Friday, September 01, 2006

Between BC and AD

Labor day weekend 10 years ago was a different era. I had just recently started a job at a brand new startup called Liquid Audio, Zane was living in her own apartment in SF after her roommate and best friend moved back to Kentucky to return to school, and we went up to Ashland, Oregon for the long weekend to camp, enjoy the Shakespeare Festival and dive into Crater Lake. This was also the time when our two year old friendship began to develop into something much more. However, as I said, this was a different era. This was B.C., Before Children. We met the boys about a year after this and at the time we had no idea how much a part of our lives they would become. Now they are everything to us. It's not as though I think of my life as being on hold. However, the priorities, goals and hierarchy of values is necessarily different when children are involved. While we didn't have the boys as babies, we have certainly seen them through (and continue to see them through) some of the most important and formative years of their lives. There is a reason why most of us have things from our teen years that we continue to hold onto throughout our lives. Those years, while often tumultuous, are precious. It's the beginning of our defining who we are going to be. As a parent, being given the opportunity to be a part of and help influence this time in another's life is both a gift and an enormous responsibility. I don't want to miss any of it. Zane and I were planning to return to Ashland this year as a sort of 10th anniversary. However, Frederick has his first scrimmage for High School football this weekend. When we found out about this, Zane and I just looked at each other a smiled knowingly. We both knew this is where we would be spending our weekend and there was really no second thought about it.

Jefferson turns 19 in a little over a week and is just starting his second year of college at the University of Arizona. While still a teenager both in age (and many ways in behaviour as well), he is definitely starting to make that turn into manhood. I predict that this is going to be both a challenging and growing year for him. He is living in an apartment with 3 other guys off campus. He has found a job on campus. He is really starting to get involved with his frat (which was originally a surprise), but is also vowing to focus more on his studies than he did last semester. As a college student, the only major remaining issues we have between us is (not surprisingly) money. It will be interesting to see how things go forward for his sophomore year. I hope to get down there in the next couple months to see him.

Freddy has just started high school at Bellarmine College Prep. We went to their back-to-school night and were very impressed with all, but one of his teachers. His initial concerns about attending an all-boys school seem to be fading and he may actually start to realize some of the benefits. He is getting more excited about the school and especially about football. He hasn't played in two years, but with his natural athleticism, he is a starter and likely to be one of the better players on the team. He plan to play three sports and is still focused on basketball as his main passion. Of course, the academics are our concern. The focus and self-discipline required this year are going to be Freddy's biggest challenge and our biggest worry. I think that we are going into this both a little bit wiser and better prepared than with his brother. That isn't to say that I don't anticipate any stress in the next four years, far from it. I just think that we have the tools to both head-off and respond to the inevitable teen issues that will arise.

Zane and I are generally much younger than most of our peers raising kids Freddy and Jefferson's ages. This may mean that we don't take things "in stride" as much as some parents who may be further down life's path. However, that probably has as much to do with personality as age. Being younger means that we will also be younger once both the boys have grown and are through college, though this is still a ways off. This is obviously a time I look forward to, but I don't like to over focus on it as it. Life is short and the important moments can pass by far to easily of you aren't paying attention. This era will be gone and we'll begin the next one A.D. (After Degree).

Labor day 10 years from now, perhaps Zane and I will be up in Ashland watching plays. Or, we may very well be spending it with Frederick, Jefferson and their families (scary though that thought may be). Right now, before this long weekend, I'm just going to take a few moments and stop and think about my family. Keep a smile on my face and...oh yeah...I'm supposed to give my mother a call :-).

Happy Labor Day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Anonymous Peripatetic

"It follows therefore that true happiness lies in the active life of a rational being or in a perfect realization and outworking of the true soul and self, continued throughout a lifetime."

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy has one of the best articles summarizing Aristotle's life and elucidating his major tenents. The author of the article is unknown and the site seems to be looking for a replacement article which is unfortunate because the author of this one did a very nice job. Seldom have I seen such a consice explanation that still manages to explain the major points as well as convey the essential character of the philosophy.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Captivating Captiva

Here in Orlando for Frederick's AAU U14 National Basketball Tournamnent. The teams play went from good to bad to worse. Basically, we played good and blew out two teams in the first two games. The third game we cracked under the pressure of a really good team. We carried the low confidence into our first bracket game and lost to a team that we really should have beaten. This put us in the loosers bracket where, today, we were eleminated. The teamed played much better in the final game against a fairly evenly matched team. Poor shooting, especially at the line, did us in. My summary is that the team is just not cohesive and lacks the discipline to execute as they should in big games. My personal opinion is that the biggest factor is not enough consistent practice with continued drilling of the fundamentals and teamwork.

Anyway, the loose in the first bracket game came in an 8:30am game giving Zane and I a full day to ourselves snice the next game wasn't until the following day. We decided to drive out to Captiva where Zane used to go with her mom when she was young. Captiva is a thin, sliver of an Island on the Guld side of Florida. It is a very small, very exclusive, VERY beautiful high-end vacation area. There is only one parking lot for public beach access so we parked in the villa complex where she used to stay (or what it has become). The beach was soft white sand and the water Gulf-of-Mexico warm. We didn't have any place to change so we both just jumped in with our shorts. It was wonderful. Then, I layed on the beach while Zane explored and tried to recapture some positive childhood memories. We didn't stay long, but it was a welcome break from Orlando vacation central and youth basketball intensity. The drive, the beach, all worth it.

It made me think that it has been a very long time since Zane and I have just taken a real vacation together. I can't remember the last trip that didn't revolve around something else or someone else's timeframe. Perhaps Cambria, before the boys. I know, I know, my next trip I promised to make a solo journey because I owe it to both myself and to Zane. But, after that, I want to take a trip together. On a solo note, the thing that sticks with me from the day is lying there on the beach. It brought back memories of Cabo for me. The only real, do not, just be, vacation I have ever taken on my own. That is what I need to retain. Now Zane is off to work in Seattle and I am here to entertain myself until Wednesday. We both should make the most of it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Can't sleep. Probably the heat. That and the fact that Zane never called back tonight on her trip home is definitely weighing a bit on my mind. Hopefully she is stopped and resting someplace safe between Nebraska and here. Watched TV. Read a chapter in my book. Was going to actually write in my journal, but ended up reading my entire journal from the first few months of 1998 (a very tumultuous time). Still can't sleep. Perhaps I should go for a run, though at 2am it would probably guarantee that I am awake the entire night. So here I am discovering that the term "insomniacal" appears almost exclusively on blogs. What should I do now? What would Aristotle do?

I guess I should do what I decided to do in the first place, what I haven't done in far too long. Time to put private thoughts to paper (rather than public thoughts to web page).

Have a safe journey home, honey. No matter where you are at the moment.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Shout out to my Honey Bunny

Your family wanted to give you a holler (or a meow in some cases) and wish you a safe trip home. Here are the greetings I was told to pass on to you.

First from Rocky (aka "Rocky Rockstar", aka "Rocky Road", aka "Monster")
"Let me, no, let me in the wait, I wanna go! I'm the kitten I'm supposed to get all the attention. Geez! Obviously Steve can not handle me on his own. I REALLY need two people to give me the sort of attention that a Monster Kitty needs. I miss you."

Next was from Satchmo (aka "Satch", aka "Boy Cat")
"I've tried to keep everyone in line here while you've been away. It's probably a hopeless causes, but that never stopped you so I'm following your lead. That Rocky just doesn't listen to anybody, though. I've kept my sister safe and made sure she has been going outside, keeping her spirits up. I've even managed to drag Soren out of the closet a few times. Come home soon. We all miss you and love you."

Then Soren (aka "Sore-sore", aka "Psycho-kitty", aka "Baby Cat")
"I have decided that I am going to be totally, completely and irrevocably anti-social until you return home. That's all I have to say. Oh, and I love you."

Finally, Momo (aka "Mosey, aka "Mo-Z")
"Hi mama. I miss you. It's just not the same without you. Steve just doesn't play with me as much as you do. I try to bring the toy to him in the morning, but it's just not the same. Even though its terribly hot here I miss being snuggled under the covers. I love you. Chome home soon."

The rest of your family wanted to say a word or two as well.

I think that covers it except for me. For my part I just want you to know that everyone here is actually doing well (kitties and all). Mostly, we all just want you to take time for yourself and remember that eveyone loves you very very much. As a parting note, I will share this week's fortune from Cathy's regular Friday night chinese food.

Fortune Cookie

I love you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Don't listen to the static

Something about this quote from the "Six Feet Under" finale just seemed to resonate with me right now.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Kids, Stress, Father's Day and all that.

Zane told me today about reading an article that explained how "Empty Nest Syndrome" was a myth and that most parents were happier when their kids grew up and left home. While parent's certainly miss their kids, having gone through the stress of the teen years combined with the pride of seeing their children survive on their own generally brings about a positive rather than negative psychological result. I found the following article about it. While it mostly focuses on the woman's perspective, I think the points are pertinent to both parents.

We can certainly attest to the stresses of raising children, especially teenagers since we dove right into the deep end of that one about 6 years ago. I think that the other important point in this article is that you don't stop being a parent just because your children move out. You still care about them, worry about them, have hopes and fears for them and, as we are learning with Jefferson now home from college, they still cause you STRESS! Of course, that is because you still love them and want the best for them and so it is still painful to see them make mistakes, learn hard lessons and be slow to grow in certain ways.

But, most of all, you still love them.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Re-reading the Mythical Man Month

I don't remember when I first read the orinal essay, but I think it was before the 20th anniversary edition. It is amazing to think that, not only were Brook's observations as relevant 20 years after he made them as when he first made them, they are perhaps even more relevant now another 10+ years later. While there are plenty of interesting anachronisms dating the original text, there are many many more truisms that have stood the test of time. However, that alone does not make the book as important as I think it truely is today. What is so significant about the Mythical Man Month is that the progam management fallacies that Brooks debunks in his book are still made today, over and over, at all types of companies who do software.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Thoughts from "The Blind Watchmaker"

If bat's use sound waves in much the same way that humans and other animals use light rays; in order to project a three-dimensional map of their surroundings in their mind allowing them to interact with their environment as "sighted" animals do, then is it really correct to refer to them as "blind"? Since echolocation is their primary means of gathering information and they can sample data as much as hundreds of times a second, it seems likely that they may "see" the world as richly using sound as other animals do with light. In fact, it may be more accurate to say that they are "deaf" in that their processing of sound may be so different from ours that they do not "hear" in the sense that sounds which are actually part of their echolocation mechanism may simply be ignored or filtered out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Late Valentine

Three simple words that dance in my mind
The first pirouettes, the last one declines
The middle then draws them into embrace
and sends them whirling and twirling through time.
I Love You.