Angrified

I was watching clips from The Today Show today as they had an interview with Neil Gaiman, author extraordinaire.  Several of the clips caught my attention so I watched them.  There was an interesting bit on the Blue Man Group starting a school and a rather depressing segment on young folks texting naked pictures of themselves to each other.

And there was a piece on the new “Mr. Moms.”

I feel i should have mentioned above that this is a rant.  If you don’t want to read my vitriole, I suggest you click this link instead.

The Gist:  This piece is about several displaced workers who are choosing to stay home with the kids instead of going back to work.  Mainly due to their spouse finding work instead of themself.  The hook?  These stay-at-homes are dudes.

Point One:  “Mr. Mom” is an idiotic term.  I fail to see what is wrong with “Dad,” “Pop,” “Father,” or the multitude of other terms one could use.  There is an implication that only Mom does childcare.  Excuse me?  I work my ass off around the house – something my wife would freely admit.  We both put in a fair share of work here, which is what you are supposed to do if you are a family.  If the man comes home, puts on his smoking jacket, and retires to the den for newspaper reading and brandy, what you have is a dictatorship.

Point Two:  There was no mention whatsoever about the general lack of dad-interaction most kids get.  It would have been a far less sexist and more inspiring way to do the piece.  Children need their dads as much as their moms, and to make the idea of a stay at home dad seem bizarre will no doubt cause the more stupid men in the world to give pause at the idea of being loving to their children.  Just Google “child time with father.” (It’s equally important time is spent with mother, its just that this is rarely an issue.)

Point Three:  Raising a kids is a job.  It is the most important job in the world.  That is a fact.  If you dispute it, you are stupid.  “But, Matthew, what about doctors?”  Who drives the kid to the doctor?  Who makes sure the kid stays well at home?  Who looks after that child’s psycological health?  “But Matthew, what about teachers?”  Who works with those teachers?  Who gives those teachers the power they need to be successful?  Parents.

Parenting is a job, and it is important.  If you aren’t going to participate fully in the raising of your kids, you shouldn’t have them, period.  End of story.  Either start putting the time in with them, or get fixed.  You may work 12 hour days, but you better be putting in face time with our future investments.  Otherwise, you should have gotten a hamster.  Children aren’t pets or social status symbols.  They are the people who will be in charge of the planet in a very short amount of time.

Point Four:  The piece was overtly sexist and shocking to me.  I cannot believe this many people still have such concrete senses of gender roles in a family relationship.  To think that the mom is solely responsible for the care and raising of the kids is ignorant.  Mom and Dad are a team.  They should function as a team.  Sam and I are a pretty good team, I think.  We have time issues from our school and work, but we generally do a good job of sharing responsibility.  I have spent many a wee hour with a crying babe so she can get the sleep she needs for school and she has given me relief many an early morn.

In the interest of fairness, Dale Atkins does touch on the need for family teamwork, and the piece does discuss how it is difficult to not be able to choose this path.

I take issue with that as that they seem to defend men defining themselves by their jobs.  Men should define themselves by who they are.  If they are a father, they need to be a father first.  They should be looking at the job loss as an opportunity to spend more time with their child.

I understand the struggle of not choosing your path, but you made a poor choice in the first place if you put your job before your kids.  To hear Atkins talk about how moms will have to change their parenting style because they don’t have full say anymore really pisses me off.  Is this really the world I live in?  1950?

I’m pretty disgusted.

Obama’s Blackberry

Can you believe the hype that the Secret Service doesn’t want Obama to keep his Blackberry?  I haven’t even heard why.  I suppose I will Google it later, but man, let the man be.  Why wouldn’t we want him to have one?  What a great plan.  He can address book all the important phone numbers and call foreign leaders.

“Yo, Sarkozy!”

“Le Obama!”

“You want to catch a trans-atlantic, come on over.  I just got Punch Out for my Wii, dude.”

“Oui, oui.  I’ll bring le ladies.”

“Naw, man.  Michelle hates when you try to be a player.”

“Whatever, le dude.  Should I pick up Jimmy?”

“Yeah.  Whatever.  I’ll get the kitchen to whip up some Bagel Bites.

And so on.

Fuel

Hello.  I think today may be a writing day.  Although there are rumors in my brain of chili.  I can’t be sure.  It’s a windy day today.  I am lax to venture outdoors.  Now, if I were wise, I would post date some posts so they weren’t published until later.

I am probably not that wise.  I’m not too concerned with building a flowing readership here anymore.  Sons do that to you.  Although, I am quite concerned with starting school again and getting a sweet teaching job.  Seriously, I’m an awesome teacher.

I was watching some nonsense this morning on Sci-Fi called “The Triangle.”  I’m not going to discuss it, although I will say that Sam’s Mom has hilarious insights on movies of this nature and could probably make a killing writing such trash.

There is a scene wherein the ship they are on (it takes place in a triangle, I think you can figure out the rest) is being set to blow up using boat fuel as the fuel.  And I thought about fuel and our nation’s dependency on it and how awful it really all is.

So, I was thinking about things we all know to be fairly true.  The holistic changes needed here in the ol’ USA.  I mean, this global warming business and fuel crunch really need to be dealth with holistically at many levels.  It’s all interconnected quite complexly.  (FYI I am thinking faster than typing so things may get muddled).  It reminds me of “Freakonomics,” and amazing book you all should read.

I was thinking about car fuel and how ludicrous the whole thing is.  Holistically speaking, we should not be looking for alternative automobile fuels.  We should be looking for ways to make our population far more self-mobile without cars.  You know, public transportation.  We all know this.  But really, what are we doing about it?  Especially now that gas prices are back down?

(Sidenote, Wired has an excellent op-ed on that subject I totally agree with).

Well, by artificially raising prices you force people to look for alternative methods.  The solution here is a little bit of backbone on the part of Government.  “Look, here’s the deal American People.  Gas prices are high.  They’re going to stay that way.  You can choose to bitch or you can choose to find alternative transport.”  Now, I think if we seperate personal transport costs from public transport costs, things would really brighten.

Imagine if I have to pay four dollars a gallon for gas.  Always.  It’s maintained somehow with magic.  Imagine the extra money paid for tax on this is used to keep the cost as low as possible for public transport.  Suddenly, it’s easier to create public transport systems and maintain them to a high quality.

Imagine then, if schools were given some sort of subsidy for teaching students about the public transportation system and how to effectively use it safely.  What then?  I think this may seem ludicrous to those who use the train all the time, but those of us in Urban Sprawl, USA get very confused by the stopping and the going and the connections.

Here’s the other education angle:  Make getting a driver’s license harder.  By shifting to a public transport education (which some of you are saying is stupid right now) you take away the funding for driver’s education.  Seriously.  Part of the reason so many of us own cars is because it’s so easy for us to be allowed to drive one.  Of course, they are much easier to operate on giant lanes and long stretches of American towns.

This is all just off the top of my head.

Anyway, by having individual consumers pay a little more at the pump, you also make it worth businesses while to find alternative freight transport.  Get rid of these carbon offset things, since they are absolutely worthless, and give business tax credit based on their actual carbon footprint.  A mega super business like Wal-Mart could possibly be enticed to build a better transport system than giant Diesel trucks.

I’ve never understood the lack of a decent rail system in this country.

Now, I am just flying by the seat of my pants here, so I’m really not looking at potential flaws.  The main flaw in all the plans I’ve heard from anywhere is this:  Patience.  People just aren’t willing to wait the many years it will take for these holistic changes to increase quality of life.  That’s a big deal.  It seems certain to me that a full scale enactment of the plethora of holistic changes would result in a bit of a dip at first followed by a slow climb.

That’s if the politicians could ever agree on such a thing.

But I remain hopeful that we can change.  People just need to realize it isn’t easy to do so.  There’s no silver bullet as the media says.  We do what we can in the Abel household.  We recycle a lot of items.  Which drives me crazy because there is so much extra packaging that is wholly unneeded.

Anyway,  I think most of my friends would agree.  I just wish there were a way to convince everyone else.

On the Nature of a Man and his Dog

We have a cat that I have talked about somewhat.  Kona Blend Coffee is her name, but we call her Kona.  She was originally Kona of Onyx or Onyx of Kona, but the Onyx moniker has fallen to the wayside, which makes me feel bad because it was Sam’s choice for the kitten.  She is a lovely ball of fluff and I am very glad we got her.  I have never had a cat lick my fingers or playfully bite me.

She did accidentily scratch my head getting on the bed this morning.  I have forgiven her though.

My whole life I have maintained myself to be a dog person.  And to be true, I am.  I will not be a fibber; Dogs are more work to have than cats.  Cats generally take care of themselves and don’t need to be let outside all the time.  I don’t need to take Kona on a walk.  She doesn’t start doing backflips and circles if my hand gets within a foot of a leash.

But I am still a dog person.

I tried explaining this to Sam once, and she didn’t like it.  Men – not all, and certainly not just men – are attached to their dogs.  Attached in a way that is hard to explain or understand.  I have known a few men (parents of friends) who had a dog a while ago.  Losing that dog was so hard they have never been able to get another one.  Yet, these same men would no doubt be able to find a new woman to spend their life with should their current one pass on.

Why is this?  This probably sounds a bit callous, but do we (men) feel more connection with our canines then our wives?  Given the choice between the dog and my lady, who would I rather be in the woods with?  Well, it depends.  Grendel is a terrible geocacher.  I also have to carry his poop.

But on those occasions I want to be alone, I actually mean alone with Grendel.  A dog doesn’t disrupt my thoughts on a walk.  I can talk to him and pretend he is saying back what I want to hear.

I love Sam.  I love her more than any other human being.  But to call her my soul mate is hard.  I feel like I have a dog for a soulmate.  This happens to people.  When Grendel passes on – and he will, he’s already seven – I will have a hard time of it.  I do think I’ll be able to get a new dog, but there will always be a Grendel shaped hole.

My first dog was named Curie.  She was a muttski, as I call them.  The few summers of her life brought clippers to her fur as it was thick and prone to matting.  She was an incredibly intelligent dog and playful.  Curie memorized her trick pattern so that upon sight of a biscuit, she would sit, jump, lay down, roll over, sit back up and bark without command.  The whole process was very funny and I never had the heart to break it down.

Curie’s liver failed when she was two years old.  I was at camp at the time.

Despite Grendel’s impact upon me, I still maintain her to have been the best dog ever.  And that is what I was thinking about on my bicycle today.  Dogs and humans.  We sure do complement each other.

Discovery

I went swimming today.  The OSU locker room is the typical maze I’ve come to expect from my locker rooms.  What surprised me was instead of solely community showers there were also individual stalls.  That’s crazy to me.

It’s been kind of a macho thing from my experience to be able to walk naked amongst other naked dudes.  Don’t ask me why.  It has something to do with something, I don’t know.  Which is why I found it weird.  People think normal gyms are high machismo, they are nothing compared to a college rec center.  You never see fatties there – except for me.

I bring this up because as I thought about it, the more I became disgusted by the individual shower stalls.  Why?  Pee.

It is common knowledge for many that men will pee anywhere.  ANYWHERE.  It’s part of our birthright as males and the one thing that makes us still feel wholly manly.  Yes, the braver of ladies will do the same.  Yes, that is also impressive.  But men are never nervous to pee off of things, on things, and in things.  Including showers.

No one dares pee in a shower and tell the tale.  People see that.  It’s disgusting to share a community shower and see a pee-er.  That kind of thing gets you kicked out – remember George Costanza’s ostracization upon being known as the shower pee-er.

When you let people have their own stall, they are going to pee in there.  They will lie so you can’t prove it, but I would bet a million dollars every man who has showered in one of those stalls let it flow.  I am not going to use them.

The Villainny of Hugs

I find the state of embracing a disappointing point of living in America.  In my time as a kid-enabler, I have learned so many things about not touching.  It is, naturally, to protect myself.  At camp, side hugs are the norm.  We aren’t to initiate as that could lead to trouble.  For if a child were to say anything, we are guilty until proven innocent.  The job is gone, we are gone.

Which is sad.  Because kids need hugs.

My main thought today is the taboo involved with men hugging men.  Why is this still a problem?   Personally, I think the reason young boys are so physical with each other is because it is not considered healthy for them to hug.  At what age does this happen?

When working with pre-K, those kids are ready for an embrace.  It helps calm them down and makes them feel valued.  Here in Oklahoma, thankfully, it doesn’t seem to be a problem.  Back home with school groups it seemed a bit more pronounced.  Adults who work with kids are scared to touch their students.  I suppose some think this is a step forward, but I think it’s terrible.

There’s nothing wrong with affection.  Kids need to learn that it’s okay to show platonic affection.  I feel its partly to blame for some of the things they do behind closed doors, but right now my brain isn’t finding a good way to express that thought.

Boys especially need to learn that it is okay.  As I grew up it became okay as we got older but there was quite a long period in grade school where accidentally brushing hands with each other was homophobic.  This is not good.  It makes it very hard for the kids who know they are gay to let it out.

Sometimes, people make me sick.