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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Slipped my mind

I think I'm supposed to write something about Happy Holidays and cherishing family and joyous wonder, peace and equality and respect and resist consumerism and do good works and what are my hopes for the New Year.

Suck it I'm going to Disneyland for Christmas. In fact, I'm next door right now and if it weren't for the whole "you have to spend time with family at Christmas, so go visit relatives" thing (which I am completley okay with and enthusiastic about, seriously, because I love these people, but Disneyland has Star Tours) taking up time today, I'd be at Disneyland right this very second as well.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Sunday, December 21, 2008


That place, that well-spring of violence and condescension, of fevers, earaches, scratches, bruises, tears, blood, and No, God Please Don't Bring Any Juice, is, after all, not entirely evil.

Erin is actually learning some things in the daycare environment that are not pounded into her by older kids or grown from the seeds sown by her slightly-negligent father. She has learned how to put her baby doll down for a nap. And she has also learned how to save her dad some quarters at the laundromat.

Our first couple of weeks at daycare were Shakespearian tragedies starring Erin's accoutrements. The teachers refused to put bibs on the kids, and expected them to sit in their little tiny chairs at their little tiny tables with open cups of milk and bowls of yogurt, and like the asylum inmate confirming everyone's suspicions, they expected different results from the same actions every day.

And we washed. Erin went through two or three changes of clothes every day.

And while I was there during snack time to co-op each week Erin was standing up every two minutes to take a lap, trailing her yogurt spoon behind or dropping pieces of whole wheat (No God Please Don't Bring Anything with Eggs) bagels on the floor. It was utterly demoralizing to see that she just wasn't as polite or patient as some of the other kids. It had everything to do with me as a parent. I never enforced sitting down, staying still, not-wandering-off time at home and now everyone was paying the price because I sent a wild monkey to daycare. She was getting her first "F" in life, and it was at "Manners."

Now, though, as if to deliberately thumb their collective noses at all of those people who define insanity as "doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results", the daycare teachers have succeeded. Erin comes home now in the same outfit she was sent in. She sits through her entire snack. She drinks from open cups and wields her spoon with surgical dexterity. And her cute factor has increased exponentially.

"Mo' pease," she says. Or "mo' mik pease." And now that she is a fully developed little adult, tossing her mature requests about, I suddenly can't keep up.

I used to feel like she was changing and maturing no faster than I could adapt; that I was growing as a father as quickly as she was growing as a child. But now she's shifting gears. She is speeding up to take the green flag and I'm the pace car leaving the track after a couple of laps. (Cars has been on all day today. This post does not exist in a temporal or cultural vacuum. Disney owns part of my soul.)

I know I ought to be learning how to decline requests just as quickly as she is learning how to make them; that when she asks for her 80th oz of milk in the day that I should say no. But her casual "mo' pease" is like a tunnel under the fence: it breaches my defenses before I even realize I'm under siege. (I was also remembering my Caesar and Vercingetorix and you can bet the Romans are thankful that the Gauls didn't try using cuteness to break the Siege of Alesia.)

What makes it even more irresistible is that she signs her requests; she is more emotive and compelling when she puts her fingertips together for "more" and then swoops her hand around her chest for "please". I feel like I might be able to keep up, to fend her off, if she weren't also assaulting me with her cute little gestures.

And so she's been getting a lot of milk lately. Dad can't say no.

Today for some reason her language exploded again and she started putting even more polite requests together. "Mo' tota pease" when her grandmother called; "Mo' juice pease"; "Mo' piggy pease".

"Mo' kiss pease," just before bed as we were kissing her goodnight.

"Mo' kiss pease," and she urged us to delay the end of day.

"Mo' kiss pease," and her mother obliged over and over and over, like any sane person expecting the same result each time.

But Erin's daycare teachers have made us question what we know about sanity: Erin can drink from a cup and only wears one shirt each day. And she's outpacing her mother too.

"No mo' kiss. Night-night."

That's how you have to be when mom won't stop kissing you goodnight and just let you go to sleep already even though you're the one who started it. And that's how you get an "A++" in "Manners."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rez Stories: Christmas Wheels

One of the great recreational activities for kids on the Island, and on much of the Rez it seemed, was to ride ATVs. Four-wheelers and three-wheelers seemed to be everywhere. The kid down the road from me had a full-on Fat Cat motorcycle.

I had a ten-speed. Someone else's ten-speed. I think it was my aunt's.

I used to take my borrowed ten-speed and pedal my way up and over the Seaway International Bridge (not quite as long as the Golden Gate Bridge, but not much shorter), inexplicably fearless of the traffic on the bridge and the lack of a bike lane. I pedaled across the bridge at 10, 11, and 12 to get to the smelly little industrial town on the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence River; the town where my skate-rat friends lived and my middle school used to be.

I was pretty envious of the kids and cousins who had full-sized and miniature ATVs to sport around the Island; to take the back trails down by the river or to ride the paved road from one side of the Canadian Customs Crossroads to the other. To an adolescent with a ten-speed the ATVs were ubiquitous. And fast. And awesome. They were an escape that didn't involve a ride over a terrifying bridge hoping that today wouldn't be the day a car spun you over the safety rail into the St. Lawrence below.

It never crossed my mind that we were poor, even by rez standards; that we just couldn't afford the kinds of toys some of the other families could, or that no one (apart from me) put much value in those big outdoor toys when compared to things like making the bathroom in the house safe for human use. I don't think we were poor. But I don't know. I had a Nintendo. And a Power Glove. And a tv in my room. But maybe we really were poor. One Christmas the Basket Wagon showed up with a food and gift basket for us. That was weird and unexpected, and my mom wasn't home when they arrived so when my sister and I opened the two gifts in the basket I ended up with a pink plastic doll set and she ended up with, I think, a bunch of cars. That one Christmas may do a lot to account for how I am now.

Another Christmas my grandfather, my tota, showed up with a gift for me that I could never have imagined. He was always taking a special interest in me, or so I felt; my sister and I lived off the rez for most of our childhood, but he was a fixture in our lives even off the rez: he was a legendary lacrosse player, and he taught me how to play well enough that I was moved up a couple of levels in the Nepean Knights lacrosse organization as a kid; seeing how scrawny I was he tried to teach me how to box, because there was authority in violence on the rez; noting my interest in pool he helped teach me in his bar and his basement; discovering that I was thinking about delaying my entrance to the University of Toronto for lack of funding (I didn't apply for any student loans until late) he brought me back to the rez and pressed a roll of hundred dollar bills into my hand and told me I was going to school; I was supposed to be the first Burns with a college degree (despite his efforts I still managed to drop out after a year, move in with a girl, and stay out of school for a long time; my sister was the first, and she's the writer of the family). I never felt like anything except his grandson when I was around him. I never felt like the white kid in an alien world.

That Christmas he brought me outside and opened the garage door, the garage door to the house my family was living in, the house he had built decades earlier to house his own growing family. He revealed, behind that door, my very own motorized vehicle. He must have heard my bitching and moaning about the other kids and their ATVs; he must have known that I was feeling, once again, like a bit of an alien on the rez. I was the kid without a four-wheeler; the kid who flipped three-wheelers over on himself; the kid who didn't understand how to ride one while owning the throttle. I was the kid who biked off the rez, over the bridge into the smelly little industrial town at every opportunity, to play with skate-rats and smokers, non-Indians and white-trash, because I never felt at home on the rez.

But being a grandfather he could hardly be expected to understand that bringing me a mo-ped wasn't exactly going to make me one of the cool kids on the Island. It was orange. It had pedals. It ran on some mixture of gasoline and oil that I never did figure out.

I was miserable in my gratitude. I understood what he had done, but I also understood precisely how he had gotten it all wrong.

I feigned enthusiasm, and I rode the mo-ped. I used it like a bike (being between ten-speeds at the time), but it didn't have the kind of pedal power to take me over the bridge. Being young and underappreciative I never tried to fill the tank with the gas/oil mixture it required to run; I would use it as a bike, but I'd never embarrass myself by trying to out-motor the kids who had real ATVs.

When I wiped out on the ice the first time and bent the right pedal arm far enough that it struck the motor housing every time I pushed, I was certain my days of riding it were over. But I had no other transportation. So I rode it, pedal-click, pedal-bink, pedal-rattle, pedal-crack. When I wiped out on the ice the second time (I kept taking it on the back trails as I would a bike, but it wasn't a bike) and broke the hand-brakes off the handlebars I had to stop riding it. I had no way to brake. So not only was my propulsion impeded by the clicking pedal and the lack of multiple pedaling gears, but my braking was at an end. I could neither go nor stop on this orange geek-maker.

And so I returned my moped to the garage attached to the house my grandfather built to house his growing family, the house now occupied by his daughter and her two children, and I hoped another bike would come along. Because in the realm of ATVs I couldn't be seen on an orange mo-ped with a bent pedal and no brakes. That would be wearing not only my geekiness, but my poverty on my sleeve for everyone to see.

I did have a Nintendo and straight A's. But I couldn't ride a four-wheeler to save my life.

And when a bike came along I once again returned to the smelly little town across the river, and forgot about the orange mo-ped in the garage with the bent pedal and broken hand brakes. And about the effort my tota once made to try to make me feel at home.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Entirely True Ghost Story

The hotel looks gothic, and then Southern Gothic, and then like a Catskills resort. It spins through incarnations of hotelier fantasies, and my back tires spin in the ditch.

I resign myself to approaching an obviously haunted hotel because, as the wheel turns, there is nothing to the world beyond the short stretch of road I've managed to evacuate. The world emerges from fog behind me, and disappears into fog ahead.

Why is it always fog that confounds existence in terrifying stories? Makes us doubt the reality of the world beyond? Fog is a metaphor: Recollections are hazy, drinking clouds the mind. Fog is a good metaphor, because in the real world fog is more occluding than nightfall. In the dark at least there is no illusion of reality, just certainty of solitude. In the fog the world taunts with its absence. Fog offers hope of reality just outside of view, hope where there is none.

Hope that there is a world beyond the hotel. The creepy, eerie hotel coalescing out of the fog as I approach.

And why are hotels such eerie edifices? Is it that they are by nature waystations, places of waiting with no permanent residents, un-homes full of the un-homed and therefore easily associated with sad spirits. Is it that hotels are metaphors, metaphors as good as fog but precisely opposite? Fog wards existence round; hotels are existence, writ small and manic.

This hotel in particular is eerie just because of its appearance. It looks like a trap.

Of course it's a trap. It is a building with no distinct shape rising out of a shifting fog on a road to nowhere from nowhen. But it is irresistible. 

I cross a threshold exposed by slowly swinging doors, and step onto a carpet worn thin by use rather than mystic age. The foyer of the hotel is cold, and hallways disappear into the darkness to the left and right. The carpet leads to a wide staircase with wooden banisters. But as I step onto the stairs to begin a necessary ascent they writhe beneath my feet and transform into a dank stone spiral. I use the now-stone wall to support me in my climb to the distant top.

As my eyeline crests the ultimate stair I take in the expected scene: an endless hallway lit by ensconced torches. It is so predictable that I can't even muster nervousness, much less the quaking fear it seems the hotel hopes to inspire. I begin a routine stroll down a hallway free of dust and cobwebs but completely obstructed by cliche.

And then the hotel reveals its bait, a diaphanous, glowing form with an ageless face but ancient eyes. She waves me forward and I comply, sighing inwardly at the cloying tradition of it all.

"So. Now we spend eternity together in a spinning dance of hopelessness?" I ask, knowing the answer will only confirm the suspicions I have had ever since my car found the muddy ditch in the fog.

"No, there is no dancing. There is no touching. I cannot touch you. That is not why you are here."

"Ah. So, perhaps I am here because I am a striking copy of your long-dead lover who betrayed you and only now joins you in your damnation?" I've seen too many movies to not be able to eventually figure out what the future holds for me in this in-between place.

"No. You are not here for me. You cannot save me, or join me. You are not here for me. You are here for him." And she points her insubstantial but lovely chin over my shoulder. I turn and there is another glowing form standing in the hallway, this one apparently male, but completely nondescript, forgettable.

"What do you want, ghostly form exuding menace?" He doesn't answer. So I ask the other, "What does he want?"

"Food," comes her sad reply.

"Food? I'd prefer to stay here and dance." Turning back to face the diner I mock, "And besides. You can't even touch me. You're a ghost in an eerie hotel. You can't touch me."

"Yes," he ripostes, "I can."

And he can. He's worn the carpet down, and I am another victim of the lying fog.


Sometimes I hate waking up in the morning. But not that morning.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Discipline and Manipulation

The Terrible Two's have come early. I'm going to blame daycare rather than my particular brand of lax parenting during Erin's first year and a half. I'll say that the increasing incidents of biting, pushing, and hitting have everything to do with what Erin is learning from a slightly older, out-of-control girl at daycare and nothing to do with me doing everything possible in her first year and a half to ensure that she always felt like she owned the world.

I have experimented a little with different forms of behaviour modification. Once, when Erin persisted in standing up in the bath tub I unleashed my Dog Voice on her. This isn't a yell. It's a bark: a sharp, loud, clipped delivery that grew out of years of living with dogs. It works perfectly on them.

"ER!!-in. SIT. DOWN."

She sat. And she cried. Betrayed.

What an unfair dilemma. I have a way of inspiring canine obedience in her, but it also destroys her innocent soul. The Dog Voice is an Apple from the Tree, and if I offer it to her she learns too much, too early, about the world.

Another method I've tried is Outlast Mode. Emily has really lucked out in in marrying someone who is as childish as her toddler. I've won lots of games of "Down?"--"No. I love you" that involve me holding a squirming Erin who wants to run around in some unsafe environment. As many times as she can say "down" in a row, I can keep going on "No. I love you" autopilot forever. Eventually, she gives up. But Outlast Mode really only works for verbal behaviour that needs to be changed. I can't play the "Stand up" "No. Sit down" game forever in a situation like tub-standing. I need her to know that it isn't okay to stand up in the tub, and I need her to know it immediately.

But without making her cry. I think. I think I need her to know it without making her cry. But as she gets older I get less nervous about just throwing that Apple at her.

There are other situations that seem to warrant Apple-throwing, and since daycare has entered our lives these situations are multiplying. She wants to hit, now. And she wants to push. Pushing is a weird game with her. She'll ask, "pu-ush?" while she grabs my hand and pulls until she lets go and then drifts backward, arms flailing in a Horizontal Vertigo. She's framing me for pushing her.

Her hitting and pushing of other kids looks so detached, so unemotional, that I almost worry that she lacks empathy. "It's not that I think she's a psychopath," I assured Emily one morning after dropping Erin off and watching her little games at daycare, "it's that I think these are the things psychopaths never outgrow." (That was a joke, folks. I made a baby-psychopath joke. It's okay to laugh. It's okay not to laugh. I'm not really funny.)

But then she'll spend even more time consoling hurt toddlers, patting them, wondering what made them so sad (if it wasn't her, that is, since in that case she knows perfectly well what made them so sad), that I'm certain she doesn't lack empathy at all: she's a font of it. She loves to hug and kiss, and if these weren't also usually unwelcome by nervous toddlers she'd have a reputation as the friendliest kid in town.

She could be faking it, though. She could be a brilliant manipulator. In addition to the pushing (mostly of the girls, mostly of a smaller girl just as she is pushed and hit by a larger girl, and mostly of a smaller girl who also gets most of her positive attention), when she has seen that pushing is not approved by her victim or her teachers, she'll start to offer kisses. And it's usually the boys who get those kisses. And it's usually the boys who have something she wants who get those kisses. (Shoot me.)

While I'm more and more motivated, recently, to unleash the Dog Voice when I see behaviour like pushing or hitting, it isn't going to work with more subtle behaviour like being manipulative. And shifting into Outlast Mode doesn't seem right here either.

The last weapon in my arsenal is the Telepathic Staredown. Once, when she was rocking a glider ottoman too fast and violently, about to knock her snack plate off (why was the snack plate even on the ottoman, dad? Oh, right. You were too lazy to put her into her high chair for snack. You brought this on yourself, you know.), I started a contest of wills with her. I froze her with a Telepathic Stare and I used every ounce of strength I had to not crack a smile, because I knew smiling meant defeat.

She smiled first.

But I didn't immediately relinquish my control of her soul; I kept staring, sending her the silent message that it was not okay to push that ottoman over, and eventually her smile faded and she looked contrite. I had won! I had won a battle of wills with a wilful toddler!

And for the next fifteen or twenty minutes it really seemed to have changed her behaviour in a genuine way. She started looking to me for permission to do things, assurance that it was okay. It was such a drastic difference from the effect of the Dog Voice, which was immediate compliance accompanied by intolerable distress, that I banked it for later use.

So today when she insisted on pulling a drawer out of the small table in the hallway, a drawer at head height that can possibly be pulled out enough to land on her head and leave her in a slobbering puddle, I initiated the Telepathic Staredown.

And proving that I'm not he only one who is learning how to handle unwelcome behaviours my Little Innocent came running at me with pursed lips, promising a kiss. And when, surprised and pleased, I broke the stare and ceased sending the telepathic signals to her brain I pursed my own lips and opened my arms wide, she stopped, smiled an evil little grin, and went back to pulling the drawer out.

"I win, guys."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Little Guru

It is easy to forget, in the middle of the night when she insists that she is certainly no longer tired and that she would like some water, milk, pizza, a Nintendo Wii, or Australia, that she is an adorable little guru, teaching deep lessons deeply at the same time that she is learning deep lessons deeply.

I infer that one of the routines at daycare, one of her lessons in childhood, is a naptime ritual. They will pull the mats out, lay the kids out on them (though not with a left hook), cover them with blankets, and then use a series of soft pats and back rubs accompanied by "shhh. shhh," to put the kids to sleep (though not in the Sending to a Farm in Upstate New York sense).

I infer this because she will, on occasion (every day, six or twenty times), pull a "mat" out (in actuality a seat back pocket storage bag for the car), lay her baby doll out on it (though not with an uppercut), cover it with a blanket, and then use a series of soft pats and back rubs accompanied by "shhh. shhh," to put the baby doll to sleep (though not in the Goldfish Toilet Funeral sense).

She has learned this lesson deeply.

This morning as I sat her in her high chair for breakfast, buckling her in for safety before setting down her plate of eggs, buttered whole wheat mini-bagel and banana, I was arrested in my progress by the most distressing sight I can imagine.

She had pulled the mat out, lain her baby doll out on it...

...and then nothing. Because dad swooped her up and buckled her in her high chair for safety before setting down her plate of eggs, buttered whole wheat mini-bagel and banana.

But she teaches her lessons deeply, my guru. Because without so much as an imploring gaze or whimpering mewl about an incomplete routine, without any indication at all that she was interested in the world beyond her plate of eggs, buttered whole wheat mini-bagel and banana, I reached down and covered her baby doll with a blanket, and then used a series of soft pats and back rubs accompanied by "shhh. shhh," to put her baby doll to sleep (in the Kid, You Made Me Dad sense).

I am not just her dad because of her. I am Dad, overflowing with Dadness.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mortality and Murder

The small spider in brown inched across the carpet, and the small toddler in brown followed behind.

"I want to know what you are doing, Mr. Spider. What is it you are doing? Hey guys, what is Mr. Spider doing?"

As she peered at him, and crouched to take a closer look, the tall woman in blue interrupted. "Oh, baby, let's get a piece of paper and put the...."

And the tall man in black pressed his foot in Nike down, sponging the carpet but not enough to save the spider, victim of a father's casual over-protective murderous instinct.

"Pidey?" "Mr. Spider? Guys? Where is Mr. Spider guys?"

"I was going to say "Let's get a piece of paper and put the spider outside.""

"Oh. Sorry. I didn't hear you." Stifled laughter in spurts erupted out of the tall man in black, casual murderer of small spiders in brown.

"Pidey? Buh-bye pidey."

Occasionally, when she is feeling unusually patriotic the tall woman in blue will ask the tall man in black if he would like, in addition to whatever questionable activity he is enjoying, to go club some baby seals. This is her way of noting that he is originally from that miserable tundra north of the Lakes and River and Parallel known as "The Village", or "gu-NA-da" where his aboriginal cousins supplement their annual incomes with seal hunts on the ice flows in Labrador. Baby seals are particularly prized, and not because of their cuteness. He usually laughs it off, and remarks that it's the baby seals who make the best coats, and not because of their work ethic.

He is a murderer, and not to be trusted. His murderous ways are bound to influence and transform his innocent daughter into a casual Shiva, an indiscriminate assassin, a Sweater-unraveling un-Knitter. She is doomed to destroy.

The small toddler in brown returned to the tiny chalk outline over and over. "Buh bye pidey. Pidey? Pidey? Ba-bye!"

Eventually the tall woman in blue realized that the small toddler in brown was still in brown, her brown, as-yet-not-unraveled Sweater.

"Hey, take off your Sweater and stay a while, kid."

"No." The small toddler in brown is perfectly articulate in defiance.

"Baby, don't you want to take your Sweater off?"

"No. Pidey?"

"Are you going out? Do you want to go out?"


"Are you all dressed up? Do you want to go clubbing?"


And the tall man in black pounced on the moment like a toddler in brown pouncing on a pidey, or a pidey pouncing on a fly.

"Baby, do you want to go clubbin' seals?"


And there was no denying whose casually murderous daughter she was. She was dressed in brown, but cloaked in black, just like her father.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008



"No, baby. We can't call grandma right now."

She lifts the receiver from its cradle and listens, laughing at the solid tone she hears.

"Pap-pa?" she asks.

"No, baby. That's not grandma."

"If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try again..."

"Pap-pa!!" she announces triumphantly.

"No, baby, "that's definitely not grandma."


"Oh, sweetie, that's too loud. Let me turn it off."

Eep. Op. Ork.

"Pap-pa?!?" she inquires, confused by the intermittent beeping that's replaced the frustratingly loud, angry tone of the unconnected call.

"No, baby. That's not grandma. Can you turn it off?"

eep. op. ork.

"Almost, baby. You turned it down. We need to turn it off."

eep. op. ork.

"Almost, kid. More. Can you turn it off? Let me have it. I'll turn it off."

She shies away from my outstretched hand, protecting the receiver from me. She is certain there is someone worth talking to on the other end of the line.


I saved them all: A linkbait post

I bet when you had those business cards made you thought they'd just be thrown out by 95% of the people you gave them to. I bet you thought they'd be thrown out within days of handing them out. I bet you thought they'd definitely be thrown out by that dude skeeving out all the women, and you thought "Why the hell am I even bothering to give this dude a card?"

I came home each night during BlogHer '08 and added those cards to a growing pile, and eventually moved them to a zip top bag. I've been staring at them in that bag since July, saying to myself "Self, you will eventually get around to writing about each and every one of those things and the people responsible for them. You will do this because you are a loser with an abundance of free time suddenly and feel no guilt about blogging while your daughter is in daycare today instead of home with you and you need to kill some time before going to the movies in the middle of the day, again, while your daughter is in daycare responsible blogger, and each one of them, in their own way, was responsible for the great time you had and this is the least you can do."

But, memories being what they are, and my memory for names and people and faces being what it is, frankly I don't remember each and every person who gave me a card. And I've been surprised at how often I won't remember the person but I'll remember where I was standing, or who I was with. So yeah, sometimes I won't be able to write anything too personal, and you (the person who gave me the card) might think "That bastard. I talked to him for like 4 hours and he doesn't even remember me enough to say I had nice hair or told a great joke or asked him to please stop hitting on me?" and so, preemptively, for those I don't remember clearly and who are going to be ill-treated a little by this: you had awesome hair. It's kind of the reason I was hitting on you. That and the joke you told about the nun and the pastry chef; that was killer. I couldn't help myself. But I was way out of line, I agree.

Although this post is full of a lot of names and links to other people, always keep in mind that it's about me. I write about me. Even when doing so reveals how much of an ass I am.

The List, in a particular order (not of awesomeness or anything, just in the way I organized the cards: I put all the little ones together, all the regular sized ones together, all the over sized ones together, and all of the cards-that-aren't-cards together. So I'm starting with the non-cards, then the big cards, then the regular cards, then the little cards. No. Actually, I'm going to go the opposite way so that the little cards come first because I really believe it when everyone says "size doesn't matter" in that really patronizing way and I want to recognize the people with the little cards first. Not, though, because of any deep psychological reason. Stop laughing.) is as follows:

Jessica Spiegel and Sara Rosso: I was standing around talking to *name drop alert* Mike and Graham, forming a little Triangle of Bay Area Dad Blogging Fabulousness, when we were scythed by these two who stand out in my mind mostly because of (apart from the hair and the joke and the hitting on) the fact that they were both Italy bloggers/travel bloggers. Italy is cool.

Charlene from Crazed Parent: This is where I embarrassedly insert a comment about your hair and that joke about the wallaby and the kangaroo in the ass-kicking contest.

Christina from A Mommy Story: we were talking to *name drop* Liz from Mom101 in one of the conference rooms. Christina and I both write for Savvy Source (she's the City Editor for Columbus) and I gave her a chocolate bar. Because I am awesome.

Kim from Simply Me and Kim Orlandini Photography gave me her card, probably at Macy's. I don't remember if she told a joke because I'm pretty sure I was just too busy hitting on her despite everything *namedrop* Casey could do to stop me. The eyes.

Heather Spohr gave a card to me at one of the times I took a picture with her. For some not inexplicable reasons, I have more pictures with her than with anyone else. One reason? Her husband *namedrop* Mike wasn't around to stop me (although he was there, somewhere). Also, wine. I kept forgetting if I'd taken a picture with her already or not. Every day.

Graham, already mentioned in this post, gave me the best card of the weekend: Under his name it just says "dad". What he wants people to know about him the most is that he is a dad. Graham also writes for Savvy Source now, although at the time Mike was holding down that fort in San Francisco. And now Graham is a dad twice over.

Jen from One Plus Two has lovely hair, told awesome jokes, and was saved from me hitting on her by her chaperone, Tanis. Jen and I tried bonding over geography and political issues but Tanis just kept smuggling her off out of my clutches.

Heather from Desperately Seeking Sanity was the very first person to recognize me. We both wrote chapters of the Novel-in-progress at ChapterBytes, and we bonded over that and then later bonded over me embarrassing the hell out of her for personal amusement. I'm sure she's forgiven me by now. Maybe.

Victoria from VDog & Little Man gave me her card. And then I noticed how great her hair was and she told a fabulous joke about a woodpecker and Jerry Orbach, but I really wasn't listening because, you know, hitting on her. And although that's all I remember about our meeting we have subsequently become acquainted better (because Twitter has done what none of the business cards could, which is make me pay attention on a daily basis) and also she now writes for Savvy Source. And I think she really could tell a wicked joke about a woodpecker and Jerry Orbach.

Nadine from Martinis for Milk slipped me a card, and then gave me the slip before I could tell her how great her hair looked. As she was running away she shouted back "and then the horse says to the veterinarian..." and the rest was lost to carpeted corridors of the Westin.

Tanis, The Redneck Mommy gave me a card. Once it became clear she wasn't going to let me hit on Jen I tried hitting on her instead, because her hair was great, but she told a joke about me and that time I tried out for the high school basketball team, and I had to go find some wine to try to recover.

Marie Millard gave me a card and then I went a-rhyming. I am confused by the other name on the card: Nancy. Could it be that her name is not, in fact, Marie Millard? Another example of Twitter's superiority over physical business cards: I actually read a post about menopause over on her blog the other day just because she Tweeted the link.

Carmen of Mom to the Screaming Masses gave me a card and Headless Mom gave me a muffin that Carmen had made her walk all over San Francisco to go buy. Carmen also gave me a Zwaggle t-shirt. Carmen kicks ass. Really. She could kick my ass.

Casey from Moosh in Indy gave me a card, and it may have been while we were lounging on couches upstairs at Macy's. She has fabulous hair, but it was her friend I was hitting on. Casey also writes for Savvy Source; she's the City Editor for Indianapolis.

Let me just say this about The Weirdgirl: She has weird hair. It freaks me out. But, that didn't stop me from hitting on her while she tried to distract me with a joke about George Bush and Rasputin.

I have a card from Zip 'n' Tizzy. I can't remember her hair, because apparently she wears a box on her head while she walks around. Yeah, I think I remember someone walking around with a box on her head the whole weekend. And I definitely remember hitting on that box.

Christine at Watch Me, No Watch Me! (which is probably the best name for a blog I've ever seen and cracks me the hell up) handed me a card then used her hair like a kung fu master's braid to whip me in the face so I'd stop hitting on her. And she just inspired me to go check out my Safeway Club Card points to see if I can get gas for .38/gallon.

Average Jane handed me a card at the BlogHims session that *namedrop* Karl was chairing and Brian attended, bringing the total of dad bloggers in the room to two. I don't remember much of that session, but I did mention my reluctance to talk during any of the other sessions because it didn't seem like my place to do so. One of the ladies in the room (possibly Average Jane, but I honestly don't remember) disagreed very strongly with that. And now I butt in everywhere and damn the "appropriateness" of it.

Schmutzie handed me a card in the lobby of the Westin as she was being maneuvered through the hall by a group of handlers. Or so it seems to me in my foggy memory. No time to chat! But she did stop for a second to say hi. I think she was going to the Cheeseburger Party. I never did make it up the elevator to that before it got shut down.

Michele from Sparks and Butterflies gave me a card and told a very off-colour joke about a monk and a weasel and said "touch my hair!" and I did because it is amazing.

I have a card with a dog tag on it from Military Mama. I'm pretty sure her hair kicked ass, her joke kicked ass, and she would have kicked my ass if I tried to hit on her. Dog tags are awesome.

Adrienne of Adrienne's House gave me a card, and then watched from her Macy's couch perch as I embarrassed myself posing for a picture. Then she called me cute on Twitter.

Lucretia of Geekmommy was sitting with Adrienne, I think, and was also there on Thursday night when I was walking around with a bottle of vodka and making people take shots in honour of Aunt Becky who couldn't be there.

I have a cool spiral graphic card from Shannon of Shannon Sez So. Her hair was amazing: it was like a red, orange, yellow, and purple...uh...spiral. And not only did I hit on her: I chimed in on the punchline to the "How many nuclear physicists....?" joke. "Not if we don't get him down from there we won't!"

I met Jenny of Absolutely Bananas and Seattle Mom Blogs at the People's Party and it was remembering that there was a Seattle Mom Blogs site that helped streamline the planning for our weekend in Seattle in early September. So, thanks Jenny :}

I met Lawyer Mama?? So, I know most of my "I don't remember this but here's some hair funny" entries are annoying. And I would do another one here, but here is a person I knew of before BlogHer, met, continue to follow after BlogHer, and I have no memory of meeting her. It's like someone else gave me her card. What the hell? Oh, and nice hair; lawyers are hot; and that "how many philosophers does it take to screw-in a lightbulb" was hilarious.

Diane from Of the Princess and the Pea (another fabulous blog name) made me beg her for a card. Like I was going to just throw it away if she gave me one. I can understand her reluctance, though, because it is a striking card. The graphic, a pea with a tiara on it, in black and white, is just perfect. When I tried to hit on her she looked down her nose at me and said "Peasant! Hast thou heard'st the one about the three-legged astronaut and the robot from 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'?"

And another Momocrat that I really ought to remember meeting because I knew who she was before BlogHer rolled around: Glennia Campbell. Where the hell was I while all of this meeting was going on? It would be like going to a Star Trek convention and meeting Brent Spiner and then getting home to discover Brent Spiner's autograph on your forehead and having no recollection of ever meeting Brent Spiner. (Sorry, I like Data.)

Missy from Meanwhile Back at the Ranch, an Aussie visiting from, uh, Australia, sat down with me while I was sitting at a big lonely table in the big hall during the BlogHer keynote. She gave me a card and a pencil I believe and her enthusiasm about meeting me really made my day. Because really? It's like I'm famous in Australia. Or so I will tell my grandkids someday: "Kids, gramps is pretty sure he is famous in Australia. Let's ask Missy."

Anne from Tales from My Tiny Kingdom left me her card and with a broken heart. Her perfect hair, her excellent dirty limericks. They were overwhelming and I certainly behaved in a most uncouth way. So, I'm sorry for that. But I DON'T REGRET IT!!

Oh, The Joys is smart and all, but she's a total fangirl. I didn't even have time to hit on her for her awesome hair before she was hitting on me for my awesome hair. And where did that leave us? Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria. That's where.

Sarah, of Sarah and the Goon Squad and her awesome bottle opener non-card. It's been used to open a Stella Artois. She also went off with that bottle of vodka I brought and I've no idea what became of it because she claims not to like vodka.

Elizabeth of Table 4 Five gave me a card that is actually a refrigerator magnet. Which is good because I need something to hold up that note on the fridge that says "Nice try. I know how great my hair looks. But let's stay friends. Hey, what's the difference between a microwave and a Snicker's bar?"

Digital Sista slipped me a note. She had run out of cards but insisted that I take her note with her info on it anyway. And I did. So, Digitial Sista, you did not waste your time by hand writing a note to me. I saved it!

Kaiser Alex gave me what looks like just a picture of her boobs in a tank top. It's not even a card. It's on Kodak paper. It is also dated on the back and the date is my birthday, so I'm just going to go ahead and pretend this was a birthday present for me and that no one else got one.

And last, but not least, is the best card I was given all weekend (Sorry Kaiser Alex, but this one wins): Naked Jen's "I Got Naked at BlogHer08" card that is just a picture of her. Topless. Her hair? Smokin' hot dreads. Her joke? "Here, have a 'card'." Hit on her? I think I'm still hitting on her just by looking at the card.


And that, folks, is the longest entry I've ever written. It was filled with lies, but they ought to be easy to figure out. It was filled with truths, but also, they ought to be easy to figure out.

It was also the most topical entry I've ever written. Because BlogHer only happened, what, five months ago?

If you think you gave me a card and you wonder why you aren't on the list here, it's because (a) I accidentally dropped it somewhere or (b) NO YOU DIDN'T BECAUSE SERIOUSLY, LOOK AT THIS LIST. I KEPT THEM ALL.


As I was going through these cards I was flipping them over (many were double-sided) and I came across one very special one. On the back this person had written their telephone number.

Someone slipped me their digits! And I didn't even notice until today!

I won't tell you who it was. Because it's awesome to not know. Suspect everyone! Ask your friends if it was them, then don't believe them because it totally was! What's this? This is me starting trouble for my own amusement!

Have a nice day. :}

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Seven things to do

If you tell a joke and nobody gets it, but a tree falls on a mime, is it a good day?


So "Buy this vacuum" wasn't the most obvious of references. And  nobody got it (although a couple of people got the concept right without knowing the origin). Someone still gets a calendar, because I'm not going to punish YOU for the fact that I'M fond of obscure references. So a winner was chosen at random. The winner of her very own copy of the Hot Blogger Calendar 2009 (Guys), modified by me in any way she wishes, is:

Mama Smurf! (Please contact me at your earliest convenience with address/request information).

In other news, I've decided that I'll be donating the money raised through your clicks through the "Click Here" button on the sidebar to families staying at the Ronald McDonald house at Stanford Hospital in the form of gift certificates to places like Target, Wal-Mart, and Longs. Every charity is worthwhile. But Erin was born at Stanford and I bike past the Ronald McDonald house all the time and the house families are especially needy of the flexibility these cards afford them while they are away from home for extended, stressful periods of time.

So, that's it for today's edition of Obscure Reference Blogging. Congratulations again to Mama Smurf. I'll write something non-Calendary related later. And maybe it'll be funny. Or maybe it'll be a lecture about something. Exciting right? You never know what's in store for you when you stop by Backpacking Dad.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Buy This Vacuum

I still can't quite believe that it ever happened. I kind of remember the flight to JFK, and walking around New York, and taking my shirt off a couple of times in what they assured me was a photographer's studio.

My surreal memories notwithstanding I have confirmation that I really did go to New York one weekend in the fall of 2008. And I don't just mean my annoying Tweeting about it. No, the Hot Blogger Calendar (2009) is shipping out and you can order yours now!

There is a calendar full of crazy Hot Ladies, like Amy (Permission to Peruse), Jill Notkin (The Daily Grind), Miss Britt, Chic Shopper Chick, Katja Presnal, and Casey (Moosh in Indy), to name just a few of the ladies I know in real life.

But the one you'll be wanting to get your squeeing little hands on (because I know who reads this y'ere blog) is the one full of crazy Hot Guys, like Jim (Busy Dad), Peter Shankman, and NYC Watchdog (again, namedropping people I've met in real life, although I've also met Wil Wheaton in real life and he totally isn't in the calendar).

Oh, and me. I'm heating up September. My number is 9, folks, and 9 is the number of the month whence I'll be staring at you. And my page is special, because it comes with a tiny, tiny, tiny webcam that will let me see into whatever room my page is in. That's right. Just as your dog is staring at me, I'll be staring right back. It's a special feature only available to the calendars purchased by first clicking on the link over on the right where it says "Click Here". (Editor's Note: None of that is true. There is no camera. Relax and/or stop posing in front of the picture and/or stop trying to make me look at what your kid threw up into that cup.)

I think I'll donate all proceeds from this to charity. Because that's what you do with this sort of thing, right? So here I'm accepting nominations for charities to donate the money to (I'm going to make you do-gooders fight it out over who dos the goodest). I'll decide by this Saturday at 11:59pm PST which charity/cause the money will go to (and I may trump all of you and pick one on my own).

Further, I will be using the calendars as a giveaway. I don't know how many I'll give away, but I'll do at least one, starting right now!

What the hell does the title of this post mean/refer to?

Answer that question in the comments (in the same comment you recommend a charity or in a different one; your choice) and you will be entered into a random drawing for your very own 2009 Hot Blogger Calendar (The Guys). And I'll autograph it for you if you want. Or write a poem for you. Or draw a moustache on Jim's picture. Whatever you want to have happen (within reason, of course). Contest ends on Saturday December 6th at 11:59pm PST.