Monday, August 15, 2016

Make Music: Why I Vote, and Why I'm Voting for Johnson/Weld

It's not my style to post partisan political messages. The main reason is that there is not much fruit in political posts: Many don't pay much attention to politics, and those that do aren't swayed by someone posting what amounts to a digital yard sign. Plus, political posts can be divisive. I don't care for that.

However, I think that the upcoming November elections are important for our country and merit the sticking out of one's neck. I hope that because I write on politics so sparingly, I'll have some good will built up with you, and that you'll give November some thought. Ultimately, I don't mind who you vote for, but I want you to vote, and I want you to vote in someone that you believe in. So, here we go.

1. Make Music Together
It breaks my heart when people complain about "the government", and how their vote doesn't matter. In America, we are the government. Here is some tough love: for better or worse, the government reflects us. It's to your credit and your fault. We have the ability elect our representatives. We can participate in the process of decision-making at every level. So many of us choose not to participate, out of apathy or "rational apathy", meaning we don't bother because we don't believe our voice matters. As someone who has been in and out of politics for ten years, I say that your voice does matter, but only if you use it. In our system, participation is not just a right - it's an obligation. Our system is designed to be a symphony of competing and complementing melodies, timbres, themes, and harmonies. For our system to work, we need everybody. If only the second trumpet and an oboe show up, it's awkward and incomplete. Why get dressed up for a concert when the orchestra doesn't bother showing up? When we all show up with our own part to play, however, it's music. It's beautiful.

If you are disenchanted, please show up, and not just to the presidential elections. Those probably matter the least. In Texas, you can go to your county website and get a sample ballot to show you every race that you can vote in. Your local elections matter greatly. Your roads, your zoning, your taxes, your schools, your police - so much is controlled at the local level. It's easy to get involved locally because unfortunately so few do. If you don't like how polarized things are, think about this - elected officials are accountable to their voters. A lot of times, the major races are primaries and runoffs, not general elections. If you want more calm, middle-of-the-road officials, you have to show up and vote for them.

2. Play Your Part
I'm voting for Gary Johnson because he is for several things that I am for - optimism, limited government, liberty, collaboration, intellectual humility, and treating others with respect. Do I agree 100% with him? Of course not. (I'm not sure I agree with my own positions 100% of the time!) But, he is someone that I believe loves the country and will do his best to govern prudently. I can get behind that.

Some people complain that a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote. No, that's not right.  A wasted voted is a vote for someone you don't believe in. A wasted vote is a vote never cast. A vote for someone you believe in is showing up and participating in the orchestra - it's playing your piece in the symphony. That's not a waste, that's democracy. The more musicians, the better. More ideas emerge, and more harmonies are possible.

Show up and play your heart out - we need you.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Only Right Thing

Back in the 1990s, I was a pre-pubescent mess of palm sweat and jorts. Awkwardness aside, my future was bright: I was going to be a pro-wrestling rock star. In my free time, I was going to be a superhero. (These were my earnest, clearly attainable goals.) The only real question I had was whether I would need a separate uniform for each career, or if it would be ok to keep the same spandex and pleather getup all the time.
Clearly, the face of a cultural icon.

Sadly, as I got older, those options were shed in favor of other, more realistic goals. These included saving the world as a writer, saving the world as a political revolutionary, and saving the world as an attorney.

I wanted to do something major to help make the world a better place. Maybe that sounds naive or silly, but I'm a true believer. I want to help! Unfortunately, I'm a failure at pretty much everything I do. As much as I love music, my rhythm is awful and my voice warbles. As much as I love writing, a thousand other people could say what I want to say much more gracefully than I ever could. As much as I want to be a brilliant attorney, there are a lot of lawyers who are more adept at distilling complex matters into simple paperwork or jury-friendly stories.

In other words, I'm just an average guy. There's nothing special about me. I struggle to stay in the middle. It's depressing to keep failing at things you care about and love.

Sometimes, I get so frustrated by my inability to be good at anything. What am I doing here? What's the point? I forget the end itself - to help; to love. The good news that I'm learning lately is that you don't need to have any particular skillset to love well. You just have to love. That means that you offer up your attention, your effort, your heart. You pray, you cook, you clean. You encourage. You cheer. You show up. You help people be whoever it is that they are supposed to be.

That's what I'm going for, now: showing up and letting my loved ones know that they're loved. That sounds like a life well-lived.

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” - Matthew 22:37-40

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

the off switch

there is a difference
a life examined
a life viv-i-sec-ted

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

One of my favorite comic books is about a little house that holds all of the art, writing, songs, and medical breakthroughs of people who were taken too soon from the world. We lost out on all of their accomplishments because we lost out on them. On Memorial Day, we're thankful of the people who were willing to sacrifice for the good of others. I wonder about all of the accomplishments and, more importantly, people we missed out on because of war. We'll never get to fully know them, at least not on this side. At the same time, I'm so thankful that these brave soldiers and their families were willing to sacrifice so that we could have a chance at better lives. Let's make their sacrifices worthwhile. Let's care for one another, take our civic obligations seriously, and do our part for future generations.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Most Metal Animals

Since it's Friday and I have some free time on the bus, I present The Most Metal Animals.

5. Dragon*
4. Honey badger
3. Falcon
2. Scorpion
1. Spinosaurus**

*Super metal, but not real. Can't be the most metal.
**Like a t-rex, but bigger and has a sail on its back and can swim.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Official Halbey Guide to Parenting

I have been a parent for nearly a year and a half. Therefore, I am qualified to give you unsolicited parenting advice. Here are three tips to make you amazing at watching your kids. You are welcome, parents/nervous aunts and uncles!

1. Wear athletic shorts and shoes. If you are anything like me, nothing brings you more joy than sitting on the couch, drinking, and watching tv. That is heaven. Apparently, kids aren't supposed to be doing anything of that. Kids prefer running around or trying to swing from your window treatments like they are Indiana Jones. Athletic clothes allow you the freedom to play hide and seek, go for spur-of-the-moment neighborhood walks, and host impromptu pro-wrestling demonstrations. An additional bonus is that barf and spilled food come out of athletic clothes better than business casual clothes. In all seriousness, it's easier to goof around with kids in comfortable clothes. My feet smell awful after a walk unless I wear athletic kids. One time, I thought one of my kids threw up on the rug, but it turned out that smell was my feet. Wear athletic clothes and you'll be more likely to pass along an active lifestyle.

2. Hot coffee and cold coffee are both coffee. I like to brew some coffee in the morning when one of the kids wakes up.Coffee is both a delicious treat and an aid to being alert. However, after chasing kids around for awhile, the coffee usually gets cold after a couple of sips. I have learned to see this lukewarm coffee not as gross old coffee, but fresh iced coffee. Just pop a few ice cubes in your mug and you can pretend like iced coffee was your plan the whole time.

3. Don't be a diaper zero, be a diaper hero. Before I was a parent, I was very nervous about changing diapers. People told me that you don't mind changing diapers that much when it's your own kid and that I would be ok. This is true when it comes to the fact that you will definitely be happy to change the diaper to help your kid. You want what is best for them. But, it is not true when it comes to dealing with the diaper itself. If you were squeamish about diapers before having kids, you will probably still be squeamish about diapers after. Just do what I do - wad up some TP and stuff it in your nose prior to changing diapers. It looks funny, so your kid will probably laugh at you, plus it buys you a good 60 seconds of limited diaper smell. That is what us mediators call a win-win. I have also found that opera singing while changing diapers is helpful. Something about the ridiculousness of the scene takes your mind away from the diaper reality and will keep your kid from being bored.

BONUS TIP. You will be fine! If you love your kid and want the best for them, they will sense that. They'll be good, and you'll be good. The other stuff doesn't matter.