The Lost Seuss

OK… I’m getting a little obsessed here.

There was a big book of jokes that was illustrated by Dr. Seuss. I checked this book out of the library and read it many, many times, around when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. It was an old copy then (or, at least, a well abused one), which was probably around 1978-1979.

But I can not find this book at all on the all-knowing internet.

It’s good to have a pointless mission every now and again.

The First Third of Summer

RocketBoy’s final swim meet was last night. Not his most stellar performance, but he had a strong start. He was two lengths ahead of the swimmer next to him, but squandered it in the last 5 feet by more or less stopping and looking around at the other lanes to see whether he was winning.

I remember doing that, too. And I remember not heeding my father’s advise on it as well. May the circle be unbroken.

At any rate, the 6th place ribbons are a pretty pink.

He seems to really enjoy swim team, so I guess we’ll sign him up for more swim classes this fall/winter/spring to polish up his technique.

Somehow or other, I’ve gotten myself signed up for a Karate class. RocketBoy peer pressured me. I had thought that I could take it at the same time as he on Saturday mornings with some other adults that are working at the same time, but apparently I need to do some beginner classes first on Monday or Thursday nights first to get up to speed.

Some vacations are coming up fast, and I’m really looking forward to them. Both Kentucky and New Jersey, including a vacation-at-home where both the kids will be in Kentucky. I am totally going to knock out some home projects those evenings, especially the kids’ clubhouse.

I’m reading my first George Elliot novel (Middlemarch) via gutenberg.org, prompted by the Facebook Quiz question “Austen or Elliot?”, and so far I really like it, but I’m going to still say tossup between the two.

On an economic fit of geek, I note that one of the Middlemarch characters is struggling economically, and suggests moving from a 90 pound/year house to a 30 pound/year house, given that they have an income of 400 pounds a year. Which indicates that an optimal housing expense ratio for the time was 7.5%, as opposed to 22.5%. Or the 25% or 33% numbers I hear thrown around today.

Though, I assume the 30 pounds doesn’t include servants.

I feel a Big Ole Post about Health Care brewing in my head. Also, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But not today.

¿Eres tú mi madre?

I had my last Uncle Grampa’s Hoo-Dilly Storytime for the season, resuming next spring. There’s another one this Saturday, but I’ll be Giving Thanks elsewhere.

In case I haven’t described this show, it is essentially an improv show for kids. In the green room before the show, we make up four story titles and write them in dry erase marker on a wheel. A child from the audience comes up and spins the wheel, and whatever it lands on is the story we make up and act out.

The cast is two puppets (usually Phinneas J. Monkey and Lil’ Tamo the Robot), the host Larry Lederhosen (a grown man in lederhosen and a Robin Hood hat), myself (Fritz the evil Butler) and a guest character of the week.

The story this week was Tumbleweed Jones and the Cranberry Banditos. The Wheel of Stories actually landed on No More Candy!, which was a title that RocketBoy had suggested the week before. But the host, with a blantant disregard for protocol, spun the wheel back a space to land on Tumbleweed. (The other two titles were The Wizard, The Turkey and the Princess and Moonbase 7: Thanksmoongiving.)

Since my own child had suggested the rejected title (his plaintive cries that it would be a good story could be heard), I made an effort to incorporate it into the story (I played Tumbleweed Jones, traveling do-gooder whose rallying call was “No More Candy!”). Since we had two titles covered, we went all in and made the Cranberry Banditos hideout on the moon, and I summoned a Wizard, a Princess and a Turkey (audience volunteers) to vanquish the Cranberry gang in the end.

No idea why I’m relating this. Just a signoff for the season, I guess.

What I really meant to discuss was RocketBoy’s Mad Reading Skillz. He successfully read Are You My Mother? by Eastman a couple nights ago. I’m differentiating this actual reading from the other form, which is knowing the book and reciting it while looking at the pages. Armed with his recently acquired “sight words” and a fairly strong ability to sound out new words, he made it all the way through with minimal help from me.

I give some credit to my Sight Words Go Fish cards that I made. I ordered some blank Bicycle Poker cards and wrote pairs of sight words on them (an, are, the, see, and, me, he, she, etc). RocketBoy drew pictures in the middle, and we were off in a spirited game of Go Fish. He pretty much had all the words down after a few games.

Needless to say, I’m very excited. Reading is one of those milestones that loom large on my horizon of Significant Events, eclipsing such minor events such as first steps or feeding himself. But I am required to almost feign indifference during the process of getting there, since I don’t want to push him into literacy. The motivation and desire really have to come from him if it is to be a lifelong passion.

And I think he is proud of his accomplishment. But, to own the truth, this pride in reading pales in comparison to his pride in getting the lead in his acting class’ production of Are You My Mother?. The reading comes as a bonus side effect of his excitement of being in the production. He’s been inviting random strangers and family members alike to the show.

The last end-of-semester show was three students including RocketBoy performing “Peter’s Pets”, a go-to piece for small classes. Basically, Peter interviews several pets to see which one he would like. RocketBoy played Peter, so he is 2 for 2 in terms of leads, which requires us to do some ego management and discussion of the no-small-parts truism.

On the me front, I brought my computer back up into a limping, zombie state. It had died a few weeks back, and I’ve been ordering various replacement parts in an attempt to diagnose the root failure. As it happens, it appears to have been the power supply, though it might have also been the processor. At any rate, I have an extra processor (a AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Socket AM2 CPU) in case anyone needs one, never been used, as my motherboard is a socket 939 and these processors are not returnable once opened.

Also, I have a big Spanish test coming up after Thanksgiving. For motivational purposes, our instructor has held a competition this semester, awarding points for homework. At the end, the student with the most points gets a $150 Ectaco C4Sp Spanish Electronic Translator/eBook reader:

Of the 60 or so students, four of us have left the rest of the pack behind. I’m currently in the lead, 101 points to 99 for the other three. But the final exam is 100 points, so my lead is in question unless I nail the exam. If I nail it, then all their efforts are in VAIN. VAIN, I tell you, IN VAIN! Bwahahahaha!

Voy a estudiar estas vacaciones.

RocketBoy’s Book Log – Bone

I mentioned back in June that I ordered the omnibus version of Bone, a graphic epic about the Bone cousin’s journey into a mystical valley.

It took about 3 months, but RocketBoy and I finished it a couple nights ago. I had actually read ahead and finished a while back to be prepared for the darker storytelling of the last parts. But RocketBoy was not phased by the war scenes, and there was plenty of comic relief to keep it even keeled.

RocketBoy’s review can probably best be understood by his desire to dive in and read it again right away. I said we might try some other books first.

I’m wondering… Harry Potter?

Dem Bones

For his birthday in February, curt_holman‘s daughter Sweetness got RocketBoy the first Bone graphic novel/comic book/thing with pictures and word balloons in it, Out of Boneville.

RocketBoy has been demanding to read the next book, The Great Cow Race because, c’mon… Cow Race!

So I ordered the full Bone story in one ginormous volume.

Look at this sucker:

When it arrived yesterday, RocketBoy spent a long time just marveling at the sheer volume of story contained in that thing. He started flipping through it and looking at the pictures, then said, “I wonder what the picture at the END is!”

“Wait,” I said, “You don’t want to spoil the story by finding out what happens!”

“Pfft,” he said, eye-rolling away, “I can’t read, Dad.”

Perhaps not yet, but let it be known that the first reading by RocketBoy (aside from his name) occurred in the first Bone book, when he independently sounded out the phrase “Go Away”. Usually, he brushes off my attempts to help him sound out words despite his complete command of letters and their various sounds, but that time he dove into it on his own volition. So… reading is coming. Oh, yes, it is coming.

And I simply couldn’t be more excited.

The steady drip… drip… drip… of a book

I came across DailyLit via unclutterer.com.

Essentially, you can buy an e-book (looks like they’re around $5), but it comes to you in little email installments, at a frequency you set. This is for people who don’t have time to read a book, but do read lots of email everyday. You almost fool yourself into reading a book.

The catch seems to be that they don’t have much in the way of selection, only about 750 titles available. But, you could knock out one of the 422 public domain classics for free.

Death by Taxes, and How To Check Girls Out… of the Library

Elapsed time to (almost) complete all the various tax forms I am responsible for, with the aid of two separate TurboTax packages and an online investment club accounting software: 13 hours.

Are any of the candidates promising to make the IRS come to my house and figure all this stuff out for me? ‘Cause I’m ready to vote for that person.

This morning RocketBoy and I did our regular library visit before heading to his classroom. I believe he is motivated by two separate and equal factors: The desire to find interesting books and the desire to see his friends, E__ and J__, who usually stop by.

This morning they weren’t there when we arrived, and RocketBoy was not ready to trade in his current book for another, so he started calling the girls’ names. I told him he couldn’t yell in the library, so he went up to the librarian.

RB: Do you know where E__ and J__ are?
Librarian: (puzzled) Is that a book?
RB: No, they’re people.

Luckily, the librarian was spared trying to untangle that confusion when J__ came up behind RocketBoy and tapped him on the shoulder. He spent a few minutes showing her the pictures in his current favorite book, which I expect is his version of flirting.

I perused a book called Amazing Computers! or something of the like dating (I think) from the early 70’s. I was being condescendingly amused about all the amazing things they claimed computers could do until I came to a chapter dedicated to the dangers of computers, such as the ability of the government to collect data on us all and process it quickly, using it against folks who had done nothing wrong. Pretty sharp book, for the time.

Good Book Karma

I don’t hold my hopes too terribly high for what I can get from paperbackswap.com. I mean, I’ve gotten some good stuff, but I don’t expect the super popular stuff to come through there. I’m like #153 on the waiting list for The God Delusion, for instance.

Also, specialized books I don’t expect to show up there. So, despite that I’m #1 on the waiting list for The 5 Keys to Value Investing, I’m not holding my breath that it’ll show up at my door any time soon.

Also, I’m not sitting forlornly by the mailbox in anticipation of Good Vibes by Jay Cronley, which was the basis for the under appreciated Richard Dreyfuss movie Let It Ride1. Largely because it is out of print, and you can’t find a copy for less than $140 anywhere. And that’s for the mass market paperback.

But, you put your wishes out there, and you never know what might be granted.

For instance, over the course of a few days, I’ve been notified that I’ll be getting Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, the highly regarded graphic novel that I understand is being made into a movie. When I listed it, I was around 25th in line for it. Perhaps the movie increased the number of books in wide circulation. Also, How to Draw the Human Figure: Famous Artists School, Step-by-Step method, one of the consistently recommended books on drawing. This I didn’t expect to get because of its specialized nature.

Also on their way are What Are The Odds? : Chance in Everyday Life, an out-of-print book recommended by a friend, and The Cobweb, the last Neal Stephenson book left for me to read, until he writes another one. I wasn’t in a hurry to get this one, because it’s under his pseudonym Stephen Bury, which actually represents two authors. The other co-production Stephenson did, Interface, was a big disappointment. We’ll see.

1 Seriously, I love this movie. I love this movie like I love Joe Vs. The Volcano, which, like Let It Ride is a love that is doomed to be shared with no one but my brother.