Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Things to be thankful for...

Thanksgiving is two days away.

It's going to be a rough one for me.

My son is away from home due to some unfortunate choices he made (I won't go into detail to preserve his dignity). My wife is in the hospital. My mother lives six hours away, and I wouldn't dream of visiting my wife's family without her (I don't fancy the pain I would have to endure).

But...I think Solomon said it best: "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." My best friend's family invited me to join them for dinner on Thursday. I am so touched by their generosity and his continued support over the last several years.

My friend Kevin has been there since college. He helped me buy my first car and my first house. He stood with my wife and I when we adopted our son. And he has stood by me through all the ups and downs of my wife's illness over the last five years.His family accepts me as well, even if I am a little odd and scatterbrained.

I am thankful for family. Not just kin, but real family. Those who take us in and love us, even though they have no real reason to.

We've lost our sense of the value of this most simple and precious thing. Wal-Mart and Target will be opening on Thursday afternoon. They are counting on Americans valuing the saving of a few dollars, rather than cherishing each others company.

I won't be shopping. I'll enjoy the company of my friends; my family, then I will go visit with my wife in the hospital, after which I will go home and hug my puppy and be thankful that God has given me so much more than I deserve. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Conflicted Technophile on Board

It was just me and my friend Mike, rattling through the woods on our mountain bikes, not caring that we had no real idea of exactly where we were. No maps, no compass, just a general sense of direction and an inkling that we'd run into a road eventually. We'd see all sorts of things that we'd never see if we were paying attention to where we were going. One time, we saw a herd of five or six deer grazing contentedly. Another time it might be a muskrat or beaver in a still pond, or perhaps a red headed woodpecker or some other interesting fowl, like the time we saw the wood ducks.

Yeah, those were the days.

A few years back when I rode my scooter to Massachusetts, I had some paper maps, which are decidedly difficult to manage on a motorcycle, but no GPS and only a general idea of toward which direction I should head. Yeah, I got a little misplaced at least twice, but it was an adventure, so I really didn't mind.

The last time I headed north on my Sabre, I had a GPS, and it told me all sorts of handy stuff, and kinda spoiled the fun.

Last fall when I went to visit my family and thrash around the Berkshires, I didn't have any of that fancy stuff along. It was a bit different from my youth, since I was on actual roads, but the feeling was the same. There was nothing tying me down to a particular route. No irritating voice telling me I was going the wrong way (I'll skip the smart remark about having my wife or mother along, though I'm sorely tempted).

Now though, I'm back to having all sorts of gadgets. I have both a tablet and smartphone with GPS on each. They are handy and the maps on my smartphone are amazing, especially the satellite views. The trouble is, there's that feeling that I won't get lost. That assurance that I can figure out where I am without the adventure of finding where I left myself. The confidence that I won't end up in a seedier suburb of New York city with no certain route back to the open road.

This is a difficult dichotomy for a tech junky. On the one hand, I love tech devices (I have a degree in what could most easily be categorized as network administration after all). They do make life easier, and they are a heck of a lot of fun to fiddle around with. On the other hand, they do kinda suck the joy out of good old fashioned exploring. Wanderlust is an affliction I inherited from my dad. He'd always take "the scenic route" rather than the direct. Even after he passed away, the hearse carrying his mortal remains went the wrong way and ended up leading the funereal procession a merry chase through the wrong part of the cemetery (true story).

I often wish my dad were still living. I'm fairly certain he'd have enjoyed riding a scooter with me from time to time. He did ride a bit when he was younger from what my uncle had told me...and he didn't have a GPS. My dad never even carried a cell phone.

I suppose this is why, even though I have all these nifty devices, I often will just go exploring and won't bother to consult them. Sometimes it's nice to just be lost.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Yeah...it's that time of year again.

The following entry is in response to a...misguided...comment by a reader.

Gross generalizations are the refuge of those with no real argument to bring to the table. If you can't beat your opponent, demonize them. Call me a racist if you like, I have a Herman Cain sticker on the back of my truck. If you want to see racism, look at the way he was treated by the media. When they couldn't find anything else to pin him on they went with "He's a typical black guy who can't control his carnal desires." They found a few women who made specious claims (all were debunked as I understand), and used a tactic they would never have tried with a liberal candidate of his ethnicity. He was called all sorts of horrible things, because he didn't follow in lock-step with those who wanted to silence him. When he got out of the race, I decided to go with a third party candidate. I won't say which one, because I see no need to endorse anyone.

Anyway, I'm not a fan of Romney, and I won't be casting a vote his way. I will vote for someone with whom my conscience is able to be comfortable. I have family in Massachusetts and what his health care plan did in that state ended up costing them more in the long run.

I find it humourous how disagreeing with our current president is considered racist by many of his supporters. I'm sorry, but I'll judge someone by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. It's shameful that many people voted for President Obama based on the latter rather than the former, just so he could be the "first black president." I've had first hand testimony to this fact from friends and acquaintances, not to mention the various articles I've read on the web with testimonials to the same end. It's sad but true.

For me, I look at the man's record. He had two years in which he had a Democrat controlled Congress and Senate, and he barely got his health care plan passed, even after shady deals were made. He has had a democrat controlled senate for the last two years, and still he blames the last president (or whomever else is handy) for governmental failures. If Romney blames a previous president for anything, he'll at least have company. 

As for FDR, the manufacturing boom started by the war brought the economy back, not anything he did, but that's history for ya.
I'm not going to go into details about how "I'm not a racist because I have friends of various ethnicities etc. etc." There's no reason to because the idea is silly. I've even been told by a friend that "all white people are racist, just because they are white and don't understand the plight of black folks." It doesn't follow any rational train of thought, but this is the kind of thinking that is out there.

It is high time we simply put aside all sorts of divisiveness and live together in peace. We should revel in our history and our ethnic diversity. The more we focus on what separates us, the more likely we are to relive the horrors of that second world war mentioned in the comment on my previous blog entry. Yeah, my wife's grandfathers both fought in that war. They were both there on D-day. My great-grandfather's second wife lost her first husband and all of her children in one of the camps. That little bit of family history is the main reason it burns my biscuits when people start throwing the race card into the mix.

The lesson I suppose is this: If you don't know what you're talking about, don't throw idle accusations around just for the sake of trying to shame people into agreeing with you. It's a bullying tactic through and through and it won't work on me. Use real facts, and I'm happy to have a discussion. If you'd rather use gross generalizations and baseless accusations, I hope you enjoy the taste of feet.

In the end, I do not care how the election comes out. In the scheme of things, the outcome of next Tuesday's voting is outside of my control. God knows the outcome and I'll leave it in His hands and be happy for the freedoms I have in His grace. The prophet Daniel wrote: "He sets up kings and kingdoms..." How can I compete with that? I'll love my family, enjoy my friends, play with my cats and puppy, and enjoy leisurely (and not so leisurely) rides on my scooter. And I'll be happy. :)

And KZ- No hard feelings, just don't do it again. :)