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QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 12.20.2007
for those resolutions you'll be penning soon.
First, how many minutes a week does the average father spend with his children in on-on-one conversation? According to a study done a few years ago, the number is seven minutes - seven minutes in an entire week! Is it vital that we spend time with our children, one-on-one? I think everyone would agree it's vital; it has great value. But is it urgent? No. Why not? Because the child is always there. We can do it anytime we want. So we tend to put off the highly valued task because we're dealing with urgencies all day.

Second, how many minutes a week do the average husband and wife spend in one-on-one conversation? According to the study, the number is twenty-seven minutes. Is it vital to spend time with your spouse? I think we'd agree, it's vital. But is it urgent? No. Why not? Same problem - the spouse is always there.
excerpt from hyrum smith's ten natural laws of successful time and life management ... a book i've read this time of year for seven years now.

MUSIC (permalink) 12.19.2007
for you christmas listening pleasure(s).

image Twelve Days of Christmas
1.8 mb
performed by : truman state's True Men (site)
album : Christmas 2005
(site looks woefully outdated, but the christmas album is quite good/fun)

SOCIETY (permalink) 12.18.2007
it's all about the intent
at a work christmas party tonight, a co-worker told me about a call she received from her ten year-old's school saying she needed to come in to discuss an in-school suspension for her son. it turns out he and a neighbor boy, using the internet and the family's color printer made baseball-cards of naked women and got caught showing them to other boys in the school. she described how mortified she was and the subsequent speech she delivered about the degradation and objectification of women. she also said when she asked her older brother about it, the first thing he wondered was what an 83 topps card of pam anderson was going for these days. sadly, women will never comprehend how depraved the male mind really is.

KIDS (permalink) 12.14.2007
it's the name-calling, biter you gotta watch out for
when my sister-in-law was exiting a store with her three year old, he spied a nearby baby, pointed at it and started loudly screaming, "stupid baby! stupid baby! stupid baby!" some hours later she called marty to commiserate about the incident. of course none of our children ever hurled insults at hapless passerbys from the red cage of a target cart. our children much preferred biting them. i mean, i've seen insulted kids not cry. the same cannot be said about freshly bitten ones.

the stupid-baby tale supports a theory i have about parenting: it is not the parent's job to mold the human, it is the parent's job to keep the human alive until adulthood. we come much more wired than i think many seem to acknowledge. for instance, we didn't teach bella to bite kids who touched her crayons. she just did it the first time it happened. as parents it's our job to teach her not to bite crayon-curious playmates because one day she may bite the wrong one and they, in turn, will eat her. we will have then failed her as parents.

another thing not often acknowledged is the full psychological rigors that come from life with children. sure, people say it's hard and it's this and it's that, but not many people talk about their honest emotions when coping with the frustrations of children. what previous experience prepares you to look at a stranger and say 'yeah, sorry my kid called your baby stupid. i'm sure he's not that stupid, you know, being a baby and all' or to make the phone call saying you're glad that the bite didn't break the skin. parenthood will for sure test the most patient and capable out there.

when marty is at her breaking-point she goes into this deep-breathing trance. she told me that during it she thinks about the child (in question) when they were still in infancy and still cuddly and toothless and wordless. a few moments of this helps her re-enter the heat of the fracas less likely to take someone (in question) out.

thinking about the past doesn't work for me, i have to think about the future. when i start unraveling, i say the three letters F and S and U, repeatedly. what FSU represents for me is the day in my future when i deliver my child to a university to begin their college education. i pick FSU, or florida state university, because it is far away and because it strikes me as a party school (two characteristics that twist the knife a little extra). so i imagine driving my child halfway across the country, unpacking their bags and boxes and then briefly inspecting their room. i imagine myself sitting on the couch of their room during the awkward last few moments. i imagine marty standing by the door gesturing for me to get up. i imagine my child not nearly as aware of the import of the moment as myself. i imagine that tighter than usual hug and a longer the usual kiss on the cheek. i imagine the hollow chasm in my chest when the dorm room door closes and i imagine the deathly silent walk to the car.

so when i walked into the living room six days ago and found the christmas tree toppled on its side ... FSU. and when i walked into the living room three days ago and found the christmas tree again toppled over on its side ... FSU. and when i walked in the door from work tonight and found our christmas tree fallen yet again ... FSU. and when i asked alex what happened and he said "anthony just looked at it and it fell down" ... FSU.

and now just even typing out how many times the christmas tree has fallen over the in the last week ... FSU.

QUOTES (permalink) 12.12.2007
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.

PERSONAL (permalink) 12.11.2007
tag it and bag it
in planning for our last class of the semester, i told my co-teacher, a very seasoned pro, that i wanted to take a group photo of the class. he looked at me a little sideways and said, kindly, "that's cute". in virtually all matters of planning and decision-making i deferred to this mentor but this was one i had to have. as the final minutes of the class approached i gained the room's attention and said:

i don't know how many of you knew and we didn't really advertise the fact, although it may have been painfully apparent, that this was the first college-level course i have ever taught. i don't mind saying that coming into it, i initially found it quite harrowing but it has gone on to be an extraordinary experience and one which will hold a special place with me and serve as a personal highlight of my professional career. i wanted to thank you and say it has been a pleasure getting to know all of you and i appreciate all the patience and energy you've shown me. it's been wonderful.

so that may not be exactly how it came out but it is what i was shooting for. truthfully, i found myself slightly emotional looking at the collection of young and bright faces before me. this collection which would never come together again as they have. this sentimentality surely stems from the only child in me, that plus an extra heavy dash of androgyny which makes for good and routine awkwardness. as requested we did shoot a picture and good to the end, they were champs, exquisitely smiling and hamming for the camera.

after the last student left and the door closed one more time for that particular fall07 course i walked home in the rain thinking about how and why i needed that photograph. by the time i reached my door i didn't have an exact answer, but did know this image, freshly made, would warm me for years to come.

KIDS (permalink) 12.07.2007
the puppet-master
when i'm the one who reads to the kids at bedtime, one of three things happens:
  1. bella falls asleep first.
  2. alex falls asleep first.
  3. i fall asleep first.
last night was a number three night. when a number three night happens one of three things occurs:
  1. some time later, marty kicks me in the feet and tells me to get up because i'm snoring and it's keeping the kids up.
  2. i wake in the middle of the night lodged uncomfortably between the two sleeping children.
  3. after about thirty minutes i stir on my own, get up and resume my evening.
last night was a number three night. i woke with a start and lifted my head. alex was asleep on one side of me and on the other bella was sitting up reading a book in the dark. she looked at me guiltily knowing she was not to be reading but either sleeping or trying to go to sleep. i was about to say something when she brought her hand directly towards me and started scratching the top of my head. my face fell back on the pillow and i was back asleep in seconds.

everyone in my family knows there are few things i like more than having my head scratched. seeing bella's hand come toward me in my groggy state reminded me of a movie scene where an addled patient wakes momentarily only to see a blurry vision of a doctor's hand depressing the plunger of a syringe returning them into darkness. after an unknown period of time, marty's voice talking on the phone downstairs woke me again. as i lay there, i'd hear bella occassionally turn a page in her book (my face was looking away from her). she was not scratching my head but if she sensed i was starting to wake up by my movements or breathing her hand would mindlessly return to my head and scratch it a circular pattern giving me another dose of medicine while she continued to read.

marty ended her phone conversation and started coming up the stairs. bella stopped scratching my head, snapped her book shut, slid it under her covers and (i'm sure) laid her head on her pillow in a closed-eyes, angelic pose. all was still when marty passed the doorway. i then heard marty in the ping-pong room typing at her desk. back out came the book. after a few minutes i lifted my head. bella again looked at me guiltily. i put a finger to my lips (shhh sign) and got up. i leaned in, kissed her on the forehead and thanked her for my head-scratch. she softly said 'you're welcome' and i left her.

i'm certainly in no rush to have my first child grow up but can honestly say i'm ravenous to see what kind of adult she becomes.

SOCIETY, FILM (permalink) 12.05.2007
in 1941 more than three million cars had been manufactured for the united states. only 139 more were made during the entire war. instead chrysler made fuselages, general motors made airplane engines, guns, trucks and tanks. and at its vast willow run plant in ipselanti michigan 67 acres of assembly lines under a single roof that one observer called the grand canyon of the mechanized world. the ford motor company performed something like a miracle 24 hours a day. the average ford car had some 15,000 parts, the b-24 liberator long range bomber had 1,550,000 parts. one came off the line at willow run every 63 minutes.

excerpt from the ken burns documentary The War

PHOTO, WEB (permalink) 12.03.2007
some days i like computers a whole lot more than other days
historically, i've spent between 150 and 200 hours in the month of november producing my everyman photo contest. this year saw a 400% increase in submissions (to 8k) yet, through some custom-built web enhancements, i spent less than twenty hours end to end overseeing the 2007 affair. this is by no means a reflection on the mix because there is some really remarkable photos this year. although, based on the usual varied opinions of my judges, not many folks can agree on what those remarkable photos are. or, they don't often agree with me at least (proof of this can be found in the scorecards, i'm judge #1).

see who ultimately won and how they match up with your taste.

and make sure to check out this year's most discussed photo. it is noteworthy for two reasons. the first is that this is the first year (in seven) my great friend bookpimp hasn't won that acclaim. the second reason is, well, i think i'll let that part speak for itself (may not be suitable for work or those with good visual memories). and for those wondering what the title, the samsara, means, it is a buddhist term dealing with rebirth, some definitions citing it specifically as a rebirth from the earth.

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