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Posts Tagged ‘life’

So, the following blog is emotional diarrhea.  I suggest that you do not read it.  I apologize.

I am not struggling with death, I am struggling with dying.  For the last 24 hours I have been thinking about how I want to die.  How do you want to die?  Or a better question:  How do you want to live?  You see, my father is not dead.  I can’t even say that he is dying, but he is alive.  I should be happy that he is alive, but I am not.  I want him to be living.  I have never understood the difference between being alive and living more than I do right now.  It is amazing how unprepared I am for this situation.  Why am I so unprepared for this?

In part I am angry at the church.  I have been to church most of my life.  My father is a pastor.  I have read the bible from beginning to end.  I believe, have faith in, trust and obey God.  I can think of the countless number of sermons I have heard regarding death and the afterlife, but not one of them ever addressed the fine line between life and death.  I have been thinking about Terri Schiavo.  Remember her?  She was big news for a while.  Terri Schiavo had a heart attack in 1990 and suffered severe brain damage.  For several years, doctors attempted to improve her brain function, but eventually she was diagnosed as being in a vegetative state.  In 1998, her husband petitioned to have her feeding tube removed.  Terri Schiavo’s parents attempted to block her husband’s petition.  It made national news.  Several politicians, including the President of the United States, George W. Bush got involved.  After years of court battles, people protesting in the streets, and massive news coverage, her feeding tube was finally removed in 2005.  Luckily, my situation is nowhere near the severity of that case, but all I can think of is how dare we get involved in that family’s business?  How dare we!  Why do we fight to keep people alive under any and all circumstances?  Is it the sanctity of life?  Is this what the Bible teaches?  Does a woman in a vegetative state in bed for well over a decade glorify God?  Were her parents just happy that she was alive?

I think people are afraid of death.  I don’t care if you are an atheist or a lifelong bible thumper, you are not likely to run in to death’s arms.  You will most likely go kicking and screaming.  Whether you are the atheist praying to the God that you don’t believe in as your plane is crashing to the ground or the believer that is praying to not be taken to that supposedly awesome place called heaven, no one wants to die.  As I stated in my last blog, I have no fear of my father’s death.  He will be going to a great place, but he is not in a great place right now.  How long should he remain in his current state?  How long would I want to remain in his current state?  The whole situation pisses me off.

In part, I am angry at science.  I know how the body works.  I know what every drug that is being pumped into my dad’s body is doing and what it is for.  I look at the blinking screens and can explain to you what each number means.  I also know that if it weren’t for science, he wouldn’t be alive right now.  I blame science for being in this current situation.  Before all of our medical technological advances, people died.  It was sad, but it was part of life.  Science teaches that if we can just figure everything out, we can cheat death.  Who would not be happy about this?  Babies are being born now that would have certainly died 10 years ago.  You can smoke and be 100 pounds over weight and be confident that there will be a drug that will allow you to continue to live in your “horrible life decisions” state.  Major disorders are being cured at the genetic level.  Our current generation believes that technology will fix everything, so why worry about your diet, exercise or health?  And why should they worry?  Technology is doing amazing things right now.  Eventually, no one will die.  Right?

I don’t know what the answers are to my situation or any other situation that involves death and dying.  I want him to be more than alive, I want him to live.  I wish I could talk to my father about this and discuss our current situation and ask him what he wants to do, but I can’t right now.  But one thing is for certain; I need to talk to my family about this; my wife, my mom, and eventually my kids because I would prefer to not be in this situation again.  I don’t want people fighting and trying to figure out what I would’ve wanted.  It is difficult to deal with the death and dying of a loved one.  Everyone is dealing with the issue in their own way and everyone is stressed and sad.  I don’t want my family fighting.  I don’t want my family to stop living while I am dying.  I want my family to bask in the knowledge of my love for them and trust that death will not be the end of me, but just the beginning.  I also want my family to focus on how awesome I was in life.  For all those reasons, you can let me go.  But if I am going to make sure that happens when the time comes, I am going to need to have the hard conversation about death.  If you are still reading, and if you haven’t already, maybe it is time for you to have the hard conversation now too.

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How do I want to die?  If all goes well, the earth will be attacked by aliens.  I will discover the weakness in the mother ship and everyone knows once the mother ship is destroyed, the remaining ships will follow.  Using a disguise of cabbage and cranberry juice poured over my body, I will sneak into the mother ship, killing at least 10 aliens with hand-to-hand combat, steal an alien weapon, grab the keys off a dead guard that I had to shoot, release the earth prisoners, which would include the President, hand the alien weapon to the President and explain to her how to get out of the ship safely, of course she will say, “What about you?”  I will say, “Mrs. President, it’s the 4th of July, and we haven’t had our fireworks yet.  It’s time for the big finale.”  I would then place my arm around her and give her a big kiss and say, “If you don’t mind, could you give that to my wife.”  The president and the other prisoners would run out of the ship.  I’d make it to the engineering room, overload the engines, find a button that will destroy the whole ship.  The alien commander bursts into the room, looks at me, I look back at him and say, “Yippy Ki Yay Motherfu…” -BOOM!!!  The whole world looks up and sees the explosions of all the ships and the Earth is saved.  The President says, “We owe our lives to that man.  We will honor him for years to come.  He was a father, husband, a great American, …” and then as a smile comes over her face, “and a great kisser.”  Pan out, show awesome alien ship explosions, cue 1812 overture and roll credits.  I’m just sayin’ …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love it when you stay to watch the credits and there is more movie.  Especially if after watching the credits it suggests a sequel.  For example, after I explode the mother ship, it turns out that by pushing the button, it automatically placed a force field around me.  I am encased in this bubble and I begin to float down to Earth.  I am shocked that I am still alive.  I start to laugh hysterically about how I just cheated death (This is important to any great movie.  Americans hate it when the hero doesn’t survive.  See blog above).  As I am floating down to earth, I stop laughing, quickly sober and realize, “Crap!  My wife is going to kill me because of that kiss!”  Continue credits.

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So, I normally don’t do parenting blogs so close together, but the situation warrants it.  Oh, and for those that are keeping track, I still owe you a near-death-experience blog.  Don’t worry, I will get to it, and once you read it, you will wonder why you cared.

On a daily basis, I ask my son how is day went.  If you have kids, and more specifically, if you have sons, you know what the answer is 99 times out of 100.  He always responds, “Fine.”  Even when I attempt to follow-up with more specific questions, the gist of his responses are generally somewhere within the “Fine” category.  So, a couple of days ago, after trying my usual follow-up questions, such as, “Did anything exciting happen today?” or “What was your favorite part of class?” or, my favorite, “Who did you play with/talk to at recess?”, but after getting the same old recycled answers, I tried something different.  I asked him, “Did anything bad happen today?”

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, that is an odd question to ask an 11 year-old boy.”  Especially when there is no reason to think that anything bad would happen to a kid in 5th grade.  But, you don’t know my son.  My son is the king of “Everything is all right.”  I think this is a great trait to have in most situations, except for when things are not all right.  I blame myself for this, as I am not one to complain.  I hate complaining as a matter of fact, and hate it more when other people complain.  The problem with this is that everyone, even me, needs opportunities to share the negative aspects of their life with someone.  As a matter of fact, if you have no one to share these parts of your life with, you will have major emotional problems.  In other words, you can’t bottle shit up.  It’s just not healthy.  Now, I know what you are saying, what about my issues with emotional people?  The truth is, it’s not emotions I have a problem with, it is the reactions/choices people make in response to their emotions that I question.   It is OK to be angry, it is not OK to take a crowbar to someone’s car window because they cut you off a mile back.  It should be OK, but it is not. 

Well, what about my son?  It turns out, the question, “Did anything bad happen today?” elicits a rather thought out, lengthy response.  The first time I asked him this question was two days after he wore his fedora to school.  Apparently some boys asked to wear it, and they had to be compelled by teachers to give it back.  My son’s version of this was quite positive.  He contended that they were going to give it back, and it was not a big deal.  But, it doesn’t take much to read between the lines.  Afterwards, I asked him, if he liked wearing the hat.  He said, “Yes.”

“Then don’t worry about what other people think or do.  And you need to know that it is OK to protect yourself.  Besides, you look great in that hat.”  I said.

We continued to talk about how he did not have to let others wear his hat if he didn’t want to, and it was OK for him to demand for his stuff back when the situation warranted.  It was a good conversation.

I also asked this question of him today, hence the inspiration for this blog.  It turns out that while playing volleyball in gym, there was a kid that was yelling at other kids for not hitting the ball correctly.  He apparently was yelling, “Watch the ball!” 

Brett did not like this.  I asked Brett if the kid yelled at him, and he said “Not so much.” 

“What did you do?” I asked. 

“I told him to be quiet.  He didn’t need to say so much.” Brett said.  

I said, “Good for you.”

The last couple of days have got me thinking about questions, and the role of the speaker and the listener.  I remember reading a book, “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell as he discuss how Korean culture was the likely culprit for a series of airplane crashes.  You see, Gladwell made the argument that in the Korean culture, subordinates are not to challenge or speak up assertively to their superiors.  So, as he argued, when Korean co-pilots had information vital to the security of the plane, they were not willing to correct or assertively argue for a decision that may contradict their superiors, even if it meant preventing a plane crash.  Many pilots now under go training on proper communication between officers, placing the safety of the plane first over cultural norms. 

I thought of this because I believe this is the relationship my son and I have developed.  I am his clear superior, and he actively seeks not to give me negative information.  He believes this so much, that even though I might ask about his day, he will censor out the bad stuff, unless I specifically ask for that information.  It makes me think that if the knowledge of culture can serve to avoid plane crashes, maybe the knowledge of family culture can be just as effective in avoiding future family “crashes”.  I don’t know if the current form of question will always work, but I think I have at least a glimmer of hope in better understanding our relationship.  I will make it very clear to him, that not only is keeping the bad stuff hidden unhealthy for him, but it is unhealthy for us.  One thing is very clear, it is not that my son is uncommunicative, it is just that I haven’t asked the right question.

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I would be remiss if I did not say Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!  Go get your drink on, but be safe.  Keep in mind that if you end up looking like this:

Isaac is excited to find out he is part Irish

 and are NOT 3 years old, you might have a problem.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I am not an overly emotional person.   Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not a robot, but I just don’t find most emotions all that useful.  The biggest issue I have with them is that they rarely solve problems.  If emotions did solve anything I think I would be in favor of them, but 9 times out of 10 it’s just noise.  Emotions are also rarely planned out.  In other words people generally don’t plan to be angry, or schedule a time to cry, it just comes out, usually uncontrollably.   What’s up with that?  What this means is that most emotions are irrational and without control.  What areas of ones life is it acceptable to be irrational and out of control?  No one would recommend this as a proper way to live, yet millions of people claim that it is OK to be emotional.  They will make statements like, “Sorry I hit your headlights with a bat, but it’s OK, because I am just an emotional person.”

I have written several blogs that discuss things that are culturally acceptable, but have no support in logic or reason.  Emotions, add it to the list.  (Warning: Sexist comment imminent)

Wait for it …

The emotional “problem” is never more evident than in women.  There I said it.  “If momma’s not happy, then nobody is happy.”  Why is this acceptable?  I have an idea, if mommy ain’t happy, how about momma get happy, or if momma ain’t happy, momma goes somewhere and comes back when she is happy, or better yet, if momma ain’t happy, then momma ain’t happy and don’t put that $#*! on everyone else.  Are there emotional men?  Of course there are, but like most stereotypes they are based on number of experiences.  If I told you that there was a couple talking in the park and one of them was crying uncontrollably, but did not tell you who was crying, based on experience who would you guess was doing the crying?  And 9 times out of 10 you’d be right.

My least favorite emotion is anger.  When was the last time you got angry and it made the problem go away, or made you feel better.  Anger almost always makes the person who is angry feel worse as well as the person they are angry with, it is the one emotion that has the most collateral damage.  I also find that most people get angry at things that do not warrant anger.  For example, the plane is late (this is especially true in winter when wings need to be de-iced, or there is a blizzard.  Really?  Are you so concerned about taking off that you are willing to risk death?  Trust me, pay attention, EVERY time you are on a plane that is delayed due to weather, at least one person will complain… guaranteed.  Here are a list of things that I believe it is OK to be angry at:

  1. War
  2. Child abuse (any  negative action toward children as far as I am concerned)
  3. Injustice, including obvious human rights violations (this does not include political rights, such as voting, while sad, not warranted of anger)
  4. Animal and/or nature cruelty
  5. Freedom Violations – this is different from human rights as it includes any situation in which a person is forced to do something that causes harm in which they had no possible recourse to do the contrary
  6. Hugh Jackman (Scrubs reference)

Obviously the above list may not be complete, but I hope you get my point.  I see people get angry at the dumbest things, most of which is inconsequential, irrelevant, and completely a waste of time and energy.  I just wish emotions helped, at least the negative ones.  Obviously laughing, smiling, joy, ecstasy (not the drug) are awesome emotions, but even they can be a problem if not kept under control.  Have you ever met someone who was happy ALL the time.  Yeah, annoying right?  Apple pie is great, at least my mom’s apple pie is great, but apple pie for every meal and every day is not healthy.

Unfortunately we are not Vulcans, we are humans.  As humans we are emotional beings.  At the end of the day, at least for me, it is about control.  Are you in control of your emotions or are they in control of you?  If every time you get emotional, you expect everyone to just understand, then that is a YOU problem.  No one should expect others to bend to their will or change so that you can be happy.  The problem with the saying “If momma ain’t happy then no one is happy” is that it places the burden of solution on everyone, but the person who is not happy.  This brings me to my final point.  At some point we have been taught that when we are not doing well, than it is someone else’s responsibility to fix it.  This is never more evident than in relationships.  Here is a tip for happy and healthy relationships:  Love the other person and take care of your own emotional crap.  Do NOT require the other person to make you happy.  Will they make you happy?  Of course they will, at least I hope so, but as soon as you get mad at them for not fulfilling their supposed responsibility of making you happy, it is the beginning to the end.

One of my most hated phrases is, “You make me angry!”  Here is a fact of life, no one makes you angry.  Anger is choice that you have made as a response to a particular situation.  I am not saying ignore your partner’s problems, but I am saying do not take responsibility for them, unless they are the direct result of something that you did, i.e., left the seat up (although I am not sure why this is such a big deal.  Look. Lower. Sit.  How hard is that?  But I digress).  For example, listening to your partner’s problems is important. 

My sister sent me a chapter from a book called, The Twelve Laws of Life.  The chapter was called “You cannot motivate anyone else.”  The title of the chapter alone made me want to read it.  I will most likely get the rest of the book, because of what I have read so far.  In this chapter, the author writes “In fact, listening alone may be enough to encourage the person to act!”  I love this!  Yes, maybe your partner needs to take action, but you can not force them to.  You can however, encourage and provide an environment that supports change.  Granted, I feel I may be straying from the original topic, so I will end with this:  Emotion is good, but only in control, and although your partner may be emotional, you can’t change them, nor can you “fix” them.  Let their $#*! be their #*!, and your be yours.

Live long and prosper.

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My last blog was on politics.  I hope to rarely if ever write on politics again.  But I ended that blog with a commentary on beauty and how it seems to prevent you from having bad jobs.  My brother pointed out, (in my opinion, rightfully), that beautiful people also are never seen at the bus stop.  Which makes me beg the question: Does poverty reduce beauty? Or are the non-beautiful more likely to be poor?  Or both?  All I know is that if you are a 10, you ain’t ridin’ the bus.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I am married to an emotional being.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to make fun of her or claim that she is some crazy b&#$! or something, because she is not.  I love her to death.  I say that mostly because it is true, and partially because she reads my blog.  She actually doesn’t read my blog regularly, I don’t know why.  She reads it in batches and is never up to date.  For example, recently I told her that I was going to the bathroom and she asked “Because you have to go, or because you need a break from your family?”  At first I was confused by this response, then I realized, wait, that is from my blog (see Everyone Poops …).  So, I clearly need to make sure that what I write here does not get me into trouble.

Ah fuck it!  If I can’t say it here, I shouldn’t say it at all.  Pardon the language, but that is how I feel.  I digress.

As I was saying, my wife is an emotional being.  This is an issue.  It is an issue mainly because I am not.  Now, I am not a robot, but let’s just say that I could vacation on Vulcan and have a good time.  If you have no idea what Vulcan has to do with emotions, than you are a better person than I.  It also most likely means you were having sex in high school, while I was not.  Once again, I digress.  It’s not that I can’t be emotional, it is just that under most scenarios, I do not find emotions helpful.  Let me paint a picture for you of an actual exchange between my wife and I.  Now, this exchange is true in nature, but not true in fact.  In other words, the following conversation has never actually happened, but if you were to exchange the topic for just about anything else, it probably at one time or another has happened in my home:

HER: “Hey Love, can we talk?”

[Note: NO conversation that begins with “Can we talk?” is ever good.  If your wife ever opens up a sentence with “Hey, can we talk?”  “Stop your grinnin’ and drop your linen!” cause you are in for a bumpy ride.  If you don’t know where the “…linen” quote is from, again, sex in high school.  It’s called trade-offs.  My point is, as soon as she says “Hey” I know that the next few moments are not going to end well for me.]

ME: “Sure. What’s up?”

HER:  I’m tired.  I am sick of being tired.

ME:  You should try to get more sleep.

HER:  I can’t get more sleep.  I have too much work to do.  Between work, the kids, the house, making food, cleaning … and you, there is not enough time in the day.

ME:  Then you should cut out some of those things so that you don’t have as much work to do.  I could even help out more.

[Note:  Did yo notice that last sentence?  You see I am not an idiot.  I know that my wife works a lot and I can be a pill sometimes.  So, I am offering to help.  I am a great guy! Right?  WRONG! Let’s continue]

HER:  “I can’t just stop doing things!  Those things are important to me.  I do them because they are important to me, my family is important to me.  And because of all the things that need to get done, I am stressed about stuff and I don’t get enough sleep.”

[The following line is a rookie mistake.  I know it every time I say it, but I can’t help myself.]

ME:  Then what do you want from me?

HER:  I just want you to listen!  God!  Why are you such an ass!

ME:  Sorry.  Umm, I hate to change the subject, but do you know where my tool box is?

HER:  It is probably in the garage.  Why?

ME:  Oh no reason, I just need to go drill a hole in my skull.  I am pretty sure it will take me to a better place then the rest of this conversation.

[And scene]

OK, the last part never actually happens, at least not out loud.  So, here is the thing, and I know at least half of my reading audience is thinking “Why can’t you understand?” and the other half is screaming “Preach it brutha!”, but this is a story more about me than her.  You see my wife is an emotional being, but I am a problem solver.  In my mind, I have absolutely no idea how listening to a problem will ever solve a problem.  Just because you name a problem does not make it go away, it’s not Rumpelstiltskin (OK, if you don’t get that reference, then you just need to read more.  That or watch more cartoons).  However, for emotional beings, just talking about a problem makes them feel better.  I will never understand this, but it’s true.

It’s funny, on paper, my wife and I should never work, but we do.  Although I can do without emotions much of my life, they are important to the world and to me.  Much like politics, having extremes can bring things closer to the middle where things belong.  She also just keeps me in check.  She is not afraid to tell me I’m an ass sometimes and that’s a fact.  I’m also a little afraid of her.  A healthy fear, I think, but I am fairly certain that although I am more than twice her size, she would kick my ass in a fight.  I’ve seen her angry.  If you know her you might not believe me, because she is a sweet person, but think Hulk, probably not green Hulk, but gray Hulk (again, high school).

So, to all you emotional beings out there, stay emotional.  But don’t forget, in the long run, problems should never stay problems, they need to be solved.  So, make sure that you keep that problem solver in your life, they serve an important purpose.  And I am learning, as a problem solver, that a hug may not solve the problem, but it will sure make life a lot happier and make life less like high school, if you know what I mean.
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My oldest son had his first karate lesson yesterday.  It was a free trial with him and the instructor.  He gets three more lessons at a reduced rate, then if he wants to continue he will join a group.  During the lesson, he could not contain his excitement.  His entire body was smiling.  It was fun to watch.  I have decided that one of the perks of children is getting reminders of “pure” joy.  It is like the first time you do something you always wanted to do, like riding your bike, your first Christmas, Disneyland or sex, it’s amazing how exciting it is your first time.  Actually, probably not sex, that is more awkward and generally gets better once you know what you are doing, but maybe that’s just me. [awkward pause]  Anyway, it was fun to watch.  Possibly the greatest perk to being a parent is seeing joy in your kids.  Not funny, but true.  I’m just sayin …

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So, what would you do if you knew you were going to die before the age of 50 and the last 10 years of that life would be in various stages of dementia?

I teach introductory biology at the college level.  Every year about this time I am finishing up the genetics portion of the class, specifically inheritance.  We talk about dominant versus recessive traits and what they mean for diseases, such as Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s Disease is determined by a dominant gene.  What this means is that if you receive the defective gene from your mother or father, you will have the disease.  This is in contrast to a disease like Sickle Cell Anemia which is a recessive disorder, meaning you must receive the defective genes from BOTH your parents.  If you have Huntington’s disease (a dominant disorder) and you have children, there is a 50% chance that your child will also have the disorder.  It would be like flipping a coin, heads your child has the disease, tails they do not.

What is Huntington’s Disease (HD)?  Huntington’s is a disorder that affects the nervous system.  People with HD will lose muscle control, and most noticeably, loss of mind control.  They will eventually develop the characteristics of someone with Alzheimer’s and then die.  Currently there is no cure.  Once symptoms begin, the life expectancy is 10-20 years.  Symptoms can begin as early as age 20.  Although there is no cure, the test to determine if you have HD is relatively simple.  As a matter of fact, we simulate testing for HD in the introductory biology lab.

So, why am I writing about this?  Well, every year I ask my students a simple question: If one of your parents had HD, would you want to know if you have it?  There is a 50% chance that if your parents have HD, you will develop it as well.  I generally get a 50/50 split on those that would want to know and those that would not, however, if a students wants to know if they have HD, the reason is always the same.  I have paraphrased the most common reason below:

“I would want to know if I have HD because I would live my life differently.  I’d have more fun, do the things that I want to do, knowing that I would die in the relatively near future.”

And my response is always the same:

“Why aren’t you living your life that way NOW?”

So, my question to all my readers out there is; “Why aren’t you living your life that way NOW?”

I am always amazed at the number of people that I meet that are miserable, I mean just plain miserable.  They hate their jobs, they hate their marriage, they hate people, and in general they hate their life.  Don’t get me wrong, I hate people, but I don’t hate life.  I love my life.  It is not perfect, but there really isn’t much I’d do different if I knew I were to die tomorrow.  Actually, that is not true, if I knew I was going to die tomorrow, I certainly wouldn’t spend it at work, but if I knew I was going to die in 10 years, I don’t think I would quit my job.  I like my job.  Trust me, my life is not perfect, but I can honestly say that I would not plan drastic changes for my life.

What I think the Huntington’s Disease question does is make you think about how you are living your life.  Are you living a life that you are proud of? Happy with?  Or, like my students, would you make drastic changes if you knew you would die in 10 or 20 years?  Do the people in your life know that you love them?  Are you making choices that make you happy, or are you waiting for the world to be different so that you may reap its benefits?  Trust me, if the latter is you, wait no longer, because the world ain’t changing.

If you believe in God, are you right with Him?  If you don’t believe in God, are you OK with that?  How will people look at your life after your gone?  “I can’t say much about Frank, but one thing I do know, is that man loved to sit on the couch and watch TV.”  Will this be you?  Funny thing is, that is partially me, and I am OK with that.  The bottom line, are you OK with things, knowing that one day you will die?  I’m not saying eat, drink, and be merry, but be right with yourself, and be happy with where you are NOW, for tomorrow we die.
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If I die tomorrow after posting this blog, know this, I died pissed.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in what I wrote above, it has more to do with the fact that I HATE irony.  If I die tomorrow, you know what people will be talking about, this stupid post.  I am almost not going to post this for that very fact.  So, if I do die tomorrow, and you are being interviewed about this post, here is how I want it to go down.  “Excuse me miss, it is my understanding that you read Brett’s post before he died?  How did that make you feel?  Was it eery?”  Here is what I want your response to be:

“Post, what post? Ohhh, the one about dying?  Yeah, that sucked.  No, not that part about him dying, but the post.  It just wasn’t his best.  He even bragged about it as one of his favorites.  Honestly, I just didn’t get it.  I did like the post about the McRib though.  Mmmmmm, McRib.  As a matter of fact, I’m heading to get one now.  Gotta run.  Peace!”  [Give your back hand of the two-finger peace sign and bounce].

Then the McRib has it’s best-selling year EVER!  How could you not think of me every time you saw the McRib.  Pure Awesomeness!  I’m just sayin’ …

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So, yesterday was election day.  I wish I had more time to give this post the attention it deserves, but it is either a quick post or no post at all.

Our neighbor has a “Vote Pro-Life” sign.  I hate it.  I hate signs in the yard in general.  I also hate bumper stickers.  Not the funny ones, but any bumper sticker that tells me any information about you.  I don’t care about you, and I especially don’t care how smart your kid is or who you plan on voting for, but I digress.  The reason I bring up the sign is because I think voting for anyone because of ONE issue is asinine.  I will NEVER vote for a person because of their stance on abortion, but people do, and I don’t get this.  First of all, no one, neither Republican nor Democrat has touched Roe v. Wade, but most of all, how can an entire politician be summed up by one political stance?  I also find it fascinating that many that are pro-life are also pro-death penalty.  People say, “I’m pro-life because murder is wrong and I am pro death penalty because murder is wrong.” WHAT !?!?  This kind of hypocrisy sickens me.

The other issue I hate are people who vote their party.  How does this make sense?  Are you telling me that ALL Republicans are right and ALL Democrats are wrong, or vice versa?  This is stupid.  If I told you I was Democrat and pro-life (a stupid phrase by the way) would your head explode?  Think about it, who isn’t pro-life?  We are all pro-life, unless we are psycho, just differ on the role of government in the woman’s womb.  Huh? I wonder if we can call pro-choice people Tea Partyist, because they want to reduce government in the womb?

My whole point is that the system is broken, people are crazy and stupid, and no one truly knows what is going on.  This makes me sad, because at the end of the day, people are either voting with little information about the candidates, voting blindly for their party, voting based on who Fox News tells them to vote for, or are not voting at all.  And one wonders why things get so screwed up in this country.

And why does running for election require so much money?  Are you telling me that with the “free” technology of the internet, one could not get their message across to millions of people without spending millions of dollars?  Here is a simple campaign reform: No one is allowed to spend more than $50,000.  Third party commercials/advertising is illegal.  Major parties can still hold conventions to select a candidate.  Anyone found to accept money from outside sources will be disqualified.  Debates are paid for by a government fund and each candidate gets to run ONE 20-second commercial also paid for by a government fund.  Simple.  How would this NOT work?  Eliminate money, and maybe, just maybe, we will get politicians that will do what is right and not try to placate their money sources.

I’m sick, just sick with our current system, and no I am NOT a communist, I just think we are smart enough, we have the technology, and have evolved to do better.  Just my opinion.

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Do you read the Harry Potter books?  Remember when there was a new Minister of Magic (or something like that) and when he got in office there was this talking painting that told him all the secrets of the previous Ministers?  His response was like, “Why wasn’t I told about this before I took office?”  And the talking painting asked him “Are you going to tell the next guy all this?”  I think there is a talking painting of George Washington in the Oval Office that tells each President secrets.  Remember when Obama said he would make government transparent.  I think painting George has told him some crazy stuff, and Obama’s reactions was, “Shoot, I can’t tell people this.”  What other explanation is there for EVERY president NOT doing what they said they would.  There is a talking painting in there, I know it!  What other explanation can there be?  I’m just sayin …

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So, once again I am preempting my scheduled blog for a blog about my son and being a parent.

I am divorced.  My oldest son is almost 11 (October 24).  He has a three-year-old brother and a nine-week-old sister.  I am sure in his mind he had eight glorious years of being an only child.  Now despite having to share his home with two other young siblings, hs has always had the escape of visiting his mom on the weekends to have a place all to himself.

Yesterday, he received the news from his mom that she is going to have a baby, and he was not happy about the news.  Now, if you are an avid reader of this blog, I hope you have garnered that I take parenting seriously.  I am not a perfect parent, but I do the best I can.  I mention this because I have thought long and hard about the lessons that I must teach my children, more specifically, my son who is getting closer and closer to becoming a man.

As my son becomes more and more independent, I want to make sure that he has the tools to be prepared for what life will bring.  For example, we preach healthy eating in my house.  We know that he will be in many situations in which the food will be presented in large amounts with many unhealthy options.  My wife and I have had multiple conversations with him to talk about what it means to be healthy and hope that he will choose to make healthy choices whether we are there or not.

Last week we talked about tithing.  We talked about how we believe that all we have is a gift from God and He only asks for 10%.  Brett does not attend church with us, so we have made it a point to at least discuss some of the things that we feel are important in regards to our faith.  He has a lot for a 10-year-old, and we want him to not take it for granted and appreciate all that he has.  I also think it is a good lesson about finances, something that I think many of us were not taught by our parents.

So, when my son came home last night and made it very clear to me that he was not happy about his mom having a child, I knew it was time to have another talk, and this is what I said (Thanks to my friend, Doug, for his inspiration of this chat):

Isaac was in the stroller as Brett and I walked and talked around the neighborhood.  “Brett, first of all you are a great big brother.  You have handled the arrival of your brother and your sister very well.  You have done great.  And I know it is hard dealing with so much change, but you have done an excellent job.  What I want to talk to you about today is what it means to be us.  We are Woods men, and that has meaning.  I want to tell you about two things that I believe is something that we do.  One, we do our best in everything that we do.  Whether it is school, violin, football, or Taekwondo, we do our best.  That is why it is important to practice, read or study, we do our best.  Do you know what pride is?  Well, we have pride in everything that we do.”   And we talked about this for a while. 

“The second thing we do is we help people.  That is very important.  When we see people in need, we help them.”  Brett asked, “Just friends?”  “No, everyone.  We open up doors for people.  We help strangers in need if we can.  We help our friends.  And we especially help our family and that is why your job as big brother is so important.  You have been a great big brother to Isaac and Violet, and I know you will be a great big brother to your new brother or sister.  You will help your mom when she needs it, and you will do your best to make her happy, because that is what we do.”  We continued to talk, and he was surprisingly engaged in the conversation, adding his own comments and questions about things.  By the time we got back home, we had moved on to other things, such as Ben 10 Ultimate Alien.

So, I have been thinking, maybe that is our mission statement.  We do our best and we help others.  It makes me wonder if every family should have a mission statement.  It helps with family identity, unity, goals and understanding of who we are as people.  It might make it just a little easier for our children as they grow older having a clear understanding of what they are about.

You see, Brett was significantly more positive after our conversation.  I will never forget the moment and the power of talking and teaching your kids.  It is a conversation I will definitely have with Isaac and then one day with Violet.  I am sure it will be modified, but it will still be our Woods Mission Statement.  The cool thing is that Brett spent the next hour playing and talking with Isaac during dinner.  It was a lot of fun to watch.  Striving to improve and be better, that’s another thing Woods men do.  I’m just sayin …

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