Friday, September 26, 2008

Captain Dunsel pt. 2

Thanks to Knot for his excellent comment on the last post. He inspired me to do a follow up. One thing I should probably clarify about the last post: My comments are aimed down a pretty narrow corridor at a particular church.

Also, on a broader note, I realize this story has 2 sides. I'm not suggesting there isn't a place for young people in positions of leadership, quite the contrary. One of the things that used to grind my gears when I was younger was the constant "you're too young" or "you have to pay your dues" or "wait until you learn" that I seemed to hear from the ones in charge. Well, if you're never given the chance to do something how are you supposed to learn? Like the old paradox: you can't get the job until you have the experience and you can't get the experience without doing the job.

I promised that when I got to 'their' age I would remember what it had been like and if I ever could give the ones coming up a chance to stretch their wings I would, and I have...just ask my kids. I am pleased to see in so many areas that young people don't have to apologize for their youth anymore...I'm glad that my church is putting so many of them in positions of leadership and teaching. I just think a church needs to be careful to have things that can speak to and help everyone, not just a few. If you want to have a young guys group, fine. Have one for the middle age kids too and the middle age over-the-hill's, the blue collar, the white collar, whatever. Don't say the one group is for everyone then focus it at one demographic and ignore the others when they try to participate. Our church has a really bad habit of doing this.

Another thing that got me when I was younger was how some from my parents generation seemed to be intent on never learning any new tricks. Knot made an excellent point in his comment: "Older generations actually take some form of pride in not understanding can't afford that." People from just about my age/generation on up have this really bad habit of copping an arrogant "I don't need no stinkin' technology" tone. To my fellow half-centurions:
  1. Yes, you do need technology. Maybe you don't need all of it...for example many people from every age group get along fine with no cell phone (Jeremy is in his mid-30's and hates them and doesn't want one) but with the world's reliance on instant access to information you at least need to understand why technology is so important to our world and understand how people communicate today. If you work in an organization that relies on email/I.M. for communication and Internet access for some or (like my company) all of your work related applications you WILL BE LEFT BEHIND if you don't get up to speed.

  2. Please can the "why-you-smart-allec-little-whipper-snapper" attitude. You make the rest of us look bad. Sheesh. They are adults. Treat them that way.

I do think tremendous progress has been made in the last 30 years or so in the areas of open mindedness: although there is still plenty of progress to be made bigotry, racism, sexism are no longer tolerated by most; the very young can take a good idea and achieve fantastic wealth (Bill G. and Steve J.); AND 40 is no longer 'old'. I remember when my mom and dad and all my friends parents hit 40 they were old. When thy hit 50 they were truly senior citizens...not just physically but mentally. And I'm talking their attitude. They thought of themselves as old. That's just not true like it used to be. Now you see athletes performing at a top level well into their 40's and people in their 50's, 60's & 70's doing things that people that age 40 or 50 years ago never would or could do.

Let you in on a little secret: last birthday I hit the half-century milestone. 5 weeks from Saturday I'll be 51. My youngest daughter tells me I'm 51 going on 22. All my children tell me that the thing they loved most growing up, especially when they were in high school, was that they had the coolest house...the one all their friends wanted to go to. We were bigger kids than they were (mind you we were still the parents and in charge). We are still the ones dragging them through the line to ride the giant coaster or to go down the biggest water slide. My beautiful wife doesn't know it yet but I have a special treat planned for my 70th: Sky diving. Some may say I'm having a mid-life crisis. I say "how can you have a mid-life crisis when you've never grown up to begin with?". Heck, one of my favorite things to do still is go to Wal-Mart and get elbow deep in the Hot Wheels bin with all the other kids...I have the biggest collection on my block!

I can truthfully say that I feel younger today than I did on May 27th 1997 when I was 39 years old. That was the day I was set free. Since that time I have learned what's really important in life. It wasn't what I thought it was the first 39 years.

Bottom line: I refuse to get old. Though the body ages my attitude towards getting old is "Homey don't play that."


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Regards to Captain Dunsel

I was reading an article online the other day about how Microsoft has been changing to keep up with the market. If you are interested in business in general (especially a company that’s a huge part of our economy) or more specifically in what’s happening in the tech industry this is a very interesting article by Joe Wilcox of eWeek.

The author had one section where he talks about how Microsoft is perceived by it’s rivals:

“Part of Steve's [Ballmer] problem, and so Microsoft's, is one of ageism. Microsoft is a middle-aged company in an industry dominated by young upstarts. In another era, Americans respected older people. Now, particularly in the high-tech era, many young people view old people as being in the way. These attitudes extend to some companies, particularly those that are established and successful; they're perceived as being in the way of upstarts.”

He is right about American’s respect of older people changing (from my point of view older is about 15 years ahead of me). I remember growing up and having friends, mentors and idols that were older men, some much older. I felt more comfortable around older men in those days than I did with my own age group. I believed that they didn't get where they were by making foolish decisions. As I've gotten older one of the things I miss especially is working with older men. Most of them have either retired or are no longer with us and I feel the loss of their wisdom and experience. Having lost my dad when I was 21 these men were and are a very important part of my life.

I don’t think ageism is limited to the high-tech industry. I see it in other areas of our society. I have especially seen it in our church the last few years…the perception by some in their 20’s to early 30s that if someone is over ‘X’ age they are irrelevant, in the way and in general stupid (‘X’= @ 15 years older than the age they are). I know not all from this generation are this way—I have many friends in their 20’s and 30’s who are wonderful and whom I have great respect for…plus I don’t see this attitude in my own children—but there seems to be more than enough in this age group with this prejudice. It just pains me to watch kids in their 20’s either giving bad advice or struggling to find the right words to say while trying to mentor High School and Middle School students in our youth group because they don’t have any life experience while ‘kids’ in their 40’s and 50’s stand idly by and twiddle their thumbs, having been told their help is not needed or wanted.

It is also a puzzlement to me when I see a “Men’s Bible Study” or a “Discussion Group of Issues Affecting Men” being led by someone who hasn't finished college yet and the ‘Bible Study’ turns out to be no more than a book review of some author’s latest Bible commentary based on notes taken from the study leader’s latest college course on the subject.

Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like I’m prejudiced but I’d like a Men’s discussion group, not a Boy’s, with Men who have struggled with, dealt with and come to terms with the same things I have. Men who come together to work through what's on their heart and aren't thrown off their game if the discussion takes a turn down an earthy road or doesn't follow the 'lesson plan'. Come back to me in 15 or 20 years after you've struggled to put kids through school and scrambled to keep up with all their activities and watched over their lives with love and care…after you've poured your heart into a life with a spouse…after you've had your heart broken and broken a few yourself…after you've dealt with the joys and horrors of the business world and gone through a few ‘workforce/economic/market adjustments’…after you've fought to pay for everything from homes to cars to educations…after you've dealt with years of temptation ranging from worldly to material to carnal. I want to know how Men handle these things. What worked and what didn't? Where did these Men find their strength and inspiration? Oh, and by the way, I've got experiences of my own to share about what works and what doesn't. I figure that’s one of the main reasons God put us here anyway and one of the reasons we go through what we do: to help each other out; to share wisdom & lives and build relationships. One of the most important things is “…to feel useful in this old world, to hit a lick against what’s wrong or say a word for what’s right though you get walloped for saying that word…”

Like I said…I miss the wisdom and experience in my life of older Men. It’s gotten to the point now where everyone in my age group has amassed this large body of experience…just seems like it’s all going to waste right now.


Monday, September 22, 2008

"If You Can Think Of Any Other Way I Can Screw That Up For You Please Let Me Know"

This has been the theme of my life lately at work. It's like every other thing I touch gets messed up. I have a varried and often unrealted range of job duties that make 'multi-tasking' seem like Sunday School and Tinker Toys. From customer support via phone & email, accounting, inventory, IT, HR and managing client services (making the corporate customer happy) it's easy to mix things up sometimes or forget to cross t's and dot I's.

Our business has increased steadily recently. In April we hired a new person in our there are 3 of us and we are twice as busy as we were a year ago. This is a VERY nice problem to have except you have to keep ahead of the wave.

The other day I had to process a purchase order for 20 new items all of which had to be set up in our system and tested via the clients website to make sure display-price-wording-picture-inventory flow-shipping & tracking were all working and synced. Within a week I received 5 separate changes to each item's cost and description...that's over 100 changes just to one PO. What they don't seem to understand is, while I can do a pretty good job getting it right the first time, each time they ask me to make a change the chances of me screwing up increase EXPONENTIALLY. When the dust settles and one little item slips through with the cost off by a few cents I'm the one who gets the whippin'.

I can't complain. My worst days now are better than my best days used to be when we had the Family least now I can laugh and make jokes about it the old days I would just get sick and wish I'd never been born.

One thing I've learned: no matter what happens, no matter how far down you are, no matter how dark it looks you ALWAYS have one last resort to fall back on that trumps anything 'they' can throw at you...


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Storm Passed

We were very fortunate here. We had a Saturday of steady, non-flooding, much needed rain. A little breezy but not nearly what was forecast. Then a Sunday and Monday that ranked as genuine #7 days (just about as beautiful and perfect as it gets).

Our neighbors to the south took a big hit, though. Prayers and all the assistance we can muster go your way. A friend works for the local utility company and they were already in Louisiana helping with cleanup there. After this we'll be lucky to see him before Halloween.

Everything was fine with the horses. They really enjoyed the rain and the cooler temps. Here's Sonny boy:

and here's Sugar:

That construction in the background? [Warning: Rant Coming] That's the Jerry By-God Jones Highway, better known as the State Hwy 161 extension that will route traffic from North Dallas through the middle of our city to I-30 in the south and ultimately the new cowboy stadium. What progress! Taking hundreds of acres of the last remaining undeveloped land just south of DFW Airport for an 8 lane toll road. The pasture my wife rents was about 15 acres but has been cut down to no more than 2 thanks to the highway. Now she and all the people up and down this 2-mile stretch will have to move a couple of hundred horses somewhere else if they want them to have descent pasture and room to roam. Problem is with the premium on raw land and our location smack in the bulls eye of the Dallas-Ft Worth area they now have to look 20 to 30 miles away for a decent place. What stinks is the current location only takes about 10 minutes to get to from the house...we can even ride our bikes down there.

This project wasn't supposed to begin until 2012 or 2013 but almost to the day of the start of construction on the new cowboys stadium a year and a half ago construction of the highway extension started. Think Jerry's got some friends in the Texas Dept. of Transportation? At least the highway will have some practical benefits that far exceed the stadium...I just feel horrible for all the residents of Arlington who lost their homes and businesses to imminent domain for some greedy bastard's damn sports arena. Some of those people had been in their homes for 40 years or more and because imminent domain laws favor the condemning authority they don't even get enough compensation to get a comparable place somewhere else. When the rich and powerful need your land for their purposes you're screwed.

Thanks, Jerry, you've given me and thousands of others one more reason to hate the team we grew up loving.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Hard Rain

This one's gonna' hurt...

Received this picture this morning from a friend. The surf coming over the 20+ foot sea wall at Galveston.

To my fellow Texicans: be careful out there, get out of there if you can. God speed and you are in our prayers.

As for me and my Beautiful Wife: we are expecting 12 or so hours of sustained tropical force winds here in the Dallas area. We will be spending most of that time down with her Babies at the pasture to make sure they get through ok. Here's Roxie...she died this past January but we still have her buddies Sonny and Sugar:

She was my girl...sure do miss her! We don't care about the house...I've kept the trees trimmed so they aren't carrying any extra weight, all the batts are down and the roofs in good shape. If anything happens it happens, I can't prevent it...that's what we have insurance for. But the pasture is heavily wooded and the stalls aren't the best built so we have to protect the ones that can't protect themselves.

Let you know how everything comes out on the other side.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"It's Not About The Bike"

Wow. I'm ready and I will be following with great interest. At 37 I know many will be counting him out because of 'age'. I say "bull$&*t". Don't tell Dara Tores or Constantina Tomescu-Dita that they can't compete because of age. This level of athletics has as much or more to do with what's in your heart as how many miles are on the chassis.

Also there's the cancer awareness thing too. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair Armstrong made an intriguing argument:

“If cancer got a whole new name tomorrow and a whole new set of fears associated
with it and it had the toll that it does, we would act...Look at all those other
things they act upon. Forget war and terror. Look at SARS. Remember the bird
flu? Remember all that stuff? AIDS, people freaked. Those were new, scary issues
that all of a sudden were going to come jump into your house and ruin your
I watched cancer jump in my house and take my mother away before her time. I've watched other family & friends fight and fight...I've worn the yellow band for 4 years now to remind me minute to minute that it's still out there. I'm ready to renew the fight and see if we can't kill this disease once and for all. Who knows, maybe O'Biden or JonPalin will get involved too.

And, if he can piss the French off one more time along the way...that's just icing on the cake!

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Monday, September 08, 2008

"...As Sure as the Turnin' of the Earth"

The season's about to change. Summer lost it's grip 3 weeks ago just before Gustav moved through Louisiana and East Texas. It didn't really affect us here...just gave a day of clouds. The highs have been slowly falling. We're in the mid to lower 90's now for highs and mid 70's to 80's for lows.

Even though it's the first week of September it's still too early to start thinking of pumpkins and fall festivals. Just the same I've seen some strange things lately...not really sure what to make of it.

I don't know if there's something to it or if it's just me but when I leave for work in the mornings there's that 'smell' in the air...I smell 'Autumn' coming. The trees are starting to drop their leaves, but it's strange because the leaves are green. The grass has slowed WAY down even though we are still watering on the same schedule. This is all
happening about 6 weeks too early and it's been way too warm to account for it.

The squirrels we have in the back yard are fatter than ever and even though there's a bumper crop of pecans they are fighting among themselves for them like I've never seen them do. My wife's horses never totally shed their winter coats and have already begun to put on another.

Could it be nature knows something we don't? Well, if the Farmer's Almanac is right it says we will have a colder than normal winter here. Granted, a cold winter for us would probably be like a winter from heaven for
LFoAB and Brother Yam up there in Minnesota but us Texicans get cold easy.

The last 10 or 15 years here we've had 3-4 months of Not-Summer rather than anything you could call Winter. If we do get a freezing blast it's only a day or so here and there. Winter has been lasting from about December 15
th until January 12th then everything joke, the trees here had buds on them last Valentines day. It wasn't that it had been warm or anything just no freezes to speak of.

From the mid 70's through the late 80's we had longer winters with frost about the first of November and sleet on St. Patty's day. I remember several stretches from 86-89 where the temps stayed below freezing for 2 or 3 weeks straight and the lakes would freeze over. Killed back quite a few shrubs and lawns.

Or maybe we are going to have a record early cold spell...I've seen it snow on Halloween here...and then it will be back to business as usual.

I hope we do have a cold winter. It would be a nice to have 4 seasons for a change. Keep you posted.


Nothing but babies as far as the eye can see...

Is it my imagination or does it seem like there's a baby-boom going on these days?

Our family has seen a birth in June '07. October '07, June '07 is expecting again in January '08,

Four girls at church gave birth from Summer '07 through Summer '08, one for the 2nd time in 2 years.

Laura gave birth in December '07.

Allie's been married almost a year she next?

I jokingly told my Beautiful Wife the other day that all this made me want to try for another. After she gave me that 'are-you-out-of-your-#@$%&$-mind' look she said

"Two things:
1. no way.
2. hell no, and
3. HELL no."

Guess I'll be sleeping with the dog for a while.

What about in your neck of the woods? Something in the water or is it just me?

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