A snowball effect….

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The other night after a long day of he said, she said, don’t touch me, and leave me alone along with all the other phrases (both appropriate and inappropriate) reverberating through an active family household.  I found myself stressed beyond belief.  My chest hurt, the lungs yearned for air, a mildly cold sweat lay across my brow and my stomach hurt.  The only thing I could ponder was how much longer until they all were grown.

Of course I have no room to complain because there are the 48 hours straight I am at work, holed up in my firehouse the last bastion of supposed sanity from the trials and tribulations of being a full-time parent! My poor wife does not enjoy such luxury.  But then again aren’t all us firefighters really just kids with badges and super cool toys we use to help the public?  Anyways that night had taken quite the toll on both my wife and I.  All we could think about was the peace and quiet that came with bedtime.  Then something wonderful happened that brought me back to reality.

We baked cookies…

Yep that’s right its Christmas time and nothing says “I care about you” more than fresh-baked cookies! It really is the best Christmas present ever! I would personally take 20 tins of delicious cookies from loved ones over someone spending money on something they hope I will like!  Cookies, chocolate, brownies, mince pies they all say “hey buddy its Christmas and I was baked just for you” enjoy! But these cookies, oh these cookies are super special! Every year we bake these little doughy droplets of gold and place them in specially purchased Christmas tins then set out across town “ to snowball”.

Definition: To Snowball; During Christmas time only, place a tin of cookies with an anonymous uplifting note on the front porch of an unsuspecting family.  Ring doorbell, knock loudly on door and run!!!

Snowball has become a very special part of our Christmas traditions! The children look forward to it every year almost as much as Christmas morning itself!  Snowball is treated like a covert mission, complete with blacked out car, dark clothing and squealing tires. Giggling is inevitable as mishaps are also a part of the fun.  Falling over hedges, tripping before reaching the car, only to beimages (29) grabbed by an older brother and pulled in as the car rips away from the scene! No man left behind is our motto! On one occasion one of the boys had to hide under a hedge just feet from the front door as it was opened by the homeowner before a full retreat was completed! It’s just plain, good old-fashioned Christmas fun! We hand out yummy goodies; hopefully make someone’s night with no expectation of reciprocation.  Then hope it leaves a snowball effect on its recipients, passing good cheer forward for the holidays. This is the way we enjoy observing Christmas, it truly feels better to give than receive!!

As we are preparing for our night of Christmas ninja stealth, the children all do something unheard of lately.  They begin to get along, working together as one to complete this monumental task.  My wife and I step back out of the kitchen and even though the urge to take over and correct small mistakes is astronomical we don’t.  She moves into the family room to watch TV, and I hover around the front room images (28)tending the fire and staring in awe.  My oldest works like a baker, carefully tossing out flour, and rolling the dough out to perfection while the others take turns cutting out cookies made of angels, snowmen, stars and mistletoe.  The middle boy handles placing them carefully on cookie sheets and transfers them back and forth from the oven only asking that I place them inside while removing the cooked ones.  It was seriously the happiest, stress less, most magical moment I’ve had around our children in a while.  It truly made our night.  My wife iced them with green and white frosting then placed them carefully into round Christmas covered containers.  She wrote another fantastic letter and we all called it a night with smiles upon our egg-nog covered faces.

One simple act of doing for others as a family can erase hours of selfish bickering.  I am often reminded of a very simple saying; you only have one childhood with your children. Enjoy it!

When things get stressful, bake some cookies together and let them be children.  All will look better in the end and your stress will subside. I promise…..

Merry Christmas!

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Somewhere in the Halls of Justice…..

A tub of chocolate chip cookie dough has been discovered open.  Now this is no giant revelation in the grand scheme of things around Betty’s house, but this time is a bit different. You see lately there has been a sudden rash of midnight food thefts.  Of course one might wonder if it’s the result of us starving our children to the point of  emaciation? After all they are always screaming about how they are starving, there is nothing to eat, they are dying! Hypochondriacs! Maybe it’s because our food stamps ran out this month after I traded them for cash to a local street entrepreneur so I could score some vodka and cigarettes? Don’t judge me a guys got to do what a guys got to do right?

But sadly no, Betty and spouse have stocked the home quite well with food for all.  Three squares a day and all the snacks one could handle. Not even the prison commissary has more crap than Betty’s Basement for snacking and munching.  But what makes this crime of chocolate chip passion so incredulous is the fact we have been mired in a swamp of lying lately.  Several attempts have been made through modern-day practices to arrive at the truth, trick questioning, good parent bad parent role play, single chair in the room hot spot light grilling, even a little military action has been used, but alas the waterboarding failed miserably. Thank God for AFLAC! Yet no matter what we tried the famed culprit “Mr. I don’t know” is usually to blame! What to do, what to do??

On this particular occasion while staring at the evidence a moment of brilliance overcame me! Sheer genius really as too many nights of late night crime TV took over, guiding me through a fair and just investigation.

Calmly calling the main accused subject to the front of the room I leaned down and gave the suspect every opportunity to answer me truthfully the first time.  Each time I asked, the suspect stood their ground claiming no knowledge of a crime committed.  Finally I held the subjects hand, slowly pulling the forefinger out straight.

Once the hand was firmly in my grasp over the bucket of sugary goodness with the forefinger pointed out straight I said; (Law and Order moment here) My dear, this bucket of chocolate chip cookie dough has been picked out by a single solitary finger.  The great thing about fingers is no two are the same.  Therefore if I place this finger inside this bucket will it match the marks made by the thief? She calmly stated no, stood her ground while beginning to look very confused.

Slowly lowering her hand I said; this is your last chance.  Her brow furrowed, her resolve was set. Down went the hand and behold the finger mark was a perfect fit!

Now one could point the opposed bony finger of justice at the accused and scream GUILTY! But that’s not how Betty rolls.  In a smooth almost sweet voice I asked the accused to step back, explained it was a perfect fit but in the interest of justice we would call in the other accused suspect to appear before our Kangaroo court.  The call was made and suspect number two was brought downstairs and placed in front of suspect number one.  Now suspect number two doesn’t have quite the moxy suspect number one carries.  So there was an instant look of guilt upon his reddening cheeks.  He tried his best poker face with a loud; whats up dad? (insert nervous laughter here)

The same investigative speech was provided for suspect number two and when he recognized the significance of important scientific data such as “no two fingers leaving the same mark in cookie dough” the confession spewed forth like that of man carrying heavy guilt for some time!  No splayed out finger, no hand-held over the tub, no look of shame needed! Just the fear of scientific data, fact, serious CSI shit, to break his silence and expose a true culprit.  The crime had been solved or so it seemed, but as with any criminal facing significant prison time this young lad was no different from any other! He started singing and he sang like a freaking canary, throwing suspect number one under the bus in the process.  Hearing the overwhelming load of evidence thrown her way she lowered her shoulders and confessed to it all.  The facts of the case had been revealed, two culprits one definitive finger match and all with a little knowledge learned from watching to many Law and Order episodes late at night.

The investigating officers report read as such:

On the night of 25 November 2012, One 8-year-old female suspect made her way into the family’s basement, avoiding detection from the parental units through stealth measures developed over an unspecified period of time.  The female suspect finding the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough tub in the main downstairs refrigerator carefull removed a tool from the adjoining refrigerator intentionally piercing the cellophane cover, exposing the dough goodness held inside.  Using her fingers many samples were had/stolen until the sounds of people moving her direction stopped her from enjoying more of the holiday treat. She retreated through the shadows into her room retiring for the night.  Sometime later in the evening suspect number two seeing the lid had in fact been opened and fully knowing who the main culprit may have been felt as though the perfect crime would be committed by helping himself to the same sugary goodness then leave suspect number one taking the fall for the crime. A thorough investigation was held, both suspects were apprehended and suitable punishments were doled out through the use of plea bargaining. 

Case closed.

Now if only I can use this late night psychological shit to figure out who is stealing my underwear and socks….

An American oxymoron…

 

My 13 year old asked me the other day while watching Top Gear, a television show that originated in the UK and has grown to a spin off in the United States.

Dad; what is the difference between a GMC truck and a Chevrolet truck?

Sitting back in my chair, realizing this was a moment where I could lay waste to any positive view he may hold towards these vehicles with a short idiotic tirade, I gathered my thoughts leaned down, put my arm around him and using my best Ward Cleaver laid this little number upon his unsuspecting bewildered eyes.

Ahhhh-hemmmm!

(Clearing my throat, using my best grandpa jones old man inflection)

The difference between them son is symbolic of the widening indifference in our countries mental acuity.  You see when our country was young, led by intelligent, strong willed, dedicated individuals we as a country knew the difference between right or wrong. A child could play in the street without fear, a woman was revered by men, a mom was considered the, be all end all of every child, and your house was your home, not a temporary storage area until you moved again hoping to make an extra buck.  Community meant that everyone cared about their town and participated in its growth.  You didn’t just live there to commute somewhere else without a care in the world about your neighbors or their well being.

The difference clearly rested in a country becoming accepting of all races and religions without prejudice.  Remembering we are all products of family members who immigrated here and just because we are third or fourth generation doesn’t mean we hold some inalienable right over others trying to achieve the same dreams. Yet that is exactly what we continue to do and every race and ethnicity is as guilty as the next when it comes to this process. Our country started with the ability to parent each other’s children without fear of retribution, living under the guise of “it takes a village”.  Education was a number one priority and teachers were revered for success afforded them through flexibility not unattainable federal guidance. Teachers are taught to “have the power” and “Show students the way” yet due to spineless administrators and frivolous lawsuits our children have all the power backed by parents wanting an education for their children but refusing to back any teachers play when it comes to their precious heathens.

Oh yes son the difference is clear as daylight! For you see in this country we have allowed so many to abuse the legal system for so long that a citizen of the United States is now considered guilty until proven innocent. Prisoners have all the rights and citizens have little to no protection from the criminals.  Our police forces have been told to uphold the law using the iron fist of justice, yet the iron fist has been reduced to cheap tin and is now tied behind every officers back leaving them unable to complete any given task or have the appropriate authority to do so.

In god we trust is upon every dollar yet church and state has been cited as a conflict of moral/ethical principal. The difference is right in front of your face son. Hold the door for a woman today and you are oppressing her right to equality, don’t hold the door and you are rude self centered man. Rape and abuse are the center of every television drama, glorified for all to see which seems to be an oxymoron in a civilized society.  The real housewives of any city USA are a ratings boom feeding these women millions of dollars. As American women we should be ashamed of these poor excuses for humans yet we glorify their shallow self centered struggles. Meet any woman who behaves as they do in real life (not reality TV) and she is instantly a trash talked bitch cut from the pack and left to obscurity.

What is the difference? ah yes, everyone gets a trophy when playing sports and no one loses; because if we have all winners that means someone will feel bad about losing, possibly stunting their ability to feel good about themselves in the future.  It also means that no one person will know what it feels like to truly succeed at something through failure, there bye over time eliminating the need to perform and win from our genetic make-up.

Our society is told to go outside and live life daily, these directions come from the confines of a television we paid way too much money for because its quality is so good you actually feel as though you are there, thusly preventing you from actually being outside. The difference is complaining about the rain while sniveling about the sun, whining about the heat while crying about how cold it has become!

The differences are right in front of you, you are bombarded with them every day.   WE (Americans) choose what we believe in as individuals, then we stick to it come hell or high water! Its what makes us great as a society, but its also what may in fact lead to our downfall.

In reality there are no real differences, a tweak here a few horsepower there, but essentially the very same truck. Over the last 100 years “we the people” have become so blinded by the Hollywood glow of some that lead, so ethically corrupted by misled faith, disenchanted with reality, bought off by envy and the American advertising machine that handles everything from a bar of soap to the Presidency, that “we the people” actually believe  there is a tangible difference between a GMC and a Chevy truck.

If you don’t think other countries aren’t laughing at our pig headed stupidity then drive down to your local Honda/Acura-Nissan/Infinity- Toyota/Lexus dealers and see who is having the last laugh at your expense..

Oh yeah, by the way son the GMC truck is waayyyy better than a piece of junk Chevy truck any day! Duh!  Stupid Chevy owners…

 

 

To infinity and beyond!!

This is a sad day in Betty’s world. 

Today’s obituary: Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American NASA astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon.

Let that sink in for a moment.  The first man to set foot on the moon, July 26 1969 has perished. 

Although he was just one N.A.S.A. (National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration) team member in a pool of extremely intelligent and talented individuals, Mr. Armstrong was lucky enough to be chosen to command Apollo 11 and even luckier to be first down the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) planting his feet firmly in lunar soil then muttering the all too familiar phrase “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind” thus forever cementing his name in American history. 

Little known fact: Mr. Armstrong actually stated “That’s one small step for (a) man: one giant leap for mankind” as man/mankind would have been improper use of the English language because man is synonymous with mankind.  But the (a) was blocked by static so the recording and phrase we all know to this day is forever cemented in history. 

So why is Betty so sad?  Mr. Neil Armstrong was one of my childhood hero’s! In elementary school I would read about space missions up to and including landing on the moon.  Then I would run out and play as if I were an astronaut.  Circling the jungle gym like it was the moon, coming in slowly, after burners at half thrust, slowly easing my spacecraft onto the top then leaping to the ground screaming; “that was one small leap for all kids, one giant landing for all kidkind!”

Yep we all wanted to be astronauts! Space suits, space ships, stars and planets, we dreamed and we dreamed big.  At night coming in from the barn the moon would call to me like a lost friend.  Staring at its kindly giant face, wondering what it was like to stand on its forehead looking back at our giant blue sphere. Knowing that Neil Armstrong stood there, gazing upon his home from a perch that few would ever see! What did he think, how did he feel? Was he scared? Did he worry that he and his crew may never come home? 

Yeah space the final frontier; these are the voyages of the star ship Enterprise! Her five year mission to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before! Crap! Wait wrong fantasy!  I also used to pretend I was Captain James T. Kirk, but that story is for another time.

Astronauts, sheriffs, firefighters, teachers, superheroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Capt. America etc..) Cowboys, sports heroes, they were all there for us to idolize and admire.  To dream about becoming as we grew into adults.  These images forever etched into our minds, approved of by our parents and lived in the fantasy play periods of our afternoons. 

Where are today’s heroes? Who do our children have to look up too? When my kids are in their forties who will they look back upon as being their childhood heroes? Computer generated actors? Rappers? Boy bands? Disney created childhood mental cases waiting to explode as adults? I am just not seeing it! Where are the brazen leaders, moral guided heroes, larger than life humans that stand by their convictions leading the way for all youngsters to dream?

Am I wrong? Is it just me?

Rest in Peace Neil Armstrong.  Thank you for the endless hours of dreaming your bravery brought to my young life.   

 

Olympic Bound..

Watching the 2012 London Olympics over the last 12 days has left me in athletic awe! How I yearn for a challenge of that magnitude,  to focus mind, body and soul on one sporting activity, rise to the challenge, overcome insurmountable obstacles to be the very best that I can become!

Yes it is true, like many young people around the world I have decided to become an Olympian! To feel the thunderous roar of an adoring crowd, performing at the peak of my physical prowess, standing atop an Olympic podium while our National Anthem plays and I (being the great Olympian I am)do my best to lip sync the words knowing that someone at home can tell I have no idea what the hell they are! Yes, YES I want to be that guy!! (Thunderous applause)

Sadly, there is one little problem with my dream, a small issue really but a problem none the less.  I am 45 years old and last I checked there weren’t too many athletes at 45 breaking ANY world records! Oh sure I run most days (3-5 miles), work out constantly in the gym,and eat (somewhat)right, yet near a 4 minute mile I am not! In fact I don’t believe there to be anyone currently cresting the precipice of senior citizenship dominating the track and field ranks! Not one person of age flowing effortlessly without the aid of Ben-Gay or a walker traversing a gymnastics canvas! Not one person that can be referred to as “sir” or “ma’m”  swimming at dolphin like speed or rowing sculls with the ease of a 5 horse power outboard! So what‘s a guy like me to do? All these dreams, hopes, aspirations bottled up inside ready to explode upon the scene? What to do, WHAT TO DO?????

ANSWER:

I will “do” as any red-blooded American father would; I will impose my wishes upon my children!  Disguise their efforts as being “what they want”!  Twist their little minds and stress their little bodies fulfilling my dreams not theirs! Propping them up high on a pedestal of half-truths with statements like; you are the best, no one can perform like you, daddy loves you even when you fail (lie), oh and remember we are doing all of this just for you!  Yeah that’s the ticket!

Want to join the swim/dive team? Well then you will swim/dive morning and night everyday all year round eating tofu and drinking tiger’s milk! Up the ladder jump! Onto the starting block, jump! Swim, swim, swim and dive, dive, dive! Honing your craft, building your skill set and slowly becoming a champion! Hee, hee hee!

Gymnastics, wrestling, boxing or trampoline; No problem, hit the gym kid and don’t worry about school, you don’t need friends from the outside, you have us! Gym people are your family now, plus we’ll get you a tutor so training is all you focus on! LOOOOVVEEE YYOOUUU!

Want to be a runner/sprinter? Peeeerrrrrffffeeeecccccttttt…….

Get the hell out of the car right now! Start running! Oh don’t worry, we won’t leave you behind, but if the Australian Runners can train in the desert and those little Kenyan kids can run from village to village out of necessity thusly making the Olympics as young adults; then your sorry little butt can run out of pride! The pride you are going to bring your father when he receives his Olympic passes in 2016 whoop, whoop (tear in my eye)!! That right kid; so shut your pie hole and start running, we have little time and lots of miles and injuries to get through so WE can make it to the national trials! Oh yeah, give me a hug because daddy thinks your number one!

So there it is, my plan is in place! National exposure, our countries pride along with selfless coaching on my part will bring them to the forefront of the Olympic stage! Thereby ultimately allowing me to perform as an Olympian! Genius, pure genius I tell you!!!

They may hate me for a while but once a Gold medal is around my neck; whoops I mean around their neck (wink, wink)it will all be worth it; right? Yes sir look out NBC’s Today show here we come!!

In closing, later tonight we will stand in front of a mirror while developing our signature “thanking Jesus” ritual!

                                To the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!!!

 

Versatile Blogger Award

I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”

You really like me………

I have been nominated for the Personal Blogger Award by Vanessa Chapman http://vanessa-chapman.com 

This is an award bloggers award to each other as a way of showing appreciation for the blogs they enjoy. I am humbled and honored.

(I plagiarized the rules from Vanessa as I feel there is no reason to re-invent the wheel.)

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:

1. Thank the award-givers and link back to them in your post. Easy-Done

2. Share 7 things about yourself. Ok hope I don’t scare anyone, but easy-done.

3. Pass this award along to 15 other bloggers. Fail! Only could nominate 13! 😦

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award. Will let them know as soon as I’ve posted this

Seven things about myself;

  1. I am 45 years old and I can’t wait for retirement. When I refer to retirement it is not in the sense of me walking away from a career, gold watch in hand to sit on some god forsaken island, smoking pot until I die.  On the contrary, I cant wait to start the second half of my life.  To re-invent myself and live life twice.  I have had a stellar first half, the second half can only get better.
  2. I can walk into a burning building, rescue people from a crushed or damaged vehicle, repel off a 5 story building with confidence and walk under a ladder without fear of superstitious reprisal.  But I cannot, and I mean no way, no how can I stand being in the proximity of a spider.  Those eight legged little freaks get me every time.  You want to hear a full-grown 200 pound man jump and scream like a 6th grade school girl then toss a black widow my direction.
  3. My ability to tell the dimensions of something from sight are frustratingly astounding.  Spatial relations are my thing and I am borderline “rainman” about it.  Have a picture to hang, I can tell you one side is off 1/2 inch any direction just by looking at it.  Just had your new bookshelves installed, I am the guy who within 20 seconds of being in the room knows exactly where the carpenter “cheated” or “shorted” you on material.  It makes me crazy and it makes my friends crazy as well.
  4. Scary movies are stupid and a waste of time.  I laugh through them which annoys everyone.  I can tell exactly what is going to happen when it is going to happen. 
  5. 1950’s pin-up girls are awesome.  You can have your skinny, anorexic, vegan, boney butt tooth picks.  I like my women with natural curves, and clothing that leaves something to the imagination. 
  6. When I was 10/11 while walking up my long driveway (we lived in the country) a car pulled up with a creepy guy in it who asked me if I wanted a ride.  Then told me to get in the damn car. He had one hand on the wheel and one in his trousers.  Thank god I had enough sense to run.  I still have nightmares about that guy even at 45. 
  7. I am terrified I will fail as a father.  I put up a good front, but deep down inside I always feel as though failure is right around the corner.  It’s why I write this blog.  It allows me to laugh, vent, and share my experiences.  I can look back on it when I am feeling low and remind myself of all the good I have done with my children.  I know they will laugh looking back on all this as adults.

15 bloggers to pass this award along too.

Soshi-Tech- http://soshitech.com

More valuable information in one blog than should legally be allowed in the states of California and Utah.  Everyone else is OK!

A Detailed House- http://adetailedhouse.com

I love houses and the fine art of decorating them in some of the finest trim.  If you are a closet design geek such as myself who also thinks you can take on any project, than this is the blog for you. The photography is very well done also.

Raising a Realist- http://raisingarealist.com

Scott is a mild-mannered high school English teacher. This blog is his attempt to capture all of his daughters moments.  As a parent of four, I can relate with his tag line. “126 kids but only one will wipe my but when I am old”

Mayahood- http://mayahoodblog.com

Adventure seeker, world traveler turned mother.  She has a mixture of her views on motherhood along with guest posts.  It is an entertaining blog.

Bucket List Publications- http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com

This one is near and dear to me as it is a blog that completely follows the premiss of getting out there and doing all those things you keep putting off.  They even pick some of your bucket list suggestions and through donations make it happen for you.  It’s quite the premise and I enjoy reading it immensely

A Confederacy of Spinsters- http://confederacyofspinsters.com

This is one of my favorites!  Three women from Texas, each one taking a turn writing about life trials and tribulations all under pseudo names.  Grace, Mae and Kate.  Its is always witty, relevant and fun!  I look forward to new postings they way one waits at the window for a long-awaited package from UPS. 

Musings of a stay at home Jewish Father- http://stayathometatte.wordpress.com

Another blog dedicated to a male role model at home raising his child.  Its funny and real with great pictures as he chronicles the day-to-day life of a stay at home dad.

In My Opinion- http://diane-ownes.com

Diane is on a quest to ask a different, relevant question everyday for a year. Interesting concept and I find the answers entertaining.

Debut Dad- http://debutdad.wordpress.com

Brenden is a first time dad who lives in Australia.  He blogs about juggling the changes in his life with the birth of their first-born child. Good luck Brenden and keep em coming. 

Vanessa Chapman- http://vanessa-chapman.com

Vanessa nominated my blog,  and although she is already nominated I enjoy her blog and look forward to every new edition she puts forth.  From superstition to the purchase of a new pair of boots.  She is funny and I find her blog to be a good way to blow a little time at work! Ha!

365 trinkets- http://365trinkets.wordpress.com

This blog is a reminder of how much crap we accumulate as adults.  His mission? To get rid of 365 trinkets he has stored as treasured keepsakes over a 25 year period.  The blog revolves around taking pictures of each one (for memories sake) then getting rid of said item. 

maggiemaeijustsaythis- http://maggiemaeijustsaythis.wordpress.com

A blog dedicated to writing poetry and personal trials and tribulations.  I enjoy the freedom with which she expresses herself.

Take a shower- http://takeashower.wordpress.com

A blog about Eloise and the raising of her five children.  She writes about the past and present, reflecting on the moments in time with the raising of her five children.

I am sorry to say I only have 13 to nominate for this award.  I fail!  But the thirteen I have chosen I follow with great intent.  I enjoy many other blogs but they are new to my collection and I havent gotten the chance to know them well enough yet for a nomination. 

Vanessa you were right, I also anguished over my choices.

Rain

;

;

Falling from the sky at an incredible rate of speed, this miniscule object hits the ground with a tremendous splash. Others follow blindly and before long it feels as though you cannot hide from their obvious presence. If try to pass by them, follow you they will. North to south, fast or slow, they come at you with incredible diligence or smother you with a windless drive. We need their presence in our lives and while some welcome them with a smile and open arms, others curse their arrival. Always at the most inopportune moment. Either way, by the look on your face and the discouraged look on everyone elses face around you there is no denying its presence.

Rain

We need rain to survive. I personally relish its arrival and can sit for hours watching it out my second story window. The view is fantastic. I peer across our farmland witnessing the power of Mother Nature as she rolls out of the foothills onto our flat plain. The waves of water or sheets of rain paint the landscape with a variety of colors, shades and light. These are the pictures of earths never-ending beauty I wish to take with me when I perish.

Yet, as I watch the news I am left dumbfounded by the leading the stories. We have not had any winter yet, the fields are dry, the hills are barren and we are nearer to spring then fall. One would assume people to be dancing in the streets over the prospect of an upcoming three-four day storm. But what I see is just the opposite. Our newscasters, field operatives if you will, have taken the time out of their busy morning to locate, or track down every “nay” sayer on the street. Apparently we are so self-absorbed in our personal lives we have forgotten the simple teaching from grammar school. Sun= growth, rain= hydration, the two combined through our planets cycles help keep us alive. Yet here they are relishing in their apparent 15 seconds of fame letting us all know how inconvenient this rain is to their particular life on this very day.

I bet if you were to track down the very same people during the summer months. Then ask them how they feel about the month of scorching temps we have endured, they would wine and snivel about how inconvenient it was for them to be suffering through such egregious temperatures!
Are you kidding me?

Hey idiot here’s a little hint to help you understand a simple basic concept. It rains/snows in the winter, and its warm/hot in the summer! BAMM, like that I have solved all your problems. You now have nothing to complain about in the weather department. You can go forth and plan your wardrobe accordingly, put your garden or flowers on a feeding cycle and even plan family vacations all around this little educational tidbit!

For fun let me expand on that just a titch. Some winters (get ready for this is a doozy) it rains more than others! (I know you are scratching your head in confusion) Some times during summer it is hotter than years previous! WOOOO HOOOO! Mind Blower huh? And sometimes (sit down you moron, I don’t want you to pass out at this revelation) during spring we receive light showers!! I know amazing huh?

So next time the camera gets shoved into your face and some plastic looking, game show host pronouncing, over educated, self-absorbed glory hunter asks you how you feel about the recent weather. Look them dead in the eye and expound your love for all-weather, then politely remind the field reporter all weather helps our planet to grow and survive. Finish him off with the complimentary; what a stupid question! Dont fall into the complaining trap, especially about something you can’t control.

For those who may have noticed I haven’t commented about actually having to stand in the rain. Or blanketed you with witticisms about driving in the rain, getting groceries in the rain, picking kids up in the rain or walking to your car in the rain. It’s because, I get it! Being wet and cold is no fun but it’s all part of living on this glorious planet. There is nothing you can do about it. Purchase a good umbrella or slip into an excellent rain coat! You don’t have to like it, but please don’t make the rest of us miserable because you have chosen to become “Debbie Downer”.

Now go over to your window and appreciate what ever view our world has to offer you. Because no matter where you are I challenge you to find something beautiful staring right back at you.

Look, It’s a double rainbow……

Death?

It hangs over us like a giant weight, looming, lurking, waiting in a distant future.  An ominous presence whose shadow is cast upon us all at the most unsuspecting moment.  Many do not fear it, yet most never wish to meet.  Some say it is the gateway to another life while others believe it is a portal to hell.

Death

Death is defined as the action or fact of dying or being killed; the end of the life of a person or organism.

Death is all around us, we see it everyday.  Some may turn their heads from it as though it were a light to bright to see, while others will turn towards it as if looking into a bewildering unknown future. Turn on the television or go to the movies, we are greeted by Hollywood’s many versions of death.  Kind and gentile is the picture of grandpa drifting off to sleep or in your face with blood, gore and dismemberment. Death resonates in our minds and stirs our imaginations.  You can say it doesn’t bother you to watch zombie beheadings while a teenage girl is raped and mutilated.  Tell yourself over and over it’s just make-believe.  Take the dare from a friend and sit through vile evisceration at the hands of a producers sick and twisted vision.  Either way you are still watching death as it erodes your brains sensitive subconscious.

Headline news almost always starts out with a story of life lost.  A dog stolen and thrown out of a moving car.  A child taken from its parents in the middle of the night only to be found months later as an abandoned corps in the woods. Children shot to death by a deranged student, or a family bludgeoned, then left for dead as the house is torched.  News headlines are there for us every second of every minute of everyday. The vile disgusting side of human nature shoved in our faces through our televisions, phones, laptops and I-pads.  Stop just for a moment and think to yourself; since I woke up this morning how many times have I heard the news speak in regards to death?

Now before you think I have gone off the deep end, please hear me out.  I am in no way suggesting we stop watching the news.  I am also not suggesting that we quit watching television or the movies. The message I am trying to get across is why are we allowing these images to happen?  Why are we doing this to ourselves and our children?  Why do we feel the need as a society to always push that outer envelope of emotion?  What drives us to move farther away from moral values into destructive behavior?  There was a time when we sheltered our children from vile images, allowing their brains to develop to a point of being able to understand the consequences of death and its aftermath.  Now I hear through my own children of fellow students who are allowed to watch movies such as SAW, Silence of Lambs, Hostel, and the Hills have Eyes.  At eleven I hardly think they have the ability to process the horror they are witnessing.

Yet death continues to be glorified in our society.  We also glorify death through the use of humor.  Why?  Is it because we fear death so much that humor is the only viable release?  As an adult I have the ability to make that choice.  Having seen death first hand I know its ugliness in all forms.  I have witnessed the disturbing things we as human beings can do to each other out of anger, rage, or mental instability.  I have held the hands of strangers as they passed, and taken charge of corpses so badly mutilated that one is left wondering why would someone do this and how this is humanly possible?

Fear death or laugh at it? Yes I have earned the right to make judgement on how I will handle my emotions on the subject.  Yet as a young child, I don’t feel you should find the sight of death humorous at all.  I know I cant shelter you but I can ensure that you are not bombarded with false images that tear away at your moral fiber.  I also don’t believe one should completely fear death.  Fear is a normal reaction but maybe understanding more about it without Hollywood’s twisted take on the subject would help ease ones mind.

Then there is the remaining questions.  What is death and how do I describe it to my children?  The simple version is the definition printed above.  But being someone who has only experienced the aftermath of death.  How do we really know what happens to ourselves as the moment takes us.  Is there really an afterlife?  Are we so brazen to believe that we are all things in this gigantic universe we call home?  Or do we simply close our eyes and pass into nothing, black, darkness? Some days I find myself sitting on my second story balcony looking out into the fields and pondering; how sad it will be that one day I will no longer be able to see this beauty.  No longer be able to smell the mustard flowers in bloom or the Eucalyptus trees in the spring.  It makes me sad, leaves me worried for my children and I am left wondering why we are given this wonderful gift of life.  This gift that so many waste, with the way they live their lives! Wasting away are those who worry endlessly over irreverent, stupid, petty things.  I am thankful for all that I have in my life, yet selfish due to my reserves about giving it all away, succumbing to deaths inevitable arrival.

So what do we do? What do we do as a society to ease this mental conundrum that lays before us?  Do we continue to propel ourselves forward where before long it will be acceptable to watch the beheadings of small children in a sick and twisted version of Survivor that can only be seen through Pay per Veiw?  Or do we start standing up as parents and say enough is enough, demanding stronger censorship in regards to gore on television and in the movies?  Do we begin to recognize are mortality and quit living as though there will always be a tomorrow? Or do we continue on blindly as though we are immortal? Or am I just completely out in left field with all of this, shrouded by a foggy vision of the world due to the experiences I ‘ve had over a 17 year career?  Imposing my cynical brain upon the weak and unsuspecting? I just dont know…..

Oh by the way in case you were wondering or possibly unsure, I always choose humour to deal with deaths darkness.

Age of Information Overload

I hate starting anything with this line but here goes.

Do you remember when?

I remember a time when the sun came up you were told to be outside all day. You were also reminded to have your butt inside before the sun went down or you were going to bed hungry because you would miss dinner. I remember when breakfast was before school or 8 on the weekends. Lunch was at noon, and dinner was promptly served at 6pm. I remember when a single television was in the house broadcasting three (major network) channels, one public channel and a handful of fuzzy channels. I also remember the house having one telephone, it was in the middle of the kitchen, it hung from the wall and it had a dial. No private sneaky conversations, you better have manners because everyone heard what you were saying. I remember when a stereo was a gigantic piece of furniture. It had am/fm and a phonograph. If I was lucky enough to be left alone that sucker was blaring AC/DC! (insert rebel smile here) And smile you did, not because of the music per say, but because you knew your parents hated you touching this status symbol, and it was so much louder than your mono phonograph. (remember those?) I remember when we played outside in the fields, running through horse crap, cow poop and mud. We drank water from a garden hose and ate fruit straight off the trees if we needed a snack! I remember when you scuffed your knee or shredded your elbow you sucked it up and hid it from mom. Because nothing was worse than having your mom call you a cry baby in front of your friends. That same theory also worked for scuffles with your brothers, sisters or your friends. Yeah I remember when…..

Why am I talking like an old man who just finished walking up a hill both ways in 6 feet of snow barefoot with shorts on because that’s all my parents could afford? Well let me tell you….

Sitting at work today I received a call on my cell phone, it was the middle child. He was highly agitated at the oldest. As I was in the process of diffusing the situation my oldest calls me on the other line (can I say other line with a cell phone?) As I take his call putting the middle child on hold I think to myself, aren’t they in the same room? Before I can ask this question they both begin arguing with each other! A full-blown screaming match, and I am getting it all live through the latest, greatest Apple technology! I calmly handled the situation, sent them on their merry little ways and proceeded to place the phone back into my pocket. Disaster averted! Something my parents couldn’t have done in their day without the use of technology. Yeah! Technology…

Then it dawns on me, technology may be screwing things up in the parenting department as well! Sure we have the ability to know where are kids are at any given time. (Just call them) Sure I have the ability to handle domestic disputes over the phone keeping piece and harmony in the family nucleus. But what I ‘m really doing is disconnecting them from reality! In the “Real” world they need to have skills to handle arguments and disagreements with poise, and control. In the “Real” world they can’t just call their mommy or daddy to handle the situation for them. In the “Real” world you can’t just start ignoring someone by staring at your phone in a trance, like Ghandi is speaking to you through Facetime bringing wisdom and harmony to your universe.

So what is a parent to do? Well I did what any calm, realistic, patient, educated parent would do. I opened up the browser on my phone and began plugging in key words, searching for the answers to my questions on parenting all through the ease of my cell phone or “compuphone” as I prefer to call it. This search of course takes 15 minutes out of my otherwise productive day and before I log off I make sure to check my tweets, my blog, Facebook, the New York times, ESPN, and last but certainly not least my e-mail accounts. It’s then and only then I realize its not technology that’s the problem, its me….

I am on information overload! It’s such a double-edged sword too. I like being able to obtain all the information I need at the touch of a button. Lost? Ask my GPS. Need information ask Google, Firefox, or Ask Jeeves. Want to play video games? Angry Birds and Poker at your finger tips sir! Want to purchase something on the spot? Ebay and Amazon have app’s for that! Need to talk to someone but just don’t feel like the burden of actually having to speak to them? Text baby text, text as fast as your oversized, pudgy little fingers can fly across the virtual keyboard! But something has to give. Sanity must reign supreme at some point. There has to be a tipping point on the scales of social anxiety. In my ability to prioritize and utilize the boundless amounts of information that bombard my pea sized brain everyday!

The reality; I miss being able to go someplace without the urge to “check my computaphone”. I wonder what life will be like in 25 years when technology has surpassed our own ability to process information. I miss walking out the door of our house and traveling through my day without the “need” to check my computaphone every couple of minutes! What happened to conversation, what happened to research, what happened to wanting to know something as opposed to needing to know something. What happened to self exploration, finding things on your own and learning how to process that information. What happened to trial and error. We no longer have trial and error in our lives. Want to know how to do something, look it up on YouTube. It’s there! I mean in hindsight, I guess all those things are still there, but are we saturating ourselves so fast and at such a young age that we may be doing a dis-service to ourselves and our children? Is our ability to absorb and process the information diminishing? Are the things we are seeing, not only as adults but as kids scaring or de-sensitizing us to the point of callousness?

Our children can no longer play outside all day or they are considered “latchkey” kids “troublemakers”. So they stay inside either playing video games ( a completely different topic of disgust I will tackle later) or stuck in front of the computer wandering aimlessly through the web unsupervised. Our knowledge of the creepy boogie man that lurks around every corner has us protecting them 24-7 and in some regards, rightfully so. Our children are bombarded with sensory overload, watching the most inappropriate of things, whether or not you are there, because if you havent purchased them the unlimited data plan, they damn well know a friend who has it! Kids today can’t handle even the smallest of confrontations. They don’t know how! Texting has taken the place of talking. The power of the spoken word is lost. The power of the unspoken or written word is open to translation. Leaving many children with their underdeveloped youth/teenage minds wondering the true meaning in a persons last text. It means bullying is no longer confrontational person/person. It can now be done at anytime day or night. Remember the bully from your school as a child. Nothing made you feel better than the moment you went to class or loaded onto the bus and went home. Whew! Dont have to deal with that jerk till tomorrow. Not anymore, that same jackwagon armed with a computer or cell phone can torment you until you feel cornered, outnumbered and alone. No kid should ever feel that way.

So what is the answer? I don’t think all this glorious technology should disappear. I do miss the days of old, where one had a moment without knowing what was going on in every facet of our lives. I do think technology can be used for good. It does help with research and finishing homework, learning new cultures and expanding our minds, taking our imaginations to places we never dreamed possible. I do believe we need to monitor our children better. This I am entitled mentality that many of our children carry around because we as parents don’t know how to set boundaries and limits needs to end. We as parents need to also get off the cell phone, step away from the computer and engage our children more! Have a time during the evening where you all talk together as a family. Implement a “cell free” zone in your house. For us its the dinner table. No cell phones at the dinner table. Now don’t get me wrong, I am just as guilty as the next guy. I hear my cell phone beep and I am the first to “draw” like a gun fighter at the OK corral! I am just hoping my kids can say I remember when and actually remember, not have it tied to some great new gadget they purchased or received.

My point being, I am afraid one day technology will actually think for us, or out think us, we will no longer have control, and its at that point the Terminators will win. Where is John Connor when you need him…

TV & The Dying Brain

 

When I think about it now as an adult it makes perfect sense. I see the reasoning behind the decision and understand the consequences.  Refusing to adhere to the policies set forth would bring swift and irrefutable repercussions. My mind failed to grasp the concept and I argued to a mind numbing end, my point of right.  As In “I have a right” to enjoy this time you are so heinously keeping from me! I was mocked, shunned and put into place by becoming nothing more that a slave to the dial.

It will rot your mind;I heard time and again.  Your sitting to close, it will damage your eyes, was heard bellowing through my house.  Oh my it seems you received a C on your report card, you are banned, and not to be found within watching distance!  Unless father needs you to turn the dial again. Your grades have slipped and the box of entertainment must surely be the cause!

As I am sure you have figured out by now I am referring to the “all mighty” power held over the human race by television! Our parents fully understood the potential for harm such a dreaded form of entertainment could bring upon a population of young underdeveloped minds! We (my sister and I) were held to 30 minutes at night and a couple of hours on the weekends! Weekend time was divided between Saturday morning cartoons and Saturday evening family shows.  Yet my parents retained the right to watch endless hours of television. Sometimes into the wee hours of the morning! Oh it held a spell over me! I would stand for hours with my bedroom door cracked and one lone eyeball straining to watch my fathers shows until the late hours of the evening! It amazes me to this day that it mesmerized us with three channels! Held our attention, took us away from reality, became our excuse for missing chores and slacking on homework.  Eventually becoming a trinket, or shiny bobble dangled in front of us to be given or taken away at a moments notice!  We were hooked and our parents knew it!

Today, we can’t escape the power of television! It is everywhere in our lives.  Playing at the bus and train stations, in the airport, behind the bar at your favorite watering hole.  Blaring away in elevators, behind lobby desks, or in the check out line at Wal-Mart. You can also find it playing on our computers, displayed on cell phones, playing endlessly in every room of every house in America! It’s there like an old friend, comforting us when we are having a rough go, or helping us get through a sleepless night! It is there, it’s always there…. 

In my day at 1 am the picture turned to the American Flag waving with the Star Spangled Banner playing until 6 in the morning.  Now, programs are shown 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  You can’t escape it, you can’t hide from it, it has become an addiction.  Between reality T.V. (an oxymoron I might add), news, sports, game shows, dramas, comedies, infomercials, movie channels, women’s channels, the gay/lesbian channels, music channels, cooking shows, car shows, shows about midget, parents with 65 kids, (deeeeeep breath) and the lives of Prairie Dogs in the wild! It’s really amazing what Americans will watch! 

Which leads me to my point…

I think our parents had it right!  Shut the damn thing off and go outside! Turn on your brain by reading a book or your Kindle! Let your brain enjoy all the powers it has locked up inside without interference from Snookie or Drake and Josh! Seriously we are ruining our kids ability to process information by having it force-fed to them through the lazy eye of television!  

I tried an experiment at home to prove what I call the “Butterfly Chaser”effect.   The Butterfly Chaser is where your kid is asked to perform a task. As your child is performing that task something else catches their eye, subsequently diverting their attention, leaving the original task unfinished.  Some children are easily diverted, others are focused and stay on task with little effort. 

Now introduce the almighty television!  I am not kidding when I say the morning will be progressing smoothly, like a fine wine. No interference, everyone is gathering their personal effect, brushing their teeth, putting dishes in the sink, and then just for fun, I will through on the T.V.!  They stop dead in their tracks! mesmerized, stupefied, mummified, frozen! It is absolutely amazing! Call out their names; they wont answer! Grab them, shake them, look them in the eyes, nothing!  It could be Good Morning America or Sponge Bob, it doesn’t matter!  The brain is frozen like your computer screen due to an invading virus! The T.V. is the virus and you don’t have the proper software to handle the eventual meltdown of the system! 

There is only one cure for this outbreak of stupification! Turn it off!  Stand where you can see their little faces when the T.V. is shut down.  Focus on them, and very slowly depress the off button.  POW! Blinking eyes, turning heads, bodies starting to move again, they look as though they were waking from a long coma. Focusing on what is around them, locating familiar objects, grasping at the time space continuum.  Then, they just go right back to what they were originally doing. Like nothing ever happened. Oh you may get the occasional child who is a little more astute than the others.  His reaction usually begins with a loud; HHEEEEEYYYYYYY who turned it off!  But the second he makes eye contact with you, the head goes down and the morning continues…

So what do we do? It invades every single moment of our lives! How do we go back thirty years to re-engage our children in the land of reality? I am not sure, but we have tried a few methods. 

My wife and I have reduced our house to one family T.V. with satellite. The other is connected to Net-Flix only, this way we pick a movie for them, which is played at our onvienance and ultimately diverts them from the main T.V.  Our kids have mandatory reading time and if all their homework and chores are finished; If showers and rooms are prepared for the next day before their appointed bed times, they can watch some television.  Holding to appropriate bed times I think helps immensely.  It limits your childs exposure and allows them time to decompress everything their minds have processed during the day.  My wife and I also go to bed at the same time as our last child. This sets agood example by showing them we feel sleep is just as important for us as it is for them.  “Lead by example” a statement that says it all.. 

They still hover over the T.V. like vultures every chance they get.  Their little minds crave the damn thing like sugar or crack cocaine!  But in the long run I think they will appreciate all the effort we have put into keeping them away from the entertainment box of hysteria, false lives and lies. 

 

 

Now that I have all that off my chest, I am off to watch another episode of “Family Guy”! Hey don’t judge me, it’s not my bed time!!