Goodbye, America. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

Jena and I are leaving the country tonight and won’t return until the middle of November*. By that time, a new President will have been chosen by the people of this country and we can finally move on from this nightmarish campaign that started years ago.**

I have faith in the people of this country despite some of the recent ugliness we have seen at rallies or in the streets, that they will not follow the historic election of the first black President, with a man who treats women, minorities, the disabled, veterans, the families of veterans, and everyday people, the way Donald Trump does.

People say Trump, speaks his mind, tells it like it is, and isn’t politically correct. Not accounting for the childish way he acts and speaks, he also lies more than any politician.  Look at the fact checking of a “typical politician” and you can see that they tell half-truths and outright lies about half the time. Compare that with Trump who can only manage to tell the truth or mostly the truth 15% of the time. How can anyone believe anything from him? He is not trustworthy.

This is not an election between two similar candidates despite how the press may treat it. This is an election between a man who would be extremely dangerous for all of us and a highly qualified person who has spent the majority of her life in the service of others***. Don’t fall for the false equivalence in the way these two candidates are presented. The media is failing us all.

Let me say repeat how dangerous Trump is. Electing Donald Trump would endanger us all fiscally, emotionally, and physically.

So what we need from everyone is simple. Don’t fuck this up. Send a message by voting—whether in a “blue state” or a “red state” or a “battleground state” or even overseas—and clearly declare that the types of attitudes and behaviors exhibited by Trump and his most fervent  supporters are not acceptable in the USA and that we, as a nation, are better than that.

Trump won’t win the election, but he shouldn’t even get 10% of the vote. Don’t be one of the people who cast a vote for this small, angry man. History will not judge you kindly.****

Kia ora.

*We’re headed to New Zealand and Australia. Our gracious friends Luke and Jenny are watching our cats and our house while we are gone. We’ll post more on this as we go.
**We’re voting by mail
***You won’t see any such list like that about Trump as he is only interested in making money and putting his name on things.
****Neither will I. In fact, if you are a friend or family member that cares so little for yourself and for your country that you would cast a vote for this man, then I do not want to know about it. Seriously. Do not tell me. I won’t respect you and I sorta need that for our relationship to continue.

An epic road trip in the rearview

Jena and I have just returned from a pretty epic road trip across the western and central parts of the U.S. We were afforded such an opportunity as we just so happen to have ended our employment engagements and are dead set on taking advantage of that reality. Never in our careers have we felt able to take more than two weeks off at a time. We are super excited to see what we can do.

For this trip we had a few goals: get back to Minnesota to see family and attend the Minnesota State Fair, Spend a good amount of time camping—especially in Glacier National Park, Get our Global Entry interview out-of-the-way to pave the way for easier international travel, and basically just relaxing a bit and not thinking about work for the first time in 20 years.

Here are a few stats from this past month:

Continue reading

A return to long form posts

While I won’t go so far as to say I will be blogging again like the old days, I can say I will be writing again. And I plan on using this old site to do it. There will only be a few posts per month, I would wager, but they will be good posts. That is my promise to you, good (non-existent) reader.

I am also going through the 1400 or so past posts to this site and revisiting the ones that are more timeless, say something about me, or I find amusing. Some of these have already been made public again (see below), while others will be re-published over time, as I can find it. I may call these posts out here when I do so, and I may not. In any event, Thanks for visiting, again. It has been too long.

A storyteller’s story

I want to tell you a story – a story about my dad. It was from him that I first learned about stories, while sitting on my his lap (well I was still too young to even sit up, actually). It isn’t hard to smile when I think of the tales he has told me over the years. I have heard many of them again and again. Recently I had come to ask him if I should just “play the tape”. Usually he just kept going despite me giving him a hard time. My dad has shaped who I am more than I even know yet. I often find myself thinking, I am sure, many of the same thoughts he had as a younger man. We share a lot of traits, my dad and me. We are both ambitious and amicable, contemplative and caring, idealistic and at times impractical, sensitive and stubborn.

My dad’s stories taught me about him but also about life. It was through his stories that I learned about music, art, history, and literature. His stories introduced me to The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and to how classical music has stories of its own. He brought me to museums and inspired my early artistic endeavors such as drawing and photography. My political education started with my dad’s stories of Roosevelt, Kennedy and others and of the war stories he would tell.

Later in life, we comforted each other with stories of woe as we looked to the politics of the day and the state of Minnesotan pro sports teams. Ever the storyteller, my dad began sharing his stories with the world through his blog. All of those stories were true, give or take a lie or two.

My dad, never the picture of health, overcame a bout with nearly debilitating rheumatic fever as a child to go on to join the Air Force and travel the world. He made a home away from home in Turkey while in the service and I couldn’t get enough of the tales of adventure there. When he returned home he moved to a business fast track and may have still been there today had heart troubles not derailed him into a more slow-paced way of life. However much my father inspired me to professional success with his career accomplishments, it was with his embrace of a simpler life that he taught me the most valuable lessons. He understood what is important in life and has shown me ways to be more appreciative of my family and friends. It is a lesson, I am sure, that he will continue to provide me even now.

I know we are all currently grieving, but we have to remember that this grief is ours. It is for what we have lost, and what we remember, and what we will not experience again. I will miss his stories – just sitting and talking with him about any of hundreds of topics he could go on about. I will grieve the loss of those stories. But it is my grief. It is not my dad’s. My dad lived a great life, with few regrets. He shared his love with many and touched countless lives. His advice to us, with how to deal with our grief, was simple – in a letter written just 7 or so hours before his death, my dad made it clear:

Just, just, just get over it!

Now that’s what I’ll have to try to do.

The little duck

Now we are ready to look at something pretty special.
It is a duck riding the ocean a hundred feet beyond the surf.
No, it isn’t a gull.
A gull always has a raucous touch about him.

This is some sort of duck, and he cuddles in the swells.
He isn’t cold, and he is thinking things over.
There is a big heaving in the Atlantic,
And he is part of it.

He looks a bit like a mandarin, or the Lord Buddha meditating under the Bo tree,
But he has hardly enough above the eyes to be a philosopher.
He has poise, however, which is what philosophers must have.
He can rest while the Atlantic heaves, because he rests in the Atlantic.

Probably he doesn’t know how large the ocean is.
And neither do you.
But he realizes it.
And what does he do, I ask you? He sits down in it.
He reposes in the immediate as if it were infinity – which it is.

That is religion, and the duck has it.
He has made himself part of the boundless,
by easing himself into it just where it touches him.

I like the little duck.
He doesn’t know much.
But he has religion.

-Donald Babcock, The Lyfe Poems of Donald Babcock

My life story

I have been reading posts that my father has been making on his his newly minted blog. They are great, they give me insights into what my dad’s life has been like and I can see him how he sees himself via the oft-recounted stories now told in the new medium of the web. Several of his posts thus far have been about his exploits with the ladies. From the Turkish belly dancer, Zeckiya, to the time when he “met three birds and we enjoyed each other immensely” reminding his readers on several occasions that it was the 60’s and a different time.

My dad has varied and colorful experiences, most of which I will not share. I met Jena in high school and have more or less been with her for the past 18 years as of yesterday, 11 of which as husband and wife. An earlier version of myself would have felt a bit sad about the contrast of my dad’s crazy life and my own relatively normal one. And I guess this current version of myself does feel a bit sad, but not for me.

I will be able to write my reflective weblog posts with Jena as my editor, correcting my spelling errors (believe me she will be busy). I will get to write those posts knowing that I have found and shared all that I have experienced with the person who has known me best, who has grown up with me, and who continues to make me so very happy – through a span of time exceeding that of all of my father’s marriages. So I guess I do still feel a bit sad. My dad won’t ever be able to spend time with the person who has known all versions of himself. Then again, maybe that is why he is telling her of himself via the web.

Photos of young Ben and Jena