Not exactly. She asked if she could borrow some dishwasher soap. But it sounded like she said Shawshank.
It's not that The Tank didn't talk - he did - it's just that he didn't speak English. Or Spanish. Or any other recognizable language. It sounded like an extra-salivated combination of gibberish, an Inuit dialect, and a primitive form of Swahili. Now that he's been in our home for a while, his conversations are becoming more coherent. Mostly because Bekah and I have learned a new language to better understand this kid.
Since this is a language known only to the three of us (and possibly to my mother-in-law), I propose for you a vocabulary lesson. Or quiz... or... whatever. I'll give you a dozen tankism and three possible English translations for each word or phrase. The answers will be posted sometime next week.
1. Guh pies!
a) Good Pies!
c) Blue skies!
2. Gikah pak
a) Give it Back
c) Other path
3. I dingy
a) My thingy
b) I did it
c) I'm thinking
a) Bang it like this
c) Bekah, I like it
7. Lukta may
a) Lucky day
b) Look at me
c) Look, the mall
8. On do alay
a) One, two, three
b) I put shoe away
c) What to do today?
10. Any muh pan
a) Andy Kaufman
b) Any mud pie
c) I need my pants
11. I butt mighty
a) I go potty
b) My butt is mighty
c) I brush my teeth
12. Teepee nom I king
a) I am the gnome king
b) The peas not eating
c) Of thee I sing
Give it your best shot. I'll have answers for you in about a week.
1. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
2. Dracula by Bram Stoker
3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
4. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
5. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Which would you suggest?
"OK," I said.
"Besides...." Christian stood there as if he wanted to say more. After an awkward minute, he smile then walked away.
Besides what ?!? I really want to know.
Me: Probably not.
Bekah: I think Grandpa will probably want to watch Zombieland with Daddy later.
(Bekah walks away)
Christian: I don't like Zombieland. It's a grown up show.
That is the analogy I gave my boss when he asked how comfortable I was feeling with some new responsibilities added to my job description. I was like a little boy lost in a big world - sure that world would shrink as I grew.
I sometimes feel like that with life and this blog and trying to get back in shape and relating to my kids and… I am a little kid lost in a gigantic universe. If only I was as big as I should be. If only I would grow up the way I think it should happen, like that song by Garbage: “When I grow up I’ll be stable.”
Why do I feel this way? It could be a symptom of my melancholic disposition. Or it could be human nature. I can’t pretend I know the root cause, but I know the end result is an overwhelming feeling of insignificance.
Do you ever feel like this? Like you are not living up to the full purpose of why you are on this planet. Like you should be doing something (anything) more than your current engagement. I don’t know about you; I don’t know what life has dumped on your plate. But that searching for significance is a constant in my life.
There is a fierce battle between this strange dichotomy of who I am and who I want to be, and a never-ending reconciliation between who I want to be and who God wants me to be. So if you bear with me for a little, I need to be brutally honest. I am going to be like Snoop Dogg and drop it like it’s hot. This might take a while so go grab yourself a cup of coffee, and sip it like it’s hot.
If you are like me and struggling with meaning and purpose, keep reading. I want to share with you a few areas from my life that I am working through. Possibly you see something that gives you hope for your corner of the world. Or maybe you can shed some light in mine. These are the ways I’m searching for significance.
a) Being a better father. I am sure that most parents feel woefully under-prepared to take care of the miniature people placed in their lives. As Christian approaches his sixth birthday, I still feel like I don’t know what I am doing. But here is what I do know.
1) Christian is bewilderingly intelligent. In many ways he could be my clone but in other ways I know he is more imaginative and capable of so much more than I was at his age. But he is also a bit odd. He could tell you the difference between an otter and a seal, he can differentiate empire penguins and macaroni penguins, he can identify a wide spectrum of the animal kingdom, but he cannot find his way home while out on an evening walk. He will obsessively color “projects” and build “contraptions” with Legos for hours, but is lost when telling you what happened at school that day. He is a stickler for rules and has a heightened sense of justice, but he falls apart when it is time for bed. He is smarter than many of his peers and is delightful and (usually) well mannered. But he is not a normal kid. Every day I observe him enacting some bizarre behaviors that defy explanation.
2) Zu is kind-hearted and full of surprises. For a while, I thought she would not be the brightest kid in class, but would get away with far too much because she’s cute. But she is proving me wrong at the age of two (almost but not quite three). She is expressive and vocal and aware of much more than what is expected of kids her age. She tested to be on par with kids a year older in language and communication. Unfortunately, that same test put her social and emotional skills as someone half her age. While she demonstrates a great ability to show compassion, she has trouble regulation her emotions. She is cute though. In fact, she’s beautiful. If you were allergic to adorable, her mere presence would make you break out in hives.
3) JJ is a fighter. In his short time on earth, he has had more hospitalizations than should ever be inflicted on someone so young. I speculate how long it will be before he permanently relates doctors to needles, tubes, and beeping noises. Yet he is sitting in the middle of the living room with a devious grin on his face that says he either has something in his mouth that does not belong there or has just filled his diaper with a foul and sticky substance. He is almost oblivious to the trauma that his body has been through.
My three kids are a miracle in their own unique way. It’s been six (ish) years since Bekah first told me she was pregnant. For the past six years, I’ve asked myself on a (nearly) daily basis ‘what did I get myself into?’ I know I’m a good dad, but that knowledge is often forgotten as I wonder what I am doing wrong. I want to be the kind of dad that my kids crave hanging out with and bring their friends around, but now I’m unsure how adept my kids are going to be in the social realm. I want to be the kind of dad that helps them with their homework, but I think they might not need my help. I want to be the kind of dad that laughs with my children but I often find myself laughing at them.
b) Being a better writer. I blog. If you are reading this, that fact should be obvious. But underneath the surface there is much more that you won’t notice at first glance.
1) I am not exactly sure what I’m doing. Blogging is not an exact science. I’m a few months shy of my fifth blogiversary, and this is still what I would consider a low-traffic blog (500-800 visits in an average month). And to be completely honest, I am not entirely sure what I’m trying to accomplish. In my first post ever, I stated my purpose was to amuse people with the random thoughts of a father and husband. Five years later, I’m not sure how amusing I’ve been. I have ruffled a few feathers, and I have made a few people laugh. But is that still what I’m trying to do? Is there any coherent reason to keep going? If I were to write instructions on how to be a successful blogger, step one would be ‘Don’t be named Nic Casey.’ Step two would be ‘If you figure it out, let me know.’
2) This blog is another fight between who I am and who I want to be. I want to be a blogger like Defective Yeti or Jon Acuff – full of snarky goodness, self-referential inside humor, and shameless pop-culture references. Not only are these guys exceptionally talented, they are infinitely funnier than I (much in a manner that The Office is funnier than pet dander). When judging the direction I want to steer this blog I keep that thought in mind, as I want to be hip and hilarious and write thought provoking/gut busting relevant posts that attract hundreds of comments. But I know that I am funnier when I don’t try, and a purposeful sustained attempt at comedy or satire would fail. I also know that this blog is the only way that some of my friends and family keep up to date with what is happening in the Casey household. While my passion is to explorer the strange intersection between faith and pop culture and I desperately want to pursue that topic in my writing, I also want to keep my far flung relatives in the loop. That is a balancing act I have yet to get right. If all else fails - at worst - I’m leaving a record of my identity for my kids. When I am no longer a living resident of Earth, this may be the best evidence of who I was and what made me tick that I can give my kids. If that is all I accomplish here, is that such a bad thing?
c) Being a better person. That longing might sound contrived. Who doesn’t wish they were a better person? But this is probably the area that I most often fail. Try as I might, there are days where I am not a better person than the day before. Some days are stagnant, and others are a clear step backwards. I wear too many hats, and often find myself fighting self imposed contradictions.
1) I’m a data analyst that sucks at math. I will admit it, mathematics are not my forte. But I love my job. Thankfully, Excel does most of the calculating for me. All I have to do is get creative and be able to explain what the numbers mean. Yet, as much as I enjoy what I do, I cannot believe that this is what I am destined to do until I retire. Maybe it is. Maybe not. I work for a good company, and the job has been a blessing for me since I moved to Coeur d’Alene. I want to succeed there, yet I yearn to do something different.
2) In case you were wondering, I’m a bit pudgier than I used to be. I need to lose some weight, but I hate exercising and I like food. I also want to slim back down to (or at least close to) my pre-kids weight. I need to get healthy. So, I have made some changes to my diet, and (begrudgingly) started exercising with some measure of consistency. But it’s not working. I’m tired, I hurt, and I can’t drop below 200 pounds. It’s like an invisible wall mocking my feeble efforts to live a healthier lifestyle.
All of this. It seems so big. And I’m just one insignificant figure lost inside that immense world. I want to be a cool dad, but that is the couch that swallows me. I want to be a popular writer, but those are the cabinets that I can’t reach. I want a change, but that’s the big house I will never completely explorer.
In my quest for significance, I find comfort in one thing. God has big plans for me. Before I continue let me clarify two things: 1) I’m not intending that idea to sound megalomaniacal. I’m not proposing any delusions of grandeur. This is not me saying that I could be a gold medalist if being smug was an Olympic sport. While I believe that God has big plans for me, I also believe that God has big plans for all of you. 2) If you don’t believe in God, I want you to understand one objective – if you are feeling any quantity of insignificance, you’re not alone. Don’t let that feeling burden you. I hope you search out your value like I have. It’s worth the fight.
But back to my observation: God has big plans for me. Here’s the comfort in that revelation. God doesn’t need me to be skinny. He doesn’t need me to be a good dad. He doesn’t need me to be a best-selling author. In fact, He doesn’t really need me. But He wants me to be a good dad. He wants me to find significance in my writing, my work, and my health.
The problem isn’t that I’m insignificant. My failure is that I’m measuring wrong.
Significance isn’t having a good job; it is doing my job well.
Significance isn’t how my kids treat me; it is how I treat my kids.
Significance isn’t drawing hundreds of readers to my blog; it is being found by the one person who needs to read it.
Significance isn’t being hip; it is being there.
Significance isn’t having all of the answers; it is looking for the answers.
Am I an expert at finding significance? No. If I was, I wouldn’t be writing this post. This is a lesson I am forcing myself to learn.
I have. Big truck with out of state plates, driving a few miles per hour under the speed limit, swerving in their lane and frequently crossing the yellow line, erratic lane changes without using a blinker...
A few observations:
1) Flame mud flaps. Is that necessary? Oh well, at least it's not a naked lady mud flap or the SKIN logo.
2) Over-sized muffler. It's not really a muffler - it's just a section of the tail pipe that is bigger than the exhaust pipe. The only reason that people replace the stock muffler with those monstrosities is to serve one purpose: to be LOUD.
3) Those out of state plates... (I mention this solely for my lil sis) those are Oregon plates.
4) My final observation is hard to see in the picture (taken from my iPhone's camera) but was the most apparent feature in real life 3D - an absurdly high lift kit. The back bumper was eye level for me, and I drive an SUV with a high center of gravity. An adult of average height would have needed a step ladder (or a running start) to climb/jump into the cab - a hopeless feat for short people like myself. Truck like this are the reason that this facebook group exists. (warning, link contains salty language)
1. The Almost - Hands - from the album Monster Monster. It's a potent song with one of the catchiest hooks in the current crop of rock radio. The video is well worth viewing (but warning - you might be singing "whoa-oh oh-oh oh" for the next 24 hours).
2. DJ Earworm - Blame It on the Pop (United States of Pop 2009). Every year, DJ Earworm produces a mashup of the top 25 songs of the year (as determined by Billboard charts). This past year's mashup is the best he's ever released. Not only did he mix 25 different songs together into one fluid tune, he spliced the lyrics into one cohesive mass as if it was written by one lyricist and one singular composer.
3. FM Static - Take Me as I am - from the album Dear Diary. This is another mind welding piece of modern rock goodness. It is a song the begs you to sing along. And I do (at least I do in the car - ask my wife, she'll confirm that factiod). This is an example of what I call simplistic complexity. The repetitive piano melody, basic drum beats, universal lyrics about longing for acceptance.... On their own the parts are ordinary, yet together it's a dynamic and compelling composition.
4. NeedToBreathe - Something Beautiful - from the album The Outsiders. I can't stop listening to this song. Really, I can't. It's like a drug. I may need therapy. But it's so calming and soothing. It's great to listen to when you need to relax (which currently seems to be a great need in my life).
5. Pantless Knights - Entrepreneur State of Mind (New Dork) - Spoof? Parody? Genius? First, I must say I like Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind, but the Pantless Knights take the song to new levels of awesome. Plus the dude's beard is epic. This song (the dork version) has been rattling inside my cranium since a friend of mine posted it on facebook Wednesday afternoon. And since I've spent the last two days hibernating in the land of data, New Dork seems the fitting theme to start my weekend.
But in a quick rundown, there were two clear sides: incumbents versus challengers. The incumbents are (generally) well liked individuals in the community. Many of the incumbents have run and lost in previous elections. Yet the weak economy and changes in the national political atmosphere favored the challengers. The challengers were supported by a small (yet vocal) group that has criticized Mayor Bloem and the city council over the past several years. They've actively opposed the new downtown library and the Kroc center (one of the challengers referred to the Kroc pool as the "pee pool"). They all ran on one principal: vote out the incumbents.
The incumbents all won. It was a close race. In the closest contest, Jim Brannon lost to Mike Kennedy by five votes. Since the difference was less than one tenth of one percent, Brannon was entitled to a recount. However, instead of accepting a recount, Brannon hired a lawyer and sued the following: The City of Coeur d'Alene, Kootenai County, Mayor Bloem, each individual on the Cd'A City council, the county clerk and the county clerk’s entire staff, the city clerk, and (oddly enough) John & Jane Doe A through Z.
I do not fully understand the rationale behind the lawsuit (except perhaps sour grapes), but most of the reasoning offered by Brannon's supporters has been their opinion that current voting laws need to be changed. They dispute that no one had to show ID at the polls (even though Idaho law does not require ID to be presented). They objected to military personnel serving overseas and US residents currently living outside the states participating in the election (despite the fact that US law allows these persons to vote). Their goal is not to unseat Mike Kennedy and place Brannon into that council seat. The objective is to throw out the whole election – including the races that exceeded the one tenth of one percent difference. They want a redo. They still want to get rid of the mayor and the council members that won reelection.
It's been an entertaining ride to watch. And in the most recent turn of events, Judge Simpson set a $40,000 bond and gave Brannon one week to post that amount to continue on with the case. Judge Simpson also dismissed all defendants except for Mike Kennedy. (for the record, Brannon's lawyer has pursued this type of case before - and lost)
In the wake of Judge Simpson's ruling, Brannon's supporters have cried foul. They are accusing corruption on all levels - including the city, Judge Simpson, Idaho's Attorney General, and Idaho's Secretary of State. One of these individuals even went the extra mile to allege that Judge Simpson might be suffering from marital issues of drug abuse. (you can read that full and epic comment here) And in a recent turn of crazy, Brannon and his lawyer are appealing Judge Simpson's ruling (even though the case has yet to go to trial) under the claim that Judge Simpson is biased. It appears this election is far from over.
Someone asked if there was a simple explanation to the different factions involved. There is no such thing as simple; as you can see, my sweetened condensed version was a 500 word slog. I thought it might be easy to trim the events of the past four months into a simple explanation. But the more I dumbed it down the more it sounded like a children's story - like one of those colorfully illustrated books with little more than a picture and a few sentences per page.
So I wrote it out in that fashion (minus the cute illustrations and happy ending). There is a moral... I'll let you figure that one out. Names were changed for obvious reasons. Here it is my kiddie story debut:
Brandon Wants to be Great.
When Brandon was growing up, his parents always told him he was special. But no one else thought he was special.
He worked hard.
He helped people who were less fortunate less fortunate.
He always did the right thing, even when nobody was looking.
Then he met some new friends. They thought he was special. They even told him he could be great.
So Brandon aspired to greatness. But when his neighbors chose the person they wanted to be great, they picked someone else. They picked Mickey.
But Brandon’s friends still thought he was special.
Brandon’s mom taught him that the best cure for failure was trying again.
Brandon wanted his neighbors to think he was great.
So one day, Brandon called all of his neighbors together so that he could announce that he was going to be great. His neighbors gathered at the park to hear the news, but Brandon wasn’t there. He stayed home.
“What if I’m not great?” thought Brandon. “What if they think Mickey is better than me?”
But Brandon’s friends encouraged him. They told him that Mickey wasn’t great. They told him that Mickey was a horrible person and said all kinds of mean things about Mickey. Brandon believed them.
Brandon began to tell his neighbors the things his friends said about Mickey.
He stopped working hard. He stopped doing the right thing. He stopped helping people who needed help. He was consumed with a need to be great.
And soon the day came when all of Brandon’s neighbors gathered to choose who they thought was great.
One by one, Brandon’s neighbors made their choices. Everyone was quiet. Once every person was counted, the announcement was made: Mickey was still great!
That made Brandon sad.
No one told him to try again. Instead, his friends said the counters were wrong. They said the counters were lying.
Brandon was confused. He didn’t know what to do.
When Brandon talked to his neighbors, half of them said that they wanted Brandon to be great. But the other half wanted Mickey to be great.
“Maybe the counter was wrong,” Brandon thought.
Brandon went to the counter and asked if the choices made by Brandon’s neighbors could be recounted.
The counter nodded his head. Yes.
Brandon was excited. He went and told his friends that the choices could be tallied again. There was still a chance that he was great.
But his friends said that a recount was a bad idea. They told him the only way he would ever be great is if he fought for it.
Brandon’s friends told him that the counter was friends with Mickey, and the counter would never admit that Brandon was the true winner.
So they began to attack Brandon’s neighbors. One neighbor was too tall, and another was too short. One neighbor had a bad haircut, and another was wearing ugly clothes. One neighbor was on vacation, and another was sick. One neighbor had just moved in, and another was about to move away.
Brandon’s friends created two groups of people: neighbors who thought Brandon was great, and neighbors who should not be allowed to choose.
Then they started teasing Mickey and the counter. They said mean things about Mickey’s friends.
Soon, Brandon’s neighbors stopped thinking that Brandon was great. They no longer wanted Brandon to win.
That made Brandon sad.
But his friends just laughed. They said that Brandon could not be defeated. They told him that he could be great if he went to court and demanded that the law make him great.
Brandon went to court with his friends. The counter was there. Mickey was there with his friends. Brandon told the law that the counter was wrong when Brandon’s neighbors chose who they wanted to be great. He said that Mickey was a bully and did not deserve to win greatness. Brandon repeated all of the mean things his friends told him to say.
The law asked for proof.
This made Brandon’s friends mad. They said they didn’t need proof. But no one believed them.
Brandon’s friends told him that the law was friends with Mickey too. They told him that life was unfair. They encouraged him to keep fighting.
“Nobody cares about us.” They said.
So Brandon and his friends continued to say mean things about Mickey. They also started to say mean things about the counter and the law.
This made Brandon’s neighbors sad.
They remembered Brandon used to work hard, but now he only worked to embarrass Mickey. They remembered Brandon used to help people, but now he ignored people that needed help. They remembered Brandon used to do the right thing, but now he only made bad choices.
Brandon wasn’t great. His friends were horrible people. But he believed that they were good friends. He believed them when they said that they were the only ones who knew the truth.
Meanwhile, Brandon’s neighbors picked Mickey to be great. And Brandon was never great because of the things his friends said.
Nintendo focuses on social technologies. Wii, Wiimotes, WiiFit, WiiPlay, WiiSports. The naming structure is built on "WE." Their attention is on cooperation. By nature, the Wii is a group experience. It is designed to be a shared entertainment.
Macintosh focuses on anti-social technologies. iMac, iPod, iPad, iPhone, iDaho. The naming structure is built on "I."Their attention is on self. By nature, Macs are an individual experience. It is designed to be a narcissistic entertainment.
1. The skiing/boarding wipeouts – with the wet snow, the crashes were plenty, epic, and full of awesome.
3. Michael J Fox – he’s a short person in show business, shown admirable strength and optimism in dealing with Parkinson’s, and he’s funny. On those qualities alone I have great respect for Mr. J Fox. The joke he cracked about Canadians claiming anyone that’s good at anything as one of their own was funnier than anything said by Shatner and that other comedian during the closing ceremony.
4. The USA vs. Canada men’s hockey game – hockey at its best.
5. Apolo Ohno – forget that he’s an amazing athlete for a moment, ignore the multitudes of medals he's won throughout his career, forget that look of unnatural calmness in the midst of fierce competition… he looks like the Seattle stereotype like no other Seattleite. I easily imagine him strolling through Pioneer Square in socks & Birkenstocks and a faded Soundgarden t-shirt, holding a cup of half soy half skim quad-shot something from Starbucks (or SBC), in the rain, with no umbrella, listening to PUSA on his Zune...
Christian followed my instructions and picked up a pair of dirty socks. Not horribly dirty - worn, but not to the point they'd stand up like a stature without any human interaction. He held them up like trophy fish, one in each hand, and looked at me in anticipation of the next set of commands.
"Put them where they go."
Christian looked at the clothes hamper for the briefest second; he gave it the same amount of consideration he would a trash can.
"Where do they go?" His gaze continued to dart around the room as if he was looking for a sign from heaven.
"Well," I said, "Are they clean, or dirty?"
A flash of inspiration lit up his face, followed by a deep inhalation.
He held one sock up to his nose and sniffed like a dog inspecting another canine. Sniff sniff... big sniff.
"It's clean." He gave his answer with an assurance the demanded agreement. Unfortunately, he was wrong.
"No," I told him. "It's dirty."
"Oh." Christian's face twisted in doubt. But doubt gave way to trust. "OK."
He dropped them in the hamper.