Saturday, April 29, 2006

United 93

We went and saw a remarkable movie today...United 93. The movie is an incredible, straight-forward look at the mind-boggling events of Sept. 11, 2001. It is extremely well made and life-like. Some of the real people in the air traffic control and military, who participated in the chaos of that day portray themselves.

And chaos it was...the movie seems to capture that very well. There are no cheesy lines, stupid stunts or other Hollywoodisms and maybe that is one of the reasons it feels so true-to-life. The producers and director were meticulous in their efforts to base as much of the movie as possible on the known facts. Of course, a lot of the details of what actually took place on the airplane will always be unknown, but the way that they filled in the holes in the story seems to be a likely possibility for how the events might have played out. There is as little interpretation of the events as possible, leaving just a stand-alone and very powerful story. The storytelling relies on a lot of jerky, hand-held camera shots that make you feel how frantic and desperate the situation must have been. There is some graphic violence that is as disturbing as I have ever seen, not only because it is so brutal, but because it really happened!

It is emotionally chilling and gut-wrenching. It was so hard to watch some parts and yet it felt so important to me to watch those very parts. It allowed me to somehow, some way feel a slight hint of what these average and heroic everyday people went through and felt when they stared horrendous evil in the face. They were some of the first Americans to fight on the front lines of the war on terrorism and they deserve tremendous honor and respect.

I was deeply moved and affected by the whole experience as evidenced by my tears (for the record, my wife shed more than me...). Afterward, I felt more aware of my mortality and more aware of the tremendous courage and selflessness of which human-beings are capable.

Tiptoe Through the You-Know-Whats

Yesterday, I saw some very pretty things. It is true that I see my pretty wife every day, but in addition to that daily perk of marriage, I saw some other pretty things which are showcased below:
Even Ty liked these tulips

Tulips, Tulips, Tulips!!!

Pink and white tulips for everyone!

Look, I'm a real dutchman with a windmill and tulips!!!

Dana in Full Bloom
In case you hadn't figured it out yet, we went to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival on Friday. Yes, we saw lots of tulips (Dana's favorite flower) and we took pictures of lots of tulips. It was pretty amazing how many tulips there were actually...more than I had ever seen in one place at one time. Those Skagit Valley folks sure know their tulips!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Wanna buy a car?

Dear blogging family members,

I like Mark's idea of having a network of family blogs. I started this blog over a year ago but I didn't really tell anyone but Dana about it. I'm not sure why, but I just didn't feel like sharing it with many people. Mark pointed out to me that it is an obvious contradiction to create a blog that you don't want anyone else to see. I am aware of that and I can't really explain my feeling, but the beauty is, I don't have to...this is my blog and I make the rules! The older I get, the more I realize that I am a man of many internal contradictions, some of which I am only slightly conscious. I'm working on myself. The important part is, I am sharing it now with anyone who cares. (is there anyone?)

Anyway, I thought I would try a little experiment on this blog and solicit financial advice from my financially-savvy family members. Here is our family (WA Fosters) situation on which I need input:

We want badly to buy a house this year, but they ain't going cheap as I'm sure you all know. We own two cars and on both we are still making payments :-( I've done the math and in order to afford a house that we can be happy with, we can only afford to make payments on 1 car. I bought a bike and will be able to ride to work 3-4 times a week so that Dana and the baby will not be stranded at home.

Some info about our current automobiles:

2000 Honda Civic (Buster B)
  • payment: reasonable
  • remaining payments: a little more than 2 years
  • quality: decent and reliable, but higher mileage
  • worth: just a little bit more than we owe
2004 Hyundai Sonata (Sonny Boy)
  • payment: almost twice the payment on the Honda
  • remaining payments: a little more than 4 years
  • quality: very nice car, very reliable, low mileage
  • worth: $2000 - $3000 less than we owe (i.e. we are upside-down)

Our current plan is to sell the Sonata, eat the amount that we are upside-down and try to pay off the Honda in about a year and a half. At that point we could afford to buy another car and remain with one car payment. I like this plan because it involves up-front sacrifice (getting by with one car) on our part to achieve better financial positioning later on which seems to ring true to me. Unfortunately, we have been advertising the car for 3+ weeks and have had almost no responses. I'm sure we would get more responses if we dropped the price lower, but we are already asking $2100 less than we owe. We are not sure how much lower we are willing to go...

Any ideas about what we should do? We have a few that we are mulling over, but I would be interested to hear if any of you have any brilliant ideas.

Super Humans

I just watched the last half of a show on TLC called "Super Humans." It was about a woman who was born with one of her legs severely disformed so that the doctors amputated part of it. She is now in her early 30s and has competed in the Paralympics and marathons for years. She just recently completed the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii (2.5 mile swim, 112 mile bike, full marathon). What an incredible person!

She said when she was 11 years old she hated the feeling of being left out of athletics and other things because of her disability. She remembers one day she saw a woman with a prosthetic leg run by without any problems and it changed her life.

The most interesting part of the show came when she was talking about how often she has wondered what her life would be like if she had been born with two legs. She said she doesn't think she would trade her life now because of how her life has been colored and shaped by a "disability."

I know it sounds like just a cheesy, feel-good show, and I guess it was, but I felt truly inspired. I like to think that I really know something about how harsh and cruel life can be, but the reality is that while my life does provide me with the occasional challenge or two, I know very little about pushing myself to the edge of my ability and crying out in anguish when things go horribly wrong. I hardly know anything about the real pain and agony (physical and other) that so many people endure constantly, and yet so many of them rise above. I take so much for granted and spend so much time feeling sorry for myself, when I should just go out there, quit making excuses for myself and kick some serious butt like this girl does!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Beautiful Washington

This is a picture of my lovely wife looking out over the beautiful Washington state coastline at sunset. The picture was taken on our "babymoon" to the coast. The concept was something she had heard about, but then I surprised her with the trip. As you can see from her beautiful belly, she has less than a month to go.

The title of this picture is "The horizon of possibilities."

My brother recently started his own blog. Here is the link:

Catching Your Breath

Check it out. He is more poetic than me so I'm sure you will enjoy his blog!

'Til later....