Friday, September 26, 2008

To Switzerland, and beyond

Seriously, this should not even be possible. I am amazed, and envious. I'll survive, but please, no one tell David.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Q: What is the difference between a Pit Bull and a Hockey Mom?

A: One is a natural thing perverted by our obsession with violent competition.

The other is just a dog.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Very briefly on economics

Back in May, the best show on the radio, This American Life, dedicated an entire episode to the most comprehensive and comprehensible explanation of the Housing Crisis I have heard. The popularity of this episode has spawned a new podcast and blog on NPR--Planet Money. One particular entry, "Who Can I Blame?" is particularly timely as the McCain/Obama show attempts to entertain us with stories about how the other is to blame and how they themselves are not.

Good reading although I don't know if I can go along with the bit about how other countries share the blame for limiting investment. Part of me reads that as "shame on you for being wary of the possibly corrosive affects of the Global Economy and exercising some of the same regulations that may have kept us out of this mess." But I could be wrong.

Monday, September 15, 2008

This is our Topeka

Check out this video. It is nothing exciting, but it gets really great at the 2:18 point but don't blink; it goes back to the mundane around 2:19.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Simon's square

Over a meal last week, David was clarifying some point about the timeline of his life and asked how old Simon was when he himself was born. I told him Simon didn't exist then. He didn't understand what I meant by that. I pointed to the white board on the wall behind me and asked if there was a green square on the board. No. I explained that a green square did not exist on the board yet and then I used the (green) marker, drew a square, and filled it in. "Do you see a green square now?"
"But you remember back before I drew the square, right?"
"Before I drew it, it did not exist. When you were a baby, that was before Simon existed."
I don't know if he "understood," but he seemed content with the explanation. Then, a couple of days ago he noted that the square was gone. Jaime had erased to make room for a grocery list. Whining just a big, he asked me to redraw the square because Simon still exists.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Palin and an American Dream

A coworker IMed me today:
Scott: In a blunt interview with the Associated Press, the star of the Jason Bourne film series also said there was a good chance John McCain would die in his first term in office and the thought of a President Palin is "terrifying."

“It’s like a really bad Disney movie — the hockey mom…from Alaska, and she’s the president, and it’s like she’s facing down Vladimir Putin and using the folksy stuff she learned at the hockey rink. And it’s absurd, it’s totally absurd, and I don't understand why people aren’t talking about how absurd it is," Damon said.

Jason: and his pundant credentials are?

Scott: Yeah, but that is a pretty funny image of her and Putin.

Jason: yeah, it is. But, like a Disney movie, it bears no relationship to how international politics really works. Bush and Putin don't have policy-changing verbal showdowns facing each other over a boardroom table--or tumbleweeds or something. They have people. The people brief them and most of the work is committee work. Sometimes, at the very beginning and the very end, the president has to digest all of the committee work and make a decision. That decision is going to be influenced to a degree by experience, but to a greater degree by wisdom. Palin has either developed wisdom or she has not. She can face the information and make a choice based on what is right, or not. And frankly, a lot of the time, she'll be wrong--just like Churchill, Roosevelt, and Reagan.

I have no idea if Palin is fit for office, but when she was nominated, I felt something that I have never felt in my life--I believed that anyone can grow up to be president. It used to be a common phrase--"eat your vegetables so you can grow up to be president." Part of our national self-identity was that anyone could be president. We were mocked world-wide for the notion. Nowadays, I doubt any parent would utter that incentive to their kids because they know it is a lie. Palin may stink as VP, I doubt we'll ever find out. But if she makes it, then, to quote another line from this race, I'll feel proud of America for the first time in my life.

To cardboard, hot glue, and beyond

Probably the earliest "father and son" memory I have is an afternoon home when I was four or five--about David's age, perhaps. Dad cut a piece of cardboard (or was is a grocery bag?) in the shape of a horse's head, drew in the details, and affixed to the top of a yard stick. I rode it around like a cowboy. It is a brief memory--almost a still photo--but one I think about often and fondly. I was hoping I would have opportunities to create such a memory with my own son. That opportunity presented itself this last weekend.

David has been begging me to make a cardboard Buzz Lightyear for him for a few weeks. Having no idea how I might go about this, I stalled until this last weekend. It turns out that what he wanted was a much simpler affair than I realized. He simply wanted a piece of cardboard cut out in the shape of Buzz Lightyear--with the wings out. So I googled Buzz, worked out what pose David had in mind (flying, with both arms extended), did some test sketches and then rendered Buzz on cardboard. Thank God for my art degree. I did the wings separately and glued them on. My only goal was that it would last as long as it took to make it (about three hours). So far, so good. He (rather, "Zorg") ripped Buzz's hands off but I reattached them. Jaime suggested I make them black. David seems satisfied. I was actually pleased when he disobeyed my order to go up stairs and ran to the front door to show the Buzz to his friend who was playing in our front yard.

"But Jason," you may be saying, "you are soooooo against having cartoon-character toys in the house." Well, as I mentioned earlier in relation to the legos, I don't mind my kids cutting the teeth of their imagination on cartoon characters in an imaginative way. Creating Buzz out of cardboard, or legos (or sticks or pieces of lint) allows him to stretch his imagination a bit without having an additional toy lying around that will eventually go out of style and have to be replaced with whatever the next fad is. I look forward to the day when David and Simon are creating their own worlds, but I am content to make them work a bit to recreate someone else's.