The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

First of all, I’d highly recommend the song Hands Down by The Greeting Committee. I’m listening to that while writing this.

12 months. ONE YEAR OLD. I said that a number of times to my son after his first birthday / on his first birthday. My little one year old. It’s crazy. It’s been said many, many times by many people smarter than I … but it really is crazy how time both flies and crawls. He’s a year and a week as of my writing this, and already his birthday feels like such a long time ago. (Though part of that is a very good and adventuresome weekend my wife and I have had which we are pretty pleased with ourselves about. Several walks, a 5 mile hike, a trip to the pool, a picnic … the kiddo has gotten a lot of fun this weekend.)

This month, inspired by not wanting to take the time to organize my thoughts, I’ll just be rambling like a lonely man who desperately needs some friends and then someone shows me the slightest bit of interest and I talk their ears off. In other words, your standard blog post. Shouting my drivel into the void.

The kiddo has a vast vocabulary of … an unknown number of words. I really thought it would be easier to identify when he figured out a new word but I suppose my skeptical nature makes it tough. He has a handful of consonants he’s gotten down – b, d, m … so when he figures out the word for dog, which is, ‘dah!!!’ and then later he maybe knows the word for dad, which is, ‘dah!’ (dogs are far more exciting) and then sometimes he just crawls around saying his noises indiscriminately it is quite difficult to tell the difference between an intentional labeling dad as ‘dah!’ vs looking at a block, or a grape, or the toilet and saying ‘dah!’ Are all of us ‘dah!’ or none of us, or what? SPEAK, CHILD!

But we KNOW he knows the word for dog. He is now VERY HAPPY to see dogs when we go out on a walk (we have a dog at home who inspires less excitement … she only gets a few excited ‘dah!!!’ a day). We also feel confident he knows the word for ball, and the word for dad. Bye is a maybe. But you know what?, who knows.

I have described before the kiddo and I having a game where we chase each other around … like a hide and seek meetings chasing kind of thing? I don’t know. Anyway, that has continued to be a favorite and my wife got to experience him initiating the game which she was thrilled by. The kiddo was playing in the family room when he popped his little head out behind the couch and then ducked away. He popped his head out again and my wife thought, ‘!!!’ (yes, that’s a thought you can have) and she instantly went to the ground to crawl away. He came out from behind the couch, cackling and happy as can be to have a play partner.

This month involved a lot of thinking and planning and birthday party-ing. We went to Phoenix to see family and have a joint kiddo and dad birthday party. This was a bit earlier than either of our birthdays, but we were going to be around family so you might as well go for it. The kiddo’s cousins were there, running around and playing which is a new spot of fascination for him. He has taken to really enjoying seeing kids playing. I like to imagine he is marveling at how they are small like him (bigger of course, but not grown up size) and yet they can MOVE, they can RUN and JUMP and PLAY and he just loves seeing this. But, again, who knows what is going on inside that tiny head of his. My mother-in-law sent an article to my wife and I talking about how brain scans on a baby indicate the same areas of the brain firing that those on LSD have. So … your baby is living in a world where everything is trippy. Kinda makes sense. All these benevolent giants who speak in some gibberish language and get randomly so excited about who knows what. It’s got to be strange.

Back to the party. The party in Arizona was good … and educational as far as the party my wife and I threw him back home. The kiddo is SOCIAL, he really likes waving at people and smiling at them and being, basically, a big old flirt with anyone who will pay attention to him (someone says hi, he waves after maybe a 30 second delay, and then he smiles at them and sort of hides by digging his head into my should while he continues to wave and glancing at them … I gotta tell you, it’s effective, but I don’t know if it would’ve worked for me during my dating days … people would’ve found me mentally deficient). But his sociableness takes a back seat when there are a LOT of people around. Thankfully he did great with a crowd of cousins and family running around. Although I got feedback from my mom and sister than I am too quick to take the kiddo back from others. It’s a fair criticism, they’re right, and I will try to do better … I guess. I do like breaks from the kid, but I also enjoy interacting with him quite a bit. My wife or I sing to him before putting him down for sleep, and one of my made up lyrics to the tune of Somewhere Over the Rainbow is something like, “I never want to be apart … mostly.”

The kid did the cupcake smash … somewhat. I had him in the Bjorne because a lot of people singing to him and staring at him had him a bit off … That was a good lesson learned for his next birthday party. I wanted to watch him eat the cupcake! Thankfully, at the party at home he was seated and I got to take in his cupcake delight. It was entertaining because he is normally a VERY distractible eater, but with that cupcake he stayed focus from bite one to the last bite. He flipped the cupcake over and then ate till he reached the frosting, and then it was a second wave of enjoyment. Oh that sweet, sweet frosting. People staring, people laughing, people gabbing all around him? Who cares. CUPCAKE. He ate pretty much the whole thing … which is a pretty decent portion for a little guy.

The birthday stuff also inspired a thought from me: this child has WAY TOO MUCH STUFF. I am starting to have more worries about him being spoiled, catered to too much, things like that. Of course, I say that and I will go to a store and see a toy and think, ‘ooh! I want to get this for him!’ And when he cries out you can bet I’m there in a heartbeat. I will have to train myself (which is not something I expected) on not buying stuff for him, and letting him feel frustrated or sad or whatever. Especially with him getting older these will be important things for me to do. Oh, self-growth, you again? I thought I ditched you at the fork in the road. The birthday stuff ALSO made me think – we need to set a budget up front for any and all gift times (eg Christmas and birthday) or my wife and I will happily go overboard. Heck, I’d buy him Legos right this instant (and kindly play with them to keep them from getting rusty …).

We ate out at a restaurant for the first time where we ALSO ordered for him. That was very exciting and also, it turns out, a short-lived phase. We went from, ‘oh this will be so fun to eat out with him!’ to ‘maybe we should just stick to picnic lunches so he can crawl around like a maniac and shout at random trees.’ It’s unpredictable if he’ll be focused on food or frustrated by the confines of a high chair. But it was fun during those few weeks, and thankfully burritos are very transportable so the picnic life will be a good one.

Now for a smattering of adorable things.

The kiddo and old pops are signed up for a ‘parent and me’ swim class (yes, it’s parent and me, not mommy and me you old-world sexist … nah, mommy and me is what comes to my mind too). Anyway, to prep for the class the kiddo and I went to the local pool and had a GOOD time! I was very happy because the last time we tried the pool we had a decidedly BAD time. Crying, fussing, looking around in fear. Not fun. But this time he was happy to take in all the sights, sounds, and all the kids running around and playing. He also waves at EVERYBODY. Lifeguard walks by? Give a wave. Other kid? Wave. Parent? Wave. Me? Wave. Thankfully the lifeguards are sweet and got into it, waving back at him every time they passed. Swim lessons, here we come!

The kiddo has also seemed to realize he can reach up for things? I mean … I’m not quite sure what this is, but something has changed. He would stand up before and reach for things, but there is a sudden new love of stretching and reaching up. If I am holding him in the family room he will reach up for the fan as though it’s JUST. RIGHT. THERE. I think the poor kid doesn’t quite have depth perception mastered. Either that or he’s a real dreamer.

I have been reading the same bedtime book whenever I put him down for a while now. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site. I’m a big fan of it. In the book there are occasional sounds, like a (sigh) or a (yawn). One sound I had not done for a long time, it’s one vehicle dumping rocks on a heap. (Cruuuuuunch.) I decided one night to add this in and my sound effect for this is pretty similar to a sound he and I have made back and forth occasionally. I did the (Cruuuuuunch) noise and he turned to me, all snuggled up in his sleep sack on my lap, and he grinned from behind his pacifier and returned a (Cruuuuuunch). I smiled but kept reading. He was unperturbed. (Cruuuuuunch.) I kept reading. (Cruuuuunch.) Finally I turned to him and returned with a similar (Cruuuuuuunch.) Again a big old grin and we just made the noise back and forth a few times before I went back to my attempt at a soothing, sleep-inducing voice reading goodnight to a bunch of trucks. But the next few times I read the book I was treated to a (Cruuuuuunch) conversation which I dearly loved.

Ok, how to describe this one. Wiggling your finger over your lips while you make a noise to get an even funnier noise? Yeah, that. He’s into that now. I’d like to think I introduced this to him, but he may have figured it out on his own. He has waving down like a champ (though sometimes with a 2 minute delay) but to turn that waving hand to your mouth to make a funny sound? Revolutionary! But boy does he love doing that right now. We have whole conversations of this sound, back and forth, and sometimes we try to get strangers involved too. It’s a good time.

The kiddo has also gotten faster at getting down. It’s more of an on-purpose fall than a sloooooowly, sloooooowly squat back down kind of affair. This is really helpful for him when we play our chasing game.

Last but certainly not least (especially since I got it on video) is a new way to make him laugh! The kiddo, wife and I were driving to a store to wander when he was getting fussy in the backseat with me. (See how I spoil him? We are doing less companion in the backseat driving intentionally these days.) I decided a great bit of entertainment would be if I pretended to eat a toy, and then coughed it up. Hysterical, right!? Chomp, chomp, chomp, the toy was gone! This got a little grin from the kiddo. And then, cough … cough cough … pop, here’s the toy! AND WOAH! Some giggles! Amazing, fantastic, soul-rebuilding giggles! (It’s a daily battle between reading about Trump and interacting with my son. One destroys the soul, one rebuilds it.) Soon I realized … he doesn’t care about my fake eating or spitting the toy back up … he just LOVES the fake cough! It’s hysterical to him! And thus was born many a time of fake coughing. Though I’ll admit, it isn’t nearly the hit anymore. Tastes change. Humor is ever evolutionary.

Phew. We’ve done it. Another rambly post finished.

By the time I post this he’ll probably be well into the 13th month, and I’m not sure yet if I’ll continue a monthly update or not, but I think I’d like to. I started reading a book last night about the second year of life, which will hopefully help me to mold my little human into someone who grows up to be a happy, healthy, functional big human. That’s the dream, anyway.

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Happy birthday, kiddo.

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Attn: Ellen (9/19/18)

Front

 

Ellen366a

Back (apologies for my handwriting!)

 

Ellen366b

The text of the postcard is

Dear Ellen,

I bet he’s reading Harry Potter. What else could so engross you that you don’t notice skeleton parts hanging around you?

Sincerely,
DumbFunnery.com OR
@DumbFunnery

Why am I doing this?

 

Oprah, Hagrid and Peter the Great Walk into an H&R Block

Who here knows who Oprah Winfrey is?

Ok … and who here looks at her and thinks, ‘taxes.’

Just me? No one else had their first experience paying a tax because of Oprah?

When I was in elementary school my parents had a little family meeting. Great news, everyone! We would be getting an allowance! I was ecstatic. I did then, and do now, love money. Imagine how many GI Joes I could get with an allowance!

(And I have a very young son at home, and am so glad to finally have an excuse to buy toys again.)

Anyway. My parents told us about the allowance, but … we had to do certain chores. Fine, fine, that’s fair.

My parents bust out a sheet and explained how the chores were age-appropriate things so my brother might mow the lawn while I would unload the dishwasher.

And, our allowance would be age-appropriate too. It was this simple equation where you take your age and … my dad probably explained but whatever. Just gimme the money.

But. Wait.

‘And, of course, there will be taxes.’

What?

‘Well, there’s the vacation fund tax, you have to contribute to the vacation fund. And there’s the cleaning supplies tax. You wouldn’t want to use that same vacuum all the time right, we need to get tax dollars to one day afford a new one.’

My folks learned about this oh so delightful way of teaching your kids about taxes from Oprah. Oprah! Sure Oprah, you can be a kind woman, an entrepreneur, an incredibly impressive business woman … but you’ll always be a tax to me.

Taxes! What an unappetizing topic. And, unfortunately, I’m not about to tell you how you can reduce them, or get out of them, or anything applicable. But, perhaps, at the end of my speech, you’ll know the answer to one or two Jeopardy questions.

And, if you’re an optimist, a bright side of life kind of person, you can think, ‘well at least that’s not happening to me’ when you hear about some of these taxes.

I

The first known tax was brought to us by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. They had their tax collectors, known as scribes, go around DOOR TO DOOR. That’s upsetting, but wait, there’s more.

The scribes would travel around to audit Egyptian houses to ensure they were using an appropriate amount of cooking oil! AND! AND! That you weren’t using other leftover oils as a replacement for oil.

Oh, one more detail. The cooking oil was sold by a monopoly run by … the pharaoh. Rough, right?

Come April, when you are filing your taxes using software you downloaded nearly instantaneously … yes, it is painful, and yes, our tax code is absurdly difficult, but at least you’re doing your taxes, unperturbed, in your pajamas.

II

From that very first tax, which was an obvious way to make the pharaohs richer … there have been a number of taxes with interesting backgrounds. We are of course aware of special taxes that come up for schools, new stadiums, or the county wants to set aside more land for preservation.

But what about taxes for fashion? Peter the Great was not a fan of beards. While touring some of Western Europe he decided that he liked the clean-shaved look he was seeing in their courts, so he imposed a beard tax back in Russia. IF you wanted to continue to sport your beard you had to carry around a token showing you had paid your beard tax. This was part of his effort to ‘modernize’ Russia.

Britain has created a tax break for films that are … “culturally British.” Your film gets reviewed and scored on four categories: cultural content, cultural contribution, cultural hubs and cultural practitioners. The purpose of this is to preserve British culture. But you have to wonder … or at least, *I* have to wonder … Would Harry Potter count?

You need 16 points and you get four points if the film is set in the UK … which it sorta is. Four more if the film represents a diverse British culture … which it kinda does. And four points for original dialogue recorded mainly in English language. That’s twelve points right there for a fictional magical place full of Brits.

Last but not least, we’ll travel to our flatlander neighbors, Kansas. Kansas taxes sales of admissions for amusement services, or entertainment, or recreation. There is a federal law prohibiting states having fees and charges on airlines and other airport users. So, if you get in a hot air balloon but don’t go anywhere … you’re taxed.

I don’t know why you would get in a hot air balloon and just STAY there. But, maybe that’s an entertaining thing to do in Kansas. If you ask me, it all sounds like classic big balloon lobby in action.

Conclusion

What did we learn today?

Did we learn that we’re glad we aren’t ruled by Egyptian pharaohs? You probably already felt that way, but if not, welcome to the club. They did worse things than tax, you know.

Did we learn that Hagrid will get a break in England, but be taxed if he ever goes to Russia?

Did we learn that Oprah is evil? I wouldn’t go that far, but you can if you’d like. And now, for the worst impression of Oprah you’ll ever see, I’d just like to invite everyone to look under their seats because … YOU GET A TAX! AND YOU GET A TAX!

Sources

https://bebusinessed.com/history/history-of-taxes/

https://www.cnbc.com/2014/02/14/top-12-weirdest-tax-rules-around-the-world.html

https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/fun-facts/7-crazy-taxes-from-the-us-and-abroad/L503QNBEQ

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Attn: Ellen (9/12/18)

Front

 

Ellen365a

Back (apologies for my handwriting!)

 

Ellen365b

The text of the postcard is

Dear Ellen,

When do you think the first barber shop was? I bet it was during caveman times. And I bet it wasn’t successful at all. Why pay perfectly good animal hides when I could just gnaw off my hair when it gets too long? But that barber? Talk about an outside-the-box thinker.

Sincerely,
DumbFunnery.com OR @DumbFunnery

Why am I doing this?

 

August 2018 Haiku

August 1 (Wednesday)
Kiddo’s fav teachers
Leaving daycare (new pursuits)
But … But … But … My son!

August 2 (Thursday)
Day before a trip
Whiplash from frequent watch checks
Woah! It’s … 8 am.

August 3 (Friday)
Phoenix, here we are!
And the heat’s not all that bad
… in shade … in a pool

August 4 (Saturday)
Cupcakes and fam time
Early birthday for kiddo
(Oh, and for dad, too)

August 5 (Sunday)
My son and my dad
Squawked/screeched/babbled back and forth
Talking politics?

August 6 (Monday)
Flying home today
Kid slept on me the whole flight
Woke up in dad sweat

#gross #SoMuchBellySweat

August 7 (Tuesday)
Alarm set for 5 …
Wake up early! Go jog! And …
Nah. Re-set for 6.

August 8 (Wednesday)
Kid’s poor little cough
Cough. Hack. Cough. Chew some. Swallow.
Ah. Adorable.

August 9 (Thursday)
Recreate the bug
Toughest step in fixing bugs
*Think customer thoughts*

August 10 (Friday)
Watched woman swimming
We had same pace – she looked CALM!
… Perhaps … form matters …

August 11 (Saturday)
Cousins kids birthday
Kids playing … Adults chilling …
That’ll be so nice!

August 12 (Sunday)
Scheels with the kiddo
Animatronic Lincoln
CAPTIVATED him

August 13 (Monday)
IT! IS! OFFICIAL!
The boy knows at least one word!
But. It’s ‘dog,’ not dad.

August 14 (Tuesday)
Birthday gift for kid
A tiny bike looking thing
Small. Cute. Just like him.

August 15 (Wednesday)
You hear ‘Canada’
You think nice, friendly. Add ‘goose’?
Wrong move. Game over.

August 16 (Thursday)
Amazing finding
Fake coughing cracks the kid up
*Fake coughing ensues*

August 17 (Friday)
Eye doc for the kid
They have such fancy gadgets!
Dug the tech display

August 18 (Saturday)
Kid and I to pool
Tons of noise, kids splashing him …
And yet it went well!

#ThingsThatExciteMeTheseDays

August 19 (Sunday)
Hanging kayak rack
Let’s dance, old neglected foe!
… Annnnnnd I hung it wrong

August 20 (Monday)
To balance the day
Wife and son got me donuts
Monday … Neutralized!!

August 21 (Tuesday)
Water aerobics
Class if all elderly folks
Cracking dirty jokes

August 22 (Wednesday)
Unhappy sleeper
Put kid next to me in bed
Slept great after that

#flattered #tired #LearnToSleepPlease

August 23 (Thursday)
Saw a hummingbird!
Or as God likes to call them
Nature’s crack/cocaine

August 24 (Friday)
FRIDAY! Heck yeah, man!
Can’t wait to go out and … Nah.
I’m beat. When’s bedtime?

August 25 (Saturday)
Grandparents arrive
They come bearing birthday gifts,
Hugs, kisses, and awwwws

August 26 (Sunday)
Kid’s birthday party
A distractible eater*
*Cupcake exception

August 27 (Monday)
Took the day off work
Hanging with wife, kid, wife’s folks
Soaking up the day

August 28 (Tuesday)
Met to get feedback
Enjoyed learning why I failed …
Kudos, reviewer!

August 29 (Wednesday)
Speech about taxes
Taxes!? What was I thinking?
Ambitious self? FOOL!

August 30 (Thursday)
Open house today
“Please join our Toastmasters club!”
Exclaimed to … no guests.

August 31 (Friday)
Picnic with wife, kid
Hope mac & cheese covered clothes
Work appropriate

You kids better quit eating my meat-flavored gruel!

No, I don’t know where the remote that controls the dog’s brain is … oh no, HE ATE IT AGAIN!

Hey neighbor, nice front porch … NOT!

Hey kid, turn off your VR goggles and pay attention to your self-driving … ah, never mind.

GET A JOB! … Or don’t, the universal basic income that the government wisely decided to embrace because of the automation of so many jobs limiting the workforce to only 10% of the population has really made not having a job a comfortable living. Which, again, makes sense because frankly, people are so much worse at most jobs than technology. So um … GET A HOBBY. Seriously, the ‘hobby’ stipend portion of your UBI is really pretty nice, personally I’ve taken up painting and I love it. So um … GET A PAINTBRUSH. Or a book. Or rock climbing equipment. Whatever. Have a good one!

white wicker padded bench

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

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