Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Presidential Platform

I recently celebrated my 35th birthday.  This is a milestone.  While 16, 18, and 21 were probably larger markers of usable life moments; I am now eligible to be a US senator or President.

Please hold your applause until the end.

I feel it is now time to announce my presidential platform.  I have thoroughly pondered this for 2 minutes and will stand by the following.

1.  Restore the arts. 
Whining into a microphone is not art.  Throwing up on canvas is not art.  Randomly throwing paint on a canvas is not art.  I will deport Justin Bieber and incarcerate Lady Gaga.  I'm pretty sure they are both guilty of crimes against music.  If my 7 year old can do it, it isn't art that a 25 year old should be paid for.

2,  People have the right to be stupid. 
No matter how many seatbelt rules, fines & laws you make people will still ride unbuckled.  The soon coming pictures of black lungs on cigarettes will not make suddenly make people realize smoking is bad - they already knew it.  They don't care, they will still smoke.  Sometimes I want to eat the french-fries covered in cheese and bacon; leave me alone.  The stupidity of the individual will always exceed the laws of the clever ruler until the day when the laws get stupid and criminals get clever.

3.  Your stupidity is not automatically someone else's problem.
 If someone helps you they are kind and gracious and loving; you are not entitled to them helping you, paying you, or giving you something.  Say thank you.

4.  Companies being stupid should have consequences.
Being too big to fail probably means you are too big to bail out.  Capitalism doesn't fail when there are too many capitalists, but too few. GKC-ish.  If stupidity is going to wreck people to the level that they crash, companies have to feel consequences too.  CEO bonuses for bankrupting a company is wrong.

5.  The Earth is bigger than you. 
To think that driving a Prius is going to save the environment and a Suburban will kill it is ridiculous.  If it saves you money and fits your life - fine.  I haven't seen a prius hauling a camper yet though; and if it ever hits the fan and society is crazy for a few months; I'll be hanging with the camper crowd rather than the city greenies.  A volcanic burp has more impact than 100 of your cars will over 100 years.  If you want to re-use grocery bags, good for you.  In general, clean up after yourself.

6.  Let your kids be kids.
5 year olds in beauty pageants is crazy.  Kids should play in the dirt, pick up worms, and fly kites.  Don't over schedule them in music, dance, acting, singing, hockey, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, soccer, football and lacrosse.  An 8 y/o doing 3hrs of homework every day is excessive.

7.  Raise your kids to get out and be grownups.
Your kids should get educated and get out of your house.  Turn off the TV sometimes and read a book.  TV is okay, but it is awesome to turn off.  Turn off the video games and go outside.  Play some games.  Let kids learn how to play, argue, work through, and settle disputes so they aren't a bunch of whiny slackers who can't talk to people.  Life isn't always easy.  If you don't like what's for dinner now, you probably won't like it as breakfast tomorrow either.  A 16 y/o doing 1hr of homework a day isn't too much to ask.  Work, the reward of a paycheck, and a job well done are good things.

I humbly present these as planks in my platform.  My policy decisions will be guided by these principles.

Thank you.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

Just a quick post.  I like Father's Day.  Not because it is a day focussed on me; but because it gives me a refreshing reminder that I have a heavenly father.  I will screw up as a person and as a father.  I'm glad there is heavenly father who will truly never let us down.  Plus I can shamelessly plug Andrew Peterson with a great song and a great video.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

An Unexpected Dinner Guest

Every year the local collection of the United Methodist Church congregations meets at GC College.  We get an annual visit from our former pastor, Gary Bailey.  I don't want to call him our old pastor although he is showing some gray,  I'd rather call him an old friend.

At our former house (now 5 years ago) we drove past about 5 churches, out of town and past another 2 churches to attend Brush Run UMC.  "The friendly church by the side of the road".  Every sunday they have a stand and greet time.  From what I've seen at most churches these are a time to stand spin 360-degrees and shake hands with anyone your arm can reach.  You may also be permitted 2 steps.  At Brush Run this is more of a sport.  Nearly everyone leaves their pews and crowds the aisles with hugs, conversation, and laughter.  If goes generally 5-15 minutes; if not halted it would go all day.

Our first sunday there we met probably all of the 80ish ppl in attendance and most of them knew our names when we returned next week.  I think it was our second sunday attending that we were invited to the hot dog shop for breakfast.  We quickly made friends in the church.  You couldn't help it.  Brush Run is also unique in that your friendships are not limited to your age range, or career or role within the church.  It is a sticky friendship like family.  You find yourself talking to these folks and liking them.

So last night was the Annual Conference which had allowed us for the almost surprise visit from Gary.  At Brush Run our family immediately connected with the Bailey family.  There was nearly some age overlap but there was more a love of games, laughter, and learning that bound our families.

Coming out of such a comfortable and welcoming spiritual family made adjusting to churches in GC tough.  Unfortunately not all are welcoming.  GC is a town with deep roots and it makes it hard for implants to find soil.  Some were programmed to welcome (delegated greeters) which always comes across as insincere; and it is.  Some were cold since people were fairly occupied within their own circles.  I cannot blame them, I can just feel left out.  It took some time for us to lower our expectations and we settled where we had some friends through a play group with other kids & mothers.

Last night was our annual dinner.  It was good to catch up, reflect back and remember that there are somethings that the current denominational battles over litigation and polity will not tarnish.  That every church is local.  In some way, a very real and significant way, the parts are greater than the whole.

In our friends the richness of life is proved to us by what we have gained; in the faces in the street the richness of life is proved to us by the hint of what we have lost.  And this feeling for strange faces and strange lives, when it is felt keenly by a young man, almost always expresses itself in a desire after a kind of vagabond beneficence, a desire to go through the world scattering goodness like a capricious god.  It is desired that mankind should hunt in vain for its best friend as it would hunt for a criminal; that he should be an anonymous Saviour, an unrecorded Christ.  -GK Chesterton

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Bummer of a day

I've been a bummer to my family lately.  I'm not sure it will change today.  (This blog is a downer today, stop reading if you're looking for a ray of sunshine.  Read one of my other posts for the regularly sunny with a hint of sarcasm disposition)

The borough dropped the ball on the disc golf course which had me fuming for about a week.  As long as I don't start pondering it I am fairly calm about it now.  The past 2 days I've been slightly back to being plugged back in.  Not that I was sulking, I was just pretty oblivious to the rest of life.  And I'm sure it will all work out; not a life changing moment just VERY frustrating.  I was overdue to enjoy my kids again.

Today there was an article in my hometown paper that has stirred me on a deeper level.  My brother is nearly 3 years older than me but was only 2 years ahead in school.  For a time he dated a girl who was the school year in between us.  She always had a mindset of it being forever and talked more than most about the future & how rosy it would all be; the two of them forever.

Well they split and re-dated and then split for good as many highschool romances go.  Somehow in there I became decent friends with her.  She never let the candle die out for my brother.  At occasional run-ins she still would get a look when talking about how people were doing and how my brother was doing.  Creepy in a stalker way.

She went through many life changes and seemed to have pulled together some sense of faith and family.  Married and had 2 boys.  Then an article hits the paper about that she drowned the two boys in the bathtub.  Tragic. That was about 6 years ago.  She went to court and was found to be not-guilty due to insanity.  She was hearing voices telling her strange things.  Then a very short-time later a judge determined there was no precedent to keep her & they released her.

The article today was that they found her body in a crashed van in a canyon in Arizona.  Tragic again.  She had many demons.  They haunted her & tricked her into thinking that this world was too dangerous for her kids.  I'm guessing that the worst thing that could be done was to turn her away from treatment into a world where she was already tagged and known.  I'm guessing she heard voices, real and in her head.  It would be tough to get a job or make friends with that kind of history.  I had not seen her for about 10 years but today I am sad for her and her family.

I hate this fallen sinful world where kids die.  Whether it be cancer, car accidents or mental illness.  I'm sad that the repercussions couldn't have stopped.  I'm sad that a very confused and lonely girl saw no way out.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

You can't fight city hall - It's tough to work with them too

If you didn't know, I'm working with 2 other folks to get a disc golf course in the park in Grove City.  This has been a rough ride for me.  When I'm ready to get frustrated and give up, things move (eventually).  When I feel like things are finally happening, we hit some snag.  We seemed to have the greenlight and were waiting for the installation only to find out we had been in a snag for 6 weeks.

It has been nearly 2 years since the original proposal.  We had nearly a year of fund raising to secure sponsors for 9 holes.  Thank you to any and all sponsors. 

You'd think that we could get 9 installed and start playing.  I'm mad right now because we've been working to get this installed and have hit MANY snags.  All with the borough council, and 90% of those are because they will not call us.  None of us are hiding.  We all have e-mail, phones and have readily given that information.  We've even seen them in the interim and they won't mention "oh by the way did you know we have you on hold".  Mad may not even be the word for it.  I truly thought the fundraising would be the hardest part of this whole process. 
The trouble right now getting any straight information out of the borough council.  We've had people tell us one thing in person and read where it is a different case before the council.  We were approved and are now un-approved.

The more I dig into the borough council minutes I see where we have answered every problem and are now still waiting because they were supposed to get back to us and did not. 

I'm hopeful (no longer "sure" of any of this) that this can be worked out and we can have a course installed sometime; maybe this year.  We are going to miss having anything in place for the major town festival (Strawberry Days June 9-11) which would have been a great introduction for the community.  The whole town will be there walking around the course.  Allowing us to put our sign in place would have been great.  We sit.  We wait.

On June 20th I will go before the Borough Council another time.  We will field questions and ask if we can install the 1/2 course and bring an end to this error filled chapter.  They will say "yes" without an official motion because it was approved before.  Which technically means we should have been able to install it before except we couldn't because there were concerns they never asked us about.  Clear?

All of this has made me hate politics even more.  My frustration with the national level game has sunk down to hit the small town too.  The course is being held up on accusations of closed door hidden meetings and having no authority, and delayed on needing every tiny detail approved by a committee of people who don't care. 
"A camel is a racehorse designed by a committee"

We were approved pending a walk around with the people who had specific concerns.  We had the walk around and they were pleased at the time.  Then they tell the council they weren't.  After the walk around we started taking the steps for the full installation assuming they meant we could go ahead when they said "that looks great".   Now the whole council is reviewing everything again.  We sit.  We wait.

"I'm drowning in a sea of despair and monkeys dressed as lifeguards are throwing me anchors." - Dilbert