Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Ringing Endorsement

Check this out.

Ain't technology grand?! I just downloaded ringtone #8. Call me all the time so everyone can hear Obama's voice in the hours before our North Carolina primary. We'll see if subliminal advertising really works.

And how funny is this?
A Ringing EndorsementSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Moms & Dads for Barack Obama

What I want to do is give our country an Etch-a-Sketch shake. A mulligan. A do-over.

Let's shake things up. Are you listening, North Carolina?!

May 6. This Tuesday. Vote.
Moms & Dads for Barack ObamaSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I dream in shades of blue.

You know what's important to me? My kids. Their health. Their education. Their future. No shit, you say. Well, what worries me is that these basic, common needs are in jeopardy. Will healthcare be affordable, available, accessible? A medical tragedy puts even the most insured, secure families in financial turmoil. Education costs are reaching heights that are unfathomable. And let's get one thing straight, not going to a brand name college is not an option for Bird and Deal. It's cultural, not snotty. Find me an Indian family that doesn't emphasize education or collegiate cachet, admittedly to the point of kids needing some couch therapy. What will the future look like in America? Immigrant in fighting? Evangelizing in schools? The Big Bang Theory as a rated XXX video title only? Natural resources a distant memory?

As it is, I feel like Bird and Deal are inheriting a load of shit that will stink long after January 20, 2009.

This war must end. You want to see a great show of patriotism? Then bring home our soldiers. My childhood friend's husband is set to go on his second tour of duty in Iraq. He missed his daughter's birth, not to mention most of my friend's pregnancy. He met his daughter well after she could walk and speak. She's five now, and they finally have cemented a lovely father-daughter relationship. He is no longer a stranger to her from whose arms she shirks away. She runs to him. They have not told her that her daddy is leaving in two months and will be home when she's 7.

How many of us think about those little victims? Families and marriages in peril due to the sheer nature of separation. An outrage. An abomination.

Does anyone care about what we are doing to our one and only planet? I'm sick of the idiots who have parasitic ideologies and just take and take and strip and strip the earth of its resources. Who will have an eye on the future? Our legacy and our responsibility go way beyond our physical time on the planet. A neighbor once noted that the planet has been around a long time with no harm done so he doesn't see the point or necessity in all this crazy green talk now. I had to pardon myself so I could smash my fists into the wall and release some fireants onto his bicycle seat.

I have been to Calcutta and experienced air pollution so thick that my snot was as black as my hair. It was as if Chiclet sized clumps of coal were popping out of my nose. It is not what I have in mind for Bird and Deal to breathe. Ditto for the water.

Um, has anyone noticed gas prices these days or do you pay at the pump, crumple the receipt, and just take off as if you weren't just ripped off and violated? I cannot bear to watch the little gallon:price ticker count up. I just spent over $60 to fill up my car today. $60! That's at least 3 pairs of shoes at DSW on clearance. I could probably walk farther in those shoes than that tank of gas will take me.

I could go on about the housing crisis, the hungry, reproductive rights, maternity/paternity leave, FMLA, joblessness, gun control, civil rights, alternative energy, foreign policy, or childcare. But I don't have the energy to end my day feeling defeated. I don't sleep well as it is. Wrapping my brain around such gargantuan issues will be a recipe for restlessness. I am tired. I am angry. You might even say I am teetering on bitter. I am garnering the gumption to turn that into something positive. My kids deserve a positive outlook from me. I owe them at least one place in the world that promises hope, unconditional love, dreaming, faith, and whimsy.

Mac Daddy and I are trying to teach our children about respect, humility, gratitude, grace, selflessness, empathy, and responsibility. We can only teach such values through our actions. Words are like the old Far Side cartoons to the ears of preschoolers...Blah Blah Blah, Bird and Deal, Blah Blah Blah. It is our duty as parents to pass on these values, regardless of the red or blue color that marks our sensibilities. How can we possibly teach our children such important values in a country that demonstrates anything but? When will they be old enough to recognize hypocrisy and selfishness? And how will we combat it?

Canada is too damn cold. Europe is too expensive. India is too far. Plus, I kinda like it here and despite my rants, am proud to call it home. And by the way, I don't own a flag pin. I don't think I'd like to have those pesky little holes poke into my silk or linen suits. I cannot bear four more years of a red administration. I am seeing red but I dream in blue.
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Monday, April 28, 2008

On marbled time.

My niece just emailed this to me. It is eerily in line with my post today so I had to include it. Ignore that it is an Internet chain. Just read it and take the message to heart. Marbles aren't just doled out one demand, you know.

Here's Nic's note:
"The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it:

I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whomever he was talking with something about 'a thousand marbles.' I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say

'Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. It's too bad you missed your daughter's 'dance recital' he continued. 'Let me tell you something that has helped me keep my own priorities.' And that's when he began to explain his theory of a 'thousand marbles.'

'You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.

'Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now, stick with me, Tom, I'm getting to the important part..

It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail', he went on, 'and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays.' 'I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear.'

'Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life.

There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.'

'Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.'

'It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. This is a 75 Year old Man, K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!'

You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter.

Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. 'C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast.' 'What brought this on?' she asked with a smile. 'Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. And hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles."

This little story sums up the philosophy at Chez Dirt & Noise. Mac Daddy is one of the few dads I know who is home from work every single night for dinner with the family. Every. Single. Night. He takes time to read to the boys' classes at school. He chaperones field trips, bakes birthday snacks, and checks the class wish list to ensure the teacher doesn't have to fork out her hard earned money for supplies. Mac Daddy and I share parenting. There's no fiscal versus household division here. Parenting and partnering are practically the same word, n'est pas?

We both know the boys' teachers' names and where the classrooms are. We can both whip up a healthy meal that doesn't involve a menu and speed dial. We can both bathe, dress, cuddle, love, and raise our children. On the flip side, we can both ensure the heat and phone are never disconnected. We can both pay tuition. We can both beef up the 529 plan.

The bottom line is that we prioritize our family. We won't get time back with Bird and Deal. Soon enough they'll be embarrassed for us to hold their hands as we walk into school. They'll go quiet at the dinner table. And sadly, come September, Bird will start school and officially spend more time of his day with someone other than me. So for now, we cherish our family time. It's not a duty. We actually enjoy each other's company, though it's obviously not a sleigh ride all the time.

We spend our Saturdays together. Sometimes it involves inane things like hitting Costco or getting the car washed. Other days we all go hit tennis balls, explore bugs at the science museum, or take a spontaneous road trip to the beach. We view everyday as Saturday and try to inject some family time. I hear too many horror stories from friends and colleagues who don't get to eat dinner with their kids, let alone prepare a healthy meal, miss kissing their children good night, leave in the wee hours while their wee ones are still sleeping, sending a nanny to videotape a school performance.

When Bird and Deal grow up they won't remember (or care) that Daddy (or Mommy, but since I work from home they're well aware that my office is the yellow room at the top of the stairs) had a corner office and worked 70 hours a week. Well, they'll remember the 70 hours but will have no idea who their daddy is. The bottom line is that we don't get time back. Our children will grow up and away in the flash it takes to snap a mental picture. And then poof, it's gone. Our little ones are suddenly taller than us (OK, not a big deal considering I'm five feet tall). Living in another state. Holding hands with a woman who isn't their mother. Not calling on Mother's Day. Life won't wait for us to close the deal, take the call, impress the boss, make the rain.

There's a fine balance to meet our family's needs in the here and now while securing a financially secure future. No one wants an epitaph to read "Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda." Use your marbles wisely.
On marbled time.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend