Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The Guy In The Glass

For most people who were not fortunate enough to be born with a silver spoon in their mouth, working is a necessity.

Most days we smack the alarm clock, stretch, groan and mumble while we climb out of our cozy beds and dive into the shower to wake up.

Eventually we must look into the mirror. The question to you is, do you like what you see?

As I have progressed throughout my life I have encountered many types of people at work. Luckily, many of these folks like their jobs. They may make a comment or complaint about this or that thing that bothers them, but for the most part they are making do with the position they hold, and trying to do their best.

Then there are the folks who hate their jobs. Can’t stand working there in any shape or fashion. Many of these people, if you dig deeper, hate many aspects about their life.

I find it really amusing when I find such employees at jobs that have the single function of customer service. Ever go to someplace like a DMV and get some pissed off clerk who thinks you should know all of their forms and how to properly fill them out? Or perhaps they go off on you for not having this piece of paper or that?

These are the same people who will walk up to another customer service person in a store and bitch and complain about anything and everything in the store. They seem to just go through life upset at the world.

Is it their job that makes them this way, or is it something far more reaching?

Generally, I can guess, they aren’t happy at home either. Nor would these people be happy on vacation, or at an amusement park. When everyone else is smiling and laughing, these are the people who are complaining that their feet hurt, it’s too late, it’s too early, it’s raining, it’s too hot, or any number of things that affect them.

I’m willing to bet that these are the majority of the folks that have the most medical problems. Heart attacks, stress, headaches, and any other number of assorted symptoms come to mind. I can’t imagine being so wigged-out about everything 24/7 can be anything but damaging to their health.

It’s hard to really grasp at what makes these people tick.

All my life I have approached whatever situation I have been in with an upbeat attitude. Sure I get mad, yell and stress out over certain things, but in the end it’s a reaction that is more like watching a wave hit the beach. The wave will hit the beach hard, raise up a little, but then subside rather quickly as it calmly glides back down the sand and to it’s starting point.

I don’t hold my anger inside, and make everyone around me miserable because life is against me. There are a few sayings that I like, and although they can be corny, they hit the nail on the head.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff… It’s all small stuff.”

“Whatever will be, will be.”

“If I worry, will the future change?”

When I was in the Air Force, my first assignment was being sent to Suwon Korea. Instead of complaining about being sent there, I got out and saw the country, met the people, and had a good time. In the Air Force I would often encounter mostly younger folks who complained about being at one assignment or another. The advice from the older members was always the same. “Your assignment is what you make of it”.

Our jobs are that way as well. Instead of going into work day-after-day complaining about things, go there to have fun! Do the job the best you can. When I work, whether it’s a job I enjoy or not, I still go to work and try to do the best job I can do.

I spent over 20 years in the Air Force, and had many jobs in that time. Many of them were a lot of work, but I had a good time doing all of them.

Some would tell me that I have been lucky to be able to do work that I enjoyed. This is true, but I enjoyed the work not because it’s something I always wanted to do, or because it was my dream job. I enjoyed each job I have had because I made it that way!

Throughout my life I have had physically demanding jobs, boring desk jobs, worked outside in 40 – 60 below zero temperatures, and temperatures reaching over 100. I have been a teacher, police officer, store clerk several times, a supervisor, worked in a factory, technical writer, tracked equipment and supplies, drove a truck, and probably a dozen more things I can’t even remember.

You know what? I had fun doing each and every one of these things.

Sure, now I work with computer systems and enjoy that as well, but it’s not because the job is easy, or not stressful, or even fun. It’s because it is a challenge, and I make it fun for me to do.

I go to work every day looking forward to the unknown of what is going to break today, what problem I will have to deal with, and then get excited when the task is complete. I enjoy helping people learn new things, or providing them with better tools so they can do their jobs better.

There are some who work with computers who complain when a user calls them with a question, who refuse to learn new things about the equipment they work with, and could care less if their network is the best that it could be.

Luckily, these are not the folks who survive very long in my current career field. Lazy, annoying people who don’t like their jobs don’t last long in the computer networking career field. Thank goodness. The stress alone would kill them!

Let’s get back to the point of this rant. Make your job fun! Work not for that terrible boss, or even for that terrible company, work for yourself!

This same philosophy can be applied to many things, such as education, weight loss and exercising to stay healthy. Don’t do it because your spouse, or society tells you to, do it because YOU want to.

Look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? Are you too grumpy, too fat, too ugly (okay, that’s a tough one). You can change anything about yourself you don’t like, but it has to be because you want to.

I looked in the mirror recently and didn’t like my weight, so I have ordered the Nutrisystems meals and am starting on the road to recovery. Wish me luck!

I’ll end this article with a poem I got when I was taking Karate years ago. It is a good message for not only the man in the mirror, but the woman as well.

The Guy in the Glassby Dale Wimbrow, (c) 1934

When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.

For it isn't your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.

He's the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he's with you clear up to the end,
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,
And think you're a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the guy in the glass.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Ed Koch - A Democrat That "Gets It"!

On a radio talk show I heard them mention about an article former mayor of NY Ed Koch had written. The parts of this article I am sharing with you here sum up nicely why Democrats and Republicans alike should vote for George W. Bush in ‘04.

I have edited out the “fluff” and other comments that don’t really pertain to the point he was trying to make. If you don’t want to go read his entire article suffice it to say that he does not agree with many things our current president is now doing, or wants to accomplish in the future. Mr. Koch, after all, is a Democrat first.

The reason I wanted to share the following parts of his article is because he is a Democrat that, and he still “gets it”.

This is not the time to switch leaders and try to go back to talking with terrorists. This country needs to keep on a dedicated path and a dedicated goal as a unified country.

All that being said, here is what Ed Koch has to say about the upcoming election. It has been taken from his article, “Correcting the Record: Why I'm Voting for Bush “, that was written on Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2003, and can be found HERE.

“I intend to vote for President George W. Bush in the next election because in my view he is best able to wage the war against international terrorism. There is no greater threat to the United States than that posed by al-Qaeda and similar groups. President Bush has confronted that threat head on.

“After 9/11, the President announced the Bush Doctrine, which in my opinion rivals in importance the Monroe Doctrine, which barred foreign imperialism in the Western Hemisphere, and the Truman Doctrine, which sought to contain Communism around the world.

“The Bush Doctrine, simply stated by the President before a joint session of Congress, is “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” The President has applied that doctrine in Afghanistan and Iraq and has put other countries on notice that he will do so elsewhere, if necessary.

[…]

“It is the primary responsibility of government to provide for our physical safety. A president who does not realize this puts all of us at the mercy of fanatics who would not hesitate to use conventional and non-conventional weapons with the aim of killing as many innocents as possible.

“The United States, of course, is not the only country victimized by terrorism. That list is growing and now includes Turkey, Russia, India, Malaysia, Ireland, Israel and Colombia, to name a few.

“I do not believe the major contenders for the presidential nomination in the Democratic primaries have the stomach to confront the terrorist scourge comparable to President Bush. This is especially true of the current Democratic front-runner, Howard Dean, whose stated reason for entering the race is his opposition to the war.

"Most of the other candidates, who were in Congress and voted for the war resolution, are now tacking to the wind to satisfy the left-wing constituency, hoping if they win the nomination to move to the center before the general election. The exception is Joe Lieberman, whom most observers believe has no chance of winning the nomination. “

[…]

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Parental Homework. What's Up With That?

A huge part of the early years of our lives involves going to school. We normally spend 12 to 13 years in school. If you continue with your education the number of years you attend school increases to about 16 to 20 years.

If you add into the mix training or ongoing classes for work, I have never really stopped learning.

Now along come my kids…

I don’t recall homework involving my parents as much as my kid’s homework must involve my wife and I. I’m sure it did, but the self-centered world of my childhood does not reflect that in my memory. Of course, those of you who know me are well aware that I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday.

So here come my kids, home from school with their work. Although I wish my kids to get a good education, I would like that education to happen, for the most part, at school. I know after spending all day at work I would not enjoy coming home to do more work (I realize many of you are forced to do this sort of thing for your jobs. It still does not make it right.)

So why then do our kids, who spend about 6 hours in school, bring home several hours of homework to be done? Not only homework, but homework with little cute notes explaining that the parents must help them do this or that.

My 7 year old, who is in first grade, has a report due involving her reading the report to the class, showing a visual presentation, and reading books to gather facts. I’m not saying this is not a good activity for them to do, but it’s a pretty involved thing for a 7 year old to accomplish. After $97 in art supplies from Office Depot, and my wife, me and my 10-year-old working with her, we are almost done with this simple little report.

Now don’t get me wrong, she is doing the work, we’re just the support team. I helped her gather pictures from the Internet and print them out, while documenting which web sites they came from, my wife helped her create sentences from the information she gathered reading books, and my 10-year-old has nicely outlined a coloring book page with pen that my 7-year-old can then color so that it looks nice.

Next she will need to color the picture, glue the downloaded pictures onto the poster board, write the sentences around the pictures, and finally give the presentation to her class on Friday. Whew!

I guess in the end it will be nice that we all helped her do a good job, and she’ll have a great feeling of accomplishment, but holy cow! We have three daughters, and this is going to be going on with all three of them for at least another 12 years or so!

Personally I think kids should be given tasks they can honestly complete by themselves, and provided the time it would take to complete these tasks at school. When kids come home from school they should be able to use the time to read, and/or relax. I know I would enjoy the time to relax instead of looking up how to do my 10-year-olds math problems because there are no instructions on the copied worksheet that was brought home from school in place of a textbook.

What happened to textbooks where you could go back in the chapter and read up on the explanation on how to work a problem? Are we pushing are children too hard and trying to cram too much information into their brains at too early an age?

I worry that the so-called educational experts that drive such things may be focused too much on how much information they can teach in a shorter period of time, rather then just allowing the kids to learn in a more comfortable pace.

In today’s day our kids are learning more, and faster then we did. Calculators allow past taught lessons to be condensed in the working so that students can go farther without worrying about all the longhand later on. Computers provide a rapid research and report writing ability that we did not have ourselves in grade school, yet our kids still have a lot of after schoolwork to accomplish.

Maybe I’m being too picky. I really do want to be involved in what my kids are learning so that they don’t make it through school not learning as much as I should have.

When my kids bring home their homework with notes to the parents, I can’t help but feel its more homework for me then my kids. You know what? I’ve done my schoolwork. If the school wants to send work home to do that’s fine, but I don’t feel they should be sending work home for the parents to do.

Homework should be something light and reinforcing what the kids are doing in school.

Upon reflection, I know their homework is just going to get worse. I am trying to instill in my daughters the need for them to pay attention better in class so they can actually do their homework on their own when they bring it home. I’m almost certain they will begin to surpass my ability to help them. Then they truly will be on their own.

As parents my wife and I will continue to work hard to help them in any way we can, but I still think schools need to slack off on homework, either in quantity or difficulty. At the very least, the homework should not come home with a three-page sheet of instructions for the parents!

Friday, January 16, 2004

Nice Manners

It’s a common practice for parenting to teach your children good manners. They should be polite, respect their elders, or people in positions of authority, be patriotic, and do not talk to, or about, people in a harmful manner.

I think most everyone would agree with these basics of a civilized society.

Everyone that is, but the Democratic presidential wannabe’s…

I can’t believe that these clowns are still getting any recognition as potential presidential hopefuls. They have done nothing to even slightly give me any reason to listen to them explain anything for more then a few minutes. The only thing that pours from their mouths is negative comments about our current president.

Most of these comments border on slander and treason, and if it isn’t, well at the very least it’s just bad form. Every time I here one of these whiney butts I want to jump through the radio, or television and slap them around. Certainly nobody is taking them seriously.

Now I would jump all over someone who made these types of comments without another word being muttered, so let’s now look at what these political weirdo’s have not discussed.

They say we should not have gone to war, yet at the time the decision was made to do so, they almost all were 100% behind the decision.

They say the economy is bad, yet we are in a continuous climb out of the recession, and it’s been credited to Bush’s tax cuts. There has been silence from their camp since the increased economy figures have come out.

They claim we’re going deeper into national debt, well duh! We’re at war you nimrods! These things cost money.

I find it funny how time and again the candidates can play on our sympathies with the drivel that we should not be at war, because our military is dying.

Got a news flash for you gents, freedom is not easy, and it’s not free. There is a price to be paid for that freedom, and it has been paid throughout our history. Chances are, it will continue to be paid throughout our future. It’s not an easy thing to wrap your mind around, but in the end, the answer is always the same.

We must defend our freedom if we are to remain free.

Here’s the type of candidate I would like to see run. I would like to see someone who backs the current president, but has a different, and perhaps better, idea for dealing with national problems. The huge trouble with finding such a person at the moment is I believe there is not a better solution, or an easier solution, to our current world situation. Neither do the wannabe’s, and that’s why they have to resort to name calling.

If you feel you must comment on this, don’t you dare start with the unsubstantiated whining that Bush attacked Iraq for oil. I also don’t want to hear about not finding any weapons of mass destruction. While we’ve raised that overused attack, let me give you my view on WMD comments.

Iraq was required by the United Nations to open their borders to U.N. inspection teams. Repeatedly, and over the course of many resolutions, demands, and years, they fought the inspection teams at every turn. In fact, Sadaam seemed to relish the idea that the world thought he had WMD’s and went to great lengths to inflate this world opinion instead of trying to cooperate and prove that he did not.

It reminds me of the classic bluff. The only trouble is, that this bluff caused an international incident, the loss of his country, and his family.

My children try to bluff my wife and I on occasion, but even they know what happens if they take their bluff too far. Essentially, Sadaam, and his country, have received one hell of a spanking!

Did Iraq have WMD’s? At this point it would appear they may not have made it that far in the development of them. They were, however, trying to make them, and acquire the needed components to achieve that goal.

Sadaam was doing such a good job convincing everyone that he did have something, but wasn’t going to show us, that he paid the ultimate price for his deception.

We did go into Iraq under the perception that they may have WMD’s, but the real and only reason we went in was the flat out refusal by Sadaam to cooperate with the United Nations, and not because we thought he had WMD’s. This lack of cooperation was the last straw in the eyes of the law-abiding countries of the world.

Notice How I said law-abiding? We now know why countries like France and Russia did not want us to go into Iraq. It would seem they were supplying weapons and other items that were banned by the U.N. and did not want to lose their market, or be discovered that they were playing both sides of the fence. Time to knock a few more credibility notches off of their score.

So here we have grown men running for the ultimate office of this country. Grown men, who do not support our current president, yet have no credible plan to do a better job. Not only do they not support him, but they constantly attempt to destroy his credibility and attack him at every turn.

If this is not the action of immature children I don’t know what is. Now that Al Gore is opening his trap once again, I’m having flashbacks of the election that he lost (yes he lost it you dimwits! Anyone still thinking Al Gore won that election needs to head over to the forums, place your comments there, and let me rock your world!)

Before you make comments about our president, the last election, or this country’s current situations, you better have some facts or don’t even begin.

I still believe someone is innocent until PROVEN guilty. Throwing out slurs about our president based on you thinking it’s probably true because it sounds like something you’d like to believe is not the basis for any type of intelligent discussion. It’s certainly not something you should be basing your vote on come November.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Crikey! It’s More Baby Dangling.

When Michael Jackson dangled his baby off of a balcony it was a very stupid thing to do. One slip and the baby could have dropped a long way. To further add to this, he was changing positions in his hands with his baby still suspended over the drop.

Now comes Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter.

It pisses me off to see the media and do-gooders go after someone for no reason at all. Steve is having to explain this thing over and over to the idiotic press who are trying to take down a guy who is larger then life. Jealousy perhaps, or maybe just a slow news day. Either way, the accusations are nothing but ridiculous.

Now I’m not a crocodile expert (and let’s not forget Steve is), but that short video they have been showing does not look like Steve ever put his child in harms way. You must remember that these animals Steve works with are in his zoo. He knows every one of them inside and out (literally). He knows their mannerisms, their moods, and what they are capable of doing at any given time. He makes his living chasing and playing with wild crocs.

Steve is more at home with his resident zoo crocs then you probably are with your dogs. He knew this croc wanted what Steve was feeding him, not to eat Steve and his baby.

I know a little about wild animals. I have personally worked with many different species over the years, and studied them through documentaries, books, articles, and college. The huge misconception that many people have is that wild animals are all out to get us. They all want to eat us poor humans.

The plain truth is, most animals do not consider us food. They mainly attack out of mistaken identity (such as thinking a surfer is a seal), protection of their young (many bear attacks), or because they are scared (trapped, or surprised animals). The croc in Steve’s zoo is well fed, and has been around humans enough to know that humans bring the food; they’re not the food.

Sure accidents can, and do, happen, but not this time. I was amused to see the media showing a home video of Steve’s wife saying how sometimes he throws caution to the wind. She was referring to his adventures in the wild and filming, not to his kids. This was an attempt by the press to make a story where there wasn’t one.

Many parents take their kids white-water rafting, mountain climbing, scuba diving, and a ton of other dangerous places. It’s what we do as human beings. We do things that can be a little exciting, and yes, even dangerous. It’s called sport.

Getting back to the video. You will notice that Steve had his baby cradled tightly behind him, with his body between the croc and his baby. Another point of interest, is that I saw at least one other handler there in the background, as well as Steve’s wife, Terri (Raines) Irwin, nearby. If that croc got froggy with Steve, he would have grabbed Steve, not his baby. At which time I’m sure a dozen handlers would have jumped in to intervene.

Was there a risk to the baby? Sure, but in the same manner that there is always a risk with our children no matter what we do. I think driving your children around in cars on the freeways are more dangerous then Steve exposing his kids to the animals.

This was not a publicity stunt. A publicity stunt is when someone plans to do something merely for the press of it. Steve is a happy father playing with his kids in front of the audience at his zoo, nothing more then that. What the heck does he need publicity for? He’s the king of his chosen field already!

Will animal experts get attacked? Yes, but that’s the risk they take. I have been bitten, clawed, and attacked on several occasions. It’s an excepted risk to do what you want to be doing.

Did Steve put his baby in harms way? Not hardly, and I wish the media would drop it. Anybody who is whining about this has no clue whatsoever about this situation.

It’s typical of people just getting on the bandwagon on a topic they know nothing about. Unless they are trained wild animal experts, are working with Steve at his zoo, and know this croc and this situation, they need to just shut-up.

Hey, let’s consult the worlds leading expert on crocodiles, Steve Irwin. Oh yes, we already did and he assures us that he was in complete control of the situation.

You know what, I know he’s right!

Steve, you scare the hell out of me watching some of the stuff you do, but this wasn’t one of them. Good luck to you!