Larditude, Ice Cream, and Why You Should Subscribe to My Blog

We’ve been back from China for nearly three months now, and I haven’t put on the weight I was afraid I would. YAAAAYY! It’s neither so easy or so enjoyable to play the amount of outdoor hoops in Canada that I did among the mad-for-basketball masses of young men at every Chinese university. Here in Ottawa, it’s either empty courts, or young kids, or a game with serious Players that I can’t hang with anymore. Mostly, it’s the first two.

We still don’t entirely know which end is up. In our familiar Ottawa home, we’re still finding stuff we’d forgotten we owned, still trying to winnow down our possessions at least a little, and find places for the stuff we have. (The Story of Stuff. Daily.) We’ve cracked open most of the boxes. I have So Many Great Books That I Haven’t Read Yet. Sometimes I’m thrilled. Sometimes it’s maddening.

Meanwhile, once again, I’ve found a bit of retro-writing in my files. Last week, it was a letter I wrote to and for Son the Fourth on his first birthday, and it was good to remember the thrill of his arrival amid the wrangle of his rampant teendom. Today, it was a piece I wrote (and never sold) on the (mock) horror and (pointless) resolution arising from tipping my crappy bathroom scales at a shudder-inducing 200 pounds, distributed greasily over my formerly athletic 5’11” frame. I gave it a quick polish, and posted it over yonder in the “On Second Thought” section, just above my sappy, sentimental birthday letter.

All right, then. I probably should have reviewed the filmed stage version (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London (England)) of Macbeth that I saw at the mighty ByTowne. It was magnificent, though my brain was full of basketball at the time and I felt a bit too detached; it’s also a bit estranging to watch a film of a live stage production. Even though I was in the third row, there was still a feeling of distance, and I had too many minor quibbles that distracted me from the madness of the Macbeths. (And the foppish comedy of Malcolm, the true heir to Scotland’s throne, which didn’t seem to suggest a great improvement over the madly ambitious Thane of Everything.) The “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech, however, slayed me anew, and the delivery was tearfully sublime. There’s a bit of a movie review, I guess, and books have been read and there may be some “Better Read Than Never” look-backs to come. Don’t despair!

The posting pace is about to quicken, I hope I hope I hope. Here’s what’s been going on recently here at, especially for you newbies.  If you’re a strange lurker here, WELCOME! The bits below will help explain how all this works:

In “At First Glance”, just below in this main section, I recently ran a guest post from frequent commentator Michael P. Freeman on dealing with difficulty, and a profile of one of my best students ever. Below that, you might want to look at my last piece written from China, a thing that could have been titled “Fear and Loathing on Huangpu Lu”. I probably was more than a few centimetres from death, but I stared at that speeding car from way too close and from the seat of my slightly soiled pants. “At First Glance”, where you are now, is the default weblog of this site, and it’s about everything that makes me stop and write.

In the “It’s All About Sports” section, I wrote about the joys of running here in Canada. Before that were a pair of reports on the mightily obscure basketball dynasty in Ottawa, the Carleton Ravens, and their recent humbling of a major NCAA Division 1 program. TwiceReflections on athletics appear to the right in the “IAAS” playground, because ALL the games and all the excuses for sweat-stained excellence interest me, because there is much more to sport than dunks and grunts and numbers.

“On Second Thought” was just the spot for my tubbiness-and-ice-cream lament, my “Letter to My Son, When He Was Only One”, plus another older piece, one that didn’t find publication back in 2007 but still tells a story of faith and commitment that you might find touching. (It still touches me, but pain isn’t everything.) It also, in a somewhat different form, got an airing at, an otherwise quite respectable site.The third major collection of pieces, “On Second Thought” contains articles that are sometimes longer, and usually more fussed-over and less time-sensitive. I let readers know in AFG (where you are now) when I’ve posted there.

Also, for those who like quotations, “He Said/She Said” is a growing compendium of wisdom, argument or fun from other minds than mine. I’ve been quoting Kurt and Maria lately, and before that I quoted one of the great moral voices of the American 20th century, Bill Coffin, as he mused in 1959 on what an education should not be.

Please note also that the so free and easy to SUBSCRIBE it’s almost sinful button is still just over there, top right.

JH [dot] com is on Twitter @JamesHowdenIII. It keeps followers up-to-date with what’s happening here, plus the usual Twitter smorgasboard of observations, pass-alongs and faves, and of course you’re welcome. 

Thanks for looking in. Heck, if you followed on Twitter or, even better, had the first few paragraphs of everything on delivered straight to your Inbox by hitting SUBSCRIBE (did I mention that already?), you’d already have known all this. Exciting!

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Comments (3)


    It took us 3 1/2 years to unpack our boxes from moving — and we didn’t go anywhere! AND it only happened because daughter #1 made it happen.

  2. Maury Miloff

    For those who must now purge their belongings in order to seize the minimum requirements of the good life, you too can make Value Village your friend! Get to know her and appreciate her virtue. Yes, she will profit from your largesse, as will the Diabetes Society of Canada and other charities too, but you will feel lean, clean, empowered and magically able to see over piles of belongings for which you no longer have any use. As far as the recurrent thoughts you may experience regarding the money you laid out long ago for what now appears to be junk, feel the shame, the cheapness of the cheap side of life, and be duly warned about the uses of money and materiel.

    • The Divine Ms. V V is also where we did most of our back-to-school clothes shopping for rampantly growing Son Four. Good advice from Mr. Miloff — I especially like the phrase “seize the minimum requirements of the good life” which, counter-intuitively, he connects with the act of purging our homes. One writer called this “free[ing] yourself from the fetters of this world, and loos[ing] your soul from the prison of self”. Happy Labour Day, freedom fighters.

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