Two more through the gates of my high school alma mater

I did it! #classof2014

A photo posted by Anthony Kinley (@anthonykinley) on

Anthony told the people in the row ahead of him and a few of the people around him that he was going to do it. He was going to do a selfie. And he was true to his word.

I had two nephews graduate from high school recently. They’re in the same grade and same school. Ben was born in the fall. Anthony in the spring.

They didn’t go to the exact, same high school I went to, but we’re all still from the same hometown. I’m proud to be their uncle. And as much as I would have loved to be there as they went through the process of becoming men, at least I was there on the day that childhood ended and real life begins.

To the next chapter in life. Here, here.

Family and fun in KCMO

Rebecca and I got back yesterday from a one week stay in Kansas City, MO. My mother grew up there, and it’s where my parents met and got married. The road that took our family to Iowa is a whole other tale, but there is still a large portion of extended family that lives in and around KCMO.

KCMO from Liberty Memorial

My grandmother turned a young 90 years old this past Wednesday, so that, of course, means one thing for a family with hefty Mexican roots. It’s a party, and I think I’m still recovering.

The birthday girl

Otherwise, this trip was a chance to get away from the craziness in Vancouver, enjoy some family, and relax a little bit. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, and you can see more of them in the Flickr set.

She really was here

Truly the “City of Fountains”.

Neptune

Pomona

Brusch Creek

Choices

I haven’t been able to find Mexican bread as good as this in Vancouver.

Mi madre y mi tia

My mom and my aunt, but you can’t see the three pitchers of sangria that were absolutely amazing.

La Bodega

And the scene of the crime.

Rebecca in KCMO

KCMO Pose

Liberty Memorial Park

It was a really great week in Kansas City. Hot, but great to see all of my family. Hopefully a trip to Iowa can be the next leg when we go to visit, but now we’re anxious to show them some of the sites here. Pictures can’t do KC or Vancouver justice, both great in their own right.

Making the best of a birthday

Driving the Ikea

I know that I am late to mention anything about Rebecca having her birthday on the ninth, but I’ve been far too busy to stop and mention it in a blog post. That’s not to say that we haven’t been busy celebrating her birthday nearly all week. From dinner to a Canucks game, we’ve just been going and going with a variety of fun things.

Regardless, let me take a moment to wish her, my wife and partner in crime, a happy birthday. 🙂

Using my Brother Printer to send a letter to Grandma

My grandmother has been asking me to write her for a while now. I think it’s strange how the internet culture makes sending a letter so foreign, if not almost difficult to do. With the advent of email, blogging, instant messaging, and so on, sending mail just seems… strange.

Brother Printer letter to Grandma test The tough thing about sending a letter is that it’s still tough to convey everything you want to, especially to my 89 year old grandmother who doesn’t really do email, even though video conversations through iChat is something she’s familiar with. So with this monster of a printer that we have in the apartment right now, I thought I would put something together to send her.

The print quality of all the pictures really turned out well. I didn’t think that it would be too much of a problem, but it still surprised me. Using Google Docs, I can write something and then wait to get home to print it on our sweet Brother Printer.

Star power to raise awareness of Angelman Syndrome

I have a nephew by the name of Zach that I probably don’t mention enough. He is almost ten years old and has a condition known as Angelman Syndrome[wiki]. It’s a rare form of a mental handicap that slows the nervous system from developing at an average to normal rate.

Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a rare neuro-genetic disorder named after a British pediatrician, Dr. Harry Angelman, who first described the syndrome in 1965.[1] AS is characterised by intellectual and developmental delay, speech impediment, sleep disturbance, unstable jerky gait, seizures, hand flapping movements, frequent laughter/smiling and usually a happy demeanour. [wikipedia]

Even more rare to the point is that Zach also has a form of albinism. The chance of a person being born with both of these conditions is less than 1%. Our family goes to great lengths to make sure that we keep a hat on his head when outside, but he has grown pretty accustomed, if not quite hip, to keeping the sunglasses on his face.

Caring for a child with AS can be tough, and my brother’s family have done a lot to consistently adjust to Zach’s needs. This is outside of the need of special beds, wheelchairs, car accommodations, or simple daily assistance. Even though his development is slower than the average child, turning corners can be quick. You have to be on your feet and be prepared for anything, and the kid can surprise you with the way he interacts or problem solves something unexpectedly. Speech and walking is still something to be worked on, but he has developed his own form of communication over time. It would almost seem that his older brother, Ben, is the expert interpreter.

The other day, my brother emailed me with a news story that actor Colin Farrell[imdb] has recently announced that his son also has AS.

Hollywood superstar Colin Farrell yesterday opened his heart and revealed that his four-year-old son James is a special-needs child.

The renowned Irish actor revealed that his treasured son was born with a rare form of cerebral palsy called Angelman Syndrome. […]

And he said that he is dedicated to helping his son reach his own “individual potential” and to be “as happy as he can be.”

”With my son the only time I’m reminded that there is something different about him – that he has some deviation of what is perceived to be normal – is when I see him with other four-year-olds.

“Then I go “oh yeah” and it comes back to me. But from day one I felt that he’s the way he’s meant to be.” [independent.ie]

Now it can be said that Farrell has had his share of not so good exposure in the Hollywood limelight, but for those who seek to raise awareness of AS, the actor is doing some good for the cause. His support to the Special Olympics is giving me extra consideration to the fact of the 2010 Paralympic Games coming to Vancouver. They are different events in their own right, but I still hope that I can lend my efforts to help support the cause in Zach’s honor as well.

Zach and I talking on iChat Zach is a strong, little boy right now, and everyday presents new developments. I don’t get to see him as much as I used to, but we say hello to each other on iChat every so often. Even there I can tell that his cognitive functions have changed. And when I say that he’s strong, that can be an understatement. You never know if he could end up being in the Special Olympics himself, doing some greco-roman wrestling perhaps, and you can ask his older brother about that.

To find out more about Angelman Syndrome, visit angelman.org. Their mission “is to advance the awareness and treatment of Angelman Syndrome through education and information, research, and support for individuals with Angelman Syndrome, their families and other concerned parties.”

My mom has cooler shoes than me

Mom’s cool shoes I’m jealous. She got these for bike riding. With my shin splint, I’m reduced to walking for a few weeks. The pain is just too much, but these are completely the type of shoes I’d want for working everyday. Can’t wear the flip flops when hauling stuff around, not to mention with all the rain we get in Vancouver.

Two screens are better than one

My dad had an epiphany while he was visiting us in Vancouver back in April. Instead of one really huge monitor, you can get a lot more out of having two. When I told him about having three, I think that kinda blew his mind.

Chris Pirillo, who apparently I am a lookalike of, posted about this today, so I sent it on to Dad. He replies, “I already have one.”

Dad’s Duel Monitor Setup

“There is no way I’ll go back to the single monitor on my work setup. It is too nice; too productive; too fun; and a new world all together.”

Designing electronics like he does, it makes a whole lot of sense, eh?

Lower mainland adventures with my parents

To explain a long story as to why I’ve been a tad MIA in the past week or so, here is my attempt at a photo blog post sort of thing, thanks to my cellphone camera(our digital camera is experiencing battery issues). My parents have been in town for the last week and a half, so we’ve been doing out best to be good hosts and show them how beautiful the lower mainland is. This is a far cry from Iowa, and I think they have really come to love the beauty of B.C.

White Rock walk

Walking along the water in White Rock, B.C.

Dad digs the gelato

Introducing my dad to green tea gelato. Who knew that is could taste so good?

Brockton Point - Stanley Park

Last time they were here, we were only able to drive through the park. This time, we stopped and did a fair share of walking.

My parents on the dock

Road trip to Osoyoos, B.C.

20070420(003).jpg

Vineyards of the Okanagan. We did our fair share of enjoying the fruits of the labor.

And finally, this could potentially bore the pants off you, but I did all the driving this weekend. It was my first time driving through the mountains to that extent, so a huge adventure for me. The trek is not overly stressful when you kinda of know what to expect. Still, there are two words that I keep visualizing in the back of my head: “brake failure”.

Art 2.0

This CNN article is particularly interesting to me because my sister is someone who is trying really hard to promote and sell her art in addition to her day job and being a single mom of two kids.

LONDON, England (Reuters) — Collector Charles Saatchi has launched a Web site for art students and a handful have already sold works online as the Internet begins to change the way the art world works.

With prices for contemporary art soaring, collectors say they have less time to travel to galleries and shows to see new works for themselves, while aspiring painters and sculptors find it hard to get noticed amid the pressure to find the next hot young stars.

For many, the Internet is the answer, offering low-cost access for thousands of painters, sculptors and buyers and, at the same time, providing a Myspace-style social networking site for artists the world over.[cnn]

Player by Elizabeth Bollwitt
Elizabeth Bollwitt: “Player”

My sister is a ways out from attaining extreme success with her endeavors on the web, but presence is important for sure. Beth took a hiatus from the world of art for a short time. In the last few years, my sister has gone to a variety of shows in the midwest. Painting is her true knack, but she can also do graphic design and wood carving. I can almost swear that some of her pottery projects from college are still floating around, but it has been a long while since I’ve see her do much in that realm.

Pointillism[wiki] is the style Beth specializes in. That might seem to be a painful process to some, but she has a real talent for it. Her inspiration comes from a variety of places. The collection has probably doubled, maybe tripled, in the last few years, and a print of her “Sunset Flower” sits on the wall in the living room of our apartment. The recent expansion of her original works has seen some incredible progression in the use of color and technique. “Player” has to be one of my favorites. At least when I first saw it, it really impressed me. I love the bold use of colors, and she has gone on to expand that concept in other paintings she has done since then.

Sunset Flower by Elizabeth Bollwitt
Elizabeth Bollwitt: “Sunset Flower”

Being an artist that offers themselves on the web is not as easy as it might seem, and I think my sister can speak to that quite clearly. Presence is the simple part. Gaining attention is the next big step, but actually achieving success is the golden ticket. Seeing the digital image won’t get people interested in buying as much as seeing the original up close will.

It’s comparable to when I saw Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”[wiki] for the first time. The reproduction that you’ve seen a thousand times before is like an over played song. It gets old, stale, and you don’t think twice the next time you hear it. However, with art, when you see the original painting, you get it. I had to be pulled away from that Van Gogh it because I couldn’t quit staring at it.

If you enjoy the samples of that you see in this post, then please visit my sister’s website, elizabethbollwitt.com.

The deer that couldn’t

While making their way to visit some of our family in Kansas City, MO nearly a week ago, my parents did not plan on making an unexpected stop in southern Iowa, almost near the Missouri border. My mom says she had no idea what was going on and didn’t see a thing. She must have been looking down or not paying attention to the road from the passenger seat.

Dad said that it all happened in a matter of seconds. From the pictures, you can see that the weather was near perfect. This time of year, you never know if it might snow or if you should put on your shorts and enjoy a nice dose of indian summer. My dad always has his camera with him, so as soon as the initial rush of everything subsided, he snapped a series of pictures that I’m posting here. You can see all the photos in this Flickr set.

One thing you can bank on is that it’s mating season for deer. Night time driving is far more concerning, always looking out for those eyes reflecting your headlights as it bounds towards the highway. That sounds stupid, but it’s no different than knowing that, in the lower mainland, when you see a bear cub, move away as quick as possible because the mother bear is near by.

Apparently, the growth on the side of the interstate shielded this buck from my dad’s vision. When you’re traveling 65 MPH, nearly 100 KPH for those keeping score in metric, there’s not much room to react when a buck leaps out of nowhere and decides that it’s crossing the highway, no matter what’s barreling down at it.

Both of my parents walked away from it with relatively little injury. Dad said that the strangest thing was the air bags going off. Both got some soreness from those things inflating, but no medical attention was needed. Dad was able to keep the car under relative control when the impact happened, but any further across the median would have put them into oncoming traffic.

The final outcome? The deer is dead, the car is basically totaled, and my parents are alive and well. The red station wagon will no longer be a family staple. I drove it a lot during my high school days, often being made fun of for driving “the grocery getter” around town. Of course, the situation could be much worse, but now my folks have the headache of finding a replacement. I think it’s causing them more pain to do that than the actual accident itself.