Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sickness: stomach bug or mosquito?

This was a very hard week. Sunday, Joy was able to fast for the first time in years, so we fasted together while the getting was good. In our church, fasting means going without food or water for two consecutive meals. Then we had a nice, normal dinner.

Joy and I sat down to spend some together after putting the kids to bed, and I was not feeling well. My stomach was processing dinner much too quickly and much too frequently, let's call it that. I kept feeling worse. I finally got out the thermometer and started tracking my temperature. In 90 minutes my temperature went up 2 degrees. I hurt.

I spent the entire night getting up to go to the bathroom, then laying back down for maybe 5 minutes until I returned to the bathroom, maybe for an hour before the next stomach cramps. I was so miserable at one point I TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI. Oy, was that a terrible image that will burn your retinas!

Mom reminded Joy to remind me to take Vicodin and that was a lifesaver.

The Times, They are a Changin'

Wednesday night at 5am, I wake up to hear my daughter screaming the roof off, three stories up.

I turn to my wife, who I know can't be asleep with that going on. I ask accusingly, "Did you go in to check on her?"
Shaking my head, I get up, sing Princess a song for all of 30 seconds, and she's fast asleep again.

Joy adds:
For the longest time, the only way I could calm her down was to carry her for a long, long time. She just won't calm down. Then when I decided she was old enough that she needed to get herself back to sleep, I would not go in to try to comfort her. If she was upset long enough, I would risk her wrath and go in and try to help her, in case she was actually hurt or needed something desperately besides sleep. When I left, Princess would become hysterical, worse than she was before I had gone in, even though she calms down while I am in there. So I started letting her cry instead of going in to comfort her because she was worse off when I did. Derrill could always go to her, immediately comfort her, and she'd try to go back to sleep.
Falling asleep at the table due to jet lag
Daddy magic. Finally when we started weaning her, I told Joy she was not only inclined, but forbidden from going in to put her to bed. (That was only because Joy finally made it clear to me what she just explained to you. Where have I been?)

Joy apologized later that day, reminding me that the late night hours have typically been mine and the early morning hours are hers ... and that I did just get back from the clinic for two bags of IV fluids ... and I had just had a horrible night before.

All true. Yes, you were very thoughtful, dear. Please don't do that again. I've got Princess all night long.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Trek Wars

A long time ago, I boldly went there and did that in a great big table! But first I told an epic story of self-discovery:

Several months ago, I pondered: which do I like better, Star Wars or Star Trek? I thought about factors from each universe I preferred, made a big long list, and wondered how I would ever be able to tell which factors were more important. I love them both! But I supposed I prefer the Trek universe to the Wars universe. This been my base assumption for 20 years, back when I was Grand Mof of Empire Strikes Back in the Star Wars Club and the official ambassador of the Star Trek Club in high school. I set the project aside.

Then the announcement came of a seventh Star Wars movie. I was ecstatic. It was all I could talk about around the dinner table for a few nights, much to my wife's dismay. I hadn't been this happy since ... Cello Wars, I guess.
Then the announcement came of a second Star Trek Reboot movie. I ... said okay. Good. I'll see it when I see it. Oh, Gary Mitchell, hunh? Good ol' Gary. Yeah. K.

That doesn't sound like a boy who prefers Trek to Wars. It might be a boy who prefers old-Trek to Wars to  reboot-Trek and that's a question for another day. But now the question was really bothering me. Trek or Wars?

Finally a friend of my brother's on Facebook asked me to rank order the Star Wars movies, and I had a hard time deciding whether Phantom Menace or Clones belonged on the bottom. I realized that I now have the skills to do this ... This calls for a table!

And an easier question came. Which do I prefer: Star Trek movies or Star Wars movies? Strip out the books and the television series and my sundry toys and action figures and Christmas tree ornaments and the Data pez dispenser I got for Christmas in my stocking. Then add Space Balls and Galaxy Quest for fun. What about the movies?

That I can now answer. The best:

Movie poster for Star Trek: First Contact, showing head shots of Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean Luc Picard, Brent Spiner as Data, and Alice Krige as the Borg Queen, from bottom to top; the bottom shows an image of the starship Enterprise E speeding to the background over an army of Borg drones.

T/W Epic Comedy Action Pathos Ch Dev Fem Rewatch Villain Wut Music DW sum
T8 Contact 10 5 10 10 6 5 7 10 10 10 83
W5 Empire 10 0 7.3 10 10 4 10 10 10 10 81.3
W4 Hope 10 4 7.3 7 7 3 10 7 10 10 75.3
W6 Jedi 10 2 7.3 7 8 3 10 10 8 9 74.3
W3 Sith 9 0 8.7 10 10 2 3 10 8 6 66.7
T2 Khan 10 2 2 10 4 2 7 9 6 5 57
T7 Generations 4 7 3.3 3 8 2 6 4 10 8 55.3
Galaxy Quest 4 10 5.3 1 8 2 4 4 4 7 49.3
T4 Voyage 8 9 0 4 5 4 10 0 0 9 49
T6 Undiscovered 6 3 6 7 8 3 3 6 0 5 47
T3 Spock 7 8 6.7 5 2 3 4 4 0 7 46.7
W2 Attack 7 1 9.3 -2 7 4 4 7 -5 8 4 44.3
T11 Reboot 8 4 7.3 6 4 2 2 0 -3 6 2 38.3
W1 Phantom 4 3 7.7 3 0 2 5 3 -5 8 6 36.7
T9 Insurrection 4 8 4 4 0 4 3 2 0 5 34
Space Balls 0 10 0 0 2 1 4 5 0 7 29
T1 Motion Picture 4 4 0.7 3 3 2 3 0 8 1 28.7
T10 Nemesis 6 3 5.3 4 2 1 1 3 -5 0 4 24.3
T5 Frontier 4 5 2 2 6 0 3 1 -5 0 2 20

My favorite may be First Contact, but it's pretty clear that Star Wars has the advantage in the movie department overall. And even though I think the new prequel could have been done much better (here's my favorite version - totally constructive, but terrible language), even at its worst, Star Wars beats out about half of the Trek movies. And to answer the FB question: Phantom Menace is 8 points worse than Attack of the Clones.

Description of categories after the break:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ode to Jane, but mostly Wendy

You can't read all that much aloud in 5 minutes a night, or less. After making extremely slow progress in Peter Pan for weeks I thought about reading to Prince and the family at the breakfast table. We defeated the pirates six weeks before and were still trying to get the children back home!

The first morning I tried, it was a very difficult morning. The children clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed and it was shaping into a very long day for Joy. As I read, though, the children calmed down and peace reigned, for a little while anyway. Joy thanked me for being inspired to read to all of us. This might become a new tradition, we thought.

The second morning was last week Thursday. We finished Peter Pan.

This was tragic.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cute kids say cute things

Princess has only called one thing "cute" - "cute ducky." She likes her cute ducky very much.

Tonight at dinner, Princess turned to Joy and said, "Cute. Cute."
Joy said, "What's cute?"
She answered, "Cute Daddy."

Awwwwwwww. Mommy graciously agreed.


Prince told Joy while getting ready for bed that, if I could beat Donkey Kong the first time, "I would be really impressed. I would want to get Daddy a prize."

Not knowing this, I came in to play Donkey Kong ... and beat him on the first try. Prince was very happy. He jumped up and down. Then he said, "You get a prize, Daddy."

Oh really? What is it?

"I don't know yet. But I'll find one."

Joy says he sounds just like my mother. True 'dat.


We recite a verse of scripture every morning until Prince and Joy have got it memorized. Princess has also been showing that she can memorize it. I haven't gotten a video yet because her willingness to recite is iffy. It's still really cute to hear her reciting Helaman 5:12: " 'member ... rock of ou' Deeme' ... dation! ... mighty wins ... wiwind ... no powa ova you ... d'ag you down ... misewy and endwess woe."


"Don't I look pretty, Daddy?"
Prince has started complimenting Joy. Out of the blue on Sunday, he told her she was pretty. We were very pleased.

On Monday he saw me wearing a Hawaiian shirt. He told me I was pretty. ... I agreed that my shirt was pretty.

Then he came out in his Nigerian outfit and declared that he was pretty. I agreed that he was handsome. When he then told Joy he was pretty, she got to be the one to try to explicitly teach him that girls are pretty and boys are handsome.


Princess loves to dance around with Prince. She holds out her hand and calls out, "Hand! Hand!" Then he gives her his hand and they dance in a circle.

When she's in time out, she spends a lot of time thinking about why she is there. (Hopefully, she'll teach Prince to do that too!) She meditates, "Cause I ... ran away. No. Cause I ... bit Mommy. Bit Mommy. Bit Mommy. Bit..." or whatever she decides it happened to be. She's not always right, as you might guess.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How... Hot... Is iiiiiit in February?

For Christmas, I bought myself some thermometers. Strange kid, I know. The thing is, I cannot find good data on what the weather is around here, let alone what it is expected to be. The BBC predicts thunderstorms and rain when there's not a cloud in the sky and the temperature prediction never varies.

So at my lunch break (or another afternoon break) I take a thermometer outside and set it down in the shade. Then I walk around and read for 15 minutes until the number stops changing and record the data, both objective and subjective, about the weather.

If anyone wants to know what the weather is like in Yola, I'm going to update this post for the month, then create a new post for a new month:

Day Time Temp Breeze Dust Subjective
30-Jan 1:25 91 cool some blue slightly warm
31-Jan 12:19 88 none thin haze slightly warm
1-Feb lukewarm
2-Feb 4:14 84 cool thick haze cool
3-Feb cool
4-Feb 1:38 99 warm no blue warm/hot and dry
5-Feb 12:15 97 slight warm some blue warm 
6-Feb 1:43 100 warm no blue warm/hot and dry
6-Feb 5:21 thin haze warm
7-Feb 9:45am unsafe cool
9-Feb 3:10 99 warm some blue 20% humidity
10-Feb 3:50 88 cool some blue cool
11-Feb 12:00 96 cool some blue warm/hot  
12-Feb 12:15 97 none cloudy blue warm
12-Feb 5:15 93 none
13-Feb 1:48 102 hot and dry
15-Feb 9:00am 84 cloudy blue cool
15-Feb 2:00 100 none cloudy blue hot  
16-Feb 10:45am 97 cool thick haze slightly warm

Some explanations below the fold

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Odd answers to prayer: Play More Mario

For Christmas, Prince got Super Mario Bros. for the DS. The new Super Mario Bros game has a fatal flaw: you can't save your game unless you beat a Bowser or purchase a new pathway. He spent several days playing without being able to save his progress.

One night Prince was just about to fight Bowser - walking up to the battle, in fact - but it was time for bed. I had him close the game and get ready for bed. Then instead of reading Peter Pan together, I opened the DS and we beat Bowser together.

Prince was thrilled. He was ecstatic. The next day he ran up to me randomly and gave me a big old hug! Prince never does this. He said, "Daddy, do you know why I did that? It's because you beat Bowser last night. Thank you." and ran off.

That was sweet.

It would sure be nice to have some more of that kind of gratitude, lovin, and bonding.

But I couldn't abandon our READING of great children's literature to play video games at night. That's just going the wrong direction. I had been trying to figure out how to get more reading time in so we could actually get somewhere, not less.
I had been praying for some time to know what I should do to be a better father, without getting much in the way of answers.

It'll cost you an arm

I thought I had posted this Jan 18. Looks like I didn't. Here it is, attempt #2:

Garrison Keillor observed that remembering yesterday’s pains makes the sun shine somehow brighter today, because no matter what else may have happened to you, at least no one is about to rip out your cornea.

I broke my leg the day my brother was born
As we took a short walk around the block last night – our first short walk in a long time because of illness – our feet skidded and slipped on the poking pods that fall from the trees on the block. I recalled 20 years before how I was playing a game with my brother and some neighborhood boys his age. I ran to jump across the ivy separating the sidewalk from the street. I planted my foot on a handful of those pods, slid on them, and landed full force on one now-broken arm. That was junior high.

I remember that broken arm most for the day this one short kid with a big mouth annoyed me one time too many and I did something I wouldn’t have if I’d thought for one second: lifted my cast and plonked him one on the head. It wasn’t a hard swing, but it echoed satisfactorily in the cafeteria line. He swore he and his gang would get me. I left school by a different route several times to keep out of trouble until it blew over. I’m even more grateful he never wandered over to the principal’s office about it, just threatened me with gang violence that never materialized (probably in part because he had no gang if I recall).

Of course my best broken arm that we talked about on our walk was the arm I broke on black ice six weeks into my mission in the former East Germany.