Sunday, July 18, 2010

I’ve been busy, what’s your excuse?

The 2010 swim season apex occurred in the second heat of the first event: girls 8 and under medley relay. Gabby anchored. When her friend touched the wall after the butterfly leg, Gabby soared into a perfect dive and entered the water with barely a splash. She surfaced with her face down to business and her arms and legs pulling and pushing her team to victory. In the length of the pool, I saw her take 3 breaths (Gabby says she took 4). Gabby's coaches told her team that they had improved their time by 10 seconds over last week. I believe it. She looked like a swimmer. Seven weeks ago, she looked like a little girl.

Both girls learned to swim this summer. They joined the local swim team, listened to the coaches, and learned. They stayed after practice and worked on new techniques. We told them that they only had to participate in the intra-squad meet. They ended up swimming in all seven events including the league championship meet yesterday. Both have made amazing improvements, but Gabby's stretching the lead against the competition visually demonstrated what they've accomplished. Of the first year swimmers on the squad, I don't think anyone has excelled as much as my girls. Each week they have displayed major improvement. They plan to build on their gains throughout the year and return next year for another swim season.

As a home-school family, our summer break has been officially over for a few weeks. We are gradually ramping up the assignments knowing that August will set the tone for the rest of the year. As the littlest one in the family, I'm assigning Gabby reports on the littlest countries in the world. This week she's studying Trinidad and Tobago. Claire's assigned country is Hungary. I've also assigned Claire to read Paul Johnson's A History of the American People, but not until I'm finished with it. Claire is currently reading Joe Posnanski's biography of Buck O'Neil, and Gabby is researching Yanaton Netanyahu. Perhaps they'll learn to recognize heroes instead of idolizing celebrity.

This summer, we've tackled a major repair project on the house. It don't like just fixing things. I prefer to make them better. It's a type of psycho/physical therapy for me. Lisa knows this, and so she heroically manages the budget through the project phases.

A few weeks ago, I was complaining about what the previous homeowner had done. It was obvious that he had "never worked in construction." Gabby asked me if I had ever worked construction. I gave her my blue collar resume from nearly 2 decades ago. Now she measures every man by the standard of whether he has worked in construction.

There is more to do with the house, but we're taking a break after reaching a milestone.

At the office, we survived a data center move and an office move. I think my Black Ops team is stronger now than we've ever been. On Friday, I commented to one of my guys, saying, "This has been a very productive week. You've accomplished a lot." He agreed and then told me that he hoped this level of productivity didn't become the norm. I just laughed. I was hoping that it would. We reach a milestone with a project mid-August which will fundamentally alter the daily responsibilities of the Black Ops team. If we were tracking this according to CMMI, we would be moving some core processes from level 2 to level 3 with a roadmap to level 4. Regardless of the company's vocabulary, we're approaching a major milestone. I'm excited to move beyond.

Recently, Lisa and I took in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 1 with the Kansas City Symphony, Vladimir Feltsman on the piano. As the house lights were about to dim, I received notice of a major outage at work. My team responded, and by intermission all was resolved. A year ago, I would have been missed the concerto. At the end of the concerto, Lisa asked me if it was really as fantastic as it seemed. I suppose it was. I still hear Tchaikovsky's melodies and rhythms in my head.

A few weeks ago, we took the little girls to see Shakespeare's, King Richard III, at the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival where I learned that treachery is actually a form of self-loathing. Who knew?

Jim and Julie celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on July 3. Holly, the little flower girl at Lisa and my own wedding was there with her husband and baby. I remember Holly's first birthday back when Lisa and I were still in high school. Somehow, seeing my own kids grow up does not make me feel old, but seeing other children become adults does.

We were at Dad's on July 4. Daniel, Claire, and I knocked down a box of clays. I mostly missed, but after a warm-up, I did OK. Claire hit a few and then decided that she didn't want to bruise her shoulder before a swim meet the next day. Daniel looked practiced. He attributed his preparedness to Xbox.

Earlier this month, the big kids were home at the same time for the first time in 18 months. What would families do without Facebook? Daniel and Rhonda couldn't stay for long, but Cara was here for 9 days. Thanks to her, I have some awesome artwork for my office if I can get the frames finished.

We also took in the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art while Cara was with us. Afterwards, we took Cara and the girls to The (New) Dime Store in Brookside. I asked Cara if she remembered the place from her early childhood. She said she did not and I responded saying, "How sad, your happiest times were right here." I should have remembered that treachery is actually a form of self-loathing. I suppose that parents have more memory of their children than children have of their parents. Still, I wish our older kids felt the affinity for Kansas City that their mom and I do.

On a personal level, I grew tremendously. I actually joined my girls in a few games of Farkle. I don't play games, but I did, and I think the girls enjoyed it. Historically, I have played chess with Daniel, but chess isn't a game. It's a sport, or perhaps a mental sublimation of war. I find games in general to be pointless, but I played Farkle.

While Cara was home, I replaced the rotors and pads on Lisa's 1997 Saturn, although I hate auto repair. I don't find auto repair therapeutic. The only benefit to home auto repair is mitigating damage to the budget. During the repair process, Lisa reported that I only said, "Farkle," once.

I've been absent from blogging and nearly silent on Twitter and Facebook. Social networking can become a mental sublimation of life. Recently, my life has been too busy to permit me time to write. Perhaps now, as I approach milestones, I'll have more time. I've been contemplating topics such as the erosion of justice in America. When did bureaucratic extortion replace our justice system? As if, somehow, two wrongs make a right.

I've also been contemplating the proper application of Biblical promises. My hypothesis is that the promises of the Old Testament, in general, were made to the Christ. We ultimately experience the fulfillment of those promises through Him, and not merely because of Him. This is my hypothesis, and I hope to have time to research and expound on this in coming months.

In the meantime, I've noticed that my readership statistics have waned. While I expected a summer contraction, I am a bit alarmed by the general weakness. I know I have not been writing for some time, but honestly, you have not been reading, either. I suppose a writer must be most forgiving of his audience. Therefore, let us reaffirm our contract. I will write as frequently as I can, but I ask that you in turn visit the archives on occasion.

Leave a comment or two when you do.

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