Stay tuned (patiently) as we occasionally throw updates on here about what steps we're taking to get to our end goals, DIY tricks and life-hacks, child-rearing tactics (strategery), etc.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

THOUGHTS: Bahai?

Today I was reading a series of essays called "Bahai" by Horace Holly. One of the quotes I found there, and I'm paraphrasing here, was "to not find the Christ in Muhammed or the Buddha is to not find the Christ in Christ." I had to think about it for a while, and then, like a wave, a seriousness washed over me. The idea that someone who holds their religon as pure and infallble truth so much that all others must be completely dissimilar and utterly false... it's so narrow. I have a father. My friend has a father. We both have fathers. They are both our fathers. But my father does not negate my friend's father. Why is this the case in religion? Why does it all have to be so tied in? Why don't people respect the fact that we are each given a path to discover, and when we discover that, it's ours alone. It doesn't belong to a tradition, a family, a church, or a congregation. It doesn't belong in Scientific Law. Nobody can ever own what we discover, what we learn and what we choose. This being said, how on earth can we ever presume that our idea, our single awareness of what is, must, out of the billions of us currently here and the billions we've buried since time began, that your singular comprehension of the way things are must be right?  I think it's safe to say that everyone has an idea, and their idea comes from many places. Many people may have very similar ideas, but is it all the same, so much as to say it's right? Is it even remotely noble to kill for those ideals, or even to keep people in a "free" country from being truly free based on who they love?

Something to think about.

Monday, May 28, 2012

CHRONICLES: A Brief Summary of Alaskan Independence

I'm sitting here without a clue as to what I should be blogging about. It's an all-too-frequent process for me. I'd limit that statemet to recent history, but.. come on.. really?

It seems lately that there is much sadness surrounding much of the world. I talked to a friend who told me that Wyoming is putting various resolutions into place that could, if necessary, make them a stand-alone country outside of the rest of the United States. (It's interesting to note, however, that part of this also included the purchase of an aircraft carrier. No joke.) Then I did a mess of research about Alaska's storied past. To me, the "chechako" (newb for the kids), it's fascinating to discover some of this stuff.

Alaska was purchased by the United States for some ridiculously low amount of money. Even when adjusted for inflation, it's still brain-numbingly cheap. For a long time, it was a territory, which meant the United States could come in, take whatever they wanted as far as resources go, and go on their way. Understandably bitter, the sourdoughs (the people that have been here forever, not the natives, but the oldest transplants) wanted Alaska to have more power. Supposedly, the desired outcome was control of their own resources, ideally resulting in becomming an independent country. However, for whatever incentive, the most viable option at the time was joining the United States, which resulted in a long and steady relationship of respect and relative independence.

As the years went on, an undercurrent of sentiment began to rise in some of the locals that the people in Washington, so well disconnected from the state up here, have slowly worked into chipping away at the Alaskan control of itself. As recently as 2010, initiatives were brought to the state government promoting Alaska's withdrawl from the rest of the country to establish itself as an independent nation. Sean Parnell, then Lt. Governor, and the Alaska Supreme Court quickly struck it down, the latter citing cecession as illegal and unconstitutional. I read their verdict online, as well as the petition itself. Nowhere in the petetion is the word "cecession" written. However, it's in the verdict something like twenty-six times.

Now I'm not completely for Alaskan Independence. I simply feel that there was once an America that was free, whose people were educated, motivated, and allowed to exist without persecution, subtle or blatant. I also recognize that the America I refer to seems to be easing more and more closely to a dangerous precipice, and, from where I'm looking, Alaska hasn't deteriorated to that extent. I acknowledge the argument that Alaska accepts more government money per capita than any other state. However, in a state with no infrastructure that's over twice as large as Texas, has a very significant wealth in natural resources, and a population of less than 800,000 statewide, that's understandable. I would go on to say that, had Alaska control of it's own oil, timber, fish, and growth, much of that federal subsity wouldn't be necessary.

Sigh... at any rate, lots to think about that interests me. This is a fascinating place.

CHRONICLES: The Rise of Dash

Yesterday I fell in love. With a boy. A little boy. A one year old. With only three legs. Dash is a chocolate lab mix, and the lady at the vet clinic has been trying to find a home for him for four months. Every interested potential family has been hesitant because of his disability. In our family, we see it as joy in a challenge. So, with that, we adopted Dash. He's awesome. Lots of energy. Great around kids. Great with other dogs. Big. Playful. Awesome. Seems like he's been around forever already, and it hasn't even been a full 24 hours. Malcolm loves him and feeds him all the time, establishing their own relationship. They chase each other, and Malcolm has already given him a kiss and a hug.

Dogs... best friends.

PROPHESY: The Lookout, The Tower

I was told by Craig, the seasoned local, that if I could get up to where the old hammer was stuck in the rock and pull it out, i'd be the first to do so in fifty years. I wasn't quite as taken with that as I was simply getting to this place. It was new and exciting.

We set out mid-afternoon on a nice day, driving on a relatively flat dirt road, a rarity for this area. Ketchikan never really had trains, but this was as nice as any old narrow gauge track in Colorado. When we got to the end of the road, I looked ahead, and there, about one hundred yards ahead (right where Craig had said), was the rock. It was perpendicular to us, about fifteen feet tall, twenty five feet deep, and maybe fifty feet wide. It sat on a hill which put it just above the trees, and given our height already, I was already imagining what the view would be from atop.

As my bride and I approached and the sun began to set, we could see the silhouettes of the old hammer on top. It was actually a climbing axe, and I could see that the business end was in the air and the handle was actually embedded in the earth. I wondered how I was going to climb the front of it. Difficult, but not impossible. Suddenly it dawned on me: what was behind this slab? I bushwacked through a short thicket of alders and found a gentle, sandy ramp that climbed the length of the backside.

We scrambled up there. By now, it was dusk, and we stood on top of the giant, sandstone block. We looked down over the city. What was one the small, remote "city" of Ketchikan was now truly a city. The lights on the towers of the bridge across the Narrows flashed brightly against the shadows of the mountains of Gravina Island. The Tower, recently completed, stood over the remodelled Marine View and Tongass Towers. It looked like a cross between the CN Tower in Toronto and the Space Needle in Seattle, it's cream-colored concrete painted with red, blue, and green lights from the low end of the cylinder at it's peak. I retrieved my camera phone from my pocket and snagged a picture.

I leaned over to show my father-in-law what he was looking at, and, as I took my focus from the small screen, realized that the environment had suddenly shifted. Getting my bearings, I found myself in town, in a building under remodelling construction. Jim, an old customer of mine from my days at the sign shop, was there chatting my ear off about how lucky we both were to have had the foresight to buy as much property as we did before the boom. Now things were good, and we were both very successful.

As I woke this morning, I couldn't help but wonder what the future will truly hold for us all. With any certainty, though, what is guaranteed is only limited by what we choose to devote to it.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

CHRONICLES: The Rise of Dash

Yesterday I fell in love. With a boy. A little boy. A one year old. With only three legs. Dash is a chocolate lab mix, and the lady at the vet clinic has been trying to find a home for him for four months. Every interested potential family has been hesitant because of his disability. In our family, we see it as joy in a challenge. So, with that, we adopted Dash. He's awesome. Lots of energy. Great around kids. Great with other dogs. Big. Playful. Awesome. Seems like he's been around forever already, and it hasn't even been a full 24 hours. Malcolm loves him and feeds him all the time, establishing their own relationship. They chase each other, and Malcolm has already given him a kiss and a hug.

Dogs... best friends.

Friday, May 18, 2012

THOUGHTS: Another Chapter, Life Lessons Abound

On the fifth of this month, I received an unexpected and shocking email from an old school-mate from college. We were anything but friends. My friend Joe used to call this guy "The Anti-Russ". Where I was extremely (to a fault) introverted and bubbly, he seemed to be extremely introverted and sarcastic. Where I was relatively intelligent, he came across as calculating. I never spoke to him after college, except after my son passed away. He tried to offer me sincere condolences. I returned the gesture with a cold reminder of what I felt his nature was years before.

This email I received from was a genuine heart on an electronic sleeve. I don't know what possessed him to send it. He told me how he read this blog, how he occasionally digested the content, and encouraged a self-belief that I feel like I've been lacking for quite some time, reiterating that, in some way or another, I'm still the same man I was ten years ago, despite whatever else has happened to me in my life.

I haven't blogged anything of any serious depth since then. It's such a mind-job to get one of the most empowering notes I've read in years out of the blue from such a person. I haven't journalled or written any real letters. It's sent me into a severe self-evaluation of sorts. To this man, someone who I wouldn't figure waste spit on me if I were on fire, I never thought he would even care if I were alive or not, much less care so much about the quality of my life.

The conclusion I have come to, which has been sort of simultaneously numbing and liberating, is that so much of what I percieved as this man's disdain for me and others is, in reality, a manifestation of my own offense, hatred, fear, insecurity regarding him. Everything I felt for him, in my mind, was wrapped up with his name and responsibilities. It's an ugly realization, to see a sick part of yourself in such a way.

I have yet to send a reply. I started to draft one, but I didn't feel that any words on my end could either match his grammatical eloquence nor sincerely capture or describe any of the emotions running around in my exposed heart and suddenly obviously self-harmed mind.

Still, I feel compelled to reflect on an article I had read months ago in the Church of the Larger Fellowship's publication about forgiveness and how it's not remotely enough to forgive one another. It's finding the constitution to forgive yourself that's the most difficult yet most truly awesome spiritual and emotional experience.

To this man who gave me so much to think about, I say this: I have been lucky enough in this life to meet and have very strong friendships with many more people than what's considered averaged. I'm very blessed to have a path that has taken me into so many noble and honorable lives. However, you, sir, have made me realize that the path I'm on becomes intertwined deeply with more people than I ever realized, but more importantly, your path, and the direction you have taken it, has the potential to do more good. Yours has the potential to change the world, and for that, I'm honored and privaleged that you have chosen to, however briefly, share a small part of your core with me. Thank you.

Maybe I'll put that in an email or something much more personalized. Perhaps by the time I feel ready to do it, after days, months, years, it will seem to be as much of a shock to him as his note was to me. But I am certain that from my point of view, I will be deeply considering it every single day.

I feel the moral of this story is obvious, but just in case this tiny keyboard for thumbs hasn't allowed me to convey the simple truth, I'll reference a cliche. "Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer." The part that people forget to go on and tell you is, "Your enemies, after all, may have been your best friends the whole time."

Friday, May 4, 2012

PROPHESY: The Story, The Memory

As I read the article, I realized it wasn't as much embarassing slander as it was an olive branch. After all, I'd only heard from her once in the past decade, when my son died. This wasn't an expose about what a jerk I was by any means. She had wrtten about times we had camped out together with friends, drinking around a fire until the wee hours of the morning. There were words about the times I had lied to her, and about the times when I was most honest. I saw pictures of me waking up in my sleeping bag and being handed a beer, pictures of her underwater in a blue dress, and a brief sub-article about a snowboard company that had made an east-coast and west-coast version of the same board in honor of this article. Regardless of all of the craziness it will inevitably cost, I honored, flattered, and looking forward to the ensuing conversation.

The picture of me in the sleeping bag sparked a memory, as if it had turned into a video right there on the page, with some guy telling me "Schleicher! Schleicher! You gotta get up, bud!" He was smiling as he gently handed me my red solo cup. A fire team was hiking by on their way back from a training exercize, and a quiet fog nestled the New England wildnerness where we were camping out. I remember smiling, content, and the chill wasn't too bad at all.

It was a good day, years ago.