This blog is old. You don't want to read an old blog, do you?

If you are not redirected to the fancy new blog in about 6 seconds visit
and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Emily, 10 months pregnant and gravid as…a very gravid woman…sent me to the store tonight for cereal. Being the discerning consumer that she is she only chooses the most nutritious and delicious cereals made by the most ethical, socially responsible, and environmentally friendly companies.

“I want Lucky Charms. And Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And Rice Crispies.”

Realizing that I had a coupon for one and only one cereal company I asked: “Are those all General Mills cereals? I hope so. Because General Mills is the only cereal company that Backpacking Dad endorses. Also, I have a coupon for $1 off if I buy three. They knew you’d be asking.”

“I also want whatever you need to make Rice Crispy Treats.”

“Would that be Air-puffed Marshmallows and Land-O-Lakes butter? Because although I don’t have a coupon for them, I am happy to purchase products from those companies.”

“Just go.”

I went. I used a coupon. I returned.

“Is that an hourglass?”

“You mean inside the Cinnamon Toast Crunch that I purchased in the convenient 1lb box?”



Emily wolfed down a bowl of delicious Cinnamon Toast Crunch and came back for seconds.

“I don’t think I can control time with this hourglass. That’s kind of a rip-off.”

I could see why she would think that. But, not wanting the great General Mills thought of as less than considerate, I offered:

“Call the Enterprise.”

“What? This hourglass calls the Enterprise?”

“No. But there’s a communicator in the Lucky Charms.”

And she went away, yet another satisfied General Mills customer.

General Mills. They sure do make cereal.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Debate: Gay Adoption

This post represents a deliberate attempt to enflame the passions of the internet and drive traffic to this blog so that I can make tons of cash from all of my advertisers.

I would also like to say (and this may sound a bit off-topic, but it has to be said): Pepsi is the most spectacularly tasty beverage ever made and Coke really can’t hold a candle to it.

Now, to the issue at hand:

I read somewhere in a report from someone to some political body in Europe that if homosexual couples are allowed to marry, and thereby gain all of the protections and rights of such a relationship, that it would be way easier for them to adopt kids. And that, in the opinion of the group responsible for this report (I don’t know who they are, but I read it on the internet so just trust me: it is very very credible), this was the primary reason to not allow homosexual couples to marry. Because we shouldn’t, in the opinion of the writers of the report, make it as easy for gay couples to adopt; that a homosexual marriage would not, in general, be a good environment in which to raise children. Maybe some gay couples would be great co-parents, but they’d be the exception, and the rule requires that this be discouraged. So: no gay marriage because no gay adoption.

This argument was not deployed during California’s Proposition 8 campaign. Not that I recall, anyway. Maybe it was. I’m not a very good payer of attention. But if it wasn’t, why not?

Is the premise true (that as a rule a gay marriage is not a good environment in which to raise children?)

Is the alternate premise true (that it is better to raise children in heterosexual families and so, as a rule, gay adoption should be impeded or at least the process more selective?)

Is the Precautionary Principle of any help here?

Do you know what else is awesome (sorry, again a little tangential)? Huggies diapers. They have Mickey Mouse on them and Erin loves Mickey Mouse.

Here’s my two cents: the opinion that an average gay marriage poses a greater risk to child development than an average heterosexual marriage is based on no respectable empirical data. Why? Because gay marriages have been so few and far between and so recent that there is no data set to sample from for us to be able to tell if the kids are turning out worse or being damaged in some particularly gay way.

And deploying the Precautionary Principle without understanding what parameters need to regulate it (I have a friend who does nothing but think about the Precautionary Principle all day long and how it is misapplied all over the world and particularly in international environmental regulations) is overzealous. At that extreme level of precaution we should also be building space defenses against alien invasion…just in case: We have no data that says aliens are likely to invade, but if they did it would be really bad.

As for a priori reasons to think that children of gay couples will, necessarily (that’s what it would mean if the reason is a priori) be damaged…what? On what grounds would we think that they’d have to turn out worse or damaged? I don’t mean on what empirical grounds, because we already know we have none of those (see above re: poverty of data sets). I mean on what logical, conceptual grounds. What is it about the concepts of parenthood, family, homosexuality, and childhood that would tell us that kids with gay parents would be worse off, as children and later as adults?

Toyota makes some pretty good cars and SUVs. We only buy Toyotas.

What do you think? Do you think, like a crazy person, that letting The Gays adopt kids is worse than the Holocaust, which, according to you, never happened? Or do you think that every loving couple who wants to raise children is perfectly suited to do so (which is what you should think if you are at all intelligent and not a total racist)? You are either one or the other. You are either a crazy Holocaust denier racist or a rational human being.

Which one are you? Please explain your reasons.

Also, please buy Pepsi, Huggies, and Toyotas.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Birthday in Suburbia

In the end even though she was only turning two we invited something close to eighty people.


In the beginning even though she was only two we held a joint party with her best friend.


In the middle even though the cake had been cut and served a second wave of guests arrived, extending the party out for another hour.


In the beginning even though it was her birthday party we insisted on No Gifts.


In the middle we saw that some people had brought gifts along anyway, and we knew Erin would love them like she loves everything else in her piles of toys and books stored on the edge of a dining room without a table.


In the end we raised 228 lbs of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank.


In the middle there were bubbles everywhere.


In the end there were once-more empty tables.


In the beginning Emily decided to bake Cup Cones for the party.


In the beginning we wondered how to throw a suburban birthday party for a kid who is just as happy to wander on her own as to see her friends from around town.


In the middle we were surprised at how much fun it all was.


And in the end our little pink butterfly had a pretty good birthday party.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl

A second birthday. My first daughter’s second birthday. My daughter’s first second birthday.

Not that she’s planning on having a second second birthday.

She’s smart and funny and cares about other people, and she also sometimes only likes them because they have macaroni.

She’s beautiful and perfect and I’m trying to teach her how to say “My irrational intractability is infuriating to my parents.”

She’s sweet and loves bedtime and hates being interrupted as she goes about her business.

She’s my daughter. She’s my first. She’s my baby girl. She is always my baby girl. Even when she tries to bite my face off or scratch my eyes out. She’s the most exuberant person I know.


Happy Birthday, Baby Girl.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This planet sucks. Let’s get a new one.

I think that despite my social liberalism I’m kind of a “I don’t give a crappist” when it comes to the planet.

No. Not so extreme. I’m a “roll my eyes at you in your Prius while you wear your hemp shirtist” when it comes to environmentalism.

I love the world. I don’t love people. People are often deplorable to one another for stupid reasons. I’m sorry I didn’t vote to fund more protection of the California Wild Peanut Ant. It didn’t feel important when I lined it up against other things. Stop egging my house with your organic eggs.

I’m the worst member the Green Party has. Because I don’t sign on to the belief that environmentalism is a political philosophy that ought to determine how we behave toward one another (and that’s what it is, in the long run, since it would tell us where money goes, who is lauded and despised, which actions are permitted and which resisted by force). Because I, unlike probably most people on the planet, think that the point is to go out.

The point is to move. Maybe to return here, from time to time, as the sun cooperates and doesn’t annihilate the planet. But the point is motion, the constant rebellion against entropy, the revolution against stasis.

So while it’s cool not to burn down the rainforest, that’s not the top priority. The top priority is survival.

Environmentalists know this too, and they will present their arguments in terms of our own species’ survival. And it’s just true that if we wreck ecosystems we are dooming ourselves, if we haven’t figured out how to leave.

If we haven’t figured out how to leave we will fight population wars as the civilized West Greens itself right into a position of self-defense against countries who over-pollute and over-populate. And all the work we’ll have put in to reducing our waste won’t mean a thing, because now we have to treat other people like animals in order to save ourselves.

We’re never going to leave, are we?

Oh well. Best get to recycling then, and hope for the best.

Happy Earth Day.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How many kids do you want?

When she asks this question I often answer: “five.”

I don’t know that I’m serious. But I don’t know I’m not. I don’t know what the right answer is, I don’t know if I’m hiding my real answer or if I even have a real answer. But some questions and statements require a response and I always provide a response.

Emily knows this about me by now.

“But if we have five,” she protests, mildly, “we won’t be able to afford to send them all to college.”


“Don’t say something stupid.”

Who? Me?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lose Your Excuse

Emily and I were watching tv the other minute and saw a Lose Your Excuse ad called “April”. It shows a young girl being interviewed by a young boy in an hard-hitting reporter style about the cell phone charger left plugged into the wall socket.

“That’s not my charger. I don’t even have a cell phone,” April protests before being betrayed by a ringing from her pocket.

Unplug Phone Chargers” comes the admonition at the close of the ad.

“See,” offers Emily, “now that’s brilliant.”

“Compared to what?”

“Compared to, you know, ‘Don’t run your dishwasher during this hour’ or ‘Compost!’ You have to be kind of a greenie already to pay attention to that kind of stuff…”

“You mean the Earth Hour stuff?”

“Yeah. But this? This is what people need. Unplug your phone chargers. And what about if I just used some toilet paper to wipe my nose? Is it better to flush it or throw it away? A short spot that tells me the answer to that question will stick with me.”

“My cell phone charger is still plugged in.”

“Yeah, mine is too.”

“But, I’m unplugging it right now. And I’m not going to compost.”

I think the Environment gets to call this one a win.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Because I’m a good dad…

Because I’m a good dad I took Erin to the mall to see the Easter Bunny.

Because I’m a good dad I bypassed the time-wasting “Sign Up Here!!!” tables advertising a hunt for plastic Easter eggs around the mall; Erin would have no fun looking for them.

Because I’m a good dad I ignored the “Sign Up Here!!!!” table in front of the Easter Bunny’s little grotto, privileging time with Easter Bunny over opportunities to participate in “Fun! Mall! Things! Give us your money!”

Because I’m a good dad I noted the very, very short line, over on the side, to get in to see the Easter Bunny, and I stepped into it.

Because I’m a good dad Erin was in the backpack and not running around in a crowd of kids who were focused on Easter eggs and not toddlers underfoot.

Because I’m a good dad I took Erin out of the backpack and plopped her down with the Easter Bunny to take some pictures.

Because I’m a good dad I offered to buy a picture. When the camera dude, who had given out a coloured, hard-boiled egg and a plastic bendy-rabbit toy as we entered, told me the big photo I wanted was $20 and that they didn’t take credit cards, I replied with “What can I get for $10?” that being all I had in my wallet. Because he was a good camera dude he said: “You can have the big one for ten bucks.” Thanks camera dude. You can’t always be a good dad on your own; sometimes you need help from camera dudes handing out coloured, hard-boiled eggs and plastic bendy-rabbit toys.

Because I’m a good dad I plopped Erin back into the backpack with her coloured, hard-boiled egg and plastic bendy-rabbit toy and high-tailed it out of there. I had accomplished my objective: Go to the mall and see the Easter Bunny. I was a Navy Seal, an Airborne Ranger, precise, focused and competent. Because I’m a good dad I use military metaphors a lot.

Because I’m a good dad I made it halfway out of the mall before the protests began. “My bunny!! I want bunny! My puh-ple bunny!!!” So close. “Oh, kid, we’re not going back to see the Easter Bunny again. You saw him; you took a picture with him; now it’s time to go to a park!” (Because I’m a good dad I use bribery/distraction/misdirection to get out of trouble.)

Because I’m a good dad I noticed that she was really pissed off about leaving the mall. “Bunny!!!!!!! I want puh-ple bunny!!!!!!!!” Pointing back into the mall densely packed with screaming kids I actually contemplated going back in to see the Easter Bunny. Because I’m a good dad I didn’t give in.

Because I’m a good, dad when the shaking, shivering, tears, and mad pointing got a little out of hand I considered that she was in fact talking about some bunny she saw in a storefront that I had gone by too quickly. “Did you see a purple bunny somewhere kid?” “Yeah.” “Where? Show me where.” “Right der.” Her vague pointing back into the mall was entirely unhelpful though. I retraced my steps for a few yards to see if I could spot this novel bunny, but I didn’t see anything. Just the act of turning around seemed to have calmed Erin though. Because I’m a good dad I took this momentary relief to complete our exeunt from the Mall of Infinite Bunny Distraction and returned to the car.

Because I’m a good dad I removed the backpack to take Erin out before buckling her into her carseat for the drive home (safety first, folks; don’t drive with a kid on your back, or a kid in a backpack, or leave a kid at the mall instead of buckling her into a car seat).

Because I’m a good dad I took her coloured, hard-boiled egg out of her hand before taking her out of the backpack so it wouldn’t get jostled while shifting her from backpack to carseat.

Because I’m a good dad I also noticed that her plastic bendy-rabbit toy was missing.

Because I’m a good dad I replayed all of her pathetic, heart-broken protests in my mind. She had been crying about her lost bunny the entire time we were walking out of the mall, and I had ignored her or misunderstood her, or interpreted her as whining when she was feeling a despair of loss that I can only imagine now.

“Oh, baby. Were you telling me that you had dropped your bunny back there in the mall?”


“Oh, baby girl. I’m so sorry. Let’s go look for it.”


Because I’m a bad dad I loaded her back into the backpack, head hung low in shame, and frantically returned to the mall to retrace steps and look for a plastic bendy-rabbit toy in a crowd of children who were being told to look for special things all over the mall and stick them in their baskets.

It was hopeless.

Because I’m a bad dad I gave Erin her coloured, hard-boiled egg to hold during our mad search for the only thing in the world she wanted more than that coloured, hard-boiled egg. Because I’m a bad dad I didn’t know it was a coloured, hard-boiled egg; I assumed it was plastic or candy or something. Because I’m a bad dad I never looked very closely at it.

Because I’m a bad dad I let her drop it during our mad search. That was how I discovered it was a hard-boiled egg. It cracked, shell spider-webbing and chipping apart, and because I’m a bad dad I could think of nothing better to do than to pick it up, hand it back to Erin over my shoulder, and gently suggest she not eat it. I couldn’t handle more despair.

Because I’m a bad dad I had cost her her two great trophies. Because I’m a bad dad my surgical strike on the mall lasted three times as long as it should have.

Because I’m a bad dad I returned to the Easter Bunny grotto, and approached the camera dude again.

“Hey, do you have another one of those pink plastic bendy-rabbits?”

Because he is the dude who helps dads be good dads, he whipped out another one immediately and handed it over without a beat.


Because I’m a good dad I gave Erin her plastic bendy-rabbit and proceeded once again out of the mall. Because I’m a good dad I also invited her to throw away her cracked, coloured, hard-boiled egg instead of eating it.

But because I’m a bad dad I would like to point out that the bunny was, in fact, pink. Not purple.


Because I’m a good dad I’m going to concentrate on teaching Erin the difference.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Even though around here today is mostly about eating ham, or finding chocolate eggs, or sitting on the Easter Bunny’s lap and asking him for a new bike or Nintendo Wii while he repeats “I’m not Santa” over and over again…

Happy Easter, from our family to yours.


Oh, and Easter Bunny? I cleaned the chimney just for you.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What Can You Do?

The Spohrs need your help. You have been amazing in your willingness to contribute to the March of Dimes on behalf of their daughter, Maddie, who passed away this week. You can be even more amazing.

Because although a ton of cash has been raised for the March of Dimes, Heather and Mike are faced with the unreal costs of the memorial service for Maddie. Please click on the Paypal link and give what you can.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Maddie Spohr

Dear Maddie,

I welcome you to my dreams. I am sorry we have to meet there.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I spent the end of the week and much of the weekend dealing with computer issues.

My computer was playing with some “friends” I don’t know and I don’t know where their parents live or if they only drink organic water and wear hemp shoes like all good parents do, or if they let their computers drink from the tap and spend Save-African-Babies-money on Nike shoes. All I know is my computer came home from hanging out behind the mall and it reeked of some kind of smoke and it was scratching its arms and fidgeting. Eyes totally bloodshot.

I knew some serious intervention was in order. Medicine was no good. Whatever the strange computers had passed along, whatever new habits they had instilled, they were clearly bacterial and addictive in nature. Anti-virals had no effect, at least not after the fact. I was going to have to send my computer off to boarding school, and hope that it came back a changed laptop, pure and innocent again, ready for the impressing of hard codes of conduct so that it would never succumb to the influences of nefarious computers ever again.

But before the drastic boarding school option, a boot camp of character formation, could be implemented I needed to pack away all of my computer’s stuff, so that it would all be here when it came back, glowing and shining and with no memory of its trauma. But the damned tweaker computers had stolen the keys to the closet where I keep all of my computer’s stuff. So not only could I not pack away what my computer was wearing and carrying with it when it got home from the mall that night, I couldn’t even get into the closet to see what was in there. For all I knew the tweakers had burned it all.

There was some very important stuff in that closet. There was plenty of important stuff in my computer’s pockets too, but the closet was important.

Damned tweakers.

Instead of packing away the personal effects in the closet then, I had to hold my computer down and steal the stuff out of its pockets and shove it into small ziploc baggies. Occasionally my computer would have a seizure, and I’d have to spend time reviving it before I could continue to raid its pockets. But eventually I had everything I needed.

And I sent my computer to bootcamp. It came back all “yes sir, no sir” and I couldn’t wait to unload those ziploc baggies.

But I was still pretty pissed about that closet. It was full of stuff, and I was pretty panicked about it.

Some help from a friend, Runtime, and I was able to drill a hole in the wall next to the closet and slowly pull the stuff out. Some of it I gave back to my computer, because it was being so very polite and respectful. The rest I had to pack into a wall safe I spent too much money on (the tweakers had changed the combination on me, so I couldn’t use it until my computer came back from boot camp and confessed the new combination) when I was still trying to avoid the ziploc baggies, and into, yep, more ziploc baggies.

I have ziploc baggies everywhere full of my computer’s belongings.

Contemplating what to do about this closet now (should I buy a new closet? Try to get that door open?) I invited another friend, Acronis, over and he said “Well, here’s your problem: Those tweakers stole all the shelves, and your computer’s stuff is just lying around on the floor. Here, I’ll build some more shelves and put the stuff back where it was, and then you’ll even be able to open the closet door to boot.”

Runtime gave me peace of mind about the stuff, but I really wish I had invited Acronis over in the first place. Seriously, I have ziploc baggies everywhere. And the hole in the wall was completely unnecessary.

But, on the other hand, my computer is being very solicitous right now. And it’s promised to never play with those tweakers ever again. I don’t know if I can trust it…computers will be computers, and addicts are really good at getting others to get high with them so they can feel normal or in control. But I hope I’ve instilled some good core values now and my computer will know, not to just say “no”, but to say “You won’t drag me in to your misery.”

I hope. All I can do is hope. The world is full of evil bastards.