Thursday, February 05, 2015

Lullabies From The Great Beyond

My wife and I recently welcomed a new baby into our lives. A little over 8 pounds of wiggle, gurgle and squeak, his first few weeks introduced many new realities and ideas. One of these connects to a man who died shortly after I turned 17 years old (long ago). But we'll get back to the Bruddah in a minute.

We have been learning about how easily sleep can become optional (even if it remains the most lovely and wonderful thing when available), how well a person can listen while "asleep," and who is the lightest sleeper in our house (spoiler: neither of us would have guessed but it's me).

Starting in the hospital, we worked on a balancing act that parents have navigated long before us including our parents, grandparents, and theirs before them. Welcoming our defenseless, beautiful little boy into our lives, and our arms, we tried to uncover what he needs and wants based on cries, grunts, looks, smells, and the wisdom of books, doctors, parents and friends. This has been a wonderful adventure.

In those earliest days at the hospital, I was learning about what it took to soothe a crying baby, trying music, bouncing, and eventually one day doing a slow dance around our small hospital room with our baby in my arms. He seemed to like my broad, swinging motions as we swayed together to Jeff Buckley's cover of Leonard Cohen's, "Hallelujah," Lou Reed's "Perfect Day," and a long-time favorite, Israel "Iz" Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole's mashup of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and the Louie Armstrong classic, "What a Wonderful World."

Here he is snoozing to Wilco, not Iz, little hands in the air.
It felt magical when these dance moves of mine and music combined to send him down into a quiet, peaceful sleep. Weeks later, we continue to try to master the tricks of motion, sound, and light to locate the snooze button. Variables abound that can throw off sleep efforts, and constants emerge as well. Iz became our go-to solution when a sleepy baby was needed in the very first days. He provided many needed moments of relaxation, quick chances to clean something or someone, or just the moment to hit the bathroom. We have played many kinds of music for our little guy including classical, alternative, country, zydeco, soul, folk, world music, jazz, an array of singer song writers, and some select rap, but from the first days at home, putting that one island tune on repeat was the most reliable way to let our guy catch an express train to dreamland.

During his own time, Iz was a singer who was larger than life, in more ways than one, and ultimately he was larger than life could contain, succumbing to multiple health issues at the young age of 39. His last name translates as, "The Fearless Eyed" but to our newborn son, I would re-name him, "the heavy eyed." There are all kinds of beliefs related to what happens after we die, but for Iz, I can say with certainty that his voice persists, and is one of the most reliable tools we have found to help our baby boy find his comfort zone, and enjoy some sleep.

I can only imagine that in his little baby dreams, he feels the edges of waves lapping against his tiny toes, as he listens to a large Hawaiian man who strums a tiny ukulele keeping him wrapped up in the arms of sleep, whether he's snoozing through a bright blessed day, or a dark sacred night.

What a wonderful world, indeed.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Marriage and Money

Over that the dish, they're arguing that one of the reasons poor people don't get married is because they can't afford a wedding. Apparently, since a wedding costs, on average $27,000, lots of people refrain from getting married so as to avoid advertising their lack of resources to others. Now, I'm sure that this happens, but as an even partial explanation as to why marriage rates in America are lower in low income communities, it is extremely weak. I can think of at least two reasons why.
First, this argument ignores that people tend to fall into particular income groups. Rich Americans tend to know other rich Americans. Poor Americans tend to know poor Americans. It's disturbing but true. So most low-income people are not stressed out about competing with their best friend's $40,000 wedding bash. Of course, there are people who will feel compelled to compete, but they will also tend, almost by definition, to be rich and college educated. The sort of people writers for the dish will tend to know...
Second, this argument potentially confuses cause and effect. As marriage becomes more common among the rich and less common among the poor, the cost of weddings is obviously going to go up. Back when everyone was expected to get married, the cost would have been much lower, because there were more modest weddings. Those modest weddings brought the average cost down. Now, as marriage increasingly becomes an option that we don't expect for poorer Americans, the cost is going to go up.
So whatever the reason that poorer Americans don't marry, I don't think concern about a $27,000 price tag is one of them. And whatever the reason, it is certainly a worrying trend, because marriage produces all kinds of familiar and social goods. Which is why we should encourage efforts to expand marriage to same-sex partners as well.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Live Blog Obamney Town-Hall Talk-o-Thon V2.0

Hi Folks,

If anyone's interested in commenting on tonight's debate, you're welcome to join us here... not sure who "us" will be, but we'll see!

- The Best Way.

P.s. as the debate rages, we'll post some highlights back to the post body, but the best way to follow the stream is to click on the post page and refresh (F5) periodically - Cheers!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Great Podcast - Thanks Radiolab

So yesterday on my drive home I was listening to Radiolab, one of my favorite podcasts.  The show I was listening to, I'm sure, was pretty old because I haven't really refreshed the content on my iPod in awhile, but it was a short where they highlighted a podcast THEY (the hosts of the show) love called 99% Invisible.  They played 3 clips from 99% Invisible and they chatted with the creator/host of that show - it was a lot of fun.  The whole concept has to do with trying to highlight and ferret out pieces of the world that are commonly seen but unnoticed - they call it a podcast about design.  One of the clips featured a guy who collects statistics all year and compiles an annual report on himself that he publishes online.  In 2010, the guy's father passes away, and he dedicates the annual report (or a section of it, maybe) to statistics about his dad.  They highlight one where he lists having recovered X number of photographs of his father while inventorying his belongings, 18% of the photos showed his father wearing a necktie.  It was a fascinating listen.  If you don't already love Radio Lab, it's an insanely good podcast about science and the world - I highly recommend checking out shows on colors, guts and well... whatever else you see, they do a great job.

That's all for now... OH WAIT!  If you want to hear the actual Radio Lab episode I'm talking about, you can find it here (or through iTunes, etc.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

So here's an interesting selection of two comments from last night's live blog - I'm wondering if folks have reactions to this question: Do people care about this election - do they care differently than folks seemed to in 2008?  I would say yes, but I'm struggling to wrap my head around why exactly.

>> Vencie: Here's a question: why do you think this election is so different? Last time we were blogging up a storm. and it wasn't just us, each one of the internets was abuzz with political bloggery. You got the sense water coolers across the nation were surrounded by concerned citizens taking a break from their work day to talk about politics. This time no one seems nearly as interested. is it that no one actually believes Romney has a chance?

>>Matt: Oh my Venice, you clearly don't live in the South, where this election is considered to be of prime importance and Romney definitely seems to have a chance. But there is definitely a more invigorated base behind the challenger this year, at least in Alabama.

Live Blogging the Very 1st Mittens VS BarryO Zinger-Showdown 2012

Here's our thread for tonight's Live Blogging event! As we did back in the glorious early housing bust days of 2008, it will work like so: Comment away - say your piece, and as quickly as possible, our crack team moderators (John) will pull pieces into the post itself as much as he can - so to keep up, view the post page (rather than the full blog page) and refresh for new comments!

 That's that - oh, and enjoy!

9:20pm - if you're not in the comment stream, you've missed the genesis of a new Austin Powers villain: COALFINGER!!!!!

Before we LiveBlog - a little fun from Springfield

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Live Blogging COMING SOON to a sleepy old neglected blog near you!

What's that you say, stranger? It's election season!?!?!? Well hoo doggy, that sure sounds interesting. Last time America was electing a President, this ole blog was full of posts - entertaining videos and political commentary. Remember those days? If not, there's an archive to page through. Well, here we are 4 years later, and it's time to break out some old skool moves with a live blogging bonanza tomorrow night starting a little before 9pm. So dust off your F5 key (refresh) and stretch out those fingers! Join us and offer your own snarky two cents while Mittens & Barack go head to head. See you tomorrow! BE THERE, or be SQUARE!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


That last one was post number 666. They say that's the number of the devil though I'm not sure why. Anyway, that's proof you don't want to f@ck with the folks at the Best Way.
Venice out.

Hispania and Japan

Bloody hell. It's been over a year since my last post, which appears to have also been the last one on this blog. If you asked me, I would have said the last post was maybe 6 or 7 months ago, but in fact it's been over a year.
Anyway, right now I am listening to an album called "Hispania and Japan" which according to my iPod is by Jordi Savall. It was recommended by emusic. It's a nifty, intriguing recording, full of beautiful and exotic music, but it isn't quite what I thought it would be. It is inspired by the travels of a saint from Spain, to India and then to Japan and uses music from all those cultures as it goes. The Spanish influenced music includes a lot of choral pieces; the Japanese music is very heavy on the shakuhachi. The funny thing is that for the most part the tracks alternate. there will be a Japanese pieces followed by a choral, or a Spanish style guitar. Rarely do the two styles blend on a single track.
One might question what the point of this is, especially in this day of playlists and so forth. If i wanted to listen to different styles of music, this critic would say, I would just program my iPod this way. But that isn't really fair. The different tracks on this album go together in way that forms a whole: you might end up wondering why more composers don't preface their choral music with a solo biwa.
And each track, taken by itself, is worth listening to. So it's a good album, probably more suited to solitary enjoyment that anything else.
Ok, so the post is up. With any luck there will be another in less than 16 months!