Children are Barbarians

If you’re not a  parent, you can skip this one. You probably won’t get it and you’ll likely sneer at me through your computer. After today, I don’t need any more sneers, so feel free to move along. If you’re a parent, the kind of person that gave birth or participated in the birth giving process, please stick around. Below you will find self-deprecating admissions that will probably amuse you just a very little.

Fisher Towers, Onion Creek on the right

Yesterday, I must have been high on fumes from cleaners or something, because I loaded up my truck, my son, and my dog and headed west toward Utah. My intent was to drive to the land of the Utards and play in their warm, dry sand and beneath their sheer cliffs. Aral sat in the back seemingly stoked and ready to play too. It was awesome!

As I drove along I-70 I kept imagining us further afield. Maybe after Fisher Towers we’d get a back country pass for Canyon Lands, jeep the White Rim. And man, I sure could use a soak. I could just tootle up to Idaho and soak my tootsies in a hot springs or two. Who knows after that, the Earth is big and round and just waiting.

We arrived, and I poked around for a bit before deciding I wanted to take a run up Onion Creek. Aral’s mood had soured in the nearly two hours of driving from Grand Junction and my stomach seemed to be keeping up with his mood (never eat at that Denny’s again). But eventually I got him into the Chariot and we took off, Pepper trotting along behind.

“Daddy, move those rocks. They don’t belong there.”

The run went okay, but Aral turned into a little dictator telling me how he wanted to cross each and every stream bed crossing. There were many, many crossings. By the time I climbed up the canyon, well above the creek bed, I had had enough. My stomach was turning over, I was sweating like a pig in training, and Aral wouldn’t shut up about all the things I was doing wrong. “Not so close to that side of the road Daddy!” and “I don’t like turns Daddy.” He needed a nap, I gritted my teeth and carried on.

Near the end of the run, mere paces from the truck, he zonked. I parked him in the shade and stretched for a good long while thanking my lucky stars he had gone to sleep.

The rest of the afternoon went well enough. Eventually, after much playing with trucks in the dirt, we set out and found a camp site. Again nearing his tiredness threshold he turned into a bit of a turd. I cooked dinner and we ate, then we took a walk around the campground and eventually he wanted to climb up into the roof top tent. I cleaned him up and let him climb the ladder, making sure he knew that he wasn’t coming down until the following morning. Then, maybe five minuets later while I finished cleaning up dishes from dinner, the whining started up in ernest. Teeth gritted, I finished the work at hand and then climbed up to calm my toddler supreme.

Bed time cometh

Two chapters of The Hobbit later he passed out. Full crash. I spent some time making sure everything was tidy and tried to take some night pictures and then joined him. The cleaner fumes completely spent, and zero words, I was wondering if I shouldn’t pack up and high tail it back to the apartment, but sleep seemed the better option.

This morning, we woke and Aral was in an excellent mood. I was in need of bandwidth so we drove down river to Moab and found a Cafe with free wifi. Soon enough we had breakfast, coffee, and network. I spent all my time sorting out little problems with moving and administrative issues surrounding writing. Aral made several trips to the potty. And we even got a FaceTime call in with Mommy. The morning was awesome. And again, the bottle of ammonia must have had the cap off, because I was seriously considering that backcountry pass.

The ranger station wasn’t open until 12:30 and Aral was already showing signs of tiredness. Eventually they let us in. I talked to the ranger behind the counter, she was making arrangements for our pass and had even commented that Aral was such a cute kid, when I turned around and found, much to my horror and shame, that my child was licking the glass-pane door of the office building. He left a slug-ish trail of goldfish enriched saliva all over the door from about hip height to the kick board.

I was mortified, embraced, and frantically trying to rub it off with the sleeve of my running sweater when the ranger I needed to talk to in order to get the permit came out from the back.

Let’s just say things went down hill from there. Not with the Parks Rangers, they were very understanding and even accommodating, but it was clear to me, that my excursions are necessarily going to be limited for a while. My son is a barbarian. Aral of the hill people, he roams the world campaigning for nap time and a predictable schedule. Despite all the other things I can offer him by making forays into the wide world, he very much *needs* consistency in his life. Without it he charges right across any boundary in sight.

Parenting is a learning process. I should know this stuff, he’s my second. Seriously, they’re different kids. Justin was never like this. Sure he needed a schedule, but it had a certain amount of flexibility. Or maybe I was just oblivious and happily pranced by his blunders holding onto my ignorance for deer life? Man I can’t even recall any more.

We’re back above GJ again, showered and clean. I still feel the shame. My son licked the door of the ranger station, but as soon as I can get him to bed I’m going to start drinking. Making civilization is a painful, painful process.

Tales from the DC Area: Day Two Report

FYI: We’re moving to the District of Columbia (or as reasonably near Tess’ new job as we can manage). This represents a huge change for all three of us. Tess has been working in the area for about the last month and Aral and I flew out this weekend to spend some time with Mommy and get introduced to our new digs.

Flying

Aral has never flown before. He has also never been introduced to the great variety of public transit systems we took to get here. Early Saturday morning, I plopped his butt, wrapped tight in a blanket, into his car seat in my truck and took off from Boulder, Colorado headed for DIA.

After getting him dressed in the back of the truck we toddled off to the bus stop to take the shuttle to the terminal. And that’s where the adventure began. From bus to escalator to subway (to the terminal) and then onboard a Boeing 757-200 it was a day long romp in the candy store for a kiddo that really digs big machines.

I have to say that TSA is very nice at DIA. The huge pin in my left foot didn’t seem to be a problem for them. On the flight out to DCA we were surrounded by folks from the area. Everyone was returning home and they were supper nice and helpful. The standard “how-could-you-bring-a-kid-aboard” scrutiny, which I’ve become somewhat desensitized, was not an issue. I actually felt pleasantly surprised when we landed and someone held the aisle for us to get off the plane. That dude deserved a kiss.

Food

DC is going to make me fat. Saturday evening, after Tess picked us up from the airport, we strolled around her apartment for a bit and then stopped in a nondescript Lebanese Restaurant. “OH MYYYYYYYYYY!” is about all I have to say about that experience.

The next morning Tess took us to a place called LE PAIN QUOTIDIEN where I got an omelette with smoked salmon and chives that melted in my mouth. It was also nice to eat a long table, juxtaposed with strangers, Continental style. I haven’t had that experience since I lived in Tokyo.

DC will a) likely turn me into even more of a food snob than I already am. The coffee at QUOTIDIEN was remarkably better than anything I’ve quaffed in recent memory that I know that bar has been lifted. Honestly, I’d rather go hungry for a long while searching for food that good than waste time in the pointless mastication of inferior goods. And b) necessarily make me a lot more concerned with earning my calories. I’m going to need to research good places to go running and return to that habit very quickly.

Traffic

This is a downside for certain. I’ve been working steadily on my overland vehicle. It is comfortable, stable, well-thought out, and completely pointless in the greater Metropolitan DC area. And you guys drive like mad men. This morning I watched someone in a Fiat 500 cut in front of a six ton Metro bus. Yeah, not a great idea Darwin!

As Aral and I begin to search for a place to stay long term I know I want a) easy access to the METRO (specifically the train system) and b) a much, much, much smaller car. Driving OOTEK around DC will almost certainly be more of a chore than a pleasure and I haven’t the slightest idea how I’m going to park it.

It is in cherry condition (even though it’s snow white) so if you’re looking for an amazing machine, capable of driving just about anywhere you might want to visit in the West let me know. I’ve got lots of time, but when we get back to Colorado I may try and sell it. <QQ />

Museums

Apollo-Soyuz Meet up (Hubble model in the corner)

Sunday we took the Yellow line from the underground city here in CRYSTAL CITY across the Potomac and to the NATIONAL MALL where we spent the morning at the NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM. When I was a kid, maybe 12 or 13, I went on a school trip to DC with some class mates from my middle school. This museum was the highlight of that trip and it did not disappoint this time around.

It is a truly impressive  display of Human ingenuity and drive. Getting on an airplane and flying 2,500 kilometers over half a continent takes on new meaning when you can see before you all the steps it took us to get to this point in our development. An amazing amount of effort. We’re a splendid species of apes.

I cannot wait to explore all the other locations around this place (as well as go back to the NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM). I have not been this impressed with what we’re capable of since I walked into my first major data center project. Personally, being in a place like this, gives me some hope. It makes me feel less like we’re diving headlong into a dystopian nightmare.

Back to KSR

This is better than Mighty Machines

Ever since I read Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Science in the Capital” trilogy my curiosity has been peaked. Previously, I could not have imagined myself living in anywhere along the East Coast. I was raised in a different culture, one that looked outside itself and outside its own humanity for value. I grew up loving vast, uninterrupted desert spaces and mountains that climbed up and up forever. The best neighbor was the one miles over the horizon and beauty came from things and places that had no human involvement.

Being here, a place that has been transformed fundamentally by long term human habitation, is a lot like being a fish not only out of water, but one that has bee transported to the surface of the Moon. I am, moment to moment, culturally challenged. Hell, for the first time in a very long while I am a minority.

So, while I haven’t the faintest clue how I’m going to fit into all this, I am stimulated by the newness of it all. That’s good, it means I’m still adaptable.