Back to the polls

Last night I left work and trekked over to pick up the girls, and then stopped by the polling place on the way home. This is the first time I’ve taken the girls with me to the polls, so it was a bit of an education, after all of our talks a couple of weeks ago about the general election. They showed some concern, “But Obama already won, so why are you voting again?” “That was for The president and for several other jobs,” I explained. This was followed by a glossy overview of the House and Senate, and the basics of runoffs, recounts, and terms of office. They are suddenly at an age where they are reading all the signs and pointing things out that the signs say (which tells me that very soon, I’ll be explaining what the dials and lights are on the car dash, and will soon thereafter have two backseat drivers).
The Manual
The traffic was really heavy in the area, and we got there about ten minutes before seven and quietly got in line. The queue seemed long at first, but moved very swiftly. We got about halfway through the line when they announced that the polls are closed, that everyone currently in line would be able to vote, but that anyone arriving thereafter would not be able to. This seemed fair, because the polls were scheduled to close at 7pm, and it was a few minutes after at that point. When we got to maybe 6th in line, there was the highly anticipated noise of a disgruntled latecomer, furious at not being allowed to vote. It was hard to make out any of the arguments outside the building, but all the expected noises were in accompaniment, including a very loud, “…in the cold to come down here and do my part!” Those of us still in line chuckled quietly as the polling officials and volunteers exchanged glances and suggested that they might need backup.

Normal Names

I saw this quiz over at Delusions and just had to take it. It’s something mcangeli and I ised to talk about once in a while when at work, b/c his kids have very traditional names, and mine don’t. :]

You Like Names That Are Cutting Edge and Exotic

You love creative names and names from foreign cultures.
You believe names should be expressive and interesting.

You like names that are unusual, striking, and powerful.
You couldn’t imagine naming your child or pet anything “normal.”

Some female names you might like: Amaya, Celestine, Danessa, Fawn, Kenya, Monet, Serenity, and Tia

Some male names you might like: Drake, Flint, Harley, Kendrick, Pascal, Romeo, and Timber

taken for granite

In the past couple of years, my sister has suggested an activity that is becoming a staple in our family gatherings, especially when our relatives from out-of-state are here. The first time around, it was on Thanksgiving Day, and after we had filled up on the bounty, we packed all of the teens and kids into the car and went to hike Stone Mountain. This was a great activity, and here in GA, it’s really still rather mild in late November. This past weekend, we went for that hike again, the first where I have taken the girls. It’s a very different challenge during the summer, but is great excercise as well as a bonding experience for all of us.
I really wish I’d packed more water for the ascent this time, and think that they should consider making some water fountains available at the pavillion that sits halfway up the trail to the top.
I was looking at the Atlanta paper today, and there was an article about some local clubs that have been organized over the years who go and climb the mountain every day, which is marvellous if you have the time and means.
After our climb back down, we took some blankets to the lawn and saw the laser show (I used to go all the time, when we lived in the area during my younger years, but I hadn’t seen it in a long time). There is a new company in charge of the whole production, and they are using a lot more in the way of projections, pyrotechnics, and the like. It’s not a bad show at all. If you are visiting the Atlanta area, you should add it to the “see list” for one evening.

–so the drama–

I got the girls into a drama camp at a community theater near my parents’ house over last week. My sister’s daughter and my older brother’s daughter were able to attend camp as well, which was really awesome. The camp was over one week, with two full performances on this past Saturday. The production of Robin Hood was really funny, and it was amazing to see how much all the kids had learned and prepared over the course of five days! I am trying to convert some of the video I took at the show into a youtube-friendly format, and even into a format I can use to create either a VCD or a full DVD for the parents/grandparents to keep. The camera I borrowed saved the clips as ASF files, which I can view just fine in Totem or Xine, but the cd/dvd authoring apps I’ve tried don’t see them as a “video source”. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them… (Sherri! help!)


I was sitting with the girls and Tink (Tink is a wire-haired terrier whose fur is cornsilk blonde, and a bit scruffy in length). The girls were singing some made-up song about our breakfast and how excited they are to be going on a surprise expedition, then their attention turned to Tink.

Petting her, they started to notice similarities in a dog’s biology and their own. When they started talking about front paws versus rear paws, I pointed out the similarity in bone structure between hands and feet (tarsals and carpals, etc) and dropped another seed to pick up at another time (that half of the bones in your body are in your hands and feet), but otherwise left them to make the rest of the inferences themselves.

After noticing the limbs and some muscle groups, they started to mention more surface comparisons, and this one I just had to share:
K: There’s a lot of ways that I’m like Tink!
A: Hey, here’s another way that I’m like her even more. (puts her finger into her blonde hair, which has been darkening quite a bit over the past year).
K: Yeah! You both have a head!
A: (exasperated) NO! Blonde hair!
Me: Well, it’s true. you do each have a head…
A: I was talking about her fur and my hair.
K: Yeah. That too.

The hairy, pimply truth

Way back in my teen years, I was involved in a peer counseling group, and part of being one of these peer counselors was taking huge amounts of classes and workshops covering a ton of general topics having to do with counseling and psychology, and then there were tons more having to do with the gritty details of topics that people in our age group (teens) would be tackling with. Which meant that we ended up with a really in-depth knowledge of human sexuality in all its forms, with issues arising from sexual choices, social impact, even epidemiology and contraceptive technology.
All of this information was timely for us, and we were charged in a lot of way to disseminate the knowledge whenever possible. In our new time, the internet is one of the best ways to educate and entertain. I still have a few years before I start having these discussions with my girls, but I’ve noticed a lot of parent-bloggers making posts about how they talk with their kids about sex.

I’m not talking about the birds-bees-let’s-get-it-overwith talk that’s been bandied forvever and parodied ad nauseum. I mean real, ongoing discussions of the full range of sexual topics.

The first such post was over at Angelika’s blog, where she says “Life has an NC-17 rating”.
As an aside, I’d like to say in response @ Angelika’s post: A lot of things happened in my coming of age, and at my age, I did know about all the deprived things that go on out there…. Those things didn’t just materialize out of nowhere.

I usually stay brushed up on these topics on one level or another, and am always on the lookout for more sources of good information.

Back in early November, Mouseclone won an iPod device with video capability, and later began a sortie into the current podcast landscape, mostly with tech-related podcasts, but also found a video podcast that I’d like to share here in the hopes that anyone who wants/needs/is mildly interested will benefit:

The Midwest Teen Sex Show Is a video podcast. If you have no idea what that means, it’s a video blog. If your eyes are glazing over, don’t worry. The best way to understand is to watch a couple of episodes. When you hit the link here, You will see three columns. In the middle column, find the spot with the “Episodes” heading, and go ahead and hit episode #1 (may as well start at the beginning!).

You can watch the videos right there in the page. It being a podcast makes it possible for you to use a tool that will automatically download new epidoses for your portable device, etc…

The show is open and informative, it is clean, doesn’t skirt topics, and although it is serious, they are never too serious to make the topic fun, even at the peril of poking a little fun at themselves. This is a brilliant jumping off point for discussions with the kids. If you are a teen and don’t have anyone to talk with about any of this, the show is very helpful, but please do find someone you can trust who you can talk with candidly if your parents are too uptight or bashful about sexuality. It’s for your health, and you need good sources of information, and you really need to be able to talk about what’s real out there and on your level.

Generations: belief systems

I was reading an article by Jenny about the possibility of your kids choosing to follow a religion that is entirely different from your set of beliefs.

I’m pretty sure that this comes up with every parent, and has been going on for a long time. The phases that kids go through as far as trying to find their identity socially, and trying out lifestyles of friends that they make along the way, and out of just plain rebellion just seem to call out for trying on psychological and religious worldviews that seem to counter what has been set forth in the home… Especially if it is done rigidly.

We are entering the second generation of kids that will have our highly advanced mass communications available. It was a big huge deal when my dad was young to know someone who had their own television set, even though there were only three channels, and those only broadcast a signal for a few hours a day. Now there are hundreds of 24/7 channels, movies, recorded programs, and the the whole digital gold mine of the internet. If someone has thought or believed something, you can bet that there is something out there, and it’s a billion percent easier to find and explore than it would have been 40, 30, 20, or even ten years ago.

When the kids decide to explore another religion (and they WILL), I would say that it’s a good idea not to overreact. As long as they aren’t hurting themselves or others, it’s a good exercise. If you are incredibly strict about your belief system at home, this will not deter the kids in the least. It will only make them careful to hide it from you. I’ve seen that one a million times, and that was back in the youth of my generation.

When I’m thinking of these kinds of questions, I try to remind myself of my primary function as a parent. That helps to keep things in perspective. That primary function is to nurture them, and to help them attain all the skills that they will need when they are on their own in life.

If they are not allowed to explore themselves or their environment, they will not be able to grow. Simple as that. I hope that all of your kids at least read about other belief systems.

It’s funny that this comes up, because as the holiday displays show up all over the Retail Kingdom, My girls have started asking questions about different holidays that they are hearing at school…. and I have been using these questions as a launching board into (very brief) overviews of different beliefs. Thursday evenings’ discussion was on the ride home, after K asked, “Do we celebrate, um… Hanukkah?” I know a lot of parents whose answer would either be a simple “No”, but I take these as good opportunities for growth for the both of them.

The kids, they are…alright(and accidently high as a kite)

We have all been shocked and amazed lately with news stories about harmful substances making their way to our kids, including all those issues with lead paint used on toys imported from China. Then there are strange stories where drugs are ingested unknowingly by kids, hidden in baked goods or Hallowe’en treats.
Today, Mouseclone and I were looking at the story where the ‘treat’ giver openly shared his stash, and go the ‘trick’ of going to jail for his kindness.
Just today also, they are finding issues with the wildly popular Aqua Dots play sets, that I have been watching over the past few weeks, as A wanted one for her birthday. I’m now glad that I had pushed the purchase back another week after seeing the news of the recall:

The Bindees (in Australia) and Aqua Dots are manufactured in Australia, and an unknown number of batches of the actual dots have a different solution on them than what is supposed to be used. If, as children are wont to do, a kid puts them in their mouth, or swallows one/some from these tainted batches of dots, The stuff goes through a chemical reaction in the digestive tract, and becomes a nice whoppin’ dose of Gamma Hydroxybutyrate!

I’m glad to see the companies involved stepping up to the plate, and getting them all off the shelves so quickly. Online retailers have temporarily pulled the product as well, until the bad dots can be rounded up, and safety measures put into place. Good on ya, mates!

Oh. The Gamma Hydroxybutyrate. Yeah. That’s known in pharmacology as GHB, a controlled substance. It is illegally trafficked under the name “fantasy” or “liquid ecstasy”, and is sought after by devious creeps everywhere as an effective date-rape tool. Nice.

So now, the kids are getting lead poison from the toys, getting pot during trick-or-treating outings, and getting hallucinogenic sedatives from creative toys… I would imagine that this generation is going to have similar experiences as college-aged kids did in the early Sixties…. Feelin’ groovy?

I do hope that they get this sorted out soon, though. We are looking forward to (safely) being able to arrange the colored dots and bond them together with water. It looks like fun, mess-free play time with neat-looking craft results.