Teddy Bears (and other Things Real)


My 14-year-old Girl has a rabbit with a thread-bare nose and a carrot tied to his hand. The rabbit s name is Baby. I bought Baby for her mother some years before My Girl was born. Baby and My Girl drifted towards one another and became inseperable friends. My Girl still sleeps with and hugs and talks to Baby.

Baby is Real.

I have an 8-year-old Boy. Right now he is sitting at the kitchen table in his underwear and a Looney Toons robe. At his feet, always at his feet, is a stuffed bear. The bear, beaten tattered and thin, lays prone on the hardwood floor. His neck is jaunting at an odd angle. His legs are splayed and his rump is lifted in the air. He looks most uncomfortable. But, as a Constant Companion, he is happy.

The bear has been with My Boy since he was born and has slept with him every night of his life. Initially the bear had a mechanical heart that beated thump-thump-thump (someone s theory is that the sound soothes an infant child - perhaps). That battery-operated ticker was removed years ago and in its place grew a different heart.

The bear has a name. Bear.

Bear is Real.

My 14-month-old Boy has a selection of stuffed animals. He has befriended One whom has been his Constant Partner at naptimes and night-night time. And is often clutched at in moments of great emotion. His Friend is a stuffed and soft Eeyore that I brought to him shortly after he was born and placed in the corner of his crib.

Eeyore is becoming Real.

I d love to write a bit about how one become Real - but it s all already been done and in ways that are much more beautiful than I could ever imagine. Just read a couple of Calvin and Hobbes comic strips or read Winnie-the-Poo again or The Velveteen Rabbit

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

What is REAL? asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?

Real isn t how you are made, said the Skin Horse. It s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.

Does it hurt? asked the Rabbit.

Sometimes, said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. When you are Real you don t mind being hurt.

Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, he asked, or bit by bit?

It doesn t happen all at once, said the Skin Horse. You become. It takes a long time. That s why it doesn t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don t matter at all, because once you are Real you can t be ugly, except to people who don t Understand.

Oh, the photo. That picture s not mine. It is Noah s ( source photo ). I used it with implied permission - but I may have used privileges that I don t have. The teddy bear in the photo is Thomas.

Thomas is Real.

24 September, 2005 posted in Tell Me a Story | Comments (7)


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I m Still Here

I swear. I m here. I m just having one of those life/job/kids/football getting in the way blogging-moments.

You know how it is.

And this weekend I have a wedding to go to. Which means I have to wear a tuxedo (it s sharp) and do tuxedo-ie things.

Yes, I said football. When kickoff begins, I stop everything. Well, I feed the kids but I cut them down to two meals per day.

So I ll write something this weekend. I hope.

Hey, if anyone has any questions or would like to suggest a topic just leave a comment. I ll write about whatever you suggest.

Very good. Talk to you later.

16 September, 2005 posted in Miscellany | Comments (2)


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Conjunction Junction What s Your Function

Pulling apart sentences confuses me at times. I mean, I m pretty good at my subjects and predicates and my adjectives and adverbs, nouns, pronouns, and verbs and the like. But the little things like conjunctions and prepositions and such still give me the willies.

They confuse my 14-year-old daughter too. She s a high school freshman who was struggling over conjunctions and prepositions. I wasn t much help and only succeeded in further confusing her and me.

She finally asked, Daddy, why do I have to learn these things?

I thought for a moment and finally answered, So that you can help your children with their homework.

08 September, 2005 posted in Tell Me a Story | Comments (3)


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Liars and the Pictures They Take

> bay-pole.jpg

This is one of the myriad photos I spoke of the other day . I pulled it almost randomly from a file simply entitled web_old.

This picture has always evoked feelings of solitude and aloneness to me. It was taken on a misty, quiet morning. The pole, a remnant of an old dock that once stretched out of the Barnegat Bay, stood contemplative. Alone.

Well, sort of alone, amongst about 20 of his breathren. He looks more alone in this version of the picture because I left his buddies out of the frame.

The picture is always a tale told by the photographer. Photographers are notorious liars.

06 September, 2005 posted in JimAgination (Pictures and Such) | Comments (1)


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My Plan for a Border Fence (aka I m an Idiot )

When I was around eight-years-old, I thought there were walls up on the American borders. Except between Alaska and Canada. (Actually at the time I thought we should ve given Alaska to Canada - geographically it made sense.)

It turns out there are no walls. Oh, there are fences here and there where lawmakers have tried to quell the surge of illegal immigrants hopping the border and creating all sorts of chaos among the local populations and governments.

In this day and age there are those who would try to do us harm. I imagine they would try to get into the country where it s easiest. It s easiest where you can just walk across the border.

But I guess building such a wall would be expensive. Too expensive.

I have an idea though. Maybe we could hire cheap immigrant labor to build it for us.

06 September, 2005 posted in In the News | Comments (1)


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Pictures, Pictures, Everywhere

Click for Larger Image

A full third of my computer s hard drive is filled with un-archived, un-indexed photographs. All taken by me. Many just as good as that froggy photo.

I m going to have to do something about that.

04 September, 2005 posted in JimAgination (Pictures and Such) | Comments (2)


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New Orleans Engineering

I only know one hydrologist, the Right Reverend Ruminator , David B. Thompson. (He s an associate professor of civil engineering specializing in hydrolics and hydrology at Texas Tech University. In short, he s paid to know how water works and why.) As such, I anxiously await his opinions regarding the goings-on in New Orleans. On his ahem blog , he s published three articles:

New Orleans Engineering, Part I : How do the pumps operate? What physics are involved in moving the water upwards in elevation and out of the city?

New Orleans Engineering, Part II : How do levees work and how were they built?

New Orleans Engineering, Part III : How in the world do you stop a lake in the first place to build a levee and once it’s breached, what means are employed to rebuild it?

I m hoping for more indepth articles and analysis in the coming weeks ( nudge, nudge ).

04 September, 2005 posted in In the News | Comments (2)


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Just Something I Read

Yesterday I re-introduced some readers to Walter Williams. Mr. Williams is syndicated columnist and professor of economics at George Mason University. He sometimes substitutes for Rush Limbaugh on his radio show. Many people will disregard Professor Williams on that fact alone. that s a shame.

This morning I started reading Professor Williams essays entitled Economics for the Citizen . (I m considering making this mandatory reading for all visitor s of JimFormation.)

In part two of said discussion, Professor Williams introduces the concepts of normative (opinion/subjective) and non-normative (factual/objective) questions and statements. The lesson is worth learning, but I don t want to write about that here. You ve already been told that this is mandatory reading, well, almost-mandatory. So read it yourself.

I just wrote this to pass on a story he tells that I found amusing (because I know you guys aren t going to read what I ve already asked you to read). Professor Williams tells his economic students that he s going to deal with non-normative (factual and objective) economic theory and then instructs them thusly:

I also tell (my economic students) that if they hear me making a normative statement without first saying, In my opinion, they are to raise their hands and say, Professor Williams, we didn t take this class to be indoctrinated with your personal opinions passed off as economic theory; that s academic dishonesty. I also tell them that as soon as they hear me say, In my opinion, they can stop taking notes because my opinion is irrelevant to the subject of the class economic theory.

Oh, if only all professors and teachers would admonish their classes similarly.

But Professor Williams is also a pragmatist. He recommends that his students don t purge their vocubulary from subjective statements. He says, Such statements are useful tools for tricking people into doing what you want them to do.

While reading this over coffee, I laughed out loud. The Wife-beast asked what I was laughing at. I told her. Not laughing she said, You re odd. And put her head down. And continued reading her paper.


03 September, 2005 posted in Miscellany | Comments (1)


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Gasoline Prices (or In Praise of Capitalism )

Today a woman at work told me that she was buying gas when the pump she was pulling from ran out. The attendant said that she d have to go to another pump. By the time she got there the price had risen thirty cents.

This can t be right, I thought. The government has to do something, I thought. With gasoline prices rising by the hour and sometimes by the minute, I began to question my instinctive trust of capitalism. And I long ago concluded that capitalism is the only economic system compatible with freedom.

Thank god for Professor Walter Williams though. He lifted me by my ear and said, Straighten up, kid. You re talking crazy.

The last time the government tried to do something about gasoline prices was in 1979 when President Jimmy I ll-Never-Lie-to-You Carter instituted price controls. Mr. Williams explains that President Carter s hairbrained scheme only made matters worse:

We saw long gasoline lines, and that s if the gas station hadn t run out of gas. It s estimated that Americans used about 150,000 barrels of oil per day idling their cars while waiting in line.

Professor Williams explains that we haven t seen the long lines and shortages and fights at the gas pump because price has been allowed to perform its valuable function - that of equating demand with supply. A basic axiom of capitalism.

Up until the recent surge in gas prices foreshadowed by Hurricane Katrina, Professor Williams does a simple exercise. He wondered how much more gas costs now than it did in 1950, adjusted for inflation:

In 1950, a gallon of regular gasoline sold for about 30 cents; today (8/31/2005), it s $2.50. Are today s gasoline prices high compared to 1950? what cost 30 cents in 1950 costs $2.33 in 2005. In real terms, that means gasoline prices today are only slightly higher, about 8 percent, than they were in 1950.

Thank you, Professor.

I implore you to read his whole article . With the same gusto, I ask you to bookmark his website and read his columns from time-to-time.

02 September, 2005 posted in In the News | Comments (2)


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Careful With That Axe, Eugene

You know what Cialis is. It s a medication to help men who have difficulty umm standing when a woman enters the room.

I just saw a television commercial espousing its lofty benefits. Apparently this stuff s influence can keep men umm ready to rise at the sight of a lass for up to 36 hours.

That s a long time to be standing. Or getting ready to stand. Or standing only to sit right back down. Long about the thirty-third or thirty-fourth hour of this, I imagine one would remove one s hat and help seat just about any female that wandered into one s peripheral vision.

Which is probably why the commercial warned against excessive alchohol consumption while under the influence of Cialis.

01 September, 2005 posted in Health and Medicine | Comments (0)


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I Am a Looter

I just read on an arabic language website that al Qua ida has taken credit for Hurricane Katrina.

C mon. Stop groaning, someone has to make the first joke.

I see the images on television and imagine myself stuck with my family in the middle of New Orleans. Hopeless.

You would call me a looter. I would break into stores and other homes looking for food and bottled water. I would break into sporting goods stores and look for guns, ammunition, and other weapons in order to protect myself and my family.

I have no choice, because I would have nothing. Because I would need anything. And protect everything.

01 September, 2005 posted in In the News | Comments (1)


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