A little less America…..

I believe last week’s Supreme Court decision on the confiscation of private property was a pivotal point in American history because of the usurped power of the average American. We are not as “free” as we think we are. But then again, we have been sliding down this slippery slope for a while now and probably don’t have the gumption to fight it. We would rather be a “kept” people rather than a people who fight for what’s right (see Wednesday’s post on American pussies). I remember a quote that describes a cycle that goes something like:

Revolution leads to independence
which leads to freedom
which leads to opportunity
which leads to prosperity which leads to wealth
which leads to comfort
which leads to sloth
which leads to apathy
which leads to weakness
which leads to reliance
which leads to submission
which leads to oppression
which leads to revolution.

(If someone has the real quote that I tried to convey above, please email it to me.)

I will also quote Thomas Jefferson:

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

People, I believe we have arrived at that point. Short of impeaching the justices who made the majority decision, we are now at the mercy of the judicial branch. In so many aspects of American life, fights that were in the legislative or executive branches have been back-doored to the judicial branch with successful regularity. For example, take California’s Prop 187 which intended to address the swelling costs of illegal immigration. Someone has to pay and the regular California citizen didn’t want it to be them, as was evident in the poll’s victory margin (see http://www.townhall.com/columnists/terencejeffrey/tj20030827.shtml or http://www.ccir.net/REFERENCE/187-History.html). And now we have a private property ruling that allows big bullies — cities, governments and corporations — to mow over the little guy. That puts you and me in the crosshairs. You might not think any of your property or possessions are at risk — that this “doesn’t affect me”. But the minute you let this happen to someone, it can happen to anyone. Luckily, someone has more foresight than I do…..or judge Souter. See this post at Ex-Donkey or the original link here. It is just brilliant!

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

America: the land of…..

While I consider myself a dyed-in-the-wool red-blooded American — Mom, apple pie, the whole nine yards — I have a real concern for the direction of this country. Some recent observations intersected to one of those “ah-ha” times and became the seeds of this tirade. I have determined that America has become a bunch of pussies. Let me explain.

I posted on Monday that we visited the Frankfort Cemetery and walked among the gravestones. It was incredibly interesting to piece together the history, especially those families that were hit hard by losses from the wars of our history. There were family plots that had multiple young sons whose deceased dates were between 1941 and 1945 — probably sacrificing their lives in WWII. There were others from the Civil War, Spanish-American War, the War of 1812, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. The main veteran memorial at the cemetery listed all the known Kentuckians who had lost their lives fighting for what they believed in and protecting their country.

Now let me digress a moment to say that I fully support our current troops that are doing the same thing as you read this — fighting for what they believe in and protecting their country. (For a civilian view into the Iraqi war zone, see Christian’s blog.) We all tend to get caught up in our little lives letting things like screwed up drive-thru orders and cell phone drivers throw us into a tizzy. But most of us really don’t know what a bad day is. A bad day is losing your squad buddy to a sniper bullet or watching innocent children fall victim to a roadside bomb. Most of us really have no room to complain about our pathetic lives. My hats off to all current service men and women who are right now at this moment risking it all so I can sit here and type blather in my air conditioned house. Which is a good transition point.

While walking around the Frankfort Cemetery it was quite hot and humid. We’ve had a bout of very hot, humid and rainless weather for the last two weeks. The ground is hard and cracked. You can cut the air. The one or two showers we got Tuesday (the first in two weeks) didn’t help much to cool things off and only added to the thick humidity. Kentuckians have all been saying that we shouldn’t be getting this weather until August. Luckily, we have A/C and the pool to retreat to. But to look at some of those headstones, there were dates of late 1700′s and early 1800′s. Way before air conditioning had been invented. Before refrigerators, before many of the modern conveniences we take for granted every day. There were people here settling the countryside, not only at great personal inconvenience — lack of coolness, lack of heat, lack of motorized tools to til and harvest the land, lack of power tools to build a cabin — but they also risked their personal safety against hostile Indians and wildlife. These were very tough people and I don’t know if many around today would hack it in this hostile environment devoid of Starbucks.

The above realization that frontier life back then was very difficult merged with a headline I saw in the newspaper that morning about our involvement in Iraq. Rumsfeld was saying that it will take years to quell the insurgency and that threw many in a tizzy. Senators want a “safe” timetable of when we are pulling out, “is it all worth it?”, “why didn’t we plan better?”. This Monday morning quarterbacking was too much. Here, men (I use that word loosely) paid yearly by the taxpayers more than most people will make that year…..or the next few, sit in pinstripe suits in an air conditioned government building having been chauffeured there in a taxpayer paid limo peppering questions like the person asking a Trivial Pursuit question with the answers on the back. Do they read history? Like our history of standing up to tyrants? And winning? Like our history of rebuilding countries whose ass we kicked. I’m almost half inclined to let the United States kick my ass so I can then be rebuilt into an economic powerhouse like Japan, Germany or South Korea. How about our history of sticking with something one hundred percent until the mission is accomplished? WWII took almost 4 years of grueling conflict to win. And that was after 3 years of sideline support beforehand. Politicians want to point to Vietnam. But had we thrown our weight 100% behind that and not let the politicians draw lines and determine objectives, we’d have won that too (and Vietnam would be selling us good cars because we’d have rebuilt their country). Wars need to be run by military experts. Not politicians. Not the President. And certainly not public opinion. Because today’s public is more concerned (and educated) about their Starbucks latte than they are about international affairs.

Part of this is the MTV generation that has the micro-attention span. Couple that with the last several decades of instant gratification and you have a bunch of wishy-washy Me generation consumerist voters who waft at every political wind that blows. So few have the dedication, sacrifice and selflessness to do the right thing whether it comes to themselves, their family, their friends or their community. How, then, can we expect the best thing for our country? And then add in the political correctness movement just for good measure. “We don’t want to offend anyone”. “Everyone is the same” (not equal – there’s a difference). “It’s just easier to water everything down so as to not make waves”. I don’t pretend to have the answers. But I do know that while we might be the military and economic superpower, our people are getting soft inside. Whether it’s laziness, apathy, self-centeredness or ignorance, something has to change if we are to keep this country great. Because once the people go soft, the rest of the country is to follow. Our country is the sum of it’s people.

All I know is that while the early settlers who were the bedrock of this country did not have cars or electricity or running water or the internet or Happy Meals or power anything, they were strong as hell. If we had to fight a revolution with the general public and people we have today, we’d still be paying taxes to the queen and driving on the wrong side of the road.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Day trip…..

Today was the last full day my folks were here. We decided to have a late breakfast and head out east towards the capital of Kentucky — Frankfort. There we first started off with a tour of the Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory. They’ve been around since 1919 and have a fascinating history. It was very interesting to see their operations and get to taste their samples. They were the original inventors of the bourbon ball. Now I am not one for liquor in candy but I sampled one and had to get a bag of their boo-boo balls — the rejects from the line. They are a unique and very Kentucky gift. If you are ever in town, give them a visit or order from them online.

We then hit the Frankfort Cemetery for a look at the memorial to Daniel Boone — one of the more famous Kentuckians. His grave site and memorial overlooks the Kentucky river and the state capital building. It is probably the most scenic viewpoint of Frankfort. We also were able to wander around and look at all the other grave sites scattered throughout. Some went as far back to Revolutionary War times with several veterans from that war. Many Civil War vets from both sides were buried there as well. In the center was a large war memorial to all the Kentuckians who had died in all fighting since the Revolutionary War including the Spanish-American war and the war of 1812. I also spotted a family burial plot with what appeared to be three sons who gave their life sacrifice in the second world war. It was a good time to begin to educate the kids on the history of our country, what it stands for and the sacrifice many have made for us to be where we are today. I feel a tirade post building within me but for now I will hold off.

Finally, we headed home and stopped by an antique shop that we pass by through town almost everyday but have never stopped to look around — until now. My wife found a nice country breadbox for the kitchen and we headed home for some quick naps and relaxation before our last BBQ dinner and my son’s T-ball game. A quick cool off dip in the pool afterwards rounded off our enjoyable day.

An addition to yesterday’s post on the heat and our church picnic — I spotted this church sign on the way home:

“This church is prayer conditioned”

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

It’s Africa hot…..

Well, summer has kicked in full swing here in Kentucky. Not only do we get the beautiful sunshine, but we also get to enjoy the humidity. We call ‘em 90-90 days. 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity. I was dreading it but with the pool and the affordability of keeping the A/C going in the house there are places you can retreat to and cool off. That wasn’t the case in CA. Granted, we only got one or two 100+ degree days but other than driving to the beach, we had no options. Our postage stamp sized lot couldn’t hold a pool (and an inground was too expensive) and thanks to our wonderful governor Gray Davis, we couldn’t afford the electricity for A/C with all the blackouts and brownouts. I actually heard people calling them “Gray-outs”. So anyway, even though it’s hotter here, we have tools to deal with it.

Unless, of course, someone decides to hold the annual church picnic at the end of June. That’s where we went today. It combines all three services into one big service held at 10:45am outside on the lawn. Great concept, bad timing. I brought our lawn chairs, quilts and sunscreen. I was able to squeeze my folks and kids under some spotty shade but the rest of us bore through the service in the sun. It was very uncomfortable and I used the kids wanting water as an excuse to “escort” them so I could have a few moments inside the A/C. It was a very friendly and warm (literally) service. The sermon was about being more welcome, more neighborly and more friendly as stewards of Christ. My wife and I looked at each other when the pastor referred to neighbors not knowing each other and that they should get out and welcome those who live around them. That makes for a nice transition to the birthday party we had yesterday.

What a blast! We ended up having around 20 kids and 20 adults over. A few were the family friends we have made through school and around town with the rest being each one of our neighbor families. It was great to spend some time getting to know them and watch all the kids play together. Since I plan on being here a while, it was nice to strengthen those ties and bonds. I especially wanted to share one of my assets — the pool — with my neighbors and their kids because they had helped us out several times before. From helping us get the Suburban unstuck to not suing us because of a dog fight to saving my back to helping us rookies with our new garden, we have had the extreme good luck fortune to move next to several wonderful families. I feel very blessed to have them here. Neighbors who will help you out in a moment’s notice. Neighbors who you can enjoy good times and special events with. Neighbors who are down to earth and care about you and your kids but who also don’t care too much and become that nosy neighbor that doesn’t have a life and intrudes into yours. We have a really good balance with the people here and look forward to many enjoyable years here with them. One of them even came in to the house to chat with my folks. He was telling them how lucky they were to have us move in to the house. Well, I tell ya — each of our neighbors might have gotten one nice family when we moved but we got the better end of the deal because we got several nice families when we moved.

I’ll just end this post with this — “Thanks, neighbors!”

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Teambuilding…..

I was involved in a corporate teambuilding event yesterday. Our entire work site rode on a nice bus across the river to a retreat in Indiana. It was a beautiful facility set up to offer exercises, learning, recreation and relaxation.

In addition to enjoying the day with my co-workers and bonding and acting more as a team, a visual picture was painted by one of the facilitators. It went like this — when we are born, we are all given five balls. The first one representing ourselves is made of rubber. We can drop it and it will bounce back. The next four are made of fine crystal and are extremely fragile. One of those represents family. If we drop it, it shatters and we cannot put it back together. The next crystal ball represents friends. That one, too, will shatter if we drop it. The third crystal ball is for your health. Like the others, we need to handle that one gently. The final ball represents your integrity. Drop that one like the others, and you cannot put it back together.

It was a powerful analogy that I hadn’t heard before and puts into perspective how we need to treat those very important aspects of our lives.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Fireflies, meteors and satellites…..

Tonight, after my son’s T-ball game, I did a few chores outside to get ready for this Saturday’s pool party we’re having for my son’s birthday. One of the items on my list was to set fire to the burn pile so we would be rid of the cardboard and wood that had been accumulating. You don’t have to ask me twice to bring out the little pyro in me.

It took about an hour to get through the large pile with the flames dancing high into the night sky adding floating embers to the thousands of country sky stars. It was quite hot, so after the fire died down, I decided I’d babysit it from the refreshing poolside. I jumped in and it was very comfortable. I grabbed a few floating noodles and just eased back gazing into the dark sky with pinholes for stars in it.

That is when I noticed some activity — more than usual. Hey, there’s a falling star….oh, it disappeared…there it is again…on the same trajectory….wait, that’s a firefly overhead. Hey there’s a moving star….no, that’s a satellite. Finally, that quick bright streak. That is a falling star.

Anyway, it was very relaxing to lay there floating with the sky entertaining me with it’s light show. It’s a shame I had to get out and go to bed. Here’s to the beginning of long, hot summer nights.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Father’s Day 2005…..

During homeschooling, my wife worked on some stuff with the kids in relation to Father’s Day. I received some nice cards in addition to the research the kids did on the history of Father’s Day. See below. Also, my wife did a Q & A session with the kids each alone so they wouldn’t influence each other. Their answers are pretty funny.

The Story of Father’s Day

Father’s Day, contrary to popular misconception, was not established as a holiday in order to help greeting card manufacturers sell more cards. In fact when a “father’s day” was first proposed there were no Father’s Day cards.

Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington, first proposed the idea of a “father’s day” in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart. William Smart, a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington state. It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

The first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. At about the same time in various towns and cities across America other people were beginning to celebrate a “father’s day”. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. Finally in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day.

Father’s Day has become a day to not only honor your father, but all men who act as a father figure. Stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers and adult male friends are all honored on Father’s Day.

Q & A

Daddy weighs:
Oldest – 150 lbs
Middle – 100 lbs
Youngest – 90 lbs

How tall is Dad:
Oldest – 6 ft 10 inches
Middle – 10 feet
Youngest – taller than the barbeque

My Dad is how old:
Oldest – 21
Middle – 23
Youngest – 50

My Dad does this for a living:
Oldest – works for Amgen
Middle – he just gets up in the morning and goes to work but not on the weekend
Youngest – working

Daddy’s favorite drink is:
Oldest – Dr Pepper in California and sweet tea in Kentucky
Middle – lemonade mixed with iced tea or Dr Pepper
Youngest – wine

Daddy’s favorite food is:
Oldest – strawberry shortcake because he makes it into a mountain
Middle – meat
Youngest – sandwiches because that’s all he eats

Daddy’s favorite color is:
Oldest – red
Middle – red
Youngest – red

My favorite thing to do with Dad is:
Oldest – play with him
Middle – play games and have him to myself
Youngest – work with him

I think Dad’s favorite day of the week is:
Oldest – Sunday because we go to church and then we play music all day and he works in the garage
Middle – the weekend because he doesn’t go to work
Youngest – Sunday because we go to church

Daddy is mad when:
Oldest – we don’t listen
Middle – because we fight
Youngest – kids are fighting

Daddy is happy when:
Oldest – when my brother dances
Middle – when we are nice to each other
Youngest – when we are not fighting

My Dad is the greatest dad because:
Oldest – he plays with me and he’s funny
Middle – just because he is
Youngest – because he does all sorts of fun stuff and he works for us

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Hot for teacher…..

While my wife and I were coming home from a wonderful Cheesecake Factory birthday lunch in Cinci, we were scanning through the not-so-familiar country radio stations. On one of the scans, it came upon a rock station playing Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”. Given our current homeschooling efforts I thought it was very appropriate and I reached over for my wife’s hand and said “Yeah, Baby!”.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Time flies…..

Six months ago today we closed escrow on our house here in Kentucky and began acclimating. The road hasn’t been easy. We have had our ups and our downs. Much has been resolved and the rest we have adjusted to.

Now we sit here at a milestone and I can tell you that we have nicely adjusted to our life here in the Kentucky countryside. There are still some things that suck. We have made changes to accommodate those things or reduced how they affect our family (For example, homeschooling. Or asking for “very non-smoking” when we go to restaurants). Other things we have embraced and enjoy to the fullest.

My wife made a comment the other night when we were at my son’s T-ball practice. She said that earlier in the year, we would go to a school or sport event and not know anyone. Now we show up and we are able to say hi to people and socialize because we know people at most places we go. Just there at practice I said hi and gave high fives to four kids from our soccer team that were now playing T-ball. Those relationships are proof that we are slowly building our social network and becoming part of the community. We are no longer the “new guys”.

I’m raising a glass of sweet tea to our next six months here. I hope yours are as fulfilling and exciting as ours.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

How ironic…..

When I was a boy and as I grew up in my formative work ethic years of 10-16 years of age, one of the chores I had to do the most was mowing the lawn. It started with our own lawn. My dad one day just showed me how to use the electric mower, edge, trim and not run over the cord. Clippings would go over here and the mower would get put away over there and so on. It became my weekly chore and I earned something on the order of $2. I think towards the end of my lawn career at 17 years old I was making $5.

I also learned that other people would pay more than my dad. At the height of my lawnmowing career my kingdom peaked at 7 lawns — not including ours. At $7 per lawn when you are 13 years old that’s quite a business to run and pretty damn cool. It buys lots of baseball cards, anodized bike parts and candy. Too bad I was just a normal kid and bought that kind of crap instead of investing in little heard of companies like Apple Computer, Microsoft and Amgen. I was destined to continue working.

Now fast forward to today. As you all know, my back is still recuperating. As you all also know, my folks are in town staying with us. And as you all know (from here), in April I picked up a pretty cool zero turn mower. Combine all those and you get a kid’s ultimate revenge — your dad mowing your lawn!

I got such a kick out of watching Dad zip down the driveway, along the treeline, up the neighbor’s easement, around the back creek and up again. He picked up really quick and was soon haulin’ a$$. I turned to my wife and said “Look how fast he’s goin’. He’s bookin’!”. She replied by saying “That’s how you look”. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He ended up enjoying mowing the lawn as much as I do. Which is easy to do if you have the right mower.

After my dad was finished and pulled the mower onto the driveway and got off, I pulled out my wallet and gave him 5 bucks. It was the best 5 bucks I’ve ever spent. :-)

And it turns out he needed it. When careening in the front yard where it’s really bumpy, it seems that he didn’t have his cellphone on his hip anymore. We had lots of ground to cover to try and find it. We tried to call it, hoping the ring would lead us to it. But that didn’t work. Luckily, it didn’t take long for us to find the shredded leather case. And then the flip part ear piece. And then I saw the LCD display reflecting the afternoon sun. Oh, and here’s a circuit board here. Hey, the main part of the phone with the keypad is still intact. And the battery light is on. We were busting up laughing so hard. I tried to call it hoping it would grumble out a pathetic ring which would’ve put me on the ground in laughter. But it just sat there.

Piece by piece we found the phone in between laughing fits. My dad pretty much mulched his cellphone in his careening down the yard on the mower. We’ll be headed to the Verizon store tomorrow with the ziploc bag full of remaining parts.

I wonder if anyone has ever mowed their phone.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net