Thursday, December 10, 2009

40 Reopens: City Safe Once Again

Playing in the road!

So, why did St. Louisans make such a big deal about the completion of the construction on 40/64? I have a theory. Everyone that was out there was a city resident, and we were celebrating the fact that county denizens would no long have to hurtle down side streets to avoid imagined car jackings.

For the past year I have not been able to exit my neighborhood without great difficulty during rush hour. The additional time spent in my car probably totalled at least 30 minutes a week. This time would increase exponentially whenever there was an accident at Skinker and Forest Park caused by a commuter who could not possibly sit through another iteration of the traffic light.

In addition to the ending of traffic woes I am pleased that the homeless will no longer consider this intersection to be their personal ATM. It became a viable economic option to stand at this intersection with a cardboard sign detailing ones misfortunes. White-flight guilt would force drivers to lower their windows and hand over any change that they could find in the crevices of their Explorers.

So I will celebrate the opening of the highway so that the thousands of countians that wreaked havoc on my neighborhood and now zip by at 60 miles per hour picking their nose and listening to Sean Hannity.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hairstyles and Attitudes*

*Title stolen from 80's icon Timbuk 3

"Long hair minimizes the need for barber . . ." Albert

Teacher conferences, a time of paranoid, knee shaking, underarm sweating stress. Is my kid smart? Is he scoring high enough on the tests that will determine his future? What did I do wrong as a parent? We all want our children to succeed because as we all know, life is a competition.

Last years conferences in kindergarten (freaking kindergarten) were excruciating. Sitting in front of a teacher that from all appearances had crept slightly further along the autism spectrum than one would expect for a professional educator. A knitter perhaps, or a professional mail-in contest winner, but it was obvious that social interaction was not her area of expertise. In her haltingly monotone locutions she would explain how our son was not reading at the levels that were expected of him. As high school English teachers, my wife and I were noticeably concerned. We have read to him since he was a mere blastocyst. How could he fall behind in reading?

It was suggested that he get tutoring over the summer and enroll in the Title 1 program. We were aghast. After a few months of intensive work with my wife he was able to catch up. So this years conferences would hopefully be much better, and as far as academics go they were. His teacher, though with a touch less Aspergers and little more Marm, told us that he was doing well. Big sigh of relief, until a slight upturn of one corner of her mouth and a downward glance at the papers in front of her indicated that all was not well.

"Evan has problems taking responsibility for his actions."

No surprise there. I have never made a mistake that I couldn't find an excuse for.

"Sometimes I have problems reading Evan's handwriting. He needs to work on his fine motor skills."

Again, genetics has cursed him. I gave up handwriting long ago and barely remember cursive. As for fine motor skills, I doubt it. He probably is rushing through his work (see how I can make an excuse?) and who needs fine motor skills anyway? How often do you have to thread a needle? Alright maybe a brain surgeon, but that is it.

"Evan needs to comb his hair."

What? You have got to be kidding me.

"We have been emphasizing neat uniforms and personal grooming."

You're not kidding. You should be, but you're not.

"Some of the older kids have started referring to him as the kid that doesn't comb his hair."

Yeah, because they are jealous.

Of course I have an excuse for the hair as well, but I'm not going to use it. I shouldn't have to. Hair is in no way connected to school performance. I knew what I was getting into when we signed him up for school. The student handbook clearly states that students are not allowed to color their hair. I have such an anti-authoritarian outlook that I had considered dying his hair purple before his first day of school so that they would not know his natural color.

Once he was shamed by his teacher because he had a temporary tattoo, at which point I seriously considered taking him to Iron Age to get a permanent one.

So for now I guess I will tolerate the Catholic Fashionista, but as soon as he graduates we are doing some serious Salvador Dali bedhead.

"I had the craziest dream."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Halloween Town

"Tell me a joke," said the lady with the bowl full Kit Kats and Dum Dums.

"I don't know one," replied a dejected Evan.

My son, dressed in a clone trooper outfit made by his mother out of recycle plastic, then turned and walked down the steps without getting a piece of candy deposited into the decapitated head of Lord Vader.

"No candy? I think I'm gonna be tipping your tombstone
if you know what I mean."

I really hadn't paid much attention to trick-or-treating in St. Louis until now. The end goal is to obtain a mountain of candy that volcanically explodes onto the living room floor. Hopefully, there will be several Reese's Peanut Butter Cups that I can pilfer without Evan finding out. But seeing the sullen Commander Cody shamble down the steps candy-less created a kernel of contempt that could not be squashed with a few Candy Corns.

In St. Louis (and apparently Iowa) children are required to tell jokes in order to receive candy. I was raised believing that the implied contract stated, "The party of the first part (the treater) will provide sugary treats to the party of the second part (the treatee). Upon failure to comply with the conditions of this contract the party of the second part will then "trick" the party of the first part with eggs, toilet paper, and flaming bags of animal feces." However, in The Lou the candy is seen as payment for entertainment.

Trick-or-treating is meant to be extortion. In which individuals are "coerced" into purchasing protections against "external" threats of vandalism. Payment is made to the "bagman" on the evening of October 31st.

So I will be coaching Evan for next year. When someone ask for a joke he should simply reply, "Uh yeah! Here's your joke. Hows 'bout you give me some candy, or who knows what might happen here. I mean the neighborhood's not safe. Hows 'bout youse pay me some candy, and I make sure, uh nothin' unseemly happens here. Capisce?"

We could go with a more religious angle. Children in costume are serving a purpose. They are frightening away all of the evil spirits to make way for the "hallowed" saints to come to Earth the next day. This can even be extend to all souls. a five cent piece of candy seems to be a relatively small price to pay for such a valuable service. Or we might make sure that your loved ones visit you the next day as a soul.

Or if you rather, perhaps the neighbors should merely give up the Skittles as part of there bountiful harvest. After a bumper crop of Snickers candy cultivators should give back to the community that has supported them especially those of us that have been protecting them from those "kids" and there vandalism.

So to anyone that asks Evan to tell a joke next year, watch your back. It's not a threat. I would never threaten you. I'm just sayin' you never know what could happen.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Un-flipping Believable

Today, a 55 degree afternoon (it's relevant trust me), I went to pick up my son from school. I was stopped by the teacher.She said, " I just wanted to let you know that on days when it is cold if Evan doesn't have a coat I won't be able to let him go outside. He (my son) says that on some days you are just walking from the car." (This is a blatant lie since we walk to school.)

"Oh I'm sorry. I usually let him decide," I replied.

"But you're the parent," she stabbed. At this point I had to suppress the gamma radiation that was boiling in my blood. I try to reserve that stuff for lifting cars off of people and pounding through walls of burning buildings.

She continued, "With the flu we are trying to keep the children healthy."

"Okay, I'll put it in his backpack," I said ending the conversation.I knew that I was dealing with someone who most likely believed in witchcraft and easily confused co-occurrence with causation. I'm sure she has already blamed the neighbor lady for the death of her goats and the fact that her DVR didn't record last weeks episode of House. I mean she did give her the stink-eye last week.

Keeping my son inside would actually increase his likelihood of contract a viral infection. Flu season begins in the fall because we all are inside more often and in contact with infected individuals. Outdoors is the least likely place to get sick. That is not entirely true. A clean room at the CDC may be safer. So would a bubble suit like the one John Travolta wore.

I also take exception to the "you're the parent" comment. Apparently as the parent I should impose some sort of draconian coat wearing regime. It gets worse. She went on to say, "I can't let him out if I wouldn't let my own children go out."You may spot the logical fallacy. First she states that I am the parent and then supersedes the authority that she gave me. Apparently she is the parent.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I am Tired of the Lunatics

Why is it that so many people have no clue? I'm not talking a CSI level analysis. No DNA evidence. No dog hair in the floorboard of the car. I'm talking about basic Sherlock Holmes style common sense.

For example, my son just got whacked in the face with a kickball. No big deal, but he wears glasses which dug into his eye and gave him a shiner. Again, pretty freakin' cool.

However, since this isn't the first such incident, the principal decided to make some suggestions as to how to improve the situation. In a fit of politeness I decided to listen to her. She suggested goggles. Okay, fair enough. Maybe some really cool Oakley sports goggles. I said he had an appointment at the end of the month and we would look into it. I hoped that she would forget and we could go on from there.

Uh, no. She said, "You know we have these goggles that they use in the science class."

Now if you are getting an image of the big clunky goggles that you can pick up at any area dollar store, then you would be right. I on the other hand could not believe that this would be the case so I good naturedly went to the science lab to see what she was talking about.

Of course, you know what I found. These are acceptable if you are doing some sort of crazy home improvement project, or maybe lighting strips of magnesium, but they are definitely not right for an elementary school playground.

To the principals credit I will admit that the incidents of kickball incidents would go down because my son would be too busy getting laughed at and punch by his peers.

I'm not saying that little kids are cruel, but if I saw him walking around with those goggles I might be tempted to get in a few licks.

What is wrong with people?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"For a Good Time Call" Writing on the Bathroom Wall

I woman in St. Peters was just charged with a felony for what is the equivalent of writing "for a good time call" on the bathroom wall. The bathroom wall like Facebook or Craigslist is a public forum with a slightly larger audience. The law that she is be charged under is an over-reaction to the Megan Meier case. While tragic, and particularly disgusting when done by an adult, the acts in these two cases do not warrant a felony conviction.

Harassment should not go unpunished, but we are getting dangerously close to violating our first amendment rights. If I were to call someone a douche on this blog that reaches, as far as I can tell no one, have I committed a crime or a public service. I may cause the douche in question emotional distress.

Perhaps we should amend the Constitution again to guarantee freedom from emotional distress. I mean we already can pursue happiness in this country why not guarantee that we can actually capture it.

If you deprive me of my life. Felony. If you deprive me of my liberty. Felony. But we do not have a right to happiness. The word pursuit was intentional because as we all know happiness is generally a fleeting emotion that must be constantly chased because circumstance and people often cause us to lose our grasp of it.

This not a felony and the law should be changed immediately.