Friday, March 7, 2014

Five Things on a Friday: Better Late than Never

1. The Red Skull never died.
You only think I'm dead.
I was watching Captain America: The First Avenger last night with my girls, and I noticed something.  The Red Skull doesn’t die at the end.  What happens instead is that he accidentally activates the Cosmic Cube, and it shoots him off into space—presumably to the throne of Thanos!  
I hadn’t noticed before, but I was paying attention this time because my daughter Hannah said that…
*spoiler alert*

…she had heard that the Red Skull was in the new Captain America movie, an assertion that I dismissed as nonsense because I thought the Red Skull was dead.  But he’s not dead, he’s just lost in space!
Personally, I don’t care if he’s in the new Cap movie, and indeed, I can think of a half-dozen villains I’d rather see cap fight than the Red Skull: Round 2.  But.  Red Skull would be an imminently interesting villain for the Guardians of the Galaxy, and more to the point, his appearance there would be mind-blowing.
What do you think?
2.  I started reading Words of Radiance.
Yes, Brandon Sanderson’s next chapter in the Stormlight Archives finally came out, Words of Radiance.  It’s 1,088 page, and even though I have a hold on the Milford Library’s copy already, I went ahead and bought the damned thing for the Kindle app on my tablet on the day it came out.  At $12.99, it seemed like a bargain.

Words of Radiance, 2nd book in the Stormlight Archives
So far it’s been entertaining, but it’s still very much in the mold of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books. For example, Sanderson has spent much more time on the background characters in the new book than he has thus far on the primaries.  That’s not a criticism, exactly, but it’s given the book a kind of “waiting for the storm to break” aspect that seems almost metaphoric in a story that’s already bounded on every side by storms.
Anyway, I’ve not gotten a lot else done this week than I usually do because I've been reading.
3.  Tri Club Practice
We have our first full Tri Club practice of the new season tomorrow—finally.  It’s been a long, very difficult winter, but at long last, it seems like the worst is over.  We’re meeting at 11:00, and it’s supposed to be in the mid- to upper-forties; that’s gonna feel like springtime.  Who knows, I might even be able to run in a baseball cap, long sleeved top, and shorts!
On the other hand, I rode in this morning, too, and for all that it’s supposed to be a little warmer today, it was still in the low-twenties when I left the house, and it wasn’t quite thirty when I got into the City.  I’m not gonna lie; I got cold out on my foldie today, and I don’t think I saw another cyclist the entire time I was out.
Anyway, I’m taking swim stuff tomorrow as well as running gear.  I’m not sure that we’re actually going to swim, but in a perfect world, I’d like to put in maybe 1500 yards in the pool and then maybe forty-five minutes on the road.  But this being the first week, we’ll have to see what’s what before we get too hardcore.
4.  Team RWB
While we’re talking triathlon, I joined Team RWB this week, which stands for Team Red-White-and-Blue.  The team is actually a veteran’s organization dedicated to helping veterans deal with wartime trauma and reintegrate in casual society via athletic competition.

Team RWB.
Think about it this way: nobody likes the bullshit that goes along with civilized, corporate/bureaucratic life.  However, if you’ve just spent a year of your life in immediate proximity to both the best people you’ve ever worked with and constant life-and-death decisions, the minutiae that make up what civilians think of as normalcy starts to look asinine and unimportant.  So yeah, everybody needs an outlet for venting their stress and frustration in a positive way, but veterans really need that outlet, and athletics can help.  At least, that’s the theory that Team RWB espouses, and I happen to think they’re correct.

5.  L’il Orphan Annie (or, “Karma’s a bitch”).
Finally, Hannah found out just today that she’s got the lead in the school’s production of L’il Orphan Annie this year.  She’s Annie!  And that’s awesome.
That said, in some ways I feel like we’ve recently moved into a new phase of parenting.  Which is to say that suddenly it seems like my kids have a lot going on.  They both take gymnastics, are in Girl Scouts, occasionally take my wife’s art program, and participate in our church’s Kids Night Out youth group program.  In addition to that, Hannah also has voice lessons, and she’s recently started ice skating.   Emma isn’t quite as structured, but she’s only eight, and still she does synchronized swimming along with all the rest of that stuff.  Meanwhile, Sally is Hannah’s Girl Scout Leader, she teaches art out of our home as well as through the town, and she’s a fitness instructor at one of the local gyms.  I myself am trying to finish my book and am also headed into my third year as the coach/coordinator of the local YMCA’s Triathlon Club, and oh by the way, I’m also a working bulk power engineer in the most electrically complicated city in the world.
All of which is just to note that our dance cards are pretty full.  I mean, being a working parent has always been a demanding occupation, and it’s probably still a little better now than it was when I was working as an overhead construction supervisor and going to school at nights to finish my MBA, but still…  
As our kids start to develop their own skills/interests/schedules, it’s becoming more difficult to maintain multiple priorities.  I slowed production on my book because I felt like, mentally, I was running myself ragged.  I’ve also been posting here less, and I have no firm racing plans for the coming season.  Frankly, I’m afraid to set goals to which I’ll not be able to properly commit myself.  Sally also has cut back her teaching schedule, and I’m telling you right now, Girl Scouts is looking like the next thing to go.
That stuff is fine.  You grow up, and life changes.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  We evolve as people and as families, and I’m satisfied.  Yeah, I still think it’s good for parents to maintain their own personal interests outside of their kids’ activities, but you also have to give your kids a chance to find out who they are and what they’re good at.  It’s a balance, and I think you have to embrace it.
But I still see so much of myself in my kids sometimes, often in the strangest ways.
My father was a high school and college runner.  He even ran Cross Country at the University of Tennessee until he got hit by a car at the end of his freshman year.  Even afterwards, he was one of the most amazing natural athletes that I’ve ever met.  Pretty much the only thing he couldn’t do was swim.  
So I started swimming.
I’m not the kind of natural athlete that my father was, but I’ve had more structured athletic success, and I took it a lot further.  Granted, I’m fully seven inches shorter than he was and have had to work a Hell of a lot more for what I’ve won than he ever did, but whatever.  I also had a host of other advantages that he never had, and anyway, he did a lot with what he had; he just happened to start off with a lot of God-given talent.  Regardless, I’ve become a triathlete in my adulthood, and I’ve tried to get my own kids interested in swimming or running or soccer or whatever else, just like my dad did with me, so far without success.  
But the one thing I can’t do at all is ice skate.  
So, of course, my own daughter has become an ice skater—in much the same way I became a swimmer thirty years ago.  
I’ve seen more passion and interest from her when she’s out on the ice than I’ve seen at any other time and in any other physical pursuit.  And when she’s not ice skating, she’s singing—another activity about which I know exactly zero.
It’s fine.  I’ve already lived this story from the other side, and I know how it plays out.  I mean, I don’t know how far Hannah will take her own interests, but I know passion when I see it, and I know enough to know that passion, more than anything, is what’s required for success.  
That said, I still find it ironic that Hannah, who is exactly like me in almost every way, emulates me most closely in her stubborn determination to make her own way on her own terms.  What I don’t know is whether or not that’s a positive trait, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  Because I know what it feels like to want to do it my way, and damn the consequences.  I can still feel that; it still drives me as much or more than any other single factor in my life.  I don’t know if that’s a curse or a blessing, but I do know that it’s my daughter’s truest legacy, for better or worse.


  1. For Cap, Red Skull has always been the quintessential villain, so I'm okay with it. I have to admit that I kinda forgot how the Skull ended in Cap 1, so I might need to check that out again.

    I'm on hour 18 (of 1.8 DAYS) of the WAY OF KINGS and digging it, but it seemed to take a while to get going. I like Kel the most so far.

    If I was local, I'd totally do your Team RWB.

    And just throwing this out there that in two weeks is Anime Boston so if you plan on being around, you should check it out. ;) I'll be an art guest with Lora Innes (The Dreamer). No worries if you won't, just putting it out there. ;)

    1. 1. I'd forgotten, too. It's gonna be super-trippy when he shows back up, that's all I'm sayin'.

      2. WAY OF KINGS is so great. The first time I read it, I thought it dragged a little in the middle. Just because the thing is SO DAMNED LONG, and he keeps going back to Kal's past. But it all turns out to be important, with stuff that he didn't pay off in Book 1 coming back big-time in Book 2.

      WORDS OF RADIANCE isn't quite as fast as KINGS, though. I'm about 1/3 of the way in, and so far it's been almost entirely set-up.

      3. Team RWB is NATIONAL! Check out the website.

      4. Finally, I totally forgot about the Con. I doubt we'll be able to go, but I want to, and I know I said I'd try. It's just... there is SO MUCH GOING ON around here right now. I already feel like I can barely breathe.

      Good luck at the show, though!

  2. Wow what a great post! All great things and so abundant.

    How wise to recognize that we go through phases and things change and that you are now doing just that. Making priorities and even just adjusting them a bit makes things doable and enjoyable and still attainable.

    Enjoy the ride