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Friend a Day – Peter Verrant

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Peter is one of the few friends I have from college.  I suppose that is because I got out of theater for several years so I lost touch with most of those people.

I’d like to think that I had some impact on Peter’s choice to get involved in theatre.  He took a stagecraft class when I was a TA in the scene shop and we hit it off.  I put a pneumatic nail through his hand.  He dropped a platform on my foot.  We both got to spend a snowy January morning trying to move a bunch of steel platforms from Downtown St. Paul to Hamline University in a truck with no traction.  We bonded.

His passion for photography is evident in the sheer amount of pictures you will find on his Facebook page.  He works for the photography department of two major conventions and the number of pictures he takes is amazing.  I would say almost every decent picture of my children was taken by him.

If we were the kind of people to ask someone to be a godfather, I think we would have asked Peter.  Instead, he’s the crazy uncle that they like more than their parents because he brings them weird stuff.

Any time we need help with a project around the house, he’s there.  He is the sort of person who will lend a hand to anyone if he has the time.  You know your real friends when you are looking for someone to help you demolish a ceiling.  Or watch your cats with two days advanced notice.

Peter is the kind of guy who calls you on the Thursday of a convention weekend as he is leaving his house and asks you what you forgot so he can swing by your house and pick it up.

All of it, I guess, is to say he’s one of those people we’ve always been about to count on when we need something.  It is no understatement to say he is one of my best friends.  He actually feels a lot more like a family member than a friend.

And he will remain so as long as he doesn’t drop another platform on my foot.

Friend a Day – David Wick

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I’ve known David all of his life but I don’t really feel like I got to know him until we spend a summer together in Europe in 1985.

As we traveled around the country that year, I was getting ready to go to college and he was getting ready to spend a year studying in France.  We’d spent our lives in the same home and suddenly we were both branching out on our own. We’d spent years hanging out with our own friends and suddenly we had to spend a month with just each other.

David is, like most members of my family, someone who finds ways to fill just about all of his time.  He’s passionate about his career in the study abroad field.  He has grown to take a leadership role in his professional organization.  He worked a full-time job while getting his PhD to advance his career.

While he doesn’t have time for it any longer, David is a great dancer.  I’ve always been in awe of his grace simply because I have none.  In college, his senior project was a tribute to our dad and it is still one of the most powerful pieces of dance I’ve ever seen.  Sure, it was personal and I was the perfect audience but it was still a terrific work by a very talented dancer/choreographer.

We only see each other about once a year these days and that’s a shame because there is always so much to talk about.  He is one of the most genuinely charming people I know.  If you know David, you probably like him. I have no idea how you couldn’t.

He’s had his share of challenges but he always maintains a positive outlook on everything.  I have tried to learn that from him over the years.

I always tell people I’m a big fan of my family.  They are good people and I’m pleased to know them not just as family but as friends.  David is family, but he’s also a great friend.

Friend a Day – Alex and Devon Wick

DSC01642It’s Father’s Day Weekend so I get to write about my kids.

I’ve known Alex and Devon for literally their entire lives.  They are great kids and I’m proud that I’m their dad.

Alex loves school.  He’s great at math and science and he reads just about any book we put in front of him.  He’s got a very cheerful disposition that helps get him through tough times.

He loves to watch videos on Youtube and play on his 3DS.  He is starting to learn how to do laundry and cook.  He’s a huge fan of tabletop games and is up for trying just about anything of any complexity level.

About two years ago, he was having some bully problems in school.  The kids were calling him gay and even though he was upset, he had the presence of mind to tell them that there was nothing wrong with being gay.  I was so proud of him specifically because he was in the middle of an emotional moment but managed to defend a group of people who deserved a defense.

Devon is amazingly creative.  I think The Lego Movie struck home for me because I finally realized that I need to stop freaking out when he takes his Lego X-Wing apart to make something else.  They are his Legos, after all.  He should be able to do whatever he wants with them.

He’s always building something new and is always excited to tell me all about it.  As a dad, I need to do a better job of listening.

Earlier this spring, Devon decided that he wanted to learn how to ride a bike.  He didn’t tell anyone.  He just got a bike out of the garage and started riding it up and down the alley.  By the end of the evening, he was nearly an expert.

Devon does things like that.  He decides that he needs to figure out how to do something and he does it.

Both of them are great kids.  Father’s day is a good time to take a moment to look at your kids and realize that they are wonderful little people.  So thanks to Alex and Devon for making me a dad!

Friend a Day – Patricia Wick

Photo by Peter Verrant

Photo by Peter Verrant

24 years ago today, I married my best friend.  Because she is still my best friend, it only makes sense that she would be my subject for today’s blog.

Pat is one of the smartest people I know.  When I’m trying to work through my opinion on something, I will always ask her opinion because if she doesn’t agree with me, I am probably wrong.  She can beat me at just about any game except cribbage and when she tells me how she did it, I feel like an idiot because I didn’t try the same thing myself.  If I try the same thing the next time we play, she’ll beat me some other way.

There is only one person in my home who can find something when it is lost and that’s her.  It doesn’t matter if she’s never even seen that thing, when one of the other three people in the house ask her where it is, she’ll probably know.  That she tolerates our ignorance never fails to impress me.

We talk about a lot of things and argue about very little.  She laughs at my jokes, which in endearing and so very polite.

She supports all of the theater work I’ve been doing lately and that is invaluable.  It takes me away from the family far more than I like and her patience is amazing.  Without her patience, it would be hard for me to do any of what I do.

When I write something, she is always my first beta reader and not just because we live in the same house.  If I’m writing comedy, I want to know if she’ll laugh.  If I can get her to laugh out loud even once, I figure I’ve managed to write something at least a little bit amusing.

She’s also willing to be critical.  She’ll tell me when something doesn’t work.  She’ll tell me when a lyric sounds wrong.  I may not always agree and I may not always make the change but she is never someone to rubber stamp my work and tell me it is perfect.

If you ask me what the secret to a long marriage might be, I’m afraid I don’t have great answers.  For me, though, I know the secret is that I married someone I liked a lot.  I never tire of spending time with her.  A walk around the lake with her is the most pleasant way to spend an hour that I can imagine.

24 years is a long time but I know I’m married to the right person because it doesn’t feel like all that much time at all.

Happy Anniversary, Pat.  I love you!

Thanks for being my best friend.

Friend a Day – Cathy Wick

If you want mom's vote, you'd better be able to do math!

If you want mom’s vote, you’d better be able to do math!

For Mother’s Day, my friend a day is my mom.  I love my mom because she’s my mom but because this is a Friend a Day post, I’m going to write about why I like her a lot.

Just this last week, we went to see Neil deGrasse Tyson speak.  I went because mom got an e-mail about the event and asked if I wanted to go.  Not being stupid, I said absolutely yes.  We had a great time at that event and Dr. Tyson has always impressed me as someone who is excited about teaching people about science.

He’s not the first person who taught me to be excited about learning, though.  That person was mom.  She’s was a teacher of mathematics for most of my formative years and she was good at it because she loved sharing math with kids.  She wouldn’t just talk about her work day, she would talk about the ways she was teaching math that made her excited.

I always tell people I’m the child of math teachers because I’m proud to have come from that background.  Math teachers are awesome.  Mom taught me that.

I love going on vacations with mom because she gets so completely immersed in what we are going to do.  We are heading to Yellowstone later this spring and ever since the plans were made, she has been watching the Old Faithful webcam and sending me regular messages when the geyser is about to erupt.

She keeps trying new things in her life and I think that is part of that teacher mentality that she should always be learning.  Right now, she is doing a sketch journal and talks about it a lot.  It is a new thing that has her really excited and I think that’s great.

She’s always looking for new things to get her excited.  And she always finds them.

I love my Mom, yes.  But I also like spending time with her as a person.  For that, I feel incredibly lucky.  Thanks, Mom!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Friend a Day – Jane Anfinson

901332_10151306122436076_1274080585_oJane is my sister-in-law and I can’t imagine my brother finding a more compatible companion.

She had been seeing my brother for a little while before we met and I remember liking her the first time there was a family gathering in which she took part.  She’s just really easy to like.  From that first day, she’s always felt like a member of the family.  By that I mean that she feels comfortably compatible with the rest of us.  It feels like she’s always been around.

What has always struck me about Jane is the way she deals with stress with such serenity.  I’m sure that she experiences as much stress as the rest of us but she always manages to stay calm and rational in the face of challenging circumstances.  I think that she becomes a great source of support in those situations because she retains her composure.

She has a delightful sense of humor that can be very dry.  Her laugh is playful and always suggests a bit of impish delight.

Jane is a talented musician and an avid bird watcher.  She likes birds (and other animals) so much, that she went back to school to become a wildlife biologist.  What great is just seeing her re-focus her life on something that is a passion.

Jane and my brother spend many weekends together camping in state parks.  They bird watch and get away from the busy lives they lead during the week.  I honestly couldn’t tell you which of them loves the outdoors more.  Given Jane’s day job takes her outside more frequently, I’ll give her the tiebreaker.

She’s also a great “sit down and talk to over coffee” kind of person (even though I don’t drink coffee).  Conversations are relaxed and fun and don’t feel forced or uncomfortable.

I always look forward to time I get to spend with Jane because the time passes so enjoyably and so quickly.  I like my brother a lot and it makes me very happy that he gets to spend so much time with such a great person.

Jane is a member of the Community Women’s Orchestra in Oakland, CA.  She also has a website!

 

Shit that Pissed Me Off – 4/25

Christian Comedian Asks A “Hilarious” Question That “Proves” It Is Crazy To Be An Atheist

This is pretty old and I just happened to click-through because I wanted to know if the question really proved I’m crazy.

Basically, his hilarious question is “why are atheists offended by ‘under god’ in the pledge of allegiance if they don’t believe in god?”

HA!  You got me there, buddy!  Forcing my kids to acknowledge a god they don’t believe in is totally OK.  Having a problem with that is completely insane!!!

If they object to saying “Under God,” they are COMMUNISTS!

Let me ask you, though, how you would feel if we changed the word “God” to “Allah?”  Or Shiva?  Would that be OK with you?  Or would you be upset because you were expected to say that our country was under a god you didn’t believe in?

The issue has nothing to do with the existence of god and everything to do with the idea that nobody’s god should be held higher than any other god in the eyes of the state.

So anyway, I don’t think the question proved I’m crazy.  You can’t prove a negative, however, so it’s impossible to prove that I’m not crazy.

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Shit That Pissed Me Off – 4/11

There Is A Direct Relationship Between How Much Someone Knows About The Ukraine And The Likelihood They Believe We Should Get Involved

While I think the situation in the Ukraine is alarming, I also think that there is very little the US can (or should) do about it.  I don’t know if that is because I know where the Ukraine is on a map but it seems clear there might be some relation.

In a very interesting survey, the Washington Post found that the less you knew about the Ukraine, the more likely you were to think we should get involved.

The map in the article shows where respondents placed the Ukraine on a map.  It’s pretty troubling when you see that more than one person chose Australia.  Or Greenland.

Yes. Some of the dots are in the fucking ocean.

 

Now, there is a possibility some of these people were dickishly selecting the wrong location just to skew numbers.

Even allowing for that, people are forming opinions about something they know nothing about.  I’ll bet if they were educated about the situation, though, they wouldn’t change their minds.  People are dumb that way.

 

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On Natural and Unnatural Hair Loss

984035_10152368464124540_8836301962623702556_nI’m not a vain man.

By that I mean that I’m not obsessed with my looks.  I don’t think that there was ever a time in my life when I was considered “hot” and, at 46, I don’t think I’m likely to start turning heads now.

If I allow myself any vanity, it is in the fact that I have nice hair.  My hair is thick and soft and shows no signs of receding.  I’m going to have this hair long after any other attractive feature I possess has ceased to be an asset.

I remember a time when I was about twenty.  My brother had decided he wanted a mohawk.  I came home one night and my mom was sitting with him in the living room.  He was wearing a hat.

She was wearing an expression of quiet disapproval.

His expression was one of gleeful triumph.

The conversation went something like this:

“Hello, what’s going on?”  I said because it would have taken someone completely oblivious to miss the implication that something awkward was, in fact, going on.

“Your brother…” my mom began and then stopped.  My brother can grin in a way that is extremely unsettling.  It is the grin of someone who is prepared to do something entirely unpleasant (but non-harmful) at any moment.

That was the way he was grinning as my mom tried to answer my simple question.

“Oh…” she finally said, “just show him.”

David whipped the hat off his head to reveal a completely bald pate.  He’d even shaved the stubble.

“I shaved my head!” he cried.

“It feels awesome!  Here!”

This is when he charged across the room and began to rub his bald head against my bare skin so I could share in the experience of his baldness.  It felt pretty weird.

“Isn’t that weird?” he asked.

The whole situation was weird.

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Jumping off a Cliff – Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about the decision I made to leave my job. I got a lot of encouraging words and I appreciated all of them.

Today, I’m going to write about how and why I ended up keeping my day job and how it helps with my eventual goal to work for myself.

Before I explain what happened, let me offer a few pieces of advice anyone should keep in mind when they deicide it is time to leave their job.

1)  Never “rage quit”

I don’t care how much your job sucks.  Two weeks isn’t that long.  If you did your job well and your boss could be a good reference, give notice.  Even if your boss is a total asshole.

At some point, you might need another job.  If you tell a prospective employer that they can’t call your last boss, that will make it that much harder to get that job.

I had been thinking about quitting for a long time.  When I submitted my notice, I said I was willing to stick around for up to six weeks to help train my replacement.  It meant that I was going have to wait six weeks before I started working my “real” job. But it also meant that if I needed to go job hunting again, I could list this job on a resume with the knowledge they would say good things about me to a potential employer.

Two weeks goes by quickly.  Do yourself a favor and power through it.

I have burned very few bridges in my life and I’ve always come to regret making that choice.

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