Friday, February 29, 2008

Mr. Fob on the Issues: The War

One of my sisters posted on our private family blog last week sharing some of her thoughts on the three presidential candidates still in the running and soliciting opinions from the rest of us. While busy working on other things over the past week, I've been thinking of what I'd say. I've mentioned here that I support Barack Obama, but haven't really gotten into why (beyond all the love he's getting from the hip-hop community), so I figured I might as well kill two birds with one stone and reply to my sister's request here where the whole world can see and mock my reasoning. This is quickly becoming a monster of a post in my head, though, so I'm going to split it into a few posts on the issues that matter most to me.

Among these is the war in Iraq. Remember the one George W. Bush triumphantly declared was over like five years ago? Yeah, that one. It boggles my mind that the only thing that so many Christians--and Mormons particularly--remember about Bill Clinton is that he had sex with Monica Lewinsky, and they accuse that one act of rending asunder the moral fabric of our nation, and yet they continue to stand behind Bush. Don't get me wrong--I believe that adultery is a pretty horrible thing, especially when it involves the abuse of power like that of the president of the United States, but I'm pretty sure most people agree that murder is worse than adultery. According to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, nearly 4,000 Americans have died in Iraq since March of 2003. That's nothing compared to the more than 40,000 Iraqi soldiers and citizens who have been killed just since January of 2005. And yet George W. Bush, the man responsible for these deaths, is somehow a stalwart of moral integrity because he likes to mention God in his speeches?

What does George W. Bush have to do with the current election? Well, the only reason Bush was able to muster up the support to invade Iraq is by capitalizing on the tremendous tragedy of 9/11 to convince Americans that they should be shaking in fear of those evil terrorists in the Middle East with their weapons of mass destruction--the weapons he never found in Iraq, by the way, and the terrorists who had nothing to do with Iraq until George came in and screwed the country over.

Now, I really don't hate John McCain. He seems like a genuinely good person and I like a lot of his policies. What terrifies me about him, though, is that he seems to have every intention of continuing George W. Bush's "War on Terror" and is already using the very same scare tactics that Bush has been using for the past seven years. He reminds voters frequently of the constant threat of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the need to "secure the American homeland." Something cartoonist Aaron McGruder pointed out in an interview a few years ago (sorry, no link) is that, just like a "War on Drugs," we can never win a "War on Terror" because there will always be terrorists and the second we say we've won the war and then terrorists blow up another building, we look like idiots. And when people like Bush and McCain are using this so-called "War on Terror" to "temporarily" take away Americans' rights, that means our loss of those rights isn't so temporary after all.

Along with John McCain, Hillary Clinton voted in favor of the Iraq invasion in 2003. I would be willing to forgive her for that, as she now claims to see the error of that decision, except that now she's indulging in "War on Terror"-like scare tactics in order to convince voters that she will do a better job than Barack Obama of protecting our innocent sleeping children from those evil terrorists who go bump in the night.

Barack Obama, meanwhile, has been opposed to the war from the beginning and he recognizes scare tactics when he sees them. He did not vote for or against the invasion because he wasn't a U.S. senator at the time, but he did speak at anti-war rallies, making his position clear. Whereas McCain seems to think that sending more American troops will somehow fix Bush's little snafu, Obama recognizes that enough people have died already and sending more troops to kill and be killed won't solve anything. Certainly the U.S. owes it to Iraq to not leave them high and dry, but there are better ways to support them than bombing them.

Monday, February 25, 2008

In the Mail

From the assistant to the literary agent I sent a query to a couple months ago:
Thank you for your query concerning your novel FOBS AND FOES. Your work sounds interesting and I would be happy to read some of it. Please send the first 50 pages of the novel, plus a brief synopsis...

This is still about twelve huge steps removed from actually getting the book published, mind you, but it's a step closer than I've ever gotten in the past.

If you're one of the people I've been ignoring this weekend, it's because I'm working on making those 50 pages and synopsis as pretty as they can be.

Friday, February 22, 2008

This Morning So Far

  • I forgot to set my alarm for 6:00 in order to get up and register for next quarter. By the time I got up at 7:00 the class I need to graduate was already full.
  • The folded-up cardboard boxes I brought to give back to Tolkien Boy at the gym did not fit in the locker, as we were hoping they would.
  • When I got to the gym I realized I'd forgotten to bring gym clothes.

  • When I got to work there was a box of chocolate-covered donuts on the food-sharing table.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The 684th Law of Parenting

If your children are playing quietly in their bedroom, enjoy it while it lasts, but know that you will pay a price for your peace when you find out what they've been up to.

When I opened the bedroom door tonight I expected much of the mess that awaited me--clothes, toys, and books strewn across the floor--but what I didn't foresee was the dirty diapers extracted from the diaper pail and spread around the room. I hope I found them all.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

0 to 20 in 12 hours

I bought a new computer this morning, brought it home, and had it up and running by 9:30. This evening at 9:30 I installed and ran Spybot-S&D. It found and removed 20 problems.

There are many things that would make the world a better place by being this efficient. Adbots are not one of them.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Wannabe of All Trades

See if you can spot a pattern:
  • When I had a good English teacher in ninth grade, I decided I wanted to teach English.
  • When I had a good physics teacher in eleventh grade, I decided I wanted to teach physics.
  • Whenever I read a good comic book I want more than anything to write (and/or draw) comics.
  • When I read Maus and Persepolis and Fun Home I wanted more than anything to write a memoir in graphic novel form.
  • After I saw Batman Forever I made plans to write and star (as Robin) in the next Batman sequel (and heaven knows it would have been better than Batman & Robin turned out).
  • When I had great English professors in college I decided I wanted to be an English professor.
  • When I've had great library and information science professors I've briefly considered getting a PhD in LIS--albeit very briefly before discarding the notion as foolishness.
  • When I listen to hip hop I want to be a rapper.
  • When I saw Scratch, a documentary about turntablism, I wanted to be a turntablist.
  • When I see great movies I am overcome by a desire to be an actor.
  • When I hear Barack Obama speak I want to be a politician.
  • When I read blogs that get enough hits to support their authors off the ad income I want to write amazing blog posts that will gain me fame and fortune.
  • When I read young adult novels I want to be a YA novelist.
  • When I read Harry Potter I decided to write a multi-part fantasy epic that would rival the Bible in all-time sales.
I just finished reading the complete run of Boondocks, a controversial syndicated comic strip about race and politics. Can you guess what my latest lofty aspiration is?

More Important Than Politics

Erykah Badu's new album comes out a week from today. I would like to take this opportunity to remind the people in charge of sending my reward certificates when I earn them with my credit card that I should be getting one any day now and that they should think of the emotional trauma I'd suffer if I weren't to receive it in time to pre-order New Amerykah before Tuesday.

Just think of it!

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I have not been employed since September. I quit my reference job at the library in order to volunteer in the cataloging section of the library. We've been able to cover our expenses, more or less, with my Foreign Languages and Area Studies fellowship stipend and Foxy's teaching income. In the next few weeks this may change as I take a job cataloging materials for the Spanish Department's Center for Spanish Studies. I'm making this change not just because this job is offering to pay me money, but because it'll give me a chance to diversify my cataloging experience and to use my Spanish language skills in conjunction with library stuff, which is the whole idea behind my FLAS fellowship.

Meanwhile, Foxy and I are seriously considering the possibility of me returning to unemployment after I graduate. For years now we've been looking forward to the day when I have a real job with a real salary and insurance and all that fun grown-up stuff, but now we're having second thoughts. We're realizing that Foxy's PhD program is likely to require a lot of time and energy on her part and, oh yeah, we have kids. S-Boogie will be starting Kindergarten in the fall but Little Dude will only be two and he generally doesn't seem to enjoy being with people other than his parents as much as his sister always has. So we could go ahead with the plan to get me a full-time job, find a good daycare option for him, and put Foxy in the position of juggling her full-time student responsibilities with the full-time parent responsibilities of making sure kids get to and from daycare and school on time and caring for them herself instead of having time to dedicate to homework and research, OR we could live for another few years as poor students and have one of us--me--available to do the parenting thing. We don't know yet exactly how much Davis is offering her in terms of money to live on and we still haven't heard from the other two schools she applied to, but we know that at least one school really wants her and has said they plan on funding her well. It's likely that I'll still need to get some kind of part-time job--and even if I didn't need to I'd want to do something to keep up my library experience--and Little Dude may still need some daycare, but at least this option means that one of us will be able to dedicate most of our time to parenting and that Foxy will be able to give her studies the attention a PhD program deserves. I've read too many stories recently of mothers who have had to perform scheduling gymnastics in order to get their degrees, and I admire them for accomplishing what they've accomplished while their husbands worked full-time, but I figure why do that if there are other options? We are, after all, quite experienced at the financial gymnastics of living on a student income. What's another few years?

Truthfully, I'm excited by this idea. While I've been excited at the prospect of starting my career, the one thing I've been dreading is the reality of a 40-hour job that would take away from the time I spend with my children. I'm ready to be done with school but I'm not ready to give up the flexible parenting schedule school has given me. Maybe I'll get a real job when the kids go to college.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's from the Love Monster!

Last week S-Boogie and I made Valentine's decorations (at her request). We spent an hour or two making heart chains and cupids and then made, with the leftover pieces, the Love Monster. It will love you... to death! (I refer to it as it because I'm undecided on whether it's a he or she.)

My proudest creation is my Cupid heart, which I think of as my interpretation of Tolkien Boy's theory that if full-scale human cloning were a reality homosexuality would be much more common. Either that or the difficulty of flying as conjoined twin angels.

Tonight S-Boogie and I spent another two hours making Valentines for her classmates and teachers. After all that I am Valentined out. It's a good thing FoxyJ isn't expecting me to do anything Valentiney for her tomorrow.



Sunday, February 10, 2008

Public Service Announcement: Set Your Clocks Back

No, it's not time for daylight savings. In fact, you don't even need to set your clock back an entire hour--just a minute or so. Why, you ask? Dr. Fob will explain:

Did you know that in Australia toilets flush the wrong way? It's for some complicated reason whose details don't really matter. The only thing you need to know is this: Toilets flush counter-clockwise in the norther hemisphere because of the way the Earth rotates. (And, you know, because that's the way God intended it.)

Did you know that if you spin your toilet-cleaning brush clockwise while the toilet flushes, you can make the water flush the wrong way? It's so simple, I can't believe that no one but me has ever ever thought of it in the history of the world. But trust me, no one has.

Did you know that in Superman: The Movie, Superman flies around the Earth so fast that he makes it spin the wrong way, causing time itself to go backwards? He did this to undo Lois Lane's untimely death in one of the most scientifically sound and narratively satisfying action movie climaxes of all time.

So if you felt something strange this afternoon, this is why: I was cleaning my toilet and I made it flush clockwise. Considering that I am in the northern hemisphere, if you've been paying attention then you understand what this means--I made the Earth spin backwards. And of course by now you've followed the trail of infallible logic to conclude that, for the minute or so that my toilet flushed the wrong way, I made time go backwards.

And that is why you need to set your clocks and watches back a minute.

See, kids, science is fun when you understand it as well as I do!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Calling for an Overhaul of Boyhood

FoxyJ sent me another good article from the New York Times tonight. In the article, "Girls Will Be Girls," Peggy Orenstein discusses two recent books targeted at girls (and their moms) and reflects on what these books, together with a similar book targeted at boys, say about gender roles. She points out that the girls' books emphasize the fact that girls can have the best of both worlds--"to be able to paint their nails and break them too"--while boys seem to be stuck in conceptions of masculinity forged at least a century ago and reinforced most recently by The Dangerous Book for Boys.
Whether girlie or girlist, girls, because they’re allowed more latitude in their identities, can still be girls: Boys, on the other hand, must be boys — unless no one is watching. In another study of younger children, Cherney and London found that if ushered alone into a room and told they could play with anything, nearly half the boys chose “feminine” toys as often as “masculine” ones, provided they believed nobody, especially their fathers, would find out. That made me question whether any more expansive vision of girlhood can survive without a similar overhaul of boyhood, which, apparently, is not in the offing. Learning to “create an amazing dance routine” (as suggested by [The Girls’ Book: How to Be the Best at Everything]) is still far more Dangerous for boys than, as their own volume suggests, learning to juggle.
While I believe it's hugely important to teach my daughter a healthy sense of her own identity as a girl, the most important thing I can do to ensure she lives in a world where those ideals I teach her match up with reality is to teach my son a healthy sense of his identity as a boy. And "healthy" in the latter case has no more to do with trucks, guns, and football than it does with lipstick, dolls, and cookbooks in the former. Or rather, a healthy identity for girls and boys potentially incorporates all of those things--except guns, which are evil tools of Satan no matter your gender.


When I found out that the Washington State Democratic Primary is basically an opinion poll--that all the delegates to the national convention are determined not by the primary but by the caucuses--I was a little hesitant. I'd never been to a caucus before and I was intimidated by the potentially in-your-face nature of the process. I felt strongly enough that Barack Obama should be the next president of the United States, though, to force myself to face the unknown and go to the caucus.

It ended up being a lot of fun and more satisfying, I think, than a simple vote-and-go election process. As with a lot of other areas of the country, my precinct had a record turnout this year, helped by the fact that I live close to a university and Barack Obama is able to achieve the impossible: get college students to vote. Taking that into account, the results ended up about as I expected, with Obama getting seven of the eight delegates my precinct is sending to the district caucus (who will in turn elect delegates to send to the county caucus, who will in turn elect delegates to send to the state convention, who will in turn elect delegates to send to the national convention in August).

I had an interesting moment when signing in. There's an optional field on the form where you can mark "GLBT" if it corresponds to you. I hesitated. If I check "no," am I a closet homosexual hiding my true identity? If I check "yes," am I claiming an identity that I don't deserve because I live in the social and political comfort of a heterosexual marriage? I ultimately decided to check "yes" because it seemed appropriate, in an election where a half-Black man raised by his white grandparents is being labeled the Black candidate, for a half-gay man in a straight marriage to label himself a gay voter.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Darn Personality Quizzes Revealing My Secret Identity...

Your results:
You are Superman

You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

One Down, Thirty-Nine To Go

With all the hullabaloo yesterday about Super Tuesday, I forgot that it was also Mardi Gras, which means today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. I'm going to try again this year to give up yelling at small children, so it's a good thing that I had a nice little yelling fit with S-Boogie yesterday when I found her in the middle of a pile of styrofoam pieces just minutes after I'd told her NOT to pick apart the styrofoam container. It must have been my subconscious mind telling me to spend Mardi Gras reveling in sin before entering a forty-day fast.

Today, I'm happy to say, went well. It's easy to keep my cool when the kids are in a good mood, and they were in a good mood today. My challenge will be not screaming back when they are screaming at me.

It's funny because I think most people who know me would say I'm a fairly even-tempered and easy-going guy. I'm not usually one to get angry and throw tantrums. Something about the irrationality of children, though, messes with my rational mind. The aspects of my personality that my children bring out in me are not pretty: my obsessive need for order, for control, for reason. When I don't have these things I become the type of parent that kids grow up to write bitter memoirs about. I don't want my kids living in fear that at any moment, if they don't do everything exactly right, their smiling, cheerful dad will snap and call down the wrath of God on them.

On the other hand, on days like today when I manage to behave how I insist my children behave--treating others with respect and finding appropriate ways to express our feelings--I like myself a lot more and I like them a lot more. And everyone goes to bed feeling happy. And hopefully S-Boogie and Little Dude will grow up thinking of home as a safe place, not as the source of their PTSD to be worked through in years of expensive therapy sessions.

The Future Dr. J

FoxyJ got her first acceptance letter today, to the comparative literature PhD program at UC Davis. We're still waiting on two more schools before she decides where she goes, but it's good to know she has at least one option. Feel free to drop by her blog and congratulate her if you feel so inclined.

I'm Too Young to Be Senile!

I just went into the bathroom to take out my contact lenses. Two minutes later I came out and Little Dude handed me his half-eaten cupcake for me to finish. That's when I realized that instead of taking out my contacts, I'd brushed my teeth.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Barack Obama Endorses the Fobcave

Here's how it happened:

Barack read my post about McCain almost winning me over by being a Lauryn Hill fan and he was all like, "Whoa, I need to do something to win Mr. Fob back, and fast." And he heard that of the Black Eyed Peas was making this little music video thing for him, so he called up will and he was like, "Dude, you totally need to get Lauryn Hill in that video" but will was like, "Dude, Lauryn Hill is a few tracks short of an album lately, if you know what I mean. Are you sure you want to be connected to her?" and Barack was like, "Ooh, good point. Maybe we could find out who Mr. Fob's second-favorite rapper is?" So will did some asking around, then called up Common and explained the situation and Common was like, "Well, I do like Obama, but I was kind of thinking of swinging over to the Huckabee side... Okay, I guess I'll do it for Mr. Fob."

And you know what? It worked. Who cares about the issues? I'm voting for the guy my favorite performing artists support.

(In case you are Common-illiterate, he's the bald guy with a goatee that shows up about 25 seconds in, then again closer to the end.)

Monday, February 04, 2008

One Week Later

This comparison would be more impressive if I'd posted a photo last week of the seven stitches hiding beneath that mountain of gauze and bandages, but it grossed me out enough to see them when I had to change the bandage, let alone take a picture of them.

I'm happy with how fast it's healing--much faster than the last time I had a hole in my forehead, whose round white scar can still be seen at the base of the new darkish line. The difference is that this time they stitched the hole up, so it should leave much less of a scar.

The bad news is that the little red dot closer to the center of my forehead is now officially the site of a future surgery, scheduled for mid-March, after the skin has time to heal up more and after the plays for my Spanish drama class--because I'll have a hard enough time passing myself off as a 16th-century Central American monarch without a big white bandage on my forehead.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Last week I learned that some of the women who participate in the spouses group over at North Star are putting together a weekend retreat for women who are married to same-sex attracted men. It's called WOW: Women of Worth, and will be held in Holiday, Utah, in June. For all the info, go here. I think this is a good thing and I hope it's a positive experience for everyone involved.

I would also like to point out that I totally found out about this before Ty posted about it on Northern Lights, but I was slow to post and so now I look like a follower. Oh well. I'm cool in my dreams.