Today is my son's 8th birthday. We are proud that he shares a birthday with Nobel Laureate and President Jimmy Carter. Right now my son is pouring over the instructions for the digital watch I gave him (his request) for his birthday (among many other smaller gifts) and figuring out how to set it. I could do it for him but he wants to do it himself. He may well be able to figure it out about as fast as I could!
I have two kids, a 17 year old step-daughter (who I have known since she was 3 and who is captain of her co-ed wrestling team and likely, if we can afford it, to go to MIT for college) and my 8 year old son. A great deal of my life is spent focused on them, and that is how I like it. They are smart, caring, independent individuals who have little clue so far how hard their lives will be.
I remember some 25 years ago when I first learned about global warming. Then it really was kind of a fuzzy theory, but there were lots of very specific predictions. Over those 25 years I have watched every single prediction at least start to come true.
I want my kids' lives to be better than mine. But Republican policies have already started hurting my family and our prospects for the future. And global warming is likely to hurt us even more. Every year I donate to plant three trees for my son's birthday, just to remind him of the earth that supports him. But so much more needs to be done if my dream of having my kids' lives better than mine can come true.
Below I want to introduce you to my son and the kinds of things I am doing to make his future better than the Republicans would leave it.
One of the most iconic moments in my son's life (and one he considers "made him famous") was when my son was 5 year's old...having on his own initiative memorized the periodic table with the help of Tom Lehrer (filmed by his sister):
This shows not only his love of science, which he feeds mostly on his own initiative, but his love of ordering the universe, which he conceptualizes possibly beyond what is normal but is NOT reflected in the ordering of his room...which is a mess!
He already understands evolution and resents the attempts by religious fanatics to teach religious dogma (creationism) in place of science. In honor of his desire for real science education in our schools, I support the National Center for Science Education. They work to support teaching of the science of evolution and global warming in our schools. If you are so inclined, help my support science education in America for my son's biggest passion.
My son has my last name, "Michaelson." But that is actually my adopted name. My step father officially and legally adopted me when I was in elementary school. I was born "Kunkel" and if you follow the blood, the genes, my son and I are Kunkels.
That meant nothing to me until I discovered our ancestry down the Kunkel line all the way to the 16th Century. We come from a small village called "Neuhutten" in the Spessart Mountains in Germany where we used to be glass blowers for many generations. The Kunkels still are one of the largest families in Neuhutten.
When the Kunkels moved to the United States due to too many kids and too little land available to us peasants (the area was under the dominion of the Archbishop of Mainz who used the area as his personal hunting grounds), we moved to Iowa. In Iowa my Kunkel ancestors met my other German lineage, the Wasems, who came from the Ingelheim area...and still live there. The Wasems were burgomesiters (in the Bingam area) when the revolution of 1848 happened. Well, some of the burgomesiter Wasem's sons picked the wrong side of that revolution (so THAT is where I get my politics!) and the rise of Bismark in the suppression of that revolution meant my family decided to leave the area for...Iowa. The Wasem burgomesiter/rebels met the glassblower/peasant Kunkels in Iowa, and THAT is my son's lineage on his non-Jewish side.
Well, the Wasems settled right where there is currently a major fight for a critical House seat. The IA-4 district includes Ft. Dodge where my great-grandfather settled when he came to the United States...and before his kids retired to California on the profits of discovering gypsum. That district is currently represented by the horrible Republican Steve King who is so awful that he was one of only 11 Congressmen who voted AGAINST aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Well, for the first time it looks like he may lose an election because Democrat Christine Vilsack is mounting a huge challenge against Teabagger Steve King.
The IA-4 race is my main focus this year. I would LOVE to see us defeat Steve King and turn the place my Wasem ancestors settled in America blue. In fact this race is top of my Congress 2012 Act Blue site and I hope you will help me turn this seat blue. In honor of my son's ancestors who took the populist side in the revolution of 1848,help turn IA-4 blue.
My son also loves music. Among his favorite tunes are a bunch of things he picked up loosely from me...I never intended him to pick up on them, but I like them and he somehow picked up on them as well. In particular Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here:
And the Clash's Train in Vain:
Most interestingly he became fascinated by a song from one of my favorite movies...the movie is Kelly's Heroes...the song is Burning Bridges:
Great song, great movie...but I have NO CLUE why my son loves it.
But one of his favorite things, from about 3 years old though he still has their picture on his wall, is the Abayudaya Jews in Uganda singing L'cha Dodi:
The Abayudaya are a new project of mine. Ultimately I want to bring solar cookers to the Abayudaya communities, but the first step is to connect the Abayudaya Woman's Association online. They live in an area with no electricity, so I am trying to bring them computers and solar chargers for those computers. I have taken on this project on my own initiative and have interested three organizations, Kulanu, Jewish World Watch, and Solar Cookers International, in the overall project. So far I have raised some seed money for the computer from Fisher Scientific. I need more money to complete the computer project, so I am hoping to get some help from Daily Kos, in honor of the kids in Uganda my son connected with by music and pictures across the globe. If you want to donate, pleased do so through the NYC based organization Kulanu, and designate on your check or your online donation form "AWA computer fund" for the Abayudaya Woman's Association computer fund.
Finally, my son, and all our kids and grand kids, face possibly the hardest period of human history: the moment when global warming hits us in the ass. My wife and I have chosen to help our kids by only using public transportation (we live in NYC, so it is easy) and buying only wind power. Most Americans can buy only green energy, depending on where they live. It costs only a penny or two or three more per Kilowatt Hour than regular petro-energy. To me it is worth it and we saved far, far more by switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs. If you switch to both all green energy AND to CFLs at the same time, you will find you save some 30% on your energy bills every month despite the small increase from buying all green energy. But it is worth it to know that you are part of the solution. You too can buy all green energy by clicking here and seeing what programs are available in your state. My wife and I have been buying all wind power for more than ten years in honor of our kids.
My son is a smart, science oriented, liberal (possibly more liberal than I am!), agnostic Jew who loves helping people. I want him and his sister to have a better life than I have. Sadly Republican economics and global warming are working against my dream for them. But I am stubborn. And I continue to fight for my kids.