Friday, September 30, 2016

A Trip to Library Heaven

I was a sophomore in college when I first got to go to the library at The Marine Biological Laboratory, in Woods Hole, MA.

 Note the capitals. The MBL is the first and foremost institute of marine biology in the US, and arguably the world. It 's only about an hour and 20 minutes' drive from my parents' house. My dad used to work next door, at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the foremost research facility for ocean sciences in the world. My brothers and sister all spent part of their childhood growing up on Cape Cod, a couple of miles from Woods Hole.  My dad got to live and work to develop and test ALVIN, and was part of the crew who recovered a missing Hydrogen bomb. I didn't even try to fill his shoes. I just dicked around with animals that taste good.
   I ended up working at the MBL for about a year and a half, myself. I published and contributed to others' publications while there, on some good and some seriously esoteric shit.

        My son will probably never experience a scientific research library, at least not in the way that my dad and I did. Going back and forth from the stacks to a card catalogue, getting creative with search terms and accidentally finding things related to whatever I was looking for... that sort of thing.
    A computerized search engine doesn't capture the smell of the card catalogue. That's part of the experience too.
 Oh, my kid does experience some things at the library. The infuriating approximations of the Dewey Decimal System. The heartbreak of not being able to find a book that is listed as being in a certain spot. The joy of finding it next shelf down and over one. The unintended discoveries. Those sorts of things still happen.
 To walk into the MBL library is to be underwhelmed. It's dark, spread out vertically rather than horizontally, (and at least it used to be) and ugly as shit as far as aesthetics go. It took several visits before I figured out how to find certain areas around corners and in alcoves and shit. While I'm not the type to feel reverence for the authors of great scientific works, I certainly was in awe of the collection of subject-matter mana from heaven all in one building.

       Things are a lot easier now, of course. You don't have to borrow a friend's car to drive to Bumfuck Massachusetts to learn about across-fiber patterns or chloride cell activation in order to not look like a retard when someone asks you a question. Google is a thing now. Granted, Google doesn't tell you much in detail about books written in 1898, one of which told me everything I needed to justify the methods I used to collect data on the very first paper I published, of which I was so very proud of the time, on density and reproductive potential assessments of sea urchin populations on certain ocean bottom types.  Sounds like it's out there, and in a way it was. My old roommate used to tell everyone that I spent my days measuring crab testicles. Still, the takeaway here is that the process of finding information led to me finding information I didn't even know I needed. THAT is less likely to happen when a stranger has indexed an online library catalogue using boolean search terms, modified SEO tactics and keywords for you, and you never have to learn how to get creative in seeking out related works.

 Oh, analogues exist, and I'm not saying that it's worse today than before. I realize that things are easier and probably better now, if slightly less random is a good thing, and I suppose it is. It's not like you can easily spend 6 hours at a library these days anyhow, not without the distractions of a phone and shit like that killing your focus.

 Online searching for scientific information is no panacea, from what I understand. Paywalls are EVERYWHERE, as people monetize academically obtuse minutia. Seriously, I was asked to pay to look at one of my own monographs on lobster navigation by smell when they're far from the source of the smell. Whoever thought they could make $10 by forcing someone to pay to read that on their PC has GOT to be disappointed with the take.

...well, now that the bread I have been working on has had time to rise, I'll be on my way. I'm making pita bread for the first time tonight as, 20 years from the memories I wrote about earlier, I sit on night watch at the HQ, far as hell from the budding, broke and enthusiastic marine biologist I once was.
     Got a cargo to load in a few hours.

the best young adult novels 1

If you haven't perused Paperback Paradise, you're missing out. All the young adult titles of yesteryear that your junior high school didn't carry.

There's an idiot staring at me through the mirror

How the hell I managed to delete a perfectly nice post is damn well beyond me, but there it is. Well, there it isn't, anyhow.

 45 minutes of typing, in the shitter. Dammit. I'm too disgustipated to retype all that. I dunno. Ima go look at boobs.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

it wsan't a goddamned book, you ass

Well, the Charlotte PD finally released more info today. As everyone expected already damn well knew, the dead career criminal was not carrying a book, he was illegally carrying a gun, which he apparently was slow to drop.

 Yet the dead fool's fool family are still insisting he was carrying a book, not a gun.

    That looks like a smaller book. Not well kept, but I think it's a 9mm edition.

 Did anyone else notice the ankle holster for that dead guy's book? He must be very literary-minded indeed. He certainly has a history of reading at the police, as his criminal record has borne out

"Scott had a long record, as confirmed by the Charlotte Observer, that included misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, which resulted in an April 2004 conviction in Mecklenberg County.
Other charges against him were dismissed, including felony assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, assault on a female, and communicating threats. In addition, Scott was charged in 1995 with assault with intent to kill.
Fast-forward to 2005 in Bexar County, Texas, where Scott was sentenced to 15 months in state prison for evading arrest in March and then in July he was given a consecutive sentence of up to seven years for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
This is especially important to the case at hand because a source (who wished to remain anonymous) told CTN that in Feb. 2005, after police attempted to detain Scott for driving erratically, he shot at San Antonio police officers with a handgun. According to CTN, Scott had a history of drunk driving.
It is alleged that as officers approached Scott’s black Ford Sedan, he fired two rounds at police from the driver’s seat and then drove away, although he didn’t get far. Since neither officer was hit, they were able to chase Scott and apprehended him several blocks away.
The story didn’t end there either. At that point, Scott allegedly left the gun in the passenger seat as he attempted to get away on foot.  According to the source, Scott assaulted an officer by punching him in the face.
After several years behind bars, Scott was released in 2011 from Texas State Prison."


 Well, who can say, in the end, exactly what happened?  Time will tell I guess. Whatever else, the dead guy certainly won't be pointing books at the police anymore, as the police read their books at him pretty effectively.

 My own take on it is that the police have a shit job to do, and there's certainly been reason to accuse many of them for being trigger-happy. I hope that shooting unarmed people of all colors will continue to decrease with increased training and awareness, and that this will not come at a cost in lives to our policemen and women... still, it's the media who are driving the narrative now, and that only seems to be getting worse. Perhaps it is time to lean on them to do a better, more responsible job. Perhaps spend less time fawning over the storytelling by La'Genitalia and D'Areola when their precious Dindu Nuffin, (an aspiring rap artist who was just starting to turn his life around in between posing for photos as he points guns at the camera and puts them on Facebook) more time on giving it the weight it deserves against facts and investigation.

   You know what I wonder about? How is the cop who shot this guy doing? My understanding is that taking the life of another person is actually pretty fucking traumatic and horrifying in itself. Knowing that a bunch of assholes are rioting and destroying their own community because you had to choose between whether you die or the stranger with a gun in his hand does... that's pretty rugged stuff, right there. 

   Well, I haven't been afraid to talk about this stuff on Fecesbook this week, either, and I'm happy to report that it's cost me a couple of 'friends' on there... which actually brings up another point, too. 

     When talking about anything with a social, gender, or religious component, and one person holds a negative viewpoint, it's long been in practice for someone to shut down the back-hand-forth with cries of racism, bigotry, hate, classism, whatever. You know what I mean- the words that shut down any further discussion.  I'm not adept enough socially to be able to pinpoint the why of it, but have you noticed that after years of flinging shit, it's tending not to stick now? Me, I know I'm not racist. I occasionally am biased, and saddened when I become aware of it, but I tend to believe that most people ascribe class issues to race, and conflate the two. I've certainly had my moments and been ashamed of them, too, when called on it. 

 Well, at any rate, it's been a profitable week for the grievancemongers and  SJW's of Victim, Inc. Lots of death, destruction and lives forever changed, which is exactly what they like and want.

   For my part, I plan on learning from this shit show. I continue to hope to personally keep me and mine out of such troubles, and I urge anyone legally able to do so to carry a book, too, and learn how to read it properly and safely with professional instruction. God willing I'll never have to pull out my book and read to anyone else, but I do read regularly while at home, just in case, for the same reason I have a fire extinguisher in my kitchen. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Marriage and Sailing

My mom used to joke that the two best days every year were the day my dad came home, and the day he left. It was toungue-in-cheek for the most part, but there was some hard truth there, too.
 Everything has a price, especially being married to a merchant mariner.

       The wife of a friend on Facebook put up and I think later the same day deleted a pretty long post on the frustration and difficulties that come with being married to guys who do what we do. My first thought was "They're young, that makes it 10x harder." My second thought, "They need children."
...I'll try to explain why that's not contradictory at some point.

   I like telling the story of how Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife met my parents back when she was Disproportionately Hot Foreign Girlfriend. I had asked my mom to put in a good word about dealing with my job, as my girlfriend was not sold on the idea of being left alone half the year. My mom said she'd put in a good word, but as soon as she met my girlfriend, they hit it off, and when asked, well, she fucking torpedoed me, spectacularly, by being honest.

       Even my dad got on her for that one. In hindsight, she was correct. Also, hilarious. If you met my mom, you'd understand.

At any rate, before I VERY sympathetically read that post on Facebook while I was home, Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife and I spent a day at a special function set up by her church, focused on marriage and faith. When I say "Set up by her church" I really mean, "Set up by Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife" as she was the director of this program for the day. And as she attends a Protestant Brazilian Church, I was the token American Papist.  So, for the day, I guess I was "Not Very Hot At All Foreign Husband," but whatever.

           Every marriage has a unique dynamic, but it was interesting to listen as I could to her Pastor's lecture on his experiences as a husband, pastor, father and trained marriage counselor, and successful traits of couples within happy marriages. Surprisingly, most of the things that he listed, my wife and I already practice. Constant affirmations, plenty of alone time separate from friends and children, working together, the religious aspects, fighting correctly (an important one for an American man of Irish heritage and an unbelievably fiery South American woman), the nature of service and forgiveness, headship, etc. We were already practicing most of it... Her friends have accused her of being false in that whenever we're together, we're always holding hands and rarely apart, affectionate, jealous of our time together as a family... all things that came from assorted small failures, the occasional success, and hard experience.

 I'm not always smart enough to learn from other people's mistakes.

 and it's not like it came natural to us. We laugh about our arguments now, but the early years were often hell for both of us, not least because of complications arising from my job. We both explain that our relationship is what it is out of necessity- we simply don't have time for bullshit. Literally, we don't have time to do what we want at a leisurely pace, so we make do, and it works for us.

     I really wish I could be better at this sort of writing. I feel that this shit is important, and my ability to explain it is way behind what I actually practice.

   If I could speak to my younger newlywed self, I would warn me that I  was coming into a period of adjustment that would make the honeymoon period a trial of patience and relative unhappiness for my wife and I, that had to be endured before things got amazing.

 The adjustment of marriage to a merchant mariner is AWFUL, in a word, for both husband and wife. For us, the honeymoon period is the labor pains of marriage, not the traditional period of supposed relatively carefree joy.
   Strange, for the wife and I, the joy came a little later, but all the stronger because of it. Serious, the accusations from her friends of being too sweet to be believed? That shit's real. We worked for it, and earned every moment of it, too.

 I'm not going to share the secrets of my success here, because there's no secret at all. I ain't subtle enough to respond to less than a brick to the head at times, so I've learned what works mostly by doing what doesn't work first.

    Being married to me, aside from requiring undiagnosed visual impairment and patience, means that time is precious- everything gets more intense- everything, and that means pressures on both husband and wife. Thus we fought a lot early on. Making up was also frequently awesome. Time becomes a commodity, curse and blessing, depending on how we handle the lack of it.
    I know communication is key, and knowing that didn't help. Becoming aware of it didn't help either- being aware of it's lack is what often spurs us... experts say that speaking affirmations is important- I spent a lot of time with old guys and veterans when  I was a kid, and most of them mentioned at some point about the importance of speaking your mind and telling people when you love them, because you never know when it's the last opportunity to do so. Perhaps growing up aware that my dad was on very borrowed time was part of that, too. My wife lost her younger brother when she was young, and I think she learned the same lesson early on, so there's plenty of  I love you's and affection, which is what I grew up with, anyhow. Apparently this is not as common as it should be. Shame.

          Having mutual far-reaching and life-defining goals, like raising a child, is also important from what I can see. My wife bears the brunt there- she and my son are at home, and I am not. I am not home for 2/3 of all holidays. Once every three years I am home for a birthday, holiday, anniversary, etc. Sometimes I can get home for funerals and weddings. Sometimes not. The takeaway here is that she is alone, and I am missing critical family togetherness both with my nuclear family and our expended biological families. We both suffer for it, but I at least am often distracted by work during these times, while my wife and kid have to listen to well-meaning but often pitying statements by loved ones that turn my absence into a subtle insult to those who are there at whatever occasion it is. 
    That shit's annoying to me, but it's AWFUL for her and my son.

   I grieve for those moments, and the impact it has on me at odd times, often when I should be sleeping, and self-doubt and guilt make sleep elusive. I chose the career and also chose to accept the consequences to me. My wife chose to marry me, knowing I wouldn't always be there, but knowing that in theory and then experiencing an anniversary alone, going to a wedding or funeral alone, or opening Christmas presents for two, are two very different things. She knows that when she needs me, I. Am. Usually. Not. There. 
      When I am there, I'm THERE. I'm underfoot, need attention, disrupt her routine and we naturally capitalize on my being home. We didn't have time to just sit and do nothing at all for the first 5 years we were married. That's often fun, but it's tiring too. We have our rituals that accomplish both- at least once a week now we'll sit outside after my son's asleep or upstairs, and enjoy the sounds of the frogs in my pond and my little fountain (I love the sound of running water. I have a fountain), split a bottle of champagne and some cheese or whatever. Another thing I've learned by accident is that while we jealously reserve most of our  time for just our nuclear family, we also take time just for us as husband and wife. This has to get balanced against alone time, too. We both need alone time, and that means having projects and hobbies to keep us occupied while the other is off doing something. For my wife, it's church and cooking, and socializing with her insane Brazilian friends- a gaggle of women who are louder than a NASA launch when together, which makes a great time for my kid and I to go to the gun range.

    To a far, far more difficult subject, and one I'm only going to touch on here for brevity's sake, religion and traditional roles play a part too. Faith, and the challenges and inspirations there help. The nuclear family model of patriarchy and headship have existed for centuries for a damn good reason- practiced correctly, it's neither confining nor limiting. Playing your strengths, it can be referred to. Although we're both religious, we're of two very different religions. I'm Catholic, she's an evangelical. Luckily, they've got more in common than not.
   Making accommodations doesn't have to be an exercise in compromise- the problem with compromise is that no one gets what they actually want. While we often joke about having a 'perpetual honeymoon' (in the good sense), we sort of do have that- the limited time means that after all these years, we're still learning about each other, and there's not enough time to take each other for granted. Holidays can often be made up, celebrations can be celebrated at any time. It's not the same. Sometimes, its far better than way. I'd rather celebrate one of our birthdays while in the middle of several uninterrupted days and weeks at home, together.
        You make it work. You put a lot of effort into it, and sometimes it blows up in your face, and sometimes it's wonderful. With time, you make enough mistakes that you start accumulating wisdom of a sort, or experience, anyhow, in how not to do things. You experience the hell of loneliness, sadness, despair. You reunite and value each other for all the more so. Happiness comes in small segments. The 30 seconds you eat a handful of oreos. The couple of seconds of an orgasm, the set up for a perfect shot with a rifle. Whatever. Happiness is fast, fleeting, elusive. Joy is cumulative, and if you cultivate it and prepare the way for it, it stays and lasts. Flavored with the confines of limited time, it's very possible to make the most of what you have, knowing that the end of a period together is also the start of planning for the next time it happens.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

full of chip...

We had one of those Lost In Translation moments last week.

      No, I'm not ignoring 9/11, btb. I still remember the day itself intimately, and spoke with some of the people I shared the day with, as well.

 Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife has a greater command of English than I  do of her Brazilian Portuguese. Even so, we do sometimes have breaks in communication. About 80% of our arguments come from communication gaps, which often end in laughter, after the yelling stops, so it's a wash... but even so, every now and again, something happens that we'll remembera... nd this is the good stuff, the secret language that all couples speak- well, ours is sprinkled with inside jokes about our miscommunications.

      So, on Fridays, I like to go to a Portuguese butcher who's a damn artist. I'll go to a distant gun shop who occasionally offers discount bulk ammo, too, so more often than not, I'll go alone. So Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife stayed home to repot plants and such, and I went out. On my way out the door, my wife says in her super thick accent "Hohnee, get us some chip when you go to da sto, OK? 

 Me: OK. No problem.

 So, I get a 10lb cow ass top (Cap Sirloin) to make Picanha, the fabled Brazilian BBQ meat, some chicken, Chorizo too, and on the way back, get some booze, veggies, salad, and yeah, chips.

 On returning home, I heft the bags on the counter: that's the rule:  If buy, she stocks.

Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife: HOHNEE! Why chu buy chip? I told you buy chip?

 Me: Ahhhh... chips?

 Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife:  Aff! Nao. I say you buy chip, you come home with chip? Hohnee, you chato. (Pain in the ass).  Chip. Chip! You know... animal white, baaaaaaaaaa. Chip. You buy chip when I want chip.

 Me: ... *facepalm*... (quietly).  You wanted lamb? Young SHEEP?

 Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife: Jes! I tell you! Buy chip!


 Not to say I haven't murdered my wife's language. I was speaking with my sister-in-law a few years ago, and they were talking about remodeling their living room. OK, so 'Pintar' is paint, and 'pinto' is a dude's dick. So I asked my holy roller evangelical sister-in-law what color dick she prefers.
 Believe me, I'm not trying to make my wife look bad. I make myself look bad regularly. Generally I try to make the Mrs. look smarter than me, which she often is. But this was a good one.

Monday, September 5, 2016

That's messed up

We're well on our way to Bizarro world here. Vladimir Putin is working hard trying to make the world safer for Christians who want to freely practice their faith without fear of persecution and execution.

 Barrack Obama is still gaslighting us.

 The United States Government oversaw a failed coup in Ukraine, and wants us to believe that Russia is eye-banging that giant dumpster fire of an economy. Russia is being polite about it, but can't even afford to build a fucking bridge that they need in the Crimea, to get to their ships stationed there.

 Oh, also, Poland. Remember them? The people who actually had to do the dying to expel communism back in the day? They're worried about excess immigration of people who hate them and want to see them dead. They had that already back in the day, were not impressed. Now they're the bad guys because this time the invaders can tan.

 Britain, our former colonial masters, freed themselves from an unelected foreign body who was overseeing them and denying them representation in self government. So President Obama wants to punish them by economic sanctions in lieu of  withdrawing Most Favored Nation status from them, our CLOSEST FUCKING ALLY IN THE WORLD.

 Israel... ah , Israel. Obama is not a fan of the Jews. Because they are Jews, not because Israel's interests don't always intersect with ours as a nation. I'm still scratching my head over that one. I mean, we see the difference, but who knows what it means? 

 It's like I went to bed, and woke up in Wonderland, but with significantly less boobs and free time than I'd hoped for.

 Anyways, it's deeply ironic that Trump and Putin seem to want peace between the US and Russia more than the current power-brokers do.  They might actually do well together. Both are alpha males, , care about sovereignty, deeply self-reverential to an extreme,  and while not particularly religious, mindful of the need for protection of the same. 


Sunday, September 4, 2016

That's an expensive way to get to pole position

We're all watching to see what tropical storm Hermine will do over the next 24 hours.

 We had a bit of a rough week here on HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/hole into which one pours money. One of our elderly and unreliable generators had a moment, and threw a connecting rod ah, energetically, punching a hole through the engine block. 

Rest in Pieces

 Well, with one generator down, and oil pretty much everywhere in the gen house, we got pulled out of service so that the gen could get replaced. To do that, a hatch in the overhead of the generator room was opened, and the dead generator was lifted out and a new one put in place. 

Out with the old

in with the new 
    our generators are so old that they can't be replaced with a drop-in replacement. A reemie generator attached to a new engine required that some welding and fitting be done to accomodate a new model block and the exhaust lining up differently.

     What with Tropical Storm Hermine's behavior being something of a head-scratcher, and the setting of Condition Yankee for this area coming today sometime, the decision was made to leave us at the dock while the fleet seeks out sheltered berths. So our gen is roughed into position, the hatch bolted back down, we got sandwiched in here at the dock, and put out enough mooring lines to secure a battleship.

 Some of our smaller tugs are standing by at the foot of the dock. Tonight there will be a storm surge, and I assume that two of the tugs will moor to the outboard barge (we're 3 deep. I've got pole position what with the wonky gen) and idle in reverse to hold us off the dock if there's danger of us ending all up in the neighbor's bidness.

 So yesterday and today the rest of our fleet will head for storm berths up the rivers and into the estuaries and other protected docks. I've got a great spot- I'm sheltered by our pier, and if things do go sideways, I'm conveniently located to everything.

   I'd like to give a VERY big shoutout and attaboy to the manager of our local Home Depot. Last storm surge, most of us lost our vehicles. This time, working with local waterfront companies, the manager of the nearby Home Depot allowed the tug and barge company employees in this area to park on the roof of his parking garage until the storm passes. That's some good looking out.

 So yesterday was pretty busy, anyhow, here at my company's main office. Everyone topped off their water tanks, ran to the stores to get food and medications, and made their vessels ready for heavy weather.

        Me being something of a traditionalist, the HQ needed minimal preparation. I don't keep a pristine deck- I grew up on a commercial fishing vessel, which means you keep the tools to hand and not in the way, but don't sweat the small stuff. We do keep the deck such that it can be made ready for sea by one man in under 15 minutes. We did a FOD walk, checked lashings and clasps and such, and since we were already at the home dock, we had already taken out the trash and swapped out some older mooring lines for new and had taken on stores.
   Then we went out for pizza. God help me, I've been eating healthy for a few months now and I ate an entire pepperoni, red pepper and bacon pizza. The results this morning have been predictable. Not so much gastric distress as fostering a hostile work environment. I'm suffering and the conditions are so bad inside the house that I actually drove the flies away. 

   Also, pizza without beer is just not the same. As much as it was delicious, it was incomplete, like eating pate without crackers. Still tasty, but you need the pairing.
 At any rate, it'll be a while before I have pizza again.  I've gotten used to eating rabbit food.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Our Town in our lives

There are a few really poignant scenes in Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" that have always stayed with me since reading the screenplay when I was 15. I had to play George in a school play. It was hell for a boy who's overweening goal at that point was to slip through the cracks and emerge by choice into social life when I was good and ready.

 Even so, it got me to read the screenplay, and it was my introduction to more metaphysical thinking. Later on, struggling with the awful bullshit of English Lit at college, I damn near gave up on this sort of thing when the old queen who taught the class would wax orgasmic about Thoreau and the transcendentalists.
 I hate Thoreau. He was a self-aggrandizing, preening, effeminate failure of a man who's life's work could be summed up by the image of a manlet pouf spending 30 years watching himself masturbating in front of a full-length mirror and then expecting to be thanked for it. Walden had it's moments, I'll admit, but that's about it. Moments.

 Yeah, I read. My dad was wicked smaht, as we say where I grew up, so I could always ask him when I didn't get what the hell I was reading. Just because I speak and often act like a lout, and am one often enough, doesn't mean I'm not a self-aware lout.

 Anyhow, Our Town, if you've never seen it, well, you probably won't. It's a depression-era play that would be unwelcome in our intensely intolerant 21st century. Discussions and expositions on the need and desirability for stable marriages, examination of the role of age on the practice of sin and good and bad habits, and a message of the hopeful joy to be found in daily life in a small town...
  That's the sort of shit that gets that midget little shite Jon Stewart to foam at the mouth. Fucking better clingers, amirite?

 When I first read the story, I knew I was reading something that was partially going over my head. A 15-year old, I saw the value of what I was reading, and enjoyed it far more than I expected. 40-something me, I realized that Our Town was a gateway story for me, something that opened my mind a bit and matured me as I read it- I knew I wasn't getting everything I could out of the story, and I also knew that eventually I would. It was a cool moment, there in some English class I barely remember at a time in my childhood where joy was thin on the ground.

 Our Town is a 3-act play that follows central characters in a small town through the arc of their lives within the town, focused on key moments in the main character's lives... and I thought of it today when an adult from my own childhood commented on a picture of my wife and I on Facebook, of all things.
        Not really my fault- there's a great passage there about the passage of time in a small community, where so many things stay the same, but the people who experience it slow down and age more than the background, and treasure it for that reason, too. 

        I had a core group of wonderful friends who I am still in contact with. I'm in constant contact with several guys I went to Kindergarten with. Their parents played an important part in my childhood- they were authority figures and role models who weren't my own parents.
   To 7 year old me, the grown ups were grown ups. As I grew up, they looked the same. My memories of these people stretch as long as my friendships with their kids- I'm 42, so we're talking 35+ years. It's only now that I see them as they are- when we were kids, they were the age we are today. We've experienced the same key moments in our town, and while we experienced different aspects of them, we share the commonality of it.

      The picture I put up today shows my wife and I together- I see the heavy crow's feet around my eyes, and the damage from being in the sun for much of my life, and the hairline receding, and my beard is now only half red, with white overtaking it... and I'm OK with that. It makes me think of what my son will think of in 30 years, when he sees himself at the age I am today.
         Some of my childhood friends visited my mom a few months ago. She's elderly now, and frail, and I don't know if my friends realized how happy she was, but they did see that she remembers everything, and treasures the memories.
       I'm very aware that my mom is coming towards the clearing at the end of the path now,  there to rejoin my father, and while I hope we have more time yet, I don't think she has much in the way of real regret- and for my friends' parents, some who have already gone before, some who are still with us, I think, and pray, they have that in common.

       Weeks before he passed away, my dad mentioned a quote from something he was told when he was a kid: 
As I see you now, so I once was,
As you see me, so shall you be. 

  I love the duality of that quote- the frailties and complaints of old age juxtaposed with the marks of a life well lived and loved.

 Well, blame it on Our Town. At the time, people thought the play a sappy reaction to the shitty world of the Depression era. To me, the message is that the grand moments are worth valuing in the present even more so than in the past, but either way, both will have lasting impact, not because of the place or even the events themselves, but because humanity itself has value.