Posted in #politics, current events, perspective

School Terrorists and Hostage takers

I am no fan of the government local, state or federal.  There are some things they are supposed to do, but more often than not they do things they aren’t supposed to do.  My beef now is with the school district, or as I refer to them, the ultimate terrorists in hostage taking.  There is little you can do to stop them, because they will tell you it is for the kids.  They need more money and if you don’t give it to them your kids will suffer.  Never mind the fact that your kids will suffer no matter what because they will pump your kids with their political views (usually the left side), and even if you take your kids out they still get your money.  Remember the government is the greatest thief you either give them your money or they take your house or your freedom.

My school district has decided they need more money, almost $800 million, never mind that they got almost $600 million 4 years ago.  This is being voted on as bond proposal, and the district is pushing hard to get it passed.  Most of the parents I have seen don’t want their kids to fall behind the curve, and think the bond is a going to be good for the kids.  Currently they are planning on replacing existing schools that are around 50 years old and were poorly maintained and now are falling apart.  Somehow other school districts have older buildings in worse environments that are magically in relatively good condition.  Apparently $600 million dollars wasn’t enough to fix things, they really needed $1.3 billion and they didn’t know that in 2018.  Besides replacing schools, we also get (wait for it)………… facilities for extracurricular activities and fancy playgrounds.

Schools now a days are all about sports, because so many of our students end up in the professional sports arena.  Forget if they can read, write or do basic math lets shell out money so that the kids know what to fucking do with various balls.  Hit it, bounce it, throw it, or kick it that is the way to make a living, don’t worry about balancing your million-dollar bank account or even know what the contract says before you sign it, you can hire people to do that.  Oh wait, no you can’t because we were to busy teaching you what to do with the ball that we didn’t spend any time teaching anyone else how to move society forward, because sports are all that matter.  Recess is so important, because kids can’t just figure out ways to have fun with a stick and some rocks, that’s why we need million-dollar playground.  When I decided to live somewhere based on a school district, I never looked at the academics, only how good they were at football, basketball, and baseball.

They have told us that they will not increase our tax rate, because increases in housing values with help pay for the bond as the payments come due.  I guess housing values have never gone down and only go up.  For those with short memories in 2008 there was a housing collapse, and this district that year asked us to increase the rate otherwise they were going to have to cut all of the extracurricular activities.  I can’t tell you how incomplete my life would be without the honor choir.  Tack onto that the county wants to build a low income housing project in this school district. Because nothing brings up housing values like low income housing projects. Per the current budget they spend about $13k per student, in-state colleges cost less for tuition.

I have a better solution, how about instead of spending the money before you have it, save it as our property values go up, cut the administrative staff and the bullshit salaries of political level positions, and stop buying bullshit for shit that doesn’t matter like sports.  Principals don’t need to make more than every household of the students they serve, and neither does the superintendent.  Pay teachers based on performance and not years worked.  If teachers are skilled professionals, pay them like skilled professionals not laborers.  Engineers, accountants, managers etc. get paid by performance not time, time is a factor in performance, but not the only one.  Better yet, stop stealing my money and I’ll give it to the schools I choose not the ones that are currently holding my children hostage.  It doesn’t seem to matter, both the left and the right seem to be all in on voting to give the district more money. As far as the bond is concerned, if you haven’t figured it out I am voting FUCK NO.  I am probably in the minority, but at least I can cast my ballot.

Posted in current events, perspective


Alright, so it has been forever since I have written anything.  What can I say?  It has been a hell of a year.  Covid-19 has shown how even mundane things can become political and stupid.  Somehow making a decision or an innocent mistake makes people crazy, as if we haven’t been living with deadly diseases since the planet formed an atmosphere.  I mean there is an entire continent where nature tries to find new and creative ways to kill us.  Looking at you Australia.

I live in Texas and apparently when the government isn’t mandating that people do something, this somehow pisses people off.  Now that statement may make you think I am going make a right sided argument, but I am actually going make my own argument.  I am going to continue to wear a mask, and I never actually gave two fucks what a government official said on the matter.  I do not think the government needed to say shit on this, nor I do I think not wearing mask needed to be crime worse than stealing (aka non-violent crime).  I bring that up because we let people out of jail for non-violent crime, but were willing to throw people in jail for not wearing a mask.  Thankfully it never actually happened, but in some places it was actually written down, the police just decided not to enforce it.

Let’s actually talk about these masks for a second. Shall we?  First let’s talk about the psychology of safety.  A mask does not make you immune or 100% guarantee that you won’t catch anything.  The reason this is important to acknowledge, is because of how the human brain works when it thinks it is safe.  The illusion of safety, makes the brain dial up the level of risk each of us is willing to engage in.  This is always a topic at my safety meeting because safety features and person protective equipment (PPE) don’t guarantee you will survive everything you will encounter.  You can compare American football to rugby, there is more PPE in American football, and way more injuries than in rugby.  Why?  Because the players engage in way more aggressive play than they do in rugby, essentially nullifying the safety they get from helmets and all of the padding.  Highway fatalities go unchanged year over year even though cars have way more safety features.  Why?  Well, that is because people choose to drive faster and make crazier decisions, like jumping 4 lanes of highway to exit, because they thing they are safe.

Now, as for the masks, do they help?  Yes, they do.   Not because they act as a filter, only a full-blown respirator that seals to your face will do that.  The cloth masks or surgical masks everyone is touting, will catch the mucus when you sneeze, but it won’t stop a virus from getting out.  What it does do, is decrease the radius of exposure an infected person has, from 6-8 feet down to 1-2 feet.  So, if you wear a mask and decide to get in someone’s face, congratulations you negated the purpose of the mask.  If you are going somewhere where you will never be within 10 feet of another human being, a mask isn’t hurting anything, but it isn’t really preventing anything either.

To all of the people that post videos showing that stuff gets through the mask, understand that isn’t the point.  It’s so that when you go someplace where 6 feet isn’t possible to maintain, that radius can be decreased to 1 or 2 feet, like at the aisle of a grocery store.  To all of the people touting masks and proclaiming from the rooftops that you are going to continue to wear masks.  Where the fuck were you before Covid-19?  If you’re worried about your kids, the flu kills more kids than Covid has.  Most Covid deaths are for people that are over 65, and a rare few are people under 20.  I am not making this comparison to the flu to minimize Covid, but to say everyone should have been doing all of this shit during flu season.  I mean there is a fucking season, you know when your ass should be masking up, and it is between September and April. 

I am fine with vaccines.  I love them, you don’t have to agree with me on that, but to all of the other people who love vaccines and are screaming about how you’re gonna always wear a mask, I have some questions.  Do you get you and your kids vaccinated every year for the flu?  Do you always wash your fucking hands after you use a public restroom?  If you don’t answer yes to both of those questions, I really don’t value your opinion on this matter.  Because not only do I get vaccinated every year, I wore masks during flu season, I used handkerchiefs and paper towels to touch surfaces in public, and kept hand sanitizer in my car or on me when I went to a place that I wasn’t sure if they had some inside.

I did have Covid in my house, and either my boys and I have amazing immune systems or we just did an excellent job of not giving a shit to a point that we never got infected.  My daughter caught it at a Volleyball game, we were alerted that she may have been exposed, after she was in contact with my boys and I.  So, we didn’t bother to do anything to isolate or quarantine her in the house, we just started boosting our immune systems as best as we could.  We waited for 5 days before we got her tested, because we wanted to be confident in the result, since she never had any symptoms.  She tested positive, but my boys and I never tested positive.  We all got tested twice, 5 days after exposure, and another 5 days after the first test.  I don’t know how we did it, but we did.

I believe people are free to do what they like, and business are as well.  If a business wants you to wear a mask to come in, then wear the mask or go somewhere else and don’t bitch about it.  We didn’t seem to have a problem with “No shirt, No Shoes, No Services,” because we respected private business.  Apparently, bottoms were optional, but you better have a shirt and some fucking shoes.  If you want to wear a mask, then wear a mask, and if it bugs you that some people don’t wear one, then don’t hang around those people.  But neither side needs to act all high and mighty and announce to the world what they are going to do because of whether or not they chose to wear a mask.

On another note, if I can make a mask out of my shirt, then pulling my shirt up over my nose and mouth should be the same as wearing a mask.   Especially, if you’re not going to have problem with the person wearing a mask around their chin or with their nose hanging out.  Sometimes, I just forget the damn thing, its not a political statement, and the thickness of the fabric doesn’t change when I rip off my sleeve and wear it like a gator.  That actually happened, at the courthouse of all places.  My shirt over my nose and mouth was not proper, but the person in front of me was fine with their nose hanging out, and the lady telling me I needed a mask with her mask hanging around her chin.  Thankfully, they had masks there for me to use, but I legitimately thought I had one in the car, and didn’t realize I didn’t until I got to the courthouse.

Bottomline, you do you.  You don’t need the government to mandate something for you to feel like you need to do it.  You also don’t need to call me a pawn because I wear a mask, or that I am an inconsiderate asshole, because I forgot one.  I have better things to do with my time, than worry about how what I have on my face makes you feel.  Besides, I thought the point was to flatten the curve, the assumption was that the same number would be affected by the disease, and we just wanted to spread it out so the medical system wouldn’t be overwhelmed.  Well, it’s been a year, how flat do we want this curve to be?  From what I’ve seen the over flow capacities were never used, and were shuttered without seeing a single patient.  So, to conclude, just leave me alone.  I don’t give a shit what you decide to do, and I don’t give a shit about your opinion about what I am doing at any given moment.

Posted in advice, perspective

The Positivity of Patience

As most of you may have noticed, I have tried to keep things pretty light recently.  With so much fear out there, I didn’t think focusing on the negative was going to be helpful in any way.  It is easy to be negative, and sometimes it is really funny.  It is funny to point out the stupidity of others, or the lack of common sense we see all of the time.

But this is where patience can really be helpful, because the first thing that we need to do is establish the perspective of the person we are frustrated or annoyed with.  If they are an arrogant prick, it feels really good to bring them down a peg or two.  But if they were someone doing something they thought was right, it is hard to be mad, and a lot easier to talk things out.  But, in both cases patience is warranted, because you need to take a step back and try to figure out what your endgame is with each person. 

You should want everyone to become better.  Either better people in general, or better at the task at hand.  Making some feel angry or on the other side, stupid, isn’t going to get you where you need to be. 

If you make someone angry with you, they are only going to try to make you look foolish or relish in the times you fail.  If you trying to accomplish some goal, having your teammate try to trip you up every step of the way isn’t getting the team their any faster.  It is this short sightedness, that many of us live in, because we thrive in the instant gratification we get by venting or making a prick feel stupid.  If we focus on the long game, we can see that this pettiness isn’t moving the ball down the field, instead it is stagnating in one spot, or worse moving backwards.

If you make someone feel stupid or insecure about what they are doing, they will slow you down too.  But in this case, it is out of fear, and they will constantly be second guessing themselves, and taking forever to do whatever task you have given them.  They will do this, and never come to ask you a question because they are afraid of making you angry or disappointed.  Instead of actually trying to work against you, they are the clumsy player, so worried about making a mistake, that all they can do is make mistakes.

That is thing, it is easy to be the angry teacher, coach, supervisor, etc. and that is usually what we do.  I was one of those people, and I am still fighting to not be one of those people.  It is always easier to deal with the nice timid and worried person, because with an asshole you just want them to fail.  But in both cases with patience and perspective you can get the whole team moving in the right direction.  As a leader, sometimes you may have to take a bullet just to get everyone to focus on the goal.

Posted in perspective


Life isn’t fair, and sure as hell isn’t easy.  But we are not defined by the obstacles, but by the triumph, or failure.  Failure is a lot harder, and when we fail, rarely do we do we acknowledge that we just weren’t good enough.  Humility is rarely the response to failure; the response tends to be excuses.  Not that the opponent was just better, but that we weren’t playing at our hardest, we were tired, we had a lot on our minds, or whatever we can think of.

But what if we accepted that we just weren’t good enough, and in the acknowledgement, we got back up, trained harder, studied more, or practiced intensely.  We can only get better by first accepting our short comings and work to build ourselves up, no matter what the problem.  Excuses only allow us to stay the same and never get better.  If we never get better, we will never grow and we will never move on or up.

The harder the trials, the more we have to work, and once we beat one trial, life will throw another one at us.  It never gets easier; it only gets harder.  Yesterday was easy, today is hard, and tomorrow will be a beast.  No matter how hard it gets, we can never give up, there are other people counting on us.  Whether they be a spouse, kids, friends or co-workers, we are not islands and everything we do ripples to someone. 

The good news is that we are not alone, we have friends and family, who may not always be able to help us, but will be willing to try.  And in dire situations, there are hotlines, volunteers, outreach associations, charities and first responders that can be called.  No matter what life throws at you, never give up, and never be ashamed to ask for help, because you are loved.

Posted in perspective

The Life Worth Living

Life is an amazing and wonderful thing if you sit down and think about it.  While I am not saying there aren’t aliens out there, it seems ridiculous all of the things that had to come together to make sure that we could survive on this planet let alone come into existence in the first place.  First the sun had to come into existence alone, which is odd according to a lot of astronomers, they usually form in pairs.  It couldn’t be too big, because its gravity would pull everything in, and it couldn’t be two small or it would not provide enough heat. 

Then all of the planets had to form.  Ours had to form at just the right spot, so that it wouldn’t be to hot or to cold.  In the beginning there was a problem that our planet was spinning to fast, so a moon formed, exactly how is debatable.  One theory is that it is partly made from Earth, after it was struck by a large asteroid.  But we need that moon to slow down the rotation of the Earth.  Then there is still the sun to deal with, we need it for its heat, but it also puts out a lot of radiation that can kill us.  So our planet has a core of liquid metal that is rotating, that generates a magnetic field and protects us from all of those rays.  Then single celled organisms riding on asteroids impacting our planet, mutate and evolve to create plants, and those plants and bacteria create oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen that then creates our atmosphere.  And after all of that animal life starts on this planet, and eventually we come to be.

But our solar system gave us guardians too, to make sure those same asteroids that started life on this planet don’t wipe it out too frequently.  Jupiter and Saturn are the greatest guardians, there gravity is so massive, that they redirect the asteroids or take the bullet for us.  They have missed a couple of time, but it is a good thing they did, because life would be a lot more difficult with dinosaurs running around.  The new Jurassic World movie with give us an idea of what the world might be like with giant murder lizards running around.  We are freaking about 2-inch murder hornets running around, can you imagine a 20 ft hungry lizard wandering through downtown.  Better yet, a 50 ft monster that needs second brain in its butt to move its back legs, it may not eat you but it won’t notice if it crushes you.  I suppose the closest we humans will ever get to every animal trying to murder us is, well, Australia.

And we still haven’t gotten into how amazing the life itself is.  All of the difficult systems that have to work in harmony with each other.  DNA sequencing, that if it is just a little off, can have horrible repercussions. But we can talk about that a different time.

In the meantime, just realize how many things had to come together so you could exist.  And you are the only one of you, and your life has meaning to so many people and you may not even realize it.  No matter how bad things get, just remember someone loves you, they may not have said it in your love language, but you are loved.

Posted in perspective

Here’s to the Good Life

One thing I am guilty of is probably having little to no shame.  It became clear when I was challenged to post a message saying that I dance like a unicorn in a tutu in my kitchen when I get bored.  It was for autism awareness and when someone likes or comments on your post you challenge them to pose the same message.  What was so funny about it, was how many people responded that they actually thought I would do something like that for real.  Given that response I might actually do it.

Sometimes we take ourselves to seriously, and I know from going to my daughter’s volleyball games there are a lot of parents that do.  There is nothing wrong with it, but why not let yourself go and have a little fun.  I am not saying that people should be rude, and me cheering and supporting for my daughter’s team is NOT me jeering or hating the opposing team.  I love my kids and I want them to know that I am willing to make a fool out of myself so that they know it.  But I get on the sidelines wearing a Deadpool shirt that says “Maximum Effort” with pom-poms cheering her team on.  They seem to do better when they are laughing and enjoying the game instead of worrying about making a mistake or losing.

One other dad would typically join in on the shenanigans, but we could not get any of the other parents to join.  Usually no one wants to embarrass themselves, but it is for the kids, there really isn’t anything better than making your kids laugh and destress.  We all have our ideas in our mind about what certain people behave like.  When people see me acting like a clown, no one can believe what I do for a living.  To a certain degree I now thrive on defying the stereotypes people have.

But why take yourself too seriously?  Making people laugh is a good thing, and being able to laugh at yourself can make you a better person.  Life is too short to be worried about if people respect you because you are stoic, they should respect you because you are good at what you do.  And instead of judging someone because they are silly, maybe we should give people a chance to prove themselves. 

Have fun in life people, you only have one of them, might as well enjoy it.

Posted in perspective

Love or(/and) Money (The Real Choice)

Why do we get up in the morning Monday through Friday versus sleeping in?  Chances are it is because of a job, a job that may be loved or hated.  So, I have always been of the opinion that we have the jobs we have because we either love them or we get money out of them and that offsets the hate we may have toward them.

If you are one of the lucky few, you may get paid enough to live on and also love what you do, congratulations on winning the lottery.  But a lot of us do what we love and struggle to get by, or we slog through the week to make enough money that we can take care of ourselves, family, and maybe some extra for doing fun things or other hobbies.  I am an engineer, I enjoy the people I work with, but I can’t say math and science are things I love to do and would do for free.  Maybe there are some people out there who do calculus and physics calculations for fun, but I am not one of them.

I write this blog because I enjoy it, but other than some pennies that I get in ad revenue, I am only doing it to blow off some steam.  Other people play sports or video games, some watch, others may build models, or sing, or dance, or act, and some are so good people voluntarily pay watch or buy.  That is the marketplace, where through choices we each make we dictate how much value something has.  If it has value to us, we will pay for it, and if it doesn’t, we will do it ourselves.

When I call the plumber, it is because I don’t want to deal with problem I am having and I will pay what he asks, shop around if I don’t like his price, or do it myself if I really don’t want to spend whatever everyone is asking for.  That is my choice, same goes with the AC, electricity, yard work, etc.  The people doing the work, may love it or love the money they get from doing it.  But ultimately it is a choice, and I do not have a right to anyone of their labors or products.  Doctors and nurses fall into this category too, if they love what they do, they may choose to do it for free, but if they want to get paid, that is their choice, and how much I am willing to pay for their services is my choice too.

My point is, I don’t have right to their services, and regardless of my insurance situation, they can choose to take insurance or not.  If a doctor or nurse wants to accept cash only, they can, and if they are really good, they may be able to do that.  But thinking that insurance equals medical care is silly, because plenty of these professionals choose not to take insurance, just like some stores don’t take American Express.  When they love their jobs, they may not charge a whole lot, and they may even volunteer to do it for free.

I can tell you, if my engineering services got deemed a right, because people feel they have a right to streets, clean water, gasoline, and electricity, I would change my profession to something I like more or get paid more to do.  And if I was about to start college, you can bet that would affect my decision on what I would major in.  That is why the great freedom of being able to choose to do what you love or do it for the money is so important, because when your services get deemed a right to others, eventually you do it because someone is pointing a gun at you.  At that point, you don’t do a great job because of the reward you may get, you do the minimum you have to, to not get shot.

I have cousin who still lives in Cuba, she is a nuclear physicist, she gets paid $10 a month, because she needs to keep the power up, and if she doesn’t, she will be imprisoned or shot.  When she is done, she chooses to sell coffee to tourists, because she makes $20 a day.  She does one to not die, the other she does for money so she can enjoy life a little bit more.

The United States is a great country, because when we graduate high school, we can choose between what we love and what will make us money.  We can choose where to spend that money, and we can choose if we are willing to make someone else rich, or try to be rich ourselves.  We can also choose to not care about the money and do what we love.  And who knows, people may love what we do out of love, so much that they make us rich.

The power to choose is what eventually makes us all rich, rich in the ways that matter to us.  At the root of all choices I contend is the choice between what we love and what makes us money, and if we are lucky, we can have both.

Posted in perspective

The Illusion of Control

So, I know it has been 2 months since I posted anything, but man, what a crazy two months it has been.  The beginning of the year looked so positive and promising, and here we are, dare I say, all of us asking where the reset button is from 2020.  It is a like a video game that went sideways early on and instead of trying to slog through the rest of the game, it is just easier to start over.

That is the thing, though, time does not stop, and flux capacitors haven’t been invented yet, but I still want a DeLorean.  We pretend that we have control over our lives, and to some extent we do, but when it comes to the time, we leave this world, we have almost none.  You can get your annual check-ups, you can watch your diet, and exercise, but that isn’t going to save you from the idiot driver who isn’t paying attention.  Shoot, you can live a healthy lifestyle and still have a heart attack, like one of the trainers from the Biggest Looser

My dad was probably one of the healthiest people in my family, did everything he was supposed to do, and one morning he had a heart attack, and we lost him that day.  With everything going on this year, my grandmother could not attend his funeral so she could say goodbye to her son.  And while this virus is bad, we were told early on that it wasn’t worse than the flu, then we shut everything down.  Now, as we get more data, we find out it is a little worse than the flu but not that much worse.  The flu has a mortality rate of 0.1%, but studies done in New York show it may actually be closer to 0.5%.

For context we currently have number of deaths attributed to covid-19 of about 63,000 per the CDC at the time of me writing this.  We have been dealing with this virus since early February at the earliest, since the cases before that were brought over and quarantined from out of the country.  The flu in 2017-2018 killed 79,400 according to the CDC, and in 2018-2019 it killed 34,200 according to the CDC.  The number in the 2017-2018 season are worse than the latest models for covid-19 that predict about 74000 deaths according to the University of Washington models.  But we have a vaccine for the flu, and we have nothing for covid-19, and the vaccine in 17-18 was 40% effective.  That is not great but it is better than nothing.  Could you imagine if the vaccine didn’t exist what that flu would have been like?

Even with those rates, people still don’t want to get the shot.  I use public restrooms and wash my hands like I am going into surgery.  I even use a towel to grab the door handle when I leave, because I see a bunch of people who take a shit and just leave.  I watched an episode of Mythbusters where they proved that there was almost nothing you could do to keep poop off of your toothbrush.  Now I soak my brush with Listerine before I use it.

The only difference I see now, is that it is on the news all of the time.  It is like school massacres, you would think they were just a phenomenon that started in the 90s.  But just do a google search and you will find they have been going on since the 1840s, and the worst one being in 20s, and I mean the 1920s.  We don’t remember them, because they were local events and not all over the national news.  These are terrifying things, and I am not advocating for people to not be aware or precautious.  But life is dangerous, we can all build bunkers that are hurricane and tornado proof, with disinfecting showers when you enter and hermetically seal behind you.

At the end of the day we are all still going to die, we can choose enjoy the life we have and accept the risks and possibly die young.  Or we can be miserable, eat only healthy foods, exercise frequently, never really have human contact for fear of disease, and still die young, because of all of the stress we had worrying about being healthy.  No matter how anyone may feel, there are just things that are beyond our control, and no amount of worry or stress will change that. 

But please, wash your fucking hands in the bathroom, if you really don’t think you need to, stop using toilet paper, then maybe there would be some in the stores.

Posted in perspective

Dilemma of Judgment

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” how many times have we heard that expression?  It sounds line and it make us all feel good about being judged by the who we are and not what we are.  But how much sense does it really make?  Is there anything in life that you don’t make a split-second decision based on how something looks?

To start my point absurdly, go pet a tiger.  If you do, you will most likely be dead, if you don’t you made a judgment that an animal that looks like a tiger is dangerous.  That judgment was based solely on appearance.  On the other side, reading a book can be a serious commitment of time, and before you even pick up that book, the cover has to entice you to even read the back cover to see if you may like the book. 

The purpose of the statement is that you may like someone for who they are and not what they look like.  If you are in a club, you’re not going to walk up to someone you find unattractive, or someone who is not your type.  You are going to walk up to the person you find attractive, and hope and pray you have something in common.  This doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it is actually your evolutionary desire for your genetic line to survive.

It is that same desire to survive, that makes us make split-second decisions about other people and whether they will be our friend or want to bring us harm.  We are always looking for things that make us believe we have something in common.  It is they way we dress, the way we carry ourselves, the way we talk, among many other things we visually do that signals friendship or danger.  So, I think it is incumbent on all of us to remember where we are going, and what cover we want to show the people around us. 

But if we put up a leave me alone cover, don’t be pissed when people actually do, and sometimes that cover may make others think you are up to no good.

Posted in perspective

The Ups and Downs of Nostalgia

Today, I was on a work trip to a city close to where I spent a good chunk of my childhood.  I was about an hour and half drive (or a drive to work on a normal day) from Independence Kansas.  It is a small town in southeast Kansas with a population less than 10,000 people.  I was still in elementary school when my family moved out of Kansas and to Ohio, and today was my first time back in over thirty years.

I had a lot of good memories there, and going back was awesome and somewhat disappointing.  When I lived there, the major employer was Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO), but in 1996 ARCO was bought by BP and those offices in Independence were closed.  The building is still there, but not even Google says anyone is in it anymore.  And Riley Elementary School, the school I went to through the third grade, was demolished, and while I can’t find a date, according to aerial photos from Google Earth looks like it was between 1991 and 2002.  If anyone has a date for that, please let me know I would love to know.

But I stopped by the Riverside Park and zoo, known for putting a monkey into space and it looks the same as it did thirty years ago.  It has been well maintained, and it was good to see it, but it did make me feel old.  The pool there looks like a small water park, which is way better than I remember, when it was just pool with a diving board.  I also stopped by the house I grew up in on Catalpa street, it has been remodeled and is blue now(my favorite color, but not sure how other people feel about a house that color), but still felt like home, even though I only saw it from the outside.

After we left, we also stopped by the “Little House on the Prairie” house, where they also have an old school house and post office.  While I am not a hundred years old, going back to my old town after 30 years, and seeing this little historical area, made me wonder how things will feel when I am in my 70s and 80s looking back at something from my 20s.  Because while things looked good, it was still depressing, because of all the good memories I have there, but I have lost contact with all of my friends and their families there.

Enjoy the moments you have as you are having them, because they will change, and when they do, for better or worse, you will miss what those moments were.

Posted in advice, perspective

Life is a Lost Highway

Driving around the country and you will notice that each city seems to have a different way of laying out their highways.  Houston does it one way, and since that is where I live that is what I have gotten used to.  But every time I travel to another city in the US, it might as well be another country, because if you’re not paying attention to the road and looking at your GPS (or map for those older than 45), you will end up missing your turn.

That is when the real fun begins, because you will have to wait for the GPS to recalculate your route, as you miss the next 75 ways to get you back on track.  Never mind if you are in a place with limited cell service, because you will just be screwed, and hoping you don’t wander into “Deliverance” or the places of the country where cryptozoology is popular.  Just go anywhere northeast of Houston on the way to Shreveport Louisiana, if you exit to go to the bathroom, you may never actually get to your destination.  This is why having one of those old paper maps is helpful, you don’t need cell service for them work.

But while your trying to find your way back to your route, you’re not paying attention to the road, and if your lucky you won’t cause an accident.  I have this feeling that almost all accidents are because of people getting lost and waiting for their GPS to recalculate.  For this reason, I am suggesting that everyone do two things, go over your route before you even get in the car, and have a paper map (especially for long road trips).

Posted in perspective

The Relaxing Road Trip

The proverbial road trip, something for those that enjoy the journey over the destination, or the rest of us, because it is cheaper than flying.  But if you are not a fan of driving in a car for extended periods of time, it sure as hell is better than it used to be.  With cellphones, tablets, and way better handheld game systems, you can make your car into a mobile entertainment center.  But a couple decades ago, road trips were boring as hell, and if you were driving, the best thing you could do was try to sleep like a contortionist.

But no matter what decade you have gone on a road trip, never drink too much before you start.  Because you may not realize it from watching TV, but there is a lot of space between bathrooms, so the best you can do if you are in between is go on the side of the road.  If you do opt for this location, you better pray that no police catch you, because if they do congratulations, you’re a sex offender.  With all of the luxuries of being on a list and having to move if you live to close to a school or church.  And that list, will never say why you’re on it, only that you are.

Back to the road trip, has anyone ever noticed how much space is completely unoccupied.  If I were to believe the dystopian future of all the movies, it is hard to imagine that there are places where people don’t live on top of each other.  There is just so much green everywhere, and that was just a three hour drive from Houston to Austin, and we even lost cell service.  It is hard for me to imagine being disconnected from the world, but it also seems like it would peaceful too.  Out there where it is miles between neighbors, I doubt they have high speed internet or cable, they are probably running on a septic system too.  But the thought of it just seems so peaceful and relaxing, maybe when I retire, I’ll go live along everyone else’s road trip.

Posted in perspective

Terrible Teenage Years

Kids are great, particularly at about 2 or 3 years old.  At this age they are still cute, they can use the bathroom themselves, and they still idolize you.  Something happens around 12, that they either become oblivious idiots, if you have boys, or snarky attitude riddled jackasses, if you have girls.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but boy do they try my patience daily.

The boys can’t seem to remember anything, they would forget their head if it weren’t screwed on.  I do not remember being that oblivious, but I am sure my parents have some stories to tell.  The boys can’t seem to get their homework turned in, and no matter how close they are to failing, they still procrastinate and fail to manage their time properly.  They would rather stare at the ceiling than open a stupid book, you can take everything away, and they will go up to their room and just stare at the ceiling.  Trying to motivate the boys is almost impossible, you name it I have tried it.

The girls on the other hand just can’t seem to ever be happy.  Even when they are smiling there is a “but” coming your way.  Everything must be debated, ask a girl to do something, be prepared to have a long discussion about why they shouldn’t do it.  Even when you give them what they want, it still isn’t good enough.  Girls seem to always be looking over the fence and wanting the neighbors house, because that grass is just so freaking green, you just don’t understand how green it is.

To be fair, I anticipated all of this, so I set the bar really low for my kids.  I don’t give them what a lot of my peers do.  My kids must get jobs and do chores, to be able to earn their privileges.  They pay for their own cell service, because the 80s and 90s were a thing, and we all survived.  I want to promote communication, and not seeking forgiveness instead of permission.  They want to drive, they better have a job to pay for the gas, insurance, and maintenance.  They want to play sports after school, and they aren’t 16, then they need to maintain my house.  I support them in whatever they do, I believe they must learn to be responsible, and they everything they want has a cost. 

At the end of the day, I just don’t want my 40-year-old kids living with me.  Some people might be ok with that, and that may be fine for them.  But one day I won’t be here, so I want them to be able to take care of themselves.

Posted in perspective

The Infuriating Nature of Traffic

Traffic in Houston is terrible, just call me Captain Obvious, because clearly everyone knows this already.  I bring this up because I think it is evil too.  The drive time between work and my house is 45 minutes without traffic, or as everyone else in the country call it, a family trip.  At least I don’t have kids with me when I go to work, but that would just be icing on my rage cake.

In usual traffic it takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes to get between home and work.  I generally plan on leaving two hours, and every time I do, I end up having an hour to kill, because traffic somehow disappears into the ether. But if I don’t leave two hours early, everyone forgets how to drive a car, it rains, there are sixteen freaking accidents, a train or two, and every grandmother, grandfather and pot smoker decides they want to dive in front of me.  Notice I didn’t mention snow, so now I bet we will get one of those freak snowstorms tomorrow, in Houston “freaking” Texas.

I was on the express lane yesterday, and there was a school bus in front me, at 5 pm.  We also had the complete luxury of coming to a complete stop on the express lane, behind the bus, so there was no way to know what was going on.  Did we ever find out why we were at a complete stop?  Have you been reading this?  Because hell no, we never found out why, traffic doesn’t give you closure.  I am just imagining it was a band of soccer moms watching a soccer game in the middle of the highway.  At least that is good a reason to hate minivans.

And speaking of staring at crap on the highway, would people stop staring at accidents that are on another road and should by all logic, not impact the road I am on.  Whether the accident is on the other side of the highway going the opposite direction, or it’s on a cross street that is after the exit, these should not impact traffic.  So, stop staring and focus on the task at hand, because if you don’t your going to be in the next accident.  At least when I retire, I won’t have to worry about traffic anymore, because my old ass with be the grandpa causing it.

Posted in current events, perspective

License Debacle

A week ago, I got a letter in the mail telling me that I need to renew my driver’s license, but this time I must bring proof of citizenship.  God forbid the local government upgrade to email, like everyone else, instead they rely on people being chased by the neighborhood dogs to not drop the letters while running like Usain Bolt.  You would think for important documents they could at least send it certified mail, then at least there is a little more motivation for the mailman to deliver it.

Now to the other annoying part, I must prove that I am a citizen.  To do this I, I can bring my birth certificate or an unexpired passport.  But when I got my passport, I had to bring my birth certificate too, because somehow this magical document proves you’re a citizen.  I also had to have my birth certificate to get my license when I first got it at 16 years old.  I figure since we are dealing with the government, a tiny bit of logic is just way to much to ask, so even though I proved my citizenship decades ago I apparently have to do it again.

Back to the birth certificate, what about this document proves anything?  It doesn’t have anything on it other than text saying your name, your parents’ name, the date and place of birth.  No wonder it is so easy to steal someone’s identity.  If you can get your hands on someone’s birth certificate, there isn’t really anything to prove that you’re not the person on the certificate.  Then there is the fact, that your parents get this document when your born, and given the way most people are, it gets lost.  If you need to get a replacement you can order one online.  The things you need to fill out, you might actually be to get on anyone just by reviewing their Facebook page.

You don’t exactly have to be the world’s greatest criminal mastermind to get someone’s birth certificate.  And this is the document that is used to prove citizenship?  My mortgage, bank statement, utility bill, or tax records at least show that I am sending money to a place that supplies services to my home or gave me money to buy my home.  My birth certificate does none of those things.  I don’t mind having to prove I am a citizen, but figure out a way that cross-eyed, hairless llama couldn’t do.  And if I did it to get my license the first time, how about not forgetting that I have already it.

Posted in perspective

The Minivan Contraption

In my mind this blog is not just a one-way street, where I post what I am thinking from day to day, but also a place where I may solicit advice or perspective from you, my readers.  I can dig my heels in on my thoughts and opinions, but I want to open my mind to be changed about things that I failed to see from the other side.  This will be the first, of many, of this type of post, and I think I will be calling this one “The Minivan Contraption.”

Back in 2006, our Ford Expedition had its transmission completely crap out, and it just made sense at this point to buy a new car.  And here is where I really stepped in it, I thought a minivan would be the perfect vehicle for our family.  A little bit of context, we had 4 children at the time with a fifth on the way, along with a mortgage, credit card debt, among all of the other responsibilities that come with a large family.

I never realized how much people hate minivans, apparently minivans are the chariot of the devil, or something.  I think there must have been roving bands of soccer moms just terrorizing neighborhoods with snacks and drinks.  Because somehow soccer moms and minivans go hand in hand, and no one wants to be associated with soccer moms.  Were these moms hosting soccer games in everyone’s front yards?

But I digress, I made the suggestion of a minivan, and my thinking was as follows:

  • Wife is pregnant, with kids aged 11, 9, 4, and 1 and minivans are low to the ground, so getting them in and out will be easy.
  • Minivan fully loaded costs as much a base model Nissan Armada or Toyota Sequoia (my wife’s preferred vehicles).
  • The gas mileage is about 10 to 15 miles more per gallon.
  • While the third row is up the trunk space is amazing (you can get 2 weeks’ worth of luggage for 7 people in there).
  • And the most important, the 11 and 9-year-old will be sitting in the third row and minivans in 2007 were way more comfortable than any SUV where you get the total exhilaration of having your knees in your chin while the car goes over every bump imaginable.

Now I did ask for a different perspective on this and the only answer I ever got is, “I don’t want to be a soccer mom.  Needless to say, we ended up with the minivan, and my wife drove it until I wrecked my Honda Civic in 2010 and I have had the Odyssey ever since.  This car is damn near bulletproof, and I love it, when I am done with it is going only to the crusher.  I went to the extent of re-painting it, re-upholstering it, and upgrading the sound system.  Honestly, for a sound system, this Odyssey is excellent for balancing the sound evenly around the car, and you can centralize the sub-woofer in the middle of the middle row.

But help me out, in the comments below, please let me know why there is so much hate for minivans, they just seem like a really practical car.