Weaponized Cuteness

My five year old granddaughter, Princess Sack of Potatoes, learned “Feliz Navidad” in kindergarten.  While she was visiting I went to YouTube to play the Jose Feliciano version as an historical record for her, but opened this one by accident.

She was fascinated by this pint-sized crooner.  And so it goes for every generation.  Well, no harm done.  Her mother and her grandmother and her great grandmother had their crooners too, whether it was Frank Sinatra or Paul McCartney or whatever singer was out there.  But so soon?

 

Damn You Millan!

Little Evil Dog (LED) is now about four months old.  And still in the midst of a teething frenzy as her milk teeth are falling out.  Sometimes Camera Girl even bleeds from the bites of this insane little basset hound.  There has been some improvement.  Lately she only draws blood once a week rather than daily.  Everything is relative.

Today I noted that Camera Girl was watching the Dog Whisperer on Nat Geo.  It’s that Mexican guy Cesar Millan who trains dogs.  Of course, there is nothing more absurd than Camera Girl trying to train her dogs.  They completely dominate her and systematically ignore all her commands.  It would be accurate to say that they have trained her.

I tried to imagine her attempting to use Millan’s techniques but I know that she could never assert authority over the dogs.  It just completely clashes with her babying of these canines.  And yet with her children and grandchildren she has always been able to maintain good discipline.  I think it’s the fact that intellectually dogs are like permanent infants.  They never reach a point where they can be responsible for their misdeeds.  Training always has to be a matter of dominance.  And so, she forever treats them like babies.  Even if the animal outweighs her.

And so, the problem of Camera Girl’s bad dogs can never be fully solved.  I have in the past had to force obedience from some of the larger male dogs on my own just for safety’s sake but she will never be their boss.

But as I watched the episode that Camera Girl had on it occurred to me that a wife whisperer would be an interesting show.  If some guy developed a format where he had men come to him with wives who behaved poorly and he came up with a regimen for bringing them back in line.  And of course, it should be a humane program.  No shock collars or whips; nothing like that.  It could all be done using positive reinforcement.  Even a muzzle probably would be unnecessary, although I could see where it would make life better sometimes.

I’d guess it would work with treats and gifts used to encourage good behavior and verbal cues to point out bad behavior.  I started to think how I could work some of these things into my home life.  I could use small rewards like buying her a turtle or a lizard if she behaved herself.  But I realized that my house would probably overrun with pets within a few weeks.  And since there weren’t any other treats, I could provide or withhold, there wasn’t a way forward with my wife whisperer idea.  It was a dead end.

But I did watch how often food was the treat that Millan used to train his dogs.  How he used it to reinforce good behavior or withheld it to show displeasure.  And then some things came together in my mind.  Grocery patterns and other aspects of my life.  And I was aghast.  She has been using Millan’s program on me!  Tonight, we’re having a pork roast.  That only went on the menu after I performed the winter yard close-up yesterday.

To Serve Man, it’s a training book!

Wise Penelope

Περίφρων Πηνελόπεια – Wise Penelope

Can you read wisdom in that gaze?  I’m not sure.  But Penelope she is.  Or Penny for short.  And her mistress, Camera Girl. possesses the virtues of Odysseus’s celebrated wife in abundance; patience, cleverness and faithfulness.  So Penny it shall be.

Is that the face that launched a thousand ships?  Well no.  But maybe a thousand smiles.

Political Theater, Hounds and Late Summer

So, I watched Tucker’s interview.  I didn’t watch the debate.  This morning I’ve seen a few clips.  My first reaction is that Fox News is essentially MSNBC with slightly less crazy, slightly less homely teleprompter readers.  My second reaction is that Chris Christie and Nikki Haley must be competing to be Joe Biden’s running mate.  Past that I don’t think it matters.

We’re in a lot of trouble.

I guess I already knew that but watching these things drives the point home.  It’s quite disturbing.  I guess the cavalry won’t be coming over the hill with bugles blaring and sabers flashing.  We’re on our own.

Alright, snap out of it!  Nobody wants to read stuff like that.

On the upside we had three sunny warm days in a row.  That brought out some butterflies and other large insects.  Very good for some microphotographic opportunities.  Even with the grandkids here I’ve been able to steal away to get some time with the camera and macro lens.  Next week the kids start school and Camera Girl will be sad.  But she has much to look forward to.  She has relented in her determination to get me to buy her a giant rabbit, specifically a Flemish Giant.  Other than as a source of food, rabbits don’t really seem to serve any purpose, to my mind.  But Camera Girl has been campaigning for one for several months.  After many attempts to dissuade her, I eventually capitulated to this demand.

But once it sunk in that Princess Sack of Potatoes was really starting kindergarten and she wouldn’t have anything to mother, Camera Girl knew a rabbit wouldn’t suffice.  So, she switched gears and demanded a puppy.  And I gave up without a fight.  Because a puppy in the house is infinitely better than a rabbit in the yard when it’s 10 οF outside and the rabbit needs liquid water.  Or a hundred other things that need to be done for the rabbit outside when I’d rather be inside.

So, yeah, sure.  A puppy will be joining the menagerie sometime later this year.  Not that it’s a wholly good thing.  Camera Girl is absolutely the worst dog trainer in the history of man’s association with these canine freeloaders.  Whereas with her children and grandchildren she is a loving but stern disciplinarian, with her dogs she’s useless.  They walk all over her and lack even the rudiments of obedience.  It’s pathetic and annoying.

I’ve toyed with the idea of taking over the dog training job for this new recruit.  After all, as paterfamilias it is my right and responsibility to hand down rough justice to my vassals.  And at this point, vassal-wise, this dog may be the end of the line for me.  So, the logic of it is there.  At the same time, Camera Girl will be working behind the scenes undercutting my authority and spoiling the dog behind my back every chance she gets.  Obviously, the choice is fraught with peril.  I must choose carefully.  Perhaps I will consult Marcus Aurelius or possibly Aristotle.  Homer Simpson or Al Bundy?  We’ll see.

So, this last full week before school is moving along, powered by LEGO blocks, old Disney movies, Camera girl’s short order cooking and my manly grit, determination and panache.  We will persevere and by next Thursday quiet and order will descend on the Compound and a new era of productivity will reign on the site.  Excelsior!

22AUG2023 – Scenes from a Family Gathering

Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens

Driving from a rural area toward a megalopolis is almost always a frustrating experience.  The closer you get to the heart of darkness, the worse the traffic becomes and the more likely it is that you will accidentally cross the event horizon and be sucked in, never to break free of the bumper-to-bumper traffic of the black hole collapse.  Or so it seems to me.

By comparison driving in the reverse direction, away from the beast, feels like a continuously increasing sense of relief as the road and the entrances become less and less congested and the craziest of the homicidal drivers are left behind or at least no longer have the traffic density needed to ensure maximum mayhem.

Now all of that was true yesterday as I arrived and departed from the party that I travelled to.  But despite the tension of defying the human density gradient around the suburbs of Gotham City I was sorry that the party couldn’t have been extended indefinitely.

Everything about the gathering was congenial.  It was almost the entire family.  And that’s no mean feat.  We are many and we are scattered much more than in the past.  And Sunday is a tough day for travelling.  Saturday being the optimal day to allow for recovery before work resumes.

And everyone there was splendidly sociable.  The talk was the usual mixture of family events, politics, current events and reminiscing about crazier things and planning for crazier things.  And I learned things that I had never known about people I know very well.  And I saw what the youngest generation is starting to look like when they socialize.  And despite all the dire warnings and predictions they seemed quite healthy and normal.

Of course, food is always a highly important component of one of these shindigs and the hostess was extremely wise in her choices and provisioning.  There were several completely different themes with respect to the menu and there was never any danger of running out of the favorites which is always comforting.  I will admit that I no longer make the impact on the buffet table that I used to.  And that is necessary.  I wouldn’t have survived my former exploits as a trencherman.  But I still grazed high and low and tried a bit of everything.  Wonderful.

But the highlight is when the old bulls stagger into a corner, collapse into a circle of chairs and start pontificating about what’s wrong with the world and what we should do about it.  And eventually we come to agreement that things are going to go to hell no matter what we say or do and then we come to agreement that at least the world has us in it to make it a world worth living in.  Now this was what I remember when the old bulls were my father’s and my grandfather’s generations laying down the law and telling us what was wrong with my generation.  And now, heaven help me, I’m at my grandfather’s age and making my last speeches before shuffling off the stage permanently.  What a strange thing time is.

And just in time the cake and coffee are served and we lapse into a warm glow of caffeine and pastry ingredients.  And all too soon it’s time to go.  We need to leave before it’s too late to make the drive back.  But of course, there is at least a half hour of goodbyes, to each and every one.  Back slapping and hugs and hand shakes for one and all and then last-minute details remembered and plans for the next gathering.  And then we’re on the road and headed home.  But the glow from the party is still with us.  We talk about what we’ve heard and seen.  We talk about those who couldn’t make it and those who are gone.  But it’s all a happy feeling.  A good feeling.

The country and the world have gone straight to hell.  There’s no denying it.  But good things still exist.  And the best of those things is family, is the humanness of family.  The ties that bind and the hope for a future and the precious, priceless treasure of the young in our midst.

The world is not all ruin and depravity.  There is hope.  And I can see it when we get together.

29JUL2023 – OCF Update

Hazy, hot and humid.

July!

So today I have the sixteen year old grandson here.  Now I have to up my game.  Sixteen is an island and nobody from off of that island can crack the code.  Will I have to play video games?  Do I have the reflexes do I have the brain cells left?  We’ll see.

Needless to say some part of the day will be a black out period on the site.  But I also expect the day to be shorter.  No one can expect to keep a sixteen year old’s attention except with other sixteen year olds.  But I’ll do my best.

Sixteen.  A fraught age.  At that age nothing I did involved coherent thought.  So many stupid people.  So many stupid ideas.  Just surviving the age was a minor miracle.  But that was a more forgiving age.  Social media did not exist.  All our sins and stupidities, for the most part, faded into nothingness.  Today they’ll nail you on a cross for anything or nothing.

But it’ll be good.  The torch is being passed.  With the abandonment of the European Americans by the federal government it behooves all of us to marshal our resources to boost our children and grandchildren out of the wreckage of the middle class and give them a fighting chance.  And just letting them know they’ve got a family that cares whether they live or die is a part of that.

So today will be interesting.  Hopefully we’ll shoot some pool, watch some bad super hero movies, eat some junk food and who knows maybe even talk.

See you around.

Guest Contributor – War Pig – 16JUL2023 – Grandchildren

Great plan and very worth while. Since my grandson’s father died young, I became the masculine figure in his life growing up. I took him to many firsts. His first fish caught, teaching him to shoot, the first squirrel shot, then cooked, kindergarten “graduation”, elementary graduation, high school then college graduation. The first time his team won a football game in juniot high then high school. His first big job out of college. Great memories to take with me when the black camel kneels at my door.

It is said you die twice. The first time is when your heart beats its last, and the second is the last time someone thinks of you. I have tried to place myself in as many good memories as I could.

 

 

Seven

Six hours of Godzilla movies, some lime ices, two hours of swimming, a couple of pounds of spaghetti and meatballs, an apple pie and a quart of vanilla ice cream.  Apparently, that equals the optimal day when you’re a seven-year-old boy.  At least in one case.  Now I’m not seven.  And when I was seven, I’m guessing I would have preferred six hours of Universal Classic Monster Movies and maybe I’d have gone with blueberry pie in that line up.  But I definitely remember most of the vibe in that set of choices.

And so, I set up the itinerary exactly as specified by my guest.  And it was swell.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I would have preferred six fewer hours of Godzilla and maybe a ribeye steak would have been higher up on my list than spaghetti today for instance but bonding with the grandkids is an item very close to the top item on my list of priorities.  And because when you have several grandsons and they all differ in their preferences about everything including activities, foods, desserts and movies it sort of behooves you to divide and conquer.  So, I’ve instituted a separate day for each of them to spend the day with me and Camera Girl.  And on that day, they get to pick the activities, entertainment, food and desserts.  And they even get to decide when it’s over.

And it works.  Without his brothers or parents there, each kid gets to call the shots and be the king.  No one tells him to eat his vegetables or finish everything on his plate.  No one says six hours of bad movies is too much or says to get out of the pool because we have to pick somebody up from something or other.  And he even gets the chance to discuss with a supposed grown man whether Godzilla would beat King Kong or T. Rex or Indominus Rex or the Mosasaurus and why and under what circumstance.  And how Godzilla can have radioactive fire but somehow it doesn’t kill King Kong.  And he has to do it with a straight face.

And he can even eat his dinner while watching tv on the couch and not have to do any chores all day and go home as late as he wants.

But it’s also a good deal for me.  I can sort of remember caring about, “Who would win?”.  Sure, maybe it wasn’t Godzilla.  Maybe it was a Roman legion versus Alexander’s Macedonian phalanx.  Or Superman versus Thor.  Or whatever ridiculous thing I imagined that day.  But the point is I sort of recall the feeling.  Some very old neurons fire off a few synapses that I haven’t used in sixty years or so and it’s fascinating.  I almost remember being that age.  I almost remember the feelings.  And it’s pretty great.

I’m working this program youngest to oldest.  So, as we move up the line things should get more and more familiar.  Or will they?  Is nineteen any closer to who I am than seven?  I don’t know.  Each page in the book of life is an island.  A snapshot.  All of them are long ago.  But I expect to enjoy each chance to delve into their present and my past at the same time.

And ultimately, I’m trying to build a little immortality.  I still remember the times my grandfather came to visit me as I was growing up.  He understood that public relations with your descendants was terribly important.  So, he did it right.  He brought us out for the biggest, greasiest triple cheeseburgers at Wesson’s and he always had chewing gum when he came over and he always took us for a drive to the most beat up neighborhoods in NYC where he knew the most bizarre characters like a jeweler that he worked for as an armed guard.  And he always had stories about his times as a cop or when he was the mayor’s bodyguard or a private detective.  Or when he shot it out with armed robbers from the running board of a commandeered taxi.

And because he spent the time with us, in a sense, he’s still alive even forty some-odd years after his death.  And if I tell his stories to my grandkids then maybe he lives another hundred years.  So that’s my game.  I’m working on my immortality.  And I’m paying forward things that were given to me long ago.  What’s more valuable than that?

Father’s Day 2023

Ah, Father’s Day, that most inexplicable holiday in the calendar.  Children, wives and the fathers themselves walk around that day with confused expressions on their faces.  What are they all supposed to be doing, or feeling or even pretending to be feeling?

Everyone understands Mother’s Day.  The bond between mothers and their children is self-explanatory.  Even the act of becoming a mother to a child is one of self-sacrifice and love.  Even husbands are unable to be completely selfish on Mother’s Day.  We’re forced to acknowledge that our role in the circle of life is the easier side.  And we do.  Every man in a good marriage honors his wife on Mother’s Day and tries to show some class on that day.  And so, he encourages his children to gather around his wife and celebrate the nurturing nature of mothers.

But Father’s Day?  I mean, we try to be good fathers.  We spend time with our kids and teach them things and show affection.  But do we want to be applauded and be fussed over about our role in the family?

Honestly?  No.

What we’d prefer is to get up late, have a nice big breakfast, watch some really bad movie or go fishing or read a book then have a steak dinner and then watch another bad movie and go to bed.  Of course, this leaves room for variation.  Maybe instead of fishing you’d rather work on restoring an old car or head to the gun range or have a catch with your grandson or something.  And I even know some fathers who aren’t happy unless they’re doing home repair projects on their day off.  There’s a natural range.

One of my favorite fatherhood memories was taking my son to the north shore of Lake Champlain to fish for pike and bass.  It was a long trip and we didn’t know any of the local details for fishing so we tried a row boat which turned out to be a dicey thing on a lake with a particularly strong current.  But we caught some fish and ate some bad food and spent a memorable weekend together as father and son.

I guess it’s natural for us to think of our own fathers and try to figure out how we stack up.  My own father had six sons and he spent most of his time with us trying to stop us from hitting each other quite so much.  He was one of the most aggravated individuals I can remember.  He was just outnumbered was his problem.  But deep down I think he liked us most of the time.  And since I feel that about him, I would conclude that he was a successful father.

So really none of us get to decide if we were successful at fatherhood.  It’s the kids who get the last word (although the wives probably would like to add a footnote or two as usual).  So, if after they’re grown, they’re still talking to you and if from time to time they still talk about any of the things you did together, then a case can be made for you as a good father.  Anyway, that’s my take.

26MAR2023 – The Week Begins

Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens

The weekend was replete with good food, happy visitors and talk.  We heard stories about the really old days, over a century ago when our ancestors came to this country and made their fortune and then lost it and then started over again.  It was exciting, pathetic, sad, funny and very familiar.  Familiar because it’s family.  And we heard tidings of some old friends and relatives who are ailing.  But as we age there will always be more of that.  But there were tidings of the next generations venturing out into the world.  That’s always a necessary and welcome development.  And we made plans for upcoming gatherings.  Easter is almost upon us and we’ll be hosting the family which is great.

And now here we are beginning a new week.  Chaos reigns supreme in Dunwich and I expect pandemonium when I arrive at work tomorrow.  But the world we live in is in a permanently catastrophic state and if no other good thing has come of this shambolic existence, it’s that we’ve become less delicate.  Anything less than a megaton of destruction is routinely just shrugged off as “more of the same.”  Well, good.  We’ll continue on and deal with these occurrences, one catastrophe at a time.  Who knows maybe they’ll run out of plagues eventually and we’ll come out on the other side.

And at least there is a bit of humor to the whole thing.  Even the outside world is starting to catch on to just how pathetic Joe Biden and his gang of losers really are.  Even the Saudis, who have never been known for their love of humor have joined in the act.  Saudi tv has a skit where Biden and Harris look-alikes wander around a political soundstage hopelessly lost and stupid.  Imagine when even stone age people like the former headhunters of the Amazon jungles and the New Guinea highlands join in the fun.  Maybe it could become a meme when representatives of every race and ethnicity compete on Rumble to mock Dementia Joe and Magic Bus Kamala.  That would be a true moment of solidarity for the whole human race.  It chokes you up just thinking of it.

But seriously, this is going to go on for a good long time.  As a very smart man said long ago there is a lot of ruin in a nation.  Before the US is degraded to a level where people will do anything about it, it will have to get a lot worse.  So, I intend to do my best to take care of those I love and try somehow to make my immediate surroundings a little less horrible.  And when I have the time, I’ll put up some of my scribblings here as moral support for folks like me.  If you have something to share leave it in the comments and if you have something longer, you’d like to see posted send it to me at the e-mail address listed or just say so in the comments and if it’s something I can support I’ll probably post it up.

Things are a lot worse than they used to be.  But one thing has improved.  We now know the truth about the country we live in.  Tens of millions of people now know that what we were told was a big lie.  And that is a powerful thing.  And I don’t know how, but I’m pretty sure that one day that is going to have a tremendous impact on some critical moment in our history.  A country is made of more than just banks and bureaucracies.  I think there is a component that depends on the trust of people.  And this country has lost that.  It was that characteristic called American exceptionalism.  It was belief in ourselves as being part of something remarkable.  Now we know that’s not true.  And pretty soon the rest of the world is going to find out too.  The day will come when one of Joe Biden’s gang is going to ask us for help and he’s going to get

… nothing.