Alex's Class Trip - Hike Up Mt Wachusett

Today I took the day off work to chaperon Alex's 2nd grade class trip up MT Wachusett. Alex was very excited and we made our way up to the top pretty fast.  The boys seemed to think it was a race.

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Looking exceptionally rugged we sat down for lunch at the summit.

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On the way down, Alex's friend Julia started to wear out. Apparently she had packed a small library in her backpack in case there was down time for reading. So +1 for reading dedication. Minus a bunch for mountain climbing preparation.

Alex was quite the gentleman. He handed me his backpack containing nothing by a reusable sandwich wrapper and a near empty water bottle and carried Julia's bag to the bottom.

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He's becoming a fairly tough and thoughtful boy.

More pictures of our hike in this Mt Wachusett Alex Class Trip flickr set.

Alex vs. The Race for the Cure Boston 2010

Alex supported his Grandmother in today's Race for the Cure.  She's a breast cancer survivor, or as we like to call it, a breast cancer ass kicker.

Grandma and Alex

The goal was to raise money to support research to eradicate breast cancer.  Christine and her Sister put together a team and between them raise $1,475 from friends and relatives.  One friend in particular came through in a big way. I posted a challenge to my brother in law on twitter...


and within 20 minutes my friend Ben had donated enough to meet my entire fudraising goal!



Ben's an exceptionally generous and classy guy and I can't thank him enough for stepping up like he did! Thank you Ben!

The morning of the race arrived and we headed into Boston much earlier than I like to be awake. Alex insisted that he wanted to actually run the race and warmed up in a hotel lobby. 



Seeing his enthusiasm, Christine and I decided I'd stick with Alex and she'd stick with the rest of the group. When the race began and we had a fairly crappy poll position.



The Race Begins


But as soon as the crowed thinned out Alex started sprinting. We did the first mile in alternating 100 meter sprints and short walks. That mile took 15 minutes. There are no pictures because I was running too keep up most of the time.

By mile 2 Alex started to over heat.

Alex in Mile 2


But he remained in good spirits and was determined to finish the race.

Those runners are catching up because Alex Sprinted Most of Mile 1


Somewhere during that mile his Uncle Ron (the brother in law I challenged) passed us. As we entered Mile 3 Alex's foot started bothering him so I gave him a ride.

Alex Hitches a Ride on Dad's Shoulders


But he insisted on walking most of the way. As we came up to the finish line he sprinted passed cheering supporters and snapping cameras for the last tenth of a mile.

After the Race


We finished in 1:02, far off the 15 minute mile pace we started but still quite respectable for a seven year old. Alex's Uncle finished in 40 something minutes, so he won this year, but next year he's going down.

A few minutes behind us was the rest of the "Hall A$$ for the Cure" team. ("Hall" is Alex's Grandmother's last name)

The Rest of the Hall A$$ team


After the race we went to the Whiskey Priest Pub for lunch, and they had the most amazing selection of Jameson Whiskey. Unfortunately it was only 10:20am, and while it was noon somewhere, I was sadly to hot to drink whiskey.

Lunch at the Whiskey Priest


This is the entire "Hall A$$ For The Cure" overlooking the water near the World Trade Center.

The Hall A$$ for the Cure Team


I was really proud of Alex. He was upbeat and determined to support his grandmother the entire time. Even when it was clear that he was getting very uncomfortable, he pushed through it. It's clear I need to teach him how to pace himself, but I'm thrilled to see him so driven to complete something.

Stephen Colbert and the Immigration Reform Hearing

Steven Colbert was asked to speak at a congressional hearing today because he was one of 16 Americans to try out the Take Our Jobs program and become a migrant field worker for a day.  In the past I'd be bothered by comedians getting directly involved in politics, but the level of public discourse has become so caustic that it seems the only rational people left are the satirists.

A recording of the entire session is available on this CSPAN page and CSPAN's transcript search feature lets you jump right to points in the video when specific people are speaking.

It's worth going to CSPAN to see all of his interactions with the committee, but the two videos below contain the majority of his testimony.

This first video is his Opening Statement.




His responses to the questions in this second video are just stunningly rational; especially when Rep Judy Chu asked him why he chose to get involved in this issue. Colbert leaves character to answer the question. There's 1:55 worth of Rep. Judy Chu talking for the cameras at the beginning, but it's worth watching the entire clip.




You know the Congress is a mess when the most rational person in the room is the fake pundit who's made a name for himself by saying irrational things.

Life Goal #34 - Lay Siege to a Castle via Trebuchet

Trebuchets were the engines of war in a time when men were real men, women were real women, and you were more likely to die of a parchment cut than be able to read what was written on that parchment. It was a simpler time. 

Since the day I learned about trebuchets it has been a life goal to lay siege to a castle with one of these magnificent devices.  Something in the beauty of the physics that producing the throwing power needed to launch the rotting corpse of a cow over castle walls just speaks to me.

This Saturday at the Harvard MA, Lions Club Fall Festival, a little bit of my dream came true.





The guys in this video are members of the Lions Club. They built the Trebuchet by hand. It is a thing of beauty. While life goal #34 is actually to set one of these up and fire it, I got a taste of the future when Alex, Allison and I pulled the firing lever and launched a bag of lime at the castle across the field (we're in frame starting at 40 seconds).

It wasn't my trebuchet, and we didn't launch a cow, but it was truly a sublime experience.


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Allison, Conner and Alex watching the castle

Dear Muslim Community, I'm Not With These People

I realize in writing this that I'm in the minority, but I think building a Community Center (a.k.a Mosque) at Park51 near Ground Zero is a great idea.

I believe this because:
  1. Building a Mosque at Ground Zero would model the values of religious tolerance and freedom on which the United States was founded. 
  2. Building a Mosque at Ground Zero would show the world that Americans are smart enough to reject the falsehood that Islamic Extremist terrorists in any way represent the overwhelming majority of Muslims.  
  3. Building a Mosque at Ground Zero would begin to heal the festering wound in the landscape of Manhattan that has tragically been left open for 9 years.


Since 2001 the United States has flown into a frenzy of irrational, self destructive behavior.  And this objection to a community center based on a religious prejudice is just the latest terrorist guided behavior.

If I were a terrorist I'd go to my boss with the events of the last 9 years and ask for a big raise.   Based on one horrible day's work in 2001 I'd managed to get the United States of America to:
  1. start not 1 but 2 ongoing wars, 
  2. accidentally kill numerous Iraqi and Afghan civilians (resulting in my terrorist recruiting numbers going through the roof),
  3. incorrectly equate one of the worlds largest peaceful religions with terrorism,
  4. torture prisoners, and
  5. force their citizens to subject themselves to degrading full body scans when they fly. And if that's not degrading, then why do they blur the face in the picture?

When the terrorists perpetrated the 9/11 attacks there weren't that many of them. 30 in the planes. With their support and planning team less than 100 were involved in the attack. That's not a lot. I'm a pretty dull dude and I have more followers than that on Twitter.  If they were going to scare anyone they needed to seem bigger than their meager numbers.

So they tried to convince US citizens to think that all Muslims are evil because 30 people claiming to be Muslims did something horrible.  That's like claiming that all Catholics are evil because a small number of them raped little boys. I'm all for drawing and quartering the rapists, but to make the mental leap that 99.999% of Muslims are terrorists is no different than claiming that the other 99.999% of Catholics are rapists. It's simply absurd, and I'm embarrassed to be associated with so many people that have fallen for this terrorist trick of tortured logic.



So to the Muslim Community,

I want you to know that I am an American, and I am not with the people that object to the building of a Mosque near Ground Zero.  I am not with the people that have been duped by terrorists into thinking you and your religion have anything to do with terrorism or 9/11. And just as a topical side note, I am not with the pastor that has threatened to burn a Qur'an. That guy is an embarrassment to humanity.

I am with you and the other Americans that adamantly support the building of an Islamic cultural center at Ground Zero because it is the best possible response to the terrorist attacks.  To close the gaping wound in Manhattan's landscape by constructing a center of peace, happiness and worship would prove to the world that America rejects the terrorists claim to Islam, and demonstrate our willingness to follow the values of religious tollerance and freedom upon which the United States was founded.

To do otherwise is simply not the American way.



Epilogue
I can imagine this one building as the beginning of something even greater than honoring our past.  It will be the first of many community centers. Rising like a chorus of phoenix from ground zero will be centers for Muslims, and Jews, and Catholics, and Hindus and Atheists and numerous other groups. All of them surrounding an open green.

In that future, people around the world will look at the area where the World Trade Center stood and see a place where people of different backgrounds and beliefs freely celebrate there differences and their similarities in peace. Reborn in the World Trade Center's place, The World Cultural Center.

And the people there tell stories of the those who stood up in the face of prejudice and fear, calling them the greatest generation of Americans. At the entrance to The World Cultural Center is a stone carving remembering those who fell and those who rebuilt.  At the bottom it reads

"Only when we remembered the American values of Tolerance and Freedom could we build this World Cultural Center and in doing so defeat the terrorists."