Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Penning the Pandemic

I hope in a year I get to look back and reflect on this time from out the other side. As an eternal optimist, I'm confident that will happen but man, this is hard.

As I've mentioned previously, I'm an extreme extrovert. I'd have people over or go to other people's house every night if it was logistically possible. Even if that's not the case, seeing friends in a strictly social setting a couple of times a week has always been something that I enjoy, that I look forward to, and even before this pandemic, something I knew I needed.

With Covid-19, we've chosen to side with caution. Some even saying it's extreme or that we're "Living in fear". Sorry, but we aren't. We're not living in fear. We're listening to experts who've said time and time again that although my family is likely to come through unscathed, we could give it to someone who might not be so lucky. In addition, there are countless documented cases of young, healthy people losing their life or even limbs due to Covid complications. Even though our odds would be very good of a full recovery, it's not worth the risk. 

Needless to say, it's made things very difficult for me. I've mentioned this previously on Facebook, and might've on here (Frankly, I'm not going back to look), but my mental health has suffered, and I don't say that lightly or in jest. I have felt anxious. I don't know that I've felt depressed, but I haven't been myself for sure. 

During the summer, Keya and I did have small groups of people over to the house, usually no more than three. We kept it to people who we were fairly confident were taking precautions similar to ours. It helped. A lot. But now with a surge in cases due to pandemic fatigue and selfishness, we find ourselves nearly quarantined again. 

Zoom is nice. It's fine. I've really enjoyed those times when I get to see friends that I wouldn't see otherwise, or that we can't see face to face due to Covid, but it's not the same. It's a band-aid on a gun shot wound. I'd still love to see friends' faces on Zoom. It helps. But I miss the face-to-face. I miss playing host. I miss the shared experiences that come with being together.

I assigned a word to some of my feelings the other day that I hadn't even thought to assign to it previously: grief. I'm grieving over what very nearly is a lost year. The word came to mind as we have been discussing the death of a colleague at Weeping Water. Cancer took one of the brightest lights you could ever hope to meet. But as grief suddenly became ever-present here, I realized that was part of what I was feeling about 2020.

My coworkers both at Weeping Water and VCNebraska are absolutely friends. They're friends that we spend time with away from work, but it's different when you're at work rather than gathering together for happy hour, or getting together for a meal. Spike's has been another wonderful glimpse of normality (And yes, I played in a mask both indoor and outdoors, even when I was the only one), but that's on hold right now too. I am also angry at things that have been paused, stopped, cancelled, or postponed because of people not following healthcare workers recommendations and pleas.

Ordinarily, we'd take a family trip in the summer of at least a week to Colorado. Now, with Vivian's birth this year (She's awesome, by the way), that likely wasn't going to happen anyway, so no big deal. Since moving, I don't think I've been away from Colorado for more than about five months (summer trip to holidays), but the last time I left the State of Nebraska this year was in March when my good buddy Michael and I flew out to snowmobile just as the first pockets of Covid were beginning to pop up in the U.S.

We were going to spend a MUCH scaled-down Thanksgiving in Colorado. We had to pull the plug. No way that we could, in good conscience, see that many different family groups (Keya's and mine). I can't risk giving it to someone period, let alone members of our families who are in their 60's and 70's. 

Then came Everett's birthday. A day which was celebrated by video calls from his various grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. I remembered a year prior when we had a house full of family and friends celebrating his second birthday. He was a champ, he has been throughout this thing, but man, I hurt. I wanted the same celebration this year, and every year, for him. I hope by Vivian's first we can be back to something like that.

So yeah, this is a long post to tell you that I'm grieving many things lost in 2020. I'm grieving what Covid has done and it might be a little selfish and maybe very narcissistic to think that you'll read this. However, as a conversation on the Pat and JT Podcast pointed out, this is very much like therapy for me. On top of that, I know I need to start prioritizing my needs and I need people to know how difficult this year has been. I've tried to check in on my friends, and I'm grateful to those who've checked in on me. 

I know the light is coming at the end of the tunnel. Yesterday, vaccines began being administered here in Lincoln. When the time comes that I am eligible, I will absolutely get vaccinated. Then, I will continue to mask and social distance until such time as the experts tell me it's safe to do otherwise. A month ago, I found out I have the antibodies against Covid, meaning I likely had it (Although I can tell you I had no symptoms). Until the all-clear is given, I will mask. I will stay home. I will do what is recommended to keep myself and others safe. I implore you to do the same.

We know what's driving the rise in infections and too many are flouting recommendations with the thought that, "It won't be me," or "If I get it, I get it." I understand. Healthy people are likely to survive it. However, your decision to go to church without a mask or eat in a restaurant may lead to someone's death even though they've followed guidance. I wouldn't want that on my conscience.

I don't see how it's worth it.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020


I've been battling what to do with this one for awhile. Repeatedly, I've gotten up to get my computer, but I've made a different decision. Finally, I decided it's time to do this. A huge part of the reason that I've gone back and forth is that I feel like this will be a long one. Buckle up, and thank you.

There are so many wrongs in this world that I want to help make right, but in so many cases, I feel completely helpless. I'm not sure this will be as cogent as I'd like it to be, but here we go. I'm going to try to do this with some sense of organization. 

The first category of helplessness involves science. At what point did we stop believing in expertise? The two most long-lasting examples of this right now are Climate Change and anti-vaxxers. Sadly, we can trace the anti-vaxxer trend to a completely fictitious article and Jenny McCarthy. I'm sure we can trace the origin of Climate Change denial, but it's become so prolific and has been around as long as I can remember, so it's felt ever-present.

One of the things I love most in life is winter. It's true. In fact, winter is home to my favorite leisure time activity, snowmobiling (Which, I realize, is not great for addressing Climate Change). The vast majority of scientists who study climate agree that Climate Change is human-caused. We have the means to fix it, but we don't. I realize it's because so many governments are beholden to large corporations and many of the most established peddle in fossil fuels and other means of emission.

It can seem insurmountable. We have an electric car (A Nissan Leaf). We have solar panels. We make conscious decisions in this house to try to do things that will reduce our footprint, like biking or walking rather than driving, but it feels like it's way too little. Every time I see a drought, or a hurricane, or some other weather phenomenon that has seemingly become all too common, I feel like I'm handcuffed. What more can I do to help? 

That leads to the second sciencey part of this post, Covid-19. For starters, like I think everyone, I'm VERY over this pandemic, but that doesn't mean it's time to be cavalier and pretend it's not ongoing.

Firstly, some people in this country need to reread the Constitution and it's associated amendments. Requiring masks does NOT infringe on ANYONE'S rights. In fact, in the Declaration of Independence, it lays out Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Pretty sure my wearing a mask helps solidify the right to life for myself and others. 

Again, WHY ARE WE NOT LISTENING TO SCIENCE? I hate it. I hate wearing masks when I go out. I hate not being able to emote and express as much as I usually do, but it's such a minor inconvenience that could possibly save countless lives. Again, I feel as though I'm rendered completely powerless every time I go someplace and some self-absorbed idiot isn't wearing a mask, or is wearing it wrong. IT GOES OVER YOUR NOSE AND MOUTH! If you want this thing to end, you are likely to have to make short-term deep sacrifices for a long-term gain. 

I just. Don't. Get. It. Yeah, all of the restrictions suck. I'm worried now that school is going to have to go fully virtual and that I'm going to lose the one glimpse of normality that I have which is Sunday night volleyball. Red state leaders won't do the things that would inconvenience us that might somehow infringe on our personal liberties...? As of today, the top five states in positive percentage for Covid-19 are in red states. Entirely. Why? Because they won't listen to science.

Again, left feeling totally helpless. I'm wearing my mask any place that's not my car or my house. I'm not going out. We haven't eaten in a restaurant since February. We have barely left the county in which we live since March. 

If we'd follow health expert recommendations, I also wouldn't be frightened that many of my favorite places in Lincoln would close during this pandemic. It's so ridiculous that this is even a conversation we are having right now. 

Let's get a little heavy. BLM. Wanna feel helpless? Try to talk about #BlackLivesMatter with people who don't yet recognize their privilege.

I'm not going to discuss again here the ways I feel as though I have privilege beyond white privilege. They're in a previous post. I think it's in "I'm a Racist" but I'm sure it's elsewhere.

I'll be the first to admit that I've had, and will continue to have, evolving views on this as I learn more. I was awful to gay people in high school. I've learned. It's constant learning. I hope I continue to have friends who help me learn.

I see so much ridiculous stuff about Black Lives Matter, equal rights for all People of Color, gay rights, trans rights, women's rights, and so many other marginalized groups who are NOT TREATED EQUALLY TO WHITE MEN IN THIS COUNTRY AND OTHERS AROUND THE WORLD. "Why aren't BLM protesters doing something about black-on-black crime?" THEY ARE. There are thousands of advocates on the ground in those communities working, because they are deeply invested in their communities. However, what they're fighting for on the national stage is that they shouldn't fear for their lives in every interaction that we, as white people, take for granted, including law enforcement.

Look, your inability to oppress others wouldn't actually suppress your rights... except for your right to oppress other people. I hear what can only be described as ignorance when people fire back with "All lives matter." While you're right, it's hard for me to take that seriously when you're not acknowledging the struggle that all of these marginalized groups face on a day-to-day basis.

When will I not feel helpless? When my Puerto Rican friend, who's nearly as tall as I am and much more muscular, doesn't have stories about having to name drop a friend on the PD to avoid what could've been a tragic traffic stop. When my gay friends don't have to worry about their marriages being invalidated based on who is elected. My trans friends shouldn't have to fear for their lives just because they're trying to live who they are. 

There are countless other cases. Look, I want to go back to having long, funny, inspirational, whatever pieces I used to write before. Used to write before. Goodness that's redundant. Anyway, I see too much in this world that I want to fix before Everett and Vivian get a stake in this world. I try to do everything I can. I know I'm not, but I want to do more. I want to learn.

Monday, August 3, 2020

I'm a Racist

Got your attention, didn't I? It's definitely something hard to admit, but over the last two months I've had a lot of time to reflect. Yes, even with a newborn. One of the things that I've realized is that I've definitely done things that were racist, whether I knew it or meant it at the time or not.

Let's be very clear. I am not, and never have been, overtly racist. While I've definitely used racist language, I've never directed it a person. That doesn't make it okay. I've also said things that seem positive, but are racist, for example that black people have good singing voices (a thought I definitely did have).

So, one of the things I've had to come to terms with since the death of George Floyd and the subsequent reignition of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations is that despite the fact that I'm not overtly racist, there are racist things that are inherent in me that aren't my fault, nor my parents', but rather part of this country.

Some of those things are the way we learn history. I'm reading Lies my Teacher Told Me which is an eye-opening book, especially for a TEACHER! I won't go in to details about the things I've learned, because I'm honestly somewhat ashamed of the things I haven't learned until the summer of my fortieth year.

So, coming to terms with that is pretty difficult. It's especially tough for someone whose worked very hard not to judge a person until he gets to know them. I don't look at a person's ethnicity as anything other than part of their story that I'm generally anxious to hear. As trite as it is, skin color doesn't play a role in whether or not I judge a person's value.

Look. Overall, this is hard to articulate. Part of that is because of the difficulty in tone on the interwebs, and part of that is because it's difficult for me to speak to what this is without rambling on and making it sound defensive.

If you're reading this, you likely know my heart. I hope you understand that my admission of, "I'm a racist" is a step in my ongoing effort to be better. I want to be a better parent, better friend, and better citizen. I've mentioned in a previous blog how as much as I fancy myself an ally to marginalized groups, I screw up as often, if not moreso, than I get allyship right.

Was this intentionally controversial? The title, yes. But I needed to get this off my chest. While this is hard to type, I needed it out there. Lies my Teacher Told Me is the first book I'm reading to help make myself better. Next will be So You Want to Talk About Race? and then White Fragility. I often say that I hope I never think of myself as a great teacher because that may cause me to stop striving to improve. On the same token, I sort of hope I'm never completely anti-racist. I hope I can continue to grow and be better. My kids and all future generations deserve that.

Friday, July 24, 2020


Once upon a time, my friend Lotus and I would regularly post gratitude lists on the interwebs. It's something that I liked to do, and something I've definitely gotten away from. It struck me that doing just that might make me feel a little more... centered?... in this bonkers time.

Every night, in my prayers I share my gratitude to God. I'm in awe of the ways I've been blessed.

I'm grateful for my family. Not just my family of origin and my extended family, but this incredible little family I get to spend every day with. I never would've imagined that I'd have the wife and kids that I do. It's incredible.

I'm grateful that my parents raised me to be the man that I am. Mom and Dad always gave my brother and I the confidence and skills to pursue what we were good at while never making us believe we were capable of something we weren't. It's a confidence grounded in reality. I hope I can be half the parent they were to me.

I'm grateful for my brother(s) both real and... well, real. I've a lifelong friend in Jay, the brother with whom I shared a house growing up, but also in RJ and Brian. As my peers and contemporaries for nearly 40 years now, they've been critical as allies and (occasionally) opponents to helping me be who I am.

I'm grateful to so many friends whose names are too many to mention. That's part of why I'm grateful. Alana, Dave, Mikeal, Debbie, Whitney, Jeff and Abby, Doug, Du, Alan, Alex, Alex and Angela, Angela, Bev, Andrea,.. look, part of the reason I hate listing these things is that I will inevitably leave someone out. I love that even though I've moved from Colorado, each time I get to see you, it's like we haven't skipped a beat. It's so incredible to see how these people have grown, and to assume that I've also grown (have I?), but we can instantly transport back to past times and memories that bring so much joy. I owe so many of you so much more than I could ever repay.

I'm grateful to a completely different group of friends, and family really, whose names again are too many to mention, but you've made Nebraska a new home for me. Michael, Annika, Rachel, Brett, Mader, Bryce, Mak, Jason and Shannon, Cici, Lindsey, Alli, Sam,... again far too many to list here. On top of that, marrying into an incredible family which has brought me great friends like Mike, Pinky, Micah, Dan, Meredy, and Travis. That doesn't even begin to address Keya's extended family.

A whole other category of gratitude has to go to my Aunt Linda, Uncle Dave, and all of my cousins on the side- Matt, Connie, Claire, Izzy, Lydia, and Laurel; Jenny, Scott, Jake, Alex, and Reid; Sam, Andrew, Owen, Sylvia, and Evan. They made my move here effortless. Though we don't live far apart, I don't see them as often as I should, something for which I take most of the blame.

I'm grateful for the students, staff, athletes, and everyone else at Weeping Water. Honestly, when things fell apart like they did at Dorchester, I wasn't sure I could land on my feet like I did. Not only did I, I feel like I'm thriving there. I've been enveloped with open arms in the community and I know that I will continue to grow and succeed in my endeavors there!

I'm grateful to VCNebraska and Maggie, Bryce, and Mader who've brought me into the fold and have helped me grow as a coach. Nothing has challenged me or given me the opportunities to work with incredible athletes like VCN. It's the reason I've gotten to work with the athletes both there and at Dorchester and Weeping Water. I'm so grateful to have been part of the organization for almost eight years now. I've built lasting relationships through the club as well.

Though I'm no longer there, I'm grateful for CornNation.com. If you'd have told me that I'd get to spend five years of my life combining to of my loves, volleyball and writing, and gaining some notoriety for it, I'd have told you that you were nuts. Like with so many ventures, the people were the best. John, Ted, David, Greg, Nate, Brian, and so many others.

I'm grateful for the resources I have. Even in this time that is scary as anything for a lot people, we are fortunate to be able to not only meet our needs, but give to people who are are in a dire situation.

I'm grateful for the experiences I have been able to have, both successes and disappointments/failures. The places I've been, the ways I've traveled, and the people I've met along the way have helped to shape me. I can't wait to share similar experiences with Everett and Vivian.

I'm grateful for a lot of things I said yes to. Top of my mind are the coaching gig at College of St. Mary and RAGBRAI. If I hadn't said yes to either of those, I'd be living a much less colorful and fulfilling life.

I'm grateful for who I've become. I'm far from perfect. I'm working to be a little bit better everyday, but I know I don't always reach that. I will keep trying for myself, my family, my friends, and for people who are far less fortunate than I. If I can share some of my blessings with others who aren't as fortunate than I, then I can feel as though I've made a real difference. Giving away some of my blessings doesn't lessen mine. In fact, it increases them exponentially.

I could spend hours listing blessings and gratitude. It feels sometimes as though this type of post would be better if shorter, because the longer I make it, the more I think of people who I should name. If you are reading this, know that you are one of the people for whom I am truly and deeply grateful, because of you I keep word-vomiting onto this site.

Sunday, May 31, 2020


Let's start here. Most of you who read this know me. Those who don't, let me introduce who I am.

I am the epitome of privilege. I am a white, cis, straight male. I am 6'7", a trait that has its own inherent privilege. I grew up what I will call upper middle class. I cannot for a minute begin to know the struggle of People of Color (POC) in America.

I grew up in a town that had some diversity. There were people of Latinx descent, different Asian descents, but few black families, indigenous, or other POC families. However, I come from a primarily white community in Colorado. I now live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

I've always bristled at the #AllLivesMatter nonsense. Yes, all lives matter. However, until we acknowledge that some lives are not treated equally, the only thing I get from #AllLivesMatter is that your life matters more than others.

Until we can begin to address the systemic inequities that lead to what we're seeing in the United States, #AllLivesMatter is disingenuous. I'm being very kind in saying that.

In fact, the news story that's been front of mind for nearly three months now, but is now being overshadowed by the aftermath of the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis is a good place to start with this conversation. Covid-19 has disproportionately affected communities of color in the United States. Why?

Access to medical care, proximity to one another, lack of health insurance, unequal banking practices, and countless other examples of systemic inequality mean it's harder for POC to fight against virulent pandemics like Covid-19.

In a time when marginalized communities around this country are seeing their friends, family, and neighbors die in numbers far out of balance with their piece of the population, the video of George Floyd's murder surfaces.

This is another one. We've seen Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Botham Jean, Ahmaud Arbery (I'm sorry if I've misspelled any of the names) and countless other black men and women killed in situations and ways that, as a white man, I can't fathom becoming fatal.

No one should die because they go for a jog. No one should die in their own apartment from a home invasion, especially if that invasion is from a police officer.

Please don't come at me with a #NotAll whatever. I know that. No one is, in good faith, arguing that all police officers, or white people, or protesters, or anything are bad. I've seen countless examples of protesters protecting police officers or trying to talk bad actors in their ranks down. I've seen countless examples of members of various police forces laying down arms, taking off tactical gear, and otherwise joining the ranks of the protesters. I absolutely believe that the majority of police officers are on the side of justice.

If I was found with my knee in the neck of a dead man, I'd be in jail. Period. I understand that there are many circumstances wherein a law enforcement officer has to use lethal force to keep people safe. Nothing in the George Floyd case indicates the officer on his neck was protecting the greater public safety. I've seen it was a bad check, I've also seen that it was a counterfeit bill. Neither of those things should be a death sentence.

I've heard Floyd resisted arrest. I haven't watched the longer video because after watching the Ahmaud Arbery video and the initial George Floyd, I've no interest in watching as another black man is murdered extrajudicially. I don't want to watch video of people dying.

Even if he did resist, which I've mostly seen that the longer video doesn't conclusively show, that's still not cause for the officer, whose name I've no interest in repeating, to kneel on his neck at all. That's not, as far as I know, an approved restraint technique. If I'm wrong about that, I'll happily amend this post. Please let me know, friends who are in law enforcement, if I'm mistaken here.

So, this happens on Monday. The officer who killed George Floyd isn't arrested until Friday. The other officers, who are complicit in NOT STOPPING MURDER, should have been arrested as well. It should've happened Tuesday.

So we have protests. And protests that turn violent. I do not condone the looting or any form of violence. One has to acknowledge, however, that there are reports of outside instigators, and that many of those damaging property are not the BLM protesters. I don't know. I just want to make sure I'm as fair as I can be.

Kaepernick peacefully took a knee on the sidelines. That wasn't okay. Celebrities protest at awards shows peacefully. That's not okay.  Peaceful protests that disrupt traffic aren't okay. The message delivered is that peaceful protest is fine, so long as I don't have to know about it. That doesn't seem to make much sense.

I hate seeing cities that I love fall into chaos in the hours after dark. I hate seeing these peaceful protests get a bad name by the actions of a few bad actors (or maybe outside instigators). I hate seeing the actions of a number of police officers give a bad name to the officers and departments around this country who are trying to work in concert with their communities.

There are so many more things that I can do. I know I am not doing everything I can. I'm trying to learn. I'm trying to do better everyday. I want to be a better advocate for marginalized communities.

I realize that even the language I've used here may be biased. It's my own fault. I am sure that I have biases that I don't know about, so haven't been able to work on. I'm trying to do better.

To those hurting; to those who feel like their voices go unheard, their calls unheeded; to people whose daily existence involves constant fear; to anyone who feels hopeless; I want to hear you. I want to help. I am on your side, even if things I do or say don't always say or do the right thing.

I have to end this by acknowledging that in the past I've used slurs, told racist jokes, and exhibited behaviors that are in exact contrast to what I'm putting out there in this post and in how I try to live my life day-to-day. It was wrong then. I don't care if it was a different time or I was young and didn't know. It was wrong and I'm deeply sorry that I did those things, whether it directly hurt someone or not. It isn't right.

I know I still make mistakes every day. If we expect perfection of ourselves, then we're setting ourselves up to fail. I promise to acknowledge and correct mistakes. I apologize to anyone who I may have hurt from being careless or outright hurtful, because I've done both.

If I can't work on me, I can't walk with the people who I want to help lift up. We all have to acknowledge our shortcomings before we can help this country move forward.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

More Covid Content

Seeing as the best thing any of us have for content right now is Covid-19, it's tempting to not put anything up in regards to that. However, I think we do all have unique and valuable thoughts, insights, and experiences during this unique and uncharted time in history, so there's some value.

The original intent of this blog when I started it back in 2011, before a LOOOO-OOOONG hiatus, was to update my lire for those back in Colorado who I might not always get a chance to talk to. Now with the explosion of social media, it's hard to keep your day-to-day life out of people's eyes. However, I don't put a lot of my daily stuff up on social media, so let's revert a little to its original intent.

Pat of the Pat and JT Podcast (which you should definitely listen to) called this somewhat of an online diary. I guess that's true, except I'm not locking it and not hiding it. So it's not real secret. However, part of this will also be thoughts and insights. So now that you're prepared, let's go for a ride.

March 4-8 of this year, I was in Colorado snowmobiling. It was really a pretty normal time. The news was starting to tell of cases in both Colorado and Nebraska, there was no way for us know the impact the virus was about to have. In fact, I'll admit I was at best flippant in my response to it, cracking jokes about it with my friends.

We honestly had no idea how virulent it was going to be. We all said, and I believe felt at the time, that it wasn't going to be a big deal. I mean, heck, basically if you were old or sick, problematic. Otherwise, meh.

There'd been some loose discussion at work about preparing for distance learning at school, but there wasn't any particular urgency to it. We were all 95% confident we'd be returning to the building on Monday. We were wrong.

In fact, the weekend of the 13th-15th, we had people over. I bought Corona as a joke. I still wasn't taking this as seriously as I should have been. I'm not sure any of us were. I am not ashamed of my response at the time, but it does seem foolish for sure.

So, from that weekend on, obviously things got shut down. People were encouraged or required to social distance. I didn't get in to get my hair cut in time. Things changed. I won't go in to a long soliloquy about how it's affected my teaching because I think there's been plenty of that.

What has happened? Well, Everett got a playset for the backyard, so when he's home, we have something else we can do with him. He really freakin' loves it. We sold old and bought new patio furniture. Errands have been run, though less often. I've gotten a much better chance to workout than I have in awhile, so I'm definitely taking advantage of that.

Thoughts, feelings, insights? Yeah, I've a few. Let's start with the fact that of COURSE I want everything to reopen yesterday. No sense in being coy about that. However, we can't start doing that before we know we're getting out ahead of this thing, and it doesn't feel like we're getting there yet. I mean, we don't have treatment or a vaccine, so how can we even start to believe we're winning this battle? Sorry Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, there aren't more important things than living.

This has been a particularly tough time for me. I'm an extrovert. In fact, I'm probably on the extreme end of extroversion. Not leaving the house to see people and not having people over is very hard. It takes a psychological toll on me. I'll be fine. I'm actually mostly okay, really, but there have been times I've been down. Getting outside in the suddenly spectacular weather has helped. Video calls have helped.

I am also one that hopes that things change when this is all said and done. I would probably be just fine if I never shook another hand again. High fives? Sure. Knuckles? Absolutely. Hugs? Gimme. I do enjoy the significance of shaking hands, but I don't know that I need to do it again.

There isn't a perfect response to this. Different places, states, and countries have had different responses. There are some that have shown to be really good like South Korea. Some have been far from that, like the overall national response here. However, a lot of state leaders are doing things well. I've heard it bemoaned that Governor Ricketts' "Directed Health Measures" aren't a stay-at-home order. However, in some cases they're more restrictive, and they're guided by advice from the Unversity of Nebraska Medical Center, which is one of the best epidemiology hospitals in the country.

I do hope we learn lessons from this, and that those lessons carry through. It's been compared to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, but obviously the lessons learned from that didn't stick. We need to do better.

Enough with the reopen protesters. You know what else is bad for the economy? Lots of people dying. I know this sucks. Keya and I are blessed to still have our income. Everett's daycare is still open because each room is down to fewer than 10 people in it. They've changed their procedures, but for an only child, the socialization is wonderful.

I want to close with something that's a little bit nitpicky, and might be kind of controversial, but I like language, and I LOVE precision in my language. I've seen a lot of people call the front-line health care workers heroes. They aren't. They're heroic as hell, but they aren't heroes. Heroes are expendable. Heroes are people who put their lives on the line. Most doctors and nurses didn't sign up for that, I don't think. They are doing heroic things, but I don't want to call them heroes. I want them all to survive. Thank you for being so heroic.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate each and every one of you. Share if you think it's worthy. Feedback always encouraged.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Tall Tales and (Not So) Short Stories

I honestly don't have any idea how it's taken me this long to post this. You'd think, given that I'm 6'7", I'd have made, ya know, mentioned this before. I might have in passing, but now felt like a good time to talk about the joys of being tall.

The most common thing that happens is that people will approach me in public and say, "You're really tall," as though I don't know that. It's then, inevitably, one of two things, "Do you play basketball?" or, "What are you, about 6'3"?"

For starters, the 6'3" bit is oddly specific and kinda far off. It's also bizarre how often people guess that. I mean, regularly, folks are guessing 4" shorter than I am. I do realize that for a lot of people, it's hard to tell much difference between about 6'3" and 6'7" (and maybe even more), but the fact that it's regularly 6'3" throws me for a loop.

I do understand the basketball thing. I get that given my generation, any tall person who's reasonably athletic would've likely played basketball. I did not play basketball in high school. The last time I played organized, competitive basketball was 8th grade. Usually when I tell people that I didn't play basketball they respond with, "Really?" When I tell them I played volleyball and tennis, they're kinda surprised, but it seems to help them make some sense of me.

Let's talk about some pure joys of being 6'7". Many older door frames are about 6'7". When I have shoes on, that puts me in a precarious situation (and my faux hawk doesn't help). People in the schools where I've worked through the years giggle at how I duck going through doors. I do it subconsciously, but I have smoked my head on some things I shouldn't have... I have a recollection of a black eye and small cut I got on a light fixture years ago.

Y'all ever go to the mall to find pants? Me too. You know what I leave the mall with? Disappointment. It would honestly help if I weighed another 50 pounds or so. "What about big and tall stores?" you say to yourself as you read this. See, that conjunction is AND. I am not AND, I am just tall. There is no big and/or tall store. I have found a few places that carry them online, but that can be a crapshoot. Big shoutout to The Buckle though, as they usually have the right waist-inseam combination for me. And their jeans are SUPER comfortable.

I guess jeans aren't the only problem. It's really hard to find stylish clothes that fit my body well. I'd either have to put on about 30 pounds of muscle, which is not something I'm sure I'm even capable of, or I have to settle with wearing clothes that are just a little on the baggy side. I'd love to have a pair of joggers cause people look really good in them, but not when the cuff either hits halfway down your calf or the crotch halfway down your thighs.

Cars. I heart them. However, the automobiles that we can buy are limited because of that inseam I mentioned before. Oh... and headroom. And that limitation costs us a LOT more money. For example, we bought a Buick Envision in 2017. We love it. Let's be clear. However, what we WANTED was more like the Buick Encore, but when my tall behind gets in that car and puts the seat where I'm even remotely comfortable, ain't no backseat room. Everett would not fit well. The least expensive cars are generally not an option for us.

It's not all bad. My height means I have a certain set of... skills. Ya know, like reaching high things or being SUPER easy to spot in crowds. It's also gotten me out of a couple of sticky situations.

I have a recollection of high school and RJ putting his hand in the middle of my back and pushing me through the sardine-packed halls of Centaurus. It basically worked. Crowds parted. We were never late to class. Having attended events like Great American Beer Fest in Denver, I was almost always the lighthouse for my group. I'd be easy to find.

I've also joked repeatedly at jobs that the only reason I've been hired or retained at a job is my ability to grab things on high shelves without a ladder. There's also basically nothing in my house out of reach. Yes, sometimes I need a step stool or ladder, but it's never big or ungainly. I'm very handy to have around for that reason.

Twice in high school, I didn't get in fights. I'm fairly passive when it comes to confrontation. I try to avoid it if possible. In high school, I had a couple of guys who thought it was funny to be big men by shoving me into various things (lockers, door frames, etc.). In each case, I'd either had a bad day, or just had enough of that dude that day and turned around and returned the favor, in each case asking a simple, "WHAT THE **CK?!" In both cases, neither spoke a word to me again in high school.

Referring back to the privilege entry from... before... I rarely feel unsafe. I acknowledge that my size is intimidating to many and definitely works to my advantage in a lot of cases.

I will say, the most frustrating thing about my height is the attention. I realize it's what I'm known for. However, I implore a couple things.

Number one, being tall is not some prize I've won. I didn't ask for it. Much the same as others with physical abnormalities often didn't ask for it. Please don't point out to tall folk they're tall. WE KNOW! If I looked at an obese person and public and said, "Oh my goodness, you're very fat! You must like cookies." I'd elicit all kinds of negative reactions, and rightly so. We know better than to approach strangers and point out things they have little or no control of.

The other thing that bothers me is when people say they want some of my height. Honestly, most of the time I love being 6'7" (about 200 cm for those who live in countries whose system of measurement makes good sense), but if there was a way to take about an inch above and below each dropping me to about 6'5", that'd still be fine... and make it easier to find pants and cars!

The worst for me, now that I think about it, is when people ask, "Did you get taller since the last time I saw you?" NO! I don't want to get taller.

Some of y'all may well read parts of this and see it as whining or complaining about something that others would love to have. Yeah, it's great much of the time, but there are other frustrations I haven't addressed in here.

I was 6'5" when I graduated high school, 6'6" when I graduated college and was measured about six months ago, I was 6'7 1/2". I was not thrilled and I will stick with 6'7".

The only part of me that stopped growing at reasonable size (Stop!) are my feet. I've been a 13 as long as I can remember, back to about middle school. That part is wonderful. I have fairly small feet for my height (I'm actually about a 12 1/2") which means I can find shoes pretty easily when I need to.

Sorry if this leaves you with a sense of... huh? Like, is that really how he finished this? I get it. This one felt like it needed to be out there, but I did it in two sittings (which actual writers would definitely think is a good idea, right?). I'm also deeply sorry I haven't been near as consistent lately. The ideas hit my while I'm driving, which makes it tough to record the idea. Hopefully this COVID-19 social distancing will make it easier.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Difficulties of Alliances

I want to tell you that I'm going to post regularly. The fact of the matter is, I can't do that. I can't do that because I want to make sure that what I post has value, to me (let's be honest, a blog is basically a public diary) mostly, but also that it'll be worth your time to read. If I don't feel like my thoughts are collected enough, I won't write one. I will, however, keep sharing links on FB, IG, and Twitter so people can read it if they'd like. I appreciate everyone who takes time to look at these.

The entire idea for this blog comes, basically, from Chick-fil-A. Let's be clear about something, I friggen love their food. I would eat there regularly if I wasn't such a relatively healthy person.

However, due to circumstance and social circles, I have quite a few people who I consider friends in the LGBTQ+ community. So you can see the conflict there. While I don't know that the company's founders have changed their tune on gay rights, they have stopped donating to organizations who openly oppose gay marriage, so that conflict has softened a little bit. On the flip side, as one of my friends pointed out the other day, their sauce packets make a rainbow, so...?

Now I've floated the idea in my head for quite sometime about posting a blog relating to privilege because as a 6'7" fit white male in his 30's, I know it, but I haven't quite yet compiled all my thoughts on the issue. I do not subscribe, however, to the idea that others gaining the same rights and privileges I have in any way lessens my own. That's ludicrous.

So, here's the thing, I fancy myself as an ally. I'm trying, admittedly not as hard as I can, to stand up for marginalized groups. I also think that one of the best things I can do to do right now is raise Everett to do the same, but better than I do. Maybe it's a symptom of the culture, or an effect thereof, not sure how to define the difference, honestly, but I know I mess up doing this constantly.

If I'm truly going to be an ally, I have to admit to past wrongdoings. Chief among those is cracking or laughing at jokes where people of color, LGBTQ+, women, or countless other groups are the punchline. I did it. I'm not proud of it. It was stupid and I'm sorry. I am trying constantly to do better and, even though I know I have setbacks, I am confident I am.

The dilemma that often rises for me (and I'm sure others who fancy themselves allies) is when that desire to help faces off with things that we've long enjoyed, used, or participated in. The Chick-fil-A example is just one. What if a favorite artist or actor gets caught in a controversy? What about when a local business, which may be the only one you can easily get to for some essential, gets nailed for being bigoted? What then?

I haven't stopped eating at Chick-fil-A, so I'm glad they've begun changing, however incrementally. While the opportunity to eat at Jimmy John's doesn't come up all that often, I'm mostly avoiding them because of the founder's obsession with trophy hunting. I prefer Papa Murphy's to Papa John's, but there's a guy who seems to have no interest in redemption.

Above all that, the group that I have the hardest time really being a good ally for is women. The reason is simple, I have to overcome a certain level of systemic... training?

See, so many things that were considered chivalrous really are kinda demeaning. It's not that we shouldn't do things for women, it's that it shouldn't necessarily be limited to women...I think. Again, this is where I don't really know. As mentioned in a previous blog, I do consider myself to be a feminist, but I'm not always sure how to do that well. It upsets me when what I think would be a good-intentioned gesture by myself or someone else, gets reprimanded as misogynistic.

Realistically, I suppose that the answer has more to do with dialogue than anything. We all likely need to be more open-minded to people's intentions and reactions. I should know that. Perhaps the most valuable thing taught in communication courses is that the message is never really up to the sender, but rather the receiver. While I would never intentionally demean a woman's intelligence, ability, or worth, I'm sure I do it unintentionally.

Yes, the idea of open-minded dialogue is a microcosm of something that has to happen in the world as a whole. I am absolutely guilty of closing my mind off when people start talking about certain topics or topics from certain perspectives. I am working on that because I believe it's not enough to talk the talk, I need to walk the walk.

As always, I appreciate you reading this. I have to share an anecdote I thought was really funny that relates to this. Back in early fall, one of my fourth graders told me I throw like a girl. I, of course, knew he was kidding, but I asked, "Why would you think that's an insult?" He wasn't sure what to say, but I didn't expect him to say, "Because I assumed your gender?" WHAT?! I really wasn't sure what to say so when I finished laughing I told him I'd let him tell the softball players and volleyball players that he thought throwing like a girl was an insult. He didn't like that idea.