Saturday, October 17, 2009

October Update

It is a possibility that my readership is dwindling.

I like to think that this is not the case. In fact, I assume that the longer I go between web log entries, the more hits I get, as devoted readers continue to click the link to my web site a couple times in the morning, once in the afternoon, and several times in the evening, and then more and more people join in the clicking fray. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine how many hits a web site gets, or else I would test this hypothesis using some kind of analytics program. For now, I'll treat it as a theory, like the theory of relativity, and assume that it is true because it falls under the umbrella of science.

Fatherhood

It turns out that I don't have much in common with 5-year-old boys. They like to talk about things that I don't care for, and I am frequently bored. Let's take last night as an example.

It was my turn to put the boys down. I gave them a bath and sat in their room while they toweled off and put on their pajamas. For people in their forties, toweling off and putting on pajamas takes less than a minute. For 5-year-olds, this task takes 7 hours unless they are prodded and coaxed and threatened. An argument broke out.

Max was upset because he had the idea of putting underwear on over his pajamas, superhero-style. Unfortunately, because he had put two pairs of pajamas on, and I made him take off the second pair, he watched in horror as Luke put underwear over his pajamas. You see, that was Max's idea. Max threw a fit. He shouted invectives at the brother born 20 minute before him.

Frankly, I wasn't interested in the argument. It was beneath me. So I just said things like, "It looks like there's no way out of this jam" and "Only one superhero wears his underwear over his pajamas, and that's Aquaman." Then I pressed my forefinger and thumb against the bridge of my nose and sighed. No one listens to me.

In case you're wondering how it played out, Luke put underwear on top of his head and hung his long soccer socks from each of the holes, making him a Super Rabbit of sorts. Max, seeing that Luke's version of a superhero differed from his, stopped throwing his fit, and covered his arms with socks. Both willingly brushed their teeth and succumbed to the ritual of reading books.

Good night, young superheroes. Now let me relax.

Weight Loss

When I rode in the Livestrong event in June, I weighed 194 pounds. A few weeks later, when Stan and Grey came up from Portland to visit, Grey noticed that several of us were fat and challenged us all to a weight loss contest. It was actually a smart contest. We must lose a certain amount of weight in two months, and stay below that target weight at a weigh-in five months later. If we fail to make our weight at either weigh-in, we must pay $75 to everyone else in the contest.

I was inspired enough to change my diet. No more grazing. No more apple fritters the size of my head. I permitted myself to eat whatever I wanted for breakfast and dinner, but I could eat only one dinner. No seconds. And just soup or salad for lunch. Given the fact that I lost 12 pounds in two weeks, you could imagine what my eating habits were before. Now I weigh 173 pounds or so, and I'm down to an A cup.

MS Bike Ride

In the summer, I got fired up about doing Leadville in 2010 on a singlespeed. Since I didn't sign up for any races this year, I treated the MS Bike Ride as if it were going to be a grueling event that required ferocious training. So I went on long weekend rides and did hill climbs and burst riding.

The MS Ride itself was laid back and charming. I camped with a bunch of other Adobe folks, but I rode on my own, at my own pace. The first day was a 90-mile ride around Whitbey Island. On the second day, I wanted to get back in time to see the end of the Colts game, so I rode the 70 miles averaging nearly 20 mph. This is fast for me. I was able to watch the end of the Colts game, which they won 14-12.

One drawback -- camping without a campfire is like having sex without an erection. For a man, I mean.

The First Week of School

Public school? Charter school? Private school? Try as I might, I couldn't avoid that discussion. We settled on public school.

The kindergarten teacher at our local public elementary school came by to visit us before school started. I looked at this as a positive sign. Also, our local elementary school shifted its budget a few years ago to prioritize small class sizes -- another positive sign. Unfortunately, that approach works for only a year or two in a good economy. In a bad economy, schools in bad neighborhoods shut down, and the poor kids flood into the neighboring schools, and the small class size advantage disappears as superintendents try for fairness.

I'll write about this some other time, but for now, let's just say that I have complex, conflicting opinions about race.

The first two weeks of school were rough. When I dropped the boys off while Wendy was working, I was shocked by the chaos. Instead of simply meeting in front of their classrooms, all the kids in the school, including the 70+ refugees from Senegal, met in a huge playground and lined up for their classes as the bell rang. Each teacher then led a class to their rooms, or tried to, as the different lines circled back and crossed each other. Children frequently spaced out and didn't keep up, so they ended up wandering around and crying. "I can't find my backpack!" It was heartbreaking.

Luke and Max each professed to hating school. As in, "I hate school. I have a tummy ache."

As expected, the kids have settled into a rhythm and now claim they love school. Just when I was thinking it wasn't such a bad idea to send our boys to a public Seattle school, we got a flyer yesterday that said one of the kids in the class has head lice, so we need to check the boys' scalps regularly for crawling critters. I'm trying to look at it as an adventure.

But I'm going to be doing some supplemental teaching.

Groundwork

As I continue to read mindless books and avoid creative endeavors of all types, I am laying the groundwork of a mid-life crisis. I imagine my mid-life crisis will not take the form of a sports car and young girlfriend. Instead, i expect to be kayaking in South America or sighing heavily between play dates. We'll see.