Garrett Denney

Writer, Marketer, Skiing Extraordinaire

Ordinary Magic

The once-in-a-lifetime look of a toddler discovering the everyday magic of a light switch.

Drink it in while you can. The next time we round that corner and he sees that switch, it’ll be a little less magical and a bit more routine.

One of the greatest surprises of parenthood (and there have been many) has been the power of observing these little moments. Watching his eyes track me across the room for the first time or seeing his mouth hang open in wonder as we turn the pages of a new book.

My wife and I were overjoyed when we found out we were expecting parents, but looking back I realize that many of my expectations of the months and years to come were warped, if not off the mark.

I suppose it shouldn’t be a shock that I didn’t know what to expect from parenthood. A parent-to-be can’t really be expected to know what parenthood is until their little bundle of joy arrives. I felt much the same way in the months before getting married. Excited, optimistic, and entirely underprepared.

Sure, we’ve soldiered through our share of sleepless nights and oozed onto the couch at the end of our share of exhausting days. But they seem like distant memories compared to the tender moments of discovery and magic that stick with me and sustain us over time.

As we kick off another revolution around the sun, I hope you’ll join me in following my son’s lead and marveling the ordinary magic that surrounds us all. Life may not always be a montage of giggles and playtime, but I find my son’s innate sense of wonder to be a deeply moving reminder that – despite what the world at large may feel like – the better parts of human nature always win out. Always.

If you need us, just follow the echoes of laughter and look for a flickering light. We’re just around the corner.

Happy New Year, folks.

Alpenglow

Dottie’s Diner is the kind of place you expect to see in a quaint 1950s film. Nestled alongside the paper mill parking lot off Main Street in White Pine, MN, the polished chrome exterior and rotating neon signpost are calling cards to weary travelers hopping off the interstate in search of a quick and tasty meal. “Breakfast all day!” exclaims the sign in bold black lettering.

Customers came in waves to the ramshackle eatery. Paper mill grunts coming off the graveyard shift shared the long linoleum counter with local businessmen grabbing a coffee and newspaper before heading into the office. The fog from the morning rush hardly had time to clear before hungry senior citizens would slowly invade, brandishing well-worn AARP cards and demanding bottomless coffee. Dottie was more than happy to comply. The diner’s owner and namesake still took orders and delivered checks to satisfied patrons despite being well into her eighties. She was even known to sling the occasional hash on the griddle if Ben, the diner’s long time and only cook, was sick or took the rare day off.

Today she buzzed from table to table in a pink pantsuit with white trim, matching flats, and a pair of thick, white hoop earrings. Her silver hair was teased out in a perm that, despite thinning with age, still hovered above her ears and eyebrows with such ease as to defy gravity.

As Dottie rolled from one new table to one needing a top up on coffee, Kyle Maki pushed through the glimmering front door of the diner and paused, looking for an open seat among the early morning breakfast crowd. Chrome stools dotting the laminate counter top were nearly all full, and those seats not already spoken for were wedged between some of the diner’s most regular customers. Seeking solace, Kyle scanned the rest of the small restaurant until he spotted a single unoccupied two-seater booth at the back of the room. Wanting nothing to do with the chatterbox regulars hemming and hawing about politics at the counter, he adjusted the messenger bag slung over one shoulder and headed for the booth in back.

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Perkuno’s Law

I’m no scientist, but I am fortunate to call myself the owner of two dogs. After years in the trenches, I’m pleased to announce my first (and only) breakthrough scientific discovery: Perkuno’s Law.

Nobel Prize committee, you know how to reach me.

 

Perkuno's Law

Bree: A History

Author’s note: “Bree: A History” is a short Lord of the Rings fan-fiction set in the mountainside town of Bree. All LotR intellectual property (obviously) belongs to the Tolkien estate. Enjoy!

It was raining in Bree, a cold and pounding type that whipped up water from the nearby bay and pounded the worn wood docks in port with frothy white breakers. What torches lit the narrow cobbled streets had long since gone out, leaving the town in near total darkness.

In the Merchant Quarter, just off the main market, neither man nor beast, nor even fish below, moved about, save for one lone figure hunched under a soggy leather cloak. He moved slowly but with deliberation down rows of shuttered houses and over many an arched bridge until he stopped suddenly in front of one particularly narrow house on a corner overlooking rows fish loading stalls and fin bins.

Taking shelter from the storm, the figure paused under an awning near the entrance and pulled back his cloak’s hood. A long twisting beard and two eyes like coal glittered even in the inclement weather. He knocked twice. A woman flung it open, fair and in her forties, and welcomed him in.

“Dad!” said Gwyn Black as she leaned in and planted a kiss on his cheek. “So glad you could make it. Come in before you catch your death.”

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Winter Slam

Author’s note: I wrote this piece after reflecting on open readings and poetry slams from during my college experience. The speakers always seemed – to me, at least – to have such coherent and important thoughts. They were mythic.

There was a poetry slam last night, inside Lewis Hall. Built forty years ago as a temporary home for the English, history, and philosophy departments, it was never replaced as promised and remains today a beautiful but decaying relic of the State Teachers College that lived here before it was a university.

Thirty-odd students filed in for the slam, most of them on time. Three faculty members came, too. All sat near the back. It was an open mic, but only students ever performed. Like an unspoken rule.

Collin Strichland, president of the University Poets Society, opened the night and called on the first three speakers. It always started like this, with the best and brightest in the Society called on to open the slams with verses both wrathful and sublime.

The first two, upperclassmen, wrote rhymes about the impending Christmas holiday. All coming from two liberal arts majors, one of them leisurely on the five-year plan thanks to daddy’s dime. Pretentious, but their writing was strong.

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SpaceX CRS-7 Livestream

TL;DR Link to the livestream!

SpaceX is once again attempting something historic today as their CRS-7 mission takes flight and – hopefully – lands in one piece.

SpaceX rocket ignition

This is the latest test of Elon Musk’s dream to build a reusable rocket, one that could be refueled and launched again within a matter of hours, not months.

SpaceX first tested the concept in January, but failed to land the returning rocket when it ran out of critical hydraulic fluid and came at the barge too fast and at an angle.

Attempt two was in April, but again the mission was foiled when the rocket’s thrusters fired too long on descent. It eventually tipped over and – as rockets do – exploded.

      If today’s mission is successful, it will be a monumental day for aeronautics and the history of human space flight. Elon has said that a reusable rocket reduces the cost of spaceflight by 100x. That’s not a few percentage points saved on efficiency; it’s a game changing innovation.


UPDATE 9:01 AM CST

    • The SpaceX livestream has begun! Log on to follow color commentary for the next couple of minutes before countdown to launch and pre-flight checks!

UPDATE 9:25 AM CST

    • Falcon 9 appears to have suffered a “rapid unscheduled disassembly,” A.K.A. the rocket appears to have disintegrated in the atmosphere. Comms have gone silent as the SpaceX team undoubtedly scrambles to get ahold of the situation. More information as it comes.

UPDATE 9:35 AM CST

    • Before signing off and turning off the livestream, SpaceX gave a few quick notes about what they knew so far. It appears the countdown and ignition went as planned. Stressing was good, as was Max-Q (the point of most stress for the vehicle).
    • Only information released about the explosion was that there was an anomaly in the first stage of operations. Surely more to follow.

UPDATE 9:57 AM CST

    • CNN has the full video of the launch from ignition through disintegration. View it here.

UPDATE 10:06 AM CST

    • NASA and SpaceX are planning a press conference in the next couple of hours. Stay tuned to their site for the latest and to watch the livestream when it happens:

UPDATE 1:40 PM CST

  • Elon Musk tweeted about the suspected cause of today’s mission failure. No new information was added to this during the NASA/SpaceX/FAA press conference.

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