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FRIEND (permalink) 01.31.2012
if only all email was this thoughtful
best email exchange from last week came after i botched an online chess move with bookguy. i wrote:
i have made some of the most obtuse moves possible in the latter half of this game. it's almost like i forgot the rules of the game.
and his reply:
i do appreciate all your generosity and maybe if you get your head out of your wife's skirts in the morning before school you could better recall the rules of chess.
obviously in reference to the recent troyscript, thursday morning.

WIFE (permalink) 01.27.2012
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.
thursday morning

FAMILY (permalink) 01.26.2012
got game?
at our nightly dinner table, i try, hard, to have a question at the ready to ask my family over our meal. sometimes the question turns a quiet and distracted group into a lively, engaged one. sometimes a question is not needed because the table is already full of life and vigor. sometimes the kids remember before me and ask if i have a question. and some days we all forget about the dad question like it never existed at all. back in november, one of the nightly questions was "this time next year what is something you hope you can say have accomplished or completed?". i added that it should be something that you think would make you proud or happy to be able to say. as some people struggled to settle on just one thing, the question was modified, probably by a challenge-thirsty bella, so each person had to list three things. for reasons i haven't fully figured out or intended, something about this exercise escaped the stigma of a new year's resolution (which i feel is good and helpful). in typical form, i quickly recorded everyone's answers in my next moment alone.

  1. ride a 2-wheeler bike
  2. swim lessons
  3. learn how to roller skate (w/ dad and alex)
  1. piano lessons
  2. goto water world (in denver, colorado)
  3. learn how to rollerblade (w/ dad)
  1. renovate back yard (making if dog-ready)
  2. singing lessons
  3. goto horse camp
  1. camp at onandoga
  2. install new french doors
  3. ???
  1. learn how to roller blade
  2. restore the everyman
  3. do a 100 mile, 2-canyon (poudre & big thompson) bike ride in colorado
one excluded answer from anthony's list was "pee on dad's eye".

the hole in marty's list is quite typical for her. such list are near impossible for people who are genetically blessed to be content and fulfilled with they things they have attained and achieved. secretly, i couldn't be more envious of the serenity she and others like her quietly possess.

FAMILY (permalink) 01.25.2012
come here this instant young man, i mean, old man!
from the eighties show cheers, in one of norm's celebrated entrances he answered the question "how's life treating you norm" by saying, "like a baby treats a diaper". norm's sentiment does much to summarize my monday. life knocked me about both physically and professionally (while it opted to not trample my personal affairs, we all know how intertwined the personal, physical, and professional worlds routinely prove to be). by evening i sat fully cooked and proved short with my kids, who did not a thing to contribute to my woes. just before bedtime marty stopped me in the hallway, put a hand on my arm and suggested i work harder to mellow my tone as it wasn't helping to make anything better. i acknowledged her point and apologized. she smiled and headed in to read to anfer. i continued down the hall to read to bella and alex. when i walked in the room, a reclined and knitting bella looked away from her work long enough to say, "ooohhh, you got in trouble by mom and got a talkin' to." had you just overheard the exchange you would have put confident money down that she directed those words at a sibling and not her father. i looked towards alex as he sat in a circle of legos with a partially constructed object in his hands. he gave me a consoling and wordless nod. i moved to the futon and collapsed in the space next to bella, opened our book in my lap and read a few chapters. while i'm an ardent believer in evenness, i reckon it's not an entirely bad thing for our usual roles to get a jostle every now and again, just so we remember what it feels like to be on the other side of a lecture or disapproving gaze.

WIFE (permalink) 01.20.2012
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.

PERSONAL, ART (permalink) 01.19.2012
gettin' my draw on
this year's annual learn is drawing. while i'd be quick to say the ability to sketch/draw is my most coveted skill of them all, if given five moments, i surely could rattle off a string of others i intensely wish i could do in addition. but drawing is certainly way, way, super, way up there. to this day i succinctly remember the kid from my elementary school who could draw anything effortlessly (usually space battle scenes in his case). and i can still perfectly picture the shaded and realistic face of the old man chewing on a cob pipe (most impossible to replicate in my tourist mind!!!) a kid in my high school art class created with the same ease as i'd pen my name to the top of my embarrassing version of that same assignment. and then, quite recently, i randomly stumbled upon an interview with an artist, sarah melling, who eloquently put to words my sentiments and respect for the craft:
"I love the simplicity of using pencils and colored pencils; they're not messy and they're perfectly portable. Pencils are a humble instrument, to be sure, but they have such a long history and are capable of so much. Some of my favorite works of any artist, even the Great Masters, are their pencil sketches."
those three sentences closed the deal for where i'd put my time and attention in 2012. i'm in such rabid agreement with those words i'm peeved i didn't think to say them first. and if envy is truly a sin, i'm in a heap of trouble because i desperately envy anyone who can transform an empty page of paper into to a vivid, living spectacle with something as low-tech as a child's pencil. i've been contemplating the simplicity of this craft so much, the other day i subjected my kids to a fifteen minute treatise on how/why beyonce's single ladies video is so close to perfect, it's hard to imagine a single way to improve upon it. so basic. a fully white room (the blank slate), an artist, two dancers flanking her, thumping song, creative lighting, astonishing choreography, and even more astonishing execution. most importantly, no cgi-like antics. just beautiful, trained, human bodies doing beautiful, trained, human feats. the sophistication of this three minute product, which for sure comes after thousands of hours of training and effort on the parts of all the players, proves so humanly exquisite that, again, seriously contemplating how to improve upon it stands as a near futile exercise.

while i know my drawing skills will never reach the precision and expertise of those i fawn over and daydream about, i do know that one year from now they will be better than they are today. and given enough minutes stolen here and there over the next thirty years, one day i may have a tattered sketchbook containing my own two-dimensional, graphite interpretations of the world around me.

WIFE, PERSONAL (permalink) 01.18.2012
convention recommends ivory or gold. i suggest cooking pancakes for strangers.
how i spent our fourteenth wedding anniversary:
  • went to work.
  • came home for lunch picking up cheap chinese on the way. ate with marty while alex (home sick) and anthony (done with school) watched the original scooby doo series on a computer in the next room.
  • back to work.
  • after work, walked straight to the kids school for a night event.
  • participated in pancakes with pops. this was an event organized by one of the dads to get a group of dads to make a breakfast dinner for the entire school and their families. in this i readied sausages to be cooked, cut fruit and handed out pancakes to tittering, smiling kids and their folks.
  • came home and read to anfer putting him to sleep (while marty put alex and bella down)
  • at 9pm walked up to get dinner (i didn't get a chance to eat) from qDoba (please note, my usual diet isn't this rife with take-out).
  • met up with marty around 9:30 where we shared the day's events over a steak nacho.
  • after eating and chatting, we each checked/responded to email for a bit and then met in bed for some reading and sleep.

the next morning i woke and moved straight to the shower. hearing the water running, anthony joined me. in our talks i asked him if he had fun at the pancakes by pops night. he said he did. i asked him how i looked in my chefs hat. he said, "you looked fancy, like in the picture where you married with mommy." this could be a smart and valuable bit of insight at my next required black tie event.

in reflecting on anthony's comment through the rest of my shower, i gotta say, i do feel fancy in the life marty and i have constructed thus far. and on ruminating on it a bit more found i couldn't come up with a more poignant way of expressing it than the little naked blonde kid who was huddled beneath me trying to get more of the hot water did.

SOCIETY (permalink) 01.13.2012
speaking of things to read
yesterday i talked up a book i recently read. today i'm sharing the best thing i've read on the net in the last four years (the prior favorite read being merlin mann's BETTER essay). below you will find a few excerpts from a speech delivered to a group of first-year west point students by essayist William Deresiewicz.

the full article may be found here.
How do you learn to think? Let's start with how you don't learn to think. A study by a team of researchers at Stanford came out a couple of months ago. The investigators wanted to figure out how today's college students were able to multitask so much more effectively than adults. How do they manage to do it, the researchers asked? The answer, they discovered—and this is by no means what they expected—is that they don't. The enhanced cognitive abilities the investigators expected to find, the mental faculties that enable people to multitask effectively, were simply not there. In other words, people do not multitask effectively. And here's the really surprising finding: the more people multitask, the worse they are, not just at other mental abilities, but at multitasking itself.

One thing that made the study different from others is that the researchers didn't test people's cognitive functions while they were multitasking. They separated the subject group into high multitaskers and low multitaskers and used a different set of tests to measure the kinds of cognitive abilities involved in multitasking. They found that in every case the high multitaskers scored worse. They were worse at distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information and ignoring the latter. In other words, they were more distractible. They were worse at what you might call "mental filing": keeping information in the right conceptual boxes and being able to retrieve it quickly. In other words, their minds were more disorganized. And they were even worse at the very thing that defines multitasking itself: switching between tasks.

Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people's ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.

I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else's; it's always what I've already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It's only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn't turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing.

... You do your best thinking by slowing down and concentrating.

Now that's the third time I've used that word, concentrating. Concentrating, focusing. You can just as easily consider this lecture to be about concentration as about solitude. Think about what the word means. It means gathering yourself together into a single point rather than letting yourself be dispersed everywhere into a cloud of electronic and social input. It seems to me that Facebook and Twitter and YouTube—and just so you don't think this is a generational thing, TV and radio and magazines and even newspapers, too—are all ultimately just an elaborate excuse to run away from yourself. To avoid the difficult and troubling questions that being human throws in your way. Am I doing the right thing with my life? Do I believe the things I was taught as a child? What do the words I live by—words like duty, honor, and country—really mean? Am I happy?


So it's perfectly natural to have doubts, or questions, or even just difficulties. The question is, what do you do with them? Do you suppress them, do you distract yourself from them, do you pretend they don't exist? Or do you confront them directly, honestly, courageously? If you decide to do so, you will find that the answers to these dilemmas are not to be found on Twitter or Comedy Central or even in The New York Times. They can only be found within—without distractions, without peer pressure, in solitude.


These are truly formidable dilemmas, more so than most other people will ever have to face in their lives, let alone when they're 23. The time to start preparing yourself for them is now. And the way to do it is by thinking through these issues for yourself—morality, mortality, honor—so you will have the strength to deal with them when they arise. Waiting until you have to confront them in practice would be like waiting for your first firefight to learn how to shoot your weapon. Once the situation is upon you, it's too late. You have to be prepared in advance. You need to know, already, who you are and what you believe: not what the Army believes, not what your peers believe (that may be exactly the problem), but what you believe.

i know i'm in a scrubby, small camp, but i wish more folks were preaching the gospel of thought.

PERSONAL (permalink) 01.11.2012
dreams are such an under-appreciated gift
another thing of note that that occurred over the break was i dreamt about my mother for the first time since her passing fifteen months ago.

in the dream we were in a college lecture hall. my boss was giving a talk. my mother was sitting with marty and kids towards the center of the room. i was off to the side, situated closer to the lectern my boss occupied. i had the sense my mom was there helping marty with the children. in some sporting event-like antic, my boss started shooting shirts into the audience. i watched the first one fly. it landed a few rows behind my mother. the first grasping hands fumbled it and the cloth orb rolled and ricocheted downward into my mother's outstretched arms. she victoriously raised the soft ball in her hand. as the crowd turned their attention back to the thrower, my mom started walking towards the stage (i guess per instruction, i wasn't paying attention) and was looking around as people congratulated her. i caught her face through the standing crowd in one of her turns and her smile was enormous. the biggest i can ever recall seeing. and she looked as bright and healthy as i can ever remember. lost in my reverie, she suddenly appeared in a chair across from me. we wordlessly sat face to face at what was more like a diner table for two. i studied her face as she happily looked about, taking in the shirt-throwing chaos that continued around us. after about a minute of me just staring i said, "your smile looks radiant." she looked directly at me and said thank you with the most warm and genuine expression imaginable. she then quietly stood and walked up the stairs disappearing into the throng of people.

upon waking, this is the only blip of that night's dreaming i remembered.

FAMILY (permalink) 01.10.2012
a large part of the reason i didn't emerge last week can be attributed to marty's holiday schedule. to recap:

friday kids built gingerbread houses, an annual tradition at a neighbors (troy at work)
saturday family swim outing (2nd annual)
sunday christmas
monday marty's family christmas
tuesday roller skating, friend's house & xmas lights display
wednesday kids rule day
thursday girls' meltdown
friday go-karts, rock climbing, and laser tag
saturday new year's eve party
sunday city museum
monday dinner with the dunns

kids rule day is a day where the kids got to do whatever they want from breakfast to bed. to say the least there was much screen time, candy and junk food throughout.

the girls' meltdown day happens once on every extended run of family together-time. the boys have learned to give them lots of room and keep our snide and judgmental comments between just the boys.

as with all vacations since having kids, i return to work to rest. i have no idea where marty goes to recover.

also, as of today marty and i have been together twenty-two years, fourteen of them married. we're often asked if there is a secret to this success and there is, two of them in fact. the first is marty keeps me so busy (and entertained/distracted - see above) i don't have time to question or plan an exodus. the second is i'm tolerant as a monk [ ;-) ].

if you're wondering what we're doing to celebrate this hefty milestone, we'll be hanging out at the kids school tonight making pancakes for a buncha folks i don't know and trying to keep anthony from talking to adults. so, i guess, the veiled answer is not taking things too seriously.

QUOTES, KIDS (permalink) 01.09.2012
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.
bathroom words

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