Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Is anyone there?"..."I answered the phone didn't I?"..."Oh, yeah, is Charlie there?"

At 3:44 this morning the phone rang for the first time and abruptly stopped.  It rang again 2 minutes later...same number, then stopped.  This simple and irritating occurance got my head spinning and screwed up the next hour of slumber for me.  This morning, I hate the invention of the "cell phone". 
I'm sure we''ve all heard or read the tales of the "drunk dial" to an ex or someone who the "dialer" really needs to talk to--usually at an inhumane hour and undoubtedly slurred and indecipherable.  This morning I'm thinking these occurances have probably increased logrithmically with the appearance of cell phones. 
Think about what it must have been like, even just 20-30 years ago....late night, back from the club, you fight your way around your tiny apartment through dirty laundry and fast food wrappers to find the big hunk of a yellow rotary phone and think...."I need to talk to her again...", only to pass out halfway through dialing what was probably the wrong number anyway.  So much effort involved.  Now, with one touch dialing or voice recog or tear-drop on the touch screen dialing, there is no effort at all....I mean, if you can "butt dial" a cell, where's the thought and effort? 
That's another thing....who memorizes phone numbers anymore?  Are cell's making us a little more mathmatically regressed?  When math scores in third world countries start climbing in proportion to ours dropping, don't say I didn't tell you so.
Maybe it's just the lack of sleep driving this rant, but at least I didn't call and leave it on your cell.
Okay, I'm hanging up now....
Bye.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Underdogs are #1...or #2...or 3, or......

What is it about the "underdog" that intrigues me so?  Why am I so prone to rooting for the player or the team that no one really expects to win?  It's a classic scenario and pretty much a gauranteed movie hit if you write it up for a screenplay. 
Maybe it's the fact that I'm tall...for a first grader.  On one level or another, I think I've been an underdog in most competitive situations I've found myself in.  Maybe it's being the product of an off and on Mountain West school....the fans of the Univ. of Wyoming are a special breed and deserve a write up all their own!  Maybe it's ingrained as a result of being born in Minnesota and rooting for the Twins and Vikings with only 2 World Series titles to boast in a quarter century of knowing what I was actually cheering for.  
I love movies like Rudy, The Replacements, Field of Dreams...shoot, even Lord of the Rings was an underdog story.  They are stories of people who perservered, who endured.....and in the end wound up on top, or at least gave themselves the chance to be. 
I heard a great line once..."If you don't know how high to set the bar....don't".   Great line, great thought for a coach or teacher or parent.  It's something I think about with my son.  Right now, he's an underdog in everything.  He's only 2, but that's just it, he doesn't know how play a sport or build a business or even put more than three words together.  But he'll get there, and if I do this thing right as a dad, he'll go from underdog to the top of the heap.  Everyone who has dug their way out of the bottom has had help from someone....a helping hand, an encouraging word, a timely loan, maybe just an ear or shoulder. 
I think everyone starts out as an underdog at some point...maybe it was when you were two years old, maybe it was when you left high school for the real world or college.  Frankly, I can't think of many folks who started out with the cards stacked in their favor, but I definetly know some who are better at cards than most of us.    Either way, I think everyone should be the underdog, at least once.  Don't you want to know what you're made of?  Don't you want to know who your friends and family really are?  Wouldn't it be nice to soak in a moment of pure accomplishment?   If you can watch the scene in Rudy where he runs on the field at the end of the fourth quarter of the last game of his career and gets a sack and gets carried off the field....if you can watch that and not be moved to tears, or at least very shiny eyes...well, you're not human.
No, I don't mind being an underdog.  I don't mind that my favorite teams will probably only make money for me if I bet for them just to "beat the spread".  Because nothing feels sweeter than an upset. I guess it boils down to a question of expectations.
If you are expected to win and you do, great, no big whoop.  If you're expected to suceed and you don't....it's either a fluke, or you're not as good as we thought you were.  But, if you're exptected to lose and you win....man, it's your day today so enjoy it! 
Nothing better than exceeding expectations, whether they are your own or extrinsically placed. 
So, think about what part of your life that you're an "underdog" in.....think about getting off the bottom....look around and notice:  1. you're not alone, and  2.  someone is there to help you out--somehow. 
Yeah, I think that's why we like a good underdog story--they're more realistic, more like us.  I personally can't wait for that moment of glory, the hard fought win, or maybe just seeing my boys do a little better than I ever could, that would be enough too.   Really, that's more likely than UW winning a championship or the Vikings hauling home a Super Bowl win....but I'll keep watching...they'll find someone to help them out.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Going Postal

Went in this morning to have my hair, breath and pee analyzed for signs of drug abuse as per requirement of my re-hire with Baker, and I met a guy who said he had a masters in History, was in the Army as a Ranger-Special Forces for 7 years doing tactical all over the world.  Then he said he had five kids-the oldest was 22,  and two grandkids.  He's managed to squeeze a lot in the last 22 years or so.  It's not that I don't believe him, but he looked maybe 30 to 35?  I guess tactical work keeps you young?
He initiated the conversation after watching a preview of some show on the National Geographic channel that chronicled some Army guys over seas.  He was visibly disappointed and commented on how "soft" the Rangers were now, especially since Clinton was POTUS.   I was trying to ignore the fact that he was sporting FedEx garb while filling out paperwork for an "on the job" injury.   "They don't do it like they used to do it when I was in..." he chirped.  "MmHmm..." was all I could muster.  To Kelli's credit, she managed some legitimate recourse with him while I just sat and listened.  
The thing is, in my experience, the guys/gals that have actually thrown together a similar resume tend to not talk about it.  Particularly the military experience.  I don't know why, maybe they feel like they don't have anything else to prove to anyone because they think, "been there, done that, know what I'm capable of and you're welcome", or maybe they'd just rather not discuss it with someone that can't relate.   I know I couldn't begin to wrap my head around what our soldiers are putting up with over seas.  I'm wondering if FedEx guy is just playing way too much XBox....especially after he began to sing the merits of the "safety shot" when you're clearing a room--you shoot everyone again to make sure they're dead so they can't fake it and shoot you in the back on the way out.  Sounds like something you discuss with someone you know will understand, who's "been there" as well.   Either that, or you discuss it with the other 12 year olds online with you at the time, as you work your way through town on Call of Duty.  
So far the only thing we had in common was that he had to use one of those pens with a flower taped to the end, just like me.  "These doctors offices are getting "soft"", I thought.  Coffee for poeple who have to wait, magazines, television, cushy chairs....not like when I was a kid.  
I finally got the call to go back and fill up the cup and get my hair snipped, but frankly, I was relieved when he wasn't in the lobby anymore when I came back out.   If he really did everything he says he did, that's great, our country and our lives are better for it I think.  We've become the greatest nation on earth because of volunteers and hard workers, no doubt.  But after this morning, I think I'll stick with postal workers for now. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

House guests and fish.....

The old saying goes something like, "What do guests and fish have in common?  They both stink after three days!" 
Well, we just wrapped up a week up north with family...as the guests, and I'm sure they're relieved to have their homes back.  I don't think we particularly stunk, although Karsten did have a few near record diapers that I still don't understand.  How could something so cute produce something so noxious?  You shouldn't  leave a changing station feeling like you cut onions for an hour then used pepper spray for eye drops. 
Nevertheless, we are home again in Denver having been thoroughly spoiled with gifts, and enjoying that we are close enough to visit family on a fairly regular basis.   What remains to be seen is if they keep letting us crash or if we start to receive text messages containing local hotel information...I expect they'll put up with us as long as we bring Karsten :) 
A Merry Christmas season to all, a Happy New Year too!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Indigestion and the Subtleties of Aging

Indigestion n~Technical name: dyspepsia;  difficulty in digesting food, accompanied by abdominal pain, heartburn, and belching.
I remember when I could eat anything I wanted and just about as much as I could fit on a mounded, heaping plate.  No more.  If I don't cut myself off from eating by 7pm I don't sleep, at least not well and probably at an upright angle.  I can't quite place the time or age when it all started, it just snuck up on me gradually and got to this point.  Sometimes it's the best reminder I have that I'm not 19 anymore.  Aging is weird like that, it's sneaky.  There are days you wake up and feel like you could run a 10k, then there are the days you wake feeling like you actually did. 
It's a cruelty of life I guess to have to accept you are no longer the youngin' you use to be, that maybe you don't have the flexibility (in your back or your options) you once did.  What do we have to counter those sad little facts?  Nice jobs? More money? Homes and cars and big boy toys?  Yeah, maybe, but it doesn't change the fact that my back is tighter than a garage door spring.  I need to stretch for 20 minutes just to put my shoes on.  But it's weird because there are still these little moments where I can still run around, play a game or two, hit the slopes--sometimes hard--my shoulder still hurts from a failed landing, and I feel like I'm still there....it's a feeling that breeds optimism.  There is still time!  I can do anything!  The world is mine! 
Then, Karsten wakes up from his nap and I'm content with just being able to get up the stairs in time to cease his yelling "DAD!  DAD! DAD!"...pausing at the top of the steps to catch my breath....and I wrap my head around this fact...the time is his now, he can do anything, the world...is his--and I'll do anything to make sure he gets his shot at it all.
Then there is the question...how much of aging is in your head?  I'd take time to answer that, but my stomach is upset and I need to go dig up the Pepto.  Maybe next time.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Better late than never....

After 35 years of life I finally realized and accepted something about myself.  I never rocked the mojo with the ladies because I hung out with the wrong people.  Yeah, I said it...it wasn't my fault.  
Quick sidenote:  my wife is excluded from any of the following commentary because, to her credit, she was keen enough to finally give in...or give up, either way...kudos to her.
Now, back on point....I hung out with the wrong people.  Make no mistake, I like who I hang out with and have hung with, I harbor no ill feeling or resentment at all--I love my friends.   Just let me paint the picture and then I'll get right to the point.  I'm not tall, nor particularly striking.  I'm certainly not the smartest person in the room at any given time, and I have perfected no specific talent to speak of.  On a scale of 1-10, I'm thinking I'm on it somewhere.  But, my problem isn't me, I'm doing just fine, I've had a great run...it's my friends. 
They're brilliant, attractive, tall, athletic, skilled, motivated, accomplished, outgoing, blah, blah, blah...they are all of those and more and they make me look bad--and that is my point.  If I wasn't attracted (intellectually and emotionally :) to the opposite (my wife for example--foxy, brilliant...the only thing questionable is her taste in guys) of me, I could have totally looked better by comparison.  Dang.  But it's not too late, I still have time to befriend someone less fortunate than me, I'd be doing us both a favor! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Impression of a blogger

Sitting in church last Sunday, the pastor was telling the story about Mary and Joseph and relating what they went through to why more people wash their hands in public restrooms when someone else is there too.   Impressions;  what you think other people think about you alters the behavior you might of otherwise practiced had no one else been present.  Like in this case, I might not write so freely if I thought someone might actually read this blog.   Self-effacement is endearing, maybe I'll get readers that way...but I digress.
The pastor went on....Joseph was actually looking to dump Mary, quietly, so he wouldn't have to deal with all the rumors and whispering about Mary having someone else's baby...impressions.    We all know how the story ends of course, and he went on to wrap up the message by pushing us to worry less about what the world thinks..........but I missed all of that because I was constantly waiting for the little LED sign to go off in the front of the congregation, with the number that was on the sticker that we put on our sons name tag when we dropped him off at the daycare.   What were these people going to think of me when the number flashed "862" in huge red letters while the pastor is driving home some point about the perfect Son, and mine is in the other room flinging poo from his diaper or shoving little Susie off the inflatable slide? 
Alas, no numbers, for anyone actually.   So, either God wanted everyone to hear that message and put a "good behavior" spell on the kids, or they forgot to plug the signs in Sunday morning.   Frankly I don't care either way because we made it through a service for the first time since Karsten was tiny.  When you're the family that the volunteer from the back of the room taps on the shoulder and says, "Just to let you know, the crying room for kids is right back this way...", you're glad to sneak out the building without having left any kind of impression at all.

Inauguration

What have I turned into when I'm actually cool with giving myself homework?  Blogging?  Seriously?  I failed a semester of English in high school because of an incomplete journal project--I guess that doesn't inspire much confidence in my ability to maintain a blog.  It's silly the things we'll do to fit in and be like our favorite freinds...heck, I'd probably jump in a freezing river, half-naked, and bounce my shins off rocks through a little section of rapids if my friends did....again. 
I just got a post about a friend blogging away, read hers, liked it, and thought....seems like a nice way of de-politicising my facebook page, so I'm going along with the crowd and joining the "blogosphere", thanks for the inspiration Megan--this is much more comfortable than that icy river.
Now that I'm here, the search begins for that opening topic, that "pick up line" to get you to let me into your house for the night, the teaser to string you along with the hopes you'll either laugh, learn something, or get fired up enough to write/fight back.  That's tough, but I'll work on it.