Archive for June, 2011

Ships

Ships on separate courses

navigating trackless waters

Each among the finest of their kind

Crafted with loving care to fulfill separate purposes,

they plied their routes for years

delivering families,

honoring commitments,

living up to promises made

Storms came and went, as for all,

but steady hands kept courses true

through shifting winds of chaos

and loss of valued crew

On courses new but amongst landmarks known,

a chance encounter…

Intuition beyond reason

Awakening needs that might otherwise go

unrealized, unrecognized, unfulfilled

A growing trust and the blessing of safe havens

The stepwise shedding of accumulated armor

allowing once burdened vessels to sail more freely

Each proudly flying the flag of the other

Written for the wedding of my dear friends Michael and Deanna, March 1, 2009

What is the greater sin?

Every 10 minutes, a teen in Texas gets pregnant.

Every 10 hours, a 14-year-old gets pregnant.

Every 3 hours, a 15-year-old gets pregnant.

Every 1.5 hours, a 16-year-old gets pregnant.

Every 52 minutes, a 17-year-old-gets pregnant.

Every 35 minutes, an 18-year-old gets pregnant.

Every 28 minutes, a 19-year-old gets pregnant.

How is this abstinence thing workin’ for y’all?

Are you more interested in being upstanding parents, counting on faith (and guilt) to keep your kids out of each others’ pants, or are you interested in maybe doing a better job of helping your children to stop leading the nation (and the industrialized world) in teen pregnancy statistics?

I know that you like being number one and all, but isn’t it time to let somebody else take over this throne?

If we are to take cues from the Holy Bible regarding pre-marital sex we should also be aware that the custom during the time when it was being written was for sons to be married at the time of the onset of puberty, with daughters often married off before that. Those who wrote the Bible lived in a society where teen sex and pregnancy were natural, normal occurrences because nearly all were married by the time they became teenagers.

We live in a world with situations and expectations that would be completely foreign to the many authors of the scriptures. It is important to decide whether it is more important to attempt to continue to strive for the traditional goal (prevention of teen sex) with a high likelihood and very high cost of failure, or to embrace a more practical goal (prevention of teen pregnancy), which has been shown to have a high likelihood of success in nearly every other industrialized country in the world.

Texas is very obviously failing at a job that NO society has EVER succeeded at. There is no shame in realizing this, but there is shame in not even considering what has been proven to be a more effective method of preventing teen pregnancy.

The tools are readily available. Fix this situation. Continue to preach abstinence as the best choice if you must, but at least consider including meaningful information on contraception. Learn from places that have better results than you do. Do it for the children. All of them.

Friday, February 25, 2011 at 1:15am

Looking for quality time with your kids? Read to them!

I think that one of the best parts about being a parent is getting to read bedtime stories for my children. Erik is 15 now and I haven’t read much for him since he took over and finished the last Harry Potter book on his own, but we managed to get through the 6 previous ones and many, many others prior to that point. Johanna is 12 and is also quite a voracious reader, but it warms my heart that she still asks for me to read a chapter for her at bedtime.

It isn’t just the dry recitation of text that makes it fun for us both. With a book in hand (especially one that I am familiar with) I have a license to act, to give each character their own voice. To range from a whisper to a shout. To sing when appropriate. To explain difficult or arcane words. To share a laugh or a tear as necessary.

Right now Johanna and I are in the midst of Tom Sawyer. Twain’s ear for dialect is delectable, and I can’t read Aunt Polly without sounding like my own Aunt Polly, or better yet, my 93 year-old Grandma, since a pre-depression Oklahoma accent that I know and love is as close as I can get to a genteel 1840’s Missouri matron. Erik still sneaks in for a listen every once in a while, even though he has heard this one before.

Of course, better subject matter makes a difference, but reading almost anything is better than not reading at all. Tailor it to the kid and their interests. Erik likes and does well with science, and I’d like to think that an enthusiastic rendition several years ago of “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson might have something to do with that. Of course, we wouldn’t have gotten to that one if we hadn’t already established a relationship with that author through “A Walk in The Woods” and other fun stories.

You can even use movies to drive an interest in books. My sister Amanda (the best gift-giver on the face of the earth) bought Johanna the first three books of the Percy Jackson series, so we made sure to read “The Lightning Thief” before seeing the movie. As a result, the two of us have had a ton of fun talking about how that movie sabotaged the series. Fun that a 45 year-old father and his 12 year-old daughter might not otherwise have had together.

I’m having fun with this now, but I’m also looking at it as an investment in our individual and collective futures. By showing them that they are worth my time I let them know that they are valued. Doing my best to keep an audience of one interested might just give them some ideas about how to do that for themselves when the time comes for them to make presentations in class or at work. Helping them to expand their minds and vocabularies might give them an advantage that they might not otherwise have.

I’m also hoping that strengthening the bonds between us now might also help us remember how much we care about each other deep down when the inevitable conflicts of puberty and young adulthood sweep between us. There are many ways to show your kids that you care. Reading for them just happens to be one of my favorites. I’m interested to know what works for you. Think about it and let me know if you can.

 

Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 12:04am

25 things about me

1) I am two generations too far removed from the Chickasaw Nation to be able to claim favored minority status. That might have helped me to get into the college of my choice. (Of course, better grades might have also helped.)

2) I would like to have studied Vehicle Design at the Art Center College of Design and
Business at Stanford.

3) I’ve sustained a number of broken bones and other traumatic injuries while skiing, snowboarding, water skiing, motorcycle riding, mountain biking and other macho sports, but my most serious injury so far was suffered while… cheerleading. (Nearly broke my neck when I dropped a girl on my head in 1985. Still hurts from time to time.)

4) I can tolerate a wide variety of vices, but smoking has always been a huge turn-off for me. We are talking kick-Jennifer-Aniston-out-of-bed proportions here.

5) I am haunted by times in my past when I acted in ways that ended up hurting other people. The people and circumstances are too numerous to detail here, and besides that, I am clueless enough and my powers of denial well enough developed that I am certain to have missed or forgotten many of my more egregious examples of misbehavior. For those who I have wronged, I honestly hope that you can find some comfort in the fact that I have lived long enough to realize and regret many of my own shortcomings. You deserved better.

6) I have always been a voracious reader. My record so far is 759 pages (Harry Potter book 7) in one go.

7) I grew up hunting with my father and grandfather every fall and I am a good marksman with a number of different types of guns. Despite that, I have never been tempted to own one.

8) I can follow when necessary, but prefer to lead.

9) I love flying (both as a co-pilot and passenger) and came close to getting my license when I was 16.

10) I believe that humans (properly handled) have a nearly unlimited capacity to love.

11) I am decent at detail work and very good at seeing the big picture, but not as good at dealing with some of the really important stuff in the middle.

12) I am fluent in Swedish and used to be decent in Spanish, but my sister is better at picking up languages and accents than I am.

13) Scott Adams and I got the same score on the GMAT, and I think that he is right about many things, but I wish that he were not.

14) I grew up in a home with two loving parents and a great little sister. If I dig I can find things to complain about, but my family was always there to support me and help me to believe that the world was full of positive possibilities.

15) I sincerely hope that my children can learn good study habits from their mother and inherit the ability to soak up and regurgitate factoids as needed for tests from me.

16) I love to learn, but have trouble being taught by people that I don’t respect.

17) I went to Camp Wawona and Soquel Camp Meeting as a teenager primarily to meet and spend time with members of the opposite sex. I have reason to believe that I was not the only one who felt that way.

18) I have some pet grudges that I have nursed through the years, but in general find it easier to forgive others than to forgive myself.

19) I hate the fact that I sometimes have an awful temper, manic tendencies and depressive symptoms. Even so, I most often have a positive outlook.

20) My wife and I were friends for a long time before we were anything else to each other, and I can’t imagine ever having a better friend. She is the first person that I look for at a party and I feel much more comfortable in social situations when she is present.

21) My wife and I lived together before getting married, but we have always moved into new places together rather than one of us moving in with the other. That was by design, not by accident.

22) Being a good father is the most important responsibility that I will ever have, and by far the most rewarding. I can’t imagine my life without my children.

23) I think that most forms of religion touch upon the truth of the universe in some way, but none of them know as much about it as they claim, and few of them recognize the positive aspects of other religions.

24) I believe that the world would be a better place if believers, agnostics and atheists all had a more complete understanding of and abiding respect for the viewpoints of others.

25) I can imagine a fulfilling life without the use of any part or parts of my body, but if I lose my mind, please let me/help me move on with dignity and make sure that my organs are put to good use. I don’t think that it will be murder or suicide; it will just be human compassion. I understand that others feel otherwise and wouldn’t want to push my values upon them, but please accept my right to feel the way that I do about this.

 

Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 5:24pm

Thoughts on Lance Armstrong and drugs in the world of cycling

To: BikeSnobNYC

From: Daner

Re: My apologies

You gave a nice talk here in Göteborg (aka Gothenburg) yesterday on your opinions about many things in the world of cycling and silly me had to throw a wet blanket on the discussion by asking your opinion on Lance. I’ll blame it on your choice of shirt (a Mellow Johnny’s T).

I was entirely too oblique in my line of questioning. I didn’t really want you to talk about Lance or about drugs in cycling, so I shouldn’t have asked those questions. The discussion that I was hoping for was “How important are those questions in the broader context of cycling?”

There are many different aspects of cycling:

1. Utility – Riding for personal transportation

2. Training – Riding as exercise to reach a fitness goal

3. Competition – Participating in timed and/or judged cycling events

4. Recreation – Riding for pleasure

5. Culture – Enjoying the historic, aesthetic, artistic, scientific, sartorial and/or social aspects of cycling

6. Entertainment – Seeing or reading about how other people ride or relate to cycling

There is of course overlap between these areas, but aspects 1-4 are by definition participatory in nature. We experience them ourselves. They are not dependent upon the performance of others, or the quality of the camera work, or the commentating, or the journalistic skill of the writer. We are primarily responsible for our own subjective experiences in these areas. I would submit that the broader context of cycling would be well-served if aspects 1-5 were to receive a relatively greater proportion of our collective attention and if aspect 6 could assume a smaller, more realistic role in the larger scheme of things.

The world would be a better place on many different levels if more people more often used cycling instead of automobiles as personal transportation. The best ways to make that happen have everything to do with making cycling a more practical and safe and accepted alternative and nothing to do with the results of the Tour de France.

Taking the kids for pizza on the cargo bike instead of taking the car is great. Riding to get fit or to prepare for competitions or other organized events is great. Enjoying a beautiful sunrise on a morning commute or the smell of the lilacs while on a spring training ride is great. Appreciating the talents of the engineer/artisans who transform tubes and components into beautiful, practical rolling art while imbibing our favorite beverage of choice and enjoying the company of other like-minded individuals is great. All of those things are much more important in the broader scheme of things than the actions of those in the entertainment industry.

Respectfully yours, Dane Thomas (aka Daner)

PS – FWIW I had my wife pick up plenty of goodies at Mellow Johnny’s when she was in Austin last year and I plan to continue to use them. Additionally, I have no problem wearing my Livestrong wristband and respecting the fine and honorable work that Lance Armstrong has done to raise both awareness and funds for the fight against cancer.