National Adoption Month. Where Do Storks Come From?

stork-and-baby
stork-and-baby

“Father?” Said the almost five year old. “Listen, there is something I’ve been thinking about. You and I have been watching a lot of classic television programing lately. Shows like Tom and Jerry and Dumbo and I’ve noticed that in them, often a Stork drops off a baby to Moms and Dads.”

“Yes?” I answer while thinking, “Here we go. It’s time to talk about his adoption story. Where’s Mom? It’s something her and I have had on our to-do list but just haven’t gotten to. Damn you MarioKart.”

“So in these shows,” He continues. “The families always receive their babies from flying Storks. They are dropped from the moonlit sky and the little ones float in under a full parachute safely to land on the doorstep of their eager families. I’ve seen a Stork drop little elephants, giraffe and humans. All sorts of things. But what I’m wondering is this. Who brings the Storks?”

“Uh, I’m not sure I follow?”

“Well. A Stork flying around with a baby llama is quite a sight. Clearly that’s not the Storks child. It doesn’t look like her. It doesn’t even have wings. The same with a baby alligator. The Stork is going to drop off the alligator to an alligator family. Why would a Stork be flying around with an alligator if not to drop it off at its real family? But why would she deliver a Stork to another Stork? Wouldn’t they be able to deliver their own baby? Is this why we never see them flying around with a baby Stork in the basket?”

“There is a lot to cover here?” I said. “Maybe we should wait for your Mom to get home. I think I’m going to go play some MarioKart.”

“I guess my question is this. Where do Storks come from?”

“Just so we are clear here, Son.” I ask him. “We are talking about Storks right? The bird.”

“Of course we are Father. What else would it be? I understand that when a Stork is flying around with a potbellied pig in her basket or cloth sack no one would guess that it is hers because the pig looks so different. Same with a baby zebra. But if the reason we never see Storks flying around with their own is because Storks deliver themselves… where do Storks come from?”

“Okay. First of all. Families are made of all types of animals. Moms and Dads adopt children from other species and they make beautiful families. Even when they look different and have different features. Sometimes a bird may have a donkey for a son and that is just fine. Or a monkey. Second. Storks do fly around with other Storks. Just not in the basket. Baby birds can fly too so they just fly alongside their parents.”

“Surely they can’t fly at birth. How do they get to their parents houses?”

“Magic.” I said.

“That’s not true.”

“A Genie in a bottle.” I answer.

“Like Aladdin?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t believe that answer either.”

“Amazon Prime. They come in those brown boxes.”

“Oh. That makes sense. Amazon drops off all the babies that way right? Then on moonlit nights, the Storks fly them to their families?” He asks.

“Yep. You got it. Until the drones take over. They will put all the Storks out of business.”

“Oh. One more thing?” He asks. “Am I adopted?”

“Yes. And we love you very much.”

“Thanks Dad. Can we order a sister from Amazon?”

On Fatherhood: Almost 40 With a 4 Year Old

headphones

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.

pitfall-1

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.

 

 

I Fear My Son Will Think I Don't Read

Bookshelf-Wallpaper
Bookshelf-Wallpaper

I fear my son will think I don't read... or listen to music... or vacuum since that task has been assigned to the robot.

It's been years since I bought a physical book and I can count the number of physical CD's I've purchased in the last decade. I have neither of these things laying around as conversation starters for him to ask about. That being said, I read on my Kindle every day and spend hours around the house with my Ipod and at least one earbud jammed in my skull.

For all he knows though, I'm watching My Little Pony on the tablet or doing "the letter game" since that's what a tablet is used for in his world. And for physical copies of music, I listen to vinyl with him since he likes to watch the turntable spin around. He probably thinks the evolution of media is from cassette to CD and then on to vinyl. I'm sure he assumes the retro Fisher Price turntable Target sells was just recently invented too.

Fisher-Price-Record-Players
Fisher-Price-Record-Players

I've wondered how his world will be different as we've moved to digital media.

We don't have cable so he doesn't know about channels nor does he have any concept of having to wait for his show to start. He chooses the programs he wants to watch on Netflix by pointing to the TV and saying "That one, Please" while we select it with the clicker (we don't call it clicker). It starts immediately.

He doesn't know what commercials are and has yet to be programmed to want a particular toy for that reason (See This Great Old Blog Post I Wrote About This). The only thing we watch that isn't streaming is the "News" at 6:30. "It's your turn?" He will ask. "Are you going to watch the NEWS?"

Since it's an over the air digital broadcast it gets pixelated when it rains unlike the streaming HD he is used to. He must assume we are so old fashioned with our fuzzy screens and non-voice activated clickers.

I'm thinking about buying up some of the cardboard books they have on display at IKEA to show off their bookshelves so at least we can have a lesson on the printing press.

"You can keep the shelves, I've got plenty of empty ones at home. How much for the cardboard books?"

Better yet, maybe I'll buy bookshelf wallpaper.

Watching the Wheels in Motion

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"In our personal lives, also, we journey from ignorance to knowledge. Our individual growth reflects the advancement of the species.” Carl Sagan

Watching Judah's brain develop is fascinating. All those cliches about learning something new every day and growing before your eyes are tired and true but are overused for a reason. They are correct. Carl Sagan said it in Cosmos and I've been watching the history of human development on a microcosmic scale for the last three years. We started with grunts and gestures and cave drawings and have moved into the basics of verbal communications. The other day I watched him build a little Stonehenge in the sandbox and realized it wasn't a timepiece or temple it was just a cool exercise in how many rocks can we get standing upright before they all fall down.

Some of the most fascinating parts of my day are watching him when he doesn't know I'm watching. I sneak up and watch him through the window at school or in this case hide a camera in his room when he's supposed to be napping. Yes, there will be time a time when he needs his privacy and I'll stop spying on him but as long as he needs me to wipe is behind I think I have the right to record him at play and publish it to YouTube. (At least I figured out what all the hammering was.)

Now, admittedly, this video isn't for everyone. It's an hour of naptime condensed into 3.5 minutes. As his dad though, I sat through the unedited version riveted and on the edge of my seat anxious to see what may happen next!

I used to watch alot of Fanny at my Nana's house

Plenty of sick days from Grade School were spent at my Nana's in Tampa watching this show from her king sized bed. I think it was on at 1pm while she was watching Days of Our Lives in the other room. (Side note - I threw up on her new carpet one day and while she was yelling at me for puking she started throwing up too. As a result, if it was "Bridge" day, I'd sleep in the back of her car in her friends driveway while they were inside drinking Martini's and playing cards. The ladies were afraid I had a weak stomach and would ruin their carpet.)

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6 hours ahead to 3 hours behind

On Woensdag (Wednesday), we left Amsterdam for Reno. Well, we attempted to leave Amsterdam for Reno. The daily Usairways flight from AMS to PHL was full and rather than roll the dice on one flight we figured a safer bet would be to roll the dice on two relatively full flights out of Frankfurt. And if we didn't make these flights? Hey, we get to spend the night in Germany! Fortunately, we had three days to meet my folks and grandparents in Reno. This was Wednesday and we were to meet them Friday.  We bought two tickets on the ICE train to Germany. It's a highspeed train that tops out at 175MPH between cities! Although the room we were in held six, we only shared it with one lady who played Sudoku in German. Sudoku is the international language of road warriors.

ice train

Upon arrival in Frankfurt, we only had an hour before the first of our two options for the states so we sprinted straight for the ticket counter. This flight was to Charlotte and from there we had a few options to get to Phoenix and then off to Reno.

I didn't have to understand German to know the agent wasn't happy about us showing up an hour before departure for an international flight. I'm bearded with a backpack, smiling telling her, "Today, tomorrow, next week. Whenever. No stress." 

"Run!" She says. "You may make it."

So much for pleasantries.

At security I got manhandled. I should have paid him for the attention he gave me. Security was both fast and friendly and done at the gate so the line was short. (The boarding was nearly finished so there was no line.)

airbus 330

We were the second from the last of the free loaders to get on and sat separate from each other which was unfortunate because typically I get the meaty portions of Susan's meal. My seat mate didn't seem too interested in abliging me in my coachclass habits. "You gonna eat your fat?"

Landed in CLT and I made the command decision to call it a day and spend the night in a hotel. The Phoenix flights were full - as were the connecting flights to Reno and rather than spend all day cramped in a plane, we'd rest and try again in the morning. I called the same hotel we stay at with the airline since it has several nasty food options within a walk that all sounded pretty good after a day of traveling - Waffle house, Cracker Barrel and some sloppy buffet place with squeaky green beans and overly buttered rolls.

Looking at the next days flight options, the most open westbound flight was an early San Francisco flight that would get us in at 9am PT. We could spend the day in San Francisco and then take an early morning Gotobus to Reno for $30 each. We found this option after Googling, "bus Reno from San Francisco".

gotobus

And this is where we are now... hours from the bus ride to Reno! The bus caters to the casino crowd and with a few extra bucks you can buy some chips for Harrah's and get a free steak. Since the bus leaves from Chinatown, I'm hoping it's full of aging chinese ladies off for a day at the casino. And us, two weary travelers with bulging backpacks and well used ipods.

Dutch appliances puzzle us

So after a few weeks I think we've finally figured out how to use the appliances on the houseboat. We downloaded a few manuals, asked around a bit but ultimately it was trial and error that came through. The clothes do finally come out smelling clean but still incredibly wet and while we still haven't figured out the dryer, this may be the reason it takes a few cycles to dry. As you can see, most of the numbers seem to correspond with times but it's the sequence in which you push buttons that hasn't come easy. Most of the panel buttons give you an 'ERR' if pushed at the wrong time. And two "start" buttons? For a few tries, I thought CENTRIFUGEN was a spin cycle, but - still wet.

Since Snelfoto signs hang near 1 hour photo booths, Snelwas naturally means quick wash. Granted - all this would be easy with Babelfish (yes - from HGTTG), but I prefer to speculate while on vacation. I've been on a digital diet.

 

And look at the DRYER!.  Dryer

There is a display that isn't photo'd that gives a series of icons to correspond with the letters. A few shaded water drops versus a few unshaded water drops? Several shaded suns rather than a few unshaded ones? And you don't have the option for a bit of both.

"I'd like three dark water drops next to a solid white sun?"

We've come up with "A" a few times seems to do the trick.

Interesting feature - you have to drain the water pan every couple of cycles. Rather than spit the water out into drainage - it collects in a pan under the machine. Pure spent water from a days activities!

And it does spin

Originally uploaded by stork123

This windmill is down the road from the houseboat. It's spins in the evening and is on the tourmap for travelers. There is a bar below the windmill and next to it is a eetcafe that we stop by most everynight for a drink before heading home. With our bikes locked up a few feet away and guidebooks safely stashed in our bag, we mock tourists who get off the bus for the "windmill photo." I've taken at least twenty. What's been nice about this landmark is it's pretty easy to see while bike riding to help point us in the direction of home. Also on the "hey we live near that" list is the Artis. If we can find the artis, we can find home. But, since we've been peddling around for the past few days, we've become damn near carrier pigeons when it comes to our directional sense. The first week we took public transit (which is exceptional) since it was a bit rainy but the last week the weather has been great and everywhere we go is via bike.

I've got a bike - you can ride it if you like

We spent the day peddling around Amsterdam... the first sunny day since we've been here. The houseboat comes with two bikes and we set out this morning to first see the De Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam and then ride around town some. The Botanical Garden was suprisingly close to our neighborhood by bike... but after a day of peddling, we found that most things are pretty close! (More on the gardens in another post, as well as our trip to the Tropenmuseum yesterday.) Although the gardens were beautiful and the butterfly house was awesome, I had the most fun just riding around and acting Dutch. With ipod in and proper hand signals given for turns, I did my best to keep with the flow through town. Each road has bike lanes on either side as well as traffic lights for bikers alongside the lights for foot traffic.

One of our favorite neighborhoods in Amsterdam is Jordan (yor-Dahn). We peddled there for groceries even though there are several markets near the boat. We bought our dinner on the other side of town so we could fit in more with the locals as we peddled with groceries strapped to the bike. The Dutch are born with impeccable balance. We rode behind an older man with what appeared to be a musical instrument strapped to his back, several bags on his sides and a fifty pound dog in the front basket. Amazingly, he still had the dexterity to use a free hand to tip his hat at friends!

After navigating through the congestion today, it gives me a great appreciation for the parents I see with kids strapped to their bikes and groceries on their backs. We had some trouble near the end of the ride just getting going from a stop. Imagine the bikers we'd pass that have piggybackers riding side saddle on the rear tire?

Even though it's overcast and rainy - it's so green. Our 3 weeks in Amsterdam

Maybe it's because I understand about one word in one hundred here (often it's not the sexual reference I think), but there is much less talk about protecting the environment and much more action here in Holland. Each day I see something else that seems so simple but in the US it would be revolutionary. Like all the other quick fixes (personal debt, weightloss, hair growth), we Americans obviously look for the magic bullet rather than lots of small fixes for the greater good.

  • Bikes, obviously. America spent billions building the interstates in the 50's. Damn near every road in Amsterdam has a bike path attached to it. Old, young and rain or shine - people are out peddling around. How refreshing it is to see an old man peddling to work chewing gum and whistling... How bad could your day be knowing that you get to ride your bike home?
  • Toilets with a flusher for number one and a flusher for number two. Although, I tossed a few spiders in the WC and wasn't sure where they fit it... To be sure, I hit number 2. "Shock and Awe" bitches.
  • Walking by stores, I wonder if they are open... its dark in there. It's dark by our standards. Sure those spiral fluorescent lights are greener - but these guys just don't use lights unless need be! How easy is that? Granted, this time of year its bright out from 5am to 10pm. They may burn seal oil day and night come winter?
  • Much smaller trash cans? Maybe it's the houseboat neighborhood here but everyone has much smaller trash cans outside? Do they use less prepackaged foods and eat more local produce? Do they burn the garbage in the oven or throw it in the canal? Either way, i thining about the amount of trash we produce and what we can do to re-use.
  • Everyone brings their own bags to the market or uses shared bags that other shoppers drop off in a bin. Rather than springing for the Trader Joes branded bags advertising how 'green' we are... we need to just use a sack.

Now, Susan and I just need to take what we've seen here and try and implement more into our routine at home. All I know for sure is I can't wait to build the disco shower from here on the boat at home. Which will mean 20 min showers under stobes on a nightly bases! But I'll be sure to hit the one flusher after number one!