My Outrageous Son

While back East on Father’s Day, I made the mistake of leaving my Blog site up on my daughter-in-law’s computer and my middle son posted a Blog under my name. I took it down after a few minutes of exposure on my site but saved it because I am always desperate to keep up with blogging daily and figured I could use it if only to set the record straight. I do not believe I have a favorite son (as he had me writing in the version below) although I will admit that he is the most like me (punishment for both of us). At work in Wichita, I once came upon a colleague’s untended computer and sent out an email lavishly praising me to his email distribution. Dustin’s fraudulent Blog (which he titled My Favorite Son): My whole life I tried to make sure I never played favorites with my three sons. We went to great pains to always treat them equally. But I just read an article about how kids can pick up on subtle clues parents think they are hiding, and have a very keen perception of who the favorites are and are not. And the funniest thing? Sociologists say it doesn’t harm the kids. That it’s a natural part of all families. So I’ve decided to go ahead and admit it. I have a favorite. I’ve always had a favorite. It’s Dustin. Dustin is my favorite.

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Degree of Difficulty

My wife and I spent the last week back East celebrating our middle son’s 40th birthday. When Dustin was young, he loved to have me throw a baseball or football to him. But he did not want an easy toss. He demanded that the ball be far enough away from him that he could make a sensational catch. This was more difficult than it would seem. If my son caught the ball, the throw was too easy by definition. So I would pitch ball after ball that was either too easy or just out of his reach. This would annoy us both. He expected perfection as if I were a Seahawk quarterback or a Mariners pitcher. I developed strategies of screaming in awe if he left his feet and had to dive, giving degree of difficulty credit for catches made when darkness intruded. I was amused this past week to find that Dustin’s own six year old son is repeating this very same scenario. I do not know if this is a genetic predisposition or if this commonly occurs with fathers and sons. I do know that when I accomplish something like graduating from college or running a marathon, the very fact that I was able to do it lessens the significance of the accomplishment in my mind. It does not erase the satisfaction but it makes me less impressed with the degree of difficulty.

Dad

My fondest memory of my Dad probably does not reflect well on either of us. It began when I knocked the right headlight of his car out by scraping a bridge after a high school Junior Prom. The other headlight went dead as part of the great design of the infamous Corvair. Afraid to go home, I drove four of us around with no lights until picked up by a policeman. He impounded the car and took us all to the police station. He took great pleasure in calling each of the parents and telling them to pick up their children. My date’s Mom gave me a look that would have killed a lesser man. The officer called my Dad last and started sputtering at my Dad’s response, which I learned later was: “So what else is new?” My Dad hated anyone having an advantage on him. He was not exactly happy with me when he accompanied me to traffic court. At some point he must have sensed my apparent insolent attitude was going to hurt me and he yelled out from the gallery, “He’ll be lucky to drive before he is 21 when I get through with him.” I was stunned. The Judge must have felt I was in enough trouble with my redneck father and let me off with a requirement to take driver’s education (not mandatory for getting a license in those days). We walked to the parking lot and I asked Dad if he could drop me off at my CYO baseball game. He said, “You drop me off at the house and take the car.” What a powerful feeling to know that my Dad was in my corner against the world and what a powerful man to have in my corner.

300

The number 300 is very significant. I remember when Mickey Mantle (1960), Willie Mays (1961), and Hank Aaron (1963) hit their 300th career homers and it seemed like a meaningful milestone. Bowling 300 is a big time achievement (at least to me as I have never even rolled a 200). The famous historical fiction/fantasy movie 300 tells the tale of 300 Spartan warriors who battled 300,000 Persians. The movie has spawned at least one other 300 sequel. The new Trump book 300 Lies is also expected to stimulate sequels. So I was kind of expecting my 300th blog posting to be something noteworthy. I woke up this morning with great anticipation only to be disappointed when I found another baseball blog. I guess my 400th post will have to be the big one. After all, Mantle, Mays, and Aaron were celebrated even more grandly when they hit their 400th homers later in the 1960’s. Meanwhile my struggle to bowl 200 is about as likely to succeed as Ichiro ever ¬†hitting a 200th homer.

Swimming Upstream

I cannot figure out why I am such a poor swimmer. I know why I am a horrible biker and skier: I have a fear of going fast on steep hills and navigating in high traffic areas. I know my balance is not very good. I am also not very talented at maintaining equipment like bikes and skis. I am certainly not efficient in shifting gears or using ski poles. But swimming has no equipment. I am not overweight and I am in decent shape for aerobic activity. I have been swimming all my life, taken lessons, finished second in some grade school race, have no unusual fear of the water, and enjoy doing it. It only seems fair if I assume God decided I could be good at either swimming or blogging and He chose blogging. But my family assures me He did not choose blogging. I started thinking about what my gift was and had a sinking insight. What if I had a calling I did not discover? What if I was supposed to be a world class curler or an innovative glass blower? Maybe one of my readers should be President of the United States right now but chose not to attend the Wharton School at Penn or buy real estate at pivotal junctures in life.

The Potters

Ancestry.com has confirmed that Harry Potter is a direct descendant of the Potters that can be traced back to Jerusalem in the first century. The early Potters were involved in the business of clay and pottery. Later they franchised cemeteries under the Potter’s Field name. Hart Island in New York is the flagship Potter’s Field, home to one million bodies. But the most famous Potter’s Field is the original one purchased with Judas Iscariot’s thirty pieces of silver. Many songs and novels include references to a Potter’s Field. Allegedly several of those cemeteries are spawning grounds for zombies. Beatrix Potter, the author of the Tale of Peter Rabbit, is one of so many famous Potters who have excelled in other fields. Meanwhile My Heritage lists only 95 surviving Iscariots in the world, including 45 in the United States and 11 each in The Philippines and Malaysia. None are anywhere near as famous or infamous as Judas. He once had what he thought was a good idea but had no exit strategy and came to regret his action almost immediately. I know what that feels like and this Blog posting is an example of misguided impulse on a much smaller scale.

Civics

In Civics class, we all learned that the three branches of government in the United States (Republicans, Democrats, and Media) were designed to act as checks and balances on each other. In theory, this works. But over the centuries, the original consensus that balance is necessary got swallowed up by the natural inclinations to maximize advocacy. In the United States, that results in presidents like Franklin Roosevelt trying to pack the Supreme Court, Congress developing filibuster techniques, and courts being accused of legislating. Revolution and Civil War are the historical answers when balances get too far out of alignment. While some revolutions and wars do indeed restore a better balance, many over correct. I had the answer to this written down but left my notes in Seattle before travelling back to Washington D.C. this week. So I am woefully unprepared if I am able corner any Republicans, Democrats, or CNN reporters here in the nation’s capital. This is probably no great loss as I doubt anyone would listen to me anyway.

The James Gang

While travelling, I have not been able to watch CNN 24 hours each day, so my wife has summarized the past week’s coverage. She says the James brothers (Clapper and former FBI Director Covfefe) have been gunning for President Trump. The Donald and his gang have responded with cries of a witch hunt. Early witch hunts described the hysteria surrounding accusations against purported witches invoking evil spirits in places like Salem. In modern day, witch hunts are used to identify those seeking to discredit a President trying hard to deal with difficult issues like Syrian unrest, health care, and the economy. A recent example would be those who perpetuated the hoax that President Obama falsified his birth certificate. Without Hilary Clinton to hunt, the Trump Gang is lobbing Liar bombs back at the James Gang. The news media demands to know who is lying. I told my wife to put out the word that everyone (including Sheriff Media) is lying. Or at least spinning, omitting, and generally doing everything to disguise the truth. She thinks I am a spinner too, so I am forced to use this valuable blog space I was going to devote to Ichiro to get my own political truth out.

Facebook Friends

My brother Jamie died in 2015 but I received a notification from Facebook this year on June 8th that I should wish him a Happy Birthday. I navigated to his Facebook page and found that 33 of his 86 followers had wished him birthday greetings. Most said, “Happy Birthday, James” with a few minor variations. They did not seem to be memorial testimonials, even though I had posted a “rest in peace” note back in 2015 and corresponded with a few people who actually knew Jamie. I am not at all disturbed by these post death salutations because I am sure protocols exist for removing Facebook accounts in such cases. And I have done nothing to invoke them. But I find it interesting that the previous postings to this year’s birthday barrage were the 2016 birthday acknowledgments. Fully 63 people sent greetings that year. So attrition is steep. Possibly some people learned Jamie had died. Or perhaps when Jamie was not reciprocating with Happy Birthday back at some Facebook friends, they lost interest in the annual connection. Some of these friending rituals seem designed to build up friend totals for people who like to collect internet friends. I can see the attraction in that game. I could get addicted to hitting a milestone like making friend number 1000. I am especially interested in seeing how many people will still wish Jamie a Happy Birthday in 2018. But I have a sister who just became a Facebook user and she was not amused to get a prompt to consider friending Jamie. I am so afraid she will initiate protocols to eliminate his page and spoil all the fun.

Oblivious

When we were 21 and on a road trip, Mollie and I stopped for lunch at a Howard Johnson type restaurant on the freeway exit. We were full of ourselves, giggly and in love, oblivious to the universe around us. We were sitting at a counter and finally realized we were not getting served. When we caught the eye of a waitress, she let us know she was not going to serve us and that we could try to get someone else. Apparently we were being accused of laughing at her. We were incredulous because we had no idea what she was talking about. Perhaps she dropped something or maybe she just thought we were mocking her. But we had only eyes for each other and had not even seen her. We were in the deep South but had been treated well everywhere else we went. We decided to start over and scurried over to a restaurant on the other side of the freeway. As someone who thinks everything is all about me, it should have taught me that everyone is probably not thinking and talking about me all the time. Others around me are apparently caught up in their own worlds. But it did not teach me that at all. Here I am 48 years later blogging about myself because I think readers are starving for any little details about me!