May 18, 2009
Andrew at one year old

Andrew the one-year-old.This past Wednesday, Andrew completed his first lap around the sun. As is tradition everywhere in families that have several children, we celebrated quietly at home for our one-year-old rather than having a big to-do. Andrew had his first taste of chocolate cake (in the form of a cupcake, which he promptly smeared all over his face, hands, hair, shirt, chair, etc.) and received a few small presents.

Having two older brothers, Andrew has as many toys as a kid could want, and plays with almost none of them. However, he keeps grabbing for his dad's keys and cell phone, so the little guy got his own toy keys and toy cell phone for his birthday. His grandparents also got him a musical Mozart cube thingy, which he loves to dance to. Andrew seems to have as much interest in music as his brothers and parents, which is just fine with us.

Andrew does the things that typical one-year-olds do. He walks like a drunk, babbles incoherently (also like a drunk, now that I think about it), and instinctively knows which stuff he should avoid playing with and plays with it.

While each of the kids has his own personality, appearance, and style, it's impossible to resist making comparisons. There is one way in which Andrew is completely unlike his brothers at this age -- well, there's two, but I'll get to that in a moment. Andrew is very, very attached to me. Sure, Alexander and Nolan have gone through phases where they would show me varying degrees of affection, but Andrew is constantly asking for me.

When I come home, he won't let me walk by without picking him up and holding him for a while -- otherwise, he'll just cry and cry until I correct my oversight. When I leave in the morning, he clings to me in a way that his brothers had only done occasionally when they were small. The difference is pronounced, and I don't mind saying that it's kinda cool. And don't get me wrong -- I know Alex and Nolan love me, and they still ask for hugs and monkey-back rides and the like. And yes, when they were young, they were attached to me. But not like this.

It could be annoying, I suppose, this constant need for Daddy's attention, but it isn't. I'll give him all the hugs I can as long as he wants 'em. Alex and Nolan are growing *so fast*, that I know it's only a matter of time before they've all outgrown the need for hugs from Dad. I spent this past weekend holding Andrew until my arm felt like it was going to fall off. Sometimes, it's a little inconvenient. But it's never a chore.

There is one other way in which Andrew is different from his brothers; he is the coolest cucumber of the bunch. He very rarely complains (his aforementioned need to be held by moi notwithstanding). He's as easy-going as they get.

That said, as he entered first-birthday-season a few days ago, he has decided to experiment with throwing his version of a tantrum -- again, usually to protest when he's not being held. His version of a tantrum is to refuse to stand up; he'll lie down on the ground and cry demandingly. Any tantrum from any child is a bit annoying, but all his tantrums are doing for me at the moment is reminding me of how effing lucky we've been with him so far.

These are hard times; I am hearing increasingly bad news regarding friends of mine who have lost their jobs, lost their health, or are losing those near and dear to them. I'm having some tough times of my own, for all that, and threats of more on the horizon.

But then there's Andrew. And Alex. And Nolan. I am ridiculously blessed to have them in my life, and incredibly fortunate that they continue to be so amazing, so healthy, and so just-plain-lovable. I love my guys more than I can possibly express, and only hope I can become a better father to them as we all move forward along this bumpy road called 'Life.'

Andrew wears his birthday cake.

PS: In that first photo, I'm holding the plate with the cupcake while I'm taking the shot. If I set it down and then readied the camera, Andrew would attack the cupcake before I could get the picture, and that would be that.

I mention this because, as an amateur photographer, I'm bothered by what looks like a cupcake as big as his head floating mysteriously in the foreground....

Posted by at 01:56 PM in the following Department(s): The Boys | Comments (1)
 May 20, 2009
Holy Spam Attack, Batman!

Well, *this* has never happened to me before...

I am currently unable to download my personal e-mail because my e-mail client is unable to handle having over 91,000 pieces to download. This is the most amazing spam e-mail attack I've ever seen.

Am using tools in my web-to-mail portal to try to deal with this, but I'd much rather be doing productive work today. Ugh.

Posted by at 08:50 AM in the following Department(s): Technology | Comments (0)
 May 21, 2009
Prestidigitation? Elaborate.

I recently got in touch with a writer friend of mine on Facebook who noted I'd listed among my interests, "Prestidigitation." He is a very skilled writer, and expert at economy. He wrote me a message that is the epitome of elegance:

Subject: Prestidigitation?
Body: Elaborate.
To which I replied something along the lines of:

"Magic" is typically divided into a few major categories, such as: mentalism (think of a card, any card, and I'll tell you what it is), prestidigitation (pick a card, any card, and I'll do something clever with it), and escape (get me out of this straight-jacket, you card!). There are a number of sub-categories: stage, close-up, street, kids', cardistry (flourishing), comedy, bar, and so on.

First, let me say that I pretty much like it all. I like to watch as a spectator; I like to solve the puzzle (when there is one), and in some cases, I like to practice the art myself. As with writing and reading, I enjoy it for its own sake, and I enjoy dissecting the performance and grokking it. That said, of the major categories of magic, I'm particularly interested in prestidigitation.

I enjoy watching good escape magic, but it's more of a physical feat than a clever ruse. What you see is what is happening.

I've been enjoying studying mentalism, especially as it is all based primarily upon psychological tricks that are also used by con artists, marketing/commercial enterprises, and self-professed psychics. I've always been fascinated by human nature and what makes us tick. So, I enjoy *studying* it. But I don't generally find it as entertaining to watch. (There are some major exceptions.)

Prestidigitation, however, is a joy to watch, to study, and to practice. I'm not very good at it, mind you, but it's fun to try. It typically involves sleight of hand (ie, physical skill), optical illusion, and/or misdirection.

I'm a big fan of comedy magic, where comedic timing is so intricately linked to the timing of the trick. In particular, I'm a fan of card tricks (I collect playing cards), but any kind of prestidigitation can be fun.

Here's a classic example of excellent sleight of hand (under the category "comedy close-up magic") by Bill Malone:

Here's another routine by the same guy (not so much comedy, but excellent close-up magic):

Here's some sleight (watch that Rubik's cube!) plus some excellent misdirection and illusion on stage:
Barry And Stuart On Stage

Notice how, in all three cases, the performance is all about story. I think that's another reason I dig prestidigitation. Escape magic is all about physical daring-do, and mentalism is, for the most part, mind games. But decent prestidigitation requires a story and brings it all together. Without story, all you have is a trick.

What about you, dear reader? Do *you* like magic? What kinds?

Posted by at 10:34 PM in the following Department(s): Tidbits | Comments (1)
 May 25, 2009

My father and my uncle. Both of my grandfathers. My brother-in-law. A good friend of mine from high school. Several good friends of mine from college, and those who I met later in the workforce. They served our country by taking up arms, for a time, as part of our military forces. Some saw combat; some did not. My brother-in-law and high school friend are still serving in active duty today. Overseas, in the theater of war. Right now.

All of these I mention survived their time in the armed forces ('so far,' I must hesitantly add). In the case of my father and grandfathers, I'm particularly glad they survived, because otherwise, I wouldn't be here. Of all of these who completed their service to the government, all went on to contribute in other ways to our society. As parents, as teachers, as a professor, as an assistant principal, as a cop, as a business owner, as a pastor, as so much more.

But so many others, so many more good men and women did not survive their time in our service. How many other children were never born because they didn't return? How many good teachers and parents and professors and business owners and friends and mentors never had a chance to contribute because they had already given their ultimate sacrifice?

Whether they lost their lives in some grand battle to stop Hitler or in some pathetic training exercise gone awry or in some minor skirmish in a battle that never officially happened; whatever their personal motivations for being there; however futile or pivotal their actions were -- they died in our service.

I am thankful to those who have served. I am thankful to those who serve today. To those who survived -- I appreciate what you have done. For those who didn't survive, I honor their service and mourn their loss. Our loss.

Kevin Lier and Lee Scott Dwen, thank you for your continuing service, and may you return home safely to your family and friends and enjoy many long years ahead.

Posted by at 03:11 PM in the following Department(s): Tidbits | Comments (1)

Copyright (c)1998 - 2010 by Allan Rousselle. All rights reserved, all wrongs reversed, all reservations righted, all right, already.
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The author. January, 2010.
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