Thursday, June 27, 2013

Caution: Genius at Play

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Henry is thinking "why won't this train go?"

Henry is getting older so quickly. I know I've been saying he's a genius from day 1, but he really is amazing. He can follow directions if you tell him to clean up your books or throw that tissue in the trash. In fact sometimes you don't even have to tell him. I've seen him clean up his books of his own volition and one time after ripping a tissue into a million pieces he started picking all the pieces up and throwing them in the trash can without me even asking!

Henry's vocabulary is improving. Sometimes he still points at things and says "Daddy, daddy" and we say no, Henry that's a wall or that's a potted plant, that isn't Daddy. But he also says "Mommy," "No!" (his favorite word), "Beep, Beep!", "seat," which unfortunately often sounds like something else, "cat," "nana" (as in banana one of his favorite foods) and just the other day he learned an important one, "eat" which he now says over and over again when he's hungry and like me, he is always hungry.

But what is even more impressive is the number of words he understands. Sometimes he'll just start pointing to things around the room or in his books. He is asking what things are called. He is learning! So eventually, I start quizzing him. He has a book with various farm animals and some of the pages have many different animals on them so I say "which one is the pig?" and he'll point to it, "which one is the cow?" and so on. He's getting really good at this.

One of his books has very simple text about a yellow car, but it also has a lot of various things in the background, so one day I start pointing out everything in the book. I say there's the bicycle, there's the gardenhose, there's the dog, there's the dry cleaning, there's the sky, there's the clouds. And I'm thinking he's going to end up not learning any of this because I bombarded him with too much, but the very next day when I took him outside he was pointing up at the sky and the clouds when he's never been interested in them before. I think the part about the sky and clouds had sunk in.

The other thing that makes me think that Henry is a genius is that often times you only have to teach him about something or show him something once before he gets it. We've taken Henry to a playground with a toddler play area a couple of times. My brother and my parents were with me the last time. And in one part of the playground there is this beam that is sticking out and it is at just the right height that Henry could have run right into it and hit his head. But I showed Henry that he had to duck, I pushed his head down and guided him under it. Well, the next time I let him run by it and sure enough he ducked under the thing all by himself. And I have my brother as a witness. :)

I'm still taking pictures of Henry at his daycare every day. Here are some of the best ones.

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These three are Henry getting into trouble. In the first one he's going behind a cabinet he's not supposed to and he's roping his friend into it too. In the second one he's backing up against the cubbies like a criminal trying to get out of the spotlight. And in the third one he's reaching up onto the white board to get something the teacher was trying to put out of reach.
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Whenever I try and take a picture of Henry it seems like it's meal time. Either I end up taking the picture at the same times each day or they feed this kid a lot! But no matterwhat Henry's doing, I try and get a fun shot. I love how happy the kid is in the above center shot and I love his hair on the upper right one. But of course my favorite is the one below center. It wasn't taken at school but it's still hilarious. It reminds me of one of those shots of a celeb trying to grab the camera.
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I definitely think Henry is going to be a bookworm. I guess there was never really a doubt with two bookworms for parents. 
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He is also going to be musically inclined.

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Henry really is a happy kid he is constantly excited and screaming "Yeah!!"
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The proud parents and the Kiddo

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An empty diaper genie ring makes a great crown doesn't it?

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Henry had a bad cold this month but his hair was always perfect!

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Carol's mom sent Henry some clothes so I put them all on the boy at once so we could show her right away how grateful we were. I think he looks like a new superhero Raincoat Man.

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Carol taught Henry how to take "Selfies" with my i-phone. I think technically Henry might have taken this picture himself. He's a pretty good photographer isn't he?

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Looking at the ponies with mommy. Henry loves going to the zoo!
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Sometimes you just need to take a good nap. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Short Story of the Week (June 2013)

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Hi! Most of you probably already know who I am and are aware that I am a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy who blogs regularly over at Stainless Steel Droppings.

This is not the first time I've had the pleasure of being featured here on John's blog as host of the Short Story selections for a month.  If you have not taken advantage of the chance to volunteer to pick our weekly short stories, I highly recommend you sign up now.  Slots are open and it is a great deal of fun.

Rather than rehash information from previous posts, let's hit the highlights.  The picture of my wife, Mary, and I posted above was taken last weekend by my future son-in-law while we were out celebrating my daughter's 21st birthday.  A few weeks prior to this Mary and I took a week off to stay in two of our favorite Inns located in Missouri's wine country to celebrate our 24th anniversary.  I know the words "Missouri's wine country" probably sound like an oxymoron, but trust me on this, the landscape is beautiful and the wine is very good.

In addition to celebrating our anniversary, May 2013 was a big month for me on the fan-boy front.  I was able to spend two weekends in a row with Hugo-winning artist John Picacio at conventions he was attending here in Kansas City.  I had the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with some of my long-time idols including Michael Whelan, Gregory Manchess and Charles Vess.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Charles Vess live on stage on the final day of the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 2 event.  I also was able to visit with Cathie and Arnie Fenner, editors of the outstanding, award-winning annual, Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art.  It is a memorable experience to be able to have more than just a few minutes with creative people who are a source of inspiration.

I am a big fan of short stories.  I think there is something special about this particular form of storytelling and when done well the temptation arises to resort to hyperbole and describe them as having a certain sort of "magic"--I know, heresy in a Science Fiction book club.  When an author can use a very limited word count to evoke emotion, inspire debate, provoke deeper thought or simply entertain I believe it is worth celebrating.  It is my pleasure to bring to you the short stories for June 2013.  In an ideal world you would enjoy each and every one.  But this is the real world and we all have different tastes.  At the very least I hope you find something that compels you to offer your thoughts and opinions.  Enjoy.


Week #1- Deus Ex Arcana by Desirina Boskovich.  It was featured in the April issue of Lightspeed.  I reviewed it for SF Signal and wrote:

“This work of original fiction” a story the author wrote “that reflects the essential absurdity of humans interacting with alien technology” and she does this with great aplomb by juxtaposing her own visually absurd images against some that are truly horrific. The protagonist is Jackson Smith who is seven when the story begins though the reader also spends time with him as an adolescent. It was an ordinary June morning when the box arrived in Springfield, Missouri and from the moment Jackson spies, and then touches, it, the town and the people who inhabit it will never be ordinary again. Boskovich writes in an engaging style that compels you to enjoy the words themselves as well as the images they conjure. Jackson is a very likeable character and in the midst of all the chaos he grounds the reader and keeps the story from becoming silly. I couldn’t help but feel that the story reads like a very serious Outer Limits or Twilight Zone episode. Recommended.

Week #2- Mono no aware by Ken Liu

I'm very excited about this week's short story, the 2013 Hugo and Locus award nominated story "Mono no aware" by Ken Liu. Without giving away too much detail, this is the story of a generation ship bound for a new home which focuses on one particular Japanese boy who is part of the crew. The story was first published early last year in the anthology, The Future is Japanese, and it was one of my favorite short fiction reads of the year. The story's vibe reminds me of a popular classic work of short fiction that many of us have read and discussed in the past. I won't spoil the story by revealing which classic work that is here, we can talk about it in the discussion posts. Don't miss the author spotlight which talks about his inspirations for the story.

Week #3- The Urashima Effect by E. Lily Yu

E. Lily Yu is one of the hot up and coming authors and I've enjoyed the few stories of hers that I've read. For those interested she was the guest on the latest episode of The Coode Street Podcast. I cannot say much about "The Urashima Effect" without spoiling it. A man wakes up after three years of stasis to continue the rest of his journey to the planet Ryugu-jo where he is to establish a base. As part of an effort to combat loneliness and isolation, his ship contains recordings from family and friends, one of which is his wife telling him the story of Urashima Taro. I like the 'story within a story' element in this short as well as the fact that it is a fantasy story/fairy tale embedded in a science fiction story.