My wonderful wife specializes in desserts to celebrate Catholic feasts. Here – a birthday cake with fruit rollup flames to celebrate Pentecost.
Admittedly, it has been a while since I last contributed to this blog.I could use the convenient excuse that I’ve struggled to find the time. After all, that’s true, but it is more than that. The bigger struggle has been rediscovering the purpose of this blog – a purpose that fuels, motivates, and inspires the writing. Perhaps some explanation is needed.
When I began this blog about 6 years ago, I had a variety of motivations. First, I wanted to explore topics related to local economics and urban planning that often swirled in my head but did not have a platform through which to be communicated. Continue reading →
In 2008, I was a couple years out of college and searching for answers. Up to that point, I had known what it was to be successful: you study hard, get good grades, earn awards and honors, and keep on progressing upward and onward – from high school to college, from college to graduate school. Having now completed my education and gotten my start at the bottom of the corporate ladder, I struggled with how to evaluate my self-worth and measure my success or lack thereof.Money, a girlfriend, influence, prestige – with any of these as a benchmark I objectively could not be considered successful. But I also had a deep-seated sense that these were not the right benchmarks anyway. I knew success had to be based on something bigger, and therefore different measures of success were needed. Continue reading →
Two months ago, Paula and I welcomed our third child into the world. As with the birth of our other two, it never ceases to amaze me how we enter the world at a particular moment in time, blissfully unaware of all that has happened and is happening around us. Before you can talk, walk, or be in any substantial way independent, you spend your first years just observing. Where am I? What is this world, this environment, I am entering into? Given this ignorance, it puts into perspective the awesome responsibility of parents as first educators to explain what it all is, how it works, and the purpose, reason, and meaning behind it all. And in addition to this enormous task, we face too the reality of life in the economic and financial world and the need to provide the material goods – the food, clothing, shelter, etc. – that our children assume as a given. Just as we guide them through the more philosophical questions of life, we teach our children that as they grow in independence they too will be entering this practical world and will be, in due time, responsible for providing for themselves and others Continue reading →
February has not quite come to a close and yet 2017 has already been interesting and exciting for the Golbabai family. Over the past few months, Paula and I have spent considerable time working on out next project – finding a house here in College Station. Not just any house, mind you, but the right place for us to raise our kids and put down roots. This search was especially difficult for the two of us because of our seemingly divergent tastes. As a new urbanist and city planner, I advocate for density, connectivity and walkability. Paula, on the other hand, regularly re-reads the Little House on the Prairie series, loves wide open spaces and has been researching the maintenance of backyard chickens. Continue reading →
If you have had the pleasure of recently shopping for a mattress you don’t need me to tell you how overwhelming the experience is. Mattresses are difficult to test sufficiently prior to purchase and all the guarantees and warranties are confusing. But it is the shear number of options that is staggering. Do you want firm or plush? Foam or coil? Organic? Low chemical content? Well it is what is missing in this world of choices that hints at a disturbing truth embedded in our economic system. I’m excited to share with you today a post that has been percolating in the back of my brain for a few years now; a story that I simply walked into when I innocently walked into a mattress store. Continue reading →
Three hundred and sixty four days a year I am a proud New Urbanist and apostle of the Strong Towns movement. I love talking about the value of mixed-use, traditional neighborhoods. When friends are over for dinner, I often find myself taking my copy of Suburban Nation off the shelf much like an evangelist spreading the gospel. Yet despite all of this, despite knowing better, there is one day, the three hundred and sixty fifth day of the year that I can’t help but feel guilty that my kids don’t live in a suburban subdivision. That day is Halloween. Continue reading →
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been following with a kind of morbid fascination our American presidential race. Of particular interest to me is not so much where our two parties disagree, however, but where they in fact agree. Both parties openly acknowledge that the economy is not working as it should for everyone, and both parties have the same prescription: jobs – i.e. better employment options. On the surface, this sounds great for those of us trying to climb our own respective career ladders or for those trying to get on a career ladder in the first place. And this of course must be a winning theme, because it seems to be the primary domestic issue in every presidential election I can remember. But honestly, this mindset just doesn’t sit right with me, and not just because of the influences of Wendell Berry and Planet Money, but because of our past. Looking back at American history, the concept of economic success as our ability to be employed by others is a fairly recent phenomenon. We were once a nation of small business owners, each of us creating a unique American Dream of our own with self-employment as the cornerstone. Today we’re a nation of employees looking for jobs that provide upward mobility. So what happened? Continue reading →
One of my greatest joys over the last two plus years has been watching my son grow up. On the cusp of moving from toddler to little boy, I increasingly see the all-important role Paula and I have in shaping his character (enter, “timeout”). But environment has an impact too, and one of the best places for him to exercise his character is on the playground. Here, there are opportunities to take on new challenges such as scaling the ladder and trying out the big slide, to utilize his creativity in the sandbox, to learn how to interact with both the bigger and smaller kids alike. But as we explore playgrounds around Austin, we notice they’re not all equal. Continue reading →
I was preparing for work one morning when disaster struck; my trusty beard trimmer wasn’t trimming. There was plenty of strange whirring but absolutely no movement of the blades. I spent a few minutes tinkering with it but to no avail. At this point, what are my options? It seemed to me that the problem was fixable. I have a two-year-old son who is fascinated with shaving; maybe he got a hold of it and dropped it, knocking something loose. If I couldn’t fix it myself, could a repair shop handle it? What would they charge me? How would that compare with the cost of a brand new beard trimmer? But maybe the biggest question was this: do repair shops for small electronics even exist any more? Continue reading →
By all accounts the famed basketball coach John Wooden is one of the most successful in the history of the game. He boasts an all-time winning percentage of over .800 (620-147), and won an incredible 10 national championships over a twelve year period (from 1963-1975), which included four perfect seasons (1964, 1967, 1972, and 1973) and an 88 game winning streak. Despite all his victories however, a deeper look into Coach Wooden’s philosophy reveals that winning was something he actually never talked about, as he did not believe that success should be judged by comparison with anyone else. Continue reading →