Lindbergh's Moxie



Today is the day that Charles Lindbergh landed safely in France after being the first person to successfully cross the Atlantic Ocean in a plane all by himself.

That was 1927.

Nearly 90 years ago.

Mind blowing statistics being what they are and all.

It's much easier to cross the Atlantic now.

By jet plane of course.

I just watched a documentary about a woman who tried to cross the Atlantic in a rowboat.

Not the greatest of ideas, but she certainly had Moxie.

Moxie is the thing people had back in 1927 instead of courage. Lindbergh had moxie. A whole lotta moxie. And he was an interesting fella.

Fella is what dudes were back in 1927.

So he wins the Ortiz Prize by becoming the the first person to cross the Atlantic in a plane all by himself. Which made him a super super iconic rockstar matinee idol moral giant near-religious icon. We don't have those any more here in 2015. We prefer our idols to have flaws.

Flaws sell better than virtues.

Then he spent most of the Depression flying around the U.S. and Europe to drum up enthusiasm for air travel. Of course there was the whole bit of his son being kidnapped and murdered, revolting, and then Europe exploded into warfare and he was sent over to inspect German and Soviet Aircraft, and the Germans gave him a medal. The U.S. was not at war at the moment, so we were pretty cool about the whole thing.

That's pretty much where his narrative gets fuzzy.

We didn't know how to sell flaws back then, but we certainly knew how to (re)write history. We've been doing that ever since there was such a thing as writing. So Lindbergh gets honored by the Germans, he's clearly a Nazi.

He also said some stupid things about the Jews.

Nazi.

He was against the war, but biographers believe it was communism he was against, not fascism he was for.

Then there was the whole eugenics thing.

The belief in cultivating a superior human stock.

It had been suggested as early as Plato that maybe the human race might wanna consider breading themselves like race horses. It was popular among feudal aristocrats and it only took a few hundred years before realizing that marrying your sister was a terrible idea. The theory got picked up again after Darwin's evolution and Mendel's theory of inheritability became a thing. And then it got really going when the Nazi's decided that being tall, blonde haired, blue eyed, and conspicuously humorless was clearly the model for human perfection.

I had a friend who had been mountain climbing in Europe who marveled at his German counter parts. He told me stories about how they'd be climbing all day, and the Americans were tired and nearly broken, while these 6'4" machine-like German climbers would be smoking unfiltered cigarettes and didn't even look out of breath.

He actually said this:

"Damn dude, I hope we never have to go to war against these guys."

I squinted at him.

"We did dude.  . . . Like twice."

My friend wasn't a believer in Eugenics, he just had a temporary moment of awe.

Lindbergh was an isolationist and a believer in Eugenics. He didn't want the U.S. to get involved in the war, and he thought there was such a thing as human perfection.

We should all allow ourselves a few misfires.

But he did get caught saying some stupid things. And then because he just assumed he was right he never backed off. The history that was (re)written about him wasn't very flattering.

We like to raise our heroes with enthusiastic fervor.

We like to bring them down in the same manner.

We're weird.

What we didn't know then, but we do know now, is that there is more genetic variation in a handful of ants then there is in the entire human population.

Yup.

You look at anyone else in the world and you might as well be looking in a mirror, as far as genetics are concerned.

The only real differences between 5'10" me and my 6'4" German cousin is that he can climb a mountain, and I'm smart enough not to invade Russia.

Eugenics has a super modern push now too. Not that we are in the process of state sanctioned breeding (just yet), but we're getting remarkably close to a time when we can start picking traits at birth. We are also getting close to where we can turn certain things on and turn certain things off like an Englishman flipping a switch and waking up Brazilian.

We might see stuff like that in our life times.

And you gotta be a little curious as to what set of Nucleic Acids will make Billboard's Top 50.

Athletic or cerebral?

Left handed or right handed?

Do gentlemen prefer blondes?

Does size matter?

You know . . . the really important stuff. And the problem is is that we are so genetically un-diverse that such tinkering could theoretically wipe us out in a few generations.

We actually have to mingle more.

Funny how Lindbergh, the first man to cross the Atlantic in a plane, making transcontinental mingling possible, was just a little bit racist.

But he did have Moxie.

Which turns out not to be genetic.

Go figure.


HTT: How to Farmer's Market

I read a little bio of Alice Waters a day or to ago. If you don't know who she is, she's the gal who started the whole food movement in Berkeley in the 60's at her restaurant Chez Panisse.

Not to be confused with Alice Walker who wrote The Color Purple.

I always get those two confused. I'm sure there is some mnemonic that I could figure out, but who's got the time?

Anyway, Alice Waters started the whole food organic locally sourced thing.

Hooray for that.

I am not a champion or anything. My devout lust for double cheese burgers frozen and shipped from Brazil would make me a hypocrite, that and there are so many whole food concoctions that I think are just over priced and revolting.

I have certain food rules that don't fit within anyone else's ideology.

The things I prioritize: Price. Freshness. Taste. Whatever the hell I'm in the mood for.

The fourth one wins out most of the time.

The no no's: No Substitutions. No shopping at Walmart.

If I can't have gluten . . . I'm not eating bread. Simple as that.

If I can't have sugar . . . I'm not drinking a mocha.

If I use mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes it's only because my mashed cauliflower recipe is f%$#ing delicious. Same thing with refried beans, lentils, split peas, and chickpeas instead of rice, corn and tater tots.

Yes to delicious alternatives, no to wheat free crackers.

And if I want tater tots, I'm eating tater tots. That's all there is to it.

As for the Walmart rule, that was a really hard on to swallow, cause their freshness and prices are unbeatable. But in order to do so, they have to actively screw everyone involved in production, distribution, and retail.

If you ever want to lose sleep, watch a documentary about Walmart. Anyone will do.

Even Ayn Rand would be mildly disgusted. She  . . . like 45% of all Walmart employees, was also on Food Stamps.

No joke.

And I'm sure she hated every socialist second of it.

But we all gotta eat.

Anyway . . . back to food . . . one of the things that meets (sometimes exceeds) my criteria is the Farmer's Market.

Thanks in part to Alice Waters (the one who didn't write The Color Purple) Farmer's Markets are just about everywhere.

And I gotta say . . . once you get over the smell of snobs, they're pretty amazing, and I thought for today's How To Tuesday I'd give you a few tips on how to make your Farmer's Market Experience a good one.

First: If you can, walk to it.
That seems a little above and beyond, but you'll be surprised how brisk you feel on a perfect Tuesday morning, with the sun shining and a cool breeze a-blowing. Treat it like your daily exercise and it's a two-fur. Plus, it'll keep your purchasing to a minimum.

Second: Bring you own bag.
You're gonna have to get in the habit here in California anyway, might as well flex that muscle now so you can brag about how much of a model citizen you are. Your friends will envy you. Everyone wants to be a model citizen.

Third: Bring cash.
You don't have to. They all take Visa now. Hell . . . even I take Visa. But you're at an open air market in the middle of an industrialized nation, it's nice to feel provincial once in a while.

Fourth: Do not buy a damn thing until you've walked the entire market.
I know . . . the strawberries at that first booth look delightful . . . but can you really be sure those are your best bet? I promise there are going to be raspberries and cherries and all kinds of wonderful fruity delights all over the place. You've made the time already. Don't make a single commitment until you seen all the fish in the sea.

Case in point: Today I found a booth selling fresh Kale. $2.00 a bundle. That's a little less than double what I usually pay, but the stuff was greener and crispier than I'd ever seen so I was tempted to jump the gun. Had I done so I would've missed the third booth that had even fresher greener kale  for $3.00 for two bundles.

We eat a lot of the stuff, so yeah.

So take a long loop, see what's there and for what price. Make a list and then go shopping.

Lastly, let yourself be tempted by the farmers.

Ask them what's good.

They literally can't wait to tell you, and their suggestions are always out of this world. I picked up a pound of sugar peas that you can eat raw with the skin. Amazing. I will be sautéing them with a little olive oil, salt, garlic and serving them with some barbecued salmon tonight.

It's not hard to win at life.

No substitutions.









How'd That Get in There?

I've never gotten the hang of absentmindedly listening to music.

We had a barbecue last weekend over at the house and the first suggestion (a good one) was that we put on some music.

I was confused.

I never put on music.

Cause if I put on music, I'm spiritually obligated to listen to it.

I could spend all morning on a single note.

And not to do anything else.

I can drive and listen to music. My radio has six channels and of the six, three are Pop stations, One is classic rock (by which I mean 80's and 90's), one is Indie, and the last one is National Public Radio.

So my scanning basically goes like this: Pop, Pop, Pop, Nirvana, Bootleg Nirvana, Terri Gross.

I have an FM2 setting, but I don't go there very often. That setting I leave for one Classical Music Station for when I 'm in the mood.

You gotta be in the mood.

There's also an AM set of settings. Thanks to my brother, I am now interested in sports talk. Good god how the world changes.

But getting back to the listening of music, what happens, for me anyway, is overtime a song comes one, I have to listen to it.

Have to.

And because it's more an intellectual pursuit than an emotional one, I get just as must pleasure from a shitty song as I do out of a well crafted one.

(Not really, but you know, sorta)

And since getting air play is sort of the pinnacle of a songwriters career (and me being a songwriter) I have a certain amount of stock invested on what gets played and why.

Now I know it doesn't work like this, but I always invasion this perfect ladder of steps before a song gets played on the radio.

First the band's gotta know how to play.

Then they've gotta know how to write.

Then they gotta know how to record. The track has to have polish, sizzle, that 'certain something'

Then someone who knows what to do with that sort of track gets it on a major label, then the marketing department (who love the song BTW) gets rolling and ships the song out to hundreds of radio station whose DJ's they been intimate with, and then the DJ's put the song on heavy rotation and stars are born.

Doesn't that make perfect sense?

None of that is true though. You could skip through it all if your brother is a DJ. You could claw your way up each rung of that ladder and find you're nowhere but where you started.

Except now you're broke.

Anyway, because of the very unstable relationship between what I would like the world to look like, and what it actually does look like, whenever I hear a song on the radio that is just terrible, to cheer myself up I play a little game.

A little game called "How'd That Get In There?"

I heard one such song this morning. I won't name names . . . because I didn't bother to get any . . . and though the song was terrible (and mildly insulting on an artistic level) . . . who knows . . . it could be the next big thing.

I hate looking stupid in retrospect.

The song failed the first two of my criteria. The band didn't know how to play (and the singer probably shouldn't be let near a microphone) and they certainly didn't know how to write.

Short, non-dynamic, melodic phrases, and the kind of lyrics written by boys who have only yet begun dreaming about sex.

Not pointing any fingers.

I too was such a boy.

Once.

But, the song, albeit lame, was recorded seriously. There's a major sonic difference between a recording that is made for $25,000 and one that is made for $250. This song was recorded in the upper regions, produced, balanced, compressed, sizzled, radio ready.

How'd that happen?

No idea. The song had to have been performed in front of people with money. Like real money, not like daddy or mommy money . . . big time producer money. Someone had to really love this song.

Or maybe they loved this band. But to play the game . . . I've got to answer this question.

How'd that get in there?

And by 'in there' I mean on the radio.

And the answer I think, is that this band is killer live. You don't have to really know your instrument to deliver an exciting experience and maybe these guy just light up the house. They probably have lots of Likes on Facebook and have proven reliable on tour. They get picked up by a major label because of that energy and are sent straight to the studio to capture some of that magic.

Only trouble is is you can't hide from a tape recorder.

What sizzles in a 2,000 seat house is really tough to catch and time is uh ticking.

Marketing has already gone full swing and the group needs a song for the airwaves.

They decide that their regular act is too edgy for Pop Stations and try out the ballad written by the bass player back when he was fourteen or so because it doesn't have any Eff-Words.

Worked for the Goo-Goo Dolls. Why not us?

They've got the money, they've go the producer, they've got the studio, they've got the song, now all they got to do is make it playable.

And they tried really really hard.

Good for them.

Nobody listens to the lyrics anyway. Why would they? You don't have to sing it . . . you only have to sell it. There's a good lad. Now finish your diet Dr. Pepper and get back into the booth.

The producer gets all he can from the band and then sends them out to pick up some KFC.

Any trip to KFC will take about three hours.

Why they always run out of chicken is the third greatest mystery known to man.

But three hours is enough time to apply some studio magic (sizzle) to an otherwise unremarkable track.

Cut. Print. Package. Ship.

Did you get extra crispy? No? Well go back. Let the adults get some work done.

Promote.

Okay . . . so first question answered.

But then the song takes one of those metal punk ballad turns . . . where the vocalist pushes it up an octave and really gives the song some raspy meat.

He really should not have done that.

He doesn't have those notes.

He especially should not have done that four times.

The question here, is why would anyone let him do that? There had to be four or five guys in the band, anyone of them could've said something.

Did he not hear himself?

Possible, but I find that odd because when I track my own voice, every quivering quasar is amplified.

I know when I don't have a note. Mostly.

So the only explanation is that the vocalist either didn't know, or he just didn't care. I think he didn't know.

But the producer should've known . . . right? I mean this is a guy who makes several thousands of dollars an hour. People bank on this dude.

Or gal.

Could be a gal.

And there are three reasons she/he might have for letting it slide.

I'm not gonna do the whole he/she thing anymore. It's silly.

Okay, reasons for letting it slide:

One: She didn't hear it. Which sounds crazy, but it happens. Happens all the time. I once got into an argument with this producer (who had literally won a grammy the night before) and was trying to point out a popping noise where they had tried to punch in a vocal line.

It was really sloppy work and it took me ten minutes of playing the passage over and over before either the producer, the engineer, or even the vocalist heard it. None of them heard it, yet to me it was like listening to a leaf blower fire up on a Sunday morning.

It got fixed, but badly, and I can still hear it on the recording to this day.

Two: The producer didn't care.
Check was already cashed.

Three: (Most likely) Maybe they assumed an epically failed note displayed passion.
That happens sometimes too. Sometimes a particular take is just so immediate and present that the few mistakes within it are left in.

Can't argue with that logic.

But, well, with the rest of the vocal track inebriated on compression and auto-tune, they gotta know that whatever nuance they were challenging themselves with wasn't happening.

Or not.

I think that's what they think they did though. They left the terrible sour notes hang because it said "Edgy" or whatever.

Now I don't think the song is going to be a hit. And not because it's not good, which it isn't, but because it doesn't have a memorable hook. I've been writing about it for over an hour now, and I can't remember a single thing about it.

I will probably never hear it again.

And now you know why I can't listen to music blithely.

I could spend all of Monday morning on a single note.

And now I have.



How Blogs Go to Die Five

This will be my 646th post.

Which sounds like a lot, but when you do something (almost) every day it shouldn't be surprising how quickly the words add up. In retrospect, I could've written 645 songs, eaten 645 double cheeseburgers, written two-thirds of the pages of a Stephen King novel.

He must type really really fast.

I can type pretty fast, but I still need to watch my hands in order to do it.

Stenography is not on my to-do list.

Anyway, I was reading book about (among other things) evolution and extinction, and I was surprised to learn that nature is more artist than engineer.

The more we learn about the fundamental rules of nature, the more we realize there isn't any fundamental rules.

If nature needs to get to the other side, it doesn't just cross the road.

Nope. It, like a mad scientist with billions of years to just waste, experiments with every possibility.

Walking . . . okay . . . how many legs to you need?

Flying . . . sure . . . how many wings is that gonna take?

Big, little, rolling, drifting on the wind? What's more efficient, big fat me or an air-borne disease?

(Answer: The Airborne Disease . . . but it's eventually gonna need a host . . . which is where big fat me comes into play.)

And you would think that with all that crazy mass of experimentation, there'd be no way for Nature to learn from it's mistakes (hopefully like an artist does), but as it turns out, most of your DNA is junk DNA. Does nothing. It is the result of billions of failed attempts. Yet there it sits. Lurking in Nature's memory just incase the world changes and we need a refresher course.

Who knows? Maybe you'll need a tail at one point. You've got the instructions in every little cell in your body to make that happen.

So this morning, I was listening to a Freakonomics podcast while sipping my coffee, eating my eggs, and they guests were talking about the death of the Blog. How it started, how it blew up, how it went professional, how it became marginalized by by micro-blogging sites, and how blogs (just like this one) are no longer building audiences and just contributing to the background noise of the internet.

That's kinda sad.

And just a little worrisome. But it makes total sense. And I can track my own blogging timeline with the evolution and eventual extinction of blogs as a whole (don't panic, I'm not giving up yet), but I thought it might be fun to do today's Friday Five and take a look back at the sequence of events, how and what I learned, and maybe peak into the future.

Day One: The Primordial Ooze of Castle Park
A blog is a called a blog because it is a "web" "log" A diary with universal distribution. Take some inner thoughts, post them on-line, create a conversation about them.

It was to create dialogue.

Which is exactly what my first post was about. I wanted to create a log during the creation of my second album and encourage people to follow a long, and more specifically weigh in. I didn't have a marketing budget, so I thought this might be a fun way to generate a little buzz. I wrote about the process of crafting songs, how I got ideas, how I hit walls, how I got into the studio, and inevitably what I might be thinking on a particular day.

Musing.

As it were.

It was inconsistent, and poorly edited (oops), but a unique style was settled upon (I said "unique" . . . not "good" :), and it was meditative in a way that brought focus to what I was really working on . . . which was an album.

Day Two: The Cambrian Explosion of Commentary.
If you're not a paleontologist, and why would you be, then you'll be excited to know that the Cambrian Explosion refers to the era when nature just blew the roof off it's earlier conservatism and went hog wild with inspiration. Flora, Fauna, killer bees and great white sharks.

This is where my blog got wild.

You might not know this, but even I get bored with talking about myself all the time, so to keep it real (as it were) I starting poking around the rest of the world, applying my voice to stuff other than my self.

This is where I started to learn "funny." Where there were no walls, no limits, and there was so much oxygen in the air I could pump out all kinds of thoughts on any subject I felt like typing out.

This is where I get funny for the first time . . . ever.

Day Three: The K/T Boundary, The Extinction of the Dinosaur, and the beginning of "Wait . . . Dad?"

So the K/T boundary refers to the geological boundary between the Crustacean Period and the Tertiary Period. Why they used "K" for Crustacean is a book in and of itself.

I will not be writing that book.

Probably.

Anyway, there is a thin line of silt in the rock formations that contains a buttload of iridium, which doesn't exist much on earth. It's very heavy and has long ago been eaten up by the earth's core.

Comet's however . . . lots of iridium . . . and that thin line of soot just happens to be the line at which we no longer find dinosaurs.

Big Comet ergo killed the Triceratops.

Boo.

Anyway, my big iridium filled comet came the day I decided to pursue art for real. I put together a five year plan. Studied all the kinds of things I've done that worked (warm blooded, hides under ground) and jettison all the stuff that didn't (bloated brontosaurus bodies and the sound of T-Rex clapping).

This was serious business now. I need to generate daily content, get clicks, edit stuff. Look professional. Build a following. Get ready to drop an album on a waiting and voracious audience.

Go man Go.

Day Four: Mammals . . . Who Woulda Thunk?

Mammals really shouldn't be a thing. We need things to be just right. Not too cold, not too hot. Lots of food, lots of water, pleasant views. It's a miracle that we got this far.

In putting together content, I hedged every bet that I could see. Read books on indie music, studio production, live performances, blog writing, generating traffic, how to be controversial, but not too controversial, and mastering the social medias Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Whateverer.

"Whateverer" is not actually a thing.

I just made that up.

But the plan was pretty self assured. All I needed was for a single right set of circumstances to go my way. It might have seemed like junk DNA, but like a vestigial tail, I was ready for whatever.

Or Whateverer.

And just as I got rolling . . . well . . . I actually just kept on rolling.

I kept rolling like a tumbleweed, and not the snowball I imagined.

Waiting.

Waiting.

Experiment here.

Experiment there.

Waiting Waiting.

Kind of like jumping out of a plane, with God holding your rip-cord, while the best you can do is enjoy the feeling a weightlessness and not concern yourself with the ever approaching surface of the earth.

And then the strange thing happens . . .

Day Five: The Six-Fingered Man.

What could one possibly do with six fingers on one hand?

Play more piano? Would it help with opening pickle jars? Is it in anyway an advantage when it comes to consumption or procreation?

Freak show, or just fun at parties?

So one of my little experiments goes viral. And of course, it is in no way connected to any of my other stuff, so God was tugging on the rip-cord, but the shoot hasn't deployed yet.

F$#@.

So it leads to a conundrum of evolution.

What do you do with a sixth finger?

I mean, it's cool and all, but how many eggs you wanna toss into a particular basket?

I could move this blog over there, and in doing so, would have to write differently, would have to focus more on the controversial than the humanistic. Not sure if I'm cool with that.

Not even sure it would work.

And what of the the rest of the stuff. The stuff that has to stay in my name. What do I do with all that?

Hmm?

Actually the particular conclusion is pretty obvious. Gotta just wait and see.

Darwin waited 40 years before publishing his thoughts on evolution. I think I can wait till June.

See you again on Monday.

Towne Center Books

So my lil guy just began reading the 4th Harry Potter Book.

He's seen all the movies. Like a lot a lot, but he's just now getting to that age where there's a certain fascination with the written word.

I hope he becomes a reader. Two reasons: One, my personal library is getting out of control, and two, I would really be hella pissed if I'd wasted all those hours reading "Th Cat in the Hat Comes Back" out loud to him before bedtime.

Na.

I wouldn't be pissed.

Okay . . . maybe a little pissed.

Anyway, we had to steal my mom's copy of the 4th book because our's disappeared somewhere, or has yet to be unpacked from our last move. (It was nine years ago, but there are still some boxes yet to go.)

Probably what happened is we loaned it out to someone, forgot who, and never got it back.

That . . . is perfectly fine by me. I like the idea of books with a particular sense of wanderlust. If I need to read something, I've got family and friends with other libraries like mine, I've got several wonderful local libraries within bicycle distance, and if I absolutely need to read something right this second, I've got an iPad or a quick walk to Barnes and Noble.

So . . . anyway . . . we borrowed this book from my mom, and when it was opened out fell an old coupon from the original purchase.

If you remember your year 2000, you might recall that the release of Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire was the most important thing that happened.

I think there was some sort of election too. Something about Florida and Chads.

Chad is such a weird name.

But the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the first time the HP books created a media circus. Kids dressing up as wizards and lining up to purchase books. Local news agencies doing delightful feel good stories on the power of the written word.

Of course someone always has to roll out some bible thumping ass-hat who claims children shouldn't be reading stories of witchcraft.

: )

In particular note, I'm a pretty lenient whatever goes parent.

I would not however read Genesis out loud to my nine-year old. He's way too young for that level of incest and smut.

Just . . . saying.

But back to HPGF (Which is the texting version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and how I will write it from here on out), the coupon that fell out of my mother's copy was from one of those small independent bookstores that the heart of every town needs.

This one was called Towne Center Books.

A lot has been written about the death of the town bookstore. There's too many books to fill everyone's needs, so the megastores replaced the little guy, and then the internet happened and killed the megastore.

Thanks, Al Gore.

How a few of the little guys survived is beyond me.

So I was pretty delighted to look online and see that Towne Center Books, in the heart of Pleasanton is still alive and kicking.

We need more of those.

Lots more.

Though, gotta admit, I'm pretty hypocritical. Of the three indie bookstores in my home town, I've only been to exactly one of them.

For shame.

And this from a man who spent a few years managing a book store.

And who also reads at least fifty books a year.

For shame.

And who also calls himself a writer.

I really don't know why god isn't striking me down right now.

I deserve a little smiting.

But Towne Center Books doesn't need my business, it's humming along nicely on it's own. And I would probably go there more often, but it's far away, and the only coupon I have is expired.


HTT: How To Field Trip

My son's class has gone on a lot of field trips this year.

Some of them have been pretty cool. Some of them have been the exact same field trip he took in the third grade and the second grade. Suffice it to say, he's been to the recycling center four times and has lost all ability to care about California's water crisis. He only perks up if there are weapons involved, like the Native American Museum.

Not laying blame, just pointing out the facts.

Anyway, field trips days require a certain gravity that is unlike any normal days.

First of all is the schedule:

The bus leaves at particular times and returns at particular others. This matters only because the times vary widely. The last field trip he was supposed to go to had a pick up time at 6:45 am, and didn't come home until 5:30pm. Screw that up and you could ruin everybody's day.

So it's important to be very accurate with you calendar.

Second of all is attire.

This isn't just a normal going outside thing. There might be necessary footwear. If they are gong to be outside, do they need jackets, hoodies, ball-caps to cover their little noses from sun damage? Are they hiking? Do they need pants? Or will shorts do fine?

I personally would rather freeze to death than deal with the possibility of lugging a useless sweater around all day in the hot sun. But because my own particular boy refuses to participate in the obesity epidemic, layers are key to his well being.

Thirdly is lunch.

Not just any lunch, cause it's brown bagging it time.

The normal reusable lunch box will find itself becoming quite a drag during a long afternoon and may end up being left or lost, so in places where we are usually so eco-friendly, we have to go disposable.

Also, there needs to be a few more snacks available because he eats more when he's out and about, I will refuse to miss an opportunity to get a few extra calories in his system.

Turkey sandwich, Apple Juice, goldfish, and an extra packet of graham crackers, along with a sports bottle filled with filtered water. Playing 'cowboys and indians' at a Native American Museum is very thirsty work.

Actually, I think they're less into cowboys and indians and are focused right now on ninja assassins and thwarting the Illuminati at every turn. Still . . . arrowheads are arrowheads.

And lastly . . . as The Clash would ask . . . "Should I stay or should I go?"

Being the housewife that I am, it would seem obvious that of course I attend any and all extra curricular, school sponsored activities, but, I gotta be dead honest:

Most of the time they kinda suck.

Not so much that the field trip is boring or even dreary. To a nine-year-old, out in the world, they're pretty fun. But for a thirty nine-year old, who has done and seen things, it's kind of "Okay . . . whatever."

And there's always three or four moms who eye me with suspicion.

Like "Who the hell is this guy? Why doesn't he have a job? Why is he wearing the same white tee-shirt every day?"

The answer to the third question is that it's not the same white Tee-Shirt, it's actually 11 different white Tee-Shirts and I wear them because they're comfy, fit nice, and I don't have to spend a single firing synapse trying to match colors.

I try to engage in the conversations at each rest stop, or while the bus is at a red light, but for the most part, they only wanna talk about their children.

Their children are boring.

Like . . . really boring.

I don't know what I'd do with a boring child. But sure as shit this blog would not be nearly as funny.

And their lives are just a succession of pit stops. School, soccer, clarinet lessons, pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, gym, taking the beemer to the shop . . . again, yoga, Grey's Anatomy, getting tipsy on half a glass of chardonnay.

Volunteering for the church.

A multi million dollar tax free Christian compound the size and breadth of Disneyland, and they can't pay a kid minimum wage to brew coffee or set up tables.

C'mon. That's a little funny.

So I spend the entire field trip being quiet. And feeling a little awkward. Which in turn makes my son quiet, and a little awkward.

And to be honest . . . I think I have totally skipped my generation's parenting philosophy.

It's callous of me (maybe), but I am under the firm belief that anything my son does that doesn't require my supervision is top notch.

Go, boy, go. Come back when you're hungry. Or when it gets dark outside.

Why are you asking me? Look it up on YouTube.

Is it bleeding? No? Then you're not hurt.

A case could be made that that is the reason why my son's not boring. Thin perhaps. And maybe a little misguided when it comes to the dangers of the Illuminati, but not boring.


Air Gaps

Our dishwasher is broken.

Actually . . . no it's not.

But it is acting a little funny, pouring water out of that spout from the top of the sink. It's not suppose to do that and we're gonna have to call a guy.

Actually . . . no we don't.

For those of you who don't know what that spout is, which included me until I looked it up this morning, it's called the "Air Gap"

See . . . your dishwasher grabs a bunch of hot water, pours it all over your dishes, along with some soap, and then pumps all the dirty water out into your disposal.

But there is a problem with a direct dishwasher-to-disposal system.

Water likes to travel down, but it also has no problem with traveling back up, which means in times of floods, or clogs, or a destabilization of the earth's magneto-sphere, that gross sewer water can climb back up and wreak havoc on your anti-bacterial lifestyle.

Enter the Air Gap.

A little valve the creates a space between the hoses so that ooey, gooey water can flow out, but not back in. It's a neat little system. And easy to fix with a wrench and an old tooth brush. There might be a little pipe cleaning involved too.

No biggie.

I haven't done it yet, but I'll get to it before Thursday.

Probably.

Anyway, it's not the first time I'd heard the term "air-gapped." It's also used to describe a computer that hasn't been connected to the internet before. The virtual boy in a bubble.

Air gaps are part of our national heritage.

Did you know that we don't really live in a Democracy? Who woulda thunk?

A democratic system is where everybody gets to vote for everything (sorta).

We don't do that.

Our system is set up so that we vote for a select few people who vote on some things. It's called Republic (for which it stands), and the idea is that there is an Air Gap between the mob and the deciders. It means that during a time of crisis, cooler heads may prevail.

It doesn't always work like that of course. This isn't the kind of air gap you can fix with a wrench and an old toothbrush. Squeaky clean isn't safe either. In fact, you actually want a little bilgy backsplash to bubble up once in a while.

Ivory towers offer a pretty view and all, but it's important to get down in the muck for a little perspective.

What I think our system is missing is National Air Gap Day, where we all get together, with our proverbial wrenches and old tooth brushes and scrub out all the effluvia gumming up the works.

I guess the hard part is getting to agree on which part of the flow is hot-soapy goodness, and which part is half chewed chicken fat and raw sewage.

Maybe, instead of a day, maybe we need a fourth system of government. Air Gap Cleaners that sort of steer the national debate.

The Supreme Court should appoint the members of Air Gap and it's mission isn't to come up with stuff, it's mission is to decide what things we're NOT gonna fight about this year.

Like the liberals have to shut up about high-speed rail and the Republicans are forbidden to talk about God.

Can you just imagine?

It wouldn't solve particular problems, but it would be a step in the right direction. A clean regulated flow, rather than everybody blowing out their mouth holes what they should be blowing out their butt holes.

We could probably get this done by Thursday if we really put our minds to it.