Wednesday, April 30, 2008


It would appear that Beast has a bizarre mystery ailment of his own. Nothing as scary as Noodle's case of Henoch-Schonlein purpura, but plenty unusual from where we sit.

The scenario: Beast wakes up ready to roll, but about three hours of the day he's cranky and irritable with a low-grade fever. Mid-99 to around 101, something like that. Then it gets odd. He has his lunch, takes his nap...and without any medication the fever's gone and he's his feisty old self again, but not before the day care center calls to let us know what's up and get us wondering if this'll be another week where the precisely calibrated schedule gets blown to bits.


I'm going to keep trying the hypermiling thing with my minivan, since the gas mileage first time out jumped from 19.5 to about 21, and that was with a lot of driving in the mountains covering the Minnewaska fire. The people who are fanatical about it will take all kinds of unusual measures but some strike me as unwise, like over-inflating tires to reduce rolling friction. I'll be trying to keep my hypermiling within what would be a safe and realistic frame for a typical driving family.

I started at work, by parking closer to the road, so I don't have to drive that extra hundred feet or so. That's one less mile I will drive every ten weeks!

Monday, April 28, 2008


It's easy enough to spot the old ladies who toddle along down the road maxing out at 45 - the powder-blue Buick with the tissue-box in a knitted cozy on the back deck is a sure sign, along with the presence of small stuffed animals next to the tissues. But there's a male equivalent: the small truck, almost always an old beater with a cap on the back. Like this:

It's one thing to settle in behind the elderly female driver - not a problem, set the cruise control at 45, turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. (And save gas.) But the geezers? Their move is to average 45 but never actually drive at 45, so everybody behind them is forever speeding up, slowing down, waiting for that one open stretch of passing-lane blacktop that never comes because that's the moment when the alte kacker opens up the throttle and gets it all the way to 53 for the few crucial seconds you needed. The moment an oncoming vehicle pops into view, you're back crawling again. 41, 40, 43, 45, 49, 51...say, maybe we'll actually make decent time for a--

37, 36, 40, 38...

I have not one, not two, but four such nemeses who vex me on my morning commute to Poughkeepsie - and I'm a guy who commutes at 4 in the morning, so when somebody's causing a traffic slowdown at that hour it tends to stick in the memory. It's also messing up my hypermiling experiment. No, I'm not doing some of the extreme things they recommend like overinflating the tires to reduce rolling friction, but with gas at $3.70something a gallon around here I'm trying to squeeze every last drop out of the tank by not driving like we got a big ol' convoy rockin' through the night. Alas, the hypermilers' feathering-the-pedal technique goes all to heck when I'm constantly guessing what the old fart in front of me is up to.

And so for serenity I chant my mantra through gritted teeth: blood, blood, blood, blood...

(BTW, gas mileage is up from 19 to 21 without really trying - and that's including some work covering the Minnewaska fires, and hilly country will really do a number on gas mileage.)

Sunday, April 27, 2008


What? NO!
More than 100 million album sales into his career and roughly two thirds of the way through our interview, Phil Collins casually serves notice of his retirement. Having joined a reformed Genesis for a world tour last year, he says he’s through with the touring and there’s no album planned. He’ll write, but only because he doesn’t know how to stop writing.
I am most thoroughly bummed, but Phil's been known to change his mind before, yes?


After this weekend's toil, I strongly believe that there is no more manly yard implement than the wood-chipper. In goes the tree, and after some delighfully loud chomping and grinding out shoots itty bitty pieces of former tree. OM NOM NOM NOM NOM. The kids have been spellbound, especially since they'll have a bit more back yard to play in once my labors are concluded.

Many thanks to Rhinebeck Rentals for helping me have a productive weekend of pure fun.

And so far no ticks have latched on to my flesh, although I do believe that Her Awesomeness will have to check me later this evening after a glass or two of wine.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Postponed twice, the big brush-chipper is being delivered on Saturday, and I get to feed two years' worth of accumulated cut and downed branches into its gaping maw, and perhaps fill in some of the swampy spots in the yard at the same time. The whirling of the blades and spewing of wood chips would probably get a WHOA, FREAKIN' COOL out of Beast if he were but a few years older, but for now the little guy doesn't much care for the loud noises. Perhaps Noodle will like it, but in any case they'll be watching from a distance if at all. Her Awesomeness has disturbing visions of coming back from the park with the kids to find nothing left of me but my leg protruding Buscemi-like from the chipper.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


"How did that cheese get in your shoes?"

"Don't wash your cars in milk."

"Yogurt goes IN your tummy, not ON your tummy."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Thought the week was sussed out pretty well. Home with the kids on Monday since their school was closed for Passover, so I shoved all the yard/house/office work into Wednesday, my second and final usual open day for the week. Weather's great, so as long as nobody gets sick we should be --

(cough cough cough...mommy? daddy?)

Aw, heck.

If you guessed that one of the kids up and got sick on Tuesday afternoon, shooting my finely-honed plans all to heck, congratulations! Have a cookie. You must be a parent, too! Okay, plan B. Play-Doh, drawing, lunch, nap. Are there any day games on so I can at least introduce Beast to the wonders of televised baseball? Nope, not a single one. Thanks a bunch, Lords of Baseball. Thanks for going the extra mile to help me bond with my boy. Way to introduce new fans to the game. Morons.

When I'm elected benevolent dictator, I shall decree there be at least one day baseball game for each day of the season so that daddies and their sniffly baby boys can recuperate the proper way.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Last year my mom sold my childhood home in Rhinebeck, and while I loved growing up there with all the woods out back and so much countryside to explore, mom and dad were clueless on how to maintain it and whatever retro early-60's charm it had either fell apart or was long since painted/carpeted/built over. I barely recognize the place what with the improvements the new owners made. Looks like they added over an acre and a half to the property as well.


So I'm buying lottery tickets here and there for as long as the place is on the market, and if I hit big you best stay clear because I'll be exercising my sentimental-doofus clause and buying it back, even if only to rent it to summer folk.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Yeah, the day job intruded today - a good hundred miles of schlepping about on some lovely back roads, none of which were close enough to the fire that's been burning since last week at Minnewaska State Park. Not being close enough is a good thing if you live there, but I wanted to gawk do my job as a reporter. The best view I got of the fire's effects was from 20-odd miles away on the Kingston Rhinecliff Bridge where you could see the haze slowly drifting more or less north. From places like Cragsmoor, Alligerville and Kyserike, you could easily smell the fire but just as easily see no sign of it if you were down in one of the deep gullies in the area.

Still. There's loads of fuel for fires in that part of the county this time of the year, and I'm quite surprised it's been 36 years since our region has had a fire this extensive. Next time your local fire department has the boot out for donations, drop a 20 in there if you can swing it. Chances are they've had somebody over at that fire this week, and that's some rough country to be working in.

And then to Target for kitty litter, over to Red Hook for Chinese takeout, and home to the tastiest cuddles on the planet. I shaved this morning, which always rates extra smooches from Noodle.

Tomorrow the kids' day care center is closed. That puts me on solo child-care if there's another three-thousand-acre wildfire burning by this time tomorrow, you'll have some idea as to why.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


This week we've been introducing Noodle to the concept of money, savings, and delayed gratification, on the road to Allowanceville and Chorestown. And delayed gratification is hard to do for grown-ups, let alone a four-year old. Your first hurdle may be a lot like ours. We showed Noodle a dollar bill and demonstrated what it was for...and she was bored, because your basic one-dollar bill is even less flashy to a kid than it is to a grown up. Enter the Mint:


This the Noodle likes. It's so much clinkier and prettier than a grubby old crumpled-up bill.

That, by the way, is the flip-side of the dollar coins the US Mint has been rolling out since last year. The front sides depict the presidents, and so far they've gotten up to Monroe. Whatever. All she knows is that thirteen of them will get her the My Little Pony toy she wants so desperately, and to get a coin she has to go to bed promptly at 8 without any stalling or kvetching or melodrama.

Eventually, we transition this into her allowance for doing household chores. I have been waiting for this since the moment she was born. Get to work, kiddo - daddy is freakin' beat.


Much to his delight, the urologist says Beast will not need any snipping or whatnot in the foreseeable future. We shall speak no more of this until perhaps his bachelor party many years hence.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Things might look a bit screwy here over the weekend. I'll be fiddling with new templates - because goshdarnitall, I've been trying to cram three columns' worth of idiocy into two columns here.


We are currently getting again-again-again-agains for the following:

Loch Lomond - Dan Zanes and Natalie Merchant

Half A Mile Away - Billy Joel

Thursday, April 17, 2008


As in, we will hear from Beast's urologist up in Albany as to what's happening with the situation on his situation, if you dig my inflectation. (Look, I've got to at least make an attempt to be oblique so that in a dozen years or so Beast isn't quite as horrified to find that his dad was writing about his john thomas.) Will be a long day, but there's supposed to be ice cream at the end of it. In honor of the Pope's visit we're going to Holy Cow in Red Hook.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


(I'll be dropping this one off at parenthacks to see what they think of it - they liked my first one about the headlamp very well indeed. Here goes...)

The kids used to really enjoy corn on the cob. It's a fun shape, it's noisy, it's good for them...but as with all foods for the little ones, sometimes you need to tart up the presentation to keep them interested. And what entertains the little ones more than druids, hm?

Tonight we had boiled up the usual ears of corn, but they sat uneaten at the table until yours truly got the idea to cut them into thirds, then re-stack them on the plate in the form of the place where the banshees live (and they do live well). After that came om nom nom nomsville, y'all.

Oh, of course. Here are the lads:

UPDATE: there really is a Cornhenge - in Dublin, Ohio. Not edible like mine, though. And not very hengey, if you ask me.


Sometimes we wonder, what with Noodle demanding that she be carried around the house upside down (like bagpipes! she says) while being zotzed on the tummy, and asking for my really big scary troll voice when we read "Three Billy Goats Gruff", but tonight at bedtime I got
"I was playing beauty salon with my ponies, Daddy!"

Okay then. A girl she is.


As a two-year-old, Beast has long known the joys of dunking his food. This is a young man who loves his ketchup. It's a condiment! It's a floor wax! It's a body paint! It's a furniture conditioner! It's a shampoo! It's --

Dude. Duuuuuuuuude. Hold up. Are you dunking your chicken nugget in the chocolate milk. AFTER you dunked it in the ketchup?

SO not right, is what Her Awesomeness was thinking but trying to avoid saying, because here at Booger Manor we're all about celebrating the grand diversity of the culinary experience and introducing it to the little ones, and so be it if that means some odd things happen along the way.

Still, though. Nasty.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008



Death betide the manufacturers of talking toys with motion sensors that trigger whenever a squirrel breaks wind in the next town over. Like this thing from the imps at Tonka:Cute? Oh, we thought so when Santa brought it to Beast for Christmas. But it won't. shut. up. At 1:30 in the morning...



Which naturally terrifies Herman, who's already inclined to flip out at the slightest provocation. Here's this skinny little ten-pound cat, who somehow makes the noise of a team of Clydesdales when he's running around in a panic. His chubbier sister? Stone feline predatory silence. At any rate, the end result of the toy-triggered commotion is the same - a rude awakening from another one of those dreams where I'm telling Katherine Heigl and Scarlett Johansson to stop fighting over me because I am very much already spoken for, thank you very much.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


"Your toes taste like ketchup."

"Brand-new-baby poo looks like mustard!"

"Sooner or later, the mayonnaise is supposed to come OUT of your hair."

"It's not a loogey, it's wasabi."

"Paul Newman can still make Italian dressing even if he's not Italian."

"How did you get mustard in your ears?"

"No, dinosaurs did not dip their prey in ketchup."

Friday, April 11, 2008


Noodle went to sleep solo for the tenth night last night, so she gets her new ladybug backpack, and a soccer ball she does not want to share with Beast until we explained to her that you need somebody to kick the ball back to you, and who better than a two-and-a-half-year-old with boundless energy?

We're also done with her GoodNites, and hopefully for good!


I love it when smart people say fool things:
In a candid conversation with an audience here at the Aspen Environment Forum, eminent biologist/naturalist EO Wilson said soccer moms are killing off bio-education because they don’t let their children experience nature...In what he calls the “soccer mom syndrome” Wilson said the worst thing a parent can do for a child is to take him or her to a botanical garden where all the trees are marked and labeled. Instead, “Go to the seashore and give them a pail and bucket. Let them experience nature…and then come back and ask questions,” Wilson said.
Thanks, doc! This totally gets me out of taking the kids to the library, that horrible place where all the books are marked and labeled. Better to send them outside to experience nature by reading a candy wrapper some kid dropped on our lawn.

I will leave for others the deliciousness of an environmentalist telling people in Colorado to go to the seashore, regardless of how many Aspenites can simply hop their Gulfstreams back to Malibu to do just that.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


My poor little guy.

Beast was a little, um, grainy down below the other night, and it fell to me to change him since Her Awesomness was cleaning up after a truly stupendous macaroni-and-cheese-and-peas-and-hot-dog dinner entree. No problem, down comes the pull-up and wow, son, that's redder than a May Day parade in Moscow in the fifties. Gotta get the wipes and --
This'll be over with in no time, big guy, just --
-- let me --
(beseechingly) Daddy, what are you doing to me?
Dude. Oh, little dude. You're gonna make me cry looking at me like that. My sweet trusting decent little guy.
(growling and glaring)

Lord bless my wife, she came right quick and made the judgment call that this time it was okay if there were a few stray crudniks on the fundament, because those could be hosed off in the tub before getting the bath proper under way. A little oatmeal in the bath, a touch of ointment afterwards, and the lad was right as rain, and once mommy calmed him down he gave me one of his treasured run-n-hugs from all the way down the hall.

Which are only the best things in the world.


This is it. Noodle attempts to go for the big prize by falling asleep by herself for the tenth night.

I missed the success of night nine due to a voice-over seminar at my old high school in Rhinebeck - a place I completely don't recognize since its expansion a few years ago, even though I attended school there for five years and even ran the summertime paint crew for a couple years. The paint jobs are holding up nicely after 22 years, too. I wandered around disoriented like one of the grouchy alte kackers who only sets foot in the school once a year to vote "no" on the school budget. ("I don't have kids in the schools, why should I pay?" To which on the AM station's old talk show I would respond "My dad's dead and never collected a dime from Social Security - where's my 50% payroll tax cut?" Just to rile them and listen to them splutter.)

And then a couple of the friendly students? teachers? pointed me in the right direction.

Bottom line from the seminar: voiceover work is a pretty sweet gig if you can get it, but it takes a lot of hustle to get over that first big hump and my area of expertise doesn't necessarily give me that much of an edge.

(Welcome to my Wall Street Journal forum readers! There are more than one of you, yes?)


If one of your ten toes is a bit banged-up, or is suffering a hangnail or whatnot, that's the toe that you will slam into a chair while walking through the kitchen barefoot.

Ratzafratzin' blankety-blankety poopyheaded YEEOUCH D'OH D'OH D'OOOOOHHHHHH is what I said, because the kids were there and if there's one thing I somehow manage to get right around the kids, it's not using so many cuss words. Her Awesomeness has slipped every now and again, but so far not me. (Jinx.) It's an area in which being an otherwise shiftless radio personality has helped me, since it's a professional responsibility to be aware of the seven dirty words and such.

Plus I figure cursing is like hot peppers - occasionally a judicious amount of spice is needed, but you don't slather the stuff all over everything unless you like having the as-- having considerable lower-intestinal issues later on.

Monday, April 7, 2008


The people at Improv Everywhere are stone cold geniuses. CHECK. OUT. THIS. LINK.

(I'd post the video, but I'm having trouble making the video play nice with Blogger.)
(UPDATE: Made it work!)

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Whilst clipping coupons this evening, I came across what may be the dumbest tag line in the history of Sunday coupon inserts:


It conjures up so many images I'd rather not deal with so close to bedtime. So many.


I wonder what the calorie-burning numbers are for hauling at various intervals 33 or 49 pounds of squirmy child on one's shoulders, because I did one heck of a lot of that today with Noodle and Beast at the gigantic playground which will be Noodle's realm come kindergarten in the fall.

After collapsing for a brief nap this afternoon, my legs and ankle have been giving me one long session of "what in Sam Hill was THAT all about?" But since I'm hoping to hit the golf course for the first time this season this week, I figure hoisting my own bag will be a breeze in comparison.

Golf. In my youth I used to work and play at Red Hook Golf Club from before sunup to after sundown - arrive at 4:30 with the earliest rays of the sun, get in a quick nine before opening up the pro shop, work there 'til noon, grab lunch and play another nine while eating, then work another couple hours, then play another eighteen at least before riding my bike home. And I had the tan of a five-handicapper to show for it - face, both arms, and one hand. Nowadays I'll be doing a jig if I manage to break 45 on the uber-easy north nine at Dinsmore, but I better have some sort of game if the suits at the radio station drag me off to an outing with clients or some such thing this year. The boss in particular has a vivid memory of me smoking a 7-iron to the back of the green on a 216-yard par 3 - which sounds impressive until you factor in that it was a pre-children 31-year-old me swinging like Hulk on meth from an elevated tee with a gale-force wind at my back.

I'd really love for Noodle and Beast to take up golf. Not that I'm ever going to be a "sports parent," although if they ever got good enough to land an athletic scholarship at golf or anything else, ain't no way I'm looking down my nose at that. I'd just like somebody to play with once in a while, however much I might prefer my own company on the golf course.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


So a co-worker of mine hooked us up with some freebies at Chuck E. Cheese, but we figured we'd never use them since we live 30 miles away from the joint, it's at the moribund South Hills Mall, and overstimulating Noodle and Beast while jamming them full of heinous pizza and high-fructose corn syrup drinks was not anybody's idea of fun.

On the other hand, it was free heinous pizza and high-fructose corn syrup drinks, plus just enough game tokens to suck us in. And as it turns out, Noodle needed eyeglasses, and they were ready to be picked up today, and since the eye doctor is just a few miles from Chuck's, well...

The first thing that surprised us was that the place opens at nine in the morning. To get the brunch crowd, don't you know. I'll tell you momentarily why opening at nine is a fantastic idea. The second surprising thing was that they serve wine. It's not like there's a wine list. The's just two small taps behind the cash registers, one marked red and the other marked white. Can anybody help me out on which one goes with cheese-and-tomato-flavored cardboard?

We got there at 11:00 when the place was still all but empty, and by 11:10 the Beast had taken so many rides on the Chuck E. picture-taking car thing that it ran out of paper, and aside from that his ride of choice was the Bob the Builder bulldozer, during which he would proclaim to all and sundry that I AM BOB THE BUILDER. I AM. Meanwhile, Noodle had racked up 79 game tickets cheating at playing Whack-A-Mole. I think you need two thousand tickets to earn the two-inch-tall plastic dog from China with a missing leg and enough lead in it to stop a charging Cape buffalo.

By 11:30 the place was jammed with people and kids arriving for the first parties of the day, and as it turns out one of Noodle's nursery-school classmates was one of the party-goers, and talked Noodle into being brave enough to climb up into the crawling maze that looms over the play zone and is actually very very cool for four-year-olds.

And then it got more crowded. Which brings us back around to my point about it being a great thing that the place opened at nine, because by noon Her Awesomeness was on the verge of hooking one of those wine taps up to a funnel and making like it was a Friday night in Plattsburgh some time in the early nineties. With Chuck E's first stage show of the day about to begin and suck the kids in for another half-hour of token-sucking hell, we fled in slow-motion like the crippled Enterprise trying to limp away from Khan's ticking-time-bomb ship in the Mutaran Nebula, hoping against hope that we'd get out the door before they saw anything and started howling. Her Awesomeness was magnificent as Spock bringing the mains back online just in time.

Next time, we're coming early so my darling wife can mix Chuck E's wine with some OJ and have herself a proper brunchtime modified mimosa. Even with the freebies it cost us 35 bucks. When you've got kids, the Man will win one every now and again. You cannot stop him. You can only hope to contain him.

Did I mention the godawfulness of the pizza?


"Do NOT wipe your nose on the cat...again."

Friday, April 4, 2008


Noodle's really getting the hang of this falling-asleep-solo thing! And that's even with the bummer news that the Memere had a bad cold and wouldn't be joining us at the Chuck E. Cheese or wherever it is we're going tomorrow.

We're also psyched here in Boogerland, because today I got my first hack posted over at the mighty! Not that it's any amazing work of genius; I merely suggested a clip-on hat lamp would work wonders if you're in a situation like ours where the light from one kid's room keeps the other kid awake at bedtime, but turning out the lights straightaway would be a tantrum-maker. Here's the whole story, along with linkage to the one place I found that had the lamps if you're averse to grabbing them from the point-of-purchase rack at your local Wal-Mart.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


This is how not to react when you get dumped:

While patrols were en route, police received information it was not a domestic dispute, but a dispute involving the homeowner’s daughter’s ex-boyfriend, who had allegedly forcibly entered the home armed with machete-style knives. When Sheriff’s patrols arrived at the scene, they found the girl’s mother and father suffering knife wounds, as well as the suspect — Nicholas Usuriello, 17, of Clinton Corners. Police said he was still armed with two knives.After a short time, Usuriello was disarmed and taken into custody without further incident. While the investigation is continuing, initial investigation revealed Usuriello had planned the incident, and had entered the home when he was confronted by his ex-girlfriend’s parents, police said. The girl’s father suffered a cut on the head and a severed thumb...

Best wishes to the girl's mom and especially the dad; looks like your daughter turned out to be rather a good judge of character and got out while the gettin' was good. This is the kind of situation I'm going to dread seeing my daughter in once she becomes a teenager, even though we like to think she won't be the type to take any guff from any boy - and on a selfish note, by the time Noodle is 17 I'm not going to be a spring chicken and was pretty well useless in physical confrontations even in my youth. Still, a kick to the groin will always work wonders with a violently intransigent failed suitor.

In the meantime, please - no Pope of Greenwich Village jokes until the dad's recovered.


Five nights of Noodle falling asleep solo. Five more to go and she gets her prize. After that? Rut roh.

So she set foot inside her future elementary school for the first time today, and loved it. An hour of story-time, and since she's already taller than some of the second graders she looks like she fits right in. Her Awesomeness and I did the meet-and-greet with the principal and the head of the local PTA, and due to my goofy radio-guy schedule I was the only dad in the room. As a result, I could feel some of the moms' eyes boring into me from behind. At least that's what I think was happening, because it's highly unlikely they were checking me out. It could have been that the sunlight through the cafeteria windows was hitting my super-sexy bald spot at just the right angle and they were squinting from the glare.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Just because squids are cool. And yummy, dipped in panko and sauteed.


Noodle has done three nights out of four falling asleep without help, and as of bathtime she's psyched to go for four. We'll see.

In the meantime, the family has ditched the calming pre-bedtime routine favored by experts everywhere, seeing as it didn't seem to work in the least. Instead, there's the post-dinner wig-out, culminating in the march to the bathroom during which I pick up Beast and pretend he's a set of bagpipes, holding him upside down while making the loudest possible fart noises I can on his chubby (but no longer stubby) little legs.

I don't know what your household calls them, but here in Boogerland the fart-noise-on-leg (or tummy, or rump) is referred to as a "zotz". Is there another word? Inquiring minds need to know.

UPDATE: She's at four!