Monday, May 11, 2015

Second Opinion

We had biscuits today.  My helpful six-year old starts to get the butter.  "We don't need it, we'll use this instead," I said, putting down a trial batch of honey butter I had just made, on the theory that old-fashioned snack food had to be healthier than modern commercial snack food.

"What's that?"

"It's a surprise.  Try some and I'll tell you what it is."

"I don't what that!  I want the regular!"

"Have a taste."

He licks my finger.  "I don't like that!"

He keeps protesting as the honey butter gets further down the table and more used up.  Finally he cries, "Oh, all right!", flounces to the end of the table, and gets his biscuit slathered.

By the time he's set himself back down in his seat, the biscuit is gone.  "I like that!  Can we have that all the time?"

That may be a new turnaround time for new foods.  As for the rest of the family, a three-way arm-wrestling contest nearly broke out between my husband and my teenage daughters over the last drop.  I think this one's a keeper.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Class of 1983

My husband met an old friend from high school last week in the small Mississippi town where they'd grown up 32 years ago . They chatted about their classmates from the white, middle class private school they had attended. Slightly less than half of the men had graduated from college and gone on to get jobs in business, teaching, and civil engineering. Slightly more than half of the men had not gone on to graduate from college. They were all dead, mostly from drugs or suicide. 10% of all the men in their class had committed suicide in the last five years. His friend noted that more men had died from their class than had died so far from his parents' class -- and his parents had graduated at the height of the Vietnam War. While the women had done slightly better, there had been fewer children born to the members of their class than had been in their class. It was a sobering experience.

I think we might have a problem, folks.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Milestone

Brighteyes finished the diagnostic tests (TABE) for the GED.  At 15, she aced every section except for writing.  She's finally starting to understand that my insistence that she write wasn't just Mommy being mean, but a skill she needs to master as well as she has the other skills.  Yay!

Monday, January 26, 2015

At 13 and 15, we decided the girls were old enough to start watching The Big Bang Theory this winter. They love it. (It doesn't hurt that we know/are people like that either.) My husband wants a copy of the Friendship Algorithm for his classroom. He says his students need the advice. I haven't got around to mentioning exactly how often it's re-run though. I don't want them watching it for 6.5 hours a week.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Invisible History of the Human Race

I just finished The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures by Christine Kenneally.  Kenneally examines how recent advances in science have changed our understanding of history and of people.  While DNA and genetic genealogy play a prominent role, they are far from the only subjects covered in this book.  One topic that caught my attention was economists' Nathan Nunn and Leonard Wantchekon's research on how the slave culture in Africa caused a climate of distrust that had lingered for centuries and was still stifling economic development to this day.  I couldn't help remembering all the times I've heard Mississippi people say they couldn't trust someone enough to go in business with them, and I wondered if a similar study had been done on how a similar culture of mistrust might be inhibiting economic development in the South.

Lit Crit: Welty, Salinger and Lovecraft

My husband is continuing to catch up on his literature.  He thought Welty was nice, but she waited until her very last story to say anything substantive.  Salinger, while technically a better short story writer than Welty, bored both of us to tears.  Like far too many Modern writers, he assumes that his "universal" experiences will continue to be so for every future reader, when in fact neither of us knew what he was talking about half the time.

Needing a break he turned to Lovecraft's fantasies, which are flawed but more substantive than I first gave them credit for being.  The very first Lovecraft story you read tends to be intriguing, but unforuntely they're all just rewrites of the same story, and only a couple stand out.  There's many writers I can say that about, but Lovecraft is the only one I know where you could take entire paragraphs from one story, insert it into another story, and not even disturb the flow.

Lovecraft's stories always made me want to give the writer a good swift kick in the shins for the way he glorified the fear of "things man was not meant to know/do".  As a child growing up right after the Civil Rights Movement I heard my fill of "things man was not meant to know/do" before I learned to read.  The "don't do thats" always hid a deep well of racism, sexism, homophobia, or some related form of good old identity hate.  It was not worthy of the least amount of respect, let alone the histrionic levels of terror it was supposed to engender.

But I was wrong and Lovecraft was right.  Demolishing the old justifications for institutionalized hatred did indeed cause a grotesque, shambling monstrosity to crawl out of the sewers and threaten to destroy all life on Earth if we don't immediately stop all progress and worship at it's hideous feet.

It's called the Tea Party.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Odd Squad

Fans of surrealist comedies like Gilligan's Island and The Addam's Family should check out PBS's new kid show ODD SQUAD It's about a department full of diminutive detectives who handle X-Files-style cases with tons of surrealist humor and a dollop of math/cognitive thinking skill. It's like a cross between the Sarah Jane Adventures, the original Electric Company, and a 70s comedy show like Rowen & Matin's Laugh-in or early SNL. There's plenty of jokes aimed at grownups, like a recent 80's flashback episode featuring Agent Oprah and her partner Agent O'Donahue (and their big hair).

And then there's the guest stars.  Last month the Kids in the Hall showed up for a hilarious British Manor House mystery.  Yesterday Henson Studios was on hand for an insanely funny "people turned into puppets" storyline.  Just don't get between the kids and the TV when it's time for a new episode to air.