15 February 2010

Finally - getting rid of old LP's

I have about 50 old LP albums in my basement. Down from a hundred or so. Some of the last ones that I can't bring myself to throw away.

Over the weekend elton john made it real easy to get rid of my last two of his. Somewhere in a Minnesota landfill lie "dont shoot me i'm only the piano player" and "captain fantastic".

11 February 2010

In the middle of winter, a reminder of summer


 Next week, Feb. 17-18, 2010. Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. 

08 February 2010

Paper cups and parking lots, dogs, and refugees from Naminara

I spent several days last week in the hometown one of my six nieces, Lauren, the one farthest away. Seoul. A great adventure in a great city with a most excellent niece. One who is a great wanderer of the planet and shows her warmth and hospitality in all she does. I loved playing with Lauren and her siblings when they were very little. With all my nieces and nephews I think I avoided contact during the high school years. Bonding with uncles is the last thing on their list, and dealing with teenage angst, outside my nuclear family, is last on mine. I think I stayed a few steps beyond their sphere of awareness from around age 13 until they left for college and became human again. Time to reconnect.

Our last day in Seoul had to be the best. We met at Anguk Station around 9 and took a 90 minute bus ride to catch a ferry to Naminara Island. There we ate a great meal that we cooked at our table over a small charcoal pit. Pork, several types of kimchi, rice and a variety of vegetable dishes. Her boyfriend, Han Joo, never let us down as he ordered one dish after another over several days and immersed us in the full Korean dining experience. Our day in Naminara included great food, a small music museum, lots of photos, strolls down wide gravel avenues bordered by tall pines and a saxophone rendition of "My Way".

Lauren's love for the Korean people and the plight of those to the north, shows continually. An english teacher by day and freedom fighter by night. Hers is not an in-your-face self-righteous indignation but a determined commitment to take one step each day to draw these oppressed deeper into her heart. She serves them by keeping the public aware that many are imprisoned or perhaps, at that moment, fleeing south. She is ready to talk about it, or not talk about it, but the sense of purpose is very clear. It's easy to simply shrug off her work as one of the many "stories" of our family, until you see her in her place. When you walk the avenues of Seoul and hear her describe her work in her own words, in her voice, you cannot help but be changed. Her description of our day together is much better than mine and can be found by clicking here

The day wrapped up with another good meal inside one of Seoul's infamous "Love Motels". During the meal I caught something, my hands started itching and this has since turned into a major rash over my hands and ankles. It looks a little like poison ivy and I probably got it on the island. A little reminder of Korea to carry with me. As Rob and I stepped into a cab we gave her our last hugs for a while. It was hard to say goodbye, which is as it should be.

Double Happiness

One bargain I can never pass up. I don't smoke, but when the revolution comes these will be gold.

Easily exchangeable for a meal, a motel room for a night, safe passage into Canada.

$8 a carton in Seoul. Downside is my wife thinks I am a bad person for buying them. I think if the Lord gave her a list of the things wrong with me, this would be near the bottom of the list.

07 February 2010

Seoul Men

One quick day in Hong Kong and 5 big ones in Seoul.

Korea, the economic horse of Asia that never seems to be top of mind. Thousands of years of history that for Americans begins and ends with the Korean War. One step into any Korean museum and you immediately sense that any understanding of Korea you had before was very very inadequate.

My trip was made whole by the presence of my son. I grew up with brothers but spend most of my days surrounded by wife and daughters. Since he left home several years ago I have lived in a female dominated household, a stranger in a strange land. When he shows up it's like the cavalry has arrived, rescuing me from a world I do not understand.

While his sisters took fatherhood in wonderful directions I didn't expect, he made it what I always thought it would be. Playing catch, football practice, fishing, mowing the lawn, afternoons at the ballpark, adventure movies, cub scouts, minor vehicle accidents, and all the other father/son stuff. There was of course the less pleasant things like falling into trouble at school and various escapades when the parents were out of the house. As time passes I remember less and less of his misdeeds, though his sisters are quick to remind me.

We don't see each other often but when we do, you will find us doing very predictable things. Guy stuff that helps me keep my head. Such as twenty minutes ago, when we were huddled around his computer screen at Narita Airport, trying to get the SuperBowl score. No broadcast of the game here, and so much for customer focus in the Delta Sky Club.
I was in HK and Seoul for business and Rob joined me. Traveling with grown children is different, but in a good way. Hard to step out of the parent role and just have a good time. If I had a thousand korean won for every time I asked him if he had his passport.... you know the rest. I guess though it's a good sign that after the first night of running around with his ex-pat cousin, I stopped asking him where he was or what he was doing.

Father and son traveling together to a far off place neither have been to. A trip everyone thinks about but few get a chance to actually do. In some ways it was like the travels with my daughters but also different. Simpler. Less planning. A bit more about learning and a bit less about shopping. A bit more about exploring and a bit less about what we will wear that day. A little more connected to the sports and news of home.

So what's all this rambling about? I suppose that just about every major dream I ever had for my kids has been realized. When I think about what I expected when I first got married and what my family is like today, I am only pleased and proud and with no complaints. He is a big part of that, because he is the one I could relate to the most, as a man and former boy. Our conversations on the trip finally have time for some of the deep stuff of life, topics that I suspect women fall into routinely, but men seldom do. We do it when time permits or circumstances of life demand, but not as part of our routine. We also talk about the normal day to day events. Work, sports, weather, food, sports, markets. He's going through some of the same things I did when I was his age, but is doing it better. He's staking out his career and place in life with more thought. He plans and thinks things through better than I did. When he was little I noted often how tough he seemed. Not in a negative or bullying way. But in a way that says "I will stand my ground", or "I will reach that goal". It's a determination and strength of purpose that I did not have at his age.  

While he is going through many of the same things that I did when first out on my own, I know a lot is different. I try hard to hold back the advice, since it is rarely something he hasn't thought of before (the same holds true for his sisters) Different people, different times, different circumstances, different answers.

Our sentences are short but carry the weight of meaning that comes from twenty plus years of conversation. It's a code that has changed little over the years. It is some of the very best talking and listening that I do.

I traveled a lot with this kid, to many wonderful places. Fishing in Alaska, to the rim of the Grand Canyon, surprise flights to Grandmother's, family vacations with cousins to Colorado, day trips to Chicago. This first trip with the man was the best of all.