Sunday, July 15, 2012

Do I hear a meep?

Secundus and Tertius have been playing with the hose and with water balloons in the backyard. After a break indoors -- during which Secundus is suspiciously elusive -- Tertius is persuaded to step outside the backdoor and wait.

A card descends on a length of string from the upstairs bathroom window. On in is written "Look up."

(On the reverse, just in case, it reads "Look on back of card.")

Tertius looks up.

A water balloon drops on his head.

Nice to know that an education based on Chuck Jones cartoons hasn't been wasted.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sticks are for fetching.

The Divine Leila's favorite thing is to ride shotgun in the minivan.

(What a crock. That's just one of her favorite things. But to list the preferences that would come first would mean identifying every form of small furry mammal on the planet -- squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, etc. -- and that could keep us here for some time. And you have other things to do, right? Note, I didn't say "better" things. Anyway, it also explains why I'm currently wearing a thumb-brace on my left hand, after the chipmunk-leash-off-balance-sidestep-fire-hydrant-flat-on-face incident.)

I may have mentioned this before, but Leila also has the irritating (but, to her, humorous) habit of shifting over to the driver's seat as soon as I leave the car, to the terror of oncoming motorist who don't realize we're parked.

I pointed this out to my friend Loren the other day, who asked if she can drive a stick shift.

Well, duh, of course not. Because she's a dog!

(An automatic is as much as she can manage, and her parallel parking still sucks.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Modern etiquette dilemmas, #138

Has this ever happened to you?

When I shook hands the other day with the Dad of one of my kid's friends, I found myself with a palm-full of his fingers.

And I had no idea if he was just a bit slow to prepare the open hand, if he was testing me for freemasonry, or if it was a misguided attempt by a white, middle-aged man to start one of those multi-stage finger-grasping exercises that really should be left to the brothers. (It's like trying to get bowing right if you're not Japanese. You can't.)

I just ignored it. Mind you, it reminded me of one of the jokes of my extended adolescence. You'd tuck in your middle finger when you shook hands firmly, lean toward your acquaintance, and whisper confidentially "Excuse the wart."

The best one of these was to keep shaking hands and not let go until it got seriously embarrassing. (A man is programmed not to pull out of a shake unilaterally -- the ending comes about by one of those inexplicable bits of telepathy that the social psychology department at my alma mater should be researching.) Then you'd say, shaking more firmly and a little more rapidly, "Oh, by the way, I'm from the planet Neptune. We have our sex organs in our hands." Well, it amused us for hours back in Hounslow.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Modern etiquette dilemmas, #137

I've never wanted fame, but I do relish those odd moments when I'm one degree of separation from it. Back in the 1970s, as a psychology undergraduate, I remember the weird thrill I got when our social psychology department at Oxford was featured in a Sunday newspaper, under the tired old trope of "look what ludicrous things these academics are spending public funds on."

In this case, it was a video camera that had been set up on an Oxford Street (London) pedestrian crossing to observe how people passed each other in public places. And while it was easy to ridicule, the post-grad researchers actually discovered some interesting stuff about human behavior.

So here's one valuable piece of advice that comes out of that study. You know those situations where you come face to face with someone coming in the opposite direction, and then you do that interminable little dance where you both try to pass on the same side for several iterations. (In the indispensable masterpiece The Meaning of Liff by the late Douglas Adams and the still-on-time John Lloyd, this is defined as a "Droitwich.")

Well, if it starts to happens to you, go to the right and stay there. Nips it in the bud every time.

The British taxpayers' money well spent.