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31 January 2008

Here's Your Sign, Part II

So, is that a bad sign?

It seemed like such a simple procedure really. Move a few files, disconnect one old computer, decommission the piece of caca, then plug in a new one. Right? Right.

Now, let it be known that I am not a propeller head by any stretch. I can move around a computer, do basic to intermediate stuff and, as the astute observers among you might have detected, I can post to a website.

Since a fair amount of my work requires being connected, I also try to know how to prevent too many collossal, ass-baring mistakes. (Yes, even though I know they will eventually make me successful.) As my mother taught me as a wee child, rule Numero Uno is: read directions.

My beautiful, brilliant, butterfly of a bride? Uh, not so much.

"If there is a button to click, I shall click it. Quickly, furiously and with reckless abandon", is her sworn to credo. And yes, even if the button is an error message that says "if you click this, 1000 pygmies will come stick bamboo under your toenails while you sleep". Of course, we'll never know what the button said because, yep, it got clicked before we could read its critical admonishment.

2 hours, a few grumbles (okay, more than a few) and a few giggles later, the 'pooter showed signs of life (no, not THAT pooter). Time will tell if everything is functioning properly, besides the buttons that is.

I know one thing for sure though: I'm wearing knee socks and steel toed boots to bed, just to be on the safe side.

30 January 2008

Good Grief, Gandhi

60 years ago today "Great Soul" Gandhi took 3 bullets in the chest and was pronounced DRT (Dead Right There). Oddly, for a Hindi, his last words were: "Oh, God"...

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was 78 years old at the time and while I'm sure it hurt like hell, I suspect he died at peace knowing that he was doing what was he was the most passionate about: spreading a message of non-violence. If there is an afterlife, I'm quite sure the irony has not escaped him.

For those not familiar with the little dude, he is notable for a) looking like Ben Kingsley with a haircut and b) promoting 'resistance to evil through active, non-violent resistance' all over the world. All while wearing a robe. Nobody had the panache and the ability to pull that off like the G-Man.

As an aside - and as a card carrying cynic - it is not always a fair characterization to say that Gandhi's calling cards of non-cooperation, civil disobedience and peaceful resistance, however effective they may be at times, are really all that peaceful. Protesting for one's belief can create major and costly disruptions for innocent others (businesses, uninvolved citizens, etc.) and over-burden the systems that insure one's safe protest (fire, police, traffic, sanitation, etc.). To many of us, that is not very peaceful at all.

But I digress...

Martin Luther King, Jr., another civil rights shootee, was a big fan of Gandhi and tried to mirror his own peace movement after Gandhi. By most accounts, however, MLK must have gotten his racist entitled views and alleged infidelity from someone other than Gandhi.

But there is much more to the story of the Mahatma than that.

Gandhi was forced into marriage at age 13, had five children that all died as infants, was pressured into being a lawyer and never had the pleasure of knowing what a Quarter Pounder with Cheese tastes like. As a follower of Hindu, he agreed to not eat meat. But did you know that his zeal for vegetarianism was because he disliked the mutton and cabbage at his English boarding school? His association with vegetarians led him to hooking up with a religious based outfit that preached something called Theosophy. What? Well, Theosophites among other things practiced a belief in "root races" and believed in them each evolving separately. Yep, that's pretty racist by most definitions. In fact, his group believed that Hebrews and Arabs were a sub class of Aryans. Who would have guessed, eh?

So after law school Gandhi, the veggie eating, racist, lawyer (now, stay with me just a little longer please!) went back home to India. He was unsuccessful in getting a job as a teacher so he started chasing ambulances, ergo, filing complaints on behalf of other aggrieved citizens.

Shortly thereafter, in South Africa, Gandhi had his butt pummelled by a cab driver for refusing to make room for a European. Sound familiar? That was a turning point in his life and the rest, say it together history.

So let's review:

Boy grows up in oppressive, trauma filled childhood, gets pressured by his parents into pursuing a higher education, experiences incredible loss, has his principles challenged in the real world, eats crummy food, fails to get a good job but settles for less, falls into a group of people that prompts him to shape his belief structure, has an, uh, epiphany, uses his life's lessons to solidify the principles that help excel to the top of his chosen field of endeavor, shaves his head, struggles with societal oppression the way he struggled with his childhood oppression, inspires change in the way millions of people think and act, becomes a martyr for his cause, is deified by many generations to come, has a movie made after him...and of course has the honor of being chronicled here at
D3. In most successful people, Gandhi fell down, but kept getting back up.

"Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success."
Dale Carnegie

So, besides the 5 babies dying when you are 13, is there not much difference between your kids, my kids and Farmer John's kids? And for that matter, does his life sound like our own life? We are all a sum of our life's lessons and even though Gandhi's life's lessons are 1/2 a world, a couple of generations and a funny dialect away, they are still eerily similar, dontchathink?

I suppose history is supposed to teach us that Gandhi was superhuman at being humble, grateful and giving; And that is why he is now revered the world over and forever linked to success in civil rights, non violence and baldness. The reality is though that every modicum of his success was preceded by numerous failures, hardships and disappointments.

So I submit that the greatest lessons from his story are the same lessons that have already defined our own stories and that already form the basis of our parenting:

"A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships."
Helen Keller

[Have an appetite for more? I understand. Please go to the right panel under "Feed Me!" and hit the "Subscribe in a Reader" button to select one of many choices on how to never miss another meal of Daddio's Daily Dose!]

29 January 2008

You Can Say That Again!

The advantage of the written word - especially in this day and time - is the ability to edit before publishing the final version for public consumption. Yo down wit that, my peeps? Wouldn't you agree with that premise, fair readers? The spoken word, especially for those dim witted moments that some of us have occasionally, don't allow for a re-do.

Because of my search and rescue work I have an extensive research library on things that most people would not find all that palatable. Knowing is empowering; and empowerment allows for a more efficient and effective response.

So we strive to learn; even the stuff that turns our stomachs. One such topic involved the statistics involving child abduction and homicides. Firstly, the fact that there is actually data is both sad (that there is data to collect in the first place) and also immensely helpful in trying to contribute to a solution. After all, the monsters that hurt our children are all 'cut from the same cloth'. In my post on that topic, I first published the details then, upon reflection, I removed most of the details after anguishing for awhile. Thank goodness for the edit feature.

If only we could do the same for our talkie, wordies speech....


Emily got hurt in school yesterday. Not in a blood squirting kind of hurt, but in an ouch my knee started swelling after running and I can't stand kind of hurt. While schlepping her to the doctor, and to abate her fear of what lies ahead, I told her that she might need x-rays.

"Do x-rays hurt? I've never had them before."

"Well, pretty much Sweetie. They feel like, well, 20 bee stings." Levity Dad. Levity!

With sweat now developing on her brow, she suddenly forgot about how bad her leg hurt. 'You're welcome', I thought. Taking her mind off of the immediate, real pain and replacing it with obsessive, terrifying thoughts of a future full of debilitating is a gift, really.

Once at the doctor, which I think is Botswanan for "wait in a germ infested room while the staff catches the last 45 minutes of Oprah", Emily asked me what I thought the problem was. Since there was no trigger event, obvious injury and no pro ice skater with a bat was hanging out during her recess, I ran down the list of possibles. One was Osgood-Schlatter Disease, which I had as a youth. I was quite confident that the origins of all OSD were from a calcium deficiency so I was therefore quite confident in eliminating this as possibility to Emily since she drinks more milk than Vermont has cows. Tactic # 8346: let them know they don't have some scary sounding disease - especially when you are quite confident - so the real issue is easier to handle. "Relax" I said, "it is probably a muscle pull or a hyper-extension. A few days on crutches and you'll be good as new." Right.

In my wisdom, I told Ethan before we went to pick up his sister that I would only bring one extra bottle of VBM. Why? Because I'm a numskull. As the rest of the world knows, doctor's offices are the devil-incarnate of Gilligan's Island excursions. Sure, I thought, we'll be in and out and back home in time for Ethan's next feeding. No problemo. No way could this 30 minute appointment be swept away into a 5 hour shipwreck of time lost. No Problemo.

So, 3 hours into our tour, itching from the germs that are burrowing into my body by now, Ethan starts, um, vocalizing his wanton desire for nourishment of the maternal kind: "I WANT SOME MILK!" 'How about a dance?', I try. "I WANT SOME MILK!" 'How about a pacifier, a dance and a song?', I beg. "I WANT SOME MILK!" How about $20 dollars plus you can puke down my shirt again without me shrieking in your ear like I did last time? Pleeease? Not happenin', unfortunately. I should have brought the 2nd bottle of milk, right?

"Hello, Tonya? Are your breasts available? Please?" (Aren't I romantic?)

30 minutes and a perturbed, scornful and humored waiting room later, Tonya and her vegetarian breasts appear (take THAT Google search engine!), just in time for Emily to be carted off into x-ray.

Oops. I forgot to un-fudge the "hurts like 20 bee stings" story. Man, I gotta watch what I say...

As if I didn't need yet another reminder of that, the doctor called with the x-ray results today: Yep, Osgood-Schlatter Disease. Crutches for 2 weeks up to 2 years, depending. Poor child. Soccer season starts in a week and I don't look forward to our chat tonight.

Among other things, some day when I'm King, I'm gonna order someone to invent a rewind button for my mouth.

28 January 2008

How Embarrassing

...and no I don't mean the 185 mile river in Southeastern Illinois that feeds into the Wabash.

In a classic toMAtoe v toMAWto game, the locals in Champiagn, Illinois apparently call this river "EM-brah" even though the origin of the river's name came from the French explorers who found it to be an obstacle for their further exploration in the area. Which, fellow wordsmiths, is the same origin as the more common use of the word "embarrass" (ěm-bār'əs). Those clever civil engineers - and who could blame them? - didn't want their favorite fishing hole to be pronounced, even though it was already named as such, after the same thing as when you get toilet paper stuck to your shoe.

The written and spoken word can be so fragile.

In junior high school I had classmates named Mike Hunt and Richard Head. While they may be titans of industry now, for pubescent 14 year olds, their names were fodder for endless jokes, giggles and ridicule. So I heard anyway.

But I digress....

Kindly reader Squared Off over the UK sent me a web site that helps us American blokes understand the Queen's vernacular and to demystify some of it's slang. Who would have known when I used "arse" intending it as a less offensive sounding replacement for "ass", that in the UK, arse is more edgy than ass?

Everybody enjoying this high brow topic so far? Let's continue.

Embarrassment has a meaning in virtually every language. From the tribal chief who burns his headdress in the fire, to the New Delhi businessman with his zipper down (XYZ PDQ, dude!) to the Canadian Mountie with a booger frozen to his face during a traffic stop, it is safe to say we have all shown our ass over something. Then there is this guy.

Jerome Kerviel allegedly hacked into his employer's computers, France's 2nd largest bank, Societe Generale on his way to committing a $73.5 Billion trading fraud. That is more than the entire bank was worth to begin with and equal to the GDP of Libya. You go boy. The best thing his friends could say about him was that he opened the door for old people. Really? Note: If that is the best thing your friends say about you, then perhaps a little more effort is needed on your part, eh? The bank, with proverbial bare ass showing, suggested that Kerviel did not mean to profit from the trade. Note again: the deeper your head is buried in the sand of denial, the higher you bare ass is showing to the rest of the world.

And unlike embarrassing yourself by wearing a lampshade on your head at a New Year's party among a small group of friends, young Jerome and Societe Generale showed their ass way up high where everyone can see it.

27 January 2008

Sonnet Sunday?

Emily plays with her friends,

Ethan cribs in his, uh, crib;

Tonya works on lesson plans,

while I compose, trying to not be glib.

Tonya checked out the Blogosphere,

and I was pleased at what she had to say;

Why not launch into some prose she asked?

And create a weekly Sonnet Day?

Well, poems can offer some frivolity,

but limericks can sure be a hoot;

Too bad I am better at pentameter,

than joking about that dude from Timbuktu.

Like an UFO over a trailer park,

a sensible rhyme has to just appear;

It is not easy to create on demand,

as they don't just come out of my rear.

So I'll take what I can get,

and kind readers, so shall you;

Because tomorrow my words may not rhyme,

and I may not make sense either.

(c) 2008

26 January 2008

PPPPPerfect Saturday?

Phighlights of a Perfectly Pleasant Pday:
  • Palette Pleasing – Chorizo Migas. Yum.
  • Panera Bread – Free wi-fi. The largest supplier of Free wi-fi in the world in fact (575 locations in 30 states as of early 2007). There are two schools of thought in the tech business today: 1) sell the customer everything humanly possible. (i.e. cell phone companies, etc. that literally, nickel and dime us damn near to death) or 2) give the customer as much as possible and support yourself with ad revenue and sales from goodwill. (i.e. Google, Panera Bread, etc.). Which business model do you like more?
  • Plentiful – I have much to be thankful for….and I hope I never get too self absorbed, forgetful, or just plain idiotic to ever forget how good I have it.
  • Parking violator – People that park in handicapped parking spaces that are not handicapped - and I mean not handicapped – should have to peel the chewing gum off the pavement of Times Square with their teeth. It is not that there is a line of handicapped people waiting for a space, it is the simple, basic and irrefutable principle of it all. And I generally can learn all I need to know about someone by their attitude about illegally parking in a handicapped space (read: lazy, selfish and entitled).
  • Pronto – I was travelling at a speed inconsistent with local traffic laws today, passing some of our areas finest po-po parked on the median running radar in the process. Luckily his phone conversation was more important than our speed infraction. Lucky me.
  • Pals – Emily I got to have some Daddy & Daughter time today. We need more of that. She doesn't remember being an infant and being the center of attention - the way Ethan is now. What she will likely remember though is watching her parents fawn over an infant whilst she gets lectured over her grades, or her messy room, or whatever. It is oh so easy to overlook the world as seen through a 'tween. And one of life's most important lessons: perspective, is not taught in a school.
  • Pounds - 20,000 of them. That is about the size of a spy satellite that is hurtling uncontrollably towards earth as we speak. That is roughly the size of a bus. Oh yeah, it's full of hazmat and classified secrets too and it is expected to smash into our planet - although no one knows where - within the next month or so. How's your home owner's insurance?
  • Paternity – Ethan is entering his giggly phase. If I do nothing else as a father, I can feel good about helping create a child that is so incredibly cute when he giggles.
  • Paganini – Today was a classical music day. Ah, refreshing. Did you know that Paganini, arguably one of the greatest violin virtuoso in history, started his career by using a violin to imitate the sounds of farts? Think of that the next time your kid makes funny sounds with his armpits. :)
  • Psoriasis – Not really, but gosh my skin is dry. I need to drink more water.
  • Parrot head – Been thinking about my first Jimmy Buffet concert in the early 90’s. Wow. [Note: Telling your friends to meet up with you after the first song under the inflatable shark is not original…according to the other concert goers who encountered us while looking for their friends under the same inflatable shark plan. Who knew?]
Plum tuckered out. – See ya tomorrow sports fans….

25 January 2008

Quantum of Solace

In the story, "For Your Eyes Only", Ian Fleming, creator of Mr. Shaken-Not-Stirred James Bond defined a quantum of solace as "that spark of niceness in a relationship that if you don't have, you might as well give up." That little tidbit inspired the 007 franchise to name their latest movie Quantum Solace, which means, generally, a measure of comfort.

Yes. A Measure of Comfort.

  • Ethan's warmth nestled up next to me. Even at barely 13 pounds, he provides incredible warmth to me, inside and out.
  • Fresh Salmon Sashimi. Melts in the mouth like butter. I fill up on most foods, but not sushi. I can eat my weight, your weight and the weight of the Scandinavian Army in sushi. Some say its a curse. I thinks its a gift; a very expensive gift.
  • Slow dance with Tonya. We took dance lessons awhile back and the instructor was amazed (and perhaps even sympathetic) that our goal was not to dance better at a wedding, at a nightclub or on a cruise. We wanted to dance better on our patio on warm summer nights, wine and music flowing. Oh yeah.
  • A job well done. I do several things I call jobs - some paying and some non-paying - and all of them provide a feeling of satisfaction when the objective has been met. Talk is cheap. Action...that leads to a conclusion, is priceless. And working hard at something makes me rest better.
  • A job well done, part 2. As a Dad aka Step-dad of a 'tween, I am aware of the role we play in nurturing their confidence. That is especially critical for the self-esteem of blossoming young lady. I don't always do as well as I want in this department, but gosh it is awesome to be around to see Emily's face when she conquers a difficult task, brings home a stellar grade, cooks a masterpiece or scores a soccer goal. It brings me a smile just thinking about it.
Anything in particular give you a measure of comfort?

24 January 2008

Bad, Bad Piggy!

A late submission to the ridiculous headline derby:

Three Pigs Story Judged 'Offensive to Muslims' - The Times of London, January 24th, 2008

Seems the do-gooders at Becta, the UK Government’s technology agency for schools thinks that Muslim's would get offended by the use of pigs in the classic children's tale of the 3 Little Pigs. Really? Really?????

But wait. There's more. They also rejected a book called The Three Little Cowboy Builders because it implied - are you ready for this - that all builders are cowboys. Egad, the horror! How blinkered are those Brits at Becta?

Newsflash: Muslims are called that because of their religious belief in Islam. It is a descriptive label, just like Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Mormons and Atheists. And lest we forget, there are radical, narrow minded zealots in those religions too. To simplify, Muslims are not afraid or offended of children's books about pigs.....narrow minded, zealot Muslims are afraid and offended by children's books about pigs.

IFAM #3: I abhor the misuse of common sense.

Would you lend me a hand whilst I climb on my soap box, please?

By giving everyone rights, pretty soon none of us have rights. Let's all ponder that for a moment. Society needs Green AND Red lights. If they were all green (free flow of rights) - just imagine the anarchy!

Ever had to take a leak in New York City? It is a tall order unless you are patronizing a store or can convince a doorman to let you in (yeah, right). Well, many moons ago (1991) a forward thinker named Joan Davidson, with the backing of a private foundation, sought to remedy that. At their expense, they wanted to install portable, self cleaning pay toilets on sidewalk intersections around the city. It would cost NYC nothing. The city's response? "Discrimination in it's purest form" because the prototype (already successfully in use in Paris) would not accommodate wheelchairs. But because the size, cost and operation of a wheelchair accessible potty was prohibitive for a pedestrian walkway, the plan went down the crapper, literally; and to this day people are still peeing down the subway grates. Including the occasional wheelchair bound citizen with a screaming bladder.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects over 43 million people living with a disability. Of those, less than 2 percent are confined to a wheelchair....and most of those are in a nursing home. Hmmm. Yet the ADA requires that virtually every public building provide wheelchair accessibility. If we could twitch our nose and create that access for free, that would be swell. But building and retrofitting buildings to meet ADA standards is costing communities billions and billions of real dollars. What is not getting funded in your community that could benefit from receiving that kind of money? Teacher salaries? Improved Public Safety? Improved roadway and bridge and water runoff infrastructure?

Where is the common ground? The common sense?

In the case of the Big Apple Loo's, how does one justifiably measure the rights of the minuscule number of wheelchair occupants with the rights of the millions upon millions of able bodies folks that need to take a whizz also?

If any of this resonates with you, then grab The Death of Common Sense - How Law is Suffocating America from the Amazon bar on the right panel. It is not preachy or high brow, and it's a quick read. Like it did for me, I'm sure it will open your eyes also to how our ability to use our own discretion is dying a slow death right under our permissive little noses.

So this is the world in which we live. And Ethan Thunder Pants and his big sis Emily will have to eventually navigate these waters themselves. Is resistance to the aforementioned insanity futile? Am I setting my kids up for a lifetime of failure, ridicule and condemnation for telling them to keep common sense alive and to stiff-arm the rising tide of idiocy?

Perhaps. But perhaps not.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."
- Alexander Hamilton

I do know that when Ethan gets home from Baby Camp today, we're reading "The 3 Little Pigs" though!

23 January 2008

News Fit to Print?

Real newspaper, fake headline. Funny though. Following are some true headlines, Then and Now that tickled my fancy too. And who doesn't like their fancy tickled occasionally? Such as:

Then: All Utah Condemned To Face Firing Squad (Washington Post; March 9th, 1980) - Ouch. Tough to be a Mormon these days I guess.

Now: Capitalism's Enemies Within (Washington Post; January 23rd, 2008) - the columnist says capitalists are to blame for the sub prime woes and the economy's doldrums. Kind of like saying that chef's are to blame for the world's obesity problem. Get real: greedy is as greedy does. And that is not the same as capitalism.

Then: Arson Suspect Is Held In Massachusetts Fire (New York Times; May 5th, 1986) - That will show him!

Now: At Last, a $20,000 Cup of Coffee (New York Times, January 23rd, 2008) - Fanaticism knows no limits. This article profiles a rare coffee machine (only 200 in the world - heck, Starbucks only has two of them!) that suggests that it brews the best cup of coffee (that's right: coffee, not espresso or some other fancy smancy drink) in the world.

Then: Chick Accuses Some Of Her Male Colleagues Of Sexism (Los Angeles Times, June 24th, 1985) - Poor woman, nobody takes her serious!

Now: Stimulus Plan Builds Bipartisan Steam (Los Angeles Times, January 23rd, 2008) - A vibrant economy = good, no question. But do we have to give a tax rebate to people that never paid taxes in the first place? And if so, how do I sign up?

Then: Dead Man Ignored Police Order (The Arizona Republic, September 23rd, 2006) - I bet he was tough to fingerprint too.

Now: Police Cuts Could Mean Fewer Officers on Streets (The Arizona Republic, September 23rd, 2006) - Seems the tax base is eroding in Mesa. That often is the result of the economy heading south and crime heading north. So whose solution was it to reduce the numbers of the very people that can help maintain a safe, livable and civilized standard of living for its citizens? Duh.

I have long believed, and am inspired about the future of comedy, that real life was, is and always will be funnier than fiction.

So....I do not generally participate in much tomfoolery (unless I start it), but
a fellow blog-ite prompted me to share some inane facts about myself, or IFAM's. So as to not conform too much, I will disperse a couple intermittently throughout the next several posts.

IFAM #1: If someone (that I know!) is nice enough to fix something for me, I will be nice enough to eat it. And that has created more positive food experiences than negative ones (wink, wink...are you listening Emily??). I mean it, I'll try anything once. Even
a 1000 year old duck egg for crying out loud. Once.

IFAM #2: Tonya and I got married in Las Vegas. People who know my wife Tonya and me see us as being fairly square and subtle (ha!), so they are bit taken aback when we tell them we had a Vegas wedding. Yeah Baby! Of course I add that she was a dancer at the Tropicana and we didn't know each other's names until we filled out the wedding certificate. Just kidding, we knew each other's names. :) If Elvis didn't cost an extra $300 bones to secure his services (his wedding services are in demand), we would have had him there too....

I can see the headline now.....

"Elvis misses Chance to Marry Mike and Tonya..."

22 January 2008

Remember Your Worst Romance?

"If you are 100% occupied, you are not charging enough rent."
- Conrad Hilton; Founder, Hilton Hotel Chain

Yes, that Hilton. There is a great, seldom heard story behind the origin of the Hilton Hotel chain and in a future series of posts, one of them will reveal the story behind the story. Trust me, you will regale your friends at parties for years with that upcoming little factoid. Hey, the paparazzi has nothing on me!

But I digress....

Conrad's quote reminded me of my high school wrestling coach who moonlighted as a math teacher. He would tell us with, uh, all the wisdom of a wrestling coach moonlighting as a math teacher: "50% of sumthin' is better than 100% of nothin'!".

So, in honor of Coach Protractor, here are some other random percentages to wrestle with...

  • 25% of bottled water is actually filtered municipal water (aka tap water)
  • 62% of Alaskan men exercise at least 30 minutes per day
  • 25% of people on social networking sites are not who they say they are
  • Men eat 35% fewer calories when eating with their mate than with their buddy
  • Up to 30% of all emails are newsletters by subscription
  • Approximately 75% of all doctor visits result from stress
  • 33% of Americans feel they are under "extreme" stress
  • Banks this week cut their Prime Rate to 6.5% following the Fed's interest rate cut
  • Dunkin' Donuts Fruit & Yogurt smoothies have 400% more sugar than a chocolate frosted cake doughnut (Yikes!)
  • Ethan's pooter of terror is in the top 99% of his age group
  • The 2001 Seattle Mariners won 72% of their games
  • In a recent study, 22% still think the federal government is primarily responsible for their disaster preparedness and 16% said that a region's vulnerability to disaster was not a factor in choosing to move there (Watch for them on CNN begging for help and blaming their government for not taking care of them. Duh.)
  • 19% of men in a recent study were "1 death away from having no one to confide in"
  • Of the worst memories people carry, 53% are directly related to a romantic relationship
  • Mentally projecting about an upcoming visit or exchange with someone funny can raise endorphins 27%

and finally....

  • There is 99% chance I will be here tomorrow, dispensing levity, deep-ish thoughts and/or a few nuggets of information...

21 January 2008

Merriment, Lasciviousness & Knish Day

M.L.K. Day right? I saw on the news that it really stood for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but surely they are mistaken.

I mean, really, a day honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.? After all, Percy Spencer, the guy that invented the microwave oven in 1945 - enabling bachelors by the millions to prepare their own meals - doesn't have his own day. So what gives?

Perhaps there is something to it though. King is only 1 of 4 individuals with a US holiday named after him. More importantly, many agree that he championed civil rights, civil disobedience and dare I say, black entitlement. King died a martyr in 1968 after being felled by a gunman's bullet after allegedly spending the night with his mistress in Memphis (sounds like a country song, huh?). A sordid tale indeed.

Still, barely 30% of employers in the United States give their employees the day off. And the holiday wasn't even officially recognized in all 50 states until the year 2000.

Nonetheless, his contributions to our country (America) are sizable, meaningful and in some cases, long lasting. His movement (there were more than him of course) gave rise to providing legitimate rights to people that heretofore had none. And that is righteous.

He also gave rise to race baiting disciples like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who promote themselves and racism with vigor unmatched by any person of any race of our day. Not so righteous.

In the spirit of service, equality and civil rights, it can be said that Martin Luther King, Jr. represented the tip of the sword in our society in treating equals like, well, equals. And while his personal defects and bigoted followers obscure those tenets, the message still deserves to be highlighted and emphasized. But is MLK Day the only way to promote that message?

Unfortunately, like Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Secretary's Day and other Hallmark generated holidays, we are lulled into complacency. They would have us believe that as long we we buy chocolate, deliver flowers and of course "care to send the very best" (aack) to commemorate those special days, that we have met our quota for honoring our mothers, lovers, helpers, etc. But what about the other 364 days?? Are we free to be dis-honoring as long as we bought a nice fern for our secretary?

Sadly, the underlying message of MLK Day is seldom heard because it is buried under the racially charged political rhetoric of some of MLK Day's promoters. Similar to Veteran's Day and Memorial Day, we have an opportunity to honor the message, the service and the people behind the holiday, but are often dissuaded by either apathy or disgust at how people use the holiday for political advantage.

And the result is that most Americans did what we did to 'celebrate' MLK Day: had fun, goofed off and ate out.

Yep... Merriment, Lasciviousness & Knish Day alright.

20 January 2008

Yo Daddio!

Ethan got his groove on this weekend.

His paternal grandfather came in to meet him and in the room were 3 of the 4 remaining men carrying our family name. He must have sensed it because he was full of smiles, pride, intrigue and occasionally, embarrassment. Seems that the poor kid doesn't have my dad and my, uh, sophomoric refined and sophisticated sense of humor yet. Of course no one else does either, you poor humorless souls.

Since Ethan is the last of the proverbial Mohican's, this was a special time to go over our previous lineage, stored ever so reverently in the attic, and also gawk over the future of our family. Plus my dad changed his first diaper in over 40 years.

I realize in many circles, that a male participant providing a family name is an antiquated notion. But as far as bloodlines go, Ethan is the current end of the line, in name, blood, etc. Zilch. Kaput. Nada. He is it. No pressure son.

There have been some statesmen in our family that we learned more about. Such as:

  • A relative that allegedly invented the forklift...then sold the idea for $500.
  • A relative that was jettisoned into space when the WWI Observation balloon he was in came loose from its moorings.
  • A former Attorney General of the United States.
  • A relative that was the last survivor in her Scottish Clan after a English sneak attack massacre. She saved herself, her Clan name (and her cows). And my family thereby staved off an early extinction. Whew.

Having my Dad here also allowed for some debunking of family stories. Like, are you sure we are not related to Raquel Welch? And this scar came from where again? And please tell me that is not genetic!

Tonya's family is equally rich in history, though it would take considerably longer to go through all the photos and stories since pro-creating was apparently a sport to these folks. Tonya has 69 first cousins and well, if all the many layers of 1st, 2nd and 3rd cousins got together, they could probably overthrow our government. They are from 'up nawth' so perhaps all that cold weather forced them indoors and they hadn't heard of Parcheesi?

Speaking of board games, the first board game was believed to be a festival of fun called Senet and was in use as far back as 3500 BC. If you won a game of Senet, it was believed that you were under the protection of the gods. Today, if you win a board game, you have to buy the beer. Now, where is the evidence that we have advanced as a civilization again?

Board games of old typically involved a player's use of strategy or of racing. Think Monopoly, or chess, or even Operation. Most board games have evolved into an online or game console version; therefore, it can rightly be said that there are few original ideas left.

But I digress....

I got to see first hand a forward and a backward view of my family. Something unavailable to me until becoming a bio-Dad. With equal parts trepidation, regret, anticipation and excitement...I was confronted with my inescapable past and my predictable future.

The following piece of fatherly tidings didn't mean near as much when I was 20 years old, but age, perspective, a son and a few starts and stops in between helped bring it into focus:

"Improve the Breed"
- Mike's Dad

Did you receive (or dispense) any especially sage advice from your parents (or to your kids?) that is share-worthy?

19 January 2008

The Climbing Conquistadors

In case you haven't been following their story, the Caballeros made it to the top of all 22,841 feet of Mount Aconcagua last Saturday and they are now both back home amongst family, showers, and thick air.

If you have not had a chance to support the mission, offer congrats, see mission photos, request a t-shirt or find out about Trout's Dad's Lymphoma status, you can do so by visiting the Climb For A Cure website. (web link also available on right side panel....)

If there is an obstacle or challenge (family, personal, career, algebra equation, etc.) in your life, I hope you too can enjoy the feeling of standing victoriously on top of that challenge some day yourself.

Conquering a challenge is satisfying. Conquering it without a shower, hot meal or a, uh, toilet is even more satisfying.

Congrats again Trout and Mark!

18 January 2008

Sticky to the Fleshy?

"What's bred in the bone will stick to the flesh."
- Aesop

As a slave in ancient Greece, Aesop would have been well versed in conditioned responses. A command was given, and a whipping probably followed for good measure. After awhile, all it would take is the commanding voice to cause a wince in anticipation of the pain. And that was, let's see, in 550 BC. For those that slept late, that is a long, long time before American Idol went on air.

It wasn't until much later that society learned the adage of 'getting more with honey than with vinegar.' That is to say, rewarding someone for doing good, rather than kicking them in the crotch for doing not so good (hahaha) increases the reliability of the behavior you want to develop.

So after all of this time, it seems the undisputed experts in understanding conditioned responses are the canine familiaris, the dog, followed closely by kids. If you have a dog (or kids!), then you know of what I speak. They are experts in human behavior.

Ethan: Smells Tonya's Vegetarian Breast .... gets excited and salivates (well, me too actually. Pavlov would be so proud). And The behavior gets reinforced by getting fed.
Emily: Emily wants a she becomes an angel. And her good behavior gets reinforced by being granted a sleepover.

So when we expect, shape, mold or cajole behavior in order for those wishes to be met, we begin to turn the corner on understanding who is exactly training who....

We mentioned earlier about Mr. Ivan Pavlov. In that post we went into greater detail about behavioral responses, remember? If not, click here for a refresher.

Because of the similarity (now stay with me on this...) in how behaviors are reinforced, the study and application of how to develop reliable behaviors is not as species specific as we might think. A simple, easy to understand, common sense book on the topic is "Don't Shoot The Dog". I recommend it for parents, people in a relationship and pet owners. It is not a science book, just a simple, easy to read and understand practical book on how to get the reliable behaviors you want out of the people and things you want. The woman who wrote it pioneered the training of marine mammals (dolphins) to do tricks and underwater mine detection, etc. You can't put a leash on a killer whale to enforce a command so when you go to Sea World and see Shamu do his thing, you can thank Ms. Pryor's and Pavlov's pioneering work. Anyway, the 2nd page of my Daddios Recommended Reads over on the right panel has the book listed and you can research it more, order it or get the scoop and go buy it at the bookstore.

"Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind."
- Plato

Hopefully this weekend we can all find a positive behavior (in ourselves, in our kids, in our spouses, and/or our pets) to breed into their bones in order to create a more reliable comportment. Because once a behavior is habituated and it sticks to the flesh, life can be predictably and appreciably better. Unless you are hungry and the flesh is actually attached to a pork rib at a cookout of which case: bon appétit!

Want to learn more? You can go to any of the Google search bars located for your enjoyment on the right or at the bottom and search the web for anything and everything....

17 January 2008

5 Things Teachers Do Better Than The Rest Of Us

Here are 5 things that Elementary teachers do better than the rest of us:

  1. Not get sick. Even though they are around 100's of little booger eating, hands in pants, coughing on each other, germ factories every day. What is their secret??

  2. Exhibit Herculean patience. 30 screaming kids per class, liquefied Coco Puffs running through their bloodstream, body self-discovery happening, issues galore...and they still can sip tea in the lounge without feeling the need to hurl the mug into the wall. Wait, that is tea, isn't it?

  3. Appreciate the innocence of youth. The future, literally, is a soft, malleable, molten glob of limitless potential sitting at their disposal every day. What an awesome responsibility, and opportunity.

  4. Tolerate Idiots. Like in any walk of life, there are bottom feeders, and that includes some school kids and the parents that hatched them. Teachers can't say that, but I can. There are some incredible displays of blame and entitlement that go on in those hallways; and where in our adult world we can ignore, cajole or otherwise smack down the 10% (your mileage may vary) that ruin it for the rest of us, teachers find a way to accommodate - and tolerate - everyone. Amazing.

  5. They give 'numbers'. In our local school, any of a variety of missteps can result in the issuance of a dreaded 'number' in your class journal. They can be for repeatedly forgetting homework, talking during class, being tardy, misusing school supplies, etc. If one accumulates a predetermined total, then bad things start happening like detention, seeing the principal or having a cheese grater rubbed on your forehead and then swabbed with rubbing alcohol. Okay, the last one was made up but you get the picture. In our adult world we don't have such a simple system, which is a shame. As managers, we are often hamstrung by excessively lawyer-ized policies that tends to obscure the core issue. If we took money away from adult workers after they collected enough 'numbers', you can be assured the underlying behavior would stop. Just ask any 3rd grader.

And an honorable mention:

...Teachers give awesome gifts. We were truckin' along and out of nowhere the other teachers at Tonya's school bequeathed us an incredibly generous offering as a welcome gift for Ethan being born. Maybe there is some arm twisting or secret mano-a-mano going on but all I know is that I did not expect such generosity, especially with so many other people that they presumably are accommodating this time of year too.

So, if you have a child, know a child or were a child; they live a life of mostly decent, clean, non-idiotic behavior and they can form basic sentences, then take a moment to thank a teacher for all of the things that they do for us and not do to us.

Do you know a teacher or someone else who might enjoy this little ode? Of course you do! You can hit the email button below and you can fire this post off to the recipients of your choosing.

16 January 2008

We're Checking for Splinters...

Ripped from the headlines.....

"Man: NY hospital forced rectal exam"


Well, it seems that this poor chap hit his head on a wooden beam and went to the hospital for stitches. While there, according to him, the hospital staff held him down, drugged him and forcibly conducted a rectal exam. Then, after being handcuffed to his bed for 3 days, they let him go.


I can't imagine we will ever hear the hospital's side of the story but I bet it's a doozy. Wonder what prompted them to check the poop chute?

Perhaps they were just being thorough because they thought he really said "I ran into a STUD and now my head hurts?" or "try going in THIS WAY to get to the best angle on the where the ouchie is". Shall I go on? hehe.

HIPAA (health privacy laws) allow for steep penalties for disclosing personal information about patients these days so the stream of ER humor has been slowed to a trickle. There are some black market ER pictures of patients that were being stupid, er, I mean unsafe but mostly we have to use our imagination to fill in the back story.

In any case, I am pro-hospital. In fact, my policy for most conundrums is to have "professionals do what professionals do". And if you saw some of my do-it-myself fix it projects, you would understand where that policy came from! If I have unexplained stomach pain, the person who has the many years of documented training is generally much higher on my list than my buddy who watches ER and McGyver and has a warm butter knife. Plus the hospital that took such good care of Tonya and the unborn Ethan for those oh so many torturous weeks has a special place in heaven and in my heart as far as I'm concerned.

Hopefully Mr. Sore Britches will get answers to why he went in for stitches and came out 3 days later with a sore bung hole. Or perhaps he has the answer and he is just wants a different one. Since head trauma can lead people to some very unlikely places....I'd bet that however it turns out that he will be wearing a helmet (and maybe even a chastity belt) next time.

"No matter how subtle the wizard, a knife in the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style." - Steven Brust, Author

15 January 2008

Protect Thy Jewels

No, not those jewels, Mister. I mean your kids, your la famalia...

Before any of us leave the house, whether for a hour, a day or a week, we tell each other to "PLEASE BE SAFE". You see, Safety is job one at our house. Lots and lots and lots of things can go wrong and still be fixed ... except for being seriously maimed, or worse. Especially if it is preventable. So we make being safe a big deal. We like coming home to each other.

Where does that policy come from?

Well, I can be anal, fastidious, vehement, passionate about some things. Interestingly, that is not the word that Tonya and Emily use to describe it either. :) Maybe it is the repeated lessons on rescue safety factors, the disturbing images seared into my brain of being exposed to people that did not make safety a priority or perhaps it is the 'hold my beer and watch this' mentality that is seen on my city's streets, TV - or YouTube - every day.

The other, seemingly hypocritical piece of that policy is one of using perspective and being proportionate. There is after all, a problem with being too safe and too fearful also.

Emily tells the story of being afraid of sharks as a much younger child. She was living with her mom at the time near a lake, where she frequently swam. It happened to be the same summer that the media showed shark attack after shark attack on the news. Of course, there were not any more sharks attacks that summer worldwide than any other year, it was just that the news covered more of them. And nothing grabs our rubber-necking viewership like "video of a shark attack at 5p, 6p and 10p!"

So it prompted the first of many, uh, lessons on perspective and disproportional fear. And yes, I know what you're thinking. My early step parenting skills were very much a round peg and a square hole so of course little 5 year old Emily did not quite understand those terms. (Really? You Think, Mike?) She did however come to understand that since there were no sharks in her lake, then there were therefore no sharks available to actually bite her. Aha! She was then able to come up with her own example of being afraid of not hitting your head on a star while jumping on the bed when the stars are so far up in the sky. Smart kiddo. Class dismissed.

But I digress....

When dropping Thunder Pants off at his baby camp today, I noticed that there was a little girl that we hadn't met yet that was so terrified by the presence of a new person - and a new man no less - that she stood against the wall, thumb in mouth, tear in eye and pee in drawers. The Head Duck said that she acted that way with other newcomers too (male and female) and even offered her the credential that I was "the baby's" Daddy. After the 15 or so minutes that I was there and didn't draw a sword, breath fire or make her eat broccoli, she eventually gave me a weak grin before I left.

This little girl was not well versed in our aforementioned logic and was - I assume - a product of her parents disproportionate desire for her to be fearful of people, men in particular, that she doesn't know. Not a bad lesson in general...but one lacking perspective. And since she was just a little whippersnapper, the responsibility to prepare her to actually function on her own falls to the parents.

Fear-mongering aside, let me add a some perspective: Strangers are not the problem. Bad Strangers are the problem.

Sound familiar? We talked about this regarding the evil step parent label too. Now again, I am not going deeply into this topic for several reasons and in fact I already deleted a collection of facts because it changes the whole tenor around around here. Suffice to say, bad things can can happen to innocent kids. And as parents we have to arm them with perspective so they learn the difference between those people and situations that are safe and those that are not. Back in the 1950's and 1960's the US government developed the Stranger Danger campaign using a picture of a wrinkled trench coated old man behind a tree with a bag of candy spying on children. "Yell and tell!" they were told. And in fact that probably worked if the threat was dressed in a wrinkled trench coat, etc. But not on the school cafeteria worker with the big smile, fake ID and criminal history of child sexual assault, huh?

There is an outstanding book on the subject called Protecting the Gift. The author's first book, Gift of Fear, is a must read, and I can't say that emphatically enough, to every woman who wants to be in control of their own safety. It is full of perspective, and though it has some gritty parts to it, you will feel more powerful after reading it. Then pass it to a friend you care about. Protecting the Gift is about keeping our kid's safe and is chock full of helpful information and, again, perspective. Fear-mongering only makes people fearful, it does nothing to make them safe.

Please go to my Daddio's Recommended Reads on the right panel and you can go directly to the book's Amazon page to learn more and order one or both.

We have established that loving moms, dads, aunts and other caregivers, (regardless of size!)
can be like a Subaru-sized, pissed off, Mother Bear when someone threatens their kids. So I would venture to say that when our kids are with us, that it is unlikely that any hump would survive through an encounter of trying to bring harm to our precious 'jewels'. Am I right?

So our challenge then is to help our children understand the difference between other bears that can protect them and the wolves (including those in sheep's clothes!) that won't ... all while not developing a fear of the entire wilderness.

14 January 2008

Nipple Need Brushing, Ma'am?

Any of you PG-13 readers gulp a little at the thought of what I'm talking about? Ooooooh. Nipples.

During the run-up to Ethan's arrival, but while Tonya was still in the hoosegow, Emily and I went out on a reconnaissance mission to the big box behemoth of baby stuff, Baby's R' Us. (Ain't they havin' grate grammar type words to teech the youngen's??)

While browsing the crapola from China and beyond we happened upon a selection of Nipple Brushes. What? Now, I am a literal guy. And I don't spend a lot of time with my head in the gutter, and certainly not on a shopping trip with my daughter at a baby store. I also consider myself to be fairly intelligent and perhaps even an above average problem solver.

So why was it that I was standing at this display, dumbfounded, like a dog that heard a high pitched whistle?

I inspected the thing (no instructions included) and thought to myself "how freakin' dirty is this kid gonna make Tonya's nipples, that she will have to use one of THOSE honker bristles to clean them?" I bet you think I'm kidding don't you?

Well my inner voice apparently wasn't so inner because Emily started to giggle at my reaction. She then began to explain with great joy that they are for the bottles and not intended for human contact. Emily = 1, Daddy Mike = bupkis. I know communication is fragile. but couldn't they avoid some confusion by calling them bottle brushes? Jeesh.

Don't worry, Emily had her turn when less than a week later we were at the hardware store to get our fix of sniffing the fox pee when I picked up a new ball cock for one of the toilets. I let her face turn a few different shades of red before telling her what it really was.

Maybe we should start taking our dictionary's with us wherever we go?

13 January 2008

The 'Bear' Truth

So there I was, 25+ years ago, venturing from our mountain campsite with my buddy and fellow Boy Sprout. 'Twas a beautiful sight too: majestic, aromatic trees, sunlight fading over the mountain crests, wind tickling the top of the crater made mountain lake....and the ever so distinctive cry of a baby bear for it's mother. Wow, we thought, a real wildlife encounter!

Perhaps we could collect the cub, take it back to camp, raise it as our own and star in the remake of Grizzly Adams? Those dreamy thoughts were of course interrupted by another, more distinctive and shall we say, robust sound: that of Mama Bear replying to Baby Bear.

It took our adolescent brains only a moment to figure out that the stereo sound we thought we were hearing was actually in stereo because Mama was on one side of us and Baby was on the other side. We were fast becoming a Bear Sandwich, and it shouldn't take Marlon Perkins to tell you that this was not a good thing.

I initially thought and said to my buddy that it would be better to stay calm and slowly back away while begging forgiveness from Mama Bear (did I mention she was as big as a Subaru?). While I was trying to take the diplomatic approach, I noticed that my comrade decided that running was better than having a front row seat to his own mountain mauling. He had 25 yards on me and now Mama only had me on her dinner menu. The chase was on.

I hauled ass. And I didn't need steroid's to win a gold medal that day, letmetellya.

And there I learned another instance of the power of motivation: Mama Bear was more motivated to check on Baby Bear than to use us as mid winter rations and only growled and chased us long enough to insure our rapid (and permanent) departure.

Question: Are Human Mama's motivated the same way?

Answer: Does a bear get poop stuck to their fur?

12 January 2008


I've gotten some nice reinforcement lately about the interesting, albeit mostly socially insignificant, information that is dispensed around here. Thanks. Really.

So before anyone starts to think that all of that information comes from some limitless reservoir of knowledge (yeah, that's the ticket!), I thought I would take a moment to list a few befuddling questions that I don't have a freakin' clue about. Perhaps some of you will.

  1. Liquid goes in, chunks come out? What the ...? Whitish, pristine, pure and silky VBM (Vegetarian Breast Milk) is custom delivered to Ethan's gullet. Within a couple of hours, the most gawd awful chunky, gooey, smelly, dark colored and putrid substance comes out the other end. I know it's called the Pooter of Terror and all, but please, does he have to out do even that title? Kind of like when Emily went into the fun house at the state fair all clean and happy, and came out covered in foam and was unhappy. Except times 10. Befuddling.

  2. Why are there so many people that think that illegal immigrants aren't doing anything illegal? And no this isn't a referendum on immigration. It is just befuddling that it has become such a punch line that Americans are 'okay with Illegal Immigrants....just as long as they don't break any laws.' Duh. Knock first, get your 'propers', then use the door, will ya padre?

  3. Why is America captivated and we drop everything to go search for and rescue or recover a pretty white girl when she goes missing? Yet, when a minority girl goes missing under the same circumstances, there is nary a mention of it and a mere fraction of the effort? This is more common that you think. Having been on more than a handful of searches, rescues and recoveries for these young ladies, I know that a rapid intervention is critical. When we show up and all the news channels are represented, that is a good sign because they will all be showing the person's picture on the news, which dramatically increases the chances of a successful conclusion. Depending on the part of town though - you know what I'm saying - we may be lucky to get an extra officer for safety never mind any media attention. Befuddling.

  4. Why do some people get and stay happily married and some don't? I browsed a few blogs recently from different blog-ites (yes, I made that up) that were opining on their own situation. Be it as a married person, a divorced person, a single person or a person who likes dogs (don't ask). I am damn lucky, this I know. I am in love with an incredible chica and she thinks I am pretty cool too. Oh yeah, we procreated too (hubba hubba). We talk, we collaborate, we argue, we commiserate, we laugh our ever lovin' arses off and we, well, have a good, mostly balanced and usually sensible life together. Neither of us had that the first time around though so we know the difference. Yet - and I assure you - we are not any more special, lucky, blessed or rich than any of the what gives? Befuddling.

  5. Why do people call a food item that has stuff placed on one (1) piece of bread a sandwich? Our forefathers escaped persecution, lack of dentists and bad weather to come to America so we could use 2 pieces of bread and proclaim our sandwich dominance. Why are we now conceding the 2nd piece of bread? Isn't it like taking a lion, shaving his mane, cutting off his rocks (hahaha!), putting him in a zoo ... and then still calling him the King of the Jungle? Befuddling.

That link below about insightful & respectful comments? If you want to toss your cookies toss your comments into the conversation, then please step up soldier, and click the link and comment away, anonymously if you prefer.

11 January 2008

Climb for a Cure...and Then Some

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms; the great devotions; and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

Stirs the soul, eh? Yeah, me too.

Are you "in the arena" of life? Have you devoted yourself to a "worthy cause" lately?

Tomorrow, Saturday January 12th, my friend Trout and his climbing partner Mark, will be attempting to summit the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere, Aconcagua. Their conquest, should they succeed, will be in honor of Trout's father, who is battling non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma right now...and hopefully for a long, long time.

If you want to follow Trout's and Mark's summit attempt, and perhaps more importantly, support his mission to raise awareness and money for the nonprofit foundation that needs your help to help his ailing father....would you please do so? and at the link over to the right. Find out how to get your own very cool collector Aconcagua t-shirt too.

From cruising around the Blogosphere this week, it seems there are a fair amount of folks that emote through their blogs as, perhaps, a form of self therapy. Some lament their lack of this or their lack of that, or the fate of this type of relationship or that type of relationship. Firstly, I think that's great (not their admitted unhappiness...but their freely writing about it!). Writing can be such an expressive, safe and anonymous form of release. Plus the web should do something for us besides being just a source of videos of kids wracking themselves, stories about why the (Dems or GOP, take your pick) is evil and endless sports statistics.

Secondly, I wonder if we are being a little too hard on ourselves?

Teddy's quote above and one called "Press On" by Calvin Coolidge are two faves of mine (that's not entirely true, I have thousands of favorite quotes, indexed by name and theme).

They endure, to me anyway, not as much for the promise of greatness but for the importance of never, ever quitting. I could fill pages with quotes about that very thing and it would be my most ardent wish for my children to carry with them through life.

Even Sir Ed Hillary, who passed away this week, was steadfast in his humility about being a 'normal, ordinary guy' who just climbed a mountain. That mountain of course happened to be Everest, the tallest on the planet; and oh yeah, he and and his Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first ever to do it and live to tell about it. The difference? He got in the arena and despite his critics, he never left. What he did was almost secondary to the fact that he just DID it, and he wasn't even wearing Nike shoes.

What is the difference between Sir Edmund Hillary/Trout and the thousands millions of us that will not be standing on top of a mountain peak this weekend? Besides not having to sleep with hot water bottles to stay warm and carry our house on our shoulders...I'd say there's not much difference.

Whatever arena you find yourself climbing into this weekend, please send safe thoughts to our climbers and to Trout's Dad. And whether you are playing a sport, watching a sport, reading to your child, cooking a meal or dating the mate of your dreams ... do it with enthusiasm and devotion. Because no matter how it turns out, the feeling of something is always better than never feeling anything at all.