Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

The Speedreader-Friendly Guide to Possumblog

[UPDATE: Oops. I forgot all about Friday.]

Hi all.

Now back.



All Hallows Eve--In descending age order: Some sort of medieval princess, a vampire girl, a ninja, and a Huskies cheerleader. Princess complained that Cheerleader had purple pumpkin bucket that "WOULD BE JUST PERFECT FOR MY OUTFIT!!" Resulting in following: "A) You're thirteen years old--I don't think someone that old should be acting like someone half her age about a silly hunk of plastic. B) It's DARK--no one will notice OR CARE." All hopes for any sort of normal, happy, prosperous, fulfilling life thus crushed, time to head out and pound on the doors of our next-door-strangers. And quell repeated attempts by Princess to surreptitiously steal Cheerleader's pumpkin.

Visit about twenty houses or so, trying to keep charges from dashing into street in front of vehicles carrying outlanders into the neighborhood. (Grr to them there foreigners!) Cheerleader starts complaining about being tired, stop off at home to drop her off, head out to other end of street with remaining posse, and Princess triumphantly carrying Cheerleader's bucket.

Go to the young folks' house next door. Poor girl left there with no candy and it's barely one hour in. She sent hubby to the store for candy, is contemplating giving out quarters. Offered to let her have some of ours--Reba overspends every year--she refuses politely, says hubby to return soon. Go on to rest of houses on block, turn, do other side of street. Come back by neighbor's house, the lights are off, and hubby was just then pulling up with snacks. Ring our own doorbell and get Reba to give me four big bags of candy and take them over to neighbors. Hubby answers door, I hand out armload of candy and say trick-or-treat. He starts to refuse, seeing as how he just got back, but wife castigates him for lunkheadedly STILL not getting enough, so I leave them the treasure and head home. He came by and gave Reba a 5 dollar bill a few minutes later--it covered about a quarter of the cost, but he didn't really have to give us anything. I did it out of the goodness of my heart, and the fact that when I made the offer the first time, the girl kept going on and on about how sweet I was, and she has long, thick, straight strawberry blonde hair. Pure altruism on my part. Anyway, kids kept coming until nearly 9, finally stopping after we had given out over 200 little paper sacks with four or five pieces of candy in them.

That's a lot.


Tiny Girl Soccer--9 am. Lost 5-4. Included scenes of skipping.

Boy Soccer--11 am. Lost 3-0. Nothing like ADD to make for lack of success. Little Boy played very well. Included scenes of skipping.

Post Soccer--Took nice drive in country, then went to store.

Birthday Party--After store, took Oldest to friend's birthday party. Frightening looking bunch of kids without any sort of obvious parental control. Moms, dads; do you REALLY think it's a good idea to let 14-year-olds go out of the house looking like gang sluts? Resolve to lock oldest in closet until 30th birthday or my death.

Auburn Game--Disagree with running up score--seems too Spurrier-like, but in fairness, it was the second-string after the first quarter, and the third and fourth-stringers the last half of the game. Use of local reporter's Pomeranian to predict score needs some tweaking. Ole Miss game on Saturday likely not to be a repeat.


Pansies--Still biding their time. Seem lonesome.


Church--Big crowd for Friends and Family day. Pot luck lunch, lots of forbidden fruit eaten with relish.

Trash detail--Included trip to dumpster and picking up hitchhiker in form of gigantic wasp in my hair. Went back inside, into a classroom, felt something fondling my scalp, saw no person in sight, swatted at back of head, knocking said gigantic wasp into the floor, squeal, stomp, one less wasp. Psychosomatic symptoms of feeling as though palm of hand might have gotten stung, despite complete lack of stinger entrance wound.

Post church--Home for several hours to fold clothes and listen to Oldest complain about homework.

Evening church--Still pretty good crowd. Song leading by large, nearsighted, dimwitted fellow who is confused by the fact that some songs have more than one version. Vows to check next time.

Post evening church--Supper at the employer of Perfect Manager Jennifer. Service slow.

Post supper--Go home and help Oldest construct model of haunted beauty shop for class project. Oldest does not like it because it actually resembles a building rather than angrily scrawled drawing. Father screaming "Serenity NOW!" in head, shrugging shoulders and saying "Whatever" on outside. Interface between inside and outside probably a no-man's land of gigantic wasp-sized ulcers.

Monday--Detailed below. Thanks to all commentors about Miss Reba's condition--if she knew I wrote a blog, she would tell you herself, and then punch me in the kidneys for discussing her medical problems with others. Will try to find chocolate substitute for her. Hoping it's not jewelry.


Trip with Little Boy to Huntsville Space and Rocket Center--I have five kids to watch--three boys, two girls. Bus leaves 30 minutes late. Hits downtown Birmingham at rush hour. Mulan on video, so nobody cares. Ride otherwise uneventful. Snack on snacks with Boy. He takes pictures out the window.

Arrive Huntsville, children shriek. Little know-it-all kid behind me keeps loudly insisting SR-71 Blackbird is a Blackhawk. Won't shut up. Lean over and tell Boy it's a Blackbird. Get off bus, my five decide to scatter. Quick instruction in staying with Mr. Oglesby, OR ELSE. One of the other boys in my group keeps screaming that the pitot tube on the nose of the SR-71 is sonar. Try to explain that it's called a pitot-static tube and it measures airspeed, and the airplane's nose houses an internal RADAR unit, not sonar. "Yeah, that's what I said. And the long thing is the radar." Give up. Just flat give up.

Boy continues snapping shots, we go inside and my five decide to scatter. Quick instruction in staying with Mr. Oglesby, OR ELSE AGAIN. Kids quickly run past displays of the history of space exploration and the birth of American rocketry and space monkeys, try to slow them down to actually READ at least one of the signs, point out various cool stuff.

30-second attention spans kick in.

Go on around to "hands-on area", synonym for "let's allow children with absolutely no sort of parental guidance to attempt to destroy expensive displays." Kids become enamored of remote manipulator arm, stand in long line to stack small Styrofoam blocks. First two finish trying to destroy expensive display and want to leave, remind them that everyone waited on them, so they have to wait on everyone else to finish attempting to destroy item.

Finish at long last, go running past all kinds of other interesting displays to go outside because of reports of rides. All want to ride G-Force, none know what it is. Get to line, stand, 30-second attention span kicks in, some want to leave. Insist on group integrity, force them to wait. Short instruction period, then bored, inattentive attendant leads group into rotating cone-shaped metal doohickey with seats inside that spins around at 45 miles per hour like a big top. Stand outside due to restrictions on persons with medical conditions, waiting with one of the boys who screamed about wanting to go inside, then chickened out. Figures. Ride lasted four minutes. Attendant sat on a plastic chair reading apartment finder classified.

Ride over, time to go pee. Pee, then go find bus to get cooler and have lunch. Sit under full-sized replica of Shuttle, watch kids destroy sandwiches to remove offensive items such as cheese. I have a nice salad. They finish and want to go far away and play. Give them the "As If" look, allow them to remain close by and bother fellow diners. They play for a while, then it's time to go to IMAX.

Go inside, Dippin' Dots machine becomes focus of all attention. Remind them that their teacher said all vending machines were off limits. "Then can we get some?" "What did your teacher say?" "No." "And that means...?" "No--so is it okay if we get some?" Keep walking, occasionally have to corral lagging or runaway children, make way to theater, arrive about ten minutes early. All want to scatter again, remind them for the fifty-eleventh time that Mr. Oglesby is on the verge of getting all Old Testament on them with a rod, and working out some of that spoilage caused by their parents not using it enough on them. (Not really. Out loud, at least. But boy, they better be glad they're not mine.)

Make them sit down, which with all their lack of control, is like being staked to an anthill. Line finally starts forming up, so we get up and stand. Watch another child from another group start getting into a shoving match, which was quickly arrested by one of the teachers who reprimanded him in such a way as to guarantee that not only will he continue to pick on kids smaller than himself, he will also go on to be a convicted felon before he graduates from school.

[rant] Folks, if you want your kids to behave civilly, make them do it. Do not excuse bad behavior as simply part of growing up, or "boys will be boys". You aren't doing them or us any favors by shielding them from the reality that all actions have consequences. [/rant]

Go into movie theater. My first time in an IMAX, and have come to expect great things. Notice ceiling screen has lots of seams, including one noticeable one that is hanging low. Wonder how that's going to look. Bad, it turns out.

Film was joint project between IMAX and Lockheed-Martin about the International Space Station, and narrated by that dreamy Scientologist Tom Cruise. Why? Who the heck knows--his voice is reedy and indistinct, and the script managed to be both ponderous and cloying. If they waste money on other stuff on the space station like wasting money on having this joker read the script, we aren't going to have nearly enough money to finish it.

The movie itself is interesting, but like anything else in 3-D gave me a raging headache. (And it's 3-D you don't have to wear glasses for, but it hurts to even think about it, even as I type this.) It's very disconcerting to see all this stuff in your field of vision, and try to look over and focus on it and it still be all grainy and blurry. I have just gone and read a couple of reviews, one lauding the "laser-like clarity" of the technology, but I just couldn't like it.

The coolest parts are the rocket launches, when the debris cloud comes rushing at you and you really feel the sound system. The shots of the Russian cosmodrome are depressing. Yeah, I know, go figure. But they really seem to need to do some fix-up work on the facilities.

Overall, not really a bad effort, but one that would look just as good on a 2-D, regular old wide screen. 48 minutes later, we were allowed to leave, and once again, the kids clamored to go to something they called "The Gravity Room." There is no such place. "Kids, there's not anything like that here." Loud protestations of "Y'uh-HUH!" so I told them to go find it. They asked a couple of drowsy attendants, one lovingly holding a short broom, another reading an apartment finder ad paper (not the same one as before) if they knew were The Gravity Room was. No. They finally came to the conclusion that they might have misunderstood what they heard some kid say when he was across the park somewhere. So we went back inside, and they saw the Dippin' Dots machine again. "Can we get some?" ::sigh::

Then the boys started screeching about wanting to ride the simulator, with is a big shuttle-looking thing mounted on a computerized hydraulic gimbal. "Are you sure?" I took them around to the front and showed them, "This is the Mars simulator--are you SURE you want to ride it?" "YEAH!!" The girls were less enthused. Go back around corner, to the end of the line. "I don't want to stand in LINE!" But the girls did. So I made the boys, too. (As an aside, when I say "boys" I am mostly talking about the other two and not Jonathan. He minds, and goes most anyplace without complaint.) We stood there and they complained about wasting time, the mythical Gravity Room, Dippin' Dots. Their teacher came by and they mobbed her about if it was okay to get Dippin' Dots. She relented, but only to say that it had to be right before they got on the bus to leave.

Finally got time, and the same kid who didn't want to ride the centrifuge didn't want to ride this thing. So the others went in and we sat down on a bench. For five seconds. He wanted to go look at something, so I kept an eye on him as well as the pimply kid running the thing, who was studiously reviewing an apartment finder classified ad paper. WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH YOU PEOPLE!?

The kids got off and wanted to get Dippin' Dots. ::sigh:: LATER! They walked around some more ignoring all the displays and we wound up back around where the manipulator arm thing was, which also included a Space Shuttle video game. That wasted a lot of time. Then they wanted to go climb the Mars rock wall. No. Why? You're not getting hurt while I'm watching you. We walked back around and they saw their teacher again and asked if it was okay. She said it was, so they stood in line for that. Then it was about time to leave, so we made the trek back around to the Dippin' Dots, by way of the cashier so one of the kids could get change.

He got his, and then it turned out that none of the other kids had any money with them. "He can get some for us!" ::sigh:: "No, if you didn't bring money, it's not fair for him to buy stuff for you." "AWWWwwwwwwww." (I would have bought them all some, but I had $4 on me, and the derned crap cost $3.)

Race back to the bus, get on, get my uneaten chicken fingers from lunch out of the cooler, share those with Dot-deprived Boy, homeward movie was Scooby Doo on Zombie Island, tried to zombie out myself--couldn't due to uncomfortable seats, noise, and the concerted effort of the kid sitting behind me to kill me with the window shade.

Got to Gardendale and driver decided inexplicably to take back route from Gardendale to Trussville, which is shorter, but two lanes of pokey traffic. Took probably 20 extra minutes to get back to school.

Unload, Boy has to go, goes inside building, his teacher thanks me for going, I say okay because she's just cute as a button, Boy comes back out saying they had started cleaning the restrooms inside and that he needed to go way down to the elementary building. "Just use the bus!" Pained look, start walking. Get to elementary building, locked. "Well, now you're going to HAVE to use the one on the bus." Pitiful, pleading, puppy dog eyes, "NO, Daddy!" "Why NOT, Jonathan?!"

"I'm afraid it will leave with me."

Poor little guy. "I'll stand there and not let them leave--now let's get back up there!"

Got on and did his bidness, then out, load cooler in the van, go around to the back to pick up his sisters from afterschool care, then home.

Meet up with Lovely Wife--Had gone for her appointment with the internist and found out she did indeed have a hiatal hernia. She did not fully appreciate my attempt at hiatal hernia haiku. Again, thanks for all the good wishes on her behalf. (Found out that Boy's teacher also has this condition, so she has someone to commiserate with.)

Go to Store--Buy detergent and drop off Rocket Center photos to be developed. Go back at 8 and get pictures--the little stinker took a bunch of REALLY good shots--even the ones I told him probably wouldn't make because they were taken out the bus window at 70mph. Shows what I know, I suppose.

Go to Bed--Snore, dream about child space zombies on buses.

Wednesday--Wake up, come here.

SO, there you go--am I caught up? I sure hope so.

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