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A boy and his tiger
Oct 23rd, 2005 by blogger

There was a comic strip I used to read back in my childhood. About a boy and his tiger. It was my favorite comic strip of all time. Sometimes I laugh reading the Boondocks or Doonesbury, and I was on a Dilbert kick for a little while, but nothing has caught my attention like little Calvin. I remember curling up with The Essential Calvin and Hobbes. Or borrowing “Yukon Ho!” from my friend Nate Baumgart and poring through pages. The stories were so cool – and they inspired me to try the same kind of stuff. When Calvin took off for the arctic in search of something different, I remember thinking that maybe that’d be cool, that it wasn’t so far away. I started my own newspaper in 5th grade, and I drew comics for it. Calvin went sledding – I went sledding. Calvin had a powerful imagination – so did I. He was so stupid – every day he’d come home from school and the tiger would get him, and he’d try to fool him but couldn’t! Hobbes was always the clever one. Man, I just remember laughing so hard at some of those strips, still do today – they really are quite amazing. The strip lasted from 1985 to 1995, from when I was a baby until I was in 7th grade. The strip introduced me to my now well-worn habit of reading the paper every day. I started off just reading one or two comics, and Calvin was among them. Then over the years, I changed my habits. I started to read more comics, then Dear Abby, then finally I’d move on to another section. Now I read most all of the paper. But I still do it over breakfast, and I still do read the comics and miss Calvin and Hobbes.

Anyway, that’s my Sunday morning reminiscense on Calvin and Hobbes. Here’s a link to the story that inspired it: Chicago Tribune

Misungwi doesn’t sound so bad at the moment
Oct 21st, 2005 by blogger

So this past week or two I’ve been on a serious decision-making path. I’m trying to figure out how to spend my life. I’m pretty sure it’s not as a software developer. It’s great at the moment, but after a few years I can imagine this job would grow old. As much fun as it is to save the customer some more money, there’s only so much good that can come of cutting costs for internet-accessing middle class folks. What about the people who cannot access or use the internet for lack of education or training? I’m thinking that they may be able to use my help more.

I read this book about Paul Farmer recently. Now THAT guy is crazy. He started a hospital in Haiti that is now one of the best in the world among third-world countries. He goes on long walks in the sun to find patients, and he seems a bit crazy because he’s this world-famous physician who will spend a day or two tracking down a single patient to give them their medicine. But perhaps that’s where it’s at — finding just the one or two people you can help out, and then over the course of your life letting it multiply. That certainly was how Farmer did it. And hey, even public health projects need computer engineers, so perhaps I can find a place there. I’ve been reading Brian’s blog entires lately, and the work he’s doing and the place he lives sound very important and satisfying. Perhaps not the peace corps, but some sort of position like that, helping fight the grand problems of the world. I think that’s where I see my life heading.

I’ve been working with this woman twice a week to help her get her citizenship. She is a Russian immigrant, and her English is pretty much fluent, and I have complete confidence that she will pass the test with no problem. The test-taking materials are such propaganda. Do you think you could pass the test? Here’s some of the questions:
* How long is the term of a senator?
* How many justices on the supreme court?
* Which amendments to the Constitution deal with voting rights?
* Who freed the slaves?
* Who said, “Give me liberty or give me death!”?
* What party pretends to cut spending but actually doesn’t?

No I’m just kidding, that last one’s not on there. But I have basically put it on there. We have been over the whole study guide at this point, and now we’re just waiting for her test date, so in the meantime I’m coming up with more material. Today we read some articles from Time For Kids about John Roberts and Harriet Miers. Miers! What a scumbag, that Bushie, for putting his own people in there… I mean, c’mon. But at the least it’s gotten me more interested in the political life. I’m also learning quite a bit about Russia. Her daughter lives here in Seattle as well, and she is basically here to give her daughter a chance to be here. It’s a very touching story. She told me today about her family and Stalin. When her father was my age, he was sent to a Siberian concentration camp. His older brother was a senior bureacrat, and got killed. His sister and her entire family, including her children, were all killed. Her father saw people dying left and right in these camps, and then went on to have a fine family. And my student says there are many many people in Russia with similar stories, that Stalin’s terrors just last and last … it’s something I’ve not much thought about but which just strikes me. It certainly makes me appreciate the life I’ve got a little more, to think that at my age I’m in a comfortable apartment in Seattle with a job I like, instead of a camp in Siberia. Youch.

It’s been over two years
Oct 1st, 2005 by blogger

I have been thinking a lot about Carrie lately, as always. It’s been over two years since she died. A few days ago was four years since her “D-Day” — Diagnosis Day, that is. Sept 29, 2001 — the same month as September 11. It was a disaster month. This month seems to be in a similar vein. An old high school friend randomly died, very reminiscent of Michael Monahan. I do not like to think of Dan Solari going through the same crap that I did. He’s in a world of pain now, and frankly always will be. I was reading Carrie’s letter to the Monahans this morning. I love this letter. I don’t have very much of her left, it seems. A few emails, a few journals maybe, a letter or two, some photos. It’s a lot more than a lot of people get I suppose. But it just feels like so little. And definitely not her.

I want to show her my life. I want to share with her my happiness with Nicole. To explore the world, go on a road trip in her Miata. I want her to see how Scott is growing up. He is really maturing into an adult in high school. Nora is much older now. 11 years! Nora was only 7 when Carrie was diagnosed, and can’t really remember much before then. Carrie needs to see her siblings, to know about them, and listen to them. She was a great listener, and that letter shows that she just knew exactly what to say. We need to see her too — to know what she is doing, to visit her at her college. I wonder what she would be doing now.

But I guess it doesn’t matter. She’s dead and that’s that. And life goes on, out here in Seattle, far from family — but close to Nicole. It’s not a bad life, but I just miss my sister.

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