Sunday, June 27, 2010

the barrier that may not be crossed

When 7yo was 3yo or so, he was very vague about the difference between boys and girls. In fact, for about a year, girls were the ones who had bangs in their hair while boys did not. The fact that he's always had bangs confused me, but such was the rule. Since around 6 though, he's not just become aware of sex differences with body parts, but he's fascinated with gender construction.

In fact, gender is the one line that may not be crossed in imaginative play. When pretending to be something else, one can clearly imagine being a robot, a dog, a crocodile, a mutant, a giant monster, a chair,... but one cannot ever be... a girl.

He's a little director and assigns all of us roles to play. Last night walking along the canal I was variously Superman, War Machine, and our own made-up superhero named Same Old Fish. He was Iron Man, Justice Lord Superman, and more. N of course was Wonder Woman or Spider Woman or Scarlet Witch. None of us are ever allowed to pretend to be a gender we are not.

This rule is even more strict than the good guy / bad guy rule. He must be labeled the good guy 97% of the time. Even if the good guy is chopping off limbs of bad guys who seem to be doing nothing other than standing there. But they're bad so they deserve it. But 97% is not 100%, and I've never heard him pretend to be anything labeled "girl".

Good news is that he's not obsessed with silly rules. For instance, he recently declared that all colors were okay for boys and girls. Blue is his favorite color, but it's okay if a boy wears something pink.


Interview because he just sat next to me:

Me: 7yo, how are boys different from girls?

7yo: Girls have 4 private parts. The little dot, their bottom, and they have boobies.

Me: Where did you learn that word "boobies". I don't use that word, Maman doesn't.

7yo: If you want to use the short word for boobies, it's just boobs. Boys only have 2 private parts.

Me: Do they act the same or act different?

7yo: Different. In French Polynesia, girls do this: *starts twisting hips* Boys do the funky chicken dance: *moves knees in an out* (He just went to the Polynesian Cultural Center, where they did a session of Tahitian dance where this is true.

And they have different languages. Some boys have the same language as girls. Some boys don't. (However, he can't come up with any examples of different boy/girl languages. Btw, depends on what you want to call a language, but he's right about different speech between the two in many cultures.)

Me: Any other differences?

7yo: It's what bathroom they go in. The boys go in the boys bathroom; the girls go in the girls bathroom.

Me: Your friend YYY at school. Why is she a cool girl?

7yo: Because she's nice. I ask her for a pencil, she let's me have a pencil.

Me: Anything else you want to say about boys and girls?

7yo: The End.


Overall pretty healthy attitudes about girls and boys I think. Nothing crazy in there. But just don't cross that line.


I read the post to them and N says, "it's sometimes okay for me to be a boy."
Me: "Can maman pretend to be Superman?"
7yo: ummmm Spider WomanMan. Half girl, half boy.
Barriers are collapsing!!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hanauma Bay

N just started her vacation today until the 6th of July, which means I am on vacation now as well. Typically each year we go to a neighbor island for vacation, but this year we couldn't see how that would fit in any budget. Therefore, we are doing one of the legendary staycations. Fortunately, we live in Hawaii.

Today was our only day without 7yo, and I talked N into going to Hanauma Bay, which is a really, really popular site for snorkeling. We're talking a million people a year visit this place. Anyway, it's now 1 million and 2. Since I'm still extremely pleased that I have an underwater camera, let's just cut to the chase, shall we.

I SWAM WITH THREE HUMUHUMUNUKUNUKUAPUA'A!! I.e., triggerfish of particular sorts; these are Reef Triggerfish. I like this video, because I'm sitting there following some yellow-striped goatfish, a goatfish!, and then a banded thing and boom! humuhumu shoots into the scene and we are off to the races. Suddenly, I found myself with three of them.

The video is just under a minute.

Anyway, Hanauma Bay is an old collapsed volcanic cinder cone. One side fell down some tens of thousands of years ago and the ocean came for a visit. Later coral did its thing and voila State Park. Here's a couple picks for what the place looks like:

And here are some fish that I (ok, N in the end) have done my (our) best to identify.

This you will be surprised to hear is possibly a humuhumunukunukuapua'a, the Hawaii state fish.

Spotted boxfish under a rock and not under a rock.

The blackspot sergeantfish

Orangespine Unicorn Fish

The legendary yellow-striped goatfish

And the orange-banded surgeon fish

The orange-banded buddies are particularly cool live, because those orange bands just pop out when they swim by. Here's a final 30 second video.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Report

Sunday, the 20th, was Father's Day here in the U.S. I was able to sleep in a bit, received a nice couple presents from a store, plus two homemade ones, and then went out for breakfast. Woohoo. Afterwards, well...

I splurged. For a long time I've wanted a camera that could go underwater for snorkeling purposes. And so eventually we went down to Best Buy and I spent my graduation present, any extra father's day credits I have, and my birthday present budget from August to purchase a little Fujifilm camera that's certified to 10 feet underwater. I'm a bad man.

Therefore, a few hours later, it was off to Lanikai Beach in Kailua, island of O'ahu. It's a famous beach with white sand and pale blue ocean. It's roughly where Obama vacations when he comes here and rents that multi-million dollar home. However, I had never been, so off we go.

Setting the scene:

It would be nice to say the beach is abandoned except for us, but as you can see, that isn't the case. Still very pretty. (There are such beaches on Oahu, but this ain't one of 'em.)

Here come's 7yo with his kickboard, practicing to look ubercool as a surfing teen. However, right now we are taking swimming lessons from the Y and are in the beginner Polliwog group.

And here's me with the 7yo in action photos. I'm functioning as the midsection flotation device. (And, yes, I have a goatee right now and yes there's some gray in it.)

I don't actually have a real swimshirt like little guy. This is a running shirt from back when I was in better shape. Scratch that. Back when I was exercising. I did walk/run 3 miles on Saturday morning, but that's the first time I've run a mile in a few months.

After various other family play time, I put on the snorkeling gear and headed off. First, let me say it's really weird intentionally putting a digital camera into the ocean. You know what the packaging says, but it just feels wrong. Anyway, I took a series of photos, but none are particularly good. I'm both a beginner snorkeler (snorkeled about 6 times now) and beginner underwater photographer. I've got fish pictures, but all you see are gray fish shapes. Here's some of the coral I was swimming around.

And here's a video that's about 40 seconds long. I won't win any nature photography awards with this video. (Right now the whole video is playing in Firefox, while only the first 13 seconds play in Safari. Not sure what's up.)

After a couple spins out there, for maybe 40 minutes, the sun was headed down. You can see that it's quieter now and the shadows are longer. We jumped back in the car, headed over the mountains, and back into Honolulu.

And, tomorrow, (or today for everyone in the world reading this) is N and my 12th wedding anniversary. It's party central at Paca Headquarters.

Monday, June 14, 2010


As people may have heard, there's a movement afoot in the Arizona legislature to find a way to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. based upon the immigration status of their parents.

It's a clear hot button issue. That Yahoo news article I linked has gotten 21,000 comments, ignoring any and all replies on top of that, within 2 days. Practically, the bill is almost certainly a non-starter. The Constitution itself states that anyone born in the U.S. is a citizen and the 14th amendment made it even stronger: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States..." The authors of the Arizona bill say they will try to write it in a way that isn't unconstitutional, but it's difficult to see how they'd pull it off. We have a long history in the U.S. of finding ways to deny citizenship rights to citizens of the wrong type (usually based on race), and so the Courts have a long history now of seeing that and striking the laws down. In the end, the bill is probably entirely political and feel-good for those of a certain political persuasion.

That said, my opposition to such a bill has mostly been wishy-washy. I like to be nice to people no matter where the person came from, so you know....

That's not much of a thought process. Through a Facebook comment, however, I think I understand why the law is wrong. Someone who supports the bill used the phrase: "denying birth certificates to illegals." However, this is not what the bill proposes.

No one is attempting to give the parent that is in the country illegally an American birth certificate. That wouldn't make any sense; they weren't born in the U.S. (Naturalization being distinct from a birth certificate). Instead proponents of the Arizona bill are attempting to deny American birth certificates to children born in the U.S. whom the Constitution explicitly declares to be American. They are abridging the privileges of American children. The baby is in no way illegal, but they are going to be denied citizenship based upon the legal issues that their parents are involved in.

We don't deny American birth certificates based on any other crime. Your parents can be murderers, thieves, perverts, rapists, cannibals, traitors.... The kids are still American no matter what heinous act their parents did. Moreover, we don't hold the child responsible for those acts. While imperial China did punish entire families when one family member committed a crime, today we don't legally punish an infant for its parent's actions. And citizenship is the fundamental right from which all others follow. The Bill of Rights only applies to American citizens. Take away citizenship from an American child because of the legal problems of their parents, and you've taken away all legal rights. It cuts right to the core.

The purpose of the bill, then, is to remove all rights from some American children who have done nothing illegal so that it is easier to punish the parents who have.

Thursday, June 10, 2010



Here's something that makes me very angry: when another adult tries to circumvent the parent and go directly to the child.

Case 1: Random sales person at an open air booth with some sort of light up doohickey. 7yo wants to go over and look at it, but I say, "no we have to keep going." But sales person jumps in with, "oh, it's okay. c'mere, take a look." me: "no, 7yo, we have to go." salesperson: "it's okay, i won't bite." me says: "I know you don't bite, but we are actually going somewhere," but thinking "hey! i'm the kid's parent and I may or may not be right, but I'm the kid's parent, so back the hell off."

Case 2: Guy feeding ducks next to the canal with a loaf of bread. 7yo and I walk by on the way home from 1st grade. Guy: "hey, little one, want to feed the ducks?" me: "we can't; we have to go home." Now, lest I come across as a complete wet blanket, there are actual reasons for this. We had just picked up literature days before from wildlife specialists about how it wasn't good to feed ducks in our area because they interfere with other wildlife we'd like to support in various ways. Moreover, the canal actually has signs posted saying, "don't feed the birds. $500 fine." I'm not joking. Such signs are there. So I said no. Naturally, it's not the end of it. Man: "it's okay. here's the bread." 7yo walks to man to get the loaf of bread as man gives me a "you are such a horrible father" look. me: "I said we had do go." Man pointedly gives the bread to 7yo. I could have forced it and went off on the guy. Perhaps I should have, but at that point with bread in child's hand, we went ahead and fed the damn ducks. Now, the guy wasn't creepy. It's not that. It's just that I'm clearly saying no over and over, and he's determined to do this nice thing for my son, no matter what the stupid parent says. And that's completely wrong. Generally, a good spouse doesn't overrule their mate on parenting decisions in front of the kid unless it's a really bad decision. This should go 50-fold for a stranger, even if he's trying to be nice. Mr. Stranger needed to be fed to the ducks.

b: Did you know that "assundry" isn't an official standard American word? It may be a regional southernism. I had no idea it was so. Seems kinda formalish to me.

c: There was some commercial today where the tagline was "re-imagine possible," or some close thing. My question is: what the heck grammar is that? Is possible a noun there or an adjective? I can say "re-imagine the possible." Possible is a clear noun in that case. Are people in standard American English dropping more articles such that you get "re-imagine possible?" You can also say "re-imagine what's possible," where "possible is now an adjective in the clause "what is possible." Or perhaps it's an adjective in a shortened version of something like "re-imagine possible stuff." I'm mostly curious because I'm wondering if it's becoming more okay to drop articles. Or maybe "possible" can be used as a mass noun. You don't need articles with mass nows. "Re-imagine water," "re-imagine slime," "re-imagine brilliance." All good. But when did "possible" become a mass noun? Thoughts?

d. In Australia, filet as in filet mignon sounds like "fill it". How cool is that?

e. Apparently, there are real live rock wallabies living on O'ahu in Kalihi Valley. Wallabies in Hawai'i. A pair escaped about 100 years ago from some person, and, voila, wallabies. I might have to hike Kalihi Valley soon.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Reading for June

UPDATE: We have a last minute entry from the one and only Precie! I've added a link to her post below. Definitely worth listening to!

Hi all,

I've got mine up. You may hear a bit of Master Chef Australia in the background, but one records in the conditions one must. This is a .wav file and should play in most any software you've got on your computer, though the file is a good bit bigger than ideal. Let me know if you have trouble hearing it.

This is a bit of the writing I did for Nanowrimo, which is the last fiction writing I have done.


Sylvia is creating a very nice looking set of links here:

And here are links to the other readings that I've gotten so far:

Faerie Hedgehog