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Posts Tagged ‘family’

I am proud of my national identity. I am English by birth, and also American by citizenship. I experience the same moment of delirious elation as many others when England’s soccer team scores a goal, the same heartbreak when the team subsequently suffers the ignominy of being eliminated from the World Cup in a penalty shoot-out. I experience immense pride and satisfaction when it is an American who wins a Nobel or a Pulitzer Prize.

But do I believe that England or America is ‘better’ than another nation? Are we morally or culturally or intellectually superior to the Iranians, or the Japanese, or the Congolese?

My answer to this is a resounding “NO!”, for Humanity is not comprised of nations, or of religions. We are people, each and every one of us, none more ‘human’ than another. America can – and often does – make a case for superiority based on its military muscle or its financial strength, but that doesn’t make David Brennan from Little Rock any more an exemplar of the species than Hidetoshi Yamagata from Sapporo or Abdul ibn-Aziz al-Rashid from Riyadh.

I am also white, male and heterosexual. Does this mean that I am more deserving of any form of recognition or respect than someone who might be black, or female, or gay? Again, “NO!”. Not in the slightest. Each of us is a shining jewel to be treasured and cherished, equally able to contribute to the betterment of our species as a whole.

It seems unfathomable to me that any subset of Humanity is considered ‘lesser’ than another in this day and age. In America, women have made immense strides toward equality over the hundred years since being granted rights which men had long taken for granted, and yet are still often perceived as inferior by some. Similarly, black Americans have made significant progress over the last half century, but still feel the sting of the ethnic divide. The LGBT community is even now struggling for many of the same rights for which women and African-Americans fought for so long. How is it possible that in the twenty-first century we are still discriminating between members of our own species?

This is not to say, however, that these differences do not matter. They matter immensely. Your gender, you ethnic and religious identity, your national origin and your sexuality are all parts of the recipe which makes you uniquely you, worthy of being celebrated. These traits may afford you a degree of insight which the prevalent majority may lack. Coupled with your intelligence, your creativity and your education, these all put you in a unique position to contribute something of immeasurable value to all seven billion of us, and I for one will celebrate alongside you as you do it.

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Mother’s Day

While I know there are other moms who read this blog, today’s post is for an audience of one.

Calendar-wise, it must be right around thirty years since my Mum first discovered she was expecting me, and in that time there have been a few ups and downs, and I’m sure I’ve been the cause of a gray hair or two (there are still only two, right?), but on the whole it’s been a great time, and I feel very privileged by Nature’s choice to team us up.

Thank you, Mum. For thirty years of love and patience.

I love you.

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Just a few bits regarding some of my favorite posting topics:


Dollhouse: The season finale of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse last night was amazing, astounding, astonishing, and quite possibly a lot of other words beginning with A.

For those of you who are interested in the show, but haven’t yet caught last week’s episode or last night’s, I’m not going to give away the identity of the guest star, but his performances in those two episodes have had “Give this man an Emmy!” written all over them. Just incredible.

Citizenship: Thank you to everyone who tweeted and Facebooked and LiveJournaled and texted and in other ways passed along their congratulations; each helped to make an already special day a little more so.

I came home last night to find this:

handmade card

… which was amazingly sweet.


Gay marriage: So I got a little pocket-sized copy of the Constitution at the ceremony yesterday, and was reading through it when I noticed something.

“Article IV, Section 1: Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records and judicial Proceedings of every other State;”

Doesn’t that mean that these supposed decisions taken by states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states are really just the states in question deciding to do what they were already constitutionally bound to do?

And by extension, if every state is required to recognize gay marriages performed in other states, doesn’t that make banning them a little pointless?

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For a long time, I’d been curious about learning American Sign Language; I enjoy learning spoken languages, and something like ASL represented a different dimension to that.

However, unlike living in Italy, working in France and Holland, visiting Japan and taking Spanish in high school, I had no real impetus to get the process into gear. As such, I’d learn a sign here or there, and most likely forget it again. So most of the signs I actually retained were the ones used for communicating with incompetent drivers with whom one is forced to share the road.

Along came L – a seemingly very bright miniature human. Learning to talk is a fairly slow process for the vast majority of miniature humans. However, he is in possession of increasingly fine motor skills. We learned that most babies can sign words before they can say them. And so there was a reason for the whole family to learn to sign together.

A friend of ours recommended the Baby Signing Time series of DVDs, and we picked up the first two. L now watches one of these each evening, and has amassed a healthy sign vocabulary. We just ordered the third and fourth DVDs, and I hope there will eventually be more in the series. Each DVD is a series of catchy songs written so as to teach a set of signs, and since we have been watching them so often, it is fortunate that the songs are sufficiently interesting and well-written as to not drive us crazy!

L’s most frequent signs are to ask for milk or food – very often ‘more food’ – but he also signs ‘all done’, ‘drink’, ‘sleep’, ‘please’, ‘hat’, ‘wash hands’, ‘brush teeth’, variously ‘signing’ or ‘time’ (when he wants to watch the DVDs) and a few others. He will often combine them in a logical fashion (the other night, when he was tired, he signed ‘please sleep’ at me). He has also signed ‘daddy’, ‘sorry’, ‘where’, ‘ouch’ and a few others, but only once, so it’s hard to say whether those were more than just coincidental… but he’s definitely able to express way more than he would be with speech alone by this point.

I’m immensely proud of my little boy, and I cannot recommend these DVDs highly enough. Hopefully I can keep up with him as he learns more and more signs!

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*This is for a very broad definition of ‘nearly’ and a purely theoretical definition of ‘eaten’, but the alligator part is all true.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we briefly escaped the ice and snow of Rochester for a week in Fort Myers, Florida. Although more than 3 hours’ drive from Disney World, the place still has a vaguely unreal aura, at least for those of us unaccustomed to bright blue skies and 81° weather in late January.
16degrees1

palmtrees

See the difference?

Getting to see family again was great – and L got to meet his new cousin for the first time!

Also, there was an alligator.

gators

There will be more to write about this later.

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This is the start of a new temporary (maybe 9 days) feature wherein I make lists of stuff. So yeah. Reasons 2009 won’t suck.

1. New albums from Guster and Carbon Leaf

They’re not the only ones, of course, but two perennial favorites who will be releasing new material for the first time since 2006. Perhaps this will be as good a music year as that was.

2. Radical topiary

By which I of course mean the wholesale removal of the Bushes from the political landscape. I know that Obama has an extraordinarily difficult year ahead of him, and as such I am hesitant to expect a full reversal of the Bush policies I have disagreed with. However, I believe that he is likely to bring a change for the better, and I look forward to seeing it.

3. The return of Jermain Defoe

Tottenham have been woefully short on goals this season, largely due to the previous management’s boneheaded decision to sell off our three most prolific strikers in 2008 without lining up a proven replacement. As such, we were languishing at the foot of the league for a long time. Mercifully, said management has fallen under the proverbial axe, and due to the arrival of the new manager one of those strikers is now returning. Two other existing players are beginning to find their rhythm as well, and we have won more games than we have lost in the last 4-5 weeks. Here’s hoping this continues and we can climb the table again.

4. Going to Florida

On the 23rd, we will be escaping the cold and wet and dreary weather for a week in the sticky-out bit at the bottom right of America. More on that when it happens.

5. Getting our own place

2009 will in all likelihood see us moving into a house of our own, away from the mental depredations inflicted upon us throughout the years by noisy neighbors and flaky landlords. 

6. Baby steps

L is very close to taking his first steps, and will almost certainly do so either this month or next. It’s something that is second nature to any of us, but an extremely important milestone for him, and I can’t wait to be the proud daddy when he manages it.

7. Commemorative coinage

2009 sees the extension of the State Quarters program for one more year, four new Presidential dollar coins and four commemorative pennies. OK, so it’s only 14 coins and thus about 1.2% of my collection, but there are new coins coming out and I’m a coin nerd and that therefore makes me squee like a 7-year-old seeing the newest line of Hannah Montana merchandise.

8. More interesting work

Ever since I started at Xerox, I’ve been working on one big behemoth of a project, now mercifully complete. This means that I get to do a wider variety of things.

9. Steve Jobs is still not dead

Notwithstanding the rumours that keep screwing with Apple’s stock price, one of the computer industry’s titans is still alive and kicking, and thus there will be more pretty shiny toys released this year.

So yeah. Should be a good year.

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While it is no surprise to me that the lyrics to many kiddie songs are both insipid and inane, I had not given a great deal of thought to very much of the content. Some of the sentiments and concepts expressed are extremely odd, and some are just plain scary to contemplate.

As such, I present a kiddie hit parade of sorts – the songs I refer to will doubtless be known to you all.

1. Your father is bribing you to shut up by buying you all kinds of stuff. Much of it appears to be livestock.

2. Some lunatic decided to put your cradle in a tree and I am now trying to convince you to sleep in it, presumably with the idea that when high winds hit, you’ll get a surprise. And this is good. Really.

3. Field mice are evil, the resolution of which lies in cranial trauma administered by a rabbit.

4. Speaking of cranial trauma, the protagonist of our next ditty not only suffered the injury and indignity of falling down a hill, but also the painful cauterization of the resulting wound with whatever substance was convenient and acidic, in this case vinegar.

5. Living in footwear is apparently not conducive to birth control, nor to the ability to feed your kids, though it does give you quite the background for child abuse.

6. When your true love drowns in the sea and you are unable to save her, you still have her sister as a backup option once you have made it through the obligatory four verses of grieving.

7. Spiders have nothing better to do than climb up spouts, and are too stupid to find somewhere else to go in bad weather. And we are supposed to believe this of a species that also engages in the laudable practice of helping young women get off their tuffets and get some exercise.

8. Egg-shaped people should avoid sitting on masonry, for they are too fragile to survive loss of balance. They are also rather less subject to re-assembly than, say, an IKEA bookshelf.

I’m sure I could come up with many more, but that’s all I can think of for the moment. If you feel inclined to comment with others, I look forward to reading them.

Also – though of a less traumatic bent – does anyone know the escape velocity required to counteract the gravitational pull of mulberry bushes?

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