So, for years I have had a low-level worry about what might happen if, as my children grew older it became clear they did not share my political viewpoints. Of course, I would love them the same, but there is the Alex from Family Ties model.
Well, tonight, H said that there was a girl at his school who would like to vote for McCain if she could because if Obama becomes president, he will "take all our taxes and give them to homeless people." H got a puzzled look on his face and said, "but that's a good cause, right? I mean, what is the problem with that?"
Greensboro is a fine place to live. The locals like to say, "a great place to raise a family," which usually means, it has great parks and no nightlife or culture to speak of... Anyway, we are quite happy here, but occasionally get the urban jones, e.g. nice Italian restaurant, classy hotel, traffic, tall buildings, good brunch, a museum or two... So, this summer, on the spur of the moment, we took off for a weekend in Charlotte. Thankfully, our boys love hotels and all the accoutrements associated with them. So, we hung out in our room in the Omni, watched a movie or two, wandered around downtown, watched a bike race, ate at an Osteria, and went to the Discovery place. A good weekend.
So, looking back over my blog, I realize that I haven't posted anything for quite some time. The main culprit is facebook. Not sure why, but I really began to use facebook a lot more this summer — perhaps I hit the critical friend mass... Whatever the case, it ate up the limited amount of computer doodling time I had. But I have a series of posts which have been simmering and which I will get up soon enough.
but people have been asking me what we have been up to recently, and this tells part of the story. We moved — within the house that is. Our friends who were living with us temporarily moved out, and so R graduated to H's old room, H graduated to the larger bedroom, and I got a home office. We bought new furniture for all three rooms at IKEA — 16 boxes / 2 days worth of assembly. L repainted both rooms while I turned assembled. Everyone is pretty happy about the move, except now our bedroom looks pretty lame.
Other things about which I will post in the near future: - a weekend getaway to Charlotte - one year in Greensboro and a party to celebrate it - a new semester, which begins at 8:30a tomorrow.
Took the boys to the Nasher Museum at Duke. The purpose was as much to make art as to look at it. I wanted to see the Barkley Hendricks exhibit before it closed. It was interesting, although the boys took some time to get used to his portrait style. At first it was a bit underwhelming.
But the real highlight was taking pictures. Everyone had at least one camera, and we took lots of shots. Both the boys were pretty diligent, but each pursued a different artistic methodology: R was unabashed, taking pictures of everything, pretty rapid-fire and switching between two cameras. H was much more focused, taking multiple shots of the same thing with a lot more attention to color (he has always favored the blurry, color field shots) and composition.
The pictures really should be viewed as a whole to get the effect. So, rather than post a couple of images here, just visit the flickr site for the full effect. And while you are there, also check out R's home series.
Sorry for the interruption in posting. I've been busy writing. I am now back down to a normal workload, and trying to get caught up with everything.
This is really just a message to let those few readers who remain know that I am still here and intend to become more regular in my postings in the future.
Took H the Weatherspoon Art Museum, where they had an exhibit on Latino / Latin American art, which was pretty interesting. One of my favorite pieces was "1492 Indians vs. Dukes," by Rubén Ortiz Torres. He is from Mexico City, but lives and works in Los Angeles. His work plays with a number of popular stereotypes, such as the low-rider lawn mower. [see below]
H did a little sketching, particularly of a tiny sculpture of a woman, sitting on the edge of a 2in square wooden block, staring at a gold earring stuck in the wall. I didn't get the artist's name, but he took a shine to it.
Next up, SECCA in Winston-Salem to see Maggie Orth's exhibit on electric textiles, capable of changing color and patterns.
So, we have a one year old in our house now — baby A — and he is a hoot. A very happy and outspoken child, determined walker, and amenable deliverer of coasters. Our bric-a-brac has migrated upward to the mantle + top shelf, and we now have baby gates at both ends of the stairs. The boys have really enjoyed it, and it is fun to watch them interact. A now knows where all the good toys are, and H+R enjoy playing the part of the elder statesmen.
H lost a tooth one week ago [see post below]. Without that one for support, the adjacent tooth quickly began to wander. We started calling him "snaggletooth" — much to his chagrin. We urged him to get the other one out as well, as it was hanging and sort of creeping us all out. So tonight, I tied some dental floss to the tooth on one end, and to a belt clip on the other. We joked about clipping the floss line to the dog's collar and throwing a piece of bacon across the yard. H thought that was so funny, he threw his head back laughing, and out popped the tooth... Alas, we didn't get the snaggletooth pirate picture we had joked about — H in pirate garb with that tooth. But I can doctor the one I have up to create the effect.
Monday night had the chance to attend a showing of "Who is Bozo Texino?" — a film by Bill Daniel, which was showing at Elsewhere, a local artist collaborative. Very interesting film — he spent sixteen years riding the rails across the west, tracking old car markings and the people who made them. Almost made me miss being in Texas, almost. Elsewhere is always worth a visit on its own, as is their website.
The elementary school down the street had a carnival today. I gave each of the boys some tickets and let them go. They had a blast — both boys wanted to BE dunked in the dunk tank, although R gave a few shots at dunking the teacher who was taunting everyone.
This week, our friends BJ, J + A from Texas relocated to Greensboro and are currently living with us as they get settled. We are very excited that they are here, and sure they will love the region. It has also been a real treat to see A who is 1yr old. We haven't seen him for about 10 mos. You can track their move here. And once both of us get our blogs back in shape, it will provide stereoscopic coverage. I'm sure pictures will start to flow soon.
H's tooth came out last night, with a little help from BJ's mother who was visiting. He swished saltwater, put the tooth under his pillow, and found $2.25 [and the tooth] there this morning. He asked L last night if the tooth fairy had any cash. She told him he might get an IOU. He is lucky he didn't get postal stamps and car wash tokens...
At the park around the corner from our house the other night, BJ + I taught the boys how to suck the nectar from honeysuckle blossoms. I used to do this at my grandmother’s house when I was about H’s age and remember convincing myself that I was “full” from the effort and didn’t need to eat dinner. Both boys took to it very industrially. R grabbing large handfuls of blossoms [see photo below, which absolutely cracks me up and makes a great wallpaper / screensaver shot] and methodically working each one; H designing a more efficient system of nectar extraction, then distracted by his [incredibly] loose tooth. Just nice to know that should they ever be forced to forage for survival, they won’t have to forgo a little sweetness after dinner.
A number of people have asked me about the Lego Derby we held on 23 March. Sorry for the delay in posting the results. The derby was a profound success. In all, thirteen cars entered. So, it was a crowded track and a full race with 31 heats. There was a lot of excitement, as the early favorites all fell by the wayside, victim to the “Danger Zone.” The track measures about 30 feet, and I installed side rails, and two lane dividers [total of three lanes]. But, I ran out of the material I was using for the lane dividers, so I suggested to H at the last minute that the last piece of track should be open track — no lanes. To make that a bit more appealing, I called it the Danger Zone. It turned out to be a pivotal part of the race, as many cars did fine when they had a lane to bump up against, but spun out of control once they hit open track. In the end, the cars had to be heavy enough to build momentum, but not so heavy that they dragged out of the starting block; and they had to roll straight, with the least amount of friction, specifically between the wheels and the lane dividers and side rails.
Given those criteria, the winning car turned out to be L’s Block of Cheese. It wasn’t pretty, but it consistently kept its nose down and powered through the danger zone as many faster cars [mine included] flipped, spun or crashed around it.
Second place went to HBA, and third to Chris. A fun time was had by all — you can see some of the action on the flickr site. In fact, it was so much fun, and there were a number of friends who were unable to make it on the 23rd, so the following weekend we did it all again. Special kudos to BJ, who clearly made the most arduous journey to compete. He flew out from San Angelo, TX on Saturday, and the effort paid off for him. His #14 Shark Attack finished a razor-close second place to the unstoppable Block of Cheese Machine, which again finished first. In third place was HBA’s little orange #2, followed by one of RBA's two-wheel cars [two wheels + axle], and FD's heavily modified car, which was a real testament to perseverance and adaptability, as it initially wouldn't make it down the track at all.
So, we have a full-fledged lego-epidemic here, with pieces strewn about the house and the boys nearly constantly engaged in cannibalizing wheels as they make, destroy, and remake their cars. Tonight, some friends stopped by for dinner. The boys quickly made a car for both of them, and we went out to the track. Turns out one of the cars may be a real contender to beat L in the third Lego Derby which will happen sometime soon. So, if you are in the area, come on over for some practice runs on the track. Otherwise, watch the flickr site for more updates.
I've been trying to figure out how HandFont — a professionally designed font based on my handwriting — is a professional necessity so that I can get reimbursed for the $249 it costs to do it. I do grade / comment on papers electronically, and this would allow me to do so in a more unique way. But the fact remains, the students can still read my comments fine in Lucida Grande. Anybody have any ideas of why I really, really need this? Or, if you are looking for an overly extravagant gift idea...
wrote out a lengthy, perhaps even brilliant post explaining why I have been so derelict in posting recently, and recounting the move to our new house this past weekend. But somewhere along the way, as I was trying to upload some pictures, it disappeared. Likely caused by me falling asleep at the computer.
So, the short version is — bittersweet move, love the house, miss the short commute to work + the woods, the kids + dog are doing well with the move, the house has nice flow, there are pictures on the flickr site, more later and come visit.
Wednesday night brought a bit of a surprise. Around 9:00p the light rain turned to heavy snow and it kept up for about three hours. By midnight, the campus was buzzing with snowball fights, snowman-making, and general mayhem. The boys woke up without any idea, as many people in Greensboro did. Of course, Guilford County schools closed for the day, so we took a walk in the woods.
"Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more." The nearest book is Edward Tufte's Envisioning Information. Page 123 is the index, so maybe that isn't the best book. Second nearest book is Noel Ignatiev's How the Irish Became White. I'll report for both and let the reader decide.
"Find Page 123." [easily done]
"Find the first 5 sentences" [which appears to mean, summarize the first five sentences] various items re: Edwin Abbott - aerial photography. [Tufte] A brief excerpt from a novel which relates the story of how the main character murdered an African American with a pump handle. This begins the chapter, "The Tumultuous Republic," which traces the effect that anti-Black riots by Irish in the middle of the 19th century had on Irish understanding of their own whiteness. [Ignatiev]
"Post the next 3 sentences." - "Aesop's fables 65; Akahata [Red Flag] 28; Albers color demonstrations 92-93" [Tufte; so I know these aren't really sentences, but in the absence of periods, I used line breaks to signify a sentence] - "That is a passage from The Quaker City, an 1844 novel by one of the most remarkable writers the country has ever known, George Lippard. Now forgotten, Lippard was the best selling author in America before Harriet Beecher Stowe. Before he died in 1854, two months shy of his thirty-second birthday, he wrote twenty-three separate books, ranging from thick volumes to pamphlets, scores of uncollected stories and 'legends,' hundreds of news and editorial columns, and wrote or collaborated on several plays; he also founded his own publishing house, edited his own weekly paper, and lectured widely." [Ignatiev; not good writing — Lippard nor Ignatiev]
Over the MLK holiday weekend — one of the few holidays which the Quaker college observes — we went to the Outer Banks with our friends, B, K + G. K’s sister has a beach house in Kill Devil Hills, just up from Nags Head.
The beach was just across the street, so we braved the cold a few times to go collect shells. I think you can see in the pictures why we didn’t last very long. The wind off the ocean was pretty fierce, and on Saturday, as we were walking back to the house, it started to snow.
In general, we didn’t mind being home-bound. We had books, games, the Wii, plenty to eat and drink, a few movies, nothing to do and some really great views. The only problem was the refrigerator. We got in on Friday night. As we were unloading the car and opening up the house, we noticed some brown sludge on the floor surrounding the refrigerator. When we opened it, we very quickly realized the problem. It was dark and scary in there, and we quickly closed it. Curiosity got the best of us and we opened the freezer, for just a split second. Perhaps you have seen those very odd commercials for a flooring company where the couple smells the milk and falls over. Yeah, that. The smell was explosive, singed the inside of our nostrils and sent us all flying. Apparently, what happened was the last people to leave the house at Thanksgiving hit the wrong breaker by accident.
So, we spent the next hour or so feeling sorry for ourselves and steeling our nerves to attack the cleaning. We made a lot of plans – a lot more than we needed. Strategizing helped to postpone the inevitable. It took us about two hours to get it cleaned out. My job was to carry the trash bags full of rotten food down one flight of stairs to the second floor, then across the balcony to the side of the house where I would drop them into the open trash cans below. There were quite a few bags, and I was very glad I didn’t miss, as it was about 20 degrees.
The refrigerator is not reparable — the seals surrounding the freezer were ruined, and the liquid death had oozed into the elements at the back. We tried to buy a new one and have it delivered that day, but they couldn’t. So, we had coolers, and the natural freezer out on the balcony. We were fine. We just didn’t cook as much as we had planned. I don’t yet have a picture of the freezer, but K said she has one. When I get it, I’ll add it here.
On Sunday, we drove over to the North Carolina Aquarium, then down to Hatteras. It is a fascinating landscape, incredibly tenuous. I'd love to spend some more time there when the weather is a bit more accommodating.