Blue have completely reversed what they used to believe and now say they are ashamed of what they were essentially brainwashed to repeat. So in the one sense you could argue that the Mom afraid of Ellen's presence on television will make her kid's think being gay is okay.

But that's not what that means at all. It just means that people believe different things. And that while there are universal truths about certain things (the Noel Edmonds point especially) just because you're uncomfortable with something it doesn't mean you get to dictate what everyone else believes. Especially your own kids. And especially as what you are arguing is insane. Because you're arguing that Ellen somehow manages to send gay-waves through the television that millions of people (shame on all of you) somehow manage to be unaffected by, remaining staunchly heterosexual despite her potent gay-ions permeating the entire country - but that your kids will be the only ones who will turn instantly gay upon seeing her. Basically you're saying Ellen is more influential on your kids than you are. You - who spend all that time with them - irrationally believe that a tiny exposure like that makes your parenting redundant.

All of which reminds me of a fantastic moment years ago when the Today Show tried to whip up hysteria about US downhill skier Bode Miller. I forget which pompous correspondent posed the question but essentially they asked, "but what do you think kids think when they see pictures of you drinking at 2 in the morning?" To which he responded, "I think - what kind of idiot parent is showing their kid photos of someone they don't even know drinking and making out with women in Switzerland when they are only 8 years old."

Oh Dear

Today is going to be emotional....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Boy: Two And A Half - Name Your Price

Son: How dare you. Lying around like a walrus in heat. You should be ashamed. All I ask for is for you to devote EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF YOUR ATTENTION to me. That's all. But no - you want some time for yourself to whinge and moan like a child. Bloody foreigners.

At least that's what it sounds like. He's quite disappointed that I'm not fulfilling his every whim immediately. Obviously he wants me to ignore the fact that even if my back didn't hurt like an absolute bastard that he's being especially fussy. He's had me build train tracks for him and then demolish them in disgust because they just weren't right. He begged for me to sit in the room with him while he played. So I did. But then he castigated me for daring to read a book. In the end I told him I was going back in the other room to a more comfortable couch. I mentioned my back so that he could empathize. Instead he heard, "I hate you. I'm going in the other room to list you on Craiglist. Some idiot around here will take you. Probably just to burn in a wood-stove, but possibly as a scarecrow. And don't try to stop me. My back hurts because I'm frail and pathetic. If you so much as touch me I'll tell your mother that you ate all the Mounds even though I did. She'll believe me over you because I'll tell her my back hurts. And when your back hurts everyone has to do what you say. Because you are just that pathetic. And you know all about pathetic." At least judging by his fury and indignation that's what he heard.

Anyhoo - today I've been really busy but I've nothing really to show for it. Spent the first part of the morning fixing the dryer again. It's squeaking less but still inexplicably isn't actually drying anything on one cycle. All of which was really hard to do because my shoulder blade feels like I've been stabbed. I have no idea what I've done to it but it hurts like an utter bastard. I couldn't even hold the milk in my left hand this morning because the weight of it hurt so much. But I grit my teeth and figured at some point it'd snap, click or do something to stop hurting like it does. No joy there. Then after that the boy and I drove all the way out to pick up some furniture only to be told when we got there that you can't pick stuff up on a Monday. Then when I got home there were two teenagers waltzing about my back yard. They were holding rakes but nothing had actually been raked. They didn't make any effort to say hello and were very much in my back yard so I went to say hello (that code for "who the bloody hell are you?"). They tried to ignore me but no - I wasn't having that. When I asked them if I could help them they said they were working for the neighbor but they'd stay off my land. So I helpfully told them that the everything that isn't behind his house is mine. The teenage boy then chanced his arm and half-joked that I owed him money for the work they'd already done (I can see nothing they'd done by the way). So I half-joked that if he just rakes it back where it was I won't charge him for it.

After we came in I've been ordered to play, read, lie down, hide, read and do absolutely anything that came into my son's head. Some of it is just stupid too. He insisted earlier that I let him shove a toy car about the size of a brick into my mouth. No amount of protesting mad a dent in his desire to do so. I told him it wouldn't fit. He took that as a suggestion to shove it harder. Then I just said no and it was rude. That started off his whole "you never let me do anything you selfish bastard" routine. But because he has a cold he is extremely clingy at the same time. So he just wants me to be with him so that he can - like a demented bi-polar drunkard - tell me he hates me and then deeply apologize so that I'll hold him some more.

Annoyingly last night my son ate the heads off of about eleven broccoli florets. His urine has been delightful today I can assure you. Not that I have to deal with it in particularly intimate ways at all. But the fact that even he called me into the room to ask what the smell was - through the thick layer of snot that's gushing out of his nose as well - should tell you something. He's practically urinating broccoli soup. Still - more irritating for him is that this is his third cold on the bounce. Back to back and all three different version of the same thing that's labelled a cold. This one that really started yesterday is just a wet, flowing river of snot. Which makes a change from the thick, green thing he had last week. Which was a refreshing variation on the painful, throat-spasm cough-based on the week before. It's got to the point with this one that he's just given up asking me to wipe it and he's just smearing it across his face.

Most urgent on his mind is that we go upstairs and play Hide and Seek. Which I did twice already. But he would then all scatter-brained insist we go downstairs and do something else before very angrily wondering why we were suddenly downstairs. Annoyed at how genuinely mental that is and the fact that he'd spent quite a bit of time just angrily yelling "I'm a big boy picture" (a reference to me not letting him use the camera this morning and now he can't let it go) I told him firmly that no - I'm staying where I am and will happily play games here. So we played Hide and Seek on the couch as best we could. He wanted it on video to show his sister so here you go.