Musing

Hero’s thoughts and witty banter.

Tough Love Legacy

I was reading a book a while back and one of the exercises that it wanted you to complete was writing your own eulogy. Kind of weird. The purpose was to focus on the fact that time is limited and to motivate you towards creating a legacy. Try and imagine all the things that you hope people have to say. I’ve tried several times to complete that exercise and I haven’t had much success. I started writing things down that I hope my children will learn or that I would like to tell them at some point. It ended up something like this:


You cannot be anything you want to be.

Society wants to say you can. But that isn’t true.

You cannot be anything you want to be.

However, you can do the things that you want to do.

You are free to pursue your interests and learn about anything you want. You have more tools than any generation, ever. Don’t waste it on cat videos. (Not all of it anyway.)

You can do the things that you want to do. You can work hard at those things and get better every day. If you are successful and diligent you can find ways to keep doing the things you love.

You will become the things that you DO most often.

So, if there is something you want to be… don’t hope to be it.

Go and DO it.

If you want to be a writer. Go write. Start a blog. Write a story. Send op-ed articles to your local newspaper. Volunteer to write things that need to be written and learn your craft. Get a degree in it or don’t… but write.

If you want to be a speaker. Go speak. Join Toastmasters or a local club. Volunteer to be a spokesman. Go speak at public meetings. Make a YouTube channel and rant about the diminishing cuteness of puppies. Get a degree in public speaking or don’t… but speak.

If you want to be a farmer. Grow something. Start a greenhouse in your backyard. Buy land and livestock. Go work for a commercial farm. Get a degree in agri-business or don’t… but grow something.

Go and do. If you do long enough then you will BE.

It isn’t exactly that simple but then again it is. There are roadmaps and requirements for everything you can do. Go and find the recipe for your life.

Set goals. In six months I will do this. In three years I will do that. In ten years I want to be here. Dreams are fantastic in the moment but they fade in the morning light. We all know that if dreams aren’t written down and recited then they are forgotten. Make a list. Make a schedule. Work towards a goal. If you miss a deadline, don’t give up. Re-write the schedule. Reset the goal. Tomorrow is another day.

Get rid of the notion that people are born “good” at something. Know that people are born into this world with the ability to do two things; cry about their situation and mess their pants. EVERYTHING ELSE is learned. You’ll be ahead of the game if you forget the first two instincts somewhere along the way.

Ask questions. Lots of questions. Dumb questions. Smart questions. Ask them all and remember the answers. Look for connections. The world is a mystery but there are answers. An expert is someone who has failed in every imaginable way. Impossible is a roadblock for some people and a to-do list for others. Everything new seems impossible until someone does it. You live in a world of things that were impossible to the generation before.

Remember that people can be mean. They usually attack for one reason; fear. People fear things they don’t understand and things that threaten their beliefs. It is an animal instinct. Part of the reptile brain. That is why true debate about religion, politics, and if someone’s child is less than awesome – is not a good idea. When you feel attacked try to consider why your opponent feels the way they do and says the things they say. Most strong opinions are built around good intentions.

Don’t put up with bullies. Bullies usually feel powerless and need to pick on someone smaller to feel powerful. This is an explanation not an excuse. Don’t take their crap. If they attack you physically then by any means possible, defend yourself. A well-placed elbow can enhance diplomatic relations. All is fair in love and war. Just be sure that you had no other option. Be fast to forgive and seek friendship.

This one is touchy and I hesitate to say it but… College isn’t for everyone. I prefer you take your education as far as you can. That doesn’t necessarily mean college. If you want to work in a trade then getting a degree in Philosophy doesn’t make a lot of sense. If you want to work in manufacturing or sanitation then you might not need to rack up school loans for four years at a private college on a partial scholarship for badminton. On the other hand, a business degree can be handy if you want to own your own business one day. Just think it through and have a plan.

You are not bad at math. No one is. That is a lie that is easier to repeat than it is to cure. I challenge you to find a single employee who wouldn’t raise a ruckus over a paycheck being off. Or set three kids at a table, in front of a plate with only two cookies on it and tell me people aren’t naturally good at math. Algebra will have all three of those kids nervous because 2 cookies/3 people is less than 1 cookie per person. Life is a series of word problems. Most math struggles are a vocabulary issue.

Get involved. It doesn’t take long to realize that there is no THEY out there controlling things. Only a group of WE’s that made it into management. If you don’t like what an organization is doing, join that organization and DO things differently. Or offer an alternative. Pointing out problems is easy. Implementing solutions is the real magic.

And finally… remember that life is a competition but not against each other. Not for the things that really matter. Most of the time the competition is between humanity and mortality. We need resources and medicine and social fabric. You could be the hero who cures all disease or you might be the guy who delivers his mail. Every improvement is an improvement. Share ideas. Help each other. Get excited about any and all success. Be charitable. Be loving. Be kind. It does come back to you.

I have to tell myself this stuff every day. Part of the list of good advice that I try to collect. I’m always open to more suggestions and you should be too.

I Love You,

Dad

p.s.- Shut the door when you are in the bathroom. You are not barbarians.

Having Pride

I watched TV tonight and feel like I needed to write this blog as a letter to my daughters.

 

Dear Children,

Don’t ever go on a reality show. Do not ever participate in a show that claims to capture reality for the amusement of others. Especially if that show is about love, dating, or partying. I am not aware of a single-one of these shows that benefits mankind. In fact, there are fewer sure signs that humanity is screwed than The Bachelor. (Not to mention, solid evidence of which side will win the gender wars.)

Women are battling for equality in the workplace. For respect on the dating scene. The women of history fought and protested for basic rights and considerations. They are our mothers and wives and leaders and doctors. They dominate the field of nursing because of a compassion for people and compulsion to nurture. Their patience helps mold young minds through teaching in primary education in much greater numbers than men. They have guided advances in science and mathematics. If they knew their true power and influence the world would be a different place.

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But here… on television… they are sold as little more than feral cats circling the leg of a lion. Purring and rubbing him trying to win the prize. They are crying over this random man. They are hanging their life happiness on being chosen. They are snipping and stabbing each other in the back. I’m 100% positive that if nine of the ten women were choking on a pretzel the last one would be straightening her dress and working on her sad face to convince Mr. Bachelor that she was deeply affected by the sudden tragic death of her new friends.

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Spoiler alert. He picks all of them. 

The producers are telling a story. Take note of the message but only to remember how shitty it is. Watch this show once and keep count of some things.

In a two day span he made out with each and every one of the women. They were fully aware of what was going on. The only thought was winning and how they could go farther, faster to gain the edge. I’m also certain that they would voluntarily carry his child to win. If any of them picked up the flu or stomach virus, production of the show would have to shut down while the wave passed. I hope they pre-screen for STD’s.

Maybe it is a lofty goal to hope for anything better. Biology is strong medicine. Attraction and hormones are nearly unstoppable. Fight the good fight. Do what you do and if you mess up don’t carry around any guilt you accumulate. Let it go. But for the love of all that is good and holy… don’t whore yourself out on Season 37 of The Bachelor.

There. That is my advice for the day.

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Take it with a grain of salt because I am taking your mother to see the premier of the third Fifty Shades of Grey movie. It is basically a porn with a little better story line. Not much better but somewhat. And it is a best seller. A large percentage of people who are smart enough to read words chose, of their own free will, to read three of these novels.  A novel series that is based around a woman being dominated by a physically fit, young billionaire with good intentions and a desire to shower her with riches. A fucking best seller.

**Sighs**

You have your work cut out for you. Good luck.

Love,

Underdaddy

Candle Hug

Some people are unspoken leaders. Unrecognized.

They lead through actions, often from the back of the pack.

They are gentle and kind. Giving example and reference.

Their influence comes when other people decide to “act more like so-and-so”.

Seeds are sown that grow and blossom at odd times. Usually in the winter of discontent.

Love grows when and wherever it needs to. Maybe the seed is more like a flame.

I’ve read that love is like a candle’s flame. It can light a thousand other candles and the heat and flame the first candle carries will not be diminished.

Each love that burns has unlimited potential. Each flame extinguished is immeasurable loss.

No wonder that new love excites us and a loss is bitterly mourned.

When people are sad about the death of a loved one they are offered the words, “Sorry for your loss.” It feels misplaced. Don’t feel sorry for me. My friend carried the flame of love and it often warmed my heart. I’ll carry it always. Grieve for your own loss; one candle that you didn’t get to see in action.

Tend your flames. Don’t grow cold.

Hug someone long enough to realize they are warm. Enjoy it. Its why we hug. To verify love is alive and to keep it that way.

 

If you sometimes meander in your thoughts, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Dry Humbug

One week until Christmas; my fifth favorite holiday of the year. This will be my annual Bah-Humbug post so if you are feeling warm and fuzzy with a cup of hot chocolate in front of a fire while Burl Ives sings something in the background, maybe you want to set a reminder on your iPhone and just read this tomorrow after the cold sting of Monday has punched you in the face. Not that I want it to, that’s just how Monday rolls.

We have just completed Christmas shopping within a 48 hour window. I am quite certain that we have overspent and under-delivered on the holiday. They are good gifts. They are evenly distributed and a fair balance of fluffy nothingness mixed with useful clothes. I just feel like I am under-delivering when none of the children really defined what they wanted. In fact, they said a few times that they didn’t want anything. While this is indeed a selfless attitude and very apropos for a Jesus-based celebration, it is not helpful for the corporate American rewards based Christmas. I need a feverish obsession for some obscure toy that I have to work tirelessly to find. I need something I can check off my list and say to myself, “I may not be the best dad but, by God, I found a tickle me Elmo.” Then on Christmas morning I would bask in the joy of my giggling child as she tickled that fuzzy red fucker within an inch of his cotton-stuffed life. These are the Christmas memories I need to justify the crowds and the bank account balance. Not a gamble based on the fact that they like ponies so I guess I’ll buy another horse themed toothbrush set.

My Grandmother made the mistake of letting a few family members know that she thought frogs were cute. As she grew older and enjoyed a more settled existence she became harder to shop for at Christmas time. No problem right? Grandma likes frogs… we’ll get her some frog stuff. She has five children who have children who have children. Not everyone got to spend quality time with Grandma and know her deeper interests but you can bet your ass everyone knows that she likes frogs. Over time she has amassed a healthy collection of amphibians. I’m not sure how many exactly but the last person to see a wave of frogs like that would later free the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. I’m not saying that it is a bad thing. I’m just as guilty as the next relative for going to the frog default but my point in all this rambling is that we have this cultural requirement to show a certain level of appreciation through gifting and when you are hard to shop for you better be all-in when you default to a personal theme. Else, frogs. (I encourage you to share any themes that you have been saddled with in the comments section. Talking it out is good therapy.)

The other holiday point I struggle with year-to-year is the constant cycle of disposability. The kids don’t care about new toys or types of toys just that they get to open presents. I have witnessed them make dolls out of bits of paper and place the bits of paper on top of actual dolls whom they were using as furniture. (Did I use whom right? It sounds stupid.) We fight the endless battle of shoveling toys out of the living room and wading through piles of dirty clothes. Usually we beat the stuff back just far enough to have room for opening Christmas presents and BOOM more stuff.

Our stuff is out of control. We have a storage unit with things we want to give away. What in the actual hell are we doing? Paying to keep things that we want to donate but haven’t yet. We have a box in the garage at this very moment labeled CHRISTMAS STUFF WE DON’T USE, DON’T THROW AWAY! On what planet is that rational? We need an intervention but who has the time?

To add insult to injury, our dryer broke this week. I fancy myself a logical problem solver who can work through trouble shooting a dryer. After all, a dryer is a tumbler with a blow dryer attached. How complicated can it be?

(Insert Jeopardy theme song.)

Three hours later. Instead of surgery, I have performed an autopsy. The problem was with the smallest piece buried behind ALL of the other pieces. It is thirty dollars and will take a week to ship.  Our house of six cannot dry clothes for a week. The week prior to Christmas. Fantastic. In a moment of joy and overflowing with something that can only be described as the embodiment of the Holy Spirit, I stacked the dismantled carcass of our dryer around our Christmas tree and laughed until even the dog was uncomfortable.

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We paid to have our dryer duct cleaned last year and the technicians removed a small dog worth of lint. That same amount of lint filled the interior of our dryer and looks like it caught on fire a couple of times. Clean your dryer folks. Real talk.

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Bottom left. All lint.

Also, in a totally unrelated subject. I saw a really interesting storm water drainage structure. It is a progressive design that takes into account a distant future where global warming creates a 435’ rise in sea-level. Strong work Nostradamus. Shout-out to the City for stringent technical review as well. Nice job all around.

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A masterpiece.

If you are experiencing Pre-Merryment Syndrome (PMS) this post is for you. You’re welcome. I’ll be better. I just needed a little vent.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Bday Movie Night

Another birthday in the books. Thirty six feels like… something much older than my twenties. It came with drinks, dinner, and a movie. I had a hard time deciding on the movie.

I love what Marvel has going with the Avengers and the whole Marvel Universe. Guardians is my favorite. They are incorporating Spiderman and if Venom turns out half as awesome as it could be then I might not be able to handle it. Last night we saw Thor: Ragnarok. It was a natural selection for the evening. It was awesome. Classic Marvel. During the credits they left a good preview of the next step in the saga. There was also a preview for Black Panther and I have high hopes for that one too.

But I was still curious about Justice League. DC has always had the darker side of comics and I have wanted to be a fan of what they were putting out but nothing really seemed connected. Batman vs Superman seemed flawed from the beginning. How is that even a contest? Don’t say Kryptonite because that is a cheap trick. The writers of Superman knew he needed a flaw so the only one they gave him was a glowing green rock. And Batman is wealthy and used to be a character who was driven by his darkness but evolved into a guy without much direction who just buys expensive tech and gets roped into weird plot lines. The Dark Knight series weren’t built for spinoffs which was short sighted. I was starting to lose faith that the universe would make sense. Then Wonder Woman came out and started to turn things around. There were connections to build off of. Maybe it was an island full of powerful women who were scantily clad. Maybe it was her purity of heart. Either way, her movie was good and as soon as it was over I wondered when I would get to see her again. DC has a poor history of follow-up.

We have started watching the Flash on the CW and caught up on the last few seasons via binge watching. We watch Teen Titans GO! On cartoon network and got to know the lighter side of Cyborg. I noticed lots of familiar faces in the Justice League trailer so I almost picked it. But Flash won’t be Barry Allen that I remember and Cyborg won’t make silly dude jokes with Beast Boy. Batman will still be Ben Affleck.  I realized that the only character that I knew I liked and wanted to see was Wonder Woman. Maybe we will get back to the theater soon. The critics aren’t being kind but some people have seemed to enjoy the movie. Let me know what you think if you have seen it. Is Gal worth the effort? Should I have chosen Bad Moms instead?

Aside from birthday fun, I have another update that is a little overdue. We have added a new member to the family.

Jasper “JTP” Waggingham Sr.

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He is an older Maltese who needed a home and seemed reasonably well behaved. He came to live with us about two months ago. JTP had the breath of a dead swamp rat which turned out to be a tooth abscess and he had to have the top two teeth removed. Now his tongue hangs out a little bit and gives him a goofy blank stare. He is a good dog who spends the majority of his time curled up in bed. Sometimes he is too curled up and a few times I have even thought he was dead. He hasn’t been here long but finding him dead would still be traumatic. His only other flaw is that he eats the cat’s food and it makes him vomit. The girls love him and he adds to the family character. I’m certain we will have some fun stories to share about JTP.

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If you are into comics, sagas, and new pets; this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.