Freebies FTW!!  

Posted in , ,

I love the term FTW!! I can't help it..I'm a video game junkie and that's just a popular comment... For The Win, for those of you not involved in all the new abbreviations out there...

That being said I was invited to a year end sales meeting this weekend in Santa Barbara. It was being held at the Biltmore which is a Four Seasons Resort...I have seen these places on TV and always thought how cool it would be, but never figured I would have the money to enjoy one. Well that all changed with this little trip.

The rooms are rather pricy...I was told that off season the upstairs rooms run around $450 a night...I spent less than that on a weekend in Monterey with dinner...
But it's a freebie, so hell yes I took it.

It was a bit surreal for a country boy like me. I'm well enough versed in how to act. I am told I clean up fairly well. I'm pretty sure that compared to some of the other rednecks that came with us I didnt' look to hillbillyish (that just became a word). The concierge treated me like I was royalty. They apologized about 100 times, because a vehicle had blocked their front entrance and we had to drive around to the back parking lot and walk. The poor guy that hauled all the luggage was the one that got the short end of that stick. He smiled the whole way and told us all about the things we could see in the town. Where we should try and get to. We also learned that he is in his 3rd year of college and working towards his pilot license. Nice guy. The room was amazing. The closet alone is as big as our other bedrooms in our home. It had as much hanger space as two of our closets as well. The shower had a seat and it took me about an hour to figure out all the places the water would come out in that damn thing. The tub was just as phenomenal. I had never seen an old fashioned free standing tub that had hidden jets in it...Until this weekend. Amazing as it was I never even got the chance to try it out. Three swimming pools and 3 hot tubs, a full service spa and gym. Guided tours, a putting green and crockett.

The food is where i encountered some discomfort. I am a meat eater. I'm a meat and potatoes kinda guy. They were making funky salads with names that I'm quite sure were made up. I love seafood, so that was a plus. Sea Bass, and salmon, crab cakes, and lobster (drooling a little). All I had to do for all of this was sit through an 8 hour sales meeting. I slugged down about 8 or 9 cups of coffee and smiled through my 8 hour punishment.

The last night there we had an awards banquet and I found out this was the real reason for me being invited. It turns out that our facility was 1 of only 3 that went then entire year without an accident. I guess I should mention that we have about 900 facilities nationwide. So we accepted our award and I patted myself on the back and managed a few drinks in celebration as well. (everything was free!!!)

I loved the weather and the scenery of that little town. I could do without the snobby people living there, but other than that this was 4 days to remember. I can hardly wait for next year. My boss told me that we might get to try that one in Hawaii.... Keeping my fingers crossed...

Credit or Debit?  

Posted in , ,

I have felt this little rant coming on for a long long time now. I am forced to travel a good deal throughout my day. I don't like to carry any large quantity of cash with me on the road. I always figured that was the reason for my atm credit/debit card. Why else would they give me the damn thing unless they wanted me to use it like cash?

I dropped into the local mom and pop gas station/mini mart/video rental/post office/cafe/ you get the idea. I just wanted a damn snack. A couple of chimichangas and some potato wedges. Not much to ask right? I get to the counter and the pleasant woman behind the counter takes my atm card and asks credit or debit?
I ask her if there is a difference. She says they charge for debit. I tell her then I want credit. So I get my receipt to sign and sure enough there is a charge for credit use. I asked her about this charge, and she told me that it was for using the credit card. "But you said there was a charge for debit." I reminded her. "Yes but I never said there wasn't a charge for credit." she reminded me.
I almost stuffed the Styrofoam container down her pudgy throat.
Instead I walked out and left my items on the counter and tore up the receipt (which I might have thrown on the ground while leaving).

WTF!! Why would somebody go through the trouble of asking me if I want one or the other if they BOTH get charged the exact same amount. This got me to thinking about other items that I'm paying this surcharge for. I got gas and noticed a different price for cash and debit. I brought this up to the young man behind the counter and immediately he was defensive with me. He explained that it cost money to use those machines and they were merely recovering their costs. Funny thing about that was the old man that owns the store came out and told me that it would be the same price as cash for me, because they always charge cash prices if the customer asks. That got me to thinking that maybe this isn't the most legal of propositions. I'm now on a mission to find out.

We have been suckered. All these years we are told to carry this damn piece of plastic because it will make everything so much easier. All the while we are getting charged up the Ass for the very thing that is supposedly making things easier. Not just easier for us, but easier for the establishment we shop at. They are able to push us through much faster when we use plastic supposedly. It's like a big friggin line of cattle getting led to slaughter. We are just waiting our turn to get the little pneumatic rod stuck through our freakin head.

So I went to the bank and took out $100. I figured that from now on cash is just good enough for me. I will take the dirty looks from the cashiers when I give them cash. I know that most of these dumb asses don't know how to count back change to me without the aid of the cash register, so they are ticked off that they have to attempt it. We have been dumbed down by this "progress". Cash is almost a dirty word in most department stores. They are trying to get us away from the debit card and into bed with THEIR credit card. Regardless they still want us to use plastic. Because if we are using cash they can't track us very well can they.

I'll end this little tirade with a comical little story of the most satanic of all department stores Macy's. I went in their one day about a year ago. I was going to get a shirt. Just a plain ol' long sleeve button up shirt for my suit. I had cash (imagine that). The gal at the register asked for my phone number and address. I inquired as to why she could possibly need that for a cash purchase. She informed me that it so they could call me with any offers they might have from time to time. I told her I didn't want any offers, and that I just wanted my shirt. She would not ring up my purchase until I gave her my number. Needless to say I went home that day without a shirt, but they went without a sale. I wonder now how many people just give the information because it's asked. They probably figure it's a no harm no foul kinda thing. I disagree...I'll give you my freakin number when I feel like it. I'm the customer, and you should tell me please and thank you and take my money. End of story....

So buyer beware...We have been suckered in for a long long time. The quicker we get them to realize that we are gonna have it our way, the sooner things will come to at least resemble sane.

*Step down from soapbox*
BTW B of A YOU SUCK!!! (charged me $5.00 for using an atm from another bank and the other bank charged me $2.00)

Take Me Out To the Ballgame  

Posted in , ,

It's just about that time of year. I can feel it already. Baseball season is fast approaching. There is no better time in the world if you are a kid, or if you are a grown up with the mindset of a kid (me). I can smell the outfield grass as I sit here typing this.

I am a fan. Dodgers are my team. This isn't about pro baseball though. This is about Baseball season. This is about 9 teammates focusing on one thing. Beating the snot out of the other 9 teammates. It's about keeping your eye on the ball. Following the grounder into your glove, and maybe if you are really lucky diving for that foul ball and coming up with a snow cone grab. Yeah I am a bit excited.

This will be my youngest sons first attempt at Little League. He is 8 and I've been informed that I shouldn't worry because he is more than ready to get out there and give it his best. I'm excited for him, because these are going to be the best years of his life. He is going to make new friends, and find some heroes out there that he will look up to for the rest of his life. When he is a parent one day, he will look back and remember one of his ball coaches fondly, and tell his kids some great baseball story from his childhood.

There is nothing to think about when you are on the ball field, except hit, catch run, throw. That's it and nothing could be more simple in the world. You don't have to hit hard and you don't have to catch well. You don't have to run fast or throw accurately. You just have to try. You have to get dirt all over your uniform, so your mom is complaining that she can never get that stain out. Big strawberry on your hip? No problem, it'll go away after the season is over. So will that big scab on your shin from sliding (figure 4) into second base over that gravel they call an infield.

After the game, you get your snowcone, and you sit in the bleachers and watch the next game. You get to trash talk with your teammates about your game. You get to make fun of each other, and nobody is getting mad, cause it's part of Baseball. Sometimes you are the hero and sometimes you are the goat. Doesn't matter though, cause everytime you still got to be out there on the field. You got so taste the dust and smell the outfield. You heard the crowd cheering you on when you came up to bat. You were alive and excited for the chance to be the hero.

Basketball season is Ok..So is Football and don't get me wrong I'm a fan of all sports. I played tennis in High School as well as baseball, football, and basketball. BUT....nothing and I mean nothing compares to Baseball season. Peanuts, popcorn, hotdogs and coke. To hell with the crackerjacks, but give me some pink popcorn. I'll gladly sit through every Saturday from now till August and watch these little guys live out their dreams of glory on the Baseball field. That is time well spent, and I for one can hardly wait!

Regrets? Maybe a Few....  

Posted in , ,

The word itself is ugly. Nobody likes to have regrets. It's not exactly a goal in anybodies life. My grandfather used to tell me that when I got old I would look back and the fewer regrets I had, the happier I would be. That sounds like pretty sound advice looking back.

Just because it's good advice doesn't mean it gets followed though does it? We all have those moments in our lives that we wish we could revisit and maybe change the outcome of. I arrived at that moment recently while rereading a post from Hunter at The Time Crook. He made this post and it really got me to thinking.

I'm full of silly childhood regrets, but there are a few that are a bit more on my mind as I get a little older. I'm gonna share one of those with you, but first I have to preface this a little bit. I'm a believer in the Death Penalty...Wow where did that come from right? If you kill somebody intentionally, then you deserve to die for it in my opinion. If we are going to keep people alive for 15 years after the crime then giving them the death penalty is pointless...

That said, here's my regret...

As a teenager I had a friend named Richie. We played sports together, we hung out together and we were pretty good friends through junior high school and all the way through high school as well. Now Richie was a nice kid. He was as pleasant as they come, and he was well mannered. In fact to the point that my parents were always telling me that I better be every bit as well behaved as Richie when I was out and about.

Richie came from a dysfunctional home. In the sense that his parents didn't or wouldn't show him any affection. He was the oldest of three brothers, and he was constantly expected to be responsible for anything and everything they did. They doted on both of the other boys, but Richie was never given that love and affection that he craved. He spent more and more of his time at my house. My parents accepted him in as one of our own, and even offered to let him come live with us to finish high school when it became so bad at his house. He was 18 before he graduated and his parents were going to make him move out and support himself to finish high school. Fortunately that didn't happen. I will never forget some of the times we dropped him off after a high school football game at some random hotel that his parents were at for one of their workshops. They never had time to watch him play sports, but they managed to watch the other two.

After High School we went our separate ways sort of. I joined the military and he went to a junior college down south. He was going to be a broadcast journalist. I'm quite sure that he would have made a hell of a good one too. Things don't always work out the way we plan though do they? He met a girl and all of a sudden he was in a relationship for really the first time in his life. I never met this girl, but he was happy and so I was happy for him.

Life kept moving on though and I was soon caught up in my own little slice of life. I was married and working, and on top of that I was going to be a dad. I heard that Richie had some trouble down south, but nobody really knew much about it. I was too caught up with my own little world to worry all that much about it. I figured if he needed me, he would call or write (pre-internet). Sure enough I got a letter from Richie, but by this time, I was going through some other stuff in my life. I was getting ready to get divorced, and I was wondering how I would be able to raise my child as a single parent. I didn't have time to talk to Richie, and I didn't really want to know what was going on in his life to be honest. I didn't bother to respond to his letter, and I didn't bother to notice that it was postmarked from a correctional facility.

A year went by before I found out the details of my friend. He was on death row. He was found guilty of murder. He had killed his girlfriend and her mother. I won't offer up the specifics of this horrific crime, because it haunts me still. Let's just say that it was gruesome, and he admitted to it, and was more than willing to pay for his crime.

I wasn't there for my friend when he needed me though. I wasn't there when he went through his break up, and I wasn't there to help talk him down, from whatever crazy place his mind brought him too. I was forced to accept that I had failed him as a friend. That of course doesn't mean that I had anything to do with all the madness that followed, but it's a what if moment for me.

Fast forward to now. He is still on death row. He is a mentor in the prison system, and has helped many fellow inmates achieve their GED and even some advanced learning. They have tried to appeal for all these years to get him off death row. I even offered up a deposition, explaining his childhood, and the person I knew compared to the madman that committed that crime.

Should he die? Yeah, he deserves to pay for what he did. He knows that and so do I. I even explained that to the lawyer that I spoke with. I was asked to explain my friends childhood to the court and I did. That doesn't mean that I expect leniency and I know he doesn't either.

To call it regrettable is an understatement. So many lives have been destroyed by that one terrible act. Many more lives have been turned upside down. I take something away from this though. I realized maybe a little late that I will make time when my friends are in need. I will sit and listen if they have a problem, and I'll do my best to offer up a solution and if nothing else an ear. I can't change what happened but I can change my response to it for the next time. Lessons learned are sometimes hard, and sometimes that's the only way we learn them.

So I file this away with the other black marks in my life, but this one has a flag on it. This is one to be remembered. This is my regret.....

There's No Crying in Baseball  

Posted in , ,

Anybody who has seen the movie A League of Their Own remembers that famous line delivered by coach Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) to right fielder Evelyn Gardner (Bitty Schram).. Jimmy basically screamed at her until she was in tears and then he tried to explain to her that there is no crying in baseball....It was a funny line and absolutely added to the character of Jimmy Dugan.

I tend to think it's more than just a line from a movie though. There is no crying in baseball. It's a very competitive game, and we play to win. That doesn't mean if we lose that the world ends. I have coached young kids for close to 20 years in this sport and it never fails to amaze me how many don't think about crying when they lose until........the parents get involved.

Note to parents...If I'm your child's coach stay off my ball field. I will teach your child the fundamentals of the game. I will also teach them that it's important to leave it all on the field. We don't half ass it around my ball field. It's all or nothing. That whole 110% is crap, I used to get more arguments from kids about that then anything else. "How can I give more than 100% coach? It's impossible." They are right, and it takes far too much energy to explain to them what I mean by 110%. As an adult we undestand that it means to give that little extra that makes the difference. What we fail to understand as adults is that 100% is what's required. ALL!

So now that I rambled about 110% for too long, let me get back to the point. Kids learn that it's ok to whine, cry and complain when things don't go their way from the people that most influence their young lives. Guess what that person is not ME!
It is the parent, sibling, friends, and family. It's absolutely counter-productive.
Crying about losing doesn't fix it. Whining about the bad call doesn't fix it. Never leave the game in the hands of the umpire. That is something my High School coach told me and it has stuck all these years. I have tried for many years to explain that philosophy to my kids (that I coach).

If you are thinking of putting your child in sports then please please please remember this. They have to learn how to handle defeat as well as success. Perseverance is key in almost every aspect of our lives, and we learn so much of that from the young years involved in something as simple as Little League, or Soccer, or Football. So many people like to villify youth sports, and to some degree I understand where they are coming from. More often than not many people forget that along with teaching the child how to play a sport that they can enjoy for many years to come, I am also teaching them a little bit about the real world. I get the opportunity to teach them that working together for a common goal is a great thing. Communication, compassion, and sportsmanship are all great qualities to instill in a young person. I get to do that!!

I hope that any of you with small children will remember to let your child explore these different youth activities. Not all children are cut out for sports, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't get the chance to see if they enjoy them. You don't have to be a good ball player to have a great time on the ball field. I understand that some coaches only play to win, so parents be aware of who your coach is. Make sure that their concern is to teach the love of the game, and the qualities of a good sportsman.

The old addage "It's not if you win or lose but how you play the game." Is absolutely as important now as it was 50 years ago. Don't ever let your child forget that. A win by cheating is empty, and it will feel that way. By the same token, if you lose a game but can walk off the field knowing that you gave everything you had, you can keep your head up high and know that tomorrow will be another opportunity.

Save the crying for stubbed toes, and cut fingers. For broken bones and Weddings and Funerals. Enjoy the game you are playing. Cause win or lose, you are still playing and playing is FUN!

How to Apologize?!?  

Posted in , ,

Throughout the course of my day, I'm inundated with offers for courses and training of one type or another. Somebody somewhere is always offering the latest in how to work safely, how to stay within regulations. I go to a ton of these more out of curiosity than necessity. A few have actually delivered exactly as they promised, but more often than not they are just another scam to get my $120 registration fee.

As I perused my emails this morning, I got a little reminder that some workshops are available from EPA. This one really caught my eye. How to Apologize. Seriously???
We are being trained in how to apologize for a decision or action we may have taken.

The whole premise of this class is that from time to time, we all take action or in some cases inaction that angers the populace. Somebody somewhere is basically pissed off and we will now be instructed in how to apease them while still doing the very things that are pissing them off.

WTF is that about??? I know that I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I'm not a complete idiot. Apologies are for when we do something wrong, not unpopular. If I make a decision that is inconvenient or irritating, but it's the right thing to do or is going to keep somebody alive or safe then that's just the way it is. I don't apologize for doing my job the right way. I surely don't need somebody to show me how to apologize for doing my job either.

This to me is just further proof that we are a complete mess. If I'm being taught how to apologize for things that aren't wrong, how many other people are receiving that same message?

For myself and anyone else this has to hold true. Don't ever apologize for being right. Don't make excuses for doing the right thing, even at the expense of somebody else's comfort. If you do something wrong, own up to it and by all means offer a sincere apology.

Don't for one second assume that you are fooling somebody by telling them you are sorry if you don't mean it. Most people can tell if somebody is sincere or not. We offer up little signals that we are telling truth or lies all the time. Every time somebody won't look me in the eye red flags are coming up. I know right then and there that most likely I'm being lied to. Maybe this class will teach me how to look somebody right in the eye and lie to them. Perhaps that is really all this class is about, just giving the appearance of regret. Well they can keep their workshop and I'll keep my $210 since they are even more expensive than the norm.


Posted in , ,

For any of you that have spent time in the military or are related to someone in the miiitary this acronym might seem familiar. Breath Relax Aim Stop Squeeze. It's one of the earliest things we are taught when learning to fire our rifles. It's very good advice and works rather well as long as you aren't amped up on any of the coffee or cigarettes that most military guys are.

I grew up with weapons around our house. My father and Grandfather both hunted (not very well). I took part at the ripe ol' age of 10 when I was allowed to get my gun safety course out of the way. By 10 I was already pretty familiar with weapons. I knew that they served one purpose and one purpose only....To kill. They aren't to wound, or scare, they are a weapon of destruction and used for good or bad is totally up to the person behind the trigger.

Now that being said, I might have known what they were for, but I didn't consider my daisy bb gun to be in that category. For those of you unfamiliar with the daisy BB gun it was a lever action bb gun that you almost had to aim at an angle to reach 50 feet. I got one when I was 8 years old, and I was in love with it. I had used my Grandfather's on many occassions in the backyard to have "target" practice. I wasn't allowed to shoot at animals or anything like that, but I could shoot fruit or bottles, and mostly cans.

In my neighborhood there were tons of kids around, but there were three of us that played together quite a bit. Me, Scott and Jeff rode bikes, boxed in a makeshift boxing ring in the front yard (using a water house to outline), had water balloon fights, and blew up more than our fair share of those little green army men with lady fingers (firecrackers).

Along with all those good things, we also decided one day to play War. All of our houses met at a corner in the backyard and we figured it would be a perfect place to hold our own little battle for domination. So bb gun in hand I got behind my makeshift bunker in the backyard.

Now you can't just start fighting in backyard war, you have to be prepared. You need a few essentials.
1. ball cap (battle helmet)
2. jacket (regardless of the time of year)
3. Jeans...No Shorts!!!
4. Boots or hiking shoes...Note sneakers are allowed if covered in duct tape.
5. Daisy BB Gun with pocket full of bb's.

This was a 1 on 1 on 1 fight. We would continue to shoot at each other until somebody gave up, was shot, or ran out of ammunition. Usually we all ran out of ammunition. The time I'm thinking about didn't end so easily.

I remember it like I just came in from the house. We were in the middle of our battle. I was getting mad because Jeff kept ducking just ahead of my shots. That wasn't so bad, but his laughter at my misfortune was maddening. I took a breath and started thinking. Thinking for a young boy is no easy task, we would much rather just do. I decided to figure out a way to win instead of always the tie that we had. I started timing things a little bit and sure enough I got Scott as he popped up from the fence. So he was out of the running and not even broken skin. This was looking up. I knew where Jeff was going to pop up, because he made the mistake of following a little pattern. So the next time his head popped up I was ready and got off my shot. SCORE!!! But he fell straight back like somebody hit him with a bat.

I hollered to Scott and we ran to the fence and jumped over into the other yard. There was Jeff sitting on the ground crying and.........BLEEDING!!!! "You're in trouble now!!" Those were the words out of my friends mouth. Jeff was too busy screaming bloody murder to say anything. So doing what any good friend would do we grabbed him by the arms and dragged him to the back porch and started screaming for his mom. She came running out and saw the blood running off his head and was immediately in action. She grabbed him up and we all ran to the car.

30 minutes later, Jeff was receiving a bandage on his forehead. The bb broke the skin and sat lodged in his forehead almost directly between his eyes. To this day he carries the scar. I lost my bb gun privileges for I think forever. I was grounded and a few other punishments were thrown on there. Looking back though it was all worth it, because I was legend after that incident. I was considered a dead eye by the other boys in the neighborhood now. That made for many good hunting trips later in life as they remembered that all the way through school.

So I guess I was ready for the military a little bit earlier than some because I was already putting into practice what they taught me some 11 years later.


The Journey is Half the Fun?!?  

Posted in , ,

I always prided myself on having a ton of patience. Lately I've realized that is sort of a lie. I think that I have very little patience after all.

I've come to the conclusion that reading has done this to me. Now how can reading possibly make somebody have less patience you might ask? It's really quite simple. When you read a book of any length, the things that are happening in the story don't happen in real time. A young boy witnesses the death of his father, he runs away from the danger to be raised by a nomadic tribe. While he is with them he learns all sorts of survival skills that better equip him to handle physical situations. As well as teaching him to "commune" with nature and be one with his environment. That's a not too uncommon theme in a lot of adventure books. The problem is that when the story picks up again the boy is grown up and has already learned all this stuff. The story moved along and he is self sufficient and sometimes already becoming successful and wealthy.

I want that. As I read these stories it sounds so great. Learn all these really great things and go out and take the world by storm. There is just one problem....It doesn't happen overnight in real life. We have to actually commit to our goals, we have to make priorities and follow through with a plan. No guarantees either. We could work for years to attain that goal only to find that it's a pretty sad state we are left in.

There are no do-overs. Sure we can go along a different path and try something else, but you can never get back the time you invest. I was always told to enjoy the ride, because the journey is half the fun. Maybe that's true, but I'm still waiting. Don't get me wrong I have so many things to be grateful for. I have a great family and a good job. I'm fairly healthy. Those are all things I should be thankful for each and every day. BUT.....I want more. I want that storybook ride. You know where you go in and take down the bad guy, become the hero and save the day. The community thinks you are a swell guy and little kids want to be like you.

Unfortunately that is why it's a story. It's meant to inspire or frighten. To motivate you to some emotion. Well congrats to the authors of all these books I read, you have indeed motivated me to some emotion, and lately it's been irritation. So I've decided to just try that advice I always got when I was a bit younger. I'm gonna enjoy the ride and see if the journey really is half the fun.

I guess I should be happy that I don't have 3 feet of snow blocking my doorway. No mudslides and no freaky storms of any kind lately. It's high 60's and the sun is shining most of the day. So I guess it could be worse.. While I'm enjoying the "ride" I'm still going to keep my eyes open for that one chance to save the family from the burning building or stop the runaway car, cause you just never know right?

Favorite Things  

Posted in , , , ,

I have to say first of all that I have not been able to return to my most awesome of dreams. I think that it's still a pretty good premise for a story, and I will probably try to use my pre-existing characters from other stories to write something of this one ....

I tried desperately to find ways to return to that dang dream. I tried the cheese, I read about half of The Stand again. Watched 3 of the 4 chapters of the movie as well. Nothing worked though. That doesn't mean that I didn't have some other really weird dreams. Surprisingly I had some mixed up dreams dealing with The Stand and a few other books that I've read recently. The surprising part is that I read a lot of westerns, primarily Louis L'Amour. Let me tell you that a Western setting for the end of the world makes for waking up with a bad case of the sweats. It was just creepy.

Recently I had begun reading The Lonesome Gods by Louis L'Amour. One of my favorite all time books. It's set in the beginning days of Los Angeles. Louis L'Amour gives you some good history with his stories, so you can't really lose. I have also noticed that he gives some strong opinions on characters in some of his stories. Cullen Baker is a noted gunman, and L'Amour pictures him far different than history books do in a few of his stories. Baker is not in the Lonesome Gods, but he was the best example I could think of for L'Amour's opinions.

Regardless of all that, I was a good portion of the way into the book, and I started to think about other things that are my favorites. I have a bunch of favorite things, so I figured this would be a fairly good venue to share a few of them (maybe more than a few).

My favorite book is The Stand, but closely followed by The Lonesome Gods and The Comstock Lode. I like the end of the world scenario as I always wondered what I would do if I had nobody but me to rely on. I think that's what attracts me to western writing as well. The characters in most L'Amour books are on their own. They have to make their way the best they can, without the help of many people, and sometimes in spite of other people.

My favorite TV show is Sliders. If you don't know what this is, I will give you the brief intro. A genius college student discovers a way to travel between dimensions. Guess I should say that he is also the one that discovers the existence of multiple dimensions. Along with 3 others he travels to another dimension and they have a slight incident that prevents them from returning to their own dimension. They must wander until they can find a way home. Once again I think that this plays on my love of somebody having to do for themselves. These 4 have to rely on their own wits and most often common sense to keep them out of trouble while they find their way home.

My favorite movie is a bit more difficult... I think that all time my favorite is The Stand. I am a movie freak so to speak. I love watching movies and I own a ton of them. The only thing better then revisiting a movie is revisiting a book. I'll just mention a couple of others that have "done" it for me as far as movies go. Independence Day....I could not believe that critics said Bill Pullman did a bad job as president. His Independence Day speech in the movie was great. Rocky is up ther for me too.... Are you seeing a pattern here, cause I'm starting to notice it more and more. All about the fight in my opinion. I love the underdog, and I really love when the underdog wins.

Before this gets too long, I'll end it with my favorite sports. There are 2 ways of looking at this for me. My favorite to watch and favorite to play.

As a spectator there is nothing more interesting to me than a good football game. PERIOD!!!! The fact that a 300 lb man can run a 40 yard dash in 4.7 seconds is amazing....

To play it has to be baseball...That was my first love and I will be buried with a glove and cleats in my coffin ( a little morbid I know). I'm sorta old for it now, but if I get a chance again, I'll go play some softball or even old man baseball. That over 40 league is pretty rough when you are actually over 40.

Well if you managed to stay awake through all of this Thank you! After reading this myself I realized that I have some pretty definite tastes...Opinions I have plenty of and now you see a little bit of where I get them from ........

The Stand.....In DreamVision  

Posted in , ,

I'm sure I've mentioned it at one time or another. My favorite movie is The Stand. By a strange coincidence it's also one of my top 3 reads. I won't say I'm a huge Stephen King fan, but some of his writing just boggles my mind. The guy has an imagination that is strictly otherworldly.

I'm also sure that I've mentioned I read Kristy at This Train of Thought has been Derailed In a couple of posts she has mentioned the end of the world and being prepared to cope with it like this example here . So I guess this has been stuck in my head lately, because I had the most extraordinary dream last night. I don't usually remember a whole lot about my dreams. Little tidbits sorta like catching part of the preview of a movie. you know what the basis of the picture is, but couldn't really tell how the storyline is going to build or even if the actors are any good.

In my dream, the world had indeed come to a near end. I was not privy to the why of the devastation. I only know that I was a survivor. I also realized that this was not the me that lives every day as a safety guy. This was a me from some different dimension I guess. I didn't have a wife or kids, I was a little bit Mad Max and a little bit Waterworld. You know a rebel with no real direction.

The reason I know that I read too much of The Stand is because in my dream I was heading for a location that was told to me in my dreams. I didn't know why I was going there, but I met other people along the way that were headed there too. I guess I was also a little bit Stu (main The Stand character). So to make a long story short, I arrived at the location I was trying to reach, and it was a deserted military base. This base was deserted, and had been for some time.

I remember that I was dressed in military fatigues and was leadinig this group of people somewhere else. Although I couldn't say where we were headed. In fact I don't even know where we came to. I just know that the base was isolated in the forest, not in an underground bunker, and it wasn't built into a mountain. It sorta reminded me of Yosemite Valley. So we found weapons and a humvee and were headed out in convoy to wherever it was we were headed. The last thing I remember was we ran over a mine of some sort in the road that we were driving on. The humvee was flipped upside down and I lived through it. I guess I'm pretty selfish or self-centered, cause I don't remember if anybody else in the group survived. I woke up to my alarm clock at about that time.

I'm going to hope that I can get back to that one tonight. Cause I definitely feel a part 2 has to be in the works somewhere there. What a story this could be if I can keep writing down what my weird mind is creating. So I think tonight I'll go home and watch about an hour of The Stand and read about 3 chapters as well. THEN and only then will I try to sleep again.

Fingers are crossed for another chapter in the story..........

Fate, Coincidence or Destiny  


In a previous post I mentioned a hospital stay my little boy had when he was an infant. He was very suddenly sick, and I was at work. My wife called me and told me that something wasn't right. She was a bit in shock as to what was going on and it was evident in the tone of her voice. I immediately left work and we took Eap (nickname) to the doctor.

They were stumped and ran blood tests, hooked him up to the heart monitor and check every sign they could think of. No fever, just listless almost like a zombie. They tested him to see if he had been poisoned (that's not a pleasant thought when they are asking you if you could have poisoned your child). Nothing came back as a positive. So the doctor suggested that it could be something else that I don't even remember the name of anymore. He wanted a spinal tap done. My wife and I waited outside the room, since the doctor said it was much easier to do this without a parent there. We didn't know they had done it, because my son didn't cry. There was a negative result from that test too, so off we headed for the children's hospital.

At the hospital we were placed in a room and told that he couldn't be fed. They figured that this would make him testy and a little angry and then he would cry. I have to mention here that we have one of the finest pediatric hospitals in the nation here, and I was completely unimpressed with it. They treated us like we weren't even there most of the time. Most of the patients at that time came directly from Kaiser and we weren't Kaiser members so we were treated like outsiders. They provided care, but it almost seemed like a chore.

Three days of sheer hell ensued. We didn't get any answers and he didn't eat. No fussing, no complaining, no crying. Scary scary scary. We were just about at our wits end.

I've always believed I'm a man of faith. I am the first to admit that I don't practice it nearly as much as I should or could. I tend to question my faith a great deal too. That is the main reason that I am sure God is there. He has pushed me back in line more times than I can count. I do something stupid and for some reason or another something else comes along that allows me a chance to fix the mistake. Of course these times are when we seem to jump to our faith the most, we beg, plead and bargain for help. If he will fix this we will go to church till we die, we won't cuss, steal, cheat or drink. No more smoking or bad thoughts. Whatever it takes. Of course generally we forget that little promise as fast as the crisis passes. I was so overcome that I wasn't even thinking of promises to make, I was just begging for something to make my little boy better.

The third day as I was sitting in the room, my parents and in-laws were there. My dad told me to go sit outside and get some air. I took my nephew with me and we sat out in the courtyard where they have a little play area for the siblings of the children that are sick. As I was sitting there watching the other children play I struck up a conversation with a man who was sitting there watching his nephew also.

Turns out this guy had another nephew in the hospital with meningitis. The boy was 14 years old, and they just didn't know what was going to happen. This was all new to them and the parents were scared to death about it. I told this man that I had meningitis when I was in 7th grade but mine was bacterial so it probably wouldn't be the same. He was silent for a moment. He told me that his nephew did indeed have bacterial meningitis. The staff at the hospital told the family that they only had one other recorded case of this and that was from the 70's. Turns out I was the only other recorded case. He asked if I would consider talking to the parents and let them know my experience. I told him to hang on and ran back to my son's room. I explained to my wife and told her I had to go speak with these people. They needed to know that there is hope. That was the first spark of life I saw in her eyes in 3 days. She said I better get over there.

I spoke with his family for about 20 or 30 minutes. I told them my story and explained that it wasn't easy, but I did indeed beat it. I learned to walk again, got a tutor for my missed time at school and even went on to continue playing sports througout high school and even as an adult. You should have seen the way these people perked up when they realized that there is definitely a chance for this boy.

I felt much better as I left that room. My nephew came with me and even he was smiling as we walked back to my son's room. We started to get a little down as we got closer to the room. I heard a bunch of talking as we got to the door. Excited chatter that made me as nervous as could be. I immediately figured that something had happened and the doctors and nurses were in there to provide emergency care for my son.

Walking through the door the first thing I saw was my mom holding my little boy. He was screaming bloody murder. That was the most beautiful sound I've ever heard. I was told that as the nurse came in to check his vitals he just suddenly started screaming. My wife immediately picked him up and he screamed even louder. The doctor came in and check him to make sure that he wasn't screaming in pain. Turned out the only pain was the one in his stomach cause he hadn't eaten. They gave him a bottle shortly after I got there and we went home later that evening. Still not knowing what the ailment was.

It took me about 2 weeks to realize that my son came out of his "funk" about the time I got done speaking with that family. I have to wonder what the odds were that they would have found me if my son wasn't sick in the hospital. Probably pretty slim. Now you can call this a coincidence, it would seem like it. I think it was something a little bit more. I think I was meant to be there. I think that the family of that poor boy needed some hope and this was the way they got it, by realizing that somebody else had been through it, and that somebody walked away from it too.

Take from it what you want. I just know that those were the 3 worst days of my life, but they had a pretty happy ending. I never did find out if that boy completely recovered or not. I know that he didn't die from this. I think about that family everytime my son gets a sniffle or a fever. Now days I realize that my son suffered a whole lot, but it was for a good cause. I have told him this story and his only response was "Well I'm ok now, so I guess it was lucky that it happened."

An Apple a Day  

Posted in , ,

Anybody who has read a few of my posts will know that I am a family oriented man. My family is ground zero for me. Everything else extends from that. It's how I was raised and what I experienced growing up.

I have known a few setbacks from illness and injury in my life. That's all they were though, just setbacks. I eventually recovered and moved on. Most of the time I was a little better for the experience. My poor mom and dad though, they suffered through all of my childhood mishaps and didn't miss a beat as far as I could tell.

What I didn't realize is that worry is the second thing you feel as a parent. First was love. I was there for my kids births and I was immediately in love with those little saggy wrinkled up faces. Hard to explain if you don't have kids. The second thing I felt was worry. What if..... What if they stop breathing at the hospital? What if they stop breathing at home. They are small and helpless and my wife and I are the only things standing in the way from all the bad things in the world.

My oldest son was plagued with ear infections and high fevers. For the first year of his life he had an ear infection a month and that was always accompanied with a fever over 103. He handled it like a champ though. He didn't complain a lot, he didn't whine about anything. He just sorta took it. I can remember him sitting in the bathtub running a fever of almost 104. We had pumped him full of ibuprofen and he was sitting there all flush and smiling eating a Popsicle telling me that he was feeling a little better. I knew he wasn't but he just wanted me to relax. Even at that age they know when you are wound up with worry.

My middle boy was not sick ever. But he can't stand up without getting a bump, bruise, cut, or burn. The kid is accident prone to no end, but resilient as can be. He has had stitches a few times, and he never fussed over the accident that cause them for more than a couple minutes. He has a high threshold for pain (like his dad).

The littlest of the clan has his share of normal kid sickness, but he was in the hospital for an unknown illness once. We found him in his crib as an infant just laying there listless and a small spot of dark liquid he had vomited. We didn't know what was going on and he was brought to the doctor and then the hospital. They never figured out what it was, but that kid went through a spinal tap and IV's without a peep. He was unresponsive for 3 days, and on the 4th he was completely back to normal. To this day they don't have an answer. i have a few thoughts on that and I'll share them in another post.

The point of all that is, the kids handled their respective illness and injury like it was business as usual. I on the other hand lost years and years of my life worrying over them. It's not a healthy kind of worry, because there isn't anything you can do for them. That doesn't mean I can stop worrying about them either.

I never gave much thought to it when I was having surgery or laid up in the hospital sick. I just knew that it wasn't my time yet. I knew that I was going to get better, but I had no way to comfort those that were worried about me. Fortunately for me, I was too busy being sick to think much on that part of it.

Now as a parent I get to be on that side of the fence more often. I am quite certain that I would rather be sick, because then I can be selfish and just worry about me.

My little one complained about a headache this morning. He doesn't usually cry wolf about being sick. I was immediately ready to let him stay home from school and got out the Tylenol and other assortment of medicines that I might be able to force down his throat to ensure that he stayed at least comfortable. Then I realized that I was over reacting. I got him talking and he forgot about his headache and was more than ready to get to school. I'm hopeful that it is just the remnants of the cold he is fighting off, but time will tell.

Being a parent is in the same moment the greatest and worse thing that has ever happened to me. I can't imagine my life without my boys, but do you think that they could just ease up on dad and stay healthy for maybe the next 40 years or so?

Just in case I've laid in a huge supply of bananas and oranges, but most importantly APPLES!! I don't know if that whole an apple a day thing is true, but I figure it's worth a shot. I've got apples, applesauce, apple jelly, apple crisps, and apple gogurt (yogurt in a tube is cool)!!! Yeah I'm just that bad..

My kids roll their eyes at me when I get on my "be healthy" kick. They take it with a grain of salt though. So for all you parents out there that are dealing with sick or injured youngsters. Take heart. We all know that one day they will have their own and then THEY get to put on the worry shirt.

Gotta wonder how I will handle being a grand parent.............

So This Guy Walks Into a Bar  


We've all heard them before, those tacky, tasteless, so bad they are funny jokes. I don't pay much attention to them anymore, because I'm convinced that I've heard just about all of them. They usually aren't that funny, and they border on offensive at times.

Regardless they are still just jokes right? They aren't meant to hurt some one's feelings. They are a sometimes misguided attempt to make us laugh. The same goes for giving somebody a hard time when they make a silly mistake. It's not intended (usually) to offend or demean. It's meant so that everybody can have a laugh, sometimes it's at our expense but hey that's just the way the game is played.

Now days you can't tell a tasteless joke, or make an offhand comment without somebody getting butt hurt. There is always some group or foundation being formed to eradicate the world of these "insensitive" remarks and gestures. The one that has just raised my cockles (I like that word) is a group that is trying to get the California legislature to remove all phrases of "Mentally Retarded" and "Retarded" from the wording in any of the laws or regulations on the books....Really??? Have we sunk so far that we are no offended by even the legitimate use of words?

I was listening to a program this evening and they spoke of a group that is working towards this end. They seem to believe it is demeaning towards people with legitimate mentally debilitating conditions. I am the first person to defend against taunting someone because they are different. I believe that is what makes this country great is our diversity, but are we really gonna spend millions and millions of dollars to appease some mom who thinks that the word retarded is going to hurt her child's feelings?

Do we stop using other words now for fear that somebody else could become offended? Is imbecile no longer allowed? Did the imbeciles of the world have a choice when their IQ was below 70 or whatever number is the indicator. Should we stop selling bread that is marked white because white people are offended by the term white bread? perhaps we will call it Caucasian loaf??? Hey don't you dare buy something called Cracker Jacks, cause that's RACIST!!!

I'm sick of people having thin skin. I hate the fact that I have to tread lightly whenever I have a conversation now, just because somebody will feint offense at the slightest hint of a word that could be misconstrued that way. Time to buck up people, we have far better things to do with our taxpayer dollars than change the books to remove and replace the verbiage of 40 year old laws.

When are we gonna wake up and try to work on the things that matter? When are we gonna realize that a word is not what is holding us back? Lately I've heard so much about how Martin Luther King would be so proud to see how far we've come. I'm thinking more and more than we are just trading our our advances with our defeats. We can elect a black man to the presidency, but we have to worry about somebody suing for 11 million dollars cause they spilled hot coffee on their lap.

A guy walks into a bar with a dog. He claims the dog can talk. "Give me a beer and I'll show you." The bartender slides a beer to him and the man asks the dog, "Fido, what is that above our heads?" The dog says, "Roof!" The irritated bartender says, "That's not talking, he sounds like any other dog." The man says, "OK, how about this - Fido, who was the best baseball player of all time?" The dog says, "Ruth!" The bartender throws the man and the dog out of the bar. Fido says to the man, "Ya think I shoulda said DiMaggio?"

I always did like that one......

Soothes the Savage Beast  

Posted in , ,

I believe the saying goes Music can soothe the savage beast.... If not it's something similar to that, and besides I'm sure you guys have heard the term in one form or another. I have been reading in a bunch of posts lately things relating to music. I think it's one of the few things that all of us have in common. MOST people enjoy music of some form or another. While we might not like the same type, we like some type and that should hint a little bit at the fact that maybe we aren't all that damn different after all.

I'll share that I'm a former band geek. Ian brought up cliques and I guess I fit into a few of them. I was in band from 4th grade till the end of my freshman year of high school. I played the trumpet, flugelhorn, and french horn when called upon (which I really hated). I stepped away from marching band in 10th grade because that was a conflict for me with football. I was definitely a jock at heart. I loved sports as a kid. I played ball of one form or another throughout my childhood, and into adulthood. I have had many friends from different teams I've played on and some I still talk with to this day. That's for another post though...

I was decent in band. I played in drum and bugle corps also and that I kept up all through high school. that was sorta my secret and not many knew that I was doing that while still maintaining jock status :)

That's not really the music I'm talking about though...I knew I loved music from a fairly young age. My dad played in a band and I grew up on Joe Cocker, Foghat, Boston, Bad Company and The Stones. My taste were a little bit differnt than that growing up though...I'm pretty diverse, and listened to everything from Run DMC to Peter Frampton.

I came to find out that I could change my moods pretty quickly depending on what I listened to. If I wanted to work out, I listened to AC/DC or Boston, if I wanted to fall asleep maybe John Waite. People can say what they want, but nothing can put me in road rage quicker than The Offspring or Live...Something about the tempo that just makes me wanna GO GO GO!!!!

I discovered Country at the age of 19 and I have to say, that I wasn't all that impressed at first. Garth Brooks, and Randy Travis changed all that for me. My grandparents listened to that OLD country, I can't handle too much of that, but give me some good ol' Toby Keith now and I'm pretty happy. I also learned that Country Music can change my moods just as fast as pop and rock did. Wanna speed up a little bit, don't bother with a caffeine kick, just turn on some Brooks and Dunn. Need to get to sleep, try a little Tracy Byrd.

Regardless of what mood it puts you in, when you are listening to music, the world is just a little bit better. Things just seem to flow better for me at least. I've recently started listening to more and more classical music (getting old I know). It's so relaxing and I find that I can actually concentrate with it playing lightly in the background.

So put on that old cd you just found or download a few more songs on your Ipod, or do like I do and use the *gasp* radio. Anyway you like, just remember that music soothes the savage beast, and it does a pretty good job on the cranky blogger too...

Livin' in the Past? I don't think so.....  


A "friend" of mine read my post about my fishing excursions with my grandfather. He has also read a few of my other posts. I was told that I am living in the past. He told me that if I spend too much time remembering things gone by that I miss the things in front of me. Sounds pretty solid in some respects, except he's totally off base.

I don't live in the past. I visit it for guidance, direction, and sometimes for comfort and support. I believe that our experiences should help us to navigate the rest of our lives more successfully. I look back to some blunders from my younger years and I know better than to try that again. I remember some uplifting times, and I understand how to give that same feeling to someone else (pay it forward). I don't live in a past filled with butterflies and rainbows. I don't live in a past painted with gloom, doom and destruction either.

Maybe it's just me, but I think that we need that balance. Your experiences from the past will better equip you for dealing with today. I guess that it just struck me wrong, but I can't begin to fathom somebody who doesn't want to remember what they have been through, even if it's mostly bad. The fact that you know it, should help you avoid any more of it. If it's good, well dammit you can better understand how to get more of that too.

So to my "friend" who believes I'm living in the past. You sir are mistaken. I simply have decided to use all the tools in my toolbox. If you choose not to that is your choice. The fact that you can't or won't use your experience to better yourself leaves me feeling a bit sorry for you. I don't need the free psychological advice, and in fact I'm a bit offended that you are trying to treat me like I do. If I want some mental health advice I will ask Dayne at Coach your Mind ....He has given me far more insight than you have ever managed to offer. I will refrain from using names but you know who you are. If you want to advise me, make a blog and maybe I'll read it, otherwise post a comment and let's "discuss" it...Now stick that in your pipe and smoke it....

Awards Yay!!!!  


I am honored to receive the Kick Ass Blogger award. It came from a couple different directions and that makes me pretty durned proud.

Lisa Marie at The Domestication of a Party Girl is a down to earth quick witted gal (there's that word again). She is a family first kinda person and that is something I can totally relate to. If you want some serious entertainment with a little dry sense of humor, I promise this is a great place for you. Check her blog out (lol..most of you have I'm sure).

Joe at The Shadow of my Life also thought I was kick ass...(head begins to swell just a bit). This is the only guy I can think of that wrote almost 600 words on getting a pimple removed and made it interesting enough for me to read the whole darn thing. He's very gifted when it comes to enhancing a post. This guy can make anything interesting. If you haven't check him out do so...Definitely worth the time (and then some).

I understood that I was supposed to pass this on to 8, but Ian is a bit contagious and his rule breaking has made me become a rule breaker (notice how I found a way to not take the blame for this). So I'm gonna pass this on to a few people.

I Think It's Interesting Is one of those blogs that offers a little something for everyone. I appreciate the fact that he can post about news one day and Mary Tyler Moore the next. (which by the way was a really cool post. Give him a check..Good stuff within.

R.A.W. Want a good movie review? Some amazing pictures? Check Kristen out. I'm a terrible photographer, but I am always one to appreciate a beautiful picture. You will definitely enjoy what you find...

The Gaming Gentleman If you are into gaming or some of the other cool techie types of things (I just like the games ). Give this blog a look over. There are some really thoughtful reviews going on in there. Not an everyday post, but when they come, they are worth reading if you are at all into gaming.

These are a few that I think you should definitely give a read to.

The tribe has grown considerably and I think that's totally awesome... There is one other blog that is more responsible for that than any other.

We all know that is Ian at The Daily Dose of Reality If I speak only for me, this guy has been a HUGE supporter for me. I appreciate how much he has done to expand the amount of people that view this little speck of my world. Thank you Ian...

I think that everybody's blog I read is deserving of this award, because if they weren't Kick Ass then I wouldn't read them (duh)...

So thanks to all of you that spend a few minutes of your day with me....I'm glad you come along for the ride with me......