Lincoln

I recently visited Washington D.C. for the first time.  It is incredible, with history everywhere you look.  I viewed the Founding Documents; the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution.  I saw the Capital, the White House, Union Station, and the magnificence of the Washington Monument.

None of that compared to the Lincoln Memorial.  It sits high upon a hill, a giant edifice.  As you approach, you remember the moments in our nation’s history that have taken place on these steps: Dr. Martin Luther King and the March on Washington, Nixon talking to protestors, speeches, and movies.

The monument was built in such a way as to encourage the visitor to first walk up the almost 100 steps, to recognize that the path is not easy, to keep looking upwards towards the President.  Once you reach the top, and enter the memorial, a quiet reverence surrounds you.  You pass through a double row of columns and are finally able to gaze upon Lincoln.  To think about the Man and what he means to the country.  Then, you are meant to visit the side chambers, where his most famous speeches hang: the Gettysburg Address to the left, and his Second Inaugural on the right.  The visitor is meant to be able to touch the untouchable here.  To feel the presense of Lincoln, and to commune with him.  As you turn to leave, the Mall spreads before you.  The President’s stare focused on the Capital Dome miles away.

Fellow-Countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully.

The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
March 4, 1865

In the weeks since my visit, I think often of the Memorial and how it felt to be there. I think of what it represents. I think of what Lincoln meant to the Republic. I think of where we have come in the scant 150 years since Lincoln. I read the Second Inaugural and think of where we are as a nation. In some moments I am proud, and in others dumb-struck. I am reminded of words of other Presidents; Reagan, “…ours is not a perfect nation. But even with our troubles, we remain the beacon of hope for oppressed peoples everywhere. Never give up the fight…”; Theodore Roosevelt, “We must dare to be great…;” and Bill Clinton, “There is nothing wrong in America that can’t be fixed by what is right in America.” All of these statements speak to a hope in our nation, that ours is a fight worth fighting. That we strive to be more than we are.

Please read Lincoln’s speech, and reflect upon the Nation you want. And, perhaps, remember one other quote from ‘Honest Abe’, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Adventure Time!

So we are sitting in Terminal 6 of Los Angeles International Airport, waiting for a delayed flight to Baltimore, Maryland.

This is the first trip we have taken without our son since he was born, and we are both having a little bit of trouble with it. We do fine, right up until the moment he isn’t fine.  It’s a strange feeling to be without the little guy, especially to be traveling across the country. 

We take off tonight at 10:40, although we have already seen that change once, and land at 6:30am, east coast time. From there we head straight to WashingtonD.C.  I’m hoping to get some sleep on the flight, but I hate to do that. 

Flying gives you such an opportunity to work, to write, to think, and to dream. To fly over dark country, to let your thoughts wander as you cruise a couple of thousand feet in the sky. It’s pure magic. 

Until tomorrow friends, keep safe. And keep dreaming. 

On The Road…Part 2

This has been an especially wonderful trip to Portland, and only served to reinforce how much I love this city. From food to transportation to weather, this has been a model trip.

Our last trip to Portland was done in by one thing; location!  We originally thought we were booking a place in the North West section of the city, but it ended up being in North Portland.  This time we were much more selective in our choice. It makes a huge difference.  This time we are in the Nob Hill neighborhood of North West Portland, and it is great; a beautiful neighborhood in every sense of those words.

We are using AirBNB for our accommodations, and no matter how you feel about the subject, you have to admit they’ve changed the game when it comes to finding and booking rooms.  We booked about two months in advance, and spent just over $100 per night for a beautiful house, built in the late 19th-century.  More than that, it is right in the middle of great food, shops and feet away from the streetcar pickup.  Which brings me to my next favorite part of this trip.

We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and I didn’t have to get back into my car for two days, a full 48 hours, until we checked out on Friday.  We used the Portland Streetcars, and MAX Light Rail. (We avoided busses out of personal preference, not lack of choice). These conveyed us to the Oregon State Zoo, downtown, food carts, a great Farmer’s Market, coffee, dinner, lunches, and home.  We never once worried about traffic, parking, or safety.   It made one of the most stressful parts of a trip a complete non-issue.

Portland has long been recognized as a “city on the go,” with an expansive public transportation system, but if those trains have no destinations, what’s the point? The City of Portland has a lot of reasons for that system; over 10,000 acres of public parks, a world class downtown area, and beautiful neighborhoods, each with their own flavor and mood.

This is my third trip to Portland, and each time I go I find something new and exciting to do.  Portland is an incredible city with amazing gifts.  And I love it more each time.

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Links:
Oregon State Zoo
Elephants Delicatessan
Eastside Distilling
South Waterfront Farmers Market

Update From The Road

I am traveling this week, but I wanted to share a little with you.  Enjoy these images from a wonderful trip.  I will be back next Wednesday with a regular post.

Fire escapes are plentiful in the Alphabet District.  This one particularly grabbed my attention.

One of our favorite buildings in the Alphabet District. Mixed use buildings are so amazing to me.

“Keep Portland Weird.” Portland has a wonderful sense of humor!

A wonderful day at the Oregon State Zoo.  My son had a fantastic time.

The architecture of Portland stuns me when I see it.  It is uniquely Portland.


A great Farmer’s Market by the waterfront. 

On The Road…Part 1

The countdown has started.

I am currently five days away from my second big trip this year. We are headed back to Portland for a few days, and then up to Washington State, for a friend’s wedding. Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Just about the only part I’m not excited for is the drive.  This isn’t the first time I’ve driven all the way to Portland.  It is an all day grind; just over 800 miles, and 12 and a half hours if you do not stop.  And you have to stop.

This is a return trip to the Pacific North West for us.  We were there in March, and are looking forward to exploring some different parts of the city.  This time, our goal is to use Public Transportation as much as possible.  And to eat.

My wife and I have discovered that, when we are on vacation, food is the defining characteristic of our trips.  We are constantly planning our next meal, asking the locals where the best food is, and allowing for places along the way to surprise us.

For this trip, just like our last adventure, we are using AirBNB.  We had no issues finding a great little space a few months prior, and for a very reasonable price.  It is close to all the activities we are looking forward to; a short walk to the metro station, near restaurants, and with a little coffee shop just around the corner.

The second part of our trip is a much more personal adventure; two of my closest friends are getting married, and I get to officiate their wedding.  It is such a wonderful gift, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I will be there to help them begin a brand new chapter of their lives together.

July is going to be a very exciting and busy month, and I have a lot of travels to write about, but August is shaping up to be a huge adventure too.  I can’t wait to tell you about it.

Fear & Loathing in Brussels

It has happened again; four months after the attacks in Paris, three years after Boston, 11 years after London, almost 15 after New York, in a peaceful little country called Brussels, the hateful face of humanity has peered back at us.  We have been attacked in the peaceful moments of our day: going to work, coming home, sight-seeing, eating.

Terrorism.  The purpose is to instill an extreme fear into our lives.  To push people to the breaking point, to change how they live their lives.  To be fearful.  Like the bully waiting for us on our way home when we were 12, they want to push us, to watch us cower.  To have power over us.  And we have let them.

We have traded our freedoms for security theater.  We have given away privacy to accomplish nothing.  We have given in to fear and hate.

And we are wrong.  Just plain wrong.

Throughout history there have been those who have tried to stand higher than others.  Those that have said, “My religion is better than yours,” My country is better than yours,” “My race is better than yours,” “My gender is better than yours.”  They were wrong too.

Throughout history there have been those that have banned books, denied science, undermined education.  Dictators and despots will always go after the learned and educated; ideas and critical thinking are the best weapon against evil.

We are all one humanity.  We are all stuck on this rock together.  Shouldn’t we try to make the best of it?  There is too much art yet to make.  Too much music.  Too many stories yet to tell.  Too many places yet to travel to.

If the goal of terrorism is to change how we live our lives, it isn’t going to work on me.  I will not be afraid to travel to New York again.  To travel to Paris or Brussels or London or a World Cup match.  I will not be made to fear because of someone’s political belief.  I refuse to live my life cowering to other people’s fear and hate.  I refuse to hate.

Who is with me?

Portland

As I mentioned on Sunday I just returned from Portland, Oregon.  If you have never been, I cannot recommend the city enough.  I have been to Seattle, and to San Francisco, and to Los Angeles and San Diego.  Portland easily tops all of those.  It is up on the list of favorite cities with New York.  The scenery, the people, the food; these all combine to create a wonderful world class city, with a small town feel.

I could tell so many stories.  Of getting up at 4am, after going to bed only three hours earlier.  Of my son singing in the backseat.  Of some of the hairiest driving I’ve ever done, exhausted, in hard rain, in an unfamiliar vehicle on unfamiliar roads, right next to semi-trucks going 70 miles an hour.

I could talk about staying in Salem and some of the best Chinese food I’ve ever had.  I could share about taking my son to the Portland Children’s Museum and watching him run around, playing and pretending.  Of having to walk away from some of that because my anxiety got the better of me.  Of eating at Elephants Delicatessen (which, if you ever get the chance, you should really eat at), and having amazing pulled pork.

I might even talk about traffic in the suburbs and the beauty of Lake Oswego in the rain, or dinner at the “Oldest restaurant in Portland,” (Hello Huber’s!).  Even about visiting Apple Stores or beer, both of which I could talk about at length.

No, I want to talk about how I almost killed my child.

It was the evening of our first night in Portland.  We had finished dinner at an excellent fondue restaurant and had decided that we wanted crêpes.  Utilizing Yelp, which Portlanders seem to take very seriously, we had found a restaurant a short walk away.

This being Portland, it had been raining, and we were all enjoying looking at the architecture and sights.  Portland is a beautiful city, and in the evening light, with a fresh rainfall, it sparkles and shines with a very unique light.  We passed gorgeous old apartment buildings and a beautiful park.  We passed a building with an amazing dome, and an elementary school.

We also passed a row of houses, all painted in different colors.  When we had passed the beautiful park just a block earlier, my son had wanted to go running in the grass.  I had swung him up to my shoulders and we continued our walk.  But as we passed the row of houses, I never saw the metal panel in the sidewalk.  My foot slipped out from under me.  I tried to hold on to my kid, but we were both falling fast.

I knew a couple of things as soon as I landed; my wrist hurt, my rear hurt, and he was no longer on my shoulders.  I jumped up as quick as I could, but my wife was already with him.  He was screaming, it was craziness for several minutes.  I am both amazed and thankful that no one from the houses came out to see what had happened.  We headed to a store just down the street, got everyone checked out and cleaned up.  The diagnosis was a bruised forehead and cut cheek for him, a bruised wrist for me.  Later on my back and neck started in, but right then, everything was ok.

Until that night.

I slept terrible for the remainder of the nights in Portland.  Actually, every night since; struggling with dreams of dropping my son.  Of him tumbling over balconies and falling into pools.  And I know it is silly and needless and he is fine.  I know that it was an accident and that it could have happened to any of us that night.  That I did the best I could in the moment, and that it could have been much worse.  But my mind just won’t stop showing me.

I love traveling.  I love finding the places you were not expecting.  The surprise and the beauty of a new place, or rediscovering the qualities of an old favorite.  I love finding the character of a city, and how it’s people react.  I like finding a great coffeeshop or bookshop or breakfast place.  And Portland had all of these, believe me.  In fact, Portland is one of my favorite places I’ve been to.  And I look forward to going back.

I will always remember the beauty of Oregon.  The clouds seem bigger, the rain not as terrible.  The people are amazing and the food is to die for.  Coffee and treats abound, and nature is 20 minutes in any direction.  This is the Portland I will take with me.  But it will also always be the place I almost killed my kid.


Note from Author: As I’ve shared this story with several people, I have heard so many stories about how other parents have had moments that almost killed their offspring.  The more stories I hear, the more I realize that I am not alone.  Thank you for sharing.

Also, if you have anything to share about your travels in general, or Portland in particular, please share.  I am planning my next couple of trips, and would love to hear any suggestions you have!

Travelin’

I like traveling. The adventure of going to new places and finding new things is exciting. I love looking at architecture and statues and people.

I just returned from a trip to Portland, Oregon, and had a wonderful time. I’m planning a post for Wednesday about the trip, but I wanted to share a few pictures with you before then.

 

Collage of fun times at the Portland Children’s Museum

 

Downtown Portland

 

Happy family time

 

Huber’s; the oldest restaurant in Portland

 

Weather was wonderful, and provides beautiful scenery.

 

Portlandia; second largest copper repoussé statue in the US.

Also, an extra special thank you to Krisann Gentry for filling in for me last week. I hope you all got a chance to read her post, and encourage you to visit her site, Now Hark This.

See you all on Wednesday!

Trip Planning

On Sunday I posted about our digital footprint and how we should protect our information (Do You Know Where Your Data Is?).  On Monday, a Federal magistrate handed down a verdict that Apple Inc. must create software that will allow the FBI access to a cell phone belonging to the San Bernardino shooter.  Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, released this statement on Tuesday.  A backdoor is a backdoor for everyone, no matter their intentions.


I’m planning a trip.

When I say, “I’m planning,” what I really mean is I am part of a group planning a trip.  And there are always decisions that have to be made.

My family is great at a lot of things; laughing, cooking, watching movies.  But making decisions is conspicuously absent from that list.  Picking a movie involves a lot of false starts, arguments, and compromises.  I have a feeling planning this trip will be much the same.

When I was younger and thought about traveling, I always imagined it would be spur of the moment, “Let’s go!” type of event.  Services like Airbnb and Uber only seemed to make that imagined trip a little closer.  I could book airline tickets on my way to the airport, land, get a car, and a place to stay, all on my iPhone.  I wouldn’t need to bring a camera and a phone and music and a DVD player or my computer or…well, anything except my clothes and a charger.

I have a wife and child now, not to mention a better understanding of money.  That imagined trip is just that, imagined.  It was never real to begin with.  The trip I’m planning now?  All too real.  The adventure of going somewhere new.  Of driving 1,200 miles.  Of finding new food.  And most of all, coffee.  The excitement of an adventure.

We’ve rented a car.  We have a place to stay.  We have a rough understanding of the public transportation system.  We are starting to figure out what we will do while we are there.  There have been some false starts, a couple of arguments, and even some compromises.  But the excitement is still there.  And an awful lot of it was done right from my iPhone.

Nothing to do now but wait, and dream of adventure.

 

Where do you want to go?

 

Vacation-gram: Airport Adventures

Hello All!  I am on vacation this week.  And while I am off having fun, or sitting under a fan watching The Avengers (don’t judge), I wanted to make sure you had some enjoyable things to read.  So, here is something I wrote after a trip to Seattle.  Enjoy!

At lunch I somehow struck up a conversation with this woman. She started talking to me about this cruise she just went on to Australia and New Zealand. Then she casually mentioned that she had a space ship.

Cue Comedy Record Scratch.

That’s right kids, an actual, honest to God Flying Saucer.

I’m going to let this sink in for a second. She is waiting for a plane at Seattle/Tacoma International but she has a Space Ship. Does she have proof you ask? Of course! Video, in fact. She shows me a video of two people on the deck of a ship. Then the camera pans to the sun, lens flare ensues and she makes sure to point out that her ship is the pink blob on the left. In the lens flare. Wait, did I say in? I meant THE lens flare. That’s her ship. Oh, and see this ray? They’re going into the ship. And now they’re coming back, in free fall. And now they’re back on the deck. In the same place they were. Like they never left.

But don’t worry folks, she’s going to tell NASA all about it. And show them the evidence.

Thank God she’s not on my…wait, why is she waiting at my gate?

I’m drunk

I start with that because I think we should be honest with each other. I fly better when I’m a little tweaked. It’s not that I’m a nervous flyer, it’s just that flying makes me nervous. It’s a sense of impending doom when I board. And to be honest, why shouldn’t I feel that?! Not to mention, theres a crazy woman on board with me. It’s voodoo magic that keeps us in the air anyway.

So I’m drunk. Ive already had 2 beers before I boarded, and I just sucked down a double Jack and Coke. I think the people next to me are talking about me…

That’s not really what this post is about, though. Really what it’s about is this; I lie when I travel alone. Here’s the conversation I just had:

“Are you from California?”

“No, I live in Seattle. I’m a writer and headed down to LA to meet with my editor.”

“Oh! That’s exciting! Is this your first book?

“Yes. It’s been a long road but totally worth it.”

I know what you’re all thinking, but stop judging. It’s fun and harmless. They were excited! They believed they had met a real author! And now they’re waiting for my novel. By the way, I’m debating who to sell the movie rights to; the Weinstein Brothers really have a great vision for the story, but Spielberg is the bigger name.

I know. It’s awful. I feel guilty, but it’s a little fun too.

This trip was an adventure. I saw some of the most beautiful country I could ever imagine. I got to meet my niece, who I love more than I thought was possible for something that does nothing but eat, poop and sleep. I went to Seattle, which has somehow hoisted itself to the top of my favorite cities list. And I’ve flown alone, which is a first. I’ve also done battle with mental illness (not my own, shut up), and have managed to prove to myself I can write and take pictures with some ability. All in all, I would call this one of my favorite trips I have ever been on. And I can’t wait to do it again.

Wonder what I will be next time…

Well, this whole writing thing has not gone well for me since I got back. I keep trying to find time, but then exhaustion or NyQuil takes over and I’m asleep with my phone in my hand. FYI, I seem to have picked up some sort of plague from the airplane. Or maybe from a Lens Flare Spaceship. Anyways, I didn’t want anyone to think I was just taking NyQuil recreationally. I don’t do that anymore…I mean, crap.