Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Dark Passenger is busted

Love the calmness of the Dark Passenger when his vehicle, Dexter, is caught red-handed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Allergy Fu

Tall summer grasses--
all that remains of
great soldiers' imperial dreams
--Matsuo Basho

Tall summer grasses--
allergy testing today
spots honor Basho

I did allergy testing this morning, with 60 substances put just under my skin. My allergies to weed pollen and grass pollen are pretty bad; I fared somewhat better with trees and mold spores. I had no allergic reaction at all to the indoor substances that were tested. I've had a number of upper respiratory infections and a whole lot of post-nasal drip in recent months. Thank goodness for breath mints.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Old English in 3D & CGI

We were in need of some mindless entertainment yesterday, so we saw Beowulf in 3D at the local IMAX theater. The writing and acting are mediocre at best, but seeing the movie was great fun nevertheless. I don't usually give a hoot about special effects, but the effects in this movie are spectacular. Also, it was funny how they played with the scenery to keep Beowulf's private parts from being seen when he was nekkid. Check it out.

I wonder whether some classic films with great action and scenery could be retrofitted in 3D? I know, I know, it's not nice to mess with the artists' vision, and, heaven knows, Ted Turner's colorized versions of Miracle on 34th Street and Casablanca were abominations. But wouldn't, say, Lawrence of Arabia or Doctor Zhivago be fabulous in 3D?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Christmas Tradition

I've made a point of eating at least one box of Cap'n Crunch's seasonal cereal since I first discovered it in the late 1980s, in the years that I've been able to find it at the local grocery stores. In law school in St. Louis, I lived in a three-person apartment. One of my roommates--Bob--was so bitchy about his atheism that he had a hissy fit when someone suggested that we put up a tiny Christmas tree. We shrugged it off and didn't put up a tree. However, a few days later, I was at the grocery store and saw a display for Christmas Crunch. One of the few things Bob and I had in common was that we both ate large amounts of cereal, so I bought a box--my first Christmas Crunch purchase--and placed it in the pantry next to his cereal boxes. Even a box of cereal with an allusion to Christianity annoyed Bob; thus, I had my revenge. Anyhow, the very best Christmas Crunch came along a year or two thereafter, when they put a packet of frosting in each box. It was ridiculously sugary--crunchberries with frosting on top--but, damn, it was tasty!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Boy, elevated

My boys continue to amaze and fascinate me. T was obsessive/compulsive about elevators this weekend, so much so that he fell into a stagnant, stinky, black drainage canal trying to get to a building that has one. The most astonishing thing about this is that he was headed in exactly the right direction, without ever having been in that particular neighborhood before. It all started at a local park, when T ostensibly decided he to walk around on the nature trail. He and I ended up meandering around an unfamiliar part of town. It took a while for me to figure out what was going on. T's sense of geography is scarily accurate. He was heading straight for a hospital he knows has several elevators, though it was quite far ahead. The building is not visible from that neighborhood.

As for the drainage canal, I thought I had spotted a way to the nearby main thoroughfare, but the way was blocked by the canal. As I looked up and down the canal for a way to cross, T took off down the narrow bank. He was in tennis shoes; I was in Birkenstocks, so my footing was most unsure, and my balance isn't the greatest to begin with. T's balance is almost as good as his sense of geography, but he misjudged his footing and slid down into the knee-deep sludge. I pulled him out no worse for wear, but very wet and stinking badly. I saw a utility pipe going across the canal, parallel to, and about two feet away from, a telephone pole laid across the waterway. I sat on the pole and slid my butt across, holding T's hand as he walked across on the pipe. We came out very close to the LDS Bishop's Storehouse, which he is absolutely convinced contains an elevator. I've not been in the building, but I suspect that what looks like a second story is a food warehouse area accessed with ladders and/or lifts instead of elevators. I had to utilize a "crisis prevention" walk (read "manhandle") to get T back to the park, about a mile away. We got in plenty of elevator play at our usual stops, and I took T to the beach, which he enjoyed as much as A did last week.

It seemed that T's autism/OCD is coinciding with some pretty typical boy behavior. I wasn't one to risk dumping myself into the ooze just to get something I wanted when I was that age, much less not caring about it, but plenty of boys are more like T. Also, T won't let me give him hugs and kisses anymore--it seems to embarass him--while he remains openly affectionate towards DW. This afternoon, we brought T back to Alexandria and checked into the hotel where we have our "swimming pool" visits with our kids. After some swimming and elevator play, T pointed at me, put his face close to mine, and said, "nissyu." He repeated that phrase several times to both DW and me over the next few minutes, and it didn't dawn on me until later that he was saying "miss you," as in "okay, I'm ready to go back to school now." T is a very brave, rapidly maturing little man these days.

ETA--Another thing I've noticed recently is T's ability to window-shop for toys whilst playing with other ones. He'll fiddle with this or that toy at the store, then, on the next trip there, make a beeline for another, nearby toy in which he showed no interest whatsoever. Yesterday, he chose to purchase a Bible action figure of King David, I suppose demonstrating that his Catholic religious education is taking hold. I told him that his mommy would be very pleased with his selection. This David is a bit of a blabbermouth--he tends to speak for a few minutes at a stretch when you push the button on his back. Also, DW was pleased with the selection, particularly upon noticing that this plastic David did not blame Bathsheba for David's most notorious act of adultery and treachery--unlike the evidently self-hating women of the Logan, Utah, 24th LDS Ward gospel doctrine class, and unlike the self-hating woman in the New Orleans 1st LDS Ward, whose insistence that Bathsheba was to blame annoyed DW so much that she went into labor with A within hours of leading a doctrinal discussion of the David/Bathsheba incident. I think it would be hilarious to have a Soto Zen Buddha action figure. You push the button on his back, and he says absolutely nothing, emphasizing the wordless transmission of the dharma.

T had me draw this in the car yesterday, one of about 50 pictures of McDonald's I drew this week. Wouldn't it be nice if all of our obsessions and desires came with rainbows and sunshine?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Presto Manifesto

So the tension between the assertive, uninhibited, Lila-loving new Dexter and the cautious, kindly (except for the serial killer thing), Rita-loving old Dexter is about to snap. Lila literally plays with fire; I suspect that her figurative fire-play soon will find her in a Hefty bag at the bottom of the ocean. Doakes, too, may see the inside of a Hefty bag, or maybe a gurney and a needle if he can be framed as the Bay Harbor Butcher. Dex's set-up of Doakes to get his nemesis suspended was brilliant, especially the vicious head-butt in the lab that lead Doakes to attack our favorite anti-hero in the middle of the police station. I loved the "presto manifesto" that Dexter sent the newspaper after he cribbed a bunch of junk from various blogs. The fact that the ploy backfired doesn't make it any less funny, though it does show how reckless Lila's Dexter has become.

"I own you."

This show is fascinating in the psychological discoveries of its main character. He used to have a sort of Manichean view of himself, with most of himself being dark and monstrous. Last season, he slowly started to exhibit some of the good human emotions he denied were possible. This season, he's letting himself see that at least some of what he viewed as dark just is, and is neither good or bad. At the same time, he has been given every reason to doubt his foster father and the Code of Harry that has dictated almost all of his actions. It's almost like he is in psychotherapy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Birthday Boy

At the beach, Waveland, Mississippi.

A had a fabulous ninth birthday weekend. He even blew out the candle on his cake for the very first time, after DW pulled out a bubble wand to suggest how hard he needed to blow. I decided to let A walk into WalMart on his own, instead of placing him in a cart as soon as I park the car. He took the opportunity to explore his fascination with the cart "garage" in the foyer. He enjoyed the long strips of clear plastic at the end of that area, and he took me there repeatedly. Once he got inside and ran into the store that way, the interior part of the cart garage had no appeal. Inside the store, he still likes riding in the cart.

DW and I are seeing a huge overall improvement in A's development recently. He is much more aware of his environment than he used to be. He chooses videos to watch, and kinda, sorta knows how to work the VCR. He increasingly is taking the initiative to do things for himself instead of having other people do them for him--though he actually started doing that a few years ago when he started teaching himself to swim. Most important, he is communicating his needs and wants much better than before, sometimes in creative ways. When he wants the driver to turn right or left, for instance, he reaches up and pulls on the front seat passenger seat belt if nobody is in that seat. When I took him to the mall the other day, I wasn't sure whether he wanted to be there. I extended my arm into the back seat. He slapped the palm of my hand, which sometimes can mean "I want" (which he has been taught to indicate by clapping with his arms in front of his chest), then pushed my hand towards the steering wheel. Off to WalMart we went.

We tried a new thing with T yesterday when we dropped off A. It's very difficult to take T around town without us having free access to a swimming pool or an elevator. The boys' new living accommodations make it possible for us to visit them on-campus, something we've never tried before. We arranged with the autism center to have a play-date with T, knowing he would not be happy when he didn't ride away in the car. We got him a big kids' meal from Burger King and brought in some notebooks and pencils. We spent about 20 minutes there, and he didn't get upset until we said "bye-bye." The autism center's residential director was in the room to help him work through things. I felt like crap about disappointing T's expectations--it was like a razor blade cutting into my soul--but this is the only way I can see visiting him on the occasions when we take A back from a home visit. Moreover, we want to be able to attend some of the family functions on-campus, something we have been unable to do. We did an after-action review in the car on the drive home, so we know how we will tweak our next on-campus visit. We'll have T home for a few days early next week, so I'm getting ready for some elevator riding.

I am very proud of my boys, and I can't find the words to describe how much I love and cherish them. They are far more courageous than I ever had to be as a child. They also have come quite a ways in their development, and they love to learn. Absent a cure, they will always be severely developmentally disabled, and will require 24/7 supervision. However, that doesn't mean that they can't learn, grow, and have experiences that will help them be happy and achieve their full potential. As I've said before, all parents want the same basic things for their children--happiness, safety, long-term security, education, self-esteem, self-confidence, feeling loved, etc.; parents like us just have to redefine how those are measured and achieved with our childrens' limitations in mind.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Your Inner European is Irish!

Sprited and boisterous!
You drink everyone under the table.

This is funny. Not that I would mind being Irish at all, and I could go for a black-and-tan right now. However, I don't know anybody who would characterize me as "spirited and boisterous," though some of my online alter-egos might be described as such.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Watching Over Kids?

A 13-year-old boy shot himself in the head at school yesterday in Jefferson Parish, and he died this morning. Everybody interviewed by the newspaper characterized this boy as cheerful and friendly, and nobody saw any signs of trouble. However, his myspace page evidently contained talk of suicide. I don't know any more details than what made it into the paper, but I have to wonder whether someone should have paid attention to that myspace page and asked questions about it. I'm all for personal privacy and trust--I can't see myself reading my kids' e-mail without cause, for example--but something that is posted on the Internet isn't exactly meant to be private.