Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Natalie prepares for camp

In case you have forgotten, Natalie loves going to Gwynn Valley.  This year she's going to a long session, almost three weeks.  Already last week in the hills of Virginia, when she was bored, she began planning, writing a day by day list of who she was going to write to during the afternoon quiet time.  She's been collecting the envelopes in which she will send letters, perhaps has even addressed them.  Last night she was packing her T-shirts in large ziplock bags and then (just like Granny taught her) sitting on them to expel the air from them so they'll take up less room in her bag.  After doing so, she noted that they might get wrinkled and put a finger to her lips and said."don't tell mom."

I forget who it is who has written on the virtues of boredom for kids. Certainly Freud's work on daydreaming points in that direction. Having nothing to do can surely focus them on the things they want to do.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In the hills

In the mountains of Virginia. It looks a lot like Vermont in many regards, except that fresh mozzarella and the like is less readily available, and confederate flags are more frequently seen.

I took my road bike thinking, "well maybe it won't be too hilly for me." It was.

There was an awesome stream down the hill behind the cabin. At first glance, it looked muddy, but in fact it was as pure and cold as most mountain creeks, it just had a sandy bottom. Natalie for some reason could not be drawn in, but Graham and I adventured up it at length, and found many "rapidlings."

For much of the time we just hung out in the cabin and read. I read a Donald Westlake novel called The Hook that had fallen out of a box of books my dad had given me to dispose of a month or so ago and had been lingering in my car trunk.  I knew from years of intensive mystery/suspense reading passed that Westlake was an author that I respected, but I can't really remember any of his books.  This one was intense, Hitchcockian, shades of Strangers on a Train, if more disturbing even in the end.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Back from San Francisco

Out there for the first time in over a decade. A great city, to be sure, but in some ways it feels like New York in the 80s: lots of homeless people and dog shit everywhere.

Admittedly, I was kind of hemmed in by work and didn't really exit the Tenderloin/Nob Hill/downtown region till the last night, when we went down to the ferry building, which was pretty much closed down at night except for fancy restaurants. We walked from there to Fisherman's Wharf, which definitely sucks, although they did have Squirt in the 7-11. They also had a most impressive selection of hot dog and taquito varietals on the hot rollers. Really pretty disgusting.

On the way back, I enjoyed some bonus hospitality at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, thanks to a late plane from New York. I continue to believe that place has reasonably priced food, for an airport.

One thing, though. It was over a hundred outside, and inside the airport it wasn't cooled very well. A woman who lives there told me that it used to be kept cooler. They've no doubt adjusted the temp as a cost-savings measure. What's odd is that, former Texas governor and US President George Bush used to tout air-conditioning as the best approach for dealing with global warming. Where's the strong cooling, oh mighty W? I guess that plan kind of depended on the notion that the US could just buy its way out of anything. Whoops!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Disneyland and guilt - I remember Ensenada

At times I feel guilty about not taking my kids to one of the Disney places.  Natalie just turned 11, she may be passed the prime time.

Then again, I went to Disneyland when I was 10.  We had driven across the country in our Winnebago, and were convinced that we were so superior to everybody else because we didn't have to check into hotels and such like.  In retrospect, that doesn't seem liek such a big deal.

In any case, we went to Disneyland, and I hardly remember anything.  I think we went on Magic Mountain.  I vaguely remember some automatons singing "It's a Small World, After All."  Hooray.  I think I got sick.

A few days later, we drove down the Baja to Ensenada.  We wanted to get tacos, just like the ones we got at Tijuana Fats back in Chapel Hill, only authentic. Actually, I think we just wanted tacos. So we drive into Ensenada and there's some kid selling tacos in a cart.  We get one. Disgusting. No lettuce, no shredded cheddar cheese, the shell wasn't even crispy and fried.  So we head off to a restaurant where we sit at the bar and my dad holds up 3 fingers and maybe says "tres."  So they bring us three orders of three tacos, also not good.  My dad gets pissed off.

So we go down to some restaurant in a boat in the harbor and my parents get some kind of seafood stuff. Most importantly, there are seals swimming outside the windows, right down near us.  Or so I recall. It was totally cool.

The point is, I don't really remember Disneyland, but I remember Ensenada.

Meanwhile, I'm watching a little Dirty Harryathon here on AMC and just enjoyed a 1988 cameo by Jim Carrey as a junkey rock star. He just got whacked.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Western Pennsylvania, 1953

I happened across a web site for model railroad enthusiasts. It turns out these guys are pretty precise and granular in their recreations. The one below depicts a railroad in Western Pennsylvania, 1953.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Home decoration magazines are pornography for women

They oppress men with the unrealistic ideals they depict. The big difference is that women can leave them out all over the house, often with the centerfolds spread open for all to see.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Update on kids

Tonight was milder, went in the yard and played baseball with Graham.  For the first time with his new, actual baseball-sized ball.  After a while he started to hit it, and then took to running some imaginary bases, carrying his bat with him.  As he ran the bases, he sang a little song that sounded a like a pixieish version of the shark music from Jaws.

For her part, Natalie went on a school trip to Jamestown/Yorktown/Williamsburg today.  Kids were supposed to get to the school at 5:45.  She insisted on setting her alarm at 5:20 so as to get to the school a minute early.  She is clearly inheriting traits from her father and grannie.