Thursday, 19 February 2015

Strategic Acts of Humour, Stupidity, and Love - Pt 2

Welcome to part two of the Rasmussen boys' eternal chase for the "Favourite Son" crown. Let's get to the last Rasmussen tale of humour, stupidity, and love. 

Should'a Worn Capris

Often the best thing you can give  your mom is the gift of laughter. For if even for a minute you can make her forget her Orwellian existence the hellions have imprisoned her in you can score big. Our elementary school was bordered on one side with Farmer Levi's orchard of peaches and pears, along with a well-worn hole in the fence to grab snacks at lunch. One day at recess, brother Dudley and his special Ops team crossed the DMZ into enemy territory. It wasn't more than a few minutes before the special code word was uttered: RUN!!!

One by one the troops scampered under the fence, commando style, with Dudley pulling up the rear. From a distance he heard a faint "dud, Dud, DUD!" what the...? "dud, Dud, DUD!" - it was Dudley's classmates chanting for him! As he neared the tunnel under the fence he could smell Farmer Levi's stinkin' cherry wine breath. The chant reached a crescendo -- "DUD!, DUD!!, DUD!!! As Dudley slid under the fence, he felt a tug on the cuffs of his jeans. Dusting himself off on the other side, he stood up and immediately felt a draft down below. Farmer Levi had yet another pair for his barn door.

We all assume that Dudley ran home in his underwear, but memories fade, and no one really seems to know how the story ended. We do know that while Dudley was most certainly traumatized by the incident, he believes his underwear saved him - and to this day still wears them on special occasions.

Points wise this was a very tough one to grade. If Mom could ignore the indictable offense, it could score very highly on the humour parameter, but mom confessed to me that this had happened very shortly after we moved to town leaving a few people in town thinking that we were a band of thieving nomads. Time was on Dudley's side though, as the humorous side of the story overtook the negatives, and with this being an oft retold story at family gatherings, Dudley still scores the occasional residual point for this event.

So that's it for look at "Favourite Son Pursuit" Rasmussen rules. Just ahead we look at some more advanced tactics for those of you that want to take this sport to the next level. Just remember, like anything else in life, the more you put in the more you get out. It's all well and fine to play this game at a hobby level, but consider that your mother gave you a semi-pro or even pro commitment for upwards of 18 years. Are you pulling your weight?

Favourite Son Pursuit (FSP) Advanced Strategy Considerations:

The following advanced strategies are presented on the assumption that you have fulfilled the prerequisites and have a solid foundation in the basics of FSP. This blogger will not be responsible for any damages to any sibling relationships, parental unit relationships, or any loss of son ranking. There are no guarantees, implied or assumed.

Event Timing - All of the life events depicted may seem disconnected and events unto themselves. However there may be a significant advantage to be gained by simultaneously both scoring and negating of the points scored by an opponent. For example, if you know your brother was about to publish in the University of Phoenix Online Journal of Academics Who Need to Pad Their Publishing Totals, then the timing might be perfect to announce to Mom that you have been nominated as one of Maclean's magazine's top 500 influential bloggers in Calgary SW.

Playing The MEDI Card - If you plan to even consider playing the "MEDI Card", please read this very carefully as the technique is fraught with land mines. This involves using your medical condition to strategic advantage by eliciting sympathy. In short, don't do it. Mom is fond of saying that she hates "pity parties" . If you really believe this, be consistent, throw your card away and renounce membership pronto.

Keep the Game Close - Ask any parent of a Barnum & Bailey-sized family, and they will tell you the answer is PARITY! To heck with worrying about making it to your 80s -- If you want to survive your parental years, you had better focus on getting every kid into the playoffs rather than hoping for one Gretzky out of the bunch. In practical terms, this means that moms are not fond of endzone celebrations, piling on, and commanding leads. Just remember, if you are bold enough to take a commanding lead, you had best be the humblest bumble you can be.

Level the Playing Field - Pool Your Intelligence - There may be times in this game we begin to feel a tad uncomfortable about Mom's ever-expanding role in the game. The ideal appearance of a Mom in this game is a look of mild disapproval and ignorance. Signs that your mother is taking on an inappropriate role in the game are: 1) you catch her spiking the ball in the end zone, 2) In the fall she sends out preseason scouting reports on all of her boys, 3) she announces that she has signed up for one of those new FSP "Fantasy Leagues" where each mother has an opportunity to draft her own selection of sons. This last one should be particularly troubling to any player invested in the game.

Alternately you may become disenchanted with the height of the pedestal and the increasingly regal behaviour of your Mom in the rarified air. It's time to act. Here is a real-life example:

Doc, the FIRM's gift advisor noted that we could be saving an enormous amount of both money and time by banning the purchase of cut flowers and mandating that brothers purchase the longer-lasting  orchids for mom. Doc even went as far as to standardize the number of flowers and buds in order to take the pressure off the boys. Mom  disapproved of the change at first but now feigns a love affair with the orchids to save face.  A win/win/win/win/win/win situation for the boys. "I can now afford to buy a decent Niagara wine instead of that cheap Okanagan swill" gushed the normally staid academic.

No discussion of the Rasmussen boys would be complete without a mention of our High School science teacher's tactless forecast: "Marion, the Rasmussen boys will always struggle". Not only was he saying that we were not the sharpest knives in the block, was he insinuating that might be more suited to the cutlery drawer? A second equally astute comment from him was, "I can't believe that Linda is from the same family as the Rasmussen Boys". A real gem he was. Yes, Linda Louise…

The Lone Voice of Sanity?

Out of the cacophony of farts, whining, and "say uncle"s, you could  hear the pleas as clear as day: "Will you kids grow up!" While her exhortations typically were directed towards my elders, all of us were on the receiving end at some point. These typically included a multi-pronged verbal attack on our maturity and intelligence, with a not-so-vague Darwinian insinuation that we were not as high up on the evolutionary scale as previously thought.
Lest you think that my sister was all sugar and spice, she was not. She was more than that. But Linda deserves far more space than I have here so I will leave her for another time.

The Verdict: Case # 1482. The Rasmussen Boys Vs Mom Raz.

No doubt you are wondering how she got so high up on the pedestal. Some compare her to the cat who climbs up on the roof knowing it can't descend, but content that her 10 minutes of fame when the firemen arrive will be worth it. Others suggest she resembles more a treed bear who climbs ever higher seeking to avoid all the hullabaloo below. Knowing that she enjoys the occasional dose of hullabaloo, the truth is likely somewhere in between. One thing is for certain, she didn't climb up there on her own. I'm guessing there are at least six other suspects we need to bring in for questioning.

And yes, she does look in no hurry to climb down. And why should she? To face the heinous crimes she is supposedly guilty of? Of the cardinal maternal sin of naming a favourite? There is no evidence that can prove that she had a favourite - rather that she made each of us feel like we were the favourite. That out of a bunch of butter knives, we were the lone steak knife. (A stretch for some maybe - paring knife?)

Equally worrisome, was the charge of betting on her own team. Verdict - GUILTY! This second charge comes with no jail time. - What self-respecting mom would not bet on her own team?

I used to think that any parents of a big family would be content if all the delinquents  managed to avoid incarceration. Maybe that was shooting a bit too low? Off the record Mom stated that she thought that her greatest accomplishment in life was that all of her boys "got along with each other".

I suppose the right thing to do would be to let her believe that we have a special bond - that when we see each other after a long absence we give each other deep meaningful hugs, not half men hugs.  The real truth is is that we would love to be beating the living tar out of each other still, but our bodies cannot withstand the physical punishment (nor the hospitalizations). Not to mention the fact that my parole officer would be none too pleased =)

: Finally cornered for a comment before posting, Ms. Rasmussen offered the following statement: "Every one of my boys is special. I have never, ever, and will NEVER play favourites with my boys." 1

1. except on weeks when I'm mentioned in the blog

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Strategic Acts of Humour, Stupidity, and Love - Pt 1

Flaming out in the talent component yet again, he can hear his mother: 
"Dudley, use your words". That's it. He will rock the oratory tomorrow.

This is a tale of intrigue and cunning, A story of a centuries-old  sport played by royals, rogues, and Rasmussens. It's a game where the rules, (if you can call them that),are fabricated by the players. And oddly enough, involve pursuing their masters who seem to be increasingly venerated the longer the game is played.

Just who is the target of this pursuit? Your mom of course. The one who knows there is something up with you before you know there is something up with you. Your mom - One of the few in your life that thinks it’s quite all right for you to call with nothing to say - but of course will know you have something to say before you say it :-)  Mom... she will not lie to you - but she will not necessarily tell the truth either.

What is at stake here in this game? We hope nothing, but minimally the coveted  designation of favorite son. Anything else? A T-shirt?? A reality TV show contract? Nope. Only a barrel full of contradictions. Try some of these on for size. Warning, understanding the parameters of the game may require your most lateral thinking and general  outside-the--ed-ness you can muster.  For Starters:
  • Any self-respecting mom worthy of the role, would never designate a favourite son or daughter in any situation.
  • The game will never be called. If played properly, according to the, non rules, it will be permanently into extra innings, over time, i.e., like the movie Groundhog Day. Why, you say? Well, I think we'd all agree that even if they could, they would  not name a favourite, as they have no motivation to. My mom has six Santas on the hook right now. There is nothing that would motivate her to designate a favourite son which would effectively cut her down from 6 Santas to 1.  
  • The game has no rules. The game, if played properly - will be guided by no rules of play. It would truly seem to be a game made by Rasmussen’s for Rasmussen’s.
  • We really don't like mom getting "into" the game too much. We don't mind her "playing" the game, but we really don't want her to be a "player".  

One last item before you move on to some real-life examples. Hang in there, it's about to get a little murkier in here :-) I know you'd love to play a game where the goal posts keep moving, where you are never sure if you scored for your team or the other, or even how to score. I know this is hard to digest, but when you're dealing with a game where the referee is sitting in the stands, getting a ruling can be a little difficult.

It's not that complicated though. Positive events connected to either you or your close family generate credits for your account. If your younger brother made the cut in the Maclean's magazine 20 Socially Irrelevant Bloggers in the Southwest Calgary Community of Evergreen we would never know for sure, but my hunch is that your brother would take a considerable leap in the standings Always remember, the importance of prestige of an event is always in your mother's eyes, not yours.

Events or accomplishments that debit your account, are typically more rare as most people have cleansed themselves of youthful indiscretions long ago.  The typical debit event can be described as a youthful indiscretion, likely involving testosterone, bucket loads of stupidity, and a gasoline engine. Later in life these types of events can still occur but the circumstances are often dramatically different, as they now typically involve much less testosterone, (possibly estrogen), more stupidity, and often a more efficient hybrid engine.  

If something way back in that pea-size cranium gives you a moment of pause and reflection before acting, or causes you to pull your dogeared copy of the pocket criminal code, it is more often a naucent debit event. For example, if after failing to meet the stringent grandchild production  quota, you submit  your border collie/Husky Cross as a suitable replacement, the penalty will be swift and painful.

Residuals (debit or credit) are paid theoretically as long as the event continues to produce an effect. So if Mom is still having nightmares years after that night you went to the "library" and stayed out all night without calling - yes indeed, you will continue to pay the price. On the flipside, as long as mom continues to tell the story of your cross Canada bike trip, you will continue to see the points  trickling in.

Enough of the theory, let's move to some real life examples. All of the following are true stories taken from the archives of the Rasmussen family library. If you aspire to play this game at a high level, examine these case studies carefully. I will offer some pointed observations and analysis following each. As we go through, to try and keep in mind the motivations and aspirations of both the sons and their mom.

One more thing,  my brothers seem to enjoy their privacy. I will maintain that with this blog entry as well. I have given them nicknames as follows: from youngest to oldest: Feral, "Funny Boy", Doc, Dudley, and Ricardo. In addition, I may refer to the entire group As "The FIRM".

It’s A Different Kind Of Sweet

Where does dad fit into all of this? Rough around the edges, My late father  did have a warm side but  as they say, it was just not that "accessible". Suffice to say, that if the two of them were honey, Mom would be pourable sweet golden nectar, while dad would be the the spoon bending pail of concrete with the white crust on top. Ten wrist aching strokes later you found yourself staring at 10 paper-thin slivers. Now if you were a young lad looking for a quick and easy sweet topping for your Wonder Bread, which would you approach first??

Nothing says "Mom, I'm desperate for points" more than…

Mom and I met at the south entrance to the pool deck and she wanted to “walk the red carpet” together to her aqua fit class at the far end.
“Mom, I’m desperate for points.”
“What’s this one worth?” (No answer)
"Seriously, I'm hurting. The residuals from my bike trip are fading fast."
" Blair, you sound like "Funny Boy".
She displayed her annoyance as we approached the Aquafit group in the corner and whispered:
“Blair, suck your gut in. - Are you skipping workouts again?”

As far as the standings were concerned, performing at the Y seemed to be a zero sum game. Everyone knew it would be suicide in the standings to not go so going was just the default. All except her eldest. Who held off for the longest time and then finally went.  I think Ricardo was given some accommodation for his age being closer to many of the octogenarians than the rest of his brothers.

Note that mom does let her guard down here revealing that she may be playing the game with more than one of us. Could she be working the pockets of the entire field? I.e., was she employing a "Ben Johnson" strategy? That as long as everyone was hoodwinking everyone  equally, she could justify it morally.  Could it be so? To heck with a double agent. Could mom be making the rounds to all six boys with the same message - that they are her favourite? Could she be a sextuple agent???

The Mother Lode?

You are never certain exactly how many points are garnered for any given mission but I'm guessing my decision to scour the wheatfields of Manitoba for a bride of good prairie stock may have hit the mother lode for points received, Mom admired her solid moral fiber and thrift, adding that she was a breath of fresh air as compared to those " uppitty dames from the east." I was pleased that her practical skills were as advertised, and that she could spell me off driving the wagon west to settle in Calgary.

It would be hard to overemphasize the importance of having a great life partner to help fight this battle with. Like the other Rasmussen men, I was just barely smart enough to realize that I was not  the sharpest knife in the block - but as long as I married the sharpest knife in the block all would  be OK. A trusted advisor is a great asset to have when it comes to competition strategy.  My wife does remind me however that's she sees her main role as being less of an adviser, more of a parole officer. Her central role being to basically "keep me from doing "stupid shit" that could either affect my health or my place in the standings.

Not Strapping Enough to Save His Hide

It was the summer of 1979. I was a strapping young 17-year-old who was training with the National  Rowing Team for the World Juniors in Moscow that August. Either by design, or by necessity, Mom and Dad thought it was time to test my wings and they left me alone for the week with their 75 Dodge Dart. I was pleased with receiving the vote of confidence in me as the only previous responsibilities  were when mom and dad had asked me to keep an eye on Ricardo our eldest brother.

The tumult began on day two. I took Feral my younger brother camping about an hour away. At the campground I proceeded in short time to have two accidents in the span of about 15 minutes. I will spare you the details that might illuminate the true depth of my youthful stupidity. I know, I know. You're all wondering the same thing. If I was such a strapping young 17-year-old boy, what the heck was I doing with my baby brother  on a holiday weekend? That is for another time, and I might mention will be answered in a future blog entry: "Large Families, adolescent development, and sleeping four kids to a room long past the point where you would tell your buddies at school."

Calling dad was one of the toughest phone calls I have ever had to make. He was so angry that we barely talked for weeks - a freeze-out only exceeded by brother “Funny Boy's" Cuba-like treatment following his tumbling routine with the family wagon). Rumours that dad severed all diplomatic ties were for the most part, true. However for our forever maternal emissary quickly stepped in and helped maintain a functional level of communication until the honey softened.

While this incident might have had the potential to keep me in the cellar for an extended period, I suspected in the end it was zero sum game. Most surprising, indeed. I benefited from "compensatory favouritism". This often happens when one spouse has overreacted, ultimately dealing in an unfair fashion. The end result is the other acting in a overtly positive manner in order to nullify the negative effects of the first spouse.

Those are just a few snippets of how the Rasmussens play the game. You think you know enough to take us on? Those are just a few of the anecdotes, nowhere near enough ammo to take on the big boys. I will be back in the bit with part two where we examine some more refined techniques and clarify just exactly what Mom's culpability in this game is.

See you in a few days…

Monday, 2 February 2015

Strategic Acts of Humour, Stupidity, and Love

September 8 3 PM - Google's automatic save function in Blogger has struck again. The "feature", which saves your work approximately every 60 seconds, managed to erase some new content I just added since importing from Google Docs. I might be able to get something posted later today, but will be more than likely tomorrow late in the day. Sorry for the delay! Blair

This is a tale of intrigue and cunning, A story of a centuries-old  sport played by royals, rogues, and Rasmussens. It's a game where the rules, (if you can call them that) are fabricated by the players. And oddly enough, involve pursuing their masters who seem to be increasingly venerated the longer the game is played.

Ahhh... The pursuit of "Favorite Son" status. In this age of small families, is it a dying art? Sociologists take an in-depth look at .. Nahh. I bring you a few lighthearted snippets of our life and let you decide - Is Mom an unwitting pawn in this game? OR Is she the one tweaking the strings of the marionettes. You be the judge.

Coming this weekend...