Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fear and Anger Must Not Blind Us

In the wake of the tragedy in Boston on April 15, 2013, many so-called experts have and will continue to come forth and make guesses as to who or whom is behind the bombings.  However, the true identity of the perpetrator(s) is relatively unimportant.  What is important is what we are willing to give up in exchange.

It is human nature to want to find the guilty, as we all have an innate desire to see justice done.  There are different ways to define what justice means, but in any case the identification of the wicked is a prerequisite.

This desire for justice is powerful, and care must be taken not to allow this desire to blind us. Equally powerful is fear. We must not continue to let fear and anger blind us. If we do, then the terrorists (regardless of their identity) win.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the burning desire for justice launched us into the so-called war on terror.  A number of things came from this, all of which reduce our freedom. The Patriot Act became law on October 26, 2001.  The TSA was created in November, 2001. Later, the NDAA 2012 also arose as part of this war on terror. I leave it to the reader to research just how much freedom has been given up in the name of justice, all as a result of a singular tragedy.

Mass shootings have been occupying a lot of airtime in recent months. The events in Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT, among others have gotten massive coverage. And they truly are tragedies. However, just as post-9/11, fear and a desire for justice have been leveraged in an attempt to convince Americans to give up more freedom.

And now today, the day after the bombings in Boston, all Americans again face a dilemma. Of course we want to know who is behind it. Of course we want to bring them to justice. Of course we would like to prevent these kind of things from happening.

But at what cost?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Camp Card Fundraiser

To my Fort Wayne area friends (or those who have friends/family in the Fort Wayne area): We are now engaged in a fundraiser to help my son raise money for various Boy Scouts related outings and gear. We are selling discount cards, which sell for $5 each, and provide the following:

1. Do It Best – Save $5.00 off a $20.00 purchase (single use)
2. Applebee’s – Save $5.00 off a $25.00 purchase (single use)
3. Pizza Hut – Free reg. order of Garlic Sticks with purchase of large pizza (single use)
4. Crazy Pins – Free Combo Pack, $14.95 value (single use)
5. Tokens-n-Tickets – Buy $5.00 in tokens and get $5.00 in tokens free
6. Firehouse Subs – Purchase any sub with a bag of chips and receive a free 22oz. drink
7. Freedom Firearms – Save $5.00 off any one-hour shooting session
8. Cartridge World – 25% off ink refill
9. Summit City Bicycles – 5% off a bicycle or 10% off any accessory (one time use)
10. Best One Tire Service - $10.00 of your next purchase of $100 or more

The cards cost $5 to purchase, but any one of those discounts would make the card pay for itself.

This is a Boy Scouts fundraiser, and allows my son to raise money to help pay for his camps, high-adventure trips, and gear. Please get with me if you want one or if you have any questions. Thanks!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Am I a Harley Fan? Yeah, I Just Might Be.

As a general rule, I have never really been a fan of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.  I have always had a preconceived notion of the “biker” type of person who rides a Harley and the culture that comes along with it.  I don’t know if that makes me judgmental, of whatever.  I’m sure it does, and I am sorry for that.

Having said that, I think I have realized that I may be much more of a fan of Harley-Davidson that I ever wanted to admit, especially after checking out the latest lineup of bikes on their website.  I have found my new drool-maker, and the bike that I simply must have one day.

I present to you the 2012 Harley-Davidson V-ROD Muscle.  Bask in it’s badassery.  And if you are feeling generous, have one delivered to my house.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reading List–A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity (Bill O’Reilly)

‘Bold Fresh’ is a departure from my previously-posted reading list, but it was well-worth the detour.  I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I started reading even though I have watched O’Reilly plenty of times on The O’Reilly Factor.  I appreciate his fair treatment of people from all places on the political spectrum and his critical approach to everyone on both sides of the aisle is a welcome departure from the obvious left-wing bias that dominates the American news media.  But the book isn’t really about that.

‘Bold Fresh’ is the story of where Bill O’Reilly came from, his philosophy on life and his work, and the origins and reasons behind his philosophy.  I could literally go an and on about specifics of what is contained in the pages of ‘Bold Fresh’, but I won’t, as you can (and should) read it for yourself.  I can say that after reading it, I have a much greater understanding of O’Reilly’s work and a tremendous amount of respect for him as a human being and as a man.

His fiercely-held belief in self-reliance (as opposed to the entitlement mentality) and standing up for what you believe really resonates for me, and I hope to live up to that ideal even half as well as he’s been able to.  O’Reilly’s viewpoint on holding people accountable for their actions is also something I agree with wholeheartedly.

O’Reilly writes extensively about his belief in the power and necessity of deep, meaningful friendships as an fundamental piece of keeping a man centered and on track.  I have done a fair amount of reading on this topic as well as self-examination and observation of my life the lives of the men around me, and I agree with O’Reilly 100%.  This is an area that many men (myself included) struggle with today; many of us have isolated ourselves from deep friendships with other men, and I believe we are all suffering for it.

All in all, I found ‘Bold Fresh’ to be a really enjoyable read.  O’Reilly’s philosophy lines up closely with my own, and the book has strengthened my resolve to live up to my own ideals.  People who already dislike him will probably not enjoy the book, as his approach tends to be somewhat polarizing.  But, for anyone who either already appreciates his style (or are neutral), go get this book and read it.  Today.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Kia Racing–I Didn’t See That One Coming

As anyone who knows me well can attest, I am a BMW fan.  I always thought they were cool as a kid, and when I was about 12, I had it set in my mind that my first car was to be a 1987 BMW 325is, red of course.  Well, my first car did NOT turn out to be the aforementioned 325is, but many years later, I did in fact buy a red, 1987 325is from a coworker.  It was an enormously fun car to drive and compared to the techno-wizardry in modern cars, was incredibly easy to work on.  Since then, we’ve had a 2000 528i, which was later replaced by a 2004 X3 3.0i, which is a terrific blend of sporty driving dynamics and cargo-hauling utility.  Anyway, given this affinity for all things BMW, you can imagine my surprise when I read that not only has Kia developed a racing unit, but that they recently took a first-place finish, beating out a BMW 1-series!

Don’t get me wrong, I really think Kia is coming into their own as a respectable carmaker.  We own a 2009 Kia Rio that we bought new primarily for our teenager to drive.  It’s easy to drive, has great safety features, a good warranty, etc.  I have to say that I have been quite impressed with both the build quality and the drivability of it.  It’s no BMW, for sure, but a solid car at a good price.

All I’m saying here is that seeing Kia jump into the racing world, and to come out with some quick victories, is not something I saw coming.

You can check out some of the details over at CarGuyDad.com.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Long Absence

I realized somewhat suddenly that I haven't done any writing on this blog in the 5 weeks or so since returning from a trip to the Smoky Mountains with my family. For that matter, I haven't written in my journal in that time either. I believe firmly that there is a lot of value in a man being able to pour out his most private thoughts onto paper, where they can be captured, either for later review, or simply to give those thoughts and ideas an alternate location of residence.

I had managed to build something of a routine around my journaling and blogging in the month or so leading up to our last trip, and I need to rebuild that routine because it's just plain good for me. Not in the same way that exercise or eating vegetables is good for me, though. It's more like good for me in the way that being able to vent to a good friend is good for me. Besides, I find that for me, writing down what I'm thinking without thinking so much about what I'm thinking about is the best way to actually make sense of things. Make sense?

For the two of you who actually read what I have to say, I'm sorry that you have been left with nothing from me for a while. As I rebuild my writing routine, I'll be documenting some of my thoughts and experiences here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Internet ID Plan Yet Another Example of U.S. “Nanny State”

Obviously, I understand the need for online security.  However, I see a couple of obvious (at least to me anyway) problems here.  First, I'm really skeptical of any system that can attempt to "make everyone safer", simply because this sense of security will make people complacent and not take responsibility for themselves.

But, the bigger problem I have here is one of fundamental ideology. Take away the pros and cons of the system itself, and you are left with the fact the the government is taking upon themselves to spearhead and fund this.  The liberals out there will disagree with me on this, but this is simply not the government's job.  It is yet another example of the U.S. government spending money we don't have on something that is clearly not a necessary government project.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Man Make FIRE!

So, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that despite being an active Scouter since my son was a Tiger Cub (he’s a Boy Scout now and I am an Assistant Scoutmaster is his troop), I have never successfully built a fire that didn’t require the use of matches or a lighter. I carry a magnesium fire starter in my pack, but I’ve never actually managed to use it to start a fire.  I’ve tried a few times, but to no avail.

To be sure, I have built lots of fires in my day. When we take the boys camping, it is often my unofficial duty to manage and maintain the campfire.  I carry a hatchet in my pack for splitting kindling. I even have an old walking stick that has gotten shorter and shorter over time as it has seen active duty as a fire poker. Everyone knows it’s mine and not to make off with my fire stick.

But, I still hadn’t built a fire without matches.

This is a lack of skill that demanded rectification. Being able to make fire is a basic survival skill that every man should master. So, yesterday afternoon I set out into the grand wilderness of my back yard, magnesium in hand, determined to not return until fire had been made.

I am quite happy to report that I am not still out in my backyard. I did in fact manage to build a fire using nothing but the magnesium, my pocket knife, and leaves and sticks that I found laying around my yard. OK, in the interest of full disclosure, there was one small cheat in effect. We’ve had a lot of rain and snow melt recently, so most of the natural material laying around my yard was pretty wet. So, to help things along, I did employ the use of a cotton ball soaked in petroleum jelly to get things going. But, I carry those in my pack also.

At the end of the day, I checked off another box on my mental list of manly skills. Now, let’s grab some hot dogs and marshmallows, get some friends together and enjoy some campfire time!


UPDATE: As I thought about this post, I decided that I should put together an actual tutorial on fire-building. Not sure when that will actually happen, but it’s on my list for sure. I’ll get Will to help me out with that.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Slow Down and Pay Attention

This morning after my shower, the air in the bathroom was especially steamy, so I opened the window to let in some cool air while I cleaned off the mirror with a towel. As I went on with my morning shave, I paused for a few seconds to just really take in the quiet of the early morning. What I noticed most prominently were the scents and sounds. The aromas of eucalyptus and menthol from my shave cream. Something about that scent clears my head and gives me a little boost first thing in the morning. Then, what really struck me was the sound of the birds chirping outside.  There weren’t vast numbers of them, but more than I have heard in months. And they weren’t terribly loud, so I would never have heard them had the window remained shut. They sounded as though they were engaged in a very happy conversation but didn’t want the whole world to know, just those who were close by.

It feels like it has been a really long winter here, but the sound of the birds was a gentle reminder that Spring really is right around the corner. A reminder that I really needed to hear. And a reminder that I might have missed had I not taken a few moments to slow down and pay attention to the world around me.

My wife often says that part of what she loves about the approach of Spring is that when you are paying attention and really watching for the signs, you get a sneak peek of Spring before anyone else. When others wake up one day and realize that, “Wow, Spring is finally here!”, you know that you have been seeing the signs for weeks.  It’s like a little secret between you and mother nature.

Today I really experienced what she means. Mother nature sent some of smallest creatures to whisper in my ear and tell me a little secret.  Spring is almost here. I’m just glad I was listening.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Happened to Guys Respecting Women?

Recently, our 16-year old daughter posted a Facebook status that really seemed timely in that it fed right into a lot of what I have been thinking about lately.  She said:
“What happened to guys respecting women?”
This is a really interesting question coming from a teenager today, and the wording recognizes that there have at least been some guys out there who do respect women, but something has changed.  It also expresses a belief that while we have lost some of what we once had, we should try to get it back and guys should start showing some respect.
Even more interesting to me was the insight put forth by one of her male friends (you know who you are), who writes:
“it’s not that guys like disrespecting women, it’s that women seem to always go for the douchebag. So then guys become douchebags to get girls. So if girls want a man to be a gentleman, make him be. Don’t settle for less.”
I was honestly astonished by this level of insight. It gave me hope for the future of their generation that at least one young guy out there recognizes that girls are teaching guys how to act and that it doesn’t have to be that way.
I jut hope that our daughter’s recognition that there are good guys out there is at least partly due to my example. And moreover, I hope that I can model to my son that the right thing to do is to be a gentleman, because that’s what real men do.
I’ll wrap up by including my response to the whole conversation. I said:

“… It's easy to see why this happens. There are lots of douchebag guys out there that are getting lots of girls. I mean, have you ever watched an episode of Jersey Shore? But, really girls, are these the guys that you want?
For the girls, the bottom line here is that if you want guys to treat you better, then stop tolerating guys that don't. You show them how to be when you give the douchebags what they want.
And guys, it's time to man up and start treating girls like the treasures that they are. And I'm not talking about being whipped, either. In the end, girls don't really want that any more than they want a douchebag. I'm talking about respect. Hold doors for her. Offer her your jacket when it's cold outside. Stand up for her when others attack. It's only old-fashioned if you let it be, and I believe that most girls like it.”
What are your thoughts?