46

No, not my age (that happened so long ago, I don’t remember). No, “46” as in “46 miles per hour.” Now that I’ve cleared that up….

As you know, I nearly lost my paycheck about a year ago; but at the eleventh hour (I had received a layoff notice), I got a notice that the layoff was cancelled. Months of trying to get my head around the idea of not being employed by a company I had been with for very nearly 30 years, and trying to “re-invent” myself so I could stay in the workforce (read: continue to earn a paycheck), suddenly became a thing of the past. Quite the emotional roller-coaster, especially since my wife was scheduled to deliver twins in a couple of months.

And so, my commute went from about twenty minutes by car (or, an hour by bicycle – I loved doing that) to never less than an hour by car, and often as long as two hours. Consequently, I have become a “road warrior.” The term may not mean much to those who don’t do hours at highway speeds; but for those of us that do, “warrior” is very much the correct noun.

You see the officially posted speed limit is 60 miles per hour (or 100 kilometers per hour – some people get those confused). Yes, there is usually one, or two cars that are doing precisely 60. Usually, but not always. And, they’re in the left (fast) lane – that is guaranteed. Typically, every vehicle (including 18-wheel “semis”) is doing slightly more to greatly more than 60. I know that, to stay with the flow of traffic, the needle on my speedometer sometimes approaches 70. In the dark and in the rain, staying with the flow is far more important than anything else.

For, the first rule of driving is: “Never hit no one.” The second rule is: “Never hit nothin’.” The third rule is the predictable: “See Rule Number One.” So, running up somebody’s ass, as though trying to mate, and getting out of the way of someone who is trying to read the bumper sticker on the car in front of me is important.

Then, there are those who apparently can only drive by getting as close to your rear bumper as possible (without trading paint…I think), and staying there. You know: filling your rear view mirror with their headlights and sticking to you. Now, I’ve seen cars get within one car length of the rear bumper of the trailer of a semi; but I figure they are way past crazy (which is finite), and well into stupid (which is infinite). But, when they attempt to mate with me (without so much as have an apple or kiss my foot), I get nervous.

So, after making sure there is an empty lane on one side or the other of me, I take my foot off the accelerator. If they want to go faster than me, fine. It isn’t a race. If they want to go slower than me, that’s ok, too. But, I won’t let them stay glued to me.  Dunno what they’re watching, but they certainly are not seeing their speedometer unwind from 60+ mph to, well, the lowest I have seen on my own speedo is 46.

I drive a heavily modified Jeep, which includes an insanely big engine and tires and bumpers. I have no trouble getting out of anybody’s way; but it is just plain stupid to be doing 70 in a jacked-up Jeep. It does make me wonder about someone who is going to weld himself to my rear bumper going a mile a minute. In the dark. In heavy rain. With standing water. Obviously, their lookout doctrine does not extend any further in front of their bumper than the back of my truck. This is not a good sign. This is somebody I want nothing to do with. Dunno which is worse: dying on my way to work, or dying on my way home. I guess, after finishing a shift, for that is always a wasted twelve hours. Becoming a statistic on my way to work means I have just left my Twins; not a bad time to go.

But, it is a battle. I have learned to drive with both hands on the steering wheel. I gotta say, that’s good. But, it takes maybe half an hour to unwind when I get to my destination. No, my hands don’t shake, but my level of “alertness” has to come down from those heights – it just ain’t worth it. No, the commute is not quite the same as landing on postage stamps (aka aircraft carriers) – and it shouldn’t be. But, at least in naval (i.e., Marine Corps) aviation, you knew the other “drivers”; most often personally. On the highway, you never know who’s driving the car next to you, or in front of you. I don’t have a very high opinion of the decisions of my fellow man anyway (to include men, women and the confused). It’s probably a good thing that, driving in the dark, I can’t see what else they’re doing as they propel themselves and their steel steed on the same ribbon of asphalt that I am on.

Go ahead and buy me a new bumper: I’m sure my entire car is worth less to your insurance company than your quarter-panel. But, I bet I walk away from your mistake; while the jaws of life pry you out of your mangled tin.

 

Emma, 14

My brother’s in-laws have endured another painful life and death.  Last year, a 20-something daughter died from brain cancer; yesterday, a 14 year old grand-daughter also died from brain cancer.  (I use the general term “brain cancer” because I don’t know specifics.)  And, considering that our Twins have just celebrated six months, it seems appropriate to ask the question, “Why?”

As in, “Why have children, if they might have a very difficult life and die young?”  Or, as another, unrelated, couple that I know has put it, “How can you bring children into this awful world?”  Pretty much the same question, really.  And very much the same answer.

A year ago, or two years ago (more like it), I could not have answered anything other than, “Good question.”  I certainly was not thinking of bringing any more children into this world, and so I could (thankfully) avoid any difficult answers.  Knowing what Mother Nature can do to us, and what our fellow man (this would be the very generic “man” to include men, women and those who are confused) can do to us, it would seem that bringing more children into this life would be selfish at best (“someone to adore and take care of me”), and damned stupid at worst (the worst doesn’t always happen to the other guy – sometimes it is closer to home than that, like my brother’s home).

But, since July 1, I have discovered inexpressible joy.  Altho I think “happiness” is over-rated, I really couldn’t get my arms around “joy” – was it a synonym for happy, or something else entirely ?  (Always slinking away, mumbling, “Good question.”)

Yes, CS Lewis’ title, “Surprised by Joy,” comes to mind, and maybe there are some similarities I am not thinking of (altho my wife’s name is most definitely not “Joy”).  But, “surprised” is definitely the word here – six months later, I am still surprised.

Every day, I thank GOD for the gift of these two, new lives – very little lives, but already growing faster than I can imagine.  I cannot frankly, think of a greater gift; for with these two lives, I feel HOPE.

GOD called me back to the One, True Church about ten years ago with the Gift of Faith.  Just last year, He gave me the Gift of Hope.

Those two girls lived very difficult and very short lives.  For all I know, our Twins will fare no better.  But, in the lives of those two girls and in their passing, I believe I will be a better father.

You see, I believe GOD gives us all opportunities and then lets us choose.  The parents of those two girls chose hope.  The family and extended family can choose to remember how those two little ones lived, and they can choose to remember the love and the hope.  Or they can get angry.  They can turn toward GOD, or they can turn away from GOD.

I was certainly aware of the “dark side” of Life long ago.  And, I was marching down the road of turning away from it.  Had I not married my wife and had we not been blessed with these two little lives, my own life would be far less stressful (I sure wouldn’t be working this job and driving an hour or two each way to do it).  And I never would have known what I was missing.

So yes, I continue to pray for Emma and her aunt, as I pray for my Twins.

 

 

 

The Tyranny of Silence

Usually, I wait until I have at least started a book before I might comment on it (tho I prefer to finish reading a book). I used to know a woman who loved to read murder mysteries, and she invariably figured out whodunit by about the second or third page (of course, she was a voracious reader, so she always finished the book, even tho she knew how it ended). Me, I would often finish the last page scratching my head wondering where the butler was. But, if I wait until after I finish Rose’s book, it might be years from now: at the moment, I have a stack of about 30 on the floor next to my bed. But, I can’t resist this one, even if I might be premature.

 

While I personally endorse respect, and don’t find humor is most things that apparently pass for humor in this day and age, I also vehemently do support the right of free speech. So, if someone wants to call something art that I wouldn’t dignify with a second glance, well then, I won’t give it a second glance. But, do I have the right to say they don’t have the right? Hell no. First and foremost: I definitely do not have the right to do something because it is me doing it, than I have the right to prevent someone else from doing the same thing because it is them doing it.

 

That’s the first thing: I want free speech, so you must also have free speech. If I don’t want you to prove how stupid you are then I don’t get to either. Or, something like that.

 

Second, who’s to judge? The government? Some committee of persons (I almost said “citizens” but that is becoming a thing of the past)? Individual persons? How about if we ask the man in the glass? Yeah: I mean self control. Yes, I do bite my tongue a lot. May I ask: “Why don’t you?”

 

But now that ISIS (or IS or ISIL or whatever) is in our faces every single day, it is getting harder and harder to keep my mouth shut – or my hand off of my own firearm. Having said that, I thank GOD that I don’t live in any countries where they (it?) are in control. As bad as the shooting in San Bernadino was, that abomination is nothing like what happens in the Middle East every day. It is no wonder that the people who live in the Middle East say nothing; but it is a wonder that people who don’t live in the Middle East also say nothing. Yet, the terrorists have no trouble at all saying they are linked/associated/affiliate with Islam – and sometimes, some Islamic group says they know the terrorists.

 

So, what I am to do? Well, whatever GOD had in mind for me, I know I’m not going to turn the other cheek – I’m just not built that way. And now that I have these two little packages of wonder and hope and immeasurable joy in the house, I will do anything I can to ensure their future.

 

The first thing I can do, is this blog. I’m not much of a voice and there aren’t many who hear me; but it’s a start. Then, because the Islamic extremists can function only with violence and nothing else, then I must be prepared to be physical. They want to use guns, guess what I’m going to do? I will not sit by and let anyone – anyone at all – threaten my family.

 

But, that’s my family, I have no right to interfere with ISIS and other families. Or do I?

 

Well, yes, I do. You see, I’m a firm believer that someday, I will be standing in front of the Pearly Gates and a voice will thunder out of the heavens (where else?) and ask: “What have you done for Me?” What am I going to say, “Well, Lord, you really didn’t give me very much to work with.” (Maybe Adam should have tried that line?) Somehow, I am supposed to convince Him that I don’t know the Bible story of the three servants who were given different amounts of money from their master to invest? If I just bury my talent – or my head – and then expect Paradise, that’s got to be unconscionably insulting. In other words, I have the GOD-given right and obligation to help others. In fact, since my life is not about me, then it must be only about other people.

 

I’m not proposing that I be the self-appointed mouth-piece of the huddled masses (whether they are yearning to breathe free, or not). But I am very much stating that neither does ISIS – and certainly not in my backyard.

 

Someday perhaps, I will read Rose’s book; but if I am not too far off the mark, then I have to agree that silence is not a good thing. I mean, what’s the first thing that ISIL does? Just so I am not accused of being one of those people, I should be shouting from the roof tops. Yes, I do believe that being silent is a mistake – now and for the future.

Malin Bjork

There I was: surfing YouTube, wanting some Christmas Music, when I noticed in the right-hand column “My Fitness Journey” by MalinBjork. Of course I clicked on it. Malin told the story of how she got back in shape after her pregnancy. With our Twins approaching five months old, it is clear my wife needs help regaining her figure, and I need help understanding if she could “go home again.” (My wife holds a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, so you can imagine her level of fitness when I met her.)

 

Well, obviously, my wife and Malin are not the same woman, but genes aside, might it be possible for someone – anyone – to regain a HEALTHY weight after pregnancy. I have known a few woman than have accomplished this; but mostly, the women I know (whether they have experienced a pregnancy, or not, gain weight (which I equate with losing health) – and I do mean considerable poundage – with age. And yes, men do, too. I know I have (without the excuse of ever having been pregnant).

 

But, what struck me was not that Malin did a superb job of regaining her pre-pregnancy physique, or that it took two years, but that she did it at all. I’ve never met Malin, but my own struggle with trying to maintain some semblance of health (which, to a great extent, can be measured on typical bathroom scales) leads me to believe that, while it is difficult to “battle the bulge,” it is not impossible.

 

My good friend Scooby1961 is probably in the same camp. (Full Disclosure: Scooby and I have never met or conversed, but I have been an avid YouTube follower of his – and sometime exercise follower – for years. What he says just makes sense to me; I’d like to think that if we did meet, we could be friends.) In one of his videos he says that if you eat donuts, you’ll look like a donut; and, if you eat like the average American, you’ll look like the average American. Right on both counts. He says food is fuel – something I could never say around my brother (a devout foodie).

 

Now, I’m a lot older than either Malin or Scooby, and it’s been years since I could say I was “physically active,” and there’s no way I could ever get to their level of body building (nor, honestly, do I want to). But, neither do they look like the average American (Malin is a Swede, Scooby is apparently a Southern Californian – one of the few with his head screwed on straight) – and that is what I am after. And, I just gotta believe that being physically active (and I don’t mean a couple of rounds of golf in the summer) and eating right (the right stuff, the right amounts) are just the right things to do. A sound mind in a sound body, eh?

 

However, the Twins are approaching five months old and nearly 18 pounds apiece. If I am to be able to play with them (i.e., interact), I am going to have to get serious about getting in shape for them. I find them to be a lot of fun, and I hope I can be a lot of fun for them (which will increase the bond). I also hope that I will be around for awhile – a long while, for their sakes.

 

So, if this is not too early for New Year’s Resolutions (how about “long term life goals”?), I do hereby resolve (sounds better using words normal folks would never use, doesn’t it) to lose five kilos (which would bring me down to 80kg, or about 175lbs) next year, thru diet and exercise. Sadly, I anticipate being stuck in a job that requires 12-hour shifts with an hour to an hour and a half on each end commuting – this is a “seven days on / seven days off” thing. Which means for seven days I don’t have time to exercise, and the other seven days I don’t have the energy to exercise.

 

It also means I have to give up wine. While many people say that “a calorie is a calorie,” I subscribe to Dr Robert Lustig’s view that the liver treats alcohol differently than other stuff. Scooby says to not drink your calories, and there is nothing that a glass of red wine will do for your heart that other foods and more exercise won’t also do (after years of developing a taste for wine – face it: alcohol is not good for the body – it will take a pretty firm effort to stay away from it). In the final analysis, what do I want for my Twins?

 

(Malin Bjork’s YouTube videos are in English, but her own website, fitnessmom.se is in Swedish. Both Scooby and Dr Lustig converse in only English.  All three have YouTube videos, too.)

 

https://youtu.be/LWh6q5lMsyo

https://youtu.be/BAqcbQByeec

https://youtu.be/LWh6q5lMsyo

 

Happy 240th Birthday USMC and Happy Veterans’ Day

Semper Fi

Green Light a Vet

http://www.greenlightavet.com/

The white man in that photo

Some of us have the honor and privilege of remembering Peter Norman, John Carlos and Tommie Smith from that day in 1968. But then, we also have the responsibility of teaching their courage to our children.

Which is another reason why the Twins won’t be going to public schools, and just might be home schooled. I don’t want my kids to forget the ongoing struggle for true equality – and think the hype about sexual orientation has anything at all to do with civil rights should be given equal billing.

Kudos to Riccardo and Griot and BBC for reminding me.

Source: The white man in that photo

How to fail “Statistics 101”

I am blown away by anyone (let alone a “postdoc”) who would present this study as anything other than embarrassingly poor statistics.  It would be ludicrous, if it wasn’t pathetic:

http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/10/no-scientists-have-not-found-the-gay-gene/410059/

The last line of the article is not the best (that kudo goes to “correlation does not prove causation” – but that old saw should be painfully obvious to the most casual observer); but it is almost the last line (word): “We need to change how epigenomics research is performed throughout the community.”  I respectfully offer that the problem is not epigenomics, the problem is the current understanding of statistics – regardless of the subject.

Abort73.com

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What Jesus Really Said About Sins of the Flesh – Crisis Magazine

Another excellent column by Anthony Esolen (precision is a beautiful thing).

Source: What Jesus Really Said About Sins of the Flesh – Crisis Magazine