Aggravation

Actually a pretty fun game.

Actually a pretty fun game.

I’m not sure about the world. I’m not sure about the country. I’m not sure about the state, region, county, or you. However, I’m absolutely positive about me. I am fed up.

That’s right, absolutely sick and tired of the way things are. How are things? Aggravating, to say the least.

We live in a world where mass murder masquerades as political or religious activism. Every single day there are multiple people killed, maimed, or injured by lunatics that feel the need to prove that they… actually I don’t know what they are trying to prove, but they are insane.

On top of that, we are filled with anger and vitriol. Political arguments have this country more divided that I have ever seen it. Of course, I’ve only been paying attention for the past 10-15 years. I know that, historically, things got pretty bad, but we’re not living then, we are now. The now is filled with the 24-hour news channels, talk-radio, and sound bites; all driving us further from discourse, cooperation, and compassion.

I really don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on. Demublican or Repocrat, I don’t care. Yet, we have to get to the point where we stop calling everyone idiots and listen to what they have to say. Try to see things from the other person’s point of view. We rail against the Iran’s and North Korea’s of the world, but are our political tirades any more civil? If the wingers on either side had the option to destroy the other, would they? Based solely on the rhetoric I’ve seen, the answer to that question scares me.

We are in the wake of a tragedy here. These always bring unity, but I really wish we didn’t have to wait for one.

 I could go off on all the individual issues at hand, but chances are you have already made up your mind about those and we won’t do anything other than get mad or at best waste time arguing.

One thing remains that I will address. We, as a country, as a nation, as a people need to return to one thing. The one that that we have lost since “The Greatest Generation” served our country (and arguments could be made there as well).

That thing is Honor.

We as a people, have lost this (if we ever had it). We have kids in our schools today that have no desire to succeed. I began teaching only five years ago. At that time, I dealt with a class that had one or two people that didn’t care. One or two, that ruined everything for the rest. Now, in half a decade, we have a group that has no motivation and no interest, couple with three or four that want to do the right thing.

I fear for us as a country. Not because of some great “liberal” threat, or horrid “conservative” plot, but because we are no longer instilling a sense of honor in our children. Maybe, we’ve never done that. Maybe I’m speaking out of naivety, but the fact remains, we need a change.

That change won’t come from a political leader. It won’t come from some great hope-bringer. It will come from you. It will come from me.

It will come from teaching our children that everyone is important. That there is no one beneath you, and there is no one above you. We must be, as our country aimed at the beginning, equal.  We must be willing to work for that equality, and work for our place in this world.  Everyone must pull their own “fair share.” Not just the rich, not just the middle class, not just the poor, but everyone.

It’s not about politics, it’s not about religion, it’s about respecting those around us.

I’m not saying that I’ve always been perfect at this. I’m not saying that you and I can fix this overnight. But the effort must be made.

 

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Drivers, start your….

image from bleacherreport.com

image from bleacherreport.com

Here in the South, we like sports. Football, Basketball, Baseball, even the occasional Hockey or Soccer. There is one polarizing sport that, although it happens across the country, remains a Southern Staple. NASCAR.

Many view the sport as one big left-turn. While that is technically true, to leave your assumptions there would be a disservice both to the sport and to yourself.

NASCAR is a high-octane blend of Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Mechanics, Intuition, and Skill.  From calculating minute to minute gas mileage, to adjusting the near microscopic details of the wedge, downforce, and air flow throughout the car, math and science take the wheel every time the green flag waves.

To simply assume that there is nothing of value in the sport, is to show prejudice and close-mindedness. NASCAR is like any other sport, there is drama, action, emotion, and no real logical reason for it to exist.

 

The Daytona 500 was this week. As you can see from the picture, they used to actually race on the beach itself. This Sunday marked the ending one of the shortest off seasons in sports. NASCAR ends in November and begins again in late February. Basically, they take Christmas off.

A tragedy struck during the Grand National series, over 30 people were injured. One of the young rookies had his car utterly destroyed. The engine made it into the stands as did quite a bit of debris.  There were no fatalities, to me that is a testament to the safety of these cars and these races.

A few years back, I was a Talladega when a similar wreck happened. A car was forced into the fence separating the crowd from the action. That time the fence held, but injuries still happened.

However, when you consider that a stock car weighs no less than 3,400 lbs and they travel a speeds reaching (and sometimes passing) 200mph, it’s amazing that more injuries don’t happen. The reason for this, is that millions of dollars go into researching ways to make tracks safer for both the drivers and the fans. New safety measures and precautions are implemented every year, creating an ever safer sport for all involved.

Like any sport, stock car racing has it’s dangers, but overall safety is the number one concern. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved in the weekend’s accidents.

 

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What’s up Doc…

The doctor’s office is rarely a pleasant experience for anyone. Here in the South it’s no different. I sit here today with a feverish, coughy, sneezy little boy.

So far, his two biggest worries have been getting a shot (not happening) and being up too high on the exam table. Of course he quickly decided to jump off of said table so he could climb back up.

Boys will be boys, even with a low grade fever.

Here’s to getting the little fella well, and stopping the fussin’.

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Whether the weather is cold…

One of my favorite tWP_000867hings about living in the South is the weather. You really never know. I’ve seen 70 degrees and sunny in January and I’ve seen snow in April. I’ve joked that in the South we have two seasons, Summer and the rest of the year. However, we’ve actually had some winter weather this week.  Granted it was 63 last Saturday.

The picture was taken outside off my front porch and it shows what we normally get here. Not fluffy blankets of snow, but hard hitting ice. Back in ’94 we had a terrible Ice Storm. As a matter of fact, it is still called “The Ice Storm.” Power was out for much of the county for two weeks. The ice, when it comes, coats the pine trees and drags them to the ground. If it’s too much you can hear the popping and the cracking of wood before they crash to the ground. But the most “fun” is the ice coated powerlines. You get to watch the lights in your house dim and flicker and finally go out as the weight gets to be too much for the lines to handle.

Thankfully, we have some great electric crews, law officers, and emergency personnel to keep us safe. That being said, here in the South we have a few rules for winter weather to keep you safe and secure and keep these nice folks from having to come get you.

Rule #1 Before the storm hits, rush to the store and buy all of the Milk, Eggs, and Bread you can find.

I’m not sure why we do this. The weather is normally clear in two days, at most. I guess it’s a hold over from the 2 weeks in ’94. While you’re out buying I recommend picking up some syrup, that way you can make french toast.

Rule #2 Fill up every vehicle and every tank you have with gas.

You can do this while you are out getting the groceries, saves a trip that way. Plus you never know, you may have to soak your furniture with gasoline so you can burn it for warmth. A lot can happen in 48 hours of cold.

Rule #3 Have an alternate heat source.

Your gasoline soaked furniture will only last so long. Have a pile of wood from last spring near by, or a kerosene heater, or lots of blankets and some really close friends. Either way, electricity goes out. Have a back-up.

Rule #4 Call everyone you know and compare stories about the last spat of bad weather.

This is so your friends and family will be prepared. Also, to let you know who is better prepared in case you’d rather hole up there.

Rule #5 Make sure you, or someone near by has a chainsaw and a Four-Wheel Drive.

This is to make sure you can get out the next day. Some people still have to make the dangerous trek through one inch of snow to get to work.

Rule #6 Stay home.

Seriously, this is the South. We have no clue how to drive on Ice and Snow. The only thing that can happen by getting out is property damage and bodily harm.

Rule #7 Get out of the House.

Who am I kidding, no one in the South has ever been stopped by property damage or bodily harm. But, make sure you are out riding with the guy in the 4×4.

Rule #8 Be careful.

Everyone wants to see how bad the ice is. But in all reality, it is dangerous so be careful.

Rule #9 Don’t drive into a ditch.

However, if you do. Don’t worry too much. Some guy named Bubba will be along with a Chainsaw and a 4×4 to pull you out. Don’t offer to pay them, they live for this.

Rule #10 Keep cold weather gear in your car.

It may take Bubba a while to get there, he’s busy pulling everyone else out of the ditch.

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Built to last

We’ve all said, or at least heard that, “they don’t build ‘em like they used to.” In many cases, that is completely true. Products today often have a ‘planned obsolescence,’ meaning they things are meant to breakdown so that they must be replaced.

In days gone by, things were build to last. Today people are too poor to buy high quality items, people used to be too poor to waste money on cheap items.

This house pictured is called Grassmere, it was built in the early 1800′s. It has survived droughts, storms, the Civil War, financial problems, and recently… The Nashville Floods. It is around 90% original, a very impressive feat.

One thing that we need to remember, is that we are built to last. We’re not built to be replaced. Grow, improve, become more than we are… Yes, but not replaced.

Like any well built item, we have a purpose; Something we are designed to do. We are also not easily broken. We can last. We can succeed, we can persevere.

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Consumption vs. Creation

Photo by Bryan Huff This Picture is also from our production of “The Hobbit.” It was taken by local Photographer Bryan Huff from a CGI Dragon we made for the show. We used a program from DAZ 3D to create it.

Honestly, I’m a bit of a tech junkie. Being from the rural South used to make this very difficult. Things are getting better, but high-speed internet is still very limited in this area. Still, I like gadgets and I like to use them for multiple purposes.

I currently have a tablet that is mostly designed for day-to-day consumption of entertainment (That make sense being since it was created by an on-line entertainment empire). Although I highly enjoy the reading, watching movies, playing games, and web-browsing that this enables; ultimately, it leaves me wanting more.

You see, I believe that it is not enough to simply consume. While it may be enjoyable for a time, it will either leave us empty or bloated. In order to maintain a balance, we must also create.

That’s kind of what this blog is about. I enjoy writing. I’m not a very good painter. Sculpture is way out of my league. I like making films, but the time constraints on those make it an arduous process. Writing however is immediate and simple.

While I am working on assorted novels and play scripts, they are also a long and creative process. Writing this allows me to organize my thoughts, share them (with the two or three of you reading this), and clear my head.

I whole heartedly believe that this is absolutely necessary. Not the blog, but the clearing of the head and the organization of thoughts. You don’t have to write. Maybe you paint, maybe you draw, sew, knit, craft, make wooden bears with a log and a chainsaw. I don’t know what your talents are, but you need to be creating something.

We cannot go through our lives simple consuming the creations of others. We need to work with our hands, our minds.  Do something that allows you to relieve stress and focus.

I’ll even make a deal with you. You create it, and I’ll consume it.

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Back in the saddle

It’s been a while since the last posting. I promise that I have not forgotten about the blog. However, I have grossly miscalculated my commitments. Something had to take a hiatus, and this blog is what took the hit.

That being said, it is time to return to what makes the South what it is. Or at least to show a side that many never see.

One of my more recent endeavors, takes the form of a stage play. This December, Acclaimed director Peter Jackson, will release the first film in his trilogy of movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Personally, I am greatly looking forward to this film. So, I decided that our local arts organization should capitalize on it.

Therefore, we are performing our rendition of “J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit dramatized by Patricia Gray.” While it is not completely accurate to the novel, it is a well written attempt that gets the kids involved and allows them to have a great deal of fun.

Directing this show has been a great pleasure and a new opportunity for us to perform daytime shows for the local schools.

We live in an extremely rural community. The poverty rate among our high school students is over 60%. Yet, there are still those in our community willing to put time and effort into the arts. To give students positive experiences that will help build confidence and work to remove that dreaded fear of speaking (or performing) in front of a group.

Again, we may be a rural community, but that doesn’t mean that we all spend our time in the backwoods with no shoes on (not that there is anything wrong with that, Hobbits don’t wear shoes either).

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Oh what a tangled…

Some of the simplest things in life are also the most beautiful. What you see here is a beautiful spider lounging in the results of its hard work.

It is an intricate and gorgeous creation. However, it is ultimately fleeting. In a few short hours it will be torn down, hopefully with a meal inside. The spider will spend the day resting and begin the same task tomorrow night.

Many people have told me to kill this spider, but I see it as a harmless visitor to accompany my nightly canine feeding ritual. In fact, his eating of other bugs is actually helpful.

Have you ever felt like your work is temporary, As if you’re doing the same thing over and over? Remember, even the most common, everyday things can be beautiful when seen from a different angle.

 

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Are you ready for some…

Well, It’s that time of year again. My wife always says that you can tell that fall is coming by the little yellow butterflies. While they are beautiful, and there is a very sweet story behind that, it’s not how I recognize the impending arrival of autumn.

For me, it’s a bit different. I realize fall is here when the focus falls to football. (Yes, I realize that the rest of the world calls soccer, futbol… and that it is the most played sport in the world… yada yada yada) Here in the South, football is a big deal. I mean huge. In small towns like ours, there isn’t much to do on an average Friday night. So, High School Football brings out the town.

You can argue about safety, benefits of organized sports and all kinds of things. But the point is, it brings the community together and gives a common denominator for folks to talk about. Not just football, but all kids sports.

The picture is actually from a Junior High Jamboree. I was in the press box, handling the PA announcements. Now that fall is coming, football will rule the weekends. Thursday brings out the Jr. High. High School follows up on Friday. College gives their all on Saturday. Then the pros bring the show for Sunday.

So here is my challenge, go watch a game. Preferably Jr. High or High School. I don’t care if you are a sports nut, or if you can’t tell a pigskin from a horse collar. Just go watch a game. Then ask yourself, when is that last time I put that much effort into something? When did I last work, train, practice that hard? I’m sure there is something in your life that is worth that effort, so go out and make it. Bring your A-Game. Be the best you can be. Get out there and win one for the Gipper. Because, we need that effort. We need to try our best so we know how good it feels.

If you’ve been just coasting, just making it though the day. Pull out all the stops. Just this once, and see what happens. You might just like it.

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Patina

Old F2The last post talked about old things being cool again. They are. A while back, a picture of this truck accompanied an entry on being out of place. Today we talk about patina.

Just in case you aren’t aware, the patina is defined as: “a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use” -Merriam-Webster

In my opinion, the patina on this old Ford is both beautiful and tragic. Beautiful in an old timey, remember your past sort of way, but tragic in the fact that it was left to rot. That such a beautiful old truck could be left to its own devices.

Don’t worry, I’m not just writing about a truck. Because you and I both have a patina, too. We have bumps and scrapes, dents and ding, even a few rust spots. Yet, we keep can keep going. We can still be useful and serve a purpose, even with our problems.

You see, I know more about this old truck than you probably do (unless you’re family reading this). It’s a 1951 Ford F-2, and it’s nearly complete. The engine is there, all the interior parts are in tact. If you look closely, you can even see there are still bulbs in the tail-lights. The point is, everything that made it work is still there. It needs some work, but it’s there.

You and I are the same way. We may have problems. We may have even broken down, but our parts are still there. The things that we need to keep moving forward are still in place, we just need to do some restoration. It can be hard work to bring a rusty classic back up to showroom quality, but it can be done. If you’re willing to put forth the effort, you can do the implausible.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too old, too young, too broken, too hurt, too impossibly optimistic. Because, we can all be restored.

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