Random Observations on Life

Random Observations on Life

Over time, owners do resemble their dogs!

This is a blog about a dog. Well not really. This is the more about the ramblings of the dog's dutiful owner, Blue's Dad. Although Blue might be the backdrop of this whole experiment, there's no telling where this trail will lead me. I apologize ahead of time for the randomness of my observations. I've always tended to color outside the lines.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Men's Rules

At last a guy has taken the time to write the relationship rules from the man's point of view. These are our rules! Please note, these are all numbered "1" on purpose.

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports- its like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what your want. Let us be clear on this one; Subtle hints do not work! Strong Hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem ONLY if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are, don't ask us. Fact is we probably are too, and you don't see us asking you.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the OTHER one.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

1. Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither do we.

1. All men see in only 16 colors like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it WILL be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say, "Nothing", we will act like nothings wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine...REALLY!

1. Don't tell me to get in shape. I am in shape. ROUND is a shape.

1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I will have to sleep on the couch tonight, but did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Toys that Didn't Live up to their Billing (Toys that Sucked)

You may remember me talking earlier about my brother Pinata. You may recollect that I call him Pinata because sometimes I just want to hit him with a stick. Well, today he went to the doctor for a physical. When the doctor asked him if there was anything she could do for him, he asked, "Have you got anything I can take for acute hypochondrism?" Now you know why I call him Pinata.

I heard a topic on a radio station lately that got me thinking about growing up in the 60's and 70's and the toys I wanted and usually didn't get.

I thought it would be a fun topic for a blog: Toys that didn't live up to the way they were portrayed on the commercials or on the front of the box.

Here are a few I came up with, but I would like for you to add some in the comments:

Slinky-Did anyone you know ever get a slinky to go more than one step. On the commercial they showed it going all the way down, but when you tried it at home, it just went plunk! And if you had carpet, forget it! If it ever got tangled up, it was worse than a Rubik's cube. The sad thing is, we all bought them for our kids too (didn't you?)

Boomerang-Oh yeah, they looked cool. You could just throw it and it would come back to you, just like in Australia. More realistic, you would throw it and it would slice off into the neighbors yard and land on their roof. Or it would hit the ground at mach speed, ricocheting off the pavement and hitting Timmy in the back of the head. (where was brother Pinata when I needed him?)

Electric Football-I put this on reluctantly because I spent hours playing this game even though it didn't do what it was supposed to. I would take the little cotton football (when I ran out of footballs, I used the ends of Qtips or belly button lint) and watch the player vibrate up and down and sideways on the field, with no order at all. I wished even at ten that the game would've came with cheerleaders to watch.

Now it's your turn. What game do you remember being a flop?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Professor Bluesdad's Perfect Method for Buying a Car

This post is going to be completely out of character for me. It has nothing to do with my observations on life, or how much people can irritate me (or I them) but it is a chance to sit at the feet of Bluesdad and learn :-) Class, this is a fool proof way of getting the best deal on buying a car. I developed it about ten years ago and have successfully bought (or helped buy) at least 6 autos using this method, always getting thousands off the advertised price.

If you're one of those people who love to have your sales person go back and forth with your offer to 'their manager" in the other room, then this is not for you. On the other hand, if you feel like you want to be in control of the situation, you should give this method a try. This system works whether you are buying used or new from a dealer. Here are the basic steps:

1. Visit dealers with the purpose of finding at least 2 or 3 cars that you would be happy to have from different dealerships. You CANNOT get so emotionally attached to any of the cars that you can't walk away from it. The cars don't need to be the same make or model. While visiting the lot, let the sales person lead you around and give you their card. You need a contact person for later.

2. Tell them that you plan on buying a car today, but will need to look at all three cars and get prices before you decide. They will not want to let you leave, but be strong. Let them know how this plan works. Feel free to fully disclose my method to them. They will not like it, but tell them this is the method you use to buy cars.

3. After you have chosen 2 or 3 cars you would be happy with and have a contact person at each lot, call the salesperson back or even go back to the lot. Follow this script when talking to them:

"I buy cars differently than most people. I don't do any of the back and forth games. I have looked at three cars today. Each of them I would be happy to have."

"You have ONE CHANCE to give me your best price. I don't want to talk about incentives or rebates, I just want a number on a piece of paper." (it is best if you don't have a trade in, that muddies the water a little and they will let you think they're giving you a good deal on your trade-in when their really jacking up the price on the car you're buying) "After hearing all the prices, I will either accept or reject your price, but there will be NO more negotiations.

"If I reject your offer, I would not expect you to go check again because you already told me it was your best. Accordingly, I will not try to negotiate your stated price. If I accept your offer, I will purchase the car today."

4. At this point, the salesmen will try to say things like, we don't do it that way. At which time you should say, "well, that's how I buy cars, so if you want my business, that's the way you'll do it". And if they refuse to do it this way, leave. You don't have to pay more just to do business with them.

5. You must keep your end of the agreement, by not trying to negotiate further.

6. When all the dealers give you their rock bottom price, you can choose which car and price you like best and purchase the car.

Just in the last three years, I have used this method on two cars in my family. One was new and I walked out with an SUV for 25% under the listed price. The other was a slightly used compact car that we bought for so far under the original asking price (and even what I was willing to pay) , that even I couldn't believe it.

The basic theory behind the method is as long as the dealership has you make offers, they are in control, but if you can get them to make the offer, you have the control.

Try it if you dare. After you've done it once, you'll find it's really quite invigorating.

Now, I realize the chances of your buying a car right now are slim, so send this blog to everyone you know, I want to turn the auto buying experience upside down!

Now class, do you have any questions? Bueller? Bueller?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lessons Learned in Church Basketball

You wouldn't know it now, but as a teenager, I liked playing basketball a lot. My friends used to joke that I had tried out for basketball in high school, but they already had one.

My friends were the driving force of my love for basketball. My four best friends were well over 6 feet tall and any of them could've played school ball (and a couple of them did). We all played on a church league team together.I wasn't any good, but I loved to play.

Since I was a year older than three of my friends, when I graduated high school and was no longer eligible to play in the league, I coached the team instead. Our team was very good. It consisted of the three friends who were outstanding players, three or four average players and....Duane.

Because it was church ball, we invited and encouraged all that wanted to play to join us. Duane was a skinny kid with unkempt hair and no coordination. He had some mental problems which resulted in him being an outcast in most social situations, so we all tried to include him and let him be part of our group. He had an ear to ear smile when he was with 'the guys'. As a coach, I had made a deal with Duane that he could play a guaranteed two minutes each half. That was plenty for him and it didn't get in the way of our 'serious play'.

That year, our team was especially successful. We made it through the state tournament with little challenge from the other teams. When we got to the regional tournament, we met our equals and each game was more difficult than the last. It wasn't easy, but we made it to the championship game against a team from Memphis. As we neared the end of the fourth quarter, the game was switching leads with every basket. With just a couple of minutes left in regulation, I felt a tug on my sleeve. I turned to see it was Duane. "Randy," he said sheepishly, "I haven't got to play my two minutes this half." My mind reeled with the possible results of letting him play. The other team would surely take advantage of him. It wouldn't be fair to subject him to that treatment, would it? But honestly my resistance was the chance it could jeopardize the game.

"I'm sorry Duane," I replied while keeping my eye on the game in progress, "The game is too close, we could win the championship!"

"I understand, Randy. It's ok" is all he said.

It's been thirty years since that game. Believe it or not, I don't remember if we won the game. I don't remember where we ate after the game, I don't remember the car I was driving. All those unimportant memories have faded, but I do remember one thing: I didn't let Duane play.

I didn't see Duane much after that year. The team and the game had been his chance to be part of something big, and I had let him down.

It's always a challenge in life to know what's really important and what's seemingly important; what's important in the moment and what's important in the long run.

If we could teach our kids (and ourselves) anything, it would be to make decisions that will make the long term difference and not focus on the immediate reward.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thoughts on the Election

Every four years about this time, I get REALLY excited for the presidential election....to be over. It will take a couple weeks of Monday morning quarterbacking about the election, then we can get back to normal.

As we get closer to the elections, I get tired of people being encouraged (chastised) to get out and vote. Is this what we really need, a bunch of people who don't know anything about the issues voting? Do we really want Marvin Mullethead voting for McCain because he thinks Obama's name is Obama Bin Laden or 19 year old Miss Pris voting for Obama because he's "Oh so cute!". Yes, it is our opportunity and privilege to live in a country that we are able to vote. Soldiers have died to preserve our right to vote, but didn't they also die for us to have the right NOT to vote. There have been countries where citizens are required to vote (of course, there is only one name on the ballot). So, in a way, some people are using the rights when they don't vote.

Now, lets look at the candidates:

John McCain touts himself as a maverick. Those of you who were of lucid age during the 70's will remember that a Maverick was a car made by Ford. It was the big brother of the Pinto. Need I say more?

Besides, isn't a Maverick someone who does not go along with the status quo but bucks the trends. Hasn't he been in congress like a thousand years without bucking the trends? Why start now?

I wonder about his choosing Sarah Palin (affectionately known as Caribou Barbie) as his running mate. Don't get me wrong, I was excited when he chose her and I've watched SNL for the first time in a decade. I think it would be really fun if she were president, but not being a pip to Gladys McCain.

Barack Obama-I worry about a guy who goes to a church for 20 years where the pastor spews hatred against America. Wouldn't he have been better off staying home on Sunday and watching NASCAR? At least he could've gotten Marvin Mullethead's vote! I hear on the news that Obama is widely popular amongst Junior and High School students. Well that should be reason enough to vote him in! They certainly have well developed political acumen, don't they? And his running mate Joe Biden. Well who really cares about the VP (unless it's Palin. At least she's cute). If you couldn't tell, I have become a bit cynical over time and I'm not sure who we elect to the highest office really matters a lot.

I would guess the majority of you have never heard of Weevils, they are a type of beetle. Well, I had one of my unusual dreams the other night where two Weevils were taunting me. "Vote for me", the larger one said. "No, vote for me", the smaller one replied. This went on for quite a while. Finally, I decided to make a decision and finally voted for the smaller one. I chose The lesser of two weevils (rim shot).

But I have to make a decision, so in case you're wondering, I'm going to vote for....

Jorack Mcbamacain!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fathers and Daughters

I'm a quite simple man.

My desires in life have been pretty unassuming.

As early as my mid teens, one of my biggest goals in life was to be a good father and husband. This is one of those goals that can't immediately be determined if it has been accomplished, time has to prove it out.

There were many times when my daughters were growing up that I was afraid I was going to have to turn in my 'man-card'. When my friends would call me to come watch a game with them, I would have to decline because I was in the floor playing Barbies or going to see the Spice Girls Movie (yes they did make a movie, and yes I was one of a handful of grown men who saw it).

Now my girls are all young ladies and their dolls have been traded in for cars and college and jobs and even daughters of their own.

I heard the Paul Simon song listed in my playlist below and for the first time, I listened to the words. As you listen, pay attention to the chorus. When it says "There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you", that is the only sentiment I can offer.

Only time and folklore will determine what kind of Father I have been, but in the end, if I'm judged a failure in that department, I can guarantee it wasn't for lack of effort and desire.

I've always said that in my eulogy, if they say, "this man was a hard worker and loved his God and his family", then I have been a success.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wrongfully Judging Icebergs (part 2)

Looking back over the several posts of mine, I realize by now, I have probably offended almost everyone at least once. Whether it is because you drive a big pick up, or let your kids draw on restaurant tables, all of you have probably felt my rants were directed at you at one time or another. I can guarantee you they were never directed at any one person, but I understand how they could've been taken that way.

My arrogance never ceases to amaze me. I find myself thinking I have the ability to accurately judge others when I know very little about them (See previous post about icebergs).

This past Saturday, while in the Tulsa airport, I noticed a young father with a two year old. The two year old was on a leash which I have never liked. I feel like they are demeaning to a child to lead them around like a terrier. I watched with disgust and wondered about things I could say to him if we crossed paths. "Cute boy, what breed is he?", "Aaaah, what tricks can he do?" etc.

As I got close to the gate to enter the plane, I could see there was more to this man's story than I had known. Not only was he traveling alone with a two year old, he also had a baby in a carrier, a carseat for the boy, and a carry on bag to keep them entertained. He looked like a pack mule boarding the plane with all this in tow. Luckily for him, the other passengers were much more caring for a fellow human being than I was. The people around him stepped up and offered to help, grabbing whatever they could to ease his burden. I sat there ashamed of the way I had looked at him only minutes before. As we got off the plane, I carried some of his things in an effort to repent partially for my earlier idiocy.

If I were in his shoes, of course it would have made sense to tether the 2 year old. In case he ran off, there was no way I could've run after him. The father was wise. I was not.

Will I ever learn to just deal with the things I can control and that are part of my life?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy

When I was very young, Saturday mornings were always the best! Being the youngest, I was usually the first one awake. After waking up on those chilly winter mornings in the Ozarks, I would stand in front of the stove in the living room in order to raise my core body temperature to a human level. It would be many years later before I had heat in my bedroom, so the stove at the edge of the front room was a thermal treat. I would watch Looney Toons in front of the fire until the rest of the family woke.

I'm sure my mom and dad cooked many things for Saturday breakfast, but the mornings I remembered most were the times they cooked Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy. The biscuits were big and fluffy, browned with a touch of lard on the top. The gravy was hot, sticky, and most of all, chocolatey. There was a method to how I ate the treat. I carefully pulled the biscuits apart, and after putting butter on each half, I poured the gravy over my biscuits and let it drip onto my eggs and sausage. In the days before worries of fat and cholesterol, it was celestial.

More than the flavor of the food, I savored the safety of being with my mom and dad. They didn't always get along during those years, but at breakfast time all seemed ok in my world.

It wasn't until I moved out of state when I was 19, that I realized that the rest of the world had been kept ignorant to the joys of chocolate gravy. Sure they had their cracked wheat, bagels, scones and lattes, but they were naive to the joys of real breakfast foods. I'm sure mom had learned to cook the treat from her mom, and she in turn from hers. Who knows how far back the tradition went. Over the years, the only chance I had to revel in the decadence of chocolate gravy was when I returned home to visit. My children soon anticipated a visit to Grandma's to eat chocolate gravy. Another generation had been converted.

My dad has passed on since those days of Saturday morning bliss. My mom is now battling brain cancer. I called her last night to get the chocolate gravy recipe. Sadly, she couldn't remember it.

That's ok Mom, the memories we associate with Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy will last us (and our kids) a lifetime. Take it easy now. It's your turn to rest, so pass the torch to other generations who will cherish the tradition of Grandma's Chocolate Gravy. We'll be glad to make it for you now.

Even though the recipe we use may be the same, I wonder if it will ever taste as sweet as when you stood at the stove stirring it while Dad was pulling the biscuits from the oven. With those memories instilled in us, I'm sure we can recreate those Saturday morning feelings in our hearts and the tradition will live on for more generations to come.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thoughts on Parenting

Hello all! Those who know me, know I am on my second round of parenting. Or as I say, Parenting part Deux.

Now that I have some perspective with which to look back, I am convinced I did some of my best parenting before I even had any kids, I had all the answers then. Now I realize I have fewer answers but more questions.

My first four children are all now grown young ladies and one is a great mother to my first grandchild. My second round consists of a spirited nine year old boy (bluesbro).

As I examine my experiences in child rearing, I realize I have formed opinions and have theories unproven. I have began to wonder if some of the parenting I see so prevalent around me actually leads to the greater good for which its intended. For example, there seems to be an unquenchable yearning for parent's to have their kids read earlier, run better, look smarter, and speak clearer than all the other kids. I have become less and less impressed when people tell me their child is in the gifted and talented program at school, or can recite scripture before they are out of diapers.

My first daughter walked at eight months old. I used to love the attention we got because she was toddling around when she should've been crawling. But now that she is grown with a little one of her own, she appears to walk just about like everyone else. I am not sure the fact that she walked early had any benefit later in her life.

As an analytical person, I have wondered if there any studies that show a child who reads earlier, walks sooner, counts higher, is any better off at adulthood than children who do these things in the natural course of learning with their peers. In other words, is a boy that can recite the Gettysburg Address at 8 any better off in life at 28?

Please, don't get me wrong. I do believe we owe it to our children to provide an atmosphere and experiences to be the best they can be. Otherwise, we've sold them short in life.

I think we all realize that bragging about our children is an acceptable part of parenting and is really more about us (the parents) than it is the child. To say, "My Suzy is so smart, they put her ahead a grade!" is really to say, "I am such a good parent" or "I have given her such great genes".

If we listed all the people in life that we admire (whether it be professionally, philosophically, or we think they are just a great person), would it be a list of people who read Shakespeare at 5 and were all A's, or were they more likely good students who got B's and a few C's, yet their childhood was a little more well rounded and they felt safe and loved growing up?

Let me ask you: When you think of your childhood, what memories give you warm feelings. Was it the fact that you were in the top of your fourth grade class on the standardized test? I doubt it.

To what end do we push our children? What life outcome are we hoping for? Will the things we do get them there? Adulthood will come soon enough, but now is their only chance to be a kid.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Icebergs and Judging others

One of my favorite activities in an airport is people-watching. I learned to enjoy this activity as a boy in Arkansas when my parents drove to downtown Russellville (pop 11,750 at the time), parked the car and just sat and watched the people.

In an airport, I look at everyone and think, all of these people started the day at a different house, with different family situations. They all have different challenges in life, different incomes, different attitudes. Yet all these individuals have converged at this unique place at this unique time and this event will never occur again, ever!

Wow! Too deep!

Speaking of too deep...

People are like Icebergs! Scientist say that only about 5-10% of an iceberg is seen above the surface, much like the picture below.

We interact with people everyday (at school, work, church, neighborhood) who we never really know. All we see is the 10% above the surface, but we don't know much about what's underneath: Background, fears, habits, idiosyncrasies.

This line of thinking brings me to the subject of judging others. It's really hard to make an accurate judgement of someone unless you know the other 90% that they are made up of. If we knew the part under the surface, we would have a better understanding of motivation and causation.

Joseph Smith said something like, "If you know a person's intent, then you'll know how to judge them".

Alexander Chase said, "To understand is to forgive, even one's self".

I could probably learn from these statements. Maybe if I understood why men drive big trucks, I wouldn't judge them so harshly. If I knew the back story of why couples let their little girl draw on the table, I might be more understanding. But then again, maybe not.

To be truthful, though, sometimes, I'd rather not know what's under the surface. How about you?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Nerd Attitude

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days, I'm back in Hawaii in meetings and keeping very busy. ("Poor Bluesdad, trying to make us feel bad for him that he's back in Hawaii for the second time in a month, boo-hoo")

Two nights ago, I was coerced into going to a theme party. By nature, I am not a 'dress-up' person. I feel too conspicuous. The theme was 1950's so I bought a bow tie and glasses with tape and went as a nerd.

My costume seemed to be a big hit as I got lots of compliments. One of my co-workers complimented on my costume the next day. I told her that I was a little concerned that I was able to become a good nerd with only two small pieces of wardrobe. She said, "Oh no, the two things helped, but it was all in your attitude." Aside from the two adornments, I had slumped a little and took on countenance reminiscent of Carl from Sling Blade.

Her comments certainly got me thinking. Attitude is not only a big part of who we are, it can often be the defining part of who we are. If we have the attitude of a nerd, we become a nerd. If he have the attitude of a jerk, we become a jerk. If we have the attitude of a compassionate being, we become that compassionate person. If we have the attitude of success, then success can follow.

Much of this blog has been spent lamenting over the lack of common courtesies and social stupidity I see. I wondered how much of what I perceive is because of my own attitudes. Do I go out of my way to be offended? Would I find just as many kind, considerate people, if I had an attitude of looking for them? Its certainly something to think about.

By the way, in my attempt to dress like a nerd, I thought I was dressing up. After all, we've certainly learned since high school that the nerds had it right. We should've been more like them all along.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Air Travel

I was flying home from Portland yesterday (and boy are my arms tired, sorry, I couldn't resist), sitting next to a man who didn't think the rules applied to him. He didn't turn off his cell phone when they told him to, he didn't put up his tray table when the announcement said to. If you've been following my blog, you won't be surprised that I turned to the man and said, "I bet your mama told you that your were special, didn't she?" Well, I really didn't say that, but it got me thinking about some of my pet peeves I haven't shared before; those involving flying.

Earlier in the week, I was up in Montana for a meeting. I really enjoy Montana especially in summer. Whenever I go to Helena (pronounced hel-uh-nuh, not huh-lay-nuh) I always look for that handbasket store I have heard about all my life. No one in the town seems to know about it even though for years I have heard about things going to Helena Handbasket....get it? Hel-in...?Yeah, the people there didn't laugh about it either.

Security is the first place where I get frustrated. I have traveled enough over the years that I think I know the routine; computer out of its bag, shoes off revealing my holy socks, take all metal off, etc. But quite often, the security personnel are taking their jobs waaaaaay too seriously. Just a few weeks ago, in the Honolulu airport, a TSA agent made me go back through the metal detector four different times. Each time I would take a few more things off my person. Finally, out of frustration, I asked her, "have you got a hospital gown for me? If you do, I'll just strip down." This obviously didn't set well with her. I was very luck that this Barney Fife wannabee didn't have a gun or I would've been lying in a pool of my own blood as businessmen and women stepped over me on their way to their flights. She just yelled a little louder and eventually took it out on Bluesmom too, telling her, "stand on the mat, that's what it's for". Even though Bluesmom was just inches away to start with.

I also get frustrated with passengers and cell phones on planes. Invariably on a flight, you'll get someone calling while still on the plane after landing, who things she's talking through a tin can with a string. She'll be yelling into the device loud enough for the rest of the plane to hear and always includes the phrase, "I'm on the plane", like it's a new ability that wasn't available back in Podunk, West Virginia.

Crying babies on planes actually don't bother me. I know they can't help it and they don't understand whats happening. What bothers me are the people around the child who are all put out. What do they expect, that the flight attendant is going to pull out a syringe of horse tranquilizer and put the little one into dreamland. Put up with it folks, I put up with your annoying phone calls and idle conversation about how terrible airlines are.

Although I could go on, talking about flight attendants and their lack of customer service, or airlines overbooking, or being so bored that you re actually like an excited little puppy wagging its tale when the peanuts come around, but I won't. Instead, I'll go back to trying to do a google search for Helena Handbaskets, get it Hel-in-a...oh, never mind.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Answer this question quick! What Color is a Yield Sign?

For a few years now, I've been asking that question to groups I train. I first learned it from a motivational speaker and it got me thinking.

The answer is Red and White, but about 90% of my trainees say yellow even though it hasen't been yellow since 1971. If you were one of those who said red and white (the correct answer), try it out on other people. I'm even surprised how many people born after 1971 still say, "yellow" although it's never been yellow for them.

I think this really gives us a chance to do introspection. How many times do we assume things are going to be the way they are because that is how they've always been.

This same speaker, Brian Biro, says, "The past should not be a predictor of the future, unless it serves you."

Think about your own life. How many times are you guilty of saying things like: I am not good at sports, I always mess up on things, I've always been too shy, I am not a good public speaker.

Just because we've always done something, doesn't mean that the things that caused us to be that way in the first place should still be adhered to. Recently, my sister-in-law accepted an invitation to run in a long distance relay even though she had never run competetively. Her portion was over 17 miles and she did it! Way to go Lisa!

Think about the yield sign. It hasn't been yellow for 37 years yet that is still a part of so many people's paradigm.

Are the things that are holding us back still based in old root causes?

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Found the Answer!

In a moment of epiphany today, I may have found the answer.

As you have realized by now, the majority of my blog consist of my rantings about social faux pas and the lack of manners .

As I was sitting in a restaurant today (I won't say the name but it rhymes with FryHop!), I watched a child, old enough to know better, color with crayons on the booth. The parents, instead of removing the crayon out of her hands, were praising the drawing. They were looking around to see if other people had noticed how cute and perfect their daughter was.

Then it occurred to me. This little girl will grow up to think that everything she does is ok, that she can do no wrong. She will know that everything should revolve around her. This little girl will grow up to let the door slam in my face, butt in line, and park her big truck over two parking spaces. She will do it because the world revolves around her.

Of course I'm not saying that kids shouldn't be praised. They need to know that they are loved and that we're happy with their appropriate efforts, but they also need to be taught that they are part of society and that they have a responsibility to other members of it.

I think self esteem is one of the most overused words in child rearing. Self esteem that is based solely on words from parents is a very shallow trait that will easily be destroyed in the real world. Self esteem that is rooted in the child's own efforts and accomplishments can sustain them throughout life.

If you tell little Joey that he is the world's best soccer player, when you know he isn't, it will only undermine your credibility when he realizes it. Wouldn't it be better to find something truthful like, "Wow you really tried hard and I could see you've improved since last time!"

The parents at the restaurant will probably never do that and someday when the little girl grows up, she will be the only one standing at a concert (blocking everyone's view) because It's her favorite song!

How many spoiled brats does it take to screw in a light bulb? One. They hold the bulb and the world revolves around them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Viva la Difference

I really enjoy diversity in all areas of my life!

When I was a little boy, we only had a black and white TV. Then, when I was about twelve, my parents introduced us to color. Wow! What a difference. Suddenly, all the trees weren't gray and matched what I saw in the real world.

I enjoy that not everyone is the same, I love that some people enjoy sports and some hate them. I love that some folks like dogs for pets and some like lizards. I think it's great that some people are conservative politically and some are disillusioned. I think it is incredible that along side the geniuses in the world who teach us about facts, there are mentally handicapped folks that teach us about ourselves.

I think it is wonderful that when I look down my street, I see Japanese, Hispanic, Vietnamese, Pakistani, Caucasian, Mormon, Catholic, Muslim and ?. I think life would be extremely boring if we all dressed, thought, and spoke alike and drove the same color of car. I even like the fact that some people drive big pick up trucks (although I still don't know why!).

My acceptance of diversity has made it simple to accept an amazing young boy into my home and heart, even though our ethnicity is not the same.

Diversity in thought, opinion, and appearance gives my mortality an interesting color. You may not feel this way, and that different opinion makes us diverse as well.

I appreciate the spectrum with which diversity paints my life.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Coming Out of the Closet

For many years, I've held a secret. It's a secret that I've only told a few people, people very close to me. I've not been open about it before, for fear of retribution to me or my family. What I am about to confess will not be popular, but I must be true to myself.

I hate big pick-up trucks! There I said it, it's in the open! Judge me if you must.

Now I'm not talking about the occasional standard F-150 and maybe even an F-250, but I'm talking about the truck so big, that there can't be a logical, practical use for it. A truck whose front and back bumper are potentially in two different zip codes!

I'm talking about the type of truck that takes up two stalls at the front of the parking lot. The kind of truck that pulls up beside you at an intersection and completely blocks your view and your only hope is to see UNDER it.

I know that someone might need this size of truck....No, I take it back, I can't think of a person who would need this size of truck.

I know I am generalizing, but watch the type of drivers that have these trucks. They generally are short little guys with a mullet who in another time in their life would be driving a Trans-Am. They've usually got their bleached blond Tanya Harding wannabe scrunched up next to them on their bench seat.

Once I pursued having a bumper sticker made for my car that said, "The bigger the truck, the smaller the penis!" I quickly came to my senses, knowing if I did this, one day I would return to find my car crushed with one big tire print all the way along the crumpled piece of metal that used to be my Yugo.

There! I came out! It feels good to come clean about my feelings. I no longer need to pretend I am someone I'm not, but now I need to fear for the retribution. Oh well. History is made of brave people taking a stand, now I can be included in that distinguished list.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Bluesdad's Bucket List

Although I've never written it down, I do have a 'bucket list' or 'things to do before I die". Most of the items seem to be places I want to see but some are just things I want to accomplish.

Several things have already been accomplished: Walking on the Great Wall of China, visiting a Third World Country (Vietnam), getting a Graduate Degree (MBA).

Some things are in process, like visiting all 50 states by the time I'm 50 (this one may be a hard one, I've got a little over 2 years).

Some things I've given up on: playing in the NBA for example.

Some things should be relatively easy like being in Florida for a Shuttle Launch.

I'm sure many things will still be on the list when I die.

This week I crossed off another item on my list. I finished writing a novel. My list did not necessarily require it be published, but I did finish it. It took ten months and is about 84,000 words which translates into about 336 pages. It's about a man's journey to overcome the effects of a bad childhood.

I don't know if I'll pursue doing anything further with it, but sometimes things on the bucket list are more about the journey than the destination, wouldn't you say? None of these things on my list are more important than the day to day things like family that make life worth living. If I never accomplish anything else, but can be called a good dad and husband, I've accomplished all that I really need to.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Yesterday's Supreme Court Decision

I must tell you, I am certainly concerned about our highest court's handle on what is right for our country. Yesterday's decision to allow people to wear tank tops and wife beater shirts in public, needs to be rethought.

Although there are a few select people who can pull it off, there are few things more offensive than being in Wal-Mart and seeing some hairy backed guy with arms exposed all the way to his shoulder blades.

Some will say this is what our founding fathers envisioned. I disagree! We didn't get the term 'farmer's tan' from people wearing sleeveless shirts. Our forefathers must've understood the importance of covering floppy teacher triceps.

So I hope the Supreme Court will rethink their decision. In my opinion, not everyone should have the Right to Bare Arms!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Looking for the Positive

Several times in my life, I have been made aware of how much of a difference we can make in someone's life by giving a compliment. A couple of years ago, I decided I was going to find someone each day to give a genuine compliment to. I determined it had to be sincere or people would see right through it. This only lasted a month or so, but I learned that by focusing on someone to compliment, I tended to overlook the negatives in everyday life.

A little while later, while going through the Denver airport (which at the time I was flying in/out of about once every two months), I stopped at the Mcdonalds to get a drink.

The young African American girl behind the counter looked at me, paused for a minute and said, "I remember you! You came through hear a couple of months ago and said you like my hair!"

Now, I didn't remember specifically saying something about her hair, but it was certainly believable, since her elaborately styled hair certainly caused envy to my bald head. Even though I didn't remember saying something, it had created a memorable moment in her life and made her feel good.

Try it! It's not hard. Try it for a week and see how many good things you can find to point out. Looking for the positive may not be as easy as pointing out the negative, but it sure leaves a better taste in your mouth.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Top 10 Social Pet Peeves

I was talking to my brother Pinata the other day. I call him Pinata because sometimes I just feel like hitting him with a stick! I was talking to him about going to the top of the Stratosphere in Vegas.

"I am quite afraid of heights," I told him, then asked, "How about you?"

"Afraid of heights?" He responded, "No.... but I'm terrified of widths!"

Now you know why I call him Pinata.

I don't mean to be a complainer, so let me get my top ten list of Social Pet Peeves off my chest so I won't have to address them again.

The following is a list of things that I run across on a regular basis which make me think, do you even know you live in a world with other people, or do you just not care?

10. Parking in the fire lane at the front of the store. I remember when one of my young daughters was grocery shopping with me once, she asked, "Daddy, why do some people park there?" Knowing full well the people in the car could hear me, I answered, "Because they're lazy."

9. People not waving in appreciation when you let them in traffic.

8. Not letting you merge in traffic when there is obviously nowhere else to go and you have to merge.

7. (tie)Someone talking loudly in a movie or the people behind you in the movie kicking your seat

6. An employee at a store/restaurant/utility company etc. treating you like you are an inconvenience rather than the pure reason they have a job.

5. Non-handicapped people parking in the handicapped stalls even if they're driving their handicapped grandmother's 1977 Powder Blue Chrysler Cordova with a handicapped sticker.

4. Parents letting their kids run wild in public and looking at you as if to say aren't they cute. All the while, the unparented brood destroys aisle after aisle in a store or shatter your prescious porcelain statues of Elvis in your home.

3. Saving Seats, which I addressed in a previous post.

2. People not saying thank you when you hold a door open for them or people going through before you letting the door slam in your face.

1. Butting in Line. Absolutely nothing is more socially vomitous than this act..

Now that I have got my negative juices spewed, I am going to call Pinata and talk about rainbows, butterflies and other positive things.

I would love for you to add to this list in the comments section.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Back Yard-Before and After

This posting is not funny or controversial, but some of you have asked to see how the progress on our back yard is going.

Two years ago when Bluesmom and I moved in, the back yard was unfinished and full of weeds but we knew it could make a great play place for bluesbro and bluessisses.

We've almost got it complete, so I wanted to share the results.

I've attached pics at the BOTTOM OF THE PAGE since I can't figure out how to get them up here. Oh well.

It will look much better when the trees have grown and the bushes are full, but that may take many years and I wanted to share it now.

The most prominent feature of our back yard is a retention pond which holds a little runoff two or three times per year. We put grass down and now it is a great place for Blue and the boy to run.

Bluesmom's favorite feature is the rock wall which separates blues poo area from the rest of the yard. If you look close, you can see Blue's own private fire hydrant.

Run, Blue, Run!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Should I feel guilty for sitting on my apathy?

I was lounging in the back yard with Blue's mom the other night. It was a beautiful early summer evening and I was expounding on my dream of opening a store that sells just footstools which I would proudly call The Ottoman Empire. As I was astounding her with my ambitions, I started thinking about current events, politics, and how my passion for these things had changed over the last 15 years.

During the 1990's, I followed current events closely. I was politically astute and had an opinion on about anything. I started listening to talk shows as I traveled for work and was one of the early followers of Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordan Liddy, etc. I sometimes even listened to the conspiracy theorists who monologued about one world government.

Somewhere along the line, though, I discovered my constant awareness of all things political were obscuring my enjoyment of the here and now. None of my frustrations and worrying about the current affairs of the country were within my immediate realm of influence. Unless I got actively involved in a campaign or ran for office myself, my aggravation did nothing but gave me heartburn.

Since 2000, I have pretty much checked out of the political arena. Oh, I follow the presidential campaigns and am aware of their platforms and I will vote, but if my candidate doesn't win, I won't lose too much sleep.

I don't even get overly exercised over gas prices, since I am not sure what I can do about them anyway and my next door neighbor usually leaves his truck outside at night (and his gas cap is on my side).

I don't worry about global warming too much. I keep waiting for someone to ask the experts about the areas that will benefit from climate change. After all, change might mean the deserts of Utah and Arizona become green and tropical and can grow bounteous crops. And isn't it a little presumptous to think we as humans are so powerful that we can change the earth?

So my question to you is: "Is my apathy toward current events hurting me in the long run or is my energy better spent focusing on things where I can make a difference?" Please leave a comment or vote on the right. As they used to say in Chicago, "Vote early and vote often!"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

BBQ and First Impressions

I think my first mistake that night was wearing Khaki pants.

Someone told me (after that night's event) that fat guys should not wear light colors. I guess that's because it makes us look bigger by causing shadows and accentuating the negatives. But I had not yet been given that fashion advice. Besides, my issues that night were not fashion related.

I was attending the semi-formal dinner that night with my new boss and a Senior Vice President of my company.

As I sat down at the fully set table, I skillfully took the linen napkin out of the wine glass and laid it accross my lap.

As the dinner proceeded, this boy who grew up in the Ozarks was doing a great job of holding his own socially. I even knew which fork to use and when. It wasn't very smart of me to order ribs in such a situation as they became messy to eat and I had to wipe my hands quietly on my lap napkin without making a fuss.

I was pretty sure I had made the right impressions. We cruised through the courses and past dessert without a hitch.

As the waiter was clearing our table, he knelt down and picked up something beside me, "Sir, you've dropped your napkin, would you like another?"

With bright eyes, I stared straight ahead, not daring to look down. The aching pit in my stomach developed as I remembered how many times I had wiped the rib juice on my lap napkin (or what I thought was my lap napkin).

Looking down, I could see that my khaki pants had been smudged with BBQ sauce as if a kindergartner had been finger painting beneath the table. Internally, I panicked. Outwardly, I fidgeted. How could I walk out without them noticing? With family or friends, I could just laugh it off, but with these two heavy hitters I would've come off as Dufas J. Nimrod!

Luckily, the lighting was dim and I was able to escape the embarrassment by holding my briefcase in front of me.

Note to self: Neither BBQ or Khaki, should be worn by a fat guy!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Blue as a Security System

A couple of salesmen came to my door recently selling security systems.

I listened patiently to their pitch (I haven't got my No Soliciting sign up yet). As they started asking their sales questions assesing my needs, the conversation went something like this:

"Do you currently have a security system?"


"Do you mind if we ask which security system it is?"

"It's BLUE"

"I don't believe I ever heard of that system, how long have you had it?"

"I've had BLUE about ten years."

"Well, it might be time to update your security system."

"Naw, BLUE works just fine"

"How much do you pay for BLUE?"

"It varies"

"Well I'm sure our system is more up to date."

"BLUE let me know when you two guys were walking up the sidewalk. Can your system do that?"

"Well, no....... BLUE can do that?"

"Yep, so if you fellows don't mind, I think I'll just stay with BLUE."

As they were leaving Blue slipped out the door and followed behind them. I called to him, "Come on, Blue".

As my dog came back in the house, one of the men looked back at me as if to say, Now I get it, you idiot.

Good dog, Blue.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Is it that hard to smile?

For the most part, I think I have hope.

Even though I can come off as gruff, I wish that we could live in a world where people smile at each other and say,"excuse me" when they need to get by and "thank you" when you hold the door open for them. Now, I know I'm a dreamer, but I sort of remember a time ( a generation ago ) when this happened. I don't know why it's so hard. Every now and then, if you look real hard, you can catch a wisp of it.

The other day at Lowes, I got a glimpse of what it could be like. The sun was shining, the flowers were blooming, and I noticed people were friendlier than usual. Other shoppers weren't afraid to look at me. They made eye contact and smiled. old people, little kids, men, women. The majority of people made eye contact with me and smiled.

It made me feel great. I felt happy to be a part of this society, happy to be sharing the planet with these people. Was it the sunshine? Was it beautiful spring day in the 70's?

When I got to my car, I couldn't wait to share my experience with Bluesmom as she gets irritated at the rudeness of the world too.

As I looked in the rear-view mirror to back out, my euphoria turned to anguish. There on my chin, were the mustardy remains of my Sam's Club polish dog. As I wiped the mustard off of my face, I also wiped away the jubilation I had felt a few minutes earlier.

Alas, the world was back as I had known it before so I sneered at the pedestrian innocently crossing the street. No mustard, no smile.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Saving Seats

With the War in Iraq, rising fuel costs, potential recession, and the upcoming elections, I felt the need to rant about something very near and dear to my heart, saving seats!

I put saving seats at events right up there with butting in line in the list of social faux pas and general social retardation . This is on my hot button list right now after attending my son's community play which was performed last Friday.

We arrived 45 mins early to the event because my cute little pixie wife (Blue's Mom) has some sight problems and needed to sit up close. We made the effort to get there early and were pleased when we entered the auditorium and there were no more than 25 people seated in the whole room (of an auditorium that seats maybe 1000).

Much to our chagrin, row after row were occupied by purses, backpacks, jackets, thongs, shoes and sundry articles of clothing in order to save the seats. Sometimes only one person was sitting on an end of a row protecting the row for the 15 family members who were too lazy to come until later. As I passed the rows I felt like Forrest Gump walking down the bus aisle and hearing, "Don't sit here, this seat's takin!"

So here we were, 45 minutes early and had to sit 10 rows back behind an empty seat with a baby carrier (sans baby) in it.

I can understand saving one seat for your partner who is parking the car or who just ran to the bathroom, but not for the whole clan who is still in the bathroom at their own home an hour away.

Now I feel better, I think. Lets get back to the war, gas prices, elections and such.