Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.



Ratings for the CBS Nightly News with Katie Couric are the lowest they have been in 20 years.

Read all about it.




Quick update the home front.

We finally gave up on the landscape guy. Like I said, he was offering us a terrific price, but clearly we weren’t high on his list of priorities. He told us a couple times that he’d be out, and then he blew us off. The last time he said he’d be out “sometime next week” to level and seed the front yard--not surprisingly, he never showed. I wonder if contractors ever think, “boy, why do people have such low opinions of people in my line or work?” or do they just realize, “yep, we’re all douchebags.”

Anyway, The Scientist wanted to get some seed down before weeds started popping up, and I reluctantly agreed. I tried to level the yard as best as I could, but in my neck of the woods you dig deeper than two inches down and you start to hit hard clay. So there’s a noticeable hump in the middle of the yard which I really hate… but there’s not a lot we can do about it now.

We’ve also scaled back our plans for the back yard. While it still floods in heavy rain, the waterproofing/sump pump in the basement are doing a great job of keeping everything dry. We’re considering just hiring a handyman to tear out the cement patio slab in the back (it’s a mess) and haul it away. Then we’ll build a deck down the road.

So that’s it for now. Not a very interesting post…but there are interesting events coming up in the near future that promise to give me plenty of blog fodder. Stay tuned!




#209 In which our hero gets to the bottom of who is hitting his eldest, and why.

Coming home from daycare yesterday, Lily and I had this conversation:
LILY: Miss Angie* hit me.
ME: What? Miss Angie hit you?
LILY: Yeah, she hit me.
ME: Where did she hit you?
LILY: On the hand.
ME: Why did Miss Angie hit you?
LILY: Because I wouldn’t go to sleep.
ME: How did she hit you, honey?
LILY: Like this (in the rearview mirror I can see Lily making hand-slapping motions).
ME: Lily, is this for real, or for pretend?
LILY: For real.
ME: And did it hurt you?
LILY: Yeah, it hurt me.
ME: Did it just hurt your feelings?
LILY: No, it hurt my skin.

* Not her real name. Don’t sue, please.
The Miss Angie in question is a worker at the daycare. She’s always been great with our girls; and we’ve actually had her over to the house a couple times to babysit. In fact, we had talked to her about babysitting tonight.

Now, Lily has a very active imagination, and has in the past accused schoolmates of doing or saying things we know for a fact aren’t true.

But Lily isn’t a liar, we can generally tell when she’s telling tales. And the exchange above didn’t sound like a made-up story. Needless to say, I was more than a little alarmed at the notion that one of my daughter’s care providers hit her.

So I called the owner of the daycare, Karen. We’ve known Karen for a long time … I first sat down and talked to her about daycare while The Scientist was still pregnant with Lily. So about four years now. When we started Karen was running her daycare out of her house, by herself; now she’s in a facility with a staff of eight. I told her what Lily said, and asked if she knew anything about it. She didn’t, and Miss Angie had already ended her shift. But Karen said she’d call her at home and get back to us.

When The Scientist got home I had Lily tell her the same story, and it was unchanged (another sign that I didn’t think she was making it up). We were both upset by this.

The thing is, we’re not overprotective parents. We let our kids fall and scrape their knees (or worse) on their own.

We hope that we’re raising them to be strong and independent. But there’s no escaping the urge to protect them. To make sure they’re safe. And there’s also no escaping the reality of our situation, which is that both my wife and I have to work to live the kind of life we want. So we put our children into the safekeeping of several strangers five days out of the week. For those eight hours a day we could either fret helplessly, or trust that these people are going to keep our kids safe for us. By and large, we do trust them. Our kids always have returned to us in one piece.

But yesterday threw everything into a tizzy for a moment. The fear that we had left our kids with people we shouldn’t have came crushing down. You read stories all the time about daycare abuse… could that be happening here, to our little girls? I mean, neither of our kids were coming home with bruises, but what level of smacking toddlers around is acceptable? The Scientist and I tried to think of a scenario in which it would be okay for a daycare provider to hit our kid… none came to mind.

But, as it turned out, there was an explanation. Apparently, right around nap time yesterday, one of the little boys peed on the floor. Miss Angie grabbed some paper towels to clean it up. Lily and one of her little friends wanted to “help” clean up, and both grabbed for the urine-soaked paper towels on the floor. According to Karen, Miss Angie “quickly moved their hands away,” but I suspect (based on Lily’s story) that she smacked them away. Not to hurt Lily or her friend, but probably just as a reaction, Hey! Get away from that!

And I’m okay with that. Lily, naturally, didn’t mention the pee on the floor part, but rather made it sound like she was being punished for not taking a nap. We had asked Lily if she cried when Miss Angie hit her, and she said yes… but it sounded a little sketchy. Like Lily was making up that part. And Karen tells me that she was there shortly after the “hitting incident” and Lily didn’t cry. I believe her.

So, drama over. But it was a frank reminder of how fragile our arrangement is… how our kids are out of our sight for a third of the day, nearly every day, and how we can’t protect them during this time. How bad things could happen, and we wouldn’t be there to shield them. How precious those little red-headed moppets are.

I just hope that next time Lily shares an alarming story like this, that the explanation will be as reassuring.




#208 In which our hero discusses Heroes.

If you don’t watch Heroes, then this entire post will be meaningless to you. Come back later, after the geek smell has dissipated.

Still here? Good. So, yeah, season finale of Heroes last night. It’s odd, I find myself enthusiased and a little let down at the same time. It was good, but I guess I expected more… a real barn-burner, knock-down drag-out confrontation between Peter and Sylar, for starters. But it was a much quieter episode than that; but I still found it satisfying. If that had been the series finale, then no, not so much; but knowing that there’s more adventures to come makes it okay with me. I think it was really smart of the producers to jump right in to the second chapter with Hiro appearing in medieval Japan. Anyone who might have been tempted to say, huh? That’s it? Instead said, oh my, Hiro is in quite a pickle now!

I received an email from friend and fellow blogger Li’l Kate this morning, ranting about the show in eight well-crafted points.

Now, Kate isn’t a comic book geek like me, so I suspect that some of the finer points of comic geekdom are lost on her (and Kate, let me tell you, that’s a good thing). But to really understand Heroes, in my humble opinion, it’s critical to remember that it’s a comic book show. Meaning that even though it’s set in modern day and there’s a pretty faithful adherence to the rules of physics and what-not… the universe of this show is ruled by comic book conventions. Meaning that people often do and say things simply to serve the plot. More on that in a minute.

So, being that I haven’t posted in a bit, I thought I’d share Kate’s questions/observations and my responses here, for the entire world to enjoy. You’re welcome.

1) Sylar totally just *let* Hiro stab him - and it was a pretty good stab, too. I'm not sure how he's going to survive it.

This is my biggest beef about shows/movies like this: characters sometimes forget that they can do things. This is a HUGE comic book convention, and it drives me nuts. The Hiro/Sylar showdown is a perfect example. Sylar can react fast enough to stop BULLETS in mid-air, but he couldn’t sidestep Hiro’s huge thrusting charge? The fact is that the show had set up Sylar to be so powerful that couldn’t be stopped by one man. Until he was stopped by one man. It made for a great dramatic moment (“Yeah! Hiro killed Sylar! He fulfilled his destiny! Ando will be so proud!”) but kinda didn’t make sense.

I thought the show had the right idea when Nikki clubbed him (with a parking meter? Awesome!) but that lasted all of thirty seconds.

So how did Hiro manage to stab Sylar? I think the real answer is “because that’s what the plot said,” but, if we break it down, geek-style, I think there could be other reasons that actually make sense.
  • Hiro manipulated time. We know Hiro can completely stop time, but maybe he can do it locally, too. As in he froze Sylar in time just for the split second he needed to run him through. Hiro probably wasn’t even aware that he was doing it.
  • Peter affected Sylar. We’ve seen that Peter can move things with his mind, maybe he froze Sylar for a second, or psychicly distracted him for a moment.
  • Sylar let Hiro stab him. Sylar says to Peter “You’re the villain. Turns out I’m the hero.” Maybe in Sylar’s twisted mind he was becoming a martyr, transcending the hero role and becoming something greater (which is what he’s wanted from the very beginning). Personally, I think this is the most likely.
2) NOBODY noticed the trail of blood to the *open* sewer lid????? C'mon. Someone as creepy as him - you don't take your eyes off of him even if you think he's dead.

Oh yeah, I agree. Have these guys never seen a horror movie in their lives? When the bad guy looks dead, he's never really dead! But couldn’t you just see that scene as the final page of a comic? With a caption reading “The End?” That’s a total comic book ending and I loved it, even as I was saying “Open your fucking eyes, you retards!”

I’m actually a little disappointed that Sylar wasn’t killed outright (wasn’t Hiro’s father showing him decapitation moves? THAT I would have liked to see). I don’t want the show to turn into The Hunt for Red Sylar. “Molly says he’s in Kansas City! Avengers Assemble!

3) So.... Peter can survive his own explosion, but his brother can't... do did Nathan just fly him up in the atmosphere, let go and fly away? Or did Nathan bite it? And will Peter remember how to fly back to Earth?

I guarantee you Nathan is dead. He was willing to turn his back and let millions of innocents die, including his own brother. In the comic book world you can only make up for such a sin with a huge personal sacrifice… and in Nathan’s case, it was the ultimate sacrifice.

I actually think Peter is dead and gone, too. I hope he is. His death lends some gravity to the actions of the other heroes. They can die… even the most powerful among them isn’t safe.

Of course, Hiro can bend space and time at will. There’s no reason that he couldn’t pop in at 12,000 feet at the last minute and zap Nathan to safety. Or prevent Peter from ever meeting Ted and absorbing his power in the first place.

That’s the big problem with Hiro's power… if had can literally go to any time or space, why doesn’t he? I give the producers a lot of credit here, they developed Hiro’s character in such a way that he doesn’t go back and fiddle with time simply because he thinks it’s not the right thing to do. And it makes sense, coming from Hiro.

4) I want to know what Mama Petrelli's power is and how many other people (Linderman, Hiro's dad, her, Charles) are in on this little plan, and who agrees with it and who doesn't. Now that the bomb didn't go off, will Mama Petrelli attempt another explosion/disaster with whoever still agrees with her and Linderman? Or were her and Linderman the only ones with that particular vision?

I suspect that the death of Nathan has effectively put to bed their plan of uniting the world under one strong crisis-time leader. But I’m sure they have other plans in the works, and we’ll see them again. With the death of the Petrelli boys, there’s no-one left to defend Mama Petrelli, so she’s free to really become a villain in the future. Only Claire is family, and she’s not likely to start vouching for grandma any time soon.

5) I TOTALLY called that it wasn't Jessica or that Mica was dead and that it was that Candace or whatever her name is. Nailed it. Not saying the show is predictable, but, you know, a moment of pride. ;)

You go, Kate. Own your inner geek. I also saw that coming, but enjoyed how it was played--Nikki and Jessica finally integrating personalities. The only other moment I saw coming was when Horn Rim Glasses told Peter his real first name. Not that it’s a major plot point or anything, but it’s something that the writers have teased us viewers with off and on. It was a nice moment. Also, Noah? That could be a little significant, huh?

6) Who is this new character going to be that Molly is so afraid of - the one who sees her seeing him? Is he going to be another villain? or does he just not like to be spied on? I know I'd be kind of pissed.

Yeah, the big bad for season 2! I suspect we’ll be teased with this Sauron-esque character for a while before he/she/it is actually revealed.

7) If Niki had stayed in the fight with Peter and Sylar, she could have kicked some serious ass. Sylar would NOT have crawled away.

Agreed. I guess integrating the two personalities greatly reduced Jessica’s killer instinct. What, exactly, was she going to do to help D.L.? Looks like all she did was kneel by his side and whisper encouragements. Couldn’t she have taken five minutes to beat Sylar into a bloody pulp with a parking meter first?

8) We never figured out what triggered the "nuclear" response in Peter - what brought it on. Seemed to randomly come out of nowhere every time.

Right. Stress? Fear? I think the true trigger was “the writers think this would be a dramatic moment!” He seemed to be able to control any other power he absorbed just fine… expect for this one. But again, I’m not bad-mouthing the show, because it’s sticking to comic book conventions. Sometimes things happen when they happen. And speaking of comic book conventions… um, Peter? You can fly, remember? If you don’t want to level the city, just fly away. Of course, maybe he can only use one power at a time, and couldn’t fly while glowing. Or something like that.

But overall, I still love the show. I’m very curious to see where they’re going to take it next season. Speaking of which, when I Wiki’d Heroes for some background for this post (oh yes, all my posts are highly researched beforehand) I came across this:

Heroes: Origins, a spin-off from Heroes. So next year there will be even more geeky TV to enjoy.

I’m so excited I could explode!





Lily's chore list, as dictated by Lily.
  1. Mop floor
  2. Clean bathroom
  3. Get paper off horse
  4. Sweep floor
  5. Clean Lily's head
  6. Clean button
  7. Get paper fixed
  8. Clean mouse pad
  9. Don't accept black horse
  10. Mow lawn
  11. Clean paper
  12. Wipe sleeve
  13. Keep Macey out of trouble
  14. Clean computer
  15. Clean nose
  16. Clean mouse
  17. Clean boys
  18. Clean chair
I'm intrigued by #9 and frightened by #17.


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An update on the state of the yard: there is no update.

The basement remains nice and dry, thanks to the waterproofing. However, this doesn't do anything for the horrible flooding in the back yard. The plan is to have additional drainage installed back there, and along one side of the house (where there are basement window wells below ground level with no drainage in them). We're also going to have the ugly cracked cement slab in the back removed and replaced, eventually, with a deck.

The Scientist is friends with a woman who's son happens to be a landscape contractor. We had him quote us a price for all the work above. Now, I don't know if he's being nice since my wife is friends with his mom, or maybe the guy just works cheap, but it's a really great price. Hundreds less than anyone else would quote us. Now if we could only get the fucker out here to do the work.

It's incrediably frustrating. After we accepted the quote, he stopped returning calls. He said he'd put us on his schedule, but we haven't heard from him in weeks. Our front yard remains a muddy mess, and I'm sure our neighbors would appreciate a little yard improvement. But, given the great price the guy is giving us, it's not worth it to say "hey, fuck that and fuck you if you can't bother to return a phone call" and find someone else. As much as I'd like to.

I have never had a good experience with a contractor. We had work done on the old house, and that guy tore up our front porch, then vanished for a month. We've had contractors just blow us off when we asked for quotes. I mean, we are basically going to these people and saying, "Hi! We'd like to give you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for your time and expertise. Would you like to take our money?" and they can't even return a call? Jesus! I'm mostly frustrated because I want all the bullshit water-related work to just be done. We've put better than $10 grand into this damn house, and it's all been related to waterproofing or water management on the property. There are plenty of other projects that we want to do (like getting rid of all the hideous wallpaper) that we haven't even started.

I just want people to do their jobs. That's it. But it seems that that is asking too much.


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#207 In which our hero celebrates a fairly amazing turn of events.

Potty training update: my kid is awesome.

As previously mentioned, we recently re-visited our potty training methodology; which was basically me saying “eh, she’ll do it when she’s ready” and The Scientist biting down on her tongue so hard that it bled. But even my lassie-faire attitude was starting to wear thin as Lily continued to show zero interest in crapping on the toilet.

We had, of course, heard the stories of parents who took their kids out of diapers and put them into real underwear and poof! Five days later they’re completely potty trained. An anonymous commenter on this very blog reported that it only took her kid TWO DAYS in underwear to permanently leave diapers behind.

The thing is, we’d tried that before. And my big issue is that when Lily has an “accident” she’s not the one who pays the price, I am. She's not the one who gets nauseated when I’m leaning over the utility tub scrubbing mud out of a tiny pair of panties.

But, I started to see the beginnings of a Big Fight between The Scientist and I bubble to the surface, so something had to be done. I mentioned to my wife that I was re-thinking the panties thing.

And, at first, it was as bad as I feared. She’d pee or poop whenever and wherever she wanted, and I cleaned up the mess. I knew that no progress would be made unless she felt uncomfortable in her wet pants, so I let her sit in it for a while. It can’t feel nice to had a saggy butt full of poop, right? After an HOUR of walking around with a big turd in her panties I finally asked, “Lily, don’t you want me to clean up the poop in your pants?” To which she replied, “No! I like poop in my pants!”

Aw, crap.

It wasn’t working. We needed to try something else. We were going to have to take her to that child shrink after all. Then something magical happened.

She started to poop on the potty.

Kinda all at once, too. One day she stayed dry all day in daycare, then she stayed dry at home. She started to tell us when she wanted to go. Then the capper: I was upstairs getting something and Lily, completely of her own volition, when to the bathroom, got on the potty herself, and laid a turd roughly the size of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

I think this kid is potty trained. I’m not saying that she’ll never have another accident, but I think we’re way along the right path. It’s amazing.

And equally amazing is that my wife hasn’t said anything to me, even though she always championed more aggressive techniques and, I bet, is just dying to say, “I fucking told you so!




#206 In which our hero discusses his inability to determine sexual orientation by any means.

You know how some people have gaydar? And they can instantly tell if someone is gay just by talking to them, or sometimes just walking past them on the street? Well, I have the opposite of that.

(Side note: this is why I love Wikipedia; it has an entry for gaydar. A well-researched entry, including the subtitles “Stereotype reinforcement,” “Scientific research” (!) and “Further reading.”)

Anyway, not only can I not tell if someone is gay or not, I tend to think that certain people are gay, when it turns out they are not. I have a long and storied history of this behavior. Some of the more notable instances:
  • In college I knew a guy who was, apparently, super-gay. I never picked up on this and remember being incredulous and slack-jawed when someone finally pointed out this obvious fact to me. Much later, he would try to grope me while we shared a hotel room bed… pretty much driving home his sexuality even to someone as clueless as me.
  • Right after college I worked in the phone room of The Columbus Dispatch newspaper. As you can imagine, this kind of workplace had a lot of turnover, so there were often new and interesting women working there all the time. I was especially attracted to one woman who, in retrospect, was pretty butch and I should have figured it out all by myself. But naturally, I did not. Working late one night she commented on how nice my butt looked in my new jeans, and that’s pretty much all it took. I had a live-in girlfriend at the time and this threw me into a tailspin. What do I do? I’m not as happy as I could be right now… should I make a move? Would this be a better relationship? I remember having a heart-to-heart with a friend of mine and spilling my guts over the guilt I felt about the infidelity I has considering. This went on for a couple days until another friend of mine, also a Dispatch employee, told me, “Dude, she’s a lesbian! And she’s living with the girl who sits next to her!” Apparently everyone in the department knew about this… except me, of course.
  • And the big one: the woman I dated for five years, and lived with for three (and, ironically, the same women I considered cheating on in the story above) came out of the closet after we had broken up. She was, again, a little butch, and I should have seen it coming. I remember once her telling me, “If you and I ever broke up, I think I’d try dating women.” To which I replied, “Whaat? You’re not gay, that’s ridiculous! You enjoy sex way too much.” Or so I thought. That really was my criteria in judging gay-ness (at least with this woman): how much she enjoyed sex. Which seemed like a lot. Never mind that in the five years we dated she initiated sex maybe a half dozen times and she outright refused to do anything that wasn’t straight-up vanilla sex. I remember once asking her for a little more foreplay (Jesus, even as I type this I see how blind I was) once in a while… and the one time she gave it a go, she stopped mid-way and said, “Yeah, see… I just get bored.”
And lately it’s been no better. I’ve identified several people at work who I suspected might be gay. The results:
REASON FOR SUSPICION: Brought another woman to the Christmas party, was very touchy with said woman; danced with her all night.
THE VERDICT: Out of town boyfriend; she flew down to his graduation and is considering moving to be with him.

REASON FOR SUSPICION: Guy who seemed a little too comfortable in the dress he wore for Halloween.

REASON FOR SUSPICION: Super butch, big-time gay vibe, no wedding ring.
THE VERDICT: Married with a child.

So, if I’ve ever thought you were gay and you aren’t… sorry about that. And if you were blazingly gay and I didn’t pick up on it… sorry, again. But try not to be too hard on me; I’m part of a minority myself: the clueless.