Summer Kid Fix

My house is still in recovery from a summer that blew up our lives (in a good way). Working two jobs and being on a much tighter schedule with M has paid its dividends. But, those dividends did not include lots of pictures of the not-so-wee ones running around my house.
So, without further ado, here are a select few from over the course of Summer 2011.

From June 29th. This is how my kids look on any given lazy day. Although usually the lad is in the big chair.

From July 4th. The Princess is becoming mostly hair. And incredibly expressive.

Insanely expressive.

Sorry for all the girlie-only pictures from the Fourth. The lad was off being awesome in New Jersey and NYC.

From July 16th. Art is a serious endeavor.

But it’s a great way to express yourself.

From July 17th. Lounging after a long afternoon swimming.

From August 1st. I swear he usually is in the big chair! (By the way, him sitting and reading is about the only way I can catch him anymore. Luckily, he reads a lot.)

From August 28th. Cribbage crosses all generations. I love that Granddad got to teach him. This is by far one of my favorite pictures. And yes, they did spend a decent amount of time building that huge rail gun on the table as well.

“Expressive. Most expressive.”

Now that looks about right.

I’ll get back on track with updating more about the kids. Life’s settling into a good groove. Only problem is that these kids of mine keep getting bigger.

BONUS! Autumn kids preview.

From September 17th.

Okay, this may be the ultimate picture of my kids to date.

Ten Years Later

[I’m going to go ahead and use a writing crutch: I am going to warn that this post is rather bitter. And also long-winded. And poorly edited. And has little to do with 9/11 itself, but more my long view of the aftermath. For a better, more direct story, this one is really good.]
This post falls into the inevitable category. The 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks has been all I’ve heard about and read this past week. Frankly, I’ve been avoiding it almost entirely. Other than when I’ve needed to drive around and wound up listening to public radio, I have skipped over a large number of articles.

I was 18 at the time, waiting for a late start to college. I woke up to an email from my then girlfriend telling me to turn on the news. So I watched, shocked. My memories aren’t very vivid from that day. I do remember wondering what could be done, and realizing nothing, I tried to go about my day. I had slated to get a haircut, so that’s where I went.

It was just me and the old barber who owned the place. He cut my hair, slowly, while we watched the TV up above the doorway. We wound up sitting and watching for a couple of hours, I think. Again, my memory is hazy.

The most I remember is feeling very angry and vengeful, though rationality held back the vengeance response in me. After all, I was on the other side of the continent. And as more information came out about the attackers, I remember chatting with my friend, a Muslim from England. She asked if this would change my view of her, and I declared absolutely no. That fact has never changed.

Life continued on, and I started my studies at the university, eventually in politics no less.  So that immediate history became viewed through a lens of me taking in a great deal of information about the event itself, as well as chains of events leading to and from.

So then I became angry again, but not at the terrorists. They were just criminals. Ruthless pawns of a pointless ideology bent on simply trying to hurt forces more powerful than it. And they should have been tried as such. We’ve dealt with internal and external terror before, so the legal proceedings would not have been beyond our means.

Just as big an issue: 9/11 led to us invading Iraq. Even just writing it down right now seems utterly insane. I remember the pressures leading to it that were falsely proposed and constantly changed by our Executive. I had long called bullshit before the fact (our criminal mastermind was hovering between Afghanistan and Pakistan, after all). And it only became worse, the stretching of justifications after the fact.

Worse yet, our insatiable need for security turned not only on our own citizenry, forced to be molested before boarding planes: it made us torturers. We became beyond the negative stereotype the Al-Qaeda members saw us as even back then.

Now we imprison and torture using the more invisible methods of the USSR and the Spanish Inquisition. Our fear turned us into bullies. Bullies who hang fellow humans in stress positions used by Nazis. It used to be the weapon of our enemies. A terrible, useless weapon we did not bother with as a society.

Now here we are. 10 years later and we haven’t rebuilt much. We still stand astride the world as the greatest power humanity has ever known. Supposedly still the pinnacle of a society based on human rationality and free enterprise.

Rather than use that goodwill and patriotism to better ourselves and others, it became a tool against us. It became unpatriotic to question our leadership, and now it is considered unpatriotic to think of alternate plans to pull ourselves out of our own economic cesspool.

We also now have entire media organizations who declare suspicious a billion far-flung people as “The Muslim World”. We don’t see the old Western powers as “The Christian World”. The term doesn’t exist. As well it never should, especially in our immigrant-built, free-believing, make-your-own-way pinnacle of human civilization.

Insecurity is a price we pay for it. Those who died, died for that reason. Because we believe people should move about our 50 states without issue or worry. Al-Qaeda never had a chance to bring that down. That possibility was never there. They are myopic criminals, bent on havoc, nothing more.

It was our greatest mistake to turn around and grant these thieves of lives the rank of Stalin or Hitler. They are hardly above Timothy McVeigh (oh yeah, that guy.) They deserved to be tried and imprisoned until their deaths. Not turned into comic book level evil masterminds.

Those people hurt us that day. All the pain since has been self-inflicted. I’ll always remember this as a day we turned into the weakest form of ourselves. A true tragedy it was.

The Adventure

To the Adventure, my friend!

I immediately thought these words were a perfect toast. The Adventure can be a simple euphemism for living one’s life. Life is an adventure, enjoy exploring it. Daily living can be frightfully dull at times, often for great stretches. So, “To the Adventure” reminds us to look at the new-to-us parts of life that let us know we are on a personal journey.

It can also be an epitaph. The Adventure is life’s journey, and toasting to it is to celebrate it. Here’s to the Adventure you underwent, and that we could journey together will make me happy the rest of my days.

But, as any little boy can tell you, the Adventure is everywhere. Imagination fueled by Star Trek and Indiana Jones, whole worlds of danger and knowledge stretching out to be found. “To the Adventure” is the rallying cry of the epic. And with the Adventure, the journey is the purpose. Though there may be an end goal (even if nothing beyond wondering what’s there), the point is to get there by wit and will.

So, Gentlemen, raise your glasses, steins, flagons, canteens: To the Adventure!

Carry On Wayward Son

Keep Calm and Carry On
The past six months have been a trial by fire for me. I have never worked so much for so long before. There were numerous times through college where I would work several 14 hour days in a row, but never went beyond a fortnight. And of course never with my own kids to raise while doing so.

I have been moonlighting at a local pizza place since March. My wife would pull tight hours so we could hit the relay as soon as she got home and I would walk out the door. Then I would work until 10 or 11 at night.

Then even when I first started my contract at my new gig, I would work weekend nights. For a month and a half, I had not a single day off. Either I would rush home to barely see the kids before bed or I would have to leave before dinner during precious weekends.

Last night I finished my final shift at the pizza place. The work was fine, the kids I worked with were pleasant, though so obviously green in life. Their views of the world are amusingly different. But I’m glad to be done. I’d ramped myself up to having 3 different employers, and finally, finally, I am down to one.

I’m still amped up, strangely tense and feeling as though I have somewhere else to be. It’ll probably be a week before I finally relax and feel that I’m home once I come home at the end of the day.

It’s exciting to also feel like I have my time back to work on what I want. Along with household projects that got put on hold this summer, this site is at the top of the list. Time and energy and focus to write has be noticeably absent. I have so much room to to refine here, and so very many fountain pen refills and blank notebooks that need to be filled.

I made it through. My feet have been a bit calloused, but the walking on coals has been conquered. And as a bit of a catharsis, I threw out the nasty old shoes I wore while working in the kitchen.

The Twitter Feed for 2011-09-04

  • Trying Twitter in Adium. We'll see how she goes today. #
  • I'm really not interested in working closing shifts anymore. Especially not this week. #
  • Why does it feel wrong when my terminal doesn't have a blinking cursor? #
  • I'm installing Office 2008 right now. It makes me feel dirty. #
  • Why is it whenever a phone goes off, I have to check my own? Same goes for mentions of Twitter or Facebook. #
  • Something seems wrong when I see a little kid wearing a backpack larger than they are. #