"And now … let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure."
    -- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling


Flight Line

16 June 2015
14:44 EDT (-04:00 GMT)

Flight Line

Knobs

16 June 2015
14:35 EDT (-04:00 GMT)

Knobs

Waterfall

16 June 2015
14:32 EDT (-04:00 GMT)

Waterfall

By the Pool

16 June 2015
14:26 EDT (-04:00 GMT)

By the Pool

Chairs

16 June 2015
14:25 EDT (-04:00 GMT)

Chairs

Wait...what??

21 February 2015
6:11 EST (-05:00 GMT)

This morning I was awakened at 4:20 to the news that things were in motion. By 5:30 we were in the car, and we were holding our third child, a son, at 6:11 am. Welcome to the world little baby boy! The girls are so excited to have a little brother.


11:09 EST (-05:00 GMT)

In the past, I've written about various New Year's resolutions I've had (see new year's resolutions and 2011 new year's resolutions), and I thought it was a fun thing to do. However, as I look back, I see they're pretty much the same every year…and that's a bit sad and disappointing. So this year, I'm throwing caution to the wind and trying something different. I will not be making any resolutions for this year.

Does that mean I will be giving up on everything and expecting a boring, uninspiring 2015? Certainly not. I intend to work hard to be a good husband and father to my family. I expect I will continue to work at my job to the best of my ability (and of course continue to seek new challenges in the workforce). I fully anticipate a year of progress on my exercise and dietary regimes. I'm sure the coming year will include travel, both business and pleasure. I think it's safe to say a number of days in the new year will be devoted to time spent with family and friends and eating at tasty (and to be sure, some untasty) restaurants. And, I plan to look for the fun and excitement in everything I do in 2015.

But do I need to list these in a "To Do" fashion with little tick boxes next to them? No, I do not. I personally think that's where we so often fall off the proverbial wagon. When we set such high expectations for ourselves, it's damn near impossible for all but the uber A-types to accomplish. Uber B-types like me have a hard time looking at the list and mustering the ambition necessary to accomplish even one resolution, let alone all we typically jot down. Add to that the unrealistic ones that could never be accomplished in a lifetime let alone a year, and you've written the perfect recipe for absolute failure.

I think it's better to go into 2015 with no preconceived notions or ideas of what to expect. It's like waking up on a cold, crisp winter morning and looking out the window and seeing a field filled to the horizon with fresh snow: nothing but pristine white as far as the eye can see. The possibilities are endless: snow angels, snowmen (can anyone say, "Olaf"?), snowballs, snow forts, skiing, skating, staying in bed, sipping hot chocolate in the Jacuzzi. Or perhaps this metaphor would work better for you: it's like opening a brand new pad of unlined paper, and all your colored pencils are sharpened. You can draw anything you want: no guidelines, no plans, just complete and unhindered creative expression. To borrow from a popular movie, "the window is open, so’s that door," so walk in to a brand new year where anything can happen if you want it to.

If you come in without any expectations of what you want to do in the New Year, you won't be disappointed with the accomplishments you do achieve. And when you don't set expectations that are nigh impossible, you realize and—I daresay—appreciate more, the small deeds you do that normally go unnoticed. Who would put on their New Year's resolutions list "Order something different at my favorite restaurant"? But when you're sitting looking over the menu and the server suggests an entrée you never knew they had, let alone considered, you just might find the Foodie's version of nirvana on that plate in front of you. Yes, this just might be the highlight of 2015; but if it weren't on your list to tick off, you'd miss this moment of bliss.

So, all in all, it seems this year I actually have made a New Year's resolution: not to have any more resolutions.

Happy 2015 to everyone, and I hope (as I always do) that it will be even better and more exciting than 2014.


Life's Plans

7 October 2014
13:54 EDT (-04:00 GMT)

I'm not bad with a hammer and saw. I have a bit of skill from classes I've taken and some real-world experience. If you give me a set of blueprints and enough wood and glue, I could probably build it. The advantage of the type of carpentry I can do, of course, is it only needs to last for a few weeks (a month at the most), can look like crap from behind, and the people looking at it aren't any closer than about 30 feet. Oh, and the lights are designed to complement, so it will mask any imperfections, as will strategically-placed duct tape.

Beds, dressers and dining room tables are another story. These pieces need to be sturdy, well-built and, depending on your family and friends, stand up to the scrutiny of an eagle eye. If you're like me and bang a box of nails in to ensure it doesn't crumble, a critical eye will see it. No one wins when your dinner guest snags her clothing on a protruding nail head because she's sliding off a chair that has one leg askew. Likewise, you don't want to lie down on your bed after a long, hard day only to find yourself on the floor in the middle of a pile of kindling.

The simple fact of the matter is some people are better at building than others. Nevertheless, we all like to make things, to build it with our own hands. Who doesn't puff out their chest a little when they show off something they made on their own? I see it in my children when they draw something, make something with LEGOs, or invent something with the sundry tools children have at their disposal these days. I see it when we go to friends' houses and watch as they show us the fruits of their various hobbying labors. We all want to show that we're useful, imaginative, and capable.

And that's why, I think, the Scandinavian DIY craze has lasted as long as it has. The designs aren't amazing or truly inspiring; indeed, Mr. Magoo could pick out an IKEA original from a mile away. But yet, we love to shop there and brag about assembling our new beds, dressers, and dining room tables -- not because we love the look or we think we found a great deal -- no, the reason is much simpler. IKEA pre-drills the holes for you. There's no measuring. There's no guess work. The hardest part about putting together a piece of IKEA furniture is trying to ascertain if it's the longer or shorter screw; the thicker or thinner wooden peg. And once you've put together one thing from IKEA, you really don't need to look at their instructions ever again.

And that’s the true secret to their success, isn't it? They allow people who don't know Phillips from Allen to put together a dresser that would make a Shaker proud. In about 11 steps, you can assemble your own bed and impress everyone who sees it. You can even buy an IKEA tool kit that has all the screw bits you'd ever need to put together everything in the IKEA catalog.

Why can't life come with predrilled holes? Everything would be so much simpler if you could just unpack it, lay out the precut, predrilled, prefinished boards, arrange the included hardware, and thumb through the provided instruction manual. Life would always be so orderly and neat. Yes, we'd all have lives we could be proud of. No more guessing which path to take, which friends to have, and what to eat each day. Predrilled holes and correctly-sized wooden pegs would take all the guesswork out of it.

An IKEA life wouldn't be half bad…as long as my life was a Hållö -- comfy and machine washable -- but not a Hjälmaren, just too many hooks to get snagged on.


Categories: 
11:38 EDT (-04:00 GMT)

Ten years is a long time to do anything. Imagine my surprise when I realized I hit the decadal mark on this blog? True, it hasn't been 10 years on this specific site, but overall, I've been hacking away at this blogging thing for 10 years now. That means kids born when I began are in grade 5. People who got married when I began are exchanging tin or aluminum gifts (kind of chintzy material if you ask me).

At first, it made me a bit depressed to think 10 years had slipped by at such a rapid clip. Where have those years gone, and what do I have to show for it? It just so happens I have 10 years of blog entries to show what I did in the past 10 years.

During that time, I started working at this fine federal agency where I spend the majority of my time. I've moved around a bit and gotten some raises and increasing responsibility along the way. I still may not be exactly where I want to be career-wise, but I've gotten to do some amazing things, and (I think) gained the respect of my coworkers.

I also met a beautiful woman who accepted what I thought was a rather romantic marriage proposal. We might get on each other's nerves from time to time, but I like to think we're happy and doing just fine.

We produced two healthy, brilliant, and beautiful girls who make our lives better and more complete. Did we want children? Who knows? But the simple fact is I can't imagine life without them, nor do I want to.

On a more material side, I bought my first car (a Honda, which I still love) and a house. The former is still running quite well and has been very good to us. The latter is a challenge that has taken all of our strength (and money), but it has been an exciting adventure to say the least. We don't know if we'll live in this house until the mortgage is paid off, but we do know we all enjoy having a little piece of the American dream we can call our own.

The blog, too, has evolved over the years. What began as a venue to rant about the unfairness of life is now morphing into a chronicle of my life and an outlet for some modicum of creativity. At some point I was up to 3 blogs and 2 photoblogs, but that was just too hard, so I have consolidated back to 1. This consolidation necessitated reviewing every entry and making some choices about what to keep and what to ditch (well, not really ditch...just hide from public view). I think the current version--the one you're reading now--is the right one going forward (until things change again). I may not write regularly or on a single topic, nor do the virtual masses appear to be reading my ramblings, but I still enjoy writing and posting.

I have learned a ton about WordPress and Drupal along the way. I am no Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, and the techies can run circles around my piddly attempts to use css, but I still consider myself an autodidact when it comes to building websites.

Ultimately, it's been a fun 10 years, and I look forward to reviewing the blog again in another 10 years. I have no idea what's in store or what I'll decide to post, but I guess that's what makes it so exciting. Who doesn't want to stay up late reading to find out how it ends? So I invite you to embark with me upon the next chapter in my blog. If I may end with a literary reference, I'd like to quote Albus Dumbledore:

"And now … let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure."