Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Intellect versus Character

Albert Einstein said, "Most people think that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong. It is character." This is true in so many ways and not just for the making of new scientists. To succeed in life you must have a cup of perseverance, two cups of integrity, a healthy dose of self-respect, a balancing dash of humility, and at least a teaspoon of goals/ambitions.

Yet most parents are focused first and foremost on the grades and the scores on those standardized tests of their children. My kids' intellect is very important to me, but it's only the foresail their ship of destiny. The main sail, mizzenmast, and rudder are attitudes, aptitudes, and ethics.

The Greeks used to say "character is fate". (Thank you Mrs Satterfield, my AP English teacher, for teaching me that!) And I believe it. What about you?



Monday, August 28, 2006


Anna got a boo-boo

There's nothing more troubling to a parent than watch your child suffer. Sadly, I had to watch Anna Lynn suffer after surgery on her belly button hernia last Monday.

Her mom kept her from the night before and took her down for an early 6:00 am prep. I got the other kids off to school and came down to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital straight away. I arrived about 8:00 am to find that they'd just taken her back for surgery. Kelly and I patiently waited and took the chance to catch up a bit.

She came back quite drugged up, but still in a lot of pain. She gradually came around and, as she did, she hurt more and more. Our pediatric nurse was fantastic and kept increasing her pain-killer until she was feeling no pain. I thinks she had to give her three rounds of drugs until she finally started to feel good. And when she started to feel good, she also started to get pretty funny and silly.

It took a few days for her to finally start feeling better from the surgery. And Kelly had to deal with some complications from her also having a lung infection (though it was not caused by the surgery itself). But she turned the corner towards the end of last week and has made a great recovery. She'll soon have the bandages off and will be able to swim and take baths again.

You go, girl! Daddy loves you!



Sunday, August 27, 2006


Revealing the Real You

In a Newsweek interview, Johnny Depp (that's CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow) says, "When I became a dad for the first time, it was like a veil being lifted...I was never horribly self-obsessed or wrapped up in my own weirdness, but when my daughter was born, suddenly there was clarity. I wasn't angry anymore. It was the first purely selfless moment that I had ever experienced. And it was liberating. In that moment, it's like you become something else. The real you is revealed."

Let's face it, I became a dad at a rather young age. And it was something that I'd always wanted to do. But now more than ever, it is that role that defines me and empowers me more than any other.

According to Mr Depp's rational, I believe the real me is 110% dad. Here's an example. As I was flying back from a business trip on Friday, I had a number of people stop me to tell me that they liked the Curious George T-Shirt I was wearing. I even had one older lady tell me that she literally thought to herself "Now that's the kind of person I'd like to know!" I was amazed - wanting to know someone better simply because of a shirt?!

I first bought the Curious George T-shirt because I enjoyed not the Curious George books so much as reading the Curious George books to my kids. The books were fine, as far as children's books go, but the experience of reading to my kids and the pure joy they got out of it was sublime. If I had to pick a character to get on a T-shirt today, it'd be Harry the Dirty Dog. He's the current favorite of Katie Jo, Anna Lynn, and me.

What's defining you these days?



Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The Hawthorne Roses

The magazine Glimpses had an interesting true story: Nathaniel Hawthorne is famed as the author of one of America's greatest novels — The Scarlet Letter. But it was something entirely different, a small kindness, that influenced his daughter Rose the most.

Nathaniel visited an English poorhouse where a diseased child rubbed his legs and held out hands in a plea to be lifted up. Although shrinking from the child's repulsive sores, the author nevertheless picked the boy up and caressed him.

Nathaniel said later that he felt as if God had promised the boy that kindness, and if he refused it, he could never call himself a man again. Hawthorne's daughter, Rose, was so influenced by her father's actions that she later started charities specifically to deal with patients suffering from cancer. Seven homes in six states are available free of charge to cancer patients because a beautiful Rose grew in the loving soil of a father’s heart.

Well, my little roses decided to spend lunch that day stuffing their cheeks with grapes. As you can probably guess, we were all laughing our tails off.

Still, I can't help but wonder what small kindness (or, worse, the withholding of some small kindness) will impact them the most. That's all the more reason to endeavor to be kind.



Monday, August 07, 2006


Brave Katie

If you know Katie Jo, you know she is very, very shy in new situations or with strangers. It takes her a long time to warm up. (Just like her old man, it seems!) Well, she made me very proud with her performance at the Vacation Bible School program on Sunday morning back in late July.

When the time came for the kids to get up on stage and sing, she went right up without hesitation. I was amazed and proud! She didn't really sing much and she didn't make the hand gestures, but she hung in there until the end, despite her discomfort. What a trooper!


Anna Lynn, on the other hand, was her usual diva self. She had no problem at all getting up there, singing her heart out, and doing all the big kid dances and gestures. She made me grin from ear to ear.

I honestly don't remember what they sang about. Don't get me wrong, the songs were great and the program was inspiring. But what I do remember clearly is how I could see portents of the future, of my girls turning into strong and smart and brave young women - young women who make their dad very, very proud.



Wednesday, August 02, 2006


A Few Days in Frisco

There's no doubt that San Francisco is one of the USA's most beautiful cities. It's also a pretty weird place because the average temperature in the summer time is LOWER than the average wintertime termperature.

I recently took a long weekend there to enjoy the city to its fullest. I went with my friend, Jenny Grant. We flew first class and stayed in one of the city's oldest and finest hotels, right in the heart of the action, the Sir Francis Drake, as the place to start the adventure.

I also tried to pack in as many other fun experiences as possible - Lombard Street, the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Redwood Forest (right), shopping in Sausalito, shopping in Union Square, Ghiradelli Square, Haight-Ashbury, the "Painted Ladies" Victorian Houses, and lots of cable car rides. It was a blast. Tiring, but a blast.

My favorite part was definitely the Redwood Forest. The redwoods were so huge and majestic. And some of the remote groves we witnessed were very nearly spiritual in their sublime beauty. We also saw some of the cutest little critters and birds that you can imagine. And no, the 18 inch banana slugs were not one of the cute critters.

The restaurants and bistros were just fantastic. I could happily stay in Frisco for a month without eating at the same place twice. And that's just in the neighborhood of the hotel. We really didn't have time to explore the other great neighborhoods of the city.

The one place that we didn't get to go to that we really wanted to see was the Castro neighborhood - the gay district. But this being San Francisco, we happened to luck into a bit of the Castro district coming to our hotel. As it turned out, there was a big party put on by the Straight-Gay alliance (SGA) of San Francisco right in the hotel on our very last night in town. Jenny, me, and an extended (and rather clueless) family to our right were the only people in the hotel who weren't cross-dressing. It was a hoot! LOL!

Unfortunately, the server seems overloaded at the moment and isn't taking the picture. But suffice it to say that we were impressed and entertained by the almost pageant-level of extravagance in the way some of the SGA dressed.



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