Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merri-effin-Christmas...or Things you say when you're high

After having a little procedure done at the hospital, I've been at home feeling quite wonderful this evening.  I've been wanting to write a bit, but was a bit cautious due to the pain medication...finally, I decided that's exactly why I ought to write, because I'm nice and legally high.

I have a great friend that is one of the most disciplined people I've ever met in my life.  He's a great father, and has an excellent job, doing something important.  He has a great wife and great kids... we've enjoyed getting to know them over the past 10-20 years.  I'd like to tell him that he's a selfish son-of-a-bitch and that nobody has the right to a private life above all else in life...and I really don't care what the fuck you think about it personally...we all have responsibilities and talking to your wife about important shit is one of those responsibilities.  You signed up for it when you bought her a didn't have to do that...but you wrote the check, now cash it you bastard.  I love you, like a brother, so act like a man.

I have another friend that hurt one of my other friends pretty badly.  He didn't put him in the hospital or anything, but just became one of those guys that completely ignores his role in a hurtful situation.  I love this guy, he's like a brother to me...good dad, good husband and all that...  I'd like to tell him that there isn't anyone innocent, not one...just like the Bible just look at yourself inside this situation...and the one before it....and the one before that one....and realize the common denominator in each of these cluster fucks was YOU.  I love you, I forgive you, but you gotta own up to the fact that you've been a fuck-tard man...and you hurt other people...stop being a douche and learn how to confess, apologize and ask for forgiveness.

I also know one of the coolest guys I've ever met, and I really enjoy hanging out with him, working with him, goofing off with him and everything else that goes with life...  I'd like to tell him that there can only be so many huge-ass houses and silver lexus automobiles in this town.  Success ain't where you live and what you drive...the SIGNATURE OF OUR GENERATION has become that we've defined our own quit chasing success as defined by 1985...listen to your wife, she doesn't want a McMansion in the Hills or a McLexus...she wants to carve out a family in this life as only you guys can.  You have a unique signature in life with your kids, so just carve it wherever you like...quit being driven by invisible winds swinging around from 25 years ago telling you where to live and what to drive damnit.  YOU, are what makes you cool...don't forget it.

As for probably know by now that I'm a symmetry and balance kind of guy...  I do the best I can to stand in front of a mirror, naked and ask myself "what are you being a total asshole about to your wife that you can't quite recognize yet?"  or "Will you ever be able to live your life without tobacco, you pussy, can you stand up, look yourself in the eye and tell yourself 'no' once in a while?"  

So, over Christmas this year, as I take some time off...I'll be giving my wife and kids a present that hopefully will keep on giving...I plan on taking stock of my life and inventory to see what needs to happen for me to be a better man, father, and husband.

God gave me the gift of being a masochist, so the least I can do is help my family benefit while I enjoy the pain.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Golfing with a 7 year old boy over Thanksgiving

At 10:36 AM on Friday, November 26th, 2010, I embarked upon a golfing odyssey with my 52 year old brother,  my 20 year old niece, and my 7 year old son.  What follows is something of an account of what might have happened that day...I'll let you pick fact from fiction, that's a bit more fun anyway.

7:15 AM...during slumber, I roll over to find another cool spot on my pillow, I catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye.   My son remains perfectly still, as I roll over to look at him...sitting cross legged, with 2 and 1/2 layers of clothing on, in his bed, with his snowboarding cap (which I learned is a stocking hat with a tiny bill)...he's patiently waiting the 9:45 aM departure time.  I go back to sleep.

9:45 AM (or if you know me...about 9:55 AM)  Departure for course with coffee.

10:15 AM Practice Range.  Malcolm, the boy, is hitting golf balls next to an older Asian gentleman.  I'm hitting golf balls at some distant target, completely amazed at my astounding accuracy.  I am truly the Arnold Palmer of the driving range.

10:20 AM  Practice Range.  Malcolm nearly connects with Mr. Miyagi's backswing, narrowly escaping disaster.

10:21 AM Practice Range.  Malcolm, imitating a Shankasaurus Rex, nearly takes out Miyagi at the knee caps.

10:21: 15 AM Practice Range.  I cease being Arnold Palmer on the driving range.

10: 40-ish AM.  We tee off.

We played fairly well, I personally was playing much better than I windows broken, no cursing...all was well and good.  However, between the four of us, the two impatient fathers and the not-so-lightning-quick progeny...we wound up falling behind in our slot...with plenty of golfers behind us.

11:12 AM.  Hole #4  I hit my tee shot while not looking at my "felt" like it went straight up.  None of us can find I hit a provisional, which I do see as it makes a hard right around the fairway bunker and lands with the grace of a wounded goose in the trees.  [blood pressure begins to increase...see Psycho Golfing Entry a few weeks ago].

11:15 AM.  Hole #4 Fairway.  Find first ball, miraculously deposited in fairway by The Lord.  I always knew He had my back.  Hit green.  Make putt.  What we call a "Worst to First Birdie".  I'm amazed, happy, and a bit confounded as to how that all happened.  My brother three putts...which is just the golf world equalizing itself back into equilibrium.

11:20 AM.  We let the group (#1) behind us play through.  I feel as though I'm doing pretty well with the slow play (see previous hole).  I remind myself that we are here to have fun and we have all day.

11:45 AM.  We let the group (#2) behind us play through.  It is Mr. Miyagi and friends.  NOTE:  Asian golfers are the most appropriate and polite golfers I have ever been around.  After speed putting (which they knocked their shots pretty close), two of them apologized to us for our slow play and actually sprinted back to their carts.

2:30 PM  Hole # 13.  Malcolm has a knee on the green and is spinning himself around like a break dancer.  This increases my blood pressure, but I'm unclear as to exactly why...he's having the time of his life...but it bothers me because he's not being a perfect little golfer.

2:45 PM Hole #14.  Malcolm requests permission to hit his ball over the creek...which means he's GOING to hit it INTO the creek...but he does ask.  I lose golf balls all the time, this doesn't bother me...too much.  He fires two of them dead center into the creek, which is only about 5 feet wide.  He looks at me.  "Well, that's not too bad, you hit the second one pretty hard".  "Yeah, I'll drop on the other side"...he says with a smile.

2:46 PM Hole #14.   I realize why I'm here.

I'm here with my boy.  He's having the time of his life, playing golf with his daddy, his uncle, and his cousin.  He wants nothing other than to line up and play with us, feeling like he belongs.  He's not a pretender, he's the real deal.  He has no problem plunking two balls right in the water.  Doesn't phase him.  He's playing golf with his daddy, his uncle, and his cousin...and there's nothing that can derail his day.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote that God is younger than mankind.  Repetition only becomes dull to Adults, because we grow up.  Children can do the same thing, watch the same show, play the same game, over and over again...and wake up and do it again tomorrow.  Chesterton relates that mental picture to God overseeing the sunrise and sunset every never gets old.

Malcolm was in that wonderful spot that children go to when their world becomes perfect for a little while.  He was insulated, he was protected, he was unashamed...he was joy.

As for me, I almost missed it.  But, perhaps the prayer I prayed found the ears of the Ancient One, when I asked to be shown something I'm thankful for...that I've missed in the past.

The utter joy and satisfaction of playing really slow golf with a 7 year old boy that holds my heart wherever he goes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not a very fun or funny post...RIP Zahra

There was a 10 year old girl that disappeared sometime ago in North Carolina.  She was a survivor of bone cancer, lung cancer, had a prosthetic leg, and wore hearing aids.  Most likely she was killed at the hands of an evil person very close to her.

And I don't really want to get into any of that...

But, I have to.

I have a 9 year old daughter.  A 7 year old son.  I consider myself some sort of survivor type myself.  And, this page exists so that I can let the things that run around my mind find a

It isn't really the horror that Zahra likely faced that haunts me.  I'll leave that for Nancy Grace to sort out.  We need Nancy, though, standing on that fence, letting us know that evil people roam the world...because they do.

I walk into my daughter's school everyday to pick her up.  Over the lockers of the 4th and 5th graders, they keep their pictures, with their creatively captured names.  Today, I wandered around and made sure that I knew what each kid looks like.  I picked a locker out of the line, and wondered how it would affect my world...our world if it were that kiddo...or mine.  Not from an anger-ridden go draw and quarter the bastards that do these things...sort of attitude...which does come to mind.  But from the story perspective.

Survival isn't about making it.  It isn't about sticking around to breath a few days more.  It's about clawing and screaming at life because you have a story that you are living.  It is the Story that makes our lives what they will become worth.

I'm troubled because the dark side has succeeded this time in silencing what must have been an utterly fantastic story about a girl that bitch -slapped cancer, not once, but twice, and struggled to keep going...the few pictures that we saw of Zahra had her smiling in most every one.  She made it through the hard part, but she couldn't outrun the darkness that surrounded her, and it got her.

"Does anyone know where the love of God goes, When the waves turn the minutes to hours?"  Gordon Lightfoot wrote about the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

I don't know, but I am coming to understand that it happened on our watch, and it is an unforgivable thing to let a little girl with a fantastic story slip away unnoticed into the hands of evil.

John 1:5 tells us in God's Bible that the light shines into the darkness and that the darkness cannot overcome it.

It is days like today that all I can do is a shed a little tear and sincerely hope that is true.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What the was THAT?

Amateur Duffers...the ones that don't play enough, and believe they could be better, or at least not suck quite so bad...this one's for you.

I had the chance to play golf with my older brother, and my son last weekend.  It was fantastic.  So fan-fucking-tastic that I almost drove my cart into the pond to stop the pain.  Seeing as how I love both my brother and my son...I'll back up a tiny bit.

My older brother and I have an odd relationship.  He's part father, brother, and close friend to me.  He's a technically minded problem solver and uber-efficient.  I'm a socially minded problem sorter-outer, and sort of a "we'll get the work done on time, don't rush me" kind of guy.  Other than that...we think a lot alike.

My son, Malcolm, is 7.  He's a fantastic kid, and he's learning the great game of golf.  [beaming dad moment...]

I was ready to play.  Hadn't played in a couple of weeks, and I've been working on my putting all year long (which has improved greatly, I would add).  I'm trying very hard to make golf a horseshoes kind of mentality (just hit it AT the target over there somewhere), as opposed to darts (I'm trying to put the ball right THERE).  I'm enjoying golf and slowly getting a bit better, though my scores don't show it...and I guess that's all that matters.

So, we play.  I'm hitting the ball ok, and worried that the track we're playing isn't good enough for my country club belonging brother.  Which really doesn't matter, golf is golf if you love the game, but I'm mental...don't forget that.  I wouldn't have a blog if I wasn't mental, and my life would be no fun.  

I figure out later, that my major malfunction started on the second hole.  My son, wishes to tee of on every hole and hits the ball...maybe 100 yards on a good hit.  NOTE:  he was not hitting the ball well this day.  He's taking his time (like I taught him) and is playing a bit slow.  On the other hand, Captain Efficiency is always ready to go and can play 9 holes in about an hour if its open.  

I become a nervous sandwich, uncomfortably wedged between the "fast and the furious" older brother and "methodical perfectionist" son.  

3rd hole:  I hit a tee shot with a 5 iron.  I think the people a street over to the left of me are in danger of losing a window.  "What the fuck was that?"  I say...and yes, the boy was standing there.  My brother, is in that all too awkward position of having hit a solid tee shot and just watched his playing partner crap himself on the tee... I hit another ball...which also goes left, but will play.  

I was settling down by the 5th hole and getting my head back on straight, managing the the plodding and the speeding...I put my tee shot right in the fairway.  My approach shot, however, somehow travels through space, time, and the wind, to fly a 9 iron 165+ yards over the green into the river.  "Really, I really want to know what the fuck that was?"

Have you ever been playing, and enjoying yourself, recovering slowly from a bad hole...settling down, hitting a few solid shots...then tackle a shank-a-saurus rex right in the middle of the fairway.  Where does that come from?

Now, I don't mind playing poorly.  I drink when I play poorly.  Normally, I don't drink when I play golf, unless its a tournament...then all bets are off and I'm drinking some beer.  Consistently poor play can be put up just hunker down and adjust your play.  No trick shots, nothing fancy, no pin looking, just middle of the green and club down swing smooth.  I play badly all the time...I'm used to it.  

Psychotic that's a bastard wrapped up in a box with a crank on the side of it.  Turn it, turn it, listen to the music...get comfy, play some golf and BAM, the Shank-In-The-Box just pops out of fricking nowhere. This drives me up the wall.  Never knowing where the ball is gonna go.  How do you build confidence in your golf game, when you really would like to take bets on the directional spin of your next shot just to make some cash.  Par a hole, putt for birdie, put the demons behind you, move and four shots later, you nearly take the cart girl's head off and she's parked in the cart barn!

At the turn, I tell my son politely..."Hey buddy, we need to pick it up a little bit, Uncle Paul and I checked the time and it took us a long time to play that first nine holes (2.5 hours).  So we need move a little quicker ok?"

"Dad, I mean, it's not just me that's making us play so slow...[pause]...I mean, you've been looking for your balls a lot."


Monday, October 25, 2010

Co-Ed Golf

You have no idea how many golfing euphemisms,  or remarks, battle cries, or epithets have to do with male genitalia, female anatomy, or any other generally sexual subject matter that presents an offense to women.  Unless, that've played in a golf tournament with women.

I had not...before recently.

Twice now, in the span of a month, I have ventured upon the battlefield of the fairways, rough, beach, waves and greens, with the opposite sex.

Oh, my grand good fellows of the links... good, bad, or ugly - I must confide in you that I have mostly thought of myself as a decent man...but I lie to myself...a lot.

This past tournament was played with a buddy of mine, and two wives / moms / female...she human types, from my children's school.  We had a great time.  The two ladies, whom we played with, or that were in our foursome-  see what I can't describe it...I'm soooo not a decent man.

"Stick that [#@$%] on the green!"
"Ram that [@#$$!] into the hole!"
"Stop putting like a [woman, granma, your wife, my daughter]"  {I actually said this one during a round}
"You sure nutted that one!" {what does that even mean?}
"Nice poke!"

All of these phrases, in my mind, represented danger zones for our little group.  Although, we did discuss this topic amongst beers and decided that we should do this foursome thing again sometime.  [I should be locked away]

Hit it straight and long my friends...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oh the names of the opposite sex: political correctness or insanity

What dictates a proper term for referring to a female today?

Woman, Ms, Mrs, Lady, Slut, Whore, Bitch...all of these names are acceptable in a proper context and used by females to describe themselves at times.

One of my favorite blogs sports a T-shirt, written by a woman, that touts, "Shut Your Whore Mouth!".

I'm really trying to help us males out here, though it might not seem like it...all you golfers out there, so that when you show up at your next tee time, you can appropriately address the she-human in your group without taking a 4 iron up side the head.

My problem, focuses on the fact that women redesign their emotional courses on a regular, or frequent irregular, basis.  Some are straight ahead par 5's...focusing on length and accuracy (in an emotional sense).  Others have quirky little dog legs that are difficult to navigate in the stress of the moment...yet others have awkward carries that require short shots followed by long shots, to stay out of trouble.  Bunkers are well placed and unexpectedly   found in the middle of the fairway.  Others have waste areas, lateral hazards and cobra snake pits placed around the greens.  Yet other women are satisfied with being the occasional par 3...

On the subject of the par 3...

Easy to look at, but curiously deceptive, the female par 3, often found in the business world, is best approached in a straight-forward manner.  Try and get cute on a par 3 over a small lake, and you quickly find out that those waters are filled with alligators anxiously awaiting your hasty approach.

Much...much, I tell you, oh lord of the links, can be learned from a caddy.  Priceless, on the course of the she-human.  My caddy happens to be my wonderful bride...who gently poses a gentle 495 yard par 3 over Mt. St. Helens.  She is, however, an excellent caddy.  I'd be a total hack in life without her trusty guidance.

You need a caddy.

Even Tiger Woods listens to Stevie once in a while, when standing over a difficult shot or putt.

I've sort of gotten away from the simplistic topic, but I'm running with it as best I can.

If you are a total Cad, you can get way over par in a hurry, just by referring to a woman in a manner that is not proper, or well received.  A caddy can help you understand in what circumstances that a proper reference to a woman can be made...and it is generally learned from women....and not from men.

In the middle of a late charge, on Sunday, it is good to remember....

  1. You need to assess the situation properly...Par 5, 4, or 3...and eye closely the hazards involved on the course.  They may not be as straight forward as they seem.
  2. You need a caddy.  Pro golfers are not total dolts...which is why Fluff and Fannie have been on the circuit for so long...there's no substitute for a good caddy in life.  Find a good one...shut up...and listen.
As for me...  She-human works good for now...I'm sure it will be adjusted as my caddy reads this and gets back to me. 

Hit it solid and keep your head down.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pride and Prejudice

I've come to believe that a boy's pride in life lies in his relationship with his father, and that the first love of a boy, shall always be his mother.  Boys worship their dads, and they love their mothers.  

I remember loving to watch my dad, to be involved in what he was doing, to be valued in the process of what 'we' were we accomplished "the work".  I wanted to be a part of my dad's world and to be involved in all the important things my dad did.  

I remember wanting to simply be around mom.  Just to be in her presence, was to feel the warmth and love that she exuded.  She had a fascinating and fantastical way of making people feel comfortable and relaxed.  She brought conversation out in people, she brought folks together.  

I'm sure that she shines brighter now, in the memories of mine, than she possibly could have in real life.  I'm sure that she's more pure in my mind than she could ever have lived on earth.  I'm also sure that she never could have been matched by any other woman I could meet.  Such is the pure love of a boy for his momma, mama, mother, mum.

All these years, mom, I haven't forgotten.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ante Up

Today, I've had to do several things that I hate.  First and foremost, I had to push a project out two weeks.  I had to admit that it was my responsibility, and that my shortcomings within the project are the direct reasons we have to postpone our presentation.  I also had to eat some responsibility for others, who aren't capable of doing it for it falling on the sword, or whatever you like...but the only proper way to perform the action is not telling anyone that's what actually happened...(even in a blog technically speaking).

I have to believe today, that I demonstrated leadership, and solid character...even if it was by my own failure to do so, that got me here.

I have to believe that, because if I didn't, I'd spend the rest of my life lying, cheating, and being a teflon shield for responsibility.

I have to believe, because I would be very, very good at that...avoiding ultimate responsibility.  A million excuses invade my mind everyday...explaining away my guilt and proving my innocence for every situation.  Whether I'm stuck in traffic, picking up my children 15-20 minutes late, or being 5 minutes late to a conference call...or not getting the trash out to the curb, or mowing the lawn.  My mind is a heavily armed juggernaut of a defense firm, ensuring that I can float through any given day, justifying my existence.

However, character is the substance of your being, who you are when nobody else is looking...alone, in the dark.  Leadership is being able to accept the honest blame, and to choose to take the rest of the blame, in order to push a higher purpose forward.  There will be time to discuss the responsibility of others, but the leader takes the first hit, and they insulate their first.

There are days that you win, by losing.  This is that day for me.  I did not lie.  I did not shirk.  I accepted the blows due me and possibly others.  I thanked them for the opportunity to get the hell beat out of me.......and I think I walked away a winner by doing it without uttering a word...except to you.

Honestly, I just wish my dad were here to see it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On the nature of people and being taught...(warning: long post)

In reading a book by the Dalai Lama, he discusses the nature of things, regarding faith and belief.  I couldn't help but reflect upon my own journey through a conservative Christian college experience, and my travails in attempt to keep up with the behavioral constraints and performance expectations.  

Perhaps I simply wasn't good at it, since I smoked, drank, and had several promiscuous relationships throughout my college years.  11 years of college to be exact.  They weren't all continuous, but had a few gaps in between.  In the end, the smoking and drinking endured, although the sexual relationships ended when I was 21. 

The Dalai Lama, discussing the Bible at a Christian conference in England, explained that the nature of things could be discovered through rational analysis.  By asking a series of questions, about a particular subject, one could discover the nature of a particular subject.   Regarding people, he discussed the fact of people having multiple characteristics that combined to form a person's nature.  Regarding the nature of people and faith, he recounted the following:  (not a direct quote...)

In the Buddhist tradition, there are three types of people, whose intellect, wisdom and belief experience predisposed them to a rough degree of success within spiritual pursuits.  

There were two levels of success that linked a high degree of intelligence, or medium level of intelligence with wisdom and belief experience.  The third category brought compassion in his writing (his voice).  This third tier of people held a high degree of intelligence, and perhaps a good degree of wisdom, but their belief experience held a constant skepticism, where they were unable to ever seat their beliefs in a particular system, or even combination of systems.  These people, he said, find it difficult to settle down enough in their belief system to ever make it very far down a spiritual path of specific intent.  Failure, was not a term used, but rather a sense of slowed progress.

He elaborated upon the concepts of rational thought and its connection to spiritual progress.  People whose religious beliefs are seated within a concentrated rational analysis of their belief system, within the world, are those that hold convictions regarding their religion and as such, convert such conviction readily into action.  Those whose beliefs were based upon intuitive or affective thoughts were those that were subject to the varying winds within the world and easily swayed or distracted.  I find this final thought a bit interesting, as I reflect upon my own college experience.  

Christianity doesn't lend itself readily, in the Protestant world, to free thought, or rational thought that doesn't include Christian sources...I say that based upon my own experience with Protestant Christianity in the Midwestern United States.  Sermons, books, Bible studies, and teachings regarding other religions or philosophic thought were rarely appreciative, and many times focused on evasion of contact with foreign gods and religions.

Regarding teaching and being taught...

I believe spiritual progress cannot be microwaved, and to pace the learning of a disciple, or Christian, represents a specific disservice to the person and merely sets them up for failure.  When an expectation of performance, or expectation of learning achievement represents the basis for measurement for an individual, a pressure presents itself to the individual that may not be able to be endured (or healthily managed).  Spiritual progress constitutes a journey that has many pauses, uphill climbs, and downhill slides...sometimes forward, and at times backward.  These are a normal part of spiritual development, and an expectation for progress may not take into account the particular path for a given individual.  Furthermore, by placing expectations on any development, an individual becomes susceptible to peer pressure...asking themselves if they are keeping up?  

For many individuals, this may not pose a problem, but herein lies my main objection to the concept of an expectation of achievement:  The standardization of any process, by design, focuses on the conformity to the mean.  By standardization, I mean that the average skills, or progress of an individual can be measured at the completion of the training.  Standardization, by definition, means conformity to the standard, or a convergence at the mean.  It follows that the side effects of the standard include an increase in the minimum performance, but also implies that the maximum performance also be reduced to the mean.  The lower performing people may increase in their achievement, for the short term, but at the cost of under-performance by the maximum performing people.  

An increase in the minimum performance of individuals would have to be enacted by an outside force, or effort.  You have to provide additional training, instruction, or monitoring, in order to raise the level of performance.  That same instruction, in a standardize model, would be applied to the maximum performing people, and hence risk redundant training and hold them back.  

One primary question results, if a certain level of training, or an outside force, must be utilized to enforce the standard...what happens when the training is over, or the outside force is removed?   It would hold that the goal of the training focuses on teaching the individual to think and train themselves, or alternatively to be able to locate another source.  This is not an overly incorrect method of thinking, or instruction, and can be quite useful in the development of any individual, spiritually speaking or not.  However, the risk to such an instructive model becomes an unhealthy focus on achievement, or to reach the standard...too lofty for some, and possibly boring for others.  This is where I believe that Christian ministry becomes an end unto itself, and therefore must enforce a mechanism for control.  The proliferation of Christian ministry is carried out through "the church", which I will not confuse with Christ's Bride, the body of Christian believers.  To say it another way, "If Christian churches and ministry are to survive as they do today, then there must always be another performance objective to achieve, another goal to be attained, another sermon to be preached...and so on".  

What I believe the Dalai Lama was saying, with respect to the development of people along a spiritual path:  Every individual must travel a path to spiritual maturity alongside others, but alone with respect to their individual development.  As well, each person comes into this world endowed with a unique level of intellect and a rate at which life experience absorbs and converts  into wisdom.  While every person must take personal responsibility in their own development, any teaching applied to the person must be individualized as much as possible.  Attainment to a standard becomes a tricky question, to which standard?  Surely the Ten Commandments can be presented as a standard, and taught that we are to conform to a certain level of behavior.  Although, it would follow that as an individual grows up, their understanding of "why" the Ten Commandments should be followed, and the benefits that derive from following them, will be encountered on a personal timeline.  Plainly put, to meddle with that timeline, meddles with the person...if you are going to be involved in that process, you must undertake a commitment, as a teacher, to instruct that person, only as that person needs.  Additionally, your teaching, mentoring, or instruction should come in line with helping the individual on their own terms.  You can't teach someone who doesn't wish to be taught, and to commit a person to a standard requires their agreement, no?

On toward a point of finality, I would say that mentoring, instructing and teaching becomes as much art as it does science.  The teacher must become the ultimate student of the student, in order to ensure that the path of the student remains clear and that any progress of the student originates within the they make their own way.  In this way, the teaching process means subjugation of the teacher to the student, as well as the student to the teacher.  In my mind, this represents the way of Christ, and embodies the life of Jesus as we know it.   

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hard at work,or hard-working?

I've finally gotten around to watching the Captain Phil tribute on Deadliest Catch.  This would be where I tell you that I don't watch a lot of TV shows, but I suppose I do, in reality.  I don't watch a lot of shows consecutively, but I can watch me some TV...its like muzak with scenery.  Deadliest Catch was an interesting snag for me, pardoning the pun...  

I was at a conference in Orlando, at the beautiful Dolphin resort, where my job was to sit at a table with my, not much liked, boss, and tell CEO's of banks about our software products.  It was successful, except that the CEO's that came to Orlando to the conference really wanted to come to Orlando to a conference and drink...I think we had 6 people over 3 days.  So, aforementioned boss had a great idea:  We could split the time at the table and the go back to our rooms to work...because that's what one wants to do when at a conference in Orlando.  I thought of telling him that I wanted to drink as well, but it didn't seem right.  Actually, it was a bonding experience and I came away appreciating my boss a bit more.

I did my duty and threw myself on the sword, telling him that I knew that he brought his wife and 4 year old daughter with him...and that I'd be fine watching the table and then going back to my room to work...which was more like me banging my head on the wall for no reason.  

Captain Phil...happened to be on the Deadliest Catch marathon that commenced that morning, and as I worked the afternoon away, in my room, I got to absorb 5 hours of the show.  After that, me and my new tv bros got together every few weeks, courtesy of the DVR machine, and I became a Deadliest Catch fan.  

Ok, first of all, Hillstrand looks enough like Bono to be the coolest kat on the show...can you imagine Bono fishing for crab?  I suppose maybe to payoff all that African debt.

Back to Captain Phil's tribute:  I watched the replay of a life hard lived, but relatively fully lived.  He was described repeatedly as one of the hardest working men, those around him knew.  I was fascinated by his life.

It caused me to reflect on how hard I work.  I wouldn't describe myself as a truly hard working man.  I am perfectly capable of working hard, and at times, I absolutely bust my ass.  I would not say that I consistently do so.  I've also come up with a fairly complex set of reasons why I don't...but, honestly, I don't think they matter.  

Hard work, in a man's eye, correlates directly to your character.  Inconsistency on my part, translates the same way, as I approach my work.  I believe that I simply need to apply myself a bit more, and accomplish a more consistent sense of hard work.  I do my job, I do it well, but doing your job and working hard, can be two completely separate things.  I could say that I provide the work sufficient with my pay grade, which may or may not be true...I simply don't know what that means today.  

And Captain Phil would tell me that's bullshit anyway.  

" You can watch things happen, or you can make them happen, or you can wonder what the hell happened..."  Captain Phil quoting his dad.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Doing What You're Supposed To...

"You", are supposed to...

1.  Behave in school.
2.  Have good grades, if you don't, you won't get into the college of your choice, or a good college, whatever that means.
3.  Go to college...(your mom goes to college).
4.  Have some fun in college, but get good grades or you won't get a good job...or alternatively you could live your life like a celibate monk and study all time and if the word "fun" comes up, you have to start with looking it up in wikipedia.
5.  Graduate from college and get a kickin job, with a kickin company.
6.  Marry the love of your life, on schedule.
7. Get better job, on schedule.
8. Have kids, on schedule.
9. Move to the best schools.
10.  Build house in "best school" place.
11.  Drive the car "you" want (which happens to be the same car that everyone, its a Lexus, silver SUV/Sedan thingie).

I didn't really follow any of the above...and I'm probably not starting anytime soon...I took 10 years to graduate from college, 4 months to find a job, and THAT was with a Trucking Software Company.

Oh, I forgot that I got married a couple of years before I graduated college, to a wonderful woman.  I got into the .com boom and bust, right about the 'and' part, which blew up shortly thereafter.  I've now had a job with the same company for almost 9 years.  9 years of dodging layoffs, acquisitions, and takeovers can be exhilarating, let me tell you. The first house we bought was 80 years old, and it rocked, it fell apart, but it rocked when the train went by and we loved it!  Our kids rock (you can even ask people that don't like us), and my wife started medical school in her mid-thirties.

What's my point?  Good question, everyone should have a point...

I have lived my life, since a certain moment, asking myself what I'm supposed to be doing?  Losing my parents at an early age had me fairly neurotic most of the time.  I spent most of high school not knowing what I was supposed to be doing, but instead, wanting people to like me, or wanting girls to have sex with me.  I spent college screwing around, literally and figuratively, but also wanting people to like me.  I graduated college and wanted people to hire me, and like me...  But, somewhere along the way, I asked myself why I gave a shit about what the hell I'm 'supposed' to be doing?

Best question I ever asked myself, and definitely the best question for my life's progress.  It allowed me to admit that I cared what people thought of me, without also being pushed anymore by the mainstream current of society.

My life can still be described as a whirling dervish, but at least I'm enjoying it.  I get a kick out of paying attention to the Mainstream Current, and I'm sort of addicted it to it.  Its like Social Porn...watching what people do with their money...which happens to be buying the same care that everyone seems to have.  Or, starting a new development in "We used to be our own country" Texas, but calling it "Versailles", what the hell?  Versailles!  Really!?  That sounds like it came straight out of a John Irving novel.  How do you think they say it...?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Since all the cool kids are doin it...

I tend to follow several blogs, since I find them interesting, or funny, but mostly I follow them because they are relevant to my life.  I'd really rather not say which blogs I follow, because you should find your own, and mine aren't your own...hell, I have a hard enough time finding them anyway.  You might think that I'm cheaply going to plagiarize from my favorite blogs, since I'm not sharing them...and mostly, you'd be correct.  Not plagiarism, per se, but I'm definitely following the theme.  Mostly therapeutic, somewhat interesting, and sometimes funny...the topics have centered upon the act of writing itself.  I've read about how hard it gets, and loathsome, and just do it, and just bitch about it while you do it. This is what I hate about writing:

Penmanship.  First of all, in our time, it ought to be penpersonship, but beyond the name, mine sucks.  So, I hate it.  I dislike penmanship for several reasons.  Primarily, I don't have perfect handwriting, so I hate it.  It is inconsistent and sloppy most of the time.  I envy people with excellent handwriting.  Then, there sits the Penmanship / Grammar relationship.  Misspellings and wrong words that are penned must be scribble out, as they stand alone like a red checker on a board with fancy chess pieces...nothing sexy about a misspelled word.  I loath the blotches of imperfection on my wonderful page of attempted perfection.  I swear I think I'm going to be given the Pulitzer Prize for everything I put on the damned's ridiculous.

Awkward spaces at the end of a line.  There's not a sniglet for it, and I can't really cut down the description, perhaps I could, were I a better writer.  As you approach the end of the line, you have really hit a groove, drawing the silvery thought from your brain, through your eyelids and into the instrument of recordation, and then....what the fuck, "hilarious" isn't going to fit into a 3 character space at the end of the line.  CRASH, Buzz-kill, back to the unsexy brain banter of how they'll never give the Nobel Prize for Literature to a freak that can't break out the word "hilarious" at the natural syllabic connections and hyphenate the damned thing.  Awkward spaces at the end of the line...I'm telling you, these things have prevented me from truly great things in this life.  I could have been somebody, I had a future.  I feel intimidated and taunted by the space at the end of the line.  It stares at me like the Geico Cash thingie.  Silently screaming at me with evil laughter hanging in the air..."That's right my king of the literatic hemorrhage, I've got all day...go ahead, get into that groove, in the zone, bro...I'll just be over here at the end of the line...waiting".  I get my ass kicked by negative space...damn. I navigate the space at the end of the line the way a pubescent choirboy navigates Ave Maria...every crackles inching his choir director towards another seizure.  Sometimes, I'll stop halfway in the middle of the line, just to feel like I got away with something.

It takes too long.  Clearly my biggest problem with writing.  As a card carrying member of generation X, writing takes way too damned long.  You want me to sit down for a half hour, an hour?  Isn't that why we invented voice recorders, and why we have Dragon software for the PC?  So I can just dictate my brilliance directly into an electronic document.  I do realize that it doesn't quite work like that, but my eternally 12 year old self thinks it should.  The truth being that writing can be difficult and easy at the same time.  I write because it makes me purposefully engage in a slow activity of expression and self realization.  I write because I become better when I do.  There's more "Dad" in my fatherhood, more depth and clarity in my presence, just completely more "Me" in myself.  The act of writing draws out the colors within my life-slowly steeping out of me as I make time to be.  Quality of life cannot be microwaved, we know that intuitively in our souls...and yet we still try to get away with it from time to time...slowly slipping into black and white instead of the vibrant colors we hide within us.  Quality of life through slow, deliberate motion towards life giving activities.  There are none of these activities in my Wii, or an X-box, and very few in my PC.

I feel like I've won today, I started out to explain what I hate about writing, and stumbled directly into why I love it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I am sitting here on a Sunday morning, listening to my son play Super Mario for the Wii, with his friend.  Common phrases I've heard over the past few weeks:  "That level is so easy", "That level was so easy, I mean we only lost 9 guys there", and the grand-daddy..."I can beat world 8, its so easy, I can beat the big castle, its fun, I've never played it, but I can beat it!".

I have underestimated the importance of the young male mind's need to obtain, hold, and communicate control (and maybe a little dominance), over his world.  I'm not sure why we have to communicate dominance so prematurely.  I witnessed the "world 8" domination, which wasn't pretty, this particular champion struggled to get 15 ticks off the timer before taking a lava bath each time.   

Intrigued, I am, on why these 7 year olds feel the need to present themselves as something they aren't?  They just got done playing pretend on the playground at school...where they were all heroes and everybody won.  Does the misguided "I want people to like me, so I'll lie" engine inside of the human male start that early?  They are really cute when they get into their little discussions about their defeated foes and conquered reminds me of the modern day Penis Contests of the adult male.  "Mine's a foot long", "Well mine is two feet long"...we've all heard it before, over wide and ranging subjects as sports, cars, lawn care, you name it...if it can be done with excellence and contains a level of effort, men will use it to extend the length of their penis.  

In my own mind, I grew up tempted by the same pressures.  I'm sure that I have spouted as many white lies about my abilities and length of my manhood as the next, if not more.  I did wake up about 15 years ago, and discovered confidence and respect were internal measures of a man, driven by his inner guts:  Mind, Body, Spirit or Soul.  Not assigned to me from those around me, as I had previously lived my life.  I wanted people to like me, just like you, so I wanted to hear the official signals of acceptance and membership.  "That's cool, man you rock", or even better yet, the uber-magnum compliment of hearing a third party told, "yeah, you're good, but you should play my friend, Scott... he can jump and grab the rim with both hands...he's quick and he'll kick your ass".  

Turning that part of my world upside down was a normal part of growing up.  Facing reality was difficult...understanding the mortality of all humans, and the ultimate admission that I was not a super-hero, and in many ways...average.  Every man is average at something.  Jerry Rice, NFL Hall of Fame Receiver, shot a 92 trying to play professional golf... you bet that was a humbling moment.  

In my own world, my lack of focus on internal development and self realization, in lieu of a total commitment to external acceptance was incredible.  Accepting the reality of that situation and the need to change...was...a real weenie shrinker moment...only made palatable by the concession that I now no longer needed to care how short my wanker was.


I haven't beat level 8 yet, but my nephew has, and he'll kick your ass.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Building a Better Tomorrow

Currently, my nine year old daughter has no door on her room.  This would be due to what we call "the slamming effect".  My wife explained to me in college that her friend had her door taken off, because she slammed it too many times...voila!  

This represents the second time that my daughter has experienced this particular remodel to her room.  The first was a year ago, for a couple of weeks, and made quite an impact.  She calmed down a bit and went on with her busy eight year old life.

My daughter becomes many things, and has uses for many things, most all non-traditional...she's sort of like a chameleon going through crack withdrawal.  Give her an inch, and she'll have the pipe in her closet toking up again.  She's a bona fide pack rat...  I bring her back things when I travel, but she thinks that each little bit of swag that I bring her presents more value than the Liberty Bell.  I love to bring her the nice thick paper towels from fancy restaurant restrooms, much to her mother's chagrin.  I ran across one the other day from The City Grille (Milwaukee) in her room...a place I went to about a year ago.  What does she do with these things?  A bathroom towel, for crying out loud...

She sees things that I don't, value that I cannot percieve.  Things I used to see, before I grew up.  She has keys to cars that I can't find anymore, and they take her to fantastic places where I can no longer go.  I love watching her, sitting in her reading chair wedged in the corner of our backyard, under a little Japanese Maple tree.  Like it was made by God Himself, just for her to sit under, right now...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

America shops at Sam's

While I can't take credit for that saying, I surely can write about it.  I'm an avid people watcher, and generally don't tend to miss too much.  Where we live, there are million dollar homes within two blocks of our home in one direction, and government housing two blocks the other direction.  I would love to be one of family's that lives in the 'burbs and has a grade A school, and drives the ever ubiquitous Lexus this and Mercedes that...but, I just don't seem to roll that way.  For one, I don't have the cash, or the credit.  The Oklahoma State School of Osteopathic Medicine sees to that.  But, really, I am a fan of life, high life, low life, I enjoy it all.  There cannot be appreciation of pleasure without knowledge of pain.  There can't be hope in the absence of despair.  So, I sit, fascinated at the world around me, where rich people and poor people, folks who have it all, and those who have to take it clandestinely from others, live around me.  

I'm amazed that the grocery store close to my house sells steel toed boots.  Why would that be?  They have a clothing section as well.  Whole Foods sells Tom's shoes for $45 a pair, which puts a pair of shoes on someone's feet in another country.  Steel toed boots go for $25 at the Warehouse Market, and for another $25, you can probably get your cousin a job with the second pair.  But, I'm not upset about this, I'm past that.  We live in a world that we can affect, and we live in a world that we cannot affect.  Sometimes we are actors, and sometimes, we are just in the audience.  I realize it has become important to realize which scene is being portrayed, and to understand your role.  Trying to help in the wrong situation does not help.

"Daddy, why are those people pushing those carts across the street?"  

"Because they don't have cars baby."

"Why not?"

"Because they just don't.  Some are poor, some can't drive, some are like I was once and couldn't be responsible enough hold down a job and pay for insurance and gas..."  

That ended the conversation with the seven year old. 

Sam's must be my favorite place to watch folks.  I visited a buddy in Nebraska recently, who own's a restaurant.  We went shopping at Sam's.  "America shops at Sam's", He said.  

He's right.  I swear I'm almost in tears every time I'm at Sam's.  An older couple shopping and arguing about whether or not they need 5 gallons of laundry detergent, or 144 rolls of toilet paper, can split your sides.  A family that's eating at the Sam's cafe can bring tears to your eyes for a completely different reason.  People who need to shop at Sam's alongside those that want to shop at Sam's.  Fascinating cross section of life.  Freeze it, slice it and put it under a microscope and you'll see America, right there.

We can't agree on politics, we'll fight to the death on health care, but white, black, brown, republican, poor, rich, democrats, we all stand in line at Sam's...and we're all pissed that they only have 3 checkers for all 300 of us.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I read a sermon today that talked about how God likes flawed people.  I like that, because I'm a very flawed person.  I like God, too, because it means that it isn't all up to me, all the time.  

I like flawed people.  I like flawed people that actually like to admit their flaws.  I like to quietly, and with brevity, confess my uneasy points of self awareness, where I might not be completely on target.  That would be my wonderful wife's version...I simply tell people the shit I did wrong, and work hard at sounding sincere, when I honestly tell them I'll try not to do it again.  I will say this about my wife, she's pretty damn near perfect.  She's one of those people who would be a good Baptist, in some ways...she may have sinned once...when she was 12, but she probably didn't mean the angels are still probably discussing it with Jesus.  

Me, I'm pretty screwed up, and honestly, I'm getting more comfortable with it the older I get.  I take 6-7 medications today for all sorts of things from depression, high cholesterol, allergies, thyroid supplements...

I always get off topic...damn.

So, when people tell me their flaws...well tell isn't the right word....when people admit they've fucked up, here's what really happens:

  • I see that you are a self aware person...this is good.  I like people that I don't have to write things down for.
  • You are flawed...which is also good.  Means I don't have to have an awkward conversation later over too many beers, where I tell you that you are not, indeed, Jesus, and that you are a fuck up like the rest of us.  (this has only happened a couple of times, and interestingly enough, I'm not bad at it).
  • You understand and respect others...this is damn good.  This means we can be friends.
  • You are secure enough to tell me you aren't perfect....which is also good.  I already knew it, and I don't need to lug your sorry insecure ass around...there are too many people like that out there anyway.

See, admitting you were wrong, did something wrong, screwed someone over, or just didn't get it right this time, can be very positive for your friends, family and those around you.  

and...if you can't tell someone that you were wrong...and you might not like this...but, it does sort of knock out the first three. 


Monday, February 8, 2010

Need to Blog...Need to Write

I want to write.  It is one of the most fascinating and terrifying desires I've ever had.  At the moment though, I'm having some very traumatic stress over the fact that this fucking laptop has the most sensitive touch pad in the world.

I digress.  Many of us think about writing, and fewer than many of us actually aspire to write, less than fewer of many of actually do it, and only a few actually get through it successfully and get published.  However, what I find particularly interesting, is that most people who have blogs, think they can write...which happens to be quite a bit of us...weird.

I'd like to introduce an addendum to an old adage:  Opinions AND BLOGS, are like assholes, everybody's got one.

I aspire to be the few of us.  Problem:  to those that do, and do well, you understand...becomes increasingly difficult with every word you write.  It starts out innocently, You have a head full of witty sayings, snippets of memories and such, and suddenly you picture yourself as the next David Sedaris, only a mostly heterosexual David Sedaris...I say that because most of the gay folk I'm acquainted with...actually know whether they can write or not already...perhaps it comes with the serious self-awareness that homosexuality brings (unfortunately).

Again, I digress

Writing becomes very hard work.  Personally, and since this is my blog (I've still not explained why I have one if I hate them, eh)...I can be personal.  Personally, I struggle seriously with creating passive, weak, anexoric, and sometimes grammatically incorrect sentences.  Which has sent me into a mission in life to create strong, powerful, creatively eccentric, descriptive and ...sort of lost my train there, damn....sentences.

I know that I have a chance.  I've heard that the first step (or level 1), of writing begins with business writing, mostly email.  I have noticed that I have achieved the kick-ass level 12 of business writing.  I know this because my colleagues, and my marketing folks...send me stuff to read and re-write, for power.  Which presents my first point of revelation that I don't suck.

And...on to my main point, the main writing exercise is...writing.  Now my secret is revealed...and why I must have a blog, and a write.