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]

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