Gifts

You know what I’d like to receive this Christmas, on future Christmases and birthdays? Aside from some laughs, enjoyable company, happiness in each other’s company and contentment with what we have, what I’d like is knowledge. I’d like to KNOW. It makes me feel good, prepared, focused and balanced. Ignorance gives me headaches. It makes my stomach twist. My face changes itself into odd, uncomfortable expressions. Ignorance is bliss? Bull… It sucks! I want power, I want assurance, I want knowledge.

Of course, I can seek out knowledge on an insanely humongous variety of subjects myself but that’s not what I’m focusing on here. The knowledge I want is the stuff only others can give me. Yes, I typed ‘give me.’ We’re talking gifts, remember? It’s what I want as gifts for future birthdays and Christmases. Indeed, it requires a little effort and work on other people’s ends but giving isn’t always easy and the knowledge I’m seeking does require some mental effort. What am I getting at specifically? Fine. I want my daughter, who’s turning eleven this coming Sunday to let me know what she wants for her future birthdays.

When I was a kid I was all about receiving gifts. Toys, gadgets, gizmos, treats, clothes (I appreciated and took them but they never got my pulse above a nice calm, lulling beat) and so on. I didn’t have any money and therefor, zero thought and care into getting gifts for others. That all changed around the time I started working when I was sixteen years old. Since then, I’ve preferred giving gifts over receiving them. However, in an almost ironic twist of fate, I require the gift of knowledge from would-be recipients of my gifts before I’m able to feel adequate in my hunt for those perfect items which have the potential to show my consideration and appreciation all while adding a little bit of brightening to my friends’ and loved ones’ days.

Yea, yea, yea… I know how wonderful surprises can be and I know the effort put forth through the giver’s thought process can be worth its weight in gold. (I guess thoughts don’t have much physical weight, huh? Thoughts are electrical charges in the brain, right? How much does an average human brain weigh again? It’s a lot less than an equally sized block of gold… WHATEVER!) Still, c’mon! I asked Vivien two months ago and at least once every week since, “What would you like for your birthday?” Her replies, cold, blank and sterile have been, “I dunno. Surprise me.”

Thanks for nothing, kid!

I love Vivien the same way I’m sure most fathers love their daughters. I want her to continue to be happy and I don’t want her to be disappointed. She’s still a child so I believe, both spiritually and intellectually, I have a duty to help shepherd her through these beginning stages of life. I also have an effect in her mental status. So when it comes to her birthdays and Christmases, I naturally want to get her things she’ll enjoy and use. I can guess, as is the begrudged case this year, and pick out gifts that are in relatively equal part, silly, fun, practical and useful but I have no idea whether or not she’ll like them. I loathe that uncertainty but it’s the way it is.

Eleven is a tough age to buy for. I’m guessing twelve will be just as vexing. Maybe it’s the times. Hell, when I was eleven, all I wanted were Transformer toys and some Star Wars stuff AND EVERYONE KNEW IT. I looked forward to the cake and the authority to pick what I wanted for dinner. I smiled a lot and felt like a star. Simple, right? Not so seemingly simple with my offspring. Let’s go over the checklist, shall we?

Toys? Nah, she plays with them sometimes but not like I did at her age (my kid seems much more mature than I am, er, I mean than I was at eleven). Aside from that, she already has a ton of plastic, vessels of the imagination. Toys are out. Books? She likes to read but already has a small library she’s turning through, one page at a time. Clothes? That’s generally her mom’s area of expertise. Gift cards? She doesn’t drive yet so a gift card is just a bit of a burden or an afterthought if and when opportunities present themselves. Video games? She’s not a huge fan. She plays on her Kindle a lot but hasn’t given me any clues (remember her response to my inquiry – “I dunno. Surprise me.”) about which games / apps she might want. The kid likes Minecraft and plays it a lot already. Telescope? She loves astronomy but the last time she had a telescope, she never used it. She needs someone else to show interest for her to get involved. Musical instruments? I got her a piano keyboard for her sixth birthday. She only plays it when I do and the thing usually sits at her mom’s house. I have a feeling any other instruments would collect dust or she’d be told to ‘quiet down’ far too discouragingly often over there.

It goes on an on… I think any and all of those would work but I don’t KNOW. Yea, first world problem for sure. “Oh my! What ever shall I give my sweet, little cherub for her eleventh birthday?” I don’t know why but when I typed that, the voice in my head had a southern woman’s accent from the 1800’s – like one of the cute little, dolled-up peaches right out of Gone With the Wind. Fiddle-dee-dee.

Neither her mom and stepdad nor her stepmom and I are rich but we’re all doing alright financially. The kid really has all she needs and then some. Either way, she’ll be fine. Still, I’d like the knowledge, a general list of preferred interests from which I can work and play with before making my gift selections. That’s what’s on my own Christmas list. Knowledge is power they say. True, perhaps, but I think knowledge also lends toward peace and serenity. It sure would in this case for a guy like me who loves to give gifts but hates having to make even somewhat blind guesses as to what’ll strike another person’s fancy.

Ah well, in the end, I’ll give her what I got her, hope she likes it and if she isn’t at least mildly nudged toward the realm of delight then maybe she’ll give me a little more guidance for next time (Christmas is only four weeks away). Dana and I are going to make her cupcakes, put up our Christmas tree as a family while she’s over, play games and eat good food. I’m going to smile, laugh, help everyone else laugh and celebrate another joyous year passed where I was able to be Viv’s father and she was able to be my daughter. Hmm. That brings things into perspective, doesn’t it? Perhaps all this fuss is just that, fuss. Perhaps Vivien will surprise me. Perhaps she’ll feel like a star too.

The Patient Adoring Protector

It’s nearly time. I can feel it. Almost. He’s almost home. I can almost hear Him, almost… smell Him.

He left when it was still dark outside. I ate MY food and slept on MY bed (and His bed, and the couch and the other bed). I protected OUR citadel, patrolled OUR territory’s perimeter again and again, exiting and entering through MY portal. It’s a thankless job but I’m absolutely pleased and honored to have the privilege to perform it. Before, in the old citadel, He and I used to live in, I couldn’t go outside at my discretion. I couldn’t protect our possessions from dangerous people and beasts. Now, by His grace, I’m free to protect our land.

The Sun has been up for a long time now and it feels like it was ages ago when I heard the large, moving, yellow houses on wheels pass along the road, dropping off loud, little people. I warned them to keep their distance, over and over and over again. Stay back and keep away! This territory is MINE and His. Well, we share it with that Lady and the two small people he lets stay here. They’re not bad, fun even. From time to time that Lady can be cruel though. She orders me, like I’m a SLAVE, to move from comfortable positions when I wasn’t doing anything wrong. She’s also kicked me and stepped on me a few times. Each time she says she’s sorry and tells Him it was an accident but I’m not sure. I suppose she’s ok with me if she’s ok with Him. The Lady does provide additional food rations to me every now and then while preparing meals for the smaller people. The gifts may be given either intentionally or by clumsy accident but I don’t care. The morsels taste much better than my regular rations.

Lady and the two small ones have been back for a while now. He’s usually here shortly after. It’s time, I KNOW it. It’s been difficult but I’ve learned patience. I don’t know why He leaves or where He goes, but I know it’s important. Whatever He does has to be for OUR benefit.

You see, He’s my leader but we’re friends and partners bound by love, honor and duty. I protect Him, His Lady and the two small ones under His care. In turn, He provides me rations, gifts and joy… blissful, gushing, uncontrollable joy. I know much of that joy is returned and He truly appreciates it. I see the looks and smiles He, that Lady and the others give me. He embraces me with warm reassurance, rubbing MY sore muscles and doing away with the day’s pains, rewards for the hard work I do everyday. He talks to me a lot and I’m still trying to fully grasp His language but I’ve heard Him say things like, “She’s the most loyal protector I’ve ever known.” Or, “Good job!” As much as I can decipher, he’s told me and that Lady that He and I formed a powerful bond from the days I was a young one, that we chose each other. We understand each other. Even though I was meant to be His daughter’s first protector, when He starting living in His own citadel, He thankfully took me with Him and allowed me to serve. Now, here, with Him, that Lady and the two small ones, I have four people to protect.

Like I said, it’s not always easy. Invaders from all sorts of lands constantly try to attack. Some grow oh so close to trespassing, advancing right up to OUR citadel’s block wall border. Other’s boldly march right up to the large portal He, that Lady and the two small ones use to enter and exit. Yep! Right up to the portal before either trying to knock it down by beating on it or by emitting an annoying, ear piercing ringing sound in sequences of two quick tones: Ding-Dong! There have been times… hold on while I fight to compose myself… breathe deep… There have been times when the invaders actually enter the citadel!!! Far be it from me to disagree with His judgement but… He and that Lady actually allow the invaders to enter! I warn them, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and then again… GET THEM OUT! They’re the worst and most dangerous when they move!!! I love my job but it’s not easy. Even He’s wrong sometimes. He’s lucky I’m here. I eventually fend them off every time.

One time, to my blood-lust filled, rage induced horror, an enemy beast entered the citadel through use of MY portal! This was one of the darkest times of my life. You see, He was away for days, making me believe He’d never return, leaving me to protect only that Lady and the two small ones. I thought He might never return. Depressing as it were, one night, while that Lady was sleeping, I heard my portal activate with it’s gate flapping back and forth “thwft, thwft, thwft.” The two small ones were away as well, leaving just that Lady and me. I was near her bed and immediately investigated the sound. Rounding the corner and through the doorway, there it was. The Beast! Huge eyes, pointy ears and long tail. I gave it a series of warnings to retreat, threatening to attack and kill it if it refused to stand down. Every ounce of my being was alive, alert and filled with savage anger. The invader needed to be destroyed! I inched closer as the murderous, savage slinked back into a corner, ready to pounce at any moment, I knew. I growled and gritted my teeth. It was time for WAR! NO ONE invades MY citadel! He left me with the sacred charge to protect it and his Lady! I would NOT fail him!!!

IN HIS HONOR! FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE INNOCENT AND THE DEFENSE OF LIFE! I WILL SLAY THEE!!!

I was just about to attack when that Lady got up and commanded me to stand down. I… I, hmm, I was absolutely dumbfounded. But, in accordance to His desire, I obeyed. Lady did something to the Beast and it scampered away like a gutless coward in the night. The cursed criminal escaped my wrath that night and to this day I still swear VENGEANCE!

However, the violation was mentally set aside when He returned! I never felt such elation (well maybe I felt the same the last time He left me for days). I literally shook, quivering with joy upon his smiling, boisterous return.

Now, as that Lady and the small ones sit around the table talking about some sheets of paper pulled out of the little ones’ bags, I wait again. I wait and wait and wait. Finally, a rumbling sound comes from the place Lady keeps her small, white house on wheels. The giant portal was opening. I know what that means! He’s here! I wait by the secondary portal that Lady, the small ones and He use. He’ll be in any second! Yep, any second… any time now… where the hell is He? I have a full day’s security report to share! *GASP* What was that sound? A rustling sound of something on wheels being drug out. That big box out back where they put their old food! He’s in the back!

I race, as fast as I can go, outside MY portal into the back quadrant of OUR citadel to greet him. WHAT?!?!?! Nothing! He’s not there! Oh My God! He’s GONE! My heart is beating so hard. WHY?!?!

Then I hear that rumbling sound again from the big gate near Lady’s wheeled house again! He’s back where I was! Hurry! HURRY!

I rush back through MY portal. That Lady and the small ones seem to be laughing at me, at my confusion! I’d be hurt or angry but I hear, no… yes! His voice!!!!!!!! He’s here, calling me, “Maggie! Where’s Da Schnauwza? Come here, Dog!”

My feet aren’t fast enough even though I’m fortunate to have four of them, twice as many as everyone else. Run, run, run! There He is, smiling and greeting his pack mates before turning to me. I jump up to stand on my hind feet, stretching, bracing, howling with joy! He reaches down and runs his hands and fingers over my back and head. We’re together again! Another successful day. The world is safe, our loved ones protected, all necessities taken care of. I hope we never part again but, in my limited experience, nothing, nothing ever feels as pure and joyous and our reunion. No need to think on that, though. All sorrows of the past be gone. No need for worries of the future. NOW. Now, everything is perfect. He and I are together again.  In this state of bliss, I’m thankful for His attention, His presence and everything I have the honor and duty to protect.

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Judge away!

Just posted this on my personal Facebook page, figured I’d add it here:

Hah. Every time I read or hear the saying “Don’t Judge,” I can’t help but immediately judge the person for telling me how or what to think. Judge all you want, friends and family. Your thoughts and words are your own. Do whatever you want with them.

Trendsetter

A week and a half ago, Dana was up bright and early on a Saturday morning, pouring over her computer, reading the results of a personality test she’d taken. The test was from My Fascination Advantage and the report was rather accurate. She sent an invite to me after I agreed to take the test. After four or five pages of not too many questions, the data came back saying that my primary advantage was innovation and my secondary advantage was prestige. When these two are combined the test summarizes that I’m a trendsetter.

Ok… A trendsetter, huh? The summary sounded right but it took a little thought to really agree with the diagnosis. People who know me, know I can be quite silly, even goofy at times. This has been true my whole life. I’m serious and take care of business when necessary but outside that, I’m… hmm, not a clown but what? A performer perhaps? I sing, I whistle, make music out of things like silverware, I imitate and make up voices, give me a mirror and I’ll make a face, I laugh and I enjoy pointing and playing out silliness I see in TV, movies, the world and others. Certain words like ‘absurd’ make me giggle. I can’t help but say the word ’empire’ with a deep, resonating imperious tone. I don’t know, something about some words just tickle me.

Looking back at as much of my life as I can remember, there have always been others who enjoy my antics and many of them eventually start to imitate them. I’m really good at bringing out the silliness in others as well. Be careful, readers, you get around me too long and a little Adam is gonna rub off on ya. It’s not by choice, it’s just who I am, you know… a trendsetter.

I can’t recall all the zaniness I’ve done over the years which others have picked up but here’s a few:

When I was a little kid (my mom and dad still like to bring this up) instead of saying underwear, I said, in a voice I can’t quite convey in text: “Uuuun Derrrrs!” I generally see my folks twice a year. They still refer to under garments this way from time to time.

There’s an attorney in Michigan who ran a bunch of ads on TV named Larry Korn. I’m not sure if he’s still at it since I’ve been in AZ for over ten years. Anyways, one of the commercials had a guy pick up a phone and say, “Hello, Larry?” I picked it up and ran with it, often answering any phone call that way. “Hello, Larry?” My dad still holds on to that one.

My younger brother, Dustin and I pretty much created our own language. Jargon and lingo that I mostly made up since I was the elder of the two and, well, you know, a trendsetter. People get around us to this day, and they have no idea what exactly we’re referring to when we say things like “Click it” or “Flutes.”

My friends Dan and Steven, who’re brothers, Dustin and I used to play with from time to time, still recall a little jingle I made up one afternoon. We were playing with some toys and, because it fit in with the story, I started a little jingle, “Garbage for Garbage, Garbage for Garbage” that went on and on. That night, Steven, the youngest of the group, was at home and singing the tune over and over enough to where his dad had to ask what the hell the kid was talking about. The four of us also had this thing I started while we playing marines from the movie Aliens, squashing xenomorphs. It went, “Bvfvfvfv, Bvfvfvfv, Bvfvfv Grenades!” Don’t ask…

I used to play World of Warcraft (not that I’m against continuing to play the game but I’ve got too much going on right now). My guild mates and I would converse across the continent on headsets. I can’t even recall all the little sayings I started that stuck. Even the tone people often used was influenced by my silliness. Good times.

Vivien, my daughter, has been inundated by my mannerisms her whole life. She’s a pretty even blend of her mom and me though.

More recently, Dana, Hunter and Rylie have definitely picked up some Adam goofiness. Hunter especially… saying things like “Hash is King!” which is an offshoot of me saying “Cash is King” in a light mock of part of Dave Ramsey’s signature sayings. Rylie, or as I’ve been calling her for a year and a half, Little Baby Riles (a nickname she didn’t like at first but now prefers), now often finishes my ludicrous sayings for me. They both imitate the voice I’ve created for my miniature schnauzer, Maggie (nicknamed Mags, Magoo, Da Schnauwza, Lady Mc Barkalot, Puppito, The Bearded Lady or Maggarino). The voice I’ve given the little dog sort of sounds like Bane from the newest Batman flick. Damn it, that movie came out like three years ago and I’ve been using that voice for nearly nine! Dana isn’t safe either… just recently, the handle on one of our toilets broke. We fixed it up. A short time later she was headed to use the bathroom and exclaimed how happy she was the handle was fixed. She admits she didn’t know I was looking at her but, oh yea, I saw her fully flex her arms while walking toward the bathroom. This is a move I do in a silly way many times when I’m mocking feeling manly or triumphant.

So yea, fine… I’m a trendsetter in my own way. The examples above were the silly, funny ones I prefer to think and write about. There are others which are much more practical and serious for life in and outside of work. Whatever or wherever my ideas and behaviors take hold, I’m just glad I haven’t ever been told I’m boring!

To Each Their Own

“Well, I’m not the world’s most masculine man but I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man” – from the song Lola by The Kinks

Yep, I’m just a man, one guy doing my thing in the world, living my experiences. In being a man or a woman we are, by definition, adults. When I think of an adult, I think of a mature person, responsible and in control of his or her own actions. I believe adult men and women own themselves, first and foremost and in owning themselves, through basic, common logic and thought, we understand that our fellow adults own themselves in turn. For the sake of the rest of this blog, let’s just focus on individuals over the age of eighteen and agree children follow modified rules who’re protected and guided by their parents or guardians. Children don’t run the world, adults do. As adults and owners of our own thoughts and actions, we’re each free to do, say, go where we choose, eat, drink and think anything we want which doesn’t cause physical harm, require taking anything from another adult or violate rules set by other adults on or in their own property. On the flip side, we, as adults, should never be harmed by an outside party or forced to do, say, eat, drink or think anything we don’t want to while in a public place or on / in our own property. To me, these guidelines define what we know of as rights in the most simple and basic way. Any hindrance of these rights is a violation and, I believe, criminal in its act against free will. Let people do, say, go, eat, drink and think what they want. To each their own.

Alright. Now that we have my definition of what an adult is (beyond the physiological aspect of being able to procreate) and an outline of the common, natural laws which govern unhindered rights, let’s focus on what we say and how we say it. Free speech. We’re all fans, right? Ra Ra Ra, Freedom!!! It’s part of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution for a reason. It’s a simple, common concept which, at the same time, is astronomically HUGE in getting our proverbial foot in the door that leads to a life of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Without it, we couldn’t even specify directions as to where the door is located much less know what to do once we got there. It’s essential. We won’t always agree with what other adults think and say but we, as adults ourselves, live with it and move on. To each their own.

Unfortunately, there’s been an insurgence of one of free speech’s adversaries that has come at us and grown in strength over the years. It often comes wrapped in a deceptively warm, cushy-looking, falsely caring, anti-common law quilt called political correctness. Ugh. Common consensus states that this concept / practice / ideology got its start from Marxism and became prevalent in Soviet Russia from its start through the later part of the twentieth century. Why so many of us cater to this horrendous violation of our core right as adults is beyond me. It’s absurd. The concept fights to keep our words and thoughts in check, thereby keeping us from being free through the use of shame, guilt and, most villainous, threats and uses of violence. People around the world have been killed or imprisoned for speaking their minds. Political correctness tells us, we, as adults, owners of ourselves, pursuant of happiness to live our lives as we wish, that our thoughts and words need to be censored because they can cause harm to other adults. To this, I proudly and deeply proclaim, from the bottom of my heart, the top of my mind and the deepest pit of my stomach: “FUCK THAT!” To each their own.

I know I’m a good man and I imagine most people who know me agree. I’m friendly, polite, kind, helpful, enthusiastic and love to laugh (no, this isn’t a profile line for Match.com…  I’m happily married, thank you very much). I don’t like to argue. I love to philosophize and discuss / debate fascinating issues while exploring interesting questions but it’s never been my desire to change anyone’s mind. It’s not my place. You think what you think, I’ll think what I think and together we’ll reach new levels of understanding. It’s wonderful. I admire our differences which, after all, are what help make each and every one of us special. So, I don’t ever set out to upset another person or a group of people. If I, through intent or neglect, physically hurt someone, in an instance that wasn’t self-defense, it’s my fault. If I steal, it’s my fault. If I destroy someone else’s property, again through intent or neglect, it’s my fault. If I say something that offends someone else, it’s NOT my fault. It’s the offended adult’s fault. As you recall, adults need to remember that other adults have the right to say, do, go where they choose, eat, drink and think what they want so long as no physical harm is done to others and their property isn’t trespassed, damaged or stolen. It’s been my stance, for nearly two decades now, that if an adult allows him or herself to get offended and is unable to transcend it, he or she fails as an adult. Come now, this isn’t shattering news. We’ve all heard “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Big people who play at being adults need to remember this. To each their own.

Political correctness is a wicked, conniving tool that sits in direct opposition to freedom. Left unchecked and free to fester, it turns into a monster. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that freedom IS indeed free but I never said it’s fair. Life isn’t fair and it isn’t easy. We aren’t entitled to anything in the world other than our natural, common law rights. Healthcare isn’t a right. Education isn’t a right. Items like these aren’t rights because they require the labor of others. They’re either paid for by the consumer or granted by others. No one should ever be forced to supply items like these because the use of force is contrary to the non-aggression principle. To dictate how we should spend the fruits of our labor or how we should speak and think is wrong. Those dictates are tyrannical and in direct violation of our free wills as adults. Not that I imagine ever having the need to do so, but should I choose to ramble out a string of ethnic slurs, so be it. If I choose to wear a costume that offends someone else, that’s their problem. If I demean a religion or philosophy and it rubs a group of people the wrong way, too bad for them. Deal with it and I’ll do the exact same. To each their own.

Ti$ the $ea$on!

…the season to spend money. Viv’s eleventh birthday is in two weeks then we’ve got Christmas a month later. Although that guttural feeling I get when handing over hundreds of dollars for things I’m not even positive the gift recipients will enjoy is a stinger, I still hold that this is my favorite time of year. The cool Arizona weather is wonderful, time off work is fantastic and I love the excitement in the children’s eyes. I’m much more comfortable handing over gifts than receiving them so having kids around truly makes this time of year so much more fun.

Speaking of the financial hit that’s about to sock Dana and me in our guts (it shouldn’t be all bad as we’ve budgeted things out pretty well) we’ve all but decided to pass on getting each other anything this year since we’re still in process of killing what debt we have left. We’ve been following the Dave Ramsey debt snowball method since the day we got married, this past New Year’s day. So far, our efforts to pay things off have followed our plans, better actually, as we’re ahead of schedule.

I bought a new car back in April of 2014. Had I known and believed then what I know and believe now, I never would’ve done it. I don’t agree 100% with any person or any philosophy other than my own, but I do agree with lots of what Ramsey preaches. One of his lessons is that no one, short of being a millionaire should buy a new car. I’d have been so much better off getting something a couple of years old for a third of the price. Oh well, live and learn. At any rate, like I said, I got my car nineteen months ago. Thanks to our discipline and hard work, Dana and I will have that puppy paid off next month, just in time for Christmas.

This hasn’t been the only debt we’ve eliminated, not by a long shot. The debt snowball plan calls for paying off all debts smallest to largest. We started cooking on the plan last December. I had a lingering, rather small student loan to pay off, Dana had a bit on a credit card, there was a dental bill for Viv’s braces, a thrift saving’s loan of Dana’s and let’s not forget our fancy new wedding rings. The quarter machine at the grocery store was empty so we went to a jewelry store and spend a few thousand bucks. After all that, about $25,000, we started really hammering away at my car this past June. Six months and about $20,000 later and my ride is almost really ours. After that, it’s Dana’s car. Yep, you guessed it, another new car! Like the opposite of The Price is Right. “What’s behind the wall?” Stage pieces move and the voice over says, “A new Loan!” Unfortunately, we were sort of pushed into the deal since Dana was stuck cleaning up an automotive mess left by her unaccountable and clueless ex husband. Ah well. We’ll have that baby done by then end of next July.

From there, the money we make is our own to do with as we please. The plan is to save rather aggressively (after building up an emergency fund of about $15k or so) for a nice big down payment on a home. The kids are only getting bigger and we’ll need more space, preferably a space closer to schools and work. Mark it down now. I seriously believe that, baring any catastrophic events, in ten years we’ll have 0 debt, a fully paid for home a solid emergency fund and a nice chuck of change investing for retirement. Ten years, no more loan payments. It’ll be here in a blink of an eye. I don’t want to rush anything and I try to enjoy every moment of every day the best I can but damn, I’m looking forward to that day.

So, for now, I’m focusing directly on the upcoming season of celebration and giving. Right now, I only want the children to appreciate and find joy in the things, gifts, good food and the fair, happy, upbeat parenting Dana and I supply them. I’m going to keep having fun on this ride, one day at a time, all the while keeping aim on our desired goals. Enjoy the $ea$on!

Heat Rushes to Cold

I woke up today and got out of bed. It’s in the mid forties outside and, being that I live in Arizona, our heat is rarely on. Today was no exception. So, the inside of our house was a bit cold outside the lovely, blanket covered nest Dana and I were snuggled into. I eventually crawled back into bed since it was only 630am and enjoyed the warmth trapped under the covers.

As often happens, my mind began to wander a bit and thoughts popped into my head about how cool, no pun intended, it is that heat runs to the cold. I thought about the Sun, blasting its energetic, nuclear rays of heat and light out at the little blue spaceship we live on. I thought about how, had physics or nature been otherwise, life as we know it would never be if heat didn’t rush to the cold. Perhaps life would still exist but it’d sure be different and probably not on the third planet from the Sun. Then I thought about the concept metaphorically. People could be seen in the same light. The hot or passionate individuals race to the passive, trying to spread their cares, concerns, dreams and desires. We, like the heat from a source, have a natural, internal drive to expel our own light, our own energy, spirit or whatever you want to call it. I don’t know… I just think it’s magnificent, life and nature in general including this topic specifically. If Hell is real, I definitely agree with those who believe it’s a cold, frozen place. Heat is life, passion, love and so on. Heat can be seen as heroic, innately driven to help, feed, warm and nourish the cold, the devoid. What do you think?

Now I’m thinking of another little aspect of nature that, had it been reversed, could shake up life as we know it. The fact that ice is less dense than water (80% I do believe). Imagine if the opposite were true? Think of a lake, Lake Superior perhaps. If the ice was heavier / more dense than the water, it would sink to the bottom. From there, more water would freeze and sink down on top of that until, soon, you’d have a giant, mega block of ice with most likely just a thin, little layer of water on top – melted a little from the Sun. Again, that bit of water could support some life but not the life we’re used to.

The world is the way it is because it’s the way it is. I get that. On the other hand, at least in my mind, speculation ties in with appreciation. We didn’t create the universe. We don’t have all the answers and thank goodness for that! I imagine knowing all the facts would be incredibly boring. No, I’d rather wonder, speculate and piece together as many clues as I can. I’d rather appreciate how fragile yet incredibly resilient and adaptable the cosmos is, which includes our universe, galaxy, solar system, planet and bodies. Granted, perhaps I’d still hold the same level of awe even if I had all the answers but I don’t think so. This ties into the wonder of childhood. I love knowing just enough to know I need to know more. The quest is more fun than the finish line. To paraphrase Socrates, “The more I know, the more I know I don’t know.” You’ve heard that before, no doubt.

We continue to live as beacons of light, spreading our heat to the cold. Our world is one of polarity, though – everything has its opposite. So we’re also cold and in the dark in many areas, ripe and ready to let the heat rush to us, to warm our bodies, our consciousness and our spirits.

Shifting Alliance

You’ve no doubt heard the saying, two’s company, three’s a crowd. How about the one that says Democracy is little more than two wolves and a sheep deciding on what’s for dinner? Both sayings, one social and the other political seem to apply to the ever evolving and adjusting relationships between my daughter, Vivien and Dana’s two children, Hunter and Rylie.

Viv and Hunter are both ten years old and Rylie is eight. At first, the two eldest got along the best, more often than not, leaving the youngest to fend for herself. Doors to rooms were closed and the ‘big kids’ wanted to do their thing. This provided the source for many instances of complaints from the young one on how unfair life was and how Dana and I should ‘make’ the other two play with her. Sorry, kid-o, we don’t FORCE children to play here. We force them to do their chores, eat healthy food, knock out their homework and clean themselves.

It seems though, as of late, there’s been a change. The girls have begun to play more together which leaves Hunter, either by his choice or theirs, alone, playing games or watching movies / videos on his own. Now, don’t misunderstand, there are still plenty of times all three of them play together. Whether it be video games, toys or romping around outside, there are lots of instances where they’re all having fun together. However, I’ve noticed that, even when they’re all interacting, there still seems to be two that over rule the one. As mentioned, at first it was always the ten-year olds teaming up to dictate rules. Now, for the past couple weeks it’s changed. The two young girls, who could start a little cat fight at any minute, have begun to play and communicate better with each other.

I’ve yet to see Rylie and Hunter team up to run things over Vivien’s objections but, with thought, I assume in that likelihood, Vivien would simply go off and do things on her own. The two girls both have strong wills but I believe, in this stage of the game, Viv’s is much more controlling of her decisions. Rylie will debate and fight to get the last word every time but she’ll give in eventually. Hunter is the most easy-going of the three.

Who knows what or when the next shift in alliances will take place. All we as parents want is for them to get along as best they can, to not be jealous, to be respectful of each other and to be QUIET.

A Libertarian on the Jury?

A month ago, I put in a request to take a week off, Monday 11/9 through Friday 11/13, from work. My time was approved, no sweat. Last weekend, on Halloween no less, I received a jury summons. At first I thought it was cool, I don’t mind being a juror. Then I saw the summons date… Monday 11/9. Son of a… The first day of my vacation. I planned that time to work on writing, wrap things up and continue on with the last act of my third book. Now, I know, I could very well be dismissed the night before or I could get in there and only spend a few hours before being released. That would be fine. But, upon further thought, it was also be fine if I did get picked. So what, I’ll miss out on some time to write and sleep in. Being a juror is worth it. Who knows, I could very well be the only one to help keep a person’s life from being trifled upon or ruined by the state. Good!

I don’t claim to be a professor of libertarianism. If you want to read and hear from the scholars, seek out people like Murray N. Rothbard, Ludwig Von Mises, Lew Rockwell and Tom Woods. Even though I’ve only begun to grasp an understanding of libertarianism over the past five years or so, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been one my whole life. I’ve always followed the non aggression principle, always disliked government and it’s perpetual and constant use and threat of force to control my life and always believed any one of us should be free to do whatever we want, say whatever we want, ingest whatever we want and so on as long as no one is harmed or have their personal/property rights violated.

How does this tie into my thoughts on being a juror? Completely. Libertarianism is, at its core, a philosophy, a way of thinking and living. It’s theories and practices cover both economic and social issues. It holds that personal accountability, in each and every one of us as adults, is essential for freedom and prosperity in the free market and humanity as a whole. There are no entitlements and we, as masters of our own destinies, should never demand or perhaps even expect anyone’s help. The state is the opposite of this. The state flourishes as an outside entity that rules with the threat of violence often in spite of how accountable the individual may be. A man chooses to take in a drug the state deems illegal and he is punished even if, as is most often the case, no harm was done to anyone else and no property was damaged. A woman believes the fruits of her labors, often in the form of an income, is her’s in its entirety. Oh boy… does the state ever disagree! Money, which I often think of as simply a numeric representation of energy, is what the state loves and worships the most because it, equal to fear and ignorance, is what feeds its power. So, the woman doesn’t want the government to take / rob / steal her money, money which she invested her time and energy towards to earn it. The IRS, i.e. the government, uses its force to damage, inconvenience, ruin or destroy her life. This is essentially the definition of a serf. Look up how the income tax came to be. It should serve some enlightenment, I hope. So, my libertarian philosophy is that where there is no victim (a victim being defined as someone who was attacked and harmed either physically or through damage to his or her property) there is no crime.

Now imagine I do get summoned then put on a jury. Do you think I’d ever declare a drug user guilty? An income tax cheat? Most likely not. This is due to the fundamental essence of what a juror is: An officer of the court who serves as the most powerful and last line in the sand who determines not only the facts on whether or not the accused broke a law but also whether or not the law is even just or fair at all. Yes, jurors are supposed to take everything into account, state and federal laws be damned! No Victim, No Crime. I’ll stick with the non aggression principle where violence is justified in defense of one’s self and one’s property (home, land, family, children and so on). Dismissing laws the juror disagrees with and judging therein has been labeled Jury Nullification. Look it up for more information and examples. It gives we the people, those who serve as jurors, the true power in determining what is just and what is criminal.

There. Despite the potential mild inconvenience to my vacation, I look forward to serving as juror. I’ll more than likely get weeded out by the prosecutor during questioning. After all, why would any officer of the state want a libertarian in the jury on a trial they’re working on? Who knows, though. Perhaps I’ll get through. Perhaps the accused will be someone, one of us, our fellow citizens, worthy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, who’s being attacked by the state while causing no harm and simply being accountable to him or herself. Perhaps, given that situation, I’ll be able to play my part in helping someone keep from interference, tampering or utter destruction by the state.

Making Progress + 10 Year Gift

Editing, editing, writing, editing, writing. That’s what’s currently going on in the world of my creative endeavors. I’m editing both Hailiorea and Hailiorea Revolt while working on the first draft of Hailiorea Clearing. Thanks to my wife, Dana (you should check her blog at http://supernannywhereareyou.blogspot.com/ ), going over a print out of the first book, I have an extra set of eyes checking, page by page, for errors. So far, so good. Not too many red marks, just a few typos every now and then. She’s going over the 110,000 words on Hailiorea while I take one more run through the 115,000 words in Revolt. Once I’m done, I’ll hand the second book over to my beloved. WORK, SLAVE!!!

From there, I’ll go through and note any red marks for changes and then they should both be good to go. My plan is for Hailiorea to be all revised and ready, in both paperback and E-book format in the next couple weeks. Revolt, by early December. Clearing should be done by the end of January if I can keep at the current pace and my editor, see previous mention of Dana, is able to go through it. Hmm, the end of January… sounds a little bold but what the hell. Perhaps by putting this down in my blog, I’ll create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I’m eager to get these done. While it’s been fun (I wouldn’t write these if they weren’t so) I’m ready to move on to other ideas. 350,000 over 3 books, all first person, centered around one person can be a bit much. Not for the reader. No, my writing reads fast. You’ll see if you haven’t already. But writing, thinking, dreaming, writing, editing, editing, editing, writing, editing – all in the mind of one character is quite an experience.

I’ll continue to update on the Hailiorea progress in future blogs.

In other news, I’ve been with my current employer for 10 years. Corporate sent me an email with a selection of 34 items from which I can choose one as a gift. There are some pretty fancy ones in there but I’m leaning between a home theater sound system (RCA) with DVD player or an iLuv portable speaker with Bluetooth. Other items include Oakley sunglasses, nifty looking watches, some jewelry which my editor might enjoy, a spiffy new globe, a telescope, a portable grill, a Broil King Smoker, luggage and so on. We’ll see. I keep meaning to get Dana to take a look to help decide but after working, racing home, getting changed, cleaning up, feeding the dog, feeding the kids, feeding my face and cleaning the kitchen the whole 10 year gift thing slips from my mind. Ah well, tonight!