Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Thoughts 7/29/2011

Nothing gets me back in the mode of regular writing, like spewing out 10 miscellaneous thoughts and rants.

1. It's one day late, but my wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary yesterday. Holy crap, that's a pretty long time and it's been quite a ride through those years. If anyone ever tells you marriage is easy, they haven't been married, but at the end of the day it is worth it.

2. You know those commercials that talk about Dyson vacuums never losing suction, while that maybe true, I'd like to raise a large middle finger to Mr. Dyson. While your vacuums may not ever lose suction, the fact that I have to replace a complete clutch for one belt snapping, means I truly hate your bright yellow product.

3. Sad news from the TV world last week, TNT's "Men of a Certain Age" has been canceled. This truly sucks. I realize the show didn't relate to a broad audience, it's writing was excellent and covered growing older in a way I'm not sure many shows have ever done. It will be missed.

4. To our elected lawmakers on the National debt issue, I totally feel your pain in managing crushing amounts of debt. Oh wait, I'm not supposed to empathize with you, it's supposed to be the other way around. Jackasses.

5. Yes, I'm a bit surly today.

6. I'm truly sorry that Amy Winehouse died from an overdose, but last weekend's major news story should have been about Norway. The fact is when you compare a tragedy like this, to a self inflicted tragedy like Amy Winehouse experienced, there really is no comparison. Both tragic, one by a measurable difference.

7. Ahh, Glenn Beck, I always kind of thought you were an idiot, but you do continue to impress me. The fascinating thing to me is that you are pretty bad at what you do. Some would assume I think you are an idiot for the views you present, and while I certainly disagree with them, I can understand why you present the ones you do. Except when you so blatantly go over the line of good taste, that I have to wonder if you are truly mentally handicapped, as you did with your Norway comments. I probably should thank you, as you do try to ensure that reasonably minded individuals don't ever take you seriously or bother to listen to your drivel.

8. I'm off to purchase my first e-cig today, or at least shop locally for one. I've been looking over everything on the web that I can find to try and make the first decision easier, we'll see how it goes.

9. Traveling seems to throw my workout schedule out the window. It's been about three weeks since I had a solid workout and getting over that hump and getting back to it is the biggest hurdle. Tomorrow I think I need to go for a morning bike ride. It's also probably time to set a new goal for workouts in a period of time.

10. August is here (well almost). Enjoy the last month of what we consider summer, even if it's hot and humid, we'll be crying for this weather 6 months from now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shaking off the cobwebs

I just wanted to check in and post a few updates, as I anticipated this stretch of summer has been brutal for writing and many other activities. The plate is completely full at the moment and the anxiety level is high on so many levels. I'm hoping things cool off in parallel with the temperature here soon.

The short sale on the house is still in progress. We are in the final phase with the bank (again) the hold up at this point has been the offer sheet which has some difficult to read text due to multiple scanning and faxing. I'm trying to stay positive and am using all of my optimism to believe it's going to finish up this week.

I'm also in high gear with the new band, after some discussion with them, we decided to rename the group to "Deadringer". It looks like our first show is September 23rd, at Bethel Road Pub in Columbus ($3 at the door). I'll have some more thoughts on this as the next month goes by, I'm really happy with how things are going so far. If you are interested, the band's fan page is here.

In addition to the above, we are still waiting to hear whether my wife will be renewed for full time for the school year (they originally were going to renew her full time, but had some budget issues). On top of that, I'm on track for a new job myself, that I'm waiting for some confirmation on. I tell you when it rains it pours.

That's enough for now, the next couple weeks will be spent enjoying the Ohio State Fair and hopefully some of the other summer fun things to do down here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy Anniversary 40th anniversary, Mom and Dad!

I wanted to take a moment and send out Happy Anniversary wishes to my parents. They celebrated their 40th yesterday. I couldn't ask for better parents and I'm going to tell you why.

My parent's anniversary was yesterday and I forgot to call them and hadn't picked up or mailed their card. I always get the dates confused with birthdays and anniversaries. I just can never remember the actual dates, I know what month they take place in, but jumble up the dates every year. (This year for some reason I thought their anniversary was on the 14th., I woke up this morning realizing their anniversary was the 10th and a bit giddy that I was right and that the 10th hadn't passed yet, that is until I looked at the calendar July 11, crap).

It's very possible that I'm a horrible son, but considering my brother forgot the actual day too, I'm guessing it's something else. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure it's their fault.

My parent's never made a big deal out of their anniversary or birthdays, it just wasn't their style. They approached those days with some celebration, but it never was something over the top. They celebrated every day as if it was their anniversary and they taught my brother and I to do the same.

They taught me to have an appreciation for everything in life, whether it was good or bad. Over the course of my life, I can remember periods of desperation like my father losing his job at the Cleveland press with as much fondness as I remember vacations to Disney World (or Autorama, dear Dad what were you thinking?). They had their moments I'm sure where they were scared, angry, or tired of the grind of life, but they never gave up, they always found the bright side of things. During my father's unemployment, I remember he decided to be a den parent for our school class and made styrofoam snowman ornaments for our Christmas party. I still have one of those ornaments and hang it every year. He also during that unemployed period helped coach my peewee football team. Things he didn't always have time for when he was working.

My mother worked night shifts until I was 7 or 8 years old in order for her to be home with her boys. I have no idea when she slept as she came home my father was leaving and it seemed like she went to work as soon as he got home. I'm sure they hated it, but I don't remember them complaining. It also didn't stop my mother from selling candy to co-workers at Christmas time for more money, not to mention the thousands of treats she made regularly.

My father even when regularly employed also took on a newspaper route at an apartment building for more money for a couple years. Sunday mornings were spent as a family in the lobby of an apartment building as we put the papers together, as my father came down to collect more and deliver them. This was perfectly normal to me.

My parents always found time for us even while working 9-5 jobs, which were more like 7:30-6:30 jobs if you include commute during those days. There level of participation in our lives is mind blowing to me. I think about it regularly when I dread taking my daughter to dance class and while I work a fair number of hours, I work from home.

Most of our vacations were spent camping in a small pop-up camper. It seemed like we camped every weekend of the summer and often into fall, my brother and I hated it then, but I look back so fondly on it now, as we spent so much time together and had so many good times. (Although my father still gets upset if we mention Swamp Fever, which is what my mother, brother, and I decided we had after his booking of a Space Campground in Florida that smelled of swamp gas.) We might have mentioned it a few times during that trip to Florida and on the way home.

The lesson I learned is that you make do with what you have, it doesn't mean you can't have a vacation, it just means that sometimes it's different. What my parent's lacked in money, they made up for with smarts.

Let's take another area of how special my parent's were, although there were times as a child, that I remember meals for weeks being what flavor of Campbell's soup we were going to eat. (Bean with Bacon being the regular serving). It never felt like we were tightening our belts. I know there were numerous reasons for belt tightening, but I also know that they still managed to make Christmas special, or get a special birthday gift, or 1000's of other things that children desire. They also weren't afraid to talk to us about some of the things they were doing to provide, whether it was soup for meals to save, or other things, we were a family and while I'm sure they didn't share anything, they did make us a part of things and the discussions.

When my parent's bought their dream house that was being built and then fell horribly behind schedule, they moved us to the new city for the school year (and because our old house sold). At the time they only thought we had a month or two to spend in the apartment, so they got a one bedroom and decided to sleep on the fold out couch. We wound up being in that apartment for close to a year. They had their share of fights as the pressure of things was getting to them during that time, but they taught me a lot in how they handled that crappy living situation. Talk about downsizing, two teenage boys, and two adults in a 400sq ft. apartment after living in a 3 bedroom house for the past 15 years. Add in a new city and it wasn't exactly a wonderful year. The fold out they slept on was a piece of fabric on metal bars, it was serviceable for one nights sleep, not for a year. They fought a lot that year, but they worked through things and eventually when we moved into the house, we were all a bit more closer and more aware from that experience living in that apartment.

Moving into our house was likely the quickest move ever, as I'm sure we sprinted things into the new house in order to abandon the apartment. We moved on my 16th birthday, and my parent's forgot that it was my birthday that day, which gives me much joy in bringing up every once in a while. Although between you and I, I completely understand their forgetting the day, as we were at the end of a grueling marathon and their focus was on moving into the house, I just like to be a pain in the ass.

I learned from my parents how relationships can bend and sometimes feel like they are cracking but with work and understanding they can survive. When I see my Mom and Dad, I see how they fit together, I also see that they weren't always a 'fit' there were a lot of tools used to make them fit. They taught me that through the years and I'm a better person for it.

Throughout my adult life, my parents have always been there for me and my family. They rarely say no to a request and often times go out of their way to assist if they think it can help.

They created an environment where we could talk about anything with them and continuously through my youth beat into my head that I needed to treat my brother better and that relationship has turned out very nicely as well. They never stood in the way of our development, they nudged and pushed at times, but they always let us make our own mistakes and were right there to help pick us up if we got knocked down. I can honestly say that without their influence and teaching, I would find it very unlikely that my brother and I would be working at the company we do and for 10 out of the 20 years or so that we've worked there, one of us has been rated in the top 5% of the companies employees. A feat many never even achieve once.

I understand that this is not necessarily the most polished piece of work, as I started to write this, more stories and thoughts came to my mind and I tried to work many of them in where I could. It's has some rough edges, but I think the heart is there, which sort of symbolizes my thoughts about my parents.

I've tried to tell you how influential they've been in my life, but even as I wrote this, I know I'm incredibly short of conveying that message. Their support, understanding, and wisdom have been invaluable to me through my life and I wouldn't be who I am today without them.

Thank you Mom and Dad, congratulations on 40 years of marriage , I love you!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Favorite Baseball Notes

These are some odds and ends of some of my favorite memories of watching baseball. They aren't in any order and although I tried to hit my normal 10, I felt after #8, that I'd just be throwing things in there, if I remember something later, I can always come back and update. This post is inspired by Derek Jeter getting his 3,000th hit. The player that to me is the #1 reason the Yankees have been so good for close to the last 20 years. (and the reason I'm so sad the Cleveland Indians drafted Paul Shuey at #2 that year)

1. Jeter's Flip, this play to me is the type of understanding and hustle that a great player does to separate himself from the good ones. (It doesn't hurt that it was in the playoffs)

2. Kirk Gibson's pinch hit home run off of Dennis Eckersley. Eckersley was beyond dominant that season, Gibson was a wreck after the LCS. The video is fairly long but the only one that captures a bit of the drama of him actually coming to bat. (Fast forward to about 3:30 to get close to the clip) This home run changed the series and the Dodgers quickly disposed of the A's.

3. Knoblach/Gagne fake tag from '91 World Series Game 7. This was Jack Morris' masterpiece, but it would have had a very different ending if not for Knoblach and Gagne's fake double play move to freeze Lonnie Smith. (8th inning of game seven at 4:50 in video)

4. Jack Morris pitching 10 innings of scoreless baseball in game 7 of the 1991 World Series. For the recap of the series see the video under #3 above. An amazing performance in a sport that doesn't often get a chance to let a player put it all on the line for one game.

5. Albert Belle and Tony Pena's home runs in the 1995 Division series Game 1 against the Boston Red Sox. Unfortunately I couldn't find any video. This was the first playoff game for the Indians in my lifetime. Belle hit his homer in the middle of the game after the Red Sox had an umpire confiscated his bat for testing (for cork) at the request of the Red Sox. After the home run, the cameras caught Albert in the dugout pointing at his bicep and yelling over to the Red Sox "Cork this!" Pena hit his home run in the bottom of the 13th and ran so fast around the bases that if you blink you missed him. Since this was a 5 game series (the first year of division series) this let Cleveland fans breath a huge sigh of relief.

6. Kenny Lofton's 1995 Game 6 ALCS performance.. Cleveland fans were terrified of Randy Johnson as was the most of baseball in 1995. Luckily the Yankees forced the Mariners to use him a lot in the ALDS, which allowed the Indians to get a few less looks at him. Lofton in Game 6 of the ALCS with a moment inspired by the movie "Major League"

7. Orel Hershiser's 59 1/2 scoreless inning streak. 1988 was all about Orel Hershiser, in what I consider one of the most dominant seasons by a pitcher ever.

8. Ken Griffey Jr. hitting. One of the most perfect swings to watch. This was homer #629.

This was homer #100, grace in hitting.

At the end of their careers it will be very hard to decide who was better all time. Ken Griffey Jr. or Albert Pujols. Although as a left hander, Griffey's swing was far better to watch.

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's never to early to plan

We are probably 10-13 years away from this blog becoming really interesting, which would be about the time that boys really starting entering my daughter's life. If there's one reason I can point to that makes men prefer to have sons over daughters (outside of hoping they become professional athletes) its the issue of their daughters having to date someday.

Since I'm an obsessive planner and the only hope I have in combating this is to utilize the time I have now when she's a child, I've started to get to work.

Please realize that there is a good deal of this that is tongue in cheek (although the degrees of that are open to discussion).

I'm in the group that believes that no boy/man will ever meet my expectations for my daughter. Having said that, I also realize that it is my issue not hers. So I accept the fact that I can't dress her in a burka, lock her in a room, or feed her fried twinkies until she's pleasantly plump enough that I don't have to deal with the issue.

She's going to date someday, she's going to have her heart broken at times, and she's going to make her own choices at some point.

I see two ways of approaching this, one I can take the stereotypical path and become a curmudgeon (Dungeonkeeper) and make life impossible for her as a teenager or I can work to prepare her for what the world has in store for her and maybe add a bit of psychology to the mix.

I have to admit the idea of being a curmudgeon is appealing, bolting windows, forbidding her to see boys, and barring her from wearing certain outfits all seem like perfectly logical things for me to do, and we are still about 10 years away from those issues (imagine what will feel right then). I also know that if I have that mentality, it will cause huge fights, she'll lose respect for me, and she'll probably do the opposite of what I forbid anyway. That's not an appealing scenario.

That means I have to take an alternative path. That path entails preparing her for the world at large and developing a strong relationship with her. My hope is that the relationship will make her comfortable enough to talk to me about difficult situations that are going to happen. (I hate being the grown-up sometimes)

Now, you might be reading this and thinking, "Oh how sweet, you are such a good father". Thank you (if you are), but don't get ahead of yourself yet.

From day one, my goal for Bronwyn has been to fill her with love and help her find her own confidence. I fully expect to continue on this path, but I've also come to realize I have a highly manipulative side to me as well (my family reading this, just rolled their eyes and said 'no shit, Sherlock').

Which is why over the weekend, I had a bit of an epiphany in regards to the "dating dilemma". I realized how I was going to approach this issue and I was a bit ecstatic that I've already been doing some of the work.

About 6 months ago, I was joking (kind of) with Bronwyn, that any boy she brought home, I was going to throw in the garbage can. She didn't say much at the time, but on a visit to her grandmother's (my mom), she shared with my mom her fear that I was actually serious. This is wonderful news and the hook I needed to enact my master plan.

My master plan is that there will be no fights over boyfriends or dating, it will be my responsibility to get her to recognize how strong and smart she is and to help her her understand what she should be looking for in a boy. It will be her job to choose the boy based on those things.

The reason I say there will be no fights is that, with the hook I've set in place I won't need to fight with her. All I need to do when she brings a boy home, is sigh, slightly shake my head in the negative, or make eye contact with her in a disappointing way. At that point her subconscious will be dumping those boys in the garbage. The date will go fine, but within a week the nagging feeling of trash will surely extinguish any interest and she'll move on. It's simple and brilliant! I can only imagine the cartoon like sequences that will be playing through her mind and the subsequent disinterest towards the boy that will follow.

This is not a fool proof plan (unfortunately). It's conceivable (although unlikely) that I'll be reasonable and not sigh or shake my head disapprovingly at every boy. It's also possible that she'll have enough confidence in her decisions to not care about my approval (which would be very good) or that she'll catch on to my subversive ways (which would be very bad). There's also an outside chance that I'll turn her into Ally McBeal where she regularly suffers from humorous hallucinations brought on by emotional situations.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Assigning blame: A person is smart, people are dumb

If you are involved with any kind of social media, then yesterday afternoon, you likely saw the crush of opinions on the Casey Anthony verdict.

I knew of the case, but I didn't follow it at all and really wasn't aware of any details of the case. Even as a bit of a news junkie, the media around it smacked of sensationalism and I just didn't care to hear about it.

Much of the public's outcry over the verdict is aimed at jury. (For a very good piece on thoughts on the jury, please check out craAAKKer). It's misguided and stupid to do so. Out of all of the parties involved in this case, the jury is the last group that deserves any blame. They took what was presented to them and within the guidelines provided by the judge came to a unanimous decision.

Think about this for a moment, 12 people who don't know each other except for the time they've spent over the past weeks, reviewed the material presented to them and unanimously agreed to acquit Casey Anthony on murder and manslaughter charges in less then a day. You have to appreciate how difficult it is to get 12 people to agree on anything, much less in trying to balance justice for a 2 year old child against the life of it's accused mother. Think it's easy? take something that's obviously not as serious and try to come to a decision with 11 of your friends (or strangers). Maybe decide on a vacation spot and dates for everyone to go together or whether man actually landed on the moon.

If there is blame to assign in relation to the case. It has to be laid on the prosecution and law enforcement. Ultimately it's their failure, not the jurors. We sometimes become so caught up in having to blame someone, that we forget who is ultimately responsible (I blame the current political climate for fostering this, but that's another post). This isn't to say that the prosecution or law enforcement could have done anything more, but it is to say that the failure in this instance rests with them.

So remember, when you get upset about this verdict, what you know and what the jurors were presented with are two completely different things, in addition to that, their responsibility was in ensuring that guilt was proven beyond a reasonable doubt and they ultimately decided it wasn't.

The larger the group of people, the stupider they are as a whole. Take an issue to 1 person (or 12 in this case) and they are able to apply reasoning to something that a massive group cannot.

There is no doubt there was no justice for Caylee Anthony and there likely never will be, that doesn't mean we have to ignore the facts of something though, because we want it to be right. Doing so would be disastrous.