Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Yeah, I'm an idiot

Actual transcript of a conversation that occurred between my son and I:

Son: Can I make myself a cup of hot chocolate?
Me: Yes.
(minutes pass - noises come from the kitchen followed by sighing)
Me (entering the kitchen): What's wrong?
Son: Well, there's no clean cups. The kind of cups I like for my chocolate, I mean.
(he likes to use the plastic Campbell Soup cups)
Me (opening the cupboard): What are you talking about? There's two of them right there.
Son: Those are dirty.
Me: What?
Son: They're dirty. They've got crud in them. The dishwasher didn't get them clean.
Me: (picking up a cup, looking inside - is indeed dirty) Um, why is it still on the shelf?
Son: Because it's dirty.
Me: Yes, I understand. Why didn't you take them out of the cupboard?
Son: I'm not making chocolate in a dirty cup! (gives me a look that says clearly how disappointed he is to have an idiot for a father)
Me: Did you think that they would get magically clean in the cupboard?
Son: Nevermind. Now I don't want any. (He saunders off, leaving me with a vague feeling that I am somehow in the wrong.)

This conversation continues a long downward spiral for me. Apparently I've been getting dumber and dumber as the years go by. It all began when my son was four, prior to that I was fairly intelligent. I remember the exact day I began to get stupid, it went something like this:

Son: (coming home from pre-school, he has a large piece of tagboard covered in green and black blobs of tempera paint. He comes into my office and holds up the paper) Look at what I did in school today!
Me: Wow! That's great.
Son: Do you know what it is?
Me: (Caught completely unprepared for this parental Rorschach test) Well...
Son: (tapping foot impatiently. I take the paper in order to buy more time and study it more closely. No matter how I stare it, it just looks like a bunch of blobs)
Me: (he likes dinosaurs, if I squint my eyes it looks sort of like something from the Jurassic) Um, is it a Tyrannosaur maybe? That big black blob looks like a Tyrannosaur eating that green blob which looks like a .... uh, no?
Son: (puts hands on hips, adopts a disappointed look) Nooooo, it's just a bunch of blobs! I'm only four, I don't know how to paint! Duh! (and he walked off, leaving me feeling like a idiot)

See, I didn't start thinking my dad was an idiot until I was in my teens. My son is obviously way ahead of me, developmental wise. My wife is pretty sure this is a sign that he's gifted. Of course, she thinks I'm an idiot too, so her opinion is suspect.

If you need me, I'll be in the shop - probably doing something stupid.


  1. First reaction:

    I hijacked™ the last thread by demanding talk of chocolate and here you are talking about chocolate. Win! (My own dad was pretty smart until I was about twelve. His intelligence made a magical resurgence when I was in my early twenties. I think the first evidence was when I told him that the engine block had cracked on the Plymouth Valiant and he gave me a serious "D'uh" reaction when I responded that I hadn't done anything to winterize it for its first Boston winter. And he didn't send money to fix it or get a new car.)

    Second reaction:

    Don't do anything too stupid out there in the shop. I'm pretty sure you need all those parts.

  2. Hee! I'm so glad I'm not the only stupid parent in the group. My teens' reactions to my stupidity is anything from the standard "I'm right and you're wrong" argument to "You just don't understand!" Since both of these arguments seem to settle the issue (at least in their minds), I'm left stewing in a puddle of my own dumbness.

    I keep waiting to get smart again, but I'm not holding my breath.

  3. Don't do anything too stupid out there in the shop. I'm pretty sure you need all those parts.

    See those parts I keep well away from the machines. Fingers I can live without, but not those parts... :O

  4. If this is going to devolve into a discussion of Jim's Bits-n-Pieces, I am so out of here...

  5. But Janiece, your blog post today was about bits-n-pieces - although in general, not specific to any one person or power tool. };>

  6. What?

    (goes to check out HotChicks)

  7. "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned."

    -Mark Twain

  8. Eric, yep. It's amazing how much smarter my dad has gotten in the last couple of decades.

  9. Jeri, consistency was never my strong suit.

    Besides, talking about boobs is somehow more acceptable than the male counterparts.

    Just because.

  10. Talking about boobs is highly encouraged here at Stonekettle Station.

    In fact, depending on how you read it, that is actually the subject of this post...so, it's like totally appropriate.

  11. Jim, I hate to break it to you, but that may be a boy thing with the dirty dishes. My husband would do the same thing.

    And you don't seem too stupid. Then again, I'm only seeing the best of you online. Hmm.

    I love the husband, but I need to train him better. Sigh...

  12. Tania, well, see I think all wives consider their husbands hopelessly stupid or at best - a work in progress. I have no empirical proof to offer, only anecdotal evidence.

    The comedian Gallagher used to tell this joke about the subject that went something like: Men won't stop to ask for directions, because they know that it's implied that you're an idiot if you stop and ask. Men say, "Look, it's near a road, we're bound to pass it eventually." Whereas a woman doesn't mind, she pops out of the other said and says, "Look, he's an idiot. Which way is..."

    I think that sums it up perfectly.

    Either way, I am resigned to the role of idiot - at least until my son is in his twenties, by which time I probably will be a drooling idiot. :)

  13. Men don't ask for directions because it's a point of machismo to be able to figure it out for themselves, and a negative point for admitting to not being able to read maps. Women can ask for directions because they don't need to reaffirm their masculinity via map reading. :)

    Meanwhile, my mother still hasn't gotten any smarter, and I'm pretty sure at this point (I'm 34) that she's not going to. *sigh*

  14. We have the magic cleaning sink and magically emptying dishwasher here at the office. Yes, a majority of my coworkers are male and a majority (though not all) of the dishwasher volunteers are female.

    It's all relative. My brother let me and my sister and mother do most of the dishes related chores until he lived in a townhouse with two or three other guys and got to see what happens when the magic sink doesn't work. After that, he had a secret stash of dishes and silverware (no way was he going to do their dishes!) and he helps us when we're together as a family. Yes, my brother is Teh Awesome.

  15. Now that I'm retired, I do almost all of the cooking and dishes - seems only fair since my wife works 10 hours a day.

    I also try to do the vacuuming. My wife handles the laundry, because if I do it, well, let's just say bad things happen.

  16. I do most of the cooking and the dishes here. A couple of weeks after my GF and I moved in together...two weeks of me cooking meals with main courses and side dishes and stuff, she looked at me and said, "Do you eat dinner every night?"

    I said, "Sure, why?"

    She said, "When's popcorn night?"

    Oh, and Janiece, not to correct you, but the male counterpart of boobs is man-boobs. I'm really not sure I want to know what you've been doing.

  17. Popcorn night? Why, every night, of course.

    Oh, wait, she meant instead dinner? Uh, no.

  18. And I'm just going to ignore the man boobs comment - and see what Janiece does with it instead :O

  19. Actually, on second thought, I should have ended that last comment with the UU pictograph. I'm a little slow today

  20. Hmmmm... laundry. Put it in washer, dump in soap, put in coins. An hour later move it to dryer, toss in a couple dryer sheets, put in more coins. An hour after that remove from dryer, put everything on hangers or into drawers. Voila!


    I probably need to hire a housekeeper to show me how these things are supposed to be done. Somehow I've always had this sneaking suspicion that it's supposed to be more complicated than that.

  21. Well, Jim,

    I didn't mean to infer that mistaking man-boobs and other bits for each other would make what you're doing wrong, just a little confused. I mean as long as you get all the bits involved, its all good.

    Oh, and its always a good idea to invite all of her bits.

  22. MWT, see, when you add women's business clothes to the mix - again bad thing, bad things. Especially expensive women's business clothes. Also it turns out that the traditional male concept of lights and darks is far more complicated if you're doing woman's clothes too. There are actually several types of darks called 'colors' - and there's a category called 'delicates' too. For example, new jeans and delicates, big no no. Also, it is completely impossible for most men to fold a bra properly - even if it hasn't turned an odd shade of bluish beige when it started out white. And it is verboten to leave the business clothes in the dryer for a couple of days without folding. Also there's something called a 'lint trap' which I'm not entirely clear on. Also something called 'fabric softener which goes into some kind of centrifugally powered ball gizmo thingee doodad. Also high heat is not appropriate for everything, unless you have barbie dolls around. Just saying.

    I know my limitations and I am fine with that.

  23. Huh. I guess I learn something new every day. It would never have occurred to me that bras need folding - if I had any, I would just dumped them into the same drawer as the rest of the undies.

  24. Hey, at least I put socks and undies in separate drawers! That's got to count for something, doesn't it? Doesn't it?

  25. re: Proper treatment of bras...

    Gentlemen, if you had articles of underwear that run at least $30/each and proper care keeps one from looking like Sally Saggytits, you'd be rather particular about bra folding.

    Oddly enough, my husband sucks at traditional laundry, but he's a whiz with the Dryel stuff, because he doesn't want to pay a dry cleaning bill. It all boils down to motivation.

  26. mwt, I'd say it counts. But what really matters - do you mate up your socks?

  27. Jim said,

    1. Conned a US Navy Cruiser through the Straits of Malacca and the Straits of Hormuz, the East Timor Strait, and through the Galapagos Islands.

    2. Jumped from the second story balcony a women’s hostel into the middle of a sidewalk cafe on the island of Majorca, wearing only my skivvies, in order to avoid the local policia. Received a standing ovation from the patrons - and the police.

    3. Once swam in the Pacific Ocean and the Bearing Sea within the same hour, in a blinding snow storm, at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, off the Aleutian Island of Shemya.

    4. Am deathly afraid of women's underwear.





    ::I crack me up::

  28. Match the socks? Err... *shifty eyes*

    I do when I'm wearing them? (usually...)

  29. Hahahahaha! Nathan, I love #2. I can so totally see (no, not literally "see") Jim doing that.
    Ow, you made my belly hurt.

    MWT, what counts is does it work for you? Like Jim, I'm liable to leave stuff in the dryer for days, so my trick, when drying expensive businesswear, is to put it on "permanent press." Then it beeps at me loudly and for a long period, until I come and stop it. Once I'm at the dryer, momentum prompts me to take it out and hang it up.

  30. Heheh - it does work fine for me, actually. ;)

    I'm glad I don't work a job where I have to dress up. Usually I'm in tshirts and sweatpants. At the takeout it's denim stretch pants that sort of look like jeans from a distance. Makes laundry very simple. ;)

  31. Anne,

    The first three are things that Jim actually said on Whatever today. I added the fourth.

  32. Yeah and he's starting to regret that :)

    Actually there were some pretty amazing things on some people's list (eh hem, Tania, eh hem. every place you've worked?)

  33. And I am not either afraid of women's underwear - I'm afraid of the woman who owns the underwear. She's mean, and she'll hurt me.

  34. every place you've worked?

    Yeah, I want to hear more about that, myself.

  35. Boy, I sleep for the afternoon and miss a lot.

    My husband does the laundry; I do the shopping, errand running and picking up. He's pretty good about it but I need to make sure that anything special care just doesn't make it into the dirty clothes basket - or it will fit a Barbie.

    Tania, hopefully that achievement was not work-related. ;)

  36. Well, um, yeah. It's actually become a joke/"thing to do" with the spouse. Oh god, no matter how I phrase it this will sound awkward. We haven't been caught yet, and it's a lot easier to accomplish now that I usually have jobs with my own office, a door, and keys to stop by after hours or on the weekend.

    I'm not counting jobs I where didn't receive a W2, though many of them would count too. Yeah, I'm not making myself look any better here, am I?

    All I can plead is that I come from a family of round heeled women. I have been monogamous for the last 18+ years. If that redeems anything. But I was a little, ahem, frisky in my dim forgotten youth.

  37. First,

    Map reading or lack thereof is NOT a Y chromosome thing. I hate to read instructions for stop to ask for directions. Hate it. It's like a personal failure. I much prefer to tough it out, because then there's a HUGE sense of accomplishment. My husband actually reads *all* the directions *before* starting a project, and is the one who says, "why don't we just ask someone."

    But as far as laundry, my husband can do laundry under supervision, but mostly I do it because:
    1) My OCD really kicks in where laundry is concerned. I like my shirts folded in a specific way, and my socks and underwear have to be sorted by color, and he's not so great at sorting black from navy blue. (Here's a secret--buy seven pairs of the exact same color and style of socks and the dye lot will match so they're easy to sort.)
    2) My inner environmentalist hates the dryer and so I hang things to dry as much as possible. This has the added advantage of clean clothes that rarely have to be ironed.

    Added advantage is that in addition to not needed to iron, dress shirts are already hung up.

    The caveat is that socks, towels, sheets, and underwear must be dried in the dryer. Stiff socks & undies = teh suck.

    And I second the comment on bras. There is little in the world more uncomfortable than a twisted underwire (and good underwire bras are a lot more comfortable than non-underwire. At least for me.) So you have to treat your bras well, so you're not spending the entire day "fixing" things that have "shifted".

  38. Grrr.

    "I hate to read instructions OR to stop and ask for directions."

  39. Tania, well, there are much worse traditions to have. Plus, if it was me, I'd just tell people that it's a common Alaskan 'thing' (possibly to keep warm in the winter) - nobody knows anything about us up here anyway.

    Michele, but can you fold a map? And I used to have seven pairs of everything, all the same color - it was called a uniform. Of course, nowadays all I ever wear is jeans or carharts and a sweat shirt. Color matching and folding aren't much of a problem.

  40. Jim,

    Maybe you missed that bit about the OCD? Not only *can* I fold a map, but if anyone else tries to fold a map and does it wrong I must take the map away from them and fold it correctly.

    And if you think folding maps is difficult, you should try folding *patterns*. More complicated AND made of tissue!

  41. Nathan,
    I thought as much, but had to take into account that you are very creative...

    I only skimmed the post (126 comments?!?!) and am feeling a tad boring at the moment. I'll go find a cure for cancer or be the first woman on the moon and be right back...

  42. Yeah, I felt pretty boring after reading the 169 comments before mine. I've only met one really famous person and didn't have a violent or law-breaking youth (mostly spent it as a cloistered nerd). But then I managed to come up with a bunch of fish stories. :D

    You can probably think of stuff if you think about it long enough. Talk about things done in half-constructed skyrises or something.

  43. Meanwhile, I'm all ears if Jim wants to rattle off another dozen or hundred additions to his own list. :D

  44. Meanwhile, I'm all ears if Jim wants to rattle off another dozen or hundred additions to his own list. :D

    Hmmm, well, you know I thought about all the episodes that I should have listed instead of the ones I did - even thought about putting a post up about it, but it seems kind've copy catish (is that a word?). Maybe in a week or so - and I thought mine were fairly tame compared to some.

  45. Anne, I decided I had led a really boring, law-abiding, unadventurous life too. :)

    Other than a few minor rural Alaska things and a couple years in England, I am DULL, DULL, DULL.

    Tania - you are awesome!

  46. Yeah, well, there's a lot to be said about dull.

    After years of being tired, cold, tired, hungry, tired, dirty, and you know - tired. Dull is looking pretty good to me about now.

    The thing is - military life is just that way. I can't tell you the number of weird things, amazing things, just plain batshit crazy dangerous things that military folks take for granted every day - and especially Navy folks. You live inside a giant machine, every day something happens, and it just becomes routine to us. So much so that when you try to tell people about something that happened - people who don't have that background - they think you're full of it. One day you're driving 9000 tons of warship through the sea literally feet from the side of a tanker filled with explosives and more explosives and it's so damned dangerous that unless you've done it you can't even begin to understand - and the next day you're eating kangaroo steak in some outdoor restaurant in Canberra. In seven months, I did 218 combat missions into enemy territory under extremely hazardous conditions, many times having to cross 30 miles of open ocean in a small rubber boat, navigating by the seat of my pants, to get back to safety - after that things seem, well, easy. One thing about the Navy - you really find that most people are only limited by one thing - themselves. However, one thing I should note: my career was not an ordinary one, When I retired I was the only guy who did what I did - mostly a case of right guy, right time, unusual circumstance that just happened to call for my particular oddball skill set.

    But like I said, dull is looking good about now. Military life is for young people. I don't heal fast or well anymore, and I'm tired of being tired. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I miss it. Every damn day.

  47. No, Jeri, you're awesome!

    and we need to start up another Scrabulous game. Whenever you've got the time. :)

  48. my career was not an ordinary one
    That's pretty clear, from the stories you tell.
    The navy can't be responsible for all 191 (at current count) comments. That's OK. MWT's right. I'm sure there are a few things I could come up with, like: I've walked on a concrete slab 30 stories up a few hours after it's been poured. However, I'm also aware that I when I was young and impressionable, I had pretty tame friends and a healthy dose of common sense. These items do not lead to extreme stories.

    I'm making up for lack of intensity by longevity. My adventuring will continue long into my old age. :)

  49. But like I said, dull is looking good about now.

    Dull IS good. I had an exciting post teen life, in a "how did you not get arrested for that" and a "what are you, some kinda stupid?" way.

    So I've become rather fond of dull. Because really, I'm not all that fond of the emergency room, which is what you get when you combine stupid and clumsy. :)

  50. my career was not an ordinary one
    That's pretty clear, from the stories you tell.

    Well, adventure and extraordinary things are fairly common in the Navy, as I've said. What I meant by that statement however, was that you'd be hard pressed to find somebody else with the kind of career path I had.

    I was repeatedly told "If you take these orders (into special operations, isolated duty, information warfare, sea duty on an old type 1 cruiser, etc) you're killing your career."

    At nearly every career branch, I always chose the option everybody advised me not to take. Always.

    When I went into speops IO, I was told by everybody including those in the program, "Get out as soon a possible, you'll never leave this program as a Chief (Senior NCO)" and they were right - I left it as a commissioned warrant officer, after making Chief and being selected for Senior Chief.

    When I went to Iraq I was supposed to be a shipboard IO/Intel Officer, but I couldn't get the intel I needed from computers and pictures. The only way to do that was to get in a boat and go get it. Every single one of my peers thought I was insane - shipboard SIWO (intel officers) don't lead combat missions, hell they are almost never even warfare qualified, and they almost never leave the intel spaces (and that's why they're wrong about 3/4 of the time). And that led to requests for me to do it again, and again, again.

    Some of the things that happened to me were luck, some were by design, and some just plain happened. But you'd be hard pressed to find another Warrant in my designator who did the things I ended up doing. On the other hand, there are many, many military folks who have been in far deeper shit than me - but they were supposed to be.

    That's what should have said.

  51. Also, I suppose I should mention that I came close to court martial more than once. The last time, just prior to the initial assault on Iraq, I could easily have been brought up on charges for striking a (technically) superior. I bounced a CIA field agent off a bulkhead, and then threatened to shoot him if he didn't get out of my face (it had been a really long day and I had been awake for about 40 hours at that point, I was tired, hungry, and covered in saltwater, and this dickhead tried to give me orders. I don't work for the CIA. Then he tried to give my men orders. And that's when I hit him, and bounced his head off the steel wall. My men work for me, don't ever try to pull that bullshit on me. Seriously). Instead of court martial I got sent to bed and given 4 glorious hours of sleep, and he got sent, uh, I don't know, somewhere. Never saw him again. Nice to have a supportive chain of command - and they were the very best. That's what I mean about luck.

  52. When I agreed that your career wasn't typical, I wasn't saying it was atypical because of the shenanigans you got into. From all the non-naval people who posted their ten, it seems that anyone can get into s**t anywhere.
    What I meant was pretty much what you told us. You seem like an independent thinker and if all military organizations were filled with independent thinkers, they'd be pretty chaotic. You did well because you were able to use your independent thinking for the benefit of the organization.
    And that's what makes your career different from the next Joe's (whose strength was organizational skills or physical agility or diplomatic ability or whatever).

  53. Anne, that's essentially correct. Warrants are the Navy's trouble shooters. We are selected primarily for out ability to get things done by whatever means. To a certain extent Warrants are expected to break the rules - if they succeed, the rules are changed and what they did becomes SOP (sometimes). If they fail, well, they just tend to quietly disappear. In peace this is not so apparent, but in war well, that's really the reason we exist in the first place. There are very few Warrants - only about 5% of the Navy Officer corps, and most of us are mean grumpy SOBs, but we're are expected to do anything, especially when others can't. It was the perfect job for me, and I truly miss it.


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