Friday, October 31, 2008

I’m a slave!! I’m a slave!!

So said the daughter during our nightly telephone conversation. “All I do is nurse, clean up, play games – my children run my life!!”

Well, like any daddy, I wanted to comfort my daughter – and I reminded her of 6AM swim team practices, early morning dance squad practices, games to go to, dance programs, dance practice, plays, church programs, parties, trips, waiting up for her to come home from dates, worries about grades, boyfriends – the list was long!. Ah yes, the good old days.

And then I laughed! It is such a delight to see the famous “mother curse” is working so well!! “Some day you will have a child just like you!” She’s a great mom. And she really does “get it” – a family takes work, kids take work, marriage takes work! But, in the end, when all is said and done – there is a pay-off:

Yes – kids are great; that’s not it!

Yes – husbands are handy, lovable creatures; that’s not it!

Yes – all children have moments of complete adorability; that’s not it!

Yes – there is a special joy in a date night sans kids; that’s not it!

Yes – the array of “firsts” – steps, teeth, roll-overs, smiles, worss . . . are wonderful; that’s not it!

Watching, listening, enjoying your kids experience these joys with THEIR kids, that’s what it is all about! Our legacy as parents, grandparents, and great grandparents – having a hand in the future!

Besides, it just fun to listen to the whining (in a gently way, of course) and reminding them that – in their day – they acted just like their daughters!

And that’s as it should be!

On Toilets

OK, so I am preparing a little "love note" for a friend. The reasons are neither here nor there, but rather the content.

I have been looking for a toilet flush. Yep, a toilet flush. Using the searching man's favorite - Google - I tried various parameters:

image toilet flush sound Results: 188,000 hits.


Next: toilet flush video Results: 310,000 hits! REALLY?!?!?!?

From YouTube:

Seaching for toilet flush Results: 3,810 videos of a toilet being flushed.

I am trying to wrap my head around what this means. We have achieved a point in our civilization where we take time to record a video flushing, and then care enough about our handy work to display it for all to see, nearly FOUR THOUSAND TIMES!!!

I leave you to your own thoughts with this, the winner!

Of course, now I have to try to understand why I, ME, a fairly sane (quit laughing Chrissy) person would spend nearly an hour finding just the right one!

Where is the number of that shrink again??

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Reading in the dark.

I am a “morning person”, I confess. I am one of those wide awake people first thing in the morning that everyone hates. Actually I blame my mom. She was a morning person, went to work at the post office every morning at 5:30 AM while I was left to watch Captain Kangaroo and Tom Terrific.

However, as fall turns to winter, I notice my mornings are now spent in darkness rather that light – I could do without that. Being the news/political junkie that I am, I start the morning out with “My Daily Read”. I suppose it is the 2008 version of reading the morning paper – only it’s about 25 websites. I cruise through a number of newspapers, news sites, Drudge – of course, RealClearPolitics, and then 10 or so blogs that are also run by data/news junkies that may catch something I might miss. Anyway, the content isn’t the point, but rather that, as I type this, I can just begin to see glimmers of daylight through the wood patch that surrounds our house. 7AM - - - still dark. Heavy sigh!!

That’s the part of fall/winter I truly dislike. Getting up in the dark, spending the morning in the dark, getting off work in the dark. It really brings out all the hibernation instincts in me, sometimes even over riding my natural tendencies and pop up in the morning and I find myself still in bed at 6:30AM. Again, heavy sigh.

I’m officially ready for spring. I want bright sunshine at 6:30AM, warm weather, green leaves rather than brown or none. We could skip past the snow with a one-day exception for Christmas. And, I could get back to my daily read while enjoying the sunshine streaming through the dining room window.

I know, patience is a virtue, but it isn’t my strong suit. I want my sunshine, and I want it now!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Of Wives and Horses

One of my earliest date experiences with my wife-to-be was horseback riding. Not quite sure why it was so important to put my butt on top of an animal who actually had little interest in doing what I asked it to do (in fact, its primary response was: “huh??” “you mean me?” “what the “f” do you mean faster!”) yet, for the achievement of MY goal (wink, wink), it seemed it was important so off we went.

Through much “encouragement” we finally achieved our goal, riding all the way out to a pasture/wooded area. All was well – Susie was smiling, I was actually having fun, the day was warm and sunny and my trusty steed was calm and reluctantly cooperative.

Until - - -

He made the unfortunate mistake of stepping on a Yellow Jacket nest. Kinda pissed ‘em off. And they shared their thoughts with my mount. He decided he’d had enough trail time for the day and at just under “warp 10” (light really does make that cone shape you see on Star Trek as they go to light speed!!!) we headed back to the barn! Across the pasture! Through the woods! Down the trail! Through the gate! Into the stall! And STOP!!! He looks at me: “you still here?” I gather my dignity, dismount (by sliding off and shaking like a baby) and I wait for Susie to catch up (her warp drive was off-line, so it took a bit). Just as well, I had time to recover my cool and check to see if I needed a change of skivvies.

Susie has always loved horses. The love of her life – Thumper – gets an apple and a kiss every day. Then, I do. A kiss that is, not so much on the apple. She has always included me in this “hobby” but, honestly, her focus was on the horses. But, in the spirit of wedded insanity, I too rode – mostly dressage – with her. I/we learned a lot from a horse named Meloed. An odd mix of Tennessee Walker and Clydesdale – with a gate to remember (imagine riding a camel at canter). Along about this time came Thumper – 32+ years ago and still going strong – and years of lunge-line work, riding, lessons, camps, some competitions, babying, bushels of apples, tons of hay, hours of brushing, scratching, grooming, and loving. Yet, for 40+ years her passion for horses and riding has not diminished – if anything it is much stronger today!

What brought this to mind was talking to her last night on the phone. She is off in Milwaukee at a riding seminar/camp/private lesson. She had the same voice on she did 40+ years ago when she asked me to go riding with her for the first time. “It was great!!!!” “Reese listened to everything!!” “Flying changes!” “Serpentines!” “Passage!” “Leg yields!” “My seat was great!!” (yes, it is!! J ) Honestly, it’s hard not to get excited with/for her on these trips. Her passion has only grown, her love for riding has broadened as she has grown in the craft. It is just fun to watch.

So, she’ll be home tonight about 8PM she says. Her clothes will smell like a barn – a Parisian perfume to the horse lover! I will hear 5 days worth of stories, watch the smiles, see the joy in her eyes, hear the excitement in her voice. Plans will be made for the riding sessions over the next weeks. What can she bring to the horses she is working with and helping to train? What can she do different? I can’t wait until March for the next seminar/camp/clinic/lessons!! “Did I tell you how the weekend went GREAT!?!?!?!?” Yep, sweetie, you did. And, I will see the 15 year old who conned me into my first ride and I will realize for the umpteenth time what I lucky man I am and how much I love this woman.

Women and horses – go figure!

Saturday, October 25, 2008



I have been watching, most of the time with jaw dropping amazement, the response of our Government and their hirelings to our nation’s “economic crisis”. Where to start – where to start. Especially with my desire to keep this blog limited to a more general range of topics – not political ramblings.

Yet, I have some thoughts on how an individual could choose to react to these events and this particular time. Let’s see what comes out of my fingers!

I am currently teaching Wilderness Survival to our scout troop. There are important lessons they must know before we can take them on our High Ventures. They are “High Ventures” because they involve much more personal risk than typical weekend campouts and, honestly, more risk than most troops take on their trips. So, we expect our guys to be able to survive the unexpected and make the return trip home. Our troop has never lost a scout but my very first High Adventure with the troop certainly had moments where this could have easily happened – but that’s a whole other post! Preparation and survival takes training, practice and their ability to keep a cool head. The watch word we use to help drum this into their heads is S.T.O.P!

From the website:

"S" is for Stop. Take a deep breath, sit down if possible, calm yourself and recognize that whatever has happened to get you here is past and cannot be undone. You are now in a survival situation and that means . . .

"T" is for Think. Your most important asset is your brain. Use it! Don't Panic! Move with deliberate care. Think first, so you have no regrets later. Take no action, even a foot step, until you have thought it through. Unrecoverable mistakes and injuries, potentially serious in a survival situation, occur when we act before we engage our brain. Then . . .

"O" is for Observe. Take a look around you. Assess your situation and options. Consider the terrain, weather and resources. Take stock of your supplies, equipment, surroundings, your personal capabilities and, if there are any, the abilities of your fellow survivors.

"P" is for Plan. Prioritize your immediate needs and develop a plan to systematically deal with the emergency and contingencies while conserving your energy. Then, follow your plan. Adjust your plan only as necessary to deal with changing circumstances.

The beginning of every training session begins with the question: “What is the first thing you do when you have an emergency?” S.T.O.P.

My second question is: “Who’s responsibility is it to save you?” Yours!! You are responsible for your personal survival.

If our scout can S.T.O.P. and get their head together and then realize THEY responsible for their survival, in all likelihood, they will indeed survive whatever they encounter.

Getting back to my main topic of our nation’s current fiscal situation, I think our leaders should S.T.O.P. Yet, there is just a tinge of panic in their reaction. Monies pledged to this “crisis” now tops 1.5 TRILLION dollars!!! Let me say that again – real slow – 1111……555555 TTTTRRRRIIIIILLLLIIIIIIOOOOONNNNN!! With more to come it seems – another 300 billion after the beginning of the year has been proposed with states, companies and pension plans clambering on the bandwagon saying that they to are too important to be allowed to “fail”. A tipping point of some type has, indeed, been reached and the government seems determined to slide headlong into the abyss of Socialism and an odd mix of Marxism. So where does this leave us, the American citizen? All of this is beyond the control of the individual American. There is nothing we can do, with the exception of the upcoming election, to jar our government from this path. And, honestly, given the rhetoric of the candidates the only difference is that Obama with take us to a Marxist/Socialist state with stunning swiftness while McCain will, while heading us in a generally Socialist direction, do so more slowly. Neither path is good for the long term. But, just as happens when a person rolls their canoe in a swift flowing stream must save themselves first, we need to take care of ourselves and our families first – then when our own survival is assured – turn our attention to our bigger national picture. So what can individuals do right now – today – this very evening to begin their own survival process?

As individuals we all need to S.T.O.P. and assess our own situation. Realize – no one is coming to save us! No one! Get our financial house in order. Pay down bills, mortgages, cars, credit cards. Get a second job if necessary (and yes, there are jobs everywhere if you are willing to work). Look at our situation clearly, calmly and honestly so we can truly realize what our own situation is.

Realize that we have been here before as a nation. 1929. late 70s. 1987. 1999. and now today. There are economic cycles – gravity if you will. What goes up, must come down – but can certainly go up again.

Realize that financial hardship for some means opportunity for others. Perhaps now is the time to buy that house? Heaven knows there will be some good prices out there over the next 5 years or so. Perhaps now is a good time to look for a second job, change a career, learn a skill and develop a side business that can add to your family’s bottom line. I would much rather depend on my own personal skills and abilities to provide for my family than I would to depend on someone else to provide me a job.

Prepare. Action always helps! When you shop, buy a little extra for the pantry. Basics – pasta, rice, flour, sugar, some canned goods. There are some good on-line sites with lists of basics. Build a 3-month pantry and then eat from it and rotate stock.

Get to know your neighbors. If fear and panic win out over cooler heads, friends and neighbors will need to work together in ways that were common for our parents and grandparents, but not so much for us. Have them over for dinner. Introduce your kids to them. And, in doing so, you will make new friends, broaden relationships and find that people are much more interesting that a movie, TV or computer terminal.

Be responsible. I used to have a business partner that had a mirror on the back of his office door. Before a meeting he would close his door and look at the mirror. At the bottom were the words: “You are looking at the answer!” So are we all. We are the answer to our own individual problems. This “financial crisis” came about because individuals were unwilling to be responsible for themselves. There is no “housing crisis” but there is a crisis of individual responsibility – and as individuals we should not contribute to it.

Have a plan. Or plans. What are our family goals for the next week, month, 6-months, year? What is our plan in the event of another 9/11? A continued collapse of our economy? Loss of a job? The best time to plan is before we have to respond. We can game things, look at alternatives, adjust. There is a lot of comfort when “it” hits the fan and a plan is in place. It reduces fear, panic and allows us to think clearly.

And, finally – and most importantly – enjoy the day. After all, if we are unwilling to stop and enjoy our spouse, our kids, our mother, our fathers, our grandparents, our friends – why the hell even bother.

Enjoy the day!!

My Random Droppings


This is my second blog.  My primary blog is essentially a political blog to present my views, comment on current topics and - in general - just vent about the insanities of today's global political climate. 

Meantime, my daughter, her hubby and others have started blogs that are more general  in nature - today's happenings, funny stories, tails of kids and family.  It seems I am drawn to play as well.

So, that will be the purpose of this blog.  To deposit "My Random Droppings" about what's cookin' and share the wisdom of the ages - well, at least my 58 years of ages anyway!