Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lines & Curves

Cashy & Daddy's Third Year and a Quarter

Man makes things with lines, then with curves. The rounded domes of Renaissance Cathedrals and today’s lithe cars outshine their boxy ancestors. The right angle, the kernel of structural support, is pristine efficiency ... but nature eschews straight lines for the curvature in every sea and egg shell. Hidden in this elegance is strength.

What’s true in design is also true in personal relationships. Early in life, the straightest, most direct path of communication is most effective. For example, you cried as a baby as means to getting fed! But you matured and that well-honed whine lost its efficacy. Greater self-reliance was expected and you entered the competitive fray for ear-time with, say, a more practiced big brother.

As an adult, its surprising how ineffective blunt forms of communication become. Such approaches smell suspiciously of demands or directives. So the indirect path, full of graceful hints and nudges, is a better way to influence people. Why? I think, in part, because these nudges allow your audience to draw their own conclusions.

In the end, personalities are not fixed but a kaleidoscope of evolving shape and color. You can't capture the whole picture in one glance and a lot is learned in the periphery. So its effective, in conversation, to explore the edges to capture all the beauty. For the same reason, its also important to take your time. Like the Ents say, "Not so hasty."

The intrigue of Woody Allen films, pieces your Grangie Weller made me watch as a kid, is built off such subtle strategies. Arguably nothing happens but 80 minutes of a conversational maze, but if you watch carefully, only one character navigates out by interpreting the implied signs. Unfortunately, that's never Woody.

Cash, you will be an expert navigator. Rather than interacting in simple, predictable straight lines, you are adding other dimensions to your interpersonal repertoire. You have empathy, the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, your mother’s great gift to you. Add to that a social fearlessness and charisma (that must come from Grandpa Moore). You’ve also developed social forethought, seeing a few chess moves ahead, which adds surprising patience for a three year old.

All this adds up to formidable weaponry for manipulating an older brother. It shocking how often Luke finds himself doing things on his younger brother’s agenda!



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fall 2011 Roundup

Top three household events this quarter:

1) Did our first Palisades Halloween!
2) We finally started construction (versus destruction) on the Potomac house.
3) Rachel finished her first triathlon.

Three Songs I’ve been listening to:

1) Down Boy, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Is is (reased 2007) 
2) Something Good Can Work (The Twelves Remix), Two Door Cinema Club, Tourist History (released 2011)
3) Islands, The XX, XX (released 2010)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Light Saber

Luke & Dad's Fifth Year and a Quarter

I sleep with an imaginary light saber under my bed. I introduced you to Star Wars, to Rachel's chagrine, aiming to foster an imaginative mind. Now I spend much of my time as my alter ego, Obi-Wan, defending the Republic from you, Anakin Skywalker, and the rise of the Empire. Our battles are immeshed in a drama that unfolds daily ... enter our storybook world ...


I guess its appropriate it happens here. Mustafar. Ruptured by the gravitational forces of two large stars, Mustafar is a torn planet. I too am torn by two forces, love and duty, and I too bleed like the Mustafarian lava flows. I am here to destroy him, my beloved friend and Jedi, Anakin Skywalker. 

I stare at what he has become, or may I say, consumed by: the saber bearing Darth Vader whose eyes rage. The boy I trained has turned on us, on himself, and betrayed us all. Yes, I will destroy him.

Vader is impatient. "Fight Obi-Wan!" Igniting his blue saber, he takes a step forward. 

I respond. My green saber riffs, unsheathing. "Anankin, I have failed you."

His attack is swift, coming from high, slicing down. I step back driving my saber down to block, shielding my lower left. Our sabers collide crackling. Seeing my weapon trapped low, Vader ricochets his weapon up towards my exposed chest. "Hah!" he screams, sensing victory.

Yet Vader underestimates a Master's speed. I leap backwards and his laser tip sweeps past, momentum carrying his saber upwards, so I thrust low towards his abdomen. I am suddenly thrown back and breathless by a wall of force as Anakin's non-sword hand jolts forward. 

My god. He has become strong with the Dark Side.

Vader runs forward, swinging his blade side-armed and I block again, but this time Vader steps under me and rips his saber across my waist. I am vanquished. 

Anakin, I have indeed failed you ...


This scenario played out in our living room yesterday. Saber fighting has become our primary form of exercise; you never get enough of it. I must admit that your sword fighting skills hint at a future in fencing. The infatuation with Star Wars has resulted in a significant investment in action figures and plastic light sabers (you have six). Needless to say, you were Luke Skywalker for Halloween.

We've experienced unintended consequences of Skywalker immersion. The primary impact is a sudden interest in robots. Your goal in life is to become a robot builder. You create robots out of paper and legos, and name them things like "YX-6". Another consequence rose from the observation that women are rarely warriors in the early Star Wars movies. This resulted in a short-lived conclusion: "I don't have to take directions from a WOOO-MAN!" Needless to say, this misconception lasted about as long a the phrase itself. 

I was very proud of you this fall during soccer season. On the River Raptor soccer team, you were shy during the first two games. I was a bit worried, wondering if we were pressuring you too much.

Then came the third game. Uncle Tavis and I watched as you underwent a transformation -- you went on attack, aggressively playing the game and dominating. I've never seen anything like it. One piece of advice when you have children, Luke: 

Never underestimate your child. 

Particularly if he is a Jedi Knight. I'll end with a simple observation: one should never leave an iPhone around a five year old. Aside from it disappearing and showing up in sinks, potties and such, you might discover mysterious self portraits on your phone.



Friday, September 30, 2011

Obstacle Illusions

Cash & Daddy's Third Year and a Quarter

I admire your fearlessness. When something grabs your interest, curiosity thrusts you past inhibition. At Cox farms, a bizarre farm turned amusement park, we were hanging with the Fredericks when we discovered a corn maze. Yes, a corn maze! Skittish children and parents alike loitered at the entrance casting furtive glances into the dark stalks. Then, zap, you bolted in.

Cashy courage is now legendary. Coupled with that curiosity is, well, obstinacy, and I foresee you fearlessly blazing trails into the unexplored … and into a few trees. I hope this continues and you never let anyone restrain you through mind or might. As Grant Frazier says, “Life is full of obstacle illusions.” I hope your courage translates into an ability to question even the most revered of ideas.

Question everything because even great ideas of humanity are small islands in an ocean of unknown. We don’t know jack, trust me. Knowledge is founded on repeatable observation and the connections in-between. These island footholds get chained together, sometimes filling in blanks, even forming landmasses that frame our understanding of the world. Big islands yes, but islands nonetheless.

The moment we get comfortable, our frame of reference is inevitably shattered, painfully, by the creative destruction of new discovery. Living in a flat world in the center of everything was great until Galileo unveiled the unsettling truth that our sky was infinitely deep and our world terribly small. Nonetheless, our universe is far more interesting than anything we could've ever imagined.

Even today, Opera at Gran Sasso clocked neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light, an impossibility according to Eistein's Theory of Special Relativity. Physicists are in a tizzy over whether this is error or not. If the speedy neutrinos are for real, we can throw out a good portion of physics today. I want my Physics grades reevaluated.

In the face of all this, I am always shocked when folks cite Science as the reason they don’t believe in God .... or visa-versa! Both conclusions are odd. When 97% of the universe’s matter is unaccounted for, the ocean of unknown is vast indeed. To me, the very fact I exist, meaning my consciousness, is inexorable proof that something very powerful, if not Godlike, is going on. Science is not disproof of God.

And God is not disproof of Science. Traditional scriptures taken word-for-word for an operatic being, or several, playing chess with humanity, well, that doesn't jive with my observation of life either.

What this leaves you with, Cash, is mind-numbingly cool opportunity: the immeasurable ways you can erect new structures of your own understanding of life. And you have a most critical ingredient, the gift of innate courage, to enable sailing into the unknown when everyone else is clinging to the shore.



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer 2011 Roundup

Earthquake Devastation
Top three household events this birthday quarter:

1) Baby Tavis was born!
2) Earthquake and Hurricane Irene, Oh My!
3) We did our first family mountain climb in Colorado (partly).

Three Songs I’ve been listening to:

1) Pumped Up Kicks, Foster the People, Torches (2011)
2) Human Nature, Michael Jackson, Thriller (1983)
3) How You Like Me Now, The Heavy, The House that Dirt Built (2009)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lady Talk

Luke & Dad's Fifth Year

The Internet puts infinite information at your fingertips. Research is no longer a journey through the library but a keystroke and an electronic pulse. With delivery frictionless, data is delivered in a deluge.

To compensate, we consume it in ever-smaller, sugary pieces. The press laments that long form media is drowning in millions of buzz clips, tweets and blogs -- a data tsunami washing away depth of knowledge! We are M&Media junkies.

We can’t even stay true to our questions -- inquiring via Google search delivers paid info nuggets, Google's paid search, designed specifically to hijack our intent!

And the Wellers love it.

A smattering of random information has a fascinating effect on an imaginative mind like yours. The disparate pieces of information we feed you, whether it’s a YouTube video, five minutes of a movie or part of a story before bed, are fragments you weave into a wonderful tapestry.

Like the artist Girl Talk who mixes different riffs into a musical mosaic, or like inadvertently inventing new lyrics to undecipherable song and finding it more meaningful, your inventions are often better than their original parts.

My favorite Lukey mashup originated from tidbits of Star Wars, Harry Potter and YouTubes of your favorite fish: the Angler Fish.

One afternoon you smacked Darth Vader (me) down with a toy lightsaber and screamed in victory, “I control the light!” Curious, I asked what you meant. You explained The Force and Magic were the same thing and they could control things like light: the beam from a light saber or the flash of a wand.

When I pointed out that The Force and Magic don’t exist, you said, “I know, but Angler fish can do it!” Then I realized, what else is technology, biology, and magic but making energy do what you want!

These moments of brilliance are tempered. I woke up a few days ago to, “Daddy, I made Yucky Jello!” As I removed the bowl from the refridgerator, you gave me the rundown of ingredients: soap, water, and … Peeps! The last word ignited a spasm that sent unset "jello" sloshing into my face.



Thursday, June 30, 2011


Cash & Dad's Third Year

Three years old! Holy Cow, we're in real trouble. For your birthday you've given yourself the gift of friendship, an imaginary friend named Honkatolo. He showed up quite suddenly. We’re a little sketchy on his history though sometimes you say he is your friend Dagny’s Grandpa.

Honkatolo typically arrives when you are looking to crack into a conversation. You see, it’s tough for a little guy to get a word in edgewise when a big brother hogs all the airtime. Many a brotherly scuffle arises over perceived control of the mic. Here’s a typical situation where Honkatolo makes an appearance:

Luke:  “... and then I kicked the ball into the goal, mommy!”
Cash:  “I want to play soccer and …”
Dad:   “Luke sure did. I was amazed how quickly he exploded towards the goal.”
Cash:  “Hey, can  …”
Luke:  “And I got an ice cream afterwards! I got the one with bubble gum at the bottom!”
Mom:  “A nicely ruined lunch, dad.”
Cash:  “I want an ice …”
Luke:  “My hands are still sticky! Can I have a wipe?”
Cash:  “Honkatolo always scores lots goals and get’s lots of ice cream!”
Dad:   “Who?”

So, you’ve discovered that an imaginary friend is a useful tool to garner attention, particularly one with otherworldly mental and physical gifts. Honkatolo is a superhuman. Imaginary or not, his accomplishments leave me a tad jealous:
  • Honkatolo mostly lives “on the same planet you fly to for work.” 
  • But sometimes “lives across the street from Dagny.” 
  • “Honkatolo is better than you at hiding in snow.” 
  • He is a “wonderful scuba diver.” 
  • Honkatolo “never gets a stuffy nose. Ever.” 
  • “He takes so much pictures that he never goes to sleep.” 
  • “Honkatolo is a little bit tall.” 
  • “Honkatolo broke your sunglasses.” 
  • Honkatolo has “this much dollars [holding nine fingers] on his planet.” 
  • He “races all of his robots and always wins.”
Signs of a your creativity go beyond the Honkatolo edifice. A trip to Sullivans, our local toy store, will see you sprinting past all the toys to the tools of your imagination: paints, markers and pencils. I call this behavior the "Paints not Toys campaign." This passion for drawing and painting takes after your Grangie, Vanessa and Samantha! Sometimes your imagination is downright mysterious. On a clear night you looked up and saw a full moon and beautiful clear stars and you said, "It's like my sound, Labla-Labla-Labla!" Huh?



Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spring 2011 Roundup

Top three household events this quarter:

1) The Fredericks gave you guys a mini roller coaster for the backyard.
2) We visited Granpda and Grandma in Grand Junction.
3) Daddy went to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the Middle East.

Three Songs I’ve been listening to:

1) Policeman's Xmas Party, Five for Fighting, Two Lights (released 2006)
2) 1901, Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus (released 2009)
3) Pets, Porno for Pyros, Porno for Pyros (released 1993)

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Luke & Dad's Fourth Year and Three Quarters

Occasionally you will meet a person who has found her calling in life. Her work will redefine your understanding of her art. You have two such teachers in Mrs. Insley (left) and Ms. Kim (right) this year. If they are impressive individually, they are formidable as a team. Let's just say I've never seen anything like them in all my years of team building as a venture capitalist -- one plus one equals one hundred.

You had a difficult time towards the end of your time at Aiden despite our affection for the school. The big class rooms and having older kids in the classroom brought you down. You came to hate going to school. It impacted your entire view of the day.

Mrs. Insley, Ms. Kim and the River School turned all that around at a critical point, I believe. I'll let them describe that transition as I've asked them to do this quarter's blog post and be my first guests!
You have made this Beaver year so fun and rewarding. You weren’t too sure about us at first, but you quickly fell in love - “I need black reading glasses like Mrs. Insley or I can’t read!” - and we fell in love with you. Once you felt safe here, you jumped right in and did whatever you had to do to have fun, even when it was frightening or just … different (we’ve done a lot of “different” and weird things this year). 
We remember the first time we tie-dyed shirts for our pumpkin patch field trip. Oh, you were so curious – scientist you. You watched everyone else go, made observations about the steam coming off of the water, and you even asked your friends how it went. But you steadfastly refused to do one, even though it was clear your curiosity was about to make you explode. Well, the next time we dyed shirts – River School colors this time – you were the first in line! That’s one of the great things about you: “I’m gonna give you one more chance!” you’ll say to friends who aren’t playing nicely or to yourself when you get frustrated … or even to different activities that don’t feel comfortable at first. 
One of the greatest things we’ve seen in you, Luke, is how important friendships are to you. Having and maintaining friendships is hard, even rough sometimes, but this makes us who we are and has a lot to do with who we will become. You’ve definitely had your special friendships and favorite friends, but you’ve learned that as member of a class or a team – especially one as AWESOME as ours – you lose out on really great things if you give up opportunities to get to know everyone. “I’m playing with Marley and Bryce today since Charlie isn’t here. I thought I’d be kinda sad that he’s not here, but I’m having a lot of fun with my other friends.” 
Now we have to share one more favorite memory. “Ms. Kim, Ms. Kim, I have to tell you something! I just burped, like a big burp. And I know I’m supposed to say, ‘Excuse me,’ but I couldn’t because I actually just threw up a little in my mouth. I kept my mouth closed though and swallowed it ‘cause I didn’t have anywhere to spit it out. Aren’t you sooo proud of me for not throwing it up??” How does one respond to that? 
But yes, we’re so, so, proud of you (for not throwing up and for a slew of other things). We’re proud that you’ve made friends and learned to negotiate games on the playground. We’re proud that you’ve learned to eat and enjoy lots of different foods – even weird ethnic foods that Ms. Kim made you try. We’re proud that you’ve worked so hard in Mouth Time and Handwriting and all of the other “academics.” But most of all, we’re proud that you are proud of yourself, because there’s so much of you and so many reasons to feel that pride.

Luke, we may have made you a Beaver, but you made us teachers. Good ones, too. Having had this time with you has affirmed and solidified our belief that we chose the right school, the right class, and the right kid to fall in love with. Thanks, Buddy. 
We love you, Hot Stuff. 
Mrs. Insley (the cool, tall teacher with the glasses)
Ms. Kim (the short Asian one that makes you eat weird food)
As you can see, these are very special people. Remember them. I will.



Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monkey & The Dragon

Cash & Daddy's Second Year and a Half,

You don't have a lock on your bedroom door. Unfortunately, neither do Rachel and I. Further unfortunate is my sleeping position: closest to the door. Most unfortunate is your chipper demeanor at dawn.

My mornings are a struggle to climb above a dark, broiling fog upon Mount Doom. To be jolted awake by a serotonin-head that has recently mastered extraction from his crib is to tap into the animal mind. I understand why chimpanzees are fiercely agitated by the human smile.

This morning you sat on my face. I was dreaming of college classes I'd failed to attend when you plopped your poopy diaper on my head. I nearly tossed you across the bed when you made a most unusual statement.

"Daddy, I'm going to tell you a story."

I was thrown off by this. I am accustomed to being commanded to read you a story. The idea you were going to deliver me a story, one that originated from your two-and-a-half-year-old mind seemed, well, improbable.

I croaked, "What did you say?" You replied with clear confirmation of your intent and launched into the following soliloquy:

Once there was Green Dragon and a Monkey. The Green Dragon had no more fire in his mouth because he spent it firing Monkey's books. The Monkey had paper to write more books, but Green Dragon wouldn't share his pen. When Green Dragon saw Monkey cleaning the burned books, he felt bad and gave Monkey his pen. The End.

You ended with a smile. Did that just happen? Am I awake? I've never heard you tell a story much less one with a faint, perhaps mysterious plot. Did God just send me a riddle? What does this MEAAN?

Then it came to me in a flash. You like a good tale, your hair is getting redder, your eyes bluer, your skin fairer, your cheeks rosier, you behave like a leprechaun and you tell nonsensical though suggestive faerie stories ... we've got an Irishman in the family!



Monday, February 28, 2011

Winter 2011 Roundup

Top three household events this quarter:

1) Santa came to Washington with a bound!
2) Daddy went surfing in Costa Rica
3) Monster Truck Show at Verizon

Three Songs I’ve been listening to:

1) The Big Money, Rush, A Show of Hands (released 1989)
2) Classic Girl, Janes Addiction, Ritual De Lo Habitual (released 1990)
3) Get it On (Bang a Gong), The Power Station, The Power Station (released 1985)

Monday, January 31, 2011


Dad & Luke's Four Year and a Half

Several images flash through a father’s mind upon learning he has a son. Visions of great deeds and heroic ventures (feats far surpassing the father’s achievements) are followed by flashes of the grueling parental work necessary to achieve such glory. Then arrives a thrilling and less encumbering image: that of a couch, some chips, and a TV. A son is the ideal mate to watch one's favorite team!

No more halftimes destroyed by a friend that has to go home to a demanding wife! Fortified by shared passion for a team handed down from one generation to the next, games are transformed from marital distraction into the very roots of male American family bonding. What a deal!

Such hand offs are a social requirement in some societies. In Brazil, where the world’s eighth largest economy is swayed by the performance of their beloved "A Seleção", a son that fails to revere the yellow and blue will disgrace his father. Being an ardent Duke fan and alum, I understand this ... because you are my traitor son.

"Daddy, I'm a Maryland Terrapin!"

I was shocked. One moment I was your father, the next, a violated DNA delivery machine. I'd been seducing you into the Duke Nation, fulfilling your destiny and my vision (or perhaps the other way around). Yet "Go Duke!" chants rolled sleepily off your tongue into bored nothingness. This sudden alignment with the Twerps was a titanic disaster.

I had Joe to thank at Addie Bassin's Wine Shop. An ardent Maryland fan, he plotted against me. All it took was a timely lollipop to buy your allegiance. I sealed the deal by overreacting, "WHAT ?!?!?!?!" My theatrics were not only entertaining, but the Luke-mind is adept at identifying leverage. Becoming a Maryland Terrapin was a new chip to play!

"Poddy" by Luke Weller

Your sense of humor is evidence of an awakening emotional intelligence that thrills me. You identify subtle interpersonal undercurrents and play off them. Honestly, you are becoming a complex and highly entertaining person. I'm so proud of you.