4 years, 6 months, and 26 days. 1668 days. 40,032 hours. 2,401,920 minutes. 144,115,200 seconds. Too long!

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I had a dream about you last night, Shosh.  I was helping you with your homework assignment on sharks.  We caught a baby shark, and I tried to put a nose ring on it to keep it on a leash.  Note to self: sharks hate nose rings.

Remember how we used to draw pictures of dinosaurs, construction equipment and starfish?  You used to have an immense curiosity about those things and we constantly read about or talked about them.  Once, when you were about 3 1/2, we were at the aquarium and looking at the tide pool/touch pool where a number of different starfish was on display.  You pointed to a starfish and said that it was a leather starfish (the second one above).  The aquarium guide “corrected” you and said it was an ocre starfish (the top one above).  You disagreed and tried to explain to her that it was a leather star.  She wouldn’t have it.  I smiled and told her that she should listen to you.  She decided to go off and consult her books.  Shortly thereafter, she returned to apologize and confirmed that it was a leather star.

Three lessons reveal themselves here.  First, don’t believe in “experts” just because they are experts.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Sometimes, “experts” are too smart for their own good and can be blinded by their own “expertise” and blinded to the data confronting them.  Second, always pursue what you love.  Be curious. Be intensely curious.  Life is an unlimited buffer if you nurture that curiosity.  Third, trust yourself.  Be willing to entertain other ideas, even opposing ideas, but never jettison your thoughts because it’s expedient, because an “expert” said you’re wrong, or because others disagree with you.  If you are right, you stay right even if everyone disagrees.  If you are wrong, you remain wrong even if everyone agrees.  Don’t worry everyone else.  Trust in yourself.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 6 months, and 13 days. Worry about being your best self, not the opinion of others.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

In preschool at Goddard, Jaialai once mentioned that he watched the cartoon My Little Pony.  Some of the boys in his class tried to make fun of him for watching a “girl” show.  He wouldn’t have it.  He told them the show has cool male ponies that fought and did cool things.  Soon, all the boys in his class were watching My Little Pony.  That’s my Jaialai:  he doesn’t allow the opinions of others to dissuade him from something he likes.

Have you noticed that those who are constantly worried about what others think of them are often the most insecured people?  There are approximately 7.5 billion people on Earth; there is bound to be AT LEAST one person who doesn’t like you or think poorly of you.  Get over it.

Never suffer fools, nor worry about the opinion of fools.  Life is too short and there are too many people in the world with very diverse tastes.  To each his own.  Let them enjoy what they want (so long as they’re not hurting anyone): you just worry about being the best you.  If someone brings value to your life (e.g., with a smile, a kind word, company, etc.), then invest in that friendship.  If a person adds nothing to your life (or worse, is always negative, critical, or always in want of something from you), ditch them.  Life is too short to waste on people who only want to bring you down or take advantage of you.

Look for good people who contribute to the world.  Surround yourself with such people.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

4 years, 2 months, and 18 days. Willful blindness is a bad thing: be open-minded.

ELEPHANT AND THE BLIND MEN

Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, “Hey, there is an elephant in the village today.”

They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, “Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway.” All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.

 

 

 

 

 

“Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.

“Oh, no! it is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.

“Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.

“It is like a big hand fan” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.

“It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

“It is like a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree to what the elephant is like.” Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said.”

“Oh!” everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

There is much noise these days about “fake new” and “alternative facts”.  Elevate yourself beyond the nonsense.  Be discerning.

Gravity exists regardless of whether we believe in its existence.  Likewise, the truth exists regardless of our perception. The fact that the elephant has four massive and rough legs, two big fan-like ears, a thick body, and a rope-like tail does not change the fact that those are all but parts of the creature we call an elephant.

These days, talking heads play fast and loose with the truth and would have you focus on only parts of reality … the parts most amenable to their claims.  Don’t be fooled.  The sins of omission are just as, if not more, egregious as the sins of commission.

The trick is to pull back until you can grasp the whole truth, not just the part offered up by those who want to persuade you to buy their wares.  Snake oil salesmen haven’t gone the way of the dinosaurs: they’ve only gotten better dressed and smoother tongues.  Beware the snake oil salesmen!

How can you discern the truth?  There is but one way: to investigate and gather as much information as necessary.  For example, if you are curious about a subject matter, don’t just read one book or from one source about it.  That one source may be — and most likely is — biased.  Look to many sources.  Read materials by both those in favor of and in opposition to that subject.  Once you see the data starting to repeat, then draw your own conclusion.

Be your own man.  Don’t be mislead by fools.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years and 7 days. Merry belated Christmas. The holidays are most difficult.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Do you recall our tradition of choosing and making our own Christmas ornaments every year?  I miss that.  I hope someone protects the ones we have made so that you can have them for yourselves and your own families when you are older.  (However, I fear the thugs may have destroyed them as when they stripped the clothes off Little V’s fabric doll and illegally seized highly confidential and privileged notes and documents to and from our lawyers about our case.  Unfortunately, we are not the only ones wronged.  See, e.g., https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/01/09/the-punishing-price-of-freedom?ref=hp-3-111#.Wri5eLSAd; http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/chicago-police-misconduct-findings-released-today-by-ag-lynch/; and, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-announces-findings-investigation-chicago-police-department.)

I hope you enjoyed the holidays this year.  I know the absence must be as hard for you boys as it is for us.  Life, and the holidays, is simply not the same without you.  The rainbows are less magical, the birds sing less sweetly, the rising sun less promising.

They say time heals all wounds.  They lied.  They say I should move on with my life.  How do I move on when most of my heart — the best part — is missing?

You are the best part of me.  Don’t you ever forget that.  My hopes and dreams lie with you.  That’s why it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to have hope for, and dreams about, the future with you absent.

All my love, always,

Dad