Inward and Onward

Scoop settles in for a long winter's nap.

Uncle Doug just left. He’d been here since Christmas Eve and before that, we were all together in Phoenix since the 21st, so it was actually a little hard to see him go. We’ve had a great time together culminating in yesterday’s cruise up the Coast with Peanut in tow to Santa Maria to visit my pal, Keith and talk with Dave and Becky Corey of Core Wines. Core will be coming on board with biorganicwines.com early in the new year and Doug had not tried their wines. We were treated to a great lineup of wines and you can read more about it at the biorganicwines.com blog.

While on a global scale, the year leaves much to be desired, on a family scale-this has been a delightful year. Our family has been brought closer together than ever. For me, it has been a year of real education. I’m not going to go into serious depth here, but 2009 was a year in which I began to learn how to be a better father, a better dad. I’ve still got some way to go, but everything from my temper to my disposition to the way I pay attention has all changed. It’s my hope that the result will be a happier more adjusted child and a happier more adjusted me. It’s a lot of work, but all worth it.

The adoption proceeds, if somewhat slowly and we look for 2010 to be the year we add to our family. But there is little to say about that until the slow wheel that is turning comes around.

So it was that this Christmas holiday, like all the others, was a time for us to focus on what was most important and it allowed us more growth than in years past. We had a good time doing it–road tripping to Arizona and back, a Disneyland trip earlier this month, Doug’s visit, all of it created the warm feeling and the glow of family. It’s enough that the outside world bathes in haplessness, worry and fear while here at home, we turn inward and discover, perhaps rediscover, the space that brings us all alive in the first place.

May 2010 bless us as we continue down the path.

Self-Delusion as Public Policy

This is why I need a job where I don’t get so much time off. When I do get time off, I tend to read a lot of columnists whom I like. They come from different backgrounds, some are conservative, some are not. Christopher Hitchens, of course, while no conservative, is existentially correct on the war–always has been. You should read the whole article.

Key points:

No sooner is the fanatical and homicidal Muslim arrested than it turns out that he (it won’t be long until it is also she) has been known to the authorities for a long time.

Here’s another:

I suppose it must eventually have occurred to somebody that this ban would not deter a person who was willing to die, so the rule was scrapped. But now the principle has been revisited for international flights. For many years after the explosion of the TWA plane over Long Island (a disaster that was later found to have nothing at all to do with international religious nihilism), you could not board an aircraft without being asked whether you had packed your own bags and had them under your control at all times. These two questions are the very ones to which a would-be hijacker or bomber would honestly and logically have to answer “yes.”

And this:

Why do we fail to detect or defeat the guilty, and why do we do so well at collective punishment of the innocent? The answer to the first question is: Because we can’t—or won’t. The answer to the second question is: Because we can.

Hitchens never flinched from this debate. And he’s not going to start now:

What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims.

The only commentary I could add is that Mr. Hitchens is invariably correct. This is the reason that while I knew that John McCain ran a dismal campaign, I voted enthusiastically for him. Forget about the Dems’ health care debacle, the cap and tax madness and the illusions that liberals invent for themselves everyday so that they can keep power. What matters is what Hitchens wrote above. McCain was the better man for this time. End of discussion.

We are being pursued by a relentless enemy–and most of us not only don’t care, we don’t even acknowledge that it’s true.

A little Revolution now and then is a Healthy Thing…

This article surprised me. More than its call to action, or questioning whether or not there should be one, it lays out in a very matter of fact and non-nutter way that our Federal Government has failed us. And it has failed us in ways that are too numerous to count. This isn’t a conservative vs. liberal thing, this is an American thing. Corruption has destroyed our system of government, says Mr. McNickle.

I’m inclined to agree with him, though I am more on the conservative side of things, though not necessarily the Republican side. More than that, however, it has come to a point under the current administration that congress and the President are attempting to pass legislation that is not only unpopular, but downright stupid.

The health-care bill is nothing more than special interest lobbies getting their way, taxes on more people and a massive confiscation of liberties. This is where for me, this is indeed about conservative vs. liberal. In fact, I’ll go one better. Allow me to attempt to say this respectfully: Those who believe that the government knows better how to use their money than they do are not only willfully blind, but abdicating their responsibility and ultimately, their freedom.

If the health care bill passes and is not radically overturned by the next congress, this will not end well. Rationing, waiting to see a doctor, higher premiums, loss of freedom in terms of physician choice, all of this will be the result of nationalized health care.

But I’m going tangential. Back to the article. Mr. McNickle’s piece surprises me because it isn’t in some conservative blog. It’s not a call from a demagogue to take up arms, nor is it a fiery rant from the nutso “birthers” who want to impeach the President because he wasn’t born in America. I have no patience for the right wingers who go in that direction.

No, Mr. McNickle is in earnest about the choice we Americans face. He is a mainstream editor of a mainstream newspaper and though his views are conservative, they are not out of the mainstream–nor is the Pittsburgh Tribune a marginal paper. It’s the paper of record for a medium-sized American city that has become something of a financial capital. In short, we will either allow the political class to run us as they see fit, or we will overthrow them by the means most amenable to us. The ballot would be best, but I have no faith that simply putting Republicans back in charge will fix the problem. I’m not that partisan. Neither is Mr. McNickle.

The Tea Party movement is no flash in the pan and those who ignore it do so at their own peril. The movement is real, it is grass roots and it is being ignored by the very group of people it seeks to remove from power. That, unfortunately, is a recipe for revolution and if that is the case, then 2010 could be a very interesting year indeed.

Coming Home

Peanut, Rachel and Grandma making a family favorite-Amish Pot Pie.

Just home from Arizona after driving over on Sunday. A little Christmas-cheer to spread with the family and in short order, saw brothers, nephews, niece, mom, dad and dad’s wife, Joanne.

Had a great trip and won’t go into detail as to do so would bore those of you with your own family stories and make me quite liable to have to sit around and listen to your stories. See? I’m always thinking ahead.

The Road Trip was fun, if arduous. In 4 days, we did 1300 miles of driving, me at the wheel the whole way. Rented a Toyota Rav 4 and enjoyed it. Fun little crossover to drive, handles well in all kinds of weather and easy to operate. Great visibility, quick response, plenty of room and pretty comfortable, too.

We left after Church on Sunday and got all the way out to San Bernadino when we realized we’d forgotten an important piece of luggage. Fed Ex closed on Sundays. UPS, too. Oy. Called Aunt Laurie and we backtracked all the way into Pasadena where she met us to make the hand-off. That was above and beyond the call of duty, of course. We really couldn’t have made the trip without that luggage as it had Sue’s asthma and allergy meds in it. Best not to do without those when possible. And after all that, she still got a case of bronchitis which she is currently fighting.

We spent the three nights in Scottsdale as brother Jerry works for Best Western and got us nice accomodations there. New hotel with comfy beds, big screen TV, etc. right in the heart of Scottsdale.

Rain came on Tuesday and apparently in droves. We drove north before it arrived and spent the afternoon with dad in Prescott Valley where we were treated to a beautiful snowstorm. At one point, the snow was falling so hard that visibility was limited and travel was dicey. That, of course, made it even more wonderful and as it was Peanut’s second time in the snow, she was aglow with Christmasy wonder and joy. Seeing grandpa and grandma Joanne didn’t hurt, either. She’s fond of both of them.

Our last night in Arizona, last evening, was spent at brother Jerry’s with his wife and kids, brother Doug, mom and the three of us. We had dinner and enjoyed some games, had a great time together. Peanut spent the night at Grandma’s place and there was a kind of warm, Christmas glow about the whole thing. As we drove around Phoenix and Scottsdale, a local radio station, KEZ, played all Christmas music all the time. It served as a kind of soundtrack for the vacation and if we were in the car, which was fairly often, the station was on. The music brought back memories so many times and the three of us would sing along to some of the more well-known tunes, Peanut throwing her own vocal-stylings into it.

She loved visiting her cousins, the elder two of whom are boys and though she doesn’t fully understand them, she likes them well enough. It is Rachel, however, my brother’s youngest daughter who captures Peanut’s eye. At 3, Rachel is an adorable little imp and Peanut plays big sister to her-perhaps even more than Rachel would like. Still, they had a great time together.

Christmas is close now, closer by the minute. We long for it and look for its coming and then mourn its passing as wrapping paper and gifts all go by the wayside. But the eternal Christmas gift, of love and of sacrifice, keep on coming to us day after day of the rolling year.

Home Matters

2009’s Christmas break is underway. As we like to say in the multi-culti, tolerant, tree-hugging, uber-sensitive teaching profession–it’s Christmahannakwanzadan. That about covers the major winter solstice holidays in western religions theme. Don’t want to offend anyone, you know?

This is an odd time for the Storer family. Since I’ve announced we are adopting, it’s all a waiting game now and as Christmas approaches, we want to focus on our family and doing so means talking about a new child, but not really feeling her presence yet. We will be adopting a girl and I never questioned that. Honestly, at this point, a boy would be fine, too.

As I write this, it looks and sounds so horrible. I cannot even put our feelings into proper words. I’m just lost about it.

Meantime, Peanut is going through yet another phase that involves her very basic ego-centrism. She’s always been a nervous-nellie, but when the routine changes, she gets even more nervous and it’s a very odd thing. What it appears to boil down to is she wants not just attention, but to be the center of attention–and at all times. Honestly, as hard as it will be for her to adapt to a new sister, it will also be the best thing for her. As Sue says, “every child deserves a sibling-for better and worse…” Excellent point.

So we turn to prayer, as we should do and as really is what God wants us to do. I don’t have the answers for Peanut. I know she struggles with wanting to be constantly doted over. We struggle with it, too–and it’s not a good thing. But as we move forward, we learn to push her out of the nest, as it were–not coddle her into it. And yet, the whole idea of adopting a child has come from simply enjoying our role as parents and wanting to do it again. We have love to share and we want to share it.

Those are good things–and they should overcome the doubt and fear and as I said, all we can do is pray that is the case.

Amen

A Short Winter's Nap

Thursdays are usually Happy Hour days-they have been for at least the past 20 some years or so. But I am taking December off from Happy Hour to save money, to be honest and that has allowed me to be around the family on these evenings which I have enjoyed.

In light of this, we were at Aunt Laurie’s house tonight eating dinner and I felt more tired than usual. I sat down on the couch and while Peanut was off in the bathtub with Aunt Laurie at the helm, Sue and I watched Nestor The Long Eared Christmas Donkey. I remembered the story, but not the whole thing and I’m glad I didn’t. This has got to be the most brutal Christmas special ever created.

Nestor, the hapless young donkey whose ears are so big he trips on them, is laughed at, ignored and even brutalized at the hands of his Scandinavian owner, Olaf and the other donkeys in the barn. Only Nestor’s mother loves him.

So, when Roman soldiers come to steal buy donkeys from him, they get angry that he tried to pass Nestor off to them and he takes his revenge out on the poor beast, lifting him by his ears and throwing him out of the barn and into the snow. His mother escapes and goes looking for him and when she finds him, she digs a warm hole for him and lays on top of him.

But her act of love, of course, results in her death. Poor Nestor is left alone with the corpse of his mother until an angel come and transports the little guy to Bethlehem. The teasing, the brutality, his mother’s death–I couldn’t take it. I told Sue I was glad Peanut wasn’t there to see it.

I would tell you more, but it was at this point that, quite unusually for me, I curled up on Aunt Laurie’s couch, which has to be the most comfortable couch in the world, and fell sound asleep for something like 40 minutes. It was blissful.

If you’ve got 10 minutes and need a good Christmas cry–here you go….

Algore lied. Again.

Perhaps it seems like piling on and I suppose that’s probably what it is. But when I read yesterday that Algore bored the Copenhagen-ites to death by predicting that the North Pole sea ice would disappear in 5 to 7 years, I thought, “this guy will stop at nothing, including making predictions for which he himself will be held accountable when they don’t come true. How odd…”

And so, it came as no real surprise to find that Gore, well, Gore lied. Again. As my friend Scott would say, “he was inconsistent with his dispensation of the truth…”

The hardest part of all of this for a climate skeptic like myself is that I am considered the outlier. It has become politically correct (and therefore acceptable in the world today) to say that man is causing global warming. What’s so odd about that is that we really don’t know that it is true. In fact a good deal of the science indicates that the warming we saw–and it is warming we saw because currently, it isn’t warming. In fact, it’s getting cooler in most cases–was caused by sun spots and sun activity.

Now, I’m no scientist and I readily admit it. But, a little common sense seems to indicate that the primary engine for warming the planet would be the sun, doesn’t it? What am I missing here?

OK. Enough speculation. I need not really bring you any of that. It’s enough to easily point out that Algore lied. Again. It’s just so sad for the man, the “elder statesman Vice-President” who won a Nobel Prize for being dull and telling us that we ought to be changing our lightbulbs.

It’s a tough economy out there. I wonder if Algore is going to need a job soon. If the planet keeps cooling, it looks like his carbon offset credits may soon not be a viable source of income.