Here’s a quick video of it to show the motion of the new Garbage Truck Getaway 7599 lego model, since you can’t really get that from the box.
Today is David’s last day of Kindergarten. We walked to school together as we often do, and I grabbed the camera so I could shoot a companion video for the one I shot for David’s first day.
This is that video:
This Week David’s reading group performed a play. This is that play.
I have to tell you I was a bit stunned when I heard about Alex Chilton’s passing yesterday.
He’s probably the most important American musician you’ve never heard of.
I can’t do a better job describing him than the words spoken on the floor of the House of Representatives in his honor.
The first time I ever really figured out who he was, was because I’m such a huge replacements fan. When they sang:
Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes ‘round
They sing “I’m in love. What’s that song?
I’m in love with that song.”
It was probably no more than a week later that I was listening to his solo albums, and his Big Star records. No more than a month later I was a huge fan.
I’m certainly going to miss him, and my heart goes out to his family.
First of all let me be clear.
- The Beatles are one of the best rock bands of their era, and definately on the list of most influential rock bands of all time.
- They had an incredible work ethic, world class musicianship (yes even on Drums) and a knack for relevant, complex yet accessible song writing and lyrics.
- They dealt with fame well and effectively used the attention of the world without becoming irrelevant and cliche (though media attention was kinder and gentler then).
- They grew and changed showing an uncommon courage and versatility that few bands before or since have been even close to.
- They were very aware of the current social issues and spoke to them without losing sight of their own perspectives.
So I like, respect and am incredibly impressed with what The Beatles were able to accomplish.
I am appreciative that there’s at least two if not three demographic generations that can, and arguably should, be brought up to speed on what an incredible rock band The Beatles were.
I also have an appetite for something new, and I’m not an audiophile, and apart from noticing “Wow you can really hear Paul McCartney’s amazing bass lines better on these mixes” I don’t have an ear for what’s so much better. I guess if I still played vinyl albums, it would be worth picking up new ones, so there is that.
I also appreciate that video games are an important medium now, and The Beatles Rock Band promises to be very profitable (and even looks fun to play).
Having said all that, I’ve had enough of The Beatles. I have been over saturated with the Beatles since I bought and played The Soundtrack to Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Movie (Featuring The Bee Gees) to death in 8th Grade. A band I still think was amazingly talented1.
The Beatles were great, if you’ve never listened to them, please do. Get Revolver at least and play it non-stop for a few days, it’s amazing. Frankly all their records are at least good, and starting with Rubber Soul onward they are all really great.
While your catching up, or looking back, please bear in mind that many many people in the world have already discovered and rediscovered this amazing musical act, probably a few times, so we don’t all need to catch up with this whole The Beatles re-re-re-re-re-release thing. Again, if you’ve never really noticed how amazing songs by this fine band are, well you should take some time to sit down and figure that out for yourself. But please don’t talk to me about it. I get it.
That’s all I have to say. Thanks for your time.
Oh and one more thing, you all can blame Yoko Ono if you like, but really it’s pretty small minded. Do you think so little of the bands commitment to excellence that one members spouse could really break them up? They were done, that was it, now move on. She’s probably a very nice person.
1Yes you read that right, The Bee Gees were amazingly talented, and unlike The Beatles were still performing together when I was in 8th grade.
At that point in my life I figured out:
Wow, the Beatles are revered to the point where people that could otherwise record a new album or play new songs can master a Beatles song or three and people will like that better.
Years later I figured out that the Bee Gee’s at that point in their career were pretty much over and that doing a movie musical of Sergeant Peppers was essentially them sucking very badly.
I do firmly believe that, despite being inextricably associated with that unfortunate Disco business, they really were amazingly talented. Further The Bee Gees were a good enough band that they could have gotten a whole lot braver than wrapping themselves in one of the more critically acclaimed Beatles records. It would have been better had the Bee Gees actually tried creating an album that wasn’t “disco” but instead was really new. Certainly the Beatles bravely went in new directions during their career.
Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomy blogger at Discover has a nice post reflecting on 9/11.
I always enjoy his writing but I am struck by how he presents a choice between science and religion to frame how a person understands and explains the universe. In this peice he says specifically
“To someone who is very religious, there is no other way to perceive life.”
Phil, and full disclosure I can call him Phil as I’ve known him for years before he became the Bad Astronomy columnist, has a wonderful gift for making sweeping generalizations that inspire people to think critically. This one kind of gets me going so I felt like I should write about it. So I did.
Pitting science against religion undermines both and does little to further our understanding of our world and our condition
Religion and science are not absolutes, nor are they mutually exclusive. They are not in the spirit of either when they present themselves as in competition with the other. They can be subverted to the point that they inspire terrible acts by misguided people who harbour ill intent.
- For how questions science (usually) wins
- For why questions religion (usually) wins
- If you care enough about the “why” questions religious affiliation is valuable
- Religious affiliation is not about blind agreement
- We tend to gather around and imitate those that seem sure of themselves
- This tendency can be exploited to do terrible things
- But what the heck do I know I just like to think about why questions
We had a nice Labor Day weekend. This video sums it up nicely.
we had a nice visit with Emerson a friend of David’s from pre-school. We went to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, and had lunch at American Taco, a new place for us which we really enjoyed. After lunch we played around the house and were joined by our neighbors Mark and Caroline, who we’ve not played with enough lately. We swam in the pool Saturday night (video at the start of this post) and David and Laura went to bed early from our busy day. I stayed up and watched VaTech in a valiant effort against Alabama. Good game, too bad the Hokies lost.
Started out with my attending a lovely service at the Church of the Beatitudes. Some of the members of the bell choir performed at the 9:00 AM service and sounded great. After the service I was chatting with our vocal soloist Stephanie and she mentioned that if I wanted to sing with them at the 10:30 service, they would love it, as they were missing their bass voice. I really like the piece they were singing, Lord I Know I Been Changed so I jumped at the chance. It was really fun to sing with a small group A Capella, first time I’ve done that.
While I was at church Laura played with David as he created a TV set out of a cardboard banker’s box that was just amazing, complete with a remote control and crackers all made out of cardboard and decorated with magic markers. I’m going to post a video of him providing instructions for use later this week.
After I came home from church and we had a fun Sunday afternoon of Star Wars Lego - The Complete Saga on the Wii, more swimming and a few errands.
Monday - Labor Day
I like to grill on holiday weekends so we had Laura’s parents over this evening. Most of the day we tidied up the house and prepared for our guests. David had some nice play time while Laura and I took care of the chores. The barbecue was alot of fun. It was great to have Laura’s parents over.
It was just awesome weather for a three day weekend. One of the nicest Labor Day weekends for weather in the 17 years I’ve been living in Phoenix. Started out with a great Monsoon storm Saturday morning and stayed in the high 90’s or low 100’s for the rest of the weekend. Started to peak back up into the 105+ range on Monday afternoon.
Today I walked David to his first day of kindergarten. We had a nice conversation during the walk and he was very excited for school to begin.
Just because I’m blown away by what this band is about, I’m going to start with this before I talk about what’s been happening around my life lately.
Anamanaguchi is an 8 bit hardcore punk band that plays music they create with hacked Nintendo NES hardware.
I’m going to repeat that, because it bears repeating.
They sell their “album” directly from their label site for $5 using Google Checkout. And they allow anyone that wants to to embed the following multimedia version of their album anywhere on the interwebs. What’s stunningly, joyfully and aesthetically exciting about all of this is how it is simultaneously nostalgic, contemporary, and completely different.
It’s been a pretty interesting first half of 2009. Halfway through it seems, at a national level, that 2009 is living up to being a year of the really hard work that creates lasting change. We’ll see if we manage to do it without furthering the empty saber rattling and mind-numbing hate that is the “culture wars”. Don’t you have to have a culture worth fighting for to have a culture war? Seems like we’re starting to get into cultural scorched earth territory.
On a more personal note, this year has been a year of really dramatic change. My work continues to challenge, surprise and puzzle me. I like puzzles so it’s been pretty cool.
David is getting ready for Kindergarten and amazes me daily with his maturity. Wednesday morning this week he announced, after he put on his shoes.
It’s nice to be on the best phone on the planet with a really useful mobile app.
You can get iRecycle for yourself from the iPhone App Store.
So I really highly recommend going out to help build a Habitat for Humanity house. It’s a great way to help someone out and you get to use power tools and all.
This house is for an entire development of Habitat for Humanity houses around 12th Street and Baseline. Habitat purchased on “infill” plot of land big enough for quite a few homes. We’ve many more weeks on the house our church is involved with, so it’s not too late to join in the fun :). Schedule says
- May 2 is install finish carpentry
- May 16 is Irrigation / Planting and Landscape Rock
- May 23 is cleanup
- May 30 is Dedication and Housekeeping
David, who’s five now, is getting old enough to understand the connections between things, which came up Friday night. I was explaining to him how I wasn’t going to be able to play on Saturday morning, like we usually do, because I was going to help build a house for a family that couldn’t buy a house without our help. He didn’t much respond to that at all, but 30 minutes later the weather brought the topic up again.
In Curious George Rides a bike, there’s a wonderful section where they show you how to make an origami boat that actually floats.
It’s great to see David making a boat just like I did when I was a kid, and using the same source for instruction.
Sometimes when people ask me why I think Social Media is more important than traditional media, I ask them to find a story they like in social media. Most people don’t do that, it’s what they pay journalists to do for them.
The ones that do, usually have a hard time finding it because social media is “messy” and “there’s lots of noise”. Both of which are true, those are, in my opinion, the two most significant “cons”.
But when I ask them about the story they like, I really find out if they can see around the corners or not.
If you read what people write themselves, you can find some really interesting stories. But when you see how people are replying, commenting and riffing off each other’s stories, you start to get a clue that it’s not about reading. It’s about reading and writing. and recording and shooting video. and sewing and building. It’s about doing, creating and sharing rather than finding, buying and consuming.
It’s also quite cool to see the personal computer actually be used personally by so many people. The last three years are the first I feel the original vision for the personal computer have been realized. While it’s still a small a minority of people that are really getting it done, it’s a huge increase in the idea of what one person can do with an open and adaptable machine (the internet) and a phone or computer. Not “to” or “at” the machine, but “with” the machine, as they find it.
I’m really excited about 2008. I may even get commenting working again on my own blog.
Here’s a deservedly, popular story about what a woman named Susan Reynolds did with the machine when she found out she had breast cancer.
I’ve not been tracking this story very much, but It looks very engaging. It’s really not about what story I’m reading though. It’s about what story I’m engaged in, and there’s a bunch of them. The important part of that for you, dear reader, is social media isn’t passive. It’s dead boring if you just want to read it. You have to create when you find a thought you feel you can contribute to.
Putting all the ornaments boxes back in storage today.. I ran accross on of our favorite holiday cartoons
It’s always amusing to run accross this while we are doing our holiday decorating.
So I’m in a choir. The Choir Director and a few of our singers are in a group called The Phoenix Bach Choir.
They’ve just been nominated for 4 Grammy Awards.
So I figure, well that’s probably a pretty good record, and I can get it autographed too. So I’ll go to Border’s and pick it up.
Bear in mind Border’s is considered one of the last good places to shop for Classical Music. Turns out they have to special order it. So I’m going to see if Stinkweeds can get it for me. I’ll let you know which get’s here first.
I find this kind of amazing, and a little depressing. A lot of people are concerned that classical music as an industry may be dying.
This is kind of interesting for Phoenix because, as such a modern city, we have very limited social norms based on a local classical music cultural heritage. Nothing like this has ever happened to Phoenix. Classical Music, or any other form of music can’t really “die”, it just becomes less interesting to the point that it goes dormant.
Seeing an international debate about the genre’s struggles and viability while watching a local community figure out how to build on the phenomenal success of the Phoenix Bach Choir gives me whiplash. It’s kind of fun.
When I first joined the choir at the Church of the Beatitudes, our son David wasn’t born yet. We had just become members of the church, having decided to regularly go to church.
The first year in the choir I was not really sure what I was doing. I’d never sung before, but could read music well. Within two months of joining we sang the Requiem as we do every year for the All Saints Day service.
Well 4 years later, I’m much more comfortable singing in general, and certainly comfortable singing the Durufle again. This weekend we preformed the Durufle requiem again.
It was quite fun and I think the best the bass section has sounded since I started in the choir.
David continues to grow up quickly. In the last few weeks he’s really been joking around a lot more than he ever has before. Most of these jokes are related to inserting the words pee pee or poopy into a song or a statement.
Speaking of songs, it’s really fun to hear him play around with melody. He knows a few songs now, so he will occasionally just start softly singing a tune to himself while he’s playing. He also makes up little nonsense songs on his own, which I really enjoy as I’ve always enjoyed doing that myself.
The other day he looked at Laura very seriously at the breakfast table, and said to her:
David: Mom, I have something to tell you.
Laura: Yes, David, what is it?
David: Mom, I know you like apples. And I also know that Daddy likes apples.
David: But Mommy, I do not like apples.
We naturally found this to be extremely amusing.
I came home from work last week and David greeted me at the door. As I walked in I held up my hand and said “High Five”. He looked at me and, out of nowhere ran me through the whole:
“Gimme Five, Up High, Down Low, Too Slow!” routine.
I don’t know where he picked it up but he found it very amusing how stunned I was that he pulled it on me.
It’s amazing to play with him and talk to him. He’s such a smart kid. I don’t know how it’s possible that he’s about to turn 4 years old. I remember before we had David, someone telling me that the great thing about having kids is when they are old enough to have conversations with you, and how it gets better and better as they get older. Now that we’re getting into David’s fourth year, I can see how that’s true.
So tonight the Diamondbacks got swept out of the 2007 NLCs. It was kind of a drag to not win a single game. At the end of their season though I have to say it's been an incredible year.
This team is going to be around for a while and it's a hell of season to start it all off. While a lot of people are talking about how they blew it and what should've been, I thought it would be a good time to write a quick note on I've really enjoyed this team and why I'm proud of them.
When the season started everyone had pretty low expectations. This was supposed to be a squad that was rebuilding. They didn't pay any attention to what they couldn't do, they just went out and played baseball. They played my favorite kind of baseball too. Get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in.
Brandon Webb, or as I prefer to call him, Brandon F'ing Webb, pitched another great season. Doug Davis really came into his own. Valverde, what a run. Bryne's while a bit flamboyant, ran as hard as he could to first base every time he put the ball in play, and that in and of itself is something you don't see enough of in the bigs. The bullpen, what can you say, Cruz and Lyon were practically automatic for the last two months. I could go on and on about each player on the team. The way Mark Robinson comes up from the minor leagues and just lights up the place. What can you say, it was a season in which the team just didn't listen to what they couldn't do and proceeded to grind out an NL West Pennant, with enough gas to be real contenders in the post-season.
I think the thing I loved the most was that they just had fun playing the best baseball they knew how to play, and it worked splendidly. It's kind of rare to have a team do this well with no real "superstars". It was the whole team, never quiting, always believing in themselves and having a great time playing the best game in the world.
The Colorado Rockies are looking pretty amazing, scary good really. They are a great team and the Diamondbacks shouldn't be embarrassed that they lost to them so utterly in the NLCS.
I've never liked the idea of being down on your team when they don't absolutely win the whole championship every year. The lessons and inspiration we take from the game is bigger than how we should have won the World Series.
I can't wait for next year. Go D-Backs!
So Dilbert.org has a very funny post about justifying ones own beliefs.
It's funny in sort of a "look everyone is full of it except you kind of way". Yet it pokes fun at you too, when you aren't looking.
Everyone believes in something. It's the justification for your personal belief that's being explored here. So what do I believe?
I believe in one God... well that's a prayer, and a belief statement but what's asked is why I believe in one particular God when so many believe in another. Or, more specifically why I believe in one God, this particular way. For a good piece about what I believe read this. I have some shadings of belief that diverge slightly from that. But on every major point that's what I believe.
David is officially a two-year old.
Sure signs are:
- He repeats things for hours on end ("hot potato" from the wiggles right now, "that's a cool place" and other things Laura and I say to each other, with no warning whatsoever that David will latch on to them for days)
- He does things he knows are wrong to see what will happen (throwing in the house is the biggee)
- His verbal skills are getting hysterical. (After misbehaving I will ask him to say "I'm sorry Daddy", he will usually apologize to all the characters of the 100 acre wood before he'll say "Daddy". He usually starts with Tigger.)
- He is starting to ask alot more questions
- He is learning to actually dance, rather than just sort of sway like he used to. The Wiggles have been very involved in this, especially the "stand on one foot and shake your hands" dance.
Some funny stories from the last week.
He has developed a funny habit of calling Laura and I "guys", as in "Let's go guys" or "thank you guys". We likely will not discourage this, as we find it very amusing.
Tonight he was getting ready to go to Baja Fresh for dinner, and as I was putting his jacket on, his stomach was sticking out so I tickled him. He ran over to Laura and said, "Mommy's tummy is oh so cute."
David has been trying to jump for the last couple months. He finally figured it out this last week.
Here's a video:
I'm not sure if this will work or not, but if it does that'd be super. I think you need QuickTime installed.
David has had a low grade fever for the last four days. The pediatrician says he's fine, it's just a mild respiratory virus going around, and that it could take a week.
As Laura started her new job yesterday, I got to stay home and watch David yesterday and today. (We don't take David to day care when he's running a fever as A) we don't want to get the other kids sick and 2) they won't let us.)
So just in case you were wonderiing, David is a bundle of energy even with a low fever. Here's a list of what we've done the last two days:
* invented two games,
* thrown the baseball in the front yard
* run laps around the house
* gone into my work to pick up some stuff I usually bring home on the weekends.
The trip to work was especially funny as I had to bang out a few emails real quick. After a few minutes David got bored and started exploring. The first time, I caught up with him about 5 feet from my door. The second time he made it all the way back to the front door, about 60 feet from my office, and a co-worker, Elaine was walking him back when I caught up with him. The third time I couldn't find him anywhere.
I was walking around saying "David, David" and near the front door I heard a voice saying "I'm in here Daddy!" coming from the elevator. He'd learned how to operate the elevator visitng Laura's Parents. So I opened the door expecting him to look a little scared and upset. He was just standing there looking at me like he wanted the door to open on the second floor.
Laura is going to be the new Internal Communications Adminstrator for AAA Arizona.
New job? What happened to her old job?
Laura has recently left a position at Best Western (BW) International Headquarters. This was a very difficult decision for Laura as many of you may have already talked to her about. Laura spent most of her 10 years at BW doing Employee Communications. Over the last year BW has been through quite a bit of change, not the least of which was the Communications Department getting moved into the Marketing Department. As a consequence of that change the Employee Communications role was distributed accross many staff members and Laura was moved into other duties. Well she really missed that aspect of her job and after the other duties didn't seem to fit very well she and BW decided it was probably better to move on to other things. It was, of course a mutually agreed upon solution as both Laura and BW are class acts.
Why AAA Arizona?
A couple months ago she heard about a position at AAA Arizona that seemed like a great fit. This position is specifically Internal Communications, which is almost entirely employee communications. That combined with the similarities between AAA and Best Western, combined to provide a remarkeably good fit for her. After many phone calls, interviews and networking, AAA Arizona and Laura figured out that which seemed obvious at the onset, was still true after due diligence was applied. AAA Arizona and Laura would work very well together.
How did she find out? Is she excited?
Yesterday on the way home from the store, Laura got a phone call and was given a verbal commitment from AAA Arizona for the position. She's excitedly waiting for the offer letter to arrive in our mailbox so she can "officially" accept the position.
Laura is very excited about the new position and knows that her difficult decision to leave BW was a good one. One of the thing that AAA Arizona has specifically reassured her on throughout the interview process is that they value their employees personal / family time and do not believe that one should suffer for the benefit of the other. Thanks everyone for all the support and kind thoughts during this transition for Laura. You are the best!
Yesterday at 2:45 pm MST, after incredible heroics, my wife delivered our son David Lawrence.
If you are thinking of having a child, the birth event alone is highly recommended.
More writing on this topic will be forthcoming i'd imagine.
We're trying to come up with a name for our baby. It's very bizarre. You're naming a person. It's wild. It's fun. It's a name for a person.
I've spent a good part of my free time in my youth coming up with amusing names for bands. One of things I like about naming bands is that the name doesn't matter if the band is good. But if the name is good and the band is good, well then that's a great combo. A bad band name isn't really that big a deal though, if the substance of the band, the music and the things that the band chooses to express, are worthwhile.
It's not the same, but it's sort of the same with a baby. We've been through every naming book we could find and really it comes down to the same process. You find a name that hits you right. Except in this case the person, doesn't have any idea what he's in for. We know it's a boy, which doesn't really help as much as you think it would.
We're not going to do a Junior. Just doesn't feel right for some reason. We're down to a few names. I am kind of liking David as a first name tonight. I was talking to Laura about it and one of the things that I like about the name David is the biblical reference. David was a great man, in that he said, you know what, I can fix this if I just use my sling. That's a pretty bold move. I respect that. So I mention this to Laura, and refer to Michelangelo's David which we saw in Florence a few years ago.
So she says, oh yeah like the statue and puts her hand over her head, posing like a statue. Thing is Michelangelo's David doesn't have his hand over his head. So I say "Who is that?" and she starts laughing and says "I don't know, it's the statue". So now I'm really laughing because she's gotten the statue wrong, and I say "No, Michelangelo's David has his hands at his side and he's looking up at Goliath with a look on his face like 'I can take this guy' ." and I add "He's not doing the Macarena!" and I put my hand over my head like Laura had, but with the whole dance move thrown in. To add to the joke I make up a few bars about David taking down Goliath to the tune of the Macarena. This was quite amusing to us.
As I write this I must admit it turns out I got the arm position wrong, in that his left hand is up at his shoulder holding his sling. When I was checking, I read on this page that Irving Stone thought the statue captures the moment that David decides to try to take down Goliath, which I must admit feels right. It's really a good web page about the statue if you are interested in learning more about Michalengelo's David with many links and offline references to how it was created, why it's a masterpiece and how it was conceived and delivered.
Who knows what we will name this boy/man Laura is gestating. We have been thinking about it and talking about it for weeks. I think we're just going to have a short list ready and then after the birth we'll take a few minutes to ask him and see what he tells us. In any event this is one part of the pregnancy experience I didn't anticipate enjoying as much as I have.
Each name we come up with has so much weight, because we're considering naming our son. What a great problem to have. I'm already pretty impressed with the importance and significance of parenting and I haven't even met this guy yet.
Or it could have been gas. It's so hard to tell when they are that small.
We're getting down to a short list of names should have something soon.
Laura's been feeling much better than she did during the first trimester. We had a pretty uncomfortable night last night though. We attribute the generalized cramping pains and irregularity to her working very hard this week and probably not getting quite enough water.
Since we're leaning toward a natural birth, I couldn't help but wonder how she will do with the level of pain she's going to feel during childbirth, especially when she was laid out by cramping. To be fair it was pretty bad cramping. I asked her about it and she said, she was thinking the same thing while she was cramping.
"At least I'll know why it's happening, and when they are coming" she said. Still, if it was me, I'd rather be on pluto.
I’ve organized them as follows.
- You can either click on the images or the ‘full size’ link to see the images
in a new browser window.
- you can click on the ‘download for print’ link to download a highish resolution
TIFF image for printing. You should be able to print this full size on a 8.5
x 11 in piece of paper in ‘landscape’ layout mode.
Now that we're through the first trimester and we know there is nothing genetically amiss we are telling people about our pregnancy.
Here's some images from a few weeks ago.
Here's the best Ultrasound I think. It's a straight on shot right at the fetus' torso.
Here's shot from the side. You can see his arm and it's labeled.
Finally here's a shot where it looks like you can actually see his brain.
What with all the terrible stuff going on in the world it's nice to have my time with Laura to talk about the future and what we'd like to do in the next few years.
You should know that I realize I'm full of shit when i complain about stuff, considering what a great life we have together.
So I have probably already mentioned that Laura has become a very avid LOTR fan. (The trick was getting her to watch the extended version DVD of the Fellowship of the RIng in the comfort of her own living room).
So now during our discussion of how our 'days' were she will ask me:
"Are you ready for the Lord of the Rings Fun Fact of the day?"
I'll respond "Sure!"
And she'll then ask me a question.
"How old was Elijah Wood when he auditioned for the part of Frodo Baggins?"
I'll answer "22?" even though I'm only sure that I'm going to be wrong.
He was 17 by the way.
So I've learned all sorts of little things about the production of the first two films over the last month.
Good thing this blog is here otherwise no one would ever know it.
I'll probably post one or two of them as some of them are quite surprising.
Well I've been using some standing shelves behind my desk for years. Problem is I have to turn around to see what books I have. Also they are pretty crappy shelves.
So today I got a wild hair and went nuts on this.
Here's what the wall in front of my desk used to look like:
And here's what the wall in front of my desk looks like now:
Someone this week mentioned that they were motivated to complete a project due to a sense of nostalgia. This reminded me of the poem Wear Sunscreen by Mary Schmich.
The last part in particular:
Be careful whose advice you buy,
but be patient with those who supply it.
Advice is a form of nostalgia.
Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal,
wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts
and recycling it for more than it's worth.
I couldn't remember it off the top of my head at the time so I e-mailed it to her.
It's a great quote.
Today Julie came by the house with another friend of hers. Julie is a Jehovah's Witness that's been visiting us on Sundays. I don't mind talking to them as I have a better than average familiarity with the Bible and I used to work for a Jehovah's Witness a few years ago. He was one of the best employers I've ever had and certainly one of the nicest men I've ever met in my life.
So Julie and I have been talking about God and life, the universe and everything on and off for the last two months or so. I really enjoy hearing there take on spiritual things. It creeps out my wife, because she thinks that I'm going to *become* a Jehovah's Witness, but I just like talking about God and they are a good pair of folks to do it with. I think I like talking with people of that faith about God because they are so passionate about what we 'really' know as opposed to 'what people have added in'.
Anyway it was interesting talking to them about some stuff today. We agreed that the Holy Spirit, which I was taught as Catholic is one of the Trilogy, is 'part' of God but isn't mentioned as part of a trilogy in the Bible. So they showed me a few passages that speak to the Holy Spirit. It seemed to me that the Holy Spirit could be explained more simply as the active manifestations of God that are visible to us in the world.
This was certainly more meaningful to me than the vague notion of what the "Holy Spirit" is that I held before they came over today.
I later told my wife that I had made it clear to them that I wasn't interested in joining their church and that they were cool with that.
In a way they are sort of 'hacking' the bible... going straight to the original text and seeing what the 'code' does. An amusing oversimplification but one I think applies.
On a positive note, I saw a headline in the Arizona Republic today about how the protests all over the world this week are motivating the US and the UK to soften up the language they are going for in the next UN Security Council Resolution regarding the use of force on Iraq. Maybe we won't be going to war as quick as I thought.
Well time to cook dinner. Have a good week.
Laura put a note on our alarm clock this morning that is funny.
"Get up early and write for work"
That's basically what she does every day.
It really cracked me up because she's so organized that means something much more specific to her then it does to me so I asked her about it. She explained it meant something to her, laughed and went to bed. I love making her laugh like that and seeing things like that around the house.
I find that people that do really great work tend to have funny little ways or organizing their time. I always enjoy happening upon her reminders and imagining what she was thinking when she left the reminder. I also enjoy how we organize our time together with her lists. It's fun to cross stuff off the lists with her.
Last night Laura and I went out to dinner for the first time in ages. Our personal economy is still getting hammered by the tough times about us. Monday I got really irritated with all the worry about money, war, the tech market and general round the house kind of things. So I remembered that every really happy period in my life has occurred after a personal decision to prioritize my happiness.
I shared this with Laura that evening and it seems we're going to give it a shot. So three days into it Laura gets her annual employee review back and she did extremely well. So this is a good sign. Certainly just a coincidence but still a happy event. We certainly won't mind the extra salary.
So what is happiness. Well it means lots of things to lots of different people. To me it means to celebrate what we have, what we have accomplished and what we are working toward. Now I'm 37 years old so celebrating something means something much different to me know than it did 15~20 years ago. When i was a younger man celebrate involved killing brain cells and numbing myself to the awkwardness of youth. Now celebrating is something I do every day by taking a few minutes to listen to a CD, or read a book that isn't work related or just talk with Laura about our days.
I suppose happiness means other things too. Regardless of it's many meanings, we're prioritizing it now. Not in a short sighted way. There's a lot of satisfaction and happiness in seeing a long project to completion. But we're looking it how we spend our evenings and weekends and we're doing whatever we can to make them as happy as possible.
I guess this seems like an obvious thing to do from another's perspective. But it's not really that hard to forget to stay focused on your own happiness. At least it appears we strayed from it.
Every year I write the Christmas letter for the holidays. Basically I write the text and then lay it out in whatever page layout program i’m using at the time. While I’m getting the layout done Laura edits the copy to shorten up the prose. Invariably she deletes some obscure joke that I found amusing but took too many words to deliver! It turns out pretty good every year becuase of this but it’s funny how easy it is for us to get in an author vs. editor mindset. Happily she is a great writer and almost always right about everything.
Anyway here’s the letter for this year.
Laura and I had a pretty mellow weekend. We did some Christmas shopping and took care of some chores. Laura's work had their Christmas party on Friday. It was at a western place and I was reminded that I really don't like country music. Interestingly the big dancing was for the usual crowd pleasers, Electric Slide etc.
We're looking very much forward to seeing everyone for the holiday. It's just starting to hit us that it's only 17 days till Christmas and 13 days till Daniel gets married.
So nice trip to the in-laws for Thanksgiving. The weather was not as cold as we expected so that was nice. On the way back in to Phoenix the weather was very clear and I got a nice shot of Camelback from the plane. I'm having more fun with my digital camera than I expected I would.
So this weekend has been really interesting. We're on the cusp of actually going forward in an effort to have a baby. Naturally the timing couldn't be much worse financially but we're also getting older so it's not like we can wait much longer.
It's been a weird weekend though because since Laura started using her newly acquired ovulation tracking mechanism we now know this is the weekend to try this month. The weird part is that knowing we should be able to conceive this weekend has put a little more pressure on us and seems to be testing our commitment to the idea of having a baby. Actually we're both sure now but we're still quite intimidated by it at the same time.
Well it's been a bit hectic the last few days.
Barb and Wade were coming in to stay with us Tuesday night so we spent a lot of time on Saturday and Sunday getting ready for their arrival.
Then Monday, my work schedule was pretty nuts so this is the first chance I've had to take a breath since Saturday morning!
Barn and Wade were a lot of fun to see. We went down to BOB and had dinner at the Front Row Grill.
I've definitely eaten too many meals at the hotel restaurant. I've tried everything that looked interesting on the menu already. The service in the hotel restaurant is surprisingly bad.
That reminds me. Here's a tip if your ever considering a career in waiting tables. Bring the check the way your customers prefer to receive it unless it is specifically forbidden by the restaurant's management. Three times this weekend we wanted to split the check and three times we were told 'no'.
To their credit the Hyatt, who I was just complaining about a moment ago, did split our check today. But then we had to chase down our waitress to pay the damn thing, seems like we were chasing her down during the entire meal.
Last night was my first day of the STOS conference. It's getting better and better each time. When I first arrived I was feeling a little disappointed in the actual realization of this conference, the progress we've made. Still by the end of the day I was really excited by the enthusiasm of everyone on the steering committee and the conference attendees as a whole.
Had a great Birds of a Feather session last night that John was leading. I was able to take care of the white board so the people with the technical chops could run with the discussion. It was fun to work in that environment and keep the technical challenges balanced with the room as a whole.
Tomorrow is the first day I'll be actively attending the conference instead of working (all day anyway) in support of it. I'm going to be roped into doing copies of the schedule but I'm sure looking forward to getting some ideas about what EVERYONE has been working on since last year.
Travelling to California today for a security conference.
Last night the Air Conditioner crapped out and we had to get the USAA Appliance Warranty renewal completed before they could schedule assistance.
There was no phone call or mail from them regarding the credit card number being transposed so when we called in the renewal last week it didn't 'take'. Luckily they were able to get us fixed up without it taking too long. I'm continuously impressed with the training that company does for their call center staff. They do most of their business over the phone so it's really important, but I've dealt with so many other companies that don't execute it well even though they rely on telephone communications so much.
Laura is stuck in the un-airconditioned house today while they replace the condenser. It got up to about 87 degrees in the house yesterday as the old unit tried to get the job done even though the condenser was failing. We decided to stay at a local hotel for the night rather than sleeping at home in the heat.
I can't imagine how people used to live without any air conditioning at all. 85 degrees is not that hot when you consider that the average summer temperature is over 100 degrees F for this time of year. Back before refrigeration there were a couple methods people used to keep cool.
First there was a sleeping porches, where you basically counted on the significant drop in temperature you get out in the desert to provide you a comfortable sleeping environment. This is pretty much just a matter of sleeping somewhere where whatever slight breeze occurs naturally, can travel unimpeded over your sleeping form. Obviously this is not an option for today's world. Phoenix has way to much pavement and automotive emissions to allow the evening temperature to drop as much as it used to. It's a very 'Zen' like approach anyway, no real effort is expended to control the sleeping environment, you simply experience the sleeping environment that exists for all the area you are in.
The first technical advancement was the Evaporative Cooler, commonly called the Swamp Cooler. Then of course the refrigeration form of Air Conditioning we all enjoy today.
Sure is nice here in Monterey. Temperature is awesome, 40 degrees cooler than we are now in Phoenix.
Had a great Sunday with the Family. I was kind of bummed out after the Christening, probably because of the combination of getting a letter and standing up in front of my family in a different way, also because I knew we'd be getting back on the plane tomorrow and that the trip would be over soon.
Everyone pretty much enjoyed themselves as they normally do. Michelle mentioned to me that it was neat to be at the party because it reminded her of the family get together's that we'd gotten to know each other at when we were kids. I hadn't really thought about it like that, ever. I suppose that part of me doesn't really frame myself in my family the same way Michelle does, or maybe it's that I don't consider it because we're (probably) not going to have kids. Either way it made me think about the amount of time I spent playing with Teddy and Shannon. I remember playing with my Aunts and Uncles when I was growing up and the impressions I had of them when I was very little must have affected my impression of them later in life. It seemed like a good thing to have played with them so much when I thought about it like that. It also occurred to me that I should probably play with Teddy a bit more today as Shannon had received most of my attention.
Now that I'm on the plane it occurs to me that I probably played more with Teddy because he was more interesting to play with. I guess I felt that I was neglecting Teddy because Shannon get's so much attention from the whole family during the get togethers because she enjoys the attention so much. Whereas Teddy is much quieter and happy to blend into the gathering.
They are so much more interesting as they reach school age. You can start to see them forming their adult selves. Or at least you can see subtleties start to appear in their personalities.
The babies are certainly fun too. They are so predictable though that I find I get bored with them pretty quickly. They fun part of interacting with babies for me is how the interaction affects me and those around me. When they are related to me it's easy to see that the baby will have a profound affect on me. I see my family's future, I see the transition in the parents (from a married couple to parents) and I see the link to the past in the names, and physical characteristics.
When my family gets together now, there are lots of babies. We have 4 babies in the immediate family this year and all of them were at the christening (I'm considering anyone under 3 a baby). During one of our infamous 'group photo' setups one of the babies started acting up. In response to that someone started singing "The Alphabet Song". By the letter C the entire house was singing the song and she stopped crying immediately. Even though she had stopped crying the whole family decided to keep singing till the song was finished.
The interesting part is to wonder if she would have started crying again if we hadn't sung the whole song. I suppose she might have if we had immediately stopped singing when she first stopped crying.. but certainly if we had stopped after "elemenOpee" she might not have noticed that we didn't finish and by then she had been completely distracted. It's kind of academic by itself but combined with the other things I know of my family it's another, albeit minor, indication of our thoroughness.
Man I'm exhausted. I got about three hours of sleep last night for no reason. It's wierd being around my loud and fluidly organized family for so much time. I guess some of that rich food got to me too. I had a little heartburn last night and by the time it went away I was wide awake so I decided to stay up.
It's sure nice to use Danny's wireless broadband connection for a few minutes! I can't believe Ted didn't get one when they said he was going to have one.
Started the day with the strangest dream.
I was in some sort of immersive documentary medium. Instead of just watching the experience I was able to interact with the whole world as if I had travelled back in time. Probably because I was back in DC and because I there were so many babies on this trip, Laura and I were 'viewing' Washington DC n 1966.
For some reason everything in this world had a sepia cast, as if despite the ability to interact with everyone and everything in this world, the visual rendition could not be perfected.
Since I lived in DC for many years of my childhood, I had suggested and Laura agreed to visit my folks in 1966. This was only possible because in my subconscious we had already moved to Brookville apartments in 1966, two years, maybe three, before we actually did.
I was awakened by Shannon brushing my cheek with a Power Puff Girl doll well before we got to the townhouse. I had already figured out though that we would introduce ourselves as long lost cousins, and that I would be named Leonard. Very weird dream.
Today was quiet and relaxing. I stayed home and watched Shannon and Teddy while Sonja and Laura went shopping for a Christening Candle for Daniel. We surfed the Internet, played with Pokemon cards and watched the movie Space Jam. The Pokemon cards part was fun because we used the PokeDex toy Laura and I had given Teddy a few Christmases ago to compare ourselves to the size and weight of the Pokemon characters. Using the PokeDex, we were able to find the characters that matched a certain height or weight. Teddy was amazed that the Pokemon's were so small at one point saying "I thought they were supposed to be huge!".
We went over to Mom and Dad's in the afternoon. Dad was napping so we went to the Mall with Mom to shop for new glasses. She had left her old glasses in Alaska.
Mom, Dad, Ted Jr. and Sonja (and children) and Laura and I had dinner at Arties which was nice.
Today everyone enjoyed visiting with Jenn and Vinnie. We played computer games and I learned how to play little Teddy's version of the "DragonBall Z" card game.
About 3:00 we walked to the Soccer Fields near their house to fly a battery powered styrofoam plane Teddy got for his birthday. On it's second flight it crashed into the ground and both wings broke off! Pretty cheaply made actually.
We went out to dinner and then went over to Jenn and Vince's house to visit with Jenn (Vince was at band practice). Little Vinnie was asleep so Ted Jr, Teddy and Shannon and I sat in the TV room and watched Fantasion 2000. The girls sat in the kitchen and talked.
Back in Northern Virgnia to visit with the family,
I've already played Teddy on the Game Cube, within twenty minutes of arriving in fact. I'm sitting at Daniels apartment watching the Orioles play on television. Hilleary moving into the apartment has resulted in a much cleaner home life for Daniel.
We had a nice lunch with Steve before we left Richmond at Millies "Lost Dog" diner. Apparantly the gentrification of the Canal district in Richmond has been very successful. They are finishing up a new grocery store to encourage more development in the area. Amtrak apparentlly is talking about running an Acela train from Richmond to Union Station in Washington DC. Since the train only takes an hour to get from Richmond to DC the idea is people will buy condominiums in Richmond and work in DC. It'll be interesting to see if that works.
Apparantly it's been very dry out here this summer. Everyone is talking about the high temperature and Steve said Richmond is going to start Water rationining next week if they don't get any rain.
Today we went to Maymont park with Erica and Kristen. This is a great park in Richmond. They have a petting zoo and some large fields. The original land owners' estate is also thre but we just walked around and visited the animals. Most of the animals were 'rescued' in the city and are brought to the park becuase they couldn't survive being released back into the wild.
After we went to the park we came back to Steve and Kris' house and had some lunch. After lunch everyone went down for their afternoon nap and Laura and I want to visit Nana. When we got there she was up on her walker and she looked great. Hard to believe she's celebrating her 90th birthday at the end of September.
She is just finishing up reading Truman by David McCullough. She also mentioned that her favorite book was Shadow on the Rock by Willa Cather (who also wrote My Antonia).
We talked about here typical week and what she does to keep busy. Her old Bible Study group comes to visit here once a week. She gets regular visits from many of the Hanifers and then of course Dad writes here 3 times a week as well.
After we left Laura was sad. She always gets sad when she visits a home like that, even one that's very nice like the one Nana is in.
We stopped at the store and got some groceries for another dinner in with Steve, Kris, Erica and Zoe. After dinner Laura and I relaxed in the living room while Steve and Kris gave the kids their bath and put them to bed. Tomorrow we drive up to DC for the last part of our trip. I think next time we will stay in a local hotel as
- it's very quiet here after the baby's go to sleep
- we have trouble sleeping in the smaller full size bed they have
- Laura thinks she can get a rate
Well we had no trouble at all travelling to Richmond today. Hilleary picked us up right on time and within 2 hours of arriving at Union Station we were pulling onto 495 south in the Intrepid. It was pretty much clear sailing all the way.
We're looking forward to visiting with Nana tomorrow and spending more time with Erica and Zoe as well. These kids are sure fun to visit!
After seeing Zoe for the first time we're really beginning to realize that, it's true, Cummings babies are unusually large.
The rest of the trip I will be on dial up connections. I'm already missing the wireless network at Eric and Mary's, reminds me of home.
The wether feels much 'stickier' down here even though the temperature and humidity is very similar to what we had in NYC.
Laura said something funny today: "You know the real problem with New York city is just the ventilation". It is remarkably clean compared to what it's been but August in the city is a bit much.
Today we got up early to get down to Penn Station and catch the train to DC. From there we will lug our gear onto the Metro and meet Hilleary, who will take us to Mom and Dad's house. There we will pick up their car and drive down to visit with Steve and Kris in Richmond. Should be a pretty full day!
If you are ever taking an 'unreserved' train from Penn Station, Eric and Mary gave us a great tip. Ask for a 'Red Cap' to help you with your bags. They will get you on the train before the rest of the crowd is allowed to board the train.
Train has been nice and comfortable. We're in one of the older cars that only has two electrical outlets. Lucky we were the first ones on the car! The newer cars have outlets in every pair of seats.
The game plan is to get out of DC before the traffic gets too bad. If everything goes well we should be pulling out around 3:30 which is very close to the start of rush hour. If we get delayed at all we may spend some time with Ted and Sonja and wait for the traffic to lighten up around 7:00 PM. As the weather report predicted Thunderstorms for the evening, I'd certainly prefer to get out of town before 4.
Eric was telling us last night about how people that he knows that have been in the city for their whole lives that will never get on the subway. Sure seems odd as the cabs can get expensive pretty quick and the subways, while certainly dirty and more than a little foul smelling, are faster and cheaper.
Maybe we should visit NYC with little to no plans more often.
Today we relaxed the vast majority of the day away. We realized as we were coming home last night that we were within 1/2 a block of the Ed Sullivan Theater (home of The Late Show with David Lettermen). As I have been a fan of his since he had a morning show, the first thing we did today was to go down the street and poke around a little. It was Sunday, so both the Gift Shop and the Hello Deli were closed.
After that we walked much to far to get to the 50th Street and Broadway Red Line subway stop. I say much to far because, for some reason, I had remembered it up on 8th Ave. There was a man preaching with a single speaker PA system on Broadway as we approached the station entrance.
We arrived at Eric and Mary's around 1:30~2:00 and had our leftovers from dinner last night for lunch today. We chatted and listened to music for an hour or so. At 3:30 we decided to check out the "Museum of Radio and Television" on 52nd Street. On the way our cabbie "accidently" drove all the way through Times Square ("You said 32nd Street") which was both annoying and kind of nice as we wouldn't have seen it at all this trip if he hadn't.
The Museum of Radio and Television is one of the most bizarre musuems in NYC. Basically it's six stories of "Screening Rooms" with no "exhibits" except for large 11x14 framed prints in the hallways. Basically you go into one of these screening rooms and 'screen' the exhibit. So in essence you drive to midtown and pay six bucks to watch the "exhibit" on TV. As most of the footage is "rare" (or at least "hard to find") I can actually see why you would want to do this if you were really into one of the subjects being presented.
As we were only mildly interested in all the subjects, with the possible exception of Elvis, who Eric has always enjoyed in a subversive sort of way, we basically moved from screening to screening and took breaks tending to Sarah who was very well behaved. We saw David Bowie videos, Elvis Presley concert footage and the Pilot for Seinfeld. So basically take the experience of sitting on your sofa and flipping the channels on your Cable service then charge six bucks, a lot of walking around and put it in a musuem setting and that's what it was like.
Heading back to the house we vegged out for a few more hours. Took some photos with the kids:
...and had some Chinese delivery for dinner. Steve Margolis brought over his son Mike and his new bruiser of a son Brian. Jenn didn't come over as she was getting ready to start work again tomorrow morning.
We got back to the hotel about 10:30 and crashed early so we could get out early to catch the train to Washington DC in the morning.
Had a very nice visit today with Eric an Mary. Took Emma, one of their baby twins, to see the "Baseball as America" exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. It was pretty cool although most of the exhibit was of little things (cards, cleats, caps etc.). Enjoyed seeing Blanche McGraw's seat from the Polo Grounds. Especially since I just finished reading John McGraw's biography.
It was kind of ironic that to get into the company of baseball memerobelia you had to walk through a room full of Reptiles.
After that we relaxed in the Mangol's apartment. We listened to some music and talked about everything from high school to parenthood. It was probably the first time we've really relaxed and visited with them without having to chat over the background noise of a restaurant.
Laura and I really enjoyed holding the babies who were very well behaved. Sarah took to Laura right away but I Emma wasn't sure what to make of me till I held her above my head and swooped her down toward my face a few times. Then she warmed right up.
Last night after arriving in New York and relaxing from lugging the bags around for a couple hours we headed into Brooklyn to visit my Cousin Crista and her husband Tiago.
They live in DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
While we were coming through the long tiled hall of the subway to the street she was telling us that before the gentrification of the area this hallway used to be crowded with Heroin Addicts. Over the course of the evening we learned that people that live down here are either work in the Creative/Artistic or Financial fields.
We ordered take out (the “Best Pizza in New York”) from Grimaldi’s which is right under the Brooklyn Bridge. Walking to the video store to return a Video my Cousin and her husband had rented, I was surprised to see the exact entrance to the walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge that Eric and I had walked through 4 years earlier when we walked across the bridge from the Manhattan side. I never would have imagined walking by this entrance 4 years later just a block away from my Cousins apartment.
We had a nice dinner and some fun wine, Vino Verde from the Quintada Aveleda vinyard in Portugal. It was a Branco Seco, a very light sparkly wine perfect for a hot summer day and causual enough for pizza. Crista made a nice salad she augmented with home grown tomatoes from their balcony garden (which also provided fresh basil for the pizza as they had ‘shorted’ us on the basil a little bit).
After we had relaxed and digested for a little while we waled down to the dock under the Brooklyn Bridge to have some fresh Ice Cream. The Bridge looked great as we sat beneath it talking about living in the city, weddings, new babies, architecture and art.
After all the conversation, wine and food we left for our hotel room. Naturally we got on the train going the wrong way and didn’t realize it till we were halfway to Coney Island.
Today we are off to the “Baseball as America” exhibit of Cooperstown pieces at the America Museum of Natural History. I’m a little put off by baseball today as yesterday the Baseball player’s union set a strike date of August 30th. Lots of press against the players over this but it’s really a both the owners and the players.