Saturday, February 24, 2007

Me and Little Phil, A Sad Goodbye. Part 1

dinning with the chickens at Blue Heaven

(I teased this story, but I'm a slow writer and once given an assignment, I tend to shut down. So, I'll release it in parts.)

In January of 1999, I was finishing up my postgraduate studies in Slackology, with an emphasis in Beach-Bum lifestyles, down in Key West. To make ends meet I would wait tables on the breakfast/lunch shift at Blue Heaven.

Blue Heaven, unique breakfast place in KW

Blue Heaven was my Harvard. An outrageously successful place that served good food in a "real" Key West atmosphere. The staff was made up of a variety of eccentric souls. Most had thrown up their hands in disgust at whatever life they had led before, preferring happier times on the island.

When I say "real" Key West atmosphere, one of the things I mean is, there will be chicken's everywhere.

One day, during some down time on my shift, I noticed a small chicken moving about on it's own. It was bigger than a newborn, having lost it's yellow feathers for brown, but what was unusual was that it was alone. Most baby chickens stick very close to their mother hens, especially one as small is this. The more I watched, the more its isolation became obvious. Chickens are violent animals, as this one approached other chicks, or chickens, it would receive a brutal peck to the head from any nearby adult. It would wander from hen to hen, looking for food or a place to cuddle for warmth, but each trip became more dangerous. It eventually sat down, alone, and chirped loudly. Sadly.

I went into the kitchen, grabbed a bowl of potatoes and some bread. At the first offering, it scampered off, so I left a few crumbs on the ground. After I had backed-up, putting myself between it, the food, and the yard full of chickens, it came over and had a bite. Must of us have gone through this dance. A bond is formed as trust sets in. After eating from my hand, it jumped into my lap as I sat there, turned twice, fluffed his feathers and sat down. Cute.

We weren't very busy, but I had some work to do, so I scooted it off me, stood up, and wandered out onto the floor. Nothing going on, everyone good. I drift into the server station. My colleague Jeff, a gay, violent drunk, in his mid forties, missing parts of three fingers and given to inappropriate physical come-ons, brought my attention to the floor at my feet.

"Looks like you got a friend."

The chick had followed me and was now nestled between my shoes.

"I guess I do."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Things that Are Everywhere In Places I have Lived.

Key West Chickens.

The picture above was taken on the floor of my restaurant Ricky's Blue Heaven, in Key West. In the chairs are customers, dinning on their breakfast. You've got two roosters, one hen, and a little chick to the hen's left on the right of the picture. The photo isn't really accurate, there are a lot more of them, in the restaurant and all over the island. The chick is either, much faster than it's sibling's, or the lone survivor of a much larger group, which might also indicate it's speed.

I have two Phil specific stories of tragic relationships I shared with two chicks. One ending in a sad goodbye, the other in a violent goodbye.

Which would you like to hear?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Parental Philosophy.

I watched a lot of t.v. growing up.

My kids watch quite a bit of t.v. I do not think that t.v. is intrinsically bad. As far as the programing for kids these days, I consider it far superior to the t.v. that I grew up on. I know we had Sesame street, 3-2-1 Contact, Mister Roger's Neighborhood, etc., but nowadays, everything is educational, and encourages child participation. If Malcolm Gladwell, in his book 'The Tipping Point', is to be believed, they are rigorously tested for maximum educational impact. Hannah/Barbera is garbage (despite Scooby-Doo's current popularity) compared to most Nickelodeon shows. Noggin', an all day preschool age kids programming schedule, breaks down the specific benefits of the show about to air, whether it be language skills, communication, shapes, numbers, and so on.

I try to subscribe to the philosophy, moderation in all things. Like I said, I don't mind them watching t.v., but how much is to much? I'd appreciate your feedback on this.

I'm not here to judge, so I'll go first. The Boy's probably average between 5-7 hours of t.v. a day, while awake and active for 12-13 hours a day. This is exclusively kids programming on PBS, Nickelodeon, Disney, and Noggin. That I'm writing this post tells you I think it might be too much, but it is also the middle of winter. I do think I do a good job of getting them out of the house 2-3 hours a day for specific kids activities (bookstore, friends house, library, school) outside of day-to-day errands. Plus, there is general playtime (fort building, toys, etc.), book-reading time, numbers, and alphabet work.

Anywho, let me know what you think.