Monday, May 30, 2011

time, flying...

--"There is no end zone. You never cross the goal line, spike the ball and do your touchdown dance. Never. It never ends."
--jason robards in (and on) parenthood

there's a teenager in this house.

still waiting for the sitcom hilarity to ensue. will settle for the occasional laugh track.

how is it possible? what happened to the time between the day he was born and the day he said, "i want to go bungee jumping for my birthday."

it passed in the blink of an eye.

sitting here, looking at thirteen years' worth of photos, it occurs to me...i want a do-over.

very early on (once the shock wore off and we realized we had a healthy child) we said, "now we just need to keep from screwing him up." he was perfect at that moment, see, and any imperfections would obviously be our responsibility.

we didn't do such a great job. and by "we" i mean "me."

have you heard the really good advice, "don't say anything you can't take back"? i've said things to this child that i'd love to take back. angry things that absolutely did not accomplish what was intended. somehow, despite knowing better, i've managed to reinforce negative behaviors, and undermine positive ones. i've used "parenting" tactics that i said i'd never use. almost always in anger.

i'd like to go back and erase all of them, one by one, and the hurt they caused both of us.

we went through a long period when this child would not sleep through the night. we walked through many (many) long days in a sleep-deprived fog, and i remember thinking i'd give anything to be past those days, because surely they couldn't go on forever.

they couldn't, of course, and they didn't. and sitting here right now i'd give almost anything to be back in the midst of them. because so much was still ahead, and so many of my missteps could still be avoided.

the scary thing is, as much as we've learned, and as hard as we try, there are as many (if not more) mistakes still to be made. and whatever difficulties are ahead promise to be more complex with bigger implications.

i'd very much like to spare him my continued foibles, as dealing with his own will trouble him enough. but, short of putting myself in stasis for a few years, i can't do that. and one day, further on, i'll be sitting here thinking, "wow, did i ever screw that up...and the worst part is, i knew better."

it's as inevitable and predictable and maddening as the ticking of a clock in a quiet room.

so, for my son's thirteenth birthday, i offer:

an apology--for the mistakes i've made and the ones i'm going to make
a promise to try to do better
a really cool dive watch
and a bungee jumping experience

it's not enough. but it's all i've got.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

body of evidence

marilyn monroe did a night shoot in a pool
posing naked for a playboy spread
she was old, but she still was cool

when they wrapped right after midnight
and the crew went to the bar
norma jean just did the backstroke
like she was reachin' for a falling star

beautiful swimmers know how to move
floatin' cross the water like a steel guitar
beautiful swimmers stay in the groove
riding constant currents near and far

--jimmy buffett

reports of my imminent demise are premature.

after a thorough (cough) physical today, it turns out i'm not (quite) as
unhealthy as it appeared last week.

during last week's routine doctor visit, my blood glucose was "pre-diabetic." today it was in the normal range.

last week, my cholesterol numbers were too low, too high, and too bad. today a fasting blood draw suggested less atherosclerotic levels. (this is the difference between a "fasting" blood draw and a post-bacchanalia draw.)

last week the scale said my weight was at an all-time high. we're talking morbidly obese. prompting me to elevate my blubber threat level to fat-con 5. today the same scale said i was 11 pounds less. no, i did not lose 11 pounds in a week.

so, was the discrepancy human error, or a message from the cosmos?

i'm taking it as the latter. which is to say, it's time for some behavior modification and bacchanalia moderation.

summer swimsuit season is just a couple months away, after all.

Sent from my iPad

Saturday, May 21, 2011


may. it's the first half of mayhem.

very apt.

* * * * * *

we're only halfway through this month-gone-maywire, and there's no sign the remaining days will be any less annoying.

three people are recently gone at spaceneedl sprockets, with a fourth soon to join them.

this is in addition to two regulars going out on maternity leave, and two
contractors in to replace them. plus a new copywriter.

all this churn has caused considerable stress, turmoil, and other nonproductive activity in our midst. no one likes this. we're creatures of habit. when life changes our routine, we get twitchy. and cranky.

until the changes are assimilated. then we resume our regularly scheduled
twitchy crankiness.

* * * * * *

yesterday the boy child came home from school with a knife. he did not leave for school with a knife. but sometime during the day he acquired one. i found this to be cause for alarm. missus spaceneedl was more calm.

i took umbrage at her calmness. a disagreement ensued.

it's possible i reacted with more fervor than was warranted. i know this because i apologized to the missus this morning. i apologized to the boy this afternoon.

still, i was startled and a little scared by the random appearance of a weapon in our house. i'm not a fan of the weapons. especially when they're carried by people. bad things often result.

* * * * * *

i had a physical last week. turns out my cholesterol is elevated, and my blood sugar is out of whack. oh, and i'm 20 pounds heavier than i thought i was. this despite the fact that i exercise vigorously 5-6 times a week. basketball, strength training, yoga.

sneaky health-related surprises make me twitchy. and cranky.

on the upside, my prostate is healthy.

* * * * * *
i just saw an exxon-mobil tv spot pimping the company's oil sands projects in canada. the spokesperson insisted that squeezing oil from the earth by creating a cascading environmental disaster was something to be very pleased about. he said it with a straight face, too, the poor bastard.

for the record, development of oil sands is an abomination.

Environmental Defence just released a new report on the Alberta Oil Sands, calling it the most destructive project on Earth. DeSmogblog gleaned some facts from it:

-Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year.
-At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends up in ends up in tailing ponds so toxic that propane cannons are used to keep ducks from landing.
-Processing the oil sands uses enough natural gas in a day to heat 3 million homes.
-The toxic tailing ponds are considered one of the largest human-made structures in the world.
-The ponds span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space.
-Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more
greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil.
aside from these facts, the whole oil sands thing seems like a swell idea. that and building nuclear reactors in earthquake zones. my suggestion: build a nuclear plant adjacent to the athabasca project...and then detonate it. it'll save lots of time and effort.

* * * * * *

it took until may 20 to finally reach 70F in seattle. may 20. that's, like, halfway through the year. to barely scratch a tolerably temperature.

just in time for the rapture.

meanwhile, today we're back to rain and 55.

* * * * * *

my starbucks card ran out of money this morning. i was required to reload it.

* * * * * *

Sent from my iPad

Sunday, May 08, 2011

state of equilibrium

live blogging from the washington state level 4 gymnastics meet...

this is not quite on par with documenting the revolutions in the middle east, or the olympic games...but for dozens of 10-year old girls (and their parents), it's close.

four events: vault, bars, beam, floor. four chances at glory. or glorious failure. nothing in between.

for the parents, that is. the competitors remain happy, either way.

the falcons gymnastics team from seattle is looking serious in their purple and lavender leotards. the girls have on their game faces, if by "game face" we mean giggly smiles.

it took a good showing at the sectionals meet to qualify for state. gymnasts had to average scores of 8 or better on each event. the girl child was thrilled to tally a 33.8 to qualify. today, however, she says she's shooting for 9s. which is what it will take to be competitive, scoring-wise. not to mention parent-wise. no, the missus and i will be thrilled with any performance not resembling a fish flopping around on a small boat in high seas. also, we'd prefer that her head not make contact with the beam at any time.

the falcons first event: floor. avery is pretty good in this event. she scored a solid 8.65 at sectionals.

random observation: she's built like a gymnast. while a lot of the girls are still skinny and lanky, avery is muscular and powerful. also, fearless.

the first three falcons went 8.65, 8.6, 8.75.

avery's turn...looking cute. looking strong. no nerves (except mine, shaking the video slightly). good routine, with a little extra hop-step on the back handspring. good for an 8.675. big smiles as she runs off the floor. she's happy. i'm relieved.

event number two: vault. in which the athlete runs really fast, launches off a springboard, does a front somersault-handspring-thing and lands flat on her back on a big cushy mat. the girl is good at this, too. she scored an 8.9 at sectionals, so a 9+ here is not far-fetched.

the girls get two chances on vault, and they count the best of the two.

avery with two good vaults. she ran fast and back-flopped well. good enough for a 9.1 !! that's her first score of 9 or better. she picked a good time for it. normal breathing (mine) should resume momentarily.

this event is being held at the emerald city gymnastics center in bellevue. they have a "wizard of oz" theme going on, i believe. otherwise the chick wearing sparkly red shoes and the dorothy costume is going to have some explaining to do to security.

next up: bars. the girl is not as proficient at this event. she scored a shaky 8.5 here at sectionals. she typically practices and warms up well, but has a hiccup or two when it counts. today's warm-up: not encouraging. much under-rotating, over-rotating, and upside-down hanging. this is not what her coaches teach, in case you were wondering.

ooh, not good. practice predicted performance. a big error on the forward spin left her hanging upside-down when she should've been right-side up, atop the bar. this is a shame, because the rest of the routine, before and after, was rock-solid. she pulled it together to stick the landing. (i love that phrase..."she sticks the landing!" it always reminds me of little kerri strug on vault at the olympics. one of the most courageous moments in athletics, ever).

the error showed in her score: 8.3.

all that's left is beam. i don't feel good about this, as it's her shakiest event. she wobbled like a weeble throughout her sectionals performance~actually putting her hand on the beam at one point~and still pulled an 8.025 out of somewhere.

hopefully she feels better about this than i do, since that's all that really matters.

lots of teams and lots of girls here today. usually organization is lacking at these meets, causing the proceedings to drag on and on. and on. so far, however, the events are moving right along. this is good. my butt is starting to hurt from the sitting and complete lack of leg room.

the falcons are taking a break between events. they're on the opposite side of the gym, making it difficult to overhear their conversation. doubtless they're all locked into what they've accomplished so far, and what they need to do to finish strong. let's move closer and listen in...

bla bla bla, something something, justin bieber.

great. no one could've predicted that.

okay, break is over. the girls are up and practicing on beam. the girl a weeble. she's falling off over and over again. this does not bode well. what's happening now? the girls are sitting down again. another break? bla bla bla, taylor swift.

okay, it's go time.

and the first falcon gymnast is off the beam. poor thing. she looked really nervous.

now it's avery's turn. i can't breathe. i can barely look. thankfully i'm
viewing her from across the gym through a teeny video lens, so it all seems far and wee. one little wobble. another little wobble. almost through falls! and she sticks the landing! what just happened here? that was one of her best performances on beam ever!

and the judge screws it up. an 8.225? really? that ain't right.

but it doesn't matter. it was a great routine. she didn't fall off, and she finished with a flourish.

for the meet, she scored a full half-point higher than at sectionals, with a 34.3. and she came away with a cool new sweatshirt with her name on the back. on the front it says, "i bust mine to kick yours."

she's very pleased.

and we are giddy.

i would've liked one of those sweatshirts, though...

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

the bell tolls

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." --george w. bush, 3/13/02

it says here that osama bin laden is dead.

killed in a raid by u.s. navy seals and cia operatives.

americans loudly celebrated bin laden's demise, in much the same way we celebrate super bowls and other entertainment events. we do love our happy endings, don't we?

you can make the case that a dead bin laden is better than a live bin laden (or a zombie bin laden, as the case may be). the bush administration might disagree, as george and dick found that particular boogie man useful for years--much to bushcorp's benefit, and much to america's detriment.

finding and dispatching bin laden was obviously more important to barack obama. but while bin laden may be dead, you can also make the case that he and his terrorists won the last ten years, handily.

do you believe this? do you feel the truth of it, without reading a list of the reasons why?

what bin laden orchestrated was bad, hideous. but in the aftermath, what we did to ourselves and others was worse. let's count (some of) the ways...

two futile, unnecessary wars featuring tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) dead and countless more permanently altered. if you prefer your costs in dollars, that's $5 trillion and counting.

torture. rendition.

secret prisons. abu ghraib. guantanamo bay.

a ravaged treasury and a broken economy.

freedoms casually set aside in the land of the free.

a climate of fear intentionally cultivated in the home of the brave.

the "patriot" act.

"homeland security." warrantless surveillance. the rise, not of the nanny state on the left, but of the security state on the right. (add another $1 trillion.)

are these examples enough? there are more, you know. we could go on and on. the obvious takeaway is that in the fight against freedom, we did bin laden's work for him.

historically, america has fancied itself the "shining city on the hill," lighting the way for the rest of the world by our noble example. sadly, we self-mockerized this concept innumerable ways during the last ten years (WMDs! bring 'em on! they hate us for our freedoms! mission accomplished!). and we failed to learn from our own bad example.

there's been no national look-in-the-mirror. no reflection on our role in a world where the u.s. may be feared but not admired. we're forward-lookers, by golly, and we're americans. we write the history, we don't need to learn from it, too.

no matter. osama bin laden is dead. the world, we are told, is a safer place.

if that's true, perhaps now we can stop shooting ourselves in the foot.

‎"the ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. in fact, violence merely increases hate. so it goes. returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." -- martin luther king, jr