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Mathematical Forecasting Initiative uses cutting-edge theory

Will global changes in weather cause population centers to shift? Where are new diseases likely to emerge? Which species need protection now before they begin to decline? The Mathematical Forecasting Initiative uses cutting-edge theory to anticipate the twists and turns of humanity’s story.

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6 inches from disaster

After picking up some groceries, I readied myself to head home in the Jeep with the top down. Let’s say the isle I was parked in is isle K. The exit from the parking lot is on isle L half way down. Naturally, you can drive all the way around or cut through. I was driving down isle K and remembered that the exit wasn’t at the end of the isle. In the seconds that it took for me to look to my right to see the exit in isle L a car materialized in front of me. I slammed on the brakes, swerved, and said something akin to a prayer (I’m sure St. Pete and I will debate that later). I’m a lane driver. He was a cut through driver.

Here I sit with my bumper a mere 6 inches from his fender. We make eye contact. Critical choices are made. The outcome? I smile, give a wave, verbalize "you ok?", he waves back, I drive around him completing isle K and loop around for isle L, he cuts through to isle L but waits for me to complete my loop allowing me to exit first. No one hurt. No one angry.

I still contend that the lines are painted in the parking lot both to give order to maximizing the number of parked cars AND give direction to prevent chaotic accidents. If you are going to cut across a parking lot at least recognize that you are doing something unpredictable and keep a sharp eye.

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What is it to be a dad?

Lately I have found myself in discussions on blended families. I find it interesting to see how the different families handle their individual situations.

We know one family that the parents divorced and the mother remarried. The child still sees biodad most every weekend but the stepfather is there day and night for the child through thick and then. The child goes out of his way to distinguish the stepfather as "my step dad."

We have other friends that are a blended family. The daughter sees biodad regularly but I get the impression perhaps not as regularly as she would hope. The stepfather is hated despite appearing to be a kind, soft spoken, gentle man. The stepfather is called by his first name.

Last night I was told about a man who refuses to be a dad. He is the male in the house but totally ignores when his high school stepson comes home drunk or otherwise shows out. He declares, "I am not his father and it is not my place to discipline him." I so disagree! Perhaps that child is pushing the boundaries in part to see if this man will come alive and be his dad. Regardless, the child has been setup for rough relationships in his future.

In our house, I am called "Dad." We did not force it upon the older three and gave them the option to call me "whatever makes you most comfortable." For awhile, Tommy tried on "Doug" and, in the beginning, after every phone call with biodad there was great confusion causing the children to stressfully stammer between "Dad" and "Doug" because he gets upset if the children call him by first name. With the exception of Tommy, I have been the father figure in their lives longer than all biodad’s years. With irregular phone calls and 36-72 hours of visits a year, I don’t see how biodad could expect to nuture a relationship with the children. The teenage girl now refuses his calls so often that he has resorted to tricks to get her on the phone, "hand her the phone but don’t tell her who it is."

Any man with a half decent sperm count can father a child. A dad is the person who speaks to each of the stuffed animals by name at three a.m. while carefully cleaning spatters of vomit from their delicate fur. A dad is there to comfort a scared child and help her get cleaned up to return to bed. A dad takes the good and the bad. A dad is there for the children and it doesn’t matter if those children are his own dna, adopted, stepchildren, or squatters. Being a dad is something special and I am honored to be called "Dad."