A Whiny Day

Currently, my kids come to me about everything. Okay, maybe it just seems like everything. I’m sure my wife hears more of their needs than do I. One of my jobs as a parent is to get them to be able to resolve conflicts peacefully on their own.

They were not getting along well the other day. They went back and forth throughout much of the day, and it got rather comical after a while.

Beta : “Daddy, Alpha is using his whiny voice!

Alpha : “Daddy, Beta put his toe in my eye!

I suppose I see their problems as rather trivial and wonder why they need to call me over to settle who gets what Lego or who read which book first last night, but to a small child those are the important things.

I am just glad that the conflicts are that trivial – who gets the red plate and who gets the blue plate – and they (and I) don’t have bigger worries.

Finally, just before bedtime when the kids were getting their books for me to read to them, I heard this:
Daddy, Beta is not letting me get through!
Well, did you ask him to move?

(slight pause)

Beta, please move so I can get through.
Daddy, I asked nicely for him to move, and he moved!

Funny how that works… This situation definitely needed some encouragement thrown in, so they would remember how well things work when you are nice.

Good job to both of you.

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,

2 Timothy 2:24

Get Your Own Order

I went out to eat for lunch yesterday. I looked at the menu and picked out what I wanted. The waitress came to take our orders. The guy at the end went first. All standard stuff so far.

Then the guy next to me went. He ordered the same sandwich I had picked for myself. Arrgh…I hate it when that happens.

But that’s okay, because he still has to pick out a side dish. There’s no way he would pick the same side as I.

(And yes, I do try to have good grammar even in my thoughts.)

Then he picked the same side dish that I had chosen.

I was torn, oh so torn, as to whether I should change my order.

I could get the coleslaw instead. That would make it a different order.

But I decided to stick with my original order. And you know what? It tasted just fine and was not affected by the fact that the guy next to me was eating the same thing.

My wife doesn’t understand why it’s a big deal what other people order at the restaurant. I know I’m not the only one like that. It doesn’t matter if the other person knows what I’m ordering (“steals my order” after hearing me order it) or just randomly gets the same thing (as in this case). Either way, I am troubled by it.

But why? I haven’t figured that out yet. Maybe it’s a desire to be unique, to be myself. But why can’t myself be similar to someone else?

Random Life Tip : When you put dishes away from the dishwasher, unload the bottom rack first before even pulling out the top rack. If, just hypothetically speaking here, there were a bowl in the top rack that was upside-up and so it got filled with water because it couldn’t drain, you wouldn’t want that bowl to spill water all over the formerly-dry dishes in the bottom rack. Not that it would ever happen to me.

As for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.

Genesis 6:21

Three Square Desserts Per Day

Knowing that I like chocolate, my wife got me a bag of chocolate for a present. The Ghirardelli dark chocolate assortment, also known as the “Dark Collection” (almost makes it sound ominous) :

Bag of assorted Ghirardelli dark chocolates

These dark chocolates come in three varieties:

  • plain dark chocolate (60% cacao),
  • dark chocolate with raspberry filling, and
  • dark chocolate with caramel filling


Three types of Ghirardelli dark chocolates

The plain dark chocolate is self-explanatory. Actually, they all are. And they were all very tasty. But I prefer caramel with milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate.

For some reason, the sweeter milk chocolate taste mingles with the caramel filling better. The dark chocolate and caramel are polite to each other but they never get past the formalities, leaving one’s mouth with two distinct tastes that have an unspoken agreement that they will never be more than passing acquaintances.

The dark chocolate and raspberry complement each other nicely. The raspberry filling has seeds, ensuring that the eater knows this is real filling made from real fruit.

The nutrition information informs its reader that the average bag contains 21 squares of chocolate. The average person would be able to know that 21 pieces and 3 flavors should result in 7 pieces of each flavor. That would be a reasonable assumption.

Another reasonable assumption would be that there is no good reason to read the nutrition information on a bag of chocolates.

To verify their claims, I counted the pieces in a bag – 21 pieces. I counted how many of each variety – 6 of each with filling and 9 of the plain dark chocolate. Pretty sneaky of them to provide more pieces of the cheaper chocolate and fewer of the better chocolate. Here is how it all stacks up :

Stacks of assorted Ghirardelli dark chocolates

Astute readers will notice that the middle stack has only 8 pieces of chocolate, not the 9 that I claimed earlier. The ostensible reason for that is that it was done to show that 8 pieces of plain chocolate are equivalent in volume to 6 pieces of filled chocolate. Ghirardelli provided the same amount of chocolate per flavor even though the number of pieces differed.

The real reason is that someone ate a piece of chocolate between the time I counted the pieces and the time I stacked and photographed them.

And just to make sure that the sample size of one bag of chocolates was representative of the lot of bags, I counted the distribution of flavors in another bag. It was the same – 6 raspberry, 6 caramel, and 9 plain.

Of course, I had to check if the flavors were consistent from bag to bag.

Ahh … research is so rough sometimes.

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

Psalm 19:10

Colorful Inventiveness

Olive has a bad reputation. No, not her…The color olive.

Why is it Olive Drab? That’s such an unflattering name. I propose a new name: Olive Lively! (exclamation point optional)

Of course, it couldn’t apply to the same exact color.

Here is Olive Drab (with its color code):


And here is my new color Olive Lively! (with its color code too):


Note that my Olive Drab is the internet version and does not conform to the color standards of the federal government.

But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.

Psalm 52:8

Leaking Van Seat

We have the Stow-n-Go seating in our minivan and it is very nice. Need some extra room – just fold the seat down. I know it’s old news now, as that feature has been out for a few years, but I need to set the background here.

I was folding the seat into the floor for whatever trip we were taking, and the seat started hissing at me. I stood there perplexed, because I had always thought the folding mechanism was coil-spring assisted, not gas-spring assisted. I was wondering why I had never noticed the gas springs.

And the seat kept hissing.

Finally I stopped wondering about the seat and actually looked at it. By now there was a mist coming out of the seat. At the beginning of the mist was the source of the hissing noise, and it wasn’t a gas-spring.

It was my old nemesis – the spray-on sunscreen.

It was supposed to have a cap that prevented the nozzle from being pressed, but the cap was lost. The can got stuck under the seat and when I folded the seat, the folding mechanism pushed against the nozzle and out came the sprayscreen.

I unfolded the seat and the spraying stopped.

Make sure you keep your spray cans secure and their nozzles locked.

And it’s not limited to just sunscreen. I have noticed aerosol version of various things. People have known about aerosol cheese (AKA self-propelled cheese) for a little while. I have never trusted that.

And now I have seen the Batter Blaster. Why do pancakes need to be self-propelled? That would make quite a mess if that got loose in the van.

It claps its hands in derision and hisses him out of his place.

Job 27:23

Punctuation Inventiveness

A couple years ago, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Lynne Truss‘ book Eats, Shoots & Leaves. It had a very entertaining section about the interrobang, which is the combination of a question mark and exclamation point. How exciting is that!?

A few weeks ago, I read The Word Snoop. The Word Snoop is a quick, easy read. It is about the English language and written by an Australian and intended for children (elementary/primary school), but I, as an American many years removed from school, was able to read it.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting. Since I had just read an actual mystery/crime novel, perhaps my expectations were skewed. It was mostly a review of things – if you already know what anagrams, palindromes, and pangrams are then you might not be that excited about this book. But the part with the history of letters and English was interesting.

The Word Snoop revisited the interrobang, and also introduced me to the question-comma and exclamation-comma. The best way to explain those is with examples.

It’s about time,! and what took them so long?

or the other way around:

What took them so long,? and it’s about time!

exclamation point, question mark, exclamation-comma, question-comma, and interrobang

After that, I started wondering what other punctuation could be invented. Other languages already have the upside-down question mark. And someone already proposed a backwards question mark (the irony mark). I contemplated proposing the backwards exclamation point, but I fear that the untrained eye would not be able to distinguish it from a normal exclamation point.

My first new punctuation mark is the semi-semi. We have the existing progression of period (full-stop for you Brits), comma, colon, and semi-colon. The semi-colon is a period above a comma. The next logical step in that sequence would be a comma above a comma. I thought about calling it the comma-comma, but that left me thinking about Culture Club, so I decided against it.

The semi-semi doesn’t fill a need, so it is wandering aimlessly right now. If necessity is the mother of invention, then I have an orphan.

My other new punctuation mark is the colon-semi. It is, of course, a comma above a period. I have found this to be a useful defense against the onslaught of full-stop abuse. Placing periods in between words is bad.

The . Worst . Punctuation . Ever!

A period is a full stop. Placing it between words makes it a pause, not a full stop. For this reason, the colon-semi could also be called “partial stop”. It’s a comma and a period together! It means both a pause and a stop! Hmm, there’s not enough distinction there… It means both full stop and continue! Okay, maybe the advertising needs more work, but you get the point.

The colon-semi, a comma above a period Best colon-semi, a comma above a period Punctuation colon-semi, a comma above a period Ever!

period, comma, colon, semi-colon, colon-semi, and semi-semi

My new punctuation marks are impossible to type right now, as no font files (to my knowledge) include them, nor do they have a reserved spot in Unicode. Feel free to hand-write them until they are supported – not that I have any plans to spend any time lobbying for their inclusion or promoting them to the masses.

Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.

Genesis 11:7

First Hockey Game

I took Beta to a hockey game – just him, no other kids. I had given him a choice of games – football (would have been a college game) or hockey (was a minor league (OHL) game). He chose hockey, so hockey we saw.

We were right on the glass, near the corner where the players make their grand entrance and where the crew (cleanup, ice maintenance, car to be given away, etc.) enter and exit. The first thing we noticed, after we sat down, was that the mascot was standing in the entryway to the ice and was a mere several feet from us.

minor-league hockey mascot

For most kids that might not be a problem, but Beta is intensely distrustful of mascots, clowns, Santa Clauses, Halloween costumes, etc. So I was very impressed when Beta actually waved to the mascot. I think it helped that there was a significant barrier protecting us from the mascot.

Partway through the first period, a deflected pass went up into the nets that surround the ends of the rink. Since our seats were on the corner and were also the first row, we were under the netting somewhat. The netting was attached to the back of the glass so that if a puck hit the net and rolled down, it would end up in the first row of seats.

And that’s exactly what happened. The guy sitting next to us caught the puck. He was there with his family, so they enjoyed that. Then, a period later, the same thing happened again. The man was so very nice and gracious and offered that puck to Beta, who quickly accepted it. So he got an official game puck and made sure he knew where it was at all times (answer: in my pocket so we wouldn’t lose it).

When we walked into the rink, we had to go past all the vendors. I pointed them out to Beta – “here’s ice cream, do you want any?“, “there’s the food“, “here are roasted almonds, or you can have chocolate-covered pretzels“. Each time, I would ask him if he wanted anything. And each time, he would decline.

After the first period, I asked him again if he wanted anything. And again, he declined. I asked why he didn’t want anything, any dessert here at the game. He said he wanted to wait until we got home so he could have a Tootsie Roll. So I bought myself some roasted almonds. He wouldn’t even try one.

I thought seats on the glass would be fun, and they were. At least for me they were. Beta did not like the checking into the glass. I don’t know if he didn’t trust the Plexiglas-brand acrylic glass or if the noise was too loud, but each time something happened against the boards in front of us, Beta would lean as far back as he could.

Eventually, at his insistence, we moved back a row. That was for the third period. That, coupled with the fact the I couldn’t see much of anything that happened at the other end of the ice, means that when I go back, I want seats at least halfway up. Beta quite enjoyed the game. He said he wants to come back with Alpha next time, but not with Momma.

watching hockey from the front row

One last thing to note about the game: they were not just power plays, they were Air Force power plays. Apparently you can sponsor the power plays. At least the face-offs were anonymous.

All in all, it was a good game. It had just about everything one could want in a hockey game – checking, 5-on-4 power plays, a couple of 5-on-3 power plays, a hat trick, a throw-off-the-gloves fight (they both got penalties – 5 for fighting), and Canadians.

Beta fell asleep on the way home, holding his free coloring book and the puck. I think we’re off to a good start. Other children may fall asleep holding their blanket or stuffed animal – mine has his hockey puck.

child who fell asleep in his car seat while holding a hockey puck

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?

Luke 11:13