December 16-19, 2002
"1 cup of flow were and that will be rite." Caralyn was pretending Spy Kids today. This recipe, some drawn gems and a magic marker map were crucial to her mission. Now one might think she isn't so precocious, she doesn't know how to spell "flour" and "right", but another take on the evidence is to see the inference at work in her brain in the absence of the rote knowledge of Spelling. "Rite" might not be so wrong anyway.

One of our main rites this year has been running. Running but not going very far. Well Madelyn took an airplane back to Alabama for a few days; she got to visit a few of the friends there that we miss. But otherwise we've stayed within the Northeast. I took a solo trip to the New York City area. Stayed at Mark Maxwell's and had a Secaucus Seven/Big Chill kind of weekend for his 40th birthday. I read a poem I had tossed together for the occasion, "Poet, Punker, 'Giver, Goop"; it seemed to go over okay. He, I and Stephanie put a couple miles on our running shoes the next morning there before I drove down to Brooklyn to visit David Rawson and caught a couple other ex-Binghamton people (Diane, Rich and Linda) at the softball field in Prospect Park.

Madelyn and I also ran in Ocean City, Maryland where we stayed on the beach for a few days this summer. Caralyn kept up with us on a rented bicycle while Madelyn and I jogged the 4 miles down and back from the North end of their boardwalk. But mostly we ran around greater Pittsburgh: weekends around the neighborhood and then a bunch of 5K events and a couple 10K's. Madelyn sometimes places in the top 3 in her age bracket among the women. I'm hopelessly far back in the pack on the Men's side, but I'm not there to win. We worked our way over the summer up to the IKEA Half Marathon, just over 13 miles on September 14th, and just over 2 hours of putting one foot in front of the other. It was a long ways, at least for us who don't really enjoy being out of breath and in six other forms of discomfort simultaneously.

Otherwise we are running and running and running through our lives. At least my commute to work has just dropped. Symbol Technologies, Inc. where I'm currently working moved their office this week to a park 2.5 miles from our house - much closer than the 27 miles that it was. That will recover 4 or 5 hours a week for me. It will cut into my books-on-tape listening, something that isn't garnering a lot of sympathy from my coworkers who are seeing their commute times go up as much as mine went down. I'm also still helping out a bit at the HyperActive Technologies start-up and Madelyn is working 2 or 3 short shifts a week as a Rehab Nurse in the evenings.

We Gave Thanks at my parents' with my Aunt Joann and Uncle Ed (who are well) and my kids' great grandma Parker. She also seemed good for being 9 years short of aged a century; still on her own but with multiple visits per week from my mom.

I did find time this year to construct a computer from parts that I'm sharing now with Nathaniel; we networked it from the basement to the 2nd floor room where the other computer is located so that they share our cable modem to the Internet. Nathaniel now knows some computer things that I don't. For Christmas I asked him to find the songs from an album I used to own. He used LimeWire to pull in the mp3 files and record "The War of the Worlds" by Jeff Wayne out to a CD. It's a musical retelling of H.G. Wells' tale and has some powerful parts. One that seems strange to me now that I have a son named Nathaniel is a scene between a Preacher who's gone mad and his wife:

(Wife, pleading) No, Nathaniel; Oh no, Nathaniel; No, Nathaniel, no, ...
(Wife, singing) There must be something worth living for...
(Preacher, ranting) No, there is nothing!
(Wife) There must be something worth trying for !
(Preacher) I don't believe it's so.
(Wife) ... Even some things worth dying for.

Which seemed to weave itself into a theme of reflection over the past year, I also just finished listening to The Ice Opinion by Ice-T (the rapper/actor); he's harsh and raw but intelligent and insightful; he also has a record called "Freedom of Speech, Just Watch What You Say". It seems to me that Americans recently have kept the value of freedom in our consciousness but have repressed the price of freedom. It is high. It requires tolerance. It requires reserving judgment until due process has been fulfilled. It requires morality and ethics. It requires that we allow the individual pursuit of happiness so long as it does not prevent the same pursuit of happiness by others. Many people can not tolerate life-goals in others that vary from their own - and it breeds misery, through terrorism and totalitarianism. Both happen here. Watch the slippery slopes. They are real. History guarantees it.

Whew; try Jon Stewart on The Daily Show for a lighter take on politics; I enjoyed his preference for the elections on The West Wing over those in real life.

Moving along: I have done a little better with my writing this year. "Art Alopie Epidures", you know (Art Alone Endures). I've posted a few reviews of audio books on my website and a couple poems. Besides the one for Mark's 40th I enjoyed a collaboration on Kramer's Clone Dance with my Reverend Uncle Clint (I think I like referring to him with the double title, not sure how he feels about it....); but maybe my favorite from this year is one that relates to my daughter, it's alternately known as Sleepy Fireworks (Official title: Whence Came Caralyn). Caralyn continues to pop on all cylinders, but has become a full little girl, not a baby at all. Madelyn is teaching her to read (and rite) in 1st grade home school. She goes to the public elementary school just for P.E. and music classes (she was actually too young for public 1st grade here.) She's developed this girlish guinea pig giggle that gurgles from time to time and she really makes my day by saying "Dad, You're the Best!" on frequent occasions, even if she does still try to "steal my caloric" by hugging me before she is dry when she's a bit chilly after her bath. (Credit to John Murphy for the "caloric" concept.)

Nathaniel may actually be taller than his father now, though I'm not likely to admit it to him. He's doing well with school, spent a week at his grandparents Patton's with his cousin Austin last summer. He's playing soccer and fitting in Library Club, too. He's learning Spanish and Geometry (8th grade); but he isn't running with us.

We are looking forward to doing some running down at the beach in North Carolina during a week there with Madelyn's brothers and sisters next summer (credit to John Drumm for the arrangements). Here's hoping that your running or running around is as healthy as ours,


-- Chip, Madelyn, Nathaniel and Caralyn