Category: Aspiration

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Thanks Isn’t Enough

Thirty years ago, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I knuckled down for a lonely holiday with the mainly foreign students on the University of Maine campus. I had no way home but was ready to tough out the long weekend with the other students.

With a difference: Many of my companions came from countries with no Thanksgiving. They didn’t have the memory of family and feast for this particular holiday. I was a freshman, too. Some of the guys planned to hang out in the computer center and play keyboard games and read the print-out action on teletypes. I would join them. 

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What Will Be the Returns?

Today’s New York Times column “An iPhone Changed My Life (Briefly)” hits at the device’s fundamental problem: Hype. There was too much of it—and not really from Apple—that may have over-raised many people’s expectations. The issue Michelle Slatalla raises is one of returns. Will she return her iPhone? She writes, “I have started thinking seriously about returning the $599 phone, despite a 10 percent restocking fee. It hasn’t really changed my life in the ways I’d hoped”.

But she may have started with overly unrealistic expectations, which the runaway hype helped foster. The name includes “phone” for a reason. Apple didn’t promise a device that would cure cancer or feed the starving. 

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Thanks, Mom

I was 14 when my mother saved my life. It was, in fact, my 14th birthday.

Dad, mom, my three sisters, and I had gone to my grandparents house to celebrate. Nana made tasty pork chops, for which I had no appetite. For dessert, there was fresh baked chocolate cake—yum, my favorite—and actually two. I had no taste for cake, either. Instead, after picking at my food, I lay down on the couch. My sister Annette, who is closest in age to me, also was ill. We both had fevers, and I assumed that we shared the same flu. 

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No Class, No Reunion

My 30-year high school reunion will take place this year—if it hasn’t already. But, sigh, I have no high school where to return. During my junior and senior years, my mom moved the family from the town where I grew up to Maine’s second-largest city in the south. While other kids wallowed in the memories, I walked the hallowed halls like an odd duck. I was a stranger among strangers. I left my memories and friends 300 miles away, in the town where I was born and there the school system that educated me. No memories. No prom. No graduation parties. No fun.

I regularly cut classes in the new school, which was quite unusual for me. I had bulked up on extra classes through junior year and was one-quarter credit shy of graduation going into my senior year. I only needed to sustain grades for college. 

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The Modern Woman is You

When I was younger, the first rule of gifting to women: Never buy anything with an electrical chord. Girlie gifts, like jewelry and such were OK, but you would never buy a woman a chain saw, drill, or electric mixer. The mixer is especially risky, because of kitchen equipment and loaded connotations about she doing work there and her outside job, too.

But times change, and so does gifting. My wife wants an edger—or trimmer. She has asked for over two years now. I’ve resisted, in part because I don’t see why we need to trim the lawn’s edges and also because the noise would scare away wildlife. She does the yard work, I’ll admit, and she’s good mowing back the grass or whacking weeds. 

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Skating with a Cold on Ice

My daughter skated her second competition today. What misery. She sped onto the ice with nasty cold and cough, which limited her performance. She placed third out of five skaters. My daughter started serious skating in September 2006 and has quickly advanced through the Ice Skating Institute levels. She skated today at Freestyle 4 against other 11-12 year-old girls. She soon will be testing for the United States Figure Skating Associaton, hoping to join the local club.

I took out, for the first time, our new Canon HV20 camcorder, the family’s first new model since the original Elura in 1999. 

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Learn From Thine Enemy

Yesterday’s New York Times story “Relief Agencies Find Hezbollah Hard to Avoid” touches on something I’ve been meaning to blog about for weeks.

One reason for Hezbollah’s success comes from working as a kind of government within the government of Lebanon by providing key social services. I don’t mean to defend Hezbollah insurgents, for my government views them as terrorists, but I also can’t ignore that the organization is doing something right: Serving the people. 

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Whom We Remember

Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 86th birthday, if she were alive. She died about 10 years ago, while my family was on 18-month hiatus back home in Northern Maine.

My wife wanted to celebrate, in part, because not enough birthdays were spent together. I saw the small remembrance as opportunity to express continuity of the generations to our daughter. My daughter never met her older grandmother (my mom—the younger grandma—is 64, but, sssh, don’t tell her I said so). 

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Be Better Neighbors

Yesterday, I wore my Alienware T-Shirt, with the company’s logo on the front—an alien, of course. For some reason, I got several questions about it. So I said: “Well, this is my illegal alien. He’s afraid of getting sent back to his home planet, and I’m protesting with him.”

There’s truth to what I said. I’m unfavorable to the hardline US legislators are taking with this immigration bill. I just don’t see turning all these immigrants into criminals, or turning them away. As one of the sixth graders pointed out today in the Sunday school class I teach, most Americans are immigrants. And to the Native Americans here 400 hundred years ago, the off-continent settlers were the illegals and, as it turned out, invaders, too.