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11.22.16
I've ended up with quite the packed schedule over the next couple of days, but I think I've got the logistics all worked out. Today I'm going to go shopping for all of my Thanksgiving ingredients; tomorrow we have an outing with Will at noon and then I'm going to work on doing as much Thanksgiving prep (like making the dishes that can simply be reheated on Thanksgiving and doing as much mise en place for the stuff I need to cook on Thursday).

My parents arrive that night, and I'll have time to have dinner with them before I head out to a concert that I bought a ticket for months ago before I realized that it was the day before Thanksgiving or before I knew that we'd be feeding twelve people this year. When I get back from the concert, I'm going to put the turkey into the brine before I go to bed, and then I have to wake up around 5:30 to go run the ATC Thanksgiving Day 5K with Julie, a race that we ran last year as well.

Last year, however, I bought a smoked turkey from our local barbecue place, so as soon as I get back from the race this year, I'm going to need to start prepping the turkey to go in the oven, and then hopefully grab a quick nap before showering and completing the rest of my dishes by the time company arrives around 2:30.

It's going to be a complicated, busy 48 hours, but I think I've figured out how to make all the pieces fit together. Wish me luck!


11.21.16
Busy, busy weekend again. We started off with Friday night movie night, and when we were trying to convince Will to watch the second Harry Potter movie, he just blurted out that he wanted to see The Goonies instead, which we let him watch the trailer for several months ago but which we haven't mentioned again because he didn't seem that interested in it.

I hadn't watched the unedited version in a while, so we forgot about all the swearing, but he didn't seem to notice it and we haven't heard him ask about those words or say those word in the past few days, so hopefully they got lost in the shuffle of just trying to follow the plot. He said he really like the movie, although he didn't ask to watch it again the next day, which is what he usually does when a movie really speaks to him.

We still watch mostly newer, mostly animated films with him, but it's nice that we're seeing a light at the end of the tunnel where we can start to think about a wider variety of movies. We've seen five of the Star Wars movies, the first Harry Potter, and E.T. in addition to The Goonies, but not much else in the live action PG realm. Hopefully he'll be willing to watch another Harry Potter soon, and within a couple of years we might be in range of things like Gremlins or Ghostbusters too.

On Saturday morning, we had another project with the Cub Scouts, this time at the pack level instead of the den level (we planted trees the weekend prior with Will's den). This time it was raking leaves to raise money for the pack, which I wasn't really in the mood to do—it was cold and windy and I hadn't had enough sleep—but I was hoping that if they had a decent turnout we'd only have to do one yard and we would be home within an hour or so.

Of course, turnout was pretty low, so we got assigned three yards which we were supposed to complete by noon (three hours after the initial 9:00 a.m. meeting time). Things started off very badly—our first house had a yard that was simply enormous, and it was also on a steep hill with grass that hadn't been cut in a while which was also wet from the sprinklers in the front yard. It took us an hour and a half to do that yard, and we must have filled close to 30 yard bags with leaves by the time we were done.

It got easier after that though—the second house had a flat, relatively small front yard (which is all they had paid for) and it had also been raked the week before, so we finished that one pretty quickly even though one of our team members left after the first yard. Our third yard also wasn't too bad—it was bigger, but we were also joined by part of another team that had finished their houses earlier than expected.

It was a good learning experience for Will, but I'm not sure if we'll do the second date in December—given the low turnout for the first one and the supposed requirement to do at least one, they should be very well staffed if everyone follows through on their commitment.

We finished off the weekend activities with dinner on Sunday to celebrate the second birthday of the nephew of some close friends who are taking care of their nephew while the parents some sort stuff out in their lives. They also have a 10 year old son who gets along pretty well with Will, and the two of them spent the entire time in the small arcade at the back of the restaurant.

Things don't really slow down from here until sometime next year. This week is Thanksgiving, of course, where we'll be hosting a dozen people; the week after that we have another race that we're going to run with Will; the week after that Julie's mother comes for a visit; and then it's pretty much the holidays, where my mom will come stay with us for a few days before we head up to North Carolina for a few days to visit my dad and stepmother and Julie's mom.


11.18.16
Yesterday was the award ceremony for the artistic competiton at Will's school called Reflections, and he did great! Last year he submitted a story, which won first place at the school and third place at the district level; this year he submitted a story and a photograph and won first place in the writing category and second place in the photography category.

Both of those pieces went on to district, which will be judged sometime by January (first and second at each level of the competition move on to the next level), so it will be interesting to see if he places there at all. But even if we didn't win, I'd be proud of him for working in a creative space and liking his efforts enough to put them forward.


11.17.16
I watched the first episode of the newest season of the Walking Dead, but after that nightmare, which might be one of the most pointlessly brutal things I've ever seen, I haven't been able to bring myself to watch any further episodes, despite assurances from fellow fans that the show gets back on track and that the next episode in particular helps put the events of the premiere in a better context.

Insteaad I've turned to Westworld, the new HBO series based on a work from the 70s by Michael Crichton (writer of Jurassic Park) and created by Jonathan Nolan (brother of director Christopher Nolan). It explores an expensive theme park that simulates the Old West—people pay to come dress up in costume and interact with human-looking robots (who believe that they are actually human) in various storylines that the human guests can either follow along as a somewhat passive participant or co-opt for their own purposes. Because many of the outcomes for the robots involve them being killed or otherwise disfigured, they are often taken back to a processing center where their bodies are repaired and their brains wiped of the memories of their traumatic experiences at the hands of the human guests.

The world-building/origin story part of the series is interesting enough, but we also have other deep story arcs that involve some of the robots becoming more self-aware; a mystery/labrinthe that seems deeply embedded in the decades-long history of the park that no one has yet solved; and infighting among the people who run the park as to the future of the enterprise and the rights of the robots.

It's beautifully written and filmed, and it has some high-quality talent, but HBO has flopped recently with other shows that shared those qualities, so it wasn't necessarily guaranteed to be a hit. But so far I'm really enjoying it—it's not nearly as cynical and depressing (at least not yet) as the Walking Dead, and it has the potential to span several seasons as the tensions between the robots and humans come to a head and the riddles buried deep in the structure of the park are revealed. Yes, there are some pretty brutal events in this fictional universe as well, but there are also some characters who appear to be protagonists (at least at this point) who could help move towards a positive resolution somewhere down the line.

I'm sure I'll return to the Walking Dead at some point, but for now, Westworld is pretty entertaining and gives me a new set of mysteries to ponder that are far more engaging than the guess-who's-going-to-die-next types of questions that the Walking Dead has unfortunately reduced itself to.


11.16.16
Will and I went to the first Emory Women's Basketball home game of the season last night, and Will is still enjoying it as much as he ever has. His beloved Shellie is still on the team, but she's a senior, and the team is changing a lot this year (three seniors, three sophomores, and the rest are all freshmen) and it will be interesting to see if he is still as into the games once she's gone.

As usual, we waited around after the game for the girls to come out of the locker room so he could chat with Shellie, and while we waited we shot baskets. He was very into that, and at one point made three in a row (these were baskets at full height, too), so I'm optimistic that maybe he'll take to basketball in a way that he never really did with soccer (he'll be starting his first basketball league in December).

The next game is on November 27, and we'll be heading back with Will's entire Cub Scout den for that one—one of their badges requires them to do a sports outing and ask an athlete about the importance of being active and getting exercise, and the coach has graciously agreed to let the boys come back after the game and talk to the team in the locker room.


11.15.16
I was fearful about last week for the future of the Ravens season—after what was bound to be a tough game against the Steelers, they only got four days rest before they had to play the Browns (who, though winless, always seem to give the Ravens trouble no matter how awful they are). A loss of either of those games would likely put them behind the eight ball in terms of winning the division, and a loss of both would probably spell the end of their season (although in this year's terrible AFC North, anything is possible, and it's highly likely that a team without a winning record is going to win the division and go to teh playoffs).

But they pulled out wins in both games, although the Steelers game got unnecessarily dramatic at the end. After leading the entire game and not allowing Pittsburgh to score at all, the Ravens gave up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and let the Steelers get within shooting distance of a third, which would have tied the game. There were some great highlights though—a 95 yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Wallace (the longest offensive passing touchdown in team history) and a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown.

The Browns were an easier game, and it marked the first time in I don't know how long that the Ravens won a game by more than a single score. The final score was 28-7, and the offense looked decent for the first time in a while. Yes, the Browns were a team that the Ravens should have beaten easily, but it's been so long since they dominated an obviously inferior team that it was nice to see them do it for once.

Next week is the real challenge, playing the red hot Cowboys in Dallas. A loss there won't end things—even if the Steelers (who are in second place in the division now, one game behind the Ravens) win and Baltimore loses, they will both have 5-5 records and the Ravens will hold the tiebreaker because they have beaten the Steelers this season—but it would be nice to roll into the rest of the season with the confidence that they can beat a great team, because the rest of their schedule is pretty tough. True, three of their last six games will be against AFC North teams, so if they can continue their dominance against their own division they'll have a chance at winning the division even if they lose two or three of the non-divisional games, but a statement win against the best offensive team in football would be a real shot in the arm for the team.


11.14.16
Another busy weekend in what was likely our last chance at a non-busy weekend before sometime next year, but it was all pretty fun. On Friday night we decided to forgo our traditional movie night to go out to dinner at the Smoke Ring, the barbecue place down near the new football stadium where Will and I went once when Julie was away at a conference. I tried the brisket last time so I could compare it to our favorite local barcecue place (where I typically get the brisket), so this time I tried the smoked sausage instead. Their brisket wasn't quite as good as the one from our favorite place, but the sausage was better—spicier with more of the smoky flavor. Their sides are also pretty good, and we actually had to order a second plate of fried pickles because Will was gobbling them up so fast.

On Saturday morning we met with several people from Will's Cub Scout den to do a Trees Atlanta service project planting young trees in a nearby neighborhood. There was a lot of walking and shoveling, but Will really engaged and didn't complain until we were on the way back to the car. We ended up planting four or five trees as a group in three hours.

On Sunday we had a fairly quiet day with church in the morning and a calm afternoon, but we ended the weekend by going over to a friend's house for dinner, where we were joined by another couple and their kids (Will was in preschool with the oldest children of the hosts and the other couple, which is how we got to know all of them). It was chaotic with the kids running around like crazy people (there were also two younger siblings there), but it was good to see everyone again, and we're hoping we can host a cookie making party in December for everyone.


11.11.16
Will had his school musical last night, which was some sort of around the world theme set to the music of the Nutcraker Suite where each classroom in his grade sang a song about a different country. It was pretty hard to understand the words, but the best I could gather, Will's class was doing something from China, so they were demonstrating how to use fans and doing a little dance with them while they sang.

I do wonder if theater would be a good activity for him to try—he's not really that shy, and loves acting out little stories to himself. I think if he could get a small part in a kid-oriented play, he might get the confidence to try out for a bigger part that would require memorizing some lines, etc.

I did stage managing with a pretty serious community theater back in grad school (and one small part as an actor for one show), and I'm a fan of the theater as a learning environment—cooperation, improvisation, speaking in front of others, logistical planning—it has a bevy of opportunities to teach life skills that carry over into being a better person and being a smart professional, no matter what your field. Plus, if you're part of the onstage contingent (as opposed to the back of the house), it's just plain fun, especially for a kid like Will who so easily interacts with others.


11.10.16
I'm not really able to process the fact that Donald Trump is going to be our next president, but some of my friends have made great posts of Facebook that put into words some of the things that I've been feeling. I'm going to share some of them below, both for posterity's sake and so I don't lose track of them in the months and years ahead when they get buried under a mountain of subsequent Facebook posts:

As a child, I was often the smallest kid in my class. I was also fairly uncoordinated and bad at sports. I did well academically, and was pretty awkward socially. I was fairly sensitive, and cried easily, and always felt ashamed and weak when I did so. I was also bullied fairly frequently, by kids who were larger than me, or more socially skilled than me, or more coordinated than me. There were times where I would fear going to school, or church, because I knew that I was likely to be bullied. I hadn't thought about that feeling in a long time, that dread, that gnawing in the pit of my stomach, but it occurred to me this morning, on the way in to work, that I've been feeling that same dread for the first time in many years, because it feels like the bullies have taken over. I think maybe this is why I always identify with those who are mistreated by society, whether it be because of their race, gender, or sexual orientation, even though I myself am part of the privileged class in all those demographics. But you know what? I'm not going to give up now. I'm not going to shut up. This is a major setback for America. We're throwing decades of progress down the drain. But I believe we can still recover.

Marc


Speaking strictly as a gay American, I am less afraid of a President Trump than I am of an Ayatollah Pence.

But as a white, male, cisgender, culturally Christian American, I recognize that this is a narrow window in the spectrum of fear that many of my friends and family and compatriots are experiencing today. Right now, I can only promise to listen carefully and with empathy to all of your voices.

And to those who did support Trump, I recognize that you have your own fears that I also need to listen to with empathy. I do not think you are hateful people, though I do think you have fallen for a colossal con job in the case of this particular candidate.

As for those of you who voted for a third party, or didn't vote, as a "protest" -- to be quite frank, I am very angry with you. When it comes to voting (NOT campaigning) an election is not about making a statement, it is about appointing a government, and whatever your problems were with Hillary, THIS is the government you helped to appoint yesterday. You -- and all of your friends and family -- are going to have to live with that decision for the rest of your lives, both in your consciences and in Reality (yes, that still exists. Surprise!)

Adam


After spending the day with various cable news channels on in the background I was reminded why I never ever watch any of them.

One objective observation, though. I kept hearing over and over (and over and over) about the "Trump Mandate" and how the American people "overwhelmingly" made their voices heard by voting for Donald Trump and the change he represents in this election.

But he didn't get the most votes.

More people voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump.

Add in the third party votes and more than half of the voters did not want Donald Trump to be the President. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump will be the President.

But the narrative that he represents the will of the vast majority of the country just doesn't compute.

The majority voted against him.

Jeff


David Brooks just made the interesting point that, as Trump does not have the knowledge, temperament, or experience to be president, his presidency will be a test of the Constitution.

Howard


I'm a bit shocked, a bit stunned, but not really; we were due for a correction. The silent majority is in fact both, and it must be understood. While we are a divided country when it comes to the vote, I don't think we are that divided. Yes, the extremes are the extremes: those that believe their race is superior should be questioned.

I should feel neither shame nor pride over the color of my skin, nor should anyone. I should continue to feel pride in being educated, but must work harder to respect those who are not and may mistake my pride for smugness.

I should continue to work to be the person my son believes I am, while allowing him to become his own man.

I still feel great optimism for the future of my city, my region, my country and even my world. I get that optimism from watching the youth of today – they are different and they are going to lead us in some different directions. They are watching this election, they are watching us, and the bedrock of their beliefs is being shaped right now.

I'm optimistic that the same wave of distrust and anger toward institutions will lead to more questioning of entrenched interests. The election was more about "Question Authority" than most people realize – and it is impossible to Question Authority without becoming more engaged.

I'm grateful to have a more open conversation about race, immigration and social issues. The silent majority was too silent these past 8+ years, feeling marginalized and unable to speak out without fear of being ridiculed. That leads them to NOT speak out, which is ultimately not helpful. Only though discourse, only through persuasion, only through unity of thought and purpose will we see actual change.

I'm pleased to say I have a diverse group of friends. I'm happy to say that even those with whom I fundamentally disagree on many, many social/political issues, are still my friends, my partners, my clients, my colleagues, my confidants, my support, my tribe.

I continue to fundamentally believe that America is the greatest nation that the world has ever seen. I still believe that hard work and determination can lead anyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or even non-beliefs, to success.

We all have some work ahead of us. Time to roll up the sleeves and get going.

Scott

I don't know that I'm going to have anything coherent to say about this election for a long, long time, and I'm definitely turning off the cable news channels for a few weeks. No matter how this election turned out, I needed to decompress from it, but given the outcome, I really need to clear politics out of my mind for a little while.


11.9.16
What. the. fuck. just. happened.


11.8.16
We had another very busy weekend after I got back from my work trip. On Saturday morning we headed over to Turner Field for a race event—I ran the 5K and then also ran the 2K with Julie and Will. There was also a mascot trot where all the local sports mascots raced against the little kids. Will was especially taken with the whale shark mascot from the Georgia Aquarium—we watched Finding Dory on Friday night, and it reminded him of Destiny from that movie.

Later that afternoon we met my sister and brother in law at Corn Dawgs, a corn maze out east of Atlanta that we've gone to with them for the past few years. It was the second to last day of the season for them, but it was surprisingly uncrowded—I guess people don't think too much about corn mazes and hay rides after Halloween. There wasn't as much stuff to do there as there was in years past, but Will went on every ride/activity at least once, and we practically had to drag him away at the end of the day even though he was clearly exhausted.

Sunday was Will's final soccer game of the season, and we've decided to let him take a break from the sport. He's gotten better every season, and this year there were a few moments each game when he really seemed to be into it, but overall his heart's just not in it. I still him want to do some sort of organized sports activity, both for the sake of learning to work within a team context and for exercise/health, and he's expressed some interest in basketball, so we might give that a try this winter. If that doesn't take, then we'll probably give swimming a try at the outdoor Emory pool next summer—they have a low-stakes youth league that he'll be old enough for by then.


11.7.16
My work travel was pretty eye-opening. I'm still processing it and making notes to myself about how we might improve the process for next year, but it's definitely a different experience being out in the field interacting direcly with the schools rather than using spreadsheets and data to plan the most productive places to visit.

I was rooting for the Cubs to win the World Series this year, because only a monster and/or someone born in Cleveland would root against them after more than a century without a title, but after they went down 3-1, their odds of winning the next three were pretty slim, especially given that the final two games were in Cleveland. But they somehow pulled it out—I have to say that Game 7 was one of the most thrilling games in the history of the sport. I think I would have passed out if I was a real Cubs fan with the comeback by the Indians in the eighth inning and the rain delay after the ninth, but that also resulted in one of the most thrilling, cathartic victories I've ever seen.

My Ravens, on the other hand, seem bound for another lost season that started with so much promise. After going 3-0 to begin their season, they have now lost four in a row after another single-score loss to the Jets in the same stadium where they lost to the Giants the week before. The offense was as bad as I've ever seen it, especially in the completely pointless second half, where the Ravens punted four times, gave up the ball twice on interceptions, and scored zero points.

They have the week off this week, and that hopefully means that they'll get some of their injured starters back when they return, but their first week back could put the final nails in the coffin for this season. They play the Steelers next Sunday followed by a game against the Browns four days later on Thursday. If they lose both of these games, it's pretty much over, especially given that they face much tougher opponents in the second half of the season than they've faced so far.

Even if they win both games, it's still going to be a long slog to have a chance at the playoffs, where their only real path is winning the AFC North, which means that 1) Baltimore is going to need to win at least half of the games it has remaining against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and 2) Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are going to have to continue to be as terrible as they've been so far this season.


11.2.16
Tomorrow I leave for my last bit of work-related travel—not a conference this time, but rather going on recruiting trips to high schools to talk to students and high school counselors about my institution.

I've never done this before, and it's still not formally part of my job responsibilities, but a lot of our annual operational budget is spent on recruitment travel, and I feel like it's time for me to experience it first hand so I can get a better handle on the positives and negatives of the process and have more solid ground to stand on when I'm suggesting changes to where and how we spend money in this area.

I'm not going far—just down to Macon and Warner Robins—but it's far enough that I'll need to spend the night. I should still be back home in time for dinner on Friday, but I'm guessing there won't be a lot for me to do in Macon on Thursday night except catch up on all the work email I missed by being out on school visits all day. At least I won't have to deal with airports on this trip though.


11.1.16
We carved our pumpkins on Sunday afternoon, and here they are lit up with candles:

Will was a stoplight for Halloween this year, which meant another homemade costume, but this one was much easier for him to walk around in than the boxes that made up his elevator and robot costumes in recent years. For this one, Julie put him in a yellow shirt and had him help her paint three tap lights red, yellow, and green. We then strung the lights together and used a bungie cord to make a necklace out of the string of lights.

Before we started trick or treating, we went over to a neighbor's house for a birthday party for another boy who goees to Will's school, and then we walked around the streets close to our house. My sister and brother in law came over, and my sister even dressed up in a costume herself. This was probably the least stressful year for trick or treating so far, thanks both to Will having more stamina and to his costume being much less burdensome.

There are so many more kids in the neighborhood and particularly on our street that we keep waiting for the Halloween when the basket of treats we leave outside is empty by the time we get back, but there didn't seem to be much gone even though our neighbor said there were a lot more kids that came down our street this year. Our high water mark from when we lived in Maryland was around 140 kids, but here I would bet that we've never gotten more than 15 or 20.


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