Wednesday, August 26, 2009


More snapshots. His pictures, my words. Well, some of his words too, actually. But there's attribution.

**He stared at the television as an Ambien commercial droned "Risk of suicide may increase," and I wondered what I would say if he asked about suicide. Instead, he said "If I need help sleeping, I try to dream about you. And dolphins."**

**I needed him to be ready to go by 8:30. I asked him at 7:30 to put on his socks and shoes. 7:45, nothing. "David, put your shoes on," I repeated. "Okay," he replied with total sincerity, and continued reading his comic book. 7:55, 8:10, still no progress. "David!" I said, getting heated now. "Socks! Shoes! Now!" "Okaaaay!" he said, disgusted with me for getting heated when this was clearly the first time I'd asked him. I got everything else ready. At 8:30, one sock was on. "DAVID, I WANT YOU TO PUT YOUR SOCK AND SHOES ON RIGHT NOW!" "Mooooom!" he cried, crushed that I was yelling at him for absolutely no reason. We left at 8:37. His shoes were unfastened.**

**He hunched low in the corner of our yard, inching ever closer to our resident black widow. He'd already gotten a shot of the female and male together. He just barely captured a close-up shot of her front legs before she scurried lightning-quick into a crack in the wall. "Spooky," he said, but he was grinning, and he stuck around until she reappeared.**

**He completed a math worksheet in record time, except for the last problem, which asked him to write out how he would use simple subtraction to help him solve the tougher problems. "I wouldn't," he finally wrote. "They're all too easy."**

**When I picked him up from school his face was stained with a tear streak through a thin layer of dirt. I wanted to make it better right away, but no. Something about kids at his table being mean and him trying to help someone; someone else yelling and the substitute teacher being too distracted to notice. We went out to play, even though it was well above a hundred. Much sweat, more dirt, a few piles of sand, a mercilessly unending game of tag and a hummingbird encounter later, I had managed to make it better.**

**While contemplating wildlife viewing he told me, loudly enough for everyone else who was entering school that day to overhear, "I really want to see a beaver in real life. I'd be the luckiest guy in the world, if I could see a beaver up close!"**

**As we walked to the car after school, two vultures leisurely circled above us, their primaries fanned like dainty fingers smoothing the sky. "Those are turkey vultures," he announced to anyone who would listen. One woman stopped and asked him to tell her more, listening carefully, and not condescendingly, as he imparted his knowledge. He strutted the rest of the way to the car.**

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Must be nice to be perfect

My son is always right. Just ask him.

Argument From Existence
1. David exists.
2. To exist is to think.
3. To think is to have opinions.
4. Opinions in general are flawed, but David's, obviously, are not.
5. Therefore, David is right.

Argument From Earliness (a.k.a. Argument from Mom Doesn't Want to Deal With It):
1. It's 5 a.m.
2. Therefore, David is right.

Ontological Argument**
1. The unrelenting rightness of David exists in David's understanding.
2. Being totally and always right is a possible state of affairs, and might exist in reality.
3. If something awesome exists in David's mind and might have existed then it would be way better that way. The best state of affairs would be if he was really always right. (This includes bedtime, pizza, and whether the cat licking him counts as a bath.)
4. Suppose (theoretically) that David is perfect only in his understanding and not in reality.
5. I know, ridiculous. But just suppose.
6. If this were true, then it would be possible for him to be even more perfect than he is.
7. This is obviously absurd, as David is already perfect. The definition of David is perpetual correctness. It's a clear contradiction.
8. Therefore, David is right.

Argument from the Unbearable
1. Whining.
2. Therefore, David is right.

Argument from "But You SAID..."
1. David has thought about it, and he really feels an imperative to: jump off the roof/backtalk/wail inconsolably about the evening's addition problems.
2. David's parents said it was good for him to: try new things/speak his mind/share his feelings.
3. David's attention and recall are too important to be bothered by just anything, so it must crucial if he's managed to recall parental guidance to manipulate his parents make conscientious life decisions.
4. Therefore, David is right.

Teleological Argument
1. Constructions such as a complex intergalactic storyline at the age of three, clear and stunning photographs by the age of five, and sketches of animals apparently constructed entirely from phalluses at every age are obviously too brilliant to have been accomplished by anyone but a genius of the highest degree.
2. David invented the adventures of Debka, and produces stunning photographs and whole populations of penisauruses to this day.
3. Therefore, David is a genius of the highest degree.
4. Therefore, David is right.

Argument From Hastening of Public Humiliation
1. David has no qualms about bellowing the names of body parts in public.
2. He has been asked to save it until later or whisper, if it's absolutely necessary.
3. Of course, if it occurs to David to say, it must be absolutely necessary.
4. He favors a stage whisper that is much louder than normal talking.
5. Therefore, David is right.

Transcendental Argument
1. Morality, knowledge, bathing, entertainment, purchasing desserts, pet ownership, and watching television have no meaning except in reference to David's desires.
2. You might think you led a meaningful existence prior to seven years ago, but you are mistaken.
3. Therefore, David is right.

Argument from Strength in Numbers
1. David.
2. Another David.
3. Destructive power of a bucket-wheel excavator combined with voices of howler monkeys and the attention spans of hamsters.
4. Sleepover sans sleep.
5. Therefore, David is right.

I'm so proud. And scared.

**It has occurred to me that the people able to fully appreciate my attempt at humor here are also going to be able to recognize that I totally butchered concepts like the telelogical and the ontological argument. Go easy. It's just for fun, plus I haven't had any philosophy or logic courses in many years. Besides, I'm right. Even David said so.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Today before school

Girl: So we need to bring in two or three, and they have to be decorated by Friday.
Dad: So, next week.
Girl: No, Friday!
Dad: Sweetie, do you know what today is?

Mom: So I'm going to ask you again. Do you want chicken or spaghetti tonight?
Bratty kid: Chicken.
Mom: Chicken, what?
Kid: Chicken, because you're mad at me and won't get pizza.

Teacher: What now, guys?
Kid 1: He was being mean and...
Kid 2: No, HE was being mean...
Kid1: But he called me a butthead...
Kid 2: Only because he called me a freak.
Kid 1: So I told him not to and he called me a crybaby!
Kid 2: But THEN he put up his tall man finger, and pretended he was stretching it but I know he wasn't!
Kid 1: But you did the same thing! You didn't make it look like a mistake. And I wasn't pretending.
Teacher: Guys, that means something very rude.
Kid 2: I know what it means! Like effer-something.
Kid 1: What's that?
Kid 2: Like kissing on the lips, but worse!
Both kids: Ewww!
(They run off to play.)

Mom 1: Oh, I know. Like really, who cares?
Mom 2: Right. I mean, they just take random stuff and put it on their blog.
Me: (Practicing my whistling.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Of cockchafers and bushtits ... or my husband's sudden interest in nomenclature

How you know your wife is a little off:

(Wife, hunched in chair, thumbs through a stack of reference books and mutters to self): "No, not that. Aw, man. That's all there is. Cock... Cock... Let's see...Oh! Here's cock. Nope. Just 'chafer.' Cockchafer, cockchafer, cockchafer again. Cock-frickin'-chafer."

(Husband, snickering, stares at wife): "Good book?"

(Wife, not seeing anything particularly odd or funny): "What? Why?"

As many of you may know, I geek out for both critters and words. Entomology and etymology, I like to say. (By "like to say" I mean I've actually said it. I am indeed a scintillating conversationalist.) Recently, I've been meshing the two with a growing interest in and some research into the fascinating areas of taxonomy and binomial nomenclature.

Really. "Fascinating" wasn't supposed to be ironic.

My husband remains unconvinced, and is not as taken by the topic. And by "unconvinced" I mean "clearly ignorant of how right I am," and by "not as taken" I mean "bored, and also less interested than he would be in something that might pay the mortgage."

Besides, interest a topic in my husband's universe generally comes in two flavors. The first is in flashiness, explodeyness, behemothosity, dramatic mega-fauna ... if Jerry Bruckheimer, Micheal Bay, or J.J. Abrams wouldn't be interested, neither would he.

The second is innuendo and scatological humor. Happily for family time, he shares this affinity with my son. They could spend hours watching a baboon documentary, not because the primates are so fascinating, but because they have big red butts.

I tire of such diversions after about ten seconds. So naturally, my husband and son can subsist for weeks on absolutely nothing but booby/wiener/fart/balls/poop/sex puns, and the occasional intake of oxygen.

They want to include me, see, but I can be a little highbrow and cerebral. And by "highbrow" I mean "no fun," and by "cerebral" I mean "boring."

All of this to say, the cockchafer conversation was sort of the perfect storm.

Me: Well, I was looking for a certain passage on the cockroach, but all I can find is cockchafer.
Him: Really. Cockchafer.
Me: No, really, see? Apparently it's what we call a June bug. But this guy seems quite taken with the name cockchafer. He uses it an inordinate amount of times, like even if you're going to use that term. Seriously. "The cockchafer has... The cockchafer flies... The cockchafer usually appears... The cockchafer eats..." Hasn't the guy ever heard of pronouns?
Him: Well, maybe he's just a pervert who gets off on that sort of thing. Like that one guy with the clams. Is it the same guy?
Me: Linnaeus? No, I don't think so. And anyway, it's a different, um, anatomical feature than the ones Linnaeus seemed to favor.
Him: Right. He liked clams named after woman parts.
Me: Exactly. I guess the, er, fleshy part of one looked like the fleshy part of the other...
Him: Well, maybe to him.
Me: he named them after things like the vulva, anus, labia, hymen and something about pubes. I'm not sure on the last one. But I think.
Him: Seriously.
Me: And flowers. He really only looked at what they did sexually. Apparently plant sexual reproduction was a new discovery, so a lot of people were pretty taken with it. He named plants by what he thought of their sex lives, pretty much. There's names meaning "promiscuous intercourse," "barren concubines," and "parted legs." And listen to what he wrote: "The flowers' leaves serve as bridal beds which the creator has so gloriously arranged, adorned with such noble bed curtains, and perfumed with so many soft scents that the bridegroom with his bride might there celebrate their nuptials with so much the greater solemnity."
Him: Wow. Just, wow.
Me: Yeah. I guess a lot of people were kind of bothered by that, especially in the 1700s, but he really was a genius.
Him: Yeah. I can see that.
Me: No, really! He made the basic system for classifying things. And we still use a lot of his names today. I know he named the Mammillaria genus, you know, the nipple cacti...
Him: Those ones you searched for at work?
Me: Yeah. I got pictures of something, but it wasn't cacti, needless to say.
Him: And why nipples?
Me: I guess he thought tubercles -- those things that stick out, with the spines -- looked like nipples.
Him: Not like any I've seen.
Me: And we still have his mollusk names. Look! Penicillus vaginiferus. Vaginiferous? It sounds like some kind of weird-ass compliment: "Your vagina looks vaginiferous tonight, m'dear."
Him: Ha; how about vaginificent. Or vagipendous.
Me: Oh, wait, never mind. Lamarck named that one. But Linnaeus named the whole genus Penicillus. And, apparently, penicillus is a rarely used term for penis.
Him: So that name means penis vagina?
Me: I guess. Oh, here's one Linneaus named. Penicillus penis.
Him: So ... penis penis?
Me: I guess maybe he wanted to make up for the gender bias in his other mollusk names.
Him: At least he had a heterosexual plant and clam fetish.
Me: Here's a biography. It says Linnaeus "loved nature deeply..."
Him: Yeah. A little too deeply.
Me: ...and that it was his job to make a "natural classification that would reveal God's order in the universe."
Him: So he thought God was overly fond of vaginas, then? So did Linnaeus name boobies?
Me: No, I don't think so. And anyway, that's not fair; that's just the common name. There are a bunch of animals with unfortunate common names. Boobies, titmouse, great tit, goatsucker, dik-dik, slippery dick... Some animals have pretty funny stories about where they got their names, but I don't know those ones.
Him: You're just making these up now.
Me: No, really. You're going to question me on an intersection of etymology and biology? I told you it's fun stuff. At least all we have out here is the horny toad, if people call it that; the wood pewee and dickcissel if you really want to push it; I think maybe goatsuckers; a booby was sighted in Arizona once I think but not in a while...
Him: Sounds familiar.
Me (ignoring): ...and the cockchafer obviously, and the nipple beehive cactus. Oh, and the bushtit.
Him: Hee. Bush. Tit. And I thought there was a whole group of nipple cacti.
Me: Genus. And maybe they made sure the other common names were less, um, distracting. Scientific names are pretty bad too. Enema pan, that's a beetle; there's some kind of snail called Fukuia something; ooh, and a solpugid, I love those, called Eremobates inyoanus. I love that one. A something fartus and a Fartulum something. And my favorite is Colon rectum. That's a beetle too.
Him: Scientists have a warped sense of humor, I guess.
Me: They do! Look; here's a story about a fungus named Phallus drewesii. Apparently, this guy named Drewes was on an expedition with a friend of his who's a mushroom expert, and he found this two-inch-long, crooked, phallic-shaped mushroom and jokingly named it after his friend.
Him: So the whole name comes from a your-penis-is-smaller joke.
Me: Yep.
Him: Well, just find more stories like this, and I might be more interested in this field.

Him: Say it again.
Me: Oh, come on.
Him: No, really. Is it "entomology?" I thought that was insects.
Me: Oh! Etymology. Study of word origins. Entomology is insects. Sorry. I thought you wanted me to say the stupid bug name again.
Him: Hey.
Me: What?
Him: Say it.
Me: Say what?
Him: You know.
Me: [Sigh.] Cockchafer.