Beach Week

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
— James 4:13-15 (ESV)

My family and I are enjoying a week in Holden Beach, renting a house right off the ocean. Our custom is to not be too busy, going here and there. Head to the beach, retreat to the pool, have some food, and lather, rinse, repeat. In the words of the poet - “We don’t do much throughout the day, that's how we like it best. We nibble grapes, we watch the waves, we take a little rest.”

Our first day and a half here was dominated by clouds, but not rain. The sand was cool, the ocean pleasantly warm, and the pool entirely too cold, though that did not stop one toddler, teeth clattering, from enjoying it.

The end of the week will come quite quickly and we'll reluctantly pack up our things, longing for maybe just one more day, thinking of all the things we could do with that time.

For now, our kids are napping and I'm enjoying the view from our deck, thinking the sand (which is now lava hot) and the pool (which has yet to catch up to the break in weather temperature) look so inviting. Maybe tomorrow I'll go out and avail myself to their pleasures before I become a supervisor once again. Iffing (of course) the weather holds, and iffing (more of course) their naps consent.

For now, I have most of the rest of the week to make plans and watch dragonflies flit about from the porch and the waves crash into the shore.

Pop-Up Storms

We are doing a whirlwind family tour this summer to introduce Timothy to the farther-flung reaches of our immediate family. Fortunately for us, that really only goes as far west as central Kentucky, where we made our first stop to see my sister and her family.

On Friday, we were having lunch when it started raining and thundering outside. Unaware it was supposed to rain, I checked my weather app to see how long it would last. Watching the radar history, I commented that it seemed to come out of nowhere. My brother-in-law said that that’s what they do there—sometimes from this way, sometimes from that, sometimes out of nowhere, and in the heat of the summer, you're not surprised when it comes.

I thought about that again on Saturday when I looked at my phone that evening to read about the shooting in El Paso. The popular term for it is stochastic terror. You can't predict anything relevant about a mass shooting—where, how many, by whom—except that it will happen. Or at least will happen with some probability over a given period of time El Paso, Poway, Pittsburgh, Dayton (at the time yet to happen), Sandy Hook, Dallas, whichever ones you want to add on the list, whichever ones you can even remember. You're not surprised that it happens, you just don’t know when and where.

Of course it's not exactly true that there are no common threads between any of the shootings, just as it's not the case that any place expects these pop up showers out of nowhere. That's why I spent a while awake Saturday night, thinking of my (Mexican-American) nieces and sister-in-law, wondering if and when LA County is due for the big one, and not entirely sure how much safer suburban Detroit is in the long run.

A Happy Mother's Day

Jamie and I had planned a date night in Saturday night to celebrate Mother's Day. My folks would come over and watch our two year old and we would go to Clarity in Vienna for dinner. I'd had a necklace made for her and some flowers would arrive sometime in Saturday from bouqs.com.

Someone else had different plans. After Jamie had taken a shower and settled in to bed, her water broke. She wasn't due for another couple of weeks, so we hadn't had any bags packed or anything. We called my parents to come over and left for the hospital when they arrived. We got to the hospital a bit after midnight and by just after 3am Timothy Matthew  was born, weighing 9lbs 1oz. He is just as perfect as his mom and his sister before him. The rest of us are tired, but doing well.

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Notre Dame

This is the only photo I took of Notre Dame the one time I went to Paris, six years ago. I was only in Paris for a little more than a day, so I didn't go in. I've often had mixed feelings about Catholic cathedrals. Perhaps that's just me being a little extra Protestant, but I still feel something of a loss at today's news, it is still the loss of a great and historic work and I am glad that the devastation was not total.

Echo

My in-laws screen phone calls to their landline, so when we were there over Thanksgiving, every now and then the phone would ring [loudly] and then we would hear the answering machine pick up. Their message was interesting, as it started with a warning that their phone number had been spoofed and was being used by scammers, and that they had nothing to do with it. I kind of imagine the first few calls they got before they realized that.

I've had a noticeable uptick in spam phone calls to my cell phone lately, and I usually just go into the recent calls and mark the number as spam so that it doesn't call back. If I'm feeling particularly interested, I'll google the phone number to see what it comes up with, usually nothing useful, and I wonder if it's some random family's number and if they get all sorts of irate return calls.

Whenever I think about that, I think of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. The basic premise of the show is that some particularly enterprising company has developed the technology to be able to reprogram humans to do whatever they want. It's mostly used by ultra-rich playboys for ultra-rich playboy reasons. In a handful of flash forward episodes some number of years after the main events of the show, events have taken their eventual dystopian turn as nation-states and hackers have essentially figured how to hi-jack just about anything with an electric current to reprogram humans to fight for their side or another.

The stakes are a little lower when it's a phone number, but it's just a small example of the sort of thing we have so little ability to really possess that we tend not to think about. We're not too far away from realizing our phone number has been stolen, or our Facebook account, or our bank account. I wonder how long until it is so rampant that our current systems based on honesty and customer convenience collapse under the weight of bad actors.

Incidentally, the setting for Dollhouse's dystopian future was 2019. Happy new year.

Suburban Snowscape

The first snow of the year came on a Sunday, gracefully, and has been plenty pretty to look at and enjoy without the concerns of having to get anywhere. The roads are likely fine as well by now, but why should I leave the fireside?