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November 17th, 2017

09:56 pm - Friends of BD1-it’s time to say goodbye...
This is BD1’s sister. I promised him many years ago that I would update his LiveJournal should anything happen to him. To update everyone, my brother, divorced his wife this year and since that time, struggled to gain access to his boys on a regular basis. (To no fault of his own or for a lack of trying.) His marriage had been struggling heavily for the last 5 years. In fact, his passwords and even this account, was kept secret from his ex during the marriage because she couldn’t understand his need to have friends outside their small
circle which she could control. BD1 fought hard to stay with us everyday...in the end, he succumbed to the darkness of feeling isolated from his boys and without hope for the future. He killed himself on October 9th, 2017. I have no words to comfort anyone...my heart is shattered as he was my best friend, father figure, brother and mentor. Our family will forever carry a hole... I’m sorry to post this so abruptly but I made a promise to him... I promised to tell people what happened to him...he didn’t want to just disappear... his words exactly. Please remember the good stuff...he was full of love, laughter and light...truly...he just...got lost... thank you, BD1’s sister.

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June 10th, 2017

01:32 am - Life moves pretty fast
I am alive. The boys are growing up amazingly quickly. They are doing well in school, taller than me and play cello very well. I'm a full professor in our new university and love it here. Traveled to the Grand Canyon, Colorado, Vegas, Niagara, Italy, Germany, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, Peru (yes, made it to Machu Picchu), Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska plus a bunch of other cities. Running again. We have a sweet dog that we rescued a year after losing M. Lost my father at the beginning of the year and it broke my heart. Now I am in the middle of some intense personal change. But life is beautiful and I try to always remember that. Enjoy your journeys and remember the point of the journey is not to arrive. This may (or may not) be my last post here. If you want to try to keep in touch, respond and we will see if we can connect through another means.

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April 1st, 2014

11:09 pm - We lost Murphy today
My heart aches. Please bear with my grammar and random thoughts. I'm mildly drunk tonight. In a moment you'll understand.

One of my favorite things I've read on LJ comes from ariadnelives. She wrote:

"and what I learned is so simple but has saved me from myself again and again: everything ends. Each breath passes, just like each thought, and though every happiness is limited, so is every sadness, and even though the world is full of violence and destruction and ignorance, life is full of beauty and peace and belonging."

I really needed to read that today.

So much has been positive lately. The boys are doing well in school and I appreciate the people they are becoming (a little too much attitude sometimes and not enough work ethic, but they are finding their place and space in their own way).

J and I have new job offers that we've accepted (waiting for final tenure approval) so we are likely to be moving on from our workplace of the last 15 years. It's hard to imagine how much time we've spent at our current university but we've been marginalized and mistreated and we are done with this place. I don't know why it has come to this - we've always been hard workers and good citizens.I was named a Fellow of a major professional society (like being in the Hall of Fame only still career active) and J won a major award that is sort of like the Heisman award for mid-career professionals. We are both on editorial boards (a genuine honor) and I've won two teaching awards in the current school plus a third from a previous school. We've done everything asked of us and the students and staff seem to really like/love us. But we don't bend over and we don't kiss ass and that rubs some people the wrong way so they've had it in for us for nearly 7 years now. We aren't full professors even though we deserve it by our records and contributions and we haven't had a meaningful raise in 7 years either. Not to complain - we do pretty well - but it's the treatment that matters. Somehow our current place seemed to think that we would never leave even if they treated us like sh*t. It's so hard to get two academic jobs in the same place I guess they thought we wouldn't or couldn't leave. This is evidenced by the fact that one of the problematic colleagues was literally staggered (physically) when we told her. Well, if all goes well, we are leaving - we've signed the contracts. The new university is ranked much higher in quality than our current university and the people in our new school are awesome and kind, and they want us! We are house hunting in the new area and putting our current house up for sale. We've found a wonderful place and put in an offer. The boys are ready for the move too. It's a busy but exciting time. That's the good news.

The sad news is that after 11 1/2 years, we lost Murphy today. He's been a part of the family for the entire lives of our two kids. He joined us when we was about a year old, when T was 3 or 4 months old. Murphy's been an awesome partner, friend, companion, and all around happy spirit. But he was getting older and unfortunately he started having seizures late last year. Then we got him on some thyroid meds and he stabilized. In fact, he more than stabilized. He looked and acted the best and healthiest he'd been in the last 5 years! At times he was like a puppy again. I used to have to bathe him 2 to 3 times a week to keep his skin rashes under control but once we got him on the thyroid meds, I only had to bathe him less than once a week. I've given him nearly a thousand baths. Imagine giving a 75 lb dog a bath every 2 days or so. But it was fun - we had a routine and he was such a sweet and gentle soul. I've run nearly 10,000 miles (none of them recently) and probably 2/3 of that mileage was with Murphy. He was my running companion. I've only run perhaps 500 miles with a person and the remaining part was run alone. So Murphy was my running partner. I haven't been running lately and I've put on weight. Also, I have some closet fears about diabetes. I'm getting tingling in my finger tips and toes lately - so I have a doctor's appointment soon. I need to get back in shape so I can last many more good years. I need to take advantage of what Murphy showed me - exercise and outdoors keeps you feeling young and happy.

Today we were out for a walk on a beautiful sunny day. Murphy was in great spirits and we were having a nice time until he yelped and leaped to the right. I immediately recognized it as a precursor of a seizure. He always reacted as though he was stung prior to a seizure. This looked the same. He started seizing and it was intense - grand mal, frothing, foot paddling, peeing. J ran back to the house to get the car (at least 15 minutes round trip) and Murphy kept seizing until she arrived. We called the vet and the boys' schools and told them we were picking them up. We previously had a conversation with the boys about what we should do if we had a chance to let them say good bye and they both wanted to be there at the end. So we picked them up and headed to the vet. Murphy never stopped having seizures. By the time we got to the vet it had been nearly an hour and the kind doctor said it was a clear decision. We had the boys stay in the waiting room until the vet could calm Murphy with drugs and then called the boys back in. Murphy was relaxed and you could see him blinking and looking at us, but you could also see he wasn't okay. I think he recognized us and we were all petting and loving him, soothing his head and telling him how much we loved him. And he drifted off to sleep as the vet did what he had to do. The boys were so kind even as they cried with pain. I knew it would hurt to lose him but I had no idea how much it would hurt. I feel like I can barely handle the pain of his loss. He was my closest friend, next to J and the boys. He was a partner, friend, pal, and family member to all of us.

I'm going to go for a run tomorrow, in honor of Murphy. If his loss doesn't snap me back into exercising to get back into shape, then I'm a lost cause.

I know I've seen something like this before, but I'm writing it from my heart so it's not a simple copy. I think we can all learn a lot about how to live from Murphy's example. Herewith are some lessons I will take with me (also forever known to me privately as "Murphy's rules"):
- Always be happy to see the people you love and don't be afraid to show it
- Enjoy your meals - they are a wonderful part of life
- Don't underestimate the power of a good nap
- Protect the people you love and care about, no matter the cost
- Go for a run - it'll do you good
- Enjoy the moment, whatever you are doing
- It's okay to play and have fun just for the sake of it
- Share your food and water and bed with others (in this case, his sister, the cat)
- Be patient - good things will come to you if you are good
- Appreciate it when you touch other people or when they touch you, both physically and emotionally
- Let the wind blow in your hair once in a while
- Give kisses to those you love
- There's joy in being part of a pack, if you love the other members
- There's nothing like a ride in a car with your family on a sunny day
- Be surrounded by your loved ones, always
- Find joy in the simple things
- Every day has the potential to be a great day
- If you want unconditional love, give unconditional love

Oh, and another good rule. It's best to let the cat do whatever she wants.

Murphy, run long, run free. We love you and you will always be with us in our hearts. We were so excited about the new life and adventure we were about to embark upon with you. But you'll be with us, our dear dog, inside our spirit, memories, and emotions.

I'm crying. Such a huge hole in our lives.

"and what I learned is so simple but has saved me from myself again and again: everything ends. Each breath passes, just like each thought, and though every happiness is limited, so is every sadness, and even though the world is full of violence and destruction and ignorance, life is full of beauty and peace and belonging."

Thank you Kate, for these words. And thank you Murphy, for the beauty and peace and belonging you brought into our lives. I love you my friend. And good bye.

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10:16 pm - Posting some draft I wrote in late 2013
1              The boys are growing up and healthy. J is fine. I'm doing okay but could be doing better.

2              After more than a decade of running, sometimes sporadically, I've run nearly 10,000 miles. I can't even imagine how this has been possible.

3              I'm still out of shape. This is sad because I know what it feels like to be in shape. I am not. I'm fat, I drink too much, and don't sleep enough. I also eat too much pizza and ice cream. I'm determined to improve my sleeping, eating and drinking because this is the final key for me to become truly healthy again. I said that nearly a year ago. It's still true.

4              After more than a decade of dealing with a-holes in my department, I am likely to leave my current university this year. J and I have job offers and we are likely to end up at a top quality university elsewhere. It will be an exciting transition if it all works out.

5              My kids, 11 and 8 1/2, will both be taller than me. The 11 year old is already up to my eyes and the 8 1/2 year old to my shoulders. I'm going to be the shrimp in my family.

6              I'm a bit kinky in private but no one in the real world would ever guess (except my ex gfs).

7              In the last 2 years my family and I have done a lot of traveling: Colorado (gold mines, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, cliff dwellings, Four Corners),Chicago, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Boston, Iceland, New York,  Florida (Harry Potter at Universal), cruise to Cozumel (submarine, kayaking, Key West), Florida (Space Center, kayaking, manatees, Disneyworld), skiing, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Route 66, Flagstaff (Meteor crater, lava caves, Petrified forest). Add to that skiing, beaches, school, keyboard & cello, Broadway shows, soccer, basketball, and so forth and we've had a very full life.

8              The first race I ever ran in my life was a marathon.

9              I have won three teaching awards at two different universities.

10           I'm on the list of most cited authors in my field.

11           I've co-authored multiple textbooks.

12           I make an excellent cappuccino and southern style biscuits.

13           I'm a 2nd degree black belt but my skills are definitely rusty (not having trained in two decades).

14           We have a dog and a cat and we saved both their lives. ***Edit - we lost our dog today - I think that's why I'm here - the pain is deep***

15           I once scored 102% on an algebra test. The teacher said he had never seen anyone in his 10 years of teaching get all of the questions correct, much less the extra credit question too. On another occasion the same teacher asked the class to add up all the numbers from 1 to 100. I did it in about 20 seconds. He was shocked and when he asked me how I did it, I explained. He asked me to write the equation. Two minutes later I had it. After that he told me to just read a book because the day's lesson was all about a famous mathematician and what I had just derived in my head. He never encouraged me to try to do more with math. I still wonder what might have happened if I hadn't started smoking pot and dropped out of math classes.

16           I once wanted to be an astronomer. Then an astrophysicist. Then a marine biologist. I am none of these in my current job.

17           I was in the Kiwanis Club, Chess Club, football, wrestling, drama, and band in high school. I also hung out with people who had fast cars. To say I was trying to find myself is an understatement.

18           I can't sing worth a damn but I do it all the time. I can't remember lyrics worth a sh * t either.

19           I hated history in high school. Then a high school teacher named Mr. Barnes made me think it was a little interesting. After that a Professor from India taught "History from a Third World Perspective" and completely rocked my boat as an undergraduate. I realized everything I knew was wrong. Now I am an avid reader of history in my spare time (read "Salt" by Kurlansky - it's a great book).

20           I was watching mixed martial arts when it was still called cage fighting and considered a step away from dog fights. Now MMA is a respectable sport. I still watch and learn but I genuinely feel sad for all the people with future brain trauma.

21           I'm a pacifist but I will fight to the death if need be.

22           My mother was a Buddhist, my dad a Southern Baptist. I attended services at a Pentacostal and then a Catholic church. I read the Bible, Talmud, and Koran (translated versions). I realize now that the core truths of almost all religions are nearly the same. Too bad we spend so much time arguing and killing each other over them.

23           Because of my parents and where I grew up, I can speak with a Japanese-Southern US-Californian accent. You'allrru coommaa herru now, dude-o. Outta yonderu the surfu is uppa! Banzai!

24           I was president of my high school Kiwanis club and I wanted to have women join the club (because I trusted women more than men, and besides, I didn't want to be in an all-men's club). The national Kiwanis organization had to pass a resolution to allow women to join Kiwanis.  If you look up Kiwanis history you'll see it started in Southern California. That was because of me and I'm proud of that.

25           I believe in commitment to life, love, marriage, family, and work. This is why I've stayed too long at my current job. I'm glad to be free. Deep inside I'm a little trapped in my life though, because my commitment to others won't allow me to do what I really want to do.

26           I'm surrounded by people all the time yet I'm a little lonely inside.

27           I have given my dog more than a thousand baths. He has a skin condition and I have to bathe him every two or three days to keep it under control. He's 12 years old now. ***Edit: As of today, he is gone. I miss him so much.***

28           I have given my cat exactly one bath. I will never, ever do that again unless her life is in balance. 10 lb. cat versus 190 lb. person….cat wins. Love her though.

29           I won a t-shirt by throwing a baseball 60 mph. I can't believe I can still throw a ball that hard.

30           My favorite movie is Cinema Paradiso. I don't know why.

31           I love Texas Holdem poker but I've only played for real money twice (not family nickel-dime - that doesn’t count). I've won more than 50% of my original at risk cash both times. I think I could do it for a living but it's not in my blood.

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February 12th, 2013

12:01 pm - Sticking with it...
I've been doing pretty well sticking with my improved diet and exercise. I hope I can get my health totally under control. I'm secretly concerned that I might have diabetes due to my weight, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc. My mom has diabetes and I was feeling HORRIBLE when I completely quit exercising. My fingers and toes occasionally tingle, and I know that's probably not a good sign of anything I can imagine. So as I get more fit, the feeling is less frequent.

Also, I allowed stress in my life (and secret unhappiness) to influence my drinking behavior. I was drinking one drink a day several times a week. Then one drink every day of the week. Then two drinks some days and one drink others. I was finally drinking two to three drinks a day every evening. Clearly not a good trend. So now I'm drinking one glass of wine about two days a week and I definitely feel better. I can feel it during my runs if I drink more than one drink.

So far, so good. I want to do this for the long run of life. I rowed over 10k on the Concept II at a 2:15.9 pace/500 m. Not fast but not bad either for 60 minutes of rowing.

The boys are making me proud. T has a positive attitude about school and got straight As last quarter, R is inquisitive and doing well. R is slowly learning to control his impulsive behavior (which was a real issue in the classroom - and sometimes for his safety). Both of them are doing well on the keyboard and I can't believe how far they've come. My mom started to cry when she listened to them play for her over the phone.

Skiing with them is AWESOME. Both J and I remarked that we have never skied with our parents and it never would have happened. We love being an active family and after such a long hiatus from skiing (I've only gone a few times in my life before) I'm having a great time. I keep thinking "snow, snow, snow, please."

Okay, this is my chance to run so I better go now!

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February 5th, 2013

01:46 pm - Yesterday 6.2 @ 10.3; Today 6.2 @ 8.9
I got my run in yesterday. I was averaging about 10 min a mile in heavy hills but my legs felt so heavy. Then on the last .8 or .9 miles of the run it was almost all uphill and I just couldn't keep the pace under 10 so I ended up averaging 10.3 per mile. I couldn't figure out why my legs felt so tired until I realized that I probably worked my legs harder than I guessed while skiing on Sunday.

Today I ran another 6.2 but I felt fresher and stronger. What was different? First, I hadn't skied the day before. Second, I think I had drunk too much alcohol on Superbowl Sunday (too much = 4 or so drinks over 6 hours) and alcohol seems to have a depressive effect on my running. Third, I had a good night of sleep (I hadn't slept enough on Sunday night). I felt amazingly strong with an 8:30 pace through the first mile and a half. Then I hit a heavy uphill that slowed me to about a 9 minute pace, then a steep downhill that dropped me back to 8:30 or so. When I turned around to go back up I was going at about a 10:15 pace, really slowing the overall pace. But I finished the last two miles with a sub-9 pace so my overall was 8.9 / mile. It's been ages since I ran a sub-9 minute 10k in the hills. I'm coming back, baby! Wait until I really get in shape!

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February 4th, 2013

11:01 am - There are times when online friends come through in ways you never expect
One of my online friends just made the nicest gesture. Thank you! You made my day! (and you know who you are)

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10:23 am - Skiing!
The days, weeks, months fly by. T is 10, R is 7. T got a zit on his head the other day and he's become a little more emotionally volatile. Puberty begins.

The other night I went to check on the boys at around 11 pm. They were sound asleep. T had his hands up in the air, like he had scored a touchdown. He used to sleep like that when he was a little baby. I stood there, staring at this giant boy (he's tall and big) whom I used to cradle in my arms. Same pose. Same boy. But he's well on his way to becoming a tween.

I was able to see both R and T score their first baskets in basketball this season. Last weekend for T, previous weekend for R.

We've been going skiing whenever possible over the past couple of months because of a Living Social deal. The boys have been taking lessons, which has meant that they've basically been trudging up and down a small slope with skis on their feet, falling over and slowly learning to turn and stop. No chair lift. Just foot over foot slogging and falling. T and R both have complained that they hate skiing and we keep telling them that they are just getting ready to ski; they haven't actually skied. So when we left for the ski resort yesterday morning T was a in a serious funk. He was angry at us for driving a long way, making him trudge around in the snow, and wasting his entire day. He screamed "I'm not going" and slammed the bathroom door. In the process he knocked off and broke a picture from Hong Kong that we loved. So, yeah, not a good start to the day.

However, Ernie, a kindly grandfather who has had decades of experience teaching kids to ski, got both of them to go on the chair lift and then ski down the hill! In control! Safely!!! It was awesome. After the lessons were done the boys begged us to keep skiiing. We skied for hours with relatively few mishaps (R ended up in a small ditch; I was comical on the intermediate slopes, falling on the icy, steep sections). It was just an amazing day - exhilarating and fun. I don't know how to describe it. Probably a day I'll remember forever. But T LOVED skiing. So the day ended on a positive note.

I don't think I mentioned that R learned to ride his bike this year. After we returned from Iceland we made a concerted effort to take him out as often as possible, with me running alongside, helping him to find his balance. He had this strange tendency to twist and lean his upper half whenever he was biking without training wheels. He finally learned to sit upright and then he just took off! After that I had to strap on the inline skates to keep up with R. T was too fast even for the inline skates. We are hoping to do a lot of biking next year. We'll see.

Skating - I did a lot of inline skating in September and October. I have some quick wheels and bearings and it's a great workout. I think the neighbors think I'm insane or going through a mid-life crisis. I wear a black helmet with a red devil on it (I ordered the plain black but they sent the wrong one - I just kept it), covered with pads, plugged into my mp3, and I zip along back and forth on the roads like some middle aged guy trying to reclaim his youth. But that's not why I skate. I skate because I love it. Because I can. Because it's a great workout. And I don't know how many more years I get to keep skating. So I do it now because I can.

Honestly, I've gotten too heavy again. I wasn't doing much with my body, I could feel my blood pressure rising (like it was going to uncork and blow my head off), and I was within 10 lbs of my all time weight. It sucked. So I started getting busy in September and really stepped it up by December. I've been running 10ks two or three times a week with some 4 and 5 mile runs in between. I'm watching my diet and I've dropped at least 15 lbs. So I feel a whole lot better but I've got a long way to go. It's funny, people trip out when they learn I can run an average of sub-9 minute miles for 5 miles in serious hills. I'm sure I don't look like I should be able to do that. Wait until I'm actually in shape! So the pants fit a little better now too. I just need to stick with this. I'm hoping to spend a lot more time with my family in my life.

I read "Born to Run." Great book, not just about running. I think it got me fired up to really start losing weight and running in December.

Our work is continuing to be productive. It's crazy - all the books, and papers, and reviews, and teaching. So. VERY. BUSY. But it's all good.

Now it's time to go run.

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September 18th, 2012

10:07 pm - Iceland was amazing

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06:22 pm - Iceland, Ferraris and life
I finally got the boys to do cardio weights with me tonight. Our first real workout together other than biking or running or hiking. It was silly and fun but it was a real workout. They were totally busting up when I was saying how evil the instructor was for making my legs burn so much. WICKED!

My legs were burning because I'm horribly out of shape. It's amazing how fast I can lose it when sitting on my can in front of a computer. That's primarily what I did all summer. In February I was running 10k at 8:30 a mile or faster. Now...hmmm, don't know at all but it wouldn't surprise me if it was 13 a mile. Still, I'm starting up the workout routine again. Got the bulk of the work done and I promised myself that I would start working out after the last paper and book on the list got out. It did so I've started. I went rollerblading yesterday while the boys rode their bikes. I love the free feeling of arcing out a curve as I fly down the street.

So what have J and I been up to? Textbooks. Edited books for the series. Chapter. Two revisions on a paper. Two new studies. Conference paper. Two presentations. A new class preparation. The list goes on and on.

Iceland was AMAZING! Breathtaking. Gorgeous. Steaming rivers, blue steaming pools, geysters, volcanos, glaciers. The food was wonderful. I loved the place. One of the students said he was 33 years old and has taken classes all of his life. Our class was literally the last class he ever expected to take in a formal school. And he said it was the best he's ever taken. It touches me deeply when we can connect with our students like that.

Niagara Falls was touristy but fun. The Canadian side is much better than the US side. Boston - one of my fav cities ever. Love that place.

This weekend I got to use a Christmas present from the family to drive a Ferrari California. I've never been in a vehicle that instantly felt so right. Four laps of pure dreamlike driving paradise. 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds, nearly 500 hp of engine, combined with the smoothest ride ever. Just incredible. My heart still races when I think about it.

R just told me his stomach is about to explode from hunger. I better go make dinner (J is teaching late tonight).

Hasta la vista.

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March 27th, 2012

03:33 pm - 5 @ 10.6

So I ran 5 miles today. I didn't run it fast but the run profile looked like the above pic. I gained and lost over 600 feet (nearly 60 stories up and down). I'm out of shape but I'm going to get back in shape.

I helped out at the elementary school as a parent volunteer today. They had a substitute teacher and she wasn't sure what to do with me. I volunteered to help the kids with their in-class work packet. I was watching R and I have to say that I was disappointed. I know that I have high standards because I want R to be great, to try hard, to be the best he can be. Instead, he didn't even pass my low standards. He was distracted with a toy on his desk, kept getting out of his chair, scribbled all over his work, wrote much less neatly than many of the other kids and he avoided alphabetizing the word list. He was literally the very last kid to finish the alphabetizing (not counting the girl who arrived 20 minutes late to start the work packet). He was one of the best on the maze. I'm impressed at how good he was on it. So anyway, I know I can't mandate passion for learning. I know I can't force my kids to have a positive outlook or positive morale. That has to come from within. I only know that it's important for us to find a way to encourage and support that passion.

Time to go. Until next time.

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01:22 pm - Zou Bisou Bisou
I love it. And I don't even watch Mad Men.

So I was updating my calendar today and now I'm freaked out. So much to do in the next few months.

Didn't run the other day. Still haven't run since I was ill. No time. Too busy.

But I'm going to run today. I'm taking my mp3 player. I'm going to add Zou Bisou Bisou. Love kisses. Mmmm. Off for the run.

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March 22nd, 2012

12:31 pm - I am not prone to seeking idols but...
I am not prone to seeking idols but when I was young, Bruce Lee was my idol. These days, I view celebrities as regular humans who have a particular talent (or in some cases, not even that - think Hilton and Kardashian). I don't care how they wish to view themselves, I view them as people.

Bruce Lee, however, arrived at a time when I was trying to find myself. I was an undersized, weak, diffident, young adolescent being bullied by some of the athletes and some of the gangs in the area. This guy shows up, light weight and ferocious, and he completely changes the image of Chinese men. I watched all of his movies. I stayed up to see him on talk shows. I had posters of him. And I got into martial arts because of him. Martial arts, in many ways, saved me. I became strong, self-assured, and goal directed. Bullies no longer bullied me (perhaps I'll share a story about that some time). And, in the process, I became more attractive to women.

People often don't realize that Bruce Lee was a very philosophical person. He borrowed and incorporated ideas and philosophies from many different places into his own philosophy of life (and system of martial arts - they were inseparable for him).

I recently saw a documentary on him and it reminded me of why I found so much value in Bruce Lee as a person. Here are some of my favorite quotes from him:

“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.”

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."

“If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”

“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”

In particular, I've been thinking about the last two quotes a lot. I don't seek immortality but I do seek to live a life worth remembering. I believe life is precious and that we should make the most of whatever we have been given in life, including the time we have. Thanks, Bruce, for setting a scared adolescent on a path toward success and excellence. You live on in the way that I live my life, in the fact that I'm married and have two children, and in the fact that I'm trying to teach them to appreciate every moment of the life they have.

The other day, R who is 6, had to write sentences for his spelling words for the week. Sometimes R gets into a funk about having to do homework and having to write sentences. So, he was in the midst of one of his bad attitudes and I said:
"I can't believe you are so lazy and so unwilling to apply yourself that you can't write a few sentences to get your homework done. I have a hard time respecting people who don't make the most of the opportunities they are given. I believe you should look at this homework as an opportunity to better yourself, not as a chore to be finished. Can you please try to do this with a better attitude?"

He still wasn't happy with me or his homework. The next word was "admire." R asked me what it meant and I explained that it means you respect or have a positive opinion of someone or something. He thought about that for a moment and then R asked me who I admired. I said:
"I admire people who are willing to take chances and work hard and who make the best of the opportunities they are given. I admire people who are talented in some particular way but I most admire people who are talented and find a way to develop and cultivate their talent so that it has a positive impact in the world."

His next sentence? "I admire my dad." I loved that. He was angry at me for being so intense about the homework and then he popped out with that sentence. I made him add "and my mom" because, as I explained, she is probably harder working than me, as hard as that is to believe.

T has been in a good place lately. He helps clear everyone's dishes every night. When J asked him to rewrite his story about fencing that was a homework assignment (which included a revision process), he got miffed and wrote sloppily. So J threw it out. Now, often in a dynamic like this it continues to unravel as T gets angrier. He then responds by writing increasingly poorly and it becomes a bad situation. But this time, he switched. He decided to try hard and he wrote nicely in his revision. Except...he didn't do it in the 3 paragraph format that was required so he had to rewrite it again. At this point, it would have been understandable if he was negative about the assignment. Instead, he rewrote it with a positive attitude, adding interesting details to make it a nice final written product. We were both so proud of him. If only we can keep him in this positive space...

Still haven't gone running since I became ill. Perhaps today will be the day.

So, loads of work piling up. Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to writing I go.

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March 19th, 2012

12:35 pm - How much do you compromise of yourself?
I keep grappling with the same issue. How much do you give up of yourself to make sure that your family and relationships remain whole?

I think each of us must compromise in a relationship because a give and take is always involved. I don't believe in Ayn Rand's view that you pursue only what is important to you, and in the process, you make your relationships and society more complete because it is the striving of the individual above the collective that makes the world move toward perfection. I don't think it is that simple. Rand's philosophy easily becomes a situation of supreme selfishness in which you get what you want and don't give a damn about anyone else unless it is of benefit to you. Ayn Rand believed altruism was evil and selfishness was a virtue. I might note that Ayn Rand was completely against giving to, or taking from, the collective (i.e., society, welfare, the government) but she collected Social Security and may have collected Medicare toward the end of her life.

But I do get the point. If you continually compromise yourself, if you always place the interests of others above your own, then you destroy parts of yourself in small ways. But what is wrong with sacrificing for your loved ones? For your family? Your love, your children, are your values, so there should be no inconsistency. The world, however, is not so simple. What is best for my love, for my kids, may not always be what I, as an individual (as a selfish entity) want or need for myself. In this case, I might have a conflict of needs and of values. Then I must either live for myself or I must sacrifice a part of myself for the sake of my relationships. Ayn Rand would call my sacrifice for the sake of others immoral because pursuing my individual needs and happiness above all others is the true virtue.

Well, if you follow Ayn Rand's advice, the self above all others, then you can justify all that the financial executives did when they foisted the mortgage fraud onto the backs of tax payers and destroyed our economy (which is still being destroyed).

Where is the balance? I believe in self-sacrifice for the greater good, including family and relationships. However, I also believe in not selling out your core self, your core identity. I believe there can be balance of the self against the needs of a relationship. But I also think there can be imbalance. Then, what do you do? Subvert your needs for the needs of the family and loved ones? Focus on the needs of your relationships and ignore your own needs? And the weak pabulum of "just talk it out" won't work in my own dilemma. I've tried, so I know.

I will continue to move forward and focus on the positives. I live a good life. I have a wonderful partner and two wonderful kids. Yet, I'm lonely and parts of me are unfulfilled. Is it that we can never be satisfied with what we have? I don't think that's the case here but where does the line of compromise end? No answers really. I will just keep moving in life, trying leave a positive impact.

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March 13th, 2012

05:45 pm - I write like a child
So rushed. Broken grammar. Disconnected thoughts. What the hell? I'm a better writer than this and I wish I had time to compose my thoughts properly. I guess getting something down is better than writing nothing. Or is it?

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05:43 pm - Recovering
So it has been an intense last few weeks. R had norovirus. For non-parents who haven't had the particular joy of caring for a sick child with the "stomach flu" while trying to clean up the results every 15 minutes, I hope you never experience it. For all of the parents who might read this...you know what I'm talkin' 'bout. We felt so bad for him that we eventually set up a bed on the bathroom floor and I slept next to him every night for 3 nights. Then J caught something nasty. We think it might've been the flu - 5 plus days of 103+ degree fever. She was a mess. At least R had recovered. Then I caught what J had. Both parent incapacitated...not good. We ended up at the Dr.'s - J had pneumonia as a secondary infection. I was on the way. I CANNOT believe that J went snowtubing while she was sick because the only thing R said he wanted to do with winter was to go sledding. Except our biggest snow happened before Halloween so no sledding. J bought tix at a snow place and we went tubing so R would have a winter - it was our only chance for him to not lose a complete year of snow.

T stepped up and helped out. I have hope for him - he really showed something. Cleaning up dishes, setting tables, trying to get food ready, putting clothes away, folding clothes, doing keyboard and homework without complaining...seriously, who is he?!

So far neither T nor R have caught what J and I had and we are finally recovering. For the first time in my life I've had vertigo. Kind of like being drunk, just without the fun parts.

If I keep getting stronger, this fast, I may try running later this week. A few weeks ago I gave a talk in Houston, at Rice U., and while there I went running every day. My first day in Houston I clocked 8:40 miles for 6.1 miles. Not bad for being terribly out of shape. Before I became sick I ran 8+ miles in hills at about 11:00 pace. Not bad for the serious hills I typically run. So we'll see what kind of condition I'm in when I start up again.

Time to go. Just wanted to say hi. Hi.

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January 31st, 2012

09:57 am - I am here but now I'm gone
Like a dandelion seed floating on the wind currents, I float into this journal and then I am whisked away by the ever present, and sometimes tornadic, winds of life.

Boys are growing. I'm still running. Not as much as I'd like but getting out there with 4-7 mile runs 3-4 times a week. I should be in better shape for my activity. I think I like wine, pizza, and ice cream too much.

I had torn a rotator cuff in the spring of 2011 (apparently I don't bounce on asphalt when rollerblading as well as I did when I was 20). I'm finally recovering enough to do some pushups and weights. I did two sets of 35 pushups and two sets of 100 situps and...ouch...I'm really out of shape.

We had made up a bunch of silly words as a "secret" language. One of the words was "jambeelabbudoo" which means "I love you too." Eventually we outgrew the silliness and I had totally forgotten about our language until R said "jambeelabbudoo" to me during tuck in. It was so sweet. Then he said, "we used to have other words too but I don't remember them." I hugged him and said I didn't remember them either.

It was quiet, in the dark, as I lay there next to him, getting ready to leave after tucking him in.

Then he said, "it's like a wave."

"What's like a wave?"

"It's like a giant wave on the beach."

"What is?"

"It comes and takes everything away and leaves a few seashells. Like jambeelabbudoo."

I was amazed.

"Yes, it is like that. Just like that."

"Jambeelabbu." I kissed him on the cheek.

"Jambeelabbudoo." He smiled and hugged me.

Is the giant wave the ever present passage of time?

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March 31st, 2011

12:43 am - I don't do memes but...
I'm around tonight and have a moment to breathe so I'll do a meme.

But first...Murphy has a hurt leg. He's limping. I don't like seeing him in pain. Plus, it reminds me that he is getting older (and by extension, so am I). After X-rays and so forth, we are taking him to a doggy orthopedist. I'm sure that will be inexpensive.

The kids are well. T is doing fencing and as a result R has become interested. R is now the youngest member of the fencing club. He's cute out there, trying to fend off huge people wielding swords (foils). T has shown mental and emotional resilience. He's lost a few matches in tournaments, to tears, but has learned some tough but important lessons in life. He has bounced back to try harder and develop new techniques. Most importantly, he has not given up.

We've written more textbooks and now have a 2nd edition of one of them. Plus about 7 edited books. So busy.

Still trying to work out. Rowed 1/2 hour yesterday. Did 2 sets of 60 pushups, 200 situps. Really jumped rope for the first time in a decade. Damn, my arms hurt from jumping rope!

So here's the meme:

1. How many clowns would it take to freak you out?

Silly question. One. With a knife. Or hundreds trying to mount me.

2. What is your favorite dessert?

Hmmm. Tough one. I guess high quality vanilla ice cream with Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino Cherries. Really, that's it.

3. Are the undies you're wearing right now age appropriate?

Ha ha. I guess so. No tighty whities, just boxers. But not old man boxers.

4. Five things you can touch right now without getting up.

TV remote, a wooden box that drops metal balls onto chimes, DVD Discovery Ultimate Guide to Volcanoes, my watch, and a piece of floss that one of the boys left on the desk for some inexplicable reason (I hope it's clean).

5. You have to be somewhere on the fourth floor of a building. Do you take the lift/elevator?


6. What is your ideal Saturday afternoon morning?

I sleep in. That never happens. Never. Or sex. That never happens on a Saturday morning anymore either.

For an afternoon? Go for a walk with the family, including the dog, return, shower, start a fire in the stove, and watch a DVD together in a heap.

7. What are you thinking about right now?

What I'd like to do on a Saturday morning. You can guess.

8. Write the first word that comes to mind.


9. Dog person or cat person?

Once I was a dog person through and through. Didn't like cats. Then I met Mooch. So...I have to honestly say I'm 50/50. Each interacts differently with me.

10. If you came across $2,000 (or other currency) would you keep it or turn it in?

Keep it unless I believed I could find the rightful owner. Perhaps I would post an anonymous ad on something like Craigslist or in a newspaper and anyone inquiring would have to describe details (where was it, what was it in, when was it lost, etc.).

11. What was the last thing that you bought?

Texas Holdem software with the best artificial intelligence engine out there. I'm still wondering how it could call my "all in" bluff after the river with only an Ace high.

12. If you could afford to go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Depends on the family. These are no longer individual choices. For me? I've always wanted to go to Kathmandu or Machu Picchu. Instead, we will go to Colorado and Disneyworld this coming year.

13. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully same job, same house. I see myself with two boys, 11 and 13. Hopefully same dog and cat (but that's a dream). Writing more books.

14. Last book you've read?

A management textbook. Also a book about negotiating. Currently reading? Working by Terkel (it's older but still relevant) and Musicophilia by Sacks.

15. What are you doing this weekend?

Two music lessons for the boys. Going for a walk. Gardening. Finishing up our Easter float for the parade competition (it's a little one, on a Radio Flyer wagon).

16. If you could play any musical instrument, which one would you play?

I play a guitar, but not well. I'd play piano.

17. How are you?

Tired. Busy. Strangely lonely at times. Afraid for the world. Yet...good, hopeful, optimistic, happy.

Good night.

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March 9th, 2010

12:46 pm - So, yes, still alive
Thought for the day: Balance and moderation are critical in most (all?) things that I do.

How can it have been a year? I miss you. No kidding. I really, really do. But I have to do what I have to do right now. That means BE PRODUCTIVE.

What have I been up to?
1. Being a dad to two young boys...soccer, t-ball, flag football, ice skating lessons, music lessons, school, homework...
2. Working. Published a textbook. Working on another textbook. Working on a general business book.
3. Exercising. Became so busy that it was hard to keep up with exercise. Starting to gain again but never want to go back to THAT place. Back on the exercise wagon. Actually did 100 consecutive pushups (real ones) a week ago! Can't remember the last time I could do that. High school? Running slower than when I was really in shape but still with it. Did 5 miles a couple of days ago, the first 3 slowly with the dog (he is always slow) then the last 2 at sub-8 minute pace...in hills.
4. Improving the home. New roof. New retaining wall. Large garden. New water treatment. New lights.
5. Doing fun things...circus, went to HS reunion, etc. Proved to myself that I'm a pretty good Texas Holdem player when I went to the reunion. It was at a casino & dining/dance hall. J gave me a grubstake and I won $500 in a day and half at a $3/$1, $100 buy in, no limit game.
6. Prepping our lives for economic havoc. This, perhaps, takes the most time of all. We are not in the safe zone in the economy yet.

Sometimes...writing, reading. I've been reading a book called "Working" by Studs Terkel. It's an older book but it is still great -- and relevant.

I love LJ. I love my friends on LJ. I don't love that I can't get anything done when I'm active in LJ. I'm much more productive when I'm gone. Perhaps I can find balance. Easy, right?

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January 22nd, 2009

11:18 am - And...
Happy Birthday Fitfool!

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11:18 am - In case I don't make it back by tomorrow....
Happy Birthday Ruthling!

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January 21st, 2009

11:24 am - So freakin' busy
Classes start today and I'm frantically getting everything ready. Proud of myself though...kept with the running even with the cold snap. On one of the days last week I did 6.4 miles in below 9 degree weather. The wool sock was critical in that kind of weather. Yes, THE wool sock. A single one. Plus two on the feet.

I want to write about the enchanted forest. T's term for our walk in the woods after an ice storm, everything coated in a shimmering crystalline coating.

Yesterday was a magnificent day for the U.S. We've shown that we still believe in our foundational principles. But President Obama is in an unenviable position with the economy. I continue to have strong beliefs about what is coming and I can't believe all of these smart economists can't see it.

Well, off for a quick run, shower, then to the PhD stats class. How fun! I have more students auditing than enrolled. How does that work? And my Master's level class? Totally packed. Overfull. Have to change everything up to make it happen.

I will be positive. I will be positive.

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January 9th, 2009

12:44 am - One more thing
T stuck a coin in a socket at school today and nearly electrocuted himself. He didn't even get shocked but the dime is now melted and blackened. WTF was he thinking? He really knows better. We've told him a thousand times...

He promised, promised, promised never to do that again. And R promised to never put anything in a socket. I've heard that before....from T.

Alive to 25, that's our motto.

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January 8th, 2009

11:55 pm - Happy Merry New HannuKwanzaaChristmasukah Year!
I tried to squish all of the holidays into one happy greeting. Time is flying. Time has flown. We didn't get a letter out this year although we did send cards. Last year we did neither. Where did December go?

Thanksgiving was quiet, spent with the boys. Neither of them like turkey, smoked or otherwise. We ordered a smoked turkey from Greenberg. People seem to either love or hate smoked turkeys. J and I love them. Made the usual fixings plus steak for the kids. Opened a 2000 Bordeaux. Nice meal, warm fire. I've been a soup making fool lately so i made a smoked turkey soup out of the leftovers. Delicious. Turkey makes me flatulent. J too. Can you imagine what the soup does?

We went to Hershey Park twice on a 2 day pass. The first day the park was desolate. We nearly had the entire amusement park to ourselves. We thought "so this is what it is like to be Paris Hilton or Miley Cyrus." About a week later we returned and it was busier but still slower than past years. The economy strikes again.

Set up our tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Avoided the blue spruce Christmas tree of a thousand tiny daggers this year. Got a fir but don't know what kind. Nice tree though. Kids still decorate the lower tiers...I'm going to miss that. We redistributed some ornaments but kept some of the branches laden with far too many ornaments for one branch.

December came in a rush. Shopping, wrapping, letters, Nutcracker show, final exams, projects, grading, Plus we have been working extra hours on numerous projects, trying to keep some irons hot.

T lost his first tooth in the first week of December. A couple of days later he earned his yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do. That night he said it was the best night of his life (for the belt and for the visit by the fairy for his tooth).

As an aside, have I mentioned that R has been potty trained since around his birthday in May? He was a little more challenging than T because he just didn't seem interested but once he decided it went smoothly. Rare accidents since then.

We played in the snow with the kids and built a snow wall. I want more times (and memories) like that.

T & R love Christmas. It's a magic time. T has been asking more questions about Santa, especially about the department store/photo op Santas. After hearing the Beach Boys' "Santa's Beard" (http://www.sing365.com/music/Lyric.nsf/Santa%27s-Beard-lyrics-Beach-Boys/7D7915172C26304C48256982002A2DC9) T concluded that they were all helper Santas. I have some internal conflict about misleading T or R, even about Santa, so I'm careful not to lie to them. So far I have given answers such as "Santa's magic comes from love and imagination" and I have remained evasive about specifics. It's a magical time but I always want our kids to believe what I tell them.

We left a sparkling dust imprint of a boot on the fireplace hearth. The kids loved it -- the pure joy on their faces was something to behold.

On New Year's Day we went to see the Mummer's Fancy Brigades in Philly. Amazing! We saw the sneak peek 2 or 3 days before and decided to go back and see the real thing. Made marvelous hats at the sneak peek too. Made Pad Thai for our New Year meal. Perhaps that will be a tradition. I also cleaned the upper and lower oven. What a mess!

To demonstrate my manliness and offset my domesticated tendencies, I also installed new ceiling tiles in the basement during December, wirewheeled the rust off the oven and painted it, shoveled ice and snow, installed window shades, and did a lot of pushups.

I closed 2008 with 829 miles of running for the year. Short of my 1000 goal but a vast improvement over 2007 (only 503 miles). I'm slowly getting back into shape. I still drink too much at night so I'm cutting that back. I was up to the equivalent of 3-4 drinks almost every night. I know why I drink -- my brain thinks too much about everything and I'm trying to sedate it. Plus escapism. I have a lot on my mind -- and heart. Not good. Carrying too much weight from excesses (food and drink), underexercising, and sleep deprivation. I'm improving on all fronts. Ran 4 (M), 4 (Tu), 6.2 (W), 3.3 (Th) miles this week, even in ice and snow.

I've been reading books. "The Hyperinflation Survival Guide." "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man." Confessions is a striking insight into how the world really works and why so many countries hate the U.S.

I''m also still reading "On Food and Cooking." I read just a page here or there  and I'm around pp. 270 now. I'm still learning so much about cooking. I made some rocking gingerbread cookies for the holidays but crumbled my sugar cookie shaped like a gingerbread man because I tried to move it when it was still too hot. I didn't know you had to let cookies cool before placing them on racks to cool.

The other day was went to a b-day party at a tumbling place. T and R both ran around like crazy and R jumped up on a bar and began swinging his legs around in the air, inverted. Then he rushed over to us, eyes flashing, red-faced, and said "I can do amazing things!" J and I heartily agreed. He can do amazing things. It will be interesting to see how he develops. He is a very even personality -- most of the time. And he is physically strong and coordinated.

Well, it's late and I have lots of work for Friday, plus dinner out and shopping on Friday night. Saturday is busy with T's basketball and a birthday party. How will I get the report and analyses done? Good night!

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November 27th, 2008

07:00 am - Happy Thanksgiving!
I have so much to be thankful for.
The boys
Murphy (yes, the oaf)
A warm home filled with love
My health
My family's health
A good paying job for both J and I
and so on...

I'm writing the next part not to whine or complain. It's just a remarkable string of recent events that deserves documenting. Things became pretty crazy around or right after the last post. I had been having trouble with my wireless connection to the Internet so I hadn't been able to check e-mail or do any of the things requiring access. This put me severely behind in my class management. Then we had a heavy snow that required a day of shoveling. It was heavy, wet, and hit the trees while they still had leaves, so a lot of trees were damaged and branches fell. It was windy as well. Power went out. Then the phone and Internet went out. Glad we had a generator! A day later power went back on but the phone and Internet were out for several days. Just about the time everything came back, it was Halloween. Of course we celebrated with the kids, trick-or-treating and going to parties. What happened next?
- furnace went out
- dryer died
- flat tire for the van
- dog had terrible hot spots (staph infection)
- trees needed to be pruned or brought down
- Virtumonde infection on my computer that took 3 days to eradicate (most people have to reformat their hard drive)
- R got sick
- I got sick

There's more but I can't remember right now. Don't care if I do,. It was such a crazy string of events and it put me so incredibly far behind in everything. I'm still scrambling to catch up.

Through it all I have managed to continue running, even when I first became sick. I finally had to give it up while I tried to recover from some respiratory virus I caught from R. I'll be back at it next week. I'm getting faster and healthier. I heard that a large scale study suggests that for every 2 inches of extra waist size I would have a 17% increased chance of dying over a period of about 10 years (13% for women). Well, I think I can probably shave 2 inches so I'm working on it. Last year I really let things fall apart. Part way through last year I was depressed and I simply quit exercising. I think I logged about 500 miles total. This year I will probably hit 880 or so, less than the 1000 I normally work toward. I didn't get started until well into the year because I was still struggling with my attitude. I think I've turned the corner.

This year, I have been trying to focus on positive things, think positive thoughts. I've been keeping myself disciplined about exercising and work. It's beginning to pay off.
Don't Read This -- Depressing Stuff About the EconomyCollapse )

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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October 21st, 2008

12:06 am - My legs are already cramping -- it's going to be a long night
Whenever I truly abuse my muscles I get muscle cramps later in the day. They often hit while I'm asleep, thighs, calves, quads, going into spasms that result in rock hard painful knots that make me writhe in pain. I'm already cramping so I know I'm in trouble. I'm typing this while stretching...

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October 20th, 2008

11:11 pm - Kids are asleep
Both boys are snuggled in their beds. We've had a great summer and a wonderful fall. Summer included summer camp for T and trips to Ocean City (we rented a condo on the beach), Anaheim (to visit family, go to a conference, go to Legoland, and visit Disneyland), and a trip to Chicago. We went to 6 Flags, Franklin Institute, and Sesame Place a number of times. Fall has included birthday parties, fund-raising auctions,  more trips to 6 Flags and Sesame Place, Halloween decorations, art projects...so many fun activities.

Among my favorite moments in life are the few minutes I spend carrying T and R to their beds after a long and fun day visiting an amusement park or engaging in some other fun activity. I carefully pluck them out of their car seats, hold them close with their arms instinctively wrapped around my neck, and carry them inside and up the stairs. They usually sigh and hold me close as I carry them. I can remember the feelings I had as a child when being carried to my bed. I remember feeling happy and tired, feeling secure and well-loved by my parents. I'm happy that I can share that particular memory with our kids. I carefully place them in bed, remove their socks and shoes (why do little boys have such stinky feet?), tuck the blankets around their necks, place stuffed animals in their hands, and give them warm hugs and kisses. They usually respond, even from a deep sleep. They are both getting so big I wonder how much more time I'm going to have to do this with them.

I made green curry chicken with fresh Thai basil tonight. I've loved curry as long as I can remember. My mom used to make it with boxes of curry mix stirred into the food. I ate as much as I could, nearly addicted to the stuff. Much later in life I was surprised to discover that there was no curry herb, no curry tree, and no curry nut bush. I was truly astonished to learn that curry was a mixture of spices. Jean and I have made curry from scratch and curry from jars or boxes of mix. It's all good in my book. Tonight I made it with a jar of Thai green curry. I browned the chicken at high heat until Maillard reactions flavored everything, then added coconut milk and curry. I used half the coconut milk listed in the recipe. I knew this would make everything thin, but I had a plan. Reducing coconut milk is a good thing for health. Once everything was boiling again, I tossed in bamboo shoots, baby corn, green peppers, and eggplant. Shortly after I could tell the sauce was thin so I thickened it with corn starch. Finally, I served it with fresh basil for J and me. Delicious. T and R had meatballs and chicken nuggets, respectively. They have not yet developed a passion for curry -- far from it. I'm stuffed and ended my night with 18 year Macallan scotch, distilled in 1979 (we've had the scotch for some time).

Moving all that wood and playing kickball with the kids afterwards has sealed my fate. My ass hurts. I'm going to be sore tomorrow.  

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05:12 pm - I have 15 minutes...
J and I moved about 3,200 lbs. of wood today. We were supposed to do it this weekend but things got crazy. Sunday morning I was supposed to mow the lawn and then move the wood in the afternoon. We woke a little late, I took the dog for a 1.6 mile run, and then I ran out of time to mow. We headed off to Chester to a do-it-yourself art shop where T and R were able to make art projects of their choosing. It was originally supposed to be a birthday present for me but after we visited the studio we decided it would be much more fun if each of us helped the kids make a project. R made a green glitter-covered paper-mache cat that he called Oscar. T made a wooden chest with copper paint, a foil decoration for the top, and decoupage on the front, back, and sides. Both projects turned out great and we had a lot of fun.

We headed straight from the art studio to a birthday party that T was invited to attend. R napped in the van and I drove around, eventually parking in front of 5 Below. I napped briefly and when R woke we went into the shop and bought a bunch of cheap and fun Halloween decorations. R was so thoughtful -- he even asked to get duplicates of some of the better decorations so that his brother could have them too. What 3 year old has that kind of insight? We headed back, picked up T and J, then went to Michael's for the Halloween half price sale. Bought our first two Halloween Village decorations. One is a "Pirate's Pub & Grub" and the other a "Hillside Mausoleum" by Lemax. Both have lights, sounds, and animated creatures/characters. The pirate one was a demo and had some broken features. We bought it for half price plus another 10% off. The mausoleum we bought for half price. I think they were a good purchase. T just sat in front of them for about an hour, watching them, R joining him from time to time.

I went out and started mowing after getting the dinner set up to be cooked. J finished up dinner while I mowed in the dark. Ironically, I could see okay except when cars drove down the road because their headlights blinded me. Needless to say, I didn't move the wood yesterday.

Also, it turned out that the chicken was underdone. Why? Because R was fiddling with the probe. At least that's what we think happened. We nuked it in the microwave to finish it up and it was still pretty tasty. For the second time, we made soup from the leftovers. The first time was pretty good. This time -- wow, was it ever good! We used basil, lovage, thyme, salt, carrots and smoked chipotle peppers. We'll have to do it again.

Today was supposed to be a work day. Unfortunately, moving and stacking wood, meeting with an electrician about having recessed lighting installed, meeting with a tree person about some trees in the yard, fielding a few phone calls, playing kickball with Aidan and T and R for a play date, walking the dog, and writing here pretty much used up my day. I'm SO behind. But I will smile and think positively. I can do it. I can do it.

Time is up for this post.

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October 18th, 2008

11:32 pm - Pesto and soccer
We needed to harvest our basil because of a frost advisory for tonight. J and I talked about it and agreed that perhaps I should stay home with R today and make pesto. J and I also talked about the possibility of having me drive to T's soccer game after his practice so I could watch him play. We both know that he's been getting better and better and he's come close to scoring a goal several times. We figured out that it wouldn't be practical or possible for me to make it to the game. We joked that if I stayed home T would be sure to score a goal today. Realizing that it was a real possibility that he would score his first goal, J brought the vidcam with her.

I stayed home and made three quadruple batches of pesto using basil from our garden, fresh pine nuts, garlic grown in our garden, and high quality cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil (we give some away and it freezes pretty well). R was making me crazy, getting into everything, but I managed to get him to help with the blending process. It was fun at first but I was pretty tired of the process by the end of the day. I hope I don't have to pick a single basil leaf for a whole year.

When J and T came home I immediately asked, "did T score a goal today?" J said, "no -- he scored two goals." Later we viewed the goals on the tape. The tape of the first goal showed a lot of grass and it caught his foot hitting the ball just before he scored the goal but you can't see much of him or the goal. It turns out J was so excited that she was shouting and moving so the shot was a bit off (an understatement). But we did get to see his foot hit the ball and the joy on his face right after the goal. That was pretty cool. The second goal was missing. J thinks she taped over it by accident. I'm a little disappointed but joyous I was able to see T kick the ball that scored his first goal. I was also joyous that I wasn't the one who shot the tape. J would have been pissed at me if I had shot that tape, I know it.

We went to the Field of Screams in the afternoon. It was a playground with Halloween decorations, suitable for the young. R and T were able to trick-or-treat, play on the equipment, and look at all the fun decorations. T wanted to keep playing the sledgehammer and bell game for kids. I think he liked the idea that he could make it ring every time. I had to swing pretty darn hard to make the adult bell ring. Fun afternoon. In the evening we ate burgers that I made. J and I had bleu cheese with ours, T and R, cheddar. Watched another episode of Addams Family. I never thought about it before, but after watching two episodes, I think Morticia is kind of hot.

Ran 1.6 miles w/ the dog. That's all I had time for. Tomorrow, mow the front lawn (equal to about 2 miles).


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10:09 am - T's Pick
I forgot to mention, we've been discussing the idea of a democracy with T and explaining that we get to elect the next President (we haven't explained the electoral college yet). We talked about the candidates and the strengths and weaknesses of each. In my opinion, we presented a pretty balanced explanation. Then we mentioned that if elected, Obama would be our first black President. T was curious about that. Why the first? So we explained slavery, civil rights, etc. in a fairly brief fashion. We continued discussing the candidates. Finally, we asked T, "who would you vote for?" He said "the dark skinned one." We explained that many people would find it offensive to call someone dark skinned and he was completely perplexed. Why would people be upset if it was true? At the end he said he would vote for Obama but not call him dark skinned.

Not Happy Stuff About the EconomyCollapse )

I laughed at this letter from a former hedge fund manager who made 866% last year betting against the financial houses.

"I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America."

Enough...time to go make pesto!

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