We’re starting to see a more wakeful baby now. She’s staying awake during longer periods of the day – only to nurse relentlessly upon her mother. She has gained a good amount of weight and shows all signs of being a very healthy girl. Of some uniqueness, she’s quite grunty. We get the impression that she’s largely displeased with being awake. However, she’s still not very fussy. As we’re seeing more of her eyes now, I think they’re going to be green/hazel like ours.
Remarkably, the biggest change at the Gradin household is simply in our perception. There are all sorts of things that change when a new child is born into your family. Your free time dries up, your bank account empties, you become more selfless. But when you already have an older child, the thing we noticed was that the older child stopped being a baby in our eyes. I never realized how big he was – how big his hands were. It’s harder to carry him sleeping into his bed at night. This new addition, so small and defenseless, makes us realize in ways you can’t truly convey to anyone that she’s the only baby in the house. Perhaps Balthazar became “our first child.” Even though he’s only five years old, I sense that he’s more in charge of his destiny and in self discovery now. Sorscha, on the other hand, seems to have so much more malleable potential tied up in her.
I’m doing my best to ensure that I don’t lose sight of the treasures still to come in our first-born while our attention is diverted to this little girl. It can be a struggle keeping up with everything at home while still making time for me and Balthazar to play the games we used to play. Easing that, he’s recently really gotten into board games. I can keep an eye (and ear) on Sorscha while we play board games without being too distracted to give him my attention. It’s also easier to allocate this time, as our outside time has been cut short for the coming winter.
This experience of having our second child – some 5 years apart from our first – has given us new wisdom that I feel one can only gain through life.
One cannot fully appreciate what happens to the being at the birth of your first child. You undergo a transformation unlike anything before or after that moment. I remember seeing a baby born vaginally when I was an adolescent, and the experience gave me some spine-tingling chills that hinted at this fact. When we had our first child, the internal shift from my awareness of self: man, husband, child, protector, supplier, etc., went spiraling around and may have momentarily just been forgotten. It didn’t matter anymore. The thing I remember most – and perhaps something that sums up a great deal of this feeling – is that I lost my sense of invulnerability. Perhaps it’s passed on to the next generation – much to a parent’s chagrin.
Now at the birth of our second child, we see the real development of our first. Less of the initial surge of fatherhood that fills you, though a new awareness of everything that can’t be ignored.
I really mean to say that there are some lessons in life that we’re taught, but can never be appreciated until experienced. You were told that you’d one day look back at your school days and realize you were having the time of your life. You’re told that a child will change you. I’ve heard that time flies as you get older. “One day you’ll understand…” All of these things go unheeded as our elders press them into our heads. Being at the crossroads of naivety and understanding, I want to impart a sort of enlightenment to those behind me on the path. But who am I kidding? I’m just saying the same thing…
…And upon the third decade of life, such an elaborate scheme was laid upon the woolen eyes of their victim.
Never before have I been so bewildered and pleased in the same breath. Here’s the skinny on one of the greatest sting operations of all times.
Jeff calls me early in the month of February to schedule me for a stilt-walking gig on the Saturday after my birthday. He asks me if I’m doing anything then and I tell him that it’s the day after my birthday, so not that I know of. Jeff is sketchy on the details as usual, but it’s nothing unusual. Amy even feigns irritation at Jeff’s inability to offer up all the details of an engagement. When my birthday finally rolls around, nothing much happens. I mean nothing. I turn 30 and there’s no recognition, no hazing, no free coffee at Starbucks. “Oh well,” I think – not a big deal. I planned to leave early Friday because it was my birthday. I got out at 3:30pm – big whoop! Traffic was painful, but I get home in time to have daylight that I need to work on my brakes for the Mazda3. It doesn’t go well and I’m stuck in the end with a caliper that I can’t fit back on the rotor. But that’s another story. We meet Jeff and Amanda for dinner, ice cream, and a Darth Vader costume fitting (in that order), but I tell them I need to get back home to work more on the brakes. If I don’t get the brakes done, I won’t have a way to get to the stilt-walking gig Saturday evening. Saturday morning breaks early and I’m off to AutoZone to equip. The boy insists on “helping,” which any parent of a 4-year-old understands the purpose of air quotes around that, so it takes a bit longer than it should. I prepare all my stilt-walking gear and costume and head out to drop Balthazar off at the in-laws for baby-sitting. Pick up some coffee, grab a bite to eat, and drive like the wind to make it to StarTime for a supposed corporate event in which I will be entertaining drunken employees. I call Jeff as I arrive in the parking lot to coordinate logistics. He tells me he doesn’t know where we’re going to be setting up and that he’s looking for the client to get information – wait outside and I’ll come to you. I’m game, because that means he’ll help me load gear into the building. While I wait, I notice a red Toyota Prius near my car that looks just like Isi and Missy’s car. I didn’t check the license plate, which proudly reads “LORAX,” but I don’t really assume it’s their car. I even have half-a-mind to call them to see if they happen to be at StarTime where I’m doing a stilt gig. When Jeff finds me, he tells me that we’re an hour early instead of 30 minutes early so decide to just go in and check the place out – maybe play some games while we wait. As we enter the building, I start eying the ceilings and flooring to gauge the relative ease of transitions and where I can and cannot walk with stilts. We get to the Funny Farm, where everything is going down, and I see a girl taking pictures through the door that looks like my wife…and she’s a photographer…how ironic is that? Even as my mind slowly realizes that it is my wife, I continue to structure my perverse reality and include her in it. Hmmm…that’s weird. Jeff must’ve hired Amy to come out and take photos at the party. Even as thirty people scream “SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY” from across the room, my mind is still sizing up the room and my obstacles for the night. It’s not until I see Missy’s hot pink hair that I finally realize I’ve been duped. The cogs in my brain slam against each other and break a few teeth before finally reversing. I can’t believe how oblivious I was for weeks! I can’t believe how well my friends kept their major secret. Turns out, I almost broke Amanda at the Dairy Queen on my birthday. I told them it was my birthday at the DQ and they had to act like they didn’t remember. Amanda didn’t want to be the asshole friend and it nearly stripped her of her secrecy.
So kudos to everyone in on this – especially my esteemed wife! Thank you one and all for my birthday surprise…and thank you for not making it a Batman costume gig in favor of stilt-walking. I couldn’t have hoped for more than a room full of friends and laughs for my 30th birthday.
And now I will seek out the people of the world that share a wonderful day with me to wish them well on whatever year they have successfully reached…
Children explore the world around them with such innocence and wonder. I am reminded of this daily by the fact that Balthazar brings every little minor detail to my attention. Most of the time it’s a plea for me to notice this most magnificent discovery of his. As parents – and even some of our friends – we find ourselves amending our vocabulary to include phrases from our children’s new fascination with the world, and their unquenched need to describe it for the first time. I don’t have to imagine how it was for Europeans to discover North America for first time. I don’t have to imagine what it’s like to see the curvature of our Earth for the first time. Look at an intensely curious child to see these things happening before our very eyes.
Balthazar and I built a righteous fire in the back yard this evening. The wind was kicking so hard that we had a very flat, and very hot, fire at times. As such, the fire was spitting off an intense display of sparks and what I used to call “fireflies” in my childhood. Balthazar’s first word for this amazing discovery was “fire bubbles.” Really excellent term I think I’ll be adding to my vocabulary.
‘Twas the night before Yule, when all ‘cross the heath,
not a being was stirring; Pagan, faerie, or beast.
Wassail was left out & the alter adorned,
to rejoice that the Sun King would soon be reborn.
The children lay sleeping by the warmth of the hearth,
their dreams filled with visions of belov’d Mother Earth.
M’lady & I beneath blankets piled deep,
had just settled down to our own Solstice sleep.
Then a noise in the night that would leave us no peace,
Awakened us both to the honking of geese.
Eager to see such a boisterous flock,
When we raced to the window, our mouths dropped in shock!
On the west wind flew a gaggle of geese white & gray,
With Frau Holda behind them in her giftladen dray.
The figure on her broomstick in the north sky made it clear,
La Befana was approaching to bestow Yuletide cheer.
Balthazar received his second backpack in life – this one more official than the diaper bag/backpack we taught him to carry. He perked awake this morning with the clear intention of this backpack accompanying him to daycare (a.k.a. school). All morning he held onto said pack and eagerly considered the jealousy in his friends’ eyes as they drooled over (and on) the canvas glory of Nemo and friends. Having arrived at school, it suddenly dawned on him that he might want to pack something in the bag. His first thought centered on some underwear he spotted in the recesses of the car. Lucky for Amy, she happened to have the right item for the job. He promptly put the bag in the pack and happily carried it in to present. Amy thought it particularly unique that he was packing underwear in his backpack, but having prompted the ladies up front to guess what he had, they already knew. Blast! Apparently, it is of no surprise that a child of 3-4 would want underwear in their bag.
A romantic notion in the recesses of my mind really loves the F.B.I., C.I.A., and the like. I like spy novels. I like James Bond. I like super heroes fighting super villans. However, the real world of federal investigative services is far different than the portrayal delivered through metaphor and myth.
I read today in the Washington Post “The F.B.I.’s Upgrade that Wasn’t.” A most unsettling account of the trials and tribulations of Trilogy and its critical component, Virtual Case File (VCF). The idea was to bring Roosevelt’s dream into the 21st century. Currently, the F.B.I. is still passing paper within the orgnization and doing an inefficent job at knowledge sharing. To share a photograph between offices, no secure vehicle exists to pass this data securely (in the organization’s eyes). As a result, a photo can be passed via fax or interoffice delivery. Highly ineffective in today’s modern culture. Now I realize that this must be one of the more embarrassing events in late F.B.I. history, but I just can’t help but to make a dig at this misues of technology by our government. Afterall, it was in part my tax dollars that helped to fund $170 million worth of failure. In the end, they asked independant auditors to review the progress of VCF. In summary, consultants remarked that VCF was a total loss. The F.B.I. had planed on implementing the system with little testing and no back-out plan. The independant consultants advised heavily against this plan and said that a failure in the system, which was inevitable, would result in the bungling of case work.
‘”That was a little bit horrifying,” said Matt Blaze, a professor of computer science at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the review team. “A bunch of us were planning on committing a crime spree the day they switched over. If the new system didn’t work, it would have just put the FBI out of business.”‘
Zalmai Azmi, chief technology officer, reported in the end that VCF was a total loss. Unfortunatley for the F.B.I. (and the tax payers), major costs had already been incurred despite the multiple opportunities to cut losses earlier in the projects doomed life. Today, the F.B.I.’s case file handling is still handled the same way it was in the late 70’s and 80’s; paper and filing cabinents. Sharing data is highly ineffectual, but it’s performant in so much as it actually works – which is something VCF could not do. All is not lost if they’ve learned something from this egregious mistake. They’re certainly not using the same technology group, SAIC, for their development work. I’d be very surprised if they didn’t go after them for recovered costs or damages. They’re spending a hellaload more money to solve their development issues before, though I suspect that will do little to solve anything.
Last year, FBI officials announced a replacement for VCF, named Sentinel, that is projected to cost $425 million and will not be fully operational until 2009.
I mean, holy crap!!! You drop the ball on a huge project and lose $170 million. Then they give you $255 million more to try again?!? Now I see why there’s so much tax fraud and political polarity around government spending.
I’m still working out ideas to bring law enforcement and investigative services to the private sector. There’s no money in civil services as an employee, yet it’s in all of our best interest. I think RoboCop was the key, really.
M. Night Shyamalan has created yet another masterpiece to add to his considerable titles so far. I know I’ve heard some poor reviews on the film, but I’m hear to tell you that M. Night fans will not be dissappointed. My wife and I decided he creates films that appeal to his artistic vision first and foremost. He doesn’t create movies that the public will enjoy; if that happens, it’s incidental. What he creates I compare closely to the blog phonomena.
I blog because it’s a way for me to write down my thoughts from a given time. If someone happens to read them (and enjoy them) then I get the bonus of having found someone who can relate to me.
M. Night could be for thrillers what Andy Kaufman was for comedy. Regardless of what people have said about “The Lady in the Water,” I think he and his film are brilliant. Amy wept openly, which is a sign of a story’s sincerity. My eyes brimmed, but my soul cried buckets. The story engages the audience in a way few others can. When we first saw the trailer, we thought too much was seen. It turns out, that doesn’t matter. M. Night’s focus in this film was the story element. That’s not something given away by the trailers, and even if it was it wouldn’t matter. True classics can be heard over and over again, despite the fact that you know how they end.
This picture gives me a headache and I can’t stop looking at it…
We went to Athens’ Athica art gallery to see the RACE show. It’s a bit of an anti-whitey display, but I’m not going to say that the white man hasn’t done some malicious racial activities in the past and present. I’m sure that it will continue into the future, possibly as a result of displays such as this one. Much of the art was strongly objectionable displays of things we don’t typically care to bring up. For instance, upon entering the gallery, you are faced with a model of a Klu Klux Klan member complete with realistic eyes and feet. It’s a bit unsettling to say the least. If I’m not mistaken, and I may be, the show was primarily latino artists doing political pieces. That’s interesting, because I thought that latinos and negros had racial issues between them. I guess caucasians have had issues with everybody, so you can always throw in a goad there. Nobody in our party had any racist views, but we’re all aware of the stereotypes. If you weren’t, you may not have gotten the show. Actually, we originally planned to attend because there was a piece called “Celebración” that caused some unnecessary uproar at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center. The “censored art” bit was a total fabrication of the truth. The truth, as it were, is far more mundane and boring, and so, not so good for political art. As it is, the piece is more politically stimulating and interesting to the vast majority because of the “much ado about nothing” fiasco. Funny how things work that way. Interesting thing…we arrived at the gallery and the curator (used loosely) was fast asleep at his post behind the desk. We crept around and took some pictures while the opportunity was there. We had Balthazar too, so there was no lack of squelched noises and bustling about. He didn’t wake up. After our leaving the gallery and returning again with a noisy child, I began to worry about the guy. His phone also went off and he slept through four or five obnoxious rings. At this point, I’m thinking he’s dead or unconscious. His legs are locked with his feet at heart level propped up on the table in front of him. I’ve never heard of anyone dying from locked legs, but I guess it’s possible. As it turns out, he was just a heavy sleeper. He awoke as I was about to go and check his pulse.