Friday, December 14, 2012

Fight Cowardice with Courage

Naturally, the events in Newtown, Connecticut have loosed a torrent of emotions in the media and the social media-sphere.  I'm not here to address those specifically.  I am only here to share my thoughts personally. Some of them were, admittedly, sparked by reactions on my FB and Twitter.  I am not intending to offend anyone, but I'm also not going to censor my thoughts when it comes to the senseless, heartbreaking shooting.

First, I am beyond heartbroken.  Every time I get to thinking about those parents who have to deal with this at what should be such a joyous time when you have elementary age kids, I damn near cry.  Columbine was devastating.  This is beyond anything I've ever imagined.  It's also more profoundly affected me than I thought it would.  Any loss of life is tragic in a situation like this (the Oregon mall shooting earlier this week, for example), but I have a soft spot for kids of any age, especially elementary school.

It is not my place to speculate about the wheres or whys of the shooter's mental health.  If the Columbine Tragedy in 1999 taught us anything, it's that there are people out there who aren't right, and we may never know that.  This shooter may have never given any indication of mental illness, and may, in fact, have never been diagnosed had he seen a therapist.  He also may have not have any detectable mental illness and made a conscious, pre-meditated decision.  Either way, it is not my place, nor anyone else's who does not know him (them?) to speculate.

It seems whenever this type of event occurs, the discussion about guns comes out.  I wish this conversation could happen when it's not so emotionally charged, but events in the second half of this year have shown us that a real discussion needs to be had on the issue.  I am in favor and support of the Second Amendment.  I am not well enough versed to speak to the accessibility of "black market" arms, but I also don't understand why the average person has any need to possess an assault rifle type of weapon.  I intend to own firearms one day (soon, but that has nothing to do with recent events, I have just always wanted to be proficient with a handgun and have it just in case), but only for the protection of my family.  An assault rifle seems unnecessary for that.  It also seems unnecessary for hunting.

Teachers should not carry firearms in the classroom.  Period.  I understand the debate here, but I've been fortunate enough to be blessed with this career, and I will protect these kiddos at the cost of my own life if need be.  However, I don't EVER want to have another person's death on my head.  I also don't have the training or capacity to make that call about whether or not another person's life should be ended.  I have many great friends who are police officers and military personnel, or have been one of them, and they are trained for making that call.  I am not.  I don't want to be.  I will do everything in my power to protect the life of the people in my building, but taking the life of another is not in my power, nor do I want it to be.

This is the hardest truth in all of this to me: 20 elementary school students lost their lives at school today. 20 years ago, we never would have imagined security guards and metal detectors in schools.  The School Resource Officer was reserved for high schools, and was a borderline figurehead there, giving anti-drug speeches and helping students who'd locked themselves out of their cars.  Now even teachers have to know how to respond to this type of crisis.  My prayers, my fervent prayers, go to those people whose whole lives were flipped upside down in Connecticut today.

Finally, we have to fight cowardice with courage.  As FDR said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  Being afraid allows us to be victims.  It's what the bullies feed off of.  We cannot be afraid to bring new life into this world.  We cannot be afraid to send them to school.  It's a scary place, but we can change that by bringing children into homes full of love, encouragement, and strength and instilling them with those values as they go into their interactions in the world.  We've gradually become afraid.  We're afraid of offending, afraid of overstepping our bounds, afraid of being seen as different from the status quo.  What if we courageously espoused our values without judging others whose values are different?  What if we stood by what we believe in, but with an open mind so as to appreciate and learn from others?  What if we went out feeling empowered and courageous, instead of timid and frightened?

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Games We Play

I got to thinking the other day about the silly games and rules we had growing up.  I got to thinking about this because I was on my way home from (random) drive thru and almost dibsed the bag fries.  To no one.  I was alone in the car and immediately reverted to being the driver in high school.  The... inconvenience..? of driving led to us creating the rule that the driver got the bag fries.  I was in college before I realised that not everyone followed the same rules we did in high school.  We also made up countless games.  Those rules/games included:

Shotgun rules
You had to be within sight of the car before you called shotgun, otherwise it was null and void.  Also, you could call seniority once a day if you were older (time in the friendship didn't matter) than the person who'd called shotgun.  Unless that person was RJ in my car, or me in RJ's car.  We had permagun.  In fact, I still outrank his wife, and he my fiance.  Yeap, we've CERTAINLY grown since high school.  Also, I still get gun in RJ's car.  No matter what.
Music rules
The driver picks the music.  Period.  This one led to controversy on more than one occasion if people's musical tastes were too different.
Don't Hit the Blue Pipe
This only came up once.  We were taking Ben Vinson home.  Along 111th north of Arapahoe in Lafayette, it was dirt at the time, and they were laying pipe to run water up toward the new developments going in near Erie.  I had a sporty car.  Wait, no, I drove a Buick Park Avenue, but it was a dirt road, and I knew how to get a little bit sideways with it.  As we're approaching 70 mph, I start swerving, hoping to get the rear end a little loose.  Well, I did. We had joked earlier in the drive that the only rule was to not hit the blue pipe.  Welp, as I am CLEARLY out of control at 70 mph, Ben screams, "DON'T HIT THE BLUE PIPE!"  You'll be happy to know I didn't.  I got the car stuck in the ditch on the other side of the road.  I thought for sure I was dead (at my dad's hand in the near future).  Next car over the hill?  Chevy 1-ton with a chain.  Pulled me right out.  I told mom and dad 10 years ago.
Woogie Ball/Wet and Wild Woogie Baseball
Let's be honest, RJ, Jay, Brian, and I are guilty for most of these stories and games, but that's what lifelong friendships are made of!  I cannot tell you the entire origin story (RJ, B, Jay, please fill my readers in in the comments section) in it's entirety, but I know the necessary components are a tee ball bat and a kickball. Oh, and three-four players.  Without too much detail (as I don't want this to get too long) the batter gets ten contacts.  They have to be solid (forward or a catchable foul).  If it flies over the fence, it's two runs.  If it bounces, one run.  The outfielder(s) can do anything in their power to prevent the ball from going over the fence.  It was perfect because we only needed three total people to play!  The game was so named because when you hit a kickball with a tee ball bat, it shudders in and out (woobie-woobie-woobie), but woobieball is too damn hard to say, thus woogie.  One summer day, we were bored with slip and slide, and it was too hot for woogie.  Suddenly, a wild idea appeared to our heads.  Wet and wild woogie baseball.  All the joy of woogieball (Same basic rules) combined with baseball's rules.  The special rule is that you HAD to slide from third to home on the slip and slide.  And kickball rules were in effect, in that you could throw the ball at the runner, not just tag them.  It led to too many times where you'd be sliding, helpless, as a dead eye from the neighbor's yard throwing you out because you can't stop yourself terribly effectively on a slip and slide.
Party Rules
Before Hixson, Trevor and I went drinking, we had to do a double shot of Bacardi 151.  Death.  Awesome, vomitorious death.
Yellow Lights
If you were going through a yellow light, you had to kiss your hand, and tap the visor/ceiling of the car.
If you saw a car with a headlight out, you had to yell PADIDDLE!  Everyone else had to yell SEX!  The last person had to remove an article of clothing.  Yeah, this never happened when I was in the car.  I heard rumors, though.
Seat Pirate Rules
Whenever you leave the room, you have to dibs the seat or it's up for grabs.  However, you can pirate the seat whilst yelling "Yar!"  If the yar is not correctly timed, then you have to give up the seat.

Girls, I have to ask a question.  Almost everything I got from girls was "When you picked a (boy, celebrity, TV character, etc) none of your friends were allowed to pick that.  I thoroughly believe that grudges are still held from this rule being violated.  Guys, as soon as a girl showed interest, the others had to lament, but there was no "calling" the girl.  This led to some... we'll call them awkward moments the summer of 2001 thanks to Jungle Joe and I. SORRY DAVE!  We also had no rules regarding who we could have celebrity crushes on.  If a couple of guys had a crush on the same girl, the discussion was more the things we'd do to her, not the beginning of a grudge.

From the days before cable TV and a TV in every room: If you wanted to watch your show, you had to dibs the show and the TV as soon as you came into the room.  This is courtesy of Elise Graninger.

I have heard some of the most amazing quotes of late.
"I can star in a porn, but I can't get my wife pregnant." -I will keep this one anonymous.
"Yeah, I used to have stuff, too." -My future father-in-law as he was helping with my move
"What are the Mayans up to right now, anyway?"
"Stealing American jobs, right?" -My co-worker and I (sarcasm, please) talking about the prediction of the end of the world.

Anyway.  Any more stories about childhood debauchery/games/rules?  Add them in the comments section or on FB.  As always, thanks for reading!

Also, we will be in Colorado Thanksgiving - the Sunday after.  Not making promises, but would like to see lots of people.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Final Election Thoughts

I had NO intention of writing a blog on the elections, but I posted a status this morning, and it was FB status length, and I need to clarify and hopefully undo the way I may have offended some people.  I am not, however, backing down off of what I said earlier.

As the election went on, and this morning, some of my FB friends threatened to leave the country for Canada and/or London if their chosen candidate (usually Romney) lost the election.  To those people I said this morning, and I say again, good bye and (frankly) good riddance.  I'm sorry if this offends you, and I'll explain myself more later, but let that simmer.

That statement was not, however, directed at all, or exclusively, conservative voters.  No, only those people who are threatening to move elsewhere strictly because of an election.  I'll back that up again in a minute, too, but I have friends of all different leanings, and they're my friends because they believe what they believe, passionately, and are willing to back it up and fight for what they believe.  I love all of my conservative friends who stand for their beliefs as much as I love my liberal, moderate, etc. friends.  I did not call anyone anything besides selfish this morning, and that was only to a very small sect of people whose statuses on FB this morning (and in previous weeks) threatened to leave the country just because of the results of the election.  I also have a sneaky feeling that you'd be hugely disappointed when you landed in these foreign countries and discover that they are even more liberal than our current administration.

Now, here's why that fires me up so.  That is not an American idea, in my opinion.  We fought for this country in the latter part of the 18th century.  Excuse me, our forefathers fought for this country.  Don't bother me with nitpicky BS about why people originally settled here.  That doesn't change the fact that Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hancock, etc, fought against all odds to claim our independence from Great Britain.  If we're truly to honor our predecessors, then we shan't run off to another country because things didn't go our way.  We'd stay behind and fight (in a much more 21st century way) for what we believe in.  Make things "right" here.  Even if you can't change people's minds, change their lives.  Do good.  Stand up for what you believe.  My candidate didn't win, but I still love my country.  Like I said this morning, if you're going to leave, your patriotism is showing, and it's broken.  Patriots stay and fight.  Patriots will be honored on Sunday and Monday during Veteran's Day.

I did not call anyone an idiot or question anyone's intelligence this morning.  I am not saying I didn't mean to (I didn't mean to), I'm saying that I didn't.  You allowed yourself to be offended if I offended you, and I'll stick by that.  I offended people who aren't courageous enough to fight for what they believe.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Adventures in Automotive Acquisition

So, we are in Wood River, at Keya's parents' house.  We came straight here after picking up her new car.  She is now the proud owner of a beautiful 2009 Pontiac G6.  If you want the specs of the car, I'll be happy to share elsewhere.  I'm guessing most of my loyal readers (HAHA!  Reader) care not for such trifles.  Here's the deal, though.  There's a reason I stick with one dealer when I find one I like.  We looked at nearly every dealership between Grand Island and Council Bluffs.  That's not the part that threw me.  Now, this blog is in response to a couple of friends who wanted funny back in the blogs.  10-4.  File this one in both "If only you knew who you were talking to," as well as, "Did you really just say that s**t to me and expect me not to find out?"

I am doing my best to only repeat what was said to me/us.  I am not doing this to bad mouth a specific dealership or dealerships.  I am just sharing honestly.

First dealership - H&H Kia in O-town (Bro, don't lie to me):
Our salesman claimed to be a former Marine.  Now, he was built about like me.  I'm not saying he WASN'T a former Marine, but he neither looked or acted the part based on my experience with Marines.  Not the point.  While driving the car (A brand new Kia Forte), we were talking about this, that or the other.  I mentioned that I had seen very few USED Forte sedans, and he said they're hard to find based on the fact that they have a phenomenal warranty (Which is true.  10 yr/100,000 miles powertrain) and that they hadn't had one in quite some time.  Really, I think the reason is because the model's only been around since 2010.  However, he promised that if one came in, he'd call us.  As we re-mount my motorcycle, we realised we were parked right in front of a USED KIA FORTE WITH H&H plates!  WTF?!  Dude, seriously.  You BLATANTLY lied to me!  Now, it's possible that he didn't know, but there was no hesitation, no "I don't think we've had one for awhile," just a "No."
I had also asked him about any new 2012's still on the lot.  Nope.  They hadn't had one in over a month as the 2013's were coming in.  Upon returning to my place, I looked online and, low and behold, they had a 2012, brand new Kia Forte in stock.  WHAT THE HELL?!
Brandon had already lost me by this point, but then, a week later, they got a used Kia Forte Koup in stock.  Keya wasn't particularly interested in the Koup, but had mentioned that she'd drive one.  What does he go and do?  Schedule a test drive presumptively.  I.  You.  WHAT?  Never, NEVER in my life has THAT happened.  In other news... they'll be getting a politely worded, but anger-ridden email later.  I swore I'd never buy a car from them because their ads irritate me to no end.  Their salesman only helped re-assure me in that decision.  Don't lie to me, bro.

Second dealership - Anderson Auto Group in St. Joe, MO; Lincoln, NE; and Grand Island, NE (I was neither born at night, nor was I born last night):
Anderson was of particular interest to us because they have stores in both Grand Island (where her parents work and live 10 miles west) and in Lincoln (there are two stores there, and Keya lives there, I'm working there and soon to move there).  Browsing their website, I find a 2012 Ford Focus listed for 14,900 with an MSRP of just over 22,000.  OOOHH!!!  YES!  She was interested in the Focus, this store was in GI, her parents could go look at it.  YES!  DO IT!  I immediately emailed the store using the link on the website.  I get a message back fairly quickly.  The message said (in short, as I no longer have the message, and it was fairly verbose, as was my response) that they knew the car I was talking about, and indeed, it was still there, and that will all of the discounts it was 19k.  Wrote back and asked why it was listed at 14-9.  I didn't hear back and didn't hear back.  About a half hour later, I refreshed the page and magically, the price was 19k!  WHOA!  Welp, guess I brought that to their attention.  I expected a contrite, but gracious email telling me that they'd fixed the price and sorry for the confusion. No, NO!  That's not the choice this dealership made.  His email said that he'd checked the website and the price was, in fact, 19k, and he wasn't sure as to how I'd been confused, but he was sorry for the confusion.  I know this is getting old, but WHAT THE HELL?!  Seriously, dude?  Yeah, both my girlfriend and I (combined IQs somewhere north of 270) mistook a 4 for a 9.  Oh, did I mention I didn't receive this email for over 5 hours after my previous reply?!  (That last sentence makes me uncomfortable, but I want to you to share that with me, so I'm not changing it)  Yeah, 5 hours.  I wrote him back, letting him know I didn't like being treated like an idiot, that I'd bought WAY too many cars in my day to be treated like I didn't know anything.  I used as many big words as I knew/could look up on in the email to prove to him I'm all SMRT and junk.  I also told him that I'd have had a hell of a lot more respect for him if he'd just said, "You're right, thank you for bringing that to our attention, and we've fixed the problem."  The next day, he sent me an email saying that they must have fixed the problem over the weekend and it had taken 24 hours to update on the site.  Now, my computer friends out there, tell me if that's realistic that a car dealership with 4 stores wouldn't have the technology to instantly update the website.  I feel like it's too much of a coincidence that within a half hour of me bringing it to their attention, it then updated.  IDK.
ANYWAY, in spite of that, Anderson continued to come through with vehicles that were interesting to Keya.  I had time to kill between work and volleyball practice and ran over to their Lincoln North store to see what they had.  Saw a couple of cars I really liked and got to talking to a salesman who mentioned that they move cars between stores all the time.  I asked if there was a transfer fee, and he said no.  They had a couple Kia Fortes at their store in St. Joe's, Missouri and I knew those would be at the top of our list.  He indicated it wouldn't be a problem.  I had to run to volleyball.
The end of that same week (last week, then, I suppose) Keya had found two cars at the North store (still Anderson) she liked.  We went up to look at them and drove three cars, a 2010 Kia Optima, a 2010 Hyundai Sonata (they're the same car, different manufacturers) and saw this 2009 Pontiac G6 on the lot.  It turns out, it hadn't been on the website b/c they'd just taken it on trade.  We drove it.  It was great.  It's got 32,00 miles on it.  It's cherry.  It's her new car.  ANYWAY, the dealership in O where I bought my car from had a similar G6, and I wanted to look at it.  Nissan of Omaha has been phenomenal with the way they've treated me.  We scheduled a test drive of the G6 in O for the next morning (Then H&H Kia told us we had a scheduled test drive we'd not solicited.  It ended up being the same time as our test drive at Nissan of O).  We liked both G6s, but the one at Nissan of O had 11,000 more miles and the paint wasn't nearly as clean.
So, as the day goes on, we decide we definitely like the G6 from Anderson the best.  The saleswoman had been great so far, outside of the fact she told me I was wrong about Ford ever owning Mazda (they don't any more, but they did once upon a time).  Mikeal Hocevar, do I know my stuff? I looked it up.  DON'T ARGUE CAR STUFF WITH ME!  Sorry... side track.  So, I get on the phone with her to set up a "Plate and Pass" wherein we will get to borrow the car to drive to York to show Keya's parents.  She starts telling me that we should have the loan in Keya's name with her dad as a co-signer to help her build credit.  The difference in APR will only be like 7.99% vs. as low as 2.49%.  No, I don't think we're going to do that, I tell her.  It'd be a good idea, she says, and an easy way to help her build her credit (her credit's not bad, she has just always paid for things with cash).  I said it'd be as easy to get her a credit card she puts a small amount on every month and pays off every month.  This is a point of contention, I can tell.  I get to Lincoln, and she is working on the paperwork, including getting us some basics on financing, trade for the Neon, etc.  She again brings up the co-signing thing.  She shows me the difference over three years.  Yeah, it's $650 over three years difference (Not much! she says).  Yeah, lady...  $650 is a lot of money no matter how much time we're talking about.  I tell her, again, that we're not going to do that and she says (direct quote) that's the stupidest thing we can do.  I damn near walked, but it's a really nice car.  She pushed it, and pushed it, and pushed it.  Again, lady, I know how financing and APR work.  Admittedly, $650 over three years (less than $20) isn't a TON of money, but it's still money, and not the best way for us to do it.

On the other side, I will tell you that I wish I'd bought from Nissan of Omaha, but there was no way they could match the deal on this car.  It was amazing!  My boy at Nissan of O wanted us to buy his, but it just wasn't nearly as nice, was the same price, and had way more miles.  Oh, and Anderson gave us $300 more than Nissan offered us for the Neon.

Also, Duteau Chevy in Lincoln has a really great salesman named Tom who probably is part of the reason we bought the G6.  We drove a Malibu down there, and the fact that Keya liked it so much is a big part of the reason we looked closely at the G6.

Okay, that's it.  I hope it's funnier!!! ;-)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tell me all your Thoughts

I've been ruminating this one for quite awhile.  I've been ruminating this one because a) it sounds nothing like the me that moved from Colorado and b) a LOT of my friends will disagree.  I'm open to it, and I'll listen to your impassioned disagreements, so long as you're willing to listen to mine, and you've read the entirety of this blog.

For those of you who expected a religion-themed post from me... I'm shocked.  I'm shocked that you expected it.  Me in 2010, I'd have been shocked.  Me in 2012?  I'm more than comfortable talking about my beliefs.  They haven't changed dramatically since my move.  It's more that I've actually spent time thinking about it and realise that the words that I've always had are fine.  I don't have to use "proper" words to express and defend my beliefs.  My beliefs are built with my words.

Unexpected side rant - Why do we have to defend our beliefs?  Unless my (your) beliefs are hurting someone else, live and let live!  I cannot, and will not here, defend the actions of many Christians and Christian groups in God's name.  Nor will I address the atrocities committed by many extreme groups of other faiths, Islam being the example most readily available.  I won't address either of those, because those people represent such a small portion of their respective faiths, that I think I've already given too many words relative to the size of this post.  That being said, I have so many friends of so many different of so many different faiths who are wonderful people, that I get sick of the idea that we have to defend our spirituality.  Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist, Pagan, Jew, anyone else who I'm forgetting, let's just acknowledge that we all believe differently.  If you want to explain your beliefs to me, great!  I'll be happy to explain mine to you, and where they've come from.  If, however, you want to belittle me or mock me for being a Christian, I'm done.  I will pay you the same courtesy and not mock your faith.  I'm sick of people calling Christians stupid in particular.  My IQ is well over 130.  My Faith is based on life experiences and conversations with God, not ignorance or naivete.

God.  I invite my friends of other faiths to replace that word with your deity (or deities), the world, the fates, or the word "coincidence."  In thinking on this, I've been trying to decide if there are coincidences in the world.  Does crazy s**t just happen, or is it part of His grand design?  Honestly, I think there still have to be coincidences (this morning, when I'd decided to write this today, my answer would have been no).  Free Will is the basis of Original Sin.  God gave us Free Will knowing full well that we'd blow it.  Almost immediately.  We did that, very nicely.  In Deuteronomy, God says we'll forsake him(31:16).  He knew.  He gave us the gift of Free Will anyway.  My relationship with God is stronger because I chose to walk with Him.  He loves us, even when we don't love him (like our parents!).  That being said, I have a hard time seeing a lot of coincidences.  The BIG things in my life?  I just wasn't listening.  I could list the things since I've moved here, but I won't bore you.  The biggest things of late, Markeya and Lincoln?  God's been loud.  I moved here for a reason, and I listened when he suggested this to me.  I'm glad I did, as I've been very happy here (I still want to come back, don't worry).  It's renewed and revitalised me and is still doing so in ways I didn't think it would.

I also started listening.  I have not asked Him to show Himself to me.  Thank goodness, because, as Father Mark said this morning, you have to be careful if you do, He might just show up!  Not just trying to read the signs that God put in front of me, but also asking for him to talk directly to me.  He doesn't always do it, but it's remarkable when he actually does.  My key has not been asking for things, but telling Him that I'm listening.  He wants us to be happy and successful.  He gives us the tools.  Look in the previous paragraph (that's an imperative sentence, kids).  He gave us Free Will.  We have to do the right things with those tools.  I've effed up repeatedly.  My life's not always been great.  He was, probably, sad when that happened.  I can't say that for sure, but I'd imagine He was sad.  I'm trying to make him happy now.  He knows I won't always do it.

One of my players last year drew it out for me.  We started one of my (to that point) most uncomfortable conversations because the Westboro Baptist Church was protesting at a high school in Iowa we drove past. Balls (her nickname, and I've never met a girl who was farther from her nickname) asked me about my faith... and I talked... a little.  She talked a lot.  A bit of background.  This girl is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.  She's also naive to the world, to a point, and is incredibly forgiving.  She sees nothing but good and does nothing but good.  She is devout.  She is, in almost every way, what you would picture if I told you she's 20 years old, grew up in a small midwestern town, and is devoutly Christian.  What she said was NOT what I expected.  She tries to live a Pious life.  She tries to do exactly what God would ask.  Her words?  She can't.  She will never be able to live up to His expectations.  She's not perfect.  She sins daily.  He knows she will.  He sent Jesus because of that.  Jesus died for sins committed and yet to be.  I don't live a perfect life, by any means.  I am, however, making fewer mistakes than I used to.  I still cuss, drink, have the occasional cigar and FREQUENT unclean thoughts.  I'm working on it.  He's talking to me.  He forgives me because He loves me, and I love Him.  I don't pray for everything every night.  I do, however, always tell Him of my gratitude for the plethora of ways He has blessed me.  I am in awe and humbled by His power, His grace, His benevolence, and His goodness!

By way of a disclaimer, I am not, nor will I ever be, a creationist.  I am still scientific-minded and see the logic in things like Evolution and the many and varied scientific theories and proofs out there.  Fundamentally, I don't think I've really changed.  I've been a Christian for quite some time, but am more confident in my beliefs.  I found a church I love with a priest and congregation that is just wonderful.  I was asked to participate in a prayer group, and I'm glad that I did.  Really, all it did was make me more comfortable as a Christian.  Knowing that I didn't have to know, that's not a key.  Knowing that the most important part of this faith is love and gratitude for Him.  I try to show Him I love Him, and will do my best to lead others to him.  I'm not here to demand others follow Him, but if you ask the way, I'll do my best to show you.  I'm here because He wants me here.

Want to know more?  Just ask.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Negative Ghost Rider

Negativity.  I'm over it.  It's everywhere.  I've tried to live my life with a fairly positive outlook, and approach everything optimistically.  I know I'm not always perfect with it (sometimes things just go awry).  I also have to admit, as I go through this blog, that I've been guilty of many of these things, and I likely will be again.  For that, I am sorry for past and future transgressions.  Let's be real, I'm not perfect.

I also want to be clear in saying that no one person or one incident has prompted this blog.  It's kinda the amalgamation of many posts on facebook, and stories from people I know both directly and second and third person.  I'm not calling anyone out.  I supposed this could be seen as somewhat passive-aggressive, and I know some of you will feel like I'm talking directly to you.  I am not.  I. AM. NOT!  I just realised that in writing this blog I am partaking in a bit of negativity.  I'm not trying to be negative, but I am venting.

Let's be real, we all think we're right.  Of course I think that in posting these, I am helping people by guiding them toward, maybe, a bit more positivity.  I love my life.  Bad s#*t happens to me from time to time.  Occasionally I feel like it's my fault, and occasionally I feel like I'm a victim of circumstance, but in my head, I always felt like it would work out in the end.  There's a saying that goes when God closes a door, he opens a window (or when one door closes, another opens).  I've tried to live by this mantra, and it's always worked for me (it was never harder than when waiting for a job offer over this past summer).

We all have that friend (or more than one) who never seems content at work.  It's always a boss who's out to get them, or a co-worker that's clearly sabotaging them.  We've all had terrible bosses.  We've all worked with those guys (or gals) who seem to be out for no one but themselves.  It's so easy in those situations to run away or delegate blame to someone else.  I realise it's so easy to quit, but then the cycle seems to begin anew.  You find a job you like at first, rave about it to your friends, and then within a couple of months... a co-worker's out to get you, or your boss gives you more work or is more critical of you.  Often times, this person doesn't go to the boss to simply ask, "Why?" or, "What can I do to fix this?", this person sits and stews and complains to co-workers.  It's hard to shoulder blame, especially when it's hard to find how you could be to blame.  However, looking at it as a means for improvement, rather than simply bailing seems to make it better...

The other thing that's bothered me for a long time (and I have DEFINITELY been guilty of) is deciding how terrible something (especially a sequel to a movie/book or a follow-up album) is, and then telling people who like that that they're of a lesser intelligence than you because they like it.  WHAT?!  I LOVED "The Dark Knight Rises."  I have friends and acquaintances on facebook who love it, and many who hate it.  Oddly... no one who's apathetic.  Point being, my opinion differs from you.  Additionally, I don't have to compare its merits to its predecessor.  Admittedly, the later Harry Potter books didn't hold up to Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone, but book seven was still excellent.  I'm not going to change anybody's mind here, I realise, but it's the same problem I have with political discourse in the country.  Do we forget that others have different opinions and can?!  Before this becomes a Liberal-Conservative debate, let's be clear... everyone is guilty of this in at least some capacity.  It makes others feel AWFUL when you put your foot down with the "I'm right, you're wrong" stance.  This is not arguing that some facts are facts and aren't really open for debate, but many things (my feelings on "The Dark Knight Rises", for example) are a matter of opinion.  If you're going to be one of those people whose opinion cannot be changed, and you belittle others whose opinions differ from yours, you'll gradually find yourself lonely.  I have cut a metric ton of those people out of my life in the last decade, and am glad I don't feel the need to do that again.

Okay, I wasn't going to admit this, but I suppose I will.  What really, really precipitated me finally getting these thoughts down on (virtual) paper is the fact that this weekend is the Bristol night race in Tennessee.  Yeah, NASCAR.  The newer generation of fans has pissed and moaned about the racing recently.  Admittedly, there have been more long runs under green, but there's been good passing, and great racing.  You know what's missing?  WRECKS!  I have to admit, yeah, the wrecks are exciting, but frankly I was more excited to watch Jr. go under Jeff Gordon to make it four wide at Michigan last week.  I REALLY loved watching Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose race as hard as I've ever seen anyone race at Watkins Glen the week before.  They bumped, yeah, the leaned on each other (as Keselowski put it) but they raced HARD.  Had one of them wrecked (as Kyle Busch unfortunately did.  It'd have been a hell of a race with three of the greatest drivers in the world fighting for that position) and had their car disabled, and the caution thrown... we'd have been deprived of that.  Be honest.  If you LOVE wrecks, tell us.  Don't call it "bad racing".

Okay...  Like I said, I've been guilty of many of these things.  I apologise to anyone who's been offended by something I said.  I want to re-state that there is no one person who I am thinking of as I write this.  It's just some stuff that's been weighing on my mind for the last bit.  Thank you all, again, for reading.  I'm more than open to discourse through facebook, twitter, or email- on any topic.  Take care of yourselves!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Regarding Gun Control

The internet has given me a platform.  Posts on FB throughout today have given me fodder.  Here I go blogging for the second time today.  

Number one, I am not for criminalizing guns.  As a matter of fact, I happen to think that the level of gun control in this country is fairly appropriate.  Events like happened 24 hours ago in Aurora tend to get both sides of the issue to raise their voices.  Honestly, this individual went through appropriate, and (as far as has been reported to this point) legal channels to obtain his weapons.  How he got the ballistics gear he had, I don't know, but nonetheless, tighter firearms regulations are not the answer.

I've seen a few postings on my FB news feed declaring that if they'd been in that theater, they'd have been packing because they have their CCP (Concealed Carry Permit).  Claims were made that they would have been able to return fire and lessen the casualties.  Really?

Let's paint a picture.  It's a dark movie theater.  You're already caught up in the adrenaline that you (like me) have been waiting years to see.  You're heart rate's already high.  You find yourself more fidgety than normal because DANG, this movie is even better than you'd imagined, or at the very least, you're getting to see it first.  As the action builds in the movie to a climax, someone bursts in an exit door and throws in what turns out to be a tear gas container.
Your first thought is that this is a cool promotion by the theater, or a harmless prank, but then you hear gunshots which are somewhat concealed by the fact that this is a state-of-the-art theater with the latest and greatest sound system.  Oh, and the scene on screen happens to contain gunfire.  HUNDREDS of people are now trying to protect themselves.  They are knocking things into you, or knocking into you themselves.  Fog from a nearby canister clouds your vision on top of your eyes' natural defense mechanism, tears.  
In the screaming and chaos, you decide to return fire because you're packing.  Your CCP training prepared you for this.  The adrenaline coursing through your body causes your hands to be more unsteady than you can ever remember.  On top of that, you lost sight of the shooter in the chaos and he's dressed in black.  In a dark movie theater.  Now, every person in black is a suspect.  Who do you shoot?  Even if you can get a bead, what if an innocent bystander trying to escape suddenly pops up or crosses your path as your finger squeezes off that first, fatal round?  The fog is starting to clear, but there are people every where.  Chaos is an understatement.  Unless you've been in that situation (and let's be very clear, I have not), you have no idea.  It's a mass of bodies, and screaming, and people, and debris.  In the theater last night, the floor was slick with soda, food, and blood.  


I know our military and law enforcement are trained for these types of situations.  I don't know what protocol would be, but it seems like there are too many innocent lives at risk in this particular situation.  

One of my buddies asked me today if I thought that teachers should be allowed to carry in schools.  I don't.  There are various and sundry reasons for this, and it's possible that a teacher with a firearm might have prevented some casualties in some of the horrendous tragedies that have taken place around this country.  It's also possible that a teacher's firearm could have been responsible for many more.  That's not really the reason I'd be against it.  My opposition comes from the idea that a teacher would have to make the decision on when to pull the trigger.  We are in the classroom to improve the lives of those we come in contact with, not (possibly) end one.  I don't want the responsibility on my head of making the choice to either seriously injure or kill another human being.  Ever.

I intend to own a firearm some day and will most likely get a CCP.  That's for the protection of my family.  In that theater last night, the best thing for the protection of my family (based on witness accounts from various newscasts today) would have been to get down and out of sight.  I can't do that if I'm trying to shoot back.  Frankly, I am glad that some people have that fight reflex, and I'm glad that they're friends of mine.  However, it seems mighty cavalier to think that you might be the one who saved all those lives.  

In this time, I'll be praying for those who have been affected.  I ask that you do the same.  I withdraw my earlier request for prayer for James Holmes.  It was a spiteful, mean thing to say.  Pray for the people whose lives were, and still will be, irrevocably changed by the choices of this young man.

Praying for Aurora

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy.  I include families and friends of the dead and injured as victims, as their lives are forever and tragically changed.  I will also pray for the "alleged" (I hate that we use that word when he turns himself in with blood on his hands) perpetrator, but only that he realise the full gravity of what he's done.  I do not ask for forgiveness for his soul, I just pray for him to come to terms with what he's done.  I pray for HIS family.  This is not their fault.  Whatever you believe, please pray for the people whose lives are affected by the choices of this man.

Why Colorado?  Why do we have to set the precedent for these things?  Columbine was the deadliest school shooting for a long time.  Now this attack on movie goers in Aurora.  My heart hurts for the people who went to see this movie at The Town Center at Aurora yesterday.  I wanted to go to the midnight showing here, but didn't get to it.   Much like when Alana, Alex, many other friends and I watched the midnight of Harry Potter 7, I want to have a Batman movie marathon before I see The Dark Knight Rises.

My good friend Mikeal Hocevar and I have some experience, some familiarity, with that particular mall.  Mike was the store manager at the Finish Line store in that mall.  We opened that store with him and we also released the original Jordan Defining Moments package.  Some of the customers of that store were scary.  Parts of Aurora are dangerous.  Ironically, parts of Aurora are incredibly affluent.  Only once in my life did I think I was going to get shot.  It was in Aurora, however it wasn't at the mall.  While neither of us can be sure, both Mike and I are pretty sure that the dude who was confronting us had his hand on the butt of a gun under his coat.  There are a series of circumstances the lead to this conclusion and I won't go into them on here.  I'm really just trying to paint a picture of Aurora for those who don't know it.

Aurora is the third most populous city in Colorado behind Denver and Colorado Springs.  It is a suburb of Denver, on the east-southeast side of the metro area.  It has grown positively in the last 10 years.  Aurora has a reputation for being full of gangs and gang bangers.  Many who know of Aurora, but don't live there, would tell you that being outside after dark in the town is unsafe.  I have to be honest, compared to a few of the towns I've been through, it's not terrible, but not great.  I lived in Denver for a year, but was less than a quarter mile from the line between Aurora and Denver.  I heard sirens 2-3 nights a week.  We lived in a beautiful gated community.

I am not a psychologist, and I have very little knowledge of psychology.  The gunman seems to have many indications of psychopathy.  This is another reason why my mind has drawn so many parallels to the attack on Columbine High School in 1999.  Fortunately (?), this person was caught and can be questioned.  If his mental health is as fragile as is being hypothesized, we may never know the answers.

A big part of me wants to treat this like a terrorist attack.  This person acted alone and it seems it was totally random.  There is no appearance that this is a wider conspiracy against people choosing to see this movie.  I will still see this movie, and I hope everyone else who wanted to see it will go see it, too.

This is a bit disjointed.  Prayers for the families affected by this.  Be safe, tell your loved ones you love them.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Challenge Accepted

So, I've come to the realisation that I've gone away from the original intent of this blog, to keep you up to date on my life in Omaha.  Well, once again, I've been inspired to write a blog, and it's nothing to do with the goings on in my life.  However, that'll happen at the end of this blog.

I spent 9 amazing days in Colorado.  I started in Grand Lake with Keya, my mom and dad, and Jeff and Abby.  We had a freakin' blast.  I got to waterski, something I've not done almost two years.  It was... cold. Shadow Mountain Reservoir is COLD.  I got to do it though.  The second part of this trip was working the Total Player Camp at Regis University.  Now, I could easily spend time talking in depth about the camp, but the stated goals of the camp are what got me thinking about challenges.  We want to teach them skills, get them better, help them have fun, and challenge the campers/players who spend the four days with us.  My group had a wide variety of abilities.  My background and experience as a teacher allows me to take each camper where they are and help them improve, but my experience with a camp in June had told me that wasn't what they wanted.  I was encouraged to ask these girls to perform skills they didn't have the fundamental skills for.  (That sentence is awkwardly worded)  As I was winding down camp, I thought about the ways we challenged the athletes we were working with.

Honestly, at a lot of camps, there is an athlete or two that I want to buy piano lessons for.  Not everyone has what it takes to be an athlete.  I don't say that to be mean, I say that honestly because we all have abilities that make us more capable in certain arenas.  I, for example, am not terribly artistic (and that's being generous) whereas my brother is.  My strengths lie in instructing learners and athletes. That being said, I had at least one (really more like three) in a group of 12 that probably should look at music and drama rather than athletics.  At the other end of my group, I had girls who had played club volleyball and had been instructed by many (I assume) talented coaches.  I had to push some girls in the very basics.  I had to challenge them to perform in a way most of us in volleyball take for granted, they're things we tend to do without thinking.  These athletes found themselves challenged physically to perform not only in isolation, but later in camp in 4-on-4 and 6-on-6 competition with these skills that they'd just mastered earlier that week.  At the same time, I challenged my more experienced players (4/12 in my group) intellectually.  They were tasked to be positive, encouraging leaders with players who were far below their level and were often negatively affecting the outcome of their points, games, and matches.  I was incredibly proud of three of the four of them, they rose to the occasion.  Sadly, the fourth wore her disappointment on her sleeve during team play, and made it hard for her team mates to have the courage to test their newly acquired skills.  While mostly I was so happy with the four days worth of work we put in, it's illustrative of how challenges aren't always explicitly stated, but situations are presented to us regularly and we get to decide how we handle them.

It all got me thinking about the ways I've been challenged in my life.  By and large, I feel like I've responded well, if not always appropriately, to all the challenges.  I'm really thinking of my life since I left Fireside Elementary.  Ultimately, it's been moving to Nebraska that's been the high point of this challenge.  They say that God never gives us more than we can handle.  Let's be honest, I've lived a pretty charmed life.  Then I got to thinking about it.  Have I?  One of the speakers at the camp (and I'm paraphrasing here) said that we make our own luck.  I think that's true.  I've worked hard to be where I am professionally.  I have made good connections that have helped, but those only take you so far.  I've definitely felt a challenge from God of late.  It's been everything from my personal to my professional life.  Most recently, it was when I had planned a trip to Okoboji with Keya and her sister, Meredy.  The day before the trip, I find out I have an interview in Lincoln on Thursday (we were at Boji Wed-Fri).  What'd I do?  Drove to Boji, left Boji at 5:30 Thursday morning for my interview in Lincoln.  Oh, it's 4 hours from Okoboji to Lincoln.  I interviewed and drove back.  We played.  I told Keya it was the best interview I'd ever had.  I got the job.  It was awesome.

When we're young, we're challenged daily by parents, teachers, and coaches.  As we age, our relationship with our parents changes to the point that they don't necessarily challenge us as overtly as when we were little.  Hopefully, the lessons they taught us start to pay off.  Sometime between the ages of 16 and 25, we no longer have teachers challenging as we move on from our school days, save those of us who return for advanced degrees, or schooling to advance our careers.  A very few of us end up having a career with a coach, so by the time we hit the "real world,"  the dynamic changes.  That authority figure who challenges us is almost always our boss/manager.  Often, this person challenges us in a way that causes us to be defensive or shut down.  They have a lot of people they are responsible for, and not enough time.  They often aren't great with relationships, and don't take time to see how we should best be challenged.  In that case, we have to challenge ourselves.  Think about your friends who've advanced their careers and reached the goals they'd set for themselves when they were young.  Are they self-starters?  Are you challenging yourself everyday?  And I don't just mean at work.  If we're going to be happy in our lives, personally and professionally, we have to challenge ourselves to be better, to do better, than we would have done that morning.  I'm not saying this to brag on myself or say that I'm a prime example (by and large, I'm DEFINITELY not).  It just seems to me that the most satisfied people aren't just people who love what they do, but people who push themselves to be better.  They make mistakes and rise from them.  They even find challenging bosses and co-workers as just that, challenges.  When faced with a challenge, they attack it.  I spent three days in June feeling like the coach who was running the camp was breathing down my neck, like I couldn't do anything right.  This camp?  I compromised what I thought was right with (not FOR, but WITH, an important distinction) what he wanted for the campers.  He left me alone and was happy with my work, and I was satisfied with my results.

I also didn't intend this post to be advisory to you, my loyal readers.  It just kind of evolved into it.  Again, find little places to challenge yourself.  Date someone you'd never have looked at before, do the job before the boss sees it.  Don't push for credit, credit will come.  If you're not feeling challenged, challenge yourself.  You'll be surprised with the results.  Look more closely at barriers and obstacles, they may just be challenges issued by God or the universe that'll lead to wonderful things.  I have to be honest, I never could have dreamed that this move would have been so fruitful.  I also thought I'd be done with teaching.  As it turns out, God brought me here for a reason, and teaching was part of the reason.  Part of the reason I'm SO excited about the move to Lincoln is the fact that Markeya will be there, as she starts school in mid-August and UNL.  We will not only be two hours closer (as we originally thought), but in the same city.  As it stands right now, hopefully about a mile apart.  We're both rather excited.

On to the update.  I guess the only thing missing from this is the fact that I will also be working with Calvin Jones, former Husker great, writing for his website,  Okay, I THINK I'm going to be doing that.  It's not for sure yet, but we have a verbal agreement in place.  It's a long story that I'm happy to share later.  I may also do some sales for him to help supplement my income.  In case you're wondering, I will be commuting from O-town to Linc for a few months because I have to finish this lease here, or it will get expensive... fast.  I would owe an extra month's rent as I moved in under a special that included a free month's rent.

Okay, I'm off to check on Micah and Dan's dogs.  Don't worry if you don't know who they are, it's Keya's sister and brother-in-law.  They live less that 10 minutes from me.  Enjoy the rest of this summer, and STAY COOL!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

This One's for the Girls

I won't spend too much time telling you where this one came from.  I have a feeling many of you will sort that out without my help.  The realisation struck me this week that I've not necessarily kept this blog in the spirit I originally intended it.  Really, the original intent was kind of a news stream of what's going on in my life.  I know there's still some of that here, but It's also become a venting ground for my ramblings and meditations. I am anticipating posting a couple more in relatively short order, as I've had a lot of time to think and reflect on a lot of things.

Back to the heart of this particular post, this one's for the girls.  Basically what I'm doing is giving insight while at the same time imploring you all to look at us differently.  Guys, feel free to read on and (either on facebook or in the comments section of this blog) post agreements or disagreements.  For the first time, I'm admitting that I'm more like most guys than unlike them.  I may be revealing some deep secrets of the guy book (I haven't referenced my copy of the Bro Code), but I hope that maybe, MAYBE we'll make it easier for us to sort each other out.

Girls, I realise we suck some times.  I get that we can be jerks (Also, trying to keep the language on this blog PG as best as I can).  and seem inconsiderate.  While in the age range of 16-24 (or so), some of us are intentionally.  You make us believe that's what you want.  For most of us, that's actually hard to do.  We are not like that by nature.  Like you, we are looking for companionship.  We are doing what we think you want us to do.  While our pressures don't quite compare to yours (body image, etc), we have similar pressures.  We are expected to be strong when others can't be, be logical yet emotional when you need us to be, be taller, etc, etc.  Yeah, some of it is incredibly superficial, but guess what, we put pressure on ourselves internally the same way you ladies do.  We're not that different from you, it's just that the pressures are different than yours, a reason we often have a problem of understanding what's bothering you.  Your problems seem small to us, but I hope that ours seem small and insignificant to you as well.

Guys don't like to share.  Now, I realise that I sort of addressed this a couple of weeks ago (mostly imploring my gender to share more of our feelings), but I want to explain as well.  That part earlier, where I said we're supposed to be logical and strong?  We have taken that to heart.  When we have a problem, we find ourselves wanting to work through it on our own.  We are not intentionally being distant.  We get that you want to help and how much it helps you when you share, but that's not necessarily in our program.  Understandably, it's frustrating when it seems like we're being distant and disconnected, but we're trying to do it in our way.

In a similar vein, I realise that we can be inconsiderate.  Again, not intentional.  We get excited when we think we can solve a problem.  We also like being able to do things that we think are going to make our relationship better and bring us closer and taking that stress off of you.  Want us to stop?  Don't get so upset with us.  You're not all this way, but when we get snapped at, we get defensive.  Think about what happens when that goes on: voices get raised, fights break out, and that closeness and strength that I referenced earlier in this paragraph gets injured.  This feels a little like the way we work with kiddos to avoid conflict, but "I" messages are a great tool here, as well as talking specifically about the behavior, not general statements.  "You never think about me/us" is a killer.  "I feel like this was kind of inconsiderate" will get us more involved in the conversation and lead to better communication in future decisions and conversations.  We're not a terrible enigma ladies, and we're a hell of a lot smarter than we've been credited with.  We just are often driven to primal reactions that are at our base.  We need to learn how to be partners and communicators.

Guess what, you do, too.  Relationships with your partner are different than they are with friends.  Relationships differ from one to the next, even in the romantic context.  I am not like your ex, nor are you like mine.  Small tangent, but we get so caught up in the Hollywood romantic ideal, that we forget that relationships require work.  If you're waiting for that perfect man that Channing Tatum, Matt McConaughey, etc play in their movies... HE DOESN'T EXIST!  If you ask the couples who stay together 30, 40, 50+ years, they'll tell you how important work and communication are in their love.  We both need to learn how to be in this relationship.  We live in a society of instant gratification and now expect it in all aspects of our lives. Guess what, true, meaningful love will not come that way.  Hell, nothing worth having will be instant gratification.   We will work if you will also work.  Wow, that was a terrible side tangent that originally started as a parenthetical addition to the last sentence in the previous paragraph...

That being said, we're also not good at advocating for ourselves.  We don't want to seem needy.  It scares us because we don't want to seem weak in your eyes.  This is especially true when it comes to someone that we're so close with, we need to advocate for ourselves.  I get that this is a bit confusing, so let me try and clarify.  When we are with you, we want nothing more than to hold you tightly.  We feel safe, and we know you feel safe and loved.  Those are the arbitrary gender roles in our society.  Man protects woman.  Well, sometimes I want to be protected by you.  Once in awhile, we need to be held and protected.  I love being big spoon, but sometimes I want to be little spoon.  How, as guys, do we express this to you?  By turning our backs.  Yes, from time to time, we get frustrated and just need to turn away, but most of the time (especially when your intuition tells you something's wrong), we're expressing that we need to be held.  We won't say we want to be little spoon, but if you put your arms around us, and we settle into you, you got it.  Should we tell you when we need you to be "the guy" for just a second?  Yeah.  Will we?  Probably not.

See?  We're not that hard to figure out.  I answered all your questions in a (fairly long, but relatively short) blog.  You have other questions?  Just ask.  I am seriously considering starting a column wherein I address the questions of the people who read my blogs.  Good idea?  Bad idea?  Let me know.

As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Making a Difference

This post could, just as easily, be called "A Series of Things," but fulfilling that title would require way more reading than any of you want to be a part of.

I am on Cloud 9 right now.  I am on Cloud 9 because while waiting for lunch today, Marcos Ospina (former student, about to start 8th grade in the fall) facebooked me asking if we (his family and I) could meet for dinner tonight, they'd be passing through O-town.  I said of course!  This is a great family, one of the (many) reasons that I miss the community at Fireside ES.  It was so great to see them!  They inspired this post.  Them, and a question that I was asked during my interview earlier today.

The question was, "Would you rather be liked or respected by your students?"  Of course the answer is respected.  Although, I was kinda proud of my answer, as I'd never put a lot of thought in to it.  I instantly said respected, and I it's because respect doesn't always follow affection, but affection always follows respect.  I say that now unequivocally.  During the interview, I pointed out that it can be years later, and we may never know as educators, but the students who respect us always like us later... even though it's sometimes years later.  We hope that when that happens, they come back and let us know, but we also know they might not.

Catching up with the Ospina family was wonderful.  I realised (even while I was doing it) that I was talking more than listening, but it was awesome!  We reflected on old times, and things that had happened back in the day.  Pictures were taken, and laughs were had, by all.  Advice was given, and then immediately contradicted when stories were told to the contrary.  At the end of the night, hugs were passed about, and sentiments shared, when Marcos said (I believe in jest) that one of the great strengths I have as a teacher is that the students don't complain about me to their parents.  I laughed, as we all did, but the Ann poignantly and seriously confirmed that, but elaborated for a parent's perspective:  Kids in my class want to come to school.  Marcos is a high-achieving, talented kiddo, so it is one thing to get him, and kids of his "ilk" interested, but Ann told me that their neighbor, who was also in Marcos' class, ALSO loved coming to school when he was in my class.  This particular student is a struggler.  Great attitude (most of the time), but really had some serious difficulty in class.  He love coming to class.  That's two kids that are two totally different learners who both loved coming to my class.

If we're being honest (and I can do that easily behind the cover of a typed blog!) I am getting a bit emotional reflecting on this.  It's a great emotional though.  I had never been explicitly told, "My kid never liked coming to school until you were his/her teacher."  Now, this wasn't about her kid, but when Ann mentioned that about the other kiddo, that meant something.  I know how scary of a place school can be when you struggle, how much you dread having to go there.  This young man looked forward to being in my classroom each day.

As a teacher, we want to make a difference.  Every day we deliver instruction that sometimes is a striking success and sometimes is abject failure.  Every day we are charged with the care and education of one of (cheesy/trite forthcoming) what is truly America's greatest natural resource.  It's rare (I think) to have the feedback be so immediate.  Yeah, it's over two years later, but it set my heart aloft.  I've been floating since she said that to me.  I've never doubted my choice to teach.  Now I never will.

When you like a person without respecting them, that affection is fleeting.  When your affection is born from respect, that affection is lasting deep.

Today, I learned I have truly made a difference, even if it was only in the lives of those two families.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Gratitude List June 2012 (aka Holy Cow, Ty Posted Twice in a Week!)

I'll be honest, again, that I stole the Gratitude List idea from Lotus, and have to start by thanking her for the idea!  Today is a wonderful time to do this, and I'll start with a thank you to Lotus not only for the idea, but her continued friendship... even if I am her least favorite best friend!

I have been told that I owe David Day Harbaugh the IV the highest debt of gratitude for the amazing birthday present that I got to take advantage of twice!  Once when I received it, and once today when I drove in circles at PPIR!  David found this on LivingSocial (I think... right Dave?) and then got ahold of Jay and Whitney, Alana, Jeff and Abby, Debbie, Alex and Chris, Brian and Heather, RJ and Carrie, Mary and Brian, and Todd and Allyson who all pitched toward this.  I am SO grateful to all of you.  It was the most amazing experience of my life thus far.  I ACTUALLY DROVE A RACE CAR!  And these are legit cars that were used on one of the two national touring series (Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series).  They are obviously de-tuned so us idiots don't kill ourselves or one another. The in-car video is available here  Seriously guys, thank you so much.  I am blessed to have such amazing friends, and hope that I am as good of a friend to all of you as you have been to me through the years.  I am in awe and humbled by this gesture, and hope that I can show my appreciation appropriately!

I am so grateful to Markeya Dubbs for all the things (Imagine my fist in the air like the meme).  You are amazing, and such a blessing in my life.

I am grateful to my parents, Marcia and Gene.  I am grateful for the guidance through the years, and the fact that they were wonderful role models.  Some day, when I am married and raising a family, the lessons (both intentional and otherwise) that you've taught me will guide my life as a husband and father.  If I am half the father that Dad has been, then my life will have been a success.  I love you both!

Thank you to all of my Omaha friends and family.  You've been integral in making the move away from home easy, and helped make Omaha feel like home.  This thank you extends to all of my co-workers at the various jobs in O-town.  Thank you!

I am grateful to God.  Yeap, I am.  I am grateful for all the opportunities He has given me, all the people I am blessed to have in my life, and the His faith in me because the challenges and obstacles He puts out there are nothing more than He knows I can handle!

Umm...  I feel like there were a lot more thank yous that needed to go out, but maybe not.  Oh, I am definitely grateful to any of you who choose to read this.  Thanks!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

One Year Later

*Glances around shamefully*  So, it's been way WAY too long since I last blogged.  I'm sorry loyal reader(s). I hope this one is funny, informative, entertaining, and not too long.  Guys, the second to last paragraph is very important for you to read.  Girls, skip it.

I have put this one off for no particular reason, but it just happens to fall on the day of the anniversary of my move to Omaha.  So, here's the thing, this is a somewhat remarkable day for me.  My Colorado people will tell you that, outside of David Day Harbaugh the Eye Vee, I was the least likely person to move from Colorado.  I was kinda the prototypical Colorado guy.  I like outside.  I love my mountains.  I have the most amazing group of friends a man in his 30s could hope for.  (Side track, I meant to say HAD, but my fingers typed have.  That tells you something).  The opportunity to help the College of St. Mary volleyball program return to NAIA prominence was too much for me to pass up, thus I moved to Nebraska.  Like we've already talked about, it was an easier move than I'd expected it to be, and a year later, I STILL really dig Omaha!

I won't give you the run down of what's happened since I moved here.  It's been hella crazy.  Many of you know the details, but I still love it here!  I will catch you up on some happenings since my last post, however.  I am currently looking for full-time teaching in the fall, but just (kinda) fell into a chance to work with former Husker great Calvin Jones in multiple different capacities for his companies.  Right now it looks like I will be helping him sell both his Forever a Husker gear, as well as space on his new website, Menupedia.  It's a long story, but those of you who remember my issues last year with trying to land a job with him, he has actually offered me something this year, not "let's keep in touch".  It's not full time, but hell, I'd be working with a Husker... actually many Huskers, most likely!  His vision for the company is pretty solid, so I kinda like the idea.
I ran a 10k by myself on Memorial Day.  It took me 53 (52.. hell if I remember) minutes.  Felt great.
Keya and I attended our first wedding as a couple.  It. Was...awful...  Wait, I'll redact that.  It was tedious.  As hell.  Holy Jebus.  Okay, so let me break this down for you.  There was NO ALCOHOL OR DANCING! Now, I won't bore everyone with the details of the wedding.  Actually, the ceremony was good, but after that...  Not so much.  I know the bride and groom won't read this, but I don't want this to be an indictment because I am so grateful to have been one of the few who shared in their day, but... BUT...  People who are the bride and groom, understand that the people who are there are SO happy for you, but we need activities.  Yes, booze is necessary!  Not to sound like an alcoholic, but the reason a LOT of people come to weddings is the excuse to get a little loose!  We literally spent the two hours post-ceremony sitting.  Yeah.

*Girls, I understand you skipped directly to this paragraph, before you read anything else.  Why can't you follow rules?  I am already re-thinking typing this.*  Gentlemen, this paragraph is for you.  Girls are right.  We should share our feelings.  Ugh, this hurts just to type.  I'll give you the story.  I was in Wood River with Keya and her family, and she could tell that I was down.  She badgered me (verb win) into telling her what was going on.  I finally told her.  I felt better.  Okay, that's really all that happened, and and the verb badger makes her sound meaner than she actually was.  I just liked that verb.  Now, for the record, I am sharing with her more than I've ever shared with a woman.  It's ridiculous how easy I find her to talk to.  Those of you who HAVEN'T picked up on it, I'm beyond twitterpated with this woman.  She's amazing.  Anyway, guys, it's really worth actually sharing... from time to time... I felt much, much better. It was kind of a revelation for me.  Stupid girls, knowing more about human relationships than us.

Okay girls, welcome back.  Yes, I'm pretending you didn't read the paragraph you weren't supposed to.  Anyway, we come to the end of this blog.  Thanks, again, for reading all!  Happy summer!  Stay cool and safe!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Self-Reflective Much?

Do I get self-reflective on here too much?  Hmm.  Okay, I honestly don't care.  Suck on it, there sunshine.  Anyway, I was saying how I've been feeling self-reflective, so here we go...

I wonder often if I'm different than others in the way that I look at myself.  I think we all think ourselves superior in one way or another to other people.  Hmm... maybe I shouldn't have started off in such a self-centered way.  Oh well, if you wanna read on, please do.  If you don't, I'll see you later.  I... should stop starting my sentences with I... ANYWAY...  The preceding descent into unadulterated narcissism was only to say that I know I spend a lot of time thinking on me.  The fact that I spend a lot of time thinking on me leads me to wonder how that compares to others.  I feel like I prolly spend more time doing it than others do, but what if I don't?  In reality, that's probably not of terrible import, but it is definitely something I've reflected on of late.

I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I have in a long time... if not ever.  Those who've known me for a long time probably realise that I had big time self-esteem issues in middle school, high school, college, early (emerging) adulthood... and realising the source of those problems helped me begin to overcome them. To be honest, I was doing a decent job with them before I moved, but holy hell, moving threw me into a whole new zone of discomfort... and I couldn't rest on my laurels there.  Between moving a solid day's drive away from everything that I'd really ever known, and not knowing what the hell I was going to do... It kinda pushed me, and stretched me at the same time.  It's made me try different things to make friends!  All of that has gotten me to a point where I truly have my head in a better place than it's ever been.  Ah hell, okay, I feel better about myself than I ever have.

As I told her that it is worthy of not only acknowledgement, but also celebration, I should tell you all that Markeya and I marked six months of being together last week.  If you get sick to your stomach when people talk about their significant others online (ya know, like I used to- nay, still tend to- I'll try and keep this to a minimum), skip the rest of this paragraph.  She is an incredible woman.  I can't tell you how blessed I feel.  Not only is she beautiful, but she's athletic as hell, pushes me (I mentioned this in my last blog... ah hell, I'm becoming that guy), she's smarter than I am (Stop, I know I'm smart... I get it... I'm not saying this to be self-deprecating, this is legit), and is faithful and devout.  She really is exactly the kind of woman I didn't know I had been looking for. Keya and I will be in Denver on the 10th of May, leaving the 14th.  I am pretty sure I've made mention of this trip previously, but I'm working on getting plans in place, so I'll let people know as plans develop.

For some reason, I feel the need to throw some unabashed advertising in here.  Visit Jay's blogs (,  It will help him a SH!#ton when it comes to his comic future.  His work is amazing, and it looks like he's on the brink of things really taking off.

Welp, once upon a time I had a hilarious end to this blog, but I have forgotten it.  I HATE it when I do that.  Jeezy Creezy.  I guess I'll end it with this profound sense of "meh" and catch up with you all later.  Thanks for reading!  Oh, and final thought.  Y'all still know me.  I haven't changed THAT much.  If you wanted to laugh at part of this EFFING DO IT!  Good lord, I still don't take myself all that seriously!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nitty Gritty Update

So, I suppose part of my M.O. since I moved out here has been posting only when big things go down.  This is not one of those times.  I figured there are a few nitty gritty things that have been going on that I just wanna throw out there.

I ran 5K in 25:00 yesterday.  My training has been happening by accident.  It's actually freakin' weird.  Now, the girlfriend has been pushing me, both intentionally and otherwise, and I have to admit I've never looked or felt any better.  Granted, since becoming a personal trainer, I've more of an idea of how to do it than I would have in the past, but I also have cause to push it.  We are running the FlatOut 5k at FlatIron Crossing when we're in Colorado for Wicked in May.  I will out run her.

So, I called Southwest Rapid Rewards yesterday.  I figured I had enough points to at least get a decent price on a ticket.  Frankly, I didn't want to drive for just a weekend.  I wanted to fly.  It's usually cheaper/as cheap to fly, but with two people, that would clearly not be the case.  Here's where the fun begins.  It turns out that I had a free round trip issued in 2010 that I had let expire... cause I didn't know about it!  For $50 bucks, reactivated!  I also had more than enough points for another free ticket!  So for $50 (plus airport fees) Markeya and I are flying back for the weekend in Denver.  Thank goodness!  We get in on Thursday night and leave on Monday morning.  Oh, I supposed I should tell you that our tickets are for May 12.  You all do the math!

I will ALSO be in Colorado around the 10th of June.  I am driving a car in circles at Pikes Peak on that Sunday morning courtesy of my incredible friends!  I'm excited to do it!!  Additionally, I'll be in Colorado for sure the 9th - 12th of July for a volleyball camp at Regis U.  And then again around August 4th for Alex Sanders's wedding.  I don't know how much time I'll spend around those dates at home, but I intend to spend some time there.

The weather here has continued to be gorgeous.  Winter skipped us.  It sucked, but I'm definitely ready for summer right now.  It's weird...  This is going to be a wicked mean tease though, as the bugs are not a part of the equation yet.  It has been BEAUTIFUL here, riding the bike to school the last two days.  It's awesome!

Okay, I suppose I should tell you about the girlfriend (granted, many of you already know).  We've been dating since October and she is AMAZING!  For starters, she is the most motivated, driven person I've ever known.  Did I mention that she's incredible.  She is freakin' brilliant and, like I said, the catalyst for me changing my work out habits.  Of course she is beautiful.  Oh, I should tell you we met coaching at the UNK volleyball camps (yeah, I was dating someone else).  I love this woman a LOT.  She will be back in Colorado for Wicked with me as well as at the Regis camps.  Wow, that sentence is awkward, but I want to leave it there.  I hope you all had to read it twice to make sense of it... or just because I talked about how awkward it is.  ANYWAYS, just wanted to throw that little bit out there.

Okay, I think that's it.  I did get to see some of the amazing migrations that take place in Central Nebraska with waterfowl and the cranes.  It was something remarkable to see.

Also, volleyball has somewhat taken over my life like I didn't intend it to.  I blame Keya (baha!) because i have this weird thing where I want to spend time with her, and she coaches a 16s team.  Oh, and I was in Colorado a couple of weeks ago for Colorado Crossroads volleyball tournament.

Okay, nothing else, I don't have an "Only in Nebraska" today.  I'll catch you all laters.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A day (month) late and a dollar (or a few) short...

... So nothing's changed.

I have to rant for a hot second.  I sorta did it on fb the other day, and I know it's late, but I have to monologue about the Whitney Houston stuff.  I know it's late, but I also haven't really had time to get on my computron of late... at least not long enough to blog.  Here's my problem.  Whitney was treated by millions of Americans (and many parts of the media) as nearly infallible.  She made the choices that led, ultimately, to her early passing.  Now, don't get me wrong, I think it's terribly tragic, especially seeing as she has a daughter emerging into adulthood, needing a role model.  And truly, it's tragic any time that a life is cut short, but Whitney made choices to use illicit drugs (which ones are up for debate) and whether or not any are found in her system upon her passing, that habit most likely was part of the cause.  I'll be shocked if she was clean.  As Americans, we love to forget the terrible things that a person did, or the fact that they just weren't good people (Al Davis) all because they died.  We raise them to the level of hero.
I want to tell you about some of my heroes.  Mikeal Hocevar chooses to protect the people of Shafter, CA as a police officer.  My dad, Gene Peteranetz, made the same choice as a reserve sheriff's officer for years in Boulder County.  Daniel Hunter and his dad, John, served as volunteer firefighters in Lafayette, CO.  So did John Happs.  Matthew Sanderson served in our military protecting us overseas and now serves as a sheriff's deputy in Boulder County.  Jessica Freeman is still serving in Korea.  Dave Shafer protected us by serving in the armed forces.  The Giggey boys have been in the military and/or police officers.  Ben Rouley is in the Air Force.  These people are heroes.  I am so grateful that I can count them as friends, and even more grateful for the choices that they've made to selflessly serve the rest of us, often thanklessly.  Thank you, all of you.  I know I may not have that information 100% correct, and if you are reading this and have served in the military or as a cop, firefighter or rescue personnel, please let me know, and I will rectify whatever mistakes or omissions I've made in this blog.

Okay.  Most of you know this, but as this blog has been my official/unofficial sounding board for announcing big changes, I'll put it on my blog that I GOT A REAL BOY TEACHING JOB!  I am teaching 2nd grade at Neihardt Elementary here in O-town.  The job is (wait... was... I took it.  It's not available any more) available because the teacher who was in that position went on maternity leave and then decided not to come back.  The long term sub couldn't stay in the position for whatever reason.  I have it now!  I started a friggen month ago, and now I am blogging about it.  OOPS!  It's been phenomenal, and yet another reason that I continue to feel so blessed about my move to Omaha, and am 100% positive that this was the right move for me.

Okay (new goal, start the rest of the paragraphs in this blog with "Okay".  Goal accomplished if this is the last one...).  I have to ask... WHERE IS WINTER?!  It's nearly spring already, and it's as though winter just left Omaha off its winter itinerary.  WTF?!  As a lover of winter, I feel like a jilted... well... lover.  Welp, that sentence didn't go like I'd hoped.  Oh well.  Anyway.  I WANT WINTER!  I rode the motorcycle last month, and in December.  That's not entirely true.  We've had a couple of solid snow storms, but many nights, the overnight low hasn't even made it below freezing.  Now, certain people who are in the room with me RIGHT NOW will tell me that it's fine.  She'll tell me that we could go without winter any way, but she's WRONG!  And pretty.  She's wrong, but pretty.  Holy side track Batman.

Okay.  I was hoping to close this out being funnier, but I got nothing funny right now.  OH!  My new favorite thing is my 4" memory foam mattress topper.  Epic win.   My bed FTW now.  It's SOO comfy.  And also a little warmer than I usually like.  It's okay though.  I approve.

(Okay) Thanks again for reading this.  Hope this blog finds you all well.  I'll be in Colorado next weekend recruiting at the Colorado Crossroads volleyball tournament.  I might well have time to hang with a few of you, so lemme know.  LATE!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Random and Coherent ramblings

Some of you saw this earlier, some of you did not.  I promised a new blog this morning on my Facebook status update.  If you didn't see this earlier, then... SURPRISE!

Last week, I was confirmed into the Episcopal church.  For some people, you'll be all like, "What the hell?  Really?"  To you I'd answer, "Yes."  This move to Omaha has been marked by a few fairly remarkable changes, shifts and personal learnings on my part.  In this case, I felt drawn back to the church and found this phenomenal, friendly and welcoming community here in West O/Elkhorn.  The bishop was coming through town, and based on the fact that I was raised Episcopalian, Fr. Mark thought it'd be okay for me to be confirmed without all of the formal classes.  My mom and dad surprised me by driving out for the weekend, and attending the service with my aunt and uncle.  It was a great service (Fr. Mark's opening line- "This week the congregation is in for a real treat- a good sermon.") and I am very confident and comfortable in this decision.  Now, before some of you get to freaking out, wondering if I've somehow change and will be prostheletyzing (sp?) all over the place, don't friggen worry about it.  I've changed in a lot of great ways, but rest assured The Ty is still here.

I've mentioned previously how much I really like Omaha.  I think I need to reiterate that I still have every intent of moving back to Denver some day, don't you worry.  Things have just been going so well here that I really need to give O-town a go.

I've posted this once, and I'm even more excited about this now, but Markeya and I are going to be at Wicked in Denver on May 12 at 2:00 pm.  Mom, Dad, she and I are sitting on the Mezzanine level, but I definitely want to extend the invite to anyone who's reading this.  Please come.  If you've seen it, you know you want to see it again.  If you haven't seen it, you know you want to.  I'm sure we'll go to lunch beforehand (or we won't, let me narrow the possibilities).  Almost immediately after the show, the four of us will go up to Grand Lake, which I obviously cannot invite everyone and their mom to, this is more informative so that e'eryone knows that we won't be going out in Denver on Saturday night (Friday, though maybe?...).  Ummm... I will be in Denver, most likely, for a week the end of Feb - early March.

Other things.  I am asking for good juju sent my way.  I have an interview on Monday for a full time teaching job that will take me through the end of the school year.  I am working on getting my big boy Nebraska teaching license, and if that happens in time, I'll be paid as a full time teacher with full benefits.  If not and I get the job, it'll be as a long term sub job.  I am super excited to maybe be a real teacher again.  It'd be second grade, which would be super awesome.  I had a meeting with the HR recruiter for Millard PS on Wednesday, and I'm feeling fairly confident in my chances to get a teaching job in the fall.  I have really liked every school I've been in in Millard, and feel very comfortable there.  As I've said, I desperately miss teaching.  OH, and my Hodgkins people, I love the Broncos pic Gould sent me yesterday!  AWESOME!  I am teaching Kindergarten all week next week.  I'm super excited and nervous.

Only in Nebraska!!
Only in Nebraska do they put signs along a US highway stating that you cannot shoot waterfowl from your car....