Patterico's Pontifications


Photo: Just How Filthy Is Your Computer Keyboard?

Filed under: General,Humor,Real Life — Patterico @ 11:59 pm

Pretty damn filthy. At least, if it’s half as filthy as my daughter’s science fair project suggests:



Things Dogs Don’t Like

Filed under: Real Life — DRJ @ 8:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I learned something new tonight. My dogs don’t like olive oil. I’ve had dogs eat almost every substance imaginable and many that are dangerous — including chocolate, grapes, and cactus spines — but both dogs turned their noses up at bread dipped in olive oil tonight.

I thought they would love the stuff. Go figure.



Happy New Year 2009

Filed under: Real Life — DRJ @ 3:52 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Happy New Year!


Out With the Old …

Filed under: Real Life — DRJ @ 3:16 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

… and in with the New Year.

Our family will be spending one of the first days of 2009 in the surgical waiting room as our son meets his yearly deductible in record time!

Best wishes to everyone for a happy and hopefully healthy New Year.



In Which Our iPod Creeps Us Out

Filed under: Real Life — Patterico @ 12:23 pm

Last night we were headed home and had the iPod on shuffle mode. A live version of a song called “Precious Moments” by the Posies popped up:

Every time you dig that grave
Why do you bother trying to fill it in?

I don’t have a particularly morbid collection of songs (an assertion you may doubt as you read on), but I like the Posies, and their lyrics can be bitter. Then came “Silent City,” a B-side of a Matthew Sweet single:

I’m taking you to the silent city
Underneath the broken stones
I will hold you for eternity
Here among the dirt and bones

“We seem to have a theme going here,” I said to Mrs. P.

And the very next song was by ex-Long Ryders songwriter Tom Stevens. The title: “Graveyards.”

Graveyards — time it takes its toll
One foot above ground, one foot down in that hole

Mrs. P. thought I had planned it out somehow. But I assured her that I hadn’t.

It was a little spooky. Was my iPod trying to tell us something?


A Get Well Card

Filed under: Real Life — DRJ @ 1:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

To JD, who is under the weather.

Always remember my 5 rules for a happy life.



Happy Halloween!

Filed under: Real Life — DRJ @ 7:55 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I like this holiday. I especially like seeing little kids in their costumes but it’s fun to see young and old enjoying themselves.

We didn’t have as many trick-or-treaters this evening as we typically have. I think more people are attending parties and festivities that are easier to schedule on a weekend night than during the week. Fortunately there is lots of fun here at, with plenty of treats and only a few tricks.

Happy Halloween, everyone.



A Random Conversation with My Five-Year-Old Son Matthew

Filed under: General,Real Life — Patterico @ 8:37 pm

To understand this story, you need to understand two things about my son Matthew:

1) He loves numbers. For example, he loves to calculate the difference between his age and that of his relatives. He will then tell you, say, how old Pop will be when he’s 17, or how old Uncle Justin will be when he is 30.

2) He doesn’t like to be kissed.

As I was putting him to bed tonight, we were talking about how old his mother and I were on the day he was born. I told him that I was 34.

After we got him ready for bed, I gave him a kiss (or eleven). He lay down and said: “Never kiss me again! Not even when I’m 99!”

“99?!” I exclaimed. I decided to play the math game with him again. “Wow! When you’re 99, I’ll beeeeeee . . . ”

“Dead!” he said.

The boy’s got a point.

(But then, he usually does.)


Joe Klein’s Myopic View Of America Is Not The America I Know

Posted by WLS:

Joe Klein has a truly breathtaking column out today which calls into question the authenticity of Sarah Palin’s life story by claiming that the “small town” America that Palin claims to represent doesn’t exist anymore, and that it’s really nothing more than a political construct of the Republican Party that appeals to nostalgia in order to win elections.

The Palins win elections and snowmobile races in a state that represents the last, lingering hint of that most basic Huckleberry Finn fantasy — lighting out for the territories. She quoted Westbrook Pegler, the F.D.R.-era conservative columnist, in her acceptance speech: “We grow good people in our small towns…” And then added, “I grew up with those people. They’re the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food and run our factories and fight our wars. They love their country in good times and bad, and they’re always proud of America.”

Except that’s not really true. We haven’t been a nation of small towns for nearly a century. It is the suburbanites and city dwellers who do the fighting and hourly-wage work now, and the corporations who grow our food. But Palin’s embrace of small-town values is where her hold on the national imagination begins. She embodies the most basic American myth — Jefferson’s yeoman farmer, the fantasia of rural righteousness — updated in a crucial way: now Mom works too.

My life is a perfect expression of why Klein’s view is an east coast, urban-centric, myopic view of the country that he apparently doesn’t know all that well:



“Parent Shock: Children are Not Decor”

Filed under: Real Life — DRJ @ 5:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The title of this post was taken from a February 14, 2008, article in the New York Times. A few people might read this article and wonder if these parents should even be parents. I don’t feel that way. It takes all kinds of people to make a world, and each of these parents seems to genuinely love their kids. Plus, it sounds like each family ended up taking good care of their kids.

Nevertheless, reading this article did make me wonder a little why they wanted to be parents in the first place. Given the article’s title, I suspect whoever wrote the headline was a little conflicted, too.

The Brown-Friedmans:

“Ms. Brown and Mr. Friedman — who of course were thrilled to have a child, like all the later-in-life parents interviewed for this article — were also determined not to let Harrison “take control of the house,” Ms. Brown said. They went ahead with putting in flat-front lacquered maple cabinets in the kitchen, even though they soon had to watch a professional babyproofer drill 300 holes in them for safety latches. (Ms. Brown still cringes.) They put up silk Shantung draperies in Harrison’s bedroom, knowing that they might well end up stained, as they soon did — with yogurt. And they held onto the molded-wood chairs, which were not an easy transition from the highchair. “They have a very sleek bottom,” Ms. Brown explained. “He slides off it.”

The Stratton-McLeans:

“[McLean] also refused to babyproof furniture when the children were younger. She was “never one of those mothers” who put safety corners on coffee tables, she said. “That stuff is just gross, and I don’t feel you have to sacrifice living space to that degree.” And she decided not to install wire railings on the open side of the floating walnut staircase Mr. Stratton designed to connect the first- and second-floor living spaces.

“We couldn’t bear it,” she said. “It was too ugly. So basically what we did was we trained the kids to hold onto the handrail, and it’s worked. No one’s ever fallen off.”

The Jarecke-Chengs:

“Among the most troubling matters was the fate of the Barcelona chairs, whose “corners are basically razor blades,” Mr. Cheng said. After much deliberation, they put three in the garage and wrapped the corners of the fourth in foam so it could stay in the living room. “It was just sad,” Mr. Cheng said.

As for the coffee table, they avoided doing anything until Beckett gave them no choice: while learning to walk last summer, he used it as his main training prop. “He’d cruise and trip and hit his face on the table’s edge,” Mr. Cheng recalled.

Mr. Jarecke initially refused to discuss parting with or altering the table in any way, but they eventually compromised and decided to wrap the edge of the top in foam. “As I’m taping it,” Mr. Cheng said, “I’m saying, ‘I’m taping over what makes the difference between this being a Noguchi table and a Kmart table.’ ” Mr. Jarecke was even more distraught. “It transformed this beautiful modernist piece of furniture into a piece you’d find in a ’70s rec room,” he said.”

There used to be a time when parents bemoaned the loss of their “adult” lives in a humorous way. This article wasn’t that humorous.


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