Posted in Relationships

A Gender Betrayed

Women may agree with an assessment I’ve come to conclude–men just aren’t ready for marriage or committed relationships until they’re at least 30 years old or so.

The seed of these thoughts emerged while I was showering this afternoon after my treadmill workout.  And please forgive me, there may be exceptions to what I speak, however, I’ve yet to meet one:  A man, who is a true asset, a compliment to his wife, mature enough to journey in lock-step with his bride–without causing grief, sadness or disappointment – regularly.  Maybe its circumstance, maybe a combination of a lack of instruction, poor communication skills, or that we’re really as fragile as the fairer sex are accused of being?

When I reflect on my own relationship with my wife, I can honestly say that I wasn’t fully prepared for the reality of dealing with young children.  I knew that I wanted a family, and was in love with the idea of being a dad, but man is there a lot of work, repetition, and challenge with caring for our young.  NOTHING in life, except experience prepares you for the reality of being one hundred percent responsible for the care and health of another human being!

labrador puppy at age 2 months
Image via Wikipedia

During the child-rearing years of family, both husband and wife, dad and mom need to be a team–on the same page!  Too often because of the tolerated and accepted stereotypes of testosterone carriers, we’re let off the hook, excused from particular parenting chores and responsibilities because we’re ‘not used to it’ or ‘not as good as it.’  The new world of parenting and navigating the emotional landmines of decisions often lands squarely on the woman.  Late nights with sick children, taxi service and household management when the husband is away on business trips; more on her plate.  The laundry service, the menu planning, cooking, baking, doctors appointments, clothes shopping, parent/teacher conferences, enrollment in clubs and athletic teams…it never ends.  Parenting is the boot camp of independence for many women who learn in the school of unfair and hard knocks that they can stand on their own two feet and don’ t need a man to be a success.  Frustration is the bitter wine shared between the lonely stay at home mom and the dad who all too often puts self before the family.

In many respects, we’re like a young Labrador pup!  You know how they are?  Running through the house, playful, cute….and destructive!  Lordy, the trash isn’t even safe in a home with one of these best friends!  One morning, you’ll awaken to find your favorite slippers torn and soggy; or groggily walk down the stairs to get your morning coffee and step into a pile of puke on the last stair step.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re fun, look adorable in pictures, even more serene and attractive when asleep.  The commitment level associated with the care of a young pup is a long-term endeavor.  Notice any parallels ladies?

While finishing up my shower with these thoughts racing through my head I felt great compassion for my wife and this same story that is being played out on life’s stage throughout the world every day.  It DOESN’T have to be this way, but it won’t change until our theories and instruction for future generations are shown that gender is not an excuse for poor communication skills, respecting boundaries, being consistent or holding true to our commitments.  I really think the whole marriage vows practice should be re-examined and revised, that interpersonal relationship skills should be a course taught in school and required for any couple who find out they’re expecting!

I have four older sisters, have been married for almost 19 years, and have two daughters and one son–been surrounded by estrogen my whole life–and think I have the inside scoop!   I believe that civil society would be better off worldwide if both genders were on equal footing.  Guys, we have so much to learn and much work to do within ourselves.  It’s not all about toys, fun, fame, power or control!  There’s a deeper purpose and meaning to our existence, its time we explore together and help each other be better men.  Our wives and women worldwide deserve it.

Posted in SocialMedia, Writing

Grumpy Old Man Predicts Demise of USPS

As he harrumphed out of the Post Office I thought to myself–now this is worth a blog entry!

I took a short break from work today to mail a care package to a friend overseas.  Not having mailed a package over the ocean blue before, I arrived at the counter and was promptly asked for my customs form.  She read my raised eyebrow and upturned “huh?” expression like a seasoned customer service rep!  She handed a blank form to me with a smile, and I stepped aside.  “Now press hard” the clerk said, “it has to go through all seven copies hon!”

I was about to “press hard” when I heard the door open and looked up just in time to see a short older man with a baseball cap shuffle into the room.  As he approached the counter, he stopped with a grunt when he noticed me.  “Go ahead sir, I have to fill out a  form.”  I offered.

USPS service delivery truck in a residential a...
Image via Wikipedia

With his three legal-sized letters in hand he slowly approached the clerk.  His chin hovered maybe four inches above the counter.  “How do I make sure these are going to get where they need to go?” he asked.  Teresa (her name tag advertised) said, “Most people just send those certified,”  noticing two were addressed to the IRS.  As she handed him two blank certified receipts, he asked “What am I supposed to do with those?”  “Well….you’ll need to put the addresses on them?” she patiently replied with a slightly bemused expression.  “I already wrote it on the G_ _ Da_ _ envelope!  That’s why the USPS is going to fail and other companies are going to take business away from you!  Ya hafta make things so difficult!”  He looked in my direction with a swaggered expression, non-verbally fishing for support from the customer side of the counter.  I released an audible chuckle, and went back to filling out my form.  After taking his receipt, he lumbered back outside.  Now ready with my completed form, I withheld the urge to commiserate with Teresa and applaud her patience.  I paid the $22.90 fee to ship my eight pound, nine ounce package to my friend, thanked Teresa and went back out to my vehicle.  The grumpy old man was still getting into his vehicle.  Reflecting with fondness and humor on his perspectives, I found shelter from the wind and snow in my van and returned to work.

Later in the afternoon on a break I posted the following tweet on Twitter:

“2remain relevant @USPS shld consider automating its in-person forms processing. Scan handwritten addresses for Cert/Regist form data! #tip

I am so thankful for the discovering yet another coping mechanism for irritating and frustrating situations!  As a writer, every event is a writing opportunity.  Viewing life through the eyes of a storyteller turns every annoyance into raw material for the keyboard or journal.  I’ve always enjoyed people-watching!  Now I have another facet to this hobby I can explore.  It also allows me to step back and use an analytical eye to see if there’s an easy way to resolve an issue, or turn a challenge into opportunity.

Thank you for reading!  Follow me on Twitter @justasked

Posted in SocialMedia, Writing

Words Words Words…Making Sense of it All!

Image via Wikipedia

This note serves two purposes:  One of thankfulness for a break in routine; and a real treat on a snowy day — a writing class!

The instructor, Paula Peters, is a working mother, successful entrepreneur, author, and very patient with her students.  Her firm, Peters Writing Services, has been in business since 1999 and is staffed with people who are skilled at taking the impossible and turning it into professional copy that’s easy to understand, and targeted to the audience.  Their efforts at proposal writing, marketing, training development, and procedural manuals have saved the bacon of more than one mom and pop shop.  After failed bids for lucrative government contracts, corporate executives enlist her services and quickly turn no frills proposals into stand-out winning bids!

The writing course was well crafted.  The tools were a workbook, slides, the all important candy (you’ve got to have some incentive to come out of your shell right?), as well as individual and group writing exercises.  Her coursework helps students understand how to analyze the writing task and consider strategies to accomplish before putting fingers to keyboard.  Another interesting tool of value was the notes template she designed to help with information extraction.  The image of gold-panning in Alaska flashes in my head as an analogy to describe this tool~ to collect the flashy nuggets appear on the top after shaking/analyzing!  The notes template helps guide your writing activity; gleaning important facts to answer the five W’s (who, what, why, when, and where.)  You can make your own templates that meet your particular task genre.  Once you’ve gathered the nuggets or “chunks” as she refers to them, you prioritize them, string them together and tada…you have a succinct paragraph.

I guarantee if you invite her to teach a course at your workplace, there’s more than a handful of skills you’ll take away to help elevate the professional writing skills of your employees!  Here is a link to Paula Peter’s blog.  Check out the books she’s written.  Her latest published offering is the Working Mom’s Survival Guide.

At this point I’ve already violated several of her rules/guidelines but sometimes it does take more than 350 words to get your point across.  Thanks for reading and Thank You Paula for the great educational opportunity!

Posted in Relationships, SocialMedia, Uncategorized, Writing

Love of Clubs ~ The Social Cure

Colored Bullseye
Image via Wikipedia

Power to the people!  A review of Wikipedia and Meriam-Webster on  the definition of a “club” boils down to this:  An association of people with common interests and purpose.  Members generally make some form of commitment to the group in the way of participation at meetings and also contribute their time, ideas and resources.

Clubs are basically a womb for people with similar passions to give life to activities, products, and ideas.  Being a member of a club provides affirmation that you are a writer, a fisherman, a reader, a farmer, a skater or gymnast, a ham radio operator, a hot air balloonist…the list goes on!

While driving down the road today I realized that there are few clubs/groups where members come together with the intention of becoming more depressed, mad, frustrated, unhappy or despised.  What a revelation! Granted, after thinking about it a while, its obvious, but maybe so obvious that we may not realize the significance of this fact.  The protests that are sweeping through dictatorships across the Middle East are an example, just as a members of a book club, Christmas in April, Girl Scouts, Knitting & Quilting Guilds are examples of people uniting for a purpose and affirmation of their desires, hopes, and beliefs to satisfy their need to belong and be identified as “one of them.”

With all the positivity generated by those within clubs, perhaps some of the answers to our social failures and political ambitions are to be found in increased recruitment or the creation of more clubs? Is it possible to influence and reinvigorate an economy, a political party, improve environmental conditions, revamp a social benefits program or an education system through the activities and participation in a club?  My hunch is yes, people united in purpose can change the world.  A quick review of history and current events proves  it!

The key to transformation by your group or club is transparency, social exposure of the charter or intent of your group, followed by active recruitment and participation by all members.  Social media is one of the fastest ways to promote your club.  I found a very interesting link to Social Media Clubs with a full index (by city) for the United States as well as other countries.  For all who are searching for a place to start or regain momentum with a hobby or passion, I say jump on the bandwagon and find a group or club near you.  We only live once, and time waits for nobody!


Posted in Relationships, Uncategorized, Writing

Rumblings in the Midnight Hour

Photo of a double lightning, taken from a balc...
Image via Wikipedia

Lying in bed reading one of the three books I’m currently absorbing, “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul”…my wife lays her book down and says good night.  The three children are in bed, our youngest, Joshua, hasn’t felt well today–sore throat and stuffy nose.  As I delve into another encouraging story of a struggling writer determined to make his mark on the world, I hear a faint “Mom”…’mom”…. Quickly, I spring out of bed to prevent my wife from waking up.  Joshua states he feels like he’s going to throw up and asks if I’ll stay with him until he does.  Thinking fast, I run downstairs for a bucket, a wash cloth, and the thermometer and return.  He doesn’t have a fever but he’s unable to sleep; I also retrieved a folding chair so I could keep watch and sit in his room while I continue reading…waiting for the inevitable.  His tummy is rumbling and he’s a T minus 10 and counting.  I told him to try closing his eyes and maybe sleep will come and the event will pass him by.

I continue reading and hear the rumble of an early Spring storm, and the rain begins gently spitting at the windows.  I read the awesome story of a young cook in the Coast Guard who was determined to become a writer.  He spent much of his time writing letters for fellow servicemen who needed beautiful letters and poems written to their sweethearts; later he hung out at bars hoping to run into publishers and developed a writing interview style still used by Playboy today.  This incredible soul, Alex Haley would later publish works which sold copies in the millions and was adapted for the big screen and television….this was the author of “Roots!”  A cough and a sputter arrests my attention from the book as I lunge for the bucket.  His prediction now a reality and his supper successfully transferred to the bucket, I dab his mouth with the moistened wash cloth and help him get settled once again. Pfit, pfet, drip, drip, the rumble of tummy and thunder now decrescendo into the night and resolve into a rhythmic snoring and a tick tock of the train clock hanging on his bedroom wall.

Returning to the Soup of My Soul…I finish up the story of Alex Haley and another rumble begins.  A rumbling thought–am I a writer?  I’ve journaled the last 20 years of my life.  I love and appreciate the power of words.  I remember my 3rd grade teacher encouraging me in my attempts at poetry, my junior high English teachers praises, and some great books on writing.  One book in particular is Mary Pipher’s “Writing to Change the World” ~ awesome book and a woman after my own heart.  I am always inspired to write when I view events like the people in the Middle East who desire freedoms and the ability to consume and share information, to express themselves without censorship.  When I hear of people who rise from obscurity to heights of accomplishment like President Barak Obama, and J.K. Rowling, I have renewed hope for humanity–the common, everyday person.  I also feel my journalistic side  desire to be the voice of those who live in third world impoverished and underprivileged conditions.  There are many blessed with so much, but there are also so many with too little in this world.

The snoring, the tick tocking, and now my longing to write join together in a rumble symphony with hope for the future that my son will awaken feeling better, and that this long winter will soon be over, and that I may someday I may use my gift of passion for words to help those in great need; to be a voice for the speechless or unheard.  May all who read be mindful and aware that life, while short, offers in each day an opportunity to observe, record, contribute, and give.  Blessings and health to you all!

Posted in SocialMedia

Web Marionettes Instead of Webmasters

Geant marionette
Image via Wikipedia

A short post about the creative powers of people who are otherwise known as webmasters, web maintainers, coders, codeheads, developers or all around magicians. I say magicians because they turn function into form and dreams into design.  Translated simply they are the people who create intuitive web applications to help you and me go shopping, book hotels, airline tickets, perform currency conversions, estimate our taxes, apply for a mortgage, pay bills, invest money, by our Valentine a special something….all from the comfort of our homes!

I call these people marionettes because they are the ones creating and then pulling  the strings to make the little puppet dance.  You know the type, for example…Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) he came up with an idea for a way to put skilled people back to work, but didn’t have skills to create the site, so he went to Elance, and hired a programmer to turn is dream into a design which made him into a multimillionaire!  Elance is a great site for people with skills to be their own boss, bid on jobs, post their resumes and links to previous accomplishments, etc.

As a developer or programmer, you sit in meetings listening to people describe, as best they can, some problem they’re trying to solve or a capability that would help improve some antiquated process.  These marionettes then get the incredible tasks of interpreting what the dreamer wants into a functioning transaction platform with a simple but, come-again user interface to help people interact with other people or data.  That’s it–boiled down to the basics.  Before an acceptable BETA version is handed back to the dreamer, hours of coding and testing and questioning volunteer guinea pigs must occur.  Once the dreamer sees his or her dream through a browser window, then is when the “Oh you know what else I was thinking?” or “Too bad it doesn’t do this too!” comments take the marionette back to the spinning wheel to create more string to finally allow the dreamer “or puppet” to go out there and dance.

The dreamer gets the publicity, and the developer gets the challenges/frustration and ultimate achievement of having once again turned function into form and dream into design.  So even though for many developers, that in itself is the reward…don’t forget to thank your webmasters, developers, and programmers—if not for them and their strings and skillful craft, you couldn’t dance!

Dream on….

Posted in Uncategorized

Environmental Protection – This Land is My Land, This Land is Your Land!

Garden waste for composting
Image via Wikipedia

If every body assumes somebody else is going to do it, then nobody will ever get it done!  Governments can only do so much to tackle the challenges WE the people help create on a daily basis.  With a current US Population at 310,778,373 and a global population of 6,898,579,166 as of 8 February, how can a single government or even a handful possibly reverse the tide of the damage being done on a daily basis?  Try to think for a moment how going about your daily life impacts our environment:

  • Air:  Driving to and from work (carbon emissions–pollutants)
  • Water:  Detergents /Cleansers/Other Chemicals/Oils (learn about impacts on water systems at EPA)
  • Land:  Trash (1,600 pounds per year, per person) Read report from WiseGeek

You don’t have to have an Anderson Cooper hosting a Planet in Peril series to reach out and make a difference.  Every little thing you do can make a difference.  If everyone tried to consciously consider the consequences of their actions/choices, imagine the benefits our presence on this planet could have.  Changing our existence from one of a careless parasitic presence to that of a steward of its plentiful and self-healing resources.  Simple programs such as recycling still are not mandatory in every populated area in the United States.  Our excuse is that it’s too costly!  Well, its time we put some brain power behind making recycling less costly.  Composting is another activity that could help fortify our soils, but we have to choose not to toss compost materials into landfills!  Parents & teachers, local/State/National officials–what are we doing to educate and remind the public of the options and provide easy access to these sustainable practices?  There are thousands of jobs that could be created in the recycling and composting fields.  We have everything to gain, and nothing to lose!

It starts with making these choices an actively conscious/purposed part of our daily lives.  We need commercials and competitions to help us take our competitive natures and put them to work to protect this planet that has built in safety valves and restorative seasonal cycles to help renew and heal the damage we’ve done.  We hear many complain that they don’t want big government, yet as a whole, we do little to govern ourselves.  Some of the pleasures, sites and sounds we enjoy in nature today may become a rare occurrence for future generations if we do not take a more active role in doing our part to change the way we live.