Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More than just a hat

I grabbed my ball cap the other day and went out.  Yeah, it was easier and quicker than taking shower. This hat has been around awhile.  But I will get to that later.

Late July, 2001, Gretchen. Noah and myself took a trip to California to visit her family.  We had purchased the non-refundable tickets months in advance.  The day after purchasing the tickets, I received the invitation to my 10 year class reunion for the same day we were to fly out to California.  So I missed the reunion. (Hopefully, we are having a 20 year but I haven't heard.)  This event was far from being the top memory of this trip.

Upon arriving in California, Gretchen had surprised me with Green Day tickets. (It's amazing what married couples do for each other that we tend to forget, my advice is to stop and take time to remember.)   It was the final show of the 'Warning" tour and their homecoming show.  It was originally schedule to be in Berkley but because of demand it was moved to the Phil Graham Center in San Francisco.  It was an awesome show only to be topped by the "21st Century Breakdown" show in St. Louis exactly 7 years and 6 days later.    Yeah, I know the "what about the hat?" I will get to it, but not yet.

During this trip, Gretchen and I began to suspect that she may be pregnant.  Neither of us wanted to say anything nor did we want to get our hopes up.  We were "okay" (for lack of a better word) with the fact that our chances of conceiving a child of our own was slim to none.  We had adopted Noah 4 years earlier and had accepted that he would be an only child.  God indeed had another plan for us.  When we arrived home, we confirmed what we had hoped for.  Even though Gretchen did "accuse" me of tampering with the pee stick to make it turn blue.  I'm all about a good joke but I wouldn't go that far.  (I don't think)    4 years later, God would bless us again.  This time with a girl.

Back to California.  At some point during this trip we went to Target.   Where, yes, I indeed bought the multi-aforementioned hat.  At this particular time it was just a hat.  Today, it is a hat that is bent out of shape, sweat stained, frazzled with the elastic band separating from the body of it.  It is a beige ball cap with a block of red and white surrounded by blue on the front of the bill with the letters USA on the front and a small flag on the back.  Side Note:  There have been a couple of times I have thought I had someone else's hat on because if  you look in the mirror it reds ASU. Yes, I know the S would be backwards but your brain fixes stuff like that.  (At least my does.)

Okay so its early August 2001 and I bought a USA hat.  No big deal.  Until a month later.  On September 11, 2001 I was sitting, working in the basement of Peoples National Bank in Fairfield when I was told that a plane a had flown into the World Trade Center.  Then a second.  The world had changed.  I will never forget seeing the towers fall norwill I forget the complete coldness I felt or that feeling of being alone .  Maybe someday I will write about that day then again maybe I won't.

So, this hat, that I bought just because I liked the way it looked, became more than just a hat.  It became a symbol.  A symbol that I have proudly worn for almost 10 years.  Minus the 6 months it was hidden between 2 sweaters in the top of the closet, that lead me to wrongfully "accuse" Gretchen of taking it to Good Will.  Sorry honey.

Now I have to decide what to do with this hat.  When I wear it, I look rather dweebish.  It sits crooked, its wrinkled up and looks dirty.  I don't know why but I can't let this one go.  I think I will try washing it again and try to stretch it out.  Whatever the outcome maybe, if it falls apart or I bury with full military honor complete with a 21 BB gun salute or I continue to wear it, this hat will always be more than just a hat.

This was what was on my mind today.      

Sunday, March 27, 2011

March Sadness

It's March and time for college "March Madness".  (that phrase actually started as a description for Illinois high school basketball)  This year 68 teams recieved the honor of competing.  Some teams are automatic qualifiers others are invited.  Every year (except this year) I watch who gets to "go to the dance" and then get to hear which teams should have gotten in and who should not have.  The committee uses strength of schedule and rpi to deterimine this.  And this is where I have problem.

We get pre-season rankings and ranking during the season. But what are these rankings based on.  Who is to say who is better and who is best.  That can only be determined by playing the games.  This year we get a semi-final game of #8 Butler and #11 VCU( a team most said did not belong there.) Michigan State was preseason number 2 an lost in the first round.  So much for those rankings.

Major colleges won't play the so called  mid majors because if they win, well they are suppose to win but if they lose they could hurt there chances to dance.   And they need to dance because the schools they represent want more enrollment for more cash.

With corporations,  I know the stockholders get the profits.  But with colleges, who gets it.  It seems that the faculity's salaries continues to increase. (Chancellors, professors, coaches etc.)  I wish I knew what the percentage for salaries is as it relates to college cost.  Regardless,  all of this money earned through "March Madness" and the college football "BS", er I mean "BCS" is earmarked for the major universites.  The rich get richer.  Does it funnel into the scholastic arena?  I suppose some does.  You always see new buildings being erected.  Do those buildings make us smarter?

The point is GREED.  A topic I will cover A LOT!  The greed in this country sickens me and it just gets worse.  Look at pro sports and what NFL(No Football Left) have done with their greed.  I feel that the aforementioned faculty look to get richer in their bank accounts and not in their students academia.  A side note to that point:  The graduation rates of these student athletes should be important as well.  I mean, it is college and they should be learning something besides their sport.

The title of this blog is "March Sadness." Hooray for the little schools.  But the coaches for these teams are young and the big schools will come with their Brinks trucks filled and lure them away. The field is not level and probably never will be.  Big schools keep the little schools down.  Look at SIU-C.  They lost 2 coaches in consecutive years to Big Ten schools.  The rich get richer.

Greed greed greed makes March sad.  Maybe VCU or Butler can best the big schools for once.

This was what was on my mind today.  (and every other day)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

No hablo

The other day I heard someone say "I tired of people around here not speakin' American."  Huh??  I didn't realize that  American was a language.  I have heard of American English.  Nevertheless, I thought about it a while and this is my thought on that subject.

English is not an easy language to learn.  Most of the people who speak English as a first language do not speak it correctly.   I think the value of teaching proper English as diminished to the point where Americans just don't care.  Even though there was a movement to make English the United States' official language, I don't think that would have helped anyone.  Thanks to country, pop and rap music and texting, I don't ever see it getting any better.

People like to complain about Spanish being spoken in this country.  My thoughts are that a bilingual country would be rather confusing.  However, take a look a map from the 1800's. Spanish settlements were all over the south and the west.  England settled in the East, where our government started.  Where Spain and England settled were based on sailing routes and the wind, not what language was spoken.

Back to the topic.  Now the people that the aforementioned "someone" was referring to were Southeast Asian.  Many to these people that I have met, have their kids do their translating.  I don't have a problem with this unless the topic is complicated.  People get so mad over having to commincate with these people.  I don't get it.  When immigrants came from all over in the late 1800's they couldn't speak the langauge either.  Everyone stayed within their own communities with people who spoke their native language.  What has made America great, is people leaving those communites and becoming one people of this nation. 

130 plus years later, we have become intolerant of immigrants even though all most all of our heritage have come from other places.  It just proves the fact that we are a spoiled, selfish nation.  When have you or I tried to learn a different langauge.  I tried to learn Spanish in high school.  That was a joke.  I don't think they tought it the right way or maybe I was just to lazy to try to learn.  ( I am American after all.)

Yes, I get frustrated when I call customer service and can't understand what the agent is saying.  Maybe some people feel those jobs are beneath them and won't do that work. Maybe companies feel they can save money  by paying immigrants less.  Whatever it is, if I push "1" for English, I should be able to
understand the person.  If I can't understand the person, it's not their fault.  The company they work for put them in that position.  Your frustrations should be voiced to the company not that person. ( That is if you can get of hold of someone you can understand.)

The world we live in gets smaller everyday.  Immigrants are still coming to this country legally or illegally.  One language for this country would be great and for the world even better.  But, that's never going to happen.  So, if I have to press "1" for English, it's fine.  Just have someone I can understand.

This blog went way off from what I had intended.  So be it. I can cover it again another day.

This was what was on my mind today.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 14, 2011

2012 Election Already?

As much as I try to avoid it, the talk of next year's Presidential election is already in full gear.  It just doesn't seem like it's that time again. Ugh!

I wonder if we have it right with 4 year terms.  If it takes a year to learn the the job and the last year is spent campaigning, that only gives two years to spend concentrating on this country's issues.

I guess the thing that frustrates me more than anything is our outdated two party system.  In my opinion the far right is always trying to keep the far left in check and vice-versa.  But if the extremes are controlling the parties then I am not being represented.  I fall in the middle.  I'm guessing most of us do.  My Presidential ballots were cast as follows:  Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, McCain.  I had a good streak going.  Before the last election,  I pulled up each major candidate's website.  Only two really spoke to me, McCain's and Biden's.  Both ended up on tickets.  President Obama's did not speak to me even though we were from the same state.  Even though I didn't vote for him, he has impressed me and I think deserves second term. He will most likely get my vote next year.

Sorry I got way off topic.  The point is I'm neither Republican nor Democratic.  I believe a third party from the middle could thrive and get stuff done.  I think a big majority is in the middle and could control both houses.   Don't get me wrong the far left and far right have good points.  What I'm saying is that we are so split between two parties that we don't get anything done.  We spend the time that we have blaming the other party for our woes.  A third party could end the 50/50 split.  Anyway, that's how I see it.

This was what was on my today.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

ohh ohhh I'm still alive

In trying to decide what to write about today, a thought occurred to me.  As I lie in bed on this beautiful Sunday morning, I am alive.  I know, weird thought.  But if you read enough of what's in my brain, you'll know it's pretty normal for me.  If just a few moments of life were changed I wouldn't be here.  I know, I know, pretty dreary thought.  Let me explain.

As a child I couldn't have died on numerous occasions.  I'm not talking about playing superman off of the roof, or Evil Kneival with my BMX.  I'm talking about actual death.

The first case was health related.  My twin brother and I were very susceptible to bronchitis as infants. (Both of my parents smoked and that may have been a cause, then again maybe not.)  My parents still live in the house that I was brought home to, but at that time is was quite a bit smaller.  My two siblings and I shared a room.  On one particular night, my sister woke up and thought something was wrong and went to tell my parents that I was making funny noises.  Actually I was going into convulsions.  My mom grabbed me and was rushing me out the door as dad was getting the car.  Now here is one of those moments.  As my mom was carrying, somehow her fingers were in my mouth and I clamped on them.  She had her other arm around my stomach kind of like a football.  With her running and jostling me around it jarred loose the the biggest lugie ever recorded in the history of man.  She said she just slung off her hand (I can picture Bill Murray saying "He slimed me").  By the time we reached Good Samaritan (yes I was there quite often) I was fine.  Mom had preformed the Heimlich before there was a Heimlich.

The next case is actually several of same incidents.  As a kid I was always choking on food.  I have know idea why, it just always happened.  I can remember three specific times but I know there were more.  Once it was canned peaches.  I know, "peaches?"  The second culprit: a hot dog.  The third is my all time favorite.  By the time that this incident occurred, the Heimlich was a standard at our house.  This time it was special because we weren't at home, we were at the Mount Vernon Pizza Hut.  Oh yeah, deep dish with extra cheese.  I choked, mom Heimilched me and into a napkin went the pizza and everyone continued to eat including me.  (I just made a verb out of someone's name)

The last case is a lesson for everyone.  I was at Jason's (my grade school best friend) house.  I was driving his go-kart and I took it out into the road.  The same as we had done time after time.  Here again is one of those moments. On the way back to the house, I decided to cut through the yard rather than go up the drive way.  So I turned into the yard and about 30 feet into the yard a car top the hill just flying I'm mean FLYING!  If I had gone to the drive way...well there wouldn't have been much left of me.  Needless to say, I never took the go-kart on to the road again.

So today, I'm going outside, take a deep breath of air, soak up some sun and thank God for letting me stay around a little longer.

This was what was on my mind today.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I owe it all to Jim Breuer

Roughly two years ago, Gretchen and I were driving to Branson, Missouri.  We had satellite radio and I had gotten tired of the same songs.  I began checking out the comedy channels when I came across Howard Stern interviewing Jim Breuer.  Jim was talking about having to take care of his elderly father.  I laughed so hard that I was crying driving down Interstate 70.  Now, I wasn't a Jim Breuer fan.  I knew him from Saturday Night Live, playing "Goat Boy".  That was during a period in which I really didn't watch the show that much and I didn't understand that character.  I, also, knew he was in the movie "Half-baked" which I haven't seen.  He plays a stoner.  I figured that's how he was, I mean, that is how he looks.   I was surprised that he made me laugh so hard.

I have always loved comedy and  I love to make people laugh. I've even written some stand-up but never had the guts to perform it.  I can do some voices, nothing spectacular though.   Anyway, back to Jim Breuer.  There was something in the way he told the story which made you laugh, feel sorry for him and just drew you in.

Okay, fast forward to about 4 months ago.  I was flipping channels and I caught Jim Breuer on "The Dan Patrick Show"  I think, although it may have been something else.  He was talking about the book he had written and doing voices like Joe Pesci, and Tracy Morgan for example.  It got me to thinking about his appearance on Howard.  So, I tried to find it on the internet.  I couldn't find it but I did find another clip of him on another radio show.  I was crying again as I played it over and over.  I played it for Gretchen and she laughed as much as I did.  I mentioned to her that he had written a book.  A few weeks later, (and this is how great my wife is) she surprised me with the book.  However, it wasn't a book but the digital audio book with Jim reading it.  She figured he would do voices as he read it.

She was right he does voices as he reads this book.  But it's not like he's reading the book, it's like he's there telling you these stories of his life.  And that's about all she or I got right about this book.  The name of the book is "I'm Not High".   It turns out this is just the way he has looked his entire life.  Jim writes about growing up and his working to get famous, you know the things you expect in an autobiography.  Here is the unexpected.

Jim goes into detail about his journey with spirituality.  Whoa!  Not what I expected at all.  He describes moments in life when you feel certain callings to do things.  (God speaking to him, the Holy Spirit, or however you choose to describe it.)  It is a very moving book.  I have laughed, "almost" been brought to tears with sadness and felt his anger.  Jim covers topics such as race, love, losing friends, drugs and what he has seen fame do to others.

I have found the book to be very refreshing, entertaining and thought  provoking.  I highly recommend it and I don't recommend a lot of things. If you get the chance get the audio version, do it.  I don't know if it is the same with the book, but Jim gets off topic on the audio version with side stories but always return back the original topic.  There is some choice language here and there. Nothing to harsh and nothing most of us haven't said a million times ourselves.

The title of this blog is "I Owe It All To Jim Breuer".  This is why.  Why the thought of blogging had crossed my mind for a couple of years, I didn't act on it.  (I have to admit, I didn't know anything about it and figured it was a huge process.  Boy was I wrong.)  After watching him on TV and listening to the book, it occurred to me why I enjoyed Jim so much.  He is a great story teller.  I love to here great stories. It's the same reason I love baseball on the radio.  When you have a great story teller like Jack Buck describing what's happening right before him in such a wonderful manner as he did, you can't help but to be captivated.  The same with Jim Breuer he captivates me with his story telling.  And that is why I started this blog.  I have stories to tell and hopefully I can entertain my readers.  My big problem is focus and I forget to add some details to the stories I tell.  I think I need an editor.  Regardless,  I hope to improve as time goes by.   Nevertheless, get this book.  I know you will enjoy.

This was what was on my mind today.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Yeah, I got caught some beads

I'm in the middle of my first Louisiana Mardi Gras and I've learned a couple of things.  One, I have no will power when it comes the cream cheese filled king cakes. Two, northern Mardi Gras parades are just cheap rip-offs.  Three, you can keep your shirt on and still get millions of beads.

Of the parades that I have been to, I saw no one bare themselves for cheap plastic orbs connected together by a string or more cheap plastic.  I'm understanding that I missed one lady who felt the need to expose herself and then quickly disappeared.  Now I didn't go to the parades looking for that type of mischief.  I took my kids to enjoy the floats and grab some flying fun.

I've often wondered how the idea that showing yourself for beads ever started.  I suppose some overly intoxicated women wanted something and decided "Hey, I know.  I'll show 'em my boobs!"  I'm guessing it worked so well that it just became the standard.  Well in some areas anyway.  By the way, what do you do if you're standing with someone and they feel the urge to flash.  "Holy crap Grandma, put your shirt back down!"   And then there's all the perverts with cameras, snapping photos like they just discovered something never seen before.  What do you do with all the pictures anyway?  I sure you show them to all your friends but then what?

So, yeah I caught some beads, and some cups, and some stuffed animals, and some candy, and some yards sticks of gum.  I've had a great time during this Mardi Gras season.  Maybe next year I will venture down to New Orleans and see what that's about.  I might even bring my camera. ;-D

This was what was on my mind today. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dr Heckle and Mr Jive

It's true.  I make jokes.  Some are funny and some are funnier. :-) I crack myself up.  Yes, some jokes are "duds" or "bombs" or whatever.  A joke may just bomb because some people didn't get it.  I don't want to have to explain every joke I tell or write.  If you don't get it or just don't find it funny, it's okay.  I'm a big boy.  I can take it.  Nothing I write or say should be taken personally.  However, I'm finding out the some people have taken offense to my writing and with several outlets to reach me, they've let me know.  I know issues can be polarizing but IT'S NOT PERSONAL.

Let's face it, most of my writing is for entertainment purposes.  Hopefully you get something out of it, smiles, laughter, tears but sometimes  I hope to give you reason to stop and think.  I started this blog because I felt I had something to say.  I enjoy doing it.   I intend to keep doing it.  There is a comment section and you may comment on anything that I write and everyone can see it.  Believe me, I don't get up and wonder "Who can I piss off today?"  That is never my intent.  And I'm not two-faced.  I am straight forward.  I will tell you how I feel. 

Question of the Day:  How is it that it's okay to spend $300 million on a ballplayer but not 1 cent on a new high school?  "Yep, I'll pay more for baseball tickets but you ain't raisin' my taxes!"  ?????  Is this the world that we want?  Just wondering.

One last note on the high school issue.  Come spend some time in rural Louisiana.  You will see what effect lack education support will do.  I will speak of it no more.

Knock Knock...................

This was what was on my mind today.