Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's 10pm. In 2 hours, I'm Graduating from Tuesday

. . .and earlier today Ben and Milo graduated from Preschool.

Yeah. It brought a tear to my eye. Not really. But it was nice to be done with that chapter, we're all about closing chapters. Forward movement always feels good. I cropped the pictures so you couldn't see Mrs. Teacherface. Partly because there are internet safety and anonymity rules that I don't understand or necessarily live by but I do try to respect the internet anonymity rights of others. Also, you'd see in the photos, if I didn't crop them, that Mrs. Teacherface's head is actually smaller than that of my freak mutant twin sons. No, not metaphorically. Quite literally, my littles have unreasonably disproporionate heads. Now that they are in a tall/skinny phase, they look even more like 2 really rotund fat guys on top of really tall unicycles. I think it's all they can do sometimes to keep the little body under the big head.

Max also acheived a milestone. Tuesday night he was awarded the Cub Scouts Arrow of Light. In scouting, it's a big deal. It's the passage from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, and the Arrow of Light patch is the only one of all their Cub Scout awards they can wear on their Boy Scout uniform. We scrambled to get it all done, our timing is such that we really only recently committed ourselves to Scouts. And my sudden involvement in Scouting as Assistant Webelos Den Leader/Webelos Den Leader/General Backup Guy to Original Webelos Den leader has certainly helped to encourage accountability. So we were both surprised ( I hadn't been to a Cub Scouts Den Meeting since I was in the 4th grade) that there was a real ceremony, with a real headdress, pow wow costume, ritual readings, and a hand-made arrow for Max! Very cool. The best part was when every Cub Scout was invited to go to the Arrow Of Light boys, congratulate them and shake their hand. Max glowed there :). I'm sure that was the point.

I am 100% down with the idea of exposing boys to values in scouting. For me it's about manners & respect, and as blogged previously those are hills I'm ready to die on. I know (though I often forget) that the idea is not to brainwash values into the boys, only to expose them to them. We talk about them, ask questions, do things and explain why we did the things. All important skills that will serve throughout life, and it gives the boys a vocabulary for ideas like courage and leadership. Those are things I didn't think about until I started reading literature in high school, so I'm thrilled to help Max get a head start. I've gotten the Scout Leader Crash Course, now I'm eager to see how the organization works within the church & maybe find my own place in it all.

The NS50 is now gone *sniff*, leaving me but one motorized cycle. And it could be argued that The Minnesota Winter Scootyped Project is more of an unsolved mystery than a motorcycle. This empty space in the workshop is yet another chapter closed, since I haven't been without a real motorcycle since I was 15. Instead of feeling releif and hope for the chapters to come, it really just is a reminder that I've yet to find the next chapter. At least I'm acknowledging it, if not addressing it in an expeditious manner. I'm trying to embrace the lostness and mystery, just be lost, instead of kvetching over how I shouldn't be. Very Tao :) I'm trying to listen, if that makes sense, maybe for clues as to where I am -- instead of clues as to where I should be.

And I've been getting some serious clues lately that I should address my physical well being. The book previously mentioned, it turns out, was not "Making Your Metabolism Your Bitch" but "Body Intelligence". And of all the books I've decided maybe I should be reading, it's the only one that made itself land in my lap almost immediately at it's very mention. There is also the evermore obvious fact that I don't find joy in eating like I used to. I've always likened it to sex, it's a sensual pleasure, something that one shouldn't deny within healthy limits. And there hasn't been very darn much denial in my life. Nope, if I woke up tomorrow on my deathbed I would NOT wish I'd eaten more chimichangas or chorizo. But for awhile now the sacrifices of such foods have outweighed the benefits. There are no more rationales for eating the way I've always eaten, all that remains are the habits. And that's supposed to be what this book (Body Intelligency by Edward Abramson) is all about.

Remember The Freakin Elf Shorts? Here is a link to both the latest caption contest and also a comprehensive history of the shorts. . .

. . . which I am intermittently both proud of and concerned about my involvement in. Gets a little racy at the end, in case your sensibilities are easily offended ;).

Or-may ater-lay, iends-fray.



Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day Observances

Memorial Day weekend. This is a time to honor America's fallen soldiers. A time to reflect on war and the Americans who've made the greatest sacrifice for their country. I spent 6 hours Saturday morning driving through rural southern PA and pondering these things as I listened to war-&-veteran-themed essays, interviews & talk on XMPR.

The good people of rural southern PA were expressing their devotion to America's fallen soldiers by hocking garbage in front of their homes. I was moved as I counted nearly every third home had colorful displays of old, broken or near-useless crap on it's lawn. I sensed the southern Pennsylvanians pride and respect for our servicemen everytime I heard "STOP THE CAR, BOB I WANT THAT STATIONARY BIKE!" With every sudden brake light, with every narrowly-avoided rear-end collision, I got just a little choked up.
Not really. But it was funny. I drove by 5,644 yard sales on my way to deliver an Ebay'ed scooter Saturday morning. Did all of those people aquire all that crap (or an equivalent amount of new crap) in just one year? Since last Memorial Day? Or was I looking at 10% virgin crap, on display for it's very first Memorial Day Yard Sale -- and 90% Last Year's Yard Sale Crap Which Didn't Sell?

What's Goin' On? I'll try to do an overall update here, I've gotten some mild e-mail lashings since AK's fallen out of the blogosphere.

Why were you Ebaying your scooter, Chris? As previously reported, AK's work has been scarce and Lux has been trying to take up the slack. So Lux sold 2 of Lux's final 3 motorized cycles on Ebay this weekend. Now Lux has more space in the workshop for clear-coating helmets, and AK has the means to pay more bills. Yes, the Hawaii Five-Oh is gone (it was sold to a Hawaiian who just moved to rural VA of all people). And Tuesday my precious NS50 will also have a new home.

AK is on the verge of getting a permanent part-time job in a law office locally to even out these self-employment peaks and valleys. She's picked up some new Math writing projects, and of course her big May Project should be starting up in June. She's enjoyed all the gardening and knitting. And WE HAVE SO enjoyed having our favorite cat where she belongs, in the center of our universe. And she SO had us financially prepared for her work-stoppage. But the May Job Postponement really did tax the lady and I know she'll be glad to get back to breadwinning and Debt Dragon slaying.

Max is wrapping up his 5th grade year. He has been growing lately. We celebrated his 11th birthday today. He has just completed his Arrow of Light in Cub Scouts, which means he'll now be a Boy Scout. He'll be on the Welch Sharks swim team this summer. He's seriously considering pimping his body out to science (again) for a Penn State study that will net him enough dough for a new Nintendo Wii. He's anxious to find a niche for himself, maybe its something else, I don't know he's old enough to be complex now (not girl complex, y'all have fun out there raising those girls and god bless you for doing it. . . ). I'm mostly unsuccesful at reaching out to the boy, it's hard for a father & son, but I keep trying. The one thing I can do is hug. We can spend all day in completely different places, speaking different languages, stressing about different things, being irritable and clashing with each other. It's as though our love for each other just gives us a greater capacity for intense conflict. But if we can just get physically close for a moment, I get to meet his needs. And what's more challenging/more rewarding than truly meeting the needs of your child?

Milo sings songs and whistles a lot. He's really been getting his Dalai Lama on lately, wearing his heart on his sleeve and brokering peace via his own style of preschool diplomacy. Ben could not only ketchup his own hot dog, buckle his own seatbelt and dress himself, but he's pretty sure he could solve most of the worlds ills if we would all just LET him. Dammit. Both are very excited about swimming, Mom and Max have been giving them lessons so they can swim the length of the pool and be on the Sharks with Max this year. Ben reads a lot. Milo reads so much/so well that Ben looks like he's behind. Milo just seems to enjoy the reading, everything everywhere has writing on it and he gets to decode it all! Just another thing to be insanely happy about and deliciously at-peace with. Life is good for the Dalai Lama. They both enjoy Smart Start Football, because it's all about running and playing, though neither appear to be athletic prodigies. Some of the 5-year-olds in their class have clearly been groomed by their fathers since birth to play football. I recognize it, I know it's wrong (I learned that lesson with Max and motorcycles) but I respect their commitment.

I am having a mid life crisis. I don't want to call it a crisis. And I really don't want you thinking of sports cars and extra-marital affairs. It's a normal, natural change, a step in normal male maturity I think. It shouldn't be a crisis. But our society's insistence on associating mens' selves with their careers makes it a crisis. And that makes it hard to be comfortable in an Ambiguous Career State, as I am. But I'm trying, thinking and planning on a daily basis. Growing my business even though I'm convinced it's not a large part of my financial future. Trying to find books about it (Good luck, by the way, finding a CURRENT/RECENT book about midlife changes in men, written by a man. Secular would be great, since I don't have the well of strength Faith provides a man right now. Any recommendations are appreciated). I'm frustrated because I'm a mentor-style learner. I want to turn to my elders, who have seen this a hundred times and know it's proper place in the big picture, for counsel. But our society doesn't work like that and even if there are men like me out there they either are in the throes of it as I am or don't have the vocabulary to share their lessons with me. Because, you know, men just don't talk to men about these kinds of things :/.
Today was a special treat, we had a family get-together to celebrate Max's 11th and Cuz O's 1st birthdays. Max had a particularly mean Benadryl early in the day (He has my debilitating allergies. Sharing is caring!) and slept through most of his own party, but did get up in time for singing and of course. . . .

. . . .cake.
That's what's goin on, or all I can think of right now. I'm in the midst of my own antihistamine haze, and sleep in sounding increasingly groovy, man. Totally.



Thursday, May 17, 2007

Custom Unicycle Helmets

There seems to be some interest in custom-painted helmets and vinyl decals in the unicycle community. This is a fast-growing market that many industries haven't reached out to yet, I'm learning. On one hand, I'm actively heading in several different career directions right now. On the other hand, these old airbrushes are paying our bills right now so I need all the outlets I can get for my work. It's actually kind of breathing some creative life into me, these guys are so excited at the idea of having custom paint on their lids :)

In particular there is one kid & we're talking about a pseudo-sponsorship. He makes videos, as I've learned a lot of young skater-like unicyclists do. And they usually have video of tricks and extreme things done on uni's, and they usually have driving metal or rap soundtracks. And so do Sam's videos. However, his video & editing equipment is a step or two above the others. And his music selections are exactly the stuff I find for myself at, so I fully approve there. And one of his videos, his most recent, is so charming that I have to share it with the internet. I showed AK, and even though she hadn't seen the hundreds of normal extreme skater angry youth urban trials and mountain unicycling unicycling videos, and hence didn't see the context as I do . . . it still won her over :). Here is "La Mujercita" (and feel free to tell us, Kristen, what "La Mujercita" means. We suspect its "The Little Woman" but when I typed it into Babelfish it translated as "The Mujercita". Brilliant). . .

So we'll see.

Emily provided unisputable proof yesterday that drugs do in fact lead to delinquency and criminal behavior. Early in the day, she rifled through AK's purse and devoured what was left her Mothers Day (did you kiss those Mommies? Get ta' Mommy kissin' y'all!) chocolates. Canine biology is such that they're very susceptible to the effects of sugar and cocao. So she was The Tasmanian Poodle all day, tearing around like something between Taz and a coked-up caffeine-addict after 2 hours in a Starbucks: VERY wrong, but happy nonetheless. The interesting part was that our normally well-behaved, rule-abiding and authority-respecting dog seemed to be on the canine equivalent of a crime spree. She went dumpster diving first, wrecking the kitchen. AK put her in lock-down for that. When I set her free later in the day, she was out all of 30 seconds before she got up on the counter and ate the egg sandwich I later learned was to have been my breakfast. This put her back in the poodle clink. Someone somewhere let her out again, it wasn't me and for all I know she jumped a Triumph motorcycle sidecar-rig over a fence to bust out (she watches the Classic Movie Channel too much). I know she got out because of the monstrous pile of poodle droppings she left for me in the basement! Now in her defense on this one, just prior to that violation she did come to me with that spazzy "I need you to address me and my concerns right now" look. But in my defense, she hadn't looked any different all day. The rest of the day was spent playing inappropriately rough with the boys, being where she shouldn't and eating forbidden fruits from heretofore un-reachable-by-a-poodle places.

Bad Dog.

I hope Spring is being good to all of you! :)



Monday, May 14, 2007

OK, I said I was ready to be done with this. . .

And now -- I really really am :)



Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mothers Day, Mothers!

As I mature, the importance of parenting becomes more and more evident. It's like that super-duper important speech you had to make or presentation you had to give, it's as though EVERYthing is riding on how you do it. But it's not "like" that at all, it IS that important. The fate of the universe, as parents, is in our hands. And it's being determined with every decision we make every minute of every day. And we don't even get to pause & take a deep breath before we go out on stage. . . .when we wake up each morning, like it or not, we're parenting. The more I realize this, the more paralyzed with fear I become, and ironically the more imperative it is that I act. Now. Correctly. Or the most imporant things I've ever done in this world (Max, Ben/Milo. . .in the order I did them) will surely suffer in some way. Perhaps a big way. Maybe a showing-up-on-my-doorstep-as-20-Somethings-in-Psychotherapy-telling-me-I-ruined-their-childhood way. Or maybe a busted-for-breaking-probation-on-a-drug-related-felony way!

Ahem. I'm kvetching again. Can a gentile kvetch? If yes, I'm SO starting The Should Have Been Jewish They Kvetch So Well Society of Central Pennsylvania.

Where I was going with this is: No matter how frighteningly important, pivotal and/or crucial me and my actions are, in every waking moment, to the healthy development of my boys . . . Alaska and HER actions/decisions are EVEN MORE important/crucial! Yay! I actually feel a little less kvetchy now :)

t's true, Moms are the more important parent. Generally speaking Moms work harder and stretch more and . . . well heck. . . they went through LABOR. Duh. They are a child's first connection to his surroundings, they teach him to relate with the world, they are his very sustenance from hour one. That connection is never lost. Nope. Never. So go love up your Mom today. And if you're a Mom, when you're done loving up YOUR Mom, just chill the hell out and let the love come to you for a day. OK? Happy Mothers Day!

We got Mom some yummy special treats -- some really special like European chocolate lemon bread and Uber-Cocoa chocolate, some just mundanely comfortable like a People Magazine -- and plan to make her a big fat feast of a breakfast tomorrow. She also gets a copy of the DVD we made for The Grammas. Max and I asked around at Unicycle Club today for Mommy Treat advice, given that there were 3 Mommies there. One of them (after the ubiquitous "CHOCOLATE!" was recommended) said we should be extra sweet to her for the day, say lots of nice things about how loved we feel when she does x, y and z for us.

I had to say, and in retrospect I still believe, that our matriarch is pretty darn well loved-up on a regular basis. She's got a whole pack of animals here who are not one bit shy about the fact that our whole universe revolves around her. Nope, us Hults boys can 'spress our feelings -- it's a gift. And if Max and I are not yelping our joy about whatever she cooked for us from the highest rooftop, then Milo is snoozling up with her like a kitten, or Ben is demanding that we all just GO AWAY because HE is going to go (wherever she's invited him to go) WITH MOMMY ALL BY HIMSELF. Yes, AK will get love of every flavor from every Hultsboy and Hultspoodle on Mothers day. But if we really wanted to give her a treat? A truly rare gift tailored just for her special needs, something that took real sacrifice on our part??? We'd leave her alone all day :). Sleep. Silence. Knitting. More sleep. These are the things our kitty cat craves.

Woof! Maybe next year :).

Meanwhile Back at The Ranch Max and I had our 2nd consecutive darn-good time at Unicycle Club this morning. He puts in considerable effort, and I can't tell you how much that means to me. He's 10, with a 10-year-old attention span. He's leary of any Dad-related sport activity, due to the pressures and un-fun-ness that are inherent. AND learning to ride a unicycle is long, hard, and not very rewarding even after hours and hours of practice ("practice" here is synonymous with "crashing"). But I am downright good now at NOT pressuring, JUST coaching and coaching in a primarily positive manner at that. Add to that that he's flirting with pre-teen hood and maybe a little interested in not so much me but men -- what men do, how they are, etc. . . . I don't know the reasons, but he's there, he's trying, he listens to me, he's present (as much as he can be) and I'm tickled over it. There is a possibility that the previous several sentences are hooey, and it's solely the presence of Aubrey The 5th Grade Girl that motivates him. That would make at least as much sense as the hooey, actually.

I rode the giant 36" "Coker" unicycle today. As expected, I fell in love. See, "riding around" has never so much been my forte. It's just in my nature to GO places. A year ago when I started looking back into unicycling I was pleased to see that a)it's grown & diversified into many different styles of unicycling and b) one of those is called "touring" or "commuting" Yup, they make unicycles for GOING places now! Unicycles are not complex machines, so making a unicycle good for going places means giving it a big wheel. And the touring uni's of choice have 36" wheels with baloony tires called "Cokers". Supreme Uni Chancellor has been bringing her Coker to meetings, but I've been intimidated by it. It's higher up and farther front/backwards to fall. Also hers has a little trip computer on it, which would likely become a little trip computer'esque pile of plastic bits after I skidded her unicycle across the parking lot a couple of times. But today I gave in and ooooooooh that's my kind of riding. Max told me as politely as possible that it's uber-size made it the only unicycle I didn't look like a total clown on.

Is it silly to ride a unicycle and worry that I'll look like a clown? Oy. I feel a kvetch a' comin' on. .

. . .thats Not Me on a Coker Unicycle. It's heavier, like pedalling a large flywheel, that's what makes it good for distance riding. Even uphill, the flywheel effect helps you cover more ground with less pedalling effort. And I'm not one for "M-Uni" or Mountain Unicycling, but these are also great for getting over obstacles. No idea how I'll afford one of these, pennies are being pinched within an inch of their coppery little lives around here, but it's on the wishlist. Strangely, the more fun I have riding, the more frustrating it is that I have limited leg strength and very limited cardio vascular endurance. I wanna ride more, but I can't. There are some "Unithon"s in NY and NJ this Summer, maybe I can get in shape in time for one.

Here is Supreme Uni Chancellor riding what's called an Ultimate Wheel unicycle. It's a wheel with off-set pedals in it. Only. No seat. Gotta protect your inner calfs, since rubbing the tires against them is all part of riding an Ultimate Wheel. . .

Netflix Report 28 Days Later: Awesome music, very well done retelling of the zombie movie story with all of the subtle irony that would make George Romero proud. The Matador Yes, Pierce, you can do more than James Bond. Interesting story. Friend of mine said of it "I wanted it to be better" and I agree. Memento WHOOOOO what a ride! This director played with every storytelling rule in the moviemaking book, and it really really worked. So much to see, so much to learn & think about. Tomes have been written about this movie, fortunately I only had to read a little bit to clear up my own confuzzlement at the very end of the movie.

Kiss those mommies!



Friday, May 04, 2007

Oh the blogging that must be blogged.

OK First we have The Whole Muh Nu Muh Nu thing. I feel moderately comfortable saying that I'm now about as educated as I can be about this intriguing little piece of music. Of the many pages devoted to the song and the various ways one can be obsessed with it, I'll point you to this one it's very comprehensive. . .

Who is Piero Umiliani

Piero, of course, besides being yet another European I should have named at least one of my sons after, is the composer of the original "Mah Na Mah Na". I must thank the God and Goddess of Google Fu, The Henderdizzles, for providing the following. First is the ORIGINAL ORIGINAL, from the film "Sweden: Hell or Heaven" which is Swedish of course and this version appears to be dubbed in Italian

Svezia, Inferno e Paradiso

WARNING the above clip contains 1.7 breasts. If this makes you at all uncomfortable, stop it just before the end (at just about the point when you suspect you are about to see 1.7 breasts, specifically). But it is very interesting to hear the very first version of this song. The next bit of Mah Na Mah Na trivia is the "Bandanana" version that was made for the New Zealand teen society's Wear a Bandana Week in 2005. . .

And now, as if you hadn't seen enough video renditions of this catchy little tune, I found this one on YouTube quite by chance. . .

I am ready to be done with this for now.

THE ELF SHORTS ARE BACK!!! Just recently I was wondering aloud, to someone, "what ever happened to The Freakin Elf Shorts?" For those of you not familiar with the Freakin Elf Shorts Phenomenon (do dooooo de doo do), it was a pair of -- um -- elf shorts, that had been mailed all over to several bloggers. A blogger would take a photo of themselves in the elf shorts, then hold a caption contest. The person with the funniest caption got to have the elf shorts next. I was quite honored to be a part of the game, I did my funny photo, I judged the funniest caption, and now after many months of marital counseling our relationship is fully healed. It turns out that the phonomenon never died! A recent elf-shorts-wearer has been trying to put together a comprehensive history of the shorts, and I of all people was holding him up. Since my old blog address died, and somewhere about the same time as the server died, I changed addresses and became considerably less entertaining and prolific, no one knew where PuppDaddy went :(. I think the key was "Barking", someone remembered that "Barking" was the name of Puppdaddy's blog, and that led to the new, identically-titled (yet less-frequently-updated and as stated decidedly less funny) blog home.

In any case, I will keep an eye on the latests Elf Shorts blogger and link you over when the compleat compilation is compleatly compilated.

Today's Daily Muppet Thing of The Day for Saturday is something you've probably seen already, but oh my gizzle it's good. It's wrong, and a little disturbing, but just a little more fun than disturbing. Kristen you remember that Kermit suicide drug song you found? Yeah, that one tipped the scales in the other direction :).

Tomorrow, Saturday, once thought to be a catch-up-on-painting-I-should've-done-earlier-in-the-week day, will instead be quite the challenge. AK will go to a church girl daytime slumber party thing in Pittsburgh (not complaining, I urged her to go). Which leaves me to take the twins to swimming. Normally not something I dig doing, but it's important she goes to the thing and has a nice day away with the girls. But oh then I forgot unicycle club is also tomorrow. And dammit, the twins' first Start Smart Pre-Peewee Football is tomorrow also. Hoosh!

I'm out, I've much kvetching to do.



Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Today's Daily Muppet Thing of The Day for Wednesday. . .

. . . is in the comments section of the last entry. Thank you A-Weas! In the words of Crush the Sea Turtle, you so totally rock.

I looked it up, and it appears that the original piece of music was done by a Swedish composer and was originally used in the score for a soft-core Swedish pornography film. During a sauna scene. Yeah. Then it was a hit in the US in 1968/69, that's when the above piece -- the REAL original -- was done for The Ed Sullivan Show. The Sesame Street piece from the 70s that we had heretofore called "The Original" did have the effect of finally getting the song onto the European charts when the childrens music album it was on was popular there. I also learned that the Muppets did a "Bandanana" version for a New Zealand teen support group's (Can Teen) Wear-a-Bandana Week promotion. I looked, and came close, but could not find that video online.

ANY help in a)finding the "Bandanana" video or b)helping me get the above video saved in a normal (.wmv, .avi, .mov) video format would most ginormously appreciated!

Meanwhile, ye be up to thine ears in polycarbonate paints. We should have some good photos to post after this weekend, since Ben and Milo are doing "Start Smart Football".



Pupp Daddy Dog spends his days working as an entrepeneur and as a Dad. He is passionately in love with/obsessively neurotic about his family. Imagine Kicking Bird mixed with Albert Brooks. Oh, and throw in some Notorious B.I.G.


Alaska is the frustrated but caring cat at the center of our canine universe. All of us alternately worship, rely on and ceaselessly whine to her. Her need to control everything is confounded by the fact that she really pretty much does control everything, so in her few free moments, she knits and searches desperately for things to fuss about.



Max is smart and handsome, with a big heart. He is not only growing like a weed, but he has the attention span and concentration abilities of a weed. Despite my best efforts, AK keeps feeding him and he keeps growing. Our plan is to keep him so busy with school, sports & the arts that he won't notice he's a teenager and is supposed to hate us. T minus 2.5 years to teen launch, so far so good.



 Ben and Milo are phenomenal little creatures who remind us minute-by-minute not only how little control we have in this world, but why we should cease our controlling efforts and just laugh at all of God's jokes. Lately, Milo likes to dance and is good on the piano. Ben likes to mimic Max and enjoys manipulating adults and anyone else who has no idea how quietly brilliant he is. Both of them would love your full and complete attention. Really, stop reading silly blogs and join the fan club now. Ok? Ok.








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