in a perfect world of yancies: 2012

22 December 2012

Me To You, The Merriest!

I've pretty much got everything on my list, but we're off in the morning to spread some holiday cheer, Franklin style. In the meantime, just a few recent photos.
Holiday Lights
And thanks to Grandpa Ray and Grandma Rhonda for the tasty treats on the table :)

Walked over to the Volunteer Park Conservatory today to take a look at the awesome decorations and Christmas train (not pictured...). Franklin seemed to enjoy the sights:
Christmas Decorations at Volunteer Park Conservatory

The title of this post, by the way, is a line in this fun song from one of our favorite holiday albums:

And partly because it seemed too big to carry, partly because it looked fun, we let Franklin go ahead and open his first present:
Opening His First Xmas Present
Good stuff, and that's just the bow!

And inside, this super cool transit map of Wonderland/Looking-Glass Land:
Wonderland/Looking-Glass Land Transit Map
Love it! Thanks again, Bria and Michael!

19 December 2012

Clearing the Air

You know what I wish? I wish this was another lame post with cute pictures of my baby.

Okay, instead, I'm going to try putting this all together in one place, if only to make my thoughts feel organized.

So, first of all, the news is horrible, and the facts are clear. Thanks to the New Yorker's Adam Gopnik, for putting it nice and bluntly:
"The people who fight and lobby and legislate to make guns regularly available are complicit in the murder of those children."

And the solution is also quite clear: as various and repeated studies show, more guns means more killings.

Indeed, this academic study about Australia provides a detailed and concrete example:
Australia’s 1996 gun law reforms were followed by more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings, and accelerated declines in firearm deaths, particularly suicides. Total homicide rates followed the same pattern.
Oh, and in case you're worried that the homicides and suicides by other methods would increase, they didn't: "No substitution effects occurred for suicides or homicides."

But, someone might object, Australia doesn't have a Second Amendment guaranteeing individuals the right to own guns! Neither do we!

At best our current understanding of the Second Amendment dates to Reconstruction, as discussed in the Washington Post. Rather than a statement of a right for individuals to have guns, "Originally, the Second Amendment is very much about local militias keeping check on a federal military establishment."

Again, according to Jeffry Toobin on the New Yorker website, for over 100 years, "according to the Supreme Court, and the lower courts as well, the amendment conferred on state militias a right to bear arms—but did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon."

The current reading, on the other hand, is a product of political—and therefore reversible—decisions in the 1970's and 80's:
it is clear that the scope of the Second Amendment will be determined as much by politics as by the law. The courts will respond to public pressure—as they did by moving to the right on gun control in the last thirty years

On the vexed question of just how to begin, I've seen a compelling case on Slate for following Michael Bloomberg's lead and treating this as a public health issue, just like smoking and such. After all, if we can pass other laws for our own protection, why would we settle for absurdity and leave guns out?

Patrick Radden Keefe presents just such a consideration on the New Yorker site:
Ponder, for a second, the fact that I cannot walk into a C.V.S. today and purchase half-a-dozen packages of Sudafed, but I can walk into a gun dealership and purchase a .50 caliber rifle of the sort that U.S. snipers use in Afghanistan. In fact, I can buy six or ten—there is no limit imposed by law.

And lest this talk of health distract us into a conversation about mental illness, let me just say, as clearly as I can, that mental health reform, though important, is secondary and on its own grossly insufficient, as just this one bit from a recent New York Times article makes clear:

Even though we know from large-scale epidemiologic studies like the E.C.A. study that a young psychotic male who is intoxicated with alcohol and has a history of involuntary commitment is at a high risk of violence, most individuals who fit this profile are harmless.

In any case, public health isn't the only or necessarily even the best way to frame the terrible situation we face. Firmin DeBrabander, for example, argues, in a New York Times blog post, that the proliferation of guns in the US threatens the core of our civil society. Rather than focus on the second, his concern is for the First Amendment: "Guns do communicate, after all, but in a way that is contrary to free speech aspirations: for, guns chasten speech."

Finally, however, I am inclined to agree with Adam Gopnik most of all. He argues, in the piece I mentioned at the start, that what we face is a moral choice. A clear moral choice.

Meanwhile, it's Wednesday, so the flags are no longer at half-mast for those children. So, speaking of mourning, thanks Magen for pointing me to this excellent piece in the Economist. Before I go give Franklin yet another hug, I'll quote the last section for you:

So unless the American people are willing to actually do something to stop the next massacre of toddlers from happening, we should shut up and quit blubbering. It's our fault, and until we evince some remorse for our actions or intention to reform ourselves, the idea that we consider ourselves entitled to "mourn" the victims of our own barbaric policies is frankly disgusting.

18 December 2012

The Near and The Dear Ones,
The Old and The Young

Well, mostly young, and definitely dear. Franklin continues to charm his way into every blog post I write... Here he is entertaining his second cousin (or is it first cousin once removed?) Diana:
Emily, Franklin, Diana

Cousins 2

He also had fun Skyping with Anders the other day.
Skype Play Date with Anders
Couple of cuties!

And lunch with Vince:
Lunch with Vince
(Aka Uncle Vinny.)

Fun to notice him noticing other cute babies too, on Skype, at daycare, and even in his copy of Global Babies:
Reading "Global Babies"
Thanks again Bria & Michael!

Also fun that he fits in his new Jayhawk outfit:
Let's Go Jayhawks!
Thanks again Wendy!

And of course he's still enjoying the tree and keeping us all on our toes:
Christmas Tree 2

Speaking of the holidays, let's end with some music. Colbert put together a pretty good version of one of my Xmas favorites:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sign Off - Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples & Sean Lennon - "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive
All right, that's all for today, reader. I hope you had fun :)

15 December 2012

A Brief Reprieve

Just a little bit of Franklin on an otherwise gloomy day. Playing last night with his favorite toy:

And generously offering to pick up the check at lunch with Pete yesterday:
I Got This One
(Although it was actually Pete's card, so...)

08 December 2012

The Joy of Living
Is In the Giving

Or, to put it in another way, we probably need to up our joy around here...
I mean, sure, it's pretty joyous looking at this enthusiastic young man every day:
Eager Eater
But that line from that catchy Toys For Tots song kind of haunts me.

For a while now I've been considering a post about this sort of issue, but the article on giving in today's New York Times—which even included quotes from a philosopher (huzzah!)—sealed, as they say, the deal.

So, for one thing, the author mentions making an actual pie chart, which I agree seems helpful. Here's ours (UPDATED & improved):
2012 Giving
(Slightly bigger version here.)

Okay, there's some data, but what does it mean? Well, for one thing, we give to three radio stations, which are definitely among Peter Singer's "morally dubious" cultural institutions. Look, KEXP and KUOW are basically non-negotiable. And come on, how can we not give to Kansas Public Radio when they keep making (and we keeping playing) episode after awesome episode of the Retro Cocktail Hour?

And who knows whether campaign donations really even belong on this list? But there we are. (Most dubious from my point of view? Boy Scouts. (Why? Mostly this.) But who can say No to a charmer like Braxton?)

Interesting to note that whereas most Americans apparently give mostly to schools and churches, we basically ignore both, and give the major chunk to human services groups at home (United Way of King County) and abroad (Oxfam).

But okay, here's the real reckoning: what do all of these numbers have to do with our actual income? I've been known to puff up a bit when recalling that we give $1200 a year to Oxfam, but all of this giving—ALL—doesn't even add up to 5% of our total gross income.

UPDATE: And just where does that put us, I wondered, with respect to the rest of the country? Well, fortunately there's a super fun website run by the Chronicle of Philanthropy that has all kinds of interesting info on giving (though they're focused on charitable giving, which may skew things a bit since I'm thinking about giving in a more general way...). And it looks like although the dollar amount we're giving is on the high end, when it comes to percentage of income we're barely average.

So, yeah, I guess I'd say things are looking morally dubious after all. How about this: we can call it a start, and do our best to seek a little more joy next year. But how about you, reader? What's your take on all of this? How much is enough? Where should it go?

In the meantime, here's one more look at Franklin, doing his part to spread some joy this season:

03 December 2012

'Tis the Season

December sure knows how to throw a party! Our weekend was non-stop fun, first at a birthday party for our friend Tyler, who turned one. Already a great host—just look at all the toys he had for everyone to play with:
Franklin and Cody at Tyler's Birthday
Franklin and Cody, maybe getting an early start on parallel play?

Not the best photo, but here's the birthday boy, being held by his grandma while his mom shows him his bday cake:
Happy Birthday Tyler!

Later that day we drove up north to check out the Mill Creek Town Center Santa's Coming to Town festivities.

The highlight of the event was our friend Wendy, performing with Jazz Underground. Here's a little taste of the holiday cheer:

Sunday kept up the fun. First, after months (years?) of talking about it, we bought a chair for the living room. And thanks to the Capitol Hill Parenting group on Yahoo!, all it took was a ten minute walk and $20!
New Chair
Notice what a nice job it does of blocking Franklin from his favorite "let's not play with that" lamp :)

Next, we walked over to St. Joseph Church for the Seattle U Choirs Festival of Christmas. Really nothing like choral music in a church. Franklin seemed to enjoy it too... or at least the 30 minutes he was awake for :)

Here's a sample: Lux Aurumque, the song Emily liked the best this year (and the song that soothed Franklin to sleep for the afternoon):

And, finally, on the way home we picked up our tree at the SASG Dunshee House Tree Lot. Great trees, a good cause, nice people; no wonder they're averaging a perfect five out of five on Yelp!

Pictures soon, I promise—just as soon as we finish decorating!

So, that's our weekend. Can't wait for the next one!

Oh, and if that wasn't enough excitement, here's how Franklin started Monday morning:

Some of you have likely seen that already, but come on, how can I resist reposting it?

Okay, I'd better get back to work on the tree!

30 November 2012

Onward to December!

I can't believe it's already the end of November! And yet here we are... So, how about a couple of gems from the end of the month.

First, Franklin impressed the lunch crowd at Volunteer Park Cafe when he helped me polish off the Wild Boar Chili. Pete got this great photo halfway through:
Sour Cream at VPC
For the record, most of the sour cream I offered did actually end up in his mouth...

The end of the week also means another chart from daycare. I won't quote it all here, but the entry from Thursday 29 November is pretty good:
  • Today's Meals
    • 8:15: mango, tortilla, and cheese
    • 11:30: cheese pizza, mixed veggies, and banana
    • 2:15: banana
  • Activities
    • Franklin had a great day today! He really enjoyed visiting the Sisters and staff [at St. Joseph Residence]. He was also happy playing around the room with toys. He says “mama” and “dada”—and smiles. He is so cute!

All right reader. Have a great weekend. See you in December!

27 November 2012

A Wonderful Watershed Weekend

So glad that Franklin's Nana and Papa Hughes came to visit for Thanksgiving! So thankful, even :)
Rattlesnake Ledge
Sunday found us up atop Rattlesnake Ledge. A great hike, and some surprisingly great weather.

One of the cooler things about the hike is that even though it's like 30 miles from the city, it's on land owned by the City of Seattle and managed, I believe, by Seattle Public Utilities. That's because it's right on the border of the 90,000+ acre Cedar River Watershed, the main source of drinking water for Seattle. I've seen plenty of "no trespassing" signs before, but never ones that marked land set aside for over 100 years in order to protect a resource as precious as municipal water. No wonder Franklin likes drinking our water so much!

View from below, at Rattlesnake Lake:
Rattlesnake Ledge from Below
Good bit of a climb: about four miles roundtrip and 1,000 feet of elevation gain. I tracked our progress on my phone; here's a link in case you'd like to take a look.

But you know you've picked the right hike when folks look this happy when all is said and done:
With Nana Under Rattlesnake Ledge
Behind them, of course, is another view of the top of the trail. Definitely have to return soon, and maybe take a look at the Education Center!

As for the rest of the visit, we didn't get too many turkey photos, but we enjoyed some great food; the highlight was the sweet potato gratin we made following a recipe from How To Cook Everything. Delicious! Probably a fair amount of the credit goes to the super tasty sweet potatoes from Central Co-op, but in any case, yum!

Franklin also received some nice new clothes from his grandparents:
Nice New Clothes!

All in all a great visit. Hope to see you again soon!
Franklin with Nana and Papa

Family Photo

20 November 2012

Lucid, Inescapable Rhythms

Been the kind of month what'll make a head spin. Mostly good times, but boy have they been whirring by!

Here's a rundown of just this past weekend:

Friday and Saturday I was at the Seattle U Workshop on Plato's Sophist that I mentioned recently. Long days, big ideas, and some great opportunities to sit and talk with some great scholars who I've been reading for years.

My talk seemed to go well, and I hope to keep up with these new contacts and get even more feedback so that I'll be able to get the thing published eventually. In the meantime, I've posted my handout for your reading pleasure. Still hungry for more? The Phil. Dept. actually posted a handful of the papers on their website. I'd just ask that you not quote or cite mine, since it's just a draft at this point. But if you do read it, I'd love to hear what you think!

Big thanks to Emily and Franklin for keeping an eye on each other while I was pursuing elusive truths all day!

Then on Sunday, we attended a wonderful baby shower in the afternoon and met up with some friends for dinner at Queen Sheba that evening. [UPDATE April 15, 2014: here's a new link to the official Queen Sheba website.] Aside from the surprise of a couple of spicy bites, I think it's safe to say that Franklin now likes Ethiopian food. And can you blame him? Yum!

Yesterday, we took that awesome little guy in for his nine-month appointment. Can't believe he's gotten so old so quickly! And of course everything looked good.

So, today I'm trying to catch my breath.

Actually had time to catch up on some music too. Absolutely love the new Mynabirds video:

So, as for the song itself, I'm not a huge fan of Sartre, but it is definitely charming that the refrain comes from an unsourced quote of his.

And I didn't notice it until I watched the video this morning, but I'm pretty sure that line about seeing a blackbird a thousand ways must be a reference to this great Wallace Stevens poem.

For what it's worth, I like VIII best of all:

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.


That poem—and that stanza—now always makes me think of the time that Emily took me to see the contemporary classical ensemble eighth blackbird at the Lied Center at the University of Kansas. Seems like a lifetime ago, but I don't expect to ever forget the striking impression they made on me. Of course, we had to buy their CD on the way out!

In this spirit of creative association, let's close with a recent video of theirs:

Happy Thanksgiving, reader!

13 November 2012

What's Past Is Prologue

Franklin is really enjoying his new mobile lifestyle:

In a related story, we were looking through Emily's baby book the other day, and I think we've located the source of Franklin's awesome smile:
Mimi in the Sandbox
This is Emily at just about the same age as our handsome youngster.

So, I just couldn't resist using that Shakespeare quote for the title on this post.

Perhaps you remember it from our visit to DC back in '07:
At the National Archives.

Okay, that's all I've got. Back to Plato!

08 November 2012

School Photos

Class Photo
As if there weren't enough good news this week, we now have our prints from Franklin's school picture day!

Okay, and in anticipation of a question from Grandma Christine, he's wearing his KEXP Elephant T.

And of course, you can get one for yourself: donate here :)

Here are our other favorites:
Baby Room Class Photo
Class photo with most of the baby room. Let's see, going clockwise from the left, that's Theo; Franklin's teacher Mulu, who is holding Quinn; Charlene, holding the other Quinn; Karin, holding Enzo; Veronica; Franklin (woo!); and Claire.

Emily's favorite outtake:
Hands in Mouth
By the way, we've also gathered all of these in a set on Flickr.

Leaning & Smiling
Have a great weekend, reader!

06 November 2012


UPDATE: How about that victory speech? Oh, you weren't still up at like 2am Eastern? Guess that's one nice thing about living on the west coast... Anyway, here you go:

Great night for the US!

All kinds of interesting statewide results here in Washington and beyond, but for now, how about a shot of the cupcakes we took to the election party:

and Yay!

04 November 2012

Food Before Thought

Chilly weather and fading light provide great accompaniment in the kitchen, so we've been staying in and trying out all kinds of new recipes lately. From a list that's into double digits at this point, I present our family's two consensus favorites:

First, from the New York Times, Chicken Thighs with Delicata Squash:
(Thanks to the Times for the beautiful photo. And the recipe!)

Amazingly flavorful dish, and Franklin seemed really like it, especially the squash. And how could he not? Fresh sage? Maple syrup? Roasted and caramelized lemon wedges? Yum!

The Times also posted this great little video, which is worth watching even if you'd never come near a chicken thigh:

Note, though, that chicken thighs are delicious, so you should probably try some soon ;)

The little guy's other favorite, which Emily and I liked pretty well (though it could have used a little more zazz): Broccoli Cream Pesto from Smitten Kitchen:
(Photo courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.)

Now every now and then, Franklin's food travels a circuitous route from spoon to lips to floor and then at last to tummy. I'm probably oversimplifying the science here, but this totally fascinating New Yorker story about the importance of the human "microbiome" has me at least a little reassured that that path may not be cause for too much concern.

Lots and lots of interesting stuff there. Unfortunately it's behind their pay wall, but if you want to borrow my copy, reader, just let me know.

In the meantime, here's one great bit:

By the time a child can crawl, he has been blanketed by an enormous, unseen cloud of microorganisms—a hundred trillion or more. They are bacteria, mostly, but also viruses and fungi (including a variety of yeasts), and they come at us from all directions: other people, food, furniture, clothing, cars, buildings, trees, pets, even the air we breathe. They congregate in our digestive systems and our mouths, fill the space between our teeth, cover our skin, and line our throats. We are inhabited by as many as ten thousand bacterial species; these cells outnumber those which we consider our own by ten to one, and weigh, all told, about three pounds—the same as our brain. Together, they are referred to as our microbiome—and they play such a crucial role in our lives that scientists... have begun to reconsider what it means to be human.

Such a great read. Seriously, let me know if you want my copy.

In other ongoing attempts to understand ourselves, the Seattle U Philosophy Department put together this poster for their upcoming workshop on the Sophist:
Sophist Poster
Not sure how many of those names you recognize, reader, but let's just say I'm the only one on there who hasn't published multiple books. So, no pressure, right? In fact, I should probably go finish my paper and stop all this blogging!

Okay, before I go, you've almost certainly seen this before, but here's another look at Franklin in his Halloween costume:
Happy Haloween!

30 October 2012

Friendly Faces

Looking for a break from the harrowing storm stories from the east coast? How about a roundup of recent pictures of Franklin?

Brunch a few days ago with Wendy and Roman:
Brunch with Wendy and Roman

Brunch with Wendy

And coffee with Jen:
Franklin likes Jen's Purse
Well, we had coffee; Franklin seemed more interested in the zipper on Jen's purse :)

Smiles at Victrola

At long last, Franklin tried Thai food:
Thai Food!
I think he may have preferred Emily's Pad Se Ew to my extra spicy curry, but we were impressed that he ate a few good bites of each. And he really seemed to enjoy the chopsticks!

Finally, Clementine was in town & stopped by so that Franklin could meet Tessa:
Franklin Meets Tessa

Franklin and Tessa
Thanks everyone for the photos and the fun!

20 October 2012

A Full Recovery

Franklin is just getting over his first cold. Definitely seemed more stressful for us than him :) I mean, he hardly seems to mind at all; take a look:
Hanging Out at the Cafe
Enjoying (though mostly watching) the Cuban sandwich at Scratch Deli. (Thanks for the photo, Pete!)

I mean, can you even tell that just a couple days ago he sounded like this during a nap?

And of course his cold didn't keep him from charming more of the residents at St. Joseph Residence. Here he is with another classmate, Amelia:
Amelia and Franklin on a Visit

Thankfully he's also still pretty talkative at home too; didn't even sound congested this morning:

All right reader, talk to you soon. Meanwhile we're working on cooking dinner at home five out of the last seven nights! Maybe I'll mention a few new favorite recipes next time...

15 October 2012

Falling for Franklin

Love this time of year! Nice and cool outside; great smells; amazing colors.
Fall at the Japanese Garden
Really the perfect time to visit the Seattle Japanese Garden. Thanks to Jeff, Jenn, and the adorable Tyler for hanging out with us there—and for getting this picture!

I even managed to take a good one myself (with help, of course, from the terrific subjects):
Fall Foliage at the Japanese Garden

And a great time of year to curl up with a good friend and a good book:

Speaking of, I've also been lucky enough this fall to be involved in two different reading groups.

First, the SU Faculty Ancient Greek Reading Group is back on its feet! (And maybe if I put the name in capital letters we'll keep going even with only three members?)

This year we're reading Xenophon's Anabasis.

It's supposedly an easy read, often used in 2nd-year Greek classes... but hopefully that will mean we can go at a fun clip.

And second, my friend Pete has started a book club. First meeting was pretty fun: insightful comments, funny reviews, and pizza! :)

We're starting with Cloud Atlas, and if we stay on pace we should be done just in time for the upcoming movie:

Finally, fall means school pictures! We're still waiting for the photographer's prints, but here are some backstage shots I took:
School Photo Shoot

Class Photo Shoot
Best wishes for a glorious fall, reader.