Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Street Corner Jesus

I think I’m getting grumpy in my old age.  At a minimum I’m getting a little less tolerant, that’s for sure.  I was driving around my small little town the other day and there must have been 5 pan handlers that I saw in different areas.  Mind you, my town is not very big.

Now, I don’t know these peoples stories.  They could be homeless.  The could be addicts.  I didn’t stop to ask.

What I do know is this, I work.  I work a lot of hours.  I spend a lot of time away from my family in order to provide for them.  And the older I get the more I realize what the actual cost of that is.  Not in dollars, but in time and memories.  Time I don’t get to spend with my wife and kids.  School functions I can’t attend.  Games I can’t go watch.  It’s the deal a lot of us have willingly made for my family.

I also pay my taxes.  And I know that there are services available to help people in need.  Not only through the government, but civic organizations and churches.  Places these people can go that really need the help.

There is a part of me that keeps saying I shouldn’t judge.  I don’t know their story.  But when you see the same guy standing on a corner for two weeks straight with a sign I have to start asking, why isn’t he supporting himself just like I do?  Where is his sense of personal responsibility?  Why should I support that person, who obviously has no desire to go out and support themselves?  If I hold myself to that standard then I should be able to hold them to it as well.

I know it’s not “Christian”.  Thou shalt not cast the first stone and judge not.  But at what point do I get to judge?  How many people get to stand on a street corner and play on peoples charity before we all say enough is enough?  How long will it be before we start telling people that they have to be productive, and there are no free rides?  I don’t know the answer to that.  But at some point we all have to expect a certain amount of personal responsibility out of each other.  We should all be striving to live up the expectations of our greatest self.

I believe we should always offer our hand to help someone up.  But we should do so with the expectation that they are striving to stand up and move forward, not sit back down and write another cardboard sign.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

An Old Dog

Except for a few rare instances I’ve done just about everything I can do when it comes to my profession.  At least that is what I’ve thought for a while.  I’m coming to the grand conclusions that I may have been wrong about that.

Technology is advancing so quickly it’s getting harder and harder to keep up.  You figure out how to do something today, and tomorrow the procedure changes and your back to square one.  I guess that is part of what is so nice, and frustrating, about what I do.  The basic principles haven’t changed in a long time.  As a matter of fact, if you were inclined to do so, you could still do most of what I do with paper and pencil.  God forbid that should ever happen though.  It would take me forever to get anything done.

So it becomes a game of trying to at least stay on the curve when it comes to technology.  I’ve seen a lot of it come and go.  Some of it was good.  A lot of it was bad.  And it was all touted as being the end all, be all, for getting the job done.  “It will save you so much time you won’t believe it.”  And for the cost it better have.  Although, as we move ahead, the tech seems to be a lot more good than bad.  Even if it doesn’t play well with others at times.

So where does that leave me?  Watching a whole shitload of youtube videos, reading a whole bunch of message boards, and looking over product documentation.  All I can say about that is “thank god someone else screwed it up before I did and asked the manufacturer a question” and then posted it online.  A little trial and error goes a long way when all of the questions have already been asked.
I’m not complaining.  I could be stuck in some dead end job that requires no thought or creativity.  The day goes by a lot faster when I’m busy and being challenged.  It also has the added benefit of keeping me mentally sharp.

Who says an old dog can’t teach itself a few new tricks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Wasting Time

I’ve stopped watching t.v.  It’s been a recent event, but it has been an eye opener for me.  I hate to think of all the wasted hours sitting in front of that thing, zoned out of my own life.  There has been a few things that I have notice during this last few weeks of not having my electronic babysitter in front of me.

First, I have a whole lot more time on my hands.  It’s the exact same amount of time I have always had, but my brain doesn’t get the chance to check out.  Hence, I get a whole lot of projects done, and I seem to have a lot more time to do things.  For example, I spent the entire day last Friday getting projects done.  When 8 p.m. rolled around I was not sure what the hell to do with myself.  I was contemplating going fishing, but it was getting dark.  

Second, I pay a lot more attention to my wife and kids.  At least it seems that way.  I play trivial pursuit with my 7 year old.  She reads the questions, with some help, and I try to answer them without using google.  We do it every night before bed.  She loves it, and lets be honest, my brain could use the workout.

I have wasted a lot of time in my life doing stupid things.  But most of those granted me a few memories at least.  T.V. never did that.  I can’t remember a single time that I have a memory of something on T.V., except possibly 9/11 or the Challenger tragedy.  But those two don’t count.
Maybe I’m starting to feel the clock ticking as I get older.  I don’t know.  I guess it really doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that I have recognized the fact that I can easily fall into that trap of wasting the time I do have.  I think I’ll continue down this road for a while, and see where I end up.

Time is a precious thing.  We only get so much of it.  It’s too bad it took me until 45 years old to realize that. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Why Me?

I've been thinking quite a lot about my own personal responsibility lately.  What has happened in my life and the causes of it.  Good and bad.  They say hindsight is 20/20, but that saying forgets to tell that you a lot of personal introspection needs to happen in order for the lesson to be learned.

I think I'm finally getting to the point of being able to learn the lessons.

Like I have said in previous posts, I've had some colossal screw ups at times.  Most of them I've learned from, but some I left in the past hoping they would just go away.  They don't, trust me.  And you can't bury your head in the sand far enough to simply wait and hope for the best.  They catch up to eventually, at least that's what I've found out.

Now, some of these problems were not solely of my making.  Other people played a critical role in the failures.  But that doesn't matter.  You see, what I perceive as fairness has absolutely nothing to do with the solution to the problems I face.

I have looked at it and blamed others for their part in whatever has transpired.  I have talked about fairness and sharing responsibility until I was blue in the face.  But at the end of the day it is my responsibility to resolve the problems in my own life.  Doing anything else is just making an excuse for sympathy.

I think it's human nature to look for someone or something to blame for our failures.  I have done plenty of that.  Most of us really want to believe it is the fault of another, and that we are simply innocent victims.  On occasion, this is the case, but for most of us we are active participants in the screw up of our lives.

This is the lesson I am finally learning.  I have to keep my own house clean.  Blaming, or co blaming, someone else is nothing more than trying to avoid taking responsibility for my own actions.  The vast majority of these episodes in my life were, at least in part, due to decisions that I made.  Owning up to my own actions isn't easy, coming to the conclusion that I may have to make things right by my self is even harder.

In hind sight it seems like I became a spectator in the happenings of my own life.  I buried my head in the sand and hoped some unseen force would make it all go away.  When what I should have been doing was facing my problems head on and being proactive in those solutions.  I should have made the choice to make sure things were handled in my best interest.  If I would have done this, I would be in at least a different mental state than I have been for the last 5 years.  I think I would have felt more in control of my own life, and I would have moved forward toward a resolution far more quickly. 

This lesson has been hard for me, but I'm ready to move forward with the knowledge it gave me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


I've been listening to a lot of podcasts recently.  One that had Dakota Meyers on it was incredibly hard to listen to.  If you haven't read up on what happened that day, then I would recommend doing that.  His actions were heroic, and the failure of leadership of the people who were commanding the operation was sickening.  He saved a lot of lives that day, and according to him it was the biggest failure of his life.  His team died.  He still hasn't forgiven himself for it.

The macho side of me, at least when I was younger, would have defined this as true courage.  Now, I am coming to realize that there are a lot of different kinds of courage.

Just this week I saw a woman on 60 minutes who is dying of cancer.  She is a successful attorney, a mother, a wife, an immigrant, and pretty damned courageous if you ask me.  Five years ago she was diagnosed with colon cancer, which has around a 90 percent mortality rate in the first five years.  She beat that, but she won't beat cancer.  It has spread and is terminal now.  This woman has 2 young children, and she hasn't held anything back when it comes to her own mortality.  Can you imaging telling your kids that you are dying?  I can't.  How the hell could I tell my seven and twelve year olds that I won't be around for all of those great moments in their lives.  What could I say to them?  What wisdom could I pass on in that short amount of time?  That woman has done one of the hardest things I can imagine, and she did it with grace. 

I have some friends from the past who have had addiction issues.  I still see them, and they are in treatment.  I know they are in a program, and they are trying to get better.  That takes courage.  It takes courage to leave behind all of those friends who they used to use with.  It takes courage to completely change your life and start over.  And it takes a lot of courage to face people you know and admit where you are and what you have done.  I know quite a few people like this and have a huge amount of respect for them. 

Finally, and this one might be a bit touchy, I think all of those kids that walked out of school today have courage.  You can say what you want about it, but at the end of the day it was massive validation of democracy and what our founding fathers thought was important.  YES, I saw all of the comments about this.  It's a political stunt, it's just for show, someone put them up to it!!!!  So what?  It takes courage to stand up for what you believe, even if others don't share the same viewpoint of values.  Will what they believe change over time?  Absolutely, and it should.  But we should be glad that they are willing to stand up and say what they think.  In a few years they will be voting, or serving in our military, or getting a higher education, or entering the workforce.  We should be glad that those kids are getting the opportunity to do this, because our future will depend on them have the courage to stand and do what they think is right. 

There has been a few times in my life when courage was necessary.  I can't say that every time that happened that I rose to the occasion, which haunts me to this day.  What I can tell you is that I am still learning about life, and happiness, and courage.  And I hope that never stops.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Value of Life

I have thought about this for quite some time now.  And I keep coming back to an inarguable truth.  We don't value life.  Not at all.  We value the life that is in our tribe/family.  But we, as a species, have no real regard for life.

It may come from the fact that we have fought since we first learned to walk.  There has never been a time in recorded history where there wasn't conflict and death.  I'd like to think that we can blame it on how our DNA is coded, but that is a half truth at best.

I know that there are going to be a lot of you that are going to say I'm wrong.  All I can say to you is that history is on my side.  If you don't want to admit it and argue, that's fine.  Before we do that, lets look at a couple of facts.

Between Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria there have been over half a million deaths of civilians.  Half a Million.  And that seems to be on the low end.  That number shocks most of us when we hear it, but it does nothing to make us get involved.  We just continue on our merry way.

Over one third of the population of our country is pre-diabetic.  A condition that will lead to diabetes that is completely preventable.  ONE THIRD.  Yet we refuse to do anything about that.  Right now Diabetes kills around 80,000 people a year in this country, and that is set to sky rocket.  Yet we don't do anything about it.  We don't hold anyone accountable, do we?  Between the sugar and processed food industries, and a total lack of personal responsibility we are heading down a road that will make the costs of the Iraq and Afghan war seem like chump change.

I can keep going if I need to.  Heart Disease, Smoking, Opiate Overdose, Hospital Errors, Gun Violence, Human Trafficking.....All are mostly preventable.

But we can't come together as a group and say enough is enough.  We can't come together as people and say we are going to put the resources forward to fix just one of these problems.  Why?  I go back to my original argument that we don't value life.  Of I should say, we value life less than a myriad of other things.  We value what's in our close proximity, but outside of that all bets are off.

I truly believe that if we all sat down in front of each other and started talking about the things that are important to us we would find that we have a lot in common.  We would find that we all value the lives of our families and friends, and that we don't want them to die.  I wish we could translate that to a global scale and start saving each other from our human nature.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Integrity matters.  Maybe not to some people, to some it may seem like a quaint and antiquated idea.  But to a lot of us it still matters, and we will base our decisions and our lives around it.

I see our kids being fed a diet of information that seems to be exclusive of integrity.  Everything is all good as long as you make the money, or your famous, or you get whatever you want for nothing.  What happened to work?  What happened to making your own way?  What happened to believing that you were in charge of your own pursuit of happiness?

Until recently I believed that there was integrity in all of us.  But I was proven wrong, and for whatever reason this is really disturbing to me.  I know that we all are living within a circumstance that we have created but I could not fathom the distance between my values and those of others.  I do now.

I have seen what people will do when faced with a choice that may be difficult, or affect the life they are living.  I've seen that some people don't want challenge, struggle, or personal growth.  Some people want to live in the glass house they have built, and simply can't believe it when a stone shatters it.  They will make choices that fly in the face of the morals and ethics they espouse every day.  Burying their head in the sand and hoping for the best, instead of taking command of their own life and moving forward with dignity.

I shouldn't judge them, but I am.  And maybe that is what I am struggling with.  That there are people on this planet that would sacrifice every friend, cohort, and compatriot the second thing start to be difficult.  And to try to drag those same people into that swirling void of morality with them. 

Maybe my expectations are to high, I don't know.  But I think I have the right to have expectations of people that come into my life.  Or I have the right to not have those people in my life.

Which is the current situation I am in.  I am leaving my work.  Not because of the money, or benefits, or certain persons I work with.  But because of a complete and utter lack of what I define as Integrity.  Because the upper level people in this organization show a compete and utter lack of respect, and caring, for the amazing people that are working for them. 

I may be delusional about this.  The world may have moved on.  But I don't think so.  I don't think it's unreasonable in life to expect the best out of others.  And I believe that the best exists within all of us.  We just have to make sure we are always in a place to let it come out.