Monthly Archives: April 2009

Wherein I Say, “Sibboleth”

Been putting this off awhile.  Writing about it, that is.  But it needs airing out, I think, both for me to read in the future, and perhaps for my children to read sometime in their lives.  Supermousey may read it soon, since she still finds what I have to say amusing if not entirely relevant.  Ha.  She wrote a post over at her place the other day that I told her I wished she had fleshed out a little more, it read like something she threw up quickly, and that’s OK, since I’ll do it more often than not, but I thought the experience deserved just a tad more introspection and thoughtfulness on her part. Now, I’m proud as hell that she blogs, and I was proud of her decision to stand up rather than stay mute.  We have talked before about how silence is tacit approval.  But I think part of my job as her father is to teach her to take her writing seriously, to apply herself as she would to a less demanding habit, like, say, shopping. :)

But that incident and many others have caused me to observe and indeed lament over the rituals and language we devise to make bonding with each other incredibly difficult.   Even when we manage to break free of our own inner circle of family, neighbors, and friends, we soon find ourselves unconsciously acting as both sentry and stranger,  in a world chock full of groups whose sole purpose is to distinguish it’s members from everyone else.  And pick your poison…ethnicity,religion, political party, career, sport conference, hobby, entertainment preferences, even what one might choose to eat can make us card-carrying members of some sub-group or other.

There is little doubt that this trait  is encoded into our very DNA, as long ago, it must have been very dangerous to deal with the world all by yourself.  Though, I’d argue that it is perhaps more dangerous than ever to do so.  I know we do this by our very nature, as evidenced by the response of my young son’s friends when I engage them.  If I drop the appropriate jargon into the right situation,(“Dude, you totally pwn’ed that newb!”)  I’m accepted and pronounced a “cool Dad,” or, at least, someone who can be allowed in from time to time… a friendly, if you will.  Fortunately for me, the same gifts that enabled me to instantly earn trust in a sales situation also allow me to quickly assess what habits, traits, or jargon to employ when I want to be accepted by a particular group. One of the most difficult groups to win over isn’t even comprised of humans…its horses.  They communicate with barely perceptible ear twitches.  Plus, they can suss out fraud in record time.  If you are troubled when you are in their vicinity, its best to admit it to yourself , horses can deal with conflict, but despise fraud. They force me to be transparent.  Earning a horse’s trust, and respect, is something to take pride in, I believe.

Whats all this about, you ask?

I went to Church last evening!   Last week, while I was tearing out some material I bought at a salvage sale, I met a nice family, and we started to talk.  Turns out there is a non denominational church nearby, and they are members.  Now, I have two non-negotiable perequisites that must be met before I would consider joining or even attending a church.  First, it must not adhere to any one religious doctrine.  Second, and equally important, it must have a gymnasium with a basketball hoop.  This church qualified.  A friend of mine asked me why I am interested in returning to church.  My reply sort of paraphrased Willie Sutton…”Because thats where the Christians are”.

I grew up playing ball.  Any kind of ball.  I remember spending hours on warm Summer nights, and on only slightly cooler Winter nights (God blessed California with great weather) throwing a ball against the garage door and catching it in my glove.  Or, I would shoot hoops.  One day, when I was 7 or 8, a neighbor kid invited me to the Boys Christian League. I spent the remainder of my youth boarding a bus every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday to attend Bible study, practice of some sport, then a game to cap off the week.  I went to their Summer camps.  Equal emphasis was placed on Worship and sport fundamentals.  The worship part didn’t stick.  But I can still field a hot grounder, shoot a freethrow, and God have mercy on the receiver coming across the middle once I have the angle.

But I actually enjoyed the Bible study.  The Counselors told stories, and they were entertaining, sort of an early version of Veggie Tales, which, btw, I really love.  Once puberty hit, spending three days a week in all male pursuits didn’t have the same draw, for some reason.  So, eventually, I stopped going.  I still played ball, and still do.  But there is something to be said for fellowship.  Before moving to Nashville, I used to play basketball with a group of guys that all attended the same Catholic church.  The games were fast and physical, these guys had some game, and I really miss the adrenaline rush I felt when the guys and I were in synch, five guys all on the same wave-length.  It really is special to not have to look to throw a pass…you just know your guy is there. After working up a good sweat, we would stand around and talk about life, soup to nuts, as The Primary Wife would say.

I really miss that.  So, I decided that the time may be right for me to fill a void in my life by playing hoops again, and, perhaps fulfill a desire to talk with people of faith and offer a different perspective on things like politics and even Faith itself.   The thing is, I’m pretty rough around the edges.  I’m quick to become combative.  I punctuate with cursewords. I’ve been known to take a drink.  I have a sharp tongue and I can be stubborn on seemingly inconsequential matters. I’m sure I will test their faith…

I may well be able to pronounce the “h” sound, and thereby gain entry, but time will tell if I will truly be embraced for who I am.  Or, in spite of it.  Ha.  I may well be taken outside and beheaded as a returning Ephraimite.

Seems worth the risk.

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“We’re Not Redefining Marriage — We Have Lived It”

Long ago, when the Earth was flat, there were a handful of people in this country angry and fearful about the direction we were headed; two wars, irresponsible tax policy, and wholesale curtailing of basic rights were just a few of the dangerous paths the administration in charge chose to lead us.  People that spoke out were accused of everything from harboring (or being) communists, cowards, traitors, pedophiles, or Godless hippies.  Alright, a few us are Godless hippies, but that’s not the point.  People got fired for voicing their opinions.  Some were blacklisted and suffered financially.  Some of us have even been threatened with physical violence.  Yup, friends, 2000-2001 were scary times.

Fortunately, someone got the bright idea to incorporate a blog on the National Democratic website, and i have to say, without the daily contact of many of those kindred spirits, many of us might well have withered away from the sheer weight of contrary public opinion.  It was on that site that i met many people who I consider life-long friends.

Eight years, a new administration, and a few gray hairs later (not on me, of course) some of us have moved on, but not completely.  Today, I received some of the best news I’ve gotten in quite some time.  One of us, the Rev Jim, is a polite, unassuming, easy going guy.  Gay as all get out.  I’m talkin gay.  Gay.  He fits every stereotype of a gayful gay guy.  From his bib overalls to his truck, he just sets off the gaydar.  I kid.  I mean, I’m a better decorator.  I’m way prettier, come to think of it.  Anyway, he and his remarkable partner, Robert,  live in Gay Paradise, in the world’s most gay-ly hospitable State in the Union- North Carolina.

Of course, everyone knows that gayly gay people are unable or unwilling to form lasting relationships.  We all know that just a passing glimpse of say, the mailman, wearing those sexy blue-grey wool shorts (who doesn’t love a man in uniform?) usually spells certain death to a gay couple’s future.  So, they tend to go through shack-up after shack-up, all the while being miserable in their chosen gayness.  The Rev Jim and Robert are no exceptions, their 16 yr old shack-up is about to end.

Because they are getting married!  To each other! In Vermont! These guys have been through some tough damn spots, y’all.  Homelessness and near death sickness couldn’t break their bond to each other.  Jim wrote me this morning to announce the impending nuptials, and the title of this post is a direct quote from him.  (I wasn’t going to give him credit, but, well, I might attend the wedding, and, I’m afraid of him a little)

I can’t tell you how happy I am for these two friends.  Seriously, congrats, Dude.  Bring me back some maple syrup?  I ran out of the stuff Beantown Bob brung me….

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Gets Hard Fast

New Mexican Sun cut in and stained, nice!

New Mexican Sun cut in and stained, nice!

Concrete, that is. (Ha, that will wreak havoc on my search engine referral stats!)

For years, the Primary Wife wanted a concrete patio.  Stepping off of our recently covered deck (a job I did myself, and am quite proud of, but that wore me out) was a muddy endeavor, especially in the Fall and Spring.   I don’t know a thing about pouring concrete, and just assumed it would be too pricey to contract out.  In an effort to get The primary Wife out of my ear about it, I decided to get some bids….

The first guy I talked with knew less than I did, but was determined to bid the job anyway.  He could have bid zero, and he wasn’t getting the gig.  A few others missed the appointment entirely.  Two showed up on time, and assumed that putting their children through college was a good trade for a small concrete patio.  I was tickled, of course, since my intent was to show The Primary Wife the bids, have a good laugh with her, and forget the whole damn thing.  Then God had to stick his nose all up in my bidness, and directed one Travis Damn Quillin to my house. Travis, you see, is a dad to one of Eggnog’s little school friends, and he came by to pick up his son who had been playing at our house.  I must have mentioned something about wanting a patio, and, as it turns out, Travis Damn Quillin is not just your garden variety concrete man, he is a concrete artist.  Excuuuuuusssssseeee me.

Well, Travis Damn Quillin, it turns out, needed some work done at his place, so we agreed on a price for the concrete, and swapped labor.  As is our habit, the job kept evolving, and eventually included a firepit, since we love to build a fire outside and cook stuff in a big ol pot.  Anyway, yes, the labor swap was important, but he would have gotten the job anyway, because he was informative, relaxed, smart, and polite.  Turns out, he has been doing this since he was 14, and recently decided that he needed to strike out on his own.  He is a 25 yr old with a family, and his employer kept laying him off during slow periods, and he needs steady work, as do we all.

I can’t tell you how impressed I was with this young guy’s work ethic, and his commitment to doing the very best job possible.  It is gutsy to quit even periodic employment to stake his own claim, but I believe Travis Damn Quillin has what it takes to make a go of it in this new, uncertain economy.  I know I wish him well.  Look at the finished product!

patio

This is the horse's view of the house.

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You Want Me On That Wall

1500 hrs:  Dispatched to Middle School in adjoining sector to monitor and secure perimeter around the End Of The Year Dance.

1505 hrs:  Reported to Band Director (OIC) and received my orders.   I was to post lookouts and run scattered patrols throughout the dance POD and prohibit “inappropriate behavior” perpetrated by indigenous personnel in the 11-14 yr old category.  (wondered aloud if I would know it if I saw it)

1520 hrs:  Observed puddled liquid adjacent to dance staging area, began mopping up operation.  No casualties reported.

1535hrs:  Tracked large number of obvious rabble -rousers intent on rousing rabble.  Seriously outnumbered, elected to monitor rather than intervene.  Requested air strike.

1558:  Radios obviously inoperable.  Engaged in small skirmishes to establish the illusion of control over the area.  Re-enforcements nowhere in sight.  Mopped up again.

1604 hrs:  Watched helplessly as a curiously large number of combatants requested latrine visits.  No plans to mop up there.

1625 hrs:  Prepared to evacuate.  Made mental observation that testosterone is wasted on the young.

1630: Retreated in shame.

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FGF- Just Around The Corner

Not only is one of the best bands evah….I get to feature one of my favorites and tie it in with all this warm weather.  A Coyote Chronicles trifecta!  The video is lame, so just turn up your speakers and use whatever fancy keyboard shortcut you have to turn off your screen.

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The Cross And The Switchblade, Redux

Ariah Fine links to this story posted at NPR about a mugging victim that offers more than he was demanded of…and asks if any of his readers know a similar story.  If its true, it is really remarkable.  Twice in my life I have been threatened with deadly force, and truthfully, both times I fought back, and was lucky enough to come away relatively unharmed and without any monetary loss.  Of course, neither experience afforded me the opportunity to “also give up my coat.”  I don’t think I made a conscious decision to fight instead of flee, in one case, it was my job to arrest the individual, the other was probably one I could have escaped if I had attempted.

Whats interesting to me is that after the danger had passed, (the wallet had been surrendered, and the mugger turned to leave) the victim actually stopped the mugger to offer more.  That was probably more dangerous than the initial encounter.  You never know what type of predator you are dealing with, and a confused, frightened, armed kid is way more dangerous than a calculating, experienced criminal.

I try to teach my kids about situational awareness, simple things like observing the immediate area of a parking lot or glancing inside your car before stepping in.  Avoiding danger is far better than dealing with it.  Another point I try to drive home with people (my kids included) is that feeling secure because you have a weapon is foolish.  Anyone can be taught to shoot the center clean out of a paper target.  Staring down the barrel of a gun held by a shaky hand will empty your bowels right quick, I promise.  The chances are your attacker will have the drop on you, and any attempt to pull a weapon out will result in your immediate loud, messy demise.  If we can get criminals to stand 12 feet away and not move, ok, you got a chance.

I bring all that up because there is a great deal of fanfare here in the South about the right to carry a firearm.  So, i want to ask another question beyond Ariah’s….

If you were robbed at knifepoint, gave up your wallet or purse, and the mugger started to walk away, would you then draw a weapon and shoot him in the back to retrieve your belongings?  What if he or she was a youngster?

* Yea, the title I used was a stretch, but, not that much, if you think on it.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

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The Girls Get Spruced Up!

I wrote a little about the all of the wonderful people I met at Thistle Farms a while back.  It made me happy to see this bit o news… seems the ladies got a day of pampering, courtesy of Elysium Day Spa, and got soaked,brushed, rubbed and polished, and my guess is that most of them have never had a day like it before.  I hope y’all had a blast, and I think the owners of Elysium Spa should be proud to have offered this.  Can I come next time?

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