A Random Pattern

Short Story: Girl and raccoon

October 15th, 2009

Note: In preparation for NaNoWriMo, I assigned myself a short story.  Promptly hitting writer’s block, I let my oldest daughter pick the characters and starting storyline.  So, enjoy.  Or skip these storytelling posts, your choice.  Either way won’t hurt my feelings!

She was sure they had been here. And she was not going to stand for it. No, she was going to catch them, if it took her all summer.

Where to start? She had never caught a raccoon before. Fireflies, roly poly bugs, and ants were pretty easy. Star (her cat) was easy to catch also – if mom and dad weren’t around. But that’s cause he doesn’t run much, she thought.

She thought about catching, and thought about cages. “That’s what I need!” she exclaimed to herself. “A cage made out of wood. With a trap door. And maybe some food inside.”  She spun, ran towards the garage.


She forgot to look first.  Again. The howling started immediately, and thunderous footsteps let her know mom or dad – or both – had heard the collision.

Walk before you crawl?

September 29th, 2009

Practice. Time. Patience.

These are things we tell our kids. But I bet your first reaction on reading those words was negative. Did they excite you, or did you brace yourself, grit your teeth subconsciously?

I have a 9-month old. He figured out crawling a little while ago, but last week he learned something new. He learned he could stand up on this little rocking chair we have.

Elijah uses rocking chair for standing practice

Elijah uses rocking chair for standing practice

For the last several days, Elijah has spent most of his time at this chair. It’s really quite adorable. He crawls over to it, pushes, pulls, and works until he gets to a standing position holding on to the chair. Then he stands there until he falls over. Lately he has begun moving his feet. For some reason he really wants to climb on the chair, but he doesn’t have the skill. Still, he’s learning the skills he will need to walk, even if he doesn’t realize it.

For those of you who’ve been around young children, I don’t have to tell you how adorable this is.  Inspiring too – he doesn’t know how easy or hard this whole thing should be, that he should give up, or that he’s working towards something he’ll need for a life skill. But he does know how to be persistent in working toward something he wants.

Maybe we forget this later on, maybe we get distracted by too many goals, shiny things, activities. But there is no substitute for “crawl before you walk”.  I unreasonably expect to stand up, and even start running, when I haven’t been practicing or training.  I expect success and perfection when I haven’t worked through the failures.

I enjoy and admire watching my children work hard to – slowly – gain new skills.  Maybe I need to learn to enjoy and admire walking through that process myself.

Should we be quicker to learn as adults rather than children? Or do we expect to many shortcuts and quick fixes?

Pulled post on the Palm Pre?

January 14th, 2009
Questions on best way to deliver Palm Pre apps

Questions on best way to deliver Palm Pre apps

Earlier today Andrew Shebanow, a developer with Palm, posted an intriguing set of questions for potential developers.  How would they prefer their applications to be distributed on the Pre platform?

A popular and influential Mac Blogger, John Gruber of Daring Fireball, linked to this post and caused the usual huge influx of traffic.  Unfortunately this was apparently more than Andrew and his bosses had bargained for.  As of now the post has been removed.

I think it was reasonably (though maybe not perfectly) clear from the original post that this was a developer being allowed to have his own voice rather than speaking for the company.  It also was a refreshing break from Apple’s absolute control over messaging (even if that control was considered partly responsible for their success now).  It was even more refreshing since this topic, app distribution and control, is the sorest subject for Apple devotees right now.

Here is a chance to capitalize on Apple’s mistakes, Palm.  Think carefully, but think quickly.  Don’t let this opportunity get away.

I’m not who I was

November 23rd, 2008
Highway Lights In Motion

         Highway Lights In Motion

There’s been a song on the radio lately, with the lyrics:

“I used to sing about love and stuff, maybe cause I want it so much, but I’m not who I was.”

(Brandon Heath, “I’m Not Who I Was” iTunes link Amazon link lyrics )

Very recently, I gave in and joined Facebook.  There’s a lot I can say about that (and don’t you worry, I will) but maybe the first thing to hit me was the reality of establishing contact with people who, until now, were essentially part of my past.

They had gone on with their lives, I had gone one with mine.  When we had crossed, years or decades ago, the intersections might have been pleasant, encouraging, life-giving – or they might have been abrasive, tempest-tossed, fraught with misunderstandings.  Now we’ve “all grown up” as the saying goes.  At least, my first thought and hope is that those I’ve contacted have matured as I have, that there is not some long-held grievance out there against me.  Of course some of this is silly thinking: I don’t remember nearly as much what these people did as what I did; it is probably the same for them; And even what is remembered I wouldn’t hold against them now.  We all make mistakes, and most of us grow, learn from them, change for the better.

Another thing that struck me this morning: I don’t “do” memories.  I don’t live in the past much, nor look back.  In fact, I don’t remember most of my childhood before age 10, and I’m not sad about this at all.  (It is something I don’t care to remember anyway.)  But I do greatly value the many wonderful people I have met, known, and cared for over my time here on earth.  I’m just not a person who spends much time remembering or reminiscing – at least not anymore.

I have been looking to the future lately, realizing it is important for my children that I have a clear vision.  For me, looking forward also requires looking back.  I began to see how decisions (both mine and others) shaped my path through life.  I realized that I’m not who I was.  I’ve changed, grown up, moved on.  Yet so much of who I was still remains in various ways – habits, old goals unfulfilled and unforgotten, even reactions to certain smells all come from where I came.  I can’t move on from things in my past by ignoring them.

How have you changed?  Who are you now, compared to who you were?

One Uniform and One Toy

November 7th, 2008

Just a few days ago, after months of radio-silence (ok, blog-silence), I asked you for something.  It was an important day for our country, and I asked you to go out and vote.  I don’t know if you did, but for the many of you that made the time I hope you feel as satisfied about that decision as I do (regardless of who you voted for).

Today I want to ask for one more thing.  I know many of you plan to face very lean Christmases, with all that has happened over the last year.  But it’s easy to forget that most of us don’t really know lean.  Our kids have clothes, will go to nice schools.  We drive vehicles of our choice, and eat food of our choice.  When was your last meal chosen – REALLY chosen – by the dollar in your wallet?  When it wasn’t a choice of “not eating out” but of eating at all?

A new church is starting in my home city of Atlanta.  Before this church has even opened, they are hoping to help the poorest school in this city for Christmas.  It’s not much to ask – one uniform and one toy for each student in the school.  There are only 500 students.

Please help.  You can do something, however small, that will make a real difference for a child that needs it.  But action is needed now – not next month.  Please consider giving to 500uniforms.org.

Thank you for your time.  We now return to our regularly scheduled (Ha!) broadcast.


November 4th, 2008

Go on, if you haven’t already, get to your polling place now.  If you have, sit back and enjoy the satisfaction from having done your civic duty.

Also, relish the fact that the election onslaught of the last few weeks will be reduced (in volume and tone if not eliminated).

I’ll leave you with this good reminder: chill a bit.  The last few years have been startlingly bitter and hateful, divisive.  Let’s get back to respecting our neighbors (yes, even those we disagree with) and our president – whoever it will be.


Age fraud by Chinese government?

August 20th, 2008

You can check yourself – if the information is still up.  Here is the explanation:


Here are the caches:

Cache 1

Cache 2

Here are the screenshots, in case the caches get pulled:

One spreadsheet Spreadsheet 2 showing age difference

So, sadly but not surprisingly, it does appear China is lying about the ages of at least one of their gymnasts.  I don’t care about the medal count, don’t really care about gymnastics, but I am sad that this cheating incident is being ignored by the Olympic commission at a time when drugs and cheating are such a huge issue.

Update: Fixed links, and want to note that now the IOC is investigating.  Let’s hope we can move on – all countries have athletes that have cheated at times, and there is the very good point that it is sad to see such young girls (whether the allegations are true or not) having to go through such a public trial.  Let’s hope the sports governing bodies do their job and the rest of us can get back to enjoying the stories, performances, and successes of the Olympics.

Jesus God, Amen

April 8th, 2008

Our two-year old, Selah, has been praying this way for probably a year now.  We don’t know why she says “Jesus God” instead of “Dear God” or “Dear Jesus” – probably just got the two confused and decided to cover her bases.  She also ends each prayer the same way – “Jesus God, Amen”.

Last night she caught me by surprise, though.  I asked if both the girls wanted to pray.  Selah said no (sometimes they are too tired or otherwise don’t want to pray, and we’ve never made an issue of it).  However, just after I finished praying (and before Tessa could start), Selah jumped in with this:

“Jesus God, help me ‘cuz I don’t want to pray.”

She then prayed on for a minute or two about a book we read and some other things before asking me for a drink of water.  Not sure where she got that from, but I suppose she has the right idea.  :D

Kids: defining cupcakes

March 17th, 2008

Today my wife made cupcakes with the kids.  Later, as we were eating dinner, we played a word game.  We would ask each person for a word they like, and then ask them to define the word.

Tessa picked “bug”, and it was quite a challenge for her to “define” the word.  She came up with “tiny”, “animal”, “has legs”, “some of them fly”, and “alive”.

The adults then picked “village”, “ambidextrous”, and “herbivore”.

Selah finally decided on her word: cupcake.  We asked what cupcake means, and she had the answer ready:

“It means when I eat all my dinner”.

We’ve taught them well.  ;)

How to eat Healthy (Magic Fitness, Pt. 2)

November 5th, 2007

You’re going to have to make a trade.  Accept it, internalize it, and move on to the next step: what are you willing to trade?

Some ideas (you only need to work in one of these):

  • Drink water instead of soda.  This works for me by supplementing with Gatorade or juice whenever I get bored with the water – and I feel much better.  In fact, soda no longer even tastes good or appeals to me.  I used to drink at least 1-liter of Mountain Dew a day, so you can change this.
  • Cut down on the coffee in some significant way.  Again, water is a good thing to have handy when you need a drink.
  • Add in one vegetable to your dinner every night.  Or one meal of the day.  Maybe buy a bag of carrot sticks and add them to your lunch.  Try to eat the veggies first – this will get them out of the way, and help fill you up, while you can end the meal with something that leaves a nice taste.
  • To complement your exercise regime (you did read Part 1, right?), add some fruit to your diet.  It makes a great mid-afternoon snack.  If you can’t fit that in because of your work schedule, then you need to decide what’s more important to you, your crazy work or your life.

The bottom line is: find something in your regular diet (the things you eat and drink every day) that you are willing to give up or trade in.  If you can’t find something, then you’re willing to be fat and unhealthy.  Maybe you can have less bread with your meals, or less condiments.  Maybe you eliminate some of your sauces, such as the mayonnaise, from your fridge.  Maybe you commit to eat out less, or eat some of those pre-made “healthy choice” meals a couple times a week.

Whatever it is, find something that works for you and is a real change to your regular diet.  This isn’t “going on a diet”, this is “I’m going to change my lifestyle and eat better”.  You’ve only got to make one change now, and stick with it.

So, is getting healthy still important to you?  If it’s important enough to read my rambling, it is important enough for you to spend 5 minutes figuring out what you are going to change in your life.  Get to it!