Sunday, January 29, 2006

iron chef america

I don't really like the American version of Iron Chef. I do however adore the original Japanese show. I have an especially soft spot in my heart for Morimoto, my all time favorite Iron Chef.
I really wish that the episode that I am now kind of watching were just a ploy to get Rick Bayless across kitchen stadium to stick a knife in Bobby Flay's ribs.
I just don't like Bobby Flay. I never have. Back when he was grillin and chillin, I always waited for the other guy to just whip his ass one day. I don't even remember the other guy's name, and I'm not googling it right at the moment either. Chances are though that if there were such a thing as justice he'd have the contract with Food Network and not that butt nugget Flay.
I would like to see Flay and Jamie Oliver fight. That's one of those moments that would just truly be golden. Of those two, which is the biggest geek? I can't really say the things I most want to about these guys as I'd like to keep this whole thing at least PG-13ish. I'll say honestly that I could take them, probably not at once as I just don't trust either of them in a fight. But seriously . . .
I'm not sure about Bayless. When I've seen him on some cooking show . . .hmmm, have I ever?
I kind of feel sorry for Alton Brown when I watch this. It seems as if he sold himself to get the good show, and then some evil corporate overlord came up with the idea to make Iron Chef suck, looked through the pile of contracts for souls and picked poor old Alton.
Anyway, chalk the rant up to disgruntled jealousy. I'm sure that's what it is. Okay, it's mostly that Bobby Flay sucks, but there's also the disgruntled jealousy.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

almost soccer season

Sitting under my left hand and the left side of the keyboard are the forms to register Big Brother and myself for the spring soccer season.
I've been coaching his various teams since his second season making this roughly our third year. We have two eight week seasons, spring and fall, so it's been about six seasons. As well as coaching, I have played on an adult team a few times in the last three years. I totally missed playing this past fall as the season snuck up on me while I waited for the phone call. Apparently a bunch of my teammates played a summer season and needed a break, so our team didn't quite form in the fall. Nice of the bunch of butts to bother calling.
I played some high school soccer when my tiny private/christian school grew too small to field a football team. I did play one season of football meaning I practiced hard all season and played roughly 20 seconds of the very last game. We did in fact suck. The last of the guys big enough to play graduated that year, so we switched to soccer for the next school year. Again, we sucked.
I also played basketball, but that has yet to come up really, though Big Brother may want to play more sports as he is now seven years old.
Momma and I, being the good punks that we claim, have been sort of anti-sport. I didn't have great memories of my sporting days, though none of the horrid jock stories some kids have. She just never cared much for sports.
I also claim my Atlanta based childhood as driving me to anti-sport type attitudes. That's a whole other rant for a whole other day though.
Add all this to the baseball strike a few years ago and Michael Jordan ruining basketball and the fact that I never really like football to begin with.
Even so, I always remember remembering soccer fondly. Now that it's become a part of our lives, I've grown to really love the beautiful game.
I need to pretend to exercise a little, try to be in shape for next season. I'm not a bad player all things considered, and even without being in shape, I can build up some small amount of stamina over the course of the season. I'm not in horrible shape, no extra weight or major health issues. I could stand to stop smoking of course, but I play with guys that will light up at half time regardless of whether or not we have subs that day.
I'm getting more and more excited. Even just proofreading through this thing is working a little magic. I need to scoop the yard of the dog placed landmines. It's pretty dangerous out there in the winter as I'm a lazy s.o.b. But once I get that little scent of soccer on the horizon, it's time to get scooping. You'd think the other scents inherent to the current dog based issue would be enough of a force, but it doesn't really work the kind of odorous magic one would expect. Also, see "lazy s.o.b." above.
Now, I wonder if John Holt wrote any books about coaching youth soccer . . .

Thursday, January 26, 2006

is myspace evil, or is it those damn kids?

Some homeschool moms have discovered Myspace and got freaked out by it. Some of the kids they found talked dirty, discussed drinking and drug use at parties, have "friends" with booty pictures. Some of them found personal information that could lead a pervert straight to their innocent daughters.
Is Myspace evil? Myspace is nothing more than any number of websites that were designed for the intended purpose of adult socialization. One could argue that it's no different, basically, than Blogger or even HomeschoolBlogger. The main difference is the open nature of Myspace in that it doesn't specifically cater to any single demographic or group and is newer, fancier, full of music and pictures and yes, booty.
I will admit that the shot of panties, booty and a little bit of a plaid skirt is a nice diversion. These pictures are racey, but the site does work to keep actual nudity out. A lot of the booty shots can take one directly to a link to a site off of Myspace where one can see even more. I've also found that the wrong word in a Google search can bring some unintended viewing.
Due to the open nature of Myspace, one is always a click or two away from a picture of booty. One is never more than a click away from something personally questionable at any time the computer is online.
Is there evil at Myspace? Well, I'd personally say that any evil is in the horrible pages you people's kids are putting up. The evil is in all those annoying glitter letters and the Fallout Boy song that starts playing when I click the link. And if you want, you can set your child's Myspace profile to members only, and no one not on their friends list can get in.
Myspace has groups of all sorts, people of all sorts, pictures of all sorts. After joining, members are invited to customize their profile page, to seek out "friends," join groups (basically boards, kinda like at Yahoo) upload pictures, blog. Everyone typically has an avatar, many people opting to use an actual picture of themselves or a family picture. These images are sort of your face at Myspace and can be just about any image you choose to upload to the site.
Friends, in Myspace terms, is a really loose term. On my page you might learn that, in addition to my wife, my friends include the Reverend Horton Heat, Rosie Flores, Fatlip, The Debonaires, and even more bands that I don't really know. As well you will find friends that I've known for years, some close by and some hundreds of miles away. It's a neat way to find people with similar interests, to listen to music and read some really varied blogs. You can use a variety of searches to find actual friends who may also be on Myspace.
I have no good segue to my next issue. I'm astounded at parents "learning" shocking things about their kids. If your children are on Myspace, are friends with booty picture people, like to attend parties with drinking and drugs, how are you not already aware of this? How has your family gotten to a point where you are hiding things from each other? Do you ever look past the booty pictures at the child and figure out the initial motivation? Do your kids just like being sneaky and hiding things?
I sincerely hope that I and my wife and our children can always be open and honest with each other. I hope we can always be close enough to share our interests and our hopes and our fears and our problems.
If you want, visit Myspace and see for yourself. Go to my profile if you want to. You can see the homeschooling groups there while your visiting. It's free! Why not?

how's them limits comin?

How many days straight has Big Brother not even bothered getting clothes on? and would he bathe if I didn't make a point of it? Maybe I should take him grocery shopping in his pajamas, or to the library.
How much candy can a child eat at 2.5 years old? Can he eat his weight in candy in one day?
How many random snack/meals can I come up with to feed them? This one, while having no answer, has been fun to ask. In and amongst the candy feeding frenzy we have managed to get some amount of noncandy food into two little bellies.
Tomorrow is Momma's late night. She doesn't go into work until 5:00, so I'm forcing the rest of us, and her if she wants, out of the house to do something. I don't do outdoors and cold, so maybe we can squeeze in the library visit we seem to keep missing.
random ramblings . . .off . . .now!

Monday, January 23, 2006

transition part B

I'm not new to homeschooling or the concept of unschooling. I have delved into unschooling more lately and have been finding a lot of truth in the philosophy.
In the wide world, homeschoolers are often seen as sort of outside the mainstream. Within homeschooling circles, we unschoolers are often the outsiders. The rest of the world has plenty of opinions about unschooling when they first hear about it. The entire concept runs counter to what society believes about childhood and education.
Unschooling is really simple. Trust your kids to learn. Parent them without controlling them. Offer them everything you reasonably can, also known as the real world. Children are born learning and will always learn assuming some outside agent doesn't step in and try to teach.
As I transition, I find that I just cannot agree with so much that I see. I feel like an outsider in more ways than just as an unschooler.
I see this most evident in my internet usage patterns lately. A lot of boards I used to visit just don't quite appeal to me anymore. So many parents that I used to feel camraderie with I no longer feel comfortable discussing things with if the discussion is at all about children. I can't give them answers they want to hear when the discussions lean toward kids or parenting issues. The answers I do have can bring out some pretty intense debate, disagreement even anger in other parents.
I don't claim to have all the answers, but even just a different opinion is sometimes enough to skew an entire topic. Very often, the unschooling point is that different opinion.
This is the side of the transition that I expect to have the most fun with. We've never been like the other families, and now we are even less like other families, or are we just like less families? I don't know if I care honestly. I do care about my kids, and they and my wife are the people I care most about. So they are the people that whose opinions I'm going to concern myself with.
And each day I will be a better parent. Each day my kids will see the options they have. We will grow and learn and love while relaxing and playing. We'll watch movies and eat candy if we want to.

transition part one

Very middle? Still just beginning? Near the end?
I am in the middle of a personal transition from being a controlling father always on the verge of shouting, or worse, to bcome a father that doesn't do those things.
I'm blaming it in part on "those unschooling women" as I put it to my wife. She sees what I'm trying to do, and we are still both coming to terms with it. We need to discuss it and come together on it, but we have time.
I wrote about limits recently, and part of the philosophy behind unschooling is removing limits. TV is not inherently evil and doesn't breed zombie children. Candy isn't a drug and will not make junkies out of children. These are not the only limits parents tend to place on kids, but these are the two that seem the hardest to get passed for people new to unschooling.
As part of our/my transition, we have had total candy days lately. We stopped saying NO to The Boy when he asked for candy. We offered other options and prepared other options. He was able to eat what he wanted. Big Brother has had the same removal of limits and has enjoyed some candy. His big thing has been Pokemon on the Gameboy for days (weeks?) and stopped today to watch a movie.
Basically, I've decided that rules won't make us happy. They are basically an invented reason to fight your kids. We have decided instead to follow a couple of basic principals. We respect each other and we don't tear up the house. Those cover basically anything that we are truly concerned about without having a whole list of unreasonable demands on the boys and what they do with their time.
The hard part is what Sandra Dodd refers to as voices. We all have those voices of parent and grandparents telling us what we should do, how we should parent. Sometimes those voices are actually physical, maybe over the phone, maybe just memories. Those voices might also just be other homeschooling parents telling us about their "right" way. Wherever those voices come from, they often tell us things that are incorrect, unhelpful, or worse, damaging to our relationship with our kids and family.
The hard part is stopping what you did do, how you were, in order to do a better job. I see the importance of what I'm doing, but that doesn't make it easier. I've never been one to listen to those voices, but some of them have slipped through and seemed to make sense. In addition, some of the tools my parents used were tools I didn't want to use. I did use some of them that I didn't take the time to consider.
So I'm basically at a point where I'm reassembling my tool box. I have to rethink so many actions and reactions and decide each time how I really want to behave. Nothing can be allowed to just come out or just happen. Nothing just happens as a parent, though we often don't take the time to think about what we do.
I'm no longer a reactionary parent, and each time I think through something, I find that I and my boys are happier for it. I can't help but wonder about the transition. Will I ever be through it? or should I just stop looking at it as such? I'm guessing that what I'm doing now is just the opening bell of what's to come. Instead of finishing the transition, the transition will just open up into the rest of our lives.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

the limited homeschool

Some people homeschool as a limiting agent. I read a comment to a blog earlier today in which a mother proudly stated the things to which her children have no exposure. Admittedly, many of this type of homeschooler is choosing to home educate due to religious belief. And in a sense, I can completely understand this motivation. I often see our family's motivation in a similar but different sense.
There are aspects of a public school education that I do want to limit our exposure to. I say "our" because the children aren't the only losers in the public schools. I can rant about the family dynamic being ruined by gschools some other time.
I want to limit my kids' sexualization to a naturally ocurring part of human life. I don't want the disaster-waiting-to-happen that I see as natural in the setting of public schools whereby children are exposed to sex in a most unhealthy and bizarre situation.
I want to limit my kids association with drugs. My own stance on drugs is actually very liberal. I can rant about the war on drugs on a whim, but I don't want to drop my kids into one of our nation's largest arenas for drug sales.
I want to limit the exposure to my family of the entire school system. When I pass schools, I have pictures of buzzing lights, stress and tiredness, and the fact that everything outside the window is so much better than sitting at this damn desk. I see boring or mean or stupid teachers outnumbering the good ones, the nice and intelligent teachers, the ones you hear about but don't always meet.
I want to limit my kids exposure to the attitudes bred in the public schools. I want to give them broad open avenues full of choices and experiences. I want to offer them all music, not limited to what their "friends" at school tell them is cool. I want them to see art and spend time with it, gazing at it as much as they want. I want to give them warm sunlit corners and long books. I want to give them Fats Waller and Hank Williams in the same day The Clash and Mozart.
Homeschooling shouldn't be about limits. Schools are places of limits and raising hands and walking in line. We limit our actions based on mutual respect both as parents, kids and homeschoolers. Beyond those limits, we have a whole borderless world. We can stay at home and play video games or we can go do something. And in the end, my limits aren't really very limiting. If anything they allow for even greater variety in our options which is the point.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

about what I said . . .

Yeah, I reread what I wrote about Jamie Oliver and his cookbook, and had some thoughts. First, considering the term "faggoty haired," I don't want people to think that I don't like gay people. I think that gay people are basically just like straight people. I could be wrong, but essentially, booty is booty, chocolate/vanilla and different strokes. So why say "faggoty?" Because there just isn't a better way to describe that hair.
Second, I have to say that Momma actually likes Jamie Oliver. I assure her that it's okay. She's also flipped through his cookbook, which brings us to number three.
I still haven't checked out the recipes. I imagine it's a bunch of upscale restaurant crap that I won't actually cook at home. That being said, it is a cookbook, and I will end up checking it out. I will readily admit to anything I end up cooking and will be fair.
To be fair, the guy needs a comb. Seriously! But I can't fault him having a cool job.


Apparently, everything Bush has done, including treating the American public like idiots and stomping on civil rights is working. The arguement? We haven't been attacked since 9/11, so the warmongers must be doing something right.
Well, I'm sure that makes sense, in Bizarro World. But here in America, we used to demand just a bit more. We used to be a country that was based on freedom, on the rights of each man, woman and child.
I've been sneaking out at night to peak in our neighbors' houses. I don't tell them about it, but I carry a small step ladder with me, just in case, and I peak in their windows. I'm sure they are all out to get me because someone, several months back, tossed a chunk of concrete garden border into our yard, breaking part of a small street lamp type light fixture.
After I peak in their windows, I snoop through their trash. If I can, I rifle through their mail before they take it from the mail box.
It must me working, because I haven't had anything thrown at my house or into my yard.

They that can give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin

This is my new favorite quote. My wife first introduced me to this quote which has been a favorite of hers for a while.
We are not a nation of babies that need our screams and needs coddled. We are a nation of free men and women. We are a nation founded on principals of equality and freedom and the desire to find our own happiness.
Children need protection, though sometimes they don't understand. Men and women must stand up, protect themselves and take the rights they deserve.
The Bush family and their cronies did not invent freedom nor did they give it to us. They can take it away, but only because we are letting them. We really have to blame ourselves when we let the current administration steal from us our liberty in the name of safety, and we can only blame ourselves when what they called safety turns out to be something much more sinister than just the greed for money and power that they display through their lies.
We didn't cause 9/11 and it isn't America's fault that some Muslim assholes misread their scriptures. We can blame Muslim countries for idling about while the terrorists besmirch their name, but we can't blame Islam for the failings and evil of some of that religion's adherents. Bush has not saved us from another 9/11, nor is he making us safer.
And as a post script, let me add that I don't really spy on my neighbors. I am a little nosy and peak out the window as they drive by, but I don't really snoop about and spy on them. Our self-important president does just that though. He snoops around, peaking at our stuff, sniffs our butts and taps our phones. He has lied, does lie and will lie.
Clinton lied about sex and got impeached. Bush lies about everything and has gotten several thousand Americans and Iraqis killed. How many innocent lives equal the cost of the pretend safety he offers?