His First Joke

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For the first time in his life he has come up with something funny. Months later he still calls back to it. And it is funny. He’s had funny moments before. He’s pulled some physical gags and laughed at himself and then asked if it was silly. But this is his first joke.

Sometime late summer the subject of a sweet dessert came up. He was asking for it and I didn’t know what it was. He wasn’t saying it right. His pronunciation was off. It didn’t make sense. It was something he got somewhere and I didn’t know what it was. At four he’s too young to have things in his life I’m not aware of. We both laughed (hysterically) as I made it into a game of twenty questions. He caught on to the bit and riffed with me.

He was asking for something that sounded to me like “Fruit Myer”.

“Is it cold?”

“Yes!” He said laughing implying that of course it is served cold.

“Is it in the refrigerator or the freezer?”

“It’s in the freezer silly!”

“What color is it?” I asked.

“Green.”

“And what is it called again?”

“I told you. Fruit Myer!”

“I have no idea what this is! Maybe next time we are in the store you can point it out to me.”

“They don’t have Fruit Myer in the store, Silly! You are so crazy.”

"Also, Dude. Fruit Myer is not the preferred nomenclature." I added.

I have no idea what this stuff is.

My clues so far.

It’s green. It’s served cold. You eat it with a spoon. It makes a mess if you spill it. You get sick if you eat too much of it. Asking if it is bigger than a breadbox makes no sense to him. They don’t sell it at the store. You’d be crazy to think they did.

I’m guessing it’s some kind of green ice cream that my Mother-in-Law bought him.

She was also the source behind another mystery. One that I was able to solve.

That one was easier to piece together.

He asked for a popsicle from the freezer and when it was lemon instead of chocolate he demanded I put it under running water. “It will turn to chocolate!”

“No it won’t.” I said.

“Under the water! It will turn to chocolate! I don’t want lemon! I want chocolate!”

“That doesn't make any sense! That is impossible!” I yelled back matching his volume for affect. “Running water will not turn frozen lemonade into chocolate! It will turn it into more lemonade!”

I proved this and subsequently disappointed him in the name of science. His expression when I gave him a plastic stick that once held a popsicle was actual comedy.

“See!" I waved it. Again, for affect. "No chocolate!”

I may have over done it. He sulked. Tough audience.

My hypothesis. His Grammy makes him frozen popsicles with chocolate milk. She also makes him some from lemonade. My guess is to help extricate them from their plastic mold she runs them under water to loosen them up. Perhaps the lemonade variety doesn't need loosening? He must think we have a Willy Wonka sink that can turn anything into a chocolate popsicle?

But. To the current mystery. And joke.

Months later he will call back to the Fruit Myer bit and laugh knowing it’s funny.

It may begin with him chuckling, “Remember the Fruit Myer?”

I will laugh and start the round of the twenty questions again.

Even better is when I catch him laughing to himself and then when I ask him what’s funny he says snickering, “Fruit Myer.”

It’s a joke we share. A joke him and I wrote and one that I think he finds as funny as I do.

Maybe I don't want to ever know what Fruit Myer is?

On Fatherhood: Almost 40 With a 4 Year Old

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How different his world is in 2014 than mine was when I was his age in 1978. This is the blessing of the late blooming father. Had I begun the child rearing phase of my life a decade or more ago things would be different. We could enjoy the Hunger Games together, we could both simultaneously suffer from Bieber Fever and I could have eaten all of his leftovers without worrying about calories. Not so when 35 years separates us.

Now I can easily justify saying, "When I was your age."

"When I was your age, we called a thirty second video clip a commercial."

Will I be able to teach him to appreciate the things that made me who I am today or is he too far removed from my generation? Will the coming of age moments for me be relevant for him? Will the movies, books, video games and music mean anything now or will they be campy and ironic to him?

I've begun compiling a list of media he will need to consume (and appreciate) as he matures in order to continue calling himself my son.

When he comes home from school with awkward adolescent struggles and feelings of not fitting in I will sit him down to watch Weird Science to understand my 80's awkward. We had to watch our back then. When we (the nerds) weren't doing so we were fantasizing about a time when we could control our destiny with computers. We were on the front lines. "Back in my day, nerds weren't cool like they are now. Who knew it would take something like Glee to allow us to come out."

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Who knows where he will be and what he will have seen by then but when he is in high school and surely feels trapped, he will read On The Road and dream about wandering. He will not read it digitally. He will not listen to it. I will get him the book. I will encourage him to write in the margins and dog-ear the corners. I will teach him that the scuffed up pages with take him back to the spot where he scuffed them up. He will remember the book but more importantly he will remember where he was and who he was with when he reads it again later.

When I first started playing my fathers records, naturally I was drawn to "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". It became mine when I heard the tracks that weren't overplayed on the radio. That album came out only 7 years before I  was born but seemed from another time. If my son does the same, maybe he will stumble upon my Nirvana "Nevermind" CD. That album came out almost twenty years before he was born! Twenty years! What a gap. If 7 years was a lifetime for me then... what will a two decade spread sound like? The Beastie Boys album "Licensed to Ill" was one of the first tapes I bought on my own. A quarter century before he was born. To him... vintage. But the lyrics are timeless right? "Don't step out of this house if that's the clothes you're gonna wear. I'll kick you out of my home if you don't cut that hair."

As an avid collector of classic video games whether he will enjoy the games from a simpler time is a grey area for me. Will he have the imagination and patience left to be able to experience games in anything less that HD?  When we start playing together, where to begin? Do I introduce them after the fact as being retro and nostalgic or slowly trickle them out in chronological order so he can watch them develop as I did but on a much faster scale. If so, we need to start playing Pitfall on the Atari 2600 soon. He's not too spoiled yet to think those green splotches are alligators and naturally you need to jump over them.

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Will these things hold up? Will he tell me to turn that old stuff off? Who knows. My only hope is that he can appreciate them and although it's decades later maybe they will resonate with him at the right time and the right place as they did for me. Then again... maybe it will be his turn to teach me something.

 

 

Time for a break from flying

I wonder if other jobs have simulators that workers play while on break. I'm not sure who this guy is - but maybe he has a checkride coming up and his is just 'training'? I doubt it. We've got plenty of aviation geeks that can't get enough of it. I do like the fact that he carries a joystick with him in his bag for between flight - flights. I will admit that I have, on occasion, found myself playing a few psp flying games while on the pad awaiting a wheels up time - these are games though that involve guns and missles and things I can't do in real life

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Nana, Ms. Pac-Man and the One Armed Bandit

Nana in Virginia City While in Lake Tahoe, we took a trip to Virginia City where the ladies in the group were happy to find MORE slot machines. I followed my Nana waiting for it "to hit."

"No Christopher, this one is about to hit." She'd say.

Back at one of the casinos in Tahoe, while the others were gambling upstairs, I spent an hour and a few dollars in the gameroom trying to break the high score on Ms. Pac-Man. While there were many kids down there with me, none shared in my excitement as I came within a few thousand of EEE's score. Soon after I gave up on the record I got served by a little kid on Dance Dance Revolution. I thought I was a better dancer after a few beers?

Time for a break from flying

do accountants play accounting games on lunch break

I wonder if other jobs have simulators that workers play while on break. I'm not sure who this guy is - but maybe he has a checkride coming up and his is just 'training'? I doubt it. We've got plenty of aviation geeks that can't get enough of it. I do like the fact that he carries a joystick with him in his bag for between flight - flights. I will admit that I have, on occasion, found myself playing a few psp flying games while on the pad awaiting a wheels up time - these are games though that involve guns and missles and things I can't do in real life.

I was a Nintendo Fanboy at Five AM

I got to Walmart at 4:30 am armed with a large coffee and my hacked PSP ready to play an hour and a half of ExciteBike on a nintendo emulator until the store opened. The Wii was to go on sale at 6am and I was number 11 in line. Rumor had it there were at least 20 to go around and only one purchase per person. I was feeling pretty good except for the fact that it was too cold to play my psp and soon my coffee would be gone with nothing to keep me warm but the glow of the Coke machine I was leaning against. By the time the store opened, there were more than sixty in line. A few in line were there to buy ‘x-mas gifts’ but upon further questioning we all learned the game was for them. All the crowd was over twenty except for one kid that was with his mom. There was a mix of guys and girls in the line and not all the girls were there with their boyfriends/husbands. I was wearing a nintendo hat. I was there for myself!

The mission started the night before at 9:30pm. The Wii was to go on sale at midnight and after some searching online I found the nearest 24hour Walmart to be 30 miles away in Aberdeen, MD. I told Susan, “I’m going to Walmart, with or without you.” She said I had to drive. Off we go.

Ipod - Check.

PSP- Check.

Cellphone - Check.

Digital Camera - Check.

The line was already sixty deep when we got there. As I surveyed the situation I listened to the rumors circulating through the line.

“I hear they only have 30 Wii’s.” One said. “The cops are on there way, apparently this line will be considered null and void. The real line starts at ten.” Came from a little deaper in the pack. “Someone got shot in line for the Playstation 3! I think it was at a Walmart.” Near the back. More cop rumors were floating around and I did see some commotion bubbling at the front of the line. Although I felt pretty certain I wouldn’t be getting a Wii from this store, I was interested to see what was going to happen. It was a few minutes before ten and if this line was to be dispersed by the authorities I wanted a good view - from a distance. I told Susan things could get ugly.

The cops did come but not to disperse the line as suggested. The guys in the first twenty spots had been there for days and had self labeled stickers on their shirts identifying there place in history. Number one had a cleverly labeled note, “ONE”. Some guys had come in and started their own line with their own labels at the entrance to another door and the cops were called by the first pack to sort things out. Not the excitement I was hoping for but I did get to hear a fanboy say “those guys are cutting in line” to a Maryland State Trooper. I was hoping for a “no cuts, no butts, no coconuts”.

We left Wii-less.

Plan B was to hit the Walmart down the street from the house that opened at 6am. Back at the home I set my alarm and laid out my clothes and gear. I was out the door four and half hours later and in line!

Approaching the crowd of only ten I asked “Is this the line for the new elmo doll?”

He who had been waiting the longest (number one) had the strongest opinion of the joke. “F#@K OFF and go tickle this!” Soon he relaxed when we talked about Zelda and I gave him a piece of gum.

With less than half and hour to zero hour the manager came out and told us how it would go down. Although there were over sixty in line he told us up front there was only twenty units for sale. He counted the pack, (me at 11!) and told those over number twenty to leave unless they wanted to stay and shop for something else. Number one told them to stay and buy some pantyhose and toiletries.

The back of the pack slowly dispersed and a girl in front of me started feeling guilty that she would get one but a few moms in the back wouldn’t. Her friend, much like General Patton but in a zelda stocking cap, gave her support.

“You’ve earned this! We’ve earned this! We’ve waited! We haven’t slept! We’ve got a right to play Zelda from now until we have to pee or not pee - maybe poo! Don’t leave me now! Never leave a man behind! Never leave a woman behind in a line at Walmart with a bunch of nerds! Now get your money ready and lets buy us a Nintendo!”

Number one feeling guilty himself stopped to rethink his position as number one. Maybe the moms deserved a Wii more than him? “Hey lady, do you want my spot?”

“Of course!” She said turning back from her walk to the car.

“Two thousand dollars! And you gotta buy me some toiletries and a Tickle Me Elmo!” He yelled back and laughed until the manager walked back and suggested he keep quiet.

A few minutes to go. The manager told us this would be done real orderly. He’d let two in at a time and the consoles would be on sale at the front of the store. One per person and if you wanted any games or accessories you’d have to go to your car and leave the Wii there and come back. None of us felt this would be a good idea agreed we’d come back later for games.

I played the bundled sports pack until noon and went back for Zelda. For the few minutes I was there the phone rang non-stop in the electronics section. “We have no Wii’s and don’t know when there will be more” the clerk would answer without listening to the question. She told me she was ‘telapathetic or what ever you call it’ and then asked me if I could believe there was a bunch of ‘wierdo’s’ outside all night waiting for this thing?

I said, “What a bunch of nerds. Can you get me a Wii ‘Zelda’ from the counter?”

What’s on my dock

Undocked

As friends make the jump from windows to mac - I often get asked what mac apps to use? Where are some good places to get software? What's in your dock? Here is what is currently in my dock... some programs I use often - others I recently downloaded and need them visable so I remember to try them out. Most are free... I left out the standards "I" Programs. Itunes and whatnot.

My Dock

  • djay - Uses Itunes tracks with two digital turntables.. not sure what to do with it. But's it's fun to play with. Now I really have two turntables and a microphone.
  • quicksilver - A quick app launcher. the precurser to 'spotlight'. It works much faster than spotlight and has many plugins to make the program dig deeper into your computer. It searches bookmarks and address book entries as well as Ichat logs.
  • appzaper - They had it free one day. It's a great way to delete apps and makes a cool sound when deleting. Like uninstall for windows in that it deletes many of the leftover pieces of the programs when you zap.
  • Flame - Shows what services are being offered by computers on your network.
  • bluecoconut - Allows you to 'borrow' music from shared itunes libraries on local networks. Fun to use in airports when you see dozens of libraries. I like to walk around and try and identify the human with their playlist. Of all the libraries I've 'browsed'... regardless of how obscure or common - EVERYONE has The Beatles and Eminem.
  • senuti - Takes music from you ipod back to mac. itunes <> senuti.
  • vlc - A great media player. Plays most formats.
  • azureus - A bit torrent client. I like the RSS plugin that downloads recently posted torrents in the genre's you assign.
  • firefox - Webbrowser with many user created themes/plugins to enhance your browsing. The plugins I use most - All-in-one sidebar, Bigmenot, Del.icio.us, dictionary search, Digg This, Downloadthemall, Flashgot, Forecastfox, Foxytunes, Google Calendar Quick Add, Greesemonkey, IE View, PDF download, ReloadEvery, Stop-or-Reload Button, TrackmeBot, VideoDownloader.
  • istumbler - Finds hotspots.
  • vienna - Free newsreader.
  • google earth - Earth through the eyes of Google.
  • stellarium - Planetarium software that shows exactly what you see when you look up at the stars.
  • celestia - The free space simulation that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions.
  • skype - Free voice over IP client.
  • fire - A great instant messanger client.
  • second life - Virtual reality second world.
  • renamer4mac - Allows you to easily rename items in bulk.
  • deliciouslibrary - Catalog your home library. DVD's, games, books.
  • activity monitor - MenuMeters is a set of CPU, memory, disk, and network monitoring tools.
  • ipodder lemon - Podcatcher sometimes called 'juice'.

Menubar items

  • Todos - This is great program for launching, finding apps. It shows all apps on your mac by icon.
  • pod2go - Puts news and gas prices and weather and email on your ipod. audioscrobbler - Stats for itunes. Builds charts on your listening habits and shows 'friends' who have similiar listening habits. slimbatterymonitor - Replaces your battery icon with one that is a little more customizable. alarmclock2 - Wake up to itunes playlists.

I use http://del.icio.us to save my bookmarks online. The sites I've saved with the "TAG" mac are here. Most are lists like this one of mac software. http://del.icio.us/stork123/mac

My theme park - My babysitter

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I grew up in the theme park Busch Gardens and its water park sister Adventure Island. They were my babysitters. They were Grandma’s house. They were home. They were where I went when school was out for the summer, where I went when I was too sick for school or where I went when the parents didn't want me around for the day. They were where my sister and I did our homework and worked on after school projects. We weren’t latch key kids. We were turn style key kids. “Pick you up at the gate at 5” was as synonymous as “Don’t give your grandma a hard time.” Growing up, my parents both worked in management there. He was the VP of Marketing. She did the same but for the Special Events department. Both titles had there own distinctive perks for two spoiled theme park kids. Marketing, through the eyes of a child, was more about trade than advertising. We had plenty of coupons and free food cards to eat wherever the current ad campaign was partnered. One month it may be a stack of free Taco Bell tacos for dinner. The next we’d have our fill of subway six inch meatball subs.

Special events was hosting parties after the park closed. Often we’d pack up our homework and have to go to the park at sunset. After dining on whatever the banquet was serving for their guests we’d ride the rides until forced to do homework. The lure to finish was the promise of Churro’s and Strawberry Mirage’s for dessert from the stand outside the dolphin show. You might think the lure would be the actual dolphin show. When you’ve seen it as many times as we had it becomes no lure at all. Yet the dolphins get excited and jump through the same hoop for the same raw fish as last night?

During these events, the party would be held in one of the many themed sections of the park. The company would rent a section and have all the rides and shops open for them during their event. This would mean we’d have all the rides and shops open for us. Being that there were often more rides than people… there would be no lines. We’d have our run of the park. Ride all the rides we wanted or hit the water slides until our bathing suits wore thin. Often we’d not even get off the ride... they would just run it until we told them to stop or it looked as if we were too sick to continue.

The Python

The Python

Busch Gardens is an African based them park. Even though I’ve never been to Africa, I feel that I am somewhat of an expert. I grew up in the suburbs of Tampa but African craftsman, belly dancers and snake charmers were my neighbors. As a child, I could probably bang out a brass pot or weave a leather sandal given the right tools. 
My treasure map was the printed park map or Busch Gardens. My friends would play hide and seek in Timbuktu or in the Congo or take a nap along the train ride through the African plains. I would wait for my father along the eastern edge of Lake Victoria or outside Stanley Falls. I'd use my Busch Bucks to buy a pith helmet from the gift shop to go along with the rest of my theme park wardrobe at home. The place that kept me most entertained was the Sultans Arcade. If the parents were looking for me… they knew to look in the arcade. I grew up thinking how great it would be to work in a game room. (I was given that chance in high school and it wasn’t that great.) I was there for the release of all the great games of the late 70’s and 80’s. This was my babysitter and home away from home. Being that I was there every day the clerk would give me a key to open the game and manually trigger the switch to simulate feeding it a quarter. I was there the day Paperboy came out. I was there the day Dig-dug was delivered. I remember watching them take the plastic off Hard-Drivin. But I was also there when they wheeled some of the greats out to sell them off to bars or laundry mats. My games were shipped out to undeserving drunks who would actually pay money to play them.

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Walking around the parks now as an adult I have the nostalgic feeling of going home for a visit. Like seeing your babysitters house from an adult eye... things look a lot smaller. I am reminded of so many pivotal moments from my childhood. Where I fought with my best friend or where I was shutdown after revealing a crush on a schoolgirl. I can pick out the spots where I was scolded for arguing with my sister and where we’d both have to sit and do our homework until we got along.

Maybe one day I'll make it the actual Stanley Falls. I hope they sell Churro's.

Collection of pictures.

https://photos.cltampa.com/60-years-of-thrills-these-vintage-photos-of-busch-gardens-tampa-show-how-far-the-park-has-come/?slide=1&c034379

WHERE ARCADE GAMES GO TO DIE

WHERE ARCADE GAMES GO TO DIE

With not much on my plate yesterday I made the short trek out to Crabtown to see what it was all about. I figured if it was listed on the internet on a website devoted to classic arcade gamerooms and was ranked high on the most games list... I should check it out. Especially if Mapquest said it was just 9 miles away. I clicked on "map the scenic route" because it was going to take us to the heart of Glen Burnie, MD and all routes in Glen Burnie are scenic routes. As my buddy Ben said on our drive out, "If you're every feeling down about yourself, go to the Wal-Mart in Glen Burnie."

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