1. I Am (Not) the Cosmos

The United States basked in the glory of a total eclipse on Monday, as the moon’s shadow swept from the rocky beaches of Oregon to the marshes of South Carolina.

The New York Times, August 21, 2017

The eclipse occurred while Twins 1&2 were in my care. I’d considered taking them out to see it, but – for, you see, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail – had neglected to obtain the necessary equipment. (I did briefly think about just telling them not to look up at the sun, but even I could sense this was exceptional stupidity.)

At the last moment, though, I thought “Good heavens, Peter, you teach science, and this is a marvel you and your children should witness,” so I piled them in the car and drove to meet a colleague who’d kindly issued an invitation and had extra eyewear.

I’m real glad I don’t have to – at least in this lifetime – look Carl Sagan in the eye and explain this next bit, but, through a sequence of events, instead of the eclipse we three watched the The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature.

This was the ladies’ first visit to a cinema. Twin 2 was enchanted, and her joyful laughter cheered me muchly. I’m biased and all, but it’s worthy of the Voyager records (her laugh, not the movie).


2. I May Not Mean To, But I Do

A friend and I were discussing things that are broadly overrated. I nominated peanut butter, New Order, and social engagements that fall before cocktail hour.

This is a subject for another post – indeed, it shall consume an entire chapter of my manifesto – but you know what else is way overrated?



Yeah, it’s useful and all, but so often I hear communication lauded as if it’s intrinsically good, and I fear it is thereby overesteemed, particularly for conflict resolution. I’m not saying we should instead reach for clubs; I just wish the powers of communication were more commonly recognized as not unbounded. (Conversely, I think communication’s propensity to exacerbate problems is underrated. It certainly doesn’t hasten my manifesto’s completion.)

Anyway, I will acknowledge that insufficient communication can lead to problems, too.

For example, after the film I parked Twins 1&2 in front of the My Little Pony movie poster and ducked into the men’s room. Apparently my muttering “Be right back” could have borne more elaboration, for two very distraught children and many (valid) dirty looks greeted me upon return.

Sorry, kiddos.

Also, the other day at the park, I probably should have paused to make sure Twin 2 understood my instruction to hold on tight when I began pushing her on the swings. Within seconds I’d launched her quite some distance.

O! Gentle Reader! Physics is for real.

I guess repeating “C’mon, it ain’t that bad” was inadequately restorative, for the next morning two X-rays – with powerfully communicative arrows – indicated where I’d broken her wrist.

So sorry, kiddo.


You too can go pick out any doll you want!  First just let my dad push you on the swings.