I'm not good at naming things — and other observations by: Avan Ngel

Are computers taking over the world? I'm not the first to ask the question (see Linda Hamilton and Stanley Kubrick). Well, pictured above is evidence to the affirmative. 

I went to a client's downtown building recently tried signing in on the little tablet at the security desk as I have countless times. I can't remember the security guy's name — we'll call him Bob — well, Bob said, "may I see your drivers license?" 

What? They've never asked for ID before? 

Bob explained that the company had just gotten a new automated name badge maker. Trusting as I am, I handed my ID right over. I watched as Bob put my ID into this little machine, pushed some buttons, and a couple of mouse-clicks later, he hands me my badge.

That computer changed my name — the name my parents no-doubt racked their brains over — my Christian name — from Ryan Noel to Avan Ngel. (At first, I thought the computer had used a terrorist filter on my photo to make me look more, uh, terrorist-y. But, alas, that's how I really look on my drivers license.)

Avan Ngel?

I googled "Avan Ngel" with no results. Not so much as a wikipedia entry. Not a trace. The only logical explanation is that The Computers have something to hide. 



Simeon has been taking swimming lessons. You're probably wondering what swimming lessons look like for an 8-month old, as I was. Well, we finally got some pictures of the event. Here is Swimeon with his Nana.


Crawling Card Addendum

This morning, I was alone with Simeon and I had him upstairs in our bedroom while I got ready for work. I took Simeon into the bathroom with me, where he as a stockpile of toys, and closed the door behind me. I hopped in the shower (Yes, I hopped. Visualize it.). I'm lathering up with my Dove body wash and see the shower curtain move out of the corner of my eye; I look down and there he is; Simeon is looking at me and his eyes are saying, "Is it bath time and nobody told me?" I pulled the curtain back into place, and he kept pulling it back. Nearing the end of my shower, his head was soaked, and couldn't have been happier about it. I'm happy when he's happy, so I just kept splashing him. 

I moved Simeon into the bedroom and he thought my closet looked interesting enough, so he decided to go in for a closer look. I could tell he was entertained by my shoes, hats and dress socks and assumed it was safe for me to brush my teeth. 

While brushing I heard "cluh-dunk." While a cry didn't follow the "cluh-dunk" as it often does, it was alarming enough for me to stop mid-brush and see what the little guy was up to. Boy, am I glad I did.

Simeon was seated at the top step with his head cocked back, loaded with a grin that said, "hey Dad, watch this." He turned back toward the steps and lunged forward, just as I scooped him up. 

Simeon's new nickname is Charles Bronson — the dude has a death wish.


Crawling Card

Last Thursday was a work-at-home day, and my desk (see also dining room table) was missing something. I couldn't think what it was. Creative Juice. That's it. I gave Simeon a glance — he was seated and playing happily on the dining room floor by the built-in corner cabinet — and went to retrieve my precious pot of coffee. 

According to my wife, I am a living definition of a dilly-dally-er (I have likely mentioned this before). Sarah won't believe this, but I didn't dilly-dally — not so much as a pussyfoot, lollygag, shilly-shally, or even a dawdle. I grabbed my Creative Juice and walked back to the dining room. 

The corner cabinet was still there, as was Simeon's toy drum. Simeon, however, was not there. He teleported. I was sure of it. Actually, that's not true. I made that last part up.

Simeon made his first act as a card carrying member of the Crawler's Club count. He didn't dilly-dally. He saw an opening when I went on my Creative Juice run and bolted — straight for the light socket on the other side of the room. I mean, really. 

I half-expect the next friendly stranger at the grocery store to creep in and say, "hey, isn't he the poster child for child proofing your house?" Why yes. Yes, he is. 

I got the message loud and clear, little mister poster child. Not only is our house not child-proof, I'm convinced that there is nothing in our house that is out of his reach. Since getting his Crawling Card, little-s has lunged for more electrical outlets, pulled countless books off of shelves, attempted to scale every vertical structure, attempted to put numerous electrical cords in his mouth, overturned MuShu's water bowl more than once, and  — brace yourself — dumped the bucket we keep his dirty cloth diapers all over the bathroom floor. 

So, this weekend, I'm calling upon my long-dormant crawling skills once again. On my hands and my knees, I'll be navigating every square foot of our bungalow looking for unplugged outlets, sharp objects and poo-filled buckets.


I wonder what those toads are up to these days?

By miracle of facebook, a long-lost friend of the family posted this photo on my Dad's page. There's lots for me to smile about here: 
  • My highly fashionable cut-off shirt
  • Turquoise shutters — compliments the red get-up well, I think
  • Polaroid – doesn't it add charm to any photo? I'm sad to know it is going the way of the Vegas Valley Leapard Frog (extinct)
  • Hand-dating — I'm strangely comforted by knowing what I did on 8-26-85
  • It's kinda fun to think that this is roughly the time period that the story from my previous entry took place.
  • I can't wait for Simeon to bring critters into the house for the first time.


Saving Ryan's …

Like most men, I think denim is best worn when it's darned-near worn out. Well, I had a pair I wasn't ready to say "good-bye" to, that had taken a step or two beyond the "darned-near" stage. With head bowed, I humbly asked my mom to see if there was anything we (she) could do. Not only did she patch the holes, but she fortified all the weak spots to slow the progress of more holes.

I recently Tweeted (that's a micro-blog for all you non-Twitterers), "I'm sending thankful vibes my Mom's way for saving my busted-out britches," and I meant it. She replied to me via e-mail quoting my dad: "... and that's not the first time you saved his britches." 

Ain't that the truth.

I was in third grade and our teacher, Ms. Joffey (she was my first non-Mrs. teacher, I remember distinctly), thought taking her class for a nature walk to a nearby creek would be a good idea. And, it should have been a good idea — but it wasn't. We made our way to the creek, and it was nice. We looked for tadpoles, and Ms. Joffey pointed out the varieties of algae and moss, and even let us throw some rocks into the water. She said it was time to go, but I didn't think so — my arm was just getting warmed up. 

Suddenly, all the gravel on the side of the road that had gone unnoticed on the way to the creek, looked like a street paved with baseballs on the way back from the creek. I wasn't sure what work was in store for us once we got back to our wooden desks, but as far as I was concerned, my only assignment was to show my classmates how far I could throw, well, anything. But, my classmates weren't impressed with distance alone, they demanded accuracy. 

"See if you can hit that window over there." 

That window wasn't just any window, it was the kind that was still on a house, a trailer, to be more specific — the kind actual people lived in. I couldn't have weighed the pros and cons before letting that rock fly because I let that rock fly. Accurate, indeed. 

I immediately knew I had done something wrong because I was looking for a place to run. But I couldn't. That's the kind of kid I was, I think: ornery enough to throw a rock through a window, but too good of a kid to not own up to what I had done. While Mrs. Joffey probably appreciated that I took responsibility for the offense, she made it clear that I would be getting The Paddle (you know the one).


A. Drill holes — these are meant to limit resistance from it's drawn-back position to the perp's bottom. Teachers and Principals often created unique hole patterns in order to brand their kid's bottoms. Us kids also believe that the holes make the paddle hurt worse, but we can't back that up with science.

B. Paddle name — any paddle worth its timber has a name, usually a scary one like The Devastator or The Enforcer. This name was usually written on the paddle with an indelible marker, or sometimes burned in with a soldering iron.

C. A leather strap — the strap was used to hang The Paddle prominently for all to see and fear. It also ensured a secure grip. My fellow students and I also believed it was used for strangulation in special cases.


I sat outside Mr. Wright's Office (more ominously known as The Principal's Office) in a puddle of tears awaiting the inevitable. Then my Mom, who worked at the school at the time, showed up and made sure I was okay and fearlessly headed into the Principal's Office. I'm not sure what she said in there. As far as I was concerned, it didn't matter because I didn't see The Paddle on that day, and I'm not sure why. 

Maybe she convinced Mr. Wright that I felt guilty enough already and wouldn't throw anymore rocks; or perhaps she assured him that she would handle my punishment when I got home; or it could be that she was in disbelief that her son could have done such a thing, and convinced the principal that the rock actually came from the grassy knoll; or maybe she saw The Paddle and the damage it could do to both me and my pants. I don't know.

In any case, she saved my britches — and it's true what my Dad says — she's been saving them ever since.


Coupla baby food tips

Tip 1: Buy baby food in adult-sized containers
My wife, Sarah, gets complete credit for this tip. She astutely noticed that the ingredients on the Nutrition Facts of Organic Gerber sweet potatoes were exactly the same as the Nutrition Facts on a can of  Trader Joe's organic puréed sweet potatoes (Ingredients: organic sweet potatoes). Ration those 'toes in 4 ounce servings and you just saved yourself some money and space in the old recycling bin. The same tip applies for organic apple sauce. 

Tip 2: Don't whistle while feeding your baby apple sauce*
Be forewarned, your baby may find whistling absolutely hilarious (even if your whistling is to the tune of a melancholy M. Ward tune). If your baby does happen to find whistling funny and cause for burst of laughter, as mine does, the apple sauce your child was so contentedly eating may be projected forcefully on your face, hair and nearby laptop computer. Further, said baby may laugh even more at the sight of his stunned parent/target ensuring that all remaining apple sauce bits make their way from his or her mouth to your face and laptop. 

*This tip only applies for those parents who don't think it's uproariously funny and the spice/joy of parenthood to have your child make a mess of you.