Saturday, December 31, 2011

Holiday Entertainment

This year, I had the blessing of spending some extra time with the family during the holiday season. One of the things we did together was to enjoy some screenings of some Christmas themed films at the 6th Street Casa.

Here are the ones we took in:

It's a Wonderful Life - Operating under the assumption that attitude is one of the most important parts of life, we make a point of taking this one in every year. This year was no exception. Christmas Eve found us with some treats, a warm fire and watching George Bailey discover that his attitude about life trumps his circumstances. Especially at Christmas.

The Three Godfathers
-this is a 1948 movie about three outlaws that come across a dying women and her baby while on the run in a very fake Arizona landscape at Christmas time. They movie highlights their efforts to keep a promise to her to care for the baby, despite having to survive for days from the water of three small barrel cactus and having to cross some desert. It is cheesy, campy and very improbably, but what is Christmas-time without a John Wayne movie? And it manages to throw in a Christmas theme.

Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas - The children claim they hate this one, but somehow I got them to sit through this forty some minute of some poverty stricken puppet things that enter a talent show. I saw this on HBO when I was growing up and feel compelled to watch it at the holidays. Maybe it is like Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory with his compulsion to buy The Catcher in the Rye whenever he sees it.

The Muppet's Christmas Carol -this is a fun retelling of the Classic Tale with a major theme about how changing your attitude can change your life, and your legacy. We decided to go with this version instead of the newer version with Jim Carrey because it is more fun. And, that weird "performance capture" animation stuff is creepy. And, the two heckling judges play the ghost(s) of Marley(s). That almost made the whole movie.

We are open for suggestions for next years round of holiday entertainment.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Losing it

I am usually not one to get all wrapped up in trends or to be swept along by societal norms, but I think I am stuck in one now.

Recently, I decided that it would be a healthy thing for me to lose some weight and get into better shape. with both my Dad and his Dad dying at heart disease at the age of 64, it may pay off to take care of myself.

So, like millions of others, I strapped on my running shoes, counted a few calories and cut back on all sorts of delicious foods. Not all foods that are delicious, mind you. Just some of the over processed ones that are so prevalent in our diets today.

Actually, like it is with many things, the rewards have outweighed the work. I am more energetic, I feel better about the way I look, I feel better about being a steward of what I was given and I can run faster than you.

One of my concerns has been losing strength. What if I am not strong enough to wrestle my little brother to the floor? That is an important consideration. So, I have been working hard to maintain muscle while I lose pounds. I can now actually do pullups again. Maybe it is because I am lighter.

But, it I am not strong enough to wrestle my little brother to the floor, I know that I can at least outrun him.

Let me know if you are on a similar journey. I'd be glad to throw some encouragement your way.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Retention, and a lack of it.

Ethan, our youngest, recently had a bout with some sort of a stomach thing.

The bacteria/virus/bad food/24 hour flu/insert whatever else you think it might have been kept him up for most of the night emptying the contents of his stomach in a loud and dramatic fashion. Not only was this dramatic, but he managed quite a bit of his own drama as well.

But, even as the pain and discomfort overwhelmed his normal coping mechanisms and the flip - flopping of his stomach threw him into similar emotional spasms, he retained the information about anatomy that was recently pumped into his head.

"Now all that is coming out is the Yellow Bile!", He exclaimed.

Now my only concern is that he will start trying to balance all his bodily humors, like some a medieval doctor.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Greater Things

I have recently been chewing through Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard, which is about James Garfield, his would be assasin, Charles Giteau and the events prior to and surrounding this historical episode.

One thing that struck me was some similar, but widely divergent views the two men held.

When Garfield was 16 years old, he wanted to be at sea and took a job on a boat on the Erie canal, the closest he could come to a seafaring life. On one occasion, he plunged into the canal and faced certain death, had it not been for a rope that was hanging over the side of the boat, which he used to painstakingly haul himself to safety. When he reached the top, he discovered the rope was attached to....nothing. It should have plunged into the water when he grabbed it. Instead, a knot had temporarily hung up on something and allowed him to pull himself to safety.

Believing this event was a providential sign that he was meant for bigger and better things, he left the waterborne life and went to school. Plunging himself into his studies, he became renowned as a scholar. he also served with distinction and gathered some fame for his service in the Civil war, and was elected to congress. After years of diligent service and hard work, he won the Republican nomination in 1880 and became the 20th President.

Charles Giteau claimed that in 1873, he was on the ill-fated Steam Boat Narragansett as it collided with another vessel, caught fire and sank. Although his name was not on the list of passengers, he claimed that this brush with death left him with the distinct understanding that God had something great in mind for him.

When great things did not materialize, Giteau grew frustrated and delusional. This led to his anger being directed at the President, Garfield. He considered Garfield's victory due to s speech he gave and believed he deserved to be an ambassador, When this did not materialize, he eventually decided (or was commanded by God) to shoot the president, which he did.

The views of these two men after incidents where they believed they were clearly saved by providence struck me.

One decided that he was destined for greater things and worked hard to prepare himself, to move in that direction and to be ready for, what turned out to be a life of scholarship and service, which eventually led to the Presidency

The other, believing better things were in store for him, waited for them to happen and grew bitter when "great" opportunities did not arise and when circumstances did not happen in his favor.

Perhaps we are destined for greater things. Are we preparing for them, in spite of circumstances and setbacks, or are we waiting for them and growing angry when they do not come quick enough?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Mighty Joint

Submitted purely for your reading pleasure:

I don't like to call the police on my neighbors. It seems a little ridiculous to be reporting them for this and that all the time. The only time I have really thought about has been after several nights in a row of parties starting after the bars close several nights in a row. And the other neighbors beat me to the punch, so I didn't have to call.

But, I actually did call on some neighbors the other day.

I know smoking a joint is considered a "victimless" crime, and I wouldn't generally do a thing if I smelled ganja smoke wafting in the breeze.

But, when you live with your open carport facing the park and whenever people (like me) run by on the little path around the park you decide to look all angry at them when they smell your weed blasting into the park, you might expect that the people running by might call the cops. After all, their are children playing around there.

So, I actually called them up. Yes, I called the cops on a bunch of teens sitting around smoking weed. The call taker let me know that someone would be right out. Yeah, sure. I didn't think anyone would, but just in case, it would be nice to at least chase the pot heads back inside.

A few hours later, I got a call from the department.

Did I think the guys were still out toking it up right next to the park?

Only if their joint was something like The Mighty Joint from History of the World Part 1.

Don't worry, after they had a few more hits, I am sure they were no longer angry with me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tactical Timeout

I spent most of the week doing a bit of tactical training.

One of the tecniques we practiced heavily was known as bounding. When I explained this to Diane, her image of us bounding out in the fields was a bit more like the picture above.

Just to be clear, we were bounding, not frolicking. I think the technical term is Bounding Overwatch.