I haven't asked permission to do this, but I just read the following e-mail (one that Abe wrote to his family this week) and found it so delightful, I decided it would do as a family update until I can find the time to do my own posting. I edited out the anatomy word in Abe's paragraph about Soren, not because I find it offensive (though, not going to lie, it does make me a little uncomfortable) but rather because I didn't want its use to cause creepy internet people to visit our blog.
Thomas Sowell occasionally does an essay where he lists some of the thoughts he's been having in no particular order. That format sounds good to me.
I had to replace our water heater this week. About the middle of December, our water heater suddenly stopped providing enough hot water. It would heat up water fairly fast, but there wasn't much of it. Since this is indicative of the bottom heating element going out, I decided to change out the elements. What with the holidays (and the unexpected benefit of siblings cutting their shower time from 1.5 hours to 10 minutes), I did not attempt to change the elements until the first week of January. Rachel's father came over to help me out, since he was off work at the time. It was a terrible job, since there was literally about 10 gallons of rock-hard water deposits in the bottom of the tank. It took about nine or ten hours to clean out all the stuff and replace the two elements. This was expected, since it followed the Law of Project Simplicity- for every time a project is referenced to in DIY literature as simple and easy to do, multiply the expected difficulty and time factor by three. Anyway, we were glad to get it done. However, a little more than a week later, as Hillary was putting her laundry into the washer, she said, "Aaaabe. The water tank is leaking." I clawed out my eyes and went to look for myself. Sure enough, the bottom of the tank had sprung a leak. The leak may have been caused somewhere between the hammering or the 5-foot pry bar exercise (we had to get quite medieval with it). Age also probably contributed, since the tank was twenty years old. Anyway, after a day of fruitless and confusing internet research on water heaters, Rachel's dad took me to Lowes in the evening, and I picked out a water heater. By the time all the parts were purchased as well, it came to about $450. The reason I bought extras was because I decided that replacing the water heater was also a good time to replace leaky valves whatnot. We took the water heater home and put it in the garage. The next day I installed the new water heater and improved the valves/piping while I was at it. It took about seven hours, even though replacing the water heater was supposed to be about 50 times more difficult than replacing the elements. I'm glad to have it done and out of the way.
Liam is laying on the couch behind me trying to feed himself with his bottle. He likes to drop his bottle and yell for me to retrieve it. He is fat and immobile still. Rachel and I console ourselves that he's five months overdue on crawling because he's busy developing his intellectual talents rather than his physical abilities. But then we realize that he looks like a beached baby whale, and he can't crawl because he's too massive for his stubby arms and legs to have any hope of moving him. He and Soren are basically the same size, except Soren is a little taller with a bigger head, and Liam has fatter legs, waist, and belly than Soren does. It's funny to watch one kid lay on the floor like a slug, and the other run around all top heavy, constantly tripping and banging his head on things.
Soren comes up with some funny things. Since we are good, modern, and foolish parents, we taught Soren the proper names for his anatomy. Well, this backfired one day in church. Rachel had gone out to feed Liam, so I was sitting next to Briar, and Soren was on her lap. I noticed that Soren and Briar were in the midst of a struggle, so I watched as Soren tried to pull down his pants and diaper, while Briar tried to restrain him. Soren eventually got frustrated with Briar foiling his efforts, and yelled at Briar, "I'M TRYING TO LOOK AT MY P****! I'M TRYING TO LOOK AT MY P****!" All the families around us stiffened and tried not to look as I hauled him out of the chapel, with him continuing to explain to Briar, very loudly, "I JUST WANT TO LOOK AT MY P****!" Ah, the memories we have made.
Soren is a terrible sleeper. He refuses to sleep on his bed, preferring to sleep on the floor by the crack under the door. He cries immensely upon learning that he has to go to bed, and he does everything in his power to stall us. After many exciting rounds of fighting, trying to get him to get in his pajamas, brush his teeth, etc., he will demand at least three stories before he will get in bed. These have to be made-up stories, not stories read to him. After the stories he will lay in his bed, but as soon as we leave the room, he will get out of bed and lie by the crack under the door, shouting things at us to get us to come back in, or let him out. He will say things like, "I need some milk!" "I need food!" "I hungry!" "I geered (scared)!" "I cold!" "I need (insert random stuffed animal or blanket)!" Each of these things he will repeat hundreds of times before moving on to something else. If we give in to anything he says once, it will be added to his list and he will remember it forever. He has an amusing and growing list of things he is scared of. One of his most scared-of things is the "tiny cow." He will be sitting in your lap, and he will point to nothing, and say, "See the tiny cow? I geered!" Or he will point at the wall and say, "See the man? He's angry." Rachel has watched Children of the Corn too many times, and this freaks her out.
Speaking of movies, I did go and watch Avatar in 3D. Technologically, this was interesting because I haven't seen any attempts at 3D in several years, and I'd have to say that the technology has improved dramatically. I was surprised to read in Mom's letter that someone (I forget who) said there was too much skin. This never occurred to me. They look like aliens to me, and I don't care about seeing naked bears, cats, chickens, or aliens. They were also made to act and look like primitive natives, so I guess I assumed they would be wearing loin cloths and trinkets and whatnot. The moral of the movie, the usual Hollywood drivel about White Man is Evil, Especially Conservative or Republican White Males Who Don't Think Guns Are Evil or Who Use Earth's Resources or Who Don't Think Trees and Toads Should Be Worshiped, was repeated ad nauseam for three hours. The special effects, and world creation, were top notch, though. I enjoyed the movie, since I have a pretty good ability to block out annoyingly preachy messages. Since watching the movie, I have reflected on it periodically, not as a movie, but as the entertainment milepost it represents. Avatar is the first widely successful 3D movie. In fact, it made over one billion dollars in seventeen days, surpassing any other movie in history, and it is still going strong. Let me practice philosophizing as a futurist for a minute. It appears, based on the fact that the story in Avatar is in no way groundbreaking, people are going for some other reason. I propose that people are going because Avatar is so engrossing, purely by virtue of the technology through which the movie is presented. Thinking about the implications of this does not inspire one with confidence in the future. Many people, as you know, do not have good lives. Many people would prefer to entertain themselves rather than face reality or their problems. After working with the kids at Harbor House, I can attest to this. With the increasing ability of technology to involve us and immerse us in our entertainment, what is the motivation for people with difficult lives to spend any time outside of the worlds of entertainment? Some motivations, like the necessity for food, or going to the bathroom, will be difficult to deny. However, other motivations to engage in the real world will become less and less persuasive to some people. Social scorn, or the economic necessities of life (read: work), will only create more incentive for people to completely immerse themselves in their own worlds of entertainment, where they control what happens. Of course, some people will argue that living in your entertainment is fine and dandy until you don't pay your power bill, at which point you get shut off. However, I'm betting that this tendency to eschew life in favor of entertainment will be officially recognized as a "disease" or an addiction, and I'd be willing to bet that there will be government funding for people who have this "disease." Part of what I'm saying here has already come true, as some people are reporting depression, sadness, and even suicidal thoughts because they are forced to cope with the real world when they are not watching Avatar. I'm not making this up, you can type "Avatar blues" into the Google search engine, and you will find dozens of news stories about this very phenomenon. Some have even already labeled it "Avatar Depression Syndrome." If I am correct, this is not a one-time deal. It will get worse as movie and gaming technology improves.
Heh. This is the kind of garbage I'd spew about if I had a blog. Anyway, I've wind-bagged enough. Bye!