How to kill your IT Department plus the seperate topic of Kindergarten

Edit: I had to retitle this from How to Kill your IT Department + Kindergarten. Waaay too easy to misread. I would never condone the killing of kindergartens…IT departements, sure, but never kindergartens

A scene from the breakroom:

“Did you bring that in?”
I looked at the neatly sliced cake my colleague was pointing at and said, “Nope. What about Rich?”
He shook his head and said, “He’s not in yet. Is Jeff in?”
I shook my head, “I haven’t seen him…unless he went out on call already.”
Joel shrugged and said, “I’ll be back in a second when the coffee is done.”
A few minutes pass and Joel comes back. He looks around and says, “Did you eat a piece?”
“Dude, it was sitting there underutilized. I had to.”
“How is it?”
“Quite tasty.”

The moral: you can wipe out your whole computing department with one well-placed and well-laced pastry. Well, except for the the one person who took a whole week off from sweets. That one person will end up wishing he or she had eaten the cake as well after all the support calls start rolling in.

You will be happy to know that there were no casualties. There was also no shroomy sort of hallucinations that went on and lord knows I could have gone for that since the students were back. I took one for the team by being the official taster for the day. I’m still waiting for that medal of valor.

On the kindergarten front, my son was a smidge weepy the first day, but he did well. He didn’t want mommy to leave, so we did the whole ‘daddy runs blocker while mommy bolts for the door’ maneuver. It’s a well practiced move and has served us well over the years. I did the requisite comforting and then passed to the teacher who did an awesome job. He was fine as soon as we passed from sight.

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Day 2: I think he really could have cared less that we left. It was like he had grown up without even the big “Poof!” and puff of smoke. There was play-dough dammit. Bigger things were on the horizon…


Run for the Fallen

I had a race scheduled for the day today, so The Wife and The Boy hopped in the car with me and we all headed down. The race started in a park, so we took The Boy’s bike along to keep him occupied. When I had registered for the race, it was mainly so I could run the 5k but I took a look at the idea behind the event too. I thought it was a great idea, so it made the run that much more special. The local event had 185 flags around the war memorial in Boalsburg…one for each of the fallen soldiers from PA.

While we were milling around at the starting line, I was taking time to read some of the names around me. It was touching, but it wasn’t until I passed a flag that someone had placed a picture of their loved one that it really hit home. Here was the picture of a strong, young man who looked like he could take on the world…except it ended up the other way around.

Then someone said, “Take your marks. Go!” So I went and so did some really awesome thought that would have been great to write down somewhere–in a blog perhaps–but events swept it away.

Random thoughts during the run (because that’s all I have while running)

…wow, this is the hottest day in the past month, perhaps one of the hottest of the summer.

…how did they hid this hill around that little bend?

…that warning on the antibiotics ( the doc caught the Lyme disease early. No worries, but thanks for caring) about avoiding direct exposure to sunlight must be why it feels like I’ve been shaved all over vigorously and doused in vinegar.

…holy shit, that hill is much larger.

…lotsa dudes look really effeminate when they run. Hmmm…no, no, it must just be them.

…hill…still…going. must just put one foot in front of the other.

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

….AAAAHHHHHH how did a “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” tune get stuck in my head!? Goddamn it! Make it go away! 

…almost done and finally a downhill…followed by a sharp uphill…and now I’m turning a corner…too a steeper hill.

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

…Mother. Fucker. Hate this song now.

…and a mild downhill to the finish.

The Boy was at the finish and ran the last 25 yards with me. Too cool. 

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and no, he does not require that helmet for normal, everyday life. He was riding his bike before I got there.

The race was fun and I don’t really know where I placed yet, but I don’t really care. The run was worth it and the cause was more than worth it. I will wear the shirt proudly.

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Now I just have to figure out how the hell you can start and end at the same point and still run mostly uphill to get there.


Summer Flocks

School is coming up fast and although I’m nervous about my son’s foray into kindergarten, there is one thing I won’t miss: the neighborhood flock o’ kids. You know the one. A cloud that runs up and down the street that’s topped with heads at varying heights and either legs or wheels at the bottom. In the middle there’s usually an electron cloud of arms and odd sounds emanate at random intervals.

The Flock itself isn’t too bad. It keeps The Boy occupied and it’s easier to get stuff done. Just a quick peek out the window or a glance up from yard work does the trick. The first problem arises when you try to separate The Boy from The Flock. Sometime it’s easy. If you time it when he’s thirsty or hungry, you can lure him away with the promise of refreshment. Care must be exercised though since if the rest of The Flock notices, you’re out of juice boxes in the blink on an eye.

This was my first summer of flock and we’re pretty laid back. I didn’t realize though that I’d turn around and wonder how that child got in my house and where precisely did my child go? It’s like dealing with vampires too…once you invite them into the house you can’t get rid of them. Garlic doesn’t work; they’ll eat that too. A stake through the heart just pisses off the other parents in the neighborhood, so that’s out.

The second big problem is when The Flock dwindles in number due to vacations, activities, or a brief recovery from a stake through the heart. Then instead of the nice mob mentality, you see the lines being drawn. Usually it’s boys versus girls. I have a boy, that’s easy. It’s the girls who cause the trouble. (Note: this is from the experience in my neighborhood. If you have a girl who never pulls this crap, kudos to you. I also suggest to you that perhaps you’re not watching all the time.) He’ll be standing across the street and call over to the two or three girls playing and is promptly ignored. I mean totally. Not a word, not a nod. Now my boy is sweet (to others, not necessarily to his parents) and he gets a little bent at this. I’ll tell him things like, “They must be playing really hard,” or the occasional, “Sometimes people do that.” I then usually lure him off with some daddy time.

What I’d like to say: “Yeah, women are like that and it will probably get worse until high school. It should let up a bit then…if you’re lucky…and choose to run with women that don’t suck like that. You can also eventually use ‘dude revenge’ by paying attention to a girl for a while and then go run off and play with your male friends and totally ignore her thereby gaining revenge (in your head) on the whole of the female species. This initially will be a genetic flaw, but by college will most likely be a measured response which you will hopefully outgrow by the time you graduate college.”

I won’t even go into the issues I have with the one member of the estrogened side of The Flock right now. I will later because I have no shame and will pick on little girls (after softening the blow by relating her background) who dis The Boy.

Oh well, a few more days and it’ll hopefully be all homework and after school activities. Then The Flock will be no more. I’m sure I’ll have school issues to deal with, but at least they won’t be in my house eating whatever they see and drinking all the damn juice boxes.

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Dual Standards

This isn’t your typical dual standard I’m talking about. It’s the “I’ll act this way for daddy, but watch out when mommy enters the scene” dual standard.

For some reason, my son acts wonderfully (nigh perfectly I might venture) when it’s just me and him. When the mom walks in though, he gets all whiny and clingy and crap. Does anyone else have this going on?  I know it’s not pleasant for her but it drives me batty. A kind of “I wonder if the wiffle bat leaves marks?” batty. Sometimes he just gets to the point where he won’t listen at all. This of course leads to the ‘time out’ which doesn’t work since he’s so fucking stubborn wonderfully headstrong. Then that leads to the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I know, it’s ‘Momma’s Boy’ syndrome isn’t it? Tell me it ain’t so. It’s okay, I can take it. Now how do I break him the behavior? I’m pretty sure the “I’d like the angelic behavior all the time” speech won’t work. Actually, it will provided a) The Mom isn’t in the room and b) she never, ever comes back into the room.

Sigh, I guess that’s a bit much to ask, so I had better come up with another game plan. Any pointers readers?

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The time is rapidly approaching when my son will head off to kindergarten. He’s excited for it and his mom is a little sad that he’s growing up. Not terribly so, but enough to make a mom’s eyes get all misty. Dad is fine with it. Mainly because I knew it was coming and I’ve tried to prepare him in little ways.

I’ve helped by removing little bits of his innocence. ‘Ouch,’ you say, but it had to be done. It’s just little pieces I assure you. I’ll give you a short list:

  1. He’s had to come to face the fact that his head doesn’t really make a ‘POP’ sound when he pulls a shirt on.
  2. He’s learned that he really can’t run faster than daddy and he can’t win all the games all the time.
  3. Whining will not get you anywhere except into a timeout. Sure, it used to get you a toy just to shut you up but now it gets you a quick walk to the car.

There are other things, but you get the point. Plus I can’t remember them right now due to lack of sleep…and as you all know; lack of sleep = lack of motivation.

On the bright side, there are pleasures that come as he grows too. He now want to be a paleontologist when he grows up. It’s neat to see him get into new things and learn about it. It’s like all kids are born like a big sponge O’ knowledge and it’s only age and corrective measures that beat ignorance into kids. I’ve vowed never to do that and rail against forces (school, church, dogma, etc.) that threaten to.

The one liners are also a lot better when they get older too. You can’t get this from a year old:

Neighbor: Do want this sticky bun? You’ll have to ask your parents first.
The Boy: I can have it.
Neighbor: Go ahead and ask.
The Boy: Daddy! Can I have this sticky bun?
Me: Sure, you ate lunch.
The Boy: (to neighbor): See? I told you I could have it. The only things I’m not allowed to have are cigarettes and beer.

All stages have their perks and fun attached but even I’ll admit it’s sad to see them pass them too.

The youngest Marx brother

(Disclaimer: If you have never seen a Marx Brothers movie, shame on you. Go watch one and then read this post…cretin.)

Yes, that would be my son. A conversation this morning:

The Boy: “I’m not going to school today.”
Me: “Okay.”
The Boy: “I’m wearing sandals.”
Me: “To the place you’re not going to today?”
The Boy: “Yeah.”

That’s one of the great things about kids. Logic no longer applies and you can occasionally live life just like it’s “Duck Soup” all over again. Like when he comes trotting down the steps and yells, “Let’s play with poisonous snakes.” You just take up the mantle with aplomb and head off to play with poisonous snakes. Sure they’re not real poisonous snakes and I had better not bring any home because he will, most likely, play with them, but he sure acts like the fake ones are real.

Parental training should probably include a few Marx Brother movies, with an introductory voice-over saying, “This is what your life will be like at times.”  Sure, you will have lucid moments but many times you’ll either be cleaning up messes or (hopefully) get entertaining wordplay . I try to enjoy it all.

So remember, if the rug rats are ever getting you down, it’s all just another skit. Pick your role and play along.

The Perils of Security

My son has a baa-baa. It’s an old, ratty (at least after three years it is) nightgown that he pilfered from my wife to use as a security blanket. On it was his ‘spot’; a special place that felt just right. I still curse the day that his grandmother (her mom) suggested that he have some sort of security item. It is NOT a good idea and is NOT cute…especially when your child is still lugging it about at five years old.

The ‘spot’ became detached at some point when his grandfather (her dad) cut it off so he didn’t have to carry the whole thing around with him. Of course, it was a Bad Idea and my wife ended up sewing it back on to the main mass of the baa-baa.

Flash forward to my wife’s birthday. The piece (his ‘spot’ if you recall) had come loose at daycare and needed to be restitched. No prob, we’ll do that at home later. Later comes and so do my in-laws (the virtual wellsprings of great ideas) for dinner. In tow is their puppy, Buddy. At some point during the festivities (I was cooking some nice chops with an awesome dry rub at the time so I bear no responsibility for what comes) the ‘spot’ detaches much to Buddy’s delight. He grabs it and summarily eats it. Jake gets bent. Wife comforts. Dad (me) thinks, “Glory be, maybe we can get rid of the rest of the dammed thing.”

For consolation, Grandma says, “I’ll get it back for you,” to my son. Knowing there’s only one way to get it out (barring a carving knife) I cast her a dirty look for good measure. She winked and shook her head so I allowed myself a mental, “whew.”

My wife however, said, “Let me know when you get it back.”


Aghast, I waited until the boy was out of earshot and let my wife know that if the ‘spot’ show up in the house, it’s going nowhere near the boy. Ever. I don’t care if it gets boiled in bleach and dipped into the photosphere of the sun for sanitary purposes. I know where it’s been.

“But he’s really upset.”

“I know, but life happens sometimes.”

“That’s just callous.”

Blink. “I’m going to light the candles on your cake now.”

Changing the topic is one of the top domestic survival skills I’ve developed over the years. That and smiling and nodding.

Take heed parents. The psychs might say it’s not harmful to have a security blanket, but there is pain involved. I’d say avoid it at all costs.

My son now carries his original baa-baa plus a T-shirt that’s “soft and smells just like mommy.” I just can’t win.

So it goes…