Clipping the Helicopter wings

When I was in elementary school I used to walk myself to and from class, and I carried a key to my house. I used to ride my bike all over the neighborhood, ranging from 7-11 to O’Leary’s comic book shop. My wife, friends, and co-workers all have similar stories. My boys don’t have that same freedom. I haven’t intentionally withheld that from them, it just seems that the world is a different place. Heck, every time I do leave them somewhere I insist that they borrow a cell phone so I can call them. I didn’t have a cell phone until I was almost 30, and somehow managed to keep safe.

I’ve recently begun to notice that there are some basic skills these kids don’t have, primarily around age appropriate levels of responsibility. So I’ve been asking myself the following: how do I teach my boys to grow up?

So, what does it mean to grow up?

1) Does it mean they need to stop finding silly things to be funny? We have a blast playing wallball and making everything goofy. I don’t want them to lose their sense of humor and having fun.

2) Does it mean they should be willing to try new things? Not all kids are adventurous, but I wonder if my kids don’t try new things because they want the safety and stability of the known. It is easy for me to attribute this to the dual household arrangement they have. However, if I had them all the time, would they feel more safe, or be even more stuck in their ways?

3) Do I want them to be more aware of others and their feelings? This may be the big one, the one I want them to embrace, both for empathy, for relationships, and competition.

4) Do I want them to work hard? Yes and no. I don’t want them to be stuck in a 9 to 5, living hand to mouth, and choosing between bad options. I want them to build income when they are sleeping at night, so they can pursue their interests when they are awake. Yes, I do work at a stock brokerage, and I’ve learned first hand how powerful compounding interest is and that wealth begets wealth. I wish I had started investing at 18, rather than 28. Shameless plug – here are some Investing Books you may want to read or pass on to your kiddos.

5) Does it mean I need to be harsher with them? I’ve recently started “making” them go outside and use their imaginations more. They have a toy bow and arrow set, and we made target “creepers” to shoot, so they have fun when they do go outside. It’s heartbreaking to see them complain and drag their heels. Honestly, though, they need to be able to entertain themselves and pursue their own interests rather than just doing what their mother and I think they should do.

6) I’ve also resorted to bribery. I was getting tired of losing the water bottles that I send with them to school. I’ve taken to giving them a stick of gum each time they return their water bottle. I’ll tell you, that system is working well, but I don’t know how comfortable I am with providing external motivation for all of their responsibilities.

All this being said, I’m actually quite excited about helping them grow up. Middle school is not far away, and every empty nester I know says that the years go by very quickly. I’ve really enjoyed hearing their stories, seeing their minecraft creations, and watching them develop as artists and team mates.

By the way, helicopters are much cooler now then when I was a kid.

Richard Sherman and teaching the boys about hard work

By now, certainly, you’re all aware that the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII. This was one of the most exciting times for the Hansen household, and not just for this 38 year old long suffering Seattle sports fan. The boys were asking for Seahawks clothing, flew their NFC championship pennants around the house, and even wrote inspiration speeches that they recited before the game. They were able to *mostly* watch the entire game and cheered with reckless abandon throughout the evening. It was one of those great moments when the boys went to sleep with huge smiles on their faces.

Following the sage advice of “never waste a good crisis” I’ve been able to harness their excitement as a learning opportunity.

Allow me to back up a few weeks. The boys woke up on the morning of the NFC championship game against the 49ers uttering “Go Seahawks” as their first words. They were caught up in the excitement like everyone else in Seattle – with blue and green and 12 flags everywhere. While I think those who dislike sports may have a valid point, that maybe our passions are better spent on other civic matters, very few activities galvanize a community like a successful hometown team. For those of you outside of Seattle, Seahawks mania was EVERYWHERE. All we could talk about was the Seahawks, and Blue Friday celebrations became the norm. People who know nothing about football were wearing Seahawks swag.

The game against the 49ers ended with a fantastic defensive play, and my boys instantly fell in love with cornerback Richard Sherman. They have been bringing him up daily ever since. This eagerness was an opportunity to push forward my own parenting agenda.

I showed them several videos about Richard Sherman, and how well he prepares for the games. I brought up that he was raised in a dangerous neighborhood and used his mind to get out of it. I told about his time at Stanford, and how he uses his brain for success in the sports world. Are you catching the theme? They certainly did, and started to soak it all in.

Ironically, the boys are fans of the other football (soccer). Historically, they haven’t seen the need to practice and don’t take the time to think about the game seriously. Since this game, though, they’ve really been excited about thinking and sports. This has been such a new concept for them. They claim they want to practice now, to prepare to be “the best in the game” so to speak.

I’ve gotten to show them how to take the combination of hard work, talent, and mental preparedness leads to success. I can’t wait for Spring soccer now! While I have no doubt that the afterglow of the super bowl win will fade into the background, it is possible that this role model will remain front and center, and the boys can harness the best of themselves in sports and in life.

By the way, if you haven’t bought any Seahawks gear to commemorate this historic victory yet, the boys recommend you go here and look for anything with the numbers 25 and 48 (XLVIII).

The rand function

The best fiction seems real, and the best nonfiction seems fake. Telling stories, regardless of the medium, is a craft. It’s a skill that can be learned, that must be practiced, and which you become better the more time you spend on it. It’s a result of the 10,000 flight log, to summarize Malcolm Gladwell. When I look towards the next few decades, I think that being able to tell a story is going to become more important. I’ve mentioned before, story telling is a skill I want to impart to my children. Along with that skill, I hope they will pick up and intrinsically live the need to have dedication, focus, and reason. The idea that if you can think it, you can take steps to accomplish it.

I’m always a bit intrigued by the hard work and dedication that full time creatives put towards their products. It may be a subconscious effort of my brain, rebelling against some of the lack of professionalism is my work place these days. I find myself wishing that the staff at the highly technical and financially complex business where I work could have more of the professionalism brought about by the rock stars and movie makers of our day.

So, this post is the result of a thought experiment I had many years ago, and still return to as a common day dream. I’ve always thoughts it would be fun to create a story based on the “random” function on the wikipedia website. The idea is to log onto to wikipedia, hit the random article button, and use the result as a key part of the story. I’ve heard many professional authors discuss their craft, and each one says the idea matters less that the basics of good story structure.

Let’s see what happens when I (as novice as they come) gives this a try.

Random article #1- “İkizce is a village in the District of Bilecik, Bilecik Province, Turkey. As of 2010 it had a population of 141 people.”

A population of 141! Wow, I’m impressed that the village even shows up on Wikipedia. So, okay, I need to use İkizce in this story. My first thought at this point is that someone (a kid, Luke Skywalker?), grew up in this tiny village. His family were either farmer, shepherds, or salt traders. I probably won’t use salt trader, but I have always been fascinated by people who extract salt from the water then sell it. Anyway, we are off to a good start, now where to take this kid. Wikipedia?

Random article #2 – “Vomero is a hilly and heavily urbanized area in the center of Naples, is inhabited by the wealthy middle class.”

This story is practically writing itself. Okay, our second entry is a big, wealthy neighborhood in Naples. Let’s have our hero show up here. Why? Well, this kid is smart, talented, and wants to see more than İkizce has to offer. What I don’t know yet (besides our hero’s name) is how he gets here. Does he run away, go with his dad, or get kidnapped? We need something to tie these two places together. Wikipedia?

Random entry #3 – “Atan Burhagohain – Atan Burhagohain (Assamese: আতন বৰগোহাঁই ) was one of the most influential Burhagohains in the nearly 600 years of the Ahom kingdom. Atan Burhagohain Rajmantri Dangaria was the Prime Minister of Assam for more than seventeen years, from January 1662 to March 1679. During this period Assam passed through a series of crises in the form of foreign invasions and internal disruptions; and Atan Burhagohain conducted the affairs with rare foresight, probity, judgment, and patriotism. The versatile qualities of the Burhagoain, and the proof that he gave of his lofty and noble ideals, made him the darling of the people. Kings, potentates and the populace were united in showering tokens of their admiration and respect on this man of their country’s destiny. Twice the crown was offered to him which he did twice refuse, saying, “It does not behove a minister to become a monarch; kingship should go to the scion of a royal family, and saintship to the descendant of a saint.”

Wow, this guy was a hero, and not very arrogant. That’s rare. Gosh, though, he isn’t quite the tie I was looking for. Let’s name our hero Emir, which is a popular Turkish name meaning chief or ruler. Emir’s father is named Atan. At some point, Emir will find a connection to Atan Burhagohain through his father. Okay, but I need more to get this started, so I need to throw some kind of curveball at this idea. Looking at the cover of Businessweek I see a Unicorn and the title “Bitcoin dreams”. Now we’re talking!

Here is our random wikipedia story, with an assist from Businessweek.

    A boy is growing up a sheep herder in rural Turkey.
    One day, his father takes his annual journey to the big city to sheer the sheep. Emir goes with him, then runs off from his father to check the internet.
    It turns out that in a previous trip, he had purchased some bitcoins, and was excited to see them triple in value. Emir has always been interested in mathematics, and was particularly attracted to the encryption aspect of bitcoins.
    Emir goes to share the exciting his father, but watches as his father gets in a disagreement with a merchant and gets knifed (gotta have some drama!).
    Having nothing to return home to, Emir sells the sheep and buys passage on the first train out, which makes its way to Naples.
    Arriving in Naples, Emir has a hard time learning the lanugage, but does get a job doing manual labor. He follows his bitcoin at night. He starts to spend his evenings mining for bitcoins, and stumbles upon a unique algorithm for mining quickly. Author’s note – it seems like this good is starting to take on some Good Will Hunting aspects. Good for him.
    Emir starts to bring in real wealth. He moves into the neighborhood of Vomero, and starts to join the high society scene.
    Intoxicated by the wealth and privilege in his new life style he falls for the wrong girl, a girl with a unicorn tattoo. He decends into a life or drugs and sex, and stops working. Eventually, he gets in a wreck drinking and driving, and the girl dies.
    Heartbroken, he wanders around Naples and spend his time in the library. While there, he reads about Atan Burhagohai. Due to the connection to his father, Emir is crushed, feeling horrible for having forgotten his upbringing and vows to do better.

    Emir goes to rehab, gets a job working for an internet security firm, and eventually starts a halfway house to help kids get clean.

    Fast forward several years, and Emir is seen receiving an award for his community service and leadership. When asked about running for political office he declines, stating that only royals and saints should pursue kingship and sainthood.

    The End

    Thanks for making it through my thought experiment with me. I had fun writing. If you want to give me through random ideas to think through in a future post, feel free to include those in the comments section.

EMP SFFSFF

What a fantastic way to spend half a day!

On Saturday, a coworker and fellow closet nerd joined me in attending the Experience Music Project’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Film Festival – EMP SFFSFF. This annual event features 20 short films, ranging from 1 to 15 minutes in length, all with some kind of science fiction or fantasy connection. As you know from my last post, I have a fondness in my heart for short films featuring super heroes. Apparently, I am not rare in Seattle, as even getting to the Cinerama almost an hour early we did not get me a seat on the first level. Both sessions were sold out.

In high school, I helped a friend create a short film for our “literature onto film” class. Even though it was his idea, I kinda took over lots of it by writing, directing, editing, and acting the lead role. I’m pretty sure he got an “A” for my efforts. In fact, it took so much time that my own project for the class sucked. Despite the fact than in addition to having a great time making that short film, and given that my grandparents owned a small chain of second run movie theaters, I never pursued films as a profession or even a hobby.

Fast forward to 2011, where I found myself at DragonCon in Atlanta. A panel I had waited to see didn’t live up to my expectations, and I decided to just wander the convention looking for something interesting. Feeling tired, but not wanting to fight crowds, I decided to go to their short film festival mostly to sit down. When they started showing the sci fi shorts, I was awestruck. I sat there for the next 5 hours watching a continuous stream of short films. Some were fantastic, some sad, some sucked, some were too long, and others too short. Regardless, I was hooked.

In 2013 I happened upon the Experience Music Project’s Sci Fi Fantasy Short Film Festival (#SFFSFF). I bought two tickets and dragged my wife to six hours of nerd heaven. This was amazing! I then started watching all the short videos I could find on Vimeo, shortoftheweek.com, youtube, or from various short film iPhone apps. My first project on kickstarter was for a short film made in the Pacific Northwest. My favorite from last year was called “Giant Monster Playset” and was about two boys saving the world from an attacking monster. It was filmed by their dad, which obviously connected with me about what my boys and I could do. As I was writing this post, I saw that Giant Monster Playset has been posted to YouTube! Feel free to watch it here after you finish reading this post.

This year, the films of SFFSFF 2014 did not disappoint. My favorite, and the one I voted for, was called Honeymoon suite and based in Beijing. The trailer is available here. Voiceover was fun, as was Bless You.

I am looking forward to SFFSFF 2015. Who wants to join me?

Darkis meets Rediss – the blog post

We encourage fantastical thinking in the Hansen household. There is no limit to the amount of support and encouragement I give my kids around anything creative, myth, fantasy, and super heroes. Beyond just being fun, these topics allow my kids to think about the “what’s possible?” and “what if this were true?” types of questions. I also like to show them that with hard work, ingenuity, and action it’s amazing what we can do.

We also like movies. Outside of major life events, I think I received the most supportive Facebook comments when I announced that the boys and I were having the “summer of Star Wars” in which we watched all six feature films as well as The Clone Wars animated series. In fact, I knew the boys accepted Vicky into their life when they wanted her to watch “How to Train Your Dragon” with them during quiet time. We are in a digital and visual age, and I think having skills around communicating, story telling, and digital technology will take the boys far.

For months, Zack (when he just turned 7) used to sneak around our house at night dressed up in a black costume, calling himself “Darkis” and spying on us. We decided to see what we could do with this energy, and so we had him write a story. The result of that activity was the script for Darkis Meets Rediss. Based on his excitement, and a free Sunday afternoon, we decided to film the live action Darkis meets Rediss. We had a ton of fun, and the boys are incredibly proud of their creation. It took me a while to edit the whole thing together, but I was pretty happy with what we could film just using our iPhones and household items.

We had a premier for this film, and his friends loved it. Several have been clamoring to make a film with Zack! In fact, we are in negotiations to add his good friend into the sequel titled Darkis and Rediss meet Blueis.

Before watching the short film, I’d like to remind you that a seven year old wrote the entire story himself with no guidance from the adults. Everything came from his imagination. The only changes we made to his script had to do around props and limitations in filming.

So, for your viewing pleasure, I present to you Darkis Meets Rediss.

Once in a lifetime astronomical events

I was walking out of a PTA meeting one evening in November, and looked up and saw a unique body in the sky. I pointed it out to every I saw walking by, as it was the comet ISON which flew through the night sky until Thanksgiving. You may have heard about this comet, as the press declared it would be 15 times brighter than the moon! Which, while technically true, isn’t quite as impressive in the night sky since it is much, much, much smaller than the moon. Still, it was a bright new object that I’m not used to seeing.

About a million years ago, ISON was flung out into deep space on a collision course with the sun. It’s hard to imagine something just flying for a million years, being pulled this way and that by various large body objects, and then explode into our sun on Thanksgiving of all days. In all honestly, the comet didn’t really look any different to my eye than any of the other planets we get to occasionally see. It was cool for me to look for the object after Thanksgiving and not see it. Once in a lifetime is quite apt.

After graduating high school, my goal was to be an astro physicist. I had read many stories, and seen many movies, about space travel. I even wrote in my Bioethics high school class that we should just turn the Earth into a giant farm and all move out in to space stations. My teacher didn’t agree and asked if that was really what I wanted, but still gave me an “A” for my efforts. The real genesis of my desire to be an astro physicist wasn’t Star Wars, but one evening on Orcas Island when I was 9 or 10 years old. We were experiencing a “once in a lifetime” meteor shower event. I was able to lay outside and look up at the night sky. Without city lights, everything was brilliant and massive. I counted 100 meteors and another 20 satellites that night. It was fascinating and powerful, and I was hooked.

I read every Brian Swimme and Stephen Hawking book I could fine. In modern physics I read Einstein’s relatively and hung out outside the school library imagining flashlights on the front of spaceships moving at light speed. After my sophomore year as a Physics undergrad, I got a summer grant to do research with the University telescope. I was only the second research project on the new telescope, and my job was to image remote galaxies and determine how far away they were from the Earth. Specifically, I looked for bodies called “H2 regions” and used the computer to determine their angular size. From there, it was simple trigonometry to determine distance. I was within 1% error of commonly accepted values, so we determined our telescope was pretty good.

It got me thinking, though, that 1% error could still equate to a difference of light years in physical space. So, we could get out there, and be off by a LONG way. Our Universe is immensely vast, and we learn more about it constantly. The ISON comet got me thinking about space again, so I started reviewing facts about our solar system. How big is our sun? So big that 99.8% the mass of the solar system is in the sun. Most of the rest of the mass is in Jupiter. No matter how big I think the Earth may feel, it is a tiny little spec in a tiny little solar system on the outskirts of a tiny little galaxy in our Universe. I recently learned that Neptune has a storm cloud similar to Jupiter. They creatively call it the “Great Dark Spot” and it is as wide as the Earth.

Ultimately, back in college, I found research to be quite boring and opted to pursue computer engineering as a career. Later in life, I learned that I could have gone into writing software models of the universe, but I didn’t know that was an option at the time. I do tend to still look up at the night sky quite often. I have a star chart that I use every once in a while and I keep trying to get my boys interested in the stars. I don’t think they really care, but they humor me and it’s fun.

My other hobby is reading the Mars One newsletter. If you haven’t heard of Mars One, it is a concept for a reality tv show being produced by the Dutch. Each year, they will send a group of astronauts to live on Mars. These are one way tickets, so they need to bring everything they ever need. I find it fitting that reality tv will make it to Mars long before science. While Earth is 78% nitrogen, Mars is 90% carbon dioxide. Therefore, I’m wondering if Mars One settlers will plant cacti? I wonder how their night sky will look different from ours. I also wonder how many of the settlers “once in a lifetime” experience will end pleasantly.

Fact or Fiction

My wife asked me “Do you think you risk sharing too much about yourself on your blog?”
I reply “No, because it’s fiction.”
“It’s fiction?”
“of course. I write fiction. Everyone knows this is fiction.”
“Well …” she hesitates. “It seems like you write about real things on your blog. My friends read this blog.”
“I know. It’s supposed to seem real. I once read that the best fiction sounds real, and the best non fiction sounds fake.”
“I’m not sure you’re writing fiction.”
“You don’t? Why not?”
“Because everything you’ve written about so far is true. It has all really happened in the way you describe it. You’ve told me all about everything you’ve written about.”
“Hmm. That can’t be right. I’m sure I’ve made up plenty right here on this blog.”
“Okay, honey.”

As I have read through my past posts, I can see what she means. The major events described have in fact happened to me, and are not just snippets from my imagination. However, dear reader, I can assure you this is fiction. The best lie is 99% true, and I have endeavored to supply no more than 99% factual truth. If, you’ve read something and wondered if I was writing about you, that would not be possible. As they have been known to say, any similarities to persons living or dead are purely coincidental and unintended. No Kimberly, I was not talking about you with that post the other day, and George there is no reason to think I would ever blame something like that on you! Please bear in the mind that this blog is fiction, with a 99% basis in reality. I write this to put structure on myself and to try my hand at something other than status reports and technical specifications.

Now, about that $6 check …

What I’ve learned since becoming PTA treasurer

In the last few months I’ve added a new 15 hour a week hobby to my life and that is being the PTA treasurer for the local elementary school. This has literally sucked up all of my free time and much of my waking thoughts. I thought I’d share some of the items I’ve learned about myself in the process.

1) I like things that are routine and predictable, but I don’t like boring repetition.
Each month I balance the books against our bank statements. Each week I process check requests from the school. Every day I do a quick check of the bank to make sure no charge hits us unexpectedly. These things I actually quite enjoy. Last year, I really did not enjoy filling out the stupid deposit forms. It’s been nice to give that step away to the assistant this year.

2) People bounce their checks … a lot
I remember being fresh out of college and working to bring in a steady income along with getting my financial ducks in order. I took out a lot of debt to get through college, both official and on plastic, and it took a while to get everything squared away. I celebrated by buying a super cheap bottle of wine when I got rid of all the plastic debt and have never looked back. Once, about 10 years ago, I accidentally bounced a check. I was shocked – how could I let this happen? I now obsessively track all my outstanding checks and payments to make sure that never happens again. This role has taught me that I may be the only one in this community that doesn’t bounce checks. I feel bad for the donor when a $12 check bounces because I empathize with the embarrassment. Then, the bank comes in and hits us with an addition $25 fee because someone else wrote a bad check.

3) Credit card debt is out of control
Last year, after our auction, and major portion of the credit cards people used were denied. When I say major, do you think that means 15, 25, or 33% of the credit cards? Yeah, it was at least that high. I have had several people angry with me for not reimbursing their requests instantly (by the way, we have operating by laws and I can’t issue checks without going through a series of controls). I am not kidding, when people have been mad at me for $6 checks, and have asked that I pay the late fees/interest rates on their credit cards.

4) I hate filling out 990 forms

5) I am a bigger jerk than I thought
I have found through the course of this role that I have no sympathy for people who need their costs reimbursed immediately. I am likely biased that I have often had to wait almost a full quarter in previous jobs to be reimbursed several thousand dollars (flight and hotel costs for work). While that was one extreme example, it is not uncommon to wait over a month for reimbursement. Regardless, their pleas for quick turnaround fall on deaf ears. I’m not circumventing the process, and risking our controls, because someone can’t manage their credit cards. I also don’t think our teachers walk on water (I love our teachers, they are fantastic, but they are professionals and don’t need to be coddled).

6) I am amazed at what the PTA provides
Without the PTA, the school wouldn’t have art, music, dance, recess monitors, tutors, green grassy playfields, a projector, iPads, access to current social studies curriculum, would offer insufficient math instruction, and wouldn’t be able to provide a full library. I personally view these items are a requirement for elementary education, and am surprised that the parents have to raise so much money to fund these things – well over $350/kid. I live in a good neighborhood where parents are able to kick in this much. Not far from where I sit, asking parents to provide even an additional $30/kid would be asking a lot. Until our state is able to fund all of this, which despite the court findings is likely a long ways off, I’m happy that our parents are able to step up and fund these items. I’m happy to be able to act as treasurer and keep these great items coming for our kids. I’m hopeful for other communities to find ways to provide for their kids.

Timecapsules

Yesterday I received a package in the mail. Enclosed was a note that read “I hope there is something fun inside.”

During my sophomore year of high school (1991), our class was tasked to put together a time capsule to be opened at our 20 year reunion. Each student could fill a manila envelope with whatever reminders we wanted, and we’d leave it at the school until the year (gulp) 2013!. I happily tossed memorabilia into the package, handed it over to my homeroom teacher, and hadn’t thought about it since.

At our reunion, someone mentioned the capsule, but we never got around to opening it. One classmate took it upon to herself to distribute the contents, and said package just arrived at my house. Again, while I remember participating in the time capsule, I have no recollection of what was inside. Without going through an exhaustive list, here are some of the highlights:

Baseball cards
I included two complete sets of the Oakland A’s lineups – Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Rickey Henderson. At the time, my hometown had the AAA minor league affiliate to the Oakland A’s and I felt a strong connection to that team. They had gone to the World Series the last few years, and I wondered if they would end up being a similar dynasty to the Yankees of the 1920′s. The Mariners were still working on their first winning season. Canseco went on the write Juiced about the use of steroids in baseball, and McGwire went on to break the single season home run record.

I also included a rookie Ken Griffey Jr card. This is poetic in the sense that Griffey was also a home run champion without ever being linked to steroids. Also, it was perfect timing because the Mariners just inducted Griffey into the team Hall of Fame.

Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation CD single
That song was hugely popular in the early 1990s. That tour was also my first major concert (I don’t count seeing the Beach Boys with my parents, and I am still upset that my parents wouldn’t let me see Bon Jovi a few years earlier). Singles at the time seemed like such a better deal. CD prices were skyrocketing and were generally one good song with lots of filler. For about the third of the price, you could get just the good song with a few extended remix versions thrown in. After the napster craze hit a few years later, and the rise of iTunes as the only music store that matters, song sales are primarily singles these days. Digital sales don’t have the cool physical cover art, though.

A couple mix tapes
I love mixed tapes. I recall spending hours, entire weekends, creating perfect mixed tapes. A bit of me died when mixed tapes became part of a bygone era, though I now get to watch shows about bygone eras on my DVR. I would like to be able to tell you how awesome it was to hear the mixed tapes that were in the time capsule. However, I don’t have a tape player anymore, so I can’t listen to them. This is one of the challenges of a time capsule – technological innovation.

Pieces of flair from the Goodwill games in Seattle
While never coming close to achieving the level of importance of the Olympics, the Goodwill games are inspired by the same vein – international competition leading to international camaraderie and peace. In 1990, Seattle hosted the goodwill games. I was working at Cheney stadium, the home of Tacoma’s AAA baseball time (I cooked french fries). Baseball was part of the Goodwill games, so I was able to watch a dozen or so of the games and collected numerous pins and medallions. Two things about those games really stood out. The first was that the USSR (yes, the USSR) fielded a baseball time for the first time in their history, and they were really bad. When they played the US, a soviet player got picked off of second base. Also, rumor had it that soviet players kept defecting and they had a hard time fielding a team. I could confirm that fact, but rumors are always interesting. The second thing I remember is that those Cubans could really play some baseball. I think the rosters of many MLB teams today confirm that fact.

It was fun to look at that capsule, and remember what the world was like 20 some odd years ago. Life was not all peachy for me then, but everything I placed in that capsule made me smile. The things that bothered me that, don’t bother me anymore. The things that I liked then, still make me happy today. I think I may try something like that with my family today.

I didn’t know anyone at a party I hosted

So there I was, quickly falling asleep with a snoring baby on my chest. The din of the guests hinting at the gathering outside the master bedroom door. I must be getting old, as I’m choosing to snooze with my daughter rather than play the host. My wife enjoys playing hostess; I’m sure we’re fine.

Let me take a step back. My Saturday started off as normal. After picking up the boys from swimming, I drove my oldest to his appointment an hour away for his specialized working memory program that is quite fascinating. I was killing time with my youngest having a coffee and brownie at the Panera Bread. Note, I think of my youngest boy as my youngest, even though I have a baby. He is playing with my tablet while I’m getting some work done on my laptop. My wife sends me a text reminding me to pick up the babysitter tonight at 6:30. Babysitter?  What for?

It turns out, we’re hosting a party. Yay, fun! Who’s coming over?  Are you sure that the entire guest list of full of people I don’t know? I mean, yeah, I kinda know one of the couples but that almost doesn’t count. So, we dropping a couple hundred bucks on food and drinks for a bunch of strangers? Ok, nothing new there. I love ya, honey.

The fuller story is that my wife has friends, who after nine years in Seattle, are moving back to the East Coast to be closer to family. Given that I returned to the West Coast ten years ago for similar reasons, I completely understand the move and wish them well. Of course I will throw them a party. We had a nice time hosting a house full of Physician’s Assistants (and by the way, those PAs can really put back some beer). For most of the party, we were able to pass my daughter around, as all of the guests were also parents and loved the chance to hold the baby.

Finally, for her, enough was enough and she needed to go to bed. I got her in pjs and started to get her ready for bed. Of course, in the process, I fell asleep myself. It’s quite rare for me to fall asleep with a house full of strangers. In fact, that hasn’t happened since my fraternity days! I have no advice for how you yourself would be able to host a party for strangers, but if you find yourself in that situation I highly recommend it.