Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Higher Intellect

Lately I've been thinking about horse sense, or in this case, dog sense.  We human beings may have the larger brains but something tells me size is the not always the advantage we suppose it to be.  We have a dog in our household.  She is an older lady and has a little more trouble getting around than she used to.  She is also a little low slung, along the lines of a dachshund.  In her senior state, she has been known to confuse a nice, clean carpet with the grass in our back yard and avail her self of it in order to relieve herself.  This does not sit well with her human counter parts.  Therefore, we do the best we can to encourage her go outside to tend to her needs.  In the summer time this is not such a difficult task for her.  Her main problem is getting achy, short legs to negotiate the few steps down to the yard from our deck.  Now that its winter and snow covers the yard, she has a little more difficulty finding a comfortable way to strike the correct pose for the purpose of carrying out her toiletary processes.  I can understand this, to a point.  I myself would rather not have to deal with snow up to my waist at such times.  Being winter, she has become extremely reluctant to traverse the deck in order to get to the steps that lead to the yard let alone negotiate the slippery treads.  In an effort to encourage her to do that which she must....outside, I try to clear the way for her.  This morning, while shoveling 6 inches of snow from the deck, steps and, yes from the yard itself, it occurred to me that I was actually shoveling a spot in the grass in the snow without a coat so that a creature with a much smaller brain than mine and, therefore presumably one that is inferior to me could tend to the voiding of her bladder in relative comfort.  Kinda makes you think.............................Later

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Good Intentions

Lately I've been thinking about the difference between what one person means and what another person perceives.  Take my brother, John, for instance  (You know him, he was Walter the Chicken's mid wife).  When he was much younger, he was an MP stationed at Ft. Leavenworth, KS...not at the prison, but the Army base there.  Our mother lived about an hour away so John would stay with her when he could.  One night he was on his way back to the base from Mother's house, driving on a back road, when he happened upon a couple of hunting type dogs in the middle of the road.  All involved were surprised at the sudden encounter and made reflexive avoidance maneuvers.  Unfortunately for the dogs, they didn't move the way John thought they would and he hit them.  When John pulled over to inspect the damages to animal and machine, he found to his dismay that one of the dogs had not survived.  However, he did notice the other had managed to head out over the farm field next to the road.  Hoping to assess the damages to the remaining hound and possibly ensure that it didn't just wander off and die, John set out in hot pursuit....not thinking about the fact that he was in full MP uniform...white belt, white gloves, white hat and all.  Springing over the barbed wire fence separating the field from the road he encountered his first snag.....in reality...he tore his pants on one of the barbs in the fence.  Undaunted, he continued in his determined course.  This course led him through two fields (and over two more fences) and eventually to a third fence.  Being a bit tired by now, he decided instead of trying to vault over another fence, he would scramble up a pile of dirt that was near the fence to assist him in making the crossing.  Taking a quick hop to the top of the mound, he immediately sunk to his thighs in cow manure, uniform and all.  Taking stock, he figured it couldn't get any worse so he waded out of the aromatic muck and climbed over the fence.  He was determined to find and help the injured dog.  After all, these were probably some body's pets and he wanted to make sure that at least one survived.  So, off he raced into the night. 
The chase finally lead to the yard of a farm house.  Upon his arrival, the injured dog, not understanding John's desire to help, immediately sounded the alarm as only a hound dog can.  Moments later, before John could calm the dog in order to survey the damage it had incurred, he was confronted with an angry, pajama clad farmer armed with a double barrel shot gun pointed menacingly at John's chest.  Finally willing to accept defeat, John simply raised his hands, turned and returned by the path in which he had come.  He arrived at his post late and had barely made it in the door when his superior ordered another MP to take John, smelling heavily of the farm, outside and hose him down.  Not understood by the dog, not understood by the farmer and not much appreciated by his superiors; John's night was complete.  I'll not bore you with a long consideration of the moral here....I think you can come up with one..............................Later

PS: I must be suffering from some form of Beatlebrania....today I'm stuck on Norwegian Wood!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Getting Stuck

Lately I've been thinking about stuff that gets stuck in your mind.  For example, today I was driving to work and listening to NPR, as usual.  They were doing a piece on how the prices of used cars were rising and then tied that to a piece about the price of a pen by saying that if we had money left over after buying the used car, we might want to look into buying the pen.  It seems it's near John Lennon's 70th birthday and the Mont Blanc pen company has created a special pen.  It has saphires and diamonds and the word "Imagine" written in white gold on the barrel of the pen.  It can be yours for only $27,000.  Now as rediculous as that is, its not what is bugging me today.  What I can't seem to shake is the music they were playing as a background to the piece.  It was the Beatles singing "Baby you're a rich man."  That is what has been in my brain all day..."Baby you're a rich man, baby you're a rich man, baby you're a rich man too-ooo".  As if that hasn't been bad enough...its the only part of the song I can remember so that one line is all that has been running through my mind.  Not only am I bugged that I can't get it out of my head but now I'm bored to death with hearing that one solitary line on a continuous loop in my brain.  I'm hoping that sharing this little bit of torture with you will finally dislodge it from my overworked grey matter.  Gosh, I hope I haven't rid myself of it just to have it lodge in your brain......  What a shame that would be.....  As they say, Misery loves company..............................................Later

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reality?

Lately I've been thinking about something my Philosophy professor said a very long time ago.  Its something he used to start a discussion on reality and how to define it.  Of course, that particular discussion never ends for a philosopher and continues today in every philosophy class in the world.......as well as every dorm room, bar, office break room, etc.  He said simply "Perception is Reality".  I, at first, objected believing that reality exists independent of perception...and maybe it does.  The question is, does that matter?  If someone perceives a thing to be a certain way, for that person, that is their reality.  Let me tell you a story from the family archives.  When I was very young, maybe 3 or so, my dad worked two jobs and one one kept him late at night.  This left my mother in the uncomfortable position of being home alone at night with four small children.  We lived in a not so great part of town and Mother felt vulnerable.  She was not fond off guns but decided she might at least get a realistic model of a 45 automatic pistol in hopes that it would, perhaps,  discourage a would-be intruder.  I might add that besides the 4 small children, she also had at her disposal our family pet, Tinker.  Tinker was an extremely friendly and excitable Dalmatian which was kept indoors at night.  Tinker never met a stranger he didn't like and immediately greet with excited yelps and barks.  One night, the feared of event occurred.  A man with some sort of ill purpose unexpectedly burst into our poor home.  Mind you, we lived in the basement of a house that was not yet built.  Why anyone would think we might have something they would find of value is beyond me but for some reason this guy thought breaking in was a good idea.  Upon entering he was immediately confronted by Tinker who began noisily straining at his leash...he was kept tied up at night...in an attempt to rush to this new potential friend and greet him with many gleeful salutations and doggy kisses.  Next, he found himself face to face with a frightened young mother wielding a large toy pistol pointed directly at him.  For some reason, he turned and ran away.  Our reality was that a vulnerable woman with a toy gun and a friendly dog had greeted him upon his arrival.  His perception was that a vicious animal and a well armed homeowner confronted him to foil his plans.  Fortunately for my mother, the intruder's perception appeared to be reality to to him and he acted on that perceived reality. 

I'm thinking that most situations have at least as many realities as the number of people involved.  I try to keep my mind open to other peoples reality and give them the benefit of the doubt if they don't act in a way that my reality would interpret to be reasonable. I don't always get the job done, but I try.   Well......I perceive that I have to get back to work now....I believe that to be my boss's reality at this moment so I'm going to act accordingly...................................Later

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cogitation

Lately I’ve been thinking about….well….thinking. I mean, just what is thinking all about, anyway? Why do we think? Who started thinking first? When did I start thinking? You know… the simple stuff. I know, this all sounds like Freshman Philosophy 101 or the stuff of a midnight dorm room bull session (which are basically one in the same thing) but when you think about it, thinking is a pretty big deal. A real philosopher, Rene Descartes, thought about it. In fact he thought about it so much, that he determined the only way he could prove he existed at all was that he could think about stuff. Actually what he said was “Dubito ergo cogito; cogito ergo sum” (I doubt, therefore I think; I think, therefore I am). He started doubting that things actually existed but were, instead, figments of his imagination. Is that table really there or do I just think it’s there? That sort of stuff. He had taken it all the way to doubting that he himself actually existed when it dawned on him that if he could doubt, it meant that there was some organized force that was thinking and creating the doubt. So, if thinking was going on he must actually exist because if he didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be anyone to do the thinking which created the doubting, etc., etc. Anyway, it worked for him. Another thing about thinking that gets me thinking is that there doesn’t seem to be any rules. You can think of simple things or complex things. You’re thinking can be right or wrong or both at the same time (you can be right that you’re wrong or wrong that you’re right). You can think something is there and it is or think that it is and it’s not. You can think you know what you’re talking about when you really don’t…take my blog for example… Another thing…..you never stop thinking, even when you’re asleep. When you’re asleep, they call it dreaming. Don’t believe me? Just try to stop thinking. Then all you can do is think about not thinking. Hmmmm, this could go on forever…..which, by the way, is one of the best things about thinking. It never will stop, even when your body does. For now, I think I’m tired of all of this thinking…………………Later.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tombstones

Lately I've been thinking about Epitaphs.  Its not that I'm in any hurry to put one to use, its just that ever since my lovely wife and I took a stroll around City Cemetery here in Salt Lake, they've been on my mind.  I've always enjoyed walking through a cemetery and reading the grave stones.  I like trying to get a sense of a persons life by comparing the dates on their head stones to what I know of the history of the times in which they lived, the length of their lives, the presence or absence of family members near them and, sometimes the best of all, the few brief words which may be chiseled there.  Some of these inscriptions are not of much use in constructing a picture of the person lying there.  "Rest in Peace" doesn't really give you much to go on.  Others may be lengthier but still give you no real insight.  They may be meant to offer comfort to those left behind such as "The Lord is My Shepherd" or "Even so In Christ, Shall All be Made Alive".  They also reveal little of the personality of the one being memorialized.  Others begin to open a window ever so slightly on the life being commemorated.  Statements such as "Beloved Mother" (Wife, Father, Son etc.) or "Gone too Soon" help you begin to build a mental image of a person's life.  However, the ones I appreciate the most are the statements that in some way try to capture the essence of a life now passed.  Some are a line from a favorite poem. "She walks in Beauty as the Night" or "Awaiting the Touch of a Little Hand, the Smile of a Little Face".  Others may address themselves to the nature of the person:  "A Gentle Man and a Gentleman", "She Always had a Smile on Her Face" and "Her Heart was Pure and Full of Joy". 

I know I won't really get to pick my own when its my time.  After all, at that point what I want said about me won't be as important as what those who remain need to say in order to remember me best.  But, after looking back on the undeserved gift this life has been and seeing all the triumphs and sorrows, all the time I've soared or  fallen and how often I've needed forgiveness and received it; I'd like to suggest the following to those who will consider what to say to sum up my life.  In the words of one of my very favorite hymns............
"O, to Grace How Great a Debtor"   ...............................................Later

Friday, June 11, 2010

Excuses

Lately I've been thinking about excuses. Like - why the heck has it taken so long for me to do another post? The truth is....I don't have an answer to that; just excuses:
Life gets busy...
I can't think of anything someone would want to read...
Someone stole my idea, now I have to come up with another one...
I have a great idea but don't know how to put it in words...
what do you want from me, I'm just one man?!...
My muse is on vacation...
I'm on vacation...
You can't rush creativity...

.
.
How about telling the truth? Well, maybe it'll fly.. Here goes. I just didn't get to it. I promise to try harder next time..................Later

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Walter the Chicken

Lately I've been thinking about Walter the Chicken. Walter was not an ordinary chicken, at least by birth. He wasn't hatched in a cozy nest all warm and snug. Walter was an unwitting volunteer in my brother John's eighth grade science class project. The class had been learning about the development of chicken embryos. Each student was assigned a day on which an egg would be taken from the incubator and cracked open to see what had developed. On John's day, the process went on as usual with the exception that when he carefully cracked open the shell, out popped a live, cheeping ball of yellow fuzz....Walter. Now this wasn't the only time John had encountered a baby bird. I can remember at least three times he had "rescued" some barely alive robin or sparrow hatch-ling. He'd run excitedly into the house with a little lump of naked bird flesh cradled in his palm announcing that he was going to raise the orphaned fowl and see that it was safe from predators such as cats, etc. I don't think he ever really thought about the fact that bringing a bird into a house that was owned by a barely domesticated Tom-cat might actually be putting said bird in harms way. None-the-less, his enthusiasm normally won the day and we would prepare a make-shift ICU for the hatch-ling out of a shoe box and shredded newspaper. We'd place the box on top of the TV (in our home the TV was nearly always on so it was deemed to be the warmest place in the house), make up a concoction of mushed up eggs yolks, milk and the occasional worm and force feed the poor thing with an eyedropper. This process would go on until, predictably, the nestling passed on to a happier reward...normally withing a couple of days. Anyway, true to form, John promptly adopted the chick, named him Walter and brought him home where Walter, just as promptly, imprinted on my brother, following him everywhere he went. Walter, surprisingly, did not suffer the same fate as his predecessors and managed to avoid the growing birdie graveyard behind our house. Ah, it was a heart warming sight to see a boy and his chicken romping merrily through the house and yard. Life was good. However, eventually Walter got to be too large to be adequately housed in a duplex in the middle of town and the day finally arrive when Walter had to head out to greener pastures....which in this case was a friends farm. The separation was difficult at first. John missed his faithful friend and Walter seemed a little lost without the only mother he had ever known. Walter didn't like the other chickens much, he had no idea what they were and having no mirror didn't realize they were just like him. He'd been used to seeing himself as a somewhat more noble creature than a lowly chicken. Therefore, he sought out companionship from a loftier form....the horses. For whatever reason, Walter felt comfortable with the horses and spent his days either racing around trying to avoid their hooves or perched atop their shoulders, his feathers flowing in the wind as they.....well, stood and ate their oats.... For their part, the horses didn't seem to be aware that Walter even existed. Even when he was riding around on their backs, they seemed to pay him no heed. This indifference must have stung Walter's little chicken heart because one morning, he was found floating in one of the horses water troughs. Some said he had been swimming and foolishly forgot to bring a buddy along. Other's said the exhilaration of a swift morning ride on the back of one of his equine friends must have overwhelmed his chicken system causing a stroke which dropped him into his watery grave. John believes he knows, though. He believes his feathered friend simply found little solace in horsing around and seeing little hope of ever truly becoming like his flowing maned heroes, committed himself to a solitary end.
His story didn't end on that fateful day. He has ever been remembered as an inspiration to all who attempt to be more than others would have them be. He may have met and ignominious end but his spirit lives on in all who would aspire to change the stigma of stereotyping that would have them submit to lesser things than their hearts would call them to be. We miss you Walter. Rest in peace......................Later

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rod Stewart

Lately I've been thinking about Rod Stewart. Well, not really about Rod but about one of his songs. Don't get me wrong. I like the man.....though he is a bit thin for my taste and his hair is kind of strange. Then there's that nose......but anyway, I'm off the track.....again. As I said, I've been thinking about one of Rod's songs, "Forever Young". I heard it again the other day on the radio and, as usually happens, my mind is drawn to the words and to my son, Brad. I don't really know why this song makes me think of him but since the first time I heard it my mind goes instantly to this young man who is not enough in my life. Not only does my mind turn to him but my heart does also. I suppose that's natural. I don't think it strange that a parent's heart becomes involved in any thought of one of their children. But why Brad with this song? I have two wonderful daughters also and three great children that Regina brought into my life. But this song seems to be Brad's alone. I've thought about this and I've come to the conclusion that its because the words probably voice what every father would want for his son...to grow up "proud, dignified and true"; "to do unto others as you'd have done to you"; "may good fortune be with you may your guiding light be strong". What father hasn't wished those things for their sons? Then there's the part that makes me take stock of myself and whether I have measured up; "When you finally fly away I'll be hoping that I served you well". I don't imagine there has ever been a father who didn't wonder if he had carried out his responsibilities to his children well. If the proof is in the result, then maybe I did pretty good. Brad is well into his adulthood now. He managed to get a bright and vivacious young woman to marry him and he's working on his first year of law school. He has accomplished quite a lot and is certainly a man of whom a father can be proud. Life hasn't been without challenges but he's met them and kept going. So this is to Brad. If you ever happen to read this just know that "...whatever road you choose, I'm right behind you win or lose." In my heart you will always be "Forever Young"...................Later

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Taxes

Lately I've been thinking about taxes...........okay, I guess that about sums that up.........Later

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Plan

Lately I've been thinking about the "Plan". Now, I know there are a lot of "Plans" out there; the plan of Happiness, the Plan of Salvation, city plans, house plans, development plans, emergency plans, etc. But the Plan I'm talking about is one that came about during a conversation had by my lovely wife and I following the sudden death of a friend. He was about our age and one morning he kissed his wife good-bye, hopped on his favorite motorcycle and left on an errand. He never returned. His death was one of those unexpected things that not only saddens you but makes you feel your own mortality and causes you to think deep thoughts.

After the funeral, Regina and I were sitting on the couch in one of those moments when you feel the need to be very close to the one you love and the "Plan" came into being. We were talking of how we really didn't know how we could possibly handle such a sudden and complete loss. With such an irrevocable hole blown through our lives, how would we muster the strength to conquer the sadness and move through the rest of the days, months and years we would face alone? As I pondered those things, my thoughts moved away from how would I live without Regina if she left me to what would I be experiencing if I were the one to leave. I realized that, as hard as it would be for me to leave her in such a position of grief and sadness, I would be excited and ready to move on. For those who understand that this life is a place to learn and to grow; to be tested and to overcome; death is graduation time. All of the wonderful blessings our Heavenly Father promises are waiting on the other side of the veil. In fact, the whole purpose of living is to get to that point where we leave life behind. So, I told her that she needed to be aware that, as hard as it would be for me to leave her alone...and that would be extremely hard, I would be anxious to take the next step; to charge forward with life. I told her that I would understand a period of grieving but that I would hope and expect that she would move through that grief and, knowing that I was happily anticipating our reunion, that she should move on with life and enjoy the blessings that come with mortality. She thought about it and agreed that her hope would also be that if she is the first, I, too, would quickly come to the point where I resumed the joyful experience of living.

So, that's the "Plan" as it has come to be known by us. We don't want our passing to be the point at which life virtually ends for the other also. Which ever of us leaves first will do so with a soft sadness for having left but with the confidence that the other will not let our going ruin the rest of their earthly experience. The one who is left will give place for grief and loss but cherish the good things to be had in mortality. We'll still think of each other when we see an amazing sunset or walk through the mountains or play with the grand kids. We won't shut life out but, honoring the wishes of the one on the other side of the veil, we will embrace life until it is our turn to take that next step. So the "Plan" is to, whatever happens, choose to Live.........................Later

Friday, February 5, 2010

Time

Lately I've been thinking about the Nanosecond........I mean, really...a NANOsecond? Are we an obsessed species or what? What other creature on the face of the earth - or under it - even splits time up in a measure of YEARS? They all seem to get along just fine. However, we humans have the need to shatter a second into a billion pieces. Think of a bear. Now here's an animal that gorges himself just before nodding off to sleep for a few months. Do you think that when he wakes up he worries that he has just slept away a fourth of his year? (just as a side note, did you ever wonder how a bear manages to keep from, ah...well, lets say...fouling his nest while he takes his 3 month snooze? I can't even make it through one night! I actually read something about that a while back. It seems Mr. Bear introduces some high fiber food into his diet just prior to commencing his hibernation. Things like pine needles, dry leaves, small twigs and pine cones and the sort. These then form a sort of intestinal dam which prevents "accidents" while he sleeps. Of course, with the arrival of spring and his emergence from a cozy den, old Mr. Bruin becomes a bear on a mission. I have to tell you that I wouldn't want to be anywhere near a grizzly who has just awakened with the need to, shall we say, eliminate a certain amount of fiber from his system. I wonder if that is the origin of the saying "grumpy as a bear"? But I digress.......) Where was I?... oh yes...Nanosecond. The nanosecond is so short that no human can actually time it. We had to invent something to keep track of this itsy-bitsy shard of time that we decided needed to be tracked. Its called the Atomic Clock. I don't know about you but that sounds like a rather dangerous piece of equipment. I can just imagine myself waking up to the alarm on my atomic clock, rolling over and hitting the snooze button with a bit too much vigor and eliminating the wester half of the Salt Lake valley. Don't get me wrong, I'm somewhat of a science fiction buff and I know that if we didn't have things like Nanoseconds, astronauts on their way to Mars might not get their rockets fired exactly on time and end up circling Saturn by mistake and we don't really want that to happen. Its just that it all just boggles this simple man's mind a bit too much. So, I guess I'll just let the people who have to worry about such things as nanoseconds carry the burden for me. Maybe I'll just see if I can find a nice pine cone to munch on and try to sleep in tomorrow. ......Later.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Blog

Lately, I've been thinking about doing a Blog. The question is....what do I blog about? I'm not really an expert at anything that is "blog-worthy". I don't have any fascinating hobbies that people would like to keep up to date with. I'm a religious person but I don't think anyone would call me a theologian. I have opinions but I'm not really an up-to-the-minute political analyst. I'm not a chef, a beekeeper, a philanthropist, a Hollywood star, a quirky new musician, a liberal/conservative spokesperson, a world traveler, a self-help guru, a photographer, a painter, a consumer watch-dog, a technology geek, an entrepreneur, a movie critic, a poet, a humorist, an amateur journalist....well, you get the picture. Now, my wife (Regina) started a blog a while back (essexgrowingfamily.blogspot.com) and its great! She tells about our family and friends, the events of daily life, posts inspirational quotes and fun pictures and all sorts of wonderful stuff. She has a way of reaching into your heart and it shows. It would be a shame to dull up her blog with my posts. I'm sure people would end up skipping my stuff to get to hers :). So, I am left with the original question....what to blog about? I have been thinking and thinking....and thinking. Then, it hit me! I should blog about...(pregnant pause, here)...stuff I think about. What genius! Nobody is more of an expert on what I think than me. Heck, sometimes I explain my musings to someone and they STILL don't know what I'm thinking. In fact, now that I look back a bit, people have always been interested in whats going on in my head. I can't tell you how many times someone has said to me, "Jim, can you please tell me what WERE you thinking?" Its a natural. I'll be filling a need! Don't you just love serendipitous inspiration? Its taken a long time but finally, the world will receive periodic insights into stuff I think about. Well, I better go now. I have a lot of serious thinking to do...people are depending on me.....Later!