Friday, December 16, 2011

Father thoughts v.1

People look at me bright eyed and ask "How long until...?" I tell them January 14th and their eyes get wider as they either exhale or inhale dramatically and say something along the lines of "Eee! are you excited?"

Nope. What's to be excited about?

Theirs is a rhetorical question, of course (at least it should be). I find myself falling into an awkward social rut of responding to this reaction/question with some facade of humility and something along the lines of "I have no idea of what I'm doing, but yep, very excited."

Truth is, I've been thinking of this impending due date for quite a while and I should have some inkling of an idea what I'm doing, even if there is a lot of truth to to cliche wisdom like "Your life is about to completely change" and "Your first kid is just practice, nobody knows what they are doing."

On a less-important practical level, I helped change my baby brother's diapers when I was 11 and 12 years old. Jaime has enrolled us in hours and hours of baby/new parent classes offered at the hospital. I've been reading the books and gobbling up resources and info online. 

On a deeper level, the passing of my own father in 2009 forced me into a more serious reflection of what kind of dad I want to be and what things in my own life can be sourced back to the way I was raised. My ecclesiastical education constantly stresses and reinforces the simplest yet wisest of principles that inevitably lead to your own brand good parenting. And I've been hearing and reading about it since I was a kid, not just in my adult years. 

Jaime and I waited over 5 years between getting married and having a kid. We've spent a lot of time together, shared a lot of adventures and dated our faces off. 

There's a lot more of all of this to come, my "training" has only begun, but I do feel like this kid is a very natural next step. So yes, I'm "excited" and optimistically looking forward to the challenges and adventures.

I think I force out the words "I have no idea what I'm doing" as some sort of backwards humble-brag to myself and nod to the "the more you knowthe more you know you don't know" philosophy. I spend quite a bit of time introspectively cutting through the clutter of parenting tactics and boiling down to the most basic of principles I would like to govern happiness and love in our home. Here's my first stab at writing them down. I realize this list is likely naive and idealistic. I don't care. That said, this list is bound to evolve. These are the things we'll learn through doing and witnessing, more than being told and formally taught:

  1. We'll be nice people. 
    • The world does not revolve around you, but if you're nice enough people may think you're the greatest person in their world. Remember that kind words really do make people feel better, so be that person that says nice things, and it helps if you mean it. Complimenting is easy, free and quick. And do nice things. Give time, effort and charity even when they aren't easy, free or quick - because you're grateful for what you have. Be anonymous. Learn the ironically selfish benefits of warm fuzzies early and replicate the actions that lead to the symptoms as much as you can. Do your part to make the world more civil and understanding. Be nice.
  2. We'll learn to love learning.
    • Or at least strongly avoid any resemblance of an aversion to learning new things). Geek out on at least one thing at a time any given year/season of life. A geek is not socially inept (that's a nerd, btw). A geek simply combines intelligence and passion on a particular topic. This can be reading. This can be colors, gardening, or geography. It can be drums or geo-caching. This will obviously evolve and be different for a 3 year old than it is for a 15 year old, but the point is, learning is cool. Learning is not scary. 
  3. We'll be confident because we know who we are.
    • Whether this is on the bicycle at 3 or 4 years old, a long hike with dad at 8 years old or asking out a girl at 16 years old, we'll believe in ourselves because our family has our back and we're Forsyths. We have divine origins and ambitions and can keep a simple and enabling eternal perspective. We'll learn and remember that hard work yields enviable results. Tough life milestones are scary and we may want to find ways to circumnavigate them, but we won't expect special treatment and we'll fight feelings of entitlement if when they creep in. We'll build confidence and independence through a series of victories over life's challenges - both those we volunteered for (e.g. learning a new instrument or sport) and those that force themselves upon us (e.g. middle school in general).
What would be on your little list? Note, the principle should be boiled down to a pithy practice, even if you expound with a sub-bullet like I have. Yes, I want my kids to learn to love and appreciate the outdoors, be independent, learn music, etc. but this isn't that list. This is my attempt to bridle the specific dreams and not live their lives for them in advance. Trying to keep it broad, wise practices and principles

Again, I have no idea of what I'm doing, but yep, very excited.

Posted via email from eric forsyth's posting place

2011 Zeitgeist

I already posted my own personal recap of 2011, but I left out the world events that stuck with me, as I felt those were more appropriate for a separate post. Leave it to Google to sum up the search terms that capture the zeitgeist of 2011. Makes this much easier (lazier of me, yes, but easier).

This world is just insanely fascinating when you slow down and reflect. I'm so glad I live in a time when these online resources make it so easy to glimpse into what real people are going through all over the planet (with a little bit of media literacy you can weed out the controlled biased info from unfiltered). Remember when the best year-end recap we had was a measly print issue of TIME magazine's corporate controlled year in review? I know Google is extremely "corporate" but at least this is based on real people's searches and I think it was put together very well. I forgive the ton of Google+ plugs in there, since it still comes out as a great little video in its own right, marketing motives aside. And that's marketing at its best, I think. The same reason why VW's little Vader Passat ad was so widely shared this year as well. Most people could care less about the Passat, but they made a great little video that held up on its own - and guess what? VW brand affinity and Passat sales are doing great, I think. Love it.


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Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011 recap, so far.

I must say, this was a good year. I feel I've grown closer to Jaime this year than any other year, perhaps with the exclusion of our first year of marriage. Plenty of micro and macro adventures. I feel I need to recap some highlights, just so they are recorded.

It started by flying to London on Jan 3rd. I spent most of the next eight and a half months there. I got to know our Hoxton / Shoreditch neighborhood pretty well. Turns out the London winter wasn't so bitter cold as people warned. It's just that the sun rarely showed itself. We walked a lot. The first 4 months are chronicled by Jaime on her temporary blog abroad here. Scrolling through it, I realize that we did quite a bit in the first 4 months during little forced gaps/weekends when I wasn't working:
  • Spent some time the Somerset English countryside and fell in love with the area and people.
  • Took the Eurostar through the Chunnel to Paris a couple times for work and brought Jaime along once. That was something I've wanted to do with her since I went there for work in 2010. We had a wonderful time taking in the city, eating good food and just spending time together for a couple days. (Jaime's Day 1 post here.)
  • Took a train up to explore my Scottish heritage in Edinburgh. Ate Haggis. Smiled proudly when Jaime ordered her own Forsyth tartan scarf. Was nice to hang with the Scots, even if it was cold and wet up there.
  • Took the quick 3-day trip of the year with Jaime to Munich, Germany and Salzburg & Hallstatt, Austria. Rented a new VW Scirocco 2.0 TDI 6-speed and drove on the Autobahn, around lakes and windy Austrian Alp roads. And it was towed in Salzburg, just to add to the overall adventure. Such an amazing trip.
  • And of course explored all over London. Lots of street markets, good food, parks, museums, more food, London Symphony Orchestra, playing open mic nights, living the London life. Lots of walking, buses and the underground.
We missed our dog a lot. To the point where it ached sometimes. I had my work to keep me (very) busy, but Jaime was pretty much on vacation. Which was great but could be quite difficult for her too. No friends. No dog. No job. No church calling. Just London and me (when I wasn't working). My 3-6 month assignment kept being extended and she went back home at the end of April to relieve the best house sitters in the world, our friends Ben and Breanne.

I stayed in London through the middle of August and without Jaime I fell into the life of a London local. Not so much touring around (except the weekend Triumph motorcycle ride and showing visiting friends the sites). Just a lonely guy without his wife, working long hours and continuing to explore London on the weekends. With Jaime not around I ate a lot more Vietnamese, Indian and street food and I cooked for myself more, whereas when Jaime was in London, she did almost all the cooking since she didn't have much else to do.

I was in London when the riots went down which was very interesting to follow both on the UK news, US news and in person.

I was able to come home to Colorado for a couple weeks in May and then again in June, so splitting my time was nice, even if it did throw my brain for a fry fest, always working on London time regardless of where I was or how much I was able to sleep. I was able to play a couple gigs while I was home in Colorado and play open mics and work on new songs while in London.

Even with all these new experiences, the biggest change of 2011 came when Jaime picked me up at the Denver airport in mid May. She didn't wait for me to get in the car, she was beaming and told me right on the curb that she's pregnant. A boy, due January 14, 2012, just in time for the Mayan calendar to run out, I guess. Jaime makes for a very cute pregnant lady and we feel very blessed and excited. And then I was off, back to London for a few weeks. Then back to Jaime in Colorado for a couple weeks in June. Then back to London until August 14th. Jaime visited London for a week over my birthday in July, which was really nice break from my long distance life in London.

Then back home to Colorado for good (for now) in August. Besides generally enjoying being back in Louisville and Boulder and taking advantage of the normal day to day joys here, here are some other things I've been up to since being back stateside, not necessarily in order:

  • A Trip to Yosemite with Daniel and Francesca right away, climbed Half Dome in personal record time.
  • I climbed Longs Peak with Nate Woods and Zach Olsen in September.
  • Generally preparing for the baby and all that goes along with that (lots of classes Jaime signed us up for, shopping, researching, thinking, talking, more shopping.)
  • Remodeled the bathroom, painted the bedroom finally (which needed to be done since we moved in 2009), playing gigs, a hot air balloon ride on Jaime's 25th birthday, Durango Songwriters Expo for me.
  • A trip back east to hang out with my mom and Ian. A day in NY. 2nd annual "Vampire Weekend" and paintballing fun with friends at a rented cabin in Estes Park.
  • A great, simple Thanksgiving with Jaime's parents at home in Louisville, CO. My Grandpa Gordon Forsyth's 90th birthday we were able to share with him while he was in town. A cold spell, snow, and here we are. Almost Christmas.

What next? Oh yeah, a baby. Crazy. This year of deprived sleep patterns was probably good practice for next year.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

KUNC and The National Day of Listening

Have you heard of The National Day of Listening? NPR features StoryCorps interviews/stories every now and then, and the National Day of Listening (the day after Thanksgiving) is their way of encouraging everybody to take part and interview someone you love or admire (like a parent or a teacher) and record it for posterity. If you do it through StoryCorps, they catalog it in thr Library of Congress, and they may air it on the radio if you give permission.

KUNC was nice enough to offer up their professional resources to their listeners for free and we had a nice time pulling some interesting memories out of Grandpa the day after Thanksgiving. I had the chance to sit in on my aunt Heather Forsyth Kehr interviewing my grandpa Gordan James Forsyth in a pro radio booth at KUNC studios in Greeley, CO

Tangent: Wendy Wham is a DJ / Producer at KUNC who plays my music on the radio. I wanted to swing by her office / booth and say hi and meet her in person while I was there but she pre-recorded her show that day to take the holiday off. She later heard I was there and called me a couple days later and asked me to come in and record a feature on my music with her, so I'll be going in and doing that next week. Looking forward to it. If it turns out well and is aired, well, let's just say I love KUNC.

Enough about me, back to Grandpa. On Tuesday, they came over to celebrate Gandpa's 90th birthday at our place in Louisville, CO. I made three pizzas and I dare say it was some of the best pizza I've ever made. You really missed out. But you can listen to a recording of the interview from the National Day of Listening here on my posterous (and you can download the MP3 below).

01_Gordan_James_Forsyth_interview_No.mp3 Listen on Posterous

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

12 Things Happy People Do Differently (+1 more from me)

I came across this article today on 12 Things Happy People Do Differently. As I went down the list, most of these items called out an aspect of my life/psyche I feel I've cultivated quite well, but some could use some work. My personal notes are in italics after each point from the article below. I felt compelled to add my own 13th point to the end. Take a look and see what you think.

  1. Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Kinda cool right? So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that’s without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have. [When I was a teenager, something inside me clicked and I realized happiness doesn't bring about gratitude nearly as much as gratitude brings about happiness. It helps to live in a naturally beautiful place as well, but maybe that just the grateful granola in me. More on that on #9 below. (Many of these points overlap, I’ve found)]
  2. Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism. No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times. [I think healthy ambition fits in this category too - say "Yes. I. Can." with confidence and optimism and then do it, and do it well. That way it's not just optimism (read: hope) in the face of challenges, it's a proven track record of accomplishments that serve as a comfort and positive outlook before the next hill to climb. This is very much linked to #10 below.]
  3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous. If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority. Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out! If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made. What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an older version of yourself. [We all do this to some degree. This one seems to be a big deal these days with the 99% vs. the 1%, the London youth rioting because they want what the wealthy seem to have in the media, people wanting to look like Hollywood celebrities, etc. There’s not much I can say here except that a sense of self-worth and respect is best instilled at the early age, as a child. Tough to train adults in this. Also I think #4 below helps avoid this rut of comparison. Give of yourself to others, especially in service to those who are less fortunate.]
  4. Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain. (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.) Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside. What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness. How extraordinary is that? Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on. A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin. Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names. [As I spent 3 hours early Saturday morning volunteering to vacuum, mop, scrub and dust my church building, I felt surprisingly happy in my labor. A Gordon B. Hinckley quote that stuck with me since my teenage years: "Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others...By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.”]
  5. Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships. Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely? WHOA! There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with. We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence. [I love my friends and I’m very grateful for them. I hope they know that. That said, I’ve added a 13th point below about being okay with solitude.]
  6. Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character. Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable. Forrest Gump knows the deal. It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan. It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal. [Make decisions in advance. Are you a jerk when you’re stressed? Have you ever seriously considered the possibility that your spouse or dog may unexpectedly die one day? What if you lose your job? How will you handle it and what will help you get through it with wisdom and grace? Give some general ‘craptastic’ scenarios some serious thought before they happen, even if it’s uncomfortable to consider. This leads to some soul searching. Don’t run away from it, you’ll come out stronger if you take the opportunity.]
  7. Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being. You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion. When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system. You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day. [Life’s too short to hold grudges. Actually, life is too long to hold grudges. Either way, let it go.]
  8. Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still. It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task. Action and awareness are merged. You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional. You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing. Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus. [This is guitar for me. When I sit down in a quiet room and play well-crafted guitar and sing to nobody but myself, I get lost in it. There’s no self-consciousness of a performance for others, no worries about my bills or my job or my future. Just the current acoustics of the room. Find that thing you can do with your hands or your senses that lets you reach that state of flow.]
  9. Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy. It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences. When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic. It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them. [This is going to sound cheesy, but then you’ll do it (or you already do) and you’ll agree, it’s magic: Listen to good jazz in your dark living room. Live somewhere beautiful where you can take morning and evening walks and savor the scenery. Find foods you love to cook from scratch. Add to this list with your own simple joys you savor.]
  10. Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force. Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere. When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing. Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose. [Related to #2 above. Make a list of "impressive or difficult things I will do." Write out a plan for each one, and then do each one. If it's the prospect of bragging rights and a level gained expertise that keep you motivated, that's what works for me - just make sure to harness the bragging once you've actually achieved the goal. Be the nice guy that does cool/hard things. You'll still be left with a satisfying sense of fulfillment, and more people will like and respect you.]
  11. Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us. We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever. It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists. Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.” [My eternal perspective and desire to be spiritually in tune definitely contributes to overall happiness. No doubt about it. If you’d like to know more about what I believe, let me know, or watch some videos on Mormon.org. J]
  12. Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be. If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected. Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft? Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth. [Jaime has commented many times that I look happiest when I walk in the front door after having come down some mountain. No matter how exhausted I may be, I’m also genuinely happy from the inside out. I think half of this is simply being out in nature and the other half is the natural exercise I get from it. Lately I’ve also been training myself to feel the mental and physical benefits of simply eating better, stretching every day (my own amateur version of yoga) and doing pushups and sit ups. Doing these things leaves my mind clearer and happier directly afterward.]
  13. Find joy in solitude. The original list only had 12, and I’m adding this one. I love time alone to think, listen to the radio, play guitar, write or cook. Some things are great to share, and some things are great to do alone. It’s an overlapping venn diagram, and I think it’s important to be okay with solitude. Embrace it when it’s available. I worry about people who can’t handle solitude even in small doses. When their loved ones aren’t readily available, they tend to be miserable because sharing, talking and directly interacting is the only way they know to be happy. This is not to diminish the very real gift of friends and authentic social stimulus (# 5 above). It’s just to say that if they aren’t around, happiness should still be within reach and life should still be an adventure.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Health - Thanksgiving, part 1

I have friends and family that aren't healthy and suffer through some serious physical challenges. Having just completed a full physical with blood and urine analysis, I feel humbled and very grateful to be really healthy. It's probably a good idea to dwell on this gratitude while one is healthy. I thought I'd record it here on my blog to make sure I never caught myself saying "You don't appreciate what you have until it's gone." I think I'll take a hike this afternoon with Annie. If/when I get sick one day, I'll look back and be able to say "I used my healthy days well."

I have daily allergies and my vision isn't perfect, but that's about it. It makes me want to reach out and be whatever kind of support I can to my friends and family that are going through tough illnesses, cancer, chronic pain, etc.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dad, two years later

Dad_backflip
Two years since my dad died. If you ever want to examine the ingredients that made me exactly who I am today, take some quiet time to listen to tracks 4-7 that were recorded from his memorial service here.

My simple song "Mourning is Love" is the epitome of what I meant in titling my EP "The Thin of Thick Things." That song is a meager thin expression of the thick feelings, thoughts and truths surrounding his unexpected passing. If you want to hear the inspiration behind the song’s title, you can listen to Tim Flanigan's eloquent words on track 9.

The story behind the picture above (taken just several months before his accident) is also in Tim's talk. :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ideology can be annoying, I know.

But I can't help it sometimes.

The more I look at the presidential field, the more I think that if a person really, really wants to be POTUS, and he feels he should be sitting in that seat, that pretty much makes him the type of personality I don't really trust in that seat. If on the other hand a good, balanced, educated, humble, prayerful leader type is reluctantly dragged by his colleagues and fellow citizens into the election and office and then simply does what he feels is best, that would make for a situation I feel better about. I don't think that's happened since George Washington, though I may be mistaken. 

A guy can dream, right?

"He did not infringe upon the policy making powers that he felt the Constitution gave Congress. But the determination of foreign policy became preponderantly a Presidential concern. When the French Revolution led to a major war between France and England, Washington refused to accept entirely the recommendations of either his Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who was pro-French, or his Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who was pro-British. Rather, he insisted upon a neutral course until the United States could grow stronger.

To his disappointment, two parties were developing by the end of his first term. Wearied of politics, feeling old, he retired at the end of his second. In his Farewell Address, he urged his countrymen to forswear excessive party spirit and geographical distinctions. In foreign affairs, he warned against long-term alliances.

Washington enjoyed less than three years of retirement at Mount Vernon, for he died of a throat infection December 14, 1799. For months the Nation mourned him."

Just a quick little history reminder for you and me. Carry on.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Toilet Seat Covers, Episode 3: "Waiting in Vain"

Toilet Seat Covers

A series I started and now have to keep going, lest I become disappointed in myself. Here are the first two. The ones to come won't have so much talking in them, promise.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

DIY Bathroom Remodel - Before & After

An adventure in demolishing, painting, flooring, vanities/sinks (yes, plural purchases, returns and attempts), plumbing, mirror hanging, toilet installation, shelving, 401 trips to Home Depot, 2 trips to Lowes and unexpectedly doubling my tool collection.

I can now cut right through copper pipe and/or saw off a door frame flush with the floor. Just in case you were wondering.




See the full gallery on Posterous

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Friday, October 7, 2011

New song demo

5000 Miles Dse 2011 by Eric Forsyth Listen on Posterous

Recorded tonight for some critique listening sessions the next two days at the Durango Songwriters Expo.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Late night musings and unedited ramblings

My sleep patterns now have me awake at 1:52am, Mountain Daylight Time. I find myself catching up on emails, work, watching movie trailers, and thinking.

Thinking about how cliche it is to feel that having a baby will change the way I see the world, but noticing it happening already, 3 months before his arrival.

Thinking about my dad and the eternities.

Thinking about my dog one day dying. Which makes me think I'm just totally a debbie downer. Who dwells on that?

A huge pack of coyotes just started howling and yelping in a hyper-carnal frenzy around the corner. A communal sound that probably means they just made a kill. It's like straight out of a scary movie. Sounds so wild and rabid. Happens almost every night in this neighborhood and the adjoining open space.

Thinking about playing guitar, rock climbing, eating good food, taking my annual nap that can actually be considered a nap and not just sleeping in the afternoon because you didn't sleep the night before.

And they are up and at 'em in Europe now. Emails starting to roll in. Time to start working again.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Lessons from the Mountain (Longs Peak, The Sequel)

I climbed Longs Peak a couple years ago and posted a bit about it here. I went back up with my friends Zach and Nate earlier this month. Neither had done it before but Zach rides his bike to work everyday and Nate is a rock climber, so I figured they'd keep pushing me up the mountain. This climb was more difficult in some ways and less difficult in other ways compared to last time.

More difficult: I was seriously sleep deprived this time. Working on London time from Boulder, and working a few too many hours each day, I was barely sleeping the two weeks before this climb. But I was excited and determined to climb. I packed the right energy foods and electrolytes. I was all but physically prepared for a 5,100 foot elevation gain and scrambling up steep boulders at altitudes above 12,000 feet. (Longs is 14,259 ft. and the highest point in RMNP). Unlike last time, the altitude and sleep deprivation made me almost pass out in exhaustion/exersion at one point on the way back down from the summit. At one point, I stopped to sit down, and when I would blink, I would fall asleep. I couldn't sit and blink without the blink turning into unconsciousness. That was kind of concerning for safety reasons and the ensuing schlep back down was an exercise in mind over matter.
Also, there was some slippery/icy/snowing conditions on some of the already very tough scrambles for about a thousand vertical feet below the summit.

Less difficult: The weather at the keyhole was relatively mild and pleasant, but because we were climbing later in year, it was cold all the way up and down. I didn't take my fleece off the entire climb, no matter how hard I was hoofing it. Also, I knew where I was going and what I was doing this time, so my preparation made for a better and quicker climb. I think I was in better climbing shape this time too. But that was pretty much cancelled out by not starting with enough rest.
The thing that blows me away about this hike/climb is how long it takes to get back down. Our descent was almost as long as our ascent, which can be baffling, considering how tough the ascent can feel. I think it's slow coming down for two reasons:

1) The same scrambling that is tough and dangerous on the way up is tough and dangerous on the way down. "Slip and die" situations are just as much "slip and die" going down as they are going up. The ice and snow don't help to speed things up coming down.
2) We were energetic and stoked going up, so we made good time, even if I was backed up on 2 weeks of sleep. By the I was 9 hours into a grueling day and my only fuel was the 500 or so calories I could stomach (but lots of water, don't worry), I was reminded of the true clinical definition of exhaustion.
The lessons a climb like this teaches / reminds me:

Some things need to be done, not despite them being incredibly difficult but because they are incredibly difficult. You learn things about your own abilities on days like this. Especially when you start with the physical handicap with which I have to admit I started with, if I'm being honest about how stupid my experiment in sleep deprivation was. I've done this and other difficult climbs before and the life lessons and principles don't ever get diluted. Conquering a peak like this leaves you exhausted, but confident in other challenges in life. It proves that you can do things that others can not (or will not). Let that carry over to your personal and professional life, attack challenges smartly and with the tenacity of a 14th century Scottish warrior and you can do most anything. But starts and stops with the will.

Physical preparation is important, but mental strength conquers all.
All things are relative. I climbed the standard full Half Dome trail (in Yosemite) a couple weeks before this climb. Some of my party on that hike didn't make it to the top. I felt great and made it to the Half Dome summit well before the rest of my party. That's a 14+ mile round trip hike with a 4,483 f.t elevation gain rising from about 4,000 feet to 8,483 feet, then back down again, of course. Except for the cable climb at the end, Half Dome is pretty much just a giant, fair weather StairMaster walk with incredible vistas all the way. No real adverse high elevation effects.

Longs Peak on the other hand starts at a trail head elevation above where Half Dome tops out. Longs Peak is also a 14 mile round trip day, and it gains 5,100 vertical feet, only about 600 more vertical feet than Half Dome, but the similarities stop there. Elevation makes a huge difference (to most mortals with normal lungs, hearts and brains affected by altitude). Also, the nature of the largely trail-less scramble up Longs' Keyhole route makes for a more strenuous experience on top of the effects of altitude. Longs Peak's high altitude struggle makes Half Dome feel like a lovely stroll through the Garden of Eden (which it is, by the way, and that's what's great about it).

Here's the elevation profile for Half Dome (round trip):

And here's the elevation profile for Longs Peak (just from the trailhead to the summit (notice the start and summit elevation difference):

Wilderness if good for the soul. 'Nuff said.

In conclusion:

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right." Henry Ford
My mom read me The Little Engine That Could a lot when I was a little boy. Thanks, mom.

Now, go climb a rock.





Humblebrag about Jaime after five years of marriage.

Just a few (hundred) words about my roommate. Warning, this likely won't be a very manly post. Skip over to your favorite Ace Hardware or Motorcycle Chopper blog if you want a manly post today. I have other manly things to post about climbing mountains and home improvement projects and tripling my tool collection in the past month. I've got some catch-up blogging to do later. This is for Jaime.

On September 23rd, 2011 we had been married 5 years.

I feel really good about this woman. I hope she keeps on keeping me. I could list off the the ways she impresses me, but I've been thinking about it and I've decided to condense it into three main pieces of amazement.

Her laid back cheerfulness. I only list this because it's to the nth degree. She is what everyone wants to come home to and what everyone desires in a travel companion. She is cheerful, happy and loving enough that it perfectly counters the stress at work or other inconveniences of life that may be invading my busy mind, but she's not so bubbly head cheerleader ra-ra-sis-boom-unicorns-and-rainbows-ba that it annoyingly feels as though she doesn't know what life is really like. If things are going well, she makes them feel even better. If things are tough, she makes them feel fine. She's not an alarmist (like I am sometimes). She's nice. She thinks of others. She thinks of me a lot. She's cheerful in a comforting way, not an annoying way. I'm noticing now as I'm trying to write it, that this is quite difficult to express why this is so impressive in today's world. I figure you either know her and you get it, or you don't and you think I'm just going on and on about something kind of abstract and generic.

When I was in London for about 3 months without her this summer, that time served as a perfect case study for how her presence can clear the clouds of life. Or rather, how the lack of her presence can make a big difference. Now I'm home and kind of twitterpated. Sorry.

Her work ethic. Chalk this up her being raised well. I like to think I'm a crazy hard worker, but I know I didn't teach this to her. I'm sure all that nice stuff I mentioned in the above paragraphs plays an integral role here as well. She's had steady work keeping her busy since we've been married. Ever since the very first week when we I moved her life to Miami, then Boulder, she goes after local jobs and gets them. She has other unexpected gigs offered to her just because people like her so much. She proven trustworthy, smart and very likable and so I guess people throw opportunities at her (mostly to take care of their kids). The thing that really opens these opportunities up to her: She's open to them. She wants to work. Lately she's been nannying for a disabled boy and her brother, babysitting others at night, substitute teaching at Boulder Country Day School and working at Pottery Barn Kids as a seasonal gig, just for the discount.

Now that she's nesting and getting later in the pregrancy, I've been begging her to stop working so much and I think she's starting to humor me this week. I've been working hard for over 5 years so she can afford to do that now. She's got a dog, the pending birth of our first kid, church callings, friends and part time gigs to keep her plenty busy in the meantime until she's got her hands 110% full with our infant son. Her cheerful desire to work and stay busy is nice. I think I'd be pretty annoyed if I married someone who didn't have this important character trait. It would probably be a huge point of tension. Instead, it's a huge motivation for me to keep up with her, and is good for our communal ambition, thus resulting in a healthy level of prosperity for (and in preparation of) our our little growing family. She deserves a lot of credit for that.

Her beauty. She's just getting better and better looking. I love her jaw, her tiny nose, her eyes, her hair, her teeth, her giant dimples and other parts of her body I'll spare description. You know how they say pregnant women glow? Well Jaime glows anyway, so whatever.

I often hear realists warn that marriage is hard. That it's a lot of work. With my limited experience I'd like to counter that with a clarifying correction: Life if hard. A successful life takes work. Marriage, when cared for and your friend and partner is picked wisely, is a treat that makes said life a whole lot better. So stop saying that marriage is hard and takes work unless you're just picking on marriage as one aspect of a general life principle of work.

And if you think I'm just luckier than most, then fine. I can live with that. And no, you can't have her.

Love this girl.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Headshot? Headshot.

Bw
My best clean shaven haley joel osment impersonation.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Go climb a rock.


Posted from the summit of Half Dome, August 22, 2011

Sent from my Windows Phone

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Telling this with a sigh

The Road Not Taken:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost, 1915

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

London Epiblog

Jaime here.

As was probably mentioned in a previous post, I returned home from London the day before "The Wedding," but Eric had to stay behind and work. He came back for nearly two weeks in May and June, and I returned to London for the last week in July. Living without your soul mate/partner in crime/lover sucks - that is the nicest word I can think of to explain my June, July, and August. I haven't wanted to blog because my life has simply been full of nannying and skyping with Eric. My friends have been awesome, and Annie has kept me busy, too, but she's no substitute.

I consider myself a fairly independent person, so typically when Eric is out of town on business or whatnot, I like having space. However, for those of you who don't know but somehow happen to read our blog, I have been pregnant since April (found out the day Eric came back to the States for his first visit). I feel really blessed that he has gotten to be here for a couple of my DTD (down there doctor) appointments - specifically our first ultrasound/hearing of the heartbeat. But he has missed out on a lot of the morning sickness, cramps, exhaustion, and all around belly growth that comes with the first 18 weeks of pregnancy.

But no more tears or sad faces, Eric is finally coming home in less than 6 days. We get to have date nights, go to the new Ikea that just opened, he gets to help clean up, I get to cook dinner for more than myself, and we get to hold hands and cuddle. Most importantly he gets to experience my pregnant self. Eric has been absolutely wonderful in preparing to be a father though. It is very possible that he knows more about the actual labor/delivery process than me, and is becoming very mentally prepared for our new baby, and for our future.

Now about London, when I last saw my er bear. I picked up these little souvenirs via Cath Kidston and thanks to my mom who sent me money to get some fun stuff in London. The blue doesn't necessarily mean we know we are having a boy - we find that out September 1st - but I figured this could be used for either.


More baby stuff to come later; and there will be plenty.

Luckily it was Eric's birthday when I was there, but unluckily that was about the only day we took pictures. So here we go: in the morning of Eric's birthday we went to The Colombia Road Flower Market. The pictures follow:

Always super crowded, especially on a sunny day.

There were so many beautiful flowers; a few of them I had never even seen before.

Look how amazing those roses are: "Free (3) for a fivuh!"

These guys were playing at the end - how awesome do they look? They sounded even better.

Eric's sneaky snap shot of me with the flowers that he bought me for his birthday. So nice.

I was literally a thousand times happier being with Eric than I had been the entire month previous. People in the street who were trying to get me to sign up for stuff were perplexed by my happiness.

That night, we went to the home of one of Eric's co-worker's, Dayoung, whose mom and sister made us real-deal Korean food. Being pregnant, I almost threw up once or twice, but most of it was AMAZING!

Dried squid (think Squid jerky). I almost threw up from the smell.

Eric got to play the drums. I love it when he plays the drums - Look at his cute happy face.

Brittany, Rebecca, Gen

Brittany, Gen

Jenny

Dayoung and her mom behind all the yummy food they made.

Really yummy.

More Friends

View from the balcony.
It was a fantastic week we had together. Eric had a big TV commercial shoot to do that week, so he was super busy and sometimes didn't get home until late. But my favorite part was 1) Eating at Nando's, and 2) Just sitting on the couch or in bed watching Treme together. I can't hardly wait for 6 more days.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Commonly confused words


My mom, who I consider a vocab queen, has rubbed off on me. I'm noticing that people are using words in ways that don't fit their actual meaning. I'm not just talking about the abuse of the words "literally" and "unique" (when "literally unique" is abused, that's the best*), but those are good stereotypical examples of the problem.

Find out if you've been incorrectly understanding any of these other commonly confused words.

(Click for a larger view)

*denotes sarcasm

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our standard date night these days.


It's been just over a month apart now. Sometimes we just leave Skype on while we're hanging out, I'm working, she's shopping for baby stuff online, spending all my money, etc., so it's almost like she's here. Or I'm there. Kinda. Jaime's coming out to London for a week at the end of this week, which is really, (really) really, (really) great.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Milk Carton Kids

I have Joey Ryan's albums where he initially recorded this tune as a solo record. This is a fantastic progression.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fwd: Annie

Photo

The important email updates I get from back at the ranch, seven hours behind me. Dogs and pregnant women get to nap. Sometimes I'd like to be a dog. That's as far as I'll take that.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jaimebug
Date: Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 11:56 PM
Subject: Annie
To: Eric Forsyth


Nap time at the Forsyth home.

Sent from iJaime

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pathetic confession time: Annie and Me

Annie_moab

Things I do, although I shouldn't at the moment: Watch Marley and Me on TV when I miss my dog. The end of this movie makes me feel less of a man (no reason, don't ask), and more of a man at the same time ('best friend,' after all.). Jaime's home with Annie and she says Annie misses me too. Not sure how she knows that, but I'm going to believe her, since I know Annie's not hitting the neighborhood trails as hard as she does when I'm home.

I've said it before, but I connect to this movie (and book, which I read before the movie was released) quite a bit, since Jaime and I are following a similar path to the couple in the movie:
- I work in media. He a journalist/columnist, me in advertising.
- I married (and/or met) Jaime up north where it's cold, then immediately we moved to South Florida.
- We got our crazy lab dog in South Florida as newlyweds, just like them. Dog beach adventures, obedience school, etc.
- We moved to a hilly, region when we left Miami, like they did (And I've lived in Suburban Philadelphia (Bucks County), where they move to).
- We're starting a family now, but feel like we started our family with Annie a while ago, in a sense.

That's all. Don't mind me.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Progeny Prep (if there is such a thing).

Knowing you're have a baby, a kid, a human, coming in seven months or so is the weirdest feeling ever.

I thought my life was full of excitement and mystery and "what's next?" already. But now I feel I've barely touched the surface thus far. Although this kid was planned, the 'holy poop, we're going to have Forsyth progeny and what on earth are we going to name him/her and what will our governing parenting principles be and what about schools and college and the shotgun I'll have to buy if she's a girl' thoughts still descended rather suddenly on me like the heaviest helium challenge and responsibility I've ever attempted to carry.

I'm pretty sure "attempted" is going to be the operative word over the next 20+ years as we bushwhack on this journey.

I say 'heaviest helium' because it's still a positive, floating feeling. We're ecstatic and hopeful.

I was having a good talk with my good friend Dave almost 2 years ago, shortly after he and his wife Jessica had a (cutest) girl (ever), Penny. Jaime and I weren't trying to have a kid then, but I was voicing my stereotypical concerns of being able to afford all the things I'd want for my future child (both financially and time-wise), and some hesitation to jump in. I must have used the word "scared." He responded with some friendly empathy and then expressed in his newly-minted father voice "Being afraid of having a kid is like being afraid of winning a million bucks."

You may think that's clear, but Dave has his masters in Economics, so I hope there wasn't some complicated allegory that I missed on how a million dollars is actually not much, or actually a horrible thing, or something. I think not, though.

Dave's words are pretty much what I'm going to ride until mid-January at which point I won't I won't be mentioning it around Jaime anymore - lest in the delivery room she break every bone in my hand and scream at me "THIS! IS NOT! A! MILLION! BUCKS!" Wouldn't want to seem flippant, now.

Oh man. Here we go. Wish me luck and give me wisdom and courage. I recon the course of one's life is pretty much determined by those three things all kickboxing each other in a triangular ring.

---

p.s. I am hereby declaring and time stamping it on the interwebs for all to see: I'm pretty confidant we're having a boy. I'll get into my logical reasoning on a later post (these things are determined by logic, right?).

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why we love our neighborhood


I was home in Louisville for two weeks in May and two weeks in June. When I'm there, I love to take walks/runs around my neighborhood, which actually means walks around the beautiful open space against my neighborhood. Louisville open space borders Boulder open space (say that five times fast), so you can keep going for a long time. Here are a couple videos of a standard walk Jaime and I took last week, just within the Louisville open space minutes from our door. Not so standard for everyone, but I love that it's standard for us. Feeling lucky.

There may, or may not, be a surprise for those of you that make it through both videos.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Salzburg and Hallstatt videos

I just realized I never posted these videos from our weekend in Salzburg and Hallstatt, Austria in April.

The first one is from the top of Festung Hohensalzburg, looking at Salzburg below and Untersberg (the mountain) in the distance.

Then we drove to Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Amazing room, right on Hallst├Ąttersee. Can't wait to go back there and jump off that diving board right into the lake on a warm day.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Personal freedom vs. Having federal law support all your personal beliefs. Pick one. Only one.

Or at least put down the ducky if you wanna' play the saxophone.

I don't usually blog my political thoughts. Tonight's an exception. Stop now if you hate that kind of stuff.

I don't understand how some can insist they want government (especially federal) off our backs for the sake of our individual liberties and freedoms, but push so hard to amend the United States constitution and/or create federal laws and regulations that impose their particular beliefs on 100% of the population. 

But wait, I'll let you in on a not-so-secret that you probably ought to keep in mind when reading the rest of this verbose post: I'm a christian. You might think I'm pretty big-time, actually, if you gauge by how much time I spend "living" my religion and how much of my life is directed by my beliefs (even not-so-transparently in some ways). I don't thump bibles or say "Hallelujah" or predict the day of the Apocalypse or anything crazy. But it's safe to say that I'm super-duper Christian when it comes to the foundation of my faith. Sorry if you're disappointed. If you are, I can all but guarantee you it's because you don't actually know me. My great Atheist, Jewish, gay, Flying Spaghetti Monster, whatever, friends know what I'm talking about.

There are many things that I believe very strongly. I even strongly disagree with those that openly oppose and antagonize my personal* beliefs, even if I ought not to sometimes. I admit, I'm known among my friends and family to appear hungry for a debate (on any topic, usually not religion, actually - I learned years ago how to talk about religion without debating) and even "like to argue" (which I like to deny, at least in the antagonistic, negative definition). However, just because I believe something -  and often because I believe something - I do not want to impose those beliefs on others. No matter how sure of myself I am. On the contrary, it is the freedom to believe whatever I want that has led and allowed me to find so much contentment and happiness in my beliefs. If I turned around and rallied to revoke that freedom from those who believe contrary to my beliefs, it would seem very hypocritical and narrow-minded, wouldn't it? (Because of my belief in this guiding principle, some of my peers are often surprised out of their gourd to learn quite late in our relationship that I'm - gasp! - an active, normal Mormon. But that is neither here nor there.)

You can't have one foot in the Atlantic Ocean and another in the Pacific. (Keep your Panama Canal and Cape Horn jokes to yourself, clever kid. It's figurative, leave me alone.)

I propose you try an exercise I played out in my head earlier this week. Follow these steps and don't skip ahead until each step is done:
  1. Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. Fetch your favorite pen or pencil in your favorite color, just to make sure we're having loads of fun here.
  2. On the left list all your strong personal beliefs, whether they be based on theology, spirituality, patriotism, tradition or general principle.
  3. Now clear your mind. Take a short break. (This is optional, but I think it might influence the end. Maybe not.)
  4. On the right, list all the things you think every American in every single state should be coerced by federal law to do, or be prohibited from doing. Think about this carefully and make sure you understand that this is not a list of ways you wish the world were better or easier for you to live in. This is a list of laws and regulations you wish were in the federal law books and if not followed would make a person a criminal anywhere in the USA. These are principles you should throw someone in jail (or heavily fine or otherwise harshly punish) for believing and acting against anywhere in this country.
  5. Now, observe both lists. How much of your two lists are the same? Could you make a giant Venn diagram out of it? Why or why not?
That's all. 

You can draw your own conclusions from your personal lists. Here are some guiding questions for pondering: How many of your personal beliefs are just that - *personal, no matter how "correct" they seem to you and your friends - and how many of them do you wish were mandated universal behavior codes? Can you recall any stories where an individual or leader - even an individual with a ca. 33% approval rating and large following - also wanted to coerce 100% of the population to believe as he believed and do as he did?

Here's a related list exercise, if you want. Grab that favorite pen that makes your hand happy. List all your favorite musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, explorers, athletes and respectable leaders. 
  • Would they agree with everything on your previous lists? 
  • Does that bother you when you actually take the time to think about where you likely don't have the same beliefs? Why or why not?
  • Would you want to force them to comply with your beliefs if you could do so simply and legally?
  • If you could go back in time and snap your fingers to gently brainwash them into agreeing with your entire lists while they were still young and impressionable, would you like to have that chance?
  • If you did that, do you think they'd still grow up to become the musician, artist, writer, filmmaker, explorer, athlete or the same respectable leader you admire or enjoy today? What do you think the hypothetical ramifications of universal dictatorial coercion of polarizing beliefs are? Best case scenario? Worst case scenario? 
We're all different. While what you believe may very well be universal truth, it's a different thing entirely to want to forcibly blanket an entire country as large and diverse as the United States of America with your "truth." For example, if it means people literally have to choose between being American and being gay, or having an abortion. No matter how much I appreciate the divine inspiration and intervention with which I believe this nation and it's constitution were founded, that does not mean I or the federal government get to take away the right to choose. Even if I fiercely disagree with how you handled your choice. Live and let live.

Let's pretend for a moment that I felt very strongly about Bill Bryson books and Calvin and Hobbes comics. I think they're great for the human mind and spirit. Very uplifting and edifying. To not even give them a chance is to offend me personally. That doesn't mean I want the Dept. of Education to make them required reading, punishable by a failing grade or a federal tax increase or a fine if you fail to comply. Even if 65% of my fellow Americans agree. Even then. I think you catch my drift and I hope you see the principle behind it.

States, counties and cities on the other hand - go for it. Let democracy thrive, even if a polarizing opinion and crippling government regulation prevails every now and then in some communities. And if you can't stand living there after democracy has had its way, you have every right to move to another state, county or city where your neighbors don't make your blood boil (as much as I realize that's quite inconvenient). Or you could, of course, take part in the democratic process (could? or should?) and fight (civilly) for what you think is best for your community. You can even run for office. Who's stopping you?

In the meantime, I invite you to think outside the partisan bases - a place where otherwise good folks wander in and unsuspectingly (or willingly?) have their peripheral vision scratched out by stubborn bigots seeking a false sense of "community" in collective beliefs.

The larger, actual community is at stake. But you won't be able to see that far from a narrow point of view. The very freedom that allows you to participate and scream and yell (or not) is what's at stake.

This is how I'm thinking today. I may learn new things and think otherwise in a week or a year or a decade. Sometimes I chill with the ducky. Sometimes I rock the saxophone. But l'm having a hard time watching others try to do both at the same time. 

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