Happy Half Birthday to K
Yes, half-birthdays are a thing (at least in our family).
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Department Of How Do You Say Wistful In Swedish?
MH and I bid a fond, happy-for-them-but-sad-for-us, Bon Voyage to our beloved and longtime “Swenadian” friends this week. The S family was one of the first families we met when we moved to this neighborhood, over 20 years ago. And now they have metaphorically set sail for the mother ship (the husband’s), Sweden.
After taking his company’s retire-or-get-fired  offer this year, the Swedish-Canadian couple began planning to live their dream of returning to academia/research.  They sold their house in Hillsboro and are on their way to Sweden, and will reside in Gothenburg .
Their three now young adult children, of whom our son K and daughter Belle have so many fond memories, are all US citizens and are all (so far) content to remain in the USA; thus, there is an “anchor” to have our friends return stateside for visits.  We also have their generous invitation to come across the pond and stay with them in Sweden. And so our wishes for them were Bon Voyage and best of luck – we didn’t have to truly bid them goodbye…even as my heart was aching, to lose the physical proximity of such good people.
Their daughter remarked on FB about how admiring and proud she was of her parents for taking on such a life adventure, and she hoped she would be doing something similar when she was 55. Moiself, too, I thought, when I read her touching tribute. Similar (admittedly selfish) thoughts have added to the tug at my heart – where is my (post, ahem) age 55 adventure?  I’m sad to see good friends depart, yet happy for them as they pursue their dream…and also slightly envious of their willingness and ability to embark on their new venture.
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Department Of It’s So Much More Than That
“We hope you are enjoying your ownership experience with your Outback.”
So began the email I received last Sunday. After expressing their wish for my satisfaction, the good folks at Subaru of America tried to entice me to participate in an Outback ownership survey. 
It didn’t take me long to reach for the delete key. But I must admit, for a nanosecond or so, the email did get me to consider my life anew. In the next few days, if y’all notice the twinkle in my eye or the spring in my step or the bug up my ass , it’s because I’ve seen the light. How can I have been so callow, so unappreciative, for so long? I don’t merely possess a car; I have an ownership experience.
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Department Of Yet Another Win For Science
Although the usage of win implies a contest, and there’s no contest between objective evidence and wishful thinking…although, if you spend a lot of time reading Facebook posts you realize how many people confuse the latter with the former.
To wit: The most recent total solar eclipse. Specifically, the fact that it occurred, as predicted by scientists, years ago. Win win win.
A momentary digression: Freethinkers, Brights, Humanists, Skeptics, Atheists – whatever we who are religion-free call ourselves, most of us have had the experience of being asked, by a religious believer, if we ‘believe” in science. Uh, nooooo, we reply, some of us successfully stifling the instinctive, WTF!? raising of our eyebrows (or just a fit of giggling), we don’t need to “believe” in science because “science” does not require that.
Science – observing, documenting and trying to understand the natural world – is a methodology, not a belief system.
Scientists cannot “believe” in science – they have to do science. Science requires action. Believing is passive – not only is no action required, seeking objective evidence is discounted and often even criticized by religions (which champion faith over facts because they couldn’t exist without the former and strive to exist despite the latter).  And of course they do – if you have evidence, you don’t need faith.
Back to the eclipse: we have fresh in our minds (and stunningly gorgeous pictures and videos on our FB and other feeds) yet another example of how to respond to those who would ask us  if we “believe” in science.
Religions have been preaching about and predicting the end of the world for, well, since the beginning of religions. They prophesy the year or the season – often giving exact dates – when the world will end and/or their god(s) will “return.” It doesn’t happen.
Using information they’ve obtained on planetary and celestial body orbits, scientists predict solar eclipses. Scientists predict the exact dates and even times of these astronomical events, and they do this decades in advance. The eclipses happen, on the dates and times predicted.
This could be the ultimate illustration of understanding the world using science, versus using religion. One is based on objective measurement and study of the natural world to discover and affirm what is true, and one is based on mythology, supernaturalism, and wishful thinking. 
Sub-Department Of Define Your Terms
My use of the term wishful thinking: when I apply that term to describe a person’s belief, it doesn’t necessarily mean I think said belief is inherently false, or true. It just means that the person believes what they want to be true, without objective evidence of whether it really is true.
Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.
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Department Of Yet Another Loss For Humanity
“I think I can speak for all Oregonians when I say our hearts are breaking. The gorge is Oregon’s crown jewel. It’s our playground and we are very, very sad.”
(Multnomah Co. Chair Deborah Kafoury, Eagle Creek Fire Grows, Oregon Live.)
A text from Belle, up at school in Tacoma: “the amount of ash is crazy…there was a layer of ash all over my car this morning and it’s swirling around outside like snow.”
Alert after alert, popping up on my weather app. But I don’t need an app to tell that the air quality sucks – I just need to walk to the mailbox. The smoke-hazy skies, the catch in my breath, the lightly falling ash – ASH! – on the raspberry and azalea bushes, the awful feeling in my lungs, followed by the awful feeling in my head and heart, of hoping it’s due to prevailing winds carrying debris from fires far, far away…and finding out it is much closer than I think.
The awful feelings continue, as I find myself thinking the (almost) unthinkable: what I wish would happen to the juvenile shitstains of an excuse for sentient beings young arsonists who tossed firecrackers – in this weather! In ANY weather! – over a cliff, starting the Eagle Creek fire that is currently decimating the Columbia Gorge.
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May you look forward to reuniting with those whom you’ve bid adieu;
May you not settle for mere possessing when you can have an ownership experience;
May you have memories of visiting or hiking the Columbia Gorge when it was flame-free;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 It was a bit more complicated, and less nasty, than how I have stated it.
 Sadly, a big impetus for pursuing that dream was getting out of the Land of the Cheetos Hitler, the Mandarin Mussolini (insert your favorite epithet for #45)…. They found the changing political and cultural landscape of their adopted country to be increasingly odious.
 Although, realistically, the kids will go to Sweden to see Mom and Pop more than Mom & Pop will come back here.
 They were unsuccessful.
 (often in defensive ways that indicate they somehow/deep down inside suspect that their religious beliefs are contradict by reality, and so they want to bring science, skepticism and the study of the natural world down to their level – “Well, you have faith in atheism/religion!” This is also known as the kindergarten-worthy, Oh yeah? Well so’s your old man/nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah! argument.