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President Obama, unsurprisingly, wants higher educational standards for the U.S... y'know, more like what we've already got here in Massachusetts:

In calling for tougher test standards, he highlighted progress in Massachusetts: "The solution to low test scores is not lower standards – it’s tougher, clearer standards. Standards like those in Massachusetts, where 8th graders are now tying for first – first – in the world in science."

Yes, this is one of the biggest reasons we moved to Boston.  For all of the snow, all of the traffic, all of the higher taxes... our kids will get good educations in this state, which is something I couldn't say with any degree of confidence a year ago.
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Originally published at my site. Please leave any comments there.

The Author, 1984

Three Years

Jan. 8th, 2007 01:16 pm
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Originally published at Please leave any comments there.

Three years ago today, Terry and I made this world a better place by bringing our younger daughter Laurel into the world. This child, this constantly amazing, challenging, entertaining, demanding, commanding, snuggling, exhausting, enthralling, surprisingly eloquent child, has brought a tremendous amount of joy, laughter and sweetness (plus more than a couple of headaches, I’ll admit) into our lives. I couldn’t be more proud of her or more excited about seeing what she’s going to be capable of as she gets older, what kind of person she’ll be.

Happy birthday, little girl. You are my heart made manifest in the world.

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Originally published at my site. Please leave any comments there.

Kelsey, Dec. 06

Kelsey watching Playhouse Disney at her grandmother’s house, December 9, 2006.

Can I just tell you how much I love the new camera I got Terry for Christmas-her birthday-Valentine’s Day-Mother’s Day? This thing (a Nikon D50) captures light and detail so so so so much better than the little point-and-shoot we’ve been using. Expect to get much better Monday Photos from here on out, people!


Sep. 15th, 2006 12:08 pm
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Originally published at Do Or Do Not.. You can comment here or there.

Ever since the move, I’ve been feeling more than a bit on the, shall we say, constipated side creatively. What with the new job and all, I haven’t felt good about writing anything during the day while at work (both because I’ve been trying to make a positive impression and because I’ve been really friggin’ busy since the day I started here, and that’s not likely to ease up any time soon). At night, I’ve been doing some freelance work for a friend and when I haven’t been, I just haven’t been able to unclog my backed-up wordflow.

But I don’t like the fact that I haven’t written anything lately. I don’t like the fact that my online empire has grown so stale during the last six weeks or so. As a friend pointed out a little while ago when Terry mentioned the aforementioned creative constipation: “The video of K is cute and all, but…he should think about fiber.”

So this is me thinking about fiber.

It’s not that I haven’t had stuff to day, but rather haven’t been able to organize anything in my head to make a coherent post out of it. Thusly, coherent posts be damned, and let’s move on to a bullet list, shall we? Maybe doing so will be like Metamucil for my brain.

  • North Carolina is just beautiful. Most of the days for the month we’ve been here have featured bright blue, mostly cloudless skies, nice breezes, reasonable temperatures, and lots and lots and lots and lots of green. (We do live in Greensboro, after all.) But man, when it rains here? It friggin’ rains. Forget those pansy little “rain showers” we got up in New England, the kind where you can’t even hear the rain on the roof, the kind where you’re actually surprised to discover it’s raining when you step outside. Here, we get real rain, big ol’ honkin’ drops that hit your skin like heavy bullets of water — this ain’t rain that’s gonna sneak up on you. It’s not quite torrential Florida rain, at least not that I’ve experienced yet, but the first time it rained on us here was yet another reminder that we’re back in the South (along with Waffle House and the ability to buy beer and wine in grocery stores).
  • Monday night, for those of you haven’t heard, is Sorkinalia (a.k.a. the debut of Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip). I doubt it’s much of a secret that I’ve been looking forward to this holiday for more than a year. But unlike the ridiculous amounts of anticipation I built up for Superman Returns, my expecations for Studio 60 are a tad more reasonable. It doesn’t have to be the best TV show I’ve ever seen; it only has to be better than most TV shows. Given that Sorkin’s behind it, I think that’s a reasonably safe expecation for me to harbor. I encourage every single one of you out there to watch it Monday night at 9 EST on NBC; I hope to be posting my thoughts about it on Tuesday.
  • I think I want my DVR back (we didn’t get one when we set up our cable in the new house). Too many new shows I want to try out and no way in hell I’ll be able to sit down and watch them all at broadcast time. Having little kids makes being a TV fan difficult, I swear.
  • Speaking of little kids, hearty congratulations are in order for my buddy Jeff Newberry, who recently discovered he’s going to be a first-time dad. Good on ya, Jeff! I fully expect to hear about you reading poetry to Heather’s belly as she hits the latter stages of her pregnancy.
  • Also speaking of little kids, Terry’s got her report on Kelsey’s initial foray into organized sports up over at Mother Mirth. Terry was all witty and wistful and pensive and stuff so I didn’t have to be.
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Originally published at Do Or Do Not.. You can comment here or there.

I’ve recently been getting back into Flash development a little bit (the new job actually calls for it; the recent job of three years did not), and so I was playing around with some of the video capabilites of Flash 8. And because I’ve been feeling a bit schmoopy about the older kid today (first day of school today!), I put the following quickie video together as an exercise.

(NOTE: Flash 8 required, which, c’mon, you really should have by now anyway. Peeps reading this through syndication, you’ll just have to click on over to experience the cuteness.)

I’ll have more to say on this subject later, I’m sure, but I’d just like to state for the record that I’m so incredibly proud of the person Kelsey’s already becoming. It seems there’s much about strength and courage I can learn from my four-and-a-half-year-old, and I think that’s pretty damn groovy.

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Originally published at Do Or Do Not.. You can comment here or there.

We only have a cassette player in our Jeep. We’ve always planned to install a CD player at some point, but never have had both the spare cash and the gumption to get it done at the same time. And for the last two-and-a-half years, we’ve only had one tape to go in that cassette player, a tape that Kelsey got in a gift bag at a friend’s birthday party: Wiggly Safari, by The Wiggles and Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin.

I’ve heard this tape, no lie, a thousand times over the last couple of years. I know every bit of it by heart. This isn’t to say that I like it, oh god no, but it’s become one not-so-small swatch of the fabric of my life — and it’s practically been the soundtrack to Laurel’s life, to the point where she doesn’t want to listen to anything else when we’re in the truck. (Heaven forbid we try to turn on the radio — she starts crying immediately, begging us to put in The Wiggles. The child doesn’t much like change.) Hell, the first song on the cassette is about Irwin himself (“Crocodile Hunter! Big Steve Irwin! Crocodile Hunter! Action MAAAAN!”).

So that’s why I’m a little bit surprised at how sad I feel about the news of Steve Irwin’s flukey death from a stingray barb to the heart while filming in Austraila (though, like many others, I’m not truly all that surprised that he went out in this manner). More days than not, I wind up listening to Irwin’s thick accent, his voice not quite able to contain his infectious enthusiasm for the animal kingdom — I’ve certainly never heard anyone else so fervently insist that camels have beautiful lips and eyelids.

Rest well, Steve Irwin. I’m sure you’ll live on in the speakers of my Jeep for some time to come.

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Originally published at my site. Please leave any comments there.

Kelsey with Flower

Originally uploaded by Allen Holt.


Jul. 3rd, 2006 10:10 pm
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Originally published at Do Or Do Not.. You can comment here or there.

The younger child issued us a warning today.

Let me first say that we weren’t intentionally neglecting her. Since she’s a child who really prefers being left alone, we thought we were doing fine by her; she had some time alone with the Little Einsteins while we each did some work upstairs. The older child flitted back and forth between the upstairs and downstairs like an A.D.D. bumblebee, so we asked her to give us status reports about the younger one’s behavior and mood.

“She’s fine, Daddy,” the older one said. “I think she’s sleeping.”

No, she wasn’t sleeping. She wasn’t quite being evil, either, but evil certainly was afoot. Notice was served to the parents: Keep it up, leave me alone for this long again, and you’ll live to regret it. Alternatively, you might not.

Her messages had all of the forethought and cunning of those Jacques Saunière initially left in the Lourve for Robert Langdon. [1] First was the diaper; I found the child lying naked on the floor (much in the manner M. Saunière himself was discovered), her diaper removed and resting a couple of feet from her head. The diaper, thankfully, was empty except for some urine; this was Warning One.

I could have had a toxic poop stew in there, Father, and could have used my butt like a big poop paintbrush. Consider yourself lucky.

I then turned and noticed Warning Two, which was actually her most devious as it called back to one of her most infamous (and messiest and mother-traumatizing) misadventures. The bottle of Cremora was on the floor in front of the television… unopened, but threatening. The child knew — she had gone to fetch the Cremora (don’t ask me how she knew where it was or how to get it, but she did), knowing the spine-tingling, nerve-jangling message it would send to her parents, especially her still-scarred O.C.D. mother.

I could have opened this and made it snow right here in the living room. But I didn’t. You remember that.

Warning Three was in a similar vein to Warning Two: an unopened tube of K-Y jelly sat menancingly on the coffee table. I don’t even know where we keep this stuff, yet the child had found it, had left it out in the open where she knew we’d see it — and would notice that it hadn’t been used to lubricate the rug.

Nothing is safe from me, Father. I know your secrets. You may think you can hide your little toys for a while, but I’ll find them eventually. Remember.

Honestly, I’m not sure what Warning Four meant: she’d removed one of the collapsible poles from the bag holding the tent we sometimes set up for the girls in the playroom. And she’d managed to un-collpase it, to extend it back to its full six feet and leave it on the kitchen floor; perhaps it was a dastardly trap, or part of one which she hadn’t had time to complete before the siren call of the Little Einsteins beckoned her to rejoin them.

God may work in mysterious ways… but I am more mysterious than God.

The final warning was by far the most disturbing. While I was collapsing the tent pole back down, I heard what sounded like a high, muffled barking. The barking clearly wasn’t Tommy, the great dumb dog who follows at the children’s heels hoping to catch the occassional falling Cheerio, and I didn’t think it was the older child, who was upstairs. I tiptoed carefully into the playroom, following the sound, looking amongst the scattered toys with trepidation, and then I saw it: hanging from the crossbeam of their easel was a stuffed mechanical puppy, blowing gently in the breeze from the open window, the string around its neck suspending it above the floor and causing it to bark over and over in a sad, strangled wheeze.

This time, the puppy, Father. Next time… you.

I surveyed her devious messages of mayhem and walked back into the living room. I looked down at this naked child, one arm a pillow behind her head, two fingers of the other hand stuck in her mouth in her common comfort gesture. She noticed me staring at her, and I’m sure she must have seen the fear in my eyes: she smiled wide around those two fingers and laughed, that beautiful laugh which normally tickles my soul… but on this early July afternoon, that laugh, that mellifluous, horrible laugh drained the blood from my face and made me shiver cold.

(This article was also posted at Mother Mirth, where the wife normally writes much more frequently and more eloquently about the children than I do. You should read her stuff. And I’m not just saying that because she could withhold sex from me if I didn’t. I swear.)
[1] If you didn’t find the opening to The DaVinci Code particularly cunning, feel free to substitute a pop-culture reference more to your liking. And tell me in the comments what it was so I can file it away for later plagiarism.


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