Why I Think the Airstrikes in Syria Were a Mistake

April 14, 2018 - Leave a Response

Nice title, ĉu ne? I thought it worked pretty well with articulating my opinion, and it gets right to the point.

To recap: Last Sunday (April 7th), it was reported that at least seventy people, including children, died (and hundreds injured) in a sarin chemical attack in Douma, Syria; which, at the time, was under the control of the rebel coalition, Jaysh al-Islam. Both the White House and the state department announced yesterday that they have “a high level of confidence” that President Assad of Syria’s regime was responsible for the attack, while the Kremlin (which backs Assad) has claimed that they have evidence that the attacks were staged by British intelligence (if any of this sounds unusually familiar, it’s because the whole situation is kind of weirdly similar to the chemical attacks in April of last year).

Last night, President Trump announced that, in response to the attack, he—together with Prime Minister May of the United Kingdom, and President Macron of France—had ordered airstrikes, using both cruise missiles and manned aircraft, on multiple sites in Syria believed to be capable of storing or producing chemical weapons; specifically, areas in and around Damascus and Homs. While this wasn’t the first time the current administration has opted for airstrikes in Syria (and, by the way things are going, my guess is it likely won’t be the last), this attack does seem to be much larger in extent than the ones ordered on Shayrat Airbase last year. President Putin called this an act of aggression and a breach of international law, and Antoly Antonov (Russia’s ambassador to the United States) warned that “such actions will not be left without consequences.”

While I am no fan of Putin or Assad (my guess is few people in America are), and I’m horrified by the deaths of the victims of the chemical attack, I honestly fail to see how our airstrikes are going to really better the situation for the people in Syria—and I’m pretty disturbed that Trump is continuing the practice of previous presidents by ordering military offensives without even consulting Congress. While I don’t think that I’m really one to be inclined to a conspiratorial mindset, I can’t help but think that part of this whole thing might be a bit of a distraction for the public while Trump’s under investigation, and it does seem kind of odd that we’d order strikes literally hours before the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) started conducting their investigation. Now, I’m not a pacifist or an isolationist; in fact, I tend to believe that we have a moral obligation to intervene when there’s a humanitarian crisis going on and we can help (it does seem weird to me how we appear to be pretty selective with which ones we do choose to intervene in, though; there’s still genocide going on in Myanmar, and I haven’t really seen any foreign power do anything of substance in trying to prevent it), but I do believe that intervention should be effective, especially if it includes military action (which, in my opinion, should always be the last resort). The bottom line is that intervention shouldn’t make a bad situation worse, and I haven’t really seen our unscrupulous and reckless use of airstrikes improve the quality of life in the long run of the people we’ve tried to help—on the contrary, from an ethical standpoint, it seems to me that the way we use them poses far too great a risk to noncombatants; and, from a purely pragmatic standpoint, history has shown air power alone to be pretty ineffective in ending conflicts in the longterm. I’m genuinely concerned about how Russia and Iran, who both probably have more personally at stake in Syria than we do, are going to respond to their ally being attacked; it doesn’t help that our current administration hasn’t even really tried to be conciliatory in any meaningful way in our negotiations. Given that both Putin and Trump are pretty hubristic and unstable, it doesn’t seem inconceivable to me that harsh rhetoric might possibility lead to actual violent conflict in the future, which would be really disastrous for everyone—not to mention historically embarrassing, considering we managed to avoid direct confrontation with Russia during the Soviet regime for decades, although then we tended to have leaders who (though imperfect) were generally able to keep their heads cool for the most part, even during debacles like the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not to be a fearmonger or anything, but if Trump’s foreign policy continues to be this impulsive and inconsistent, and he ends up dragging us into a war with another nuclear-weapon state, both Kennedy and Khrushchev are going to be rolling in their graves.

President Trump, Americans want peace, not war. I think we all want peace—peace at home, and peace in Syria—but impassioned decisions and political virtue signaling is not going to achieve it. Peace takes hard work; it takes listening, compromise, cooperation, and fully thought-through decision-making. No one wants to see the innocent suffer, or feel responsible for that suffering by inaction, but your knee-jerk responses are only going to make things worse.

Next time you intervene, please consider all your options, and settle for something better than launching missiles and dropping bombs.

 

 

 

 

-Isaac““

 

 

 

 

 

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Solemnity of the Annunciation

April 9, 2018 - Leave a Response

 

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Feast of the Divine Mercy, 2018

April 8, 2018 - Leave a Response

 

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!

 

During Holy Week, the only Mass Mommy and Daddy lead music at was Holy Thursday (which was a relief to Mommy, since she was nervous about putting together the music for such special services); although we were able to help out during the Easter Vigil by singing with the woman who came to play the electric piano (even Levi joined us; he says he had an easier time sitting on a chair in the back, than in the pew, although he had thought otherwise before trying it).

On Easter Sunday, after Levi and I looked in our Easter baskets (Mommy and Daddy didn’t make any for themselves this year, which I thought was kind of odd), we went to spend the day at Grandma and Papa’s. This was my first time traveling back since we moved; my headaches and nausea still got much worse on the way there, specifically when we were driving over the Coastal Range, but Mommy helped keep the pain down; on the way home, she was even able to work on my neck to keep me from getting very much of a serious headache at all. I had a fun time at Grandma’s; we had a good dinner, Stephie and Clay put together an egg hunt in the living room for Nathan and Simon, Levi was able to give Tami her belated birthday present, we had banana cream pie that Stephie had made to celebrate Levi’s 17th birthday (it fell on Good Friday this year; so we mainly celebrated on Easter, with all the family, although Mommy and Daddy gave Levi his merlin—a kind of guitarlike dulcimer—on his actual birthday), Levi received presents from the Tevebaughs, as well as Grandma and Papa; and Clay, Katie, Levi, and I were even able to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl together on the Wii. Toward the end of the day, I took a look at Papa’s computer, to see if I could help get rid it of some adware; I’m still not certain that I was able to delete it all, so I may have to try again in the near future. On the whole, I had a good time, and I’m glad that I was able to celebrate the holiday with family.

 

This past week has been relatively quiet. Usually there’s sort of a more festive atmosphere right after Easter, but lately a lot of people have been feeling down to one degree or another off and on; Mommy has a friend who’s mother recently passed away, and of course she feels really bad for her friend; Levi’s been really frustrated with his body lately, and feeling out of control; and Daddy’s been stressed out with his job and such. I honestly don’t really experience a lot of emotional highs and lows, for better or worse, even at times when they’re expected or justified, and the things that I do get upset about often aren’t real; but I have been feeling kind of sad lately, because it’s been a year (as of yesterday) since Dr. Kibert was killed by a falling tree branch. It probably doesn’t help that there’s been this crazy windstorm in northwestern Oregon (it was apparently the most severe on the coast, which is the reason we actually didn’t go to Mass last night; on a positive note, this house is one of the sturdier and more insulated that we’ve lived in, and sometimes you could hardly tell how stormy it was outside—it’s also pretty remarkable that we never lost power, which we were expecting to), which of course is pretty evocative of the storm he died in the same time last year. I guess that’s just how life is, though; the longer you live, the more people you meet, and the more you have to say goodbye to. Death is (weirdly enough) a part of life, which definitely makes immortality as a possibility look pretty sucky, at least if you’re the only one who’s immortal. I suppose I really shouldn’t be one to complain too much, though; nearly everybody has people in their lives who have died, and at least I’m able to remember them in pretty vivid detail, which apparently isn’t common for most people (well, at least most people I know; I don’t actually know most people, haha).

 

Life here has been quiet, albeit sad sometimes, but overall it’s good. Levi’s birthday present from Uncle Andrew recently came in the mail; a new game for our PlayStation called Horizon Zero Dawn, which Levi’s had a lot of fun playing, and I’ve really enjoyed watching. My big “brother gift” (quick explanation: since Levi was born, Mommy and Daddy usually give us one or two smaller presents on our brother’s birthday, so we don’t feel left out) this year was a season of WordGirl on Amazon, which has some of my favourite episodes, so we’ve been watching a good deal of WordGirl recently. Mommy’s been reading Levi and I a lot of Harry Potter lately, which I’ve really enjoyed; listening to someone read is one of my favourite things to do (at least if it’s a story I like, of course), especially since it’s probably the one form of entertainment that I can do for a long time period without hurting my head very much at all. I’ve started paper trading (day trading on a simulator) in the afternoons when I can, which seems to be much better on my head than getting up to  trade when the stock market opens (which, for us on the West Coast, is at 6:30 in the morning); I also seem to be more alert, which I think is why I’ve been making better decisions. The day before yesterday, Mommy, Levi, and I went on a brief walk, to enjoy the weather before it turned nasty; I took some pictures, and actually stayed outside for quite a while afterwards. Yesterday, Mommy spent the day putting together Daddy’s new exercise machine; and lately she’s been baking cookies and muffins like there’s no tomorrow (largely in preparation for the power outage which we fortunately never experienced), which has been awesome.

I had trouble getting to sleep last night, and woke up much later than I’d prefer with a big headache, so today’s been pretty slow for me so far. Mommy, Levi, and I prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy this afternoon (it is Divine Mercy Sunday, after all); and Mommy made cookies again. Tomorrow is the Feast of the Annunciation, where we celebrate Mary’s “Yes” to God and Jesus’ incarnation. We’ve had to wait longer than usual this year, since the feast is moved to the Monday after Easter when it falls during holy week, so I’m pretty excited.

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Question: Most of my dreams are very realistic—I see, hear, and feel things more or less like I do when I’m awake; although, the few times I’ve eaten in dreams, taste is usually off for some reason—and, typically, relatively mundane (I had one the other night where I was petting Sid, which was both happy and sad). I’ve only been able to guess I was dreaming while doing so maybe half a dozen times in my life, but other people I know talk about being able to tell when they are dreaming, and being able to control them. So, I guess they’re a little different for everyone. So, my question today is: What are dreams like for you?

 

 

 

 

Today’s Joke: My dog used to chase people on bikes a lot; it go so bad, that I finally had to take his bike away.

 

 

 

 

 

He is Risen!

April 1, 2018 - Leave a Response

 

He is risen, indeed!

 

 

 

-Isaac““

 

 

 

 

 

The Past Couple of Weeks

March 28, 2018 - Leave a Response

Last week turned out much differently than I had expected.

 

Tami’s birthday was on the 16th (which, of course, was something that I had expected); we didn’t get to see her, but I did get to talk with her for a little bit, and the night before I emailed her a birthday card that I had made.

The next day, we celebrated St. Patrick’s day, which in our family usually entails watching the Veggietales video about him; since it was Saturday, we also went to Mass in the evening.

Mommy and Daddy have started doing the music for the Vigil Mass, Mommy playing guitar and doing most of the planning for the music, and Daddy backing her up by singing; they’ve been joined most of the time by a nice cellist, who splits his time between our parish and a bigger one in a nearby city. I’ve been getting to sing with them as well, although I usually go back and forth between the choir area at the back of the church, and sitting with Levi in the last pew after hymns (which he says is easier on his back). Singing at the back of the church can be a little difficult, since it’s harder to hear what everyone else in the church is singing (and naturally you want to try to compliment what the people in the pews are singing), but I think we’re getting better.

The following morning, Mommy went to church again to meet up with our friend, Ms. Theresa, who came to stay with us for a couple of days. During her visit, we were able to check out one of the new beaches in the area; it’s technically a little closer to our house than the one in town, it’s easier to access, and it had a lot less people (which means easier parking). It also feels more parklike (it kind of reminds me of a particular park we had lived near for the majority of my life); there’s a little forested area you go through on your way to the actual beach, as well as picnic tables, and a building for public restrooms. The sun at the beach can be very bright sometimes, which hurts my head, and I’m not a fan of all the sand (I never have been); but I like taking pictures, and the sunsets can be pretty amazing. While we were in the forested area, I found out that I still have the upper body strength to lift myself up with just my arms; I was able to grab a tree branch, lift myself up, and hang from my arms and legs. This made me happy, since I’ve lost a lot of weight and muscle mass in the past year and a half or so (owed in part to my living a relatively sedentary lifestyle since my head injury), and so it came as a pleasant surprise.

On the 19th, my great-grandmother Willie Ruth died; she had been in the process for quite some time, so it didn’t come as a huge surprise, but she meant a lot to Daddy; she and her husband, Floyd (who died when I was a baby), were one of the few really positive adults in his life while he was growing up. Daddy got out a big box of pictures from the garage, so that he could find some pictures of his Pa and Nannie, which we’ve been looking through off and on for the past week or so; he did find a good deal of pictures of them, and we also had the chance to “go down memory lane” together and look at a bunch of different family photos we’ve amassed over the years. I’ve taken the opportunity to “digitalize” some of them (well, just by taking pictures of them with my phone, so it’s not like it’s a super high-tech scan or anything), and send them to family members (the second picture below is one of them).

 

Daddy’s Pa and Nannie, in 1941

 

Willie Ruth Radford
December 31st, 1922 – March 19th, 2018

 

 

Our parish priest was in a pretty bad car accident on the 19th, which we didn’t hear about until later; they had to transfer him to a hospital in Portland, and it looks like he’s going to be recovering at a Jesuit house for some time. So, we’ll be having substitute priests for a while now; which isn’t super weird for me, since we had a few different priests fill in at our old parish, especially after Fr. Robert died.

 

 

The main reason that this week didn’t turn out the way that I had expected it to is that Mommy, Levi, and I had been planning for some time to stay the night at Grandma and Papa’s house, while Daddy went to a party thing for work in Austin. Daddy was excused from going to the party, since his grandmother had just died; which I was pretty relieved to hear, since I had honestly felt pretty nervous about leaving the cats by themselves, and this way he’d be able to stay with them (plus, at the time I think the Austin bomber was still at large). Unfortunately, we still didn’t get to go, since the weather in the Oregon Coast Range took a turn for the dangerous. I was really bummed about this, especially since I had a piano lesson with Kristin scheduled for Friday, but I comforted myself with knowing that we’d at least get to see the family in just a week’s time (for Easter).

 

 

This last Sunday was Palm Sunday, so now it’s just a few more days until Easter; Lent seemed to go relatively quickly for me this year, but I suppose that’s mostly because I’m getting older, so time seems to pass faster. Levi’s 17th birthday falls on Good Friday this year, but we’ll be celebrating it at Grandma and Papa’s when we go to see them on Easter Sunday. The next Sunday, we’ll celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation (which technically fell on Palm Sunday; if it falls on Palm Sunday or one of the other days in Holy Week, though, it’s transferred to the Monday following the Sunday after Easter).

 

 

Happy belated Palm Sunday!

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Question: A weird hypothetical one that I thought of. If I utilize time travel when buying or selling a stock, am I guilty of insider trading?

If so, does it make a difference whether I trade a stock in the past based on the knowledge I have in the present, or if I use knowledge from the future to make a trade in the present? Does it matter whether I’m actually the one time traveling, or would it be sufficient cause to be prosecuted if I traded based on knowledge I happened to acquire from a time traveler?

 

 

 

 

Today’s Joke: I can’t stand the key of E-minor; it gives me the E-B-G-Bs.

 

 

 

 

 

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

March 17, 2018 - Leave a Response

 

 

I bind this day to me forever,
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation,
His baptism in the Jordan River,
His death on cross for my salvation.
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom,
I bind unto myself today!

I bind unto myself today,
The power of God to hold and lead:
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need;
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The Word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard!

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity:
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three;
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word;
Praise to the Lord of my salvation—
Salvation is of Christ the Lord! Amen.

 

 

-Ascribed to St. Patrick (translated by Cecil Frances Alexander)

 

 

 

 

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

 

 

 

 

-Isaac““

 

 

 

 

 

Pi Day, Sid, Wreck-It Ralph 2, and Daylight Saving Time

March 14, 2018 - Leave a Response

Happy Pi Day!

Today, March 14th, I’d like to commemorate one of my favourite mathematical constants, π; as well as Archimedes of Syracuse, who is usually considered the first person to accurately calculate it; and Larry Shaw, the founder of Pi Day, who passed away last year.

 

 

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for me. We went out to eat on Mommy’s birthday, and that afternoon she went back to the Portland area for the weekend to attend training for her Healing Touch Therapy thing. She stayed the nights with the Tevebaughs, and it sounded like they had a good time (Stephie made Mommy a vegan cheese-cake for her birthday); although Mommy didn’t get to spend as much time with them as she would have liked, since she had to go to classes. Mommy went out to eat with Papa Jeff and Ramona that Sunday evening, and she drove back home the next day.

 

Last Saturday, Tami and the Tevebaughs came out to visit us. We went into town to a playground and one of the shops (Clay, Simon, and Tami went to get coffee as well), and everyone except Daddy and Levi was able to go to the beach. It was really great getting to see everyone, and Levi and I were even able to play video games with Clay on the PlayStation before they all had to go home.

 

 

One really sad thing about Saturday was that Sid, a cat who’s lived at Grandma’s house for the vast majority of my life (pictured above), died; this time for real (we had assumed he had died away from home when he disappeared for three days last year). Sid was somewhere around eighteen years old, which is apparently about eighty-nine in cat years. He lived outdoors most of his life, and is quite possibly the nicest cat I’ve ever met; the sort that likes to follow you around whenever you go outside. He was very lovey, and probably the only negative thing about him is that he had a propensity to drool. For a couple of years, one of his eyes would sometimes almost swell shut from some kind of infection, and for the last bit of his life he went pretty senile and possibly deaf—he’d often meow very loudly (like he was calling for someone), started trying to follow people home he didn’t know, and was once caught waiting at the door to the room at the top of the garage (which was where he lived when he was a kitten, back when it was Uncle Andrew’s room). On the whole, I’m really glad that, when the time came for him to go, he was at home and easily found; and I’m thankful that I remembered to spend some time with him the last time I was at Grandma’s—even though it was over a month ago, and so doesn’t really feel like a proper goodbye. I’ll really miss Sid, and I feel really bad his best friend Timmy (Emma’s brother and Tobi’s twin), is living outside all by himself now.

 

Timmy and Sid.

 

On a positive, totally unrelated note, I’m pretty excited for November (and it’s not because so many people are running for governor this year); because there are two different movies coming out then that I want to see: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2; which admittedly does seem kind of like a backwards title) and the new Fantastic Beasts movie (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald). I’m basically just going to talk about Wreck-It Ralph here, as I hysterically hustle to finish the last few Harry Potter books in time for the movie (I’m only kind of joking here), in case there are any major spoilers in it. I try my best to avoid Harry Potter spoilers, but I think a lot of people have this general idea (which is, admittedly, kind of justified) that most people of a certain age have read all of the books (or at least seen the movies), and so only worry about spoiling it slightly more than the general public does about Skywalker-related spoilers in Star Wars (so, hardly at all).

 

 

The trailer for Wreck-It Ralph 2 was released two weeks ago, on February 28th. I was having a pretty rough day initially, having woken up with an unusually big headache, and learned that HB 4135 was on the way to Governor Brown’s desk despite opposing testimonies from medical professionals. So it was pleasant surprise when, as I was about to have a late breakfast, Levi and I noticed that a trailer had been released for the sequel to one of my favourite movies. The animation looks really good; it’s actually a little weird how much it seems Disney has progressed since the last one came out in 2012, especially in the lighting department. Up until this point, my biggest worry for the film is that Disney would put too much focus on characters from other franchises (such as Marvel, Disney Princess movies, Star Wars, etc.; which reportedly will feature in the movie) to the detriment of the narrative, and detracting from the original characters. But, at least from what I can judge by the trailer (which, I know, is kind of a book-by-its-cover thing), it looks like the main focus is still mainly going to be on Ralph and Vanellope; which is good, because I think one thing that made Wreck-It Ralph work, where other video game movies didn’t, is that the movie limited characters from real video games to just cameos, and kept the narrative focused on original characters.

On the whole, I’m really excited to see this movie—I’m actually kind of bummed that it won’t be released this month (I marked the original premiere date on my calendar back in 2016), and that we’ll have to wait to Thanksgiving to see it; but that’s okay, because I’d much rather it be delayed and have to wait for a finished product, than have Disney put out a half-baked idea into theaters—the last movie was really good, and I think that it deserves to have a sequel that at least almost lives up to it.

 

In other news, Billy Graham passed away last month, and Stephen Hawking died early this morning (well, GMT; I heard about it yesterday, being in on the west coast of another continent). Both men had a huge impact on the world around them—Graham as an evangelist, and Hawking as a theoretical physicist. Despite physically being mostly paralyzed for many years due to Lou Gehrig’s disease, Hawking was incredibly mentally active, and will likely be remembered as one of the greatest minds of both this century and the previous.

 

On another news-worthy note: Yesterday, President Trump suddenly dismissed Rex Tillerson as Secretary State, nominating CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace him. This is kind of a big deal, given the Secretary of State is such a major position in our government (it’s actually fourth in the line of presidential succession). Trump also nominated Gina Haspel as the new director of the CIA, so (assuming she’s confirmed by the Senate) she’ll be the first woman to be one; granted, she’ll also be the first female director to have run a CIA prison in Thailand where prisoners were waterboarded, so… Yay, progress? (Yeah, not really).

 

 

I’m just about ready to wrap up this post, but before I do, I’d like to rant a tiny bit about Daylight Saving Time. At its heart, DST is meant to save energy—whether it actually saves energy, or has the unintended effect of costing slightly more, is still a matter of debate; but, either way, per household the amount of energy spent or lost is only equivalent to a few dollars. Now, there are probably people who like DST, and feel like losing an hour’s less sleep is worth the exchange of having more sunlight in their day (just like there are probably people who like to wear shoes in the pool—I’m just joshing, of course); but, needless to say, I am not a fan. I kind of feel like DST might be a quintessential example of treating humans, as members of an economy, as machines rather than organic beings. It’s a similar, overly-mathematical mentality that makes employers think that, by having their employees work an hour or two extra, their company’s production will naturally go higher. The reality, I think, is that people work best when they are well-rested; if you don’t get enough rest, then your work will suffer, and as a result you’ll be less productive than you would have if you had worked for a shorter amount of time. What bothers me most is that there have been studies that have shown that DST absolutely has negative health effects; a study at the University of Alabama in 2012 found that the Monday and Tuesday after the annual switch to daylight saving time in the spring had a 10% increase in the risk of having a heart attacks (which is decreased by the same amount when switching back in October); another study, authored by Dr. Jori Ruuskanen of the University of Turku in Finland, found that the risk of ischemic stroke was about 8% higher during the first two days after transitioning to DST, which was over twice as high for people over the age of 65 (20%) and people with cancer (25%).

If you woke up on Monday and felt like you’d been hit by a train, that’s likely because this whole switching the clocks thing disrupted your circadian rhythm; and, if you had to go to work early in the morning, your productivity likely suffered as a result. So, please, fellow Americans who don’t live in Arizona or Hawaii (who already don’t observe DST), let’s leave Daylight Saving Time in the previous century where it belongs, and stay on the same time the whole year round.

 

 

Well, that’s all I really have to say for now. In upcoming events, Tami’s birthday is in just a couple of days, and we’ll celebrate St. Patrick’s day on Saturday. Next week, we’ll get to spend a couple of nights or so at Grandma’s house, and I’ll get to go to my piano lesson with Kristin. The Feast of the Annunciation is on the 25th, which is the same as Palm Sunday this year, and Easter is only eighteen days away!

 

 

 

 

Today’s Question: If your country had to choose a new national anthem, what do you think it would be?

 

 

 

 

Today’s Joke: Two again, for Pi Day!

Joke #1: 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884… What do you call that?

A piece of Pi.

 

Joke #2: The worst thing about getting hit in the face with Pi is…

It never ends.

 

 

 

 

-Isaac““

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever Happened to Predictability?

February 27, 2018 - Leave a Response

Isaac’s Log—Stardate: 2018.58.

 

 

The last week has been interesting.

Last Tuesday, I got up early (for me) so that Mommy and I could go to a meeting Senator Merkley was hosting at our town hall. It was largely a questions-and-answers sort of thing; everyone who went in was offered a ticket with a number on it, and, if the last few digits of your number were called, you could ask the senator a question. My number was never called, although I managed to sneak in a couple of questions after the meeting anyway. Senator Merkley came across as a fairly down-to-Earth guy; and, although I disagree with him on some things, he seemed to genuinely care about people and the issues he discussed. On the whole, I really enjoyed the meeting, and I’m glad that I went; although I had to spend the next couple of days in varying degrees of recovery for my head.

 

It can be frustrating when there are a lot of things you’d like to do, but you often lack the health to do them for any substantial length of time. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this whole post-concussive experience, it’s that you can’t predict the future; you can spend all the time you want planning what you’d like to do, whether that’s with your life in general, or just what you want to do the next day—but, in the end, your ability to carry out those plans may drastically change overnight. Before I hit my head, I was known for being a little hyperactive—at least as far as moving quickly, and talking quickly; which I still do (I actually might talk a little faster than before, when I’m able to talk)—and for offering my help to people whenever I had the opportunity, to the point of sometimes annoying them. And that’s something that I really miss; I miss being able to run around without hurting my head, and going out and volunteering, or just helping people in little random ways throughout the day. Since I’ve hit my head, I’ve had to learn to say, “No, I’m not feeling well enough to help you with that,” and to be happy with only getting one or two things done in a day; even if one of those things is something I would have taken for granted before, like showering. And I’m still learning to take things slowly, even if I’m feeling not as terrible as usual, and to take frequent breaks throughout the day; so that I don’t relapse. I’ve also learned that I may have defined myself too much by my usefulness (thanks, Thomas the Tank Engine, haha), and that real friends are people who will still treat you kindly regardless of how helpful or not they think you are to them.

 

For me, the most frustrating part of recovery has been how inconsistent my head feels on different days; one day I might be feeling well enough to get up at a decent time, and have energy to work on some of my projects, and other days my head hurts so much I can’t get out of bed until later in the afternoon. I’m the sort of person that likes to organize things, plan ahead, and generally know as much as I can about what to expect in the next day; so much so, that I frequently do the same things every day—I have “lines” (my term for OCD-related rituals since I was about five) that I do every morning (or whenever I get up), and more before I go to bed, often to the annoyance of my family. I have tried in the past to cut down on these sorts of things (for example, shortly after I hit my head, I shortened prayers that I say in the morning; and I actually have significantly cut down on the amount of lines that I do before bed over the years, although people might not be able to notice the difference), so that they don’t balloon out of control and start running my life, but right now they’re one of the few predictable things for me about whatever the next day might bring.

 

Despite all this griping, and feeling down about my head injury sometimes—and the unpredictability it entails—it may surprise some people to know that I am actually mostly happy most of the time; and I genuinely feel bad for most people that I meet, because quite a lot of them seem to be upset to varying degrees most of the time. I’ve never been a person that is prone to emotional extremes, whether positive or negative, and I tend to go through life feeling pretty content most of the time—it’s not that I never feel sad, it’s just that I don’t seem to feel sad as much or as often compared to other people that I interact with. Part of this may be because I’m easily made happy by things I experience throughout the day that others aren’t as much, like seeing cool lights or shadows on the ceiling, or even numbers of things, or train whistles, or other people being happy. I’ve been told that this is because I’m autistic, and therefore kind of emotionally neotenous; while I think that might be true, I don’t think that my reasons for being happy make less sense than other people’s reasons, or that I’m just sheltered from negative things by not experiencing them in the same way as everybody else. Many people seem to get upset about little things fairly easily, like someone saying something to them that they interpret as rude, or the weather being unpleasant, or accidentally spilling something and making a mess—and people are free to feel that way about things; I’m not trying to say that their feelings are less valid than mine (heck, I frequently allow myself to get worked up over little things, too; I guess the only difference is that most of the stuff I worry about isn’t actually real) —but, the older I get, and the more I learn about how terrible our world can be, the stranger it seems to me that many of us go through our lives crying over spilled milk, so to speak—if we allow ourselves to get worked up about little things, how are we going to cope when something really bad happens? We all live on a planet where loved ones die (whether by “natural” causes, or violent ones), people are raped, there are crazy natural disasters, and much of humanity is struggling to subside without basic necessities; so, bearing that in mind, it seems silly to look for things to be upset about or offended by.

 

The world is a crazy, messy place, but I still have hope that things can and will get better; after all, if we don’t really believe in the possibility of a better society, and no one at least tries to make it—whether in “little” ways, like everyday acts of kindness, or in “big” ways, like writing better laws—then it definitely won’t come about, or we at least won’t get to be the ones who contribute to it. Even though life can be really frustrating—and the unexpected happens way more often than we like—our daily frustrations can make the world a better place, if we channel them into something positive.

 

So, the next time you have a bump in your life—whether it’s a metaphorical one, like someone cutting in front of you in line at the cash register, or a seagull pooping on your favourite jacket; or a literal bump, like a concussion, or some other injury—or even if something more major negatively affects your life, try to take comfort in the big picture. We’re all here for a reason, and even our sufferings (both great and small) can be made into something positive and redemptive.

 

 

 

 

Well, thank you for sticking with me through this brief, meandering post. I hope that the last month for you has been good. On the whole, mine hasn’t been so bad, and not super eventful—although yesterday (the two-year-anniversary of Fr. Robert dying; it seems so weird that it’s already been that long), my brother had a pretty major allergic reaction, apparently to the peanut butter; which is unusual, since it’s something he’s eaten a lot of throughout most of his life. Maybe it wasn’t the peanuts, and it’s some kind of new pesticide or something; I really don’t know, but he’s okay now, which is good. Mommy turns 39 this Friday; and, this coming weekend, she’ll be going back to spend three nights at the Tevebaughs, so that she can attend the third level of her “Healing Touch” therapy thing. There are actually a lot of birthdays in our family in March—Tami will turn 26 on the 16th, and Levi will turn 17 on the 30th. The Feast of the Annunciation is on the 25th, and Easter Sunday this year will be on the first of April (which is the first time since 1945; the next time will be in 2029).

 

 

 

 

Today’s Question: What is your favourite board game? Mine is chess.

 

 

 

 

Today’s Joke: Why do chicken coops have only two doors? Because if they had four, they’d be chicken sedans.

 

 

 

 

-Isaac““

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Update

February 12, 2018 - Leave a Response

Isaac’s Log—Stardate: 2018.43.

 

So, I haven’t blogged much for the past month or so. As luck would have it, this happened to be a month where a lot of important things happened; so—to avoid having an excessively long blog post—I’ll try to quickly chronicle everything here that’s happened lately to bring readers of this blog up to speed about what’s been going on in my life; from the relatively insiginicant, to major events.

 

So, a little background first. When Mommy and Daddy went to stay at a hotel at the beach, they also made an offer on a house nearby; they figured that it was a long shot, since it was going to have an open house, and probably a lot of people would also make offers—but they did it anyway (we’ve been needing to cut our expenses, and unfortunately the cost of living around Portland is pretty high).

On January 7th, just two days later, our offer was accepted; we didn’t learn about this until after I blogged that day, which is why it isn’t mentioned in that day’s post. I was really ambivalent about this at the time, and I still am a little; on the one hand, I knew that the house would really cut down on our expenses (its mortgage payment is significantly less than the house we were renting, and there’s much more living space), but I was still sad that we’d be moving a couple of hours away from most of the people that I know. I still miss being just down the street from the Tevebaughs, even though my head and such didn’t permit me to visit them as much as I would have liked. I was especially nervous at the time, though, because I hadn’t even been to the town that the house is in.

January 13th was the day of Hawaii’s infamous false missile alarm. Though it was a really big deal (and, in my opinion, should’ve had more extensive coverage at the time; especially since it was something that happened in our own country), I’m pretty sure most people reading this have already at least heard about it; I wasn’t personally affected by it, and any commentary I’d have to offer on the event has probably already been better told by Hawaiians, so I’m just acknowledging that it happened.

On January 16th, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, after trading on the simulator, I was able to get WordGirl on the antenna TV (this is one of those more mundane things that I found exciting); which I thought was pretty cool—it was an episode I could’ve seen on Amazon Prime anyway, but I felt oddly accomplished actually tuning in at a specific time to a TV channel to watch something. This became a sort of habit of mine, while I was more in the habit of trading; the past couple of weeks have been pretty hard on my head, so I haven’t been able to get up early to trade on the simulator as much as I would like. On a kind of related note, I’ve also been watching more CyberChase lately, which was another show Levi and I used to watch a lot when we were kids; it teaches math, probably on average around a 5th-grade level or so, so it’s kind of funny watching it now and being able to figure problems out much quicker than when I was more in the show’s target audience.

On January 19th, we went to Kristin’s piano studio; we hadn’t been able to have a lesson in a long while, so we made up a little for it by having an extra long one. I was really worried up until then about piano, because I was afraid that I wouldn’t get to keep having lessons with Kristin, since we were moving; however, she was actually really open to our idea of doing them just once a month, and maybe sending videos every week (which I had usually been doing anyway, on weeks when we weren’t able to have lessons). This made me pretty happy, which was good, because on our way home Mommy’s car broke down. We had to wait for a while, but Daddy came to get us, and I was able to see our car get loaded up on a tow truck (which was admittedly pretty cool).

The next day, on January 20th, we all went down to spend the day at the coast, so Levi and I could get to see our new house; we also ate a couple of times at one of the restaurants in town, went to a couple of the shops, saw the town’s library, and went to Mass in the evening at the local Catholic parish.

The day after that (hey, this was a busy weekend for me), Papa Jeff and Ramona took me out for part of the day, as part of my birthday present. Ramona had to act as tech support for one of her and Papa Jeff’s projects, so at first I hung out at their house with Papa Jeff. Papa Jeff let me play their grand piano that they recently had restored (he showed me how to play jazz chords on it), and he also showed me his ham radio; I also saw Bill briefly, who was watching a football game. Once Ramona was finished, we went out to eat; and then we went to the smaller Powell’s bookstore, where Papa Jeff bought me a German for Dummies book that I had picked out. Papa and Grandma had come over to our house to watch the Vikings game (they lost to the Eagles), and I was able to get home in time to see most of it with them.

The next day, Mommy took Levi and I to the library, where we dropped off our ballots (well, except Levi, since he unfortunately isn’t old enough to vote yet).

On January 26th, Mommy took me to my piano lesson, and later Levi and I spent the night at Grandma’s. We played New Super Mario Bros. Wii with Tami and Katie, which we hadn’t done in a long time; and Levi and I stayed up kind of late reminiscing with Tami about fun stuff with did with her as kids—like building forts and playing on swings out in the yard, and building with Legos. The next morning, Levi and I played Super Smash Bros. Brawl with Katie, and Grandma made us smoothies and German pancakes for breakfast.

On January 30th, Mommy took me to see Dr. Thom for the last time in a while (since our insurance ran out; because Daddy made more money last year, we no longer qualify for OHP; and Daddy’s work doesn’t supply insurance, and money’s too tight for us to buy it). He seemed sad to see us go, but we gave him a card inviting him to a restaurant on the beach as a thank you, if he ever comes out our way. Levi went and saw him the next day—Mommy actually had to contact insurance people to make sure that he was still covered for that day, since it was technically the day that it expired (apparently, at least in the case of OHP, it’s one of those, “One, Two, Three, Go” things, not a “One, Two, Go-on-three” thing. which is convenient).

Candlemas was on February 2nd, which in this country is also Groundhog Day. Mommy took me to my piano lesson; and, in the evening, we all watched the Groundhog Day movie with Bill Murray.

February 4th, as most Americans probably already know, was the Super Bowl; my Grandpa Hauck invited a lot of our family to his house in Eastern Oregon to watch it; Grandpa and Papa went, and even my aunt uncle from Arizona were there—but we weren’t able to go for health reasons, so we watched it from home. The Eagles won, which was what we wanted, so it was pretty good—and it was a very competitive game; it really came down to the last play.

On the 6th, we watch the maiden launch of SpaceX’s new Falcon Heavy rocket, which is the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V. It was overall very successful; it got off the ground okay, its two side boosters successfully landed (pretty simultaneously, I might add, which was really cool), although its central core crashed in the ocean. The rocket’s payload was Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster; with a mannequin in spacesuit, a sign that said “Don’t Panic”, a towel, and other things inside it. The Roadster was supposed to go directly to Mars, but now it looks like it’s headed for the Asteroid Belt. Anyway, it the whole launch was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, and I’m thrilled that SpaceX is making so much progress.

Later that day, Daddy, Papa, and I went to Chang’s Mongolian Grill. I hadn’t been since we went to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi for the first time, and we don’t a location near us on the coast, so I’m glad that we were able to go.

On February 7th, our loan closed for the house; I helped sort things in the house for a short while, until my head hurt too much. Later that day, Mommy, Levi, and I went to spend the night at Grandma and Papa’s house. Grandma stayed to help Daddy pack for a while, and Clay also came over to help move things. The next day, packers came over to our house (this was the first time we hired packers and movers in over in about fourteen years; overall, it was much easier, even though more things were broken than usual). Mommy, Levi, and I stayed the night at Grandma’s again. We played Super Smash Bros. with Katie, and Levi brought in our PlayStation 4, so Tami could play The Last Guardian; beforehand, all four of us took turns playing Towerfall Ascension. Daddy got really stressed out in the evening (understandably), because he had wanted to get everything moved out of the house all at once, but we had some stuff left over that didn’t fit in the truck (later, I suspected this was because we’re used to packing ourselves, and usually don’t use as much packing material as movers do); but Papa was able to calm him down, and things went pretty smoothly the next day, when we moved.

This was my 26th move, and the 17th house that I’ve lived in (since a lot of the moves were to Grandma’s and Papa’s house). The day we moved was also Stephie’s birthday; I was unfortunately only able to see her really briefly. I rode with Emma and Daddy in one car; while Mommy, Levi, Dante, and Pat-me went in our other car; Papa and Grandma followed us, with more stuff. Daddy and I had a pretty good trip, and I didn’t have as much problem with my head going over the mountains as I did the last time we went to the coast; Emma did really well in the car trip, and Daddy and I made it to the house first, with plenty of time to spare for when the movers came in their truck. Levi and Mommy had a much rougher trip; Dante cried the entire time, threw up, and apparently also peed (we’re still trying to get the smell out of the car). I’m really glad that Mommy thought of having Emma and Dante ride separately; she didn’t have to have the extra stress of spending two hours in the car with Dante, and I didn’t have the extra stress of spending two hours in the same car as our dog, so it was a win-win for me. I helped unload one of the cars, until I had to take a break for my head—I like being able to help people when I can, but unfortunately this head injury of mine has forced me to learn to be patient with myself. Pretty much all of our furniture was brought into our house, but the whole thing still feels really surreal; it feels more like we’re on vacation or something, and we just happen to be staying at a motel where all of our stuff is. The movers were friendly, and did a good job overall; the only really major thing that was broken was our big TV—although I wasn’t that concerned about it when I found out, since we have a smaller one that still works just fine, I was nervous about Daddy’s reaction (the TV was kind of the only possession he really cared about). Fortunately, he had just had a walk on the beach, and taken a nap, so he took the news pretty well (I definitely wouldn’t have reacted as well if it had been our piano instead of our TV); now it looks like the moving company is going to reimburse most of what the TV cost anyway, and Daddy plans on getting a bigger one—so, first world problem averted, haha.

The next day was our first morning waking up here. We went to Mass in the evening, after which we went to a small Mardi Gras party for a short while to meet some people, and we watched Wreck-It Ralph for the 11th time after we came home for dinner. Overall, I had a pretty great day.

Yesterday, Papa and Grandma came to visit us; they had been to a different beach with the Tevebaughs, but it was still a bit of drive for them to come up to see us, so I’m glad that they did. We took them out to eat, as a thank you for all of their help in our move, and then we took them to see one of the shops. Daddy, Papa, and I walked on the beach, which was okay until we had to come back, and the wind really chilled me; I ended up running ahead of them, so I could more quickly get to the car where Grandma, Mommy, and Levi were and warm up. Grandma made me tea when we came home, which warmed me up a lot. Also, the 23andMe results finally came through for Levi and I.

 

Now, a little background: Our main Christmas presents this year, for all four of us, were DNA kits, so we could see what was in our genes; probably the least fun part was having fill up a tube with spit, but it looks like it was worth it for the fun information (I opted-out of their research stuff, and they’re not supposed to keep my sample). Daddy got his results first, and Mommy was sent her report a while afterwards; so Levi and I were the last to get ours. Here are few interesting things I learned in my report.

I have both genetic variants for Celiac Disease, which puts me at “Slightly increased risk”; which made sense, since I can’t eat gluten (or even touch it, a lot of the time).

I have one variant for Age-Related Macular Degeneration, an eye disease that causes vision loss, although I’m not likely at increased risk.

One thing I found really interesting is that they said that my genetics make me most likely to have brown or hazel eyes; however, this is not the case, as my eyes are very blue—apparently, only about three percent of 23andMe’s research participants with similar genetics to me had blue eyes.

I have mostly European ancestors, specifically mostly British and Irish (52%), with some French and German (26.5%). I’m also 2.5% Scandinavian, 0.9% Balkan, and 0.2% Iberian. I’m less than 0.1% West African, and less than 0.1% Oceanian; I really don’t know how I’m even a little Oceanian, since it didn’t show up for either of my parents, but I thought it was pretty cool. Apparently, I likely have both West African and Oceanian ancestors who were born between 1730 and 1820.

I have slightly fewer Neanderthal variants than average (Mommy and significantly fewer, and Daddy had significantly more, so I guess that sense), and I have slightly more than my brother.

I have one of the variants for Hereditary Fructose Intolerance, which is a rare genetic disorder that is characterized by stomach pain, low blood sugar levels, and vomiting after eating fructose. Since I only have one of the variants, I don’t have HFI, but it’s something I could pass on to my children.

I have the muscle composition that’s common in elite power athletes, which I got from my mother; I found this kind of funny, since I’m fairly scrawny. I’m unlikely to flush after drinking alcohol, am predisposed to weigh “about average”, and would likely consume slightly more caffeine than average if I drank caffeine (which I don’t, since I’ve never had the desire to drink coffee; the first and last time I drank it was by accident).

 

 

Today is the first day since we moved here that we’ve had Wi-Fi (Mommy FaceTimed with Stephie and her boys pretty much right after our Wi-Fi started working), so now I can finally Google random things I’m wondering about. I had some access to the Internet, because I had cell data to use on my phone, but I tended to stay selective about it. We were told that our new ISP would be just as fast as Comcast was back in our old house, although I was a little skeptical; however, it turns out that it seems to be about 40% faster than our old house, which is great! Now that we have Internet, we can watch our shows that we missed on Thursday, and Levi and I can play games and do projects that work better with an Internet connection.

 

My head injury is I think still recovering a bit from the holidays, but lately it’s hurt less than it usually does; however, I’ve been more confused and forgetful in general, as my frustrated family can tell you. Hopefully, after we settle in, I’ll feel well enough that I’ll be able to get up earlier again and trade on the simulator.

Lent is just around the corner, with Ash Wednesday this year falling (pretty inconveniently for a lot of people) on Valentine’s Day, which is also Daddy’s birthday. Easter is April 1st this year, 48 days from now.

 

 

 

 

Today’s Question: Would you rather live on a planet with an Earth-like environment, but took a week to send messages back to Earth (we’re assuming, in this hypothetical situation, that superluminal communication is either impossible or hasn’t been discovered), or would you rather live on a less hospitable planet (like Mars), with a much less significant communication delay?

 

 

 

 

Today’s Joke: What’s the difference between a T-bone steak and a meteorite? One’s meaty and the other’s a little meteor.

 

 

 

 

-Isaac““

 

 

 

 

 

March for Life 2018

January 19, 2018 - Leave a Response

 

marchforlife.org

 

 

 

 

-Isaac““