Friday, December 25, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Monday, November 09, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Saturday, September 05, 2009
I have this Thing and this other Thing—Thing 1 and Thing 2. Thing 1 is absolutely necessary but Thing 2 merely costs lots of money.
What should I feel toward Thing 3? I’ve had it since I was 14; it was my grandfather’s but I never knew my grandfather and would gladly give up Thing 3 to speak with him for a few minutes. Thing 4 has passed from one office move to the other since my very first teaching job—that’s six moves—yet I’m unsure I’ve ever used Thing 4.
Fuck Thing 2; I don’t care how much it cost—to the garbage it goes.
All my Things are just Things. They don’t breathe or think but it seems I hope many of them will remind me of my own breathing and living. Thing 5 I got during our family trip to San Francisco; what a lousy reminder of that amazing trip.
Why so many goddamn Things? I can’t keep track of my Things. When I want to use Thing 6, it’s never around; instead I make do with Thing 23 but it’s not really my size. I start to fill suffocated by Things, things over here, in there, on the cabinet, in the garage—too too many Things!
But I do like Things; in fact I like my neighbors’ Things and Things in stores much more than my Things; unfortunately even when I adore a Thing someone else owns, its glimmer wanes as soon as it nestles amongst my Things.
I just got a new office and decided to fill it with a few Things as a commemoration of my window and my commitment to this office. I saw the Things colleagues had in their offices; many smart things. Andrea had pretty, rich matching Things but I’d never figure out such a complex layout of Things; another had intellectual old Things but he also has a degree from Yale. I want those Things, I said, so when I happened to be in Walmart (a very rare thing indeed) I decided to hunt for some Things. But before I made it through the front door I was tired and hot; I pushed on but once inside the King of Things, I was overwhelmed by Things. Why would people by such stupid freakin’ Things? I look at lamp Things but I think I want a lamp Thing from Ikea—not the king of Things but much better to say I bought an office Thing from Ikea than Walmart. But soon the new Things I buy will seem old a wary, Things I no longer want.
What is left when we have no Things? We are alone in a thing, yet alone without our things. Are we a thing or something more? I want Things to mean.
A Thing goes up, a Thing goes down. I pick a Thing up and save it; I throw another Thing away, yet that other Thing I caress and save never to revisit the Thing again. Things will haunt me till death and then my children will fight and scream over my Things. Sometimes I wish I owned no Things at all.
Friday, September 04, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
- Thrilling drive on the highest highway in the US up over the Rockies and across the continental divide
- Amazing rock formations at Garden of the Gods (and it's free!)
- Amusement park-like experience of a waterfall at 7 Falls
- Great variety of eating experiences: local mexican place in Craig where the whole family ate fajitas for 25 bucks; old-style Italian in CS where the decour had certainly not changed in 50 yrs; grass-fed beef at Conway's Redtop burger joint--a step back into the 70s; and finally a little Hunan Chinese place in Evanston.
- A hike to Barr Camp--actually a mile past it--on the famous Barr Trail up Pike's Peak with oldest son: 16 miles round trip. The only negative is that running several miles downhill has totally trashed my legs.
- Lots of talk time with the kids--I love how trips create close-quarter situations which switch up the normal family relationships. We laughed at all kinds of things and enjoyed each of child's unique personality, something that seems to come out more on a trip like this.
- Lost brakes just outside of Craig, CO but it worked out--no crash and a local guy in a tiny station fixed it the next morning (note: Craig is a rather ugly town, almost impossible to walk anywhere)
Monday, August 03, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
- 4224 pages
- 7 books
- 6 AR tests--Andrew passed them all and surpassed his AR goal every term (he already asked if he should take a test on book #7 next yr)
- countless hours reading
- 203 threats exactly: "if you don't hurry and get your teeth brushed, no Harry Potter" (How ever will I replace this threat?)
- several reading marathons when we hit exciting sections
- Many favorite memories: explaining snogging, various discussions attempting to figure out Snape's allegiance, talking about how much we loved the series
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Here's take off at the Frontrunner Lagoon station:
Here's our first little break after about 7 miles:
And here's my cool looking self:
And here's a strange sight--cowboys and cyclists chattin it up:
Andrew liked the tunnels:
All and all a great little Friday morning ride. Only one tiny struggle in the last mile or so when Andrew's butt started to hurt him a bit, but he pushed it to the very end.
Our next cycling challenge? I'm not sure. He's in that in-between stage where he needs quite a bit for a challenge (maybe we will come back here and do the entire trail which would be about 25 miles) but where he can't really do true mt biking quite yet. We did a few miles on Antelope island which was a bit frustrating for him (the sand and long hills); still a good experience.
Soon, maybe this summer, I will take him on a short slightly downhill single track by Snowbasin. Probably should wait till next yr as I always tend to overestimate skill level--just ask my oldest son.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Friday, June 05, 2009
Because they are always caught up with flag waving and thanking our military for our peace—go tell the Iraqis about your fuckin peace. And, btw, what the hell does this have to do with a group of sixth graders moving onto junior high?
Because there is forced kitschy consensus
Because they bring the worst out in many people—a hyper uni-focus on their kid/grandkid, dads tripping over each other to get the right photos with video cams recording every precious moment, and that galling look of pride
Because they always seem to highlight the same kinds of kids: either the talented and extroverted who need no attention OR the sympathy cases like the girl with cancer asked last minute to sing in a trio even though she can’t sing
Because they package life into beginnings and endings, the big events where we pat ourselves and others on the back—of course life is actually a long day to day process with few endings and none we really choose
And lastly because they continue to multiply exponentially—kindergarten graduation, 6th grade graduation with pomp and circumstance and diplomas, one week music camp graduation with trophies, first level piano graduation with graduation photos…
Whew, I'm glad I got that off my chest--lots of downright nasty, pessimistic, cynical feelings on my part. Now I will be ready to face the next kid graduation when it comes. Thanks.
With my luck they will institute "Summer graduation" to start off the new year for all those children who successfully made it through the summer without their parents killing them. They can give awards to any child who did anything other than watch TV and play video games: like eat a veggie, make a bed, fold clothes, read a book, write a poem... And, if the budget allows, they can offer pins to any child who made it to Lagoon more than three times. And trophies, yes trophies, for children who made it up before 9am on 10 or more mornings.
The possibilities are limitless; our futures are so bright with glorious graduations on all the horizons.
Friday, May 15, 2009
It's an odd, whiplash kind of shift but it's good. It's good to slow down, fitting my life into the patterns of my children and wife; it's good to speed up, less time to think and analyze.
Well, off to take Hana to school--she put her foot down on attending gym for the last month (it's on Friday mornings) and we just couldn't care enough to fight her. She also won't walk: "Dad, there won't be a crossing guard!" she says in near hysteria.
Crossing guards seem like good idea, of course, but now my almost 12 year old daughter doesn't dare cross the road without one. Always costs and benefits.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
As a parent I've rarely nailed it but on Monday, during our unconventional Mormon family home evening, I think I did just that.
I'd been stewing (in a good way) about finding a way to open up more honest discussion about sex with our two oldest children, one teen and one soon-to-be teen. While listening to a great new podcast Middlebrow introduced me to (To the best of our knowledge), I heard a short piece on teens from David Bainbridge's A Natural History of Teens. It seemed the perfect little piece to break the ice on the sex discussion.
And it worked. Of course what made the discussion amazing were my two great kids. They were authentic, unembarrassed, forthright. The discussion was great. Our 11-year old daughter, often very quiet, had many specific questions tied to particular experiences with friends. If anyone has ever doubted this, my daughter's questions confirmed that kids are hearing all kinds of things and there is no way parents can hide them from the "evils" of sexuality.
It was one of the moments which represented to me what I always thought parenting could be, what I imagined it might be if I were lucky. Just thinking about it gives me hope in the next generation, in their ability to learn, think, and question.
p.s. my son came home tonight full of vigor since he had questioned his old-school health teacher repeatedly as the teacher tried to present strict gender stereotypes. He said he was shaking but would continue to express his views even if the teacher retaliated--gotta love that kid. He showed me the gender chart--more awful than I could have imagine. One of my favorites which reifies stereotypes I thought were nearly dead:
Males: Has the greater tendency to press the "pedal to the metal"
Females: Has the greater ability to stop the engine before it overheats
Good God almighty! We are still telling women they must be the ones to say no and that men can't control themselves.
And, according to his little chart, men focus on reproductive organs and women focus on the whole person. Please,
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Awhile ago I was working with a student who seems to be transitioning from a man into a woman—I’m not certain. Others clearly have the same questions as I since many people kept staring. At one point another student blatantly continued to stare so I stared back even though “Faith” didn’t seem to notice either of us. It made me angry that the student was staring, even though I knew damn well I would have been sneaking peaks (though probably not staring) at Faith had I been seated where the student was.
After working with “Faith” I must admit that I had a strong desire to wash my hands; kind of perplexing since I’m not very germ wary. I tried to fight the feeling, recognizing it as irrational, but I couldn’t shake it. I gave in and washed my hands even as I was disgusted with myself. Biology or….something, at least, runs deep.
The experience reminds me of Ursula Le Guin’s Sci-Fi novel, Left hand of Darkness, where Genly Ai, an early explorer on Gethen, finds himself overwhelmed on many occasions as he tries to negotiate with the Gethenians who do not have gender as we know it. Instead they are, in some ways, sexless except for a couple of days a month which they call kemmer, where they move towards one gender or the other for mating. Not only does Genly struggle to communicate with the Gethenians because he does not know whether to use tactics for a male or female, but he also, even after a year or so, has a level of abhorrence. Twice he has an opportunity to see kemmer up close and personal and, even, to engage in sex with a Gethenian.
First, on a truck where they are prisoners and naked: a young “girl” is in kemmer and desperately needs to mate (as kemmer is similar to being in heat) but he can’t even look at her: “I saw the girl, a filth, pretty, stupid, weary girl looking up into my face as she talked, smiling timidly, looking for solace . . . The one time any one of them asked anything of me, and I couldn’t’ give it. I got up and went to the window slit as if for air and a look out, and did not come back to my place for a long time” (171).
Second, while crossing Dobrin ice with Estraven, the only true Gethenian friend he has made. They’ve been traveling on the ice for weeks when Estraven enters kemmer. Genly reflects: “We were both silent for a little, and then he looked at me with a direct, gentle gaze. His face in the reddish light was as soft, as vulnerable, as remote as the face of a woman who looks at your out of her thoughts and does not speak.
And I saw then again, and for good, what I had always been afraid to see, and had pretended not to see in him: that he was a woman as well as a man. Any need to explain the sources of that fear vanished with the fear; what I was left with was, at last, acceptance of him as he was. Until then I had rejected him, refused him his own reality. He had been quite right to say that he, the only person on Gethen who trusted me, was the only Gethenian I distrusted. For he was the only one who had entirely accepted me as a human being: who had liked me personally and given me entire personal loyalty, and who therefore had demanded of me an equal degree of recognition, of acceptance. I had not been willing to give it. I had been afraid to give it. I had not wanted to give my trust, my friendship to a man who was a woman, a woman who was a man.” Later Estraven warns Genly not to touch him during the kemmer phase.
I’m not suggesting that Genly should have had sex in either situation but maybe…maybe it could have transcended difference, or maybe, as Genly suggest, it would have merely reminded them of their difference, of their alien natures. More importantly Le Guin’s imaginative “What ifs” concerning gender creates situations where we can more fully explore our utter reliance on strict, clean definitions of gender. I guess this isn’t very surprising—gender is a powerful biological and social construct. But it is, even biologically, to a degree a construct. That is biological gender is not nearly as clear cut as we want it to be and doesn’t necessarily have to mean what we assume it must. Somehow we will need to move beyond this biological response of disgust. Without moving beyond, we will continue to have people, like the man in Lebanon I heard interviewed on NPR who said “I hate gay people; they are disgusting and evil. They will tear down the fabric of our society.”
Generally I don’t see any relation between myself and a someone speaking such vitriolic bullshit but somewhere, deep down in my biology, there is revulsion and disgust I can’t quite come to terms with.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
1. My son, Seth, got a Nano I-pod from grandma before we really understood I-Pods
2. Said Nano, early on, got mysteriously bent which caused a few minor malfunctions at times
3. Said bent created a plethora of complaints and deep remorse from son
4. Said complaints drove me to distraction
5. A year or so later I purchased a Nano, the new ones which can play videos
6. Said new Nano made son jealous but I didn't care
7. A year later, trying to get some work done (ok maybe I was blogging) and get him to stop bothering me about how he couldn't play videos on his I-Pod, I finally relented: "Yeah, whatever, I will trad you as long as you put my music on yours and you make me an excercise playlist of rockin songs." (I'd yet to make a playlist because I suck and spend most my I-Pod time downloading podcasts)
8. And now I have an I-Pod which is called "Seth is a Sexy Beast"
9. Unforseen benefits of son taking advantage of me: I can see the screen on this I-Pod with my
cycling sun glasses and I can change songs with gloves (most of my I-Pod use occurs with my rear in a cycling seat), neither of which I could do with the newer, "improved" one.
10. I know I could change the name with a click, but I kind of like it, makes me chuckle everytime I see it and it reminds me of how much I really like my son.
Friday, April 10, 2009
I worked through it which is good since the baptism is tomorrow. I came to terms with the paradox and contradictions with one key insight: I love my son and know he will be comforted by me baptizing him. It's that simple.
Now if I could only find a priesthood manual to check on the wording of the baptismal prayer. Seems I got rid of all those manuals. Lucky I have the Internet.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
1300 amount of federal refund (must decrease amount of money coming out)
267 amount owed to state
16 times I praised TurboTax
17 times I uttered "Fuck" under my breadth
1 stamp used
1 envelop used (I no longer understand how these work)
23 times I had to get up a look for some number or form
3 days to complete (not continuous of course)
10 days between completed taxes and actually printing payment coupon and sending in money to the state
26 times I reminded myself to send in state payment before I actually did it
1 utterance of joy--yipeee!!!!
Friday, April 03, 2009
"Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose, and depression is the mechanism of that despair. When it comes, it degrades one's self and ultimately eclipses the capacity to give or receive affection. It is the aloneness within us made manifest, and it destroys not only connection to others but also the ability to be peacefully alone with oneself. Love, though it is no prophylactic against depression, is what cushions the mind and protects it from itself. Medications and psychotherapy can renew that protection, making it easier to love and be loved, and that is why they work. In good spirits, some love themselves and some love others and some love work and some love God: any of these passions can furnish that vital sense of purpose that is the opposite of depression. Love forsakes us from time to time, and we forsake love. In depression, the meaninglessness of every enterprise and every emotion, the meaninglessness of life itself, becomes self-evident. The only feeling left in this loveless state is insignificance."
I want to remember that love "cushions the mind and protects it from itself." I love the mind, the intellect, but the more living I do I'm convinced it needs to be protected against its extremes.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
I meant to blog about this conversation with my youngest (just turned 8) son:
son: Dad, do you know what girls look like down there?
dad: Umm, yeah, umm, why do you ask?
son: (lots of laughing)
dad: umm, what got you thinking about that?
son: her friend (pointing to 11yr old sister) showed me a picture.
dad: oh, really. Umm, what kind of picture?
son: ya know in that one book, that one about girls.
dad: oh (sudden relief) the one about maturation.
son: it was my bestest dream in the world to know what girls looked like down there.
dad: well, I can understand that....
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
B: I think they are like sexual addicts. They just need to stop doing acts that are immoral.
A: Don't you think that's unfair to say homosexuals have to give up sex? Could you do that?
B: Absolutely. I mean I could do without all that down there (points to what most would define as an erogenous zone) anyways. I'd be perfectly happy to live celibate. I've already got my kids.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Are we sure we want to do this??
Shit, I hope we can put this back together again.
How to get down the rest of these cinder blocks...they all came at once and just about crashed into our basement.
Two truckloads later we are done; if I see another brick, I will puke.
Hey, this looks like something. Thanks to John our contractor: the man with the know-how and the patience to talk through each detail.
How do you like that?
A Mantel! Sweet relief.
A few early knick knacks
Saturday, February 14, 2009
After having worked through many important books, it's nice to get sucked into a book, plot, character and line. In other words, as Stephen King put it while praising JK Rowling in a review of the HP series,"if the field is left to a bunch of intellectual Muggles who believe the traditional novel is dead, they'll kill the damn thing."
Sunday, February 01, 2009
In a recent study on sexual arousal they found that females were sexually aroused by every kind of porn imaginable (heterosexual, men w/ men, women w/ women, and even bonobo monkeys). And I thought women didn't like porn. But wait. The sexual arousal was tested in two ways--physiologically by way of the classic bonermeter and the "vaginal photoplethysmograph probe" (ouch!) AND psychologically by just asking. Interestingly, overall males' physiological and psychological responses agreed with one another, whereas females' did not. Damn, females still don't really like porn. For example, most heterosexual females report that same sex and bonobo action did not turn them on, but the probe said otherwise.
One theory to explain the counterintuitive response of women: women's bodies have adaptated to unwanted penetration (read rape) because sexual arousal lubricates and lessens the damage. That's sobbering. Of course the other not-so-counterituitive idea here is that males indeed think with their penis: what they said turned them on was indeed manifested in their shorts.
Of coure the myriad details of sexual research will matter little to men unless the science leads to some form of female viagra. What more can you expect from a penis?
Saturday, January 31, 2009
My wife and I successfully installed crown molding. Above isn't our crown molding as it still needs painting and looks kind of amateurish, but you get the idea. Well, maybe you don't.
In my storied career of house remodeling, I've installed a lot of baseboard. This is, if you didn't know, the grunt work of remodeling (i.e. anyone with a tape measure can pull it off). Finally I ventured into the unknown to finish off our living room. After viewing this and this and this, pausing and staring like a porn addict from every angle, I finally made some cuts. It was nerve-wracking knowing that a misstep would mean another trip to Loewes and another 20 bucks.
As I'm sure you know from viewing the previous videos, crown molding must be cut at an angle in the miter box and upside down--very easy to screw up. Amazingly our first corner was perfect; unfortunately we had a hell of a time fitting the last piece in. But all and all a successful evening with the saw and nail gun.
At 40 I rarely pull off something I didn't think I could do. Hopefully the hatchet job at work won't take my summer school money away which will pay for all this amazing home remodeling.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
3:07-3:16 listen to son complain about new piano lessons
3:17 arrive at orthodontist
3:40 discuss progress of son's braces with orthodontist
3:50-4:20 get my 18 year old permanent retainer removed (drilling off 18yr old glue hurts like hell)
4:21-4:30 again listen to son complain about piano lessons and how he hasn't talked with his gf for 24hrs
4:30-4:55 arrive home; help frantic wife prepare dinner while explaining multiple times to youngest son why right now is not a good time to read the last chapter in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
5:05 help wife and two boys out the door for music lessons
5:05-5:10 finish eating dinner
5:10-5:30 rush daughter to orthodontist to fix a "pokey wire" (turned out all we needed to do was rotate the little spring thingy on her appliance--love that word, "would you like an appliance in your mouth?" Discuss her science project, realizing that she hasn't followed up on what we talked about two days ago; measure out an uphill mile to walk later for science project.
5:30-5:50 clean up kitchen
5:50-6 consult with contractor remodeling our living room
6-7 work with daughter on science project--How long would it take to walk around the earth on the equator? (at first we figured about 2yrs until we realized we were not allowing the walker anytime to sleep, eat or rest--any ideas on making this look cool would be much appreciated). Try multiple times to help daughter understand that you must divide the smaller number into the larger number to convert minutes to days and days to years.
7 chase away anxiety from being so busy with a mixture of mint ice-cream, broken up symphony bar, and crushed cookies (damn, just remember I forgot the caramel sauce)
7:15 wife and I sequester ourselves in my office (now piled high with crap from living room being remodeled) which requires various threats to children, particularly youngest who wants me read the last chapter of the HP book RIGHT NOW; I get an update on her mother's failing health and we try to decide if she should go up to Rexburg for the weekend
7:40-8:00 try desperately to finish up HP but son has many questions; very enjoyable to see him so excited about reading but by damn I will watch the Office
8:00-8:30 to my son's utter disbelief that we still haven't finished HP, I laugh ass off watching The Office--not sure if it was an amazing episode or if I just needed a release. Listening to Michael's convoluted explanation to the district manager in NY about what he does right, sends me over the edge.
8:07, 8:18, and 8:29: read a bit of HP to son during the commercial
8:30 deal with freaked out son who can't believe we are also going to watch 30 Rock
8:30-9 watch 30 Rock, finish HP during the commercials--we did it! HP out loud in about two months.
9-9:20 get youngest into bed, start....HP and the prisoner of Azkaban
9:20-27 clean up kitch again
9:27-9:40 check email since I left early from work, while scrapping tongue raw newly discovered surface, then fiddle with two teeth that are hella sensitive since retainer removal
9:45-9:55 think about reading French theory book but instead finish Irving Stone's Lust for life for bk club on Friday--godalmighty Van Gogh had it tough
9:55-10:05 blank out for a bit thinking about Van Gogh's depression, his inability to live a mediocre "happy" life, his legacy of great art; wonder about my own ability to stay sane for the next 30 yrs.
10:05 hear Seinfeld re-run from other room--talk to wife while she is painting in living room while realizing I have not seen this very early Seinfeld.
10:15-10:30 sit down and watch rest of Seinfeld with wife; realize I have seen some of the scenes in the last half: Russian cable guys, pregnant bitchy woman who knows the Kennedy's and George's chocolate cake shirt; on the commercials we revisit her mother's health and trip to Rexburg and I help oldest son with spanish homework
10:35 take cats out in the garage and lock up; consider reading for a bit but realize I'm exhausted
10:45 in bed
11 amazingly I actualy fall asleep without getting up to read
Monday, January 12, 2009
How easy it is to be absolutely isolated from anyone and anywhere Other. I'm quite confident that I did indeed go to work today, but I'm really not quite sure.