Life

What’s a guy to do?

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I live in a state that makes illegal things legal and tries to make legal things illegal.

I have a national, two-party political system that is broken to its core and has become so partisan that neither can let go of anything, any time, anywhere. The work of the people doesn’t get done because they have to play tit-for-tat with everything.

I live in a country where insane people want to give everything away for free and do no work.

I live in a country where approximately 3200 people die in automobile collisions and about 3000 unborn babies are murdered every day; however, the former has government campaigns to stop it and the later the government funds to assist in it.

I live in a country that supposedly holds the ideal of Free Speech sacred but has a culture that silences people who speak freely and are counter to mainstream thought.

I am in a country with national sovereignty and borders, but has a political party that openly invites people to violate the sovereignty and break the law.

I live in a country that has no better political choice for representation (and president) than to choose between the lesser of two evils.

I live in a state where one major city wants to willingly give heroin injections freely and openly but won’t listen to its citizens when they show up at a city council meeting.

I have a national media that used to tell us the truth, the facts and no more, but now they tell us their opinions and speculations with no reliable sources or verification.

So what’s a guy to do?

It’s weird to think that we are living in the upside-down. What we used to say was wrong is now right and what we used to say was right is now wrong. There will be no reprieve if we don’t change directions soon. A 180 degree turn, turning the down right side up is the only way to make it happen.

So what’s a guy to do?

I wish I had answers. It’s an age-old question that obviously none of us has an answer to. We can’t rely on our politicians. We can’t rely on our education. We can’t rely on our government. We can’t rely our political parties. We can barely rely on each other. We are gonna have to find the answer, somewhere, deep down within ourselves. We are going to have to work together and find common ground.

Common Ground.

Not what is best for me. Not what is best for you. But what is best for both. Can we even do that anymore?

Blog mile markers

I don’t have much substance to today’s post. It is just really a review of things that have taken place in the last couple weeks with my blogs, and a chance to stop and smell the roses. Oh, and I should probably say thanks too.

First, let me say thanks to all who have stopped and read (an assumption) and “Liked” a post or two around here. I appreciate it very much! As such, you have helped me get Understanding, Optional to one of those blog mile markers:

1000k UO

I started this particular blog just because I wanted to have discussion on topics that mattered outside of the classroom. Now that I am outside of the classroom, I still want to have to conversations that matter but sometimes it seems harder and harder to engage and audience that is more voyeuristic than anything. I guess a “like” here and there is at least acknowledgement that someone is stopping by on occasion.

The other thing I wanted to acknowledge is that my other blog, Piss and Moan, has also hit some blog mile markers. Strangely, it has taken less time but I also publish nearly every weekday there. Obviously, the topics are less serious but they do seem to engage more people in conversation. Is it weird how we all have similar complaints, irritations, and struggles? Probably not, because we’re human but it is still nice to put a voice to the challenges and commiserate with like minded people.

So, the blog miles markers are similar and different at the same time:

200 posts PM1000k PM

While it was never meant to be a serious blog, it has seemed to resonate with some people. It also seems to resonate with those “blog spammers” who want to sell anything and everything…maybe I need to write another blog on that…another day, another topic. If you want to help Piss and Moan hit some other blog mile markers, go take a look at it and give it a follow. I would appreciate it!

Anyway, all that to celebrate the life of two blogs and to say THANKS! You keep looking and liking and I’ll keep writing!

 

I’ll add that to my list

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Confession time: I am a list maker.

OK, not that I really need to confess that but what I have found is that I am perpetually making lists and sometimes I find that I am being held captive by my lists. Like, I look at a list and all I want to do is run away from it because it is overwhelming and though I have the list, I am not sure where I want to start.

I make lists at home.

I make lists at work.

I make lists on my phone. I make lists on little pieces of paper. I make lists in notebooks. I make lists in my head. I make lists on my computer. Grocery lists. Ideas to write about lists. Movies I want to see lists. Books I want to read lists. Places I want to go lists. Things I don’t really want to do but really should do lists. Things that need to get done ASAP and things that don’t need to get done ASAP.

I make lists.

Now, I might need to confess if I never really got anything done on my lists. I guess the real problem is the lists actually never end or go away. I get things done, but then add more things to the list – by creating a new list.

Example: I made of list of six things I wanted to get done over the weekend. I only get three of them done. So, I’ll add those three things to the list of things I want to get done next weekend. And the list goes on and on and on…it just grows!

Damn. I just realized as I was writing this blog that I have now created a list of my lists.

I am without a doubt – neurotic.

OK, I’ll just add that to my list of things that I am, and remove it from the list of things that I am not.

Sheesh.


So, how do you get through life? Are you a list maker? Do you feel overwhelmed by your lists or do you get freedom by making lists? 

Tell me what you do in the comments below.

Something personal…

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Two weeks ago I asked in a post if you were paying attention. Apparently, you aren’t, or at least most of you aren’t.

I had only one response in the comments to the “poll”. That one vote came from Bel at RoadsBelTravelled. Thanks for paying attention and playing along! So, since she was the only one to vote she wins the vote by default. She chose “something personal”…

Now the question is…what to share? How about I climb into the “way back machine”?

Desert Trek

Once upon a time I used to hike and backpack quite a bit. That is, until I got married and had a child. It slowly decreased after that and over the last few years I am lucky if I get in one hike. I actually did two last year, but they were fairly short. I am hoping to work back into more this summer! Anyway, on to the details of the desert trek.

It all started in college when I decided to go on a one week backpacking trek with some college friends and two professors from the college I was attending. I had never done this before, but I had a good friend who had done it a lot so it was fun to go to REI and purchase the essentials that I would use for years to come (I finally unloaded some of that old gear – though it was still good – two years ago).

We trained for the hike, during the winter months, in the nine story tower on campus. Up and down the stairs we went, walking, running, and at first maybe even crawling. Then with extra weight, in our hiking boots, etc. It was a good way to build stamina and leg strength. Most people don’t know, but going downhill and maintaining balance takes a different set of muscles than going uphill, so the walking down the stairs slowly and methodically was essential to the training too.

After months of preparing, we all piled into a 15 passenger van the professors borrowed from the school and we loaded up our gear. It was a little cramped in that van, but it was fun as we road-tripped it from Chicago to the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. There isn’t much I specifically remember about the road trip other than I do know that we realized we were going to be going through Winslow, Arizona, so we played a lot of The Eagles’ “Take It Easy” in the van and when it came time…yes, we jumped out of the van and took some moments “…standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” and “it was such a fine sight to see…”

It ended up being perfect weather in the desert. We hiking in the sun. We relaxed next to a brook. We swam in the brook (the water was really cold!). We played Rook sitting around a camp fire or in the sun on a giant boulder next to the brook. I can’t describe what it felt like to be out there, feeling like you were the only people on the Earth. It was glorious!

Again, I don’t remember the particulars except on experience did leave an impression on me. There were some lessons to be learned one particular day.

We used camp as a base and took different hikes from there each day. So, one day, we decided to take a hike. It was supposed to be about a 10 mile round-trip hike and it was going to go near some of the Anasazi ruins in the surrounding valleys. The day hike started out rather normal but as we got farther into it, the guide book that the research was done from didn’t appear to be as accurate as we though. We were on Mile 6 and we hadn’t gotten even half way to the destination. So, part of the group decided to turn around and head back and part of the group decided to continue on.

We found the ruins and they were SPECTACULAR! It was really cool to see that kind of history and imagine what life would have been like at the time. It was hard to imagine, quite frankly.

I should mention that the ruins were about Mile 12 of the hike that day. Now we are well past mid-day and we have to return back to base camp. There are five of us (our group was a total of 12) and we have to make a decision – return the way we came or find another way back to base. This decision was key because we know what we just went through to get to this location and returning the way we came would be difficult to say the least.

We gathered around the map and saw there was another route back to base and it appeared that if we kept going ahead, instead of turning around, it would only be about 8 miles back to base. Mind you, we haven’t been on the trail and the sun is well past the high point of the day. We are all in pretty good shape and there was definitely some hill climbing to be done as we left the valley we were in, but we thought we could do it if we kept up a good pace. We refilled out water bottles in the creek through our filters and off we went. Through the bottom of the valley for a while and then…uphill.

The uphill part was not as steep as the route we came down through. There were no switchbacks and the trail, at least at first, was pretty clear. Yeah, you read that right – “at first.”

In many places, the trail had markers or signs to help point you in the right direction instead of just using the map. Up to a certain point, it was pretty useful until we came up to a spot where the trail split from one to three. The signs had been pulled out of the ground and thrown in a pile slightly off the trail. Great! Let’s hope our map reading skills are better than we realize because now we are solely relying on a compass and a detailed map that didn’t show a 1-3 transition. Really great. We knew where we were, approximately, and the three options didn’t really offer any sure-fire sense of which was the correct trail to take.

So, after studying the map and looking at the different trails, we decided that we would take the one that looked the most traveled, and by that I mean that there were hoof marks on the trail so we knew a mule or a horse had followed the trail. We assumed they knew where they were going…yeah, not so much! We followed the trail for about 45 minutes until it just kind of petered out and there was no trail to be found, just cacti and scrub. Super awesome! Not only did we pick the wrong trail, but we just wasted at total of an hour and a half of light going the wrong way! It was now late afternoon and we knew we were not getting back to camp before dark.

This was not a good situation since we were not prepared to hunker down for an overnight and our supplies were limited since this was just supposed to be a day hike. It left us no choice but to power on and hope for better results this time. So, we chose a different trail and started up the hill.

Needless to say, as you are reading this blog, we survived. LOL  Our legs were scratched from brushing against cacti we couldn’t see in the dark. Our flashlight and headlamp provided a little light, but only two of the five of us actually brought lights (not sure why we did for a “day hike”) and we discovered that the starlight provided better light as our eyes would get all whacked out when we used the bright lights, making it harder to see a small trail. We really only used the light to look at the map, which looking back was kind of dumb since we couldn’t see any landmarks, but once in a while we would come to a trail sign and we could reference the map to see where we were.

All in all, we made it back to the main trail we hiked to get into base camp and then followed it back to base that night. We ended up walking in the dark for four hours and we were back to camp well after dinner. We were all famished! And we were lucky.

Lesson learned: Be prepared for an overnight, even if it is just a day trip. Obviously, we were not prepared if something had really gone wrong. We weren’t prepared for a cold night in the desert and we weren’t prepared for injuries. Luckily, no one got hurt, and we didn’t end up having to huddle together for body heat. LOL But, it is better to be prepared than not to be. So, if you think you may be over packing, you probably are and that is OK.

I have never forgotten those lessons. So, even on those occasional day hikes I take now (and hope to do more of this summer) I may look a little funny with a bigger than normal pack, but I am ready for the end of the world! Wanna hit the trail with me?

Do you have any good hiking stories or lessons you want to share? Hit me up in the comments with your learned wisdom!

**Sorry I don’t have pictures to include with the post. That was back in the day when photos were taken with real film, had to be developed, and the printed. I haven’t had those pics digitized yet.**

Accountability of Weight: 1 year later

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This is the twelfth, and final, 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:

Not much gained…er, lost.

Yeah, that is incredibly discouraging. I mean really, the loss of weight over the last year really comes down to water (probably). I am disappointed. But, I guess I am not disappointed enough because, well, I didn’t really do the WORK needed to lose more weight than I did. I tried doing it via just monitoring what I ate and even then I didn’t really do a great job at it.

What I am trying to say is that I am disappointed in me, not the results. I made a commitment to myself to get healthier and I just didn’t follow through with it. I paid it lip service (as well as food, LOL) and just didn’t ever really make an effort. That realization sucks.

Highlights:

I learned some things about me and my aging body.

I can’t just watch what I eat, or how much, any more. I actually need to put some physical effort into it. My body doesn’t metabolize food like it used to and burning calories takes effort. I need to train my body to do it again.

As such, since the beginning of January, I have been on a pretty regular workout schedule. I am just building up stamina and getting some strength back, so I have a long way to go. BUT, that is the goal, right? To be consistent and to be mindful of the effort it takes to make things happen. I can already see changes in my physical structure – even if there isn’t evidence on the scale. I know it is important to keep that in mind!

Also, I visited my doctor to see what things, from their perspective would be good for me to change. This is kind of a big thing for me, since the last time I saw a doc was three years ago. So, there’s that. It was helpful and after a blood test I also learned that the cholesterol level is elevated and needs to come down. Nothing drastic at this point, but that adds additional motivation to the “diet and exercise changes” that have to happen.

Progress. Baby steps. One day at a time.

The Chase:

210.0  = official starting weight 2/15/18

    3.0  = pounds lost as of the morning of 2/19/19

207.0  = current weight

If you have stopped by during this journey, if you have offered encouragement during this last year, THANK YOU. I appreciated the support and appreciated the suggestions. It may not have turned out like I thought or intended it would, but I learned some things along the way. That is for sure!

The journey has not ended. It will continue, but I won’t be updating it on here any more. Well, maybe not on a regular basis. Obviously, once I achieve the desired goal, I will certainly do some celebrating here – so stick around.

 

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!