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Bearded Dragon

Although Calfgrit13 did his best to sell us on a bird, we had to say no. Birds are much too loud and messy. So he changed his attention to lizards. And after much research, he decided to want a bearded dragon.

He did a lot of research on their care and feeding, their habitats, their lives, and their personalities. Although Wifegrit isn’t all that thrilled with the idea of a lizard pet, she wasn’t opposed to it (like she is absolutely opposed to a snake pet). So, we now have a bearded dragon living in our home. His name is Rex.

I actually really like this critter. He doesn’t bark, doesn’t chew my books. He’s a perfect pet (that I don’t have to be responsible for).


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Drivers Ed

Calfgrit15 just finished up his 30 hours of drivers ed at high school. The schedule is a bit different than when I took it back in the 80s. I remember taking the class one hour a day for about a month, during the regular school day — I think it was during the PE/Health class time. But nowadays, (at least in this area), the class is after school, for three hours a day over two weeks. Although it is held in a high school classroom, it’s not offered as part of the regular school curriculum — we parents have to enroll the student on our own.

Another difference is what is presented in the class. I remember learning the rules of the road in the classroom, and then going driving with the instructor all in the same month. Now, though, the 30 hours he just completed were all classroom instruction, (no actual driving, yet). The instructor and a state trooper extensively covered the dangers of driving — especially texting while driving. They won’t actually hit the road in a vehicle for another month or two (or more).

The dangers of texting and driving were a very prominent aspect of the instruction. It’s a really big deal, I understand.

At the end of the two weeks, we parents were invited in for an hour. The instructor reiterated her plea against texting and driving, even showing us a YouTube video:

The instructor explained how our kids are watching us drive. As homework, she told them to observe their parents, and then she had them write down some bad habits they witnessed. She picked up a stack of papers and one-by-one, she read the bad habits the students had written down about us. Every single paper included texting. Wow. (I assumed she cherry picked the papers with that specific problem to make her point on the prevalence of texting and driving.) There were one or two other bad things, also, like speeding or putting on makeup. I wondered what bad habit Calfgrit15 caught me doing. Probably not coming to a full stop at stop signs, or maybe not keeping both hands on the steering wheel at all times — I know I sometimes do both those things.

I never intentionally speed, and I never text while driving, (and I very rarely apply makeup while driving). I’ve never been a speeder — my mother even thinks I drive slow (the speed limit!). And even if I was so asinine as to want to text while driving, I can’t read anything that small without my reading glasses on (which I don’t wear while driving). At the worst, if I must know what a text says while driving, (very, very rarely), I just ask Siri to speak it for me.

When Calfgrit15 is in the car with me, he doesn’t seem to be paying any attention to my driving. He’s either looking at his phone, reading a book (something he can do but I can’t while riding in a car), or talking to me about video games. He has shown no interest at all in driving, even when I keep offering to take him to an empty parking lot to let him practice a little. He’s driven once around a parking lot one time out of the dozen times I’ve offered. So I was interested to know what and when he actually observed about my driving.

As we were leaving the parent/class meeting, I asked Calfgrit15 what bad habit he saw me doing. “I didn’t really pay attention,” he said.

“Did you fill out the homework paper?” I asked. “What did you write down for my bad habit?”

“Yeah,” he said, “I just filled in something generic, like texting.”


“You said I text while driving? Oh my god.” I held up my hands in exasperation. “The way she preached against that, I’d be less embarrassed if you told her I shoot a gun at other drivers.”

I wondered, and I hope, those homework papers were anonymous. My son officially told a drivers ed teacher, (and maybe a state trooper?), that I regularly text while driving. O. M. G. !


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The Pledge of Allegiance

We went to a school event a few weeks ago, and for the first time in many, many years, I stood up and said the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s been so long since I recited the Pledge that I really don’t even remember when it would have been. I know the words by heart:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which is stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

But then, I also know the McDonald’s Big Mac lyrics by heart: Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun. Anyway…

I have to say, it felt weird saying the Pledge. I didn’t know that the school kids say it every morning, and I didn’t expect it to come up in a school function in the auditorium. I’ve been to several meetings at school, for one function or another, but we’ve never had to say the Pledge. It felt weird, in a way like I was joining a cult.

I’ve never been a joiner. I’ve even turned down many offers to join online groups, guilds, clans, etc. for various games. Joining anything in any kind of official way feels weird to me.

In the school function, when the principal announced for everyone to stand and recite the Pledge, I just did it without even thinking. I put my hand over my heart and everything, I guess out of the habit I learned in childhood, in school? I don’t remember saying the Pledge in school. I don’t remember when or where I ever said it. Obviously, though, I have said it, enough times that it comes to mind automatically when I’m prompted.

But right after, I felt a pang of oddness. “I pledge allegiance….” I love America. I love being an American. If trouble ever came to America, I’d naturally, both instinctively and with consideration, side with America. But standing up and pledging allegiance feels cultish.

Maybe it’s from having read/watched too many stories in which brainwashed people pledge their lives to some symbol or person. I can’t think of any stories in which someone having to pledge their allegiance turned out as anything good.

Well, I don’t expect anyone will be coming to my house to make me join anything based on the fact that I recited the Pledge at a school function. I don’t think it automatically conscripts me into the military. I’ll just go on living my life as a loose and free American.


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My Distraction and Addiction

I know I said I was going to get back to writing on this blog. I had every intention to do so when I said that, but I’ve gotten into a new computer game that has really given me a lot of enjoyment. So much enjoyment that it’s become a bit of an addiction.

Team Fortress 2. It’s a multi-player first person shooter with two teams (RED and BLU) who not only try to kill each other, but try to accomplish various goals in a match. Capture the flag, control points, move objects from one location to another, etc.

I played Team Fortress Classic a lot back some 12+ years ago. I remember the hype and anticipation for Team Fortress 2 back then, but somehow it fell off my radar for all these years. Then a guy from my work organized an online game night, and TF2 was what we played. Within a few minutes, I was hooked.

In the past several weeks, I’ve gotten pretty good at the game. Each team has up to 12 players, and I regularly end up in the top three scorers by the end of a game. (I usually play the Pyro, if you know the classes.)

I’ve even gotten Calfgrit14 and Calfgrit10 to play with me a few times. With all of us in the same room, we can communicate easily and play as a strong threesome. I like it because it’s something that my boys can see their dad really rock with. That their old man “pwns,” (I hate that word), in this online world actually impresses them. And I’ll take every opportunity to shine in my son’s eyes.

But I’ve got to cut back on my play time a bit. At least enough so I can write some more. I have to reign in my ego boosting some so I can get some actual work done.


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