Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

Day before Thanksgiving and I've taken off work. That's a good thing for me so I don't get too stressed out. Age has brought with it a few little thing that need some attention once in a while and reducing stress is on that list of things.

Balance is hard to find. At this point in my life a "career" isn't of much interest. What I need is a way to make a living. That I can make a living doing something I like, and something that helps the world along in some way, is icing on the cake.

The problem is you're always having to compete with people who are still thinking about self-advancement and think that means doing "whatever it takes." Working hard and putting in a lot of hours is one thing, screwing people over is another.

But who knows? Most of the time people are sincere. And there isn't anyone who enjoys helping others succeed more than me. A knife to the back isn't necessary. If you're a stand-up person I can find a way to get along and probably help you along, too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Too close

A few seconds, maybe only a heartbeat, a couple of feet difference and we'd be missing someone important in our lives. An instant or two is about all that determines life or death in most of our lives. Luck, divine intervention? Who knows?

Thursday, April 05, 2007


By now I should know better than to get my hopes up too high. Tuesday’s elections brought a pair of resolutions to our local city ballot. One called for the impeachment of Bush/Cheney with a simple yes/no. The other called for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraqi yes/no.

What I had hoped for was a resounding “yes” vote from the community on both questions. Instead, the vote was close with the impeachment question going “no” by a 251 vote margin and the withdrawal question winning a “yes” by 11 votes.

A total of 2,363 votes were tallied.

This leaves us with a divided community leaning slightly toward the idea of getting our military out of Iraqi but somewhat reluctant to go for impeachment. How 1,175 of our local voting citizen can still favor leaving our forces in Iraqi baffles me. After all the stealing, lying, and scandal 1,307 people here feel we shouldn’t impeach Bush/Cheney has to make me pause when I look at my neighbors.

The resolution wording was rather stark. It was to start impeachment investigation and to begin an immediate withdrawal. There wasn’t a lot of context there to talk about how people may feel about abandoning Iraqi and that sort of thing.

Still, it was a city ballot resolution meant only to send a message. It had no weight or power beyond its message that one little town in the middle of nowhere is fed up with the war and the people who started the war.

Am I to conclude that half our voters are good with the current state of affairs? Can half the voters really think after fours years of death and destruction we’re still going to “win” something and all be better off?

Honestly, I’m afraid to ask anyone directly.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Touched the fantasy

Your imagination will wander. Your imagination will then mingle with your expectations, till your buried aspirations, hopes, and regrets until a fantasy sprouts. You'll fertilize the fantasy with occasional indulgence.

That's my story anyway.

Many parents get to live out some long lost opportunity through their children's activities. How else can you explain parental behavior at things like youth athletics? Most parents are genuinely well adjusted and manage to enjoy the experience without losing it and I'll leave it at that since we all know (ahem) about the few that can't manage the distinction between a kid's activity and their own fantasy world.

Yet, as you sit there in the stands watching, or as you review the games in your head, or discuss what happened with other parents, you get the full range of emotional value as if you could go out on the ice, or the field, or take over the chess board yourself. Except you can't. It's best if you keep your own coaching to a minimum and let the kid dictate how s/he manages skill and play development.

There you are then, keeping thoughts to yourself and in those quiet moments before sleep or those odd times between tasks the whole imagination, expectations, fantasy complex takes over and you let it go. Not much later your kid is the one scoring the GWG that leads to that scholarship that leads to a degree and a fat contract with a team plus they'll have perfect spouses and kids of their own and they buy a nice safe place for you to live and the world is most wonderful.

Along the way you see yourself as the successful player, coach, mentor. It's your fantasy after all and it's certainly as relaxing as reading a book.

Reality, of course, is closer to a rolling train wreak. It's a rare moment in a person's life when they get to touch the fantasy even in a fleeting, abstract way. I had my moment when the kid put together a 3-on-3 hockey team for a weekend tournament at the last minute. The phone rang at work on a Friday afternoon and I was informed I was the "coach."

My "team" consisted of my son, an experienced hockey player, one other experienced player, another kid who hadn't played hockey in two years and another kid who never played hockey. Oh, and me, their coach, who also never played hockey and has never coached anything. Our competition were teams made up of all experienced high school age players.

Game one made me mad. I didn't have a lot of expectations but I did expect the guys to try. I never planned on talking to them in the locker room later but I did anyway giving myself that Knute Rockne moment that was probably closer to begging. None the less, I made the point that they had embarrassed themselves pretty badly in front of all their friends.

Games two, three and four all ended in losses but we reduced the bleeding and even scored a goal in the final game. The guys worked their butts off and I had a blast trying to keep a good rotation going and providing positive encouragement.

Coaching isn't something I want to do routinely. I'm not qualified to mention one thing. Still, I had my moment to coach a hockey team. The event was no fantasy but I got that faintest of touches. It's something I'll think about in those moments before sleep, you know?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

On the Horns of the Omnivore’s Dilemma

Frozen beer battered fish, frozen French fries dumped on cookie pans and slid into the oven at 425. A bag of frozen vegetable mix dropped into a bowl and popped into the microwave for 10 minutes. Two California oranges pulled from a bag, peeled and placed in a bowl.

The microwave dings and dinner in America is ready. Elapsed time: 26 minutes.

The tale of “industrial food” for industrial eaters is one of four food stories documented by Michael Pollan in his book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.” It’s not a diet book nor a self help book but a look at finding answers for a remarkably simple question – What’s for dinner?

America, Pollen tells us, is awash in food choices all marinating in an uncultured mix of our own neurosis. There are nearly unlimited food choices available to each of us but we’re disconnected from any solid guidance about what we should choose so we’re guided by fear and powerful marketing influences.

Nutrition is one thing. Eating is another. Marketing and convenience and the need to eat all churn in our heads while we worry about what’s good, what’s better, what’s awful and how in the world to we’re going to make our way though it.

It turns out we’re eating our way through it.

Pollen’s approach is to document four food chains: the industrial food chain starting in an Iowa corn field, commodity-scale organic growers in California, a pastoral grass-based farm producing for local markets in Virginia, and finally hunting and foraging from the forest all followed through to dinner at the end.

For anyone interested in where dinner comes from and taking a good look at how it ends up on your table, or more likely in your car, Pollen’s journeys from the field to the fork spins out a yarn of post WWII America that first learned to dry and salt, then can and freeze, and now to manufacture and package its dinner.

The book is reasonably non-judgmental. The most pointed barbs do stick in the industrial food chain but concedes the other food chains aren’t much more realistic. Our dependence on industrial food requires an industrial eater and the shear volume of food needed to sustain large urban and suburban populations with no access to food production of their own literally demands that the flow of calories and proteins continue.

You’ll pick up some well documented facts reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma and you’ll get to spend time having a new look at dinner.

Check out the book at!

Omnivore's Dilemma

Friday, January 26, 2007

Wishing off the grid

Sometimes I’d love to just drop off. Quit the rat race. I don’t mean sitting around doing nothing, not at all. What I mean is taking care of my family and myself on my own. Self sufficiency. Complete and total self sufficiency is what I’m saying here.

Solar electric panels, windmills, methane gas generators all linked, joined and producing the juice for every possible gadget such as satellite uplink/downlink access to media and the internet. Heat emitting power storage walls and flooring, recycled fiber insulation, bamboo or natural wood floors, with real wool throw rugs.

Outside, the yard becomes a fruit and vegetable producing and processing center. Rabbits and chickens humanely caged and managed for eating up food waste and leftovers while the birds eat up insects. Freezers, refrigeration, and dry storage enough to hold 18 months worth of the home grown and preserved foods.

A still, too. The main goal of the still is to have a source of fuel alcohol to use in the golf cart car we’d use to move around town when we couldn’t walk or ride a bike. Oh, maybe I’d take a nip once in a while but probably not as the beer and home fermented wine would taste much better.

Each day would be spent tending to food production or processing with nothing going to waste anywhere. When I wasn’t busy growing and processing I’d be cooking. Fresh beans and fresh carrots right from the ground to the table. There’d be a little patch of wheat in the yard too, useful for rotation with the other growing things and for the wheat seeds needed to mill into flour for the freshest bread in the world. There’s be some sheep to rotate around as well and to provide wool so we could make our own cloths

The best part would be not buying electric power and gas. Yup, clean off the grid. Would I ever get weary of such a pastoral life? Without any bills to pay, no job to race off to I could just look after my little patch of earth and fool around with my family.

Imagine having all the time in the world.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Borrowed wireless

While it's possible to blog from a Palm on a borrowed wireless connection at a cafe, you have to work fast.
After a few minutes, the connection drop. That's okay. Probably prevents me from writing anything really stupid.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Same old New Year

Greetings. Nothing like a new year to get a fresh start. Right? Probably so but '07 had a stinker of a start around here. On the positive side, though, new energy and decisions on the health side of the ledger should yield well with time. Here's hoping anyway.

I'm not going to try to explain the stinky part in any detail in such a public place. Suffice to say there are sick fucks in the world willing to ruin anybody for some cheap, quick thrill. Hopefully, there'll be a successful battle. It's just made more sickening because there was no need for a fight in the first place.

The sickness we see in Washington D.C. is seeping into the soul of the country. People, especially those with a thimbleful of power, are increasingly abusive. Public good? Screw that man, we need our way right now and we're going to get it.

Sigh. Bad things for the blood pressure all the way around.