Monday, February 25, 2013

Technology Traps

(I feel like I'm complaining in my head all the time about not wanting to blog anymore, but then something comes up and makes me feel like I should still be persistent about it. Anyway, this is a sidenote to Lisa because your blog actually makes me want to stay consistent about recording thoughts just because I love reading about yours and all of the little details you include.)
A friend of mine posted recently about going 100 days without technology. It was kind of interesting to me because I often feel the tugs and pulls of technology beckoning me. I put off getting a smartphone until just a year ago because I knew that I would be a prisoner to it once I did have one. And don't get me wrong, I do love having it, but I think there is a lot of value in simplicity. I kind of dig camping because of the absence of being always connected. I think I just kind of dislike that I feel it divide my attention when I know that I should be prioritizing the people I'm actually present with, if that makes sense. 

Technology is just one of those things though - use in moderation, always. In most ways, our world is still so immature in knowing how to navigate technology (and when I say technology, I may actually more specifically mean connectivity). We bungle it a lot of times, but I think people are getting better about it. In 5 years, do you think we'll really need all of the pre-movie disclaimers about turning off cell phones and not even taking it out while the movie is playing? I think that kind of thing will be so second nature that the idea of ever even having to tell someone that they shouldn't take out their phone during a movie will seem ridiculous.

There are so many great things to being always connected that I really do love, however. I love Instagram. I love seeing my friends and their kids on there. I should probably be better at posting more regularly, but that's probably my favorite social media platform right now. I love FB for hearing about the random people that I know who I may not always be really close to, but still like hearing what they're up to anyway. And I also think the occasional friend poll that happens, proclamations of glad tidings, or rants about trivial things are also kind of fun. I think in most cases, I actually wish the people that I like most were more regular about updating their social networks. It really does decrease the feeling of distance.

Then there are all of the neat things that the Church is doing online. There are so many videos and great messages getting spread abroad that I think are so important. In my own life, it's been really neat engaging in my own family history and reaching out to some people that I have found that have actually done some of my family work. None of them have replied back, but I think it's just a matter of time. I used to think that I was the only person in my family who was a member of the Church, but because of technology I've realized that I'm actually not. Cool, huh?

Again, it's just one of those things. There are some terrible things that can happen - true - but used properly, technology can really be a great thing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On Having Kids

Amy and I loved being married without kids. I'd say that our first year of marriage we did pretty well at traveling  and doing fun stuff. We loved going to the movies whenever we wanted, seeing pretty much everything in the theater. We really enjoyed being able to go golfing together. Fox Hollow is the course just a few blocks from our place and for $20 each, we could do a round of nine with a cart and it was pretty fantastic. That was a frequent FHE activity for us during the summers. We just loved all of that stuff.

But we just love having Jane. I find myself coming home earlier than I probably should a lot of nights because I just want to see my girls. We are not as unattached as we once were, but having her is also the greatest thing that could have ever happened to us. There just isn't enough time in the day for the amount of thanks we'd like to give in our prayers because we have her in our lives.

I bring this all up because the other day we go to go snowboarding and we just loved it. We'd still like to figure out how we can go at least a few more times. On our first lift ride up the mountain we sat with a guy who lives part time in Utah. I asked him if he'd been snowboarding much this season and he said he'd only been about 15 times so far this year.

15 times.

He also told us that he's been married for 15 years and he and his wife don't have kids, but they do manage to get to the mountain probably 100 times each season. Or at least his wife does, but I'm sure he's not far behind. He then started kind of giving me a hard time (at least I interpreted it that way) about not coming up more than I do. I should be up at least so frequently that it would justify getting a season pass.

It just made me laugh. There's no way I would ever feel good about going that often with Jane. And I don't regret it one single bit. I wish that I could go enough that I could actually improve and not just feel like I'm maintaining my ability. I love being out on the mountain. I think carving up a mountain and bursting through powder is one of the best things in the whole world. I honestly feel that.

But having Jane has given me so much purpose. Not that you can't have purpose without having your own children - but just in my own limited perspective and experience - nothing has ever made me feel so full as being a husband and father.

I miss a lot of things about my previous life. I miss seeing more movies. I miss just being able to leave and do whatever we wanted without having to plan ahead on what Jane needs.

But I just love her so much.

And let's be honest: Jane is probably the easiest baby in the whole world. I don't know what we'll do when we have a real baby who actually demands more from us, but until then, I'll count my lucky stars that I have Jane as my daughter and Amy as my wife.

Jane is Growing Up - 5 Months

5 months

I just love this little girl. I’ll only retrace the last 6 or so weeks. At this point there are a lot of developmental milestones from one week to the next. When we were driving to the airport from Vancouver to Seattle I would set her pacifier on her stomach as she sat in the carseat. That was the first time I really noticed her attempting to intentionally grab at something, however clumsy those attempts were. Since then she pretty much grabs everything. Now when I’m changing her diaper she’ll grab on my arm with both of her little hands. I kind of love it.

Like a lot.

So she’s been good this last month with grabbing things and putting pretty much everything up to her mouth. She loves bottles especially and also phones. Something that Amy mentioned last night is that it has suddenly dawned on Jane what her bottles actually represent – food. Whenever the bottle was in sight, Jane would cry for it and Amy actually had to put it away so that she wouldn’t keep crying out for it.

Jane can be occupied for a good length of time just holding and playing with her toys, going as long as 2 hours by herself just sitting and playing. And it can be just one toy, too. She doesn’t need much to be occupied. She also makes this really cute noise that we have kind of dubbed her concentrating noise, which is pretty much just a one-syllable low baby growl.

Although I think she has the core strength to roll herself over, she has no interest in that yet. Hasn’t even really attempted to do so. She’s a little slow developing in that respect.

Over this past weekend, she seemed to figure out that moving her jaw open and closed changes the types of sound that her mouth can make. Earlier last month Jane was copying her mom whenever she would stick her tongue out. She’s becoming a much more social being. She responds playfully when I grab at her belly or dive in to kind of bite at her. It’s so adorable. 

She also just started eating solids. Well, one solid, and only semi-solid at that. Rice Cereal. She was still pushing it out with her tongue the first few times, but now she gets it. And she also has been a little bit better at being able to stay sitting up. She can't do it on her own, but once she gets there, she can hold it for a few seconds. It's pretty cool.

That’s our little girl at five months.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Right Around the Corner

When Punxsutawney Phil declared an early spring this year, I took him at his word. And even though I went snowboarding just two days ago (and loved it), I still found myself asking Amy this morning, is it spring yet?

I'm excited for spring because it means summer is coming, and warm weather, and I love everything that comes with that. It just makes me so happy. Not clearing the snow off my car in the morning makes me happy. Running outside makes me happy. Spring forward makes me happy. And baseball. Always baseball.

This morning Tim Kurkjian of ESPN had an awesome article about Why We Love Spring Training. I just wanted to include a few gems on here:
Indians pitcher Brian Anderson boarded the team bus at 8 a.m. for the two-hour drive to Vero Beach, Fla., for a spring training game in 2003. Thirty minutes into the trip, Anderson realized he had forgotten his hat, spikes and glove back in Winter Haven.

"I was running late that morning because I knew I was going to get to hit in the game, so I was looking for the really important things: batting gloves and a bat," Anderson said. "When we got to Vero, I was in full panic mode. I borrowed a car and went to a mall, but there wasn't one glove in the whole mall, but I found some adidas spikes. On the way back to the ballpark, I saw a Walmart. I thought, 'Hey, Walmart has everything … tires … produce. … It must have a baseball glove.' I found one: $29.95, already broken in. It was a softball glove. A Wilson. It was awful.

"I borrowed someone's hat and pitched in the game. Of course, I got three comebackers to the mound, and I caught them all because my new glove was as big as a butterfly net; it made [Greg] Maddux's glove look small. That day reminded me of when I was 17 playing Legion ball. That is spring training to me."

And that's why it's so great. That's why it's our favorite time of year. It makes you feel young again, no matter how old you are, no matter how many times you have been -- and this will be my 32nd spring training.

It is a sign that the long, cold winter is nearly over and that sunshine and summer vacation is on the way. It is a time for optimism, a fresh start and hope. No one has lost a game, the rookies have so much promise, and the veterans believe it will be their best year.

Only in spring training could then-Rays first baseman Carlos Pena make a mistake in a baserunning drill and justify it by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech. "My first baseman is quoting Dr. King," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "I love it." Only in spring training could then-new ESPN analyst Terry Francona check into a Disney property hotel only to find out that the room was a cabin on a campsite. He slept in a bunk bed. He called a colleague and asked, "You want to go out later and make some s'mores?"

Only in spring training could this happen: One March in Winter Haven, Red Sox pitcher Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd rented several adult movies from a local video store. It was nearly time to break camp and head north when The Can was detained because he hadn't returned the movies. It was an issue, but the movies were eventually returned and Boyd was allowed to leave with the team -- but not before Chuck Waseleski, a statistical guy who worked for the Red Sox, named the whole episode "The Can Film Festival."

Only in spring training does pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, now with the Royals, ride his bike to work. "It was only five miles," he said of his daily ride last spring to the Rockies' facility.

"He pitched in a game in Scottsdale this spring, then got on his bike -- still in full uniform, with his glove on the handlebars -- and rode back to our facility," said Rockies right fielder Michael Cuddyer, laughing. "It was like a scene from 'The Sandlot.'"

Only in spring training do we hear complete detail of the stories from the winter. Last winter, Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese got a nose job, and as promised, former teammate Carlos Beltran paid the $10,000 cost. One winter, then-Rockies manager Clint Hurdle drove sled dogs in Alaska. Last winter, pitcher R.A. Dickey climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Rays DH Luke Scott hunted wild pigs with a spear. Giants manager Bruce Bochy went skiing for the first time in his life. "I thought I could do it, I'm still somewhat athletic. But as it turns out, I'm not," he said with a smile. "I got on the ski lift, then I kind of slipped off, and the lift hit me in the back of the head. My gloves and skis and hat went flying. It looked like a yard sale. I didn't even try to ski after that. I went to the lodge and had a beer."

Only in spring training would Padres Chris Young and Will Venable pick teams for a free throw shooting tournament because both guys played basketball at Princeton. "That's as nervous as I've ever been for an athletic competition," Young said with a smile, "because I'm not a great free throw shooter, and my team was depending on me to be good."

Only in spring training would the Twins hold a bowling tournament behind the KFC in Fort Myers. "Joe Mauer would be high-fiving his teammates, guys he's never met in his life, after they rolled a strike," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

Jeremy Guthrie is very much LDS, by the way. I love that story.

I think what I love so much about baseball is how it really is a game. Sure, it's a sport. The single hardest thing to do in any sport is to try to hit a pitch thrown from 60 ft away that can sink, curve, slide, rise, or knuckle at speeds ranging from 50-103 mph. Yes, that's hard. And there's a lot of strategy at conditioning and practice and teamwork required. All of that.

But in the end, it's the sport that really connects kids to adults. I follow a lot of sports, but I never hear about the kinds of things that happen in other sports that happens in baseball. Kid type things. And it extends from the earliest part of the 20th century up until now. It connects one generation to the next.

I just love it. It makes me so happy.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lovin' On

A few things:
  • Jane, obviously. She goes down now at around 11 or midnight, depending. And we're totally fine with that. Now it doesn't require the hour or two commitment to rock her to sleep. We've been just letting her cry it out and it feels so liberating, almost like we're cheating. But she usually doesn't cry for too long, and now all of a sudden we have some portion of the evening free.
  • What I'm really loving about her though is just how fun she is. Anytime I'm there in the morning when she starts waking up, I want to run over and be the one to grab her. She giggles more now. She just feels more durable. I love it. I love her.
  • My wife. She really is so great for me. I love that she and I can go to some event, like the Mustacherade MBA event we had last week, and if there is music playing, it could be just her and I in a room together and we would probably dance the whole evening. I have so much fun with Amy.
  • This is kind of a corollary to the above Jane going to bed by herself now, but I love when me and Amy are both in bed, but not sleepy and the fun little conversations we have staying up. Just last night we stayed up until probably about three in the morning, talking about totally random things. 
  • My MBA program. I value so much the things that I am learning, the opportunities that are available, and the people I get to associate with. Grad school is such a different kind of educational experience than undergrad. You're so much more collegial with your professors. You call them by their first names and you ask them about their lives. They're so much more accessible. And you learn such interesting things and the conversations you have are so much more informed. It's really fun in the MBA program because just about everyone has some years of work history, so people are just more experienced. And the people. It's so fun. I love it. 
  • Running and exercising. I've been totally back on track with running and I totally love it. I feel so good and so healthy. I feel like I can do anything when I'm running consistently.
  • Thinking about Michigan for the summer. It gets us both so excited. 

Catching Up

You know what's funny? I have just had no desire to blog lately. I used to be SO regular about it. Like 3-5 posts a week, and I would post about everything - sports. I think I just really liked the idea of publishing everything that I thought about and I just really loved the exercise of writing. It was really fun to me.

But these last few months that same kind of interest just hasn't been there. It started mostly because it just never felt like I had enough time. New baby. MBA program. That was enough to keep me so busy.

Then the election happened and it really killed my desire to blog about anything political anymore. I still read stuff. I follow a number of different blogs and writers and websites still. But I just don't have the heart to write about it anymore. I meant to post a follow-up that talked about how even though the outcome result was so far from what I would have liked, it still wasn't going to be the end of the world. I think we're still a good ways away from Armageddon. When the signs of the times are hear, I think it'll be unmistakable, at least to those of us who are actually looking for it.

In some ways I feel like that's the case. I look at California and while I still have so much love for that place, it is rapidly descending down the very wrong path. I really believe that.

In any case, here is an excerpt following the election of a post that I really enjoyed over at Cafe Hayek:

The fact that Obama won despite these handicaps is the source, I think, of most people’s despair. It’s not that they dread the policies of the next four years. It’s that this election has revealed that the American people chose someone who wants the US to be more like Europe–more statist and paternalistic. I have heard people who feel like giving up. If we can’t beat this guy, it’s over. We’re on the road to serfdom. Could be. But I think the glass is more half-full than half-empty. So here is some cheer for those of you who are pessimistic about the future.

Yes, a little over half of the people who voted, a little over 60 million people, thought Obama deserved a second term. But about 59 million (the combined Romney and Gary Johnson votes) disagreed. That’s pretty close. Politics is winner-take-all, a zero-sum game. But those totals tell you just how close it was and how little it will take to change the outcome.

Yes, Obama overcame handicaps that should have been insurmountable. But Romney as a candidate was not particularly well-positioned to take advantage of Obama’s weakness. Yes, the economy was mediocre. But Romney’s “plan” was not a very exciting or specific alternative. Yes, the President’s proudest legislative achievement was unpopular, but Romney had created a similar plan in Massachusetts that muted his ability to attack it. Then there were Romney’s own handicaps–his wealth, his business background in the financial sector (a part of the economy that is very unpopular these days), and most of all, the positions he had staked out in the primary campaign. This allowed him to be portrayed as an enemy of Hispanics for his anti-immigration position and more generally, a flip-flopper without principles. I don’t live in an Hispanic neighborhood or watch much Spanish-language television. I suspect the Democrats did a very effective job reminding Hispanic voters of what Romney had said about immigration to defeat Rick Perry. George Bush got 41% of the Hispanic vote in 2004 when Hispanics made up 8% of the electorate. Romney got 27% of the Hispanic vote that is now 10% of the electorate. That’s a handicap in a lot of battleground states where the Hispanic vote is even bigger.

My point is that I don’t think Obama’s victory is a mandate for big or bigger government or a sign that the American people are all Keynesians or would-be Europeans. Obama may draw a different conclusion. I’d understand that. He would. But I’m not discouraged just because Obama won. I don’t believe it proves how far Americans would like to go down the road toward serfdom. There was plenty to be discouraged about before this election. I’m not sure the election provides much new information.

The lesson I learn is that we have work to do. It’s our job to speak up and educate and cajole others about what we lose when government gets bigger. It’s our job to help people understand that the civil society that emerges from the bottom up is better than the coercive dictates decreed from the top down. The better we do that, the higher the chance of a candidate out there who understands these ideas and who has a decent chance of winning. We, the people, help determine which candidates emerge and what they stand for.

We have work to do. The Talmud, talking about the obligation of a Jew to improve the world and do what God expects of us, says that it is not up to you to finish the task, but neither are you free to walk away from it. You may or may not believe that liberty hastens the redemption of the world. But the Talmud’s insight is that small steps can eventually make a big difference. I can’t bring about liberty single-handedly. Neither can you. But all of us together make a difference. Which way should we choose? More bottom up or more top down? The American people just elected the king of top down, but it was close, and my claim above is that the result reflects a lot more than the appeal of “top down” policies. Let’s keep at the job and we’ll eventually have better candidates to choose from and better results.

My other source of cheer is to remember that politics is not where life happens. Policies affect our lives, but we have much to do outside that world. Yesterday I helped my youngest son learn Python, learned some Talmud, played with my photographs on Lightroom, had dinner with my wife, and went shopping with my oldest son for his first nice blazer. Lots of satisfactions there. Nothing to do with politics.

Put Tuesday night behind you for a while. Remember what matters. Take a walk. Read to your kids. Go out for dinner with your spouse. Read more Adam Smith and less of the Drudge Report. And smile at your neighbor. That’s always a good idea. But there’s a bonus–it might help your neighbor imagine that someone who believes in leaving things alone when it comes to the coercive power of government might actually be a decent person after all. And then maybe he’ll be a little more open to those crazy ideas you talked about at that dinner party.

Toward the end of the campaign, I saw an ad where Obama looked into the camera and said something like “look at my policies and those of my opponent and decide which one is best for you.” Those of us who believe in voluntary emergent order and civil society as a way to make the world a better place, reject Obama’s calculus. We believe that our policies aren’t just good for ourselves but allow everyone to reach their potential  and serve others through the marketplace and the communities we choose to join and build. That’s a world I want not just for my children to but for your children, too.  Being nice to your neighbor helps your neighbor imagine the possibility that the policies we pursue are not just about ourselves.

So don’t despair. Get to work, instead. And along the way, make lots of time for the joys of life. Don’t let the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue affect the sweetness of all those roses on whatever road we’re heading down.
 Anyway, that's what I got.

It's funny. Now that I've actually written some stuff, I'm halfway interested now. So goes?