Tuesday, May 29, 2007


We want to get a bicycle basket for the Bünj's bike. Somehow, though, in the process of shopping for a basket, the Bünj' scored a horn — the classic sort with the squeezy bulb. (In fairness, he's paying for part of it with some of his "gift money.") Honk, honk, honk, honk, honk honk, starting right in the store … I'm thinkin', how  is this a good idea? Anyway, that day in the store, Mrs. OccupationDad went off with the Bünj' and I shopped in some other departments. No luck with the bike basket. I had no problem finding them  (my wife and the Bünj'), though. In this age of "supercenters" and "Greatlands," maybe the boy is on to something. Each couple could carry a differently pitched horn so in case they separate, they could beep to each other. OK, maybe not.

Anyway, either we put the horn on his bike posthaste, or I'll have to start calling him "Harpo."

Meanwhile, all we have found around here is baskets for girls' bikes. Now we're going to look for a boys' (or unisex) bike basket on-line. Benjamin just suggested that we should first "check".

Wish us luck.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rubber Tires Can Save Your Life?

It is storm season in the Midwest. So I was wondering, are people really safe from lightning in a car … because of the insulating or grounding effect of the rubber tires? Yes . . . and no, as it turns out — at least according to this "lightning safety quiz" (from the Museum of Science, Boston). (I got most of them right.) It's pretty interesting.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Perhaps being 40 won't be bad at all. A few days ago I opened up a new jar of jam. The lid looked like this:

Is it a sign?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I turned 40 today. Call me a poor sport, but I specifically hoped for no kind of party this year. Those black "Over the Hill" balloons and "You're really old" jokes thoroughly annoy the crap out of me.

Further — cliché of clichés — I don't want to be reminded that I am both way "older than I feel" and (unfortunately for grown-up's around me, especially Mrs. OccupationDad) way older than I act (i.e., about 12 years old).

Moreover, I ought to have got way more done by the time I'm forty, but I am slow and inefficient.

It's all summarized and symbolized by my anxiety dream the night before last. Many odd things occurred, as happens in dreams. I was on a trip, so was Mrs. OccupationDad, but we were in separate cars. I took a "detour" just for a change of scenery, but forgot to tell her. Then I was all worried I wouldn't catch up with her at the right juncture …blah blah … The road went through a town and then through a courthouse. Then I was on foot going through the courthouse. Then somehow I was in this long public meeting. Soon it was almost over and everyone wanted to get it over with, but then I  had something to say and did. But I was all stressed about getting it said while not pissing everyone off because they wanted to go. And the sidetracks when on and on. Delay, inefficiency, stress.

The kicker was when I was waiting around downtown for … something …I was just relieving "it" wasn't waiting for me, for once. I became contemplative and just began thinking, "I just can't believe I'm forty years old  and I'm just now finally graduating from high school. I've really squandered  my time." (Pathetic existential sigh.)

Yeah, well, that should make me feel good right? It could  be that bad. Or worse.

Well, a new era dawns today. It's the first day of the rest of …yatta, yatta, yatta …

Everything is about to change. S-t-a-r-t-i-n-g . . . . . . . . . . . now !

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Adoption Is Not Just for the Infertile

A recent blog entry at the "On Parenting" blog (The Washington Post)  was about adoption. As another person who commented on the blog noted, the blogger and the commenters seemed unduly focused on adoption as something for infertile couples.

I hope it's not too obvious to say that it is not only infertile couples who adopt. Adoption doesn't have to be a last resort. We are in the midst of an adoption. We chose to adopt because we love children and because there are many children in the world in need of loving homes. We've had no fertility problems. (We, of course, have one biological child, also known as "the Bünj'" and by many other names.)

To be sure, adoption isn't for everyone. There are many factors in deciding whether adoption is appropriate for someone. As we've learned in the educational component of our adoption process, one must be aware that "being adopted" is  a real psychological difference or challenge for a child and a person to cope with as she grows up and throughout her life. Parents must feel they are emotionally equipped to be able to support their child with that issue.

That having been said what, good, healthy biological parent whose child happened to have a physical or psychological challenge wouldn't try to move mountains to help and support him and cope with it.

When you adopt, you don't always know what sort of child to expect; you may know little of her family history. But with a biological child you still don't know who he will be until you have him and raise him. You may know a lot or a little about your family and genetic heritage. But as to what combination helps make your daughter or son who s/he is, that's a gamble no matter what — even without the potential of not-genetic problems or tragic life events. Yet every day people choose to take the risk and have children they plan to love and raise no matter what.

I am the first, however, to acknowledge that (as I said) not everyone has the personality to adopt — and moreover to adopt someone of another ethnicity, to adopt an older child, to adopt someone with special needs, etc.

One of the most difficult parts of applying for our adoption was indicating — in the abstract — what sort of child we were requesting. (In our situation, the China Center for Adoption Affairs [or CCAA] will match us with a child, but they will do so based upon our application and request.) It seems like a sin to say we want to adopt but only within these parameters. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake for parents (and adoption agencies) not to be honest enough to recognize that, given their own backgrounds, there are some situations certain people shouldn't volunteer to get into. We had to admit there are certain levels of special needs children that we don't feel strong enough to be able to give the best care. Yet, strangely, if any such child were chosen for us or born to us, we would care for that child the best we possibly could. It is a near paradox, and I find it disturbing. Yet that is how is happens.

When we talked to our social worker, together we kind of explained it this way: When a couple decides to have a biological child, they hope for the healthiest of healthy, strong, smart, emotionally adaptable children. Even if the child born to them is far from that hope, good parents will raise her and love her just the same. But when you are adopting among children already born and known, how can you hope for the "best", but be willing to love the "neediest"? Choice is involved. It seems to me that it takes a uniquely strong and sacrificing person to say, "I want to adopt the child with the greatest needs." Or even (to be hypothetical), "Choose a child for us randomly." And yet anything less than the former option seems callous.

It comes back to what a person feels capable of taking on. Life may present me with any number of risks I don't choose in advance. There are many risks I feel I am wise not to take, if I have the choice. If I become stranded on a high mountain, I guess I'll do my best. Otherwise, though, I'm not going to take up mountain climbing; I don't have the temperament or coordination for it.

That's just with my life. It seems even more unwise to take risks with other people's lives, like adopting "over your head."

Despite the challenges of adoption, I truly believe the world would be a better place if even more parents who felt they were up to those challenges would adopt regardless of their ability to conceive. There are so many children in our country and all over the world who need parents and homes.

Elevator Protocols

In addition to trains, Bünj' really likes elevators. It's a cautious, compulsive interest. When he uses real elevators he's really intense, kind of nervous. He insists on strict adherence to protocol: immediate boarding and offloading, he must push the buttons, etc. He respects the elevator. He senses its power.

Rebecca had a couple of professional conferences last month and Bünj' and I joined her on the trips (as is our custom). Beforehand, Bünj' was really looking forward to the elevators (and the swimming pools) in the hotels, particular the "glass elevator" in one hotel at which we'd stayed previously.

Well, we had nice trips, had many good adventures and enjoyed numerous fruitful, if intense, elevator rides.

Well, now  we have an elevator in our house. (YES, it's imaginary.) Fortunately, it's our sunroom, not some cramped, dark closet.

You see, we live in a hotel. Bünj' is the manager. We all work here.

When we want to go upstairs in our house, unless we have some serious reality-based reason, we can expect to be told we must step into the sunroom— er, uh, elevator … while Bünj' pushes some buttons and closes the door and then let us out.

Moreover, it's the service  elevator. It's the only one we may use. This restriction, we discovered, is quite strictly enforced. Yesterday Mrs. OccupationDad tried to use a different one. Mr. Manager reproached most stridently saying, "You  can't go that way. That's for guests!"  It's obvious he thought she was the most ridiculous employee he'd ever encountered.

As Mrs. OccupationDad said this morning (when Mr. Manager was still asleep), "It really comes to something  when we're regulated to the service elevator in our home."

Monday, May 07, 2007

It's the Blogification of It All

Yesterday we visited a friend that Mrs. OccupationDad met through a blog. In a sense we really met  her yesterday. We've never seen her in person before. (She lives in the Southeast. We [obviously] don't live in the Southeast; although, with the Lake Michigan-cooled weather we've been having lately, it might not be a bad idea. Anyway, the friend was visiting Wisconsin.) So the visit was a sort of consummation of a relationship that was entirely Internet-enabled. Pretty weird.

Of course, it's far from the fast-paced, youth-populated world of chatrooms and "MySpace," etc. The whole friendship developed in cautious-adult time. It gradually grew from blog reading to commenting to personal emailing to a few telephone calls and then finally this visit. All this having developed over the course of . . . I don't know . . . a year and a half, all parties were pretty confident they weren't going to be meeting up with a scam artist, a predator, a psychotic killer or even Dateline NBC.

It was a great visit. And the whole thing is so . . . 21st Century . . .