Negotiaton Tactics, Offered Free of Charge

Yesterday I took the day off work, largely so that I could look after Sam and Caleb during a development assessment. They were tested on cognitive abilities, fine motor skills, language development, etc., and they scored fine. At 23 months old, they scored between 21 and 27 months in all categories. So, while there were no serious concerns, everything's good.

However, the two women doing the testing, brought a kit full of toys and assessment tools. The kit, naturally, had one of everything they'd need. Unfortunately, that's not enough for twins.

One test involved turning on (or trying to turn on) a little flashlight. Big hit with Caleb, leading Sam to fall apart because, hey, flashlight! So Daddy took the flashlight from Caleb and gave it to Sam. Caleb falls apart. The flashlight goes back to Caleb, and Sam falls apart. And so on, until both boys are having a hard time catching their breath from all the crying and injustice. Other flashlights were demonstrated and offered, but they weren't THE flashlight. Finally, Daddy had to ask the testers to put away the flashlight, which of course would lead to twice the falling apart, but eventually reconciliation as there was no longer a flashlight to covet.

This is the way to end conflict, I think. Nobody gets the flashlight. Nobody gets the Northern Ireland. If you can't play nice with the Holy Land, we take the Holy Land away. (I'm sort of kidding with this, but it does seem to be working among Republican presidential candidates.)


Speaking of whom, I was listening to a radio report this morning about Guiliani's drop from the race. He said he was willing to campaign for McCain wherever he was needed and boasted that he'd give a McCain candidacy "one hundred percent." He added that people knew that anything Rudy did, Rudy gave one hundred percent.

You have to love the audacity of a person who only campaigned in 20% of the primaries thus far claiming they give everything the full additional 80%.

He still gets some credit, though, for not claiming to give one hundred and ten percent. Which I think we all agree is not possible.


A Tortoise Reflects on His Crushing Defeat

I went browsing in the local independent bookstore yesterday, only to discover amongst the hardcover new releases a book with the exact premise of one that I've been working on for about six and a half years. (David Milch, the TV writer, once told of a meeting he had with HBO in which he pitched them the idea of a show following Roman Centurions operating as a police force in Ancient Rome. "Oh," said HBO, "we're already making a show like that." This is like that, but somewhat worse.)

Fair play, as I've put work on hold since the onset of our twins, and truth be told, I was pretty bogged down, but this was still a hard discovery. I have, in one form or another, about nine completed chapters, about 230 or so pages, and that work now has nowhere to go. At the moment, anyway.

This news is part sad, part frustrating, and still somewhat liberating. I can let it go now, and hope and trust that the research I've done, the notes and outlining, if not the actual writing, might transmute into something else. Like the river I'd been writing about, it's going to find its way to the sea somehow.

The real moral of the hare vs. the tortoise story, by the way, is not that "Slow and Steady Wins The Race." It's "Distract the Rabbit!"


Where's Waldo?

Also pictured: Tower Bridge.

Fui Un Monito Espacial Con Curious George!

I presume that would be pronounced Curious Horhey, as opposed to Curious Yorj.

I'm back, and all is right with the world.

I would say that the smiles, attention, and finger-painted "Welcome Home, Daddy!" sign I received when I came home Friday night made up for how much I missed my family over the last two weeks, but I would be lying. And engaging in equivalence, from which one should refrain -- particularly when evaluating how much two weeks of absence counts in compensurate child care.

Anycow, it's good to be home.


A Quick Word While I'm Away

I promised updates, but this will likely be all I can do, and I've got about fifteen minutes to do it. So, an inordinal list:

  • Dublin has some things to offer the teetotaler. But not much.

  • The Kinks have never sounded better than when heard on an iPod while walking through a lower-middle-class residentail neighborhood in London.

  • Given the current state of the dollar, both cities are crazily expensive. A paperback book can cost $30 in London, and a small set price dinner at an Indian restaurant cost me $24. I took my suitcase to the laundromat, and they took me to the cleaners: $32 to wash all my underwear and t-shirts.

  • On top of which, one or two of the hospitalible shopkeepers of Bloomsbury have passed me unusable change. Romanian coins, innit? This is somewhat like the jerks who used to pass off Canadian coins in Boston.

  • Service positions in both countries are almost entirely immigrants from the newer EU countries -- Bulgarians, Romanians, etc. The Polish seem to have moved up the relative ladder to occupy most of the construction and manufacturing jobs. As in America, this influx of immigrants into un- or low-skilled positions has led to the prevailing idea that the Unemployed (about 4% in Ireland, 6% in the UK) "don't want to work."

  • Packer games are incredibly fun and engaging when seen from a UK bar. Even more fun when we win so handily. Like a one-sided snowball fight, that one. (Expatriate Patriot fans, though, aren't much fun at all.)

  • All things considered, I'd rather be in this picture:

See you on Friday!


Caleb, our resident daredevil, demonstrates the feet first and the face first styles of sledding.  That blur in the first picture is Sam, the safety-minded president of his booster club.

I am off to Ireland, then England.  I will update, if possible.  Pictures of Kirsten and the kids are traveling with me electronically, along with the music of the Kinks and Andrew Bird, and (in print) Zadie Smith's White Teeth  and The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet.  Feel free to read along.

Someone please keep an eye on New Hampshire.  And, sure, the Green Bay Packers.

I Never Thought I'd Say This, But...

Right on, Iowa! I'm proud of you.

One hundred thousand more democratic caucasers than EVER before!

Nicely done.

I now forgive you for those horrible three semesters in 1988 and '89.


The Latin Above Was Oddly Prescient

The boys had drainage tubes surgically installed in their ears today. This should eliminate their recurring ear infections, and very possibly make way for some astounding strides in language acquisition.

The attending nurse, ENT doctor, and anesthiologist all told us that Caleb and Sam would be cranky after coming out of the anesthesia. Like, really cranky. Inconsolable. Unlike anything you've seen before.

And they were.

But the medical folks also said that these were not going to be cries due to pain, only due to the confusion, fear, and discombobulation that follows anesthesia. After a nap and a bit to eat, they said, the boys would be back to normal, as if nothing ever happened at all.

And they were.


Meeting Santa (a tragedy in three acts)

I assure you, Mr. Nicholas, it's nothing personal.

Still -- have you considered a good shave? There's been a lot of improvements in personal hygiene in the last century or so, and many of us are beginning to think there's no real reason for excessive facial hair in the 21st century. I'm sure the red suit and the white fluff was all the rage in the 1860's, but we've come a long way since chattel slavery, hardtack, and the vapors.
Some folks object to the Gillette company for testing their products on animals, but given your reindeer practices, I don't suppose that would bother you. In any case, I highly recommend their "Mach 3" razor and "Edge" gel-based shaving cream.
And we could probably update the color scheme to colors outside the "mighty white" and the "cherry red." I like black and orange myself:
I know this might cross into issues with Halloween or, you know, trademark infringement, but I'm sure between yourself, Mrs. Claus-Nicholas, and all the elves, you'll come up with something...

Enjoy the off-season. See you next year!