Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy to no Longer be On the List

According to a recent list of the most popular family tourist destinations, Orlando is ranked #1:

Not all that long ago, I would feel a swelling pride at seeing my hometown listed prominently there at the top of the list. But after 30 years of residency there, I know exactly what being #1 means - lots of traffic, an annoyingly big and bustling airport, a large quantity of snowbirds, and constant large-scale construction (roads, houses, etc).

On the other hand, I must admit that I am still happy to visit there regularly. Having family and friends there as an reason to visit means I can be one of the gazillion families that travel to and appreciate Orlando as a vacation destination.

I guess the bottom line is that it is a great place to visit, especially for the kids. But I think being such a great place to visit helps to make it not as much of a desirable place to live, especially now that I know what it's like to live in a place that will probably (hopefully) never make it on that list.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Book Review - Water For Elephants

This book was first passed around to most of Amanda's family. Then I picked it up after Amanda finished with it. I tell you that only because I never would have heard of it otherwise.

Anyway, this book had a fascinating and unusual plot and setting. It revolves around a young man who winds up in a traveling circus after having his life basically fall apart. I found it very easy to become engrossed in his experiences, and it was especially enjoyable because it felt like being behind the scenes of the big top and the escapades that surround it.

The biggest detractor of the story though (without giving away too many details) is the immorality that is exhibited by numerous characters, including the main one. The author attempts to provide excuses, but there really isn't enough, in my mind, to justify it.

I thought it was especially interesting that the author is a woman, given that she seemed to write so vividly and accurately from a man's perspective. Also, as a bonus many of the scenes in the book are apparently based on real, if not embellished, stories that the author acquired during her research for this book.

Gender-based Fatherhood

As a father to both a boy and a girl, I'm trying (of course) to raise, teach and discipline them both equally. But besides these basic actions of child-rearing, taking care of a girl somehow feels different than raising a boy. While talking to my friend Frank in Florida (who had a girl after two boys), I think I may have figured out exactly what that difference is.

To my son, I'm trying to teach him and be an example of how to be a man.

To my daughter though, I'm trying to teach her and be an example of and how I think she should be treated by a man.

Looking at it from my children's perspective:

Emily will gain her expectations of what kind of man she should expect her husband to be, and how he should treat her someday by seeing how I act and how I treat Amanda.

Lucas will learn what it means to be a man, how to handle adversity, and how to treat his wife by watching me live my life and by how he sees me treat Amanda.

Maybe this is all obvious, but for some reason I wasn't able to put words to it before - I just knew it felt vastly different being a father to the two different genders.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Back to the Garden

If everyone were to walk around naked, do you think we would we have the same problem with obesity in our culture/country? I would think that if people didn't have their clothes to hide behind, taking care of themselves would be a much higher priority.

I also wonder if it would lead to people having a more positive body image of themselves, since they could see that everybody else around them wasn't perfect either, instead of getting an image of what they should look like from magazines, TV, etc?

Physically, I would worry about a higher incidence of skin cancer and/or frostbite on private parts. But would there be any social and/or psychological drawbacks, besides people feeling awkward and self-conscious for a little while at first?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Election Suggestions and Observations

Well, this year's presidential election (at least the primaries at this point) are starting to look a lot like the recently completed college football season - completely unpredictable.


Does it say somewhere in the Constitution that the job of our government is to manage sports organizations? If not, then why on earth is Congress involved in monitoring baseball and the usage of steroids by its players?


The more reasons I hear of why people have chosen one particular opponent over another, the more I agree with the idea that there should be some limitations or requirements as to who can vote. I'm not the first to suggest this. In fact, there are plenty of forums filled with people discussing this idea. But I'm going to go ahead and vent about it here anyway.

I read that one woman voted for John Edwards in the primaries because she "liked his hair". I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I voted for Bill Clinton back in 1993 because of his charisma and even more (and ashamedly) so because I saw a picture of him that reminded me of myself a little. I admittedly knew nothing about politics at the time, but I was of legal age to vote. So ignorant as I was, to the voting booth I went.

Today, I make an effort to be much more informed, and I can usually defend my opinion if someone asks about or disagrees with it. But the issue isn't whether another voter agrees with me or not, it's that they are marginally informed and can state why he or she is voting for their candidate.

For example, my car pool buddy and I are completely polar opposites politically. We've had many lively discussions about what we think and why. But I completely support him voting, because he has demonstrated the fact that he is well informed.

In fact, I would honestly prefer that my candidate lose and have all of the votes be cast by people who have a rational and educated opinion than to win due to uninformed people voting based on someone's looks, popularity, home state, theme song, etc.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A New New Years Tradition

The picture above is from an awesome New Years Eve party that Amanda and I threw back in 2002-2003 (you can see more pictures here).

Of course, our New Years party days are all but through since having children. Last year we had a few people over, but they dispatched around 9-10pm to get their own kids to bed and for the same reason that we rarely stay up past 11pm - because children are an unpredictable alarm clock that cannot be turned off. Our kids generally get up sometime between 5:30am and 7:30am.

While we didn't do anything on New Years Eve this year, we did meet our good friends, the Walkers, for breakfast on January 1st at the Pacific Street Cafe (the picture below was taken after eating). I got to thinking though - why not have a New Years Day breakfast party, instead of a New Years Eve party?

Our friends could come over at a reasonable hour (8-9am perhaps), bring a breakfast dish, I can make a bathtub worth of coffee, and perhaps we can even pray and/or worship together. It's celebrating the beginning of the new year together, instead of the end of the old year. Maybe it's the perfect solution for folks like us - married with children who still want to get together with people to celebrate and have fun.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Short Sleeves in the Snow

During the journey back home from Florida, we had a 2+ hour layover in Kansas City. The temperature was reported to be 28 degrees, and there was plenty of snow outside.

Since we had so much time to waste, Amanda and I decided to go outside and let the kids play in the snow for a little while. To prepare for the cold outdoor weather, Amanda donned her fleece and equipped the kids with similar attire. I however, put on a standard white t-shirt under the one that I was already wearing.

Amanda: Aren't you going to put on long sleeves?

Me: No, this should be fine.

Amanda: Won't you be cold?

Me: Probably not. If I do get cold though, then I can always just put on my long sleeve t-shirt at that point in time.

Amanda: That's stupid. And you're weird.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Merry Christmas, Pituey

I've noticed a rather gross habit that I have been exhibiting lately, but it's not really my fault and I'm not sure that there's anything I can do about it.

When paying for items that I'm purchasing with cash, which happens a lot when traveling (to Florida) and/or for the holidays (shopping more), I have been licking my fingers before handing my bills to the cashiers.

I realize it as soon as I've done it and yes, I have noticed many cashiers handle as small a portion of my money as possible. I think I've also noticed several grossed out expressions on their faces.

But my the skin of my fingers has been dry lately and my money is stuck together - so what, exactly, can I do? Stop and ask them for a wet sponge that I can dab my fingers on? Ask them if they can spare some hand lotion? Hand them my stack of bills and tell them which ones I want to actually pay them with and for them to hand me back the others? Or stand there with my dry fingers for as many agonizing minutes as it takes to finally get traction on the freakin' bills, while the line behind me grows in size and impatience?

While the act of deliberately sticking my slobbery tongue out of my mouth and running my forefinger down it before passing a now damp greenback over the counter is somewhat humiliating, none of the solutions sound marginally appealing either. Shrug.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Resolutions for 2008

My goals for 2008 are numerous, including
  • be more dedicated to spending time with God (at least 15 minutes a day)
  • be more dedicated to growing in my knowledge as an engineer
  • begin to learn how to play the guitar
  • practice playing the keyboard again
  • begin to learn Spanish
  • exercise more
  • get more sleep
  • read more books for leisure
  • pay off our credit card debt
But I can summarize all of them except the last with one all-encompassing objective for the year. So here it is:

To schedule my free time accurately enough to include all of the above.

I'm not sure what exactly that schedule will look like, and I hate the idea of scheduling every minute of my free time as much as I hate budgeting every dime of my income. But seven years of marriage and three years of life with children has taught me that this is the only realistic way that I will be even remotely likely to accomplish any of them, let alone all of them.

Now if only I can schedule in the time to make the schedule.
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