Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Daughter Shares Essay About Her "Journey"


My daughter wrote the following essay, feeling an ironic tone best conveyed her bitter feelings about physical education. As an addendum she would like other serious amateurs and academics to know that her feelings are much more bitter than presented in this writing. Also, there are limits to how passive-aggressive a student can be in work that needs to be handed in.
My Athletic Journey
Ever since I knew how to move, I have always found joy in moving my body. Though I was never the fastest runner, nor the strongest climber, I have always delighted in moving through the world the way my body can. I never won a footrace, nor have I ever made my legs perpendicular, and I have learned to accept that. That’s why this past semester of Physical Education, I have relished the opportunity to push myself to my limits, and monitor my progress. In hindsight, my SMART Goal was imperative to ensuring that I stayed resolute to push myself, and I now have the tools to do so whenever it may be necessary.
My SMART Goal for the semester was to increase my maximum number of push ups from 3 to 7. I feel it’s important to have a strong core and abdomen, and I felt there was room for improvement in this area pertaining to myself. At the beginning of the semester, after doing only 3 push ups, I felt that I could do better, and improve if I deliberately applied myself to it. I have put all my effort and dedication into this class, and I realized I really wanted something to show for it, so I put myself up to a challenge which I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to meet.
In order to reach my SMART Goal of increasing my 3 push ups to 7, I set three mini-goals for myself to be completed on a daily basis in order to help me achieve my long term goal. My main goal needed me to strengthen my core muscles, so I thought of exercises that would help me slowly strengthen them. In my first mini-goal, I resolved to do 30 wall leans a day. Pushing against the wall requires less effort than pushing up against the ground, so I thought it would be a good exercise to slowly exercise my core. In my second mini-goal, I resolved to plank for 15 seconds a day. I found it much easier to plank when I had a finite time in mind, and not when the planking was to go on indefinitely. My third mini-goal was to do one more push up each day to the best of my abilities in an attempt to slowly get more comfortable with the muscle movement of a push up, and check my progress.
Once I started practicing the mini-goals on a daily basis, and working my muscles a little each day, I found that the results were quite satisfactory. Over the course of two and a half weeks, I was able not only to meet my goal, but to exceed it. I went from a total of 3 pushups to a total of 8. Not only were the mini-goals fundamental, but I found that changing other areas of my life proved quite helpful as well. After reading studies about the values of getting enough sleep, I decided to start going to bed earlier, and making it a priority to get a certain number of hours in. This was more difficult than anticipated especially due to large loads of homework. I still struggle with going to bed at a reasonable hour while being assigned large amounts of homework.
I feel achieving this goal has helped me to see that I have more potential than I realize. I feel empowered now to set even more ambitious goals for myself in the future. Maybe I’ll improve my mile time, a task that sounds now improbable, but not impossible.
This SMART Goal has helped me to reach strength I never knew I had. Before I tried setting goals for myself, I never pushed myself, I never tried to see how far I could go. I believe my life has improved for the better ever since I realized that it’s possible to improve, and get better. I’ll always know I have limits, but now I can truly explore what my limits are, instead of wondering. This past semester, I have learned to move freely, and not to fear where my athletic journey might take me. I know one thing for sure, my future is full of opportunity. I could pursue any career I want knowing that I have the tools to improve my physical performance. That’s a valuable tool I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.


Monday, January 30, 2017

We Are A Political Family: Get Used To It

The NAACP march started at the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King.
This past weekend the kids wanted to get outside and move around a bit, deciding they wanted to participate in a march. Later that same day they went to hear one of our senators speak about on-going ridiculousness in the White House.

I admit these are particularly trying times. I would not have objected if the kids wanted to do something else with their limited free time.

A short video from the march.

It can be noted that although the kids are mature in that they understand the importance of politics, at the end of the day they are still kids. Especially the 12-year-old.

Given some mustard and a hot dog, the little commentator went to town.



Thursday, January 26, 2017

Adjusting To New Role In Family and Society

Bad haircut and bad attitude: A snap from the college days.
As academics and serious amateurs (the kids) have noted, I've been going through my photos recently. All those memories, bittersweet and excellent. How could I have dressed that way, done that, thought that?

Although I am currently full of acknowledgement for the stupidity I wallowed in, I'm thankful I didn't arrive at my present mindset when I was a teenager. A fifty-year-old father of two should have a completely different perspective than when he was young -- and if he doesn't, then woe to all involved!

Yesterday the daughter, who is in ninth grade, was saying she may have been invited to a party where alcohol would be served. LSS and myself have already done the "don't drink and drive" thing, warned against the corrosive nature of peer pressure, and expelled voluminous amounts of air explaining the minutiae of our permissive policies. So the conversation naturally and quickly veered into comedy.

Basically I could run a nice side business as one who, for a fee, would don a fleece bathrobe and yell at other peoples' kids for being too loud, drinking, smoking, or doing nothing at all. My rage and sleepwear would be fearful. Kids would certainly leap out of windows to escape my ridiculousness.

Do I feel I am betraying an earlier version of myself? No. Most definitely not.

As I get older I continue to give myself permission to change my mind, clothes, attitudes as soon as the moment arrives when such needs to be done. This has been constant from the get go. It's okay to try new things, and when the haircut really sucks, move on to a turkey hat.



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What I Did At School

1989 Mr. LC Contest

My kids are curious as to what forces shaped me and my thinking. I guess the best way to describe my evolution is to say I've always enjoyed messing with the traditional -- I was the kid who liked drawing mustaches and other embellishments on the newspaper pictures of famous people.
The above picture is from a satirical college event where guys parodied a beauty contest will all kinds of buffoonery.

I had the crowd's energy with my swimwear, but lost the talent portion to a guy who wrapped holiday lights around his Bermuda shorts and did a silly dance. Oh well.

I realize the best answer to the kids' curiosity is that I was born this way, which is really no answer at all. 


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Cool Geometry Project

The kid added a thought bubble which says, "Math is the language of the universe." She didn't get an A, but I think she deserves one for that comment.

I like how the teacher assumed (correctly) that most students have access to digital photography and a printer.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Modeling Behavior In A Pussyhat: Snaps From The March

This was when we were still dry and warm.

All of us turned out to march against the wrong direction this country is headed in. We did this by standing in the rain for hours to show solidarity with women and protest the Trump administration.

Not sure how many tens of thousands marched, but the numbers were staggering.


The kids certainly caught the defiant mood of the crowd.

Thanks Elizabeth!

A friend gave me a pussyhat, but at the time my hands were too cold to take a selfie.

We're back home now, reading the media feeds, glad we turned out to be among like-minded people. Somehow we will get through this.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Favorite Snap From College

This man is probably a respected member of some community somewhere, so his identity should be preserved.
My senior year at school I took the above picture. I don't remember the purpose, but I might have used the image to promote my radio show which was important to me at the time.

The guy pictured, let's call him Jim, is wearing a Johnny Lujack leather football helmet (TBI just thinking about it). Lujack was the 1947 Heisman Trophy winner -- the photo was taken in 1989. The shirt has the college radio station logo on it. The guitar is the most important item.

Jim had dyslexia, and had been volunteering his time to help teenagers find strategies to cope with their dyslexia. Jim had been bringing his guitar to this group. One day I looked at the guitar and realized it had been smashed and pictures of women in underwear from a catalogue had been glued on it.

Jim explained that he had lost his temper at the kids he was mentoring and had shouted, "Smash my guitar, I don't care, just get the hell away from me."

Without pausing for a second, the entire group of kids sprinted out of the room, racing to be the first to smash the guitar. Jim was right behind them, but wasn't quick enough, entering the room as the guitar was being whacked to the floor in adrenaline fury.

Why the kids glued the pictures of women on the guitar was never explained. Was this their concept of ultimately profaning the guitar? Were the underwear models some statement about the commoditization of sex? 

Somehow the impossibility of grasping the meaning of the guitar came to represent the fanciful nature of trying to have interesting opinions about art. I saw the photo as some sort of rebellion against too much analysis -- eventually things are just as you perceive them. Done.

So play the music, put on the Johnny Lujack, and wax philosophical about nothing in particular. Time well spent.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Report: The Crash Detectives

A still from the set of this video.
When the sixth-grader wants to get something done, he is a marvel to behold. He wrote a script, made a materials list, pestered his parents to procure the materials, then organized his time to shoot his video.

He planned out his long weekend so that he would have one day of script development, one day of shooting, and one day to play video games and goof off.

All went as planned. Here is the fruit of his labor.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Evidence Puts Doubters To Rest

The red pole is an ice chisel, used for digging a hole in the ice.

No need for an ice house on such a nice day.

There are those who doubt my origins. For the record, I did, in fact, spend my early years in Minnesota.

The above pictures show me ice fishing on a sunny day in February of 1977, when I was 12-years-old.

My father, who is currently known as Undisclosed Grandpa, took me out on the ice, his blue van a family heirloom trademark. I can't remember if we caught anything, but I remember the lure we used. It had an excellent name, the Swedish Pimple.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Times We Live In

The above states that which should not need to be stated on a sign in a shop. The message should be implicit, and it pains me that it is not.

These are the times we live in.

I am a White, straight, cis-gendered man. If there ever was a person designed to benefit from our society's biases, I am he. I accept I have White privilege. With acceptance comes the responsibility to try and broaden society's standards of inclusiveness until such privilege disappears.

Somehow a man who would deny the personhood of so many has risen to the top job. This makes our task as parents trying to raise kids to be compassionate towards those who suffer all the more difficult.

I really hope such signs as the one above don't become practical necessities. 


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Kid Climbs Into Trunk And Films Video

The kid above in a fit of creative expression filmed himself in a trunk.
There's not so much back story here. The kid got into a trunk used to store blankets and pillows and made the following video. Like all 12-year-olds nowadays, he got into the trunk with a camera and iPad.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

More New York Media

The family had a great time in New York, which is why I will be smug and continue to post media from our sojourn. New York is supposed to be a media mecca, so just deal with it.

"Lion Butt" outside NY public library.

Riding the bus in good spirits.

Some sort of political statement.

Human-powered cultivator at the Cooper-Hewett Design Museum.

Hall of bio-diversity at the Museum of Natural History

My little activist wanted to see the place where the modern gay-rights movement started.

 Art on the High Line park.

Hamilton the statue.

Rockin' a Blazers cap in NYC.

The "Ghostbusters" building in the background.

Weird guy in plaid shirt.

Central Park at sunset.