Tag Archives: WGOM featured

A Book So Nice I Read It Twice

I don't often reread books these days. There are just so many others I want to read, so I tend not to revisit even books I liked very much.

Last week while on vacation, I finished a book during a day trip to lovely Houston, Minnesota, and I was kicking myself for not having my next book along. While watching my boys play with their cousin at a lovely playground, it occurred to me that I'd really enjoyed the book I just finished, and perhaps I could try reading it again while I sat in the shade.

Convenience Store Woman is a fascinating little read by Japanese novelist Sayaka Murata, and I first heard about it from this article in the New York Times. The main character, Keiko, has had a part-time job at a konbini for the past eighteen years and has never had a romantic relationship, and these two things make her decidedly not normal according to her parents, her younger sister, and her peers. She relishes her defined role at the convenience store; within that environment (unlike the rest of the world), she knows exactly what is expected of her.

The prose is simple and easy to follow, and Keiko is an enjoyable enigma. As Katy Waldman wrote in the New Yorker, "For the most part, her manner is that of a friendly alien scientist, but, at times, she swerves toward the psychopathic."

What does it all mean? What exactly is the novel a commentary on? Would a Japanese reader interpret it differently than an American reader? I don't know, but I'm at the halfway point of my second read, and I'm enjoying picking up on little bits I'd overlooked the first time through.

So what have you been reading?

Brown Bag Nation

Let’s talk about lunch. Yes, you might just be eating breakfast right now, either at home, or at work, or in your car (I hope not). Bear with me.

I love to eat from the food carts on the pedestrian mall outside my institution's main library. Where else can I get loaded beef & plantain arepas, ayam bakar in a luscious peanut sauce (extra sambal kecap, please) with acar, sticky gua bao, fresh fried falafel, and other decadent morsels within a twenty-yard radius? My wallet doesn't love it quite the same way. Since I apparently have horrible career management skills, that doesn't appear likely to change anytime soon.

So, since I'm likely to get hungry sometime between 0930 and 1630, I bring food from my domicile to my roboticile — almost always supper leftovers from the previous night or two.

For years, I've packed my lunch in a small (approximately 2 cup) Pyrex dish & reusable storage bags, but recently I've felt like trying something new, ideally more compact or space-efficient. Part of my motivation is that the Poissonnier has joined Mrs. Hayes & I as a public transit companion. Part of it is the feeling that I keep rolling the dice with the Pyrex, hoping it won't leak. (I've had the occasional dribbles, but nothing catastrophic.)

I've looked at the various Zojirushi Bento products. They seem pretty nifty, but potentially cumbersome. (I suspect they won’t fit in my Tom Bihn Co-Pilot.) I don’t need the thermal capabilities often, but absolutely require spill-proof storage. The Wirecutter likes insulated lunch bags, which doesn't solve the problem of what to put in that bag; also, I don't want to carry a second bag.

Maybe I missed something, but I don't remember us discussing this before. So, I'm curious — how do you transport your vittles from your coolerator to the place where you spend most of your day reading the WGOM? And, more importantly, what [sniff sniff] do you like to pack?

WGOM Summer Mix 2018 Nominations

All right good and gentle folk of of the Nation, it is once again time to toss in your nominations for this year's Summer Mix. The rules remains the same:

1. The theme is "Summer". You're free to interpret that as you'd like.
2. Put your nominations in a Spoiler box.
3. You may nominate up to 3 songs. Any further nominations will be ignored.
4. Unless we get an insane amount of nominations for some reason, everyone's first choice is automatically in. The rest of the mix will be filled out with the other nominations.

After that, we'll throw everything in a pot and let it simmer for a few weeks then release it upon an unsuspecting public.

WGOM Summer Mix 2015
WGOM Summer Mix 2016
WGOM Summer Mix 2017

“Age-appropriate behavior” … or something else?

Question: When are fidgeting, spacing-out, silliness, lack of focus, inattention to detail, emotional overreaction to 'change' and hyperactivity "normal" in a child?
Answer: Apparently, it depends on if those things are causing said child to struggle at school, with friends or at home.

Question: If you find it necessary to attempt to address (i.e., "fix") those aforementioned behaviors, and following an in-depth conversation with an "expert", the first thing said expert(s) identify is ADHD, followed by a suggestion of medication, what should you do?
Answer: I. Don't. Know.

This is sensitive, because I'm not really seeking advice, per se, and my wife straight-up told me that she really doesn't want to tell our family about this (though my mother already has some knowledge of it). However, I know we have lots of parents here, with a pretty wide variety of experiences - both professional and personal - who might be willing to talk about what they know, think they know, or otherwise have an opinion on.

I have a child with a lot of intelligence, curiosity and quality interpersonal skills. Great kid - caring, empathetic and friendly. Also, this kid cannot sit still in class, stay on task, pay attention to things that aren't of interest, etc., etc., etc... to the point that two-years worth of teachers have spoken to us about her inability to complete tasks on time, without continuous prompting and repeated reminders. No surprise there, because tasks like getting ready for dinner, bedtime, breakfast, school, play, bath .... all take much longer than they should, and frequent prompting typically results in tears and overreaction (on my/our part as well).

We want to help, and want help, so we sought out expert advice. I trust experts - attorneys, physicians, accountants, mechanics, etc. I look for the 'best' and trust what they tell me. That initial meeting went well, confirming (but not formally diagnosing) what we'd already considered. However, when the inevitable discussion of options to address the concerns led to information about medications, I immediately felt a panic - "No! Not my child! I've seen/heard too many horror stories about [insert whatever 'brand name' stimulant or anti-depressant(!) comes to mind] to be giving that to my child!" That's all the farther we've gone; still working on a formal diagnosis, but I'm feeling conflicted about what comes next.

What do ya got for me?

I mean, c'mon, even the label warns to "Keep Out of Reach of Children" !!!

Cooking the Books

We've talked about books, we've talked about cooking, but have we talked about cookbooks? I have my eye on the new cookbook from Smitten Kitchen (a.k.a. Deb Perelman) and am hoping it shows up under the Christmas tree later this month.

I know that there are approximately a bajillion recipes available on the internet for free, but I do still love a good cookbook. And far better to spill on a book than on my laptop! Do you have favorite cookbooks? Are there cookbooks you're eager to take a closer look at? Do share!

And of course, please share anything else you've been reading lately.

(Over)Protective Fathers … or, “Other People’s Kids”?

Editor's Note - Copied an LTE of mine from yesterday that got away from me. I started typing a response, and it blew up. Instead of making a standalone FKB post, when I realized it was paragraph(s) long, I went back and added the cop-out "FKB(?) alert..." and hit "Mail Letter to the Editor".

Context: My daughter is very sensitive & emotional ... like, look at her the wrong way (make a face she thinks is mocking or angry) and she's ready to cry; give her a hug and tell her how amazing she is and she's beaming. Lately, she's been concerned (is certain) that other kids don't like her or are laughing at her. It doesn't take much to break her heart.

We were in the hallway at child care and I was checking her and Niblet into the computer system, when a snotty voice from her classroom (adjacent to the keypad, but out of my sightline) mockingly calls out to her, "What are you looking at!?!" as she's standing there next to me. We couldn't have been at the door for more than 10 seconds at that point. She embarrassedly looks down and away - and I damn near lost my shit. I leaned into the doorway and stared this kid down (7-9 years old maybe? - it's a classroom for various school-aged children, before & after school care) and he sort-of nervously grins in surprise at me, then leans back and looks at his buddy and snickers. Says under his breath, but loud enough to hear, "what's he staring at?" I stand there long enough for it to be uncomfortable, and he just kept grinning at me. So ... I walk into the classroom and over to his table. I stop about 6 feet away, with the table and some other students (and a "teacher") between us, I tell him in my dad voice that it's not okay for him to talk to my daughter that way. Tell him that he better not do it again, either in front of me, or when I'm not there. He stops smiling and just holds his half-eaten toast partway to his mouth. I say if I hear about it from her that he treats her that way again, there will be consequences (I did not define what they might be - pretty sure there isn't anything I could actually 'do' about him being a jerk ... at that point I was working hard not to yell or swear at him). Then I had my daughter come into the classroom, and told him to apologize to her. He did. The two "teachers" and the rest of the classmates eating breakfast just sat there. I was so livid, that I just nodded at his apology and Kernel and I walked out to take Niblet down to his room.

On the way back, her lead "teacher" met me in the hallway and asked if this was an issue that she hadn't been aware of. She seemed very concerned about it being bullying or somesuch. I said, "No," but informed her that my kid is sensitive and isn't very good about standing up for herself (quite the opposite, she shrinks and feels bad about herself). So, if there's someone being mean to her who's old enough to know better, and I'm standing right there, I'm going to call them out on it. I said that no more follow up was needed ... I just wouldn't put up with that kind of behavior.

I'm hopeful it isn't an issue, but man, it was not something I was prepared to deal with. I just reacted to the tone of his voice, and his response to my stare only exacerbated things. I guess I was hoping he'd be embarrassed or something ... I don't know.

There were a few immediate responses:

Zee German

In my head I'm seeing that video of the guy who starts knock-out slapping everyone in sight after something happened to his kid.

Might be a good FKB discussion, but if our kids are out there among...people, we best prepare ourselves for the inevitability of these situations. For the record, my son is usually the super-sensitive one who is now recognizing that he's an outsider in middle school. Tough place to be. He's an easy target for someone who wants to provoke a little entertainment. Still not sure how we handle it.

zooomx.2

Good for you. I know it's easy as a parent to not engage in these situations as we think we may embarrass our kids. I had 2 situations like you describe. One, a kid in the hockey locker room was making fun of my quiet /introverted son. I did get in his face about it not being the way to treat a teammate. I then went to the Dad and explained what happened and described how I handled it. 9 years later the Dads and the boys are good friends. A couple years after that incident a neighbor boy, bullied my son on the bus. We are good friends with his parents, and he is a year older than my son. I called their house and the boy in question answered. I told him that I heard about the bullying incident, and that I was greatly disappointed. I told him that I was giving him one "pass" when it comes to bullying. I told him I would not tell his Dad this time, but the next time he would not be happy with the ramifications. Never had another issue since. Families are great friends. My son was actually proud that I stood up for him both times, which surprised me. Shorty after these 2 incidents, he had a couple situations where he totally stood up and had his own "Christmas Story/Ralphie" moments. Both times, he intervened when a friend or teammate was bullied and fixed the problem. Proud papa moments. I once had a supervisor that told me that as managers, we had to approach conflict like firemen. Rush into the fire and put it out. Don't stand across the street and hope it rains.

Update - No blowback at the school this morning, but Kernel did say the boy had repeated his "What are you looking at!?!" on the bus and indicated both that he is kind of a jerk (her word!) and that she'd told the bus driver. My initial thought was basically, "Well, I can't be with her 100% of the time, so good for her for doing what I'd recommended - tell an adult." On the other hand, we've been noticing a lot more lying from her lately, about really stupid (& easily verifiable) stuff; lies for reasons that make sense to her ... because she's 6. My second reaction was, "Did he really? Or, did she see how angry I was with him and liked knowing [seeing] how much I cared?" or something like that.