Monday, May 21, 2012

Connecting the Dots, and We're ALL Dots

I had originally wanted to title this post, "How many Cars Will be in Your Funeral Procession", but I thought that a tad too long and it will come up again in my writing in another place at another time. But, if you take a step back and ponder the relation of these two titles in the context of having friends, they will both end up in the same place. This is how I was struck this past weekend when these two ideas converged in my brain and nestled in for a swim in the cosmic ooze that is my mind. The first idea, the one about how many cars in your funeral, came to me while I was watching a television program a couple of weeks ago. Two guys were at a crossroads when a black sedan pulled up and blocked them from proceeding. Although the point of the funeral procession represented only a delay in their travels, too me it said something quite different. Although I was not counting the cars in the procession, it seemed to me to drag on for quite sometime and I began to wonder. Did the corpse in the hearse really touch the lives of that many people? Did it really know that many people? Are some of those people just using a funeral to play hookie and get drunk at the after party? But then it kind of hit me, how many people will be in my funeral procession? Who will be in the cars that hold up traffic? Will there be anyone at all? Don't get me wrong, it wasn't like a macabre like feeling or a moment of self pity, it was just an observation that made me think to myself more deeply that- one, I will be dead and won't give a rat's ass, and two, I would only want a handful of people in the procession to begin with. Not only to my credit, but also to my detriment, I have shared with some my views on death and how I view the passing of people. Some of you reading this may know my views, most probably do not- I am not going to write them down here, it is a spoken story best shared over drinks. But the point of the matter is that I believe I have come across a very valid question that I need to think about. Who do I want in my funeral procession? Although this post is going to be short, you may be asking,"Dustin, why did you name this post something about connecting dots?" Good questions, gentle reader. I titled as such because of the people in my funeral procession. See, we all go through life bumping into people, making friends, making enemies and sometimes meeting someone in an airport bar while waiting for your departure. Either way, these are all of the dots we connect during our life that make up the portrait of who we are. Think of it as a web, a geometric design, think of it as a Mona Lisa, it is quite inconsequential what the picture in your mind looks like, it's just who you are. While I write this, the picture in my mind is like a connect-the-dot rabbit that my youngest daughter might have done. Some of the lines are really heavy and and wavy while others are hardly visible and straight to the point. When I take a step back and look at the picture in the context of the friends in my life, there are only a couple of the really heavy, wavy lines. The rest are just short, squiggly things that muck up the bigger picture. But is in those heavy, dark lines that I see my bestest of friends and the intricacies of the relationships in the waves and imperfect design that is my picture- my life. It is a true comfort to know that I have those heavy lines in my life and, although I may only have a car or two in my procession, at least I will have known that the dots in my life were well connected. Peace to my dots!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Bedeviled Compromise

I am not quite sure when this became a dirty word or, better yet, a line in the sand over which political battles are waged, but one only need to take a quick glimpse into the world of Washington, D.C. to realize it is a word not recognized. The entire premise of political maneuvering and agility is based on the idea of give and take, to acquiesce a portion of your larger goal in order to achieve a better position than that in which you find yourself is the art that our forefathers used to forge this great nation. With the exception of an enemy state, the idea of not compromising the smallest bit is akin to authoritarianism and extremism. Although I can draw no better example as that of John Boehner who is the staunchest of the ‘no compromising’ right winged tool shed, I am sure that there must be a liberal who, also, has taken to a similar stance. From whom do these people draw their power to act in this manner? Do their constituents agree with this? It would be difficult to believe that they would. In one instance we can all stand back and watch this mayhem rock our country and we can all take an observer’s chair to the backslide of our credit rating as we approach yet another vote on raising the debt ceiling. We can sit in that chair and point the finger at the other side and proclaim they will not budge. Blame the politicians- they deserve it! But in another instance we can stand up and take responsibility for what we have allowed these people to do to our country. Taking responsibility for what we have done, though, means taking a huge hit to our collective ego. That would mean that the country would have to take a step back, put down their pointer finger and admit that we made a mistake in letting our country’s image be tarnished by these people. It would mean that we did not take action when action was needed and let them continue to tell us that they have the power to make these decisions without consulting the people they serve. I will say that compromising is not comfortable. Compromise is outside of our comfort zones, but it is a place in which these elected people need to get acquainted. Do you remember having to work something out when you were in kindergarten? It does not appear they do… Remember folks, we put them there and we can take them out of office.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Morning Repose

By the time this post reaches the web, I will already have been awake for a few hours, had a regular dose of caffeine and will have begun contemplating the rest of the outdoor chores that I would like to accomplish before the end of the day. These are the times that I really do cherish and find it well worth my time to forego an hour or two of sleep in trade for this magical time of the day enjoyed in silence. With the exception of the occasional clicking of the keyboard, even the pups are still enjoying an extended snooze in their cozy beds. I usually spend this time and read all sorts of news items and try to see what will effect my personal life and the lives of my family. But more often than not, I end up trying to think of something witty to say on this blog in order to get a comment or, at the minimum, recognition for the words left behind. But as I continue to write and try to keep a running list of entries, I am finding that this blog is more about just putting down random thoughts and ideas as opposed to being a source of entertainment for anyone except me. I think that everyone has too much to do, as it is, and that by expecting anyone to to take their time to read this would be utterly unfeasible. Besides, who would actually want to read the ravings of a caffeinated, 40-something when they themselves have a to-do list bigger than the day is long? Even the irony of writing this brings a smile to my face when I think of all the projects to be continued when the rest of the house begins its ascent into Sunday. Sitting here and writing about people not having time to read this when I, myself, have a list f tasks to be accomplished today seems quite absurd. But that, I guess, is a tale for another day. Be well. Peace. D

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mr. Miyagi and My Theory of Life

It is a life lesson that is often the hidden to one's own eyes until either a moment of epiphany or brought to your attention. In this case it was a little bit of both and from a couple of different sources.

My favorite book, one that I usually read once a year, The Way of The Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman, is a continuing source of knowledge for me and inspires me to be a better person, father and husband. It is the story of a young man and his journey of discovery. Although not a favorite movie, but inspirational, all the same, The Karate Kid, and it's wise old teacher, Mr. Miyagi, have always offered something when taken into the context of my favorite book.

The best scene in the movie, from my point of view, is that when Mr. Miyagi begins training the ever-so-naive Daniel Larusso. It is in this scene that Mr. Miyagi sets Daniel out to wash the cars using a certain method that will be used in the future of his fighting technique. When asked if he is ready to begin, Daniel responds, "I guess so", or something similar. At this point Mr. Miyagi sets him down and begins the lesson- that which will tie into my passion for the novel mentioned earlier.

Mr. Miyagi uses a metaphor of walking down a road safely and juxtaposes that with training for karate. To paraphrase, and take quite a bit of liberty with the script, he says that walking the left side of the road- safe. Walking the right side of the road- safe. Walk the middle of the road- squish like grape.

Now, when it comes to training for karate, that is a very useful piece of advice. You are either committed, not committed, but not somewhere in the middle. It is EXACTLY the same with life, and this is the tie to The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. But it is not as clear in how to train for life. Life, after all, is not a spectator sport.

There will be more on this and will be a theme in many posts to come. Do you get it?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shopping Cart Madness

I think that starting with a pet peeve is an excellent way to begin this rant-o-rama. I am going to start with light topics and probably hit politics and religion at a later time.

As many of you know, I live in a small town outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan. I am not going to name said town due to the threat of being stalked by the paparazzi and harassed by fame seekers and purse snatchers. It is a quaint place where people have migrated and, although I do not know this to be fact, I would guess the transplant citizens outnumber the townies by a significant margin. People are generally nice to one another, we know our neighbors and we rarely make the news for anything outside of a personal tragedy or a festival of some sort. Good ole wholesome middle America at its finest. Many go to one type of a church, or another, and profess to love thy neighbor with heart felt sincerity and a Sunday smile that I liken to the look on a coyote's face just before he hits the hen house for his supper.

So, you might well imagine, then, that this little piece of midwestern Eden would be exempt from the pettiness and laziness one may attribute to places other than what we call home. But no, my friends, no. We are smack dab in the belly of the beast and it rears its ugly head in the parking lot of our local grocery store, and it has attacked me personally on more than one occasion.

For the most part, I do not do my grocery getting at this place- again, no names to protect this little corner of heaven. I prefer to travel down the road a piece and go to 'town' and make my nutritional purchases at a market better suited to my liking. I do, however, have to make an occasional trip to this market for an immediate need of some sort like hamburger buns, beer or an ingredient crucial to the flavor of some particular recipe and every once in awhile I will go get the kids donuts on a Saturday or Sunday morning. But it makes no difference the time or the day, I still fall prey to one of the most irksome practices known to befoul the mood of us more cultured and courteous shoppers.

Without fail and without exception, I always have to dodge the misplaced shopping cart. You know the one I am talking about. It is the one that some lazy twit left between the cars after they were done loading their bags into the car and decided that the cart corral, all of 20 feet away, was too damn far of a trek to make in order to keep the parking lot free of obstacles and for me to keep my sanity.

I have never seen a parking lot before where so many of the patrons just do not take the tie to put the carts in the little corrals. There have been times when I have run up to this hole in the wall to grab a sixer or a dozen eggs and have seen more carts in the parking lot than cars! I have exited the store and walked back to my car only to find a cart sandwiched between my driver's side door, now scratched, thank you very much, and the neighboring car and neither car has moved. How the hell does that happen? You don't know, kind townsperson? BULLSHIT!

I have staked out the parking lot a time or two just to get a glimpse at this pandemic of laziness. I have seen, with mine own two eyes, the sheer guiltless abandon of these people. They walk out, load the car, take a quick look around and make haste for the driver's seat. Not even an inkling of putting the cart where it belongs. The utter slothfulness exhibited by these creatures is revolting.

Now you may say that some of those carts are left by little old biddies and little old geezers and I should forgive them for not returning their carts. Well, I do and most of the time, when I see them, I ask to assist them and volunteer to take the cart back for them. But they are usually parked toward the front of the lot in designated areas marked by blue and white signs with a guy in a wheelchair. Those are fine and there are other exceptions for you mamsy types who are going to nit pick me to death with examples of what if this and what if that. Those are not the folks I am speaking to- it is the sloth who cannot take 10-20 seconds out of their day to walk a few feet to make everyone's, especially mine, shopping experience so much more enjoyable.

My favorite stake out was when I actually approached someone. I had been outside waiting for whomever to return when I spied a portly type unloading their cart and placing their newly gotten goods into their back seat. After packing in the last bag, this person, whom we shall call the offender, took lazy to an entirely new level. What made this scene so deeply etch upon my mind was that the offender was driving a brand spanking, just out of the package new Ford F150 4x4 truck. I mean it still had the sticker and no license plate new. The offender, after loading the last sack of groceries into the truck did not even try to push the cart out of the way. They just left it where it stand and got into their vehicle. When the offender began to back up and crank the wheel to the left, I saw the cart start to roll straight toward the shiny new paint job of one brand new Ford truck.

It was at this point, after watching all of this play out, I was about to piss myself with laughter at what I new was going to happen. My glance was flashing between the quickly approaching cart and the look on this offenders face. The cart picked up momentum, the offenders' eyes widened. Faster it approached and the eyes got wild! And just like that, the cart breezed past the brand new Ford Truck as the offenders eyes relaxed and rear bumper of this behemoth truck SLAMMED into the car that was parked directly behind and whose rear end protruded just a little due to a shopping cart that was in front of it. Oh, how I love irony.

But you say, Dustin, that you approached them. What gives? Sounds like you sat on your arse and watched an accident happen.

Well, gentle readers, I had walked over and quickly snatched the runaway cart and was merrily taking back to the cart corral past the accident when I glanced over and politely said,"I'll get this for you."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sunny Side Grab Bag, Page 1

The best way to start this blog, I believe, will be to do a short intro of what I am going to be writing, why I am writing it and other sundry things that may come to mind. As you can see by the title, Sunny Side Grab Bag, this will be a site devoted to my random thoughts, whims and ideas as they come to mind. I will invite comments and replies to whatever I write, but please be prepared to accept the response I post back to you and those of the others who will grace this blog with their presence. This is going to be one of two or three blogs I plan on posting this year, and this is the site I will be the most scattered in my topics and people to whom I grant access. I will also be very grateful for grammatical corrections, as well, owing to the fact that part of the reason I am doing this is to exercise my writing skills.

I am going to be writing, and sometimes soliciting opinions, on topics ranging from religion to politics, family, sex, work, current affairs and everything in between. But please keep that in mind as you visit my blog- it is an adult blog with adult themes and adult responders. Please do not post something controversial if you are not prepared to back it up, stand by your feelings/thoughts, or if you just put something in to fan a personal flame or grind an axe- there is enough pettiness in the world, I don't need it here. As I am learning about the blog-o-sphere, I will learn how to control who, what, when, and how things get posted. So please be respectful of others' views. Now I am not saying you have to agree with everything posted, and I am sure that many of us will have very widely and drastically differing points of view- that is to be expected, but be respectful with your responses; your point of view is just as valid as anyone else's.

As to the reason I am doing this- to leave Facebook. I realize that I may have a digital addiction and this may be only a substitute, even a temporary substitute, but I need to step away from that scene. Although, and this is the ironic part, I will be linking from FB to this site, I will be slowly severing my ties with that media. I will still have a presence there, mind you, as I do not know how to generate traffic to this site, yet, but look for my snappy wit and cat-like reflexes to be displayed here.

This is going to conclude my first entry and introduction to this blog. I am going to link this blog from my FB page, as I said above, and I look forward to seeing your comments here. So, bring your wit, your A-game and your tolerance; this is going to be fun!