miércoles, junio 29, 2005

Stat Stuff

I was checking out some Census figures and saw an interesting statistic. According to the 2000 Census, women outnumbered men in the United States by 5.3 million. This means that there are approximately 96 men for every 100 women. Yet for every 100 girls below the age of 5, there were almost 105 boys. The number hovers around 105 all the way up into the mid-teens, and then starts to decline. The descent continues through all the remaining years.

By 25, one of the 105 guys will have succumbed to the “hey, y’all … watch this” factor. Somewhere in their late twenties – and after a couple beers, no doubt – two more guys will have gone out with some sort of bang, as will three in their early thirties.

Below 35 there are 2.8 million more men than women. 51.5% of the men in this country today are under that age; 52.3% of women are over it. For every 100 late-thirty something women, 99 guys remain. And one of those guys won’t make it over the hill.

And then we guys start going out with a pang … a chest pang, that is.

One guy drops in his early forties, one more in his late forties, one more early fifties. Three more will assume room temperature in their late fifties. At this point, we’ve gone from 5 extra guys per 100 women to six fewer. By the late sixties, there are only 86 guys left, 16 of whom won’t wake up from their naps over the next decade.

World War II starts to have an impact on the octogenarians. The Beach Boys sang about “two girls for every boy” – well, that’s how it is once you get into your eighties. Of course, by that time it doesn’t really matter.

So what does this say? We guys are obviously doing more to extending the life of the Social Security trust fund (payments cease when you do). One could argue that this shows that women have more endurance than men. On the flip side, one could also argue that dealing with women is more difficult than dealing with men. (Notice how the male fatalities start ratcheting up around marriage age? Look at the mortality spike at the age of “the change”!)

We are either weaker, more stressed, or simply disposable. Or it could be that we are less stubborn – instead of sticking around after the party’s over, we leave when it’s time to go. That 5.3 million gender differential mentioned above completely accounted for in the septuagenarian-and-above crowd – there are 10 million 70+ men and 15.4 million women. At some point the kids are more interested in the inheritance than the tales of how we accumulated it, anyways.

When does that point come? Depends.

domingo, junio 26, 2005

Little bastard got out again

This time the hamster made it all the way from the living room into Emily's room. He went back to the place he used to go after escaping - under her bookshelf. I thought that was a nice nestalgic touch on his part. The recovery process was made all the more interesting because there is now a TV on the shelf (which dropped).

I need to find a way to seal off the front door to the cage. The little rat - I mean cute, cuddly hamster - can force the door open. He tries to escape any time that his food bowl is empty (which is often, because as a hamster his natural inclination is to take any food he finds and bury it in his nest. We fill the bowl, he empties it into his sleeping area. Half his food gets thrown away when we clean his cage).

At least this time the kids didn't panic when they realized he was gone. We're getting much better at this. I just hope we don't get too much more practice.

miércoles, junio 22, 2005

The not-so-great escape

After getting the kids pottied and started on their breakfast this morning, I headed off to the bathroom to begin my transfiguration from sleepy ogre to something resembling a regular white-collar human being. Suddenly there were panicked calls from the living room. “Daaad!”

“What?” I growled. The transformation had not yet begun.

“Spongebob’s gone!”

The hamster managed to muscle his way out of his cage at some point during the night. Since I actually collapsed for the evening in my bed instead of the couch, I didn’t hear the door snap open. I grabbed the flashlight and started checking out the places that a hamster might find appealing – underneath the rolling shelf-drawer-thingy that his cage sits atop, under the rolling computer cart, under the rolling cart that doubles as an end-table (I have a lot of mobile furniture), under the little tables in the corner of the dining room, under everything in the kitchen – stove, fridge, rolling microwave stand, etc., and behind the couch. All that searching yielded nothing. I found dust bunnies, but no hamster.

Ironically, just Saturday Ms N helped the kids clean up the area around the hamster cage. I had two bins – one overflowing with stuff for charity and another overflowing with stuff for Alex’s room – against that wall. The clear floor looks a heck of a lot nicer, but the endless supply of nooks and crannies amidst the chaotic pile of crap provided places to hide. It might have narrowed our search area had the mess still been there. Then again, before we could look anywhere else, we would have had to pull everything out of those bins without squashing Spongebob. I guess there are pros and cons. The overriding pro is that the living room looks so much better. Thank you again, Ms N.

Anyways, I set Emily to work on putting peanut butter inside the two hamster balls. The search was going to have to stop – we’ve got work and the kids have their last day of school. Eventually he would come searching for food, and the coated ball would hopefully occupy him for a while, or at least keep him centered around one spot until we returned home.

Just as I was about to resume my morning transformation, I noticed a spot of yellow. My couch and loveseat are on adjacent walls. The living room isn’t that big, so the two pieces of furniture touch. The corner behind them is effectively cut off. I have a bookshelf and a lamp back there, plus we frequently keep a blanket of Alex’s in that corner. Spongebob was sitting on the bottom shelf partially hidden from view because of the blanket.

I put the one peanut-butter-ball near him. He promptly ignored it. I moved the blanket enough to put the other ball on the other side of the shelf. This freaked him out, and he squeezed his way around the first ball to try to escape. I put the second ball right out in front of the corner where the couch and loveseat meet. I then moved the blanket. This steered him through the tiny gap between the seats and right to the ball. I scooped him up and returned him to his cage, which he seemed quite happy to see again. By the time I showered and finished up the deogrefication process, he was fast asleep.

lunes, junio 20, 2005

The best Father's Day ever!

This was hands-down the best Father’s Day I have ever had.

My weekend started with a trip down to Baltimore after work on Friday to see Ms N. We dined at Ruths Chris Steakhouse on the inner harbor. Man, can they cook a steak! After dinner we walked along the harbor, sat by the water, and visited a few shops. We finally adjourned to Ms N’s place for the evening where I demonstrated my undying love for her by breaking her bedroom ceiling fan. What am I if not a romantic?

Saturday morning was beautiful. The windows were open and the fan was clunking lightly overhead. The temperature was perfect – not hot enough to sweat, not cold enough to have to find covers in which to bury my feet. It was just a wonderful morning to lie together.

We went to breakfast at one of the few places Ms N will miss when she leaves Maryland, and then we went to a nearby mall for a while to go shopping for bras and make-up. I apparently need an oil-free base if I truly want that Covergirl look. That and I may want to shave the goatee.

We missed the train I was supposed to catch in order to get the kids on time, so we drove up to Jersey. As luck would have it, X called to say that I she would keep the kids a bit longer, so that gave us time to do stuff once we got back up here. I got the kids after dinner and the four of us went back to my place. My kids are OK cleaners for everyone but me – probably in large part because I suck so horrendously at it – and my apartment generally reflects our collective lack of harmony. Ms N – Martita Estewart that she is – helped Alex and Emily go through the piles of stuff that they had in the living room (and me with my piles everywhere else). The place looks wonderful. Thank you, Ms N. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Ms N left for Maryland at the kids’ bedtime. They have taken a liking to her, which is so very nice for me to see.

Sunday was Father’s Day. My day. My day to reap the rewards of another year where I successfully avoided hospitalizing the kids with food poisoning from my cooking, got them to school on time almost every day, kept them clothed – usually in clothes that didn’t clash, and kept them content enough that I got no calls from the school psychiatrist. For one day a year, the focus is on me. It’s my choice what we do. Just about every other day of the year the focus is on them – now it’s my turn.

Yet the only thing I wanted to do on my day was watch them enjoy themselves. That is hands-down the best part of being a dad.

We got up early and took the train up to New York City. First we took Emily to the American Girl Store. She had Angela, her American Girl doll, dressed for a day of shopping (including sensible shoes). Alex brought along Croak, his plastic glow-in-the-dark cockroach. We took Angela to the boutique so she could get her hair done. Alex kept showing Croak to all the sales ladies. Andrea, the (doll) hair-stylist who was doing Angela’s new doo, offered to make a bow for Croak, too. Alex agreed, so long as it could also be used as a leash. Afterwards, as we were going through aisle and aisle of doll paraphernalia, Alex was perfectly behaved. The store is not geared around those of us with Y chromosomes in any way, shape, or form. The men’s room is in the farthest possible nook they could find. It is all-girl. There is nothing in the entire building that could possibly amuse a boy. Yet walking Croak kept him amused and occupied.

After escaping estrogen-central we started walking towards Toy Square. Most other people mistakenly refer to this place as “Times” Square, but ever since Toys R’ Us chose it for their flagship store – complete with Ferris wheel and gigantic animatronic dinosaur – Alex has used this more appropriate name. Every trip to NYC has to involve at least one visit.

On our way there, however, we discovered that they had Sixth Avenue closed off for a street fair. We decided to spend some time at the fair. We walked from 47th – the street we were on originally – up to 52nd, then turned around and went all the way down to 42nd, the end of the fair. In the mean time, we acquired a poncho for Emily, a wooden snake for Alex, and family pictures for me. Emily got to play some traditional African drums, albeit not in the traditional African fashion. We finally made it to Toy Square, where Alex picked up a shark.

Walking from Toy Square back to Penn Station, Emily’s feet began to feel the full effect of all we had done. With the exception of the 20 minutes we spend eating lunch, we had walked from 10:00 to 3:00 – from Penn Station to 49th & Fifth to 52nd & Sixth to Times Square and back. “Dad,” she said around 38th Street, “my feet are going to fall off.”

“Don’t worry, Ems,” I replied. “Pretty soon we’ll be on the train. Then you’ll have an hour and a half to rest your stumps.”

Alex conked out on the train ride home surrounded by his cockroach, snake, and shark. Emily was engrossed in her American Girl magazine. I spent the ride knowing that despite the hard times that have come my way, I am an incredibly lucky man.

Thank you, Ms N, for being there. I love you.

viernes, junio 17, 2005

More P.J.

On Government:

"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators."

"A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them."

"Politicians are interested in people. Not that this is a virtue. Fleas are interested in dogs."

"The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop."

"The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it."

"Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us."

And on other things, like the war in Iraq:

"No, it turns out Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction. And how crazy does that make Saddam? All he had to do was tell Hans Blix, 'Look anywhere you want. Look under the bed. Look beneath the couch. Look behind the toilet tank in the third presidential palace on the left, but keep your mitts off my copies of Maxim.' And Saddam could have gone on dictatoring away until Donald Rumsfeld gets elected head of the World Council of Churches. But no . . ."

Moby Dick:

"There’s not a woman in the book, the plot hinges on unkindness to animals, and the black characters mostly drown by Chapter 29."


"Humans are the only animals that have children on purpose with the exception of guppies, who like to eat theirs."

And fidelity:

"Never be unfaithful to a lover, except with your wife."

jueves, junio 16, 2005

P.J. O'Rourke On Drugs

P.J.’s insights about drugs, that is …

On crack:

“Milton Friedman believes the crack epidemic was the result of cocaine being against the law. He says crack ‘was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version.’ Milton Friedman is a brilliant man, a courageous defender of liberty. I respect Milton Friedman. I revere Milton Friedman. But from drugs Milton Friedman doesn’t know. Crack is less expensive than powdered cocaine – for about ten seconds. It was the marketing guys who thought up crack, not the people in accounting.”

“Smoking crack is a way for people who couldn’t afford college to study the works of Charles Darwin.”

On pot:

“Pot has become America’s alternative brewski.”

“Besides, how much can you really say against a drug that makes teenage boys drive slow?”

On drug awareness:

“The problem with illicit drugs is that nobody knows anything about them – except for those of us who found out too much, and we have memory problems.”

And on the US Department of Health’s National Household Survey of Drug Abuse, America’s official source of drug use and abuse (which gathers data by sending government employees door-to-door to ask people to volunteer information about their illegal drug habits):

“The survey takers ‘adjust for nonresponse through imputation,’ which is called, in layman’s terms, making stuff up.”

martes, junio 14, 2005

A round of Jesus Juice for everyone!

Now you know, if Michael Jackson was black he'd have been found guilty. - Jay Leno

lunes, junio 13, 2005

Ms N and I, years from now

While on a road trip, an elderly couple stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch. After finishing their meal, they left the restaurant and resumed their trip. When leaving, the woman unknowingly left her glasses on the table didn’t miss them until after they had been driving about twenty minutes. Adding to the aggravation, they had to travel quite a distance before they could find a place to turn around in order to return to the restaurant to retrieve her glasses.

All the way back, her husband became the classic grouchy old man. He fussed and complained and scolded his wife relentlessly during the entire return drive. The more he chided her, the more agitated he became. He just wouldn’t let up.

To her relief, they finally arrived at the restaurant. As the woman got out of the car and hurried inside to retrieve her glasses, the old geezer yelled: “While you’re in there, you might as well get my hat and credit card.”