Thursday, July 31, 2008
Of course, they all seem to agree that the whole word verification thing isn't too much of a problem. Mom, naturally, thinks it's fun!
Maybe I'll just go in at random times and add it and subtract it. Just to keep you all on your toes!
I completely agree with her that unless your blog is being read by thousands of people, it is a useless tool and a burden, small though it may be, to people who do want to leave a comment.
I even scoffed for a few days at other blogs and such where I had to enter the mystical letters. Who are these people who think they are so important? I wondered.
Of course, being me, it took a few days for me to realize that perhaps my blog was forcing that hoop upon others. And after some poking around in the settings, I found I was correct.
So - Merry Christmas! No more Word Verification to leave a comment here!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Sixty posts, sixty days.
Yesterday I hit the big six-oh. Sixty posts. Back in the summer of 2002, Dad and I paddled the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca - the very beginning - down to St. Louis. In canoes. In sixty days. Just shy of 1200 miles. (I will publish this exact post again for my 1168th post.)
Shoba came with and was a remarkably wonderful traveller considering she spent the majority of the time curled up at my feet. Of course, she didn't have to paddle.
About halfway down, or thereabouts, we were camped on a beach and I took a bath in the river to wash the scrudge off. You know you are grubby when the river water is somewhat cleaner than you! Anyway, Dad was sitting up on the beach, watching the water go by. I decided to get Shoba in for a little rinse, as she was rather smelly as well. She did not appreciate it, but cleaned up rather nicely. She looked at me with pleading eyes, waiting for the ok to climb out of the water. So I said to her,
"Go on up the beach and shake out next to Dad. He could probably use a shower."
Much to my amazement, and Dad's chagrin, Shoba marched out of the water and (unlike a normal dog who would shake as soon as its feet were on land) walked all the way over to Dad, stood right in front of his chair, and shook like there was no tomorrow.
That dog was two opposable thumbs away from being people.
Anyway, the book I've written taken from the audio journals I kept is just about done being edited. I'll let you know when it's available for general consumption if anybody wants to read about the adventure.
I miss Shoba much today. Four months, still doing some grieving.
(FYI this post was completed on the 30th, but as paramedicine is an unpredictable field, it was not submitted in time... however, someone's night got much better.)
P.S. wow... I guess it was in time ... guess I need to update my time zone or something.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
The Boyo was a wonderful helper all weekend. Helping with feedings and diaperings. Being quiet when the Sweet Pea was sleeping. Sweet Pea was equally charming, and has started giggling at Daddy when he tickles her on her toes.
Consequently, I got not a thing accomplished over the weekend except spending time with the kiddos, which I consider my greatest accomplishment.
But, I'm back now. I figure since I have more posts than there are days of the month, I'm good on the attempt at having 365 posts in 365 days.
Also, I've come to understand just how hard it is to be witty and clever every day on here. So forgive the mundane, whenever it happens.
Finally, I've noticed that I tend to gripe a lot on here. Granted, it is easier to type out a gripe and send it off into the Internet ocean in it's little post bottle. But rather than send out the bad thoughts, I'm going to try sending out good Karma for the entire month of August. (It is good to have goals)
The Wife came back from work with a story about a person who's cancer is so advanced that there is nothing they can do for it. This patient has had a rough life anyway, plagued with many other health problems.
And we are both so very thankful for our health, and the health of our kids. So August postings will include at least one thing that I am thankful for each and every day.
Gotta run, it's shower time here and Sweet Pea has just exploded with all the glory that is baby poo.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Here are the answers to my little quiz.
1. The declaration was signed on August 2, 1776. On July 2nd, 1776, congress voted to declare independence. July 4th was the date that the document's wording was approved.
2. Paul Revere, of course, was the most famous of the riders. William Dawes was sent out at the same time to take a longer route to Lexington from Boston. Their mission, of course, was to warn John Hancock and Sam Adams that the British Regulars were on the move towards Lexington. (He didn't yell 'The British are coming!' either. As they were all British at the time.)
3. George Washington was a Colonel in the British Army and led troops into Canada to try and move the French out. He was not successful.
4.The War ended in 1783 with the signing of peace documents done in Paris, France.
5.True. Up until the very Declaration, there were many who were still hoping for a way to reconcile. If only the Crown had repealed the heavy taxes and allowed Americans to produce some of their own goods... we'd still be British. Sort of like Canada.
I think I'll set off some fireworks on August 2nd, and have my own little parade down the street... dress up Phebo in red, white and blue. My poor neighbors!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I know that when you read Adams Family, the creepy and kooky version probably leaps to mind instead of the Rebels John and Sam (again, not the beer). And when I say Hancock, he is the signer of the Declaration, not the superhero played by Will Smith, and not the insurance company.
So, in this book about Benjamin, it mentions that he had a pretty good working relationship with Admiral Lord Howe. Howe's brother was the famous general Howe that led British forces against the rebels.
Anyway, after commenting to her about how people associate names of our forefathers with relatively new pop culture, I asked The Wife if she was familiar with the Howes. She said with a chuckle, "Of course... Gilligan's Island."
It occurs to me that people probably don't know that much about our founding fathers, so here's a quick test...
1. When was the Declaration of Independence signed?
2. Name two riders that warned that the "British were coming".
3. What did George Washington do militarily before he led the Continental Army?
4. When did the 'War for Independence' end?
5. True or False. The first Continental Congress wanted to reconcile with England and remain loyal Englishmen under King George.
I took the test, and only got a few, so no worries. All of this reading on Franklin has led me to want to study those times more... another new project.
In other news, we've named the riding mower 'Phebo'. We've also decided the best way to keep up with the Boyo now that his cast is long gone is to put a brick in his backpack.
It almost works.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I fueled it up and climbed aboard while the rest of the fam headed inside for cover. I was intending to make a few circuits of the yard and (contrary to the 'published rules and warnings') take the Boyo for a quick spin.
Lawn tractors seem like they would be easy to run. After a bit, they are. But initially I was a little thrown by the 'release brake to move' idea, and my starts and stops would most likely have launched the Boyo across the yard. Thus proving the stick figure warnings correct. And I couldn't have that.
So I dropped the mowing deck, put the blades in gear, and MOWED THE LAWN!
It went so very quickly and most remarkably of all, when it was over I could still breathe! I could still SEE! No parts of my body were itchy or blotchy. How have I lived this long without one of these?!?
After front and back yard were mowed in record time, I raised the deck, disengaged the blades and took the Boyo for a spin around the yard, then up the street and back.
He LOVES the tractor. More bribery bait in my quest to bring up a decent human being.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
First off. The Boyo and I went shopping today and bought ourselves a tractor. Not the pull a plow harvest the beans kind, but a riding mower. We've been saving up for one for a time now.
This has been a want I've had for a few years. We've got a little over a half acre to mow. When we first moved in I thought it would be great exercise to use a push mower to trim the greens. After a few seasons of this I have come to realize that while the exercise is indeed great, I really don't enjoy it all that much.
Not because it is exercise, but because I'm cutting grass, which I am allergic to. The grass cutting now ranks right up there with sleeping under a goose down blanket with my head resting on a goose down pillow, after which I will look like a puffy, red marshmallow. Or grabbing the family cat and rubbing my face vigorously in her coat for about ten minutes. this would lead to itchy, puffy lips followed closely by my airway sealing itself off, me turning blue, and 911 being called.
The mowing isn't bad. If I can shower right away I am only left with itchy, blotchy legs... watery, scratchy eyes... a nose that leaks more goo than a dozen babies. But now (sound the heraldic trumpets) we are getting this very riding mower!
This will cut down on the mowing time in two very important ways.
1) The rider will go faster and mow a wider swath than the pusher.
2) The Wife said that if we ever did get a riding mower, she'd be willing to mow on occasion!
Ah, new toys... what could be better!
Time to build a fence...
Our neighbors could have a sitcom of their own. We have three besides us in our little cul du sac area. One is the prior owner of the house we are in, and they are a delightful family.
The other two... well...
They are both retired, and I'm pretty sure they have a bet between them to see who can mow their lawns the most in a single summer. Or perhaps who can put the most miles on their riding mowers. Either way, seldom does a day go by that one or the other or both are out there cutting their grass. One has a bagger on his, which makes me wonder just how many clippings he can gather when he's only taking off the top 2 millimeters of his lawn.
While the Boyo and I were out shopping this morning, The Wife glanced out the window and saw Jurassic Neighbor (the other shall be henceforth known as Triassic Neighbor) out by the mailboxes spraying Roundup on a particularly lovely thistle growing near the culvert. Now this area is technically not our property. Although we mow it and upkeep it. Good Neighbor on the left and I have talked about it, and since that parcel contains a little wetland area, we've kind of agreed to just let it grow over the summer. We have cattails and grasses and wildlife galore.
Either way, he was spraying very close to our yard. The Wife reacted as I would have, by going out and asking him what on earth he was doing. He stated the obvious, that he was spraying Roundup on the thistle. She mentioned that we like the thistle, and that lots of kids play around in the wetlands. Not to mention that putting poison on plants that close to the culvert would not just kill that thistle, but many things downstream as well. He commented that there was a law against letting thistles go to seed.
She told me about the exchange when I got home. I've given serious thought to building a fence along the property line. Especially since this same neighbor chopped out a beautiful row of purple lilacs that were on that line... on our side.
This fence would give me a bitter sense of victory, as many years ago (before we moved in) he widened his driveway and built a big chunk of it four feet onto what is now our property. I told The Wife that if I catch him spraying again, I'm going to head over there and drill through his driveway, on my side of the line of course, and build a fence right along there.
I'm turning into a grumpy old fart. But at least I'll have a riding mower to cruise around on now!
In fact, I think for the rest of the summer anytime they are out mowing, I might just saddle up and drive in circles all over my lawn, whooping it up cowboy style!
Monday, July 21, 2008
As a night shift medic, I tend to sleep the day after a shift. But as a Daddy and Husband, I try to maintain a 'normal' schedule so that I can actually spend time with my family. The flip flopping from night sleeping to day sleeping is not easy on the body.
Not to mention the fact that shifts are not regular. ie: I don't work like on a Monday and Tuesday nights. No, my schedule looks like it has been created by the dartboard method. Not to say that our scheduler does a bad job, because for what she has to work with, she's awesome! I just don't understand why the EMS profession (and the medical profession in general) feels the need to keep their workers on their toes with random schedules.
You would think just having the tones go off and not really knowing what you're walking into would keep us nimble.
So, I sleep at random times. I eat at random times. I slept most of the day today, and have to go to bed now to get turned back into Family Man.
To add insult to injury, I keep looking at articles written about how to better structure your life so you can do things and sleep too. But they seem to be geared to the 9-5 jobbers. My apologies in advance to all of you regular shift folks, but if you really can't figure out that with a 9-5 job a regular bedtime of, say, 10:30 is needed so you don't feel like you're dragging all day... well, you're already dumber than a fencepost and chances are good those articles won't help you anyway.
I'm waiting for someone far smarter than I to come up with a solution to random shifts/day night flip flops. At least a better solution than 'quit and get a 9-5 job'. (10:30, I'd be in bed every night)
I'll try to be more entertaining tomorrow. Right now I'm going to go crash and hope to high heaven the Boyo doesn't wake up early and try to awaken me with
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Well, I'm nearly certain that by now you are tired of hearing about my quest to be 'read' on all seven continents. (I added South America, by the way) So... this will be the last of these vanity postings. I promise. I just get such a kick out of thinking that someone thousands of miles away is reading this. I blame the entire ego trip entirely on my friend Jen.
If she had not shown me how to hook up the ShinyStat thingy, I would not have spent so many minutes obsessing about spreading my words around the globe like the bird flu.
But I will add this aside on my friend Jen. She is one of the most creative wordsmiths I know.
Story deleted due to unwarranted HIPPA concerns. Can I still say this...?
Once we had a patient who was bleeding and Jen made the comment,
"I always like to look at the bright side of the call. In this case the bright red, spurty arterial blood kind!"
Medic humor... gotta love it.
So I will leave the little map thingy up there on the left, and the 'Country Count' list. Just to have a record of where people have read from. And I will send a hearty thank you to those who read. Be it once, or all. I do appreciate it.
Now, I'll head out into the wide open spaces of my brain, lasso me a big Ego, and bring it back to the corral to be tamed a bit once more. It's been running free and amok for too long now.
Yippee ki-yoh, ki-yay!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
My friend Jen hooked me up with the little ShinyStat counter at the bottom of the page here. It lets me keep track of some basic info. How many visits, from which sites (thanks for bumping up my average sis!), and what countries, etc. Well, I checked it tonight and found that my blog was read by people in Belgium, Germany, the 'European Union', and even India! The counter people also tell me I have now been 'read' on three continents! Hee hee, hoo hoo!
This being my 51st post, I would like to challenge those readers out there to 'spread the love' to the other four continents (S.America, Africa, Australia and Antarctica) before I reach 80 posts. (sometime in August at this rate)
I would also like it very much if you drop me a line and let me know where you are reading from!
Here's the e-mail for that...
I'm going to get out my little world atlas at home and draw a pin into the places the e-mails come from. Someday I might even visit!
I'll try to keep the Ego in check as I imagine world-wide readership. And if someone out there who knows more about this Internet thing knows that the hits from those countries are flukes for some reason, for the love of all that is holy DO NOT TELL ME! I like the world I live in in my brain, and that just might scar me enough so as to never blog again.
(sung to the tune of "Never Gonna Dance")
I'm never gonna blog again,
flukey hits from other countries,
left me wordless in my head,
I feel like such a fool...,
No, I'm never gonna blog again,
the way I did in June, Ohh ohh oh ohhh.
So, take a moment. Drop me a line, let me know where you are. give me your honest opinion of my musings. I can take it. Until then... Thanks for the reading!
Today's Practice Pictures...
Friday, July 18, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
It also occurs to me that being an aspiring photographer, I could very easily do something similar along the lines of pictures. I'm giving some serious thought to starting another blog for the sole purpose of posting a picture a day, with the goal of TAKING at least one picture a day... or at least one picture that I feel comfortable posting per day.
I would, naturally, post them here as well in the side bar. But I'm not sure how to keep them organized and such like these posts are. So another photo blog seems like the right idea.
Now. Here's a challenge. I know of at least two or three of you who are also really good photographers. So I'm laying out the challenge to everyone who reads this to join me in my quest to take a picture a day. Post a comment here to accept and if you don't already have it, I'll get an e-mail address set up to send your picture to, and I'll post them in the blog! Sound like fun?
1. I get to judge what appropriate content is and post accordingly
2. Before I post pictures of people, I need to have a signed waiver saying it's OK and legal to use their image. (I'll whip up a waiver form and make a link to it over on the side. Then have them sign it, and take a picture of it or scan it in and send it along with the photo.) (if it is a person under 18 years of age, you need to get their parent's permission)
3. Judging will be done in three categories...
A) Number of days a picture is sent in.
B) Votes for 'Best Picture' by the public.
C) A mystery 'guest judge' who will have a 50% vote on the final winning picture.
4. No photoshopping. Just take the picture and send it if you like it.
5. Be honest. Don't go digging through all of your old pictures to find the best ones. The idea behind this challenge is to get out and take more pictures.
The Challenge will start officially on August 1, 2008 and will end promptly at midnight on July 31, 2009 (or thereabouts)
Prizes are as follows...
1. The satisfaction of sending in many good pictures.
2. The joy of taking pictures every day or two or three.
3. The knowledge that your picture won.
4. People everywhere thinking to themselves 'Man, I wish I took pictures that good!'
So. I've set up the blog called John's Picture a Day Challenge. It can be found at http://www.pictureadaychallenge.blogspot.com/
But this virtual world has so much more than I ever imagined. More even than I understand. Twitter, counters, memes, and other terms that I have only just begun to grasp. And so I stay close to the poolside, not venturing too far from the edge while I swim, lest I get a cramp and sink, or some blogger bully pulls me under kicking and fighting for air.
One thing I have done more of besides write, is read other blogs. There are a billion stories in the naked Internet. No time to read them all. So I choose a few written by friends both past and present, family members, and a couple blogs by complete strangers just for fun. I can step into their world and read all about the drama, comedy, heartache, success, like I would a good book.
The drawback to this reading is that I am made very much aware that there are a whole boatload of people out there who are better writers than me. Now, in the world inside my head, I am a writing guru. Sage and loquacious, able to pull a metaphor out of thin air for every occasion. I like to imagine, as I've said before, that this blog is being read by millions who see my words of wisdom, have their 'aha' moments where they too realize what a wordsmithing god I am, and feel so inferior that they cannot even bring themselves to comment on such an amazing writers work.
In real life, this is being read by my family and a few friends (hi gang) who are more than willing to leave comments. They are also already forced to love me because I'm family or friend. But my mind still writes as if my audience is larger. This has the pleasant effect of deluding me into believing that I am a Writer.
Now, I can hear my mother's voice clearly. "But you are a writer. And very TALENTED!"
Thanks Mom. :)
But sometimes, when I read other writing and see the talent that is out there, I am fully aware that I will always just be dabbling in writing, and photography, and my other hobbies, and probably make little - if any- money doing any of them.
One trouble almost every writer I read has is believing that their offerings are worthy of being read, so I know I am not alone or original with these thoughts. In fact, my friend Lisa (The Bird Sings over there in the 'Others' category) has written about it much more eloquently. As has an old friend from high school named Patresa, who is another really, really good writer. Both of their blogs deserve a good lingering visit because they can both put words together well, and have some darn good insight to boot.
They both also edit. Me... not so much. I'll spellcheck this before I post it, so I don't come across as a total ignoramus. But mostly blogging for me is just releasing the valve in my head and letting thoughts spew forth into the computer. Does this make me a writer? Shouldn't a writer have drafts and edits, and workshop their writings and live in some beautiful, scenic place for inspiration? I don't do any of those. Though there are some scenic spots in my town, I would not visit as a tourist if I did not live there.
I'd like to be a guest blogger some day, as that might indicate a level of success I have not currently achieved. Or be a Free Writer like Lisa and Patresa. Although, like Twitter, I'm not exactly sure what this is, and so it scares me a little.
My mind boggles. Probably because it is way early in the morning and I am thinking too much in a feeble attempt at staying awake. So, to my 'readers' (aka family and friends) thanks for your readership. I'll work on expanding the numbers of readers to satisfy my sense of accomplishment. But right now the quality of my readership is top notch.
And I'll be a happy writer, if not a famous Writer.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
1. Removed the four poster bed, old dresser, another old dresser with mirrors.
2. Deconstructed an old entertainment center.
3. Made a new headboard out of some parts from the four poster and entertainment center.
4. Reorganized the closets (The Wife)
5. Painted the headboard, two bedside tables and a patio chair to look black lacquer-ish.
6. Built new dressers (from IKEA)
7. Took pictures of her kids and used those as wall art.
8. Organized Sister in Law's oriental chachkies and used some in the room.
9. Re-wired an oriental lamp to work for the main ceiling lighting fixture.
Some other stuff too. The Wife was the main boss, and did a fantastic job with the overall look. We had fun working together and make a great team as well.
So, to explain the things from a couple of posts ago...
I was able to put one of the mirrored doors back on its tracks. Not a huge deal, but one left undone for quite some time. My Father in Law made the comment to The Wife that I was very mechanically inclined. I take some pride in my creativity and adaptability when it comes to creating new things from old (headboard from old furniture, etc) but am glad to be noticed for the little things like getting a closet door working again.
When we left for Chi-town, I took with me a little toolbox with my electric drills and their chargers. I was told we would be deconstructing some old furniture and these are pretty valuable little tools to have. The Shaffer men love their drills so much, we have given them names...courtesy of my father. My big drill is named Brutus. He's the one Dad gave me many years ago. My Father in Law gave me another a few years back, a little smaller than Brutus, so I named it Brutus Jr. They are both very hard workers and reliable. If they were people, I'd hire them. Anyway, as the plan for the room evolved, it was decided to build the headboard. I didn't have the tools I needed, but my Sister in Law went around to her neighbors and borrowed what I needed.
I think that if we go into business, I will want to buy a small trailer for a travelling shop. Borrowed tools usually have the foibles of their owners. The table saw we borrowed was no exception. The neighbor it was borrowed from was not a shop kind of guy, as the table saw was located in the laundry room and looked to have been used maybe twice in the past three years.
The blade was a bit wobbly from improper tightening, and he didn't have the wrench to tighten it. I hand tightened it once and used my wrench once. But it wasn't very effective. I used the saw as little as possible and with nobody else around should things go awry.
All went well though, and cuts were made in only the things I planned to cut. I did borrow some tools from Sister in Laws hubby too. Made re-wiring the lamp a little easier. But in all, I think I'd rather have me own tools in the future. They have MY foibles attached. and I know my foibles!
The Boyo was particularly good for the trip. Long hours, late nights, no real schedule close to what he is used to. People telling him left and right what not to do. But he stayed pretty chipper and was a very good boy. He and his cousin were playing Wii sports. Well, mostly it was the cousin playing and 'showing' the Boyo the games. This was accompanied by the cousin regaling the Boyo on how wonderfully talented the cousin is. Nine year olds are a bit prone to narcissism, so no big deal. But Boyo took it all in stride and I overheard him at one point saying "Don't worry, Cousin. That was a very good shot!"
I hope that when Boyo is nine he retains the kindness and graciousness he currently has. My Sweet Pea was a gem too. Mostly sleeping and eating and cooing and smiling.
As for 'Milly'. This is but one of the nicknames I have for my Mother in Law. Get it? Mother In Law... MIL... seemed right to call her 'Milly'. I also call her 'JB' sometimes as my father called his mother in law (Stood for 'Jackie Baby') (Mom in Law's name also starts with J) She is gracious to a fault as well, and I always feel welcome when I visit their home.
She is a bit of an enigma sometimes. Always very much a Lady, she has secret fantasies about motorcycle riding. Very much the homemaker as well, but with an adventure streak... wanting to go on RAGBRAI, still waiting for me to take her flying. She's quite the gal. I love my in-laws, and have been very much blessed that I not only get along with them, but feel like I am a respected and loved member of their family. So different than what the stereotypes are.
Anyway. That's the story of the Great Chicago Room Makeover Trip. Here's to the beginning of a new chapter for The Wife and me. I'll keep you posted.
Anyway. We organized and sorted and threw out and constructed and eventually came away happy with a job well done! Sister in Law wanted an oriental themed room, but I'm guessing that you could figure that out from the pictures! Here are a few for your 'wow' saying pleasure...
Before & After
Before & After
Before & After
Yes, those are chinese symbols above the closet. I gave myself a crash course in painting them before I put them up there. The Wife's idea. Sister in Law chose them. They mean ...
And holding it all together, Harmony
Now, I'm sure to anyone who knows what these are really supposed to look like, it might seem rather elementary or just plain wrong. For that, I submit my apologies. But it has sparked an interest in oriental characters in me (oh good lord, another hobby!)
All told, we had a great time doing the work, and have some great shots for later potential publicity.
It's late now, and I'm going to bed soon to sleep the day away and prep for my night shift. I'll write more then.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
After the storm, the sun comes out
and makes the flowers sparkle. Breathe
JUST AS I WAS FINISHING THE LAST POST!
Guess who walked back in?
Story Deleted. It was the patient from yesterday, who I've agreed not to describe for fear someone might identify him. Let's hear it for HIPAA!
For it is what is in our hearts that counts, not what is on our skin. After all, we all bleed red.
As a white male approaching middle age, many people assume I've never experienced the hard side of racism. Compared to some other people, I suppose I have not really. But here's a story...
When I was a Marine, fresh out of boot camp and in infantry school before I went to artillery school, we were given the weekends off for liberty, or libo as we called it. This was a time to go do whatever the heck you pleased.
Well. In boot camp, I had made a few friends. Having gone through boot together, we remained close in infantry school. So when one of my buddies invited a few of us home with him for the weekend (he lived in LA, a short hop from school) we all said sure!
So I left with Almeda, Fujita and DelaRosa and we took a bus North. It bears mentioning here that Almeda and DelaRosa were Hispanic, and Fujita was of Japanese ancestry, though he grew up in Hawaii. I was a younger white Midwesterner who had grown up with friends of every color and creed, and didn't think much of hanging out with these guys from all over.
We got to LA, found the building and walked in following DelaRosa. There were high fives with some other guys, and they were all speaking Spanish, leaving Fujita and I in the dark. But they welcomed us since we hung with D. It had been a long ride, so I asked where the bathroom was. (though in those days, we called it a 'head'.) D pointed down a hallway and gave me instructions. I set off, and walked into a living room with about ten guys watching TV. As I entered I raised my hand to say Hi.
Before I could get that out, one of them yelled 'WHITE GUY!' and before I knew it, many of them had drawn handguns and were beading in on me. D ran into the room between me and his buddies.
"Don't shoot him! He's with me!"
I stood looking befuddled and hoped I had not soiled myself too badly.
"Sorry man." D said as he turned. "Forgot you were white."
There was much talking in Spanish. Arguing, pointing at me, that sort of thing. But eventually D convinced them to let me stay.
I think, when we rehashed it back on base, that it was the first time since before boot that any of us had seen skin color. In boot the Drill Instructors (DI's) told us there were only two colors. Light Green and Dark Green. And really, anybody could choose whatever color they wanted to be. But we all bled red. So we were brothers. Bound by the Eagle, Globe and Anchor. And we didn't really think twice before hanging out together, regardless of our 'past lives'.
So. I have experienced the sharp and pointy edge of race. I'm not entirely milky white. (Though the above story is my only real 'street' story.)
Anyway. Work. A couple of nights ago. (Story deleted due to pressure from work. It's not nice to mention racists when they are patients.)
It took me the rest of my shift (about a half hour) and the hour drive home to calm down.
Never play the race card with me. Ever. And especially when I am holding an extremely sharp object that is protruding from your body. God was no dummy. Like any good mass producer he made sure that even morons come in all colors.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I never believed my folks when they would say "Just wait until you have kids." This was usually said after an argument where I knew I had done something stupid, but was too proud to admit it, and they were very angry, mostly because of the underlying fear of what I had just done.
I would say that when I had kids, it would be totally different. Now that I have kids, many of the things they said make perfect sense.
Now that we have a daughter, my wife is understanding some of the pressure I have been under the past four years with a little boy. The most important parenting lesson I have learned is this...
While I can tell him something fifteen hundred times before he understands or complies,
(don't poke the table with the fork. Said two dozen times at every meal. Still we have holes appearing with each feeding.)
What he observes me doing is what he will internalize and emulate.
Case in point. We drove through Wendy's the other day for supper. (Don't judge, it had been a long day, we were tired and hungry) After noticing that the employees had not put ketchup in the bag, I stopped the car and went in to get some. As I approached the door, another gentleman was headed in, so I held the door for him to go in first. I didn't think anything of it, as I do this pretty regularly. When I returned, The Wife said that after I had entered, our observant son said "Mommy, he opened the door for that man."
And this, for those of you that need a visual.
I had been out cutting up our butchered trees. I used the instructions and little chainsaw tool to tighten the chain. After I was done, I brought these three things in out of the weather and set them in the kitchen. Boyo looked at them a bit, then went off to his room and came back with his saw, a book, and a hammer, and put them there with mine.
Without even saying anything, he taught me that my little boy wanted to be just like his daddy. At first it was one of those 'Awwww, how cute!' moments, and I swelled with pride.
Then it became an 'Oh crap.' moment. Because I know just how imperfect I am. Like my father before me, I want him to grow up and have a better life than mine. (Not easy, since life is pretty darn great) But if he is emulating me, then I need to step up and live up to not only my potential, but sort of his as well. For any limits I put on myself, he might adopt. Any laziness or procrastination, even if I don't think he sees, he will see. So I find myself now motivated to become a better man for not only my wife, but my kids as well. And that brings a whole bushel of pressure along with it.
I know I will fall short in my own eyes. I know this because I have heard my own father voice regrets about raising us kids. But I'm hoping, like my view of my dad, my kids will see all of the fun stuff we do, and lessons learned, and day to day life lived, and look back on it with awe that I made it look so easy. My dad continues to be one of my very most favorite people, and second only to my wife, it is his praise and approval that I do things for. Now I add my kids to the list. (Play the song 'Pressure' by Queen as the soundtrack to this post.)
So, to all parents out there who live to raise awesome kids, as my parents did, as I and my siblings are trying to do, keep up the good work, and try not to let the pressure squash you into a bruised, whimpering, squishy human puddle.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
and said "Can't do it."
"What?" Asked I.
"It's too narrow. I could get the grinder up here, but that bush will scratch up my truck."
"Oh. Kay." I said. I'm sure I sounded a bit incredulous.
"You could cut that bush way back. Then I could get up here."
"No." I said. "I think we've cut enough greenery out for the time being."
"Then I won't do it. And it's gonna cost an hour, because this was a waste of my time."
"Well, I guess you'll have to take that up with Gary. And I'll go give him a call now."
He didn't say another word, just walked down to his truck and off he went, little grinder in tow.
Well. I called the tree service, got the secretary again and told him that the grinder had arrived and refused to do it.
There was a long pause.
"I'll have Gary call you." He said.
"That would be fine. I'll be here all day."
Now, I know you'll be shocked, SHOCKED, to hear that he has not yet called. So I called a very nice woman named Barbara at the Better Business Bureau who is the mediator of my complaint to tell her the above story. I told her that if Gary had offered a simple apology that would have sufficed. She said we were being much nicer than she would have been.
She asked if I had paid him anything, and I said no, as the contract clearly states that payment is due upon completion of services, and our stump has not yet been ground out. She asked a few more questions and said that basically, since the contract was vague and not itemized, there was no requirement that we pay anything until the stump was gone. She did say that he might send us a bill for services already rendered. But until then, the ball was pretty much in his court. He needs to contact us to have the stump removed or just take the loss.
Needless to say, I've been looking forward to a conversation with Gary about the stump. I'm looking forward to saying that he can send as many bills as he would like, but the 'original contract' states that payment for services is the rule, and it CLEARLY says "grind stump" on the contract. Then I might be a little snarky and tell him that he should have written the contract more clearly, or just read it more closely. No place in the Contract does it state that I have to clear a path for the grinder. No place does it state that I have to pay him for what was done and not for what was left undone. So, let the jerk call, I'm ready! As my friend Jen would say, this guy puts the F-U in FUN!
As for the big piles of brush dotting our backyard. As you can see in the first picture, they are gone. One of the cutters had offered to remove it for free. But I didn' t think he should have to take the hit and do the work, so I offered to pay him if he would take it away. He said he would just ask for the cost of dumping. So we left him a check for that and some cash for his labor. It was a more than fair amount, and well worth it for us to be rid of the brush. He did such an excellent job that there was not even a small twig or branch left in the whole yard!
I'm hoping that word gets back to Gary that I can be quite generous if you treat me with some respect.
I did go through the brush piles and cut out anything I thought I could use. I've got plans for making some furniture from the remains. Table, chairs, a garden bench. I'll put it to good use and post the pictures here later.
Until then, I'm going to do exactly what Barbara from the BBB suggested. Put the whole thing behind me and not give it another thought.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I don't like to get dressed up. Mainly because about the only occasion I have to dress up is to go to funerals. Oh sure, there are weddings, baptisms, job interviews, or an occasional 'event' requiring such attire. But mostly I get out the ties when somebody dies.
I went to Tom's service the other day with my Wallace tartan tie on. Beautiful service, many fond memories of him, and his daughter did an outstanding job of eulogizing him. But I was uncomfortable in the shirt/tie/pants get up. It was too hot and humid to be overdressed. Add to that my basic discomfort with getting dressed up anyway, and the sweat factor increases exponentially.
Women have it easier than men in the 'dressing up' department. Women can wear light, flowy, cottony dresses - look phenomenal - and have some air circulation for tropical Iowa days. The men either wear comfortable khakis and short sleeved shirts - and look somewhat under dressed for a funeral, or wear suits (even sans jacket) and be totally cut off from air reaching any skin save that which surrounds the head and hands. Then to top it off, we tie the tie around our neck! Cutting off any transfer of air that might have happened around our neck.
What is the deal with the tie look anyway? I understand that the whims of fashion change with the season. But ties, which seemed to appear around the time women were wearing corsets and incorporating birdcages and such into elaborate headgear, have stood the test of time. Even when the corsets and ridiculously unwieldy hats fell out of vogue with the ladies, ties marched on. Do we really need an overpriced piece of fabric to hide our shirt buttons from view? Are they that unmentionable that we need to cover them up? What if we made the buttons out of gemstones or pretty rocks or something... bling them up a bit. Then do they need to be hidden? Are ties just a reminder to our bosses that the yoke of employment has us ensnared? Do we really need to wear a noose to prove we are trendy/employed/fashionable/high class?
I suppose the entire fashion world would scoff and mock me as a hopeless 'What Not To Wear' candidate. But I think that comfort should trump tradition. I think that when I die, I will make it a rule that anyone attending my funeral in anything more than comfortable clothes will be sent home to change, or given a bathrobe in the event that they have nothing else close by. In fact, perhaps bathrobes will be the uniform of the day that day. Or those white, flowy things the Muslim guys wear on their way to Mecca during the Hajj. (and sensible underwear, since I don't know how see through those are) But man, those look comfy! (they are called ihram garments, by the way, and during the hajj they are worn to represent a state of purity and equality) Or maybe just a good, old fashioned Toga dress code. No laurels allowed though.
Either way, I have given serious thought to proposing kilts as appropriate uniforms for my job. As paramedics, we could have our own EMS tartan, blue and white checks with red piping running throughout, perhaps in a normal sinus rhythm pattern. We could have special sporrans that held our trauma shears, pens, paper and what not. And the bottom hem could be lined with reflective tape for better night time visibility! It gets a bit warm wearing Teflon impregnated pants after all.
Any way I slice it, I cannot seem to justify the tie. There has to be a better way, a more comfortable way, to look sharp and professional. Hmm...
Monday, July 7, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
It has been quite nice. After a breakfast at the Amana's (Holy Cow I'm full) we returned to the parent's place for naps and quiet times. Kids playing nicely. We'll go swimming here in a little while. Then the visitation tonight, and I'll be staying up nice and late to get ready for a night shift tomorrow night.
I like spending time here. It is comfortable and safe. I can be myself. I'd like to create a home like this for my kids. One that they can come back to over the years and feel like it is always a haven.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Boyo got to swim in the pool, which he loved. But it makes me wish we could take him swimming more often. Guess we'll have to figure out how to do that when we get home.
Good to hang out with the family again, though we always seem to get together for lousy events.
Fireworks last night were a lot of fun. Got some good shots that I'll post upon return from CR.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Then he turned to his mom.
"Look mommy! A smiley face!"
Then his little brow furrowed a bit as he looked from his plate to her then the plate to her, and he said,
"Can I eat that smiley face?"
Got a lot of work done today. Made tomato cages (I'm still behind, but they are coming along nicely) Cleared out some brush, a good start on the re-landscaping process.
Boyo is climbing on my lap, wanting to cuddle in and watch a movie. Who am I to deny such a request?