Sunday, December 20, 2015

First Big Fight




After 9+ years of marriage, my wife and I are gearing up for our first fight. I don't mean a spousal argument, but rather throwing on some boxing gloves and trading punches. I should probably explain this a little better before you get the wrong idea and call the police for domestic abuse. My wife and I are going to start working out together by means of a little fun and friendly hand-to-hand combat.

For my wife, this is an opportunity to take the kickboxing workout videos she's done in the past to the next level. For me, it's something I've always enjoyed and a form of exercise I am actually likely to keep up. (It doesn't hurt that it involves both of us and my wife already has excellent workout habits.)

It all came to fruition this morning while my girls were playing a boxing game on the Wii. My wife (Sarah) asked the girls if they'd like to see her punching with real gloves. Within a few minutes, Sarah had my daughter's boxing gloves on and I had punching mitts for her as targets. I have to say she's a pretty good pupil and therefore a fast learner when it comes to punching technique. We even spent a few minutes working on her sidekick and front roundhouse kick.

Exercise
We have decided to go ahead and get sparring gear for each of us so we can use this as an ongoing form of exercise. As I alluded to before, I am not great about sticking to a workout routine. I need something that I actually enjoy if I have a chance of maintaining a routine. I have always found martial arts to be a great cardio workout. Considering I have high blood pressure and some extra weight to lose, this may just be the ticket. There is more than just exercise involved though.

Togetherness
There aren't that many things my wife and I get to do together all that often anymore. It's kind of fun to have an activity that we both enjoy...while helping me get a bit of exercise. (Sarah would workout regardless.) Considering we both have many of the same stresses (life isn't always a dream) this is also a way for us to get our minds off things that are stressing us and burn off some tension.

Self Defense
Knowing how to throw a punch (and take one) is a good first step for self defense. After just 20 minutes in our first session this morning, Sarah already has the ability to blind and drop an attacker so she can then escape. OK. So that part probably meant more to me than her, but she did have fun punching and kicking. I did tell her that I wanted to work some other self defense techniques into our workouts. Learning how to get out of holds or how to do a take-down is a good cool down exercise.

I think this is the beginning of something great. It improves the odds of me successfully sticking to a workout routine. It give my wife and I a bot of together time where we have the added benefit of blowing off steam (or stress). It makes me feel better about my wife's ability to defend herself should the need arise. It will also eventually build confidence for my wife should she ever have to use it for self defense. Last, but certainly not least, it paves the way for me training my girls in the same techniques in the future. I'm already off to a good start in that light as my older daughter already has a nice back fist-punch combo.

I'm really excited about this...even more so because I know Sarah is excited about it too. I wonder how long I have to wait before teaching her some knife fighting skills. Maybe we'll wait and see how the punching, kicking, pressure points, joint locks and take down moves go first. Until next time....

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Small Stuff Matters




It seems to be a semi-annual, knee-jerk reaction on my part to get fed up with Facebook and think about deleting my account forever. Any time I have gone ahead and deleted my account in the past, I ended up logging back in just a few short weeks later. I admit, the overall benefits of social media outweighed my irritations with it.

My problem with Facebook has always been the way it tells me what it thinks I want to see rather than what I "tell it" I want to see. Most of you can probably relate to the annoyance that is formerly known as the "News Feed." Looking back, the news feed has always been the reason behind me deleting my account out of irritation.

My problem last year was almost funny. The problem I was having then was that my wife's posts weren't showing up in my news feed. Of any posts showing up in my news feed, you would think my wife's would. We are friends on Facebook. I am officially "following" her posts on Facebook. She is listed as my "wife" on Facebook. (Yes - We are Facebook official.) After all of that, you'd think Facebook would catch on and actually allow her posts to show up on my news feed. Apparently they have other ideas, but that's not what's been irritating me this week.

My current irritation is the "suggested posts" that Facebook is inserting into my news feed. I understand the advertising part - they are a business after all. What blows my mind is the stories it suggests to me. More importantly, how far off they are from anything I have ever read, liked or shared on Facebook.

If you were to scroll through my personal Facebook profile (not my average jester profile - since that's just my blog posts) you would see a bunch of posts about how I’m a Christian, gun-loving, right wing conservative American patriot. For some reason though, Facebook feels the need to push its liberal agenda on me anyway.

All my suggested posts (by Facebook) are anti-Christian, anti-gun, pro-baby killing, anti-American liberal garbage. How in the world is that possibly a “suggested post” for me? I’m sure some of you are going to say I’m paranoid, but it feels a lot like a liberal indoctrination. It’s certainly not suggesting anything I would actually want to read.

For the most part, I don’t have a problem with views differing from my own. If you don’t like guns – don’t buy one. If you don’t love God – my opinion is the least of your worries. If you want to believe in climate change – go ahead. The point is…those are things some people want to read about. I’m clearly not one of them so why suggest it to me?

Now back to the title of this post, “The Small Stuff Matters.” My little rant about Facebook’s idea of what I should be reading may seem trivial, but the small stuff is what really gets to me. Little things like this are trying to sneak in under the radar. They are the most dangerous. Now I probably have a few of you shaking your heads in disagreement….so here’s an explanation of how I look at it.

You’re probably thinking that since I proclaimed myself to be a gun-loving patriotic American that I would spend a lot of time focusing on gun-grabbing legislation rather than complaining about Facebook indoctrination. The reality is that gun legislation only means so much. It’s nothing new. There’s always an anti-gun agenda. In my mind, if it really got to the point of gun confiscation, it wouldn’t really matter what the law was because there would be a revolution.

The anti-gun agenda is a big thing, but not something I’m going to worry about. It’s in your face, out loud and pretty straight forward. Yes, it could go horribly wrong at any moment and a revolution would tear this country apart, but it's too far out of my hands to sit and worry about it on a daily basis.

The small things like Facebook bias, media bias, and the garbage you hear about teachers getting away with in the public schools these days is terrifying. (The liberal, anti-American indoctrination of our children is a topic I could easily do a series of posts about - which is why I chose the simpler Facebook example today.)

The “big worries” of today, like the next mass shooting or terrorist attack, are certainly something to be vigilant about, but the chance of it actually affecting you personally is pretty slim. The “small things” like bias in the media and schools is an everyday threat that affects every single one of us.

To that I say feel free to worry about the small things. If you keep dibs on the small things, keeping track of the big ones is easy.

I realize this wasn’t my typical post, but sometimes when I feel like writing something, I just can’t let it go. Have a great week. Merry Christmas! (I won’t censor myself on that.) Until next time….

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wii - Now We Are Having Fun




So the last time I personally owned a video game system of any kind, it was similar to the old school Atari shown in the photo. Thanks to the generosity of my sister and her husband, my family now has the added joy of having a Wii in our house. As far as gaming systems go, I think the Wii is about the best (and possibly only) option for our family.

Although I have spent my fair share of time mindlessly playing video games over the years (a number of years ago anyway), there is a reason we haven't had one in our house up until now. Most importantly, we didn't want our girls to get used to sitting around playing video games when they could be doing something more active. I have been pleasantly surprised with the active possibilities with the Wii. I've also learned a few lessons.

Don't challenge your children - They will win
It took me all of about 5 minutes to learn that my girls pick up on the games ten times faster than I do. I already knew they had ten times the energy I do. Put those two facts together and you can guess who wins most of the games. It only took me a few days to learn that tennis is my sport. I only say that because my six year old beat me in every other game we played from shuffleboard to boxing. Yes. My daughter beat me at boxing...I'm still scratching my head over that one.

Playing Wii does NOT calm kids down before bed
One little scheduling glitch I have found is that my game playing time with the girls seems to work out best after dinner and before their bath and bedtime routine. You would think that a few high energy rounds of games would wear them out and help prep them for bed. I know for me anyway, a number of rounds of the Wii Sports Resort games followed by a hot shower would put me right to sleep. Not so with kids. It seems to make them wild and crazy.

Video games can be great exercise
On the bright side, I think this might prove my wife's point about how exercise gives you more energy. This Wii might just be the best of both worlds. It's fun and entertaining while also "forcing" you (me) to be active at the same time. My wife and I setup our Wii Fit profiles tonight. Although I'm not sure how accurate the initial assessment was, I am looking forward to seeing how I progress....while still having the fun of playing video games.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this Wii can help me stay active during the remainder of our Minnesota winter. (Technically, that's not much of an excuse this winter considering how mild the winter has been so far.) I think it's going to be a great opportunity to have some family fun while getting a bit of exercise. I'll let you know how it goes. Until next time....

Friday, December 4, 2015

Autocorrect Is Smarter Than You Think




You've probably seen the collections of text-messages-gone-wrong floating around your favorite social media sites. They draw me in every time. I have been known to literally laugh out loud while reading some of them. It's actually gotten to the point that if I'm looking at my phone and laughing hysterically, my wife will just ask, "Text message mishaps?" Yep. Got me again. My favorite "seasonal" text-gone-wrong is this one:
Guy: "I'm outside defecating and it's getting all tangled up. Could you give me a hand?"
Gal: "Ewww. Gross. No way!!"
Guy: "Decorating! I'm outside decorating. I'm hanging the Christmas lights and they're getting tangled...."

This made me think about the times autocorrect has really bugged me. (Side note: According to my Google search, "autocorrect" is one word, but Wordpress keeps telling me I'm spelling it wrong.) Ok. Back to MY problems with autocorrect...because that's what you really want to hear.

My biggest problem is the word "girls." I use it all the time and it's NEVER right. Being the sole man in a household of four, everything about my family involves me and "my girls." Whether I'm referring to just my daughters or my wife and daughters, I typically say "my girls." Well, my super smart smart phone is constantly giving me not so subtle options to use other than "girls." Here is the "progress" I've made so far with the word "girls" while texting:

Gurkha
The definition, according to the Oxford online dictionary, describes a Gurkha as "a
 member of any of several peoples of Nepal noted for their military prowess." An extended Google search will show you pages upon pages describing their fierce fighting style and even a few pictures of their traditional 18" long fighting knife called a kukri.

Although I don't intend to refer to my girls as my little Gurkhas, it's really not that far off. If you don't believe me, stop by our house some evening around bedtime when my two little Gurkhas are over-tired and downright cranky. Every toy they pick up suddenly looks like an 18" fighting weapon....and believe me, they know how to wield it.

I finally got sick of manually typing in "girls" every time I texted my wife to see how they were doing, so I followed the excruciatingly difficult process of removing the word "Gurkha" from my phone's dictionary. (Tech tip: When you type a word and it gives you a bad spelling, tap and hold the incorrect word for a second and it will pop up a message to remove that word from the learned dictionary. Not sure how it "learned" the word in the first place since I don't recall ever wanting to spell the word Gurkha prior to this post.)

Perfect. Everything's fine now, right? Nope. Autocorrect just found another incorrect word to use. I would be upset, but the new word is still fitting.

Gurus
The definition according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary  is (abbreviated) a "teacher or guide" or "a person who has a lot of experience in or knowledge about a particular subject."

My girls fit that to a tee. They're always trying to teach me what they learned in school each day. They certainly talk like they have a lot of experience and knowledge in any topic that may come up. In fact, they often challenge the minute details of everyday occurrences regardless of the facts and/or who witnessed them firsthand.

Truth be told though, I really think I learn more from them on any given day than they do from me. If you took a little time to read through some of my older posts, you would find that I have often related lessons learned from them to the "real world" in regards to customer service and general employee management. I still haven't decided if that means my girls are really smart or if your average employee acts like a kid.

I have since removed "guru" from my phone's learned dictionary as well. I guess I will have to find a different word to describe myself in text messages going forward. For the most part, I have actually had my phone write "girls" when I swipe the word "girls." I have noticed a couple of times recently that it autocorrected it to "forks," but I can totally explain that away as well. I just don't have enough time right now to explain just how much my girls and I enjoy food....and there are often forks involved. Until next time....





Saturday, November 28, 2015

Better Than Fries




A little over seven months ago, I started a new category on my blog called "Hubby Health." For those of you who have been reading average jester on a regular basis, you know that I haven't posted a lot in that category as of late. A little conversation tonight at dinner got me thinking about it again and I thought I should catch you up (accountability) and give you an update on my next steps (planning).



Well, truth be told, Hubby Health was a train wreck. I don't want to be overly dramatic about it, but I couldn't pass up using the above image because (in my mind) a train wreck was the first word that came to mind. In reality, a stalled car would have been more accurate, but where's the fun in that??

I haven't gone off the deep end and started gorging myself every time I came across a plate of food, but I have taken a few steps back on my portion control progress. A wonderful Thanksgiving feast this week probably didn't encourage me either, but that's my own mental hurdle to jump. I don't think I have gone back to quite where I was on portions before my health goal started, but I'm probably not too far away from there.

The bigger issue I see (and was reminded of tonight at dinner) is the lack of exercise. Now that summer is behind us, the walks, bike rides (although limited) and yard work have tapered off. Being the "completely unmotivated to exercise" person that I am, I find myself rightly concerned about how I'm going to kick the exercise portion of my health goal back into gear.

The most immediate solution may be presenting itself this week in the form of 6-12" of snow. Shoveling snow is a great workout, but it's also limited (or dictated) by the weather. I'm banking on a lot of snow this year to give me the easy option for exercise. Having a good amount of snow on the ground will make my walks more beneficial too. Walking through a foot or two of snow will help me burn a lot more calories than the summer walks on the sidewalk did. Is it too much to ask for a lot of snow, but above zero temperatures?

I am now on the quest to find another form of exercise that I can (at least learn to) enjoy and doesn't cost me a fortune to get started. Cross country skiing first popped into my head with the snow on its way, but I quickly realized I would have to sell both my kidneys to get outfitted for that. I could use work-out videos like my wife does, but so far she hasn't appreciated me sitting around watching her Jillian Michaels DVD's. (That's a joke.)

I have often toyed with the idea of getting a heavy bag and getting back into a punching/kicking workout. Who knows, maybe my wife would be interested in that as well?? It wouldn't be an all bad thing to find a workout that suits us both. It would certainly help me since she's the one with the drive to actually workout each morning. We'll see what I come up with. I guess the best I can say right now is it's better to be a couch potato than fries, but that's not really a choice at this point. Until next time....

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What To Teach Your Daughters




For those of you new to the blog, I started a category called Dads with Daughters. My initial intent was to share a little information with other dads outs there who may be wondering what it's like to raise a daughter. Raising a son may seem more natural since us dads were also little boys at one time, but raising a daughter isn't too terribly different. I guess I can't technically speak with authority on that since I only have daughters...so let's just call it a justifiable assumption.

On this post, I am going to break away from the unique skills dads with daughters pick up, like braiding hair or playing with Barbies, and take a look at a few things that are "gender neutral." Without further ado, here are a few of my favorite activities my daughters and I enjoy:


Tree Climbing
This past weekend while my girls and I were sitting around the house trying to be lazy (another thing I taught them), my wife said we should go outside and do something. Since we were being lazy, nothing exciting sprang to mind. Then she said, "Go outside and climb a tree or something." Well, being a former tree man myself, my ears perked up....as did the girls'.

Withing a few minutes, the girls and I were out in the back yard ready to climb. In our current society of bike helmets and car seats, I didn't want to risk letting the neighbors see my girls free climbing our trees like I did as a kid. Fortunately, I remembered how to tie a Swiss saddle from my adventures at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in my younger years. That's good since my climbing saddle is way to big for them. Needless to say, they had a blast and were even asking to climb a tree again the very next day.

The takeaway from this is that is was great daddy-daughter bonding. We got some fresh air and exercise. They both built up a little more trust in their old man since I had them on belay the whole time. (We'll work on climbing knots and climbing next time.) No matter what they learned from it, we all had fun.



Fighting
I guess I should come up with another name for this, but we just started calling it fighting and it stuck. Between my years in various forms of martial arts and my Marine Corps training, I have a number of things I plan to teach my girls over the years. Teaching my older daughter Ziva to punch was actually to get her to stop hitting others. She went through a brief stage where she used hitting to express her anger, disagreement or even boredom.

I sat her down and said I was going to give her an opportunity to punch whenever she wanted to, but there were ground rules. She could only hit me. It would only happen when we had a planned "training session." She would always wear the appropriate training gear. She got so good so fast (and started punching so hard) that she got a pair of pink boxing gloves for Christmas that year.

The takeaway on this is fun, exercise and self control. As a dad, I can honestly say I love that she enjoys it because it will be that much easier to transition her into martial arts and self defense in the future. The better she know how to protect herself, the less time I'll have to spend cleaning a shotgun on the front porch when she starts dating in 30 or 40 years.

[Sidenote: For those of you wanting to train your kids how to punch, I strongly suggest you always remain in a kneeling position. A solid back punch always feels better to the face than the groin.]



Fishing
I have loved fishing since I was a young boy. For some reason, fishing was always a guy thing for me. Not that there aren't a ton of women out there who would out-fish me any day of the week...I just happened to have always gone fishing with the guys. I was thrilled to introduce fishing to my wife about 10 years ago. I thought it was a long shot, but she ended up loving it. (She's also one of those women who will out-fish me every time.)

A couple of years ago, I got to introduce my love of fishing to my girls. Ziva wasn't too thrilled with the idea, but my younger daughter Siri absolutely loved it. It probably didn't hurt that she landed a 4 pound Largemouth Bass on her fourth cast. (Since my wife will probably point this out in the comments section, I'll get it out of the way now: I helped Siri with the first three casts that produced nothing. Sarah helped her with the fourth and landed the Bass.)

The takeaway on this is that my girls aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and I'm more likely to get out fishing more often...something I haven't done with any regularity in years lately. I suppose it will also help should they find themselves lost in the wilderness and have to fish a river to survive. (Note to self: Teach the girls survival skills too.)



Blogging
Writing a blog is about as gender neutral as you can get. I pretty much just put this in here because both my girls (and my wife for that matter) enjoy blogging. Their idea of writing a blog may be a little different than mine, but it's fun to see we have a common interest. Truth be told, their blogs would probably get more subscribers than mine....so I'm not going to publish them anytime soon.



Respect
Of all the things I teach my daughters, one of the most important things I can teach them is respect. Those of you with kids know that kids magically overhear EVERYTHING. They hear you when you argue. They hear you when you step on a lego in the kitchen and blurt out a word you probably shouldn't. They most certainly hear you when you're talking about some big surprise that might happen the next day.

The takeaway (or maybe I should say giveaway??) is that a real dad will teach his daughters about respect. They see the way you treat your wife (their mother) and it teaches them, good or bad, how a woman is supposed to be treated. Show them how you love and respect your wife by the way you treat her. (Preferably even when the kids aren't in earshot.) This will teach them to find a man of their own, in 30-40 years, that treats them with respect. If they happen to guess wrong once or twice, make sure you've also been training them mixed martial arts from the time they're four years old....just in case. Until next time....

Friday, November 13, 2015

Naptime




I saw a challenge today on Facebook that looked quite appealing to me. It was laid out like your typical workout routine with varying levels of repetitions that increase over time throughout the month-long challenge. The reason this challenge appealed to me is because it was a napping challenge. To give you a quick overview, it goes something like this:

Day 1: 5 minute nap
Day 2: 10 minute nap
Day 3: 15 minute nap
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: 20 minute nap
Day 6: 25 minute nap
Day 7: Recover

I think you get the idea. As a 40+ year old father of two, I can tell you that this looks like a fun challenge to take on. My not-quite-40 wife will probably laugh when she reads this (and more than likely throw something at me) because she is the one who could really use the napping time. I can't deny it. I can sleep through anything while she seems to hear everything while trying to sleep.

As a point of reference on my napping abilities, one of the best naps I ever had was in the Marine Corps waiting for my squad's turn to run through a live fire exercise. There were numerous riflemen laying down a line of fire, machine gunners adding to the mix, and even a Cobra gunship doing a pass or two over the live fire range. Yet there I was, snoozing away. Anyone who's ever spent time serving in an Infantry unit will tell you that you sleep when you can, but that's not really the point here.

I am curious why our sleeping patterns seem to change with age. I won't even get into the whole newborn/infant "sleep" schedule because I understand the constant need for feeding. (I too have been known to wake up in the middle of the night for a snack.) I am more interested in the age ranges over 4 years old.

As a kid, apparently around age four, we suddenly despise napping. The same seems to apply to sleeping in on a Saturday morning. What is it that makes a four year old want to be awake all the time? Is it a burning desire to learn things and/or not miss anything? Does it somehow make you feel older to not take a nap so you fight it with every fiber of your being? I really don't know why, but I wish I could go back in time and tell myself at four years old to take advantage of it while I could.

Once you get to the teen years, the napping gene seems to kick back into gear. I don't yet have a teenager of my own, but I do recall sleeping in on a Saturday morning...and needing multiple alarms to wake up on a school day. I actually know a person who (will remain nameless because I don't want to embarrass Rachel) actually once set an alarm for 12 Noon so she wouldn't sleep too long that day. Where have those days gone? I am fairly certain my little human alarms put an end to any possibility of that for me...at least for the next 10 years or so.

Now that I'm in my 40's, I really cherish the moments I get to take a good old fashioned nap. This is where I really have to give due credit to my wife. She often allows me to take an afternoon nap on the weekend. I don't know why since she's the one who actually deserves the nap, but I'm certainly not going to complain. She must really love me or something.

Now this is the part that really gets me confused. Something happens over the next 2-3 decades of our life that somehow puts an end to this love of napping again. Does it get boring? Do we not want to miss part of our day because we realize we're nearing the end of our life? I really want to know what makes us get back into the pattern of waking up at 4 am to start our day. I'm afraid the answer is probably more morbid than I choose to think about in my 40's, but time will tell.

Well, this post has really taken a lot out of me. If I hurry, I think I might be able to sneak a quick nap in before bedtime. If you haven't already fallen asleep reading this, go find a cozy spot to kick back and take a nap. Until next time....



Thursday, November 12, 2015

Your Life Aint Over Yet




I am happy to announce that I am now a member of a prestigious club called SAR. For those of you who weren't sitting at my kitchen table this evening as my membership was approved, SAR is the "Super Awesome (w)Riters" club. Ok, so maybe it's not quite as prestigious as I first let on, but it seemed like a pretty big deal to my six year old daughter who created the club...and named it.

To kick of the initial meeting of SAR, I asked her what we should write about. Within seconds, I had numerous ideas that involved puppies, ponies and/or princesses. My ideas were quickly dismissed by her as she had another topic in mind. She said we should write about how Grandma got sick, died and then went to heaven. So much for a lighthearted fluff piece to start off??

The gears instantly started turning in my head generating new ideas. (My fellow bloggers out there would understand...and those around me can often hear them....the gears, that is.) I thought about how many posts I have done recently about babies being born (one of which is today by the way) and thought maybe it was fitting to talk about the other end of the life spectrum. First though, I am going to share my daughter's post on this topic:
Grandma got sick and we went to see her in Texas. When we left, I said "Te Amo" to Grandma. Grandma died and went to Heaven with Jesus before we went back to Texas the next time.

For those of you who don't speak Spanish, "Te Amo" means I love you. The little tidbit she left out was that we were loading into the car to leave and she saw that we were all a little teary eyed. At this point, she understood that Grandma was sick and that she wasn't going to get better. I think it just finally sunk in for her that this would be the last time she'd get to see Grandma. It was at this point that she ran back to Grandma, gave her another hug, and said "Te Amo." Well, if there weren't waterworks enough already, there certainly were at that point.

Now, as a Christian, I could spend the next few pages explaining how we were sad that Grandma was going to die, but happy knowing that she would be free of pain and living in splendor with her Savior shortly in Heaven. My daughters (and the rest of my family for that matter) continue to be sad that we can't call her up on the phone whenever we want while also continuing to be happy that she is in Heaven...where we will one day be reunited with her. Like I said, I "could" go on and on, but regardless of how important that is to me, it's not the route I'm going to take tonight.

It will be two years in January since my Mom passed away. My girls continue to amaze me with their crystal clear recollection of those couple of months two years ago. (We had about six weeks from hearing a terminal cancer diagnosis to Mom passing away.) In the past weeks and months, I have had a number of friends lose a loved one. Some were an unexpected shock while others were the expected end to a serious health battle. What really stands out to me though is how many of them were a parent of a friend.

There is no "one size fits all" cure for how to deal with the loss of a loved one and I am by no means a licensed therapist or counselor. I am however an everyday average guy who likes to explain things in an everyday average way. I don't really recall going through the five stages of grief as any therapist would explain to you. I would imagine they would try and explain to me that I went through them all and just didn't realize it. I know what I felt and what surprised me. I obviously didn't know what to expect, not having been through it before, so it really did surprise me.

My first reaction was probably shock. Not shock like a surprise. More like numb. I had the "advantage" of knowing it was going to happen very soon, so it wasn't a surprise. I expected that when that day finally came I would explode into tears and breakdown. That didn't happen. Although I am not a tearful kind of guy, that still surprised me that I didn't cry at that point.

Fast forward to the funeral. Having gone more than a week without breaking down in tears, I agreed to do a reading at my mom's funeral. About three words into a wonderful reading about Grace, I got a lump in my throat the size of an grapefruit. Let's just say I somehow made it through the whole reading while gnawing on the inside of my cheek in an effort to avoid breaking down. (Some would say that was me getting past the denial stage.) Aside from choking back tears through a couple of hymns in the church that day, that seemed to be the end of the tearful sadness I was half expecting.

Fast forward again a few months (and now years) and I continue to be surprised by what gets me choked up. It's not because it happens to be the anniversary of her death. It's not (at least very often) because someone asks me about her. No, it's from the weirdest things. One of my girls can make a facial expression that reminds me of my Mom. The smell of chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. Seeing a quilt my Mom made. Basically, just some off the wall little things that I wouldn't have expected.

What I really learned from it was not how I cope with the loss of my Mom, but rather how I now value the other friends and family I still have. (I wrote about this a while back in a post called "Family Time" if you want to read a bit more.) Like the title of this post says, "Your life ain't over yet."

Yes, you're going to be sad. Yes, there will probably be tears. Yes, you're going to miss them. But while you're doing all that, look around you. Chances are pretty good that you will see you are surrounded by friends and family members who are pulling the same double duty you are. Being sad and understanding alongside you while also being cheerful and uplifting at the same time. Tragedy and loss are often followed by an enormous amount of togetherness and love. The key lesson I was reminded of by this is that the togetherness and love was (and is) always there. It's just often overlooked when we don't have a reason to "need" it at the moment.

Thank you to those of you who managed to read through another long-winded post on my part. As I said before, I don't claim to be an expert. In fact, I hope you appreciate what I've said because I'm not an expert...just an average guy who's been through it. My heart goes out to those of you who have lost someone. I pray that you will find your peace, take note of the love around you and resume your life without the ability to be able to call that loved one on the phone at a moment's notice.

I feel like I should write a quick post about a princess who had a pony or a puppy just so I can end on a cheerful note. Then again, recognizing the true value of your friends and family is pretty cheerful in itself. Until next time....

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Hunting For Love




It's that time of year again. We've already started seeing the Christmas decorations for sale at local retail stores. This means it's only a matter of time before my wife starts dreaming about watching "Love Actually" - her favorite Christmastime movie. I figured since this is my 100th average jester blog post (according to my post ticker anyway), I thought I should do something special today. I'm going to write about LOVE.

LOVE makes us want to search for it
Even at an early age, we feel the attraction within ourselves. Love is a completely natural feeling that only seems to grow as you get older and wiser...and get a little more life experience. From those early days on, the internal need to find love seems to grow. There may be times that we get that "love at first sight" feeling, but more often than not, we end up spending more time searching for it.

We try to attract LOVE
Obviously, sitting there just waiting for love to come to you isn't always the most productive way of finding love, so we come up with ways to attract it. We spend a lot of time analyzing the way we act, look and even dress, in an effort to somehow attract love. In the end though, it often comes down to blind luck, fate and just being in the right place at the right time. Once we feel we have found a possibility for LOVE, we tend to try and bring it closer to us. Love typically shows for one sooner that the other. Because of this, we makes every effort to draw that love to us. The closer you get to the other - the better chance there is to find love.

LOVE takes over you when you see it
The first sight of love is a very powerful thing. Your heart feels like it's going to beat out of your chest. Your palms get sweaty. Your mouth goes dry. You feel like you can't even breath. Everything else races out of your mind and you fixate on that love. This is also a time when some people freeze up and fail to act. They may feel like any wrong move could ruin their chance of love, but no action is a guaranteed way to not find love.

You need to act on LOVE
Once you have that love in your sight, you need to act. Remember, no action means no love. Calm yourself. Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Then squeeze the trigger. A heart shot is instant, but I hear it's generally safer to go for the spot just behind the heart and lungs for a better chance at hitting vital organs. Wait...What? I'm talking about hunting. What did you think I was talking about? There's a lot of love involved in hunting. Prep time. Time in the woods. The thrill of the hunt itself. The meat you get to eat later. There's a lot to love.

100 is a special number
I figured since this is my 100th blog post, I would write something that's 100% fiction. I say this because I have never been hunting in my life, so I pretty much made everything up based on assumption and a little bit of knowledge I've overheard from friends who do hunt. I guess it's not really totally fiction.... Some of this could technically apply to other types of love...except maybe the "squeeze the trigger" part.

Feel free to re-read the post again, but with the mindset of hunting. I think you will see the true intent of this post....besides shooting for 100% fiction. Happy hunting! Until next time....



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

When Mom Is Away...The Kids Will Play




It's a rare occurrence for my wife to get a little time away from the house and kids...and hubby. It's extremely rare for it to be an overnight getaway to another town. The stars must be in perfect alignment because she is getting that chance this week. Granted it will only be for about 24 hours, but it's 24 hours that are well deserved. Although she will be attending a conference for work, I'm hoping she takes advantage of the night at the hotel. In my mind, she'll be lounging in her pj's in her hotel room with a glass of wine and watching some tv show she hasn't gotten to see in ages. In her mind though, she's probably just looking forward to not having housework, screaming kids or spectators while going to the bathroom. I wouldn't put it past her to just go to sleep early and enjoy the peace and quiet...like she used to about, oh, seven years ago.

Back on the home front though, it will be a much different story. Leaving me alone to supervise our kids is only slightly better than leaving the kids alone to supervise me. Much fun will be had. We have a 24 hour window to get a few things out of our system....hopefully without burning the house to the ground. Although....we have talked about doing some remodeling.

I wouldn't be a good father if I didn't make sure we had at least a little structure to our schedule, so I put a little thought into the pre-planning of this 24 hour event. I have devised the following list of challenges to help us make the most of our Daddy-Daughters bonding time:

Dirty Dish Challenge
This challenge is one I was very proficient at during my days as a bachelor. It basically involves seeing how many meals you can eat without having to wash any dishes. Since we only have 24 hours, I have modified this event to see how many dishes we can dirty in 24 hours. I have a feeling my girls will give me a run for my money in this event because we seem to accumulate 20+ dirty dishes after our ten minute rush to eat breakfast on weekday mornings. My only possible redeeming factor in this challenge may be my ability to utilize three times the amount of pots, pans and cooking utensils needed to prepare any given meal.

Laundry Pile Challenge
Knowing my wife will probably have all the laundry in our house washed, dried and folded before she leaves (Yes. She's that awesome...or OCD...or something.), this event truly will be a challenge. The only rule is to see who can fill their hamper full of dirty laundry quicker - me or the girls. You may think it's an unfair advantage because my clothes are bigger than theirs and will fill up the hamper more quickly, but I think they may take this event. For starters, there are two of them and only one of me. The other advantage they have is that I've never seen them eat anything without spilling on their clothes. (I mean ANYTHING. They can't chew gum without somehow drooling on themselves or getting it stuck to their shirt.)

Belching Challenge
I have to be honest on this challenge. The real reason we're holding this event in Mom's absence is because it's the only time one of us would actually have a chance of winning. It wouldn't even be a fair challenge for us to go up against Mom in this event. She is the undisputed reigning belching champ in our household. As a matter or fact, she could probably phone in her submission to the challenge and still beat us. Hopefully she won't read this until she's back and won't be able to enter her belching submission.

Hide the Carpet Challenge
This challenge is pretty much a no-brainer. It is merely a guide for us to know just how much fun we're having in general. To me, the less carpet you can see because it's covered with toys is a direct indicator of how much fun has been had. You can correct me if I'm wrong, but think about the good parties you've had. Did you have to clean up afterwards? If not, how much fun was really had at that party? Remember, Mom's 24 hour hiatus isn't just a part for her. It's a chance for us kids...I mean, my kids to cut loose.

Clean-up Challenge
This final challenge is a necessary evil. I am confident that after successfully completing the previous challenges, we will certainly need perform well in this last four part challenge. I have not yet decided if this will be setup as an individual, team or relay event. All I know is that if we don't complete the "Wash Dishes, Pickup Laundry (at least), Stop Belching and Find the Carpet" challenges, we will be in for a world of hurt. None of us wants to attempt the "Who can run faster than Mom?" challenge.

If all goes well, we will have a lot of fun while Mom gets to relax for at least one night in this decade. I know that relaxation on her part will be for naught if she comes home to a house burning to the ground. If for some reason you never see another average jester blog post appear on my page, you'll know it didn't end well when Mom got home. Until next time....    (hopefully)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Naming Your Baby: A Zero-Pressure Process




For those of you who haven't been keeping up with the average jester blog, I have a number of family members, friends and acquaintances who are expecting the birth of a child. One of those friends just had the big "find out the sex of the baby" ultrasound this past week. My girls have been excited about this particular baby because it's a friend of mine that they actually know. As I walked into the house after work and told the family that our friends found out the sex of the baby, my daughter Ziva wanted answers right away. This is how the Q&A session played out:

Ziva: "What are they having?"

Me: "A baby."

Ziva: "What kind of baby?"

Me: "A human baby."

Ziva: "Is it a boy or girl?"

Me: "Yes."

In my defense, I didn't really know the answer because they're not yet sharing that information. So, it's not really my fault...unlike when I didn't initially ask enough questions about their pregnancy when I first heard about it. (See "She Said-He Said" for details on that.) For Ziva's purposes though, knowing the sex of the baby didn't really matter. She was just trying to decide whether she should start thinking of girl names or boy names for the baby. (Because clearly my friends are going to be accepting suggestions from a six year old.)

Before I get into the names that Ziva (and Siri once this got started) came up with, I thought I'd share how my wife and I picked out names for our two little girls. It should be obvious that we're baby-naming professionals. We did name our girls Ziva and Siri after-all.

We started making our own separate lists and then crossing names off each other's list to narrow it down. It was a pretty basic idea that many follow, but I can also tell you it pretty much just served as a way to pass the time. We both had our top 2-3 names for a boy and girl. The rest were just filler to try not to get the top choices eliminated. The funny thing is we never agreed on any girl names until the last minute, but we agreed on a boy's name almost immediately....and it's still the name we'd choose if we happened to find ourselves with a baby boy in the future. Since we ended up having two girls, all the back and forth with names lists seemed to pay off.

Choosing Ziva for a girl's name actually started out as a joke. Before we knew the sex of our baby-to-be, I made a comment that if it was a girl, she was going to be tough like Ziva on the tv show NCIS. For those of you who don't know the show, Ziva plays an Israeli Mossad officer who is a liason with the NCIS. She's basically a mix of law enforcement, military, martial arts guru and all-around butt kicker. I spent the next couple months asking how "Ziva" was doing...and it stuck. Today, I can't imagine her being named any of the other ideas we had. She is absolutely a Ziva.

Siri is the name I wish I had to explain like in the early days. At first, most people had never heard the name Siri. They thought it was unique. To be honest, we were going for unique. It's hard to name your second daughter Mary, Ann or Sue when your first daughter has a name like Ziva. The problem we couldn't foresee was that Apple was going to come out with an iPhone assistant with the same name as our daughter. I am always adamant nowadays to point out that our little Siri was born before Apple came out with Siri. I just know I don't want anyone thinking I named my daughter after an annoying voice on an iPhone.

Coming back around to where this all started, I should probably share the names my girls have submitted:

Ziva's Boy Name: Jesse. Awesome! She chose her old man's name. I was so proud....for about three seconds. She quickly changed her recommendation to Spencer. There's nothing wrong with the name Spencer, but I have long been an advocate for the name Jesse. I also like to point out that it can be used for a boy or a girl.

Ziva's Girl Name: Megan. I have no idea where this choice came from. That's part of what I liked about it. She wasn't just repeating a friend's name or a tv character's name. (Yes, I realize the irony in that statement.) When I asked her about it she just said it was the first name that came to mind. I can only guess that it's a name in one of the books she's reading right now.

Siri's Boy Name: Bob. This was kind of a family joke. A few months ago (the exact details are a bit fuzzy) I was playing My Little Ponies with my girls...I mean, I was watching my girls play My Little Ponies. They asked me to name one of these pink ponies with rainbow hair....and I said, "Bob." Ever since then, anytime there is someone or something that needs to be named, we all say, "Bob."

Siri's Girl Name: Bob. Yep, she chose Bob again. When I started to ask her to come up with a girl's name instead, thinking she was just being silly, she said it can be a girl's name too. It then dawned on my that she did actually have a childcare provider for a while who was a woman named Bobbie. Maybe Bob is actually a good go-to name. It has a lot of options: Bob, Robert, Roberto, Roberta, Bobbie (girl), Bobby (boy)....I even knew a boy named Bobert, but that was more because his siblings couldn't say his name right.

I realize I didn't get into all the blow-back you may get from your child for saddling them with a horrible name. I figured since I said a "Zero-Pressure Process." I should maybe keep that part out. That being said, don't be dumb. Use a real name. Not some made up word. Or a number. That is pretty much a your-kid-will-resent-you-for-life guarantee. See... No pressure. Until next time....



Monday, October 26, 2015

Greetings and Salutations





The manner in which you choose to greet someone says a bit about you, or at the very least, what kind of mood you're in at that particular moment. I have recently gotten into the habit of answering my phone with a hearty "Greetings & Salutations" when a friend is calling. I don't know what started it, but my friends have already figured out that it means I'm in a jovial mood....or at least trying to be. I imagine my interest in different types of greetings comes from my years of working in a variety of customer service roles.

How you greet someone can make the other person feel welcomed or warned. It can prompt a light-hearted conversation or a quick exchange of "just the facts." Over time you may develop a perception of the greeter's overall attitude based on how they typically greet you. I started thinking about this tonight as my daughter greeted me as I got home from work with her usual "Olaf Pa Greet Ya." I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that this greeting requires a little explanation....and I'm gonna have to take you back to Texas about 25 years ago to explain it.

There was a little craft mall in Dallas, TX, called Olla Podrida (pronounced Oh-La Puh Dree Da....at least in my phonetic spelling manner). Add to this the fact that you can't live in Texas without picking up at least a little bit of Spanish, and you would know that "Hola" (pronounced Oh-La) is hello in Spanish. Adding to this formula once again that my Dad's sense of humor is about as good as my own, he eventually morphed the word "Hola" into "Olla Podrida" when he returned home from work each evening. Since I can only generate so many of my own jokes, I started saying Olla Podrida when I got home from work each night. Kids don't always seem to grasp exactly what you're saying though and they tend to twist it into their own version.

Now we are back to "Olaf Pa Greet Ya" and it's actually quite logical when I sit back and think about it. Since you apparently have nothing better to do with your time right now, I'm going to break it down for you one word at a time.

Olaf- For any of you who've somehow missed the movie Frozen, Olaf is a snowman. (The best character in the movie - in my humble opinion.) I can see why my daughter would think of Olaf when she thinks of me. We're both loveable and adorable with a great sense of humor. Or, I suppose it could be that we're both pale white and shaped like a snowman?? Either way, who could blame her?

Pa- At first I thought that was pretty self explanatory, but then realized they haven't started watching Little House on the Prairie re-runs yet...so I don't know where she would have picked up "Pa" as another word for Dad.

Greet Ya- This one is self explanatory. It is a greeting afterall.

I like to think she sees her loveable, snowman-like Dad walking into the house ready to greet ya. In reality though, I guess deep down I know it's just a misunderstanding of what I've been saying to her for years as I walk into the house. I guess I will have to start mixing it up a bit and see how she handles the change. I already have a few options at the ready. A good ol' Texas "Howdy." Maybe a "Hi ho, there neighbor" from Home Improvement, or adding some flash to it, a "Hi diddley ho there" from Ned Flanders on the Simpsons. I tried the "Greetings & Salutations" the other day, but they struggled with the Salutations part. I could try a booming "Waasssuuupp!"....but that might scare them. In the end, I'll probably have so many options running through my head that I'll get confused and end up saying something completely crazy like "hi."

Maybe I'll just stick to Olla Podrida and just giggle inside when my four year old puts her own twist on it. I can mix some of the others into my everyday life with adults who would understand them. It's not like they don't already know I'm a little "different." I think I'll wait for a future post to talk about seasonal greetings. I'm afraid that will probably end up in a rant about how I'm not supposed to say wild and crazy things like "Merry Christmas" in an effort not to offend someone. Until next time....

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Unformation




For a few brief moments this week, I thought I had actually created a new word. I was proud of the fact that my new word even made sense. So much so that I am now writing an entire post about it. Considering I can write an entire post without a topic, maybe that's still not saying much. The word I thought I had created was "unformation." I was writing a sentence something like: "After wading through the mass of unformation.... " In this particular case, I had obviously intended to write "information," but the misspelling seemed to fit my intent more accurately.

The shear magnitude of the information at our fingertips is so daunting that it really is almost uninformative....or, "unformation." A simple Google search, no matter how well the algorithms are working, seem to provide too much information. You almost don't know where to start. Typing in "unformation," for example, brings back 279,000 results. That's pretty good considering how many results I usually get, but still way too many. Yeah, I know, they're ranked to put the most useful links at the top and I could get better results with a longer search query, but that would ruin my rant.

The point I'm trying to make is that there is so much information, it's almost worthless. You just stare at the pages of info and glaze over while wondering where to begin. There is astounding information ready at our fingertips at a moment's notice, but learning how to navigate it is an ever changing and ever learning activity we all get to keep up with. (If you think it's fun looking up a recipe or finding a local restaurant, you should try managing website SEO or keeping your Facebook page ahead of the changing algorithms.)

Sometimes I sit back, close my eyes, and think about the olden days when nobody had a cell phone, the internet didn't exist and you had to use a phonebook, map and/or encyclopedia to find anything. It was definitely a more laid back and relaxing time, but would I go back to it? Don't get me wrong. I love being able to access anything I want in less than a minute via my the browser or an app on my phone. I am curious though how much of it is rarely, if ever, accessed anymore. Will people still be reading average jester posts from 2014 ten years from now? Honestly, I wonder if anyone will be reading them one year from now, but that's beside the point.

Speaking of average jester.... According to my little post ticker, I am four posts away from 100 with this post. That means, by the time you read this, there are 96 average jester posts floating around the world wide web. Technically, I guess there are a few more than that. I've deleted a number of them over the past few months because, let's be honest here, not every one was all that great. If I personally have that much floating around out there, it makes me wonder how much is out there in total. (OK, I cheated and Googled it) As I'm writing this, there we are just shy of 945 million websites on the internet. Websites...not pages. Wow. I should probably let you go at this point because it looks like we're both going to need a lot of free time to start working our way through all those websites. Until next time....

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Crying over a couch




My wife and I decided to do a little bit of cleaning around the house today. What started out as a plan for basic vacuuming and dusting quickly turned into a major project. Before we knew it, we were rearranging furniture. Dressers, desks and couches were shuffled around the house - upstairs to downstairs, living room to basement...you name it, we did it. The biggest surprise of all was the decision to finally retire an old couch that has seen better days.

This couch belonged to my wife long before she and I even met. It has served us well so far, but it barely survived the last six years once we started having kids. In all honesty, we have a pretty small house - with a living room that feels like a closet. So, after getting fed up with fighting stains and some torn fabric, we decided to say goodbye to the couch. Sarah and I didn't really think it would be a big deal so we hauled it out to the curb. If nobody grabbed it first, I was planning to call the trash service on Monday to grab it. (We saw it getting hauled off while eating supper tonight.) I need to back up a bit though to hit the real story here.

Within seconds of telling our girls that we would be carrying the couch out to the curb to get rid of it, both girls were in tears. At first I thought they were just playing, but after a minute or so, I realized they truly did appear to be distressed about losing this couch. It got so bad, I even commented to Sarah that you'd think their dog had just died or something. (We don't have a dog so maybe they really did get that attached to the couch??) After thinking that was strange, the girls really surprised me with how they reacted to other items we chose to get rid of.

My girls apparently have more toys than they know what to do with. My initial support for this argument was the fact that they rarely play with half their toys. Even though they seem to have forgotten about half their toys, I never in my wildest dreams would have thought they'd let us get rid of any of them. Well, they shocked me today. Can we get rid of this giant stuffed Panda bear? Yep. Can we get rid of these dolls? Go ahead. How about these toy baby cribs? What cribs? That blew my mind.

Maybe they were in shock over the loss of the couch?? Whatever the reason behind their apparent detachment from these toys, we managed to do a pretty amazing job cleaning the house. At least there's a lot less clutter to have to deal with...at least in the near future. We seem to generate clutter without much effort.

On the bright side, the girls seemed to have made it through all the stages of grief in regards to the couch. The photo with this post was taken shortly after the teary meltdowns over the couch. Yes, they are in their jammies...in our front yard sitting on the couch moping. An hour later, they were out front (in their play clothes - not jammies) holding up a sign the read "FREE" trying to wave down every passing vehicle in an attempt to find a good home for our couch.

All I can say is, "All is well that ends well." I'll count today as a win. As an added bonus, I was able to use the "pick up those toys or I'm going to put them by the curb" (empty) threat with tremendous success today. Who knows...maybe they're just happier now that there's a little more room to play without the couch in the way. Until next time....

Monday, October 12, 2015

Dads Against Daughters Dating




As the father of two little girls. I have come to terms with the fact that I will have to deal with my daughters dating eventually. I can't say that I have completely come to terms with how fast that might actually happen though. I am quickly finding out that the dreaded day of my daughters dating will come a lot faster than I had initially hoped. Looking back at the last six plus years of fatherhood, I now wonder if I set myself up for failure when it comes to prolonging my daughters dating for as long as possible.

When Ziva was less than a year old, my wife and I made jokes about setting her up with the son of one of our friends. A couple years later, we had another girl and our friends had another boy. It was harmless fun to joke about setting our kids up with each other, but I wonder if that somehow stunted their "dating growth." I really did my best to set guidelines for my girls to set a reasonable expectation for how the whole dating process will work for them, but I'm not sure it's working.

To start it off. I set the dating age at the nice round number of 30. I figured by the time they reach 30, I should be starting to go senile and probably not realize they're dating. I am learning that 30 might have been a bit of wishful thinking. With one daughter in first grade and the other in preschool, I have already seen the signs that the horrors of daughters dating is coming up far too soon.

The first sign showed up a week or so into this school year. My little baby first grader was talking about the kids in her class. Some of them were from her class last year and others were new friends this year. As she was running through the list of names and some particular details that stood out to her about each of them, the first shocker came up. She mentioned that one of the boys was "handsome." Not funny, tall, good on the monkey bars....but handsome. Is it possible to be handsome in first grade? Where did she even learn that? I can only guess it's from hearing my wife introduce me to everyone as her extraordinarily handsome husband....who's an average writer.

At first I thought it was just a fluke, but that wishful thought was quickly gone. I heard this past week that my daughters were involved in a serious discussion about which of my four year old's two closest male friends should be her boyfriend and which should just be her BFF. It doesn't surprise me that she has a strong connection to her male friends. She is a little daredevil tomboy. What did surprise me though was the thought process behind her decision. The initial thought was that she choose the older boy to be her boyfriend because they were the same age. After a minimal amount of thought, she decided she would rather have his younger brother be her boyfriend because they "liked more of the same things." I was pretty impressed by that. (For the record - She ultimately decided to just be friends with both of them....I'm so proud.)

I may have been a bit premature getting concerned about my daughters dating, but it's good practice for when that day finally comes. I still have time to work on my intimidating line of questioning for their suitors and building up a collection of firearms and knives to be cleaning and sharpening whenever their dates arrive to pick them up. Who knows - maybe my daughters will just find awesome guys to date and save me the trouble....but where's the fun in that? Until next time....

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Time: Friend or Foe?





Considering the fact that time is technically constant and consistent, our opinion of time itself varies greatly through the day, the week, our lives. More accurately, it's our perception of time that changes depending upon the circumstances. It's like the smartphone screenshot I have seen floating around Facebook showing the workday wake-up alarm set for 6am...with follow-up alarms at 6:10, 6:15, 6:20..... Next to it is the screenshot showing the 5am wake-up alarm for fishing..no backup necessary. We've all been there. Some mornings can't come fast enough while many others seem to come too soon.

The idea for this post occurred to me today at work where I have recently had a lot more work than time. Sure it's frustrating feeling the need to rush through things in a vain attempt to get everything done, but there is an upside. When you're doing three things at once, back to back all day long, time really flies. That in itself has a good and a bad side to it. On one hand your day seems to end too fast because you still have so much to do. On the other hand, your days fly by in the blink of an eye.

I remember another affect a job has had on time for me in the past. Back in my days of tree work in Texas, I experienced two extremes. The first you may have heard expressed as "more time than money." The tree business in Texas takes a little hit when the rainy season (called winter in more northern states) hits. There may be 3-4 days in a row that you don't work because the weather wasn't conducive to climbing trees. During that week, you had all kinds of time to kill, but no money to spend to do anything. On the flip side, when storm season rolled through, we would work every possible minute of daylight just trying to keep up. You were making money hand over fist, but you didn't really have the time (or energy for that matter) to spend any of it.

You will find similar "perceptive disparities" when looking at larger blocks of time. High school would be a good example. When you're in your mid-teens, all you want to do is graduate, become and adult, be independent and take on the world. Because of that (for me anyway), high school seemed to drag on forever. Looking back at it now, it seems like the blink of an eye. Technically it was almost a tenth of my life, but looking back it seems like months. I feel I was your typical teen - trying to speed up time and get to the next stage.

I see that now as a parent too. When you have your first kid, your want to rush through the stages. Hurry, hurry, hurry. Roll over. Sit up. Stand. Walk. Talk.... Next thing you know, you have a kids that's running, screaming and therefore making you run. All you can think is, where did time go? Why was I in such a rush to get past the "watch them sleep" stage? As a parent, I realize what other parents have said all along about how you'll blink and time will pass you by. Those of you with kids understand what I'm saying. Sometimes I think you could almost measure time by how many times your kids can wear an outfit before they outgrow it.

Time, no matter how quickly it flies by, generates a lifetime of memories. Enjoy the time you have. If you rush through life, you'll be less likely to actually remember those memories you're making. Another very important aspect is that you never know when your time is up. I don't mean to close this out on a seemingly depressing note, but that's the way it is for many. They rush through life battling the clock and before they know it people will be gone from their lives. Whether it's because of death, neglect or just everyday circumstances, you will quickly find yourself wondering where time (and life) went while you were rushing through it. Slow down and enjoy your life, family and friends a bit. Speaking of time, it's getting late and it's time for me to stop rambling. Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Until next time....

Monday, October 5, 2015

Animal Rescue Club




The value that any given individual places on the life of an animal ranges greatly depending upon who you ask. Or maybe to be more specific, I should say there is a large gap between the views of a survivalist and a card carrying member of PETA. I started thinking about this today because of two recent events. One, I'm sure you're well aware of. The other is very unlikely to have hit your radar.

The example I imagine you read about this week is the homeless man in Alaska that killed a bear cub with a homemade spear. I made the mistake of reading the comments on the first Facebook post I saw on the story. I say "mistake" because I knew full well that it was going to be one comment after another about how horrible the man was and what a tragedy this was. As more details of the story come out, the facts are appearing to show that the man's own negligence played a major part in this story - so I can understand some of the outrage against him. If that were the only cause for the outrage, I wouldn't have thought much of it. The problem is that it was a minor reason for complaint by most of the comments I read. It appears that the bear's life was somehow more important than a human's life. That part never makes sense to me. When did an animal become more important than a human?

I have never been a hunter, but don't let that give you a misguided idea of how I feel about animals. I just never happened to get into hunting. Fishing has been my outdoors sport of choice. Truth be told, when I fish, I do almost 100% catch and release. I prefer the fun of fishing more than the desire to have to clean and cook the fish. Don't get me wrong though. I love meat. I greatly appreciate the venison that my hunter friends share with me every year. I also appreciate the people raising cows and pigs so that I can enjoy my bacon cheeseburgers. At the same time though, I also appreciate the hunting regulations that are in place to limit the number of any particular species from being taken in any given season.

As far as the "ethical treatment of animals," I will completely support the prosecution of anyone who abuses animals of any kind. On the flip side, I also agree with the destruction of an animal that attacks a human. Before you get all excited, I'm not talking about the neighbor's Terrier nipping at your ankle. I'm talking about the dog that mauls the kid walking down the street or the bear that attacks a hiker. I also believe that when it comes to the life of a human versus the life of an animal, the animal should die.

OK, now that I've got half of you upset and the other half craving a cheeseburger, I should get to the point. Humans are more important than animals, but humans should be expected to treat animals humanely. Respecting animals (or humans for that matter) is something you should learn at an early age. That gets me to the second story I heard about today... The one I doubt you heard about.

Apparently, my six year old daughter started a "club" with some of the other first graders at school. They call it the "Animal Rescue Club." I asked her how many animals they have rescued so far. Her response: "Two ladybugs so far, but we've hoping to save more animals." Well, kudos to her and her friends. I am glad to see they have a healthy desire to care for the creatures of the earth. (For the record, she also has a healthy desire to go fishing with dad.) To be honest, I'd rather have her running around at recess saving insects than trading Pokemon cards with her friends.

Do what you want with today's rambling nonsense. Go out and adopt a pet from the animal shelter. Cammie up and go hunting or grab your fishing rod and hit the lake. Or, like I'm most likely to do, go enjoy a thick juicy burger. Just try really hard not to put yourself in a position where you have to kill an animal because you put yourself in harm's way. You don't want to be the topic of next week's nasty comment feeds on Facebook. There are already too many of those as it is already. Or, even worse, prove than Darwinism is alive and well by means of your own negligence and demise. Until next time....

Saturday, October 3, 2015

It's the start of something....?





Since the day I started writing this blog, I always viewed my posts as my random ramblings on everyday life, but other bloggers are always talking about how you need to find a niche and stick to it. I have created off-shoot blogs wanting to follow that general principle, but I always ended up rolling them back into the original blog. I recently decided to keep everything in one place and just use categories for those readers that are only interested in a particular topic. For the most part, I guess I just assumed that people were picking and choosing which posts they actually read. That is...until this week.

I recently wrote a blog post that I didn't think was all that different than the rest, but apparently it stuck out as "not really me" and not what they thought "my reader base" was used to. It was kind of funny because the person who told me this thought they had hurt my feelings or something. In reality, all I could think was: I have a style? I have a reader base? Someone actually reads enough of my posts to notice that one was different than the rest? Wait a minute...the others were similar? I thought it was a bunch of random nonsense that I just had fun writing. Well, that got me thinking once again about what people actually enjoy reading. So here's what I'm going to do to satisfy my own curiosity and maybe even improve the quality of what you have to read at average jester: I'm going to give you a quiz. Actually, I guess it's more of a poll. Good practice with a presidential election looming in the distance.

I am going to start a blog for each of the categories I see myself using regularly today and have you vote on which one you would like to see finished. I'm sure I will end up finishing all of them at some point (or something like them) because that's what I do. I write whatever pops into my head. I will label them all with a letter and let you vote. You can comment on the post itself, Google+, Facebook, Twitter or a good old fashioned email. Without any further ado...because this might get a bit lengthy anyway, here are the categories that I personally think I bounce around in today along with a brief description of what they mean to me:

A. Attitude: Be happy. Look for the good in everything. Smile. Have a nice day!
B. Hubby Health: Not everyone is a workout champ. Some of us struggle a bit more and care a bit less.
C. Service: Customer service, helping others, training and development.
D. She said-He Said: (This is an idea my wife and I have to trade some topics back and forth between our blogs for man-woman comparisons. Only have one post so far...)
E. Dads with Daughters: Intended to be a primer for dads dealing with understanding daughters. (Another one I just got started.)
F. Self Preservation: (Wide range, but more specific than "random.") Patriotism, survival, problems in our world today....dare I say...political??

Here are some samples "on the fly" from ideas today alone. (Any of my loyal readers can tell you that I can spin a post out of nothing. I guess I'm just one of those guys with the ability to talk for hours without a topic.) Anyway...Vote on which of the posts below you would actually be interested in hearing the conclusion. (Hopefully there's more than one....)

A. Attitude
It's already been one of those days. It's Saturday morning (the one day I can sleep in a bit) and my oldest daughter Ziva wakes me up because she thinks one of her teeth is loose. So, in a groggy state, I sit up grab a piece of tissue and pull one of her front teeth out. (I hope it was the one she was referring to..) The rest of the morning made me think that maybe it wasn't because both girls have been going at each other with both barrels. One fight can't even finish before the next fight is starting. This is the point I would be pulling my hair out if I had any left to get ahold of. Fortunately I have a wife that is amazing at calming me down just as fast as she calms the kids down. It's also at this point that I realize I should practice what I preach and start looking for the good in everything. I decide that having two wonderful (who happen to be fighting right now) daughters is way better than not having them at all. I could be stuck at work away from family - or not  have a family at all. I decided to put a smile on my face and make a challenge out of this. I will win them over and calm them down in five minutes or less....and here's how it went..... [VOTE A]

B. Hubby HealthFall is quickly rushing up on us so my family has been trying to take advantage of every possible minute to spend outside as a family before the snow starts flying. Today we took a a little family walk in through the local State park. It was a little early to see the changing colors of Fall, but my wife had just run a 5K that included the 95 steps up the hill through the park as part of the course. My wife has a morbid curiosity (as far as I'm concerned) to challenge herself to a do-over a few hours after the race to see how she can attack those stairs without a two mile run ahead of them. I felt I should be supportive since I am also trying to "be better about" my own health, so I decided to.... [VOTE B]

C. ServiceLife is full of opportunities to help someone else. I have had the most obvious of examples through my years of customer service, but that's not really the point I want to address today. Helping someone else while it's part of you job description is obviously a noble and worthy undertaking, but when it comes down to it, you are getting paid to do it. Think about times in your everyday life where you can step in a help out in one way, shape or form. Kinda like the old fashioned example of helping the little old lady to cross the street. We spent a little time at a local park today and I found myself perplexed by whether or not to "help" someone else. It's not uncommon to see children doing dangerous things at the park while their "supervisor" is chatting away on their cell phone...if they're even in the immediate area. My issue is whether or not to address the situation. I would obviously jump to action if an accident occurred, but can I in good faith sit back and watch activities that I am almost certain will result in serious injury. If I say something, I will most certainly either be yelled at for being nosy and pushy or (even worse) seen as a child predator paying a little too much attention to someone else's kids. My gut reaction was to just..... [VOTE C]

D. She said-He SaidMy eldest daughter Ziva has been a spit-fire all morning. I had thought I had it bad while my wife Sarah was running in the local 5K this morning, but the real resentment and bad attitude came out once my wife got home from the race. Of course I had both girls engaged in a stand-off as Sarah walked in the door and that didn't make anything easier. Ziva only waited about 15 seconds to point out how much Sarah smelled after running her race. She has been doing an exemplary job of pushing my wife's buttons lately...and today was no exception. My wife (like me...and most parents) spends a lot of time dealing with resentment from our kids. That is, IF you are being a real parent. Anyway, at the height of my wife feeling like Ziva hates her today, we ask her to take a quick photo of Sarah and I since we had a nice nature backdrop. Turns out the photo cut my wife out of the photo completely. It was a nice picture of me though. My wife's first thought was that it was proof Ziva was upset with her at the time. When I talked to Ziva about it, she told me..... [VOTE D]   (I know this one's harder because you don't have my wife's side, but vote from the gut.)

E. Dads with DaughtersThere are a lot of things that most men will never have the need or desire to understand about girls unless they have little girls of their own. Having had the benefit of extremely short hair for the last 20+ years, I hadn't spent a lot of time worrying about hairstyles. Fast forward through more than six years of having a daughter (4+ for two girls) and you will find a guy who can adequately braid hair. I probably shouldn't admit it, but I am actually better at hair braiding than my wife. It's one thing to know how to braid. What surprised me this weekend was my thought process while we were watching "Brave" on DVD. My wife made a comment about how beautiful her thick, full, curly hair was. My first thought was that it would be a nightmare when it came to combing out tangles. As a father who's already been through daughter induction, I feel the need to let other dads with daughters know.... [VOTE E]

F. Self PreservationI am torn between the ideas of keeping up with current events and just watching Netflix to avoid it. Every time I turn around there is a school shooting, officer shooting, political scandal or some idiot just being a jerk. Part of me understands the importance of staying informed so that I can vote appropriately to help guide the direction our takes, but the other side of me feels overwhelmed by the sheer idiocy and ignorance of many so-called Americans today. I gladly support our peace officers and would not hesitate to support them in any way possible. I have always felt the school shootings are a direct result of current gun laws restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens from carrying firearms in or near schools. All I can do right now is continue to back legislators that oppose gun control and continue to promote and educate proper self-defense by any means necessary. Although I am 100% against taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, I also know there are a number of ways to subdue (or kill if necessary) an attacker. A few things I have pointed out to friends in the past are.... [VOTE F]

Your vote counts
Cast your vote when you get bored later tonight. This post will be broadcast across the website, my Google+ page, the average jester Facebook page and the average jester Twitter page. You can use any of those to vote or send me an email at jesse@averagejester.com.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

MegaRAM Bytes





My wife is not ashamed to admit that she really doesn't have a clue when it comes to anything tech related. She has a healthy appreciation for how technology affects our everyday life, but no real desire to dig any deeper into it than is absolutely necessary to survive. My two little girls, like most kids these days, are the exact opposite. They soak it in like a sponge and keep begging for more. So when my daughters are chomping at the bit for more tech time, my wife just says, "Mega - RAM - Bytes - whatever..."

Earlier this week I was thinking about how knowing your way around a computer or network seems to be the new version of knowing your way around an engine.  Most people have a general understanding of what's going on "under the hood" while others could do a complete rebuild. Personally, I think I'm somewhere in the middle on both counts. I know enough to help others, but that also means I know enough to get in trouble.

I'm glad that I am able to share some of these skills with my daughters. I've heard of many a father who wouldn't let their daughter (or son for that matter) take the car out until they proved they could change a tire by themselves. My daughters will definitely know how to change a tire. They're also going to know their way around a computer. To be honest, both will be equally important when they're learning to drive. Trouble shooting the on-board computer in the car will probably be a more likely scenario than having to change a flat tire.

Ziva, my six year old, has been asking to type on the computer more and more lately. She has begun writing a daily journal and it works out better (for both of us) when she types it on the computer rather than writing it on paper. (For the record, I see value in both written and typed media, but I'm not going to press my luck when she's eager to write.) She has fun typing on the computer and really enjoys the spellcheck and backspace/delete features. I can safely say that my wife and I also appreciate the those features. It helps Ziva try and write on her own and really cuts back on the number of words we have to spell out for her.

Our next training topic will be computer safety. It's already starting with the basics of password protection. I created a profile for her to use my laptop as well as a password to go with her own personal login. I asked her what PIN she would like for her password and she said "911." I told her it had to be four or more numbers or letters - to which she said "1234." I explained to her that "1234" was too common and she should mix it up a bit. She wanted to argue that point by countering that it's the same password they use at the library for the iPads. (Yep, and every person in town over the age of three knows that password.) She finally got the idea and came up with a real password...which she promptly told her mom. I told her a password wasn't any good if you went and told everyone what it was. Her response was, "But mommy asked?!?" So I guess we have a little work to do on the whole Phishing topic then..

In all seriousness though, I can't imagine it's too far around the corner that we'll be having the talk about online safety. I would be pretty dumb to think it's all that far out there. I just recently found out that my two girls (4 & 6 years old) have been downloading games off the app store on our smartphones. If they could do that, it's not a huge step to figuring out some chat app or social media account.

I will leave you with this observation: If my girls and their understanding of technology is any measure of the typical kids these days, we should be alright. It's getting hard to find something that doesn't have a computer in it these days - so it's a good thing they pick up on it so quickly. I'll let you go for now. I've looked at a computer screen long enough for one day. Until next time....

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Part-Time OCD




For those of you who don't have kids of your own, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Kids are messy. You may think that your roommate, co-worker or spouse is a slob, but until you have kids, you won't truly know the potential that exists for making a mess. I will admit that I am a little more impressed by the short amount of time it takes them to make a mess than their overall ability to do so. I may have gotten used to it after 6+ years of parenthood, but something my four year old said to me the other day threw me for a loop.

We recently acquired a five-person cubby and set it out on our porch to try and encourage our girls to organize their things as they come into the house. Prior to this cubby, you would find shoes, jackets and backpacks all over our porch. I am actually impressed with how well they have been doing now that they have a specific place to put their stuff. I didn't realize just how much it was affecting their organizational skills until my four year old threw me for that loop I spoke of.

I found one of her shoes on the floor in the living room, rather than in her cubby, and told her I would put it away where it belongs for her. I thought I was doing her a favor, but apparently I needed some supervision and instruction. She followed me out to the porch and proceeded to show me EXACTLY how that shoe had to be placed in her cubby. As you can see on the left side of the photo above, her shoes are lines up neatly with the toes to the front edge. I have to say I was impressed. She put a lot of work into organizing her cubby and she didn't want good ol' dad messing things up.

The part that threw me for a loop is that the living room and her bedroom both looked like the right side of the photo above. How can she show OCD tendencies with her cubby when everything else she touches looks like a tornado went through? After a minute, I realized that maybe it's not really all that strange. It got me thinking there might be a little part-time OCD in all of us. (For the record, my wife completely agreed when I gave her the 30 second overview of this blog post - so it must be true.)

Using myself as an example (so I don't throw anyone else under the bus), I realized I had some glaringly obvious part-time OCD in my life. If you were to look at my closet, you would see all my clothes are hanging neatly with like items and the clothes on the shelves are stacked neatly. On the other hand, if you were to look at the floor, your would see my shoes in one massive pile (yes - for a guy, I have a lot of shoes). You would see the same thing at the dresser. In the drawers, everything is folded and organized nice and neat. However, on top of the dresser is a pile of paperwork and bills that would spill off the dresser if I were to turn the ceiling fan up one notch.

I think my organizational skills in the garage are more seasonal OCD than part-time OCD. Taking a peek at my workbench from mid-Spring to early Fall would show you a work space that is neat and tidy with everything in its place. Having never been in my garage, I could safely say you would have no problem walking in and grabbing what you needed with minimal effort searching for it. Once the colder months of winter set in, you will find the polar opposite. Anyone who has had the pleasure of running out to the garage to grab something when it's 20 below zero outside knows that you don't like to spend a lot of time out there. That's a great reason to have a tidy work space that saves you time searching. The problem is with the "return the item to the garage" stage. In sub-zero temps, it's really easy to pop into the garage and just toss the tool somewhere near the workbench and "deal with it later." (Later means mid-Spring.)

I could go on and on with examples in my own personal life, but I will spare you tonight. I think it really comes down to the inner feeling of wanting to keep our lives organized and in order, but not having the time, or desire to spend the time to keep it that way. We pick our battles. We maintain order where we feel it is most important and let the others slide until Spring cleaning rolls around. (Not true of those who are actually diagnosed as OCD, but my point wasn't to compare typical everyday organizational habits with an anxiety disorder.)

I'm just going to sit back and be happy that my four year old has found at least one area where she chooses to make an effort to be neat. My great hope is that she will realize how easy it is to find stuff that is put "in its proper place" and will begin using that technique elsewhere. Having been a parent for a few years now tells me that the reality is probably not going to play out like that. You would think that not being able to find your toys would be reason enough to organize them, but that's apparently not the case. I'm sure the short attention span and the ability to just choose to play with a different toy that you can find has something to do with it too. Who knows? Maybe it's just something they don't comprehend until they reach the 7-8 year old age range??

I'm going to leave you with that. I just realized I have a bunch of things I have been meaning to organize for a while now and I should do it while I'm thinking about it. Then again, it's almost 9 pm on a Sunday night and winter is just around the corner. Maybe I could just let it slide until Spring cleaning rolls around. Until next time....