Grandma’s House, Harry Potter, and Pianos

June 27, 2018 - Leave a Response

Isaac’s Log—Stardate: 2018.178.

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It’s been a busy five weeks! Here’s the gist of everything that’s happened to my family lately.

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On May 23rd, Mommy and Daddy tested for the nursing school in Portland, and Mommy left to go to her healing touch therapy training in southern California. Mommy and Daddy were accepted into the school, Daddy was able to leave his job on good terms, and so now they’re both going to school together. So that they can get to classes on time, and so Levi and I aren’t by ourselves so much, we’ve all basically been staying at Grandma and Papa’s since May 27th—when Daddy, Levi, and I got tired of waiting until the next day to see Mommy again (who had just come back to the Portland area from California), and drove through the night to Grandma’s. Emma (my cat) did fine as usual, and Pat-me (Levi’s dog) likes car rides; we were worried about Dante (Levi’s cat), since he threw up and peed the last time he was in a car for a long time period, but he actually did really well. It actually turned out pretty well, because Mommy and Daddy’s first day of class was on the 29th, so we they had all of Memorial Day to recuperate. They still go back regularly to the house on the coast to study, and overall it sounds like they’re doing well in their classes.

It’s really great to get to see the rest of the family much more often now; the only real negative is that the cats are in Mommy and Daddy’s room in the upstairs room above the garage, while Levi and I are sleeping in the living room, and Levi often isn’t feeling well enough to go upstairs. I was really used to having Emma at bedtime, so that’s been a bit of an adjustment, but I still usually go upstairs and spend time with her when I can, typically at least once a day; on the whole, though, she and Dante seem to be doing pretty well, and Dante’s been much less neurotic without the dog around (she stays downstairs). Levi’s health generally hasn’t been the best (although that was true before we came), but we’re hoping that we’ll soon get approved for OHP and he can start seeing doctors again.

One big positive for me is that my head has improved a lot lately; I still have some days that are harder than others, but overall it feels like even my hard days are much more manageable than they were even just a couple of months ago. With my post-concussive syndrome getting better, I’ve been able to do more things; the other day, I helped Papa build four sort of A-frame things to help keep the seasoning wood in place, and I was even able to move a wheelbarrow full of wood without much effort at all (and it was the metal one with only one wheel, which was even hard for me to handle without spilling before my head injury).

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On June 8th (the day before Mommy and Daddy left to spend their 22nd anniversary at our house at the beach), Mommy finished reading the last bit of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to my brother and I; both Mommy and Levi had read it once before, but it was all new to me. So, I’ve finally heard the entire Harry Potter series; and, now that it’s over, I’m left feeling both happy and a little sad—I really enjoyed the books, and getting to know all of the characters throughout them, so it is unfortunate that there aren’t more than seven. I checked out Harry Potter and the Cursed Child from the library; we still haven’t read it all, so I might enjoy it more later on, but it’s definitely not the same. My favourite book in the series is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (which I guess is a pretty common opinion; I also really enjoyed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), and my least favourite is probably Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (which, to be fair, I mainly dislike just because Dolores Umbridge has such a prominent role in it, and Harry’s actions can be frustrating; but it’s also a pretty fun book, with Harry Potter organizing an underground study group called Dumbledore’s Army, and it’s the one where Luna Lovegood is first introduced). In my opinion, J. K. Rowling is one of the best authors I know of when it comes to character development and dialogue, and the mysteries woven throughout her series are very well executed (when there’s a plot twist—of which there is usually at least one per book—you can usually think back to little details you’ve read up to that point that you didn’t realize were actually hints for it). I think sometimes her more large-scale worldbuilding can feel lacking (how wizards from different countries interact with each other, their specific histories, and so on) but she does an excellent job with places and details on a smaller scale (Hogwarts itself, Platform 9 ¾, etc.). The interactions between her characters usually feel very natural; I generally felt like she gave enough time for their relationships with each other to develop, while still keeping the overarching plot cohesive and focused, if that makes sense. I like a lot of her characters, but I think my favourites are Luna Lovegood, Remus Lupin, Hermione Granger, and Rubeus Hagrid.

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One sad thing that happened this month was that Clay’s grandfather, Olen, passed away on the 13th; he was 83. Clay was really close to him, and went to visit him in Oklahoma shortly after he was put on hospice; and he also traveled there for his funeral last week (he made it home last Thursday). While he was traveling, I was able to see my cousins more often than usual, since Stephie would often bring them to Grandma’s house to play.

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We went and visited Papa Jeff and Ramona on the 15th; we hadn’t seen them since they visited us at the beach on May 21st, and they’re planning on moving out of the Portland area soon. We went out to one of our favourite Chinese restaurants with Papa Jeff (although it took us longer to get there than we would have liked, partially due to traffic), since Ramona was busy at the house; he ordered takeout for her, and afterwards we stopped by their house for a little while. They’ve lived in the same house for pretty much all of my life, so I know it’s going to be weird when they sell their house; they were talking about moving to the coast, so they can be closer to Ramona’s parents, but they’d still be a couple of hours away from where our house is.

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Tami with her favourite chick.

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Some of the hens that live on Grandma’s road have had chicks lately; they’re pretty cute, and Tami really likes them, but I don’t pick them up or anything (when I was little, I saw a girl get pooped on by a duckling she was carrying around in her hands). Unfortunately, some of them have shorter lives than others; the same day that we left to visit Papa Jeff and Ramona, one of them was killed by one of the little neighbour dogs (we buried it afterwards, and marked its grave). Its mom didn’t seem super concerned; I’m honestly not sure if she ever really noticed, maybe chickens just can’t count—or, at least, maybe they think more like “One chicken, some chickens, no chickens” than in actual numbers. I don’t really know, I’m not a chicken expert.

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RecentIy, I was looking at Craigslist, and noticed a lot of free pianos; I thought it was kind of sad that people were giving away their pianos, and my brother pointed out that it would be cool to pick them up and refurbish them. I thought this was a good idea, and reached out to a piano technician in my area (who I didn’t know at the time is actually the president of the Portland chapter of the Piano Technician’s Guild), asking about education options for gaining the skills I’d need to tune and refurbish pianos. She answered my questions, and invited me to join the guild for one of their meetings (which took place the day before yesterday) in a piano shop not very far from Grandma’s house, which had a hands-on technical afterwards. Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t have been home from school in time to get me there, but fortunately Grandma was able to drive me (I still don’t have my driver’s license, just a learner’s permit); and I was really glad to have her there, especially since I was so nervous about going to a new place and meeting new people. I knew next to nothing about piano technology, but everyone I met there was very nice and helpful; in the technical after the meeting, I learned about how to restore keys, both white and black (I was allowed to bring home a white key afterwards to show to the rest of my family). The only kind of hard part for me was using the aerosol can on the black keys, since the spray smelled so much. Afterwards, the guy who owns the building showed Grandma and me the rest of his shop, which was really cool. One of his pianos was from around the 1830s; and there was another one, from Germany, that had extra strings over its usual ones that would vibrate sympathetically to add to the sound. On the whole, the guild meeting was an enjoyable—although tiring—experience, and I think being a piano technician someday could be really fun.

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A lot has happened in the news since in the past weeks; Donald Trump met with Kim Jong-un in Singapore (even though for a while it looked like the summit was going to be cancelled), over two-thousand children have been detained away from their parents while crossing the border (a policy which, while the current administration has finally abandoned, has permanently damaged many families), and the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s travel ban. Between the good, the bad, and the ugly, I’m really hoping someone besides Trump is elected to the white house in 2020; but, with the way the Democrats are struggling to provide a cohesive alternative in their message (other than just opposition to the president), and with Trump’s approval rating (at least according to Gallup) as high as it was back around when he first entered office, I’m actually really concerned that that’s not going to happen. But, hey, we can hope.

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Yesterday, Uncle Andrew turned thirty-six, Aunt Linda turned sixty-six, and Aunt Maxine (Grandpa Hauck’s sister) turned ninety-seven. Uncle Andrew was unfortunately sick on his birthday, but I wished him a happy birthday via text.

This coming Friday, Sandy and Katie will leave to visit with Sandy’s dad in Washington for a few days; he recently went to see his mom, who lives in Cuba, and whom he hadn’t seen since he was six. Next week, we have the 4th of July to celebrate, which should be fun (although hopefully not too loud).

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Today’s Question: Which is your favourite Harry Potter book, and why?

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Today’s Joke: A lumberjack went into a magic forest to cut down a tree. But, just as he was starting to swing his axe at the first one he came to, it shouted, “Wait! Stop! I’m a talking tree!” The lumberjack grinned, then said, “And you will dialogue.”

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-Isaac““

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St. Anthony of Padua

June 13, 2018 - Leave a Response

 

 

St. Anthony, your love for the infant Jesus made Him present to you to see and hold in your arms. Help us to see and love Jesus in all the poor and suffering of the world. Move us to clothe, feed, and help Jesus in all unwanted, abused, and abandoned children and people. Lead us, for the sake of Jesus, Who became a child like one of us, to reverence and protect all human life from its beginning to its end. Amen.

-A Prayer to St. Anthony

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Unity

May 20, 2018 - Leave a Response

Happy Pentecost, everyone!

Overall, it’s been a fun couple of weeks for me. The Dungeon and Dragons game that Levi put together for Tami, Katie, and I went really well (with surprisingly minimal technical difficulties); especially considering it was his first time running a game. Last Sunday (the day our diocese commemorates the Feast of the Ascension), we went to Grandma and Papa’s house to celebrate Mother’s Day with the family, as well as Katie’s 20th birthday. It was a really fun day; we had Mexican food for dinner, Levi and I played New Super Mario Bros. Wii with Tami and Katie, and Katie and I were also able to play a couple of games of chess together. Yesterday, we celebrated Pentecost at the Vigil Mass (our parish priest is back, and overall seems to have made a really impressive recovery from his accident), and tomorrow (which is also the fourth anniversary of Levi adopting Pat-me) Papa Jeff and Ramona are coming out to visit us—it’ll be really good to see them, and we’re planning on taking them to the beach, which should be fun. The next week is probably going to be pretty busy; Mommy and Daddy are planning on testing for a one-year nursing program this coming Wednesday, and Mommy has to leave the next day for almost a week to attend some training in southern California for her healing touch therapy stuff.

 

I’ve been thinking lately about national unity the past couple of days, and the way it came up in my mind was a little unusual. My head has been not the best lately, and I’ve had to lie down a little more than I typically do, and so I’ve been watching videos on my phone to keep myself occupied. I’d been feeling a little more nostalgic than usual, so for fun I looked up old episodes of Zoom online (another show on PBS Kids that my brother and I liked a lot), and I found a special episode of the series that was made shortly after 9/11 called Zoom: America’s Kids Remember, which focused specifically on helping kids cope with the attacks. What struck me in particular was the largely positive message that the kids in the show communicated, and what ways they emphasized for coping; things like volunteering, resolving conflicts, and just talking to and being there for others. The general idea was that, while the attacks themselves were a really terrible thing that shook the country, people all over were trying their best to respond to it in a positive way by going out of their way to help make the world a better place. As I watched their musical ending, with “Zoomers” singing a song that was adapted from a hymn (Henry Burton’s “Love is Kind”), I felt sad, but not in the way that you’d think the subject matter of the episode was intended to evoke. I was sad because I missed the time when we as a country would unite when faced with tragedy.
We’ve had a plenty of national tragedies in the past decade, most notably at the moment being the many school shootings this year (we just had another school shooting a few days ago, this time in Texas), but they’ve largely seemed to have the opposite effect as the aftermath of 9/11: Now tragedy just appears to further divide our already very divided nation, and it seems now that only a minority sees it as a reason to unite. Seeing what seemed to me to be an almost idealistic level of support and solidarity people in our country had for each other just less than two decades ago makes me feel both touched and, honestly, kind of ripped off. I was born in 1997; to put that in perspective, I came into adolescence shortly after the recession, and into adulthood shortly before the 2016 presidential election. I wasn’t quite four years old when the World Trade Center disappeared so violently from New York City’s skyline; after which many Americans rallied together, despite differences in colour or creed, to help each other through what was a very scary and difficult time. I’m twenty now, and throughout the majority of my life time—perhaps especially in my teenage years, and what very little of my adult life I’ve lived so far—it feels like I’ve actually rarely seen Americans react to tragedy in constructive and (most especially) united ways, and we seem more divided into various camps now than at any period in my life. Tragedies have gone from an opportunity to stick together, to more of an opportunity for leaders to capitalize on disaster for some political gain, or an excuse to blame or ostracize people who are different from ourselves. So, what happened? Why, in general, is society as a whole so different today than in 2001?
I don’t know. I honestly really don’t; but, being the obsessive ponderer that I am (hey, I have a lot of time of my hands), I do have a hypothesis or two. One really big difference that I’ve noticed between the world of 2001 and that of 2018 will probably be pretty obvious to most people: The ubiquity of the Internet, and, specifically, the role social media has had on society as a whole, which I’m not sure has actually been all that positive. Now, before I go further, don’t get wrong; I’m not a Luddite, I actually believe that technology can and absolutely has had a lot of positive impact in peoples lives—and, although I’ve never personally really had a desire myself to open an account on something like Facebook on Twitter, I don’t have any problem with people who are interested in connecting with others on social media. I just want to get that out of the way, so that people know when I kind of put part of the responsibility for the way things are (for better or worse) on the way social media has impacted people’s lives in the “real world”, I’m not trying to put the blame on any individuals in particular.
On most social media platforms, people follow things and people that interest them, and sometimes unfollow things and people that they become offended by or are simply no longer interested in; the general result being that many such sites could theoretically be mapped to show its users in various overlapping circles or groups (perhaps sort of like a Venn diagram). The positive consequence of this is that users can—at least ideally—quickly and easily find other people that they have something in common in with; and content such as art, videos, stories, or news articles about subjects that they are interested in (which has obvious commercial value to advertisers, as well as informational value to politicians and other organizational leaders). However, the negative side of this is that, since people in this situation kind of axiomatically get their information (and the kinds of information they subscribe to) from different sources, they can end up almost literally living in different worlds. I sort of think people could more easily relate to each other back when our options for information and entertainment were more limited; before the Internet, if you had a random conversation with a total stranger from your area, I’m under the impression that there was actually a surprisingly higher chance that you read or watched the same news, watched the same shows, and even listened to the same radio stations. Now that we can pick and choose what sources of media we consume, with the narrative that each source sells often being quite different from the other, we may inhabit the same objective universe, but we perceive it incredibly differently. Combine this with confirmation bias (which, while I’m guessing to an extent is a quirk of our brains—perhaps it’s just more efficient in our day-to-day lives somehow to look for information that substantiates your hypothesis—I think might be exacerbated by the way our educational system tends to emphasize the shame of being wrong), and you have a recipe for a very divisive society.
When the Internet first came out, I think people had the idea that it would bring people from all over the world together; and, to an incredible extent, this is true: The world has, effectively, shrunk—you can, theoretically, find someone you have something in common with almost anywhere in the world now, about almost anything—but it hasn’t formed a unified whole; rather, it’s more like it’s congregated into several vying coteries. To be absolutely fair, I don’t think this is entirely the fault of the Internet; I kind of think our more tribalistic tendencies might be (at least to a small extent) native to the human condition, but I’m inclined to believe that social media has exacerbated them considerably. With the decline or lack of more overarching affiliations—such as religion, or a unified national identity—people have increasingly divided themselves into more narrow and exclusive cliques—such as ethnicity, sexuality, profession, or even fandom. This makes me incredibly sad; my parents, and probably lots of other people who grew up largely in the 1980s, expected things like language or skin colour to not even matter much at all in the future, and didn’t expect their children to grow up in a world with such sharp class and ethnic divides, at least not in their own country. Was this naïve of them? Is it ingenuous of us to be disappointed by an increasingly divided world, and the social regression we’ve seem to have had? I don’t think so. We, humanity, can—and, I hope, eventually will—do better. Just believing that we’re capable of improvement is vital to changing the world for the better, because people who think that this is just the way it is, and that society can’t be improved, are probably unlikely to try to ameliorate things—why waste your energy on something that’s effectively impossible, right? I think we need that belief, that unifying hope and idealism, again in this nation. Now, I’m sure I’m idealizing things a little; we could argue that our country has always been divided one way or another, sometimes violently so (coughcough—1861—cough); but, in terms of the past fifty or so years, I can’t help but notice a considerable downtrend in national solidarity.
What is sad (and a little strange) is that there don’t seem to be very many politicians with a big emphasis on unity, outside of party or class lines. Granted, President Trump has tried appealing to Americans to unite, but the problem is that he’s incredibly inconsistent; one day he’ll be asking everyone to unite, the next day he’ll be saying that Mexicans are rapists, insinuating black people shouldn’t be trusted, et cetera. The idea of being unified just by virtue of living in the same country seems to have largely disappeared. Many people perceive patriotism as being largely abandoned by the left (which, to be fair, hasn’t been done entirely irrationally, considering you could argue nationalism as an ideology in one form or another has been largely responsible for both world wars) in favour of a more narrow approach, celebrating specific communities first and foremost; while the right (specifically the far right), frustrated by the hollow identity politics intoned by the left, has seen a rise in an increasingly jingoistic ethno-nationalism—in the mindset of some, you’re now only really “American” if you’re white, speak English, et cetera (not that that makes much sense, since relatively few people in this country are of indigenous descent; you know, people who lived here way before anyone who was white or spoke English, but I guess there’s nothing really logical about racism).
I myself have said that I thought that patriotism, as a quality, is pretty overrated. Now I’m kind of ambivalent about that sentiment. On the one hand, if patriotism means supporting your country—and, by extension, its policies—no matter what, then I’d still say that I think it’s kind of a weird position to have; and, in extreme forms, dangerous and kind of idolatrous, setting the nation and its leaders up in place of God. But, if patriotism isn’t about boasting in some kind of perceived national superiority, but simply in loving the people of your country, then I’m all for it; that’s a patriotism I can get behind, because it can not only inspire action in caring for your neighbours, but also motivate people to change things for the better. Love may be unconditional, but, I think if people really love their country, then that love shouldn’t be without scrutiny; if you really care for your fellow denizens, then you should strive to do your very best in making their conditions the most optimal they can realistically be—and that means working together to improve policies and legislation, having each other’s back; and being aware that, even though we may often disagree on the best way to achieve things, we all want—and believe in the possibility of—a better world. If we can just remember that, perhaps we can reverse this trend of divisive rhetoric, political gridlock, and our schismatic tendencies as a people. Maybe we would do well to reclaim the sober but hopeful patriotism that people felt in the aftermath of 9/11, an emphasis that, no matter what we’re going through, we’re all in it together, because we are all Americans—regardless of who we vote for, how we worship (or don’t), what language we speak, how much money we have (or lack), or what we look like. Because unity doesn’t have to be totally uniform; I believe that the vast majority of us, just by virtue of living in the United States, hold many of the same values regardless of culture, even if they’re sometimes for different reasons—kindness, individual liberty, democracy, rule of law, helping those in need, the desire for economic opportunity, and the hope for a better future. We might not be able to agree on very much today, but I think it’s still enough; and certainly sufficient enough to unite us all when we are faced with tragedy, big or small, and try to cooperate together to make our nation a better place.

 

 

 

 

Today’s Question: What are some of your thoughts on unity? What does patriotism mean to you? (I know that’s technically two questions).

 

 

 

 

Today’s Joke: A woman was sitting at her deceased husband’s funeral. A man leant in to her from across the pew and asked, “Do you mind if I say a word?”.
“No, go right ahead,” the woman replied.
The man stood up, cleared his throat, said “Plethora”, and sat back down.
“Thanks,” the woman said, “That means a lot.”

 

 

 

 

-Isaac““

 

 

 

 

 

Star Wars Day, Barbecues, Phone Tag, Emma, and a Volcano

May 4, 2018 - Leave a Response

 

Happy Star Wars day, everyone! Today, May 4th (as in, May the Fourth be with you), is the day that Star Wars fans all over (well, I imagine at least in places that use the month/day/year date format) celebrate George Lucas’ (and now Disney’s) franchise that is now over forty years old. Today Daddy bought The Last Jedi on Amazon in HD with bonus features, and the plan today is for us to watch it with popcorn; I’m pretty excited, especially since I don’t think I’ve watched it since the second time I saw it in the theater, on the day after Christmas. While we’re on Star Wars, here’s something that I’ve thought about for a while: Fans of Star Trek are called Trekkies (or Trekkers, depending on who you talk to), Firefly fans call themselves Browncoats, and so on; but most fans of Star Wars just call themselves Star Wars fans. I’m not sure why we haven’t really come up with a fun term to use; perhaps it’s because Star Wars is pretty ubiquitous in the culture at large, whereas other science fiction franchises—such as Star Trek, Dr. Who, and so on—are usually (at least comparatively) more niche things. Anyway, I think Star Wars fans should still have a fun term to describe themselves with; so, a couple of months ago, I thought of one that I think we could adopt: Star Warriors. In my opinion, it’s not too long, is way easier to say than more linguistically awkward formations (such as Warzian, which I honestly don’t think I have ever heard anyone actually say); and a more broad term than something like Jedi or Rebels, while still descriptive enough of the franchise. What do you think?

 

Today is also the one-year anniversary of Tami bringing home her cat, Rowan. He’s grown a lot in the last year, but he’s still really cute, and I’m glad that he has been around to be a cat friend for Tami.

 

This past month has been relatively calm for me. Papa and Grandma came out to stay at a motel in the town we live in for their anniversary on the 19th, and until the 21st, during which time we were able to visit with them a lot. We walked on the beach, watched movies Papa had brought (Thor: Ragnarok and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, both of which were funny; we also watched a new episodes of The Big Bang Theory, which we used to do all the time together the last time we lived at their house, as well as a new episode of Young Sheldon), listened to some of Papa’s stories, and had a great time visiting and talking with each other. Papa put together a gas grill Daddy had ordered online, and showed us how to barbecue on it; we actually had two barbecues while they were visiting: One on the 20th, and a big one on the 21st that the Tevebaughs came out for as well. It felt really quiet when everyone left after the barbecue, and I feel sad that I don’t get to see the rest of the family as often as I’d like, but I’m glad that we still live close enough to them that day visits are still practical.

 

I was kind of playing “phone tag” for a little less than two weeks last month, which was pretty unnerving for me, since I’m not very good on the phone; I tend to have a hard time understanding what people are saying if I can’t see their lips move, I find it more difficult than usual to know when it’s my turn to speak, and so on. I had sent an email to my state senator about an idea I had for a labour reform bill, since I’d found out that Oregon’s labour laws are pretty sucky (it’s theoretically possible for most employers to schedule their workers to seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day; although that particular scenario is really really unlikely, I think it kind of illustrates how poor our current regulations are); and, to my pleasant surprise, she actually called my phone and left a message within an hour or so after I sent it (I wasn’t able to answer it at the time, because I was in the bathroom)—on a Sunday, no less. I had to call her office a few times during the following days to get a hold of her (the first time, someone else was on the line; another time, I called after she had left the office), but the last time, I was put on hold, then told it would be a while, so I left my number; and she called me back a little while later. I had notes on my computer about what to say (to make sure I hit all the main points of the bill, and so on), I had practiced with and gotten advice from other people, and I tried my best to match her tempo as I spoke (I usually talk pretty quickly, so some people have a hard time understanding me). It seems like the conversation went pretty well; she asked a few questions to clarify some things, explained some of the legislative process, and she seemed to understand everything I said. She also seemed to like my ideas for the bill (which won’t realistically end up in the state senate until next year), although she said that she thought it would have a lot of opposition—which honestly came as a surprise to me, but I guess I can be kind of naïve—but it’s not like what I’m proposing is super radical or anything, since it’s at least similar to current Californian law; all it would do is ensure workers are entitled to at least one day of rest in seven (forbidding employers from forcing their employees to work more than six days in a row), and limit the amount of overtime employees can be forced to work in a twenty-four hour period. I’ll probably have to testify in Salem a couple of times; hopefully, my head injury will have recovered enough by then that it won’t be that big of a deal (at least I hope so; I’m more worried about my head than I have been in a while, because I read that people diagnosed with Post-concussive Syndrome who still experience symptoms after three years usually have permanent damage—for me, it’s been almost two years, and my symptoms still affect my daily life, although some days are better than others). I’m hoping that, if I present the scientific evidence that demonstrates that people are actually more productive when they are well-rested, it will show that both workers and businesses will actually benefit from the bill, and not some kind of zero-sum game.

On a tangential note, I heard back from a helpful woman who works for the Oregon Elections Division; and I found out that, to form a local party in my county, I would only need to gather 158 valid signatures, which I was pretty excited to learn. I think, if I ever made a political party, I’d try really hard to build it from the ground-up; running people for county elections, then state elections, and only running candidates for the presidency after there was more widespread support. I think one mistake some third parties can make—especially in the Internet era, when you can find people who share your views, but may live on the other side of the country (or the world)—is seeking out supporters from around the country, at the expense of developing strong support in your local communities, with the result being that—although you may technically have thousands of members in your party—your actual voting power is actually quite small. Plenty of people say that the system itself is “rigged” against third parties to begin with; which I think is at least partially true, with things like the spoiler effect in play, but I still think another party might have a chance if it actually offered something different, but still viable, and was unique enough from both the Republicans and the Democrats.

 

Last week, as I’m sure most people reading this already know, Kim Jong-un became the first North Korean leader to cross the demilitarized zone, and met with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea. I was able to watch part of the broadcast of the event online (and, on an unimportant note, I thought that some of the English-speaking Korean newscasters sounded kind of like they had British accents, which I thought was interesting), and I’m happy that both leaders have emphasized their efforts on diplomacy.

 

 

 

 

Last Wednesday, my cat, Emma (as well as her brother, Timmy, who is the only cat who is still lives outside at Grandma and Papa’s house), turned fifteen—which is supposed to be about seventy-six in cat years. It seems so crazy that she’s been in my family for so long; I was only five years old when she came to live with us in Montana as a kitten, and I’m really glad that she’s still a part of my life. On Emma’s birthday, we also celebrate Levi’s cat, Dante; we don’t really know what day he was born on exactly, but we’re pretty sure it was sometime during May of 2006.

 

 

Yesterday, new vents of the Kīlauea volcano opened up near a residential area, following some earthquakes. Over a thousand people have had to be evacuated, and today there was a 6.9 magnitude earthquake on top of all of that. So, definitely keep Hawaii in your prayers.

 

In good news, our parish priest (the one who was in the accident) will be coming back, and much sooner than we’d even hoped for; it looks like we’ll get to see him tomorrow, at the Vigil Mass. This Sunday, Levi will be running his first game of Dungeons and Dragons; with Tami, Katie, and I getting to be the players (I’m pretty excited). This Mother’s Day, the plan is for us to go and visit to Grandma and Papa at their house; and, on the 15th (which is also Election Day, here in Oregon) Katie, who I’ve been friends with since we were literally infants, will turn twenty.

 

 

 

My head isn’t doing super well right now, so thank you for sticking with me through this blog post, and May the Fourth be with you!

 

 

 

 

Today’s Question: What’s your favourite Star Wars movie?

 

 

 

 

Today’s Joke: A guy walks into a bookstore, and asks, “Can I have a book by Shakespeare?”

The guy at the desk goes,”Of course, sir, which one?”

“William.”

 

 

 

 

 

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““

 

 

 

 

 

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““