Saturday, November 29, 2008

What a Life.....

This past thursday I got a phone call at 5:38 a.m. My parents are older and when I get that adrenaline rush of being awoken by a phone call that sends ya.

Well, it was my Mom who told me that they wouldn't be coming to Thanksgiving at Kim's folks. Mom said she wasn't feeling that well and she was sorry.... Of course I was disappointed at not seeing them but relieved that nobody was in a bad way.

One of the many reasons I love my wife is that she instantly thought that I should drive up to my folks place and bring them some turkey dinner. My two oldest told me they wanted to go also. So after our meal was concluded and sufficient playground time was enjoyed by the twins, we drove home and then the boys and I went up to Prescott.

It was a nice, fall drive. Lots of lightning! The boys and I laughed about a bunch of different things. It was nice.

We got to my folks house. They were glad to see us and I was glad to see them. I gave them their containered Thanksgiving meal. It was about 8 p.m., so they opted to have it for lunch the following day. We spent the night there.

I had an interesting conversation with my Dad. He is not the tall guy with the jet black hair and the big, strong hands that would swallow mine up when he held my hand, but he is, and will always be my Dad. But when he hugs me, his generation have gotten a lot more comfortable affection wise it seems, I can still sense the same essence that I have always felt.

He is really sad and frustrated with the condition of our country. He volunteers at the VA in Prescott and comes into contact with vets from WWII up through the Iraq War. He says this sentiment is pretty pervasive. What frustrates these men the most? Not what you may think.

One thing the military ingrains in you is the number 1 rule: you look out for the other guy. My Dad is a living personification of this pedagogy. He threw his back out raking up leaves for the ladies across the street. Oh by the way, Dad is 83. Its that way with him.

It just seems to him that our country and society is just lousy with me firsters. My Dad feels that I "hit the jackpot" when I met and married Kim. And it's not only Kim's looks. It's what is inside of her, the sense of wanting to help and consideration of other people at all times.

I still try to make my Dad proud of me. He thinks being a teacher is great. As he puts it, "not selling my soul for a buck". But its hard, my pay lags, especially in this state. My folks are always there to help. Kim's folks are always there to help. They look out for us. We do our best to look out for them.

So this anxious holiday season, if you are wracking your brain over finances or what to buy someone, here's an idea. Look out for the other guy. Throw a couple of limited supply bucks into a Salvation Army kettle, buy a sandwich for a homeless person, whatever comes to mind.

I've already received so many gifts. Let me tell you about one. Kim puts lunch money into our oldest sons school lunch account. It seemed like he was blowing through this cash rapidly. He's growing so fast these days, we thought he was doubling up on lunches. Well, he was.

A friend of his, their family is having hard times and could not put send him to school with money or food. Lunch became optional. Not in my sons eyes. He started buying this kid lunch until his family could start providing lunch for him. I can honestly say that that was my first Christmas gift of 2008. Its a wonderful gift. One of the best I have ever gotten.

I told my Dad about Zach's act. He was quiet and his eyes got watery. He slapped me on my knee and said,'the boy gets it." Yes he does.

This holiday season expand your shopping list to include everyone. Look out for the other guy.......

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What the heck?

Is going on? There seems to be a general malaise that is prevading so many today. I'm speaking of SL. This isn't fun, I feel this way, I've hit the wall....

It goes on. Have I felt those things? Yes!! Is it normal? I'm pretty sure it is.

I was talking to Yamis a day or so ago. We shared these feelings with each other. She said that she noticed I haven't been on much anymore. She told me that she likewise hasn't been on much.

I used to feel guilty and me not being on used to be a bone of contention in times past with others. But I got to do what I feel. When I'm not feeling it, I'm not online. Many times, to be honest, it's a relief....

I start feeling restless. I feel like I'm just down the same path again and again. Like I'm reading some script or something. "Oh, here's the part where I should make this sarcastic comment...." I hate that feeling. I know its all me. I should be more engaging, etc. Teaching and having four kids makes me focus on the immediate and not the ephemeral.

I guess it should suffice to say that when I'm in world, I'm thinking of RL and when I'm not inworld I'm enjoying/dealing with RL.

Maybe for me this represents the beginning of the end. Worse things could happen :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I'm very thankful that I can share these photos with you guys. I haven't lived in California in a long time, but the following places and stories are part of my inner fabric. The above photo is the main place weould surf usually. The slough flowing out to Sands would flow hard in a rainy winter and create sand bars that would create some nice wave set ups. A very fun place. In some ways, I grew up along this shore.

If you walk down the beach and go around the point, you would come to another surf spot. Coal Oil Point, or Devereaux's was another fun spot. You would walk along the cliffs until you came to the jailhouse, which you can barely see in the background, and take the trail down to the beach itself. There were some great parties at that jailhouse in high school years :).

The shot above and the one that follow are of a Beach called Haskells. A really nice, fun place that you had to be a Goleta local to partake of. Used to go there alot with the Kulper brothers. The environment of the beach has been savaged by some obscene down south developer who created a poorly constructed monstrosity on the bluffs. Thankful I was around when it was pristine.

As a 8 or 9 year old, I used to get rides to the beach, when my parents couldn't give me a ride, by some neighborhood girls. Barb and Sue were pioneers of a sort, females who looked good and surfed good. They were nice and used to look out for me at the beach. I think they smelled pretty good too! Barb lives on Kauai and Sue survived ovarian cancer and lives in New Zealand. You go girls...

Up north of town, along the Gaviota Coast, sounds like the name of a blog, doesn't it? There were/are some nice reef set ups. They would only work during the winter West and Northwest swells. But once they did, the difficult memories of the summer lulls would wash away with your first bottom turn. The world was right again.

All in all, an incredible stretch of coastline. People have been trying for years to get it declared a National Seashore. Ahhh politics..... Really one of the last remaining stretches of coastline south of Point Concepcion that hasn't been Californicated over. Hopefully it can stay that way but life does unfold in a myriad of ways.

A trippy shot that expresses a lot of what is unique surfing in the Santa Barbara area. The ever present oil rigs with their Christmas light set up. Had friends and parents of friends that worked the rigs. Made good money and raised their families as a result of those labors. Life is a series of trade offs really. You got to give to get and vice versa. Hope you enjoyed these brief photos and some captionage. It is all part of who I am. It's all part of my thankfulness package....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A piece of paper

Life is an amazing journey for us all isn't it? As I awoke this morning, I did my morning ritual of plurk, facebook, analytics, gmail, etc.

Our house is a sea of small pieces of paper. With 3 kids in elementary school, we get notices, flyers, newsletters, and other bits of communication. Ads I sat at the computer waiting for the coffee pot to finish its task, I looked at the floor at yet another piece of paper that made its way to the floor. It was the familiar pink strip variation.

I picked it up, flipped it over and read the following: On Friday, November 21st, we will be having HAT DAY at school! For a donation of $1 or more, the students and staff will be allowed to wear a hat to school. Proceeds will benefit the Miller Family....Kim Miller, 29, mom to two wonderful children at Palm Valley Elementary, is battling Stage 4 Colon Cancer! Thank you in advance for your support! PTO Then there was some contact information.

Of course our kids will take donations irregardless if they wear hats or not. Before I read this piece of pink paper, I thought about how much I have to do today. No longer. I am grateful to this small piece of pink paper for focusing me on how little I have to do.

Today is our oldest 13th birthday. Our family is healthy. We love each other. I love my job. Life is good. We will help this family.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Lull

Is it just me or does there seem to be a general lull in the blogging world, or at least that little corner I inhabit? Even those diligent bloggers have hunkered down and their output is somewhat diminished.

So what can it be? The impending holiday season? People stretched and stressed to the max? Well yes, yes and yes.

A lot of people I encounter, even myself have a sense of uncertainty about them. Not rudeness or detachment but a sense of "I dunno". Times are tough, that can not be denied. Our kids friends are losing their jobs. Everything seems have a stamp of transition about it.

I read a book long ago called The Fourth Turning. Can't remember the author(s)right now. I'm sure you could google it. The basic premise is that history and society evolve in four primary cycles. Even the art of parenting is governed by these four premises. Interesting stuff.

The point is that we are evolving. The young ones today are going to fill a role that their grandparents or great grandparents served. They will be looked upon as one of America's greatest generations. It's interesting to think of the dynamics at play.

They will smile when they think of their parents generation obsession with materialistic concerns. We are a self-obsessed banal lot overall. They will live the creed of MLK's vision of America being a nation concerned with people rather than things.

I can't wait to watch it unfold. It fills me with hope to see a generation start to get it right. Hopefully it does you too. Have a great Monday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Information is power people !!!! LOL

Got to love my students. They delight in showing me some of the oddest websites. School appropriate always, of course.

Here's how to look tough in a rough neighborhood...

Sometimes it is the illusion of strength that can get you out of a
tight spot. Looking scary in a rough neighborhood may save you a lot of
unwanted attention and keep you safe. If you look scarier than potential
perpetrators, chances are people will leave you alone.

Consider wearing a hooded sweatshirt or hooded coat with the hood
pulled over your head. When people can't really see your face, they are
more wary of approaching you. With your hood up and your head down, you
become an unknown quantity on the streets.

Look people in the eye if they approach you. Looking away is
always viewed as a sign of weakness. Feeling safe is a matter of
displaying confidence.

Talk to yourself as you walk. When people think that you are
mentally unstable, they have a tendency to leave you alone. This may
sound silly, but making people nervous before you allow them to make you
nervous is a valuable weapon when you have no other defense.

Walk confidently and determinedly without smiling. Walk tall with
your shoulders back and chest out, exuding confidence that you may not
feel. Even if you are lost, look and walk like you know where you are
and where you are going. Confidence is the most intimidating thing that
you possess under these circumstances.

Jeez...all these years I thought I was some kinda badass. Amazing what step 3 can do for ya :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tell us

Ok, I guess its time for another getting to know you type of blogging activity. Five questions, you only tag three other people. Lets go shall we :)

What's your favorite saying?
What part of your personality do you wish not to pass on to your child?
While driving, what's your biggest pet peeve?
If you could change your name, what would it be?
What's the best excuse you've ever heard?

Ok, I tag Kimala and Bradley and you guys

My favorite saying would have to be: I'm sorry. I use this one a lot. The longer you are married the more it comes into play. Only took me many years to figure that one out.

The personality trait I do not under any circumstances want to pass on to any of my progeny is being judgemental. It's a horrible character flaw and one I battle with almost daily. It's unfair and it just flat out sucks.

Driving does not contain any petpeeves for me. I enjoy yelling and it is cathartic. I especially enjoy yelling at people that are in cars, even those people walking around. It's not always negative either. Kim taught me that when someone just does something horrible to you, you just bless them and move on. Some days I'm a blessing machine.

If I could change my name..... Seriously, it would have to be Brute Force. With the emphasis on the ce on the last name. Like For say. Don't know why, but that's what it would be. Beef Jerky might roll in at second place also :)

The best excuse I've ever heard was a delicioius scam perpetrated by my college roommate Tim. He had this scam running on the Student Health Office where he would break down because his gf had broken up with him. He said he couldn't sleep, eat or concentrate on his studies. Said that his gf had cheated on him. This is where the complexity comes in. The caring professional says that college is a time for experiementation, etc. You know the speil. Tim states that his gf has cheated on him with another female. Ok, this piques the interest of the healthcare professional, a male of course, who tells Tim that sexual orientation is as individual as each person. Tim keeps playing along and says he understands but he still has trouble coming to terms with the fact that it is his sister. Game, set and match. Tim waltzes out with a perscription for 100 high mg Xanax. Clever boy that Tim. BTW, Tim eventually works for the Environmental Defense Fund!

Lets see what you guys got :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Start anew....

Just about 45 years ago, there was a fork in the road. Our country took a trip in one of the two directions. It was a hard, draining journey. In some sense, the path led people to become saddened beyond consoling. It seemed like the best and brightest were disregarded and tossed aside. A lot of people's hopes were put in the ground along with President John F. Kennedy on the late November day so long ago in 1963.

But for some, the struggle to make America was incredibly renewed through the actions of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. They represented hope, change and the inherent goodness that is America. But 1968, 5 short years since that horrible day in Dallas, two men who challenged and supported America to become a better place were struck down.

The years went on with our national nightmares of Viet Nam, Watergate and other events that made you question what the hell was happening. Where were the leaders that put our people first? Where was the leader that could create jobs, help business but wouldn't forget a single mother raising two kids in the southwest? We seemed to be lost, drifting, reacting instead of being proactive.

Last night I talked to my two oldest about what was right with America. I told them that they have a very special time in History when they will see America become a more inclusive place. A place not secretly desired for only her material abundance but a place that says to the world, "In this place, all things are truly possible." I told then that they will have to work harder than they ever imagined they could, but that is what their country needs, and that is what their country deserves.

45 years represents a generation in terms of human timeframes. It has been a hard 45 years with so many people feeling hopeless and demoralized. Division has been an agenda to keep people from seeing the goodness that dwells in so many of us Americans. Those days will take time to heal. But it will heal with time.

I am very excited by our countries future. I am hopeful that she will once again assume her rightful role in the world as a beacon for what is right and good in the heart of people. As I looked at my sons faces last night as I spoke to them, their looks of serenity and strength assured me that we are on the right path once again.

God bless our country and all that call her home....