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1- As a pretext to shop for more books (to read together at story-time).  There are some gems out there ...  Like my recent acquisition:  Monsters Eat Whiny Children.

Note:  It is a kid-friendly story in which no children - whiny or otherwise - are actually eaten...  I have had fun reading it (specially when within earshot of my wife who disapproves of monsters in general, and of childivorous ones in particular) but I must admit that the monsters' dialogue is a little beyond the grasp of my 2-year-old, and the black and white illustrations fail to grip his attention for the length of the whole book.

 
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Toddlers have many uses, not the least important of these is that they can serve as personal pocket comedians.  In our dealings with adults, quirks of personality and strange obsessions are sufficient cause for keeping a safe distance.  And even the slightest of speech impediments is a torment to both the one afflicted by it and to his audience (though to different degrees, no doubt).  But with a toddler, the whole "what the hell is he up to now" thing is usually... acceptably hilarious.  It's OK, you can go ahead and laugh.

 
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This morning as we piled the usual amorphous mass of strollers, dogs, kids, and assorted urban survival equipment into our Land Rover in preparation for a trip to the Air Show, my wife suddenly let out a string of Oh-my-Gods, Oh-nos and Poor-things.  Her voiced clearly indicating (as only hers can) that she was grief-stricken and grossed-out at the same time. Telltale signs all of these, that she had spotted a road-killed furry creature.

 
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When I was growing up, my dad had a .22 revolver of no particular brand. The last time I visited him, the little thing was still around... somewhat rustier, but still holding on to the title of The Gun of The House, with little chance of being dethroned.  If you know guns (I didn’t then... I do now) you realize that a .22 revolver with a 2″ barrel is as close as a firearm will ever get to being a toy.  There are smaller guns, but few are less impressive.


 
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For a while I attempted to persuade my wife that we really ought to name our first son Rudy in honor of Rudyard Kipling and on account of two important facts.  First, the man wrote many great books, stories, and poems, often on the subject of manhood. Second, I figured Rudy would be an easier sell than Mowgli (and Rikki Tikki was already taken by one of our dogs).  

Kipling's poem If is a classic of fatherly advice.  I transcribe it here in its entirety.  As with other extended quotations... my sincere apologies go out to whom it may concern, in the event a copyright no-no has been committed.

 
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This is a very funny book.  I found it while I idled away my layover at an Atlanta Airport bookstore. I read 90% of it there and then, standing by the bookshelf... laughing to myself like a moron.

I say many stupid stuff to my son. Maybe one day he'll remember me like this.  That would be very cool.

There is also a website.  In case you don't feel like googling it, the picture to the left is linked to it.

 
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The Cain Mutiny is a Pulitzer Prize winning WWII novel by Herman Wouk.  It was adapted to the screen and became a hit and an all-time classic on leadership and the Navy (with Humphrey Bogart as the mentally unraveling Captain Queeg).  At the heart of the movie is Ensign Willie Keith (a once spoiled mama's-boy en route to becoming a good man in the service of his country).  And at the heart of Keith's character is a letter he receives from his father, who is about to die.  It is a great letter addressing several of the themes that I consider important.  Therefore - at the risk of infringing a handful of copyright laws - I here transcribe the entire thing.  In is longish, but good.  If you like it, do yourself a favor, go read the book, and rent the movie.

 
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This (my second post) is one of them that may not clearly relate to being a dad.  For what it is worth, here is my rationale...

In the movie We Were Soldiers Once (and young) LT.Col Hal Moore (aka Mel Gibson) is asked about his view on the “conflict” between being a good father and being a good soldier. He responds with “I hope being good at the one helps me be better at the other.”

As it happens, I agree with the Colonel. I reckon soldiering and fatherhood are both about leading young men and women through the fog, and the noise, and the danger (but at the same time, doing it right requires our grasping the critical fact that if we successfully shelter our young from the danger, we will have have missed the whole point).

Last year I spent 7 months in Iraq. I am creating this page as a repository for the meager “war-diary” kept. I wrote almost exclusively, only when shot at – which happened about twice a month.  So there is not much to it.


 
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I'll start this blogging thing with a long overdue (and still incomplete) project.  My son is almost 2 years old now.  I began writing this letter before he was born.  My original goal was to have it ready for his perusal upon arrival.  Which really was quite a silly goal.  What use does a newborn have for a letter unless it be to wipe regurgitated breast-milk off his chin?  My new goal is to finish it before he learns to read... and besides, I am now long overdue on a second project... A Letter to my Daughter.  Some plagiarism may ensue.