Monday, August 12, 2013

Friendly Fire

Life handed me one of those little unexpected conundrums recently, this time in the form of a clear and obvious invitation to remove myself as a member from an organization of which I had been a member for 15 years or so. The ill-conceived timing and method of this revelation was surpassed only by its destructive effects in my life. 

For those reading this and considering the best way to convey distressing and controversial news to someone, let me suggest to you that perhaps the telephone is not an appropriate way to do so.

"Hi. How are you? That's good. Hey, I know you're on the southeast expressway in bumper to bumper traffic after a long day at work but I just wanted to let you know that -- BOOM. Take that. Have a nice day."

But then again, if your goal and intention are to alienate someone and to thrust them away then, well, I guess the telephone is an effective communication medium after all.

I won't go into the details on the situation because, frankly, they're pretty ugly and there is plenty of blame to go around. But I will make a few general remarks here that, should they get back to the appropriate persons, the comments perhaps may be found to be instructive.

Here they are in no particular order:
  1. When someone approaches you for help (or more accurately, when they’ve approached you for help repeatedly over a period of years), in general, they’re probably not coming to you looking to be humiliated, rebuked, or to have their problems exacerbated.
  2. It is generally considered to be in bad form to rebuke a person for problems that you currently have yourself and that you have not corrected.
  3. If and when there does come a time to judge another person, have some idea of whether or not the person in question is actually guilty of something before meting out an arbitrary punishment.
  4. If you do feel the need to hand out punishment, don’t pretend that you’re doing the recipient a favor. Condescension is not one of the Fruit of the Spirit.
  5. When questioned about your glaring hypocrisy, the defense “we are aware of our hypocrisy” really isn’t a much of a defense.
  6. After you’ve spent ten thousand dollars to learn from an independent source that your credibility is in the hole, put the shovel down and stop digging.
  7. If you find yourself among a group of people that is about to take a vote regarding the future of another person, if that other person is neither present nor aware that a such a meeting is being held, and that person is given zero chance to speak for himself, chances are you’re about to do something wrong.
  8. If after such a vote is held, if you voted “yes”, try not to lie and say you voted “no”. It makes you look small and, frankly, it’s a waste of your ten thousand dollars.
  9. The fact a group of men in a leadership position don’t already know these first 8 points is lamentable.
It has often been said that the Christian Army is the only army that shoots its own wounded. I can see why some people think so.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Degradation of Our Leadership

I think we've seen something in the Obama administration that we've never seen before and that is the completion of the process of the American people's loss of confidence and trust it their own government. Bush made some bravely stupid mistakes that alienated many of our allies, but it wasn't until Obama took office and fanned the flames of this alienation with his rhetoric by saying that the last 8 years had been a mistake, that we are sorry for them, and that we will be changing our attitudes toward the world.

That was a colossal mistake. It was a decision to play politics with the entire world rather than to project an air and stance of leadership to the free world. Rather than silently and stoically working to shore up our position and influence in the world, Obama undermined our own integrity by backtracking, cowering and bowing (both literally and figuratively) to those who oppose our interests.

Thus, Barak Obama has stuck a two pronged fork into the integrity and sovereignty of the United States of America, one which has demoralized and angered her people and one that emboldened her enemies.

The question now stands before us, "What will the American people do about it? Will we stand up and fight to retake what ought to be ours, or will we go silently into that night?"

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Dirt Store

For a long time now, I've been taking Been Jammin' with me when I run errands. The Twinlings are getting older now, and yesterday I figured it was about time to start sharing the chance for them to get out and about alone with Da-Da. I told Daniel that if he got his shoes on quickly, I'd take him with me to the "dirt store" (the garden center where I needed to pick up a load of loam).

Mom got him ready and I buckled him into the truck and we rolled down to A. Thomas & Sons in Milton to pick up some loam. We looked at plants and garden fixtures and then he got to watch the front end loader dump it into my truck.

But with all of this, all he kept talking about was, "Where's Jesse? Where's Jesse?"

Turns out, when we got home, the same thing had been happening with the other half of this duo -- Jesse had been asking Mom, "Where's Daniel?"

It's a totally awesome blessing seeing my three boys love their brothers; it's something I always wanted for myself but never had. I love my sisters, but I've always had a bit of envy that they had a bond with each other in a way that I never got to experience. I'm determined to help foster that love in my three sons.

Monday, April 8, 2013

There, It's Done

Well, I bought a truck this weekend. It's been a bit contentious for me and the missus so I've been reluctant to say anything. I weighed a lot of options and I felt compelled that we truly needed one given the challenges I'm facing keeping up with two properties now. We have had too many needs for a truck in the past that I had to fill by borrowing one from others. Moreover, there are still quite a number of ongoing needs that call for a truck.

The truck is a Toyota Tacoma with the double cab. That means it has four doors on it. All the baby/car seats fit in the back so there is no problem taking the entire family places so we haven't lost anything. It's just not what my wife describes as a "family vehicle." She's right, it's not. But our situation requires some flexibility right now and this vehicle does both the hauling and carrying we need and provides 5 passenger seating. It's not what we "want" but it is what we need.

I want to be excited about this but I haven't been able to let myself feel such since my wife doesn't. I'm hoping she'll understand the decision as time goes on. I rarely (if ever) make a decision that we're not in complete agreement on so this has been hard, but I am confident that this was the right thing for us right now.

I don't like borrowing stuff and yet I find I'm constantly having to do it. This has gotten wearisome both for the lenders and for me. Too much so. Being a constant borrower makes me feel wretched, like I'm not "good enough" to take care of myself and my family. It's been like this for too long. This weekend's follies of putting 80 miles on someone else's truck looking for a place to unload a big pile of leaves and branches was the last straw. We need to be able to take care of our own responsibilities without involving others.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Blaine Mellon’s Top Ten List of People Who are Famous for Being Famous

There is a tiny sector of people in our society who somehow attract the attention of a surprisingly large number of other people in the broader grouping of our society. Yet the people who command this recognition do so for no reason that is apparent. They are not famous for any discernible reason such as talent, accomplishment, or even infamy. However, having inexplicably come to the forefront of popular culture at some time in the past, they seem to remain there, immovable; whether by cultural inertia or by some self-perpetuating phenomena of notoriety, many of those who keep them famous cannot even recall themselves why they do so. These are those who are famous for being famous.

  • ·         Justin Beiber – I’ve been told that she is some sort of performer of some kind though to my knowledge none of his music have ever received air play and no one can name a single one of her songs. Nevertheless, this person (who I believe is a boy (or perhaps a girl)) seems to remain a constant fixture in the world of entertainment.
  • ·         Kim Kardashian – Second in fame only to her own bum, this woman rocketed to stardom  for being the non-biological, non-adopted daughter of an Olympic track athlete from the last century who is said to be the 9th best runner in US Olympic history. Building from this almost incalculably enormous life-advantage, Kardashian has achieved… well, nothing that anyone knows of. Apart from her perpetually new lines of fashion wear, lipstick, armpit wax, and scented bath towels (none of which have ever appeared in any store), Kardashian continues to not use her myriad unknown talents to keep herself in the spotlife of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and other places that I suspect are probably in California.
  • ·         Paris Hilton – I’m pretty sure she’s rich. Well, not her really, but someone in her family apparently is and it seems that she has a lot of access to this money. According to TV Guide, Paris (no relation to the town) has been featured on television programs that focused on her own ignorance of reality, morality, and practicality. This is fair enough since I must confess ignorance myself, albeit it my ignorance is of both her ignorance as well as of every other aspect of her life.
  • ·         Bobby Brown, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Kanye West – In spite of his fame, all that is known of this man is that he has a drug problem, may or may not have spent time in prison or rehab, and supposedly has something to do with “rap music” (which I am told is something like music, only without instruments, melody, harmony, or music). Wait… hold on… OK, I’ve just been informed that these are actually three different people. My bad.
  • ·         Ryan Seacrest – Of all of the people on this list, Ryan Seacrest is the most notable for being the name I have heard in TV and radio the most often and yet somehow remaining an absolute enigma. Initially, I suspected he had gained fame for hosting the reality show Survivor, but as it turns out that’s another guy who is even less important than Seacrest. A quick Google search made it clear that Seacrest is most likely famous for having stolen Howdy Doody’s grin.
  • ·         Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton – This time I am aware that these two are completely separate individuals (for whatever that’s worth). Both claim the title “Reverend”, though at no time has either ever been seen in a church, much less seen delivering a sermon. Somewhat mysteriously, both have also been elected “black leaders”. Those with this title apparently serve for life since neither have ever been known to engage in a re-election campaign. In fact, even more peculiarly, neither was ever elected to the office of “black leader” in the first place. Exhaustive research (yet to be undertaken) has revealed that the source of the fame for each of these individuals is that they decided one day that they wanted to be famous in order to be taken seriously, which has in fact caused some people to actually take them seriously. (No, seriously.) Somehow, the press has gone along with this self-declared fame and has worked tirelessly to help perpetuate the myth that anyone gives a darn about either of these two idiots. The lesson to be learned here is that in order to be famous, all one must do is show up uninvited to any newsworthy event and start running one’s mouth about things one knows nothing about.
  • ·         Snooki – No one knows what her real name is. In fact, no one knows what a Snooki is either. The venue for this person’s fame is a bit more clear than some others on this list, namely that she was on a TV show entitled “Jersey Shore.” However, no one knows what this show was about or what Snooki’s role in it was since no one has ever watched it (at least no one has ever admitted to watching it). It may not be completely accurate to say that this person is famous since, now that I have given it some thought, I can’t think of a single thing to say about her other than that you and I have both heard her name, and more than once. But why???

Friday, March 8, 2013

Prisoner of Inertia

I was reminded today of a story of one of our old rabbit pets that might make you laugh. We have a two story house with the bedrooms on the second floor. The rabbit had free reign of the 1st floor, but we tried to keep her from going upstairs. However, as rabbits are wont to do, she eventually found a way to sneak past our safeguards and scale the stairs. However, when she finally decided to come back down she realized she hadn't a clue how to DESCEND stairs. She stood there at the top of the stairs staring down at us and trying to figure out just how to go about coming back down. 

At this point, I will say that the rabbit *did not get hurt* so I feel it is not inappropriate to laugh at what finally did transpire. 

After reaching one hesitant paw down onto the next step and withdrawing it a couple times, she ultimately decided upon a course of action: Her plan, we realized in horror, was to run as fast as she could zig-zagging down the stairs. Unfortunately, this resulted in an utter loss of control as inertia seized her little body and she cascaded, half-tumbling down the stairs, crashing into the left and right hand walls like a pinball all the way down. 

She arrived at our feet dazed and confused and resolute never to go upstairs again. Until the next time she did so. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

So (don't you just love when people start a story with "so"?)... 

I'm lying next to Ben in his bed this evening telling him a bedtime story. When I finish, he informs me that he has a story to tell as well. He begins to tell me about how Spider-Man was living with this one particular family in a house in the jungle and how Spider-Man would sometimes make the family mushrooms to eat.

Then he starts saying how cold it was outside and how the family was cold. Next he starts talking about the *air pressure* of all things. I can't quite follow him, but it starts to dawn on me that my four year old apparently has theories about how air pressure is related to temperature. I'm flabbergasted as he goes on and on in his own words about how they needed the air pressure to warm the air up to a more comfortable temperature. I'm lying there thinking my son is a genius.

Then tells me that the family had two, one upstairs and one downstairs to make it warmer.

"Two what?" I ask, puzzled.

"Air pressers," he says.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pompous Circumstances

Last night's Superbowl Halftime show was the most out of control bit of self-worship I've ever seen. Beyonce (if that is her real name) is marginally talented, sure. (Name three of her songs, if you can; I know I can't.) She's very pretty, but frankly she doesn't need me to like her because clearly she likes herself more than enough for both of us. From the huge lit up profile of herself that appeared at the beginning of the show, to the video effects of multiple images of herself dancing with herself, the entire show from start to finish was one long (very, very long) demonstration of just how much she thinks about herself.

If I'm ever invited to someone else's party, a party that is being thrown for the express purpose of determining a world champion and then celebrating their victory, I highly doubt that the time I'm allotted during that party will be eaten up with a hubris-riddled scene of me demonstrating how awesome I think I am. I hope I'd have the sense to offer what I could to the celebration and then go take my seat and shut up.

You can only take so much of someone's crotch (and that's not much) before you want to ask them to please put it away because it's frightening the children. Dressing up like a puttana and having 30 paid "friends" dress up just like you and dancing around you isn't a chorus line, it's conceit. Get a grip on yourself and reel your fat head in before it floats away.

Not only was the whole affair not entertaining, it was extremely uncomfortable to watch. Go stand in a corner and think about what you did.

Next Superbowl, instead of having some overpaid and under-talented fool parade their legs around and make eyes at the camera for 20 minutes showing us all how great they think they are, why don't we have some wounded veterans stand up at the 50 yard line and tell us why they love their country and what we ought to be teaching our kids to make them love theirs too?