Friday, August 29, 2014

First day of Kindergarten - photo

If there is one photo which depicts what it is truly like for a child to experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows all in one day, it has to be this photo of a child before and after his first day of kindergarten. Parents everywhere are wrapping up their back to school preparations but nothing can prepare a parent for the look of utter defeat that may cross their doorstep after that fateful first day of kindergarten.

first day of kindergarten before and after

Photo via Reddit.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The lengthy back to school list

When I was an elementary school student in the 1980s, the typical back to school list was simple.

Now things are different. I have a kindergartener heading off to a real school for the first time in mere days and the list is insane. Multiple folders, gobs of pencils, specific brands of crayons, ten glue sticks. TEN GLUE STICKS! What in the holy hell are these kids gluing that they need TEN glue sticks?!? The list went on and consumed an entire two pages. Of course the school offered parents the option to purchase a back to school supply kit which clocked in at $47.50 for kindergarten girls (a kit for a kindergarten age boy was five bucks cheaper).

She even needed headphones. HEADPHONES! If I had brought headphones to school as a kindergartener I probably would have left them on the bus, strangled a fellow student with the cord or sat on them leaving them a smashed mess in the first day of school. But these kids have gadgets born into their DNA. I was a bumbling idiot with all things video games so much so that after my parents bought me an original Nintendo when I was in elementary school that it collected more dust than anything. My kindergarten student, though, navigates through the channels on our Roku boxes, finds all kinds of age-appropriate stuff to view on YouTube and has no problem thumbing through an iPod Touch to find just the right music to suit her mood.

The back to school list, though, has me puzzled. I don't honestly see a use for half of the items requested and the fact that the other half is to be shared by the class as a whole bothers me a bit. I'm all for sharing but these back to school supplies are ridiculously expensive and I don't see how even two kids will go through ten glue sticks in the course of nine months.
You needed just some basic school supplies to get you through the year. A bottle of glue, ten or so pencils, a box of crayons, a couple notebooks, a folder or three, an eraser, a box of Kleenexes and  a backpack of some sort to carry the occasional library book home from school.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An ode to autumn or go to hell, fall



A cool northeast breeze fluttered across the terra cotta red plastic tray today as I ate my lunch alongside Scott County 42 at the Savage Taco John's restaurant. I saw plenty of people whom I assumed would normally be wearing shorts to be wearing jeans instead. While the calendar says Tuesday, August 26 there was definitely a hint of mid-October in the air.

It dawned on me when I found that first yellow maple leaf lodged in my new aluminum rain gutters while installing getter screens late Sunday afternoon. Fall is drawing near. School supplies have taken over the areas in stores once dominated by patio sets and gas grills and gardens everywhere are running over with the late summer bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. It's even more obvious when I am reminded of the fact that my daughter begins kindergarten in a mere seven days. Fall will soon be completely upon us.

We will spend Saturday afternoons raking and bagging leaves from the trees that shaded us from summer's glaring sun. We will make one last mad dash to harvest every tender vegetable from our garden when the weather forecast predicts autumn's first nip of frost. We'll spend an afternoon picking apples or selecting the perfect pumpkins as we prepare for Halloween. You'll grab a light jacket as you run out the door in the morning. It happens slowly until you realize, one day, that the trees are bare and the lawn has stopped growing. The sun now sets shortly after 8 PM in the evening when six weeks ago there was daylight until well after 9 PM.

Autumn creeps into our consciousness like the ninja of seasons. Not like spring which seems to just happen one day when you look outside and realize that it's 50 degrees and all of the snow and ice is miraculously gone. Autumn is full of brilliant colors, cool breezes and shorter days until you look around one day and all that's left is brown. It catches you off guard. It could be 90 degrees one day and the next could be full of chilly rain showers with the occasional snow flurry. But we expect it because we know that by the end of November we will be donning thick jackets and likely shoveling some snow off of our paths.

Autumn is coming. Until then, though, it can go to hell because we were cursed with yet another lengthy winter, a downright cold and wet spring and a cooler-than-normal summer marked with floods, mosquitoes and more gnats than I care to remember. May our September be hot enough where school children have to wear shorts every day of the week and may October last until Christmas!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

An outlet mall! in Eagan! With Nike shoes!

kid in eagan buys $1000 of Nike shoes at new outlet mall
The new Eagan Outlet Mall opened today. I don't understand the hype surrounding it. It's not like you couldn't buy semi-outdated clothes, shoes and accessories at equally low prices during a sale at Kohl's but people have and will continue to flock to the southern suburb of Eagan - just a short trip across the Minnesota River from the Mall of America - to buy hundreds or thousands of dollars of crap they don't truly need.

Then there's the fact that the media in the Twin Cities are running a story about it tonight.

Sure, that kid plopped down over $1,000 of his own cash to buy those 21 pairs of Nike shoes.

As for this being a story, I don't really see why. Outlet malls are nothing new. I was about ten years old when the one near Medford, MN opened. It was about a half hour drive from my house and we have family in the area so we occasionally stopped there. My dad stayed in the car and my mom took me to a few stores to buy clothes or shoes. It was alright but it's not like it gave me a huge shoperection or clothesboner.

As I said, outlet malls are nothing new. Hell, Albertville, MN is on the map because it is home to a huge outlet mall. North Branch, MN has a tiny bastardized version of an outlet mall. And even Woodbury was once home to an outlet mall. It's old news to me. I get that people are only drawn to shiny, new palaces of consumerism but in ten years it will be a half-empty shit hole with a crater-filled parking lot and a smattering of stores which aren't outlet shops at all as it becomes a typical suburban strip mall complete with a massage parlor where happy endings can be had for the right price.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Joke: One Finn can beat one Russian

When life gets you down, there are many ways of getting over that hump. I could list them off but instead of doing that, here's a great joke about an Finlander and some Russians.

One day a Russian infantry column is moving along a road with a large hill to one side. Suddenly, they hear a shout.

"One Finn can beat one Russian!"

The officer of the column laughs and sends one of his men over. After a moment and a few shots, the silence is broken.

"One Finn can beat ten Russians!"

The officer laughs again and sends ten men over the hill. After a minute of shouts and shooting, it gets quiet again.

"One Finn can beat ONE HUNDRED Russians!"

The officer, now becoming annoyed, sends one hundred men over the hill. The fight lasts ten minutes, and afterwards it gets quiet again.

"One Finn can beat FIVE HUNDRED RUSSIANS!"

The officer is now irate. He angrily yells for five hundred men to mount the hill. The ensuing battle lasts almost an hour.

As it gets quiet again, one Russian comes crawling back over the hill.

The officer goes up to meet him. The wounded Russian's last words are,"Don't send any more men. It is a trick! There are two of them!"