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Proudly Humble?

A snippet of ongoing mental dialog inside my cranium runs something like the following:
Brain Voice One: "I am a talented (logician) (thinker)(writer) (analyst) (kisser) (etc.)" Brain Voice Two: "Wait a second.  What makes you think you are talented?" Brain Voice One: "Well, I've had people tell me that I do task 'x' well, and I've often been satisfied with things that I've produced or accomplished." Brain Voice Two: "Surely there are better talents out there than you!" Brain Voice One: "Well, sure.  But do I really need to compare myself to other people to validate my talents?" Brain Voice Two: "How do you evaluate if you are good or not unless you measure it against other people?  Isn't goodness/badness relative?  We are either better or worse than others.  Or, at least our work is better or worse than other work." Brain Voice One: "This is getting off track.  It makes me feel guilty for desiri…

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 3, Day 17 (Monday, July 29)

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Sometimes it's funny, the things that stay with you after some time has passed.  I remember this day being tinged with a touch of disappointment.  Disappointment that led to my own sadness, as I was (unrealistically) trying to make the entire trip perfect.  We all slept in until around 10:30 AM, catching up on some needed sleep.  After taking our time getting up and moving around, we went into Legoland around noon.  The boys were a bit grouchy, so we decided to get them something to eat.  It took a long time for us to wait in line for food.  While in line, Ben whacked Dominic for some reason, and Sharon yelled at him, so he began to cry.  While we were eating, Sharon talked to her mom to try to figure out some problem that we were having with dog care back in Missouri.  After eating, everyone's mood improved a little bit.  We went over into the water park area of the park, where it was super crowded.  I looked into renting a Cabana, and was willing to spend whatever they cost,…

An Incomplete Education

An Incomplete Education

Death-smacked into unknown tomorrow A desperate yearning to believe Spirit anesthetized by sorrow Still being taught what it means to grieve.
A dark, cold campus unfolds through space Loneliness, self-pity and regret One can unlearn too much in this place Graduate with degrees of forget.
Alas, four years is not enough time Storm clouds still linger across the sky Obscured by void any sense of rhyme Visions of tomorrow petrify.
A dull aching pain up the worm's sleeve Cynical numbness is his barter Spewing his craft on how we perceive Trying to gain a devil's martyr.
Strange that the world continues to turn With innocence frozen into stone Always looking for new ways to learn Everyone in his classroom alone.
Along a stretch of nameless highway On the shoulder lay a lifeless fawn Though they long for a moment to stay The valiant mournful herd moves on.

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 5, Day 29 (Saturday, August 10)

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When putting together our itinerary, and researching how and when I would get from San Jose back to Kansas City, I discovered that the Pirates would be playing in Denver during the weekend of my return.  So, I figured, why not?!  I might as well fly through Denver on the way home, stay a few nights and catch a few games as a nice way to wrap up my sabbatical.

For some reason, I could not sleep on Friday night/Saturday morning.  I had to be on the shuttle from the Hilton Garden Inn to the airport at 4:30 AM, so around 3 AM I decided that it would probably be less risky to just stay up instead of going to sleep.  I knew I would be tired, but the ballgame in Denver didn't start until Saturday night, so I would have time to take a nap.  I lugged my bags down to the shuttle around 4:15 AM.  Some guy noticed my statistics book that I had bought from the Stanford University bookstore, and he suggested to me that we all have a lot to learn about Baysian statistics.  Interesting discussio…

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 5, Day 30 (Sunday, August 11)

After staying awake until 4 AM Saturday night, I slept until 12:00 noon.  I debated on whether or not I wanted to go to the baseball game, and in the end decided that I shouldn't pass up the opportunity to see another Pirates game.  Looking around the room, I realized I was out of clean underwear, so it was time to go commando.  The game started in the middle of the afternoon, so prior to walking over to Coors Field, I walked down the 16th Street Mall.  I was in search of an additional duffel bag for my accumulated luggage.  I found a nice outlet store where I found a cheap Nike bag, so I purchased it along with some cologne.  On my way to the stadium, I bought a club-level ticket from a scalper for $40.  The game did not go well....again.  The Pirates got on the board first, and I got to see Pedro Alvarez hit a home run early in the game, but a series of walks and miscues allowed Colorado to take a 3-2 lead by the bottom of the 8th.  Uninspired, I left in disgust before the game …

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 5, Day 31 (Monday, August 12): Consummatum Est!

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I rode the shuttle from the downtown Westin to the Denver airport for an early flight.  After 30+ days away, and nearly a week since my family had left me, I was ready to go home.  I was too exhausted at the time to do much reflection on how the previous month unfolded.  I would do that after being home for a few days, and really over the course of the next year.  It was a short flight from Denver to Kansas City.  My ankle was still extremely sore, so it was difficult hauling my excessive luggage around.  Once I was in the terminal in Kansas City, I called Sharon to ask her to come pick me up.  I waited for my luggage at the carousel, dragged it outside along the curb, and decided that I would go home to take a nap.  Sharon arrived, gave me a hug and a kiss, helped me load up my luggage and drove me home.  Honestly, walking in the front door, it felt like I had never left.  The dogs came and jumped on me and licked me.  It's weird and comforting how you can travel for 30 days and …

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 2, Day 11 (Tuesday, July 23)

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Not surprisingly, given our busy day and late night the day before, we slept in on Tuesday!  I hate to waste vacation time sleeping, but if you have to do it, you might as well do it at a nice cabin in the woods in one of America's most beautiful national parks.  We wanted to see the famous Yosemite Valley and get our national parks passports stamped at the visitor center, so after poking around the lodge during the morning, we loaded up in the car and headed south around 1 PM, after dropping a few postcards in the mail.  It was around a 45 minute drive through more beautiful scenery to get to the valley.  We stopped at one of the parks leading into the valley so that we could walk up to the Merced River.  Standing there on the bank, I was reminded of an antidote I read about John Muir.  Some 19th century tourist came up to Muir and told him that he only had an hour in the park, and asked if Muir could recommend what he should do with his limited time.  Muir replied, "if you …

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 2, Day 10 (Monday, July 22)

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The Evergreen Lodge is a privately-owned facility just outside the northwest border of Yosemite National Park.  While planning for the trip, I had originally looked at staying in one of the several lodges within the park itself.  I was particularly drawn to the posh Ahwahnee, which is located right in the heart of Yosemite Valley.  It turns out that most of the park's lodging is booked well in advance of the one month with which I was working.  I stumbled upon the Evergreen Lodge on TripAdvisor, and it looked perfect!  It had beautiful, relatively new, yet rustic looking cabins that were nestled among sugar pines.  Our cabin had two bedrooms and a common area.  The cabins did not have TVs by design, in keeping with their philosophy of enjoying a retreat away from electronics.  The boys weren't crazy about this, but I loved it!  There was a nice little deck outside our front door on which we could sit and drink morning coffee.  A system of lighted walking trails wound throughou…

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 2, Day 9 (Sunday, July 21)

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Before leaving Las Vegas, Sharon wanted to try her luck with a slot machine.  While the boys and I waited for the valet to bring the car around for us to load up, Sharon popped back inside the casino to try her luck.  Unfortunately, she did not win. However, we still left Las Vegas as winners (at least if only count our net gambling proceeds).  On the way out of town, I took some pictures of 'Leaving Las Vegas' so that I could be like Sheryl Crow or Nicholas Cage.  Our destination this day was the Evergreen Lodge on the northwest side of Yosemite National Park.  Since it was a hot day in the middle of July, and we were on a quest to visit as many National Parks as possible, I thought it would be a great idea to drive straight through Death Valley!  We visited a drive-through for some lunch in Pahrump, NV, before heading into the arid valley of death!  Ever prepared, I even bought some bottled water to take along in case the car overheated. Sharon and I had taken an excursion t…