Friday, March 31, 2006

The luckiest dog alive

Today--and for the next several days--Barky is the luckiest dog alive.

While he's lounging around the house, being spoiled by his aunt--which is as it should be--Mama and I are on the road. This pic is your first clue to where we are.

What's the prize for the winning guess? I dunno. A weekend with Barky?

Auntie Banana takes over

While Mama and I are taking a little bit of a last prenatal fling, Auntie Banana will be taking care of Barky. (I'm not sure how much of a fling it will be, since we'll both be working.) From the tales we've heard of Barky's previous adventures with Banana, he'll be having much more fun than if we were around. He gets to stay in his own house, visit someone else's house, go on field trips, and generally get spoiled in the fashion to which he's become accustomed.

All well deserved. He is a cute little guy, and reasonably well behaved so long as we don't leave him alone in the same zip code with loose food for more than 10 seconds or so.

So, check out Auntie Banana's blog to keep up on what at least one of us is doing. If I know Barky, he'll do something--or several somethings--worth commenting on. Hell, Barky's probably got the most interesting life in our household. If only he had thumbs instead of dewclaws, he'd be all over this blog thing.

As for us, I hope that I'll be able to keep you up-to-date during our leave, but we'll see. In the meantime, check out the Banana--always worthwhile, even if she's not writing about Barky--and stay tuned to try to figure out where the Bradsteins are and what we're doing.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Love from Mama

I got this e-mail from Mama, who was on her way to work at the time ... a nice way to start our day:

You know, every time I feel him move inside me, I am so happy.

I almost always smile when it happens and when I am alone in my office, sometimes I even laugh out loud. It is like a gentle little reminder that he is coming into the world.

I already love him so much.


In iPod we trust

As the giant in Twin Peaks would say, "It is happening again."

Recent revelations of shuffle play have included

  • black tambourine (beck)/hot for teacher (van halen--I can't help it, I'm a child of the 80s)
  • ezekiel 25:17 (pulp fiction)/immigrant song (zep)
  • a day without rain (enya)/the sky is crying (elmore james)
The first two you just have to listen to and you'll understand. In the first pair, it's the drums, drums, drums, and in the second pair, it's the guns, guns, guns, then the Zep. The third one is just the titles.

I'm telling you, there's something going on with this shuffle thing . . . remarkable coincidences, a logic that can't be defined, divined, or questioned . . . you know what that sounds like to me? That sounds like Intelligent Design to me.

I think it's widely accepted that Apple has some of the best designs, but who knew that those designs were being guided by a higher hand, right?

Working, as I do, at an education association, I am exposed to many of the debates that rage over the merits of both evolution and ID. Unlike the recent decision in Pennsylvania, most of them don't address what is, for me, the core issue: ID is bad science. It's actually no science at all, good or bad. I'm not opposed to the teaching of ID, but I am opposed to the teaching of it in science classrooms, just as I don't believe that it's useful to teach improv exercises in a logic course. Each has its own place to be appropriately taught.

Religious activists have, for their own gains, muddled the issues being discussed. I don't believe that scientists, science teachers, and parents are generally opposed to ID itself, or to the teaching of faith and religous tenets. Most of them are likely religious themselves. What is really at stake here is the scientific method, because accepting ID into the science curriculum means rejecting the scientific method.

Rejecting the scientific method means rejecting advances that have been made through the application of the scientific method, such as space travel, cruise missiles, bulletproof vests, and car seats, as well as whole fields such as physics and medicine. Does Shrub have enough faith in ID that he'd be willing to pull out Cheney's pacemaker to prove it?

If you reject the premise of the scientific method: that only that which can be tested and verified is true, in favor of a supernatural explanation, what is the point of drug trials to combat TB, HIV and AIDS, and H5N1? What does ID propose as a path to a cure for these diseases? Or does it propose that we sit idly by, waiting for an answer from the heavens, wasting the intellect that an intelligent and compassionate designer gave us? (Is it wrong that as I wrote that last bit, I pictured Vern from Trading Spaces?)

Further, and of particular interest for educators, if we reject the premise that only that which can be tested and verified is true, why do we need to test students to ensure that they are making progress? If we can take the creation and nature of the cosmos and our world on faith, why can't we take it on faith that our children are learning?

And, does testing them prove anything anyway, if you accept the religious activists' claims that testing and verification aren't necessary to prove truth? According to them, including Shrub, faith proves truth. Doesn't this make the testing required by NCLB a waste of money?

I wish that these were the questions that the fundamentalists were willing to discuss, rather than shrieking about the heresy of science, because I would love to ask them just which products of the scientific method they would be willing to give up to support their faith in ID. How about seat belts? While you're at it, you might as well start smoking, since there's no word from the intelligent designer, heretofore known as Vern, on the dangers of smoking, there's only scientific evidence to support that claim. I wonder where they stand on electricity? They love their talking heads, both on radio and TV, but don't they know that radio and TV are products of science?

And, if you're against radio and TV, you must, by god, be opposed to iPods--no matter how well designed they appear to be. Then again, all those "coincidences" in shuffle play? Perhaps there's more to the iPod design than meets the eye.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Raising Baby on bunny food

So, Mama and I are both vegetarians. We eat eggs and dairy, try to eat a well-rounded and balanced diet, and our doctors have had no concerns about our nutrition before and during pregnancy, other than to put Mama on a standard prenatal vitamin, which they do for all expectant mothers.

Our questions start with the birth of Baby Boy Bradstein. We both agree that if BBB wants to eat meat, that's his choice to make, although we won't be offering it to him--and, it's pretty much up to me to prepare it if he does, since Mama has no experience preparing meat. I'm happy to do that, although I think it will be a bit odd, like keeping an orthodox kosher kitchen--except rather than keeping meat and milk separate, we'll be keeping meat and everything else separate.

Even if he does become a carnivore, he won't really be asking for meat until he's eating elsewhere, and he's able to voice his desire for meat. So, for the first few years, he'll be pretty much a de facto vegetarian. That, in and of itself doesn't concern either of us too much. There are plenty of healthy vegetarian and vegan kids.

If you have doubts about that, you really need to spend some time drooling over the Vegan Lunch Box. I made the mistake of checking it out for the first time during an after work dentist appointment, which made me late for dinner, so my hunger was raging as scrolled through a seemingly endless litany of delectable and attractive treats. Come to think of it, this site may help Metro Dad, even if Peanut's not a vegan. (She's becoming a Jedi now, which is sort of like a vegan, but without all the pesky dietary restrictions . . . waitaminnit . . .)

Anyway, back on track here . . . in spite of all that logic that just laid out and that I can talk myself through, I still have some trepidation about raising Baby Boy Bradstein on rabbit food. Thinking about it today, I got to wondering if that's because I can't picture what it will be like, having had no role models for it. Or, perhaps I don't buy all my logical reasoning, and I just go with the gut reaction--BBB needs meat to grow.

I think that more than believing BBB needs meat to grow, I don't know what BBB needs to grow, and I'm scared that I'll leave something vital out, and he'll end up with, like, no fingernails or something.

So, I'll keep you updated on how the rabbit food rearing, and preparing for it, goes. In the meantime, if you find any useful or relevant info on raising a baby on a bunny's diet, don't hold back, man. Give up the goods.

Monday, March 27, 2006

More chill, Brazil, and feeling the thrill

Before we knew it, it was time for the ceremony. Mama and Deborah took a stroll around the grounds, and then were ensconced as the final few guests arrived . . .

. . . and we all took our seats . . .

. . . including Jen and Steven, who had flown in from a wedding in Brazil the day before. Yeah, Brazil. And we thought that we were tired. They were rock stars though, and rallied, staying until almost everyone had left. It was great to catch up with them, and Mama scheduled time this week to pick up some of Jen's maternity clothes, which will be supercool.

The further along we get into this thrilling parenting adventure, the more that I find it's like the AIDS Ride (the rolling community that was the ride itself, not the crushing heartbreak that came with the disclosure of the terrible financial returns) or the Telluride Bluegrass festival--we've become members of an extended family, whose members are all around us and dispersed around the globe. They're people who we've known all our lives, and strangers who we may never meet, but we're all in this together, and they not only want us to succeed, but will do whatever it takes to help us succeed.

It's a feeling that warms us and humbles us.

A chill wedding

The park was beautiful; perfect for pictures.

And there was plenty of time for everyone to hang out and relax a little during the photo session, rather than racing to get through everything.

Mama and I got more time with the bride and groom than anyone, since we got to drive them to and from the wedding (in a car decorated with loving care by Mama with elaborate embellishments from the dollar store), but we also had plenty of time with them at the wedding. Here's Mama with Dave . . . of course, as the groom, he's the most handsome man in the room, and isn't Mama beautiful?

Where have we been?

I know, we've not been posting regularly recently. (And when I say "we," I mean "I.") There are several tedious reasons that aren't worth going into, and then there are some great reasons, worth some pictures and a little explanation. There are even pics of Mama in here, so you can see how great she looks now, at week 24.5/25.

Fair warning: we'll also be AWOL over April Fool's weekend. We may have time for some posts, but probably not many. (Again, when I say "we," I mean "I.") You could at least pretend that you care. Then again, we can't see you. As you were.

We got there plenty early, having been asked to drive the bride and groom to and from the wedding, which we were glad to do, since that was our only official duty and contribution to the wedding.

It was a nice drive out to the location, a beautiful park in Vienna. The day was a bit brisk, but we were indoors, except for during the prewedding picture session, when Mama and I were coat grips for the bride and her sister. Before the photos, though, Dave had to get his boutonniere pinned on. It included a slip of rosemary, as did the bouquets, making for a beautiful, full aroma from all of them.

All of the flowers were beautiful . . .

. . . including those that grow at the park. These are inside, but even the flowers outside had started to bloom.

Really, we love him

Baby Boy Bradstein can't charge us for the therapy bills resulting from this one. It's a gift from my boss (from TWOP--I also like the "For Sale By Owner--$75 OBO" and "Yeah, I was in the shit" shirts). Of course, it was my bright idea to tuck a treat under the shirt and get a picture of Barky sniffing around BBB. Probably won't even need the treat for that.

The back story is that her parents breed Schipperkes, so we're always talking about dogs. For me, the story going further back is that when I was in Australia, it wasn't too long after A Cry in the Dark came out.

OK, it was several years after that, but the Aussies couldn't stop squawking, "A dingo ate my baby!" in their best bad Aussie accent, a la Meryl Streep. I had never seen the movie, and so was no judge of the quality of her accent, although the consensus there was that it had been terrible.

At any rate, it was a bit odd to hear Aussies, speaking with their native accent, then break into an imitation of an American attempting an Aussie accent. A vocal hall of mirrors . . . echo chamber?

Anyway, when BBB brings us this therapy bill, we'll pass it along to the boss.

Some things to look forward to. . .

Of course, Mama and I are used to some of these, being dog parents already. For example, a day is not really complete without at least one discussion of his poop. The volume of poop to discuss will increase with the arrival of Baby Boy Bradstein, to be sure, but this is a well practiced conversation with us.

We have a few extras, thanks to Barky:

  • You stash lint rollers everywhere you can.
  • You reflexively brush your back and butt anytime you stand up in a vain effort to dislodge the dog fur blanket that has attached itself there.
  • As a matter of fact, you surrendered in the battle against dog fur, recognizing that you are under siege, bound to eventually be overrun.
  • You gave up on having clean couch cushions.
  • For that matter, you gave up on the belief that you own any of your furniture, given that you have to evict the dog before you sit or lie down anywhere.
  • You never walk in a straight line, being used to weaving around a weaving dog.
  • You can spot squirrels and cats at 150 yards so you can brace yourself as a defense mechanism against whiplash when your dog tears off after them, hitting the end of the leash so hard that he becomes airborne (as do you, sometimes) and is whipped around to face you.
  • You get letters of appreciation from the employees of Greenies for putting their children through college.
  • Even though you are a devout environmentalist, you always get plastic bags when you shop, even if you are buying an item that you will tuck in your pocket as you walk away from the register, and you hoard them as if they were spun from gold.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog

Laughs for the litgeeks--some advice on Chaucer's blog to a metrosexual of the day:

Sir -
Ich wishe for adyce in the matter of fashion and armes. Ys it verrily a mistake to wear a lilyflour in my helm? (Ich have a shylde of golde.)

Mon Sire Thopas,

By seinte Jerome, finallye someone who kan spelle! Messire Thopas, yow seem a man fair and gent, and Y sholde muchel relish for to tellen yowre tale. Ich shalle have myne peple calle yowre peple. As for the lilye? It dependeth how whethir yow wolde ben 'easte coaste' or 'weste coaste.'

Le Vostre G

It gets better, oh yes it does.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

At home with the Bradsteins

Because we love the Liberal Banana, and not just because she babysits Barky, and because we're in the midst of the pregnancy--the lull between morning sickness and OMG! we're having a baby!--here's my response to Bananalicious Factoids.

Four jobs you have had in your life:
1. Technical writer (computer manuals, if you must know)
2. Stage manager (it was just about as strange as it looks)
3. Forest service specialist
4. Online associate editor

Four movies you would watch over and over (in no specific order):
1. Lawrence of Arabia
2. La Jetee
3. The Usual Suspects
4. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Four places you have lived:
1. Palm Springs, CA
2. Glacier National Park, MT
3. Steamboat Springs, CO
4. Washington, DC

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. The Daily Show
2. West Wing (uh oh)
4. Sunday Morning (on CBS, although we usually watch it on Sunday night)

Six places you have been on vacation:
1. Germany
2. Holland
3. England
4. France
5. Spain
6. Morocco

Four websites I visit daily:
1. Bloglines (which covers more than one site, but suck it up)
2. Gmail
3. Google news
4., now that the season's on

Four of my favorite foods (all vegetarian, of course):
1. My mom's macaroni and cheese
2. Paella
3. Sourdough waffles
4. See's chocolates

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Palo Alto
2. In a comfy stuffed chair, reading a book
3. Marrakesh
4. Camping with no need to come back . . . mountains, desert, beach, woods, anywhere out there.

Four people I am tagging that I think might respond...?
(Nobody really, but the four readers of my blog probably include these characters.)
1. The King and 'Cilla
2. Brother #2
3. Liberal Banana (yes, that's cheating, since she started it . . . again, suck it up)
4. Barky (on the internet, nobody knows he's a dog)

Four things I always carry with me:
1. keys
2. wallet
3. Treo
4. hat (not the American tourist uniform [i.e., baseball cap], but something in felt--sisal in the summer--with a brim and a band that can be blocked and checked, tipped and doffed)

Et tu?

Good friends we have, cross-dressing drinks, bridges after stormy weather

After the walk to the river, Mama and I headed down to Park Slope, to meet up with Fred and Emilia for the party at Commonwealth, just up the block from their place.

We were some of the first people at the party, and had a great time talking with Emilia's mom and Fred's parents--I missed Emilia's dad, who showed up a little later, but Jess got to catch up with him.

Commonwealth was a great place for hanging out, proved by the regulars who came in with their dog shortly after we arrived. They were so polite, they actually asked if they could come in. Hell, you're the regulars. Plus, you know, we hadn't reserved the bar or anything, although Fred's got enough friends that the place was overflowing and loud pretty soon.

Don got there before too long, and not long after he arrived, Natty Bumpo pulled up outside in his stylin' red Bugaboo, with his parents, Jon and Catherine. They weren't sure how Natty would do in such a loud, crowded joint, but he was a rock star, rolling through the crowd in style and holding court next to the jukebox at the back of the bar with the Aussie cattle dog, with whom Nat had some conversations.I'm so glad that they stayed. Don and I have kept in touch, but neither of us had heard from or seen Jon in the 20 years since leaving high school.

I found him recently through the Vespaway blog that he was writing for, and we've been infrequently e-mailing back and forth. When I read there that he was settling back into Brooklyn for the time being, I let him know that we were going to be around this weekend, so he came to meet us. While Don and Jon caught up, I talked more with Catherine and Natty, which was supercool--a highlight of my night. We'll have to get together again in a quieter place, perhaps after Baby Boy Bradstein is ready for a road trip, Nat can show him a thing or two while their parents hang out.

Natty Boy did leave, taking his parents back home, while the party rolled on, with a soundtrack provided by one of my favorite jukeboxes. Just check the selection.

Featuring all homespun CDs and a stool dedicated to jukebox junkies, this is a bar that has its priorities in order.

It also has its drinks mostly in order, serving up a nice clean martini and something they call an antioxidant martini--although we know if there's anything other than gin, a whiff of vermouth, and olives in the glass, that it's just a crossdresser--a mixed drink in a martini glass.

That said, this was one nice crossdresser. Pretty and red, it came with a lump of candied ginger on the rim. They went down dangerously fast and smooth. Someone commented that if he had one more that he'd never get cancer. I'm not so sure about their prophylactic efficacy, but they were easier on us than the stormy weather, which Don and I closed out the evening with.

Tall and moody, these were not so smooth or fast, which I suppose fits the name, although I was hoping for something as rich, powerful, and beautiful as Stormy Weather as sung by Judy Bell, the chanteuse of Palm Springs.

Ah well, it got us home--Don on the subway, me on foot.

Speaking of home, on Sunday, Mama went to prenatal yoga with Emilia--Mama's review: a must for expectant mamas--while Fred, Olivia, and I tried to reconstruct the party over brunch. After that, Mama, Olivia, and I headed home across the Verrazano-Narrows bridge.

Natty Bumpo and the little red lighthouse

This weekend, we sped through NYC, meeting the marvelous Natty Bumpo for the first time, seeing his dad for the first time in 20 years, hanging out with Fred and Emilia at Fred's 30th birthday party, and trying to come up with baby names with Don and Abigail, but not in that order.

In exact reverse order of that, as a matter of fact.

We started off on Friday night, driving through St. Patty's Night to get to Washington Heights some time after midnight. Even though we left Barky in the care of our next door neighbor, I still had to get up and go out at 7:30 in the morning to move the car. What's up with that?

Actually, we spent a lot of time this weekend wondering what our next trip to NYC will be like, given that it will likely be after the arrival of Baby Boy Bradstein, who we won't leave with our neighbor, and for whom 7:30 might be sleeping late.

After everyone was up, and we had discussed the pros and cons of various names--big pro for Don: any name that sounds like a favorite comic book character--we walked down the hill to the little red lighthouse under the great gray bridge.

Yeah, it was a little cold. Actually, not so cold as it was windy, but it was windy enough to make it cold, especially down by the river.

I think the Treo actually froze up down there; I had to reset it to get it to take pictures, which was not fun, since that involved taking off my gloves. Abigail had a real camera, which took much better pictures.

Real Moosemobiles

Unfortunately, it has a sad ending, but Brother #2 did forward the tale of a real Moosemobile.

Then there's this, for which there is no excuse:

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Brother, can you spare a couscous french fry?

I'm not half the housewife that MetroDad is, although I am certainly the cook in the house. That's not to dis Mama's cooking. Of late, she's been whipping up mean omelettes some mornings--we vegetarians, especially the pregnant one, need our protein. Everything she cooks is delicious, but she just doesn't cook as much as I do.

Now that Mama got her big promotion to Associate Director, and as Baby Boy Bradstein keeps getting bigger, she's going to have less time and energy to hustle around the kitchen. When BBB comes along, I'll be doing even more cooking, although I think that I'll only be able to aspire to the levels that MetroDad has reached with his six-course meals for the Peanut.

It's not just the cooking, but the presentation. How can the Peanut resist hot dog and snow peas?

More important: Will MetroDad be releasing a cookbook anytime soon? Get a show on the Food Network? Make house calls? Cook for parents too?

After her time in Korea, Mama loves any good Korean food that she can get, like the kimbap or bebimbap--provided we can find it without fishies or other meats in it. So, a cookbook for all of us househusbands would really help.

While you're waiting for MetroDad to swoop into your kitchen and fill your plate with delicacies, go feast your eyes on his creations.


Now, word geeks like me can use phrases like

  • Do you know how many typos per hour you were doing?
  • You know that you've got a modifier dangling from your bumper?
  • I'm taking you in for DUI (t): drafting unintelligible text.
And, as we do, we can reconfirm our geekiness.

It's not just hats, they've got all kinds of Grammar Police swag.

Mama's in the back seat, hookin' up the car seat . . .

. . . Barky's on the pavement, wonderin' 'bout the guvmint.

This weekend we installed the car seat, which fits perfectly. We didn't even have to adjust the base to level it--we just belted the base in, then clipped in the seat. It does keep me from pushing my seat all the way back--but only by one or two clicks. I've also found that, in our small car, I can't stretch my arm across the back of the passenger seat because my elbow hits the car seat, but neither of those is a big deal.

We've left it in the back seat since then, so Barky can get used to it. He's not too happy that he can't stretch all the way across the back seat, nose on one door, tip of his tail on the other door, but he long ago resigned himself to the fact that we're a pain in his ass, so he took it in stride, although he does still give us dirty looks right when he gets in the car. I tell him to blame the guvmint. They're the ones who make us do it.

Back when I was a lad, when there were no car seat laws, my parents got a VW bus, so I could ride in my portacrib as we drove around. Hey, everyone thought it was safe at the time. Plus, they needed room my five siblings in addition to my portacrib, making the bus a perfect solution. Until the report came out that said that in a head-on collision, both the driver and passenger were likely to lose their legs. My folks didn't think it would be a service to the six of us if that happened to them, so they sold it. Too bad, 'cause that would've been stylin' to drive to college . . . if one of my older siblings hadn't already gotten it by then.

It's not all being spoiled when you're the youngest; there's a lot of hand-me-downs mixed in with the spoiling.

We do still have the powder blue 1962 Ford Falcon station wagon, however. With the cow horn, which led my high school friends to call it the Moosemobile. Two words about the Moose: Out. Standing. For those who don't know, the first Mustang was essentially a Falcon with a different body, so the Moose has got a lot of pickup. And the cigarette lighter works, as does the vacuum tube AM radio.

In addition to the straight-6 engine, it's got the bench seats, the huge back, the roof rack, the 25 mpg--and why can't we do better than that today?, the curved glass front and back, and the beautiful body panels and chrome. Even Barky can't resist the chrome.

The only downside of the Moose: only two seatbelts, which my parents had to order as an optional extra in 1962. The originals just had friction latches, but they wore out a coupla' years ago, so now there are real lap belts up front with real latches. Not that the lap belt will keep you from creasing your forehead on the Queen Mary-sized steel--yeah, steel--steering wheel when your head snaps forward, although it did hold me in place when I did an O-turn in an enclosed space. For the record, everything would have been fine if they didn't put the guard rails so close to the road.

Although the Moose is certainly big enough to accommodate Baby Boy Bradstein's car seat, the lack of belts means that he is going to have to wait awhile before he gets to ride in it. It's no Aston Martin, but I have a feeling that he'll love it, nonetheless.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Who are you? Who Who? Who Who?

Yeah, I really have no idea who I am anymore. When I was a boy, Dad and I would ogle nice cars together, particularly during our summers in Newport Beach, where Rolls Royces are a dime a dozen.

A car like a Rolls would get us to turn our heads, but the ones we walked over to and looked into the windows of to see the dash--how high does that speedo go?--were the fast cars. Ferraris are also common in SoCal, but they're worth a look, particularly the more rare models. Porsches are always nice to look at because the engineering is always so clean, new or old, although they're not unusual in Newport. The holy grail would have been to find an Aston Martin with Dad. I'm sure that he fell in love with them because that's what Bond used to drive in the books--before he got modernized and started driving around a Saab 900 turbo. The pre-GM Saab, of course. I've only found a few as an adult, all of which have required close inspection. They are sooo nice. My favorite, of course, is the one that's all tricked out, Bond style, at the Spy Museum in DC. If only they would let it out for test rides . . .

But, that was then. This is now, when my lust for fast cars has been replaced with car questions like, "Does this model have cup holders that will hold sippy cups? Juice boxes? Does it have LATCH attachments for car seats?" Yes, an Aston Martin would still turn my head, but I don't know if I'd spend an hour on their website, as I just did on the Community Playthings site, looking at cool wooden trucks (the semi comes with two villagers--can we get one with two Village People, or do we have to dress them ourselves?), dramatic play kits (I'm guessing this doesn't come with the Village People costumes either), and sweet wooden cribs.

Yes, we do already have a crib. Yes, we are happy with it . . . well there is the one wheel bit that we have to call the manufacturer about, but it's not a thing . . . we even have a mattress, mattress pad, and a sheet for it. Yes, just one sheet so far. We're starting slowly. And that's just it--I'm ogling cribs even though we already have one that we're perfectly happy with. Shouldn't I be spending that time ogling cars or tools or at least bike parts? This is what happens--when you become a dad, you are all of sudden two people: you and dad-you. And it's not easy being in that spot. I'm honestly not sure what I would do if we walked by a storefront display of Community Playthings swag as an Aston Martin drove by.

Where should I look? Who would win out? Me or dad-me? Good Kirk or shirtless Kirk?

Monday, March 13, 2006

A real wedding gift . . .

We wouldn't have had to go through all of that drinking, socializing, standing around with our hands in our pockets, and kicking if we could have just ordered up hot and cold running beer for Deborah and Dave.

Two questions:

  • Dude, why would you ever report this?
  • Were the bar customers pissed off, or what?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The happy couple, kickin' it

After watching the amateurs, Deborah and Dave finished their warmup, including calisthenics mandated by the Reinheitsgebot, and took over barrel kicking duties.

Both eyed the approaching barrel with anticipation and trepidation--would they succeed? would the barrel crush their toes, forcing them to hobble down the aisle on crutches? is this really how the Germans do it?

At last, the barrel arrived . . . and departed . . . then arrived again . . . and departed . . .


Congratulations to Deborah and Dave for (and thanks to Olivia and Ashley for organizing) such a great party. If they can master coordinated beer barrel kicking, I'm sure that they'll have no trouble mastering this whole marriage thing.

Mama, Baby, and I enjoyed the friends, the fun, and the beer. Although, I hope for Mama's sake that Baby didn't take notice of her barrel kicking technique--his kicks have been fierce enough recently; he doesn't need to get all Kukkiwon on us.

I get no kick from champagne

If you want your beer to have a kick, you have to kick start it yourself, rolling the barrel back and forth for 10 minutes or so, to get the yeast mixed in. Rolling a 20 gallon barrel of beer at a group of people who have been hard at work brewing beer for the last 3 1/2 hours is also a good way to gauge how all that work has affected their motor skills.

Fortunately, nobody broke a toe, although many of us did break down laughing, especially when Mama broke out her ap chagi, and showed that barrel who was boss. Then we realized that she was a trained professional, who might end up breaking the barrel rather than mixing the beer, so we brought in the guests of honor, to ensure that no harm came to the golden elixir.

Yeasty Boy

Dave did the honors, pouring in the yeast, which is what really gets the party started.

After that, all that was left was to kick the can.

We got both kinds

There are, as I said, two kinds of work that are essential in brewing beer. There's the actual brewing, which involves standing around a copper kettle with your hands in your pockets . . .
And there's the support roles, which involve standing around with glasses of beer in your hand . . . except, of course, Mama, who had a camera in her hands . . .

Look a shiny thing

Mmm. Big beer cans.

Not so much actually, but these are the vats where everything gets mixed together on the way to joining forces and becoming beer. I would explain in greater detail but there were two details on Saturday: the beer making detail and the beer drinking detail. Because socializing is the better part of valor, Mama and I opted for the latter, which leaves me with little to say about the details of the process beyond, "Look, a shiny thing!"

True dat

True, yo.

We're not talking about MapQuest vs. Google Maps, we're talking about the serious business of brewing beer, which requires serious tools.

Like this truing stand for bicycle wheels. Actually, this is a whole bicycle workbench, tucked away in the back room of the brewery, where we went to kick the can.

It makes perfect sense to me: beer is serious business, bikes are serious business, and bikers are always serious about beer. Beers and bikes--that's double true.

Serious business

Even though you may think that only a drunkard would run a brewery it's not true. (Matter of fact, I've never seen the owner hoist a glass at SBC.) You can tell it's a serious business buy the serious tools that they use:

  • beer
  • big gloves
  • an even bigger stick
So, it's either beer or a cricket match. Either one of which could take three weeks, which is how long we have to wait before going back for bottling.

Where everybody knows your name

Clearly, we're not the only ones who love Deborah and Dave; just look at all the friends who showed up. I'm sure they weren't all there just because the Evite happened to mention that the party would be at a brewery and that we'd be making beer.

No, we were there because they're both such great friends--so cool, yet brimming with effervescence . . . hey, speaking of cold and bubbly, is that pitcher empty again? So soon?

Mmm, beer.

To ensure that we knew what we were doing, we decided that it would be best to start off by drinking some beer as a way to orient ourselves toward our goal. By the time we were done, we might not be able to orient ourselves toward anything more complex than a basket of tortilla chips, but it was a good start.

Just so you don't think that they let the monkeys run the zoo, the inmates run the prison, or the boozers run the brewery--there was plenty of professional help there, including the brewmaster and owner.

Bachelor party with Baby

Really, what better place to go with Baby along for the ride than a not-quite-a bachelor/bachlorette party at a brewery?

This was for our friends Deborah and Dave, who I work with (I have Deborah to thank for my job there, actually), and it was right down the street from our place, at the Shenandoah Brewing Company.

With a name like that, you'd expect them to be in a small town in the Shenandoah Valley, a few hours to the west of here. Although that would be much more beautiful place to visit, we're glad that they're actually in the strip mall down the road, because that's much easier to get to.

Although I've never been to a bachelor party--do people still have those?--this didn't incorporate any of the elements of the social mythology that has sprung up around bachelor parties. After all, we were on a mission: we were there to make beer.