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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in the delusionist's LiveJournal:

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    Sunday, March 2nd, 2014
    5:29 am
    I'm getting frustrated with myself. I find myself becoming a crank, getting old, buying a smartphone to join the younger generation. Thinking judgmental things. Stupid.

    I worry that we're letting Grace and Boone down by providing them with the same lack of guidance that I received growing up. It seems too often we keep them at home without structure or doing anything.

    I've come to understand recently that I'm an asshole. At least, that's how others see me based off my actions, or inactions, and, really, how are we defined if not by what we do? I always keep to myself, I don't keep in touch with friends, I don't take action to visit them or invite them over, too worried about money, too worried about what stupid shit I will say, too worried about being my socially awkward self.

    I'm not really sure where this is going. Where I am going. I'm don't want to be an asshole. Life's too busy.
    Monday, February 17th, 2014
    10:08 pm
    kiss of kidsmoke
    I know I need to update, and now I have a little time, but I'm not sure what to update.

    I am persistently concerned that I'm letting the kids down. I don't know if it's hurt Grace that she was with individual caregivers who work out of their home/apartment her entire time before she started kindergarten. I remember she was very anxious to be with kids her own age. And so far she's been a car-rider, me dropping her off at school in the morning, Beth's dad picking her up and taking her to the caregiver's where she's back with kids younger than her. I can't see any superficial negative effects. She's at the top of her class when it comes literary skills, and close to the top when it comes to math; she got a great report card recently that said she was a role model for the rest of the students; and she's freaking Ms. Popular. I just hope we can keep her going on this track without getting in her way.

    We've decided to move Boone to a true preschool, where he will be in a class with 8 other kids his own age. He will have a more rigid schedule and get 2 hours of outdoor playtime. I think it will be good for him and my hope is that he will be ready for bed more so than he is currently, i.e. still jumping off the walls at 9pm. I know it's been hard on Grace; I tried to get Boone to bed first tonight, and she ended up just lying down on her bed and passing out before I could get to her to read her a book. This will be our first time with a childcare "business", although this one seems a little different in that it is run out of a church and apparently not for profit as they told us the church will often supplement funds. Only one teacher per class (the class rooms are not large enough for the ratio of kids with more 2+ teachers), so we don't have to worry about large classes where the teachers become disengaged; that was a major turnoff with the other place we looked at. They also have afterschool for elementary students and pick up from Grace's school, so she will get to be a van-rider in the afternoon and hang out with kids her own age. I've also been toying with the idea of having her ride the bus in the morning since with this new school, both kids can get breakfast at school, and so my only goal in the morning will be getting them there, and no longer making sure they are fed.

    The other thing that makes me glad about this change is that we will no longer relying on Beth's parents as part of our routine. We'll be dropping the kids off and picking them up. If and when they help us now, it will just be a favor or because they want to, and not an everyday thing. It's not that they haven't been reliable, because they most certainly have been, but they deserve a break (we've been relying on them for 5 1/2 years) so that they can focus on their lives and getting ready for retirement.
    Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
    1:37 am
    2013, at risk of obsoletion
    With the changing over of the year, one tends to take a look back at the past twelve months to assess just what the fuck happened. My posts last January were written with the intent to (1) purge the reservoir of happenings since my last post 2 1/2 years prior and (2) usher in a new era of more consistent posting. Didn't happen, and yet it doesn't seem that long ago since I wrote those posts, like maybe only a couple of months. When I stated I felt I was in transition to a new chapter of my life, I didn't realize the entire chapter would be dedicated to the actual transition, but that's where I feel I am at. I don't know if it's my age or my present state of life (as a parent of two), or both, but time just vanishes too quickly. I'm 34 and I'm not really sure where the first half of my 30s went, but they're gone. There's a sense that we're moving sideways: Any attempt to start new, self-improving habits usually fades after a good-old-college try. For instance, we talked seriously about possibly adopting a third child early last year, filled out most of the application, sat on it while we gathered our references, and eventually realized maybe now is not the best time, maybe.

    It's been an underwhelming year. Work entered a post-excessive-growth phase where the defects that were submerged under the rapid expansion of the previous year began to break the surface; the vendors we contract with for title-search work committed several egregious errors earlier in the year that called the reliability of our work into question with our clients, undermined my confidence in their work, and forced us to reconsider our entire business model when it came to title searching. I couldn't help but think that my lack of experience with title abstracting helped to create a faulty foundation; fortunately the two other members in my department that started the previous year came from an abstracting background, and their experience and insight helped us to plug through. The other title department that enjoyed the most spastic growth last year has suffered a slow down, resulting in some minor downsizing in their department, as well as no 3rd quarter bonus and less than half the Christmas bonus I enjoyed last year.

    Just a few weeks ago, they let go of the only other employee that survived the move from Kelly's original firm (if you don't count Kelly's husband or IT guy) -- this was the girl that had worked with Kelly for over 10 years and when, a few months after I had started with Kelly made the break and move from TransUnion, only her, Kelly, Kelly's husband, and I. I can't say I was that surprised, as her and Kelly's relationship seemed to have waned over the last few years, and it sounded like it was a business decision, as she had been given the new position of vendor manager several months prior and, really, our issues with vendors hadn't improved during her tenure. Her and I were never really close, so her being gone didn't bother me, but just the fact the someone of her seniority can be shown the door is a reminder that you can't rest on your laurels. Things change, and you are always at risk of obsoletion.

    One of the more interesting developments of the past year has been my increased involvement in church. They had been advertising a search for a guitarist in the ensemble, and in February I finally roused myself to join. It's been a rewarding experience -- I've never been involved in an orchestral-type band before, and in fact the only time I really ever played with other musicians was during my very brief stint in a rock band my freshman year in college -- and has helped to nurse my passion for music back to health. It's gotten me in contact with the drummer Steve K., just a really cool person who has gotten me involved in performing special music at a couple of services this year (my real contribution was adding harmony), and Tom E., who is a professional musician and at-home-studio producer. Anyone who knows me knows that I've never been a big church person, which probably has mostly to do with the fact that my parents never took me to church growing up, that the idea of worship is uncomfortable to me, and that I really don't care for the lyrics in worship music, but I have found a few songs (hymns?) that I enjoy, and I even challenged myself to write a worship-y song, which is complete except for final line in the final (2nd) verse that I'm having trouble with.

    I feel like there's more I need to get out, but my time is up. Beth got me my own Chromebook for Christmas, so I'm hoping that will be the key to getting me to journal more frequently.
    Sunday, September 15th, 2013
    10:42 pm
    Notes on diet (2013)
    I was going to get around to writing an (albeit short) entry, when LJ prompted me that I had a saved draft. I believe I had copied this from a response to a friend's entry to post here. Anyway--

    Diet trumps exercise when it comes to losing weight, and from my own experience and from what I've read, exercise is almost adverse to helping you lose weight, because it makes you hungrier and you end up overcompensating -- we like to think that exercise burns more calories than it actually does. My advice on diet:

    Don't drink anything but water. No alcohol (contains shit-ton calories), no soft drinks (obviously), no fruit juice (just as bad as soft drinks), no milk (skim milk is probably all right, but I question how nutritious it really is -- we mix our cereal with a little bit of yogurt instead). No cheese, or, if you're craving it, then good quality cheese so that you only have to have a little to get the flavor. Cut out all processed foods and pre-made foods and prepare your own meals so that you know what you're eating. Eat more whole foods. Once a whole food is processed, it loses much of its nutritional value, leaving you with empty calories, and my theory is empty calories makes you hungrier over the long run, because your body is still "hungry" for the nutrition that it still needs. Work in fruits and/or vegetables into every meal, raw and cooked -- make raw fruit a significant portion of breakfast; have some baby carrots or other raw vegetables on hand to slip in between bites of lunch; cook up some vegetables with dinner. Don't worry about how much fruit you're eating; Weight Watchers taught us that you can eat as much fruit as you want. Raw fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, and fiber hangs around undigested in your stomach and makes you feel full (it also later soaks up toxins while traveling through your intestinal track). Also rich in fiber are whole grains: Go with brown rice over white (it takes an hour to cook, so plan ahead). Grind your own flour, and learn to cook oatmeal from whole oat groats. If you pre-grind and let them soak overnight, they cook up just as quick as old-fashioned rolled oats. Whole grains are amazing stuff, and delicious; it's too bad most of us don't experience that amazing-ness nowadays because we've gotten so used to the convenience (at the cost of nutrition) of rolled oats and pre-ground flours. There's a reason they "enrich" the flour; they're trying to compensate for the nutrition lost when the flour sits on the shelf and goes stale; it's no different than grinding up a vitamin into your food, i.e. you're not getting the vitamins in their natural state, so your body isn't absorbing much of them, if any. Refined grains = empty calories. Refined sugars = empty calories; use honey instead.

    Eating a healthy breakfast everyday is a great safety net: it kickstarts your metabolism and minimizes your hunger throughout the day, thus allowing your body to absorb a reasonable amount of less-than-wise consumption choices you might make later in the day.

    A side note on empty calories: I believe empty calories are at the core of the so-called obesity epidemic, a consequence of premade/processed foods. Everything our ancestors ate contained a balanced marriage of nutrition and calories; their concern was strictly to get the calories they needed, because the nutrition always came with it. Nowadays, it's reversed, and the foods available to us have the calories but lack the nutrition, and our bodies adjust to this in absurd ways. Nowadays, our concern is strictly nutrition.
    Monday, May 10th, 2010
    11:35 pm
    Vacation at Litchfield, May 6 thru 10, 2010
    I wish this long weekend didn't have to end. It showed me how much the mundanes of life deplete what little time I have to focus on what's important, or distract me during such little time. Even writing this entry feels like trying to beat a shutting door. This was Beth, Grace, and my time together. I don't want to forget this feeling.

    Getting home, it feels like we just left. I guess when the last memory you have of a place is leaving it, that is naturally the first memory you are going to call to mind when you return, and so your sense of the three days you spent away gets a distorted as the brain bridges the memory gap.

    We spent the first couple of days there hanging out at the beach and pool, and going out to dinner and/or getting take out. The third day we hit the Charleston aquarium in the morning, got back in time for a late nap, then Grace and I hit the beach one last time. Today, on our way out, we visited Brookgreen Gardens, which we quickly learned upon arrival should have been a full day affair, and it was pleasant reminder of how wondrous our native wildlife actually is.

    Every day we took a nap. That was nice, and definitely something I missed today and will in the days to come.

    Grace, being out of her routine, felt a little overwhelmed, we think. She whined during bath time the first three nights, and was relatively crabby the latter part of our visit to the aquarium, and cried much of the way home from it (SuperWhy! on iPod being the only cure).

    About elevators: I think this was Grace's first real experience with elevators. Her first couple rides on it, she didn't seem too sure about it. The third ride, we had some strangers in with us, and at that point on she started crying on every ride. In attempt to attach the elevator experience to something fun, Beth and I started making a game of counting up or down with the floor number as the elevator moved. It worked, because for the last several rides Grace would get super-excited and yell out the number of each floor, and we would echo her jubilantly, and she would get really excited then. When Grace gets really excited, she sticks her arms out, and her whole body shakes while she does some in-place quick-stepping. So freaking cute.

    My favorite part of the trip was that last afternoon at the beach. Grace was a bit of a wreck on the way home from the aquarium, but after her nap she was in the best mood. I took her down to the beach, and we just kind of hung out. At one point I started digging a hole near the fringe of the breakers and building a wall for protection. Grace would sit in the hole and help me dig out sand to put on the wall, then she would climb out, run to this preexisting sandcastle-like structure several feet down shore, then come running back, leaning on me to climb over the wall and plop back down in the hole to dig some more, saying "Dah-dee, Dah-dee" repeatedly, grinning. It was awesome.
    Monday, July 6th, 2009
    10:39 pm
    As The Wheels Turn
    Being that I turn 30 today, I should probably say something.

    Over the past few days I've faced the fact that I'm just not that good a person. There are two types of compassion: active and passive. I have always been the passive, never the active. I never seek out a way to bring about good will; I simply am there and, when an opportunity arises e.g. someone says, hey, you want to help out with this?, will not hesitate to pitch in. I am inherently lazy.

    This entry is not intended to be a downer, because I am a happy guy. But I have my flaws, and I wish to understand them, and I wish to be a better man, or, more specifically, a man that affects others and things in more positive ways. Or something like that.

    I've given up on all creative outlets. I go days without picking up the guitar, I don't role-play, I don't write (which pretty much went with the roleplay). I've thought about possibly getting back into roleplaying a little bit, but I'm so far removed that I (1) lack the confidence in my writing to think I could find it rewarding and (2) don't think I can shake off the prejudices I carry.

    Our house has become something that controls us rather than we controlling it. The yard's a wreck and needs serious weeding and landscaping. We need an exterminator to take care of the black widows around the outside of the house. I'd like to lay some stone to extend the patio and maybe even along the side of the house where we keep the trash can and hose, but before I can do that I need a wheelbarrow, and before I can get that I need to organize the shed in order to make room for it, which includes getting rid of the nonfunctional push lawnmower (still need to figure out where to dump it). Ultimately, the yard is no longer a joy, and that's a problem. I would much rather put the work into it myself rather than pay someone to, but I don't know diddly.

    In lighter news, I splurged on a road bike a few weeks ago, and have gone out riding three times so far (the last two Sundays and last Thursday) with the Bee Team here in Waxhaw. They are a great group of casual riders who won't leave anyone behind, and they ride on the back roads which is all we really have around here. They meet at the elementary school, which is right down the street from our house. I'm glad I found them. The rides kick my ass (the Sunday rides are 23-25 miles long), but I can already tell they're getting me into better shape.

    I also bought a new home PC through work and was finally able to play through Half-Life 2. The game was awesome, except that it felt like it ended way too soon, like there should have been another couple of chapters there where you delve deeper into the Combine lair and confront one of the main Combine leaders or whatnot. Guess I'll have to play the Episodes now, maybe when Episode Three comes out I'll just get them all at once.

    Grace is almost 1 and continues to be an untethered dynamo of joy. Her and Beth can duel it out to determine which one is the best thing to ever happen to me.
    Friday, January 2nd, 2009
    10:43 am
    My current personal goal:
    Eliminate all self-consciousness while maintaining self-awareness.
    Thursday, December 25th, 2008
    10:24 pm
    While departing from mass this morning and having a discussion with Beth on what each person allows himself to get out of Christmas, I stated something that I've probably understood for several years now but have just never put into words until today: Happiness is something you earn.

    That said, this is hands-down the best Christmas I've ever had. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but I would guess Gracie being in our lives has a lot to do with it. Everything just kind of worked; the parts that make Christmas great--time spent with family, reflection on the year past and giving thanks, a day of peace--were in full focus, while simpler things like gift-swapping provided color to the cheer (and I got a lots of cool stuff!). I couldn't be more in love with my wife and baby girl. I still feel the magic.
    Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
    1:21 pm
    Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
    2:10 pm
    Sweetness
    Isn't Grace the cutest? (See icon if you don't believe me.)

    Lately I've discovered the wonders of winter squash. So funky looking, so yummy tasting, so various. They're not just for decor. The one I cooked up last night reminded me more of a sweet potato than a summer squash. I've never really had winter squash before this month (not including pumpkin, which is probably considered a winter squash), unless I ate some in a recipe one time and didn't realize it. Supposedly they get sweeter if you let them sit around for a few weeks to cure. And they'll store for 2-3 months. I plan to stock on them for the winter, as the only fresh vegetables that can be found during that time are at the grocery store, where freshness is always suspect.
    Thursday, September 25th, 2008
    10:29 pm
    It's a Gas
    We've been staying at Beth's parents last night and tonight (and, probably, at least tomorrow night), because there is no effing gas in this city.

    Beth filled up the cars just as Hurricane Ike was hitting Texas; I thought that would be plenty of time for the gas gurus to get things up and running again--about two weeks--but, alas, no. It wasn't until I was driving home Tuesday night, running at about an eighth of a tank, planning to fill up the next morning, when I saw a line at one of the small gas stations in downtown Waxhaw, when I thought I might have miscalculated. And, it really didn't dawn on me that it was serious until every gas station I passed on the way to work the next morning had substantial lines. I had enough gas to get to work, but not to get home.

    So, Beth had enough in the CR-V to get up to Matthews, which is where I work and where her parents live, literally, right down the street, and also where Grace's pediatrician is. (I managed to pass the cold I had last week along to Beth and Grace, so it was comforting to know we could still get Grace to the doctor if we needed.) Beth packed some things, left the cats with some food and water, and here we still are.

    To get gas today is like a gambler's scavenger hunt. You have to drive around, gas station to gas station, until you find one with gas, which you can determine because it will be the one with long lines spilling out into the streets with cops directing traffic. Even if you wait in line, there's no guarantee the station will still have gas when you get to the pump, and by that point it could be hours. Neither of our cars have the gas to attempt such a fool's expenditure.

    I rode the in-laws' mountain bike to work today. It was a good 10- or 15-minute, a good workout. It makes me long for how much healthier, more various and versatile our transit system could be if our urban planners would show a little creativity, as well as consideration that a little exercise with your commute is good for your health. But I digress.

    The scary thing is it could be a lot worse. Beth's family has a number of cars with gas in the tanks. If Beth's parents weren't here, or if they didn't live close enough, I would have had to have taken the risk and went hunting for gas, and probably have gotten stranded somewhere on the side of the road. Beth could be off maternity leave and having issues with getting the gas needed to work. We could be having to miss our vacation at Litchfield Beach, which we were planning to take today through Sunday until issues with time-off at my work forced us to push it back to next weekend.

    The mayor and the governor say help is on the way, but who the heck knows when and how much. How do you not anticipate something like this? If our only source of gas is a single pipeline, and the suppliers to that pipeline shut down production at the sight of any hurricane in the Gulf, and the Gulf is prone to tropical disturbances come hurricane season.... Hello? And there was nothing in the news anticipating a shortage. Heck, there was no anticipation, period.

    Does anyone even know this is happening outside of the affected areas? I haven't seen or heard anything in the national media. County courthouses and schools are shutting down because they can't function.

    Let's get serious here--OK, really serious. It could be a whole lot worse. This is just a scathing blow; everyone should be looking at our situation for what it might look like if a sudden, national or global shortage were to occur. Building a one-dimensional mass-transit system based on one type of vehicle, and one type of fuel, making us dependent to the point that we must rely on foreign imports to maintain not just our way of life but our very well being. I hope the rest of the country is paying attention: It could be a whole lot worse.
    Monday, September 1st, 2008
    1:50 pm
    Unnecessary Footballness
    Commissioners and whatnot: Get rid of the lame overtime rules in both NFL and college and adopt 5-minute overtime periods like basketball does. If the game ends in a tie, have another coin flip and kickoff to begin the first 5-minute OT with two timeouts each. If the score is still tied at the end of that OT period, have a second 5-minute period, and if it's still tied have a third 5-minute period. And, if the game is still tied, and it's a regular season game, it ends a tie; if it's a playoff, keep going until someone is leading at the end of an OT period. At the end of each 3rd OT period, each team gets two more timeouts to a maximum of three.

    What's the most exciting part of a close game? The last few minutes, of course. Under this OT system, you'd be recreating that pressure-cooker scenario, without changing the nature of the game. You're not zapping the excitement out of OT by having teams play only for field goals (NFL), and you're not starting an entirely new--and wildly confusing--game (college).

    Division I or FBS or whatever: Ditch the BCS bull and adopt a playoff, with at least eight teams participating, if not sixteen. Perhaps the pageantry was cute back when there were only a few really good teams, but today there is too much parity and there are too many good teams that deserve a shot at the national championship. I have refrained from getting too interested in college football because I know, come postseason time, that elitism will rule out, as it always does. Do this, and you may even eclipse the NFL, like March Madness eclipses the NBA.

    Commentators: Please stop trying to be witty. You're calling a damn ball game; what you do is not art. Stop distracting us like some amateur writer. I'm talking to you, Bumburger or whatever your name was who was calling the Clemson-Alabama game, but don't think I've forgotten about you, Joe Buck.

    Hopefully in the future they'll begin offering commentating choices, e.g. a choice between an unbiased crew, one biased crew for each team, and no crew at all. I'd get the NFL Ticket if that were offered. I enjoy the Panthers preseason crew so much more than any of the Fox regular-season crews.
    Monday, August 18th, 2008
    11:07 pm
    Going for the Gold
    Presently, we are about $171,000 in debt. "In debt" is probably misleading, because about 75% of it is our mortgage, and we have some equity built up in our house, the value of which has gone up slightly; and $5,000 of it is our car loan, which is a 2007 Honda CR-V, so obviously we're not upside-down there, either. The rest is roughly $43,000 in student loans.

    My two immediate goals are:

    1. Have the car paid off by the end of the year. With the exception of one of the student loans, the car loan has the highest interest rate, and we can't write the interest off on our taxes. For the past few months I've been making decent pay thanks to a raise and some healthy overtime, and have been managing to put 1K toward the car each month. If I can keep that up for the rest of the year, I won't have to dip into our "fun-money"/savings account for the coup de grace come January.

    2. Get the '00 Corolla to pass inspection this October despite its chronic "check engine" light problem. This will buy us almost a year of not having a car payment once the CR-V is paid off, during which I can make a serious dent in our student loans. This would all be moot if Liz/Beth doesn't get the position she's seeking at her job, in which case she'd need a new or newer-used car for her commute to work (with the position, she'd get a company car).

    Long-term: If all goes to plan, I could have the one student loan with the bad interest rate knocked out by the end of 2009; and, if--fingers crossed--we can squeeze another year out of the Corolla, we could have just the one student loan with the nicest interest rate and smallest balance left at the end of 2010. I don't know if I would bother paying that one remaining loan off, or start saving that extra cash for more fun things, although I doubt it would take long to knock out the loan at that point.

    With no student loans or car payments, I would be banking well over one grand a month at this point after mortgage and bills. I don't know if we would begin putting that extra money toward our house or what. Of course, I should probably soon begin investing in retirement or something, but that's another conundrum best left for another day. Let's just get through this year first.
    Monday, August 4th, 2008
    12:35 pm
    Grace is.
    For those of you who haven't seen Liz/Beth's journal, I'm now a daddy. Pics available at my myspace page.

    Grace Katharine was born on July 29, 2008 at 11:45 a.m., weighing 7 lb. 7 oz. and measuring 20.5 inches and looking fabulous.

    It's been an exhausting week, and I hope to gather and write down my thoughts before it's back to work tomorrow, which might mean another entry tonight, if Grace is not too fussy. She's cute when she's cranky, though, like her mommy.
    Sunday, July 20th, 2008
    11:47 pm
    The Dark Knight is Gold
    The Dark Knight is the first movie in years that I've been excited to see. It did not disappoint.

    Spoilers inside.Collapse )

    Go see it!
    Thursday, July 10th, 2008
    11:05 pm
    Symbols of a Lost Cause
    Funny how a lot of the gas stations around here don't bother updating their prices on their road signs nowadays. They're either left incomplete or given up on all together.
    Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
    12:30 am
    On the Vanishing of the Afternoon Shower
    (I know this is probably out of place as we had a pretty mean late-afternoon storm today in Charlotte, but such storms have become a rarity.)

    Back in my biology days, I learned a little about rainforests, and why it rains all the time there. What it boils down to is heat and lots of vegetation. For those of you who aren't well learned on plant physiology, plants regulate their temperature much like us homeotherms do; they sweat. If you've ever felt a leaf on the hottest of summer days, you'll have noticed that it's cool to the touch. The water they suck up from the soil travels up through the roots, trunk, branches, and, finally, the leaves. When it starts getting hot, the leaves open their little pores and transpire, i.e. let the water evaporate into the air. Unlike us, they do not overcompensate, so you'll never see a leaf dripping water on a hot, sunny day. (Transpiration actually serves a dual function: leaf-temperature regulation, and also as the mechanism by which water is able to move up the tree, against gravity, at all -- the evaporating water creates a vacuum, pulling water up and carrying nutrients and such along the way.)

    Rainforests have lots of foilage, which, because it's so effing hot, pump a lot of water vapor into the air. That vapor goes up in the air, cools, and falls back down as rain. The water, for the most part, stays localized: It rains, is absorbed by the soil, gets sucked up into the trees and passed back out.

    Theory: There is, or was, a similar process happening in our deciduous forests during the summer. Trees in their full, green garb, trying to stay cool, adding humidity to the air only to have it fall back down on them later in the day in the form of a thunderstorm. Now, as we have cleared large portions of forest away for roads, buildings, and lawns that resemble more the Great Plains than our native biome, the rain we get is no longer being recycled back into the air, but instead, with no roots to vacuum it up, falls deep down into the groundwater or gets sent down the river.

    So, what can you do to help if you live east of Appalachia and have been suffering dryer than normal weather over the past few years? You can start by making your yard wooded, and doing so with native trees (they know what's up). Honor thy nature, for it sacrificed a part of itself so that you could have a nice place to live.
    Sunday, June 15th, 2008
    9:54 pm
    Daddy-to-be Musing
    It's funny: As we get closer to the due date, and now that we know the sex and already have the name, and now that we have the nursery ready (for the most part), it's as if she's already here, but has been away on a trip or some leave of absense, and we're just waiting for her to come home.

    Don't hurry, Grace. Still lots to be done.
    Sunday, June 1st, 2008
    11:03 pm
    The Premonition Game
    There was a period in my youth, in my pre-preadolescent years, when my mother was working a good paying job and would bring me home a toy about once a week. It was regular enough that I remember peeking out my window to see if, when she arrived home from work, she was carrying one in with her. And yet, I could never anticipate a night when she would have one -- whenever I got giddy with the thought that maybe tonight there would be a new toy, it wouldn't be there. She would always catch me on days when I wasn't thinking about it.

    What I concluded was that, if I ever anticipated something to happen, it wouldn't happen. This became a guiding principal in my life. It made it difficult to dream and get excited about things; however, I turned this otherwise debilitating curse into a superhero power: I could prevent bad things from happening by anticipating them. And so, many of my thoughts dipped to things not so pleasant.

    Of course, this all may just be a symptom of a mild obsessive-compulsive disorder, which I'm convinced I have. I'll catch myself trying not to step on a lines in the floor or concrete, and then forcefully step on one to squelch any possibility that the condition has gotten too far.
    Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
    11:15 pm
    On the Problem with Numbers
    The earth is finite. As the global population grows, so does the strain our livelihood places on the planet -- there is only so much it can produce. The possibility of food shortages gave us a scare in the mid-twentieth century before we were blessed (I say with tongue firmly planted in cheek) with genetically modified food. Even so, despite all the undeveloped land still on the earth, and the 70-plus percent of its surface under water, we already encounter times where drinkable water runs low-to-scarce and the sky-rocketing costs for rice.

    (Hey, let's drop the pipe dreams of colonizing other planets or creating underwater communities. Sustaining anything like that on a significant scale would drain earth's resources much quicker than anything we do now.)

    At some point we're going to have to come to terms with the fact the world can support only so many people, lest it affect our quality of life. Ask yourself how much we would be harming the environment if there were only three billion of us instead of six. In light of this, such terrible events as typhoons, tsunamis, earthquakes, famines, plagues, wars, and even genocides make sense: If we can't strike a balance directly by bringing modesty to our copulatory habits, then balance will manifest itself in other ways.

    I admit this is borderline nihilism, but it does raise some interesting questions. E.g.: Do we have souls, and if so, does that mean there are more souls on earth then there were centuries ago? Is there a bottomless well we just keep popping souls out of; or is there one giant, finite soul that must be divided among us, and with each increase in the population we must sacrifice a tiny bit of our own share? E.g.: If the population is rising in Africa and is projected to continue on that trend, is there a real tragedy there? If it educates itself on AIDS, won't that just intensify the patterns of famine and civil wars?

    Religions and governments may come and go, but natural resources and real estate, in their measurable amounts, will always be there to fight over. It's just a matter of figuring out our tipping point.
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