My last two trips to New York I have fared very poorly on the Subway System: previously, we took the B instead of the D on the way to the Met and ended up in Queens-- and this was certainly our fault, and alcohol consumption may have been to blame-- but this time even local Manhattanites were shaking their heads: after we ascended many stairs with the toddlers in tow, there was an 8 by 11 piece of paper instructing us that the A and the C were running on the local lines because of construction, and then after descending many stairs and taking the A we found ourselves whizzing by the 81st St. Museum stop, and then we kept going and going and finally we disembarked at 125th and took the downtown A to 59th then switched again to the uptown C to get to the Museum (it was funny hearing Alex saying "Why can't we catch the Local C?), and so on the way back we figured we had it down-- just take the C, take the local and we were guaranteed to stop where we wanted-- but as the D rolled by the conductor shouted out her window, "TAKE THE NEXT D! THE C IS ONLY RUNNING ON THE EXPRESS!" which we did and then switched again (it was easy, the train was waiting) but still . . . in the greatest city in the world should they be relying on taped up pieces of computer paper and shouting as their method of information dispersal?
Microbial taxonomist Carl Woese says that in the good old days-- before archea, eukaryotes, and bacteria-- life shared its genes horizontally, there was no separation of DNA material, and evolution proceeded at a rapid, communal rate in the primordial soup, but then bacteria isolated itself and its intellectual property and the Darwinian age began (and lasted several billion years) and evolution moved slowly and separately; now, that time is coming to an end, the cultural revolution begat the bio-tech revolution, and once again, genetic material is being shared horizontally-- and I think this means that you shouldn't worry about that modified tomato that stays ripe for a month after it's picked because soon it will also be able to talk to you.
The documentary My Kid Could Paint That is about a precocious four year old abstract painter named Marla Olmstead-- and there are two ways to interpret the title: My Kid Could Paint That or My Kid Could Paint That . . . and that makes all the difference.
Lots of sleep related problems this morning: Alex had his "worst dream ever" about a giant man-eating robot (which, not so coincidentally, is what Ian wants for his birthday-- Alex said the idea "got into his head") and I rolled over in a weird way while I was sleeping last night and squashed my left testicle and it feels like someone kicked me in the jewels.
An old student spotted me while we were out Friday night, and it turns out she now teaches in Edison-- but what Catherine and the group thought was more odd (and in retrospect, it is kind of funny) is that this petite girl was displaying a size-able amount of cleavage, and the first thing I said to her after she asked "Do you remember me?" is "Of course-- Julie-- you and your friends made that "13 Ways of Looking at a Bra" video; she remembered exactly what I was talking about-- she made a video parody of a Wallace Stevens poem (13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird) with her two wacky friends, but from the outside it appeared that I was commenting upon her ample rack.
Tomorrow is senior cut day, but it is done East Brunswick style-- the parents call the kids out sick so they don't get in trouble-- but it still reminds me of when I cut school with friends and we got caught and I had to meet with the vice-principal at NBTHS, who-- coincidentally-- is now the principal at East Brunswick-- which sort of makes me feel like I never left high school (although I didn't get in much trouble for cutting, my dad had coached him.)
I don't let my kids watch TV on rainy days (I find it entertaining to see what they'll do when they get stir crazy); yesterday afternoon Alex built a piesta (he meant a pinata) out of Legos and put it on a shelf and then he covered his eyes and whacked it with a Lego stick-- which crumpled on impact-- but after a couple of turns, including a devastating blow by yours truly, it broke into pretend candy pieces.
A student of mine had a good idea for my blog, but I'll never be ambitious enough to do it; he suggested that for each day I post, I also post a sentence that pre-dates the first entry, so that I'm extending the blog in two directions-- the future and the past-- and then I can blog my way back through the birth of my children, dial-up access, The Presidents of the United States of America, etc.
Watching Who Killed the Electric Car made me very angry last night, but my children cheered me up this morning-- the first thing Alex said to me today was "I'm not bored of you yet, Daddy, I still love you" and then later, during breakfast, Ian couldn't make up his mind about which cereal he wanted, so rather than wait at the beck and call of a two-year old, Catherine and I both left the kitchen-- and as I was about to write this sentence Alex yelled "Oh no, we made a big mess" and Ian concurred and I started cursing: "God dammit, you can't leave them alone for a second" and when I went into the kitchen looking for a puddle of milk Alex said, "We tricked you, we didn't make a mess, Ian just wanted some cereal."
Despite the fact that Catherine and I have been arguing about the merits of my push lawn-mower-- she says it doesn't really cut the lawn-- this morning when I read in Wired that a gasoline powered mower emits eleven times more pollution than an automobile-- get this-- I didn't even mention it to her . . . I made a very mature executive decision not to open that can of worms on a peaceful Saturday morning while we were drinking our coffee (but I can't promise that I won't mention the fact at a later date).
Jury duty effectively combined a trans-Atlantic airplane flight, the DMV, and a Kafka novel: I sat on an uncomfortable seat in a stuffy room with strange people for eight hours waiting for my number to be called, but it never was-- which is good, because I don't have to serve on a trial, but my eyes still hurt from reading so much (if I owned a cell-phone I could have called random people and talked about my daughter's science project, like the guy next to me) . . . I read an entire novel (Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies-- very funny and appropriate title for the day) and as much as I could handle of The Cosmic Landscape, but then it got too hard and I bought a random magazine about science culture called Seed at lunch.
After three hours of tension, nothing much happens at the end of The Good Shepherd-- but I will hand it to Matt Damon for picking the easiest three hour movie script to memorize in the history of cinema: he's on-screen for then entire epic, and I think he says ten lines.
Last week, I took some store-bought beef jerky and put it in a crumpled plastic bag, and told my philosophy class it was Alex's pet rabbit "Hoppy" that had died over the winter-- and that in order to teach Alex about recycling, we gutted, jerked, and ate some of him . . . I expected a dramatic emotional response, perhaps even the threat to call DYFUS, but no one thought anything of it and a handful of kids actually ate some.
Friday night there were a couple of Rutger's football players sitting next to us at the bar, and the blond girl sitting with them with was so distractingly good-looking that I wished she would leave so I would stop leering (but, of course, she didn't leave, and instead took off her sweater so I had to avoid the temptation of exposed cleavage as well.)
On the way to work this morning-- and, appropriately, it was raining-- I passed by a tractor trailer double stacked with concrete sarcophagi.
While we walked to get some falafel Alex formulated an intricate plan to spring loose the baby pig he visits with my dad at College Farm-- he's seen Charlotte's Web and he knows if he doesn't rescue the little guy that he will end up as bacon; the plan includes an alarm to wake us in the middle of the night, a midnight bicycle ride, a bell Alex can ring if he needs me to pedal faster, a lantern on a stick, a knapsack to put the pig in, and-- most important-- a promise . . . that I won't say "Oh, man!" when Alex gives me an order.
Alex lost video last night because of his recalcitrance at the smoothie place, but while Ian was watching Dinotopia we had heard lots of rustling and stacking in his room; when I went up he showed me the castle he had built with his blocks and he made sure to tell me that he had built a "gigantic base" so it wouldn't fall, and used "different materials"-- both pieces of advice I had given him, so this was his subtle way of making up with me, and then he added, "so I had more fun than Ian."
Last night, Ian found someone willing to turn every page in his animal encyclopedia (she was ten) and with each animal he had a dire warning: "if you go near that crocodile, it will bite you and you will be dead . . . if you go by that bug and touch it, you will be dead . . . if you go by that snake, you will be dead" and although the animals he pointed out certainly are very dangerous and have probably killed many people throughout the world, it's still funny when it comes from a two year old.
Yesterday, on my way to happy hour, I did something very uncharacteristic: I made an impulse buy . . . I had watched Juno the night before and I had a desire for orange Tic-Tacs which was obviously generated by the clever product placement in the film; normally I never make any frivolous purchases-- especially ones dictated to me by the media-- but I was feeling wild, and they were only a dollar (they tasted so good that I finished the entire box on the way home).
Alex was in a creative mood yesterday: he told us how he had to call the police on Catherine's mom because she crawled under the couch and punched him in the eye when he wasn't looking-- "she sneaked up on me and when I was turned the other way she went like this . . ." and then he would pretend to punch himself in th eye, which we got him to do over and over by saying, "Wait, how did she do it? (and I think Catherine's mom was upset that he was making up this awful story about her, but we found it hysterical).