Vacation's end

Greetings from the Charlotte, NC airport, where the southern hospitality thing (maybe NC doesn't consider itself southern...) has prompted the airport to offer free wi-fi. This earns them mad props, even though there are giant sections of the airport that don't have any of the flight information screens, forcing passengers to head towards the center of the airport often for no reason.

The vacation was a good one, by and large. Most of it was spent playing with babies that friends and relatives continue to put forth (while I'm mentioning babies, a shout out to young baby R. who had his second birthday). The kids here ranged from 8 months to almost four years old, so the games included making stupid noises, playing full contact peek-a-boo, and teaching the four year old what it was like to be the Grasshopper Princess.

When I wasn't playing with kids, I was playing with puppies, watching the Olympics with the family, or out celebrating one of my oldest friend's birthdays. There was a nice cookout in Austin, where I made some salsas and dessert to go with the steaks and burgers my friend grilled up. There was a lot of Mexican food.

I thought about posting about the nights of uncomfortable sleeping arrangements. Even the night on a friend's couch sleeping in Winnie the Pooh sheets didn't bring with it the comfort and quality sleep I'd have imagined. And I'd considered a post about dumb bar games that friends and I talked about after I explained the Former Child Star Babysitter game. There were some good ones including "Name Your Favorite Three Robots of All Time" and "Which Two Characters Played by the Same Actor Would You Want to See Fight." If your answers to the first one didn't reference R2-D2, you have problems.

There was the possibility of issuing a rough time estimate about when certain questions were asked, such was "Are you seeing anyone?" (Time: 6 1/2 hours); "Why can't you get a job here?" (Time: 45 minutes); "Can I borrow $50?" (Time: 1 day, 9 hours); etc. But it just seemed silly, really. On some level, they probably should ask some of those questions because otherwise, all of our conversations would have been about t.v. So somehow I didn't mind quite so much.

But part of what made the trip good was my game-time decision to cancel the "Come to Jesus" lunch with the family and to simply go do something I wanted to do instead. These discussions tend to largely cover the same ground over and over again, and honestly, watching things that happened over the course of the trip, it seemed a bit like a circle-jerk of enabling. And I probably fit in there somewhere, so I decided to just do something different this time.

We'll see how it goes.

But no trip home can go by without some difficulty, and so it was last night - the last night - that I spoke with my crazy uncle who, after I'd helped him book a trip, asked me who I was going to vote for in the Presidential election. You can be sure he didn't like my answer. He explained how he had a birth certificate proving the religious affiliation of a particular candidate and how anyone of that religious affiliation wants "us" dead because it's in their holy book, and goodness knows anyone of a particular faith must follow every teaching of their holy book to the letter.

I tried, dear readers, to let it pass. Really, I did. I sought out the most pleasant distractions I could while he railed. But eventually, I couldn't let it sit anymore though it no doubt means I'll have the full prayers and concerns of the fundamentalist right on his side.

What did it though was the statement, "I knew you'd say that. All academics are liberal. "

I pointed out that one of the largest groups of faculty out there represent the business world, and so probably are closer to his world-view than he thinks. I also pointed out that if, in fact it was true that academics are liberal, it might suggest something what with how much time they give to, you know, studying things. Then I tried to explain to him that liberal doesn't equate to Democrat, that being a member of a religion doesn't have to mean you're inclined to behave the same as the worst that religion has produced. I even offered examples of rules from other holy books that suggest violent action that members of those religions don't follow. All to no avail. In the end, he bowed out of the conversation, noting "I know I should never talk about politics or religion. It only leads to trouble."

Word of the discussion, though, spread like wildfire through the house. My uncle is not exactly the head of the family, but he's the most well off, and in our family at least, this has equated to a small amount of freedom from disagreement. I think my brother put it best when he said, "I guess I'm the nephew in the will again."

But I'm feeling pretty good about it as it prompted a conversation with the rest of the family, and while they may be close to the crazy uncle's views in some ways, they're at least not convinced of the truly outlandish claims shot my way in the phone call. And selfish as it may be, I'm hoping that having heard someone stand up to my uncle and disagree with him might actually prompt a little groundswell of disagreement from the rest of the family, as well.

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4 Responses to “Vacation's end”
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ash (on leave) said...

Love the robot game! But, IMHO, if your answer to that question didn't include Summer Glau, you've got problems. My third (after Summer and R2D2) would be Wall-E. Data and the Tachikoma from Stand Alone Complex would be close runners-up.

This did prompt a debate in my house, though: Are the replicants robots? Are cyborgs? Because if the answer is yes in either question, Deckard, the Major, Seven of Nine, and D'anna Biers would have to be thrown into the mix.

Also, I am a geek.

August 22, 2008 at 12:47 AM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

I think the definitions part is half of what makes it Geektastic good times. I couldn't include Summer because I still haven't seen that series yet. Someday, oh, someday...

August 22, 2008 at 4:51 PM
adjunct whore said...

to be honest, i can't think of r2-d2 without c-3po, the odd couple of robots. i just can't. i made the mistake recently of watching the last three (first three) installments because i'm just kind of that person (all the godfathers, several times). they made me yearn for childhood and have the sense of tragedy they totally lacked in the first three (last three). or perhaps it is just watching now instead of when i was 8.

i meant this comment to be short but suddenly i have so much to say! so as a southern transplant i feel particularly appreciative of the difficulty and bravery and significance of your choice to avoid the come to jesus lunch and your political discussion.

i too LOATHE the all academics are liberals position. for so many reasons i should post about it.

in any case, next time you are in the south, let me know and i'll track you down for a proper beer and rant in person.

i'm also amazed at your patience with so many kids.

August 22, 2008 at 7:50 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

The great irony, in light of this post and how I often speak of my upbringing, is that the crazy uncle is a Yankee through and through. All my Southern relatives seem to have a better grip on religion.

The academics as liberals discussion was fun because while liberal probably doesn't go far enough to describe me, I do hate that shorthand because there are issues I'm conservative on. And I'd hope that any thinking person wouldn't be a blanket-anything. Sadly, my uncle seemed to have trouble with that.

The kids are easy to deal with. I've got great friends, and their kids are great (if sometimes unruly). It probably doesn't hurt that my mother ran a daycare out of our house for years, so I grew up with a ton of infants and toddlers around. And that I get to go home at the end of the night or the trip certainly helps sometimes.

Also, welcome back. =)

August 22, 2008 at 8:40 PM