Milestones

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Yesterday was definitely an interesting day with our baby. In the morning, we had a doctor’s appointment in which she received another immunization. We were relieved when we found out that it was an oral one, so we didn’t have to witness our daughter go through all of that pain. The funny thing was that the last time she got her shots, she didn’t even react when the doctor gave her the fist shot. It was like she was saying,”That wasn’t so bad”. Then, she got the second one. Anyhow, she received her immunization and was weighed and measured and then we went home.

I took the rest of the morning off work, so I was able to help my wife (who is now watching our daughter full-time) watch the little one for a while. At that point our daughter seemed fine. The rest of the day was pretty trying for her, however, as our daughter cried any time my wife wasn’t holding her. I can imagine how tiring this was for my wife as our daughter is now close to 15 pounds. When I finally returned home from work, I tried to do my best to help with the baby.

As we were watching television near the end of the day, something great happened. Our daughter was playing with her toys and she decided to roll onto her side as she had been doing lately. This time, however, as my wife held a rattle for her, the little one decided to roll the rest of the way onto her tummy. It was at this point that my wife and I began to cheer, as though the Steelers just won another Super Bowl (insert the sports analogy of your choice here).

Though milestones aren’t a huge deal to me, this one was timed perfectly. It brightened our day. Also, it is really special to see our baby learn new skills. I couldn’t be prouder.

International Volleyball

While reading boing boing this morning I came across an article about a game of volleyball played across the fence on the U.S./Mexico border. There is something about this that is just so refreshing to me. Here we have people from one country who have it so bad they would risk anything to leave that country. On the other side we have a country that is pretty much freaking out security wise and is trying to keep everyone out (especially if they are poor). Those are issues of concern for the governments of those countries, not the average people of the countries. Instead we have groups of people from either country using the border fence, the very symbol of the division between the countries, as a volleyball net. This brings a smile to my face. One of the funniest parts of the article was a quote from a border patrol agent who seems as though he would join in the game if he wasn’t on duty:

All this activity finally brings down the hammer of the border patrol, and a jeep shows up to separate us. The officer is friendly but firm. He’s just come on shift and has no idea we’ve been playing volleyball over the fence for the past hour.

“Really?”

He tells us that a daredevil launched himself across the border in a cannon a while back, but that ours was, in fact, the first-ever game of international border volleyball.

“And it worked over that tall fence?”

“Yup,” we say. “We’re up for one more round if you want to play.”

“No, man,” the officer says. “I’m on duty.”

The Westing Game (and Books We Loved as Kids)

When I was in Elementary school, there was a program called R.I.F. which involved our teachers giving out free books to us students. Since I loved to read, “R.I.F. day” was an exciting time for me. Our teacher would put the books on a table and would always have some system to determine the order in which we chose our books. Since we usually didn’t know anything about the particular books being offered, often the books that were biggest and/or had the flashiest covers were picked first. Or, if we were really lucky there would be a Choose Your Own Adventure book, which was cool because your path through the plot of the book was determined by the choices you made. These books were usually long gone by the time I got to choose my book, as I never got to pick first. Lucky for me “never choose a book by it’s cover”

turned out to be true, and one day I chose The Westing Game as my R.I.F. book.

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As I have since discovered, The Westing Game won the Newberry Medal in 1979. I’ll allow wikipedia to describe the plot:

The story unfolds as a whodunit, and is told in third-person omniscence. There is not one main character in the story, but it focuses in some aspects on Tabitha-Ruth “Turtle” Wexler. Eccentric millionaire and self-proclaimed patriot Samuel Westing has died, and the 16 heirs (all tenants or associates of Sunset Towers, an apartment building adjacent to Westing’s property), are called together for the reading of his will. There, it is announced that Westing was actually murdered, and the will warns that their fellow heirs may not be who they appear to be. They are paired up to search for the murderer, and each pair receives clues to find the person. The first pair to unmask the killer’s identity will receive Westing’s 200-million-dollar fortune. As the different pairs of people enter the “Westing Game,” they find clues that tell them about each others’ secrets. Turtle uses not just the obvious clues but the hidden ones to discover the true mystery behind the mystery, which she solves in an unexpected but satisfying fashion.

I loved this book for many reasons. For one, I cared for the characters, which is very important to me when I read a book or watch a movie. Who wants to read a book about a bunch of people you don’t care about? I also enjoyed the mystery aspects of the book and the challenge of trying to solve the mystery before the characters in the book.

Has anyone out there read The Westing Game? What were some of your favorite books as a child? While you think about that, I think I’m going to grab this book off the bookshelf in my old bedroom the next time I visit my parents.

The Speed of Light

The following are some thoughts I had the other day. Maybe it will spark a story idea in someone, or a discussion in the comments. Sorry if anyone of you find this post boring. I will return to my usual family/writing posts tomorrow.

It is known that the light we see from stars at night originated long ago. In other words, when you look up at the sky you are peering into the past. It could be that a star you see tonight doesn’t even exist any more. With the help of the Hubble telescope, Astronomers are able to see further into the universe’s past. I was contemplating this the other day and a few questions came into my mind.

Lets imagine that in the distant future we are finally able to travel at the speed of light. In fact, let’s say we are able to travel beyond the speed of light. Assuming we somehow manage to have unlimited or regenerating fuel, call it “Magic Pixie Dust”, would we be able to travel far enough to witness the birth of the universe? As soon as our vessel stopped, would time suddenly catch up to us?

O.K. so we were able to witness the birth of the universe. Would there be any way to communicate this information with our peers on Earth? By the time we returned to Earth it would be millions of years later, or if we never slowed down, could we return to Earth just after we left on our journey. Or, would we have to somehow send our message at speeds beyond the speed of light in order for it to return to Earth in time.

Who knows the answers to any of these questions? Our children’s, children’s, children’s, etc. will not know the answers. Man may never achieve the speed of light. It is fun to think about what if, though.

Ice Hockey – Why I Can’t Think

I play in an adult ice hockey league every year and yesterday was my first game. There were no practices, we just started on the season full force. The last time I was on the ice was last April, which was our last game of last season. My off season training consisted of playing slow pitch softball in a church league and lifting a 15 pound baby. I used to lift weights three days a week before my daughter was born. Now I am lucky to get 60 pushups in before I go to sleep. Regardless, nothing prepares the body for the rigors of skating in a hockey game.

Therefore, my body and brain are not doing very well right now. I don’t have the energy to do much creative writing today. I have included a picture of me before and after my game so you can see how tired I am today. “Read the rest of this entry” to view the picture. Continue reading

That’s not Our Beautiful House

Here is the picture of the old abandoned house that I promised. I stumbled upon it while driving my sister to her car, in which her keys were locked. There was something about the house that made me want to photograph it.

There are so many questions that pop into my mind when I look at this picture. For example, what happened to the family who once lived in this house? Is it an old farm house and hard times came? Who owns the land now? Any number of these questions may lead to a story. At least that’s what I hope.

Old House in the Country

Flash Fiction Opportunity

Over at Story Mask, Ben announced the 100 Voices in the Night project. Rather than me trying to explain the project, here is the description from the site:

100 Voices in the Night is a project to create an anthology of flash fiction stories in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. Twenty authors will contribute five stories each to amass a total of 100 flash fiction pieces. Once completed, this new anthology will be sent to a publisher and the first of what we hope to be an annual project will be born. Each story will be short enough to read in a just a couple of minutes, and many of them will provide brief glimpses into the larger universe of each author’s writing.

Check out the link if you are interested. It sounds like a very cool project and a good opportunity for the authors involved.