Musing

Hero’s thoughts and witty banter.

Sliding Into Summer

Summer has arrived. Spring crept along at a snail’s pace but the sun is in full force and school is out. Here we go.

This might be the laziest beer brand ever. Frio means cold in Spanish. This beer is named Cold Light. Did they have a bag of adjectives and some fermented juice and think “Wow, we could start a cheap brand of beer and revolutionize the industry.” Who tries to be cheaper than Natty Light? Frio Light, that’s who.

WeekendUp2

I don’t trust anything that is only 67 cents per can. Except whole kernel corn. 

We went to a Painting with a Twist. For those of you living under a rock, PWAT is a class where everyone paints the same picture and has the option of getting hammered on booze at the same time. Somehow our trees look like we were actually sober. (We were.) It was a lot of fun. My tree wanted to have an angry face so I gave it one. Supermom says we can’t hang them over the bed now. We are going back in June for Jane’s birthday gift and I hope we paint a unicorn or a dragon. Or a unidragon. Hell yeah, Unidragon it is.

WeekendUp3

An angry face really changes the whole tone. 

Lady Bug is way overdue for some river fun. She is having dreams about riding around behind the boat with her Daddy. She even drew this picture. Luckily, summer has arrived (as I pointed out earlier) and we have a date with the river next weekend. In fact, my father’s entire side of the family has a standing invite to gather at the river and reunite with each other. We have boosted state tourism dollars from the mass migration of our family coming to visit. Be there or be square. And to all my family, take good notes and photos because there will be a couple of blogs dedicated to this one.

WeekendUp7

First glance I though she drew me peeing out of a second story window.  It wouldn’t be the strangest thing. 

One of the best professors at the University of Tennessee was a structural engineering teacher named Edwin Burdette. He passed away this week. I didn’t have a lot of interaction with him and he didn’t necessarily affect my life in a profound way but I remember his skill. He took lessons on steel and concrete and explained it in such a logical way that you really felt like genius. Like he was explaining how to count to five. Some people work really hard to show you how smart they are. Others work really hard to show you how smart you are. Thank you Dr. Burdette for being the second type.

But don’t show up late. God have mercy on your mortal soul if you showed up late.

There is a great article at on his career at cee.utk.edu.

WeekendUp5

Screenshot from Facebook. Not my work. (Obviously, I can only do angry trees. See above)

One of my friends shared a painting of Dr. Burdette that was pretty fantastic too.

Credit for the painting  -> Bobbiecrews.com

One of the last projects that Prima completed in school this year was a research into states of the United States. The drawing below is supposed to be Virginia. That thing on the side is Washington D.C. Personally, I think she nailed it.

WeekendUp4

Wonder what Ben&Jerrys would name this one?

In a small country store I found a confusing bag of treats. There were no normal chips to go with my thick sliced turkey-egg-and-cheese sandwich. Only this Hip Hop + Junk Food collaboration. They tasted pretty good. They smelled like a warm fart in a bag of ranch seasoning. I want to know what bold Potato Industry Executive brought up the idea. Well played.

WeekendUp6

Rolling down the street smoking Indo, snacking on Migos chips. Laid back. With my mind on my Migos and my Migos on my mind. 

If you are ready for all the adventures of summer then this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

 

Bullfrogs

Nothing can spin your moral compass faster than the protective instinct of parenting. We are dealing with another round of bullying at school and hearing about turns me into a seething ball of anger. Holding my composure around my daughters is even tougher.

I sat down at dinner the other night with the daughter who is having the problems. She was acting tough or maybe it was just a disconnection from the day.

“I heard you had a tough day at school.”

“Yeah”, she said without looking up.

I prodded further, “Some kids being jerks?”

Tears welled up in her eyes and she set down the book she was reading. “I just don’t understand it.” A tear from her right eye rolled down over her cheek and was followed by one on the left. “They threw a ball into some weeds and asked me to get it. I got muddy and the other girls laughed. ALL of the boys are muddy everyday but no one laughs at them.” She leaned over on me and her shoulders slumped. I knew she had been waiting for Daddy for support.

“What else did they do?”

“I tried to throw the ball back to the group but it was wet and it went way left. It slipped out of my hand. One of the girls called me stupid and another said, ‘Throw it again. Make the dog fetch’.”

I could hear how wounded she felt in her voice. I could see the scene of kids gathered around having fun picking at the lone target. A girl who was too wrapped up in fairies and fantasy to realize she was walking into a trap.

“Then they smashed my fairy house I was making.”

She likes to pile up rocks and decorate them with moss to make a fairy house. I could picture this scene too. “Who smashed it?” I asked.

“My friend told one of the boys to do it. And they walked over and jumped on it and kicked it around.”

“Your friend? That doesn’t sound like a friend.”

“She was my friend. She was just being mean with the other girls. I don’t know what I did to them.” She looked at her empty hands. Searching for some reason.

My heart ached in my chest. What can I do? I can love her beyond words. I can be her friend at home and on the weekends. I am lost at how to make things better at school. I feel tears building in the corner of my eyes. Hot angry tears.

I know what I want to tell her. I want to tell her to pick the biggest one and completely lose her shit in a tornado of rage. Bite them in the face. Poke an eye. Smash and burn everything they have ever loved into a powder. Light fires. Raze the landscape and leave nothing but scorched earth in your wake. Make those little bastards pay. Put fear into the hearts of men and all of those who would be your enemy. Take no prisoners.

I take a breath. The instinct passes quickly. I would never tell her those things and it wouldn’t matter anyway. That isn’t who she is.

I’m a little more “Old Testament” kind of guy. I was the kid who would get hit with a spit-wad and return fire with a chair. My daughter wants to enjoy animals and talk about funny things. She loves reading magic stories and watching old movies. I can’t imagine a better friend in the world and hopefully she doesn’t let the mob mentality of a few 5thgrade dumbasses change her.

I put my arm around her and sit for a minute. I need to say something but it all feels empty. “I’ll talk with the principal. It may help. It may not. Don’t ever for a second think that you will be in trouble for standing up for yourself. If you feel threatened or in danger, fight with everything you have. Once you decide to fight… don’t stop until someone makes you. People go after easy targets because they are assholes. That never changes. This will get better, one way or the other. Most bullies are just bullfrogs. They sit around their little pond and croak at whatever walks by.”

“Okay Daddy…”

I’m not the guy who cries wolf at every little problem. I feel like society at large is quick to label things as bullying. I was teased by friends occasionally but I don’t feel it counts as bullying. I did my share of teasing too but I don’t think it crossed that line. My daughter’s scenario is different. The actions are petty but constant. It can be difficult to decide if “kids being kids” or there is a persistent trend that needs intervention. Most of the kids who bully are dealing with a challenge from some other part of their lives. Some of them are just shitty human beings. When it is your child who is bearing the brunt of their actions, you really don’t care which is which.

We are going to work through this. Things are quieter at the moment. Summer is approaching so we will have a few months to rebound and several of the problem children are claiming they are transferring school districts for next fall. Fingers crossed.

I went to eat lunch at the school in a show of support and I met a few of the kids. They didn’t have fire coming out of their ears or horns on their heads. They were just stupid kids who didn’t seem to have much direction. They certainly weren’t prestigious enough to be passing judgement on anyone. One of them might actually be part bullfrog. Considering it may me laugh out loud.

Part of my visit was to try and see if my daughter was truly alone in her struggle. She did have one friend who seemed to have her back. The girl was holding half of a pair of scissors when I met her. I asked, “How well do those scissors work?”

“Just fine. They ain’t for cutting paper anyway…”

She then started to sharpen a pencil she was holding in her other hand. She stared blankly into the lunchroom crowd and let the shavings fall into her plate. I leaned over to my daughter, “It’s a good thing this one is on your side.”

“I know right. She is kind of scary but I like her. She doesn’t like people being mean to other people either. I teach her about animals and Greek Mythology.”

“Sounds like a good friend. Buy her an ice cream every now and then. I’ll pay for it.”

“Okay.”

Bears don’t mess with wolverines because the fight ain’t worth the crazy. I’m glad my daughter has a wolverine.

If you deal with any of this crap from time to time, this post is for you. You’re welcome. Bullying is complete crap. Be a friend and a safety net. That’s really the only advice I have.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

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.

Bachelor_2

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.

Bachelor_4

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.

Bachelor

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.