Valentine’s Day W(h)ine

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Valentine’s day is the SECOND WORST day of the year to have a birthday, especially if you are male. The first worst day is, for obvious reasons, Christmas. But let’s focus on the day at hand…

Today is my birthday. It sucks. It sucks, not because I am getting older but because the “holiday” overshadows it. Am I being petty? Am I being childish? Maybe. Should I just suck it up? Maybe. However, I am going to whine just a little today.

“You are the best Valentine I ever received.”

OK, mom, thanks. I appreciate you telling me this every year. It makes me feel better, a little. So many years ago my mom was in a hospital in a little town in eastern Washington trying to push me out. I arrived on this day and have for evermore been called a “Valentine’s baby.” My mom says that my dad bought a little can of Almond Rocha candy and told her that she couldn’t have it till I was born. I am not so sure how long it took for my arrival after that, but at least she had a goal (the candy or me?). TA-DA! There I was.

Growing up with a Valentine birthday was a little strange. I would go to school and while all my friends were running around putting little paper Valentines with those candy hearts in them I was just wishing someone would say, “Happy Birthday!” As I got a little older, some of my friends actually realized that the day was also my birthday and they somehow managed to find Valentines that were BOTH a Valentine and a birthday greeting. They were my heroes for the day, for sure.

As I got older, middle school and high school, I realized that this was going to be a “no win” kind of day for me. Girlfriends were the winners and I was going to be the loser. The expectation around this day is that someone (usually the male) is required to do something nice for a significant other (usually the female). This usually involved a flower or two and some little stuffed animal with a cutesy heart on it. Closer to the end of this stage, it may have even involved reservations to some place, but I lived in smallish town so the fancy places were out of the question and I had a limited budget. Usually, just “going out” was enough but not always.

I don’t think I had too many girlfriends around the time of Valentine’s Day in college, so I don’t really remember too many from that period. However, I watched a lot of my friends go through the trials of navigating the day. Reservations to places that were “special” and hard to get into suddenly became like a bloodsport competition. Flowers that were normally $12.99 a bouquet most of the year suddenly became $54.99, and that was three weeks in advance (if you could remember to order them). Don’t even think about buying them on the day! Of course, the bigger the bouquet the better. Heart thingy boxes filled with candy and cutesy stuffed animals filled store shelves while Hallmark stores made money hand over foot for brightly colored paper with a sappy words and sentiment inside. As a result, friends who were poor college students before the day just ended up being poorer college students.

Aren’t I entitled to have one day a year about me?

In general, I don’t really like to make things all about me. Yes, I have those days where I might whine and be a tad selfish. But can’t I at least have my birthday?? Can’t I feel more special than normal on one day of the year?

So, that brings me to my current life. My family has been pretty indulgent as well. They make sure that they try not to include “Happy Valentine’s Day” in my birthday greetings, so that makes me feel special too. I get texts from my siblings, my kids, and from friends. I am glad they are thinking of me whilst planning something special for those they love too. I guess I can share a little.

I guess what I am trying to say is that while it sucks to have a birthday on a day like today, it isn’t the end of the world either. It is nice that so many people want to show their love to others in their lives. I am just not sure why it has to be a special day…can’t we just show that we love people every day of the year?

So tonight, I’ll whine a little about getting older. I’ll whine a little more about this stupid “holiday.” Then I’ll sit on the couch, watch a movie or TV program with my family, and have a little wine (or beer). That will be grand.

Happy birthday to all those other Valentine babies that might be out there!

 

Are you paying attention?

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Well, folks, here we are again.

What do you guys want to talk about? Any ideas?

Should we do a poll and you vote on the next topic of discussion? I am constantly debating with myself. Do I tackle a serious topic or just talk about the inane fluff of life? What do you think? What kind of topics do you want to discuss?

Next week is the final update in my Accountability of Weight series, so after that I don’t have anything planned.

Let’s have a vote, shall we?!?

Vote in the comments from three options:

 – serious topic

 – inane fluff of life

 – something personal

 

Should libraries be obsolete?

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Let’s get real for a sec, shall we?

Just yesterday I tried to download an audio book on an app that the local library uses. Sure, it’s been more than a year since I used my library card, but that shouldn’t really matter right? Nope. Turns out my library card has expired (it has to be renewed every year) and I can’t just do that over the phone. I have to show up and show them my picture ID. Really? Do we really need to be that rigorous in our library security?

That got me thinking? Should we really need a “membership” to access a library? I mean, in the practical sense, yes I understand they want to make sure books are returned and they can collect fees if they are not, but when it comes right down to it, is it really necessary? But I only consume audio-books and the only time I have stepped foot, literally, in a library is to renew the stupid card. That is absurd and impractical if you ask me.

There is a wealth of information on the internet and most of it is controlled by memberships via electronic registrations and whatnot. Can’t a library be like that also? Netflix, Amazon, Pandora, and a whole host of other companies/institutions have memberships all generated electronically and it seems like it is a fairly efficient way to deliver content to consumers. So why can’t a library do the same thing?

Does a library really need to be the gatekeeper for information access? I don’t think so. That’s why I have said many times in the past that libraries are kind of a waste of space. Sure, it’s nice to hold a book once in a while. Yes, it does take some getting used to consuming what is normally “printed” data via an electronic source. I get that some people prefer to do it the “old-fashioned” way.

So, readers? What say, ye? Do we need libraries or can we (better yet, should we) do away with them?

I choose life

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There is so much to say about this topic and I just can’t process all there is to say, so I will say it in a rather short, blunt manner.

New York, you’ve got it all wrong. I suppose you were outraged by the news of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, but honestly this just puts you on a similar level – only now you make it legal.

Apparently, in New York, the definition of life involves which side of the vagina a baby is on, inside or outside. Outside the vagina, you’re good, kid! Inside the vagina, well, you’re SOL! Doesn’t anyone (ok that is a generalization) in New York recognize that mere seconds doesn’t make life? A baby is a baby. Inside or outside. There is no difference.

It hurts my heart to see that people actually cheered for this as it was signed. The level of stupid has reached new heights. You seriously need to question your morals if you think this is even remotely a good idea.

Get this contradiction: In New York, it is illegal to kill a convicted criminal but it isn’t illegal to kill a completely innocent baby.

Yeah, let that sink in.

Nice work, America. You have managed to tarnish that whole “LIFE, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” thing.

 

Brush with celebrity

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Every once in a while, you just feel special. Not because you did anything, but because you were in the right place at the right time. Not because a person you admire has done anything extraordinary (though some times they have), but because they took time to notice you when they didn’t have to.

I have had brushes with celebrity, to varying degrees. The encounters make me smile. The celebrity likely doesn’t remember the encounter or know that they even made someone’s day. But they did, and it matters to you.

I am sure that I will have more encounters, hopefully that is. I am also sure that I have probably had brushes with celebrities that I didn’t even know I had (someone becomes famous after knowing them or maybe I didn’t recognize them). But so far, these three are the ones that stand out, so I get to tell you about it because I can.

Buck Compton

That name probably doesn’t ring a bell for you, at least not right away. But, it will once I tell you more about who he is.

Buck was a real American hero (read about him at the link). A man of extraordinary accomplishments who was as humble as they come. He was just doing his job and that’s all it was. It just had to be done. He was one of the soldiers featured in the Band of Brothers series.

As a result of my time with Buck, I also got to meet other celebrities. The actors from the Band of Brothers series showed up at his 90th birthday party. It was cool to meet them too.

Unfortunately, I met Buck late in his life and I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with him. He came to my classroom and talked with my students. He knew my name and appreciated that I was a history teacher. We met a couple other times since he lived here locally and was accessible. He liked to tell me his experiences. I loved to listen.

Mike Rowe

I’ve never met him, but I admire him.

I ran into Mike on social media. Facebook, to be exact. It was a chance encounter. It was the result of a little podcast (not so little any more) called, “The Way I Heard It,” which he created along the lines of the genre that made Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” iconic. I just happened to listen to episode 88, “The Missiles of December,” and loved it so much that I commented on his Facebook post regarding the podcast.

I never expected a response. He is, after all, a celebrity and doesn’t have time for me (though if you look at many of his posts he does respond to quite a few people). So, once again, my day was made and he doesn’t even know he put a smile on my face.

mike facebook

 

Beauty Beyond Bones

Finally, there is a blogger who has captured my attention. Not in a weird way, but in a way that slightly intrigues me because someone else is paying attention to me, or at least what I write.

She is a “celebrity” of sorts, though I have a feeling she would say she isn’t. She has over 40k followers, people who take notice when she speaks, when she shares, when she tells it like it is. The gets lots of comments, likes, and her influence is growing. She has lots of things going on in her life and she is doing pretty well at making people take notice.

I have never met her either. But, I can say that it brings me great pleasure when I see the notice below in my email box. She has “Liked” one of the posts from my two blogs (this one or the other shown below). Sometimes she even likes a post from each of them in the same day! Imagine that!?!

Here’s the thing, though. It isn’t just a “like” (at least I don’t think it is) because “likes” in social media are usually turned around so that you “like” their stuff and follow them, only to get ignored or “unfollowed” shortly thereafter. I truly believe she reads what I have written and she likes what I have to say. That brings a smile to my face as well.

It is something small, but it feels good.

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So, have you had a brush with celebrity? Tell me about it in the comments. Share your story!

Accountability of Weight: Update #11

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This is the eleventh update on this project. I started a year-long project of returning my physical self to a much lighter, and healthier, version of the past.

I’ll try to keep it short so as to not bore you with lots of details and try to just cover some of the lowlights and highlights, cutting to the chase at the end.

Lowlights:

As I predicted, “eating season” didn’t go well. Man, it is hard to lay off all the treats. As such, the weight that had been lost was all back at the first of the year. No progress.

Yeah, that doesn’t feel good, even if it was only a little progress. I’d like to say the scale is a lier, but it only tells the truth. The truth is that painful.

Highlights:

Weight loss doesn’t just happen from changing your diet. Sure you can probably do one of those fad diets and lose weight, but will it stay off? Probably not. As soon as you go back to eating, it’s gonna come back. It is only a matter of time. So, ….

Time to add more effort. I have been working out on the elliptical 4-5 days a week and still watching what I eat. Already I can tell a difference in posture and how I feel afterwards (energy up a little?). I am sleeping better and I am drinking more water as a result. The scale doesn’t show much progress yet, but I am convinced that this is the only way to lose the weight. It isn’t gonna happen just from cutting calories. There has to be more effort. Sweat equity. Time to build it.

The Chase:

210.0  = official starting weight 2/15/18

    1.2   = pounds lost as of the morning of 1/14/19

208.8  = current weight

Your thoughts, encouragement, and good juju as the journey continues is much appreciated! If you have ANY words of wisdom, it would be much appreciated at this point.

 

Checks, Balances, and Gridlock

Andertoons.com

It is unfortunate that our system of government has been HIJACKED by political parties. Instead of doing what is right for the American people, we have two parties who do what is best for themselves based on ideology first, then try to sell it to the American people by telling them this is what is best for them.

Our first president, George Washington, warned against political parties and, even then, we didn’t heed his wisdom:

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

FAREWELL ADDRESS | SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1796

*emphasis is mine*

It is getting rather old. Oh, and before we start bashing on one party more than the other, let’s get one thing straight – BOTH parties are guilty of it to a high degree and NEITHER party is the answer to everything. There has to be cooperation and sacrifice. Neither party can do what is best for the people that way. The problem then is that when one party “takes control” they force their agenda on the American people, whether is it best for them or not. That is not a way to govern.

You wanna know why we are where we are today and why Americans are so cynical about our government? Wanna know why we are more divided politically than ever? Look in the mirror.

It’s our fault really. We created it. We put up with it. We don’t do anything about it.

Look in the mirror. This is your fault.

Small Windows of My Daughter

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I was scrolling through articles on my Google news feed a while back and came across the article at the bottom of this post. I have to say that it struck a chord with me that I didn’t expect and I actually cried. The reason is because I can identify with what the writer was saying, but in different ways.

Social media is all we have and I honestly devour each and every post she makes because it feels like I am with her.

I too get a small glimpse of who my daughter is and of her daily life via “small windows” she posts on social media. Instagram and Facebook being the main avenues of those glimpses. I am sure she has other social media that she uses (and that scares me to tell the truth) and I also know that what I see on her accounts might not actually be what is going on in life since teens tend to have one account for everyone and then an account for just close friends where they can “be real.” I don’t know if she has any accounts like that for sure, but what I do know is that each time she posts something my heart jumps.

The author of the article (at least from what I can tell) RESIDES in the same home as her daughter and sees her on a regular basis, albeit as much as a teen likes to interact with their family. But, she does get the day-to-day interaction, even if not always the most pleasant.

For me, well, I am a divorcee and like many, many fathers I got the usual “short end of the stick” when it came to visitation. I probably get more than most fathers, but honestly is still isn’t enough. That is the reason the article resonated and was painful for me.

As a father who gets limited time with his daughter it just exacerbates the issue of trying to get to know your child. I think we have a pretty good relationship but it still is hard to KNOW her when she is going through the years of teen growing pains. I long for the discussions about life and for the discussions about what her future might hold and I long for the times of silliness when she was little and I long for…well, I just long for HER.

While most parents likely are tired of the mundane battles of getting kids up for school, and making sure homework is done, and making sure that their friends are “ok” to hang out with, and…I don’t get any of that. Or, at least,  I get very little of it. I want it. I want it.

So, when I saw this article and read the pain the author was experiencing trying to get to know her daughter, even when she lives in the same house, you can imagine how parents who are divorced and don’t get the same exposure to their children feel when it comes to truly seeing who their children are. Social media is all we have and I honestly devour each and every post she makes because it feels like I am with her. I am close.

It’s a consolation prize in a race I so desperately want to win. I hope the seeds I have sown will one day be fruitful and that one day she will feel like she can open up with me and show me the real her. Until then, I’ll keep looking through those small windows and watching my little girl grow. Watching as she reveals a little of herself in each post. Watching….and waiting.

**I recommend you read the article below to understand how this blog post was prompted.

Accountability of Weight: Update #10

This is the tenth update on this project. I started a year-long project of returning my physical self to a much lighter, and healthier, version of the past.

I’ll try to keep it short so as to not bore you with lots of details and try to just cover some of the lowlights and highlights, cutting to the chase at the end.

Lowlights:

I am sure you are all aware of this already, but we are getting into “eating season,” again, and it hasn’t been going well.

Cookies? Ok, I’ll eat those.

Donuts? Oh, sure why not.

Cake? Well, I haven’t had any of that today.

Going in the wrong direction anyone? I’ll take two steps back and a do not pass go, thank you.

Highlights:

I am thinking that I am gonna have to do something different and I am not sure what. This plan I had for the year just isn’t working like I was hoping it would and the results are just not there. No, wait, the results are there…just the wrong results. Right? So, the question is, I realize the way I am going about it now isn’t working so what am I going to do to change it?

Not sure that is a highlight, but a shred of something is a shred of something. I’m thinking that I am going to need some external help since the internal motivation just isn’t as high as I thought it was. Two months to go and something is really going to have to change!

The Chase:

210.0  = official starting weight 2/15/18

    4.0   = pounds lost as of the morning of 12/18

206.0  = current weight

Your thoughts, encouragement, and good juju as the journey continues is much appreciated! If you have ANY words of wisdom, it would be much appreciated at this point.