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Archive for March, 2010

OK, the previous post reminded me about this piece, which I wrote for some English class assignment after having read Heminngway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” I know it’s cornball, but I got an A+ on it.

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That Afternoon, in the Meadow

It was lunchtime and they were all sitting under the spread of a great oak in the middle of the Hundred Acres Woods.

“Will you have some lemonade? Milk, perhaps,” asked the bear.

“Lemonade,” Christopher Robin told him.

“Well, I think I’ll have a pot of honey, if that is okay with you,” said the bear.

“Don’t get your head stuck in the pot again,” said the girl in an level tone. She was angry that she didn’t have another line of dialogue in this narrative.

He was not such a brave bear.

It was not very hot, but sweat dripped off the bear’s nose. The drips made a puddle on the table. He wondered of the others noticed. “Tra-la-la, tra-la-la,” said the bear, because he never learned how to whistle. “Tra-la-la, tra-la-la. Rum-tum-tum-tiddle-um.” The woman he called Slim had once tried to teach him how to whistle. “Just put your lips together and blow,” she said. But that is another story.

The bear had, only earlier that afternoon, shown himself to be a bear stuffed with the stuff that brave bears are not stuffed of.

“Here’s to the heffalump,” he said to Christopher Robin. “I can’t ever thank you enough for what you did.”

“Let’s not talk about the heffalump,” the girl said. She had deviated from the script and was now improvising.

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The bear thought back to the morning, when he first heard the heffalump roar. “Ho-ho!” It was a load, bellowing roar, far away, somewhere near Owl’s house, but it sounded much closer.

“Noisy bugger, isn’t he?” said Christopher Robin. “I guess you’ll just have to quiet him up, eh Pooh?”

“Oh, um, yes. Do you think the cork in my pop-gun is big enough to bag a heffalump? asked the bear.

“Certainly, silly bear,” answered Christopher Robin. “It was big enough to bring down a woolery, which is much larger than a heffalump, only not near as mean.”

The bear was not heartened by this turn in the conversation. He was not such a brave bear. He was, once, during the war. He felt down his tummy to where the scar was. He was restuffed with unbrave stuffing. But that is another story.

Ever since Christopher Robin made it to the first grade, he has not been as lighthearted as before. “The world is an evil place, Pooh,” he would say. “There are people out there who would take your milk money, and then laugh at you. I guess we all have our heffalumps to face.”

“Oh, yes. As long as they don’t have long teeth or sharp claws or knows Kung Fu,” said the bear, trying to keep his voice from trembling.

“That doesn’t make much sense,” said Christopher Robin.

“No, I guess not,” said the bear. “But it did when I began to say it. I don’t know what happened between when I thought it and when I said it. Think, think, think. What did I mean?” The bear has had a hard time concentrating lately. He missed his friends. Tigger had joined the Mixed Martial Arts tour and was fighting in Thailand. Kanga had finally gotten her divorce settlement and moved back to Australia with Roo. And Piglet, sweet little Piglet, is now the national spokesman for Ballpark Franks. None of them would return his calls.

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Earlier that afternoon they had tracked the heffalump on a trail that led them from the Outland to the Forest. But before it reached the Forest, the trail was bisected by the River near a long, narrow meadow.

“Chances are that he’ll come to drink along here,” whispered Christopher Robin. “Keep and eye out.”

A fish broke the surface of the River, made a little flop, and dove back underwater. The bear had once hooked a big fish, he remembered. It was on the first day of the World Series that year. “Are you trying to kill me?” he remembers asking the fish. But that is another story.

“There he is,” the bear heard whispered into his ear. “Ahead, and to the right. Go on and take him.”

The bear saw the heffalump now.

The bear saw the heffalump now. He was sitting, legs crossed, on a tree stump in the meadow. His large ears pink ears reflecting the afternoon sun. The heffalump had his right arm wrapped over his head, so his paw could scratch the bottom of his left jawbone. His left paw was in front of his face, with his thumbnail resting on the tip of his nose, and his little finger stuck into his right ear. He looked very comfortable.

“Go on, shoot him,” he heard Christopher Robin whispering loudly.

“Shoot him!” hissed the girl.

The bear raised his pop-gun to his shoulder and took aim at the biggest heffalump he had every seen, although he had never seen one before, but if he had, this one would have been bigger. He lined up the crosshairs of the sight on the huge pink form. His finger tightened around the trigger.

Just at that moment, the heffalump saw the bear and said “Ho-ho!” and charged at him, his enormous ears flapping wildly as the great beast bared down on the bear. The bear stood frozen. He couldn’t move a muscle as he watched the heffalump charge. He could feel the impact of the collision. He could see all of his not-so-brave stuffing scattered all over the Hundred Acre Woods, near and far, alighting like snowflakes on the warm ground.

Christopher Robin hit the heffalump square on the nose with a switch just as it was about to ram the bear. The heffalump stopped dead in its tracks. Its eyes welled up with tears. “That was not a very polite thing to do, Inglese,” cried the heffalump, who turned and walked away, sniffling.

The girl, ashamed at the bear’s unbravery, turned and sulked back toward camp.

Christopher Robin looked down at the bear. “Silly old bear. That was probably the only chance you’ll have to bag a heffalump. Oh well, Pooh. Tomorrow we’ll try your luck at woozels.”

“Oh bother,” said the bear.

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Oh, Bother!

Winnie the Pooh Meets Alien. This is wrong on so many levels… It comes by way of Godxilliary.com.

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M. C. Escher

“I don’t use drugs, my dreams are frightening enough.”

— M. C. Escher

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If you recently had your first baby, in addition to thinking you’ve got the cutest little drooler in the whole world, you’re probably also thinking, “Geeze, this baby stuff is hard, tiring work.”

First of all, as a father of twins, I can say you have no idea what hard is… and all your triplet parents out there, yeah, yeah, yeah, I know… I don’t want to hear it.

But just imagine having a baby who turns out to be a superhero-in-diapers. I give you: “Babies with Laser Eyes!”

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Sibling rivalry

Refraction

"I'll warm it up myself"

Concentrating...

OK, actually it’s a Web site that tells you how to add laser eyes to your own baby photos via Photoshop.

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Indira Gandhi

“Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave.”

— Indira Gandhi

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OK, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I took the boy and four other Cub Scouts from our Webelos patrol camping last weekend. The camping trip was designed only for Webelos—the oldest of the Cub Scouters; 9- and 10-year-olds.

On Saturday, the boys were entered into a competition where they had nine “problems” to solve. The rub was this: they had to figure out how to do each event on their own—no help from their leaders or parents. Let me tell you, it’s just about impossible to stay quiet while the boys fumble around trying to do something you taught them the night before. But I held my tongue. At least most of the time.

Anyway, we did OK for our first time through Webelos Woods. When we go back next year, we’re going to win it all. But until then, we’ll have this year’s experience to look back upon:

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Horse Shoes

Horse Shoes

Yeah, so this one didn’t really have anything to do with camping or any other Scout-related skill, but the kids had fun throwing the shoes. They were the heavy, metal horse shoes, and the kids we’re strong enough to reach the post. We scored two points. The winning patrol scored 41.

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Fire Starting

Fire Starting

In this event, the boys were given three matches and were supposed to start a fire that would grow big enough to burn through a piece of twine 18 inches off the ground. We had talked about this even the night before, and even went so far as to collect pine sap from trees to use as an accelerant. They built a serviceable tee-pee structure, with the right kind of kindling. All they had to do was put a flame to it. Unfortunately, none of the boys had ever used matches before, and after striking, proceeded to drop each match, hoping the fire would catch. The matches went out. Fire starting fail.

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Rope Bridge

The Rope Bridge

Again, we practiced this problem the night before, and the boys managed to get the two ropes tied between two trees taught enough for them to walk across. On Saturday, we botched it. They tied the correct knots, but in the wrong places, and eventually ran out of time. Before we moved on, I reminded them about where the knots were supposed to be, and they immediately retired their ropes and had a serviceable rope bridge. No points, but they did get the satisfaction of actually doing it.

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Field Stretcher

Field Stretcher

The problem: One of our number has been injured and cannot walk. Make a stretcher out of a trap and two poles and carry the injured boy for 50 yards. The execution: Not so good at first. The kids tried to tie the tarp to the poles, but that didn’t work. They tried rolling the tarp around the poles. No dice. When half the time was up, the official for the event showed the kids the right way to build the stretcher. Once shown, they had it down pat. They proceeded to build the stretcher and ferry “injured” boys to the fictitious aid station. The downside was that the boys who were being carried got dumped and dropped so many times that their pretend injuries were real ones when the event was over.

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Dining Fly

Dining Fly

The goal, raise a dining fly by using a tarp, a pole, four lines of cord and four stakes. Then stand under the fly. If the fly stays up for five seconds, the boys have completed the task (extra points if the correct knots are used). They went about tying the knots, driving stakes, and finally, putting the pole under the tarp. Well, it wasn’t textbook, but it managed just by sheer balance, to stay up long enough to get the points (correct knots and all). But the patrol we were racing against were not happy: they put their up according to Hoyle, but took five minutes longer than my boys. We were accused of cheating. My (silent) response: “Eat it, you sore losers. We won!”

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Pancake Flipping

Pancake Flipping

In this event, the boys needed to make a batch of pancake batter, cook up a platter of flapjacks and flip them into a ring on the ground six feet away. We pretty much had this one mastered, although one of the boys, in his excitement, only cooked half the pancakes (one side), and then flipped the half-pancake-half-better blobs on the platter. Still, they managed to get the required number of cakes into the ring.

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Slingshots

Slingshots

Nothing is more fun for a boy than taking potshots at pie pans with a slingshot. The ammo was biodegradable – dog food nuggets. No points for this one… it was strictly for pleasure.

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Nail Driving

Nail Driving

Only half of my scouts could drive a nail into the board. The other half managed to bend their nails. The patrol with the most nails driven home flush with the wood wins. We can in last. I’m going to have to work with the kids on this. As my granddad used to tell us, “Hit it hard. You’re not going to scare it in!”

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Kim’s Memory Game

Memory Game

A tarp with 57 items and 60 seconds to memorize the contents. We managed to list 24 of them, which was good enough for second place. Now, if they could just remember to bring their homework folders hone each day, we parents would be happy.

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Capture the Flag

The highlight of the day was the capture the flag game at the end of the afternoon. Instead of tagging an opposing player, the kids were armed with baggies filled with flour. They played four rounds and by the end, some of the kids had a nice powdered-doughnut look. Other managed to escape flour free. Some of the  carnage was captured on video.

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Near the middle of this second video (0:12 on the timer), my son, while cocking back to heave his baggy at an opponent, takes what looks like a groin shot and topples over. He claims it got him in the stomach and not in the “that place.” Judge for yourself.

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Winston Churchill

“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.”

— Winston Churchill

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