Brain droppings

I suck at blogging anymore. What can I say? Being a dad, husband, runner, etc. takes time. That’s not to say I don’t take those responsibilities seriously, just that time spent on them crowds out less pressing activities.

Anyway, here’s what’s up.

I just finished the Millennium trilogy. Lisbeth Salander ranks high among the most original characters I’ve seen put to paper. The level of detail Stieg Larsson put into the three books reminds me of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I consider myself fiction shy and Larsson not only got me reading, but had me losing sleep.

In high rotation: “Love,” the Beatles remix soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil show of the same name.

Mrs. Blocletters and watched “The Social Network” on On Demand, adding another Oscar contender to our list of seen-its. Ho-hum. I enjoyed it. But I walked out of “Black Swan” thinking “I’ve never seen anything like that before,” and I had no such feeling for the Facebook movie. I honestly don’t understand the Oscar buzz for it I heard this fall before “The King’s Speech” caught fire.

Things, a to-do manager I bought ages ago for my iPhone, gets a reprieve. The slow-as-all-get-out developer finally added repeating tasks, making the app actually useful. I had given up on it, but came back with the update because I paid $10 for the damn software and need to get my money’s worth.

I gave up on a spring marathon. Back pain kept me from the start of training for the inaugural Kalamazoo Marathon. Inertia got the best of me after the back pain went away. I want to run a marathon just for the hell of it (i.e., not a formal race) in the first half of this year, but we’ll see. I can still run seven or eight miles without too much complaint from the body, so the baseline remains.

Oh, and this weekend’s Coolest. Thing. Ever: Using a hack from YouTube, I made an iPhone stylus from a piece of a telescoping antenna and a bit of conductive foam. I stuffed a piece of foam, packing material for a $2 transistor I bought at Radio Shack, into the end of a length of antenna, also from the Shack, and voila, touch-screen love.

And our toddler is growing into a little girl faster than I can brace for it.

Silence is sometimes best

I fathered a mixed-race child. Honestly, I don’t give her “mix” much thought, and don’t think twice about the idea of people marrying and (gasp) having children across racial lines. Mom didn’t raise me like that.

So, I was taken aback on a trip to a local hardware store this week by a comment from the cashier. I dashed in to buy light bulbs and trudged up to the register with the bulbs in one hand and my daughter in her carrier in the other. The older woman took the cash and began cooing. “She’s beautiful!” she said.

I’ve gotten used to the coos. I think my girl is beautiful, and regular comments from strangers just reinforce my bias and warm my heart. Then the woman said one of the most ignorant things I’ve ever heard.

“Have you had her since birth?” she asked.

I paused for a second, my brain trying to find a word. “Um … yes,” I responded. I found myself, for reasons I still don’t understand, not wanting to lecture or embarrass a stranger.

Adoption has a nobility to it. Taking responsibility for a child where the parent could or would not ranks among the more selfless actions I can think off. But obviously this woman, a nice white lady of about 65, reads too much People, and thinks brown babies must come from Malawi.

But beyond my daughter’s provenance, this woman questioned the idea that people of different races might marry or have children. In 2010, with a black president in the White House, I kinda thought this question was settled. The Supreme Court ruled on Loving v. Virginia in 1967, a generation and a half ago.

I fairness, I don’t know this woman’s background. Still, while Oakland County, where she at least works if not lives, has a population about 80 percent white, it’s hardly homogeneous.  One in five residents counts as non-white. Surely she’s met whites who married blacks or Asians or Hispanics. Mrs. Blocletters and I enjoy the friendships of several interracial couples. It’s not rare by far.

And notice I said ignorant, not stupid. She doesn’t know my family. But, while ignorance isn’t its own excuse, I can’t wish it away either. I can wish, however, that ignorant people think for a moment before they speak. Even if you suspected a child was adopted, why would you ask a stranger such a question?

Clearly, ignorance is here to stay and I need to come up with a better response than a dumbfounded “yes” next time I get this question. How about: “No, I won her in a card game a few days ago. Cute, isn’t she?” I’m interested to hear other snappy responses. Feel free to leave them in the comments or hit me on Twitter of Facebook.

This daddy thing

I’m not a 10th-degree black belt, Jedi-level daddy yet. But the training has begun.

Rachel eating

My tiny teacher

Just over two weeks in, I think I’m doing better than (at least I) expected. The whole experience has reaffirmed my belief: There’s just nothing you can do to prepare for fatherhood. You can read books and articles. You can get the best advice from friends and family (and I did). But all of that and $4 will buy you a cup of Starbucks once those little eyes are staring back at you.

I have a lot to learn, but I’m patient and have a good teacher. She’s cuter than Yoda, just as tall and knows well the ways of the Baby Force.

Welcome to Dadrock

I closed out my eMusic account the other day. I had steadily fallen out of love with the service over a year or so. For three months I had the account on hold, and didn’t miss it, so canceling it seemed like a good way to trim from the household budget. During three months on hold, I didn’t give eMusic $36, and only spent $12 on music (at Target). At that rate, I’ll save about $80ish a year. That buys a lot of baby food.

Which brings me to the mindset I occupied while selecting my final tracks. A little daddy imp found its way to my shoulder, and through the whole process kept whispering, “Would you jam to that with an impressionable kid around?” I listen to all kinds of music, and was grooving to a Kool Keith b-sides release on the site. No, the imp admonished. I checked out a Danzig release, his first, out of sheer nostalgia. (I met Danzig once. He’s really short. But that’s another post.) Nixed by the imp. So, I settled on Pearl Jam: few swear words (if any) and music that rocks, but not usually hard enough to scare anyone. The imp approved, so I downloaded “Vitology” and spent the rest of my credits on several singles.

That imp is my new friend. I know that our new infant, when he or she arrives, won’t understand crude language right away. Still, I’d hardly choose to blare N.W.A. while I clean the house anymore. Welcome to dadrock, says the imp. It’s where “parent” finally inserts itself in the “parental advisories” on all the music you’ve bought up to this point. We’ve been expecting you the imp says, um, impishly.

Thanks, buddy, I reply. Now, how about a little help when it comes to all those diapers changes?