Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Merry Christmas

Dear Barry,

  Happy Belated Birthday, Merry Belated Christmas and Happy Early New Year!

Tillie and I made it to the US last week but Kenny and Teddie are stuck in Germany because his passport hasn't come in yet. It was really disasppointing to not have us all together at Christmas especially Teddie's first. We were lucky to have Andrew here to keep Tillie and me company to ride out quarantine and spend some awesome quality time. 

I ran by your house the other day and was reminded of when you came up to visit us when Tillie was just a few months old. It was such a nice time having you up hiking with Tillie and I cheering Kenny on at Loon Mtn, and she still talks about how I set up a playdate for her with women you and I met at the bar ;) 

We have had quite a few fun adventures of the years huh? You have always been so game to do anything that it has made for some crazy adventures. I'm looking forward to having you join our family for another adventure soon.


Hope you have a great New Year and know we will be thinking of you!

Until next time,


Danny





Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sad Dream

 Dear Barry,

  I woke up from a strange dream this morning. Nothing strange occurred but it was just that it was so vivid and had many of our high school classmates in it. Some of whom I haven't seen for nearly twenty years. Strangely, I woke up sad. You know very well that I was eager to get out of high school and don't consider them my glory days(hopefully that's some time in the future;)) so I couldn't exactly pinpoint why I was sad.

Then it occurred to me: I never really said goodbye to many of them. Of course, I kept in touch with you and Chip but other than that kids we grew up with just disappeared from our lives. Some with promises of getting together in the future and some with nary a thought. But over time, they all fell out of our lives 

You will be the first to remind me how I didn't get along with plenty of them. However, I did with many, but they still fell away. Yes of course, some of them I have run into over the years. And often produces this same feeling. Like we're trying to hold on to the pieces of our friendship but there are fewer and fewer every year we've lived our own lives apart. It just leaves this feeling not quite of sadness but just incompleteness. I guess that's the way life is. People come in and out of our lives and we don't always get to get that sense of closure like I've grown accustomed to in books. Guess life sometimes differs, huh?

Does make me want to do what I need in order to keep those people in my life I value, close, even if only in mind.

Not sure why I'm telling you all this except to maybe thank you for staying in my life all these years. I appreciate you and look forward to seeing you again 

Until next time, 

Danny

PS- As always a few new photos of the family:)






Friday, November 27, 2020

We only have these moments

 Dear Barry, 

  Sorry I have written in a while. Teddie decided to make his debut a few weeks early. It's amazing how quickly time really does fly when you don't sleep. I'd love for you to explain that phenomena to me where I am awake more hours each day and yet it seems like each day goes by quicker than the one before. I also can't wait for everyone to meet him. He definitely is his own character. 

As you know, I'm trying my hardest to learn German but it's not going too well. The moment I open my mouth, every native German knows I'm American and responds to me in English. Or, on the rare occasion someone does respond in German, it is way top rapid for me to understand. Although I can now read most newspaper headlines and understand when toddlers speak to me. Mostly. And still I trudge along.

Anyway, I came across the word for moment in German. Haha, yes I know that it can be translated as moment, but the alternate translation is augenblick which literally means "eyes' glimpse" which I think is a more perfect translation of the word. 

I also get hung up on these aphorisms that life seems to throw at us everyone once in a while. It's like I am aware that I need to embrace every glimpse and moment and yet the very thought of trying to slow down time only makes it speed up.

All I know is, despite all the bad things that has happened in 2020( and you, my friend, know this far too well), I cannot throw out the baby with the bath water. Or, in this instance, the baby with the foul  year of all of our discontents. 


I may never be able to fluently speak another language but I will damn well make it abundantly clear to my loved ones that I love them and that's really all that matters.


I hope you are doing well and I miss you terribly.


Until next time,


Danny


PS. Here are some photos of your nephew Teddie








Saturday, October 24, 2020

Edward Abbey, Antinatalism and A Roman spring

 Dear Barry, 

     As you probably know, we are expecting an addition to the family shortly. So I found it funny the other day as I was wrapping up Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire that I came across this quote: 

"We need coyotes more than we need, let us say, more people, of whom we have already an extravagant surplus, or more domesticated dogs, which in all fairness could and should be ground up into hamburger and used as emergency coyote food, to raise their spirits and perhaps improve the tenor of their predawn howling."

Some days I feel that about people and most days I feel that about dogs. I'm of the opinion the best animals are those in the wild, not bred into captivity, but I know you loved your dog so we'll probably disagree about that. The funny thing was right after reading  that, I read about David Benatar and his philosophy of Anti-natalism. So instead of taking the side of no people for nature's sake, I was reading about no people for people's sake. 

I'm sure you've read about it, but it was my first introduction to this theory which posits that procreation is morally bad. He goes further in stating there's an asymmetry between pleasure and pain. Pretty much meaning that while existing involving both painful and pleasant experiences, not existing involves neither pain or pleasure.. As absence of pleasure is not bad and abesence of pain is good., it is (in his argument) better to not exist(and not experience pain) than to live. He stresses he is not proposing suicide but rather the moral imperative to not expose unwitting (and non-consenting) future generations to a painful life. .

While interesting, I don't buy it. 

And as you know me well, there is no way that I am going to articulate myself well enough to present a convincing counter-argument to a world renowned philosopher but I know I'd rather live through all the goods and bads of this life than not-exist at all. And all I can say is that I will do everything in my power to ensure my children are exposed to so many more good experiences than bad that there is no chance they'd ever regret being born. I know this doesn't get to the root of no bad is still better than any bad, but still, I'm standing firm.


In other news, did you see that wealthy people perceive their lives to be longer? The thought behind it is that they have the ability to experience more novel tasks throughout their lives which ingrains more memories and distinct time points that then can be looked back upon separately and thus giving the sensation of a longer more rich(I wish pun was intended) life. 

But you don't have to be rich to do this. You just have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone and do and try new things. It was once thought that the brain cells you were born with are all that you ever will have but new evidence shows that the brain can be stimulated to continue to grow and adapt well into adulthood. The key is to provide to novel tasks. This doesn't have to be a trip to Seychelles but just doing something different or even just looking at something from a different perspective. 

Probably nothing new learned for you today but I thought I'd write to you anyway.


I've attached a few pictures from my run today. Yes those are Roman carvings from 2-4th century CE only about 1 mile from my house. Cannot wait for you to come and visit, though it feels like you're already here with me.


Until next time my friend,


Danny




Friday, October 9, 2020

Ode to my Dad

 Dear Barry, 

 

   I just assembled an IKEA end table and night stand. Yes, you can probably sense the smugness in my satisfaction that after a mere three hours of arduous labor, I was able to assemble an equivalent to a color by numbers piece of furniture. And don't give me too much credit, remember the time change and that it's almost 11pm here. Yeah, not much pride should be had here.

It's crazy, ya know. My dad had me 5 years younger than I had had Matilda but he had his $#!t so much more together. Besides making the best move in his life marrying my mom, he already had a good career, a successful side hustle(before that was even a thing), and could build an addition on his house. I barely assembled this piece of furniture. In all honesty, I had to disassemble and reassemble it due to my inability to follow the pictograms on the directions. 

Meanwhile, my father went on(while parenting two children at the time) to buy a house and then a second, get his Masters(before the Academic Arms Race era in which we currently reside), proceed to have two more children and become a Superintendent of schools.


All the while putting his family in front any/all of his own dreams.

Dad, an avid photographer, nearly disappears from view due to the nearly constant documenting of each of his children's lives(well before the advent of cameras on our supercomputers we have in our pockets). His photography hints at a love of the outdoors but that had to take a backburner to each of his children's numerous, and often disparate activities. None of which was more time consuming than basketball. A hockey fan and player, dad nonetheless, crossed over the Rubicon and converted to an devoted(if not boisterous) basketball fan. Teaching himself as he taught us, he coached our teams and watched every game he could, even when my younger brother and sister played collegiately meaning he'd be going hundreds of miles to see a game. 

Remember when when I was singing along to a song, you made a comment about my tone. I think it was something like:  I like how when you attempt to sing different notes you just sing louder or softer. Yes there is a good chance, in addition to being an incompetent handy man, I also am tone deaf. Imagine my dad's chagrin in hearing me (nearly constantly) signing off pitch all day and many long car rides. My dad, a musician like you, probably had to hold back everything he could from just yelling at me to stop the GD singing. But he never did. He never made me or my siblings feel like our little lives were anything other than the single most important part of his every day. He and my mom made us feel like we could do everything and achieve anything. 

I know I'm rambling on here so thank you for your sustained reading efforts. I just wanted to let you know that I am trying. Every day, I am trying to be half the man my father is to Matilda and baby Danny(Kenny has assured me that WILL NOT be his name). 

First things first: I'm going to try to cut down my furniture assembly time.


Until next time,


Danny


PS. Here are a few pictures from our recent trip to Amsterdam and Antwerp. Can't wait for you to join us over here. 



Sunday, September 27, 2020

Trip to Italy

 Dear Barry, 

     You missed a great trip! Matilda and Kenny joined me on another work trip, this time to Italy. We visited Verona with its Roman Arena and Romeo and Juliet's houses. We visited Padua with its 13th Century Basilica and university that dates back to 1222. But the best part by far was our days in Venice. That place is amazing! Especially when there are few tourists due to an ongoing pandemic. I've never been to a city where every portion is beautiful. I can say that it is truly the most beautiful city that I've been.The fact that it is entirely pedestrianised(other than via water) is all the more appealing. Even the grocery store was in an old converted theater! 

The thing is, though, it got me thinking. Why is it all these beautiful places have such sordid pasts? Our hotel was only a few blocks from the Ghetto Nuovo. This was the world's first ghetto where Jewish residents were forced to live(and locked in at night!). It's like visiting Savannah with its slave market. Another beautiful city with blood on its hands. 

Does this mar its beauty or enhance our understanding of the multifaceted nature of human history? After all, Venice was supposedly built by refugees to escape being raped and pillaged themselves and then it turns around and becomes the oppressor.  For that matter, is there any city in this world, or people, that haven't when afforded power, taken advantage of it at the expense of another? And can history be viewed from one act or the play in it's entirety?I don't know. That's why I'm writing you. You always have such thoughtful and knowledgeable answers that I cannot wait to hear back to see what you think. 

I'll just keep exposing Matilda to all the good(and some of the bad) this world has to offer and hopefully teach her that while there certainly is and has been dark moments, the brightness will always shine through. 


I've attached some pictures of our travels.













Until next time,


Danny