Looking for a special friend, sailor?

Another hooker is after me.

I’m not sure she’s a bona fide hooker; I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.

This is not in real life, of course. This is even more real than that because it’s on Facebook.

About once a quarter I get a Facebook friend request from someone I’ve never met. I’m not talking about one of those where the name might almost sound familiar if you close your eyes and repeat it slowly. These are total strangers, always women.

Because I’m the kind of guy who never turns my back on anyone without being sure she is not someone I used to know, I click the link that takes me to her wall, or whatever FB calls the place where you keep your naked selfie. This is followed by a sigh, as I think, “Oh my! I’m sure I’d remember her.”

But I don’t remember her. I don’t remember anybody like her. I’m not alone, because she only has seven friends – all lonely looking males. They don’t remember her either, but they so badly wish they did. Plus, it’s a nice photo to come back to when the loneliness scrapes bottom.

I know she means me no good. She is only some invention, created to lure me to the dark side of FB, if there is a side darker than the shallow political memes and associated insightful commentary.

Therefore, I’m sorry, lovely young lady who really knows her camera angles, or creepy dude who stole her photo and attached it to a fictional name on Facebook – I cannot be your friend. Your seven admirers will check in on you regularly, I’m sure.

I'm deleting your friend request.

I’m deleting your friend request.

I don’t know what the end goal of this proposed acquaintance is, but it disturbs me in a couple of ways. First, my oldest son is becoming aware of social media. He is also realizing there are parts on women that make his pupils dilate for reasons he can’t understand. The Internet and his own wide eyes can easily lead a boy astray. I’m trying to stop him from going astray, but it will be harder to keep the Facebook Hookers and their ilk at bay as he gets older.

I hope there are still a few years between us and this danger. In the meantime, these nefarious friend requests disturb me because they are the most common requests I get anymore. The world has run out of real people who want to be my friend, even in an unreal way. I’ve long ago given up on my ability to make friends in three dimensions, but now it seems I’m nothing special in two dimensions either. That’s okay though; I flourish amongst one-dimensional people.

This is the world we live in. I’ll be busy protecting my children from the pitfalls of social media. So if you are a 22-year-old woman, or are pretending to be, it may take me a while to get around to remembering you from our 1980s college days.

New goat technology befuddles older generation

My boys are sharing a goat.

Let me explain.

The goat is virtual. It is a game app that allows the player to manipulate the activities of a standard goat.

It is really only Big Brother and Buster who are sharing this goat. I’m sure Big Man would be interested if it were a real goat – somebody he could pet or chase as the mood struck him. But he’s not really interested in screen goats, yet.

These flesh goats are so 2013.

These flesh goats are so 2013.

By sharing I mean they are constantly fighting over who gets to play the goat game. Big Brother is searching for some legal loophole or parents’ edict that will cause Buster to cease playing the game altogether. It’s not that he doesn’t want his little brother to have a happy childhood, but it seems as though you, or your goat, can build things in this game, and he lives in terror that the poorly trained, younger goatherd will somehow destroy all he, and his goat, have created.

This only makes Buster’s fire to play the game burn more brightly. I’m sure he understands as little as I do about how virtual goats build apartment complexes, but if Big Brother doesn’t want him playing, it must be an awesome game.

I don’t understand this fascination with the pixel goat. Sure, you can make him swim across a river and break things with his hooves, (Goats have hooves, right? I grew up with cows.) but I can’t figure out how that translates into an addicting game.

It’s not that I don’t like computer games. There are a handful of games I play. I even kind of get the appeal of Minecraft. In that game, you build up some kind of civilization (I think) while working toward some sort of goals (I think). And the best part is, you can create cats and dogs and then leave your tablet in the kitchen so your dad goes crazy trying to figure out where all the meowing and barking is coming from as he makes dinner. Who wouldn’t get a kick out of that?

But this goat I don’t understand. Every time I look at the game, the goat is just swimming or walking, or in the really exciting moments, sleeping. Who spends their time making a fake goat sleep? Okay, don’t answer that. The goat did build a house of some sort, so I guess there’s more to it than that.

How do you put a goat to sleep? Tap the sleep icon, of course.

How do you put a goat to sleep? Tap the sleep icon, of course.

I just can’t imagine my childhood revolving around virtual goats. I used to read, and play ball, and go swimming. My kids do that stuff too, and yet still find time for the goat. Maybe that’s the time I spent milking cows. Or maybe we had more innings in our ball games.

I’m trying to get Big Brother to read more and play games less. I wish I could get him to do so more willingly. Maybe he needs more interesting stories. Anybody know where I can find books about sleeping virtual goats?

And the award for Parent of the Most Civilized Pooping Child goes to . . .

Since I first became a parent, I’ve been taking an informal survey on how old children are when they complete potty training.  This has been an unintentional survey; I’ve never asked parents how long it took to potty train their children. Yet, scads of parents seem to think I want to know. The word potty can’t come up in conversation without people laying out the impressive timetables of their children’s migrations to the toilet.

Due to the unwilling nature of my research, I have never recorded the results of my survey. This could have the slight potential to erode the credibility of the findings. The only result of which I am certain is that 0.00% of respondents’ children took longer to potty train than my own.

My two potty trained children became so somewhere in the three-year-old range. The remaining child seems on pace to match that timing. When it comes to deciding where to poop, I thought I had pretty normal kids. The older two, in their own time, came around to a decision I can endorse. I have high hopes the third will eventually see the wisdom in their choices. On the other hand, I can’t honestly argue that a diaper isn’t a convenient alternative when you’re on the run.

Assuming my youngest takes approximately the same time to potty train as his brothers, he represents the third strike in my beginning hypothesis that my children are normal. It will prove beyond the margin of error that they are outliers – sluggard, ne’er-do-well poopers – the slowest children ever to be potty trained.

Further research has confirmed my fears about the futures of poorly trained children like my own. Source: Delusional Parent Magazine.

Further research has confirmed my fears about the futures of poorly trained children like my own. Source: Delusional Parent Magazine.

The stats don’t lie. And the stats are backed up by random, self-reported data from proud parents that happened to come up in conversation. These facts were presented to me by confident (almost beaming) individuals, through the famously unbiased memory of parenthood, who were prescient enough to ascertain that I was conducting a survey on this exact topic. That’s pretty solid, considering I didn’t even know I was conducting this survey. How can I begin to question the validity of such information?

Having not ever encountered a single survey subject whose children were slower to evolve than mine, I am left to consider the consequences of my children’s backwardness. Will these arrested beginnings hinder their futures? I fear so. None of the survey respondents who offered updates reported that their advanced pooping children are now incarcerated. And since someone has to fill the prisons, I can only conclude it will be the slow toilet adopters, of whom my children are, statistically, the slowest.

I know you’re probably thinking how brave it is of me to publicly admit these facts about my own beloved children. But now that I’ve done it, I wonder if I should have just lied about it. I can’t do that though. I wouldn’t want to be known as the first parent to embellish his children’s toilet skills.

The precious gems of childhood

When we moved into our house, we discovered remnants of a white quartz bed some previous owner had made. White quartz can look good around a swimming pool, but the closest thing we have to a pool is a section of lawn that floods for a month every spring. White quartz does nothing for swamps.

I didn’t want to reuse the white quartz so I hid it behind an out-of-control woody shrub where no one would see it. Years passed; children were born; white quartz was forgotten and buried.

This Memorial Day Weekend, Big Brother and Buster found themselves playing in the secret white quartz burial ground. Big Brother discovered a piece of it. He brought it to me to be assayed forthwith. “Is this a crystal?”

I looked it over. “Yes, I suppose it is.” I’m not a geologist by any means, but quartz being a crystal sounds reasonable to me.

His eyes lit up. Apparently, crystals are synonymous with diamonds in second grade. He and Buster immediately set to work uncovering their fortune. They dug up crystal after crystal, eventually needing a tin to hold them all.  Big Brother kept count. After they had unearthed 200 precious gems, he asked me, “How much money do you think we have?”

I don’t have a good feel for fluctuations in the prices of crushed stone, so it was only a guess. “Oh, probably about four cents.”

“What? I thought we’d have at least $1,000 by now.” His enthusiasm was not dampened, meaning he was more interested in discovery than money, or more likely, I had proven my incompetence at valuing gemstones.

At length, their dig led them closer to the stem of the bush, making the branches more of a nuisance. They retrieved a garden lopper from the garage. Big Brother began clipping off branches while Buster, tempted by the lure of greater treasure, was persuaded to the less glorious task of hauling them away. I let them attack the bush at will since it runs amok so readily as to need trimming every two minutes.

This will look nice in the garage.

This will look nice in the garage.

Before long, the easy bits were cleared and thicker branches lay in their way. Big Brother began to strain as he struggled to squeeze closed the arms of the lopper. He gritted his teeth, grunting and groaning as the blade grew unwilling to cut any deeper. Sweat ran down his temples. From deep in his belly rose up prehistoric sounds of man’s epic battle against the forces of nature.

Mans never-ending struggle with nature.

Man’s never-ending struggle with nature.

At last, he relaxed his grip and took a deep breath. “This is even harder than taking a big poop,” he announced.

“Then stop making all those pooping noises,” Buster commanded.

Big Brother gave the clippers one more quick try, but we all knew the battle was lost. The clipping was over.

He learned a valuable lesson of manhood that day: when it’s the price of a sparkly rock, something harder than taking a big poop is probably not worth doing.