Archive for October, 2012

A history of the Evergreen outbreak and general undead awareness

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30, 2012 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

ALWAYS think of the children FIRST!

We now know it all started with Monsainto. It is ironic that amidst all the political hoopla over the labeling of genetically modified foods, that it really began with a non-food product. Evergreen SelfMowing (R) lawn care products would not have been the first suspect for the outbreak that took down nearly 85% of the human race, but such events rarely come from a direction that anyone would expect.

It really was a brilliant idea pitched exactly perfectly to appeal to modern suburban Americans. A lawn that needs no fertilizer, almost no water, stays green even when the plants are technically dead, and best of all… literally mows itself. Grass treated with Evergreen remains in a state of almost suspended animation even when what would normally be read as “life” in the plant has ceased. The blades stay green and supple in the absence of water, or any care whatsoever. The blades of the grass also subtly saw at one another, wearing down the topmost portions, and creating a self sustaining mulch. So long as the plant is able to feed off of this mulch it will continue to stay green and grow at a suppressed rate which is perfectly balanced to offset the loss from the sawing. The end result is a perfectly self sustaining lawn, green and lush, without any effort on the part of the homeowner beyond very infrequent applications of the Evergreen product.

This miracle of modern time saving was achieved through the use of a virus. The virus was specifically designed to only affect grass varieties developed by Monsainto. In reality this was to ensure that the consumer could only use the product in conjunction with other Monsainto products, but it was advertised as a safety measure. The Evergreen product (The word virus was NEVER used in advertising, or in fact even internally. This policy was strictly enforced, and the effects can be seen in the personnel records of some members of the development team who were fined and placed on disciplinary warning after it was learned that they had nicknamed the product “zombie grass”.) was designed to be completely inert outside of about half a dozen strains of lawn grass, all of which were completely controlled by the company.

There have been accusations that the product was not adequately tested, but in fact this is untrue. Both the raw product, and grasses treated with it, underwent a rigorous testing procedure in which it was determined that there was no effect on any other life form, animal or vegetable. The smallest child could roll naked on an Evergreen treated lawn and eat handfulls of grass without the slightest consequence. Fieldmice could make their homes in the grass and never suffer in the slightest. Compared to conventional chemical lawn treatments, Evergreen was a breakthrough for health and safety. Additionally, since the life cycle of the grasses was limited, allergy sufferers were less likely to be subjected to pollens. In many states Evergreen was advertised as a “green” alternative to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and to be fair to the company, it is very likely that they believed this to be true.

Epidemiologists have now spent years backtracking the exact source of the epidemic, and the infection vector is extremely complex. In the beginning the problem stemmed from just one variety of Kentucky bluegrass which was designed to be susceptible to the Evergreen virus. Unlike the other grasses developed for use with Evergreen, the bluegrass was genetically very close to a more conventionally used variety. The conventional bluegrass used for lawns was not, in fact, identical to the wild variety, but it was close. Some years back when wild Kentucky bluegrass strains began to die out, a program of replanting was enacted wherein hikers and conservationists would reseed the wild grasslands. This reseeding was supposed to be done with only the wild strain, but due to lax enforcement, and a great deal of public ignorance, much of the reseeded area was filled with grasses which had been bred for domestic use. The wild varieties subsequently interbred with the domestic to the point where most “wild” Kentucky bluegrass was in fact very close to what people used in their lawns and sports arenas. The Evergreen susceptible bluegrass was not identical to either the wild bluegrass or the conventional variety, but it was unfortunately close. Much too close.

It is fair to say that, in nearly all cases, the Evergreen virus worked exactly as it was designed to do. So far as the epidemiologists have been able to determine the virus was only able to successfully spread to the native grass population in one area of Kentucky, encompassing an area of at most three contiguous counties. From there the outbreak has been traced to a single free range cattle operation. It appears that the alimentary tract of ungulates provides an optimum environment for mutation of the Evergreen virus. Whereas it has not been shown that the virus entered the bloodstream or tissues of the cattle, the viral load in the feces of cattle feeding on infected grasses has been seen to be both concentrated and varied as regards to strain. Infected feces in turn served to reinfect the grasses with new viral varieties, which were then consumed by the cattle. It has been shown that at its epicenter there were no fewer than 2000 genetically different strains of the Evergreen virus present in the infected grasslands.

For some time epidemiologists were stymied as to how the virus continued on its migratory route, as it is clear that the cattle were not themselves affected by the virus, nor was their meat a vector of contagion. In fact, it was the infected feces, sold as manure to another local farmer, which allowed the Evergreen virus to move on to its next host. The XXX cattle ranch did a small scale local business selling manure to other organic farmers, which is how the virus moved to the ZZZ farm. The infected manure was used on a variety of crops, most of which were not susceptible. The one exception was a small patch of heirloom corn. The virus did not affect the corn to the degree that it did lawn or field grasses, but it did visibly change the appearance of the kernels themselves. The farmer was not able to sell the crop, so kept it to use as a feed for his hogs.

It is still not clear what caused the virus to make the critical jump from a vegetable host to swine, but like so many viral diseases of the past, this proved to be the crucial, and ultimately fatal, factor. As only a single hog has been shown to have been stricken, it is likely that the virus mutated to its contagious form within that animal.

It was reported to be midafternoon when the farmer (who we will call Jones) noticed that one of his hogs appeared aggressive. Jones attempted to segregate the hog and was bitten in the process. He then went on to immediately slaughter and butcher the animal, as he was actively breeding for a docile strain. Hospital records show that Jones reported becoming somewhat ill afterward, and that he initially suspected a case of swine flu. This was shown not to be the case, and he recovered quickly. Several weeks later Jones fell ill a second time. Initial symptoms included a high fever, agitation, disorientation, and finally, aggressive biting. It is to be noted that Mr. Jones did NOT fall into the classic coma followed by the state we have come to call “walking dead”. He did, however, bite several family members and emergency staff. Thirty-six hours after the onset of symptoms Mr. Jones died. He did NOT reanimate, and is not considered to be patient zero.

It is to be noted for epidemiological purposes that none of the emergency staff who were bitten became ill. Of the four family members who were bitten, three became ill, and of those three, two did not prove to be themselves contagious. It has been hypothesized that both Jones’ secondary illness and the susceptibility of the the family members can be traced to eating the meat of the infected hog. In Jones the combination of the previous infection, and consumption of the infected meat, led to a fatal and aggressive illness which was not itself generally contagious. Family members who were both bitten and infected by consumption of the meat were mostly susceptible to the virus, but in only one case did the virus mutate enough to prove generally contagious.

It is a sad set of circumstances that led that single infectious family member to cause such a widespread and lethal outbreak. It is now known that the progress of the disease in children is much, much faster than in adults. Most adults sicken gradually over a period of days, ultimately falling into a coma with resultant death and reanimation. In some cases this can take up to three weeks. In children symptoms appear suddenly, generally only a day or so after infection, and are characterized by sudden convulsions similar to a grand mal seizure, followed by a coma which can last only a matter of minutes before the onset of fully aggressive reanimation. Newly reanimated children are also faster and far more aggressive than adult victims, moving quickly into what we now call “demon frenzy mode”. It is therefore particularly unfortunate that Patient Zero proved to be a seven year old girl.

Although the mother and two brothers of Patient Zero were also bitten by Mr. Jones, none of the family had yet shown any symptoms when the girl was sent to school to attend her second grade class, in an attempt by Mrs. Jones to maintain a “sense of normality” for the children in the family. It proved to be the case that her ten year old brother never developed any symptoms at all, while her fourteen year old brother and mother became ill much more gradually. All three were at that point in strict quarantine, but the damage had already been done. It is reported that Patient Zero went from a state of apparent normality to a full on biting frenzy in a matter of minutes. In the end no fewer than 37 people were bitten, 21 of whom were also children.

It has been widely reported that public health officials were slow to respond in an adequate fashion. It is true that although the remaining members of the Jones family were isolated shortly after the school incident, there was not adequate political will to remove 21 small children from their families absent any real understanding of the disease or its vectors of contagion. It has also been shown again and again with harrowing result the reluctance of family members to report, or adequately put down, infected children. Hindsight is always 20/20, but even with full current knowledge of the plague there continue to be reports of families hiding infected members against a vain hope of a future cure. That this is much more likely to be the case with small children, and that infected children are so much more lethal than adults, is perhaps the greatest tragedy and challenge to public health and security services.

Therefore it is our hope that this pamphlet will serve not only to educate our remaining population as to the history of the zombie plague, but will also serve as a warning to all those who may be tempted to try to shelter a zombie in our midst. Particularly a child. Remember, children are only our future WHEN THEY DON’T BITE! Please put ALL family members down at the first sign of infection, but particularly the children. A quick blow to the head is generally enough to shatter a small skull, and any sharp object can quickly penetrate an unfused fontanelle. Frenzied gumming may SEEM cute and harmless, but small gums wear down to bone quickly and can render a deadly bite. Also it has been shown that infant saliva carries a particularly heavy viral load. Let caution be your watchword.

Published by the Concerned Citizens for Zombie Awareness and Eradication.

Spy

Posted in Uncategorized on October 24, 2012 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

Why do I DO this to myself? Of course I know the answer to that one. I do things for the kids that I would never, ever, EVER do for myself. I actually talk to strangers. I attend planning committee meetings. I go to events filled with really rich people and pretend to belong there.

Actually that last one does net me free food. Plus I get to feel like some sort of spy for the 99%. Or at least the 47%

Last night I went to an informational meeting for parents interested in a certain artsy private high school. But not just any parents. No, this one was specifically aimed at parents of kids who are currently graduating eighth graders at one of about six of the elite private K-8’s in San Francisco, in an attempt to lure them over the rainbow into the land of $1000/lb designer granola. Since one of those schools does happen to be the Episcopal School for Privileged (mostly white) Males I was invited. And since Lamp really, really, REALLY likes this particular high school I decided to go.

I am not even going to mention what it costs to attend this high school, but let us just say that it is close to the median yearly income of the US. About what the family who hosted this little event could scare up by turning over their couch cushions, but I am guessing is more than they pay their maid. Of course to be fair ALL the private high schools cost around the same astronomical, mind boggling amount. And since this school is outside of the city, they DO provide a bus. For a small fee which actually works out to about $20 per day. Sigh.

Of course there is always financial aid, which is how Lamp has been able to attend his current elite school. So under the assumption of “it never hurts to ask” I said that he can certainly apply if he wants to. And I did go to the party.

Of course the people were all completely lovely. It was one of those grand homes that looks as if no one actually lives in it, presumably because someone else is paid to clean it. And I am guessing it is large enough that no one really DOES live in the portion in which the event was held. Certainly it didn’t look as if it housed teenagers, at least not of the variety that I associate with. The lady of the house was (of course) slender and lovely and wearing clothes that I just know would have actually meant something to someone who knows anything about such things. I expect that they were expensive in the way that only people who don’t have to ask what something costs can afford. I have no idea, but then I wouldn’t, would I?

Her husband was (of course) short and bald and somewhat drunk. And loud in the way that people are when they are somewhat drunk and certain that they are among their own kind.

Actually, I am guessing he is a very nice guy, but at a certain point in the evening he felt it appropriate to tell the room at large that an advantage of sending one’s child to Out of the City Academy is to allow them to meet “all different kinds of people”. I think the quote was something along the lines of, “We in San Francisco all belong to the same clubs and go to the same restaurants, but if you send them to OotCA they will get to meet LOTS of different types.” I am guessing by this that he meant different types of white children, since I have seen that campus. It is lovely, but it is about as ethnically diverse as Salt Lake City.

Of course what he was trying to say was that they have poor children there. By which I mean middle class children without private yachts. Of course they have those here in the city too, even at the elite private schools, and at least one of their parents was in that room. By which I mean me. The spy.

I came home after to my hovel. My 4 bd, 3 ba 2300 sq ft. hovel, which I RENT! And it is just an apartment! With no lovely flagstoned walkway and not a single marble column to be seen. I was feeling rather depressed and 47 percentish, when I recalled that just below my hovel there lives another woman with two children just the same ages as mine. They all three live in a single room studio apartment which you enter through a tiny kitchenette/hallway. There is a single window in this apartment which looks out into our garage. Just over the washer/dryer.

Perspective.

But I still feel like a spy.

Homeopathy

Posted in Uncategorized on October 20, 2012 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

Riding in the car with Invention this evening and listening to her tell some story in which a teenaged acquaintance is taking “pregnancy pills” … Tied right into something I’ve been thinking about involving homeopathic birth control.

So if the basis of homeopathy is to take something you DON’T want, dilute it to the point that it doesn’t actually exist anymore, and then introduce it into the body to cue the body’s own immune system to… I dunno… shut that whole thing down somehow… So bear with me a minute here. If I were to take a swimming pool, fill it with distilled water, dip a baby in it and then drink the water… shouldn’t that logically work as birth control?

I’m not sure. Might have to use semen instead of a baby.

And might have to douche with it…

But still, I think I might be able to sell this to people.

If I were evil…

A family for the rest of us

Posted in Uncategorized on October 16, 2012 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

I admit it. I have a crush. But it is totally okay, because it isn’t on a person, it is on a whole family. And not in a creepy way like that book “Endless Love” either. At least I really, really hope not.

I believe it was during Lamp’s second grade year at the Episcopal School for Privileged (Mostly White) Males that I learned about The New Boy. I am going to call him Random, which is descriptive in many ways. I learned that Random was an outspoken atheist. I learned that Random disliked sports.  I learned that Random had a strange and often inappropriate sense of humor. In other words this child had all of the qualifications to be an ideal playmate for my son. It really wasn’t up to Lamp anymore. This was out of his hands.

I believe I had actually already met Random’s parents at a school event at the end of the previous year, but they hadn’t really registered. I tend to be highly distracted at those events because I am trying so very hard. Not to fit in exactly, because how likely is THAT? Mostly I just try not to stand out too much. Plus back in those days I was trying extra hard not to be embarrassing and bring shame and disgrace upon my now EX-husband, He Who Shall Not Be Named. Well, any MORE shame and disgrace. So I expect I was paying too much attention to worrying that a klaxon would be ringing at any moment, and a loud automatic voice would proclaim “Peasant! Unbeliever! Product of PUBLIC Schooooooools! Unclean! Unclean! Unclean!”, and I would stand there in the spotlight and be forced to witness all of these lovely people pretend not to notice while they nibbled hors d’oeuvres.

So anyway, I was DISTRACTED.

However, at the next event I was prepared. This time it was one of those heavily expensive red wine soaked events in which mostly wealthy, nearly middle aged women compete with one another as to who is the biggest foodie: i.e. “Mom’s Night Out.” These are a bit hit or miss for me, because whereas I am actually professionally trained as a cook and am therefore SOMEWHAT in my milieu, any large group that is exclusively female makes me worry that it could easily devolve into the shower scene from “Carrie”. I admit it. I have issues. If someone reading this happens to BE one of those other moms, really… it’s not you. It’s me. You are all perfectly lovely, thin, smart, amazing women. I’m sure you never tormented the fat nerdy girl in high school. BUT, as usual, I digress.

So it was “Mom’s Night Out” at one or another large, lovely, uncluttered home where there inexplicably seemed to live children who were freshly scrubbed and adorably pajama’d by 7:30 pm when their nanny allowed them to briefly interrupt their mother to help them say their prayers before promptly descending into the quiet, cherubic slumber of innocence. I tried not to stare too hard in disbelief while I actively sought out the Mother of Random. Since it so happens that she is also the Mother of Invention (Random’s little sister), I will call her Necessity. (It is really either that, or Frank Zappa, and I think I’ll save that one for their dad.) I tried hard not to act all fangirl when I met her, not least because that would be utterly confusing. But I think I probably did follow her around like a puppy for a bit, and I probably said things that amounted to “Ohmygod! Finally! Another geeky atheist family! Thankyouthankyouthankyou for making me feel a little less alone. Please like me…”

So did I go out of my way to schedule playdates? You better believe it. No arranged marriage was so carefully orchestrated. Not that is was all that difficult. The boys had a natural affinity that we can maybe blame on the heritability of the geek gene. Now that I have met many of the extended members of that particular family, I can say that the geek force runs strong in that line, if perhaps a tad more on the father’s side where it seems to run pure for generations. Kudos.

So yeah, I have a crush on a whole family. Luckily when my marriage to Lord Voldemort ended, I was able to retain custody of them. So here’s a shout out to my “extra-kid”, Random. This is a boy who seems to eat only for ironic effect, and who caused his parents to have a school conference to discuss his “simulated sex acts with baby carrots during lunchtime.” His younger sister, Invention, who I truly believe could alter reality if she felt like it, and who got Lamp kicked out of the grocery store by acting REALLY odd and then saying she was Special Needs and that Lamp was her babysitter. Then there is the little one, Chaos, who wants to be like the big kids SO BADLY that it makes me very, very afraid. In an almost good way. And their parents, Necessity and Frank, who have truly, truly kept me from completely losing my shit on more than one occasion. I am really glad I made our kids play together.

Where there beith a will, thou hath a way.

Sisterly Love

Posted in Uncategorized on October 16, 2012 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

I wish I could remember what her first word was, but I can’t. Possibly because I am a bad mommy who never does things like baby books, and possibly because she may have just started out with complete sentences. One of her first was “I wannit.” Another was “It’s chocolate.” Those two were often combined.

But for me the most memorable and prescient of her early sentence constructions was this one:

“Boy BAD!”

I can still see her, a tiny tyrant. Her face screwed up in righteous indignation, she would point her little forefinger at her (generally mostly innocent) brother and declare, “Boy BAD!” I’m not certain why she felt it necessary to denounce him. Four years older, he doted on her as a baby and even after she became mobile enough to destroy his Lego creations he showed amazing patience and affection. Once he remarked that his then 18 month old sister was “half demon and half queen”, which lead us briefly to refer to her as Darth Tushka, Demon Queen of the Sith.

At age 3 she declared that girls love their mommies and boys love their daddies. Lamp was welcome to her father, but as far as she was concerned she OWNED me.

She has always been convinced that, just as the Earth is round and revolves around the sun (age difference be damned), anything he could do, she could do better. On the (admittedly rare) occasions that this has not been the case, the fury has been on an awesome scale. Not that she breaks anything. At least not ANYMORE. No toddler could throw a sustained temper tantrum like that girl. Complete with vomiting. I used to suspect her of secretly watching The Exorcist to get tips. But these days it is more of a Black Look of Doom that somehow manages to pass through walls and fill the entire house with an aura of quivering sulk to such a degree that I am convinced that if butterflies were to simply fly by the window they would drop dead on the spot. Luckily for the butterflies she is usually right. About everything. Seriously, one of the rules at our house is, “Remember, Tuki is always right.”

She goes through phases of greater or lesser annoyance with her brother. Lately she informed me that he “needs to be improved.” Apparently this improvement would be accomplished much more quickly if she could get me on board with the whole plan, but I was hazy on the specifics. Also I said I was pretty happy with him the way he is, so I think she largely gave up on me as an ally.

Earlier in the year, the kids got me to watch some of the last season of American Idol, a show I generally disdain. However I was pleased that the cute boy with a guitar won. I have an admittedly soft spot for cute boys with guitars… Anyway, I was putting her to bed that night (she was 8 at the time), and we had this conversation. This is as close to word for word (with name substitutions) as I can recall:

 

Me: So do you think Lamp will ever be famous?

Tuki: No.

(pause)

Tuki: Why? do you?

Me: Well, maybe…

(pause)

Tuki: No. He’ll never make enough money. And if he makes money he will spend it all on stupid stuff. He’ll probably have to live with you.

(longer pause while I try not to laugh)

Tuki:Is that what grown-ups do when they don’t make enough money? Live with their parents?

Me: I guess so. Or in a refrigerator box. OR they could live with their successful sister!

Tuki (with fistpump): Yay Me!

(pause with a three count)

Tuki: Waiiiit a minute… (Glare of Doom)

Tuki: He’ll be all day on my couch, and I’ll be out at my job, and he’ll have a little goatee and be getting a pot belly… and he’ll have on one of those white t-shirts, with pizza stains on it… and there will be pizza boxes stacked up everywhere, and… No! He has to live with YOU!

 

(me in uncontrollable fits of laughter)

 

I love both my kids, but there are some times when I am grateful not to have siblings.

Unfunny Rant about Economics — Proceed at your own risk

Posted in Uncategorized on October 16, 2012 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

What exactly is an intern?

In some cases it seems to be an unpaid training period for a high level profession that absolutely requires on the job training. A good example of this is a doctor. It is a necessary step in the education process in some ways similar to an apprenticeship. There are some things that you absolutely have to learn by doing. Most technical schools end with some form of internship. In many cases it is the most valuable part of an education, and although an unpaid training period is almost invariably some form of hardship, it also needs to be figured in to the cost of the education. In industries where it is required, it is valued and serves to further a later career.

Then there is the legal or political internship. It is not absolutely required to be a lawyer or government mover, but it is generally considered a part of the process. Unlike the medical internship, however, these do not tend to be part of the established curriculum. The student shops themselves out for a short period of time to a firm or government agency, HOPEFULLY gets valuable on the job experience, and comes away with a valuable reference and maybe some important connections. It helps to have a family that can afford to support you in a major metropolitan area while you do unpaid work, but it is not impossible that you could support yourself with a second job and enough hard work. If you are young and unencumbered, in the long run this sort of experience will probably serve you well. Even if the place you work essentially has you running the copy machine, fetching coffee and taking notes at meetings you will come away with that reference and a leg up in the old boys’ network of connections that this country’s industry really runs on. Sure you may be exploited a little, but you have made the decision that your long term gains vastly outweigh that exploitation. And it is your decision. You should have the right to sell yourself at whatever price you wish.

There are other industries which traditionally employ interns in low level positions in which the jobs themselves actually have zero to no learning experience, and the interns take the positions simply to get their foot in the door of a competitive industry. In sports or entertainment, interns often do the work of pages, gofers, personal assistants and clerical help, and they do these jobs NOT for training, but for business connections. Once again a cost benefit analysis is done, and the young person decides that it is vastly better for them to do unpaid clerical work in a high profile industry for a short period of time than it is for them to do low paid summer work that doesn’t net them future connections.

All of the above examples are cases in which there is a long standing tradition of taking on interns. The role of the intern may be more or less exploitative, but it is understood to be short term and to the long-term benefit of the young person. However, in our new economy more and more businesses seem to be seeing the word “intern” and reading it as “zero expenditure labor”. Even worse, some companies see interns as a way around hiring skilled contractors for their short term needs, and in the current job market they are actually having some success as the labor pool becomes more and more desperate. Ads for interns list professional level requirements. Interns are sought for skilled positions outside of the company’s core business model. This is akin to a restaurant offering a bookkeeping internship in March and April just in time to do the taxes. The intern is not being taught anything, or mentored. They are just being given the opportunity to work for free.

The problem with the above is that it is not a closed system. You may be willing to allow a company to make a profit on your unpaid work because it is to your longterm gain, but that ignores the fact that you are essentially filling a position in that company that would otherwise have to be paid. I am not speaking here of the student who is allowed to tag along with a high level mentor and try their hand at doing something they otherwise would never have access to. I am speaking of the four students who are brought in for 10 hours a week who end up doing the job that would otherwise be done by one paid front office worker. That is one less front office worker with a job, and it also sends a signal to management that the work of front office workers is of limited value. It might take twice the man hours of interns to make up for one skilled employee, but when the cost to the company is zero, that is not much of a downside. Actual adult professionals with families are placed in the position of competing for their jobs with people who admittedly may be less skilled, but come at a negligible cost. When you see ads for marketing interns or design interns with professional level requirements, and those positions are not for marketing or design firms, it is a fair bet that someone is trying to get free services.

This is all why the government actually has strict laws regulating unpaid internships. I don’t think that these laws are really there to protect the interns from exploitation. It is a fact that NO ONE FORCES anyone to take one of these positions. The laws are there for the same reason that minimum wage laws exist. At times when the power structure disproportionately favors the employer, these laws keep market forces from devaluing the entire labor pool. When extremely low cost or free options exist for management, it brings down the earning power of everyone except those at the very top. The fact that this only results in short term gains, and possible long term liabilities has very little impact with the current corporate structure which is primarily driven by short term quarterly profit. On a societal level the reduction of the earning potential of the majority has a negative impact on the purchasing power of that majority, and in the end, results in losses to the economy and the weakening of the very companies that initially benefitted. However, these effects are slow and seldom show up on balance sheets. And these laws are seldom, if ever enforced. Changes to the laws which allow someone OTHER than the intern to report malfeasance have sent up squawks of “Big Government Fascism” from corporate leaders.

Are unpaid interns a major drain on society? Probably not, compared to outsourcing and a general corporate oligarchy that has been slowly turning the concept of paid labor back into the mode of indentured servitude and serfdom of previous centuries. However, they are a particularly galling example of the trend toward disenfranchising paid, mid level skilled work and favoring those who can afford to spend a short period of time among the great unwashed before ascending to their future corner office.

Lamp, meet Toilet

Posted in Snark, Snarky Pride? on October 15, 2012 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

Yesterday I was explaining to the boy that I now have a Blog. I explained to him that he will be featured in said Blog, and that it will likely include some of his… let us call them “exploits”. Actually, I think I told him I would be writing about the stupid-ass things he occasionally does, and that having them revealed in the Blog is in fact his punishment for every so often being a complete idiot. And by idiot, I really mean being a thirteen year old. He immediately told me that I was not to use his name, and I assured him that I would not, and that I planned to refer to him simply as The Boy. He said he preferred to be called “Lamp”, because that is just the kind of guy he is.

I find being around a thirteen year old boy to actually be quite fascinating. He and all his friends are such a bizarre combination of intellectual maturity like cheese sprinkled at random onto a noodley bed of impulsive actions, thoughtless behavior, random kindness and resentful frustration. With hormone sauce. They all have effortless musical talents most adults would kill for, and they are all as awkward and adorable as Saint Bernard puppies. I never had any brothers, so most of the time I find them delightful as long as I stay far enough away to avoid the smell.

So anyhow, we recently made the decision to get Lamp his own iPhone. His little sister, The Responsible One, has had one for about a year now, and it has been a small point of contention. She got hers mainly because he already had a phone, which was provided by his father. This phone had proven useless for the purposes of reaching him because after six months of neglecting to charge it, neglecting to carry it, and repeatedly losing it, his father forbade him to remove it from the premises. This phone had no data capabilities, and was most certainly NOT an iPhone, so it held little appeal for him and as a result spent all of its time at his dad’s apartment. Mostly turned off. His sister, on the other hand, could be trusted to carry and charge her phone, and thus provided me with a means to keep in touch with them when spending time with their dad. She also immediately installed the safety lock screen with a passcode so that Lamp could never, ever use her phone without permission. And groveling.

I decided to finally get him his own because he was spending more time out and about by himself, or with friends, and I wanted a way to reach HIM specifically. I figured that an iPhone would hold more appeal for him as he could also listen to music, play games, and use the internet, thereby providing him with an incentive to charge it and care for it. He didn’t get the latest model, because I never get the latest model of any Apple product, but he was still utterly, completely thrilled. He carried it with him with the dedication and loving devotion of a father penguin caring for his egg through the harsh polar winter. He had it about 30 hours before the Incident.

As I was coming downstairs I heard something between a shriek and a squawk and by the time I arrived he was frantically drying his new iPhone with his shirt. It seems that he had taken it with him to the bathroom.

And dropped it.

In the toilet.

Which he had just peed in.

When I asked him why, WHY??? would he bring it with him into the bathroom, he said, and I quote, “I was testing the light.”

Once I had finished laughing at him I was just grateful that he was not testing the camera.

I was also a little impressed. Had he dropped anything else into a bowl full of fresh, warm urine I am pretty damn sure that I would have been recruited to fish it out. This is a boy who doesn’t even like to scrape out the inside of his own pumpkin at Halloween. But in this case he was like the proverbial 105 pound woman who lifts a car off of her beloved child. He didn’t hesitate. He acted! And in the end, no lasting harm was sustained by the phone, which I think is a testament to the engineering and foresight of the folks at Apple. I am tempted to send them a user testimonial, but I am not sure how useful it would be to them for marketing purposes.

So one minute I am tearing my hair out trying to find ANY sense of logic in “testing the light”, and the next minute I am unimaginably proud. Last night I took him to see Argo (which was great by the way) and ALREADY pretty pleased that my 13 year old son wanted to see a movie about the Iranian hostage crisis. As we walked through the theater lobby I noticed a poster for a Twilight movie marathon, and I was unable to resist teasing him a little by suggesting that I get him a ticket. After the predictable snort of derision, I reminded him that it might be a good place to meet girls.

His immediate response?

“Not the right kind.”

GOOD boy. YOU get a biscuit!