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Where the Red Fern Grows

Last month I re-read “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls.  I don’t recall the first time I read it, but did remember enjoying it immensely.

It’s the story of a boy who grows up near the Ozark mountains, way out in the hills.  At a very young age he finds himself in love with the idea of having hunting dogs.  His family is poor, and cannot afford them.  He spends many days and months pining for them and pleading with his parents, to no avail.  Eventually he becomes infatuated with the idea of saving for them and spends all his time collecting any spare money he can by working xand saving.

In a few years, he has finally saved enough to purchase the dogs and does so through his grandfather, who owns a local store.  After getting the dogs, he spends his time training them and eventually hunting. The rest of the book is mostly different tales from his time with his dogs, including an hunt where they compete against other teams.

Without spoiling too much, the book does an excellent job explaining some of the intricacy of living out in the countryside versus the city, the lives many people live outside of communities, and how a young boy spends his time.  It reminded me of growing up, though my life wasn’t really like the boy Billy, the time you have and the freedom from a consistent job and other aspects of life are pretty representative.

This is really a heartwarming story and something I’d recommend a great deal, especially if you’re looking for something a little more uplifting–who couldn’t use something like that today?

Tough Times

It’s pretty hard to be excited about the future in the US right now.  The political climate is incredibly toxic.  The things politicians are trying to ignore and sweep under the rug to assume power are outrageous, and divisive, like all politics today.

But they say it gets darkest before the dawn.

The truth is most Americans are genuinely good people, but the system that we use to govern ourselves is susceptible to poor actors just like anything else is.  Most people I know are pretty distraught about the current state of affairs, and rightly so.  This is not our forefathers had hoped for as a democracy.

Yet to a certain extent a of this was bound to happen.  When a system rewards poor behavior, it becomes more common place.  When systems can be bent toward the will of those with resources to influence, and an incentive to do so, it will happen.  So to a certain extent, this is like a natural system that self regulates.  When a forest becomes too dense, lightning strikes and it burns.  Then it regrows.

I genuinely feel that’s what’s happening today with our political system.  It’s going through a timeframe where the ugliness and corruption are coming to light, for all eyes to see.  And it is ugly.  It’s awakened me to a number of things I was pretty clueless about, most prominently the way women are marginalized and silenced.  That scares me.  It enrages me.  It’s hard to imagine what it must be like, and I hope no one close to me has to go through it, but I’m sure they have already.

All of this is necessary to change.  These are the toughest times I’ve witnessed, but I do believe we’ll get through it.  I hope you do too.

Ode to Fall

Fall, in all its splendor, is here.

The temperature is warm, yet brisk.

The insect colonies have largely decided to pack it in.

The leaves are falling, but only at a slight pace such that the mower eats them up.

Football is starting in earnest tomorrow at noon.

Halloween and Thanksgiving are both within reach.

Oh, the joy of a brief and beautiful season.

Garage Insulation + End of Summer

Dog days of summer came, lay on the floor for a bit, and are slowly getting up and out the door.

The cooler weather has begun to grace our presence, and it’s an excellent time of year.  With that cool weather comes the ability to do a few house projects, this year now that the bathroom is remodeled I’m insulating the garage.

Last year, the winter was pretty severe and the garage was always an ice cube.  The cold from the garage and front stoop created a double front of frigid air that makes the entryway much colder than the rest of the house–it’s a split level.  I’d planned to insulate the garage and then try out a winter to see if it had much of a warming effect.  If it’s already good enough, leave as is.  If it’s still cold, consider a heater to keep it at 35 degrees or so.

It is not a fun job.  The insulation is itchy and a pain to cut and measure.  After each day I take a shower to make sure I’m not covered in minuscule dust.  It is warm work, as you have to climb up in the rafters of the garage and put the product into place, not to mention the dust and dirt that are harbored there.  The list goes on.

Having a project has been good for exercise though.  Using a lot of muscles I don’t necessarily work out at the gym.  Probably need to get into some other household projects moving forward.  We will see how everything turns out.  Next year we want to redo the entryway and add heated flooring, so if the garage is still cold that should hopefully fix it.

The cool weather post summer also has another nice effect–the ability to get outside without worrying about the heat.  We took advantage of that this weekend.  Olive was born July 21st, so she’s roughly 1.5 months old now and we brought her and Juniper out for hikes.  It was Olive’s first foray into the wonderful world of nature.  When Juni was about a month old we took her to Murphy Harnehan and did a brief hike.  We did the same with both this year.

Hiking and connecting with nature are things Teresa and I both really enjoy, I hope we can teach both of our girls the same.

 

Welcome to the World, Olive

It’s been remarkably quiet on the site, for good reason.  We had our second daughter two weeks ago, her name is Olive Isabelle Ed.  She’s quite a cute one, significantly heavier than Juniper was initially.  They look pretty similar outside of that.

I should probably get a few photos up, but haven’t taken the time to save them to my computer.  In all truth, blogging has fallen off my radar pretty heavily as of late due to work and getting ready for Olive’s entry to the world.  But it’s more than that, it’s been kind of a rough year in terms of being excited about the future.  On a personal level, everything is going really well.  Life in general is really good.  But on a macro scale, the US seems to have hit some really trying times and it’s taking its toll.  Even on a global level, thinking about the ramifications of climate change and the long term issues which will arise are pretty daunting.

All of this in a world where two beautiful little girls are going to have to make their way.  I’ll do everything I can to get them up to speed, but sometimes looking forward can be a tough go.

I’m excited to see you grow up Olive.  Here’s to you!  :-)

Long Time No Post

It’s been a long time since posting, which is pretty sad given that there’s been so much going on.  It’s also pretty understandable given that, so perhaps that balances out.

As a brief run down–Juniper is three and hilarious.  She’s also really smart, and sweet, and terrible.  She has enjoyed planting her own flowers with mom, terrorizing any type of bug in the back yard, reading me stories from positions of authority, binge watching new cartoon series repeatedly, making new friends in any place with other humans, eating dilly bars, giving Jasper treats including melting dilly bars, and all types of other summer fun.

She also has a sibling coming in July.  Not sure if it’s a brother or sister yet, but she wants a sister.  Time will tell.

The house is in a state of disrepair due to the basement bathroom being remodeled.  It has taken a good amount of time, which is fine, however the initial rebuild required taking out the plumbing.  In order to do so they had to jackhammer out the surrounding cement, and unfortunately they didn’t put up protective sheeting and the concreted created a huge cloud of dust which coated our basement.  It hasn’t been the best experience, but hopefully it will be worthwhile once completed.

We also have to stain the decking and shed, so yesterday I started pressure washing everything.  First time in five years since living here and the grime came off in waves.  It was actually pretty fun.

On the work front, everything is very busy as we get into strategy planning and a number of other initiatives have left little time for self reflection or other activities otherwise enjoyed.  Teresa just finalized her work year for the summer, so will be taking an extended break until October.  It’s going to be a very busy summer, to say the least.

All the best to you and yours for an enjoyable season.

The Great Blizzard of 2018

Well, it’s April.  And every year I try to forewarn people that we’ll get a good snowfall 50% of the time.  It’s pretty normal.

This year we are getting well above average.  All weekend snow and ice fell and it’s a good twelve inches worth; easily the heaviest snowfall of the year here.  In mid April.  That’s pretty impressive.  In our house smarter people are saying that it was the top ten blizzards on record.

After snowthrowing out the driveway, the plow man deigned to stop by and offer me some additional exercise.  It’s all done and behind us now, until Wednesday when another three inches are expected.  We’ve basically stayed in all weekend waiting it out, fortunately there’s been plenty to do for entertainment but all of us are itching to be past this portion of the year.  Spring is not my favorite season, however I’d welcome it.

Other news, we are expecting our second child in July, which is delightful.  Naming the upcoming addition is similarly difficult to last time, but we’ll figure it out.  Many things to be done before then, including a large bathroom remodel downstairs.  The original build of the house neglected it pretty well so it’s time to remedy that; it will likely take a month or so and start in early May.

All is well, short of the snow.  Hope all is well with you too.

Even Keel

I have a strong admiration for those that can keep calm under pressure.  As you grow older and experience trying times, sometimes in extreme duress and sometimes slow but consistent stress, it becomes apparent that life isn’t always easy.  It’s actually a lot harder for some than others, and it’s easy to forget how good you have it.

Life is tough at times, and things can seem near insurmountable in the heat of the moment.  But the ability to sit back and consider what’s happening, while keeping calm, is an important trait of successful people.  Reacting negatively or acting rashly in the face of a trying situation or your own emotions will often have unintended consequences.  You have to try to keep calm and think things through, even when it doesn’t feel the right thing to do.  This is probably even more important as a young person, when so little of life has passed you and everything seems to be high consequence.

Despite how it seems, life goes on.  And as a great writer Kurt Vonnegut put it, so it goes.

What I’ve found over time is that the people that take the time to consider what’s happening and the best course of action, even if it takes days or weeks, usually decide on the best outcome.  Those that take action immediately or based on their gut are often unhappy with outcomes.  There’s a number of reasons for this, the most prominent being time gives clarity on almost all things.  Even an hour to think things through in lieu of a brash decision can open the door to options you may not have considered previously.  Also your emotions cool off in time, so what may seem like the best option initially could seem silly in the long term.  Lastly by waiting to make a decision the tenets reason a decision is needed may alter completely.  You’d be surprised by how much changes over seemingly small periods of time.

The bottom line is that keeping calm and thinking things through will serve you very well over your life.  Both in school and work, and outside those institutions.  The key to that is waiting until absolutely necessary to choose.  If there’s time, wait.  This doesn’t mean procrastinate or hold off until the last minute to do the work necessary for a particular outcome.  Hard work, especially the work that is time intensive, should be done straight away.  But taking actions when affected by others trying to influence you or your own emotions due to stress are normally worse decisions than if you take your time.  If the time is available, use it.

Time Passes Slowly: Human Consideration of Time

The other day while dropping Juni off at daycare, an important thought struck me.  Much of my life, I’ve wondered at how we experience time.  Large periods of time seem to have passed very quickly when considering how long they’ve been, however on a day by day basis, time is at a very deliberate pace.  It doesn’t truly change, although at times it feels faster or slower depending on what type of stimulus is occurring.

The thought that occurred to me is that we actually experience time in the exact same way that other nonhuman animals do, temporally.  We are reacting moment by moment over much like a fight or flight animal would, though with more consideration than less mentally capable.  Yet physiologically we are similar.

Despite that, we think about time differently than any other animal.  We are capable of considering the vast amount of time we have experienced and what has transpired over that timeframe.  So in essence it’s our memory alone that makes the expanse of time seem to have passed quickly.  Any rational human understands that time and space are constants given our physical limitations to transcend them.  But we cannot rationalize time as easily.

The moment to moment understanding of time as a constant is inherent to our lives.  They line starts to blur when we talk about hours, days, months, years, decades and so on.  Our memory cannot recall specifics past certain points of time.  In computer terms, our random access memory is tapped out.  So we make mile markers in our minds, subconsciously, to keep things straight.  The shorter periods of time we experience as part of that RAM feel like they should be equivalent to the longer periods.  One minute is one minute and the relative measure should apply to years and larger portions of time as well.

If humans were perfectly able to recollect all periods of time, the longer periods of time we reflect one would not feel as though they went quickly.  They feel that way because we can only remember small portions of them compared to smaller, more recent samples.

This issue has been on my mind for a long time.  It’s interesting to me that sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere, an explanatory reason for the way things are just pops into my brain.  My guess is that someone has already figured this out, and applied some real scientific reasoning to it, but the beauty one new idea that morning put a large smile on my face.

Guns and Gun Violence

In the last few weeks the national fervor around guns and violent acts, mass shootings, has hit a fever pitch.  In Florida, there was yet another school shooting where seventeen kids were killed.  That number is so frightening in itself it’s pretty difficult to explain.  One kid is way too many, and everyone seems to agree on this.

Yet we can’t seem to agree on logical policy to stem these events from happening.  The NRA advocates for very liberal laws that prop up the ability of citizens to buy and own firearms.  They have immense funding, lobbying power and influence.  It seems that any time one of these events happens, and it’s often here in the US, the push back on coming up with ways to stop them is just as strong as the sorrow, maybe more so.  Many US citizens are more serious about keeping guns than any other political issue.

I believe owning guns is acceptable as a form of recreation–hunting and whatnot.  The idea that assault rifles are available to the general public has always seemed silly to me.  I realize most people would never use these weapons in a harmful way, but the few people that would make availability a serious risk to the rest of us.  So they should go.  That’s probably not the most popular opinion with some people, but it’s how I feel.  The safety of our kids and general citizenship is paramount to people’s hobby.

More important than my personal view is the idea of a middle ground.  The NRA is not willing to give up an inch on this — they actually ask for less stringent laws.  As to why, I’m not sure, but this country needs to find our common values and build policy toward them.  The idea that everything is black and white is wrong, the world is mostly grey.

But this issue is a real one–17 kids just died for no reason.  This doesn’t happen in other first world countries and it’s an embarrassment that our priorities aren’t on human lives.

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