It's Pronounced "Pah-vert." You povert.


February 27th, 2016

I’m feeling more reflective on this birthday than I normally do. There are reasons for that — the last year or so has been rough. There were some wonderful moments and events to be sure. My daughter was born 8 months ago. My son has blossomed into a clever kid with a ridiculous sense of humor and an eager curiosity. My wife has relentlessly impressed and humbled me.

There were some dark moments. We had two miscarriages. I always thought of that sort of thing rather abstractly until it happened to us. It’s hard to describe what it does to you (and anyway, I don’t want to describe it) and I hope most folks never have to deal with anything like that, though it’s distressingly common.
But driving around town today with my kid, fresh off a vacation spent with old friends from high school and college, it was hard not to feel like things have really clicked into place. I have a sort of happiness and comfort I don’t think I’ve had since childhood. And it really snuck up on me in a way that depression used to. This is way better, obviously.
I’ve been thinking more and more that I’ve let many friendships wither on the vine. I’ll try to correct that soon. It’s still difficult (because life), but I’ll try hard to carve out time.
Last year reminds me of 2010 in some ways. In that year, 2 friends of mine killed themselves. Kelly’s uncle killed himself as well. Kelly and I ran into heartbreaking difficulties conceiving. But the 2011 brought the birth of our son.
Now we have our daughter too and we have the family we strived for.
Plus, Star Wars Ep 7 came out and it kicked ass.

A Girl

June 19th, 2015

I haven’t posted here in a very long time.

In a matter of days I’m going to be a father again. We’re going to have a baby girl. She’s going to shape and change my life, Kelly’s life and Julian’s life.

I couldn’t be more proud of my wife. It’s been a long and difficult road. We’ve been through things I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to talk about it all. But our family is about to be complete.

Every day my wife and my son teach me what it means to be a human being. I both fear and love the challenges ahead for my little boy. He’s going to have to learn to share us with another person. I hope he remembers this time as his parents loving him to pieces while welcoming another person into our lives.

I hope I’ll live up to the standards I’ve set for myself. I hope I do even half as well as my parents and Kelly’s parents did raising us.

Here’s to the future, to love and to family. And thank you to our family for loving us and supporting us despite our (mostly my) flaws.

I know this is a bit saccharine. But this is how I feel, and I couldn’t be more happy and hopeful.

Hypocrisy and Argument

May 23rd, 2013

I’m often more interested in how we argue than what we argue about. By “interested”, I mean “endlessly frustrated”.

Here’s a big gripe of mine: People don’t seem to understand that when arguing with someone, the hypocrisy (perceived or actual) of an opponent’s argument does not justify their own.

Let’s say that you are staunchly pro-life and I take you to task for it. Suppose that you are pro-death penalty and you have supported the various wars your country has initiated or been involved in. Let’s also say that I am pro-choice and anti-death penalty.

(I know, none of that is controversial, right?)

If make an argument that you cannot rationally be both pro-life and pro-death penalty, you cannot justify your position by claiming that I’m being a hypocrite. You may be correct — I may not be able to rationally be pro-choice and anti-death penalty. But that doesn’t justify your inconsistencies.

The worst part is that by using my inconsistencies or hypocrisy to justify your own, you are legitimizing mine.

This is where too many conversations go. People use all sorts of tactics, intentionally or otherwise, to avoid confronting their own inconsistent beliefs. Do you want to discuss my inconsistent beliefs? That’s fine, but one thing at a time. Let’s examine yours, then we’ll examine mine. Why in that order? It’s somewhat arbitrary — I brought it up first. Deal with it.

Or maybe you’re not interested at learning something new or having your mind changed. Congratulations, you’re part of a large group.

Externalizing Problems

December 21st, 2012

Apparently mass shooters tend to externalize their problems. Most people who externalize their problems don’t become mass shooters, of course.

People with that trait, however, are very frustrating people. I know I can be frustrating, as I do the opposite. I tend to blame myself for anything bad that happens to me, even when it’s clearly not my fault. Still, the most tedious people I’ve met are the ones who constantly blame others.

I knew a guy in high school. I actually don’t remember his name, so I’ll call him Jack. I had a Spanish class with Jack. I think we were part of a study group, or maybe we were on a team for a class project. Either way, I remember Jack constantly complaining that the teacher was out to get him, that the teacher was plotting for him to fail. He was struggling with Spanish (as was I — I was consistently mediocre at foreign languages through high school and college). I argued with him for at length that the teacher wasn’t trying to bring about his failure, but he was having none of it.

Later, I had another friend who on occasion exhibited similar behavior. One particularly vivid memory involves me picking him up to take him to work as a favor. He was getting a ride from me, smoking my cigarettes, complaining about how he would “give and give and give” but that everyone else would just “take and take and take” from him. He was apparently oblivious to the irony.

Now neither of these individuals, to my knowledge anyway, have engaged in any anti-social behavior. As I said, many, many people have this quality and don’t do anything wrong. But a couple things stand out. First, by virtue of externalizing their problems they are unable to recognize their own negative, corrosive traits. Their beliefs are reinforced when they alienate others, because others distance themselves from them.

I don’t encounter these people very much anymore. My wild guess is that people like that might tend to have a hard time getting through college and ending up in industries like the one I’m in. Or maybe people get better at managing it as they get older.

It does worry me, though. If you don’t believe yourself to have any problem, you’re unlikely to seek help. And as I said, most people like this don’t end up shooting up schools. So how do you identify the people who are likely to do that, considering they likely aren’t going to end up in counseling or therapy prior to a shooting?

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