<![CDATA[Rookie Dad - Home]]>Tue, 05 Jan 2016 14:59:52 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[I never thought I would write about this butt...]]>Wed, 07 Mar 2012 22:56:47 GMThttp://www.rookiedad.com/home/i-never-thought-i-would-write-about-this-buttPicture
One day I will  be a writer.

Although, ask me what sort of writing, and I must confess that I don't have that part of it nailed down, yet.  Not exactly.  It will be exciting stuff, when I finally get around to it... worlds will drip off the tip of my virtual pen... gritty landscapes... paced by dark-yet-funny characters, smart-yet-cool heroes.  And heroines.  There will be fighting.   And sex.   There may be zombies.  Alien races.  Talking animals. Or historic warriors.  There may be a rebel angel.  Or demons.  Or all of the above, duking it out apocalyptically.  I admit, I once thought I might write about vampires - alas there must be a literary moratorium on nosferati, as they are presently covered in bad-movie-poop.  But I digress.

My point is that I'd never -not ever- have guessed that I could find myself writing about anal blisters... yes... disturbingly large, debilitatingly painful, annoyingly persistent butt bubbles... you know... you have experienced them, or heard of them... the ones that must not be named (but their name begins with H, and rhymes with asteroid)...



And yet, here I am.  Growing older but not up, as Jimmy Buffet put it.  And while the "not up" bit points - I like to think - to a solid record of prancing around warning signs, crumpling-up caution brochures, and banzai cannonballing into uncharted waterholes (retard stuff like this or this, or this)... the "older"characterization... refers to a vehicle (my body) whose dashboard is starting to light up with maintenance and malfunction lights.  Nearsightedness. Cholesterol.  Achy joints.  Achy everything else.  High blood pressure.  Socially objectionable quantities of hair erupting from nostrils and ears.  And yes goddammit... freaking hemorrhoids.  Seriously?

So there you have it.  The universal advise to aspiring writers is that we ought to write about what we know...  Well, it turns out that right now, lying on my stomach for the fifth day in a row, I know asspain.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

It began... a long time ago when early H-warning lights were still a pleasant shade of sunsetty amber, humming to themselves unobtrusively (as opposed to fire-engine red and pulsating to the tune of Flight if the Valkyries).  

But for brevity's sake let's say my experience with...them... started early this winter when I decided it was about time to get back in long overdue shape.  Because one can only go so long pretending one hasn't noticed the high blood pressure light blinking... and the one that reads  "15 measly steps that was... and you're winded!?" ... and the subtle one that reads "Another physical readiness test and behold, your running times are even slower than last time... Is that even possible?  And more to the point... what are you planning to do about it?"

Enough!  What I finally did about all this noise was this is:  I started PT'ing (working out).  For an hour or two, nearly every day of the week.  I kept it up four weeks straight.  And indeed all was going swimmingly.  I felt lighter on my toes... springing up them steps.  Less achy and slow.  But something malevolent was simmering behind the... um, scenes.

One morning I was surprised by a new pain.  It started just before lunch as a glowing burn that made me shift uncomfortably on the hard surface of my chair... by dinnertime it had me prostrated over a mound of pillows, whimpering like a little girl.  Mercifully, my wife located some forgotten Percocet and I managed to live through the night in a haze of pain and artificial feel-good stupor.

Next day at the ER, a doctor compassionately informed me this here was nothing more than your mark-1 mod-0 hemorrhoid... standard-issue aging stuff.  Take some Preparation H and (don't) see me in the morning. I plainly told the the doc that she was high or, at any rate, mistaken.  I knew hemorrhoids, I explained.  We'd been uneasy pals for years now... and whatever this...  was, it wasn't them.

She pulled the old "zcuz me but who's the doctor here?" line.

To which I may have replied something like... Whatever lady.  I'll be back after your misdiagnosis runs its course... and won't you feel foolish then!  

But... let's play your silly game and pretend for the moment that you are not an ignorant pretend-doctor who couldn't recognize a whatever-this-is-that-isn't-a-hemorrhoid... thingie... if it slapped you in the face (dear largely hypothetical reader, at this point do accept these as mere words... black scribbles on white background... actual imagery is neither required not desired)... 

What -I asked- are my options here?

Her response -which I already knew, courtesy of the internet- was that the most popular option is to just learn to live with it... and to minimize the "flare-ups" through the implementation of a few lifestyle adjustments.

Lifestyle adjustments?

It turns out the gist of these adjustments, in my case, would probably entail three modifications: First, I must give up sitting in my throne with the latest edition of Wired (or Field and Stream, or whatever) magazine... reading it leisurely from cover to cover.  Second, a high fiber diet.  Third, that whole multi-hour running  thing I used to do (like this)... yeah well... not so much any more old guy.

The Doc noticed my expression of incredulity and helpfully suggested I go make an appointment with general surgery if I felt like taking some more drastic measures to deal with my... situation.  More drastic than learning to live with it?  Damned straight I feel like doing something more drastic, lady!  Because, while I am happy to give up my dual purpose reading sessions, and I find Metamucil to be pleasingly tasty... I don't want to give up my prerogative to walk out the door and go running for umpteen hours whenever I damn well please.

Besides, the suggestion that I might expect - even after lifestyle changes - to accomplish nothing more than a temporary cease fire, meant that the "most popular option" was not an option I found all that endearing.

A few weeks later I was listening attentively to the Navy surgeon as he drew for me - in intricate pain-explaining detail - a useful diagram of a hemorrhoid-besieged butt...  And he explained my other options.  Errr... my other... my... one single option: Hemorrhoidectomy.  A six syllable disguise for:  Slice them off and stitch up your butt-hole; with a chance of recurrence of less than 5%.

The pros and cons were blindingly clear.  Pro: the source of my misery, sliced off and banished, most likely for good (hurrah!) Con: a stitched-up butt-hole (sniff-sniff).

Well... hmmm... lets see... 5% chance of recurrence... what the hell... where do I sign up baby!

Which brings us to my current position and new area of expertise.

When I decided I would one day become a writer... Did I imagine myself elucidating the lesser known functions of the sphincter?   Not so much.

But again, here I am.

There is nothing like having a stitched-up caboose to bring to your attention the depth of the involvement of this unglamorous little muscle in your daily life.  Basically, you pucker-up about  698 times a day (and night): whenever you pee, sneeze, cough, laugh, jump, flinch, startle, strain, have sex, think about having sex, go up steps, or down steps, grunt, or catch something...  While I ain't no Chuck Darwin, I suspect the biological justification for all this puckering is, presumably, that it reduces frequency with which you must switch your tighty-whities.  Call it an educated guess.  But whatever the actual reason, the beauty of your sphincter's busy life is that it normally goes on all by itself... you never ask, and your butt never informs you what its up to.  And this is a good arrangement.  Ah, but just you add a fresh surgery and a few stitches... and suddenly there's 698 start-spangled, tear-sprinkled reminders each day (and night) of all the work that goes on... back there.

But who wants to read about this?!  Seriously.  I think I'd rather go and read a sappy vampire novel.

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Still, if you are so weird that you found this funny, there is some more personal-anatomy embarrassing stuff here)

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P.S. As in the past, the images used in this post have been copied and pasted without explicit permission from their sources www.funnyfidos.com and www.gibbleguts.com, whom I can only hope don't care about my copywrite infringement.
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<![CDATA[When life gives you lemons... make lemonade.]]>Sat, 19 Nov 2011 07:04:50 GMThttp://www.rookiedad.com/home/when-life-gives-you-lemons-make-lemonadePicture
In which a helpless baby stranded in a vast and lonely spaceship singlehandedly battles a horrible green alien... and nobody hears her scream.


(some content may not be appropriate for sensitive audiences)



                                 OK, fine... there is no spaceship.

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So, you are going to try to feed me... Again?  Giggle giggle gurgle gurgle giggle giggle.

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Wait-a...who-the-what-the... what the hell is this!!  Is it food?

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Everybody better get out of dodge... this is not going be pretty!

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Oh my God... You are not seriously still trying stuff this crap down my throat?!  Have you no soul?

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Hey jerkwad... turn that camera OFF!

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I survived green pea baby food.  But only barely.

When life gives you green pea baby food... give it back!



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<![CDATA[Short Book Review of Man's Search for Meaning (with more gratuituous social commentary)]]>Fri, 11 Nov 2011 03:00:37 GMThttp://www.rookiedad.com/home/short-book-review-of-mans-search-for-meaning-with-more-gratuituous-social-commentaryPicture
Viktor E. Frankl does not need my endorsement of his book.  Several hundred people give him a virtually unanimous straight-five-stars review on Amazon (which may not be the ultimate criterion for quality, but it is my quick and easy guide to goodness).  And according to Wikipedia, Man's Search For Meaning belongs to "the ten most influential books in the United States," ever.

The question is... how come I never heard of it until now?  Had you?

Oh well, never mind that.  The book is as short as it is good (very).  And, as I just finished it, I will jot down a few of my impressions in the paragraphs below...

What is the meaning of Life?  This is not a trick question.  And trying to get it right is no fuzzy, head-in-the-clouds, hippiefied matter.  It, in fact, is a serious-as-a-heart-attack practical undertaking.  So Frankl assures us.

Your approach to this question, he argues, will determine whether you survive, when the proverbial doo-doo hits the fan...  and it will, because that is what doo-doo does, sooner or later, in light of our inescapable mortality (and best of luck to you Mr. Kurzweil, but I am not holding my breath), and the fact that it (dying) doesn't usually come with a cherry on top.

Here's the deal.  We live in an age when sane people think that the adventures of Octo-mom and Paris Hilton are important... even tragic.  Or that the outcomes of Dancing with the Stars and Biggest Loser are not only worthy of serious consideration, but potential sources of inspiration!  We live in an age of Pavlovian expressions of outrage and "sadness" in response stories of individual soldiers killed in war and babies missing... stories that bother us so much that we even frown while we listen to them on the morning radio, while sipping on our Starbucks.

And we forget that we owe our placid lives to mere accidents.  That we could have come into being in a land or time not so far away from this... a land or time where the color of our skin or the shape of our nose would have "justified" our being herded, rounded-up, and exterminated...

Anyway, I digress talking about us.  My point is that Frankl has been one of these people.  And that he has observed first hand the worst that man has to offer.  He was himself one of the human-livestock selected for slaughter, and he was also a psychotherapist, observing his own people's extermination from the point of view of a "mental health expert".  And when he miraculously survived, he wrote down what he figured out.  And here it is, for us to read and to ponder (if we can manage to turn the TV off for a while).  It is not mind-blowing revelation... but it is solid stuff.

In the concentration camps of the Nazis, some prisoners lost their grip on humanity, and became like starving frightened animals, clawing at each other for survival.  Others - under identical circumstances - became like heroes, and angels, unto their fellow victims... with the hearts of lions even as their bodies crumbled.  This puzzled Frankl, why the difference?

Frankl's suggestion is that the dichotomy stems from whether the prisoner happened to have successfully found meaning in his life, or not.  Paraphrasing Frankl quoting Nietzsche "Man can endure almost any how provided he has found an acceptable why."

What then, Mr. Frankl, are the why's that will help us endure almost anything?  

Aha!  Here he categorically states that he does not have an answer... that it is for you to define, what the meaning of your life is.  This is not a slight of hand avoidance of a tough answer.  It is precisely his point that the meaning of our lives is unique to each of us.  And discovering it is exceptionally crucial, tricky, and personal.

He does at the same time tell us that when we do it, we should undertake to find our own personal meaning in one (or maybe all) of three possible... areas: work, love, or suffering...

Whatever it turns out to be for you, meaning is - for everyone - a transcendent thing: that is, bigger, and longer lasting  than we are.  That is part of the deal. 
Having found your meaning is part and parcel embracing your smallness.  And paradoxically, realizing your own smallness is the only lasting way to defeat your sense of existential insignificance.

You may have a great work you have spent yourself on... or a family to whom your love means much.

And then... you may also have suffering


You don't go in search of suffering.  That would be idiotic.  And Frankl knows suffering!  His surprising (?) discovery was that when suffering traps you (as it sooner or later will) your life will remain meaningful only to the extent that you decide accept the suffering.  If you rail against it you lose. If you bargain away the sharpness of your senses and your intellect in exchange for it... you lose.  An animal can either endure suffering, or flee from it... but only man can accept it and... somehow grow taller from it.

It is not an easy idea to love.  But I think it is worth a shot!

Do you buy it?
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<![CDATA[To a Puppy]]>Thu, 10 Nov 2011 20:00:23 GMThttp://www.rookiedad.com/home/to-a-puppyPicture
Several times in my life I've experienced the hectic months-long madness of comming home each day, bone-tired from work, only to engage in a losing fight to contain the destruction and the poop that an entire litter of marauding puppies can dispense with such unbelievable gusto...  And then, a mere 8 weeks after it began, I've slogged through the heartbrake of seeing the little demons go to new owners... one by one... until suddenly I come home one night and the floors are pee-free, the furniture's insides are still surrounded by the furniture's outsides, and my home is... silent.**

The last time I went through this, I wrote a little "Ode to a puppy, leaving".  It is perhaps, a bit sappy, but I like it.  As far as I know, I only shared it with my then girlfriend (now wife).  Now I share it with the rest of yus.  Enjoy...

To a puppy, leaving -

I  little doubt you will always carry your mother's smell in your heart (or she yours).  But I hope you also remember mine.  And the girl's.  It would be a fine thing to meet on a trail some afternoon.  And to sniff good memories (or chase fat squirrels) together.

But here is your new family.  Nervous.  Careful.  Happy.

It is silly to say: Love them.  You will.  They are yours now.

Already you warm them and make them more human as they raise you to their faces and you stare back unafraid; then wag, and smile, and stretch to lick their cold noses.

Good boy (girl)!

Already, maybe, you save them.  But it may not always be as easy as that.  So be ever vigilant.  Grow healthy and strong and fast.  Make your bark honest, and loud, and fierce.  And learn to bite true.  For these people are now yours to protect.

** The bit a about silent, urine-free, furniture safe home is true, but only in a very relative sense.  The three canine marauders that currently claim territorial sovereignty over our house and all nearby streets have ensured the furniture, floors, and neighbors, remain on edge.

P.S. If this dog thing resonates with you, you may like this Rudyard Kipling poem... I have a hard time getting through it without tearing up...  Then again, I am - admitedly - a wuz.
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<![CDATA[Say it isn't so!]]>Wed, 09 Nov 2011 17:25:26 GMThttp://www.rookiedad.com/home/say-it-isnt-soPicture
In case you didn't know... this blog is routinely read by (you and) about 4 (other) loyal fans...

OK, it is read by 5 fans (whose loyalty and attention span must never be taken for granted, but earned through solid, humorous yet insightful, ultimately informative writing).

Fine, forget fans... by 5 curious people.  6, on rainy days.

And it occurs to me as I sit down to write something... anything... that if there is a sure way to rouse the ire of my readership (or at least their disappointment)... a way, while I am at it, in which I might also make my blog somehow less socially, culturally, or intellectually relevant... (to say nothing of its once alleged commitment to topics related to rookiedaddyhood) well then that way would surely consist of my writing about...

... Kim Kardashian(henceforth referred to as KK)'s divorce. 

Am I Right?  Won't I forever lose you if I go there?

It has been about 6 days since the sad news broke, and there are already something on the order of 10^44 TV reports, newspaper headlines, blog posts, twittering twitters, historic-society reenactments, college thesis papers, and reality TV scripts (of COURSE they are scripted for heaven's sake!) considering all available angles of KK's divorce (though certain angles, are clearly preferred by the media).  The majority of said pieces were probably pre-written (shortly after the wedding).  Most of them are no-doubt embellished with lots of (better) pictures of KK's butt.

And surely... nothing written on this particular subject is worth a nanosecond of your (or any other discerning and decent person's) time.

But it is not just about your good taste, uncertain reader.  It is about my sensibilities and expectations as well.  I have dreams!  Should I choose (don't dare me!) to write about KK's current marital conundrums (or is it conundra?)... I may never regard my own literary aspirations with respect again.  I may never be able to look myself in the mirror (except as necessary to shave without injury).

No, seriously.  I am disappointing (and pissing) myself (off) at this very moment just by considering this.  And I for one, already stopped talking to myself.  Fine, see if I care!  Well I am officially threatening not to Facebook-like or Google-plus this post (um, yes, I do it all the time... do you mind?).

And yet... and yet... I...

What is this???  Am I falling prey to a tractor beam of shallowness and cheese?  A mysterious slime-green force that channels the collective will of trailer-park dwellers throughout 3600 sectors of the universe?  An inexorable invisible hand that compels erstwhile self-respecting, well-meaning writers to pinch their nose and take a swan dive into the pool of congealing and bubbling ... what shall we call this genre... couche souillée (means poopy diapers, I looked it up)?  Or is it less dirty than it is empty... more like the literary equivalent of... Twinkies? (Sorry, Twinkies, but I'm sure you are well aware of your reputation as a non-source of nourishment, substance or style)

Did the writers of In-Touch, OK!, Celebrity, and Star, once too, harbor uncorrupted dreams of becoming respectable novelists? columnists? poets?

Oh well...

Sorry, readers! 

Sorry self.

Decency be damned... Here, without further ado - in case you care - are my thoughts on the matter of KK's divorce.

Um...

right...

Lets see...

OK, I'll tell you what... first, let me ask you something, dear (if largely hypothetical) reader.  I know, you are out of patience...I know, you just want me off this soapbox... I get it.  I realize that I am writing like a snooty social critic and critics (of any kind) are the bottom of the pile.  Even critics of our society's retard-moth-like infatuation with the predictable (duh!) spontaneous combustion of "marriages" consummated among people of pretty bodies and empty brain-pans... with the intellectual and moral wherewithal of a bag of Cheetos (Sorry Cheetos, you're not alone, see above commentary on Twinkies).

Yep, I do recognize that even a bad article about KK's divorce is preferable to a long, self-important, worthier-than-thou article about the lameness of articles about KK's divorce... But I'm stuck...

I turn on the TV... I read the covers of magazines... and I must ask...

Who the crap is Kim Kardashian and why does anybody give an assberry about her marriage???

Anybody?

Hello?

P.S.  Yes, that was it.  That constituted the entirety of my post.   I did not actually have a single (intelligent or otherwise) thing to say on the matter KK's divorce, or her marriage, or even her (however remarkable) butt.  I hope you were not terribly disappointed.
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<![CDATA[Oh my poor abandoned blog... why have I forsaken thee!]]>Sun, 02 Oct 2011 06:17:17 GMThttp://www.rookiedad.com/home/oh-my-poor-abandoned-blog-why-have-i-forsaken-theePicture
A little too much drama in the title?  Perhaps.  But I was such a proud and prolific blogger once (for about five days)!

What have I been up to, that I can't lend one minute of my time over the last several weeks to my old pal the rookiedad blog?  Well, lets see...


First, there was Dad.  He arrived shortly after my last post, and I will blame him as first in a short list sorry excuses for not sitting down and writing, something. 

Anyway, I got to spend 10 days with pops, and he got to spend 10 days with his grandkids (the youngest of which he hadn't met)... He taught me a few parenting tricks, too!  We had a great time together.  We went to New York city and our adventures there are the subject of another, far more entertaining post (still in draft form, gathering cobwebs with the rest).

I will briefly mention that my dad got to witness the neighbors up in arms, with pitchforks and torches, clamoring for the eviction (or ceremonial pyre-burning) of yours truly.  Can you believe it!  All because our three little retardogs barked for 24 hours straight (yes, we left them alone for that long... no we are not evil dog-torturers... yes, they had plenty of food and water laid out for them (enough for surviving three successive hurricanes in comfort)... no, they were not left outside (but, having access to the backyard... they chose to station themselves there... and proceeded to rattle the nerves of an entire neighborhood). 

Anyway, there may be more on that later.  There were angry neighbors and cops.  There were threats and apologies.  There were smiles and tears.  There were cats and dogs... or well, dogs.  There was drama galore.

At any rate... Dad left and school started the next day.  And I've been reading ever since.  Nonstop.

Oh, except for the bit where I helped my wife battle the invasion of the pantry moths from hell.

It started like this...

Wifey-for-lifey - "LOOK THERE IS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE HORRIBLE MOTHS!!!!"
Rookiedad - "Hm?"
Wifey-for-lifey - "SERIOUSLY, COME KILL IT!!!"
Rookiedad (grudgingly getting up from the couch) - "Hmf."
Wifey-for-lifey - "PLEASE, COME KILL IT NOW.  I'M GOING TO KILL IT!!!!!!!"
(Incidentally, I fear I may not be using enough exclamation signs to accurately convey my wife's true emotional state)
Rookiedad - (while slowly making my way to the kitchen, pausing to a consider a misplaced toy, a scribble on the wall, an unshaven face on the mirror) "Don't kill it, I'm coming, I'm coming."
Wifey-for-lifey - "KILL IT PLEASE???"
Rookiedad (sarcastically) - "Why?  So it can't continue to plan its hostile takeover of the planet?"
Wifey-for-lifey (too angry and distraught to speak)- "!"
Rookiedad - "Where?  I don't see it."
Wifey-for-lifey - "RIGHT THERE!!!!!!!"
Rookiedad - (feigning squinting) "That tiny little thing?  Baby that can't possibly sting you... bite you... or kidnap the children what is the big deal?"
Wifey-for-lifey (still too angry and distraught to speak)- "!"
Rookiedad - sigh
Wifey-for-lifey (angrier)- "!"
Rookiedad - (reaching tenderly to catch the miniature-beast in my hand without accidentally turning it into a smudge) "Come here little guy."
Wifey-for-lifey - "KILL IT PLEASE???"
Rokiedad - "Baby, I'm just going to take it outside and it will fly away.  We'll never see it again."
The Moth - "Heh... heh... heh"
Rokiedad - "There... its gone."
Wifey-for-lifey - "I don't understand why you think it's OK to kill Bambi, but you won't let me kill a stupid moth!"
Rokiedad - "Baby, we've gone over that a thousand times... lets leave Bambi out of this for now... can I go back to the couch?"
(For the record, I have not killed Bambi yet.  But I intend to get all camouflaged up and go try again this season.)

Anyway, the above exchange took place - with minor variations - and with increasing regularity over a month or two... until near "the end" it was happening once or twice a day. 

I may have even acquiesced and killed the occasional moth.  Its not that I'm a bug-hugger or anything like that, its just I am not a big fan the just-squish-it approach to dealing uninvited guests.

At any rate, one Saturday morning I opened the fridge door and decided that IT needed cleaning so I asked my wife whether she wanted the fridge or the pantry.  She took fridge.  I took pantry.  Kids were napping.

I'll spare you the gory details.  Basically what I found was this.  EVERY SINGLE DAMN flour, cornmeal, pancake mix, grits, and cream of wheat container (and then half of the cereal boxes, at least one jar of sugar... some chocolates... and assorted others things) was infested with... yes... wait for it...

Worms.

I'm not squeamish.

In fact, I am (to my wife's dismay) about as un-squeamish as you they come.

But I have to admit that there is no better way to put this:  gross and disgusting.

I probably threw away some 20 or 30 pounds of stuff... crawling full of squirmy little caterpillars.

Mind you, we are not really a baking family, except for brownies & the occasional pizza... so most of the infested items were basically serving decorative duty over the months since we moved in.

OK, OK, That is no excuse... I should have listened to my wife!  I KNOW!

Anyway...

And that is why I have not written anything lately.  I have been either reading, trying to avoid being sacrificed by angry neighbors at the altar of peaceful bark-free sleeping, or battling moth invaders

So there.

(OK, I admit, sometimes I do other things.  Occasionally I sleep, cook, shower, watch an episode of True Blood, or even change a diaper...)


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<![CDATA[V-Day]]>Mon, 01 Aug 2011 03:38:49 GMThttp://www.rookiedad.com/home/v-dayPicture
Well, V-Day has come and gone and - what the hell - I'll write about it.
I do not mean Victory, Valentine's, Vegas or Viagra. I mean, the day (7 July 2011) when me ol' baby-making equipment was finally Retired In Place. Yes, after a longish career of moderate mischief and a recent turn towards family building, the boys are finally... more or less strictly decorative.

So without further ado, here is my post on vasectomy.

Note:  Everything written in this font came from the Wikipedia article on Vasectomy.  The rest is from firsthand experience.

Be warned, I intend to steer clear of visual imagery.  If you were hoping to read vivid descriptions of testicular-surgery, you will have to look for it elsewhere.  Sorry for the inconvenience. 

But - you insist - why bother with prudishness?  After all, it is nothing more than an outpatient operation.  Thousands of my fellow men-brothers have undergone it.  A little shaving... two tiny incisions... snip-snap-stitch, pat in the rump and you off you go (to the pharmacy for some serious pain killers).

It is just that I would rather not have my readership (all 5 of you) walking around with images of my ... well you know bouncing around in your head.

All good intentions aside, before I write anything useful and cogent, I do have to go on this tangent for a bit.  It's about octopuses.

The night following my male sterilization and/or permanent birth control procedure I found myself swimming through a soupy mood of vague self-pity  (Why self-pity?  Who knows why.  Why ask why.  I never do.  But it may be meaningful to note that the 11th line down the Wikipedia article on Vasectomy reads as follows: Vasectomy should not be confused with castration, which is the surgical removal of the testicle(s).  I KNOW that.  Of course I know THAT!  Duh, right!). 

My wife was sleeping and I was slumpily idling the hours away under the influence of wine, hot tea and a biggish dose of ibuprofen in front of the TV.  Animal Planet (a trusty companion of so many late nights) was running "The Amazing Octopus." And who (I ask) can pass on that?

So there I was, marveling at the octopus's smarts (did you know the average octopus can learn righty-tighty-lefty-loosey in only a few trial-and-error lessons... while I still get them mixed up?) when suddenly I was struck by the uncanny similarity (now that I myself had acquired two new small lumpy incisions in my... well, you know).

OK already, enough with the... well,you knows.  What I am trying to get at here is this:  Have you noticed (of course you have not!) how much like an evil self-propelled scrotum an octopus looks!  No, seriously.  Maybe you've never considered the familiar cephalopod mollusc in this light (or in any light).  But now that you have, go visit your local aquarium and do check it out.

You see?  You do, right!  OK, you kind of agree, but... why does it have to be EVIL? you ask. Well, the image in my mind is that of the EVIL self-propelled brain of yore (B horror movies). Still not ringing the proverbial bell? Well then how about this, what GOOD could self-propelled genitalia ever be up to anyway!

Now... back to the me-propelled variety.  The one housing the glands which I am told - reassuringly - will continue their uninterrupted production and distribution of the hormonal stuff that puts hair (even if not that much) on my chest.

Wasn't this post supposedly about a surgical operation?  It was.  Supposedly.

To wit - this post was (and remains) about vasectomy.  A simple outpatient procedure wherein both of a man's vasa deferentia (singular: vas deferens from the latin meaning "carrying-away vessel") are severed, stapled shut, and the ends are cauterized (all before your very own wincing eyes).  Talk about making for damned sure, right?!  And still, 1 in 2000 males who undergo the procedure.... remain fertile (WTF!).

As to the operation itself... Due to the simplicity of the surgery, a vasectomy usually takes less than 30 minutes to complete. After a short recovery at the doctor's office (usually less than an hour), the patient is sent home to rest. Because the procedure is minimally invasive, many vasectomy patients find that they can resume their typical lifestyle routines within a week, and do so with minimal discomfort.

Ah yes.  Wikipedia, your doc, and the little color-brochure from the hospital are part of the same vast left wing conspiracy cover-up meant to make you believe the operation is no more traumatic than a nail clipping.  Not so!  Would be v-victims - consider yourselves warned.  Would be v-victims' friends and relations - have some sympathy.

Don't you believe any of it!  It hurts.  It hurts like a m.f.  It hurts like a slow motion kick in the balls from the inside.  And just when you are given a little breather... you realize you are only half-way through hell - it is time for Mr. Left-side to pucker up and face the needle, the scalpel, the yanking (seriously, there is yanking - no pun intended (for this is no punning matter) - the doc all but put his foot on my crotch, for leverage to yank the (surprisingly rope-sturdy) vas through the tiny incision). the snipping, the stapling, the burning, and the stitching.

Anyway, there you have the gist of it.

See.  As promised:  no visual imagery.
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<![CDATA[Compendium of Toddler Utterances]]>Sun, 31 Jul 2011 03:52:17 GMThttp://www.rookiedad.com/home/compendium-toddler-utterancesPicture
Just a list of things my son says.  He's not a big talker.  That's because he is smart.  Before he could say a single word he had figured it all out:  In the beginning (not too long ago) God made the world, and the world was full of things that were good (or at least seemed interesting, or tasty), but in His trademark mysterious way, He had placed them all out of reach.  That seemed unfair.  But then... aha!  God had cleverly populated the world with an endless supply of adults willing to bend over backwards to reach for the good (interesting or tasty) things, and hand them over to you.  Nice job God!  All you had to do was point at the thing desired then say "mmm?" (meaning "give me that"), or "mmmmm!" (meaning "no, not that, THAT you moron!") or "MMMMM!" (meaning "oh ferchrissake what is taking you so long!").  So... Eventually the kid saw that adults were not that sharp... and words would be needed.

The following are more or less listed in order of appearance.  I posses a bad and steadily deteriorating memory.  Don't feel sorry for me, I have had this condition for the last 39 years, and have learned to cope.  I say it only by way of preemptive apology, there are no doubt many more words than these.  I will update the list as I remember them or, um... get reminded.
  • No: "No".  It also means, get away, I don't have time for you at the moment.  This, of course was his first word.  Not "Mama" as his Mama would have us believe.
  • Joos: "Juice".  It also means "I'm thirsty" and "I'm stalling because I don't want to go to bed yet."
  • Choo: Usage of this word has undergone several revisions.  First it meant "choo [-choo train]" (A common form of freight-transport, or an annoyingly moralizing steam engine with a propensity for overacted facial expressions).  When I got an app for my iphone where the point of the game was to keep trains from crashing (or to make them crash instantly, in my son's version), the phone became "choo"... soon enough (by some inscrutable toddler mental process) every conceivable game became "choo". His current favorite phrase "My Choo!" roughly translates to "I can kick that ball myself!" or "I can shoot that water-gun myself!"
  • Aoo?: "Owl".  For more on owls, read this.
  • Mama: "Mama".  Also, the second largest in a group of at least three things of interest.  For example, the airport was populated by "Papa Airplanes"  (Sitting there taking on passengers and getting heavier); "Mama Airplanes" (for some reason, the ones taking off); and "Baby Airplanes" the little private jets... also the distant ones (I've been trying to explain the concept of vanishing point perspective to him... no luck).
  • Papa: "Papa".  See Mama.
  • Mine: "Me", "I can do it", "can I have it?", "give it to me already!" and of course "mine".
  • Please: This is the most dangerous word in his vocabulary.  It means "now!" and he wields it with compelling authority.
  • Da: "Yes".  This is his only Russian word so far.  Though, courtesy of his Babushka, I suspect he understands a good deal more русский (ruski) than he lets on.
  • Baby: Refers to all things small (including short trains, distant airplanes, ants, and his sister)
  • Ball: "Ball".  Or it also could mean Bell... for Isabelle, his sister.  It is never clear which of the two he means.
  • Yum: "Food".
  • Cheese Cheese: He has spotted someone taking a photograph.  Or he is taking a picture of you with your iphone because he is tired of playing with it (see choo), and he has already gone ahead and deleted all the applications he could delete.
  • High: The location of airplanes in flight.  Also the act of ascending (as he will perceptively note in the middle of a (endless) hike up a mountain... undertaken in the comfort of a backpack carrier)  Also "Pick me up".
  • Down: "Put me down."
  • Yeah: "Yeah".  Sadly replacing Da... because nobody except Babushka speaks Russian to (or cooks delicious baby-fattening meals exclusively for) him
  • Oh Yeih!:  "I wholeheartedly agree.  Lets do it.  That's a great idea.  Not bad for an adult!"
  • Kah:  Snake (after the character in Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book)
  • Greiiinnngh: Elephant.  Proper pronunciation requires placing your wrist by your nose, and moving your fingers up and down, elephant trunk-like.  Practice makes perfect.
  • Neiiinnngh: Horse.
  • Grrrr: Bear.
  • Grrrrrrrr: Tiger.
  • Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr: Lion.
  • Raahhhr: Fast car.
  • RRRaaahhhhrr: Airplane (or helicopter).
  • RRRRRaaahhhhhhhhhrrrr: Papa's van.
  • Boo!: Be afraid!
  • Hole: It means just that, a hole.  However, its presence - whether in the center of a cheerio, or the side of a canyon in Utah - calls for an immediate explanation.
  • Moon:  Moon.  Or sun, whatever.
  • Tar: Star.
  • Tar: Car.
  • Tar: Something else we haven't figured out yet.
  • Nana: Banana
  • Blue:  Blue.  And any other color.  Including the color of bananas.  If you kindly and sensitively tell him:  "The sky is blue, the banana is YELLOW, can YOU say YELLOW?"  He will smile fetchingly and blurt out BARBABAR (or something) It's kind of like Joey's French Lesson.
  • Bee.  It means bee.  And dragonfly.  And bug.  He learned that one yesterday.  Incidentally, this reminds me, have you ever attempted to convey the idea that "bees can sting you" to someone who doesn't know what you mean by sting, just learned what you mean by bee (sort of) and thinks all colors are blue?  If you succeeded, please fill me in.
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<![CDATA[Manliness]]>Thu, 28 Jul 2011 03:44:23 GMThttp://www.rookiedad.com/home/manlinessPicture
I read this post and it got me to thinking (once again) about the always elusive and controversial trait of manliness (and it's twin sister).

I thought the matter over while I showered (I do take long showers which, come to think of it, may be somewhat unmanly... but this, as will be inconclusively argued below, is probably OK).

I think everyone pretty much agrees that at least some virtues (or some part of them) must be gender-neutral.  Any of us can describe a decent person without ever referring to him or her as anything other than "him or her"... Causing some annoyance but little controversy.

You could casually say that this morning you met a kind, brave, smart and honest person, and most folks would not jump to any conclusions about whether said person was a him or a her (all men are pigs notwithstanding).

But alongside this comfy gender-neutrality of goodness, I submit to you (or is it better to say "remind you"?) that there are some specifically masculine (or manly) virtues AND some specifically feminine (or womanly) ones.  That's a fact.

No?  Yes!

But, before I get into specifics, a few philosophic and general points should be reviewed.

First.  Virtues are all good.  It's kind of part of their definition if I'm not mistaken.

Second. All good things are good to have.  Duh, right?

Third.  The more masculine virtues a man has, the manlier.  Ditto for feminine and women.

Note: Yes, a woman with lots of masculine virtues and few feminine ones could be called (if you must call her something) a "manly woman.".. and no, by my reckoning that IS NOT a bad thing (because like I said ALL virtue is good... and because some manliness in a woman is something a personally appreciate) but, see Fourth Point.

Fourth Point. In addition to the intrinsic value of all virtue, there is an ADDITIONAL goodness when it come to gender-specific virtues (It is intuitively grasped by anyone who feels there is something "off" about a wimpy guy or a butch gal... anyone who nods in appreciation of chivalrous boy or a lady-like girl).  This additional goodness is a kind of fit.  Manliness befits a man, womanliness a woman.

(If you feel this fit is a figment of my imagination, a weightless and oppressive social convention, or what else have you... You are simply not paying attention to the world about you.  Somethings fit other things.  Something's don't.  Some people fit with each-other; some clash.  Wine fits some occasions and moods; beer others.  Some clothes fit you; some make you look like a dork.  Peanut butter fits jelly; it doesn't fit onions.  There is nothing wrong about a PB&O... but its ingredients just don't fit.  Why should human-gender be exempt from the reality of (or need to) fit)

(Also, before I move on, let me just say this, and I think it is a critical point: a wimpy guy is lacking in manly virtues, but by no means necessarily over-endowed with womanly ones... and a butch gal is lacking in womanly virtues, not over-endowed in manly ones.... check?)

So for instance, insofar as a man embodies several womanly virtues, he is a man with several good and commendable traits (I'll get into them later).

The virtues this particular man possesses make him a better person than he would be in their absence. Furthermore, they do not detract from whatever manliness he may lay claim to.  But they do nothing to advance it either.

Enough generalities.  Some of that was probably repetitive.  Or obvious.  Or both.  Oh well.

So now, to specifics.  Here's a first draft list of manly virtues:

Strength
Physical Courage
Ruggedness
Leadership
Hardness

And womanly virtues:

Sensitivity
Nurturing
Pliability
Loving-kindness
Softness

(semi-random agriculturally anthropomorphic thought:  manly virtues ~ good qualities in instruments used for "working the land" to grow things; womanly virtues ~ good qualities in actual land used to grow things... you know, tomatoes or whatever).

So lets cut to the chase, the all-important questions are: who is manly, and who is manlier, and who is best?

And my answer runs thus:

The man who is Sensitive, Nurturing, Pliable, Supportive, and Soft but neither Strong, Courageous, Rugged, Leader-like, nor Hard, is a decent chap.. but not a particularly manly one.

The man who is Strong, Courageous, Rugged, Leader-like and Hard is manly.

(Because he is manly AND a man there is a sense in which the second is better than the first... or better-off?... or better fit.  They are like two men snorkeling in the ocean, one is wearing swim-trunks, the other one a tux... which would you rather be?)

Finally, the man who is Strong, Courageous, Rugged, Leader-like, Hard, Sensitive, Nurturing, Pliable, Supportive, and Soft is equally as manly as the second, and being more virtuous, is the better man (Like a snorkeler in swim-trunks but with the tux stashed neatly in his car's trunk, for the hot date later on).

Reviewing what I've written so far I get the feeling there is too much of it... and not enough.  I think I've left out something important to do with smallness and weakness, and its counter-intuitive effect on manliness.  Something that probably applies to all virtues, but it seems to be particularly congruous with manliness.  What I'm getting at is this:  David was manlier than Goliath.  Not only because he kicked his giant ass, but also because he was the underdog.  Or... all other things being equal, a man who raises to the Presidency of the United States while in a wheelchair... or crutches, is a finer example of manliness than his able-limbed predecessors and successors.

And reviewing this rant one final time before hitting Post... it dawns on me (again)... that incessant talk about manliness in all likelihood springs from insecurity - which could be symptomatic of a deficiency in the (manly) virtue of  not-giving-a-damn-what-others-make-of-you.  It may be after all that it is manliest to swim in a tux because you have your own reasons to, and you'll be damned if you have to explain yourself to others... and because chicks dig wet tuxedos.
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<![CDATA[How I Learned Blogging, and got my Latest iPhone App]]>Fri, 08 Jul 2011 05:10:20 GMThttp://www.rookiedad.com/home/how-i-learned-blogging-and-got-my-latest-iphone-appPicture
It has been several months since I began my flirtations with blogging.  And still it wasn't until last week or so that I began to get it.  
It being the realization that... there is some razor sharp funny smart kick-ass writing going over here (or over there).  Addictively good stuff.

My problem was that I wanted to be a blogger before had become a blog reader.  My bumbling transformation unfolded like this:


Picture
  1. I started this here blog.  Ostensibly it is about being a dad.  Arguably, it exists to extract some profit from my writing-itch (all evidence to the contrary, so far).
  2. After pitching the main poles in my blog-tent.  I set out across the wild to find the other dad-blogs (to learn survival tips from and to make alliances with, against blog eating bears and such).
  3. I found too many.  Not all great.
  4. I set out to find a few great dad blogs. 
  5. I found some... and some great mom blogs too... and I read them... and I started getting hooked.
  6. I decided I had a new... hobby? 
  7. This called for scouring the App store for some I-knew-not-what that would help me do what I wanted to do (read blogs) better.  Which the App store did not fail to provide.

I downloaded Pulse.  Which is free.  And great for reading blogs.  So great that just looking at it gives you blog thirst.  Or is it blog lust?  Or maybe blog frenzy.

I started looking for more good blogs about parenting, and good blogs about science, and good blogs about science fiction, and good blogs about outdoors living... and still I keep piling the blogs on the onto back of my new App.  And Pulse takes it all like a... like a what?  Think of something that carries a big load gracefully.  Got it?  Like a that.

And of course I kept reading blogs.  And adding them to my Pulse.  And refining the naming of the pages and the placing of the blogs by theme and by quality (great on top, on probation in middle, last chance to prove yourself not-chaff in the bottom).

The app takes about one minute to master.  And you can use it to read Digg, and even your Facebook wall, in case you are addicted to those.

And did I mention its free?  Get it.  Try it.  Got it?

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