Saturday, August 11, 2012

When I swim, I fly. (Project 190, Day Thirty-Three)

I am really getting to like swimming. 

Today, I had an opportunity to swim in the shorter pool, while the boys played, because Mr F didn't want to go to the playroom while I worked out, so I took the boys to the pool and swam with them while Sweetie worked out.

When Sweetie was done, she came to watch the boys and I could have stayed in the shorter pool and swam but I got out and went to the long pool, where I did my laps.

I like the feeling of swooping through the water.  I know I'm not swooping, as such, but it feels like I am, and whereas running is clunky and slow and hot and sweaty, swimming is all grace and clean lines and cool water.

Or so I imagine; I don't know what I look like as I swim.

Plus, when I swim, my thoughts are more and more dreamlike.  When I swim, I don't think in words, but I get pictures and images and ideas and I jump from subject to subject, my mind sort of tossing and turning the way my body does on a cool summer night when I wake up and realize it's only 11 p.m. and I've got hours left to sleep so I can relax.

Here is a story I thought of today while I swam -- it's a 250=1 story:

Icarus’ Lesser-Known Sister.

Sphyraena was her name, and she, like her brother, had her own adventure, but in her case it was not dangerous.  Where her brother flew to close to the sun, Sphyraena who was called Rae by her friends and her mother who doted on her swam to close to the water.

This did not pose any peril to her.  The water loved her, as it loves everyone.  Water, given a chance, will envelope you and caress you and support you, keeping you safe and sound, and Rae loved the water like it loved her, swimming in it as often as she could until one day she swam too close to it, or it too close to her.

In any event, whoever approached the other first that day, neither ever let go, but it was impossible for Rae to fall to her death with the loving embrace of her lifelong friend, and so she swam on endlessly, learning to dive deeper and deeper and come up less and less frequently.  She did not need her legs as much as she used to and kept them folded together and did not need her arms, they only got in the way and so she kept them alongside her.

She came to love the water so much, and it her, that she let it inside her lungs and the water did not drown her as it did others but fed her air, and Rae never came back up but swam forever.


Today's workout: Swimming, 30 laps, 21:20.
Latest weight: 253.
Today's song that I listened to actually last night when the boys and I were driving back from the pool because the classical music radio station was doing a tribute to Marvin Hamlisch:

The Entertainer (Scott Joplin; Marvin Hamlisch arrangement)


The Naked Boy And The Mountain That Isn't. (Life With Unicorns)

Mr F has started taking of his pants in public and people have noticed.

Not ALL THE TIME.  He doesn't just stand in line at McDonald's, or at the jeans department of JCPenney, and whip his pants off for the world to see.  Only when he's swimming, but, still, it's a concern anytime your kid takes off his pants, and more of a concern when you don't know why.

When we were on vacation recently, as we were driving for the umpteenth consecutive hour past the umpteenth consecutive billboard advertising special rates for truckers at Oriental Massage houses in Georgia -- Bible Belt, indeed!-- we played a game, deciding which three secret powers we'd have.

Sweetie went first and the first power she said was "I'd want the ability to read minds."  When I asked her why, I assumed she'd say something about being able to stop the killers before they pulled the trigger, but what she said was:

"So I could know what the boys are thinking."

To an extent, you never know what someone is thinking.  If Sweetie and I are driving along some night, taking a ride to relax, as we like to do, and we are quiet for a moment, she might well say "What are you thinking about?" and I say "Nothing," because "Nothing" sounds a lot better than "I was trying to remember what the secret identity for Red Tornado was; I thought he might have been a stuntman but I think that's Blue Devil." 

Although really, Sweetie probably guessed that.

But it's harder than usual, I think, to guess what the boys are thinking, which is a critical part of guessing what they are going to do next or helping them not do something, or to do something.

I think I underestimated how neat it is to be able to predict what people are going to do, something we can almost perfectly do with regular ol' people in almost any situation.  For example, it would be very unusual for you to be speaking to someone, and turn away for a second, and have that person disappear when you have turned back, unless you usually speak to Batman.

But with the boys, that happens all the time, and it happened yesterday, when I took them to Little Park On The Mountain.

Little Park On The Mountain is neither little, nor really on a mountain.  But it is called that because we try to have names for everything the boys do and every place they go, and the names all have to be different.

That doesn't sound so hard, does it, until you consider that not everything has a different name in your life.  Things like school, for example, have just the one name.

If you have kids, you probably say to them "School will be starting soon" or something similar because parents can't stand it that kids live in a world where nothing really matters and they get three months off in the summer, so we have to wreck it.  And you do that because school is school is school but for Mr F and Mr Bunches, school isn't (yet) "that thing I do for a couple hours a day 9 months a year."  Instead, for them, school is a very particularly specific place.

Mr Bunches, this past year, went to "school" at "The Little Red Playhouse," which was where his preschool was.  Mr F went to "school" at the Middleton West School.

Next year, in a month, they will begin kindergarten, at a new location, near our house.  That, to us, is school: they're going to school there.  So we took them to see their school one day and said "That's school."

"No," said Mr Bunches.  "I think that's not school. No way."

And to him, it wasn't.

So we had to start calling school by more specific names, because we'd foolishly used the word "school" to mean "that building where you went to preschool," and so far, we only get to use each word once; words can't have two meanings with the boys, and often they can't have a larger meaning.

Another example:  office.

Every Sunday, mostly, I go into work for a couple of hours to organize files, review emails, and I almost always take one or both boys with me.  "Let's go to the office!" I would say, and they'd bring some toys down and we'd do some work and then go do something fun.

We recently moved our firm to a new location, and I took the boys to see it before our usual Sunday trip, showing it to Sweetie and them at the same time.  "This is the new office," I told them, and they were very excited.

That Sunday, we got in the car and I started it up.  "Let's go to the office!" I said, and Mr Bunches started crying and Mr F got upset.

Because they wanted to go to the new office, which is now what my office is and possibly always will be.

We've figured out that much: we've been able to look into their minds, a little, and realize that things are always one thing and never both.  That's not so unusual for most kids; I can remember talking with our niece about how Grandpa was also her mom's dad, which she found ridiculous. 

She was three.

The boys are nearly six, and still working on that kind of concrete thinking.  Everything that goes on their legs are pants, so I confuse them when I say "go get some shorts," and a McDonald's cheeseburger is a  Krabby Patty because they learned about fast food restaurants from SpongeBob and I fully realize that I hit the double-whammy of bad parenting there, letting my kids not only watch TV but watch TV about fast food, but I don't give into parental terrorism.  I like both TV and fast food and I'll happily let the boys enjoy both which is a good stance to take because it means I get to go on enjoying both, too, and I can do things like take Mr F and Mr Bunches to "Pizza restaurant" (Little Caesar's) in hopes that they will like it and repeatedly ask to go there and we can up the pizza quotient in our house.

So far, it hasn't worked.

(To determine your own house's pizza quotient, count the number of times you eat pizza in a week.  Then add more pizza, because it's delicious.)

So a good deal of our time now is spent devising names for things so we always know what's what and can communicate with the boys and learn about them and work with them to help  us work with them. This system is especially important when you learn that once I had Mr Bunches take me and Mr F on what amounted to a four-year-old-guided scavenger hunt.

That was the summer that he would say a word, and we couldn't figure out what the word was, or what it meant, but he always said it when we got into the car and he would get more and more upset each time we didn't pay attention to the word, and one day we got a breakthrough when he said "Go to {word}" as I was getting in the car to take them to a park.

So I tried an experiment:  I had him point where we should go.  At the top of our hill, I pointed right, and said "This way?" and then left, and said "Or this way?"

"Or this way," he said, firmly, and so I went left, and only a moment later realized my mistake when he said "or this way" and pointed left again.  Instead of teaching him left and right, I'd taught him thisway and orthisway.

But it worked and using those directions, he guided me through a drive all the way to... Shopko, where I realized the word he was saying (I don't remember it now) was the part of the name of a Thomas The Tank Engine Toy we'd bought for him -- at Shopko!-- a month earlier.  He'd started calling Shopko the part of the toy name.

We got that sorted out, the way we sorted out that milk is not more and the way we decided that one brand of snack Mr F likes would be "Puffs" and the other would be "cheesy puffs" and the way we came up with a name for blanket swing, swinging Mr F in a blanket, which cannot also be called swing because we have a swing, and then one day I was going to take Mr Bunches and Mr F on a nature walk to "the mountain," which is a large hill in the nature reserve near us.  I called it "the mountain" because that's what Mr Bunches had called it one day when we were playing in the park and he'd noticed it.

"Go to the mountain?" he'd said, pointing, and I wanted to but it was 7:45 already and we had to get home.

A couple weeks later, I said we'd go to the mountain, after we took a little drive because Mr F wanted to go for a ride (he likes rides), and so we got Mr Bunches and Sweetie and Mr F in the car and we went for a drive through the rich-er subdivision near us where they have really nice houses, and as we drove through that subdivision Mr Bunches saw one of the two parks he liked.

"Go to the park?" he said.

"You want to go to the park?" I asked him.  "Not the Mountain?"

"Park," he said, firmly.

There are two parks in that subdivision, and we were driving by the one I knew he liked a lot because it's got tons of playgroundy stuff and a pond nearby, and so I said "Which park, the little park?" and pointed at the park we were passing and he said "Yeah.  Little park."

So we dropped Sweetie off to get some alone time and I took them back to the Little Park, which would have been aptly named because all it's cool stuff is crammed into a small area, but when we stopped, Mr Bunches said:

"No, no way." 

And he wouldn't get out, and started saying "Little Park," which I kept pointing out was the park we were at (that's not it's name, and I don't know what the real name is.)  He kept insisting it was not and he finally said "Little Park On The Mountain," which confused me because, as I said:

"There's no playground on the Mountain" (there isn't), "But do you want to go to the Mountain?"

"Uh huh," he said.

So we got back into the car and I was going to drive us to the reserve where we would hike to the mountain but when I started to turn the car around he got upset and said "No! Orthisway!" and pointed left, and so I went where he was pointing and he guided me to the other park in that subdivision, which is in fact a big park with a baseball field and everything, but it's on top of a hill, which is kind of a mountain I suppose, and so now that is Little Park On the Mountain, where we had a wonderful time.

It was at Little Park On The Mountain where Mr F showed me that he doesn't think like ordinary people, not at all -- as if I didn't know that already.

We were there, yesterday, in fact, and I was watching Mr F.  I was watching him because Mr F likes to run off and if you give him a chance, he'll take off running.

So I was watching him, closely, because he was in a silly mood -- the kind of mood where he'll just stare off into space, laughing, sometimes, or will make you pick him up and then he'll close your eyes and grab your ears and make you nod your head yes -- and for the 45 minutes we'd been there, he'd contented himself with playing on the swing and then the sand, using the shovel toys to lift up and dump sand.

Mr Bunches wanted to try the Monkey Bars, and so I walked over to help him.  We have to hold Mr Bunches up and support 99.9% of his weight while he swings across the bars, so he's not Gold Medal standard yet but soon,  I figure,  and I walked, keeping an eye on Mr F the entire time.  He sat quietly, his back to me, playing in the sand.

I lifted up Mr Bunches and kept my eyes on Mr F, who wasn't even looking at us.  Mr Bunches slipped a little and for the first time I looked at him and took my eyes off of Mr F for one second and when I looked back, Mr F was 50 yards away, sprinting at full speed towards the edge of the park.

Luckily, he was heading away from the road.  Unluckily, I had to let Mr Bunches finish the Monkey Bars before giving chase, but it didn't matter because Mr F pulled up at the edge of the weeds and when I got over to him, he was standing and feeling a tall blade of grass with his palm.

It's hard to tell what he was thinking.  Was he just waiting for me to turn my back, the entire time, for forty-five minutes so he could make a break for it?  Why does he want to make a break for it, anyway?  Where does he want to go, that's more interesting than here?   

And it's always at top speed.  Mr F does not dilly, nor does he dally.  When he decides he wants to be there,  he doesn't get up and amble over.  He sprints off like he's The Flash, arms flailing, legs running in that weird, little kid way their legs go that make it seem they're bending the wrong direction, hips not in synch with the ankles, the whole effect being like his body exploded and it trying to pull itself back together while he's tumbling down a waterslide.

But he's fast, for all that, and he can get 50 yards away while you scratch sand out of your eye. 

I don't know if he noticed I'd looked away and made a break for it, or if that was just the moment he decided to run and it was coincidence, and it matters  a lot because if you don't know why something's happening it's not clear how you stop it.

Like stripping in a swimming pool, for example -- something Mr F only does around me.

Here's exactly how I learned Mr F was taking his swim trunks off in the pool, and it's not as bad as you think.

We were at the Small Pool -- that's the outdoor pool at the health club we belong to, and it's aptly named -- and the pool occupants were me and the boys,  and two people who were just sitting in chairs and sunning.  Mr Bunches wanted to go to the deep end and jump, and I have to go with him to do that because his ability to swim is more aspirational right now than functional, and while he thinks he's swimming mostly he's not moving in the water at all despite all the motion, so I help him out and give him a shove towards the ladder and pull him up when his face has been in the water too long.

I was down there doing that and keeping an eye on Mr F, who was just playing in the shallower end, going underwater, splashing, laughing, that kind of thing.

At one point, Mr Bunches wanted me to jump, too, so I got out of the pool and squinted down at Mr F, and here's exactly what I thought, in order:

1.  He sure is happy.
2.  Boy, in the water the way it refracts light it's almost like he's not wearing swimming trunks.
3. Oh, man.

So I left Mr Bunches standing there with strict orders to not jump into the water, orders he disobeyed almost immediately, and so I had to go back and grab him out of the water, which I did, and held his hand as we ran down to where Mr F,  aware that he'd attracted attention, maybe, was climbing out of the pool.

"Come here!" I said loudly before realizing that I perhaps was better off not drawing attention to the naked boy who'd just climbed out of the pool, and I got to him and grabbed his hand and then reached point four in my thought process, which was

4.  Whatintheheckwhere are his pants?

His swim trunks were missing, and I was standing there with two little boys on either side of me, one of them butt naked in public.

I did what you'd expect: I grabbed my Buffalo Bills' t-shirt and made a toga out of it for Mr F, a skill I hadn't even known I'd had until that moment, but parenting brings out the best in all of us, and then, with an upset little boy on one side (because he couldn't jump in the pool) and another one on the other side (because he was wearing an upside-down t-shirt toga) we began to walk around the pool looking for the green swim trunks Mr F had lost.

I found them, in the deeper side of the pool, five feet underwater, and Mr F will not go in the deep end, so I had to have Mr Bunches sit on a chair

-- SIT RIGHT THERE! I told him, and he did, for three seconds--

while I got Mr F, shirt-toga and all, to sit on the side of the pool where I could hold him by the toes while I got lower and lower in the water until I was able to let go, dive down, get the trunks, and surface, to find that Mr F had already run off and was sprinting away, toga flapping in the wind.

I got him and we got his trunks on and nobody was any the wiser except those two people who were there and no doubt all the health club employees who have watched that security video a billion times since then.

In the month or so since that happened, Mr F will occasionally take his swim trunks off again, never (she claims) when Sweetie is with him.  Her theory is that I get too far away from Mr F, whereas she sticks closer to him.  That's one way to look at it, but it doesn't explain why it happened.  I thought for a while it might be the trunks were too loose -- they didn't tie very tightly, so we bought a new pair that does -- and I thought it might be that they were chafing, and I thought it might be because he got upset that Mr Bunches and I were in the deep end, which he doesn't like, and I thought it might be that someone had upset him, or that it was too hot or too cold or too wet or something, but in the end, I don't have answers.

He's pulled his trunks off when it's crowded, when the pool is empty, when I'm right by him, and when I'm not.  At least one family has noticed, a woman saying to another woman "Sometimes that little boy pulls his trunks off" within earshot of Sweetie, but nobody has yet freaked out or anything.

That's one of our worries, that he'll pull his pants off and someone will have a conniption about how they don't come to the pool expecting that their little kids will see other little kids exposing themselves, because we don't want to upset people and don't want to get kicked out of pools and have the boys not be able to enjoy them.

But that's not the biggest worry; the biggest worry is that we'll never know why he does it, and so we won't be able to help him.

We can't ask him.  He still doesn't talk much and we can't say "What's wrong with the swim trunks? Why do you pull them off? Why do you do it only sometimes?"  Questions like that get met with a giggle or a faraway stare or both.  So we can't figure out what to do to stop him from doing that, and that sucks.

It sucks for us, because we have to stay right next to him at the pool, which means we can't relax or play with Mr Bunches.  It sucks for Mr Bunches, who gets shortchanged if only one parent takes him to the pool (although don't worry about him. Mr Bunches is an attention-black-hole: he sucks it all in and keeps it).  It sucks for Mr F, who probably doesn't want an adult constantly hovering over him.

And it sucks because we have to do these half-measures.  We don't know why he runs away, so we have to keep all our windows and doors locked at all times, and sealed shut -- literally,  with duct tape and hooks and latches, we are locked in like a maximum security prison and if we open a window one of us sits in front of it the entire time it's open.  We make sure there is an adult on the same level of our house as Mr F, at all times.  We hold his hand in public all the time.  We have a GPS monitoring bracelet on him and pay a company to track him.

All of that works; it keeps him from running away, from taking off his swim trunks, from doing things we don't want him to do, but it only works until it doesn't, until you turn your back on him for a second and he's off, or his trunks are.

But it's the equivalent of Yossarian treating the wrong wound on Snowden, maybe: we aren't fixing the problem, we're only corraling it.  And so a lot of times, when I get quiet while we're driving, I'm not just remembering that it was John Smith who became the Red Tornado, but I'm wondering what it is about swim trunks that makes Mr F want them off, what it is about the edge of the park that he can't resist, what it was that made him go running off in the mall, why he just started crying for no reason yesterday or what made him wake up and start laughing at 3 a.m. in the middle of the night this Tuesday.

I can't ask him what it was, but it's my job as his dad to figure it out anyway.  It's my job to figure out what he wants, and doesn't want, to name things and identify them and help him, and while I can come up with a different word for every kind of cheese puff human society might create, I can't figure out why his pants keep coming off, and that eats me up inside.

I'll stand by him for my entire life, if I have to, but I'd like even better if instead of standing guard, I could just fix it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mr F, Chair Pioneer

If it wasn't for the brave efforts of people like Mr F, we might never have made the advances in sitting that are a mark of modern society.

An armless Jimmy Fallon goes biking, or something. (Project 190, Day Thirty-Two)

Today's workout didn't really feel like working out.

I didn't do it first thing in the morning; I had to get up early to get on the road early to get to a trial that started early --

we won, so I am something like 20 for 21 in the last month or so

-- and I knew I'd be back from that by about twelve, so I decided that I'd then go do a workout after that before doing some work from home, and as a result, I got to the health club about 12:30 and did some biking on the reclining bike for 30 minutes, while I read (among other things) the short story Armless Maidens of the American West, which is a very good short story, the kind of story that creeps up on you and only after you're done reading it do you start to realize how creepy it is, really.

And what's notable about that, too, is that I remembered hearing about the story but hadn't saved the link so I decided to try to find it while I biked, and I googled what I remembered about it which was:

A. That it was about armless
B.  Women and
C.  Was in a magazine.

So I googled Armless Woman Magazine because that was the best lead I had, and it turns out that there are lots of links related to armless women, some of them inspirational, some of them weird, none of them really the story I was looking for.

But I found the story and I finished biking, but I think I'm going to have to up the levels again because as I began with, the exercise didn't feel all that much like exercise today.

Now I am going to take Mr Bunches and Mr F to the big pool.

Today's workout: Biking, level 2, 30:00.
Latest Weight: 253.
Today's song that I listened to while typing this because I can't remember what I listened to while biking, really, the 30 minutes just whizzed right by and I can hardly remember them even though it was only, like, 4 hours ago:

Streamline, Newton

Which you may also know as the Jimmy Fallon drinks Pepsi song:

Thursday, August 09, 2012

But I had to watch "Home Improvement" on the club's TVs while I ran, which was a bummer. (Project 190, Day 31)

Here's how I know Project 190 is working, no matter WHAT stupid gravity has to say about it.

3 weeks ago, I jogged on the treadmill and did 2.5 miles in just over 30 minutes -- about a 12:00 mile.

Today, I did the treadmill again (it was raining out this morning) and did 2 miles in 20:47.

Today's workout: 2 miles, treadmill, 20:47.
Latest weight: 253.
Today's song that I listened to while jogging because I was kind of in a mellow mood on a rainy Thursday morning:

Music Box Dancer, Frank Mills.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

I Could NOT use a little bit more to hold on to. (Project 190, Day Thirty)

First off, I worked out yesterday but didn't get a chance to post because I was busy all day.



There's not even any excuses; I didn't eat or drink anything before working out, nothing like that.  I just got up and went to the club and got on the scale and there it was, 253, all glaring at me and sneering.

Numbers can sneer, did you know that?

Look at it:


Doesn't it look like a sneer?

I haven't so far been terribly concerned about what I've been eating -- I'm not counting calories or even particularly watching what I eat, but even without paying much attention I've gotten the idea that I'm eating healthier, although maybe I'm just fooling myself and blocking out the memories of eating, say, a five-pound bag of Butterfingers.

I have several theories about what is actually going on here, the first being Higgs Bosons.  I make a lot of jokes about Higgs Bosons, because nothing is funnier than a subatomic particle that may or may not exist (I know, right?) and if they do exist then the Higgs Bosons are probably doing to me what they do to other stuff, which is to add mass, so the lesson is Don't Make The Bosons Mad which OH MAN that's going to be my autobiography title.

The other theories are:

1.  I am putting on muscle.  That is Sweetie's theory, given to me again today, to which I responded "Yeah, belly muscle," and it's a valid theory except that my goal is not to be a 300-pound muscle guy, it's to be a 190-pound skinny guy.

2.  I have only just begun to fight, as sea captain John Paul Jones did not say (I just looked it up) but he should have.  What he said is "I have not yet begun to fight" when asked to surrender, and I like that feeling, so I have only just begun to fight, fat cells.

(I ran out of songs about fat guys.)

Here is what I mean: I've been working out 30 days now, but I've only just begun to regularly get over 20 minutes.  My swims have been over 20 minutes only three times out of the last four.  My runs just began being consistently 20 minutes of running -- the first couple were about 15 minutes of running with a walk up the hill.  And biking? Biking is easy.

So while I've gotten healthier, for sure -- my shirts are already fitting better, and I think I can see my face, my real face, a little, by which I mean: my face has over the past few years gotten rounder and I have a hugenormous chin that I hate, when I look in the mirror the last few days I can see my face, looking a little slimmer: I think the fat is starting to leave, a little, and I can see the face I want hiding behind there -- I haven't really started to burn many calories yet, because my workouts aren't hard enough.

That's the theory, anyway, so I'm going to stick with this, but I'm going to add to it.

I'm going to do a pants-check, once a week, using a pair of old pants I've kept around for just that purpose, because they're too tight but I wanted to be able to wear them again.

I will do the pants-check on the same day I weigh in, from here on out.


Today's workout: Swimming, 30 laps, 22:00.
Latest weight. 253. (I'll wipe that sneer off your face, 253)

Today's song that isn't quite about me but I'll close with it:

Fat-Bottomed Girls, Queen.

Update: Apparently, I threw out those pants.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Enough is Enough (Middle)

Giving all you have…

What does it mean to go above and beyond verse just doing what is necessary to get by?

If a person plans on getting through life by doing the bare minimum does it mean that they’re a bad person?

Or does a person who goes that extra mile every day overreaching?

This is something that I have been thinking about for the past week or so.  I mean I like to go above and beyond not just to make myself feel good but the best part about doing that is to make whomever you are helping feel good and happy. 

I have been thinking about this because I love my job but sometimes it is really hard.  And the hardest thing about my job is that I work with people every day.  I am a manager at a restaurant and no matter what I do sometimes whatever I do to go out of my way to help an individual it ends up unappreciated.  And not only is it unappreciated by the customers but also with the people that I work with. 

It has reached the point where I sometimes don’t want to go to work because I know that there will be people that will try and break my spirits down and make me feel terrible.  And I am aware that I should not let people tear me down but at the same time when it happens every day then it can get exhausting to just simply try and ignore that.

So my thinking has taken me to the conclusion that perhaps going above and beyond is not the best thing that a person can do.  Unless, of course, you go out of your way to help someone who would be willing to do the same for you. 

Also what really helped me decision was that if I do something nice for you and you don’t say thank you then I know that what I did was unnoticed and unappreciated.    

That not only tells but more importantly shows me that you don’t care about whether I do anything nice for you. 

So my question to you…

Is it worth stress on yourself to make others happy all the time?

Monday, August 06, 2012

Mr F is actually having fun in the picture, and that has nothing to do with working out. (Project 190, Day Twenty-Eight)

I did not want to run this morning. 

But I did.

Today's workout: Running, 20:34.
Latest weight: 252.
Today's song that I put on at the top of the hill both as a reward for jogging up the hill for the third consecutive time as well as to spur me on to complete the run all the way home:

Wishing Well, The Airborne Toxic Event:

Sunday, August 05, 2012

A tinier stegosaurus stars in a remake of one of those 1950s French Existentialist Films: "O petit garçon chantepleures pas, pour le Cirque doit revenir un jour et seront ensuite danser sous la pluie, avec Cheerios !"


It's that time of the week when I post one post from one blog on all my blogs.  Today's is the first installment of The Dysprosians, a new story I'm starting up on Afterdark.

"I mean, really, Fish Man?" Tom frowned at his fingernails, which needed to be cut.

"Look, Tom..." but at a warning glance, Chet corrected himself. Above all, Higgs had warned him, Tom likes the rules of The Dysprosians.  Especially...and Higgs had paused for dramatic effect... the one about using only code names in the Skylab.

"Look, Whatever's Handyman, I gave a lot of thought to a bunch of different names. Aqua, I thought, and liked that but it's too close to that comic book guy"


interrupted a blaring voice that echoed around them.  Tom stopped inspecting his fingernails and leaned forward, tapping the touchscreen.

"Soul Destroyer leaves the volume way too loud," he muttered.

"And I thought about Aquarius because that also would fit but it's too hippyish, and I considered a couple others but..."

The silence hung between them in the hot, still air of the Skylab.  Tom leaned forward and turned a knob a little, feeling the vents blow cool air on him.

Outside, the tree branches skriiittched on the roof of the satellite as a squirrel ran along them.

"But what?" Tom sighed.

"But then Anthony looked at my costume and said Fish Man and, well, I don't like to disappoint him, so I decided to go with that."

Tom looked appraisingly at the costume in question.

"It does have fins," he said.

"And scales," he added after a second, still looking.  Then he considered, and asked "Why scales?"

"They're bulletproof," Chet said proudly, and he figured that the interest Tom was showing would keep building.  Just keep him hooked.  "I found this..." Chet paused and kind of chuckled to himself.  Keep him hookedGot to remember that.  "I found this place on line, out of Syria, they sell bulletproof metal stuff, and you can buy little plates for it, and so I got it and we cut it into scales and managed to sew each one onto the suit itself."

He struck a pose, a fighting stance somewhere between Muhammad Ali coming out of the corner and Bruce Lee coming out of retirement, and tried to suck in his stomach a little.  "I've been working out," he said.  "At the Y.  I take the Zumba classes and some yoga, and I got this DVD of Tae Bo."

Tom listened to the scales tinkle and clink, and shrugged.

"It's not really up to me."

He tapped a box on the touch screen and it lit up with options.  "Voice control," he said.

**VOICE CONTROL ACTIVATED** came the voice again.

"Computeratrons, Fish Man wants in.  Calculate."

There were no lights flashing, no whirring sounds, no panels of blinking bulbs or anything.  This was 2012.  The touch screen he carried with him linked in wirelessly to the Computeratrons, which were simply two small servers at the back of the only air-conditioned room in the Skylab.

The screen lit up.

"Says here," Tom leaned over so Chet could see, "That your powers provide a compliment to us, and that in at least three recent adventures your presence would have added at 5-10% improvement in the odds of a successful outcome."

"So I'm in?" Chet couldn't believe it -- Anthony would be so happy!

"When Higgs Boson wanted to join, the Computeratrons calculated that he would improve the odds of success by 90-98%, even with the uncontrollable nature of his power.  Neon was 70%.  Soul Destroyer, 100%."

The Skylab grew quiet, and Chet slumped over.  I'm not telling Anthony I didn't make it in.

 "Even Smiley added 20% to our odds of success." Tom said quietly.

Chet put his hands over his face.

"I've got nothing, T... Whatever's Handyman.  Nothing.  I go to work, every day, and I come home every day.  Poor Anthony, he mostly just sits around the house, with our neighbor watching him since Lorrie..."

Tom filled in the words Chet couldn't bring himself to say:  "Tried to reverse the fusion reaction that powers the sun using ordinary household chemicals she had rearranged on an elemental level and then launched using a rocket she unwittingly got your sun to create as part of his Scouts' project, all because she thought you were having an affair with your secretary."

"I don't even have a secretary," Chet added.  Tears filled his eyes.  "And now she's serving 300,000 consecutive life sentences in that Belarussian prison and Anthony misses her.  He doesn't even know what she did.  Every day, I come home and he says where's Mom? and every day I say she's working and we'll go visit her soon and then we eat dinner and we watch some of the movies he likes and he goes to bed and I sit up, drinking and watching Conan O' Brien, of all things, and that's how it was for weeks and weeks and months and months until I realized that there could be more to it than that."

Tom tried not to meet Chet's eye.  Everyone these days tried not to meet Chet's eye.  Granted, Lorrie's plan had not worked but it had come awfully close and while most people in the world didn't hold that against Chet, it also made meeting him awkward.  Tom couldn't imagine how Chet's food cart even stayed in business,  let alone earned enough money to support him and Anthony.

He wondered if Lorrie gave them money.

"The thing is, too, um... Fish Man, how would it look if we let a guy who is still married to one of the world's most notorious criminal masterminds join The Dysprosians?"

"I have to stay married to her.   She's got the health insurance.  And Anthony..."

There was a flicker.

Tom knew the flicker.

Chet did not.

Tom looked down at the touch-screen.

"So he was listening," he whispered.

"Who?" Chet asked.

Tom watched as the touchscreen numbers changed and glanced up at Chet.

"Do you feel different?"

Chet flexed his muscles a little, looked at his hands, rubbed his head where his mask would ordinarily sit. "Maybe a little."

Tom held up the touchscreen, which now was filled with numbers.  Chet couldn't make heads or tails of it.

"It says that you would improve our odds of success by 80% on our most recent three adventures."

"How...?" Chet asked.

"He did it."

"Who?"  Chet looked around.

"I can't tell you yet.  We've got to get you sworn in," Tom said.  He pulled his own mask up over his head, and tapped the touch screen again.  "We'll have to get you your own one of these, too."  Tap-tap-tap, and a bunch of little windows opened, each showing rooms where webcams were looking at people at computers, or empty rooms, or in the case of one window, a television tuned to Jersey Shore.

"Everyone: We've got a swearing-in to do."

A little alert-box popped up on the touchscreen.


it read, and below that:


"And we've got to hurry," Tom said.  He frowned at Fish Man.  "Hope your neighbor can stay late.  You're going to see some action, fast."

250=1, Story 12

The Things We Don't Tell Are Most Important.

On your 8th birthday, as you blow out the candles on your birthday cake, you see a vision of the person who will be most important in your life.

Most people forget who they saw, until later they meet that person and feel a bond that they do not know stems from the glimpse of one specific part of their future, many years ago.

Many people see their future wife, or their will-be husband.

But sometimes, the person they see is not the obvious one.

One girl sees a convenience store clerk and years later walks into a gas station and scares off the robber who is going to shoot the clerk, and nobody is the wiser except both the clerk and the customer feel like it is a good night.

Once, a boy sees a neurologist who will stumble across his X-rays and send an email to another doctor and save his life.  The man never meets the neurologist, who on his own 8th birthday, saw his own future daughter, who he will talk to on the telephone after his wife passes away.  They won't talk about anything in particular, but the neurologist will feel better just discussing a television show they'd both watched.

This is why everyone should have a party on their 8th birthday, even though nobody ever tells anyone about the vision of the person he or she saw.

We all have them, and nobody talks about them.


In 250=1, I write stories that are exactly 250 words long, counting the title.  Here's all the others so far

This one's short because I'm working on other stuff. (Project 190, Day Twenty-Seven)

Today I swam.

And that's about it.  Oh, and while I swam, I finalized the idea for my new thing, The Dysprosians, which came together about lap 17.

Today's workout: Swimming, long pool, 30 laps, 22:00.
Latest weight: 252.
Today's song that was playing on the radio when I got back into the car and which I really love:

Stayin' Alive, The Bee Gees:

Did you know that if you have to do CPR, you should do it to the beat of Stayin' Alive? It's true.