A Good Day:

Today, the grandparents -- that is, my family -- were up visiting from down Georgia way. We took the boy on his first train ride, down into Washington D.C.

I gather from talking to other parents of young boys that all boys go through a "train phase," which follows the "construction equipment phase," and preceeds the "sportscar phase" and the "jet fighter phase." I've heard this from several independent sources now. It doesn't seem to matter whether the kid ever encounters actual trains, or even sees them on television; if he's a boy, at some point, he's going to be fascinated with trains.

So we took the VRE from Manassas to the District. My wife and my mother were both delighted that, by happenstance, this week was the high bloom for the cherry blossoms in Washington. My father enjoyed his grandson (as did my mother). My son enjoyed the train immensely, but also had the chance to indulge in that other fascination of young boys.

I myself mostly got to shepherd the crew, but that is rewarding in itself. Plus, I got a chance to talk to my father, which is and has always been one of my favorite things to do. He is an untrained master of the art of storytelling, and can talk for hours without ever tiring his audience. Even if it's me, who's heard all the stories a hundred thousand times.

Today, he and I were talking about the tricks memory plays on the mind. Particularly, we were discussing how you tend to forget the miserable parts of any experience, but remember the good parts. Thus, even if an event was an endless stretch of pain punctuated by a few good moments, you'll end up with a positive memory of it if you get far enough away.

His own example was being in the Army. He loves to remember his time in the Army, when he was a Drill Sergeant. He was telling me how hard he has to think to remember the bad parts, which were legion: "All that crap," as he put it, "that drove me mad."

Grim's Hall is much the same way. We almost always focus on the good, indeed the glowing, parts of military life and culture. For example, this post on the Defense Department and its wings as a "parallel structure for the life of the mind."

Those parts are real, and it's all true.

On the other hand, there's this.

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