Monday, January 29, 2007

Expert Advice

I just got finished reading another hilarious post over at Dooce. This time it was a post in response to one of the most judgmental letters I have ever seen to her about why she hasn't yet potty trained her daughter.

I must have been A. J. Jacobs in a previous life, and gotten beat up on the playground for it, because Know-It-Alls make me nuts.

Speaking of which, yesterday, Six, talking from another room, tells BioMom and I that she knows how to potty train Big.

As an aside, because of the near insanity-rendering effects that potty training her (I write this as though it is in the distant past when, still, even at 11/12 of the way toward her seven year mark, I am not sure I'd say we've fully cleared that particular hurdle.) had on BioMom and I, we've agreed to not even mention the subject to Big. I don't care if he IS walking down the isle in diapers, it'll be him-led this time.

BioMom and I looked at each other the way that Amy Poehler sometimes looks at Seth Meyers during a particularly ridiculous moment in Weekend Update, scrunching up their lips, and holding in their cheeks. . . Everything they can do to not burst out laughing.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Word No. 2

The second clearly spoken and obviously understood word in Big's slowly increasing vocabulary is (drum roll please):


What's Past is Prologue

Our Six is constantly pretending to be a teacher. I suspect that she spends nearly 97% of her life in the state of make-believe.

The other day, BioMom and I were snooping a bit downstairs in the "classroom" area (an area of the basement that we have literally turned into a classroom, blackboard, desks and all). We found her "day planner" (sent by Cousin, a teacher herself). Inside, Six had written down the daily activities and names of different characters (presumably her students) in different categories (such as, "needs special help" or something).

Under one category she had written the name "Hillary Clinton."

Apparently, my excitment about her announcement to run for president has filtered into Six's brain.

We were in the car when I heard about the announcement on MPR. The fact that Hillary will be the first woman to run for that position in the United States didn't phase Six when I explained to her about this historical precedence.

Instead she questioned, accusingly: How do you know about things that happened before you were born?

Friday, January 26, 2007

On Arrogance

We've switched our schedules a bit now that I'm working again and one of the positive externalities of the change is that I can now take Six to her piano lesson without Big in tow.

This means that I can actually (either or both) pay attention, and get a little class-prep in.

Last night I was frantically reading and comparing different intermediate microeconomic theory texts and I nursed my bruised ego after the first day's lecture which, while to my erstwhile students would have garnered concern and probably a night's worth of either hard studying or time spent considering dropping the class, to these, new students (not necessarily smarter, I've decided, but under a whole different set of institutional rules and norms including a) more rigorous 200 level economics courses and b) friends that actually study and probably pressure each other to keep up) who, it would seem, felt that the first lecture was extremely easy.

One gal who, self-reportedly tested out of the principles course (she tells me this with a little wink 'they don't like people to do that here') was a bit concerned about jumping into the intermediate course until she saw my first lecture and decided she was up for it.

As an aside: What kind of student, having had economics only in high school, is prepared for intermediate microeconomic theory?

You can imagine the shockwaves of second-guessing that were pulsing through my body that evening.

I look up at Six, during her lesson, when I hear them talking about notes and the notes per phrase in her music. The teacher mentions something about fractions to her (assuming that she has not yet learned the concept) when Six, in all of her beautiful self confidence (some might, perhaps, see it as arrogance... especially someone in a particularly insecure state of mind with regard to their intelligence) says: Oh! I know fractions! And goes on to talk about the pie, drawing it out, wasting time actually practicing the piano.

The teacher looks over her shoulder at me with surprise: Wow! I'm impressed!

Me, in my frustrated state, thinking: why is she not getting her back on course of PIANO, not MATHEMATICS: It is DESIGNED to make you feel impressed! That way she can get out of learning piano!

Let's hope that after a week or two, my students' knowledge of intermediate micro is a little like Six's knowledge of fractions: Thin.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Wordsmith

Check out this nifty Washington Post analysis of the words that Bush used in his State of the Union address.

Update: Macalester Adventures

Okay so where the professors get an "F" (at least one of them... My friend here was appropriately welcoming), the students get a triple-A-plus. As expected they are incredibly diverse and seemingly interesting, but one of the differences that appears obvious at least to the casual observer, is that they are incredibly interestED. They were engaged and already asking serious questions. There is a similar uneven-ness among the preparedness of the students for the particular classes (sophomore public policy majors in with senior econ majors in a public policy course, for example), but a much different level of energy.

Or maybe it was just my nervous energy. Not sure.

Plus, there's a Bulgarian in their midst, which is always a plus in my book!

So comes the end of day one. Hopefully leaving Big will get easier, and hopefully I'll be prepared enough to pitch these courses to the right level.

This Just In: Academecians Suck

So, I'm at my new job.

Since, about 5 minutes ago.

Yes. You're understanding the profundity of this moment correctly. Mof4 came over to look after Big and once I saw that they were getting on quite well (read: immediately) I left (sort of in tears, despite the fact that she brought me chocolate and beer -- I'm ignoring the healthy apple that was also in the package).

So yeah, I gave myself a lot of wiggle room. Class starts in 20 minutes and I also had to make copies and fill out your usual HR forms or "they wouldn't let me work" (believe me, I was tempted. After taxes, I think I'll be able to afford my YMCA membership PLUS a latte from Starbucks).

Anyway, I'm in some dude's gorgeous corner office, looking over the white quad of this top-10 liberal arts college.

The chair stepped in "to see who was in Vasant's office" and, once eyeballing me, turned on his heel and left.

I literally had to go across the office and knock on his door and make some chit chat with him!?!

Not a good sign.

Plus, even more evidence for BioMom who thinks that none of us have any social skills.

He says to me: We didn't know if you were going to show up!

I'm all (in my head): Don't tempt me. (out of my head): I was here last week to find a ghost town!

More updates to come on: the students, how me (a bull-in-a-china shop) will navigate the new office environs, and how I live for 15 hours a week without Big.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Wiki Job Market

Here is another post that falls into the Why Didn't I Think of That category.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are on the job market this year. That is, my department at our mid-sized public state school is looking to hire a new faculty member on the tenure-track for next fall.

While it is nice to be on this side of that game, it is still surprisingly nerve-wracking and somewhat desperate feeling.

My colleague stumbled on this site which is essentially a bulletin board for the Economics Job Market in which people are allowed to change the site and update it with new information in a fashion similar to Wikipedia.

True to the discipline itself, more information will make the market more perfect.

The Plumber's Pipes Always Leak

Okay, I could not resist. My fourth of the four promised posts to Cousin is about to have economic content.

I could not resist, however.

Plus, it contains investment advice (which, by the way is ironic, coming from me. I'm all about the ease of Index Funds).

I heard about this Website on MPR: Prosper: the online marketplace for peope-to-people lending.

It is essentially the eBay of borrowing and lending, promising to privatize debt by allowing individuals to lend and borrow money from other individuals. You could, for example, bid on someone's loan request (in increments as low as $50) at a rate as high as 22%.

Lending money directly to people is a great way to earn a fair return. And when you make lots of small loans rather than one or two big ones, you spread your risk out and ensure a more reliable return. It's called diversification and the pros do it every day. Here's how it works.

C'mon, where are you gonna find a return like that??

I know, you're asking what happens if someone defaults? Individuals (like yourself) don't have all the intelligence that banks have in determining credit risks. But this is also where it gets interesting. Like eBay, people get reputations. Sure, you could go to Prosper, borrow 10 Grand, and stiff the lenders. But you're never coming back again. Plus, they suggest that you loan smaller amounts of money to many people. So if one person defaults on you, you only lose $50. Not $5,000. As the argument goes, you take similar risks in the stock market.

This falls into the ever-growing category of: Why didn't I think of that?

Here Kitty Kitty!

So Big is definitely saying something that begins with the "kuh" sound and includes a hard "t" whenever he sees one of our three cats.

Often it is either whispered or in a sing-song-y voice that sounds absurdly similar to the way that I call the cats in the morning when I want them to come and eat.

While we do consider this his first "word", we're still unsure as to whether or not he completely grasps its meeting as he applies it to any sort of animal (animate or inanimate).

Here's a shout out to LesbianDad who brought home another Big! Welcome Jonah!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Change of Heart

Last night, during the commercials of the only episodes of American Idol that I truly enjoy (where Randy, Paula and Simon laugh at all of the freaks that don their stage) I had a great conversation with HFRM#1 who was over to hang out and help me with the bedtime routine as BioMom was out in LA for a work thing.

She was telling me about how a friend of hers (let's call her "Monkeyface") who I had written off years ago as one of those strange breeds of young female-Neocons ("FENEOCON" which is ironically close to one of the professional groups to which I belong, "FEMECON" or Feminist Economics). Prior to a recent lunch with Monkeyface, HFRM#1 had witnessed this woman planning out her life as though she were the lead in a fairy tale. Literally. She had a PLAN: meet guy, quit work, get pregnant, raise kids. Period. In spare time: volunteer for the RNC and its associated local organizations.

I think it was purely entertainment value for HFRM#1.

Not that I'm anti-fairy tale or anything. Its just that I get a little freaked out when people are so sure about their life plans. It makes me want to back away from them quickly as I suspect an imminent lightning bolt from the clear sky to hit the vicinity. It's one thing to have life fantasies, but it is another to be so unreal about well, about reality.

But in a recent coveration with Monkeyface, HFRM#1 was shocked to find that she had done quite a bit of soul searching and was now contemplating breaching the martial contract that spelled out their fertility schedule.

What if I can't get pregnant? What if I get pregnant and I don't like the kid? I mean, really? What if we don't have anything in common? What if the kid gets sassy and I can't control it? What if I don't LIKE staying at home with kids? What if i continue to volunteer and need to go to a meeting and my husband promises me that he'll be home to take care of the kids and he doesn't show up? And what if I'm so pissed off about it that we fight and fight and fight? And what if I give up my job and get resentful at the kids because I miss my job and gave it up?


Let's just say that she was having more than a little case of cold feet.

Her questions are as real as they get and what is scary about them is that there is no "trial period" in parenting. Its not as though you can co-habitate for a while to 'see how it goes' and move out if it doesn't, sustaining only a little heartbreak, wounded pride, and possible some small capital investments that you made together.

I would never have guessed at how much I love staying at home with Big. I'm not sure anyone that knows me would have guessed it.

However, in answer to her questions (using hindsight), YES! YES! That will all happen to some extent, no? You may have trouble getting pregnant (in any case, very few women get pregnant the first month they try). Kids are a little bit of you (and a little bit of your partner, if you're lucky to conceive that way), and a little bit of themselves. All of those little bits have plusses and negatives, so you can expect to get annoyed when you see them exhibiting the worst parts of you. Etc. Etc.

I'm starting back to work on Tuesday though (on such a part-time basis, that most people would call me a huge whiner for even mentioning it) and although I am trepidatious, I am also excited. Its time to widen both my and Big's worlds.

He'll be spending time with Mo4, one of the most loving and generous people I know.

I'll be spending time with some new colleagues and students (more importantly, only two blocks away from at least four different restaurants featuring international cuisine! BioMom and I met for lunch the other day near my new digs at this place.)

I am just grateful to have a career that allows such flexibility. This will, ultimately, be the solution to gender equality in the workplace: Allowing both men and women the time and space to figure out how best to balance their lives with their work.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Black and White

This is the first of four substantive post-vacation posts requested (nay, demanded) by Cousin.

Also, per request, I will attemtp to avoid all of the boring economics subjects, but as I am ready-ing myself for work (which begins next week), that may be unavoidable.

We were on yet another vacation last week, sunning ourselves on the beach with the not-in-laws (pictures above and below).

I am finding the SYO's logic to be ever-improving, especially when it has to do with her wanting something. But still, she remains completely black and white which, given that most college graduates are only a 4.5 on Bloom's Taxonomy, is not unexpected. She is particularly logical when sweets or extending time prior to her being required to be in her room in bed are involved. I fell into what I will call the "interesting discussion" plot one evening while BioMom was rocking Big, and I was prepping the SYO for bed.

Given these limitations, it is I who needs to learn the art of black and white argumentation.

We are currently, on the recommendation of a Brooklyn friend from one of my past lives, in the middle of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler which I somehow missed as a kid. It is about two siblings (the 12 year old girl, Claudia, is the instigator, her brother, Jamie is 9) who run away from home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.

It is a great little story (but, now that they've been gone a week, we're getting anxious about how their parents are taking their AWOL status). At one point in the story, the main characters meet a woman wearing a Sari.

That started the trap of the "interesting discussion."

We had had another discussion previously that day about women wearing veils during a walk on the beach to 7-11 (that wondermart that no longer exists here in the North country) for cherry slushies. I was wearing a towel over my head and we were talking about Islam, the veil, and the difference between religion and state. I felt like just handing her Persepolis by Marijan Satrapi, because she is such a diligent student, and I am such an unworthy teacher on subjects about which I am not completely solid, but I persevered.

We got into a murky, discombobulated, and I am sure, completely unintelligable conversation about church and state, when she came to the conclusion that she was happy to not be a Muslim, loving, as she does, the feel of the sun on her bare skin. I felt I had just done a great disservice to Allah, the smug SYO walking next to me, basking in the righteousness of her Catholcism that lets all go naked on the beach if so desired (we had not yet reached the part of the Catechism that forbids her parents to marry).

In any case, Six (A.K.A. the SYO) began questioning the wearing of the Sari (we frequrent Indian restaurants, so this was not out of her range of experience) and its implications to the wearer's religion (nice leap, I thought). We talked a bit about Hinduism (what little I know) and more generally about different religions, the most popular religions around the world, and their relationships.

In discussing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, I started down the joint Abraham lineage road, but came up against a road block by the know-it-all Six who had had a discussion with MRM#1 (a pastor) when I put forth that his son Isaac (father of Jacob, made famous to Six in the musical about his many-colored coat) was the "father of Israel" while his other son Ishmael was believed by Muslims to be an ancestor of Muhammad. The fact that the fathers of Islam, Judaism and Christianity are consanguineous neither phased nor interested her.

NO!! Ishmael was not Isaac's brother! She responded, with absolute confidence, but with no alternative or explanation to report but still assured in her religious beliefs.

The argument is what begins the trap and I am slowly learing to just step away from the argument.

I attempt a segue:

Did you know that Jewish people have 39 categories of work that is prohibited on the Sabbath?

Disbelief among Six and BioMom. I could already see Six formulating an argument for why she should not have to take her dirty plates back to the kitchen.

Yeah! Once the sun goes down, they aren't supposed to turn on a TV or even blow out candles!

This ruined her Sabbath plans. Whaaat? No TV? She was again reminded about how correct she was in being Catholic.

In this weeks' New Yorker, Shalom Asulander, published a great personal history about his response to these 39 prohibitions and his interpretations on God's response to whether one respects or disrespects the prohibitions. Having growin up Jewish in Monsey, New York, he absorbed the message that God is "truly everywhere!" At one point a therapist asked him "'Do you really think God is punishing you?'" He responds: "His naivete astounded me. 'I don't think He is. I know He is.'"

His belief system led to elaborate plans to outwit the rules of work on the Sabbath: turning on the TV prior to sundown with plans to not turn it off until Sunday, for example, to assure his ability to see the playoff games.

About 20 minutes into the SYO and I's bedroom conversation, she followed with an even more broad question requesting more discussion on the differences among religions. I realized that she had scammed me. Interesting or no, she needed to go to sleep.

And I needed to forget for now the gray areas of my religious beliefs. Plus, even though it was in fact the Sabbath, I was not a practicing Jew, and some good shows were about to start on TV.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Wink to Help Markets Clear

The below article from Monday's Wall Street Journal describes a mechanism borrowed from online dating that the economics' new Ph.D. market used this year to try to match up new professors with colleges and universities.

Needless to say, we didn't get a wink from any of our potential candidates.

One colleage of mine speculated that everyone 'winks upward' meaning that you flirt with jobs that might be just out of your league.

What I found to be amazing were that the smallest of cues pointed us toward or away-from particular candidates. While we're offering a really good job, we're not a prestigious school, not located in some fantastic urban environment, and young Ph.D.s don't really know what the job entails yet, so its possible that they won't be able to see a good thing when its in front of them [we pay well and emphasize both research and teaching, but you're not gonna get an ulcer in either area working for us.].

We definitely have one superstar (read: probably out of our league in mind). I wish that the winking mechanism were still in place. It would be nice to know, before we spend the time and effort bringing a few stars on campus, if they're really serious about us.

Maybe economists just need some advice from Dr. Phil.

Economists Learn Matchmaker Role
January 8, 2007; Page A2

CHICAGO -- In job-hunting, as in love, finding a match can be a harrowing experience that all too often ends in unhappiness. Some economists think they know how to make it less painful -- and they are using their fellow dismal scientists as guinea pigs.

At this past weekend's annual meeting of the American Economic Association, which hosts a vast job market for aspiring professors, academics tested a technique -- borrowed from online dating -- to more efficiently match job candidates and potential employers. It is called "signaling," and it is designed to reduce the time and cost of hiring professors by weeding out those who aren't serious prospects and homing in on those who are.

Signaling depends on a centralized system through which each job seeker sends signals -- essentially electronic pings -- to two potential employers. With a limited number of signals to send, the logic goes, candidates will send them only to schools where they really want to work.

Job candidates were warned not to waste signals on schools that should already know they are interested or are out of their range, but instead aim at schools that wouldn't otherwise be aware of their special interest. Schools also were told not to take the absence of a signal as a brush-off.

"Think of it like a dating site," says Alvin Roth, a Harvard professor who chairs the AEA's Ad Hoc Committee on the Job Market. "We're trying to figure out if we can help people make matches."

The allusion to dating is apt. The AEA system shares an idea and an advisor -- Stanford economist Muriel Niederle -- with On that online dating site, women face a problem akin to that of employers: Men signal their interest in women by sending electronic messages, but because it is easy to send hundreds of messages, it is difficult and time-consuming for women to separate spammers from good prospects.

In the summer of 2005, at the suggestion of Prof. Niederle and MIT economist Dan Ariely, Cupid began allotting each of its male members two electronic roses a month, which they could send along with messages to women whom they wanted to impress. The scarcity of roses motivates the suitors to be selective and serious.

"It's been a wonderful thing," says Eric Straus, CEO of, who estimates the roses have increased a suitor's chances of getting a reply 35%. "One of the problems in online dating is that men are ignored and women are inundated. Anything that allows a message to stand out is a great benefit."

Economists couldn't have found a better testing ground for their ideas than the grueling market for newly minted economics Ph.D.s. Every year, about 1,000 soon-to-be doctoral graduates converge on the site of the AEA meetings, creating traffic jams at elevators and squeezing as many as 30 job interviews into three or four days. Time and space constraints get so severe that candidates often find themselves sitting on hotel beds as they pitch themselves -- sometimes to five or six interviewers, who typically are male and might include Nobel Prize winners and heads of economics departments.

"It's quite unpleasant, especially for women," says David Colander, a professor of economics at Middlebury College in Vermont. He estimates that, because of the arduous nature of the selection process, the hiring of one young professor can cost a school from $10,000 to $15,000.

This year, 2,300 new jobs were listed at the AEA. Amid the noise and rush, potential employers make a lot of mistakes in allotting their attention. Some lower-tier schools, for fear of being spurned, avoid interviewing graduates of top-tier programs, thus missing some who might have had a special reason to choose them due to location, family or hobby considerations. Others set their sights too high, inviting candidates who would never accept their advances, leaving better matches feeling unappreciated and unwanted. As a result, many qualified candidates fall through the cracks.

Profs. Roth and Niederle belong to a growing field of economics known as market design, which is rooted in the idea that markets, if left to develop on their own, often get into trouble and need to be fixed. Market design's most notable achievements include federal auctions for radio spectrum, which have earned the government billions of dollars in revenue, and the National Resident Matching Program, an automated clearinghouse that successfully matches hospitals to new doctors based on preferences each side feeds into the system.

If the signaling experiment works for economists, it could lead the way to meaningful improvements in a broad range of markets, from college admissions to placement of freshly minted business graduates and lawyers. "We want to make markets work more efficiently," Prof. Roth says. "That would result in more people being happy with their jobs, in more firms being happy with their employees and presumably society being more productive."

It is still early to say whether the endeavor will succeed. In all, Prof. Roth says, 969 job seekers sent signals, suggesting that most at least gave it a try. Participants offered mixed impressions.

Ethan Kaplan, a professor at Stockholm University who is interviewing candidates this year, said the signaling led him to focus on one prospect who otherwise might not have stood out.

Whatever the outcome, some have doubts that economists would ever willingly submit to a fully efficient market, such as the one that assigns doctors to hospitals. "The academic job market is a thing that could be enormously rationalized," says Prof. Colander, who has proposed an automated clearinghouse for economists. "But that doesn't mean that economists want to have their lives structured by a market."


LesbianDad reminded me of this great moment in tv history in her advert on the TLL "best lesbian blog" awards.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Irregular Newsletter: 13 Months

Well Big, you'll be turning 13 months tomorrow.

Note: the second of the two above pictures should be accompanied by a sound track. You can tell by his lips (and you could have told by the drool all over his chest that used to cause a sheen in the picture, but that I photoshopped out) that he is making a little motor sound that the SYO has yet to learn (gender is DEFINITELY not simply the socialized expression of sex).

While this newsletter may seem a bit of a letdown following the big Birthday Issue, that should in no way imply that your motor and language development was at all languid. In fact, you've made a great many strides this past month.

You're now walking like a pro. Running, really. You can pick yourself up (awkwardly, to be sure) without grabbing on to something. Rather, you do this insane downward-facing-dog and pull up to standing. It is amazing to watch. You can pile two blocks on top of one another. Of course, your preference is to knock down a stack whenever possible. Amazingly, after BioMom and I pointed (emphatically) to a ball across the room, you ran over to it and picked it up, which tells us that we're at least cracking into that skull of yours.

Still no words, but with our loquacious Six (my new alternate name for the SYO), it is somewhat of a relief. (As an aside, while up on the North Shore one evening after the two little gems had been tucked gently into their beddie-byes, I turned to BioMom who was on the open-mouthed, tongue-ready verge of a new sentence and said "Please. I have not had a moment without someone saying something this entire day. Can we have a moment of silence to grieve my lost sanity?").

This past weekend I lost 2.5 days of my life (without you, your sister or your mama) while attending and interviewing candidates* at the Annual Nerd Convention during which I tried to be productive by reading Your One-Year-Old: The Fun-Loving, Fussy 12-to-24 Month-Old where I got a preview of good-times to come.

It would seem that 18 months (and the three months leading two and from it) will be quite a bit of a challenge.

I say this with a large bite of humble pie in my mouth having only stumbled upon that age accidently (with our Six, when I met them) thus never having to really negotiate it from a parental perspective. I, however, have watched the brilliant Cousin navigate its waters twice now and, if I remember correctly, may have, once, actually (horrifically) offered advice.

Please accept my apologies for that, and for what I expect will be our (ahem) "challenge" this summer when we (18 month old in tow) visit your house, Cousin!

Here are a few choice sentences from the book on 18 month olds:

"He shows a strong love of opposites. In fact, he is quite as likely to do the opposite of what you ask as to obey your suggestion. . . We often describe him as walking down a one-way street, and his direction tends to be the opposite of what the adult has in mind."

"Emotionally, as in other ways, your boy or girl tends to be uneven and unpredictable, given to rather violent displays of temper."

"The child of this age is extremely self-involved."

The authors also point out that at 18 months the human and the monkey start to diverge in terms of development, and the personality begins to shine through.

For this, I cannot wait, Big. Although, I have a pretty good idea about your nature and who you are. And I'm pretty happy with you, sweet-pea!

The authors also do not recommend pushing potty training too much. It (literally) cannot be harder than the first time around for BioMom and I (as some of you may have personally witnessed), so we're not about to force anything. It will be entirely up to you.

Speaking along those lines. . .

The other day began with approximately 17 ounces of material evidence of your incredibly diverse eating habits. You woke up with what appeared to be pasta puttenesca all over the lower half of your body. That is, the back AND front halves of your diaper as well as along your still-chubby-but-unfortunately-thinning thighs and (as all of our friends put it) "cankles"**. I instantly regretted our fraternity-esque cheering at all the black beans you were eating the night before.

With much love (despite have to clean up the above described mess),

*One candidate for our open faculty position sounded so casual and awkward that I started writing down some of his "isms" word for word. At one point, when describing the courses he would like to teach at our mid-sized public university he actually said: "Um. Well, I actually saw this show [he pauses here and seems to try to collect himself. I can't tell whether he was embarrased that he was about to reference television generally as a resource for his potential course or if it was the show in particular that he was nervous about] on the, um, travel channel. . . ? And, um, well, I actually taped it! I think it was about macroeconomics."

"Oh, and, I once heard about a professor taking students to the Federal reserve. Doncha have one of those in Minneapolis? That'd be real cool to do that!"

This seriously happened. I have notes. And witnesses.

**Your godfather (MRM#1) wished, on New Years for only one thing for his 42nd birthday (in september): to see your ankles.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Personality Quirks

I've been resisting posting about this issue for quite some time.

Maybe because I am ashamed. Maybe because I do not want a permenant record of it. Maybe its because I am lazy.

Yesterday Mof4, in her usual, infinitely-patient and empathetic way of viewing the shennanegans of chidren, helped me to reframe my feelings and come to some resolution about what I previously saw as some quite strange behavior on behalf of our SYO.

I first ran across this behavior last summer while on vacation (incidently with Fof4, Mof4, 4of4, 3of4, 2of4 and 1of4) at a Northern Minnesota resort. BioMom was taking a bit of time in the cabin while Big was napping while me, the SYO and the "Clan" were out and about, contemplating an ice cream cone.

I suggested to the SYO that we take a cone back for BioMom.

She refused. Adamantly.

I was shocked. She is normally extremely generous. Plus, being also very empathetic, I figured that she would feel for her mother if she didn't also imbibe in the glorious frozen goodness that is the ice cream cone. Especially since that particular vendor had the peppermint bon bon flavor so loved by our dearest.

But she insisted that NO!, we should not take a cone back for mom.

I was baffled. And I can't, now, remember what clue triggered my ultimate understanding of the SYO's motives:

She couldn't stand the thought of BioMom enjoying a cone when she was not currently enjoying one herself.

Let me clarify. The SYO would rather BioMom, her own, dear sweet mother, the woman who went to the gates of hell in delivery for her, NOT have an ice cream cone so that she could avoid the displeasure of having eaten her own cone just moments before and having to observe her mother in the glorious pleasure that is the consumption of the ice cream cone.


On our way home from the North Shore, we like to assuage the let-down of vacation ends by stopping at Dairy Queen.

On this particular trip, BioMom was planning on making a stop at the Gap outlet to shop a bit and return a few things so we thought we'd drop her off, pick up the DQ loot and head back, hoping to avoid the twin evils of waiting in the car while Mom shops, or taking two exhausted and dissapointed kids into public (i.e. the Gap).

Once back in the parking lot, cones in hand, it was clear that the SYO's plan to put off consumption until BioMom was back in the car, consuming at the same rate, in order to avoid the pain of watching someone else imbibe, was going awry. BioMom was taking too long in the sale-ridden post-holiday outlet heaven.

Through her gritted teeth: WHY IS SHE TAY-KING SO LONG????

Angrier: WHERE IS SHE???

Me, in a somewhat taunting tone, knowing the answer to the very question I am about to ask: Why are you in such a hurry?

She: Because I want to get home! I MISS home!

Me: But once home, we'll just go to bed. Why the rush?

She, with a smile, knowing that I am on to her ruse: I MISS my bed.

Me, with BioMom's melting cone running down my hands: Oh, don't worry, we'll get there.

She, with increasing intensity: WHERE! IS! SHE!!!

When I told Mof4 about this behavior (these are not the only two incidents, by the way) she immediately empathized: Well, it IS hard to watch someone eat a treat when you don't have one.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Superior Bath

Notice the great lake in the background!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007