Teaching Irony through Sarcasm

  I have the luxury of working weekends and being able to pick up our son from school most weekdays. I watch with joy as he bounces down the steps from his school happy to tell me all about the things he did during the day. Rarely does he come out upset. Never has he come out needing comfort. Until this week. I was waiting with the other parents as we stood around making fun our kids behind their backs… as we do. The doors opened and he came flying out full of wails and tears. He looked inconsolable. The other parents parted making a red carpet like path for him to have easy access to my welcoming arms. He collapsed to the sidewalk at my knees gasping for air between his breathless screams of agony.

“Oh my son. What happened man?! What’s going on?!” I cried back to him.

“I didn’t have time to finish my stress ball!!! My stress ball! I didn’t have time when the bell rang!!!” He cried out at what to me appeared to an incommensurate amount of tears.

Perhaps I misunderstood him?

“Say that again? What’s this about?”

“We were making stress balls and I didn’t get to finish mine! It’s not done! The bell rang and it’s not done! This is the worst day of my life!!!” He yelled.

I stood stunned. The other parents watched on trying to listen in to get a clue as to what horrors must have happened inside. Several seemed to be bracing themselves for what they may face when their little bundles were released from school.

Once I understood what was happening all I could do was laugh. A lot.

“This isn’t funny! This is horrible! This is the worst day of my life!”

I restrained my laughs but spoke through a smile. “You know what you need son? A stress ball.”

“I know! I need a stress ball and I couldn’t finish mine in time. Oh!!! Why me!!!”

“No.” I added. “What’s funny here is that you need a stress ball because of this stress ball situation.”

He didn’t get the irony. I promised him we’d make some when we got home.

“But you don’t know how! You’ve never made one! This is so horrible.” He argued.

I told him we would google it. I'm sure it's just flour and balloons. We can handle that.

But I didn't watch the youtube video result on how to make them. I actually didn't read anything more than what was in the search results. At home I improvised how to get the flour into the balloon by using the nozzle from a cake decorating kit. I filled it with flour and forced the powder into the balloon by blowing really hard into the nozzle. Really hard. The balloon was now full of flour and my compressed air. Once the stress ball was inflated and after pulling my mouth and nozzle from the balloon all the flour erupted from the contracting balloon back into my face. It really was a pretty spectacular scene. It was like a stylist shouted “Powder!” and then some stranger hit me with a pillow full.

The boy laughed out at what to me appeared to an incommensurate amount of joy.

And I stood there stunned, looking at him through my flour covered glasses and he said, “Now you could really use a stress ball huh dad?”

I think he learned irony.

Yes, Here Comes the Story of the Hurricane

8141678110.jpeg

In Florida, before man made global climate change, we had hurricane drills in grade school. We'd learn where the best place to hide was and how to skin, cook and eat alligator. This was before the internet... and apparently before satellite radar. Didn't they have advanced warning in the 80's? Did we learn nothing from the Seminoles who we took the land from?

Why would we learn how to ride out a storm in school? We were either tougher then or the storms were less severe? Maybe by launching the satellites to better forecast the storms we upset the balance of nature making them more severe? Mother nature said, "I'll show you! You can have all of that down there but the attic is mine."

band of brothers

Or maybe the storms are scarier because I am older with more responsibilities, a house to maintain and a family to care for? When the winds were beginning to whip the trees around and the rain was coming down sideways, I wished I was the college kids next door who were undoubtedly drinking warm beer and celebrating no school. Warm beer? No, this was before the power went out... they haven't had a working refrigerator for many months now. Ah to be that carefree again. We'd have to serve the toddler his yogurt on ice. "Your breakfast, sir. May I draw your bath?"

I admit, I was hesitant of the storms severity as it approached. The news seemed to be getting carried away with their predictions and getting way to excited about the potential doom and destruction. I have a hard time believing emotional journalists. Maybe they've cried wolf too many times or I remember the days when TV news warned you before the editorials.

We did buy supplies for the house and gas for the generator and cleared the yard of potential projectiles. And then we hunkered down as the first bands of wind hit.

Rain and wind and the power went out and we all slept on the first knowing that if a tree fell it would take out the upper reaches of the house first. Over the sound of the generator I listened to the storm while the family slept. All night I was awake assuming the worst and waiting for a tree to crash into us. Again, adulthood? Years ago, I may have relished the adventure and maybe even hoped for a free skylight until the landlord came to fix the damage?

All in all, our damage was minimal. A leak in the kitchen that I thought I had fixed and a little water in the basement and no power. It could have been much worse and luckily we didn't have to cook up any alligator.

A tale of two snowmen

5397025534_39f7203f40.jpg

Our neighborhood in Baltimore is situated between several colleges and universities and therefor we have many student renters living on our block. It gives me the chance to often think back and realize what a horrible tenet I must have been - back in the day. When we ran out of oil for the furnace we would burn garbage in the fireplace and all sleep in the living room.During the snow storm last week several snowmen sprung up after the weather cleared. The boys to our right are athletes (I had to spell check athlete) while the boys to our left have a drum kit that they practice on early in the morning. When looking at the snowmen, I'm certain you can guess whom belongs to whom.

Rather than a button nose and two eyes made out of coal their snowman's nose and eyes are made our of beercans. But, it does have a corncob pipe.

They lost some points for the HomeDepot bucket hat. The other guys used a bike helmet.

Susan said she was certain our snowman in college would not have looked like the one built by the athletes. I called and asked my college roommate and asked if we should be offended. He said our's would have had such a huge and unplanned base snowball we would have never been able to go hired with the second and third. We would have built him sideways. It would have been better than the over achievers next door!

Lost and Found - Mixtape in the gutter from "Yo Boy Billy"

Yo Boy Billy

Press Play

I found this CD in the gutter up the street the other day while out walking the dog. Apparently, Emily has moved on. The disk may have fallen out of her car but I think she frisbee'd it out the window and it bounced off a tree. From what I can gather... she's with someone else now. These things happen. But, to give Billy some credit. He does have a nice ear for expressing himself through overused popular music. I can't compliment him on his handwriting though. Or his heart-drawings for that matter.

But, what can you do? You can get pissed and let her know it about 4 tracks in! Start off nice and sweet and then! Yeah! Take that. "Don't touch my girl." I'm not sure who sings this song - (I am old) - but it really fires me up! If i were a pissed off 16 year old - this would speak to me. But then I'd balance it with a classic.

"Hey Dad, what was that song they used for Michelle Obama? The blind guy?"

And then The BloodHound Gang? Really... gonna win her back with this?

But then we go way back to the 90's. I think I may have used a few of these songs for the same purpose. Regardless of generation, all broken heart mixtapes have a Cure track. When I mixed in The Cure, I think I had to pull if off a tape. Damn. Do they still make blank tapes? I forget who that tape was for. I wonder if she still has it? It probably ended up in a gutter somewhere. Some guy remixed I bet.

Ah well, Yo Boy Billy. I wish you the best. It may be time for some "Journey."

I got some lip from a ROBOT

I called to check on room availabilities at a few hotels in Towson for my parents when they come to visit next month. Google, of course, gave me a few pushpins just a few miles up the road so I started calling. What's amazing is that with each call to the front desks, they sent me off to some call center somewhere to field my questions on room rates and availabilities. I'm a mile away asking a question to a lady who could be my neighbor and soon I'm off to another part of the world talking to someone who pronounces Baltimore wrong.

With one call, I get sent to Lilly who speaks remarkably crisp and quite lovely. She asks the standard questions and when given my turn to respond, my questions are standard as well. "I'm wondering if you have any rooms for the weekend of Oct. 4th?"

"That weekend. Let me checking. I am checking. Yes, we have a standard suite available with one king bed and an attached living room for a rate of $116 a night and cancellation up until the day of for no charge. You can book now if you have a major credit card or online at our website."

I ask a follow up. "I may have more guests, can you tell me if you have another room for that weekend?"

"You can cancel up until the day of arrival for no charge either over the phone at this number or on our website." She answers.

"No. I'm not asking that. I have another...."

"I can't answer that," She steps in. "You can cancel for no extra charge by calling this number or online at our website."

"No, I need to know." I start to ask until she jumps in with the cancellation routine. Now I'm thinking. Although very human, she sounds very mechanical.

While she's talking, I interrupt her with some Ferris Bueller, "I'm afraid that in my weakened condition, I could take a nasty spill down the stairs and subject myself to further school absences."

She cut me off mid-stride with, "I cannot help you with that. Good-bye."

God knows I'm a fan of the geeky or side of things and I wouldn't mind having a robot of my own to answer questions directed my way but at some point we the customers need to be right again.

Flip this house

Flip this house We finally got our house up on the market.

http://www.trulia.com/property/1609-Patapsco-St-Baltimore-MD-21230

Don't let the painted formstone "the polyester of brick" fool you!You'll love the openness of this well maintained, freshly painted rowhome. Just 4 blocks from the Historic Federal Hill restaurants, bars, boutiques and Cross Street Market.This charmer has been totally rehabbed in 2001 ~ exposed brick, skylight, hardwood floors, a HUGE Master bedroom 11 X 20 – not common in this style of home. In addition, new roof was added in 2006 and new carpet 2008. This home is being offered at a great price - so don't miss it!1yr Home Warranty

Looking back on a day at the office

flight_track_map.gif

Originally uploaded by stork123.

I just learned about this site flightaware.com. You can watch in real-time or look back on flights and see the routes flown. Today this was my flight from msp to phl. We took a little turn to the left over michagan because some clown was diverting around some cells and figured we should do the same... Up in Northern MI, I figured the cells were below us and decided to turn back towards philly. You can see the hold we entered east of philly on the arrival. We were about 15 mins from diverting to Baltimore for more gas. Glad that didn't happen. Last day and I was ready to head home.

C.S.I. Baltimore

We were woken up buy several very abrupt knocks on the front door at 2am this morning. Luckily, I'm feeling under the weather and had called off a two day trip. I say 'lucky' because had I had not called out my alarm clock would have been going off in about an hour and I'd been pissed. With Bella the 60 pound pit mix away on vacation this week I thought I could ignore the knocks for abit until they assumed we were gone. Had she have been here - she would have let us know someone was there before the knocking. After a few more forceful pounds on the door I looked out the window to see who it was. A Maryland State Police car had the one way road blocked outside our house with lights flashing. Still, when answering the door, I let out a bellowing "Who is it." "Maryland State Police! Open the door!" Knowing my innocence, it was actually kind of fun. If only they were filming COPS. I opened the door to be greeted with a flashlight in the eyes and a "We're looking for @#$##@$#$@!" I'm not censoring. It was 2AM. MY brain was not into store information mode. When I said I wasn't him and I've been in the house for 5 years they seemed pleased and started to turn. "Do you wanna see some ID or something?" I asked. "Yeah, That's a good idea." They said walking back to the door. I guess it was 2AM for them as well.