Closed doors


I picked up a copy of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink yesterday. Suddenly, standing in the store with this book in my hands, I had this thought... what would my daughter's first impression be of me? Would she reject me? Would she accept me as her father?

I wanted to go and hear his talk at the First Unitarian Church in Harvard Square last evening. But when I arrived, the church doors were closed, and a large, disgruntled crowd were standing outside. "What is going on," I asked someone. "They won't let us in," he said, angrily, "they're fully seated and have no room for us... this is a church, for heavens' sake!"

I'm not sure why I feel such disappointment. The Griffin seemed to think I needed to hear this talk and now I feel that I have lost an opportunity. I must read this book carefully.

posted to story, Events by Stuart | Permalink

The Stone Wall


The Stone Wall... this small literary piece resonates with me, somehow. Move your mouse over the little arrow and the sentences wash in like waves over the sand.

"And how his eyes always saw strands of his daughter's hair when he glanced at the yellow sun."

These words.... what would my own daughter's hair remind me of?

posted to Media, story by Stuart | Permalink



I'm feeling more lonely than usual, this Christmas. I've never celebrated the holidays much in the past, but always welcomed some peaceful days off. This year, I have a suspicion that I am, and have been missing out.

While most people, or so it seems, have been running around decorating their homes with trees and whimsy, I've been walking around the city, reflecting on my past.

Still searching for my daughter. The first step is to find her mother. This hasn't been easy, for embarrassing reasons. The truth is, I knew quite a few women back then. Some may never want speak to me again, but I'm hopeful that they may be able to forgive. I am after all, a changed man.

Christmas may be over soon, but if you're up for it, this site offer some advice for the lonely. Remember your inner core of steel, think happy, be generous. Volunteer to help others.. That's my plan!

posted to story by Stuart | Permalink

Making Music


In the new TEKKA, Ed Ward writes about the confrontation between the music industry, the downloaders, and the people who make the music.

This whole file-sharing fracas has been in the news, ever since I got back, and it's good to see someone who doesn't just assume that music is something they make and you buy. It's good, too, that someone understands the world is bigger than the nearest shopping mall.

I especially like his point distinction between kids and connoisseurs. People act as if the everything turns on what Japanese preteens think is kawaii, because all those preteens shop the same way. But it's a big world: even in the village, we used to get CDs and videos. We'd all gather in Kestrel's house and watch Tom Cruise together. And yes, there are a lot of Japanese preteens, but there are a lot of villages in this big old world.

And, however far I went, I never got beyond video night.

That's one big difference, though: we'd watch and listen together. Not many iPods and personal videos in the village.

posted to Story, Reading, Media by Stuart | Permalink

Professional Blogging


Professional Blogging: a strange concept. But let's be real: work is money. Blogging is work. Why not? I'm new to this but I don't find this idea strange.

One hole in the system is obvious: if you can make a little money with your blog while you're living in Kalamazoo, you can probably make a LOT if you live in, say, Bantaeng or Kitale. As I understand it, the advertisers will pay you as much for blog ads, wherever you happen to live.

(The statistics on this particular site are fanciful -- 20% monthly readership growth, 5% CTR, it's not going to happen.)

But think: $10 of ad income per month is nothing in Kalamazoo, but there are plenty of places where $10 per month would be useful.

posted to Story, Media by Stuart | Permalink

Where to start?


I have been doing searches online on how to track down a person. I am completely at loss at how to best do this.

Some of the sites I've found give good advice on how to start. Some say that you can find a person with as little as their first name. How can that be! Just a name... I don't even know my daughter's name. At one site, they listed reasons a person can't be found. I guess I never considered the possibility I might not find her... the reasons were criminal activity, or, the person could be indigent, homeless... what if she is? What if something terrible has happened to her?

I found a great site at PBS, History Detectives, listing the first necessary steps:

Read about genealogy at your library, and search birth records. There is a register you can search online.

posted to Story, Media by Stuart | Permalink



This morning, enjoying a coffee at a cafe, a father with two kids sat down at the table next to me. The boys began running around with much ado and sound, fetching coffee bags from the shelves to "buy", chatting loudly and tripping in people's computer wires. At one point, a student with an expensive laptop politely asked the father if he would mind swopping tables with him, so that his wire would be out of the way for the kids. "Well! I am not sure if having wires around here with the kids is a very smart thing to do," the father said, not wanting to swop tables, adding that the student could just unplug instead. Or pack away the computer entirely.

The student stared at him with his mouth open and people turned their heads to see what was happening. One of the kids seized the opportunity of his father being distracted and ran out the door. "HEY!" the father screamed, running after to catch this little body of mischief, but now kid #2 saw his opportunity, climbing up the barrista's desk, helping himself to 5 paper cups. Someone next to me leaned over and whispered: "Don't you feel as if you're watching an episode from the Simpsons, too?"

The kids were cute and innocent enough, but it occurred to me, having spent some time away from this country, that parents here have become very liberal in their child rearing. Were kids this wild in the past? I read a very interesting article, written by a "liberal parent" on this.

We good liberal parents have brought up a generation whose members think of themselves as outside or beyond the social fabric. They have never had to worry about anyone other than themselves, and Voilà! they don't.

Now, this has me worried. What about my own daughter. How was she raised? What was she like at this age? What would I have been like as a father? Would I have enjoyed being a parent?

This feeling of being something I have never experienced is incredibly confusing.

posted to Story, Reading by Stuart | Permalink

Modest Needs


When I bailed out of the commune and headed for Asia, I thought village life would be idyllic. It turns out it's a lot like the commune turned out after it all went bad: you just know too much about everyone, you can't get away, and eventually it all turns into Opera.

But one good thing about the village is that everyone knows everyone's troubles. If something does a little bit wrong, someone's bound to help out. In the city, though, who knows? I'm reminded of that heat wave in Paris, with old people trapped in their walkups and nobody thinking to look in on them.

That's why Modest Needs seems so sensible. They ask people who need help to ask for it -- people who need a small, one-time boost that will make a lasting difference. People who were living right at the edge, barely able to keep up -- and then their car breaks down, or their kid gets sick. You can't get to work, you lose your job. Pretty soon, you're homeless. Or worse.

You can't always fix everything, but sometimes if you get the radiator hose on the car fixed or pay the daycare, everything sorts itself out.

posted to Story by Stuart | Permalink



My name is Stuart, I've got a daughter, I don't know who she is, and I'm trying to find her.

It's strange to see my whole life reduced to one sentence.

I know you've seen those movies where people are looking for somebody, and they can plaster up signs that say Jane Doe, age 25, blonde hair, blue eyes, last seen on the road to Billings.

I can't do that.

I don't know her name, what she looks like, or exactly how old she is. I don't know if she knows I exist at all. The only reason I know she's here at all is, I've been told.

The Griffin -- that's what I'll call that wise old man here -- he says I've got to find her. Says that's the path I've got to follow now, to get where I'm supposed to go. Griffin pulled me through before -- and back then, I thought he was asking crazy stuff, too.

Maybe this will make sense someday, too.

I've been looking for a while now, back in the world. No luck.

posted to story by Stuart | Permalink