Welcome to a (now legal) Delightful Young Adult

Today, my daughter turns 18. Thus, I would like to introduce everyone to a wonderful new legal adult, Erin.

Right now, she’s at Berkeley. Although she loves her classes (loads and loads of history), at times she is not that enamored of the university. She’s finding it large, and finding it hard to make friends other than high school acquaintances. This is because she’s initially shy when first meeting people. We’re doing what we can as parents, but there is only so much you can do from a distance. This is a problem she needs to work out on her own, and I’m sure as the semesters go on it will get better for her. (Of course, if you would like to introduce her to folks and are in the area, let me know and I’ll get you contact info).

Alas, we wont be there tomorrow night to take her out to dinner, so we’ll just have to do it virtually by paying for it. The good news is that we’ll be seeing her next week when she comes down for Thanksgiving.

So with this (scheduled) post, let me be the first to wish her happy birthday from a very proud father.



Graduation Day

I’m taking today as a vacation day because of a very special thing happening this evening: my daughter is graduating from Van Nuys High School. I’ve seen this little girl grow and blossom into a delightful young woman. She’s still a little girl in some ways (and she’ll always be my little girl), and she’s still a typical teenager, but more and more she’s showing maturity and drive that will do her well.

Today is the culmination of 13 years of hard work within the public school system of LA Unified. Starting from kindergarten days at Lassen Elementary, through Vintage MST Magnet, Nobel Middle School, and now Van Nuys High School, she’s achieved. Some years were harder than others (3rd grade was particularly bad), and some courses were harder than others. There have been ups and downs, but she had demonstrated that she enjoys hard work, much as she complains about it. She has also demonstrated a strong loyalty and love for her friends.

I thank the teachers that have been positive influences over the years. As much as LA Unified gets maligned, there are some wonderful teachers and staff members out there. I thank the friends that have been here for her–both her friends and our friends. I especially thank the two women who are not here to see her graduate but influenced her life immensely: Lauren Uroff and Karen Denise Pratt Holmes. We know you are watching this evening, just as we know her grandfathers are watching and smiling.

When I graduated from high school back in 1977, my father wrote in my yearbook the following quote from his mother: “Not failure, but low aim is crime.” Erin has always aimed high and worked hard. Not everything worked out the way she wanted, but the universe has ways of compensating and moving her to the right places. We saw this as her focus shifted from technical lighting to a love of history and the effort that was Academic Decathalon. We’re seeing it as she goes off to college: for all her plans to go to a private college (notably Reed or Wash U St. Louis), she’s ending up at UC Berkeley… which is possibly the best choice for her in terms of the student diversity (which she loves), academic diversity (which she eats up), and the complete unique funkiness that is the city of Berkeley.

This summer we’ll pack her up and she’ll move to Northern California, where I’m sure she’ll be welcomed by our friends in the area, and more importantly, will make tons and tons of new friends in what I’m sure will be another life-changing experience. I have confidence that she’ll exceed beyond our wildest dreams.

Music: Rooms: A Rock Romance (2009 Original Off-Broadway Cast): My Choice


Congratulations to Van Nuys High School

This evening, I rushed from work to the LA Convention Center for the awards ceremony for the LA Unified portion of the Academic Decathalon. I’m pleased to report that Van Nuys High School came in 6th! Erin received a bronze and a silver (I forgot the categories) and two honorable mentions… and the Van Nuys team will be going to the state championships!

Oh, you want to know the full scores? Here’s the info from the LA Times:

Granada Hills Charter HS took the top place out of the 63 teams that competed in the school district’s regional competition. Scoring 51,913 points out of 60,000, the school had one of the highest scores among the nation’s regional-level competitions. Also high scoring–and invited to the state finals from LAUSD–were: Marshall High School (49,648 points), El Camino Real Charter High (48,649), Franklin (47,812) and Taft (43,074). Also heading to Sacramento will be Van Nuys (41,771), Palisades Charter (40,837), Hamilton (40,760), Garfield (40,382), Bell (39,821), Los Angeles (39,690) and San Pedro (37,626).

For Los Angeles county schools not in LA Unified, West High School in Torrance — for the fourth time — claimed the highest score (45,132 points). Finishing second was Redondo Union High, which edged out Beverly Hills. Also placing well were Palos Verdes Peninsula (sixth), South High in Torrance (eighth) and Torrance High (ninth).

I hope all our friends in Sacramento and Davis will send good thoughts to the Van Nuys team when they compete in March!



Dealing with Teenagers

I’m the parent of a teenager (I proud parent I should say–my daughter is currently representing Van Nuys HS today at the Los Angeles County Academic Decathalon Super Quiz, hoping to do well enough to go to the State Championships). That said, she is still a teenager, and I worry about her.

I mention all this because Metal Floss had a great piece on 5 Reasons Teenagers Do What They Do. This is a very informative piece, especially if you are the parent of a teen or pre-teen, or are a teen yourself and want to know why you do stupid things, even though you know better.  What are the reasons? (1) They tend to take more risks, because they over-think; (2) they give into peer-pressure more; (3) they can’t concentrate as well because their brains are overprocessing; (4) they are overly emotional; and they are (5) getting dumber (that is: adolescence is when the brain prunes connections as it rearranges for adult thinking, so the getting dumber is temporary). Further, this can last into the early 20s for girls, later for guys. [Note: If you are interested in this topic and are in Southern California, I recommend the D.E.A.R. course being given at Temple Ahavat Shalom starting 2/7, which covers the subject quite well]

P.S.: What do I mean I worry? For example, this week she went to bed at 9:20pm. That’s odd for her; she normally lives on Red Bull and goes to bed at 1am, studying all hours. So I thought something was off. What was happening was that she and a friend were spending all their energy teaching all the other kids on the AcaDec team in preparation for the SuperQuiz!

Music: Irene (1971 Original Broadway Cast): An Irish Girl



Bragging / DC Question

Item the First. Class rankings came out today. Erin is #8 in a class of 545, and is valedictorian for the performing arts magnet. Go Erin!

Item the Second. Erin is considering adding Georgetown to her school list, which also includes American University and George Washington (those are the DC schools; others include Reed, Wash U. (St. Louis), Tulane, UCB, UCSB, and UCSC). Does anyone have any thoughts they can share regarding the DC schools?


A Rite of Passage

Tomorrow, I embark on a rite of passage: I’m going on a two-week college visit trip with my daughter. We’re driving all over the southern US, starting in New Orleans where we spend two days visiting Tulane. After that, it is on to Atlanta to visit Emory. We’ll do a brief stop in Nashville to break the monotomy, and then it is on to Louisville to visit Bellarmine. Lastly, we motor on to St. Louis, my mother’s home town, to visit her alma-mater, Washington University.

It should be interesting. We haven’t done a long father-daughter trip since our days in Indian Princesses (my wife is staying home; she does her trip in August). Will we survive each other? Will I end the trip counting the days until she goes off to college? You’ll need to wait and see.

We’re going from typical Southern California “June Gloom” (it is perhaps 70° outside) to Southern heat—over 95° and probably 90% humidity. We’re also going to be driving a fair bit: New Orleans to Atlanta is 7½ hours with no stops, plus there’s a time change. The other drives are shorter—perhaps 4 hours on average. We will take some time to see the sights (I’m sure we’ll hit the French Quarter tomorrow night).

In any case, it should be an interesting two weeks!