Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Creepy Things

There's a whole 'nother world out there you just don't get to see until you live with a toddler.

For example: I had never seen the movie "Stuart Little" until the other night when Mojo and I were looking for something to entertain the Peeper while he settled down towards bedtime.

Our options were limited, and we simply found this little item while channel-surfing and happened into the middle of some sort of boat race where the mouse/younger brother sails the big brother's toy boat. Peep liked the boats, so we watched for ten minutes or so.

Okay - so I have to admit; I've always had sort of a thing for Geena Davis. Her movie characters always seem so sexy-smart and clever in a sort of mojolicious way. But the more I thought about the whole Stuart Little thing the more creepy it seemed.

I remember vaguely reading the E.B' White book that this farrago is based on and not being particularly skeeved out about the idea of a mouse kid born to a human couple.

Maybe it was just my age (too young to get the sexual implications) or maybe it was just the matter-of-fact tone of the book. As I recall the book stressed that Stuart WAS a little boy that just LOOKED like a mouse. But somehow the whole business seemed so much more...skweechy...when I was looking at Geena's larger-than-life face on the screen and thinking; okay, one of her kids is a mouse. She gave birth to a human child...and then a mouse. Interspecies reproduction.


But wait - I read that the movie sidesteps this by making Stuart an adopted child.

Somehow I'm not sure that this is better. Is this saying that your adoptive kid is, like, a rodent only sorta not? And that somewhere, somehow a mouse got caught up in the human abandoned child system? That Geena and Bertie (her husband is played by the guy - Hugh Laurie - who did Bertie Wooster in the wonderful PBS series) adopted a mouse, not as a pet, but as a child?

I'm SO not sure what this means except it makes me go "hmmmm..."

From what little I saw of "Stuart Little" it seemed like a bright, colorful, cheerful kids movie - except...except...

How do you explain to a toddler that his adoptive sister will never look like a cute little mouse?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Machiavellian Peeper

So little Pea and Mommy had a pretty good time with the rest of the Gellars back in Manomet showing the Peep off to all his adoring fans. Between flat tires and engine repairs Peeper got to ride in Grampa's tow truck, swim in the pond where Mommy used to splash when she was a wee sproutling (barely up to a C-cup), walk the Atlantic beach, change a tire and see a scary live lobster!
But my favorite story from the trip involves yet another display of Peeper cunning. The lad is destined to become the Tallyrand of North Portland.

Cue the scene: yet another family gathering featuring a Peep run amok fueled by more cookies than can possibly be good for one little boy. (Thanks, Gramma!)

Big Auny Kathy - a stern disciplinarian where Peepers are concerned, being a teacher and well versed in the wiles of Youth - finds our boy standing over a cookie he has dropped.

Kathy: Pick up that cookie, young man!

Peeper (looking down at the biscuit as if it is the first cookie he has ever seen): I...don't think I will.

Kathy: I think you WILL pick up that cookie!

Peeper (places one toe daintily on the cookie and crushes it): Can't now. Crumbs!

I dread the day I have to open negotiations regarding curfews and text messaging...

Emperor George and the Art of War.

Well, damn.

I wish I'd said it first, but I didn't; Jeff Huber did.

Go and read what he has to say and understand why every time you open the newspaper Iraq (and now Afghanistan) looks ever more like a dozen monkeys attempting to have sexual congress with a football.

Because as Sun Tzu (the mandarin guy there in the picture) would remind us:

"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. "

Oh, and George? He also said this, and he might as well have been speaking directly to your dumb ass:

"No leader should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no leader should fight a battle simply out of pique. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being…It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on."

"Bring 'em on!"



Monday, September 25, 2006

18 Days

CCAA had posted 18 days of referrals for September. August 9 is the cutoff.

This is better. But it still means a 2+ year wait for those of us still in the queue.

C'mon, CCAA! Where's the spirit that built the Revolution? Let's talk some Shock Adoption Worker Brigades! With true Chairman Mao spirit we can process more than THREE WEEKS of referrals in a month!

But it sure beats five or eight or nine DAYS. So okay then.

Gotta go to work. More later.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Cool Things in North Portland: Merlo Field

...the home of the Portland Pilots ( may know them as the 2005 NCAA Women's Soccer Champs).

It's both a good thing and a bad that the secret is out about the soccer being played up here on the Bluff. Good because finally the gals are getting the recognition they deserve. Bad because it's becoming difficult to get in to see a game; the North Carolina game was sold out weeks before kickoff. And traffic and parking are getting to be a pain on our little local streets.

But it's worth it to see the women in purple get their due.

Having said that...I went to watch the Pilots play Portland State University this Sunday. Not a particularly important game for UP, and PSU hasn't been within sniffing distance of any sort of championship - or even a winning season - well, ever, I think. I hope that it was the lack of a challenging opponent that produced the game I saw, but...ooogh, that was ugly.

I think the final was something like 4-0 but that, frankly, favored Portland. PSU saw a lot more of the ball in the first half than they should have, UP wasted several chances right in front of goal and had PSU had forwards who could run (sorry, #17 but you could have been timed with a sundial) or had a clue where the ball was (that was you, #16 - I'm sure you are a nice person but you sure were useless in the front that day) or a spark of aggression UP might have actually given up a goal!

I'm not sure why the Pilots were so flat - losing players of the quality of Chris Sinclair and Lindsey Huie can't help - but they need to tighten up in back and start converting their opportunities or it'll be an early winter around here. A national championship's a hard act to follow. But sweeeeeet when you earn it - like these young women did...

But don't take it from me - come on and get out to the game and help the fightin' gals in purple and white. They rawk.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Shorten my red thread or this ladybug will chew out your jugular

Shorter We're looking at a historically high wait time for China adoption referrals, principally because some greedy bastards in Hunan were stealing and selling babies (for which several have been made extremely dead and are presently in hell being introduced to the infernal punishment that more lighthearted demons refer to as "Bend Over; I'm Driving"), and the most likely outcome over the next year is for the referral wait period to slowly return to closer to the something closer to 300 days.

But don't take it from me - go here to read the whole thing.

For those of us in the system now, however, the referral wait will include this little "hiccup" - we won't get to meet our little sons or daughters for more like 18-24 months. That sucks pipe, but just little copper plumbing pipe, not the monstrous concrete storm drain pipe that a three- to four-year wait would suck.

So hang in there, gang. The stork's gonna fly, dammit, if we have to shove a JATO booster up it's ass...

It'll just take a little longer than we had hoped. But Mojo and I will be here when you're ready, Mei Mei.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Tie me up, tie me down the struggle for the legal tender.

It's been crazy this week. Mojo and the Peeper are preparing for the Big Gappa Flight (their week-long sojourn to peeper-starved grandparents) while I've been working sun-to-sun for the nice people at ODOT. I've had a lot to do and a lot to think about: home, life, love, work, the capricious buggers at CCAA, the ponderings of the Rumor Queen, the latest from Karen (exhausted but happy) and Millicent (exhausted and not-so-happy). I've been trying to get ready for my GS 108 (Oceanography) gig at Portland Community College SE Center this fall, keep the company nuclear testing gauges from falling into the hands of Osama bin Laden.

I've been dong a lot of reading - from the bizarre and funny stylings of Carl Hiaasen (finished "Basket Case" in four hours waiting for the drillers to tun in casing and repair their cathead yesterday...I've seldom read an odder or more entertaining novel. The critter is worth it for the hero-beats-down-burglar-with-frozen-corpse-of-monitor-lizard scene alone) to the latest from Diana Norman and waiting impatiently for the latest from L. M. Bujold...

But what I havent had is time to do much blogging. In fact - I've got to run to work RIGHT NOW.

I'll be back, though. More H&I fire this weekend. Until then, stop by Chapman School to see the swifts. They're COOL!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pulvis et umbra sumus.

Now we are dust and shadow...

I remember the morning almost five years ago. Mojo was still sleeping but the alarm had gone off and I'd heard some wierd things on the radio. I stood in the bright living room in the peaceful North Portland sunlight and watched nightmare occur on live television. I called my history teacher friend and remember shouting "This is Pearl Harbor! Dammit, this is a day that will live in infamy!"

I knew what I wanted to do, and felt like I could do. I burned like flame, hot and clean and sure. All I needed was a leader to tell me how to help catch the bastards that had attacked my country and killed my countrymen.

I knew there was backstory - that the attacks didn't just happen. I knew that my country hadn't been pure of heart in its dealings with the Middle East. At that moment none of that mattered. Regardless of what had happened in the it was personal. I was ready to bear any burden: to fight, to give of my time and money and whatever my country called forth from me to give, to hunt down and punish the evil bastards that planned that day.

Every anniversary since then I've felt smaller, weaker, less certain and more confused, less fierce and more helpless.

My country has asked me and my neighbors for nothing. My brothers in arms fight on long past the time it took to end the great world wars, for a nation whose concern largely begins and ends with a made-in-China plastic magnet slapped onto a piece of sheet metal and forgotten to slowly gather road grime and fade in the sun and rain.

As I watched in horror, my "leaders" used that infamous day to divide liberals from conservatives, poor from rich, republicans from totalitarians.

I have watched the symbol of that day go from a flag raised above battered firefighters... a hooded man on an MRE box and Oakley-masked, hard-faced troopers patrolling between still-shattered buildings in Ramadi.

I have watched people around the world turn from us, disgusted or sickened by our willingness to use that day to excuse our most infamous actions. I have ended a career I loved rather than let my family suffer the strain of an endless "war" without a vision or a foreseeable victory.

Five years on, the smoke from the fallen towers now looks like more like a pyre of the hope, honor and pride of the "Arsenal of Democracy".

Today let us pledge ourselves not to be distracted by hubris, greed and lies from the pursuit of those who killed the thousands of innocents. Let us resolve to be ever more vigilant of our own liberty in the face of those enemies who would want us to destroy those liberties.

Let us resolve that those who died that day did not die so that lies and excuses could make our country more violent, more aggressive and more secretive, but rather, as a better American than I once said:

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion... — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sixteen Tons

Okay, so we only moved 1 1/2 tons - about 3,000 pounds - of concrete, one sixty pound bag at a time. But the new front porch steps are done and lookin' mighty fine with their sexy new green-to-match-the-house-trim color and artful stone tile accents.

One thing about owning an older house - people just did things, well...differently back in the days before "This Old House" and Home Depot. In our case, they did the front step footing wrong, is what they did. We opened up the steps in August figuring on replacing a riser or two and found that the two middle joists had completely rotted away at the ground level. Which has understandable, since they were sitting on a couple of little, thingies, would be the technical term. Some sort of goofy cast concrete ingots. ...WTF? And let's not even go into what was holding the front of the porch itself up...

So we spent the entire month of August going out the back of the house or through the cat-flap (guess who) while the front steps were in ruins. Poured an entire new slab to support the steps and porch. Poured a plinth to support the new joists. New joists, treads and risers and voila! Ze steps, she is finished!

Little Peeper really wanted to help, and was very sad that most of the work was for adults, not peepers. He did play in his "construction site", the dirt pile next to the hole that we dug out to form the slab (note the trip hazard he has left on the stairs).

He did a great job painting, though. Very excited, and had to announce to one and all that he was doing a great job painting with his I don't get enough of "What an adorable little boy! Is that your first grandchild?" from other adults. Rrrrr!

But what lovely steps. You can keep the moon over the terrace of the Sacre Coeur. I'll just sit on these here steps and watch the stars rise over North Portland...

Life is a Highway

I'm gonna drive it all night long.

The Dirt Nanny

...or, how to make money by pestering people and looking at dirt.

You work for a geotechnical firm doing construction observation and testing.

This, BTW, is the idea of heaven for a three-year-old. The Peeper utterly grooves on the idea that his Daddy gets to go "work with the big diggers". I feed his addiction with pictures of said diggers and even a visit to the job site every now and then.

This is my current job, a future large commercial venture in the central Willamette valley. These stores are commonly known as "big box" retail, since the actual stores are just immense slabs with concrete tilt-up walls. The superintendant of this job was interviewed by the local fishwrap when they broke ground.

He was quoted as saying something to the effect of "This is the biggest big box in _________ - and that's the largest excavator I've ever seen!"

That was ten weeks ago, and every one in a while one of the guys in the crew will come up to him and remind him that no matter how big the big box it's not the size of the excavator, it's what you do with it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Wily Trout

In which we see Daddy and the Peeper attempting to outwit that most cunning of the piscine race: the Trout. Which, in the interest of capturing short three-year-old attention spans, has been confined to a tiny man-made pond with about a zillion others and kept hungry so as to bite on damn near anything.

It works, by the way. The Peep hooked a 15-inch trout in about ten seconds, after which he scampered away in circles rather than land the thing. And later had as much fun racing around the trout ponds trying to fall in as he did in the actual fishing...

All in a fun Labor Day's activities along the Sandy River canyon. We then continued on to Timberline Lodge, where the little rascal proceeded to zip around the scree slopes far in advance of his puffing Mommy and Daddy. Had we been a family of chamois it is reassuring to know that both of us would have fallen to predators long before our progeny.

The only predictable thing about the entertainment of toddlers is that they will often ignore that which you think is delightful and delight in that which you'd ignore...

Anyway, we're all back in harness; Daddy perstering contractors in Corvallis, Mommy obsessing over adoption weblogs (a big bon voyage to Karen over at the Naked Ovary for her trip to China to finally meet the little Maya she and Random have been waiting for all this time) and the Peeper playing in the dirt and discovering new things to shout "No! Mommy! I don't like it!" about.

Back later in the week with more "Best of North Portland" stuff...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

No, Rummy you dumbass, Osama isn't Hitler and Zarqawi wasn't Tojo

They didn't have their own countries, for one thing.


Responding faithfully to the orders of his Dear Leader, here's the latest from the Worst Secretary of War since John Buchanan Floyd:

“When those who warned about a coming crisis, the rise of fascism and nazism, they were ridiculed or ignored. Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated or that it was someone else's problem.

And that is important in any long struggle or long war, where any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong, can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.”

Despite what Bombs Away Don seems to think, no liberal American has claimed that America is “wrong”. In fact, most of the things I have heard – and said – about what my country has done and is doing in this fight against jihadist Al Qaeda and its siderunners has focused on the fact that we do best when we do right.

Right by our ideals of freedom, transparency of governance, accountability of the powerful to the People and the rule of law over the rule of Dubya. Not by constructing in our own nation the fascist dream of secret government, secret prisons, secret spying and the mindless hammering of the moronic sword of Mars. When we should be fighting as honorably, prudently, strongly and deftly as the very Goddess of Liberty who once symbolized our country before it became symbolized by a hooded man standing on an MRE box.

I wanted to take some more time this Labor Day weekend to ruminate about CCAA and the whole slowdown-in-referrals thing, and to talk some more about my favorite north Portland places. But Tuesday Secretary I'm-Too-Clueless-To-Live turns up in the public eye with his usual bagfull of lies, damn lies and statistically significant lies, and I feel the acid rise in my gut.

I'm so damn sick of these people. Iraq is a mess. Afghanistan is sliding back into unreconstructed opium-rich chaos, and they jump up yammering "traitor!" and "backstabber!" if anyone is impolite to mention that twelve monkeys fucking a football could have done a better job of both, assuming you could find a dozen monkeys stupid enough to invade a post-Ottoman Third World shithole despotism in order to try and use a bunch of infidel foreigners to turn it into a New England townhall. Four, maybe eight...but all twelve? Fugeddaboutit. These idiots, Dubya and his office wife Condi, Deadeye Dick and Rummy and the rest of the lying, skeevy crew has spent the last six years proving that people who believe that Government is the Bad Enemy will be very Bad, Inimical Governors if given the chance. Honestly, is there anyone not in a Two-Yacht Family or running some sort of Christian Aryan Youth camp who has benefitted from six years of ambition, distraction, uglification and derision by these chumps?

Jesus wept!

And as for the whole "Democrats as traitors" meme, I give you the Honorable Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States:

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right."

"Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

There are enemies of my country and my people abroad. But they cannot be defeated by half-truths, crony capitalism, windy rhetoric and partisan favoritism. They will not be defeated by this gang of idiots.

The sad part is, the other side of the aisle seems to have no more clue - or, at best, just a glimmer of memory of what once made this country great - than these jackanapes. At this turning of the seasons, with an election again coming amid a flurry of hysteria and name-calling, I despair for my country and the diminished "leaders" we have chosen. Where are the cool reasoned voices, the striding eloquence of the Washingtons, Madisons, Jeffersons, Lincolns, Roosevelts? Why are we saddled with these grubby little greedy, petty men, who will creep about our capitol to find themselves, and us, dishonorable graves?