Aloha Friday: Ten Years With My Angel

Ten years ago tomorrow, I was just getting back from Rosh Hashana services. I wasn’t tired enough to go to sleep, so I decided to log onto Yahoo Chat and talk with a few people. Little did I know that B was in the same chat room. Actually, B didn’t even know she was in the same chat room. She thought that the window was closed. When she saw it was open, and that I was signed in, she checked my profile. A change I made a few weeks back – adding the text “Nice Jewish Boy looking for Nice Jewish Girl” – led B to contact me. Right from our initial chatting, we clicked. I didn’t know at the time that I would fall in love and marry her, but I definitely knew that there was something special about this “Angel Forever.”

My Aloha Friday question is: Have you ever met anyone in person that you had first met online? Do you feel that meeting people online lets you get to know them better than meeting them in person?

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the MckLinky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #4

NHL’s “Naked Gun” Moment and Turning Six

Last night as NHL was getting ready to go to sleep, I was setting some programs to DVR and making sure we had enough room. While checking to see if an episode of “The Spectacular Spiderman” was one I hadn’t seen, I accidentally hit play. NHL only saw the first couple of seconds, but that was enough for his “bedtime procratination sense” to tingle. He asked to see it and I told him that I’d show it to him another day. He asked what happened in the episode, so I explained the story briefly.

Me: “Spiderman found a black costume that made him stronger, but it also made him mean to people. He didn’t like being mean, so he took off the costume. This episode tells how he took it off.”

NHL: “Who’s Howie?”

As this point, I couldn’t contain myself. I burst out laughing and had to leave the room. I told B who also burst out laughing. As I caught my breath, I told a confused NHL that he just said something very funny even though he didn’t know it. (I didn’t want him thinking I was laughing at him.) It was all-too-much like something from the Naked Gun movies. Yes, I am serious and don’t call my Shirley.

All this is just a roundabout way of saying Happy Birthday to my now-six-year old NHL. Last year, at this point, he couldn’t read at all. Now he’s reading whole books to himself (and us). Last year, he couldn’t ride on a bike two feet without help. This year, he can ride almost all the way around the block without needing help. (Only some uneven sidewalks stand in his way.) Last year, he didn’t know any math at all. Now he’s adding and subtracting like a pro. He keeps learning so much that it is sometimes hard to keep track of it all. He’ll display some piece of knowledge and I’ll have to stop and ask “NHL, when did you learn *THAT*?” This can be good, like with reading various complicated words, or bad, like playing Mario Kart Wii with me and telling me that he’s going to “kick my ass.” (Yes, I told him never to say that again.)

While tucking him into bed last night, NHL told me that he’s going to miss being five. He was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to do things that he liked doing because he’ll be six. I told him that he’s had a lot of fun being five, but that every year he’ll be able to do more, not less. He’ll still be able to do the things he loved doing when he was five, but he’ll be able to find new things that he loves doing that he wasn’t able to do before.

I watch NHL grow with mixed emotions. Part of me finds it amazing to watch him grow into such an intelligent young man, but part of me wants to keep him a baby forever. As he gets older, I’ll miss the hugs and father-son cuddle moments that were so much a part of his younger years. But then again, I guess I’ll take my own advice and look forward to finding all of the new things that we can do together that we weren’t able to do before.

Happy birthday, NHL, from your very proud dad!

(For B’s Happy birthday message to NHL, hop on over to

Happy Anniversary To My Wonderful Wife

[thumb id=1137]Eight years ago today, I got married to the most wonderful woman in the world. From the first moment that I met her in a Yahoo chat room, I knew that there was something special about her. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but as I got to know her online, I knew for sure that I wanted to spend more time with her. (And we did, often talking online or on the phone late into the night.) The first day that we met in person was wonderful. Unlike with other women I had crushes on before, I wasn’t nervous around B. It was the strangest feeling. I was completely at ease. Everything I said or did felt completely natural.

[thumb id=1122]As we dated, I quickly realized that I was falling head over heels in love with this wonderful woman. Every time I thought that I was the most in love that I could possibly be, B would say or do something (or simply look stunning like she usually does) and I’d find new levels of love to explore. I soon knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with B. I proposed to her one hot July evening after going for a walk around the block with her and we were married the following June.

[thumb id=1134]Since then we’ve been through highs (the births of NHL & JSL), lows (NHL & JSL’s seizures and hospital trips), gone on wonderful vacations (Vegas, Disney World) and had some very stressful situations (first home purchase). Through it all, there has been no one that I’d rather have by my side than B. She is the most wonderful, amazing, and sexy (yes you are, B!) woman that a guy could ask for. She’s also an incredible mother I love her with all of my heart and still, to this day, am constantly finding new levels of love with her.

The Isolation of being a Techy Dad

I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a nerd. (Ok, a huge nerd.) I grew up with not much in the way of social contact between myself and other people. In fact, my social contacts were just as likely to be a source of stress (kids making fun of me, awkwardness around girls, etc) as a source of serenity.  Recently, though, I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling isolated and craving human interaction. 

When B and I got engaged, we lived pretty far apart.  We talked it over and decided that I should move to be closer to her.  So I left my life in my home town, with my then-job/then-co-workers, my friends, my parents, etc and moved to be closer to her.  I don’t regret that decision. B’s family is great and I like it here, but there are times when I miss having my own friends and family nearby. 

It doesn’t help that my work involves me sitting behind a computer for 8 hours a day, in an office with little to no human contact.  My office has no windows, so I just look at four walls all day (when I’m not looking at my computer screen).  In addition, my office is in the back of the server room, so I need to close my door lest the air conditioning freeze me out.  There are many days whenI don’t say more than "hi" to people face-to-face.  (Instant messaging or phone conversations don’t really count.)   When I come home, I need to instantly transition from Work-TechyDad to Dad-And-Father-TechyDad.  There honestly doesn’t seem like I have any time to just be TechyDad.

Recently, Discovering Dad wrote an article called Making Friends Like a Man.  In it, he laments not being able to make more guy friends.  I can completely sympathize.  Where we live, my wife is near to at least two of her friends.  She can decide that she wants to go out with one of them to see a movie, have dinner, or just vent about something.  I can go out with… well, nobody really.  I’ve lived here for seven and a half years now and I still don’t have a single friend that I can just go catch a flick with or talk with.  My life revolves around going to work and being a dad/husband.  As much as I like my job and as much as I like being a dad/husband, there are times when I wish I could take a short break from it all and just be myself with a friend or two.

B recently told me that she’ll be heading out one night with a friend of hers to catch an upcoming movie that they wanted to see.  I lamented that I couldn’t do the same to see, say Star Trek.  B told me that I could go with her father or her friend (who likes Star Trek also), but I said no.  I don’t want to go out with her family or her friends.  I want friends of my own.  However, I’m completely clueless how to remedy the situation.

Do you have many friends outside of work/family?  If so, where do you go to socialize/make friends?  If not, do you ever feel isolated?

Dealing with Hatred and Bigotry

The recent Holocaust Museum shooting and the focus on White Supremacist James W. von Brunn has brought up a lot of memories for me.  Being Jewish, I’ve dealt with bigotry a few times in my life.  The first time I encountered it was sitting in the hall in school with a friend of mine.  He introduced me to another friend of his.  This guy, knowing that I was Jewish, starting spouting off some very anti-semetic things such as "Hitler should have finished the job" and such.  Now, I’m not usually a violent person, but my friend had to restrain me from decking this guy right in his hate-filled mouth.  My friend apologized and tried to claim that the guy was a nice guy despite his views.  I didn’t care.  I didn’t want to be associated with anyone like that.

My next experiece dealing with hate came from within.  I was sitting in my high school Biology class talking with some classmates.  We were joking around and I make a joke regarding Jehova’s Witnesses.  Someone else in my class turned to me and said "I’m a Jehova’s Witness."  Now, I don’t know if he was serious or what, but his words hit home.  I suddenly realized that I wouldn’t like it if people were making bad jokes as the expense of Jews.  So why was it alright for me to make bad jokes at the expense of someone else’s religion?  (Of course, the answer is that it wasn’t.)

This led me to "discover" that my father was quite bigoted.  I don’t think I quite noticed it before, but he was.  He’d make comments about "modern" (for the time) music being "whites listening to black music when it should be the other way around."  He’d see a black man walking in our general neighborhood and wonder "what’s he doing here?"  That sort of stuff.  He didn’t hate other groups per se.  He just thought less of them because they weren’t like him.  Growing up with that kind of attitude is infectious.  It takes a conscious effort to break the cycle, but after that Biology class remark, I made that effort.  I won’t say that I’m 100% free of my father’s prejudices, but I recognize them whenever they try to bubble up (a rare event nowadays) and actively push them from my mind.

My third experience came during college.  A friend of mine, who worked for the school paper, leaned over to me during class and told me not to get upset.  Apparently, the paper was approached to run an add and they accepted it.  The ad, actually a 27 page insert called "The Revisionist", was from a man named Bradley R. Smith and detailed how the Holocaust never happened.  He seriously claimed that not a single Jew was gassed to death by the Nazis, but instead Jews made up the Holocaust to gain sympathy.  Needless to say, I was enraged.

The paper’s editors tried to justify the printing of the 27 page "ad" by saying that he has a right to free speech and that they were simply presenting both sides of the argument.  My response was that, while he had a right to free speech, they had no responsibility to promote his speech.  Their decision to do so was their own, not born of any Constitutional necessity.  In addition, there are no "two sides" and there is no argument.  The Holocaust happened, the evidence for it is clear and its historical authenticity was proven long ago.  Would the paper, I asked, run an ad claiming that slavery never happened and blacks were always treated nice by every white guy they encountered because it "would be presenting both sides" and it would be giving the ad’s authors "their right to free speech"?

My college’s Hillel chapter ran a counter-campaign and I, and others, wrote letters to the school newspaper lambasting them for giving a voice to this Holocaust Denier.  Some others also wrote letters.  One, outragously, claimed that those who died during the Holocaust would be happy to see that we are arguing over whether it actually happened.

During my college years, I also had the opportunity to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.  It had many powerful exhibits like having to walk under the "Work Makes One Free" sign that once marked the enterence to a concentration camp or the room filled with shoes.  When I entered one of the cattle cars used to transport Jews to the camps, my mind tried to picture fitting as many people inside of it as the sign indicated the Nazis stuffed in there.  It just couldn’t grasp how they all fit in.  Of course, I realized, that was because I was thinking of fitting *people* inside.  To the Nazis, they were stuffing in beings that were worse than animals so they didn’t care how atrocious conditions were in the car.  My mind was being limited by my own humanity.  (Thank goodness!)

The most powerful exhibit, however, was surprisingly one meant for children.  It was called Daniel’s Story.  In it, you walk into the life of a little Jewish boy named Daniel just as the Nazis came to power.  His life seems pretty normal as first, but as you progress through his life (by moving from room to room), Nazis intrude into his life.  At first, it is just small things like having to wear a yellow star, but you end up staring at the entrance to a concentration camp.  The exhibit masterfully connected you emotionally to Daniel, so when the tragic ending occurred, it hit me hard.  I’m not one to cry in public, but I was extremely near tears.  Only a odd fluke that I found mildly humorous (a letter by a child hanging on the wall who the same name as me) kept me from breaking down completely.

In addition, I found a renewed reason not to hate others different from myself while in the Holocaust Museum.  One section described how Hitler approached a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  To simplify matters, he basically told them to keep out of his way while he killed the Jews and they would be left alone.  They, however, didn’t think it was right and opposed him.  For their opposition, they were put in concentration camps and killed.  From this I learned that, despite your differences with someone, you should always try to find the good in them.

Unfortunately, I just can’t find any good in James von Brunn or in people like him who turn their hate-filled views into violence.  I hope he survives his injuries only because he deserves to be tried and convicted of murder and locked away for the rest of his life.  My condolences go out to the family of the slain guard and my thanks to out to him and the other guards who kept this tragedy limited to only one life lost.  Had they not reacted as quickly as they did, more innocent lives could have been lost to this madman.  I think an appropriate response to James von Brunn’s hate is information.  Where there is ignorance, hatred thrives.  We should all strive to learn more, whether it be about a group of people who are different than us or about an event in history that we don’t know all the details about.  The more we learn, the more the light of knowledge shines, driving hatred into the ever decreasing shadows.

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