Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Olympic Ambivalence

 

The 2018  Winter Olympics are now officially underway, the opening ceremonies from Pyeongchang, South Korea were visually stunning, the commentary from Mike Tirico and Katie Couric more restrained and intelligent than is sometimes the case at these events. Other than the awkwardness of Vice President Mike Pence refusing to stand for the united Korean team while sitting next to Kim Jong Un’s sister the spirit of international competition and sportsmanship seems off to a good start.

I’ll confess to having a hard time summoning interest, to finding others that seem interested.

I used to be, used to look forward to these games as much as any other sporting event on the calendar.

1984 was the year that I really first started paying attention. The summer games were held in Los Angeles meaning that all the good stuff happened at times where we could watch it live. I was at my grandparent’s house and that was all we watched the entire week. Carl Lewis and Edwin Moses were setting records, Mary Lou Retton became a house hold name long before just about anybody was able to be and Bobby Knight coached some up and coming basketball players  named Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing to a gold medal eight years before the formation of the first Dream Team.

It was the winter games though, held in Sarejevo, where I first realized how important these were to some people. In those days we got a whole week off from school for February vacation and once again I was spending the week with my grandparents, once again we watched from the opening ceremony on. The star power wasn’t the same, Scott Hamilton and Torvill and Dean the only names that I’d recognize now, but what these games had that the summer didn’t was participation by the Soviet Union, a country hated by my Lithuanian grandparents with a vitriol I was too young to fully understand.

What I understood was that they were the bad guys and the United States were the good guys. I kept a small notebook and studiously kept track of the medal counts, updating it with the results from the previous night every morning. It was years later before we found out that the Easts Germans and Soviet athletes were all artificially enhanced but I remember our disappointment at the American poor showing.

I try to get my daughter interested but other than to ask if I can take her ice skating, skiing or bobsledding some time she just wants to know when we are going to put “her shows” back on. After my promises that there wouldn’t be any more football on Sundays I think she feels tricked. She understands team sports, needs to know which color jersey to root for. Friday night was spent learning about other countries and cultures at a Girl Scout event called “World Thinking Day.” It seems off somehow to follow that up with a weekend of hyper-nationalism.

She’s still a few years too young to appreciate the years of hard work and dedication of these athletes, to marvel at what they are accomplishing, but that doesn’t explain my ambivalence.

I’m as patriotic as the next guy. We said the Pledge of Allegiance before her scouting event, stand for the Anthem and have a flag waving in our front yard. Its fun to hate the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers but don’t need an artificial “bad guy” to appreciate sports or feats of athletic excellence.

The truth is that I don’t know, a somewhat anticlimactic end to this post, I know. Maybe it’s the lack of NHL players in the hockey tournament or any other names that I recognize. Maybe the Korean setting reminds me of the jingoism of our leaders and the apocalyptic consequences that could result from too much national pride. Maybe I’m just sick of this damn winter and don’t feel like watching other people have more fun in the snow than I’ve had.

Anybody else feeling this way?

 

 

Not Everybody Sucks

 

I don’t usually get overly excited about the start of a new year, the idea that the flipping of a calendar is going to lead to any sort of renewal or change in fortunes one that seems a bit silly to me. That being said, I’ll admit to hoping that the beginning of 2018 would be a happier time than the last few months of 2017. I’ve been a bit down lately Thirsty Nation. I’ve been a bit down and the main reason why is people, specifically grown up people. Too many of them just seem to really suck.

Many of you currently reading are “real life” friends with my wife and I and may have recently seen a Facebook posting about a leaky pipe in our basement. You also probably know that my skills in fixing problems of this nature are only moderately more helpful than those of our six year old. If it can’t be fixed with massive amounts of duct tape, chances are that I’m not going to be able to fix it.

With the previous person that would have been called for assistance now falling into the category of “people that really, really suck”, a call for recommendations was issued.

It was answered quickly, a friend of the missus messaging her with the name and number of a guy that worked with pipes for a living and would more than happy to come over and take a look at the situation.

This, it turns out, was a surprise to the guy, his actual profession as some sort of nuclear engineer at the power plant only marginally “pipe” related. I can’t say with certainty what his thoughts may have been about a random woman calling and asking if he’d be willing to come over and help her with her plumbing, but if he’d seen any of the same “movies” that I have over the years, I can venture a guess. Obviously, some sort of secret spy mission.

The other obvious scenario was that he was being lured to our house, naturally located in the woods at the end of a dead end street, so that his organs could be harvested and sold on the black market, something that he admitted to thinking as he drove up our darkened hill. He thought that but continued anyway. A complete stranger, with no actual plumbing background, taking time out of his day to journey across town to see if he could help, then returning the following day with the necessary parts and refusing any monetary compensation for his trouble. For those of you that thought I was referring to a different type of movie earlier, he received no other compensation either and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

I’m not usually a fan of unknown men coming to my house while I’m at work at night and hope that this doesn’t become a regular occurrence, but in this instance I’m grateful. My basement is dry, everybody involved still has their organs intact and in the following days enough people reached out to us that if the problem recurs we have a few other numbers to call.

It was also a good reminder that not everybody sucks. I won’t be overly dramatic and say that my faith in humanity has been restored, but it’s good to be reminded of that every once in a while.

 

 

 

Early Morning Lessons in Political Correctness

 

In my last post I opened with a bit of a humble brag about my daughter’s ability to amuse herself for a time on weekend mornings, a few words about how I’d come to appreciate the ability to sleep past the first rays of sunshine a few days a week. Naturally this immediately came back to bite me in the ass, as only a few days after hitting publish I came downstairs to be greeted by this early morning surprise:

 

the trouble with books?
the face you make when you realize thats permanent marker

 

Was she trying out a new superhero look, emulating her favorite professional wrestler, or adding some camouflage before another attempt at scaring the crap out of me by hiding behind the computer desk?

Unfortunately, all no. She was trying to look like an “Indian Chief.”

Uh, oh.

The culprit for this episode of crass cultural appropriation was identified quickly, a Peter Pan book that we had read a few nights earlier. I had cringed at the time, set it aside for future “recycling” alongside a Skippyjon Jones book that I still can’t figure out if it is racist or not, and thought nothing more of it. Another reminder that not everything in the huge collection of hand me down and tag sale books that we have accumulated has aged particularly well.

I’ve always tried to be somewhat cautious in the degree of political correctness that I embrace. I think most of us will agree that it was a good idea that Speedy Gonzalez and the skunk running around Paris trying to rape the painted kitty were retired but I have a hard time taking seriously the idea that G I Joe furthered  the agenda of the military industrial complex perpetuated by Reagan’s obsession with winning the Cold War. If the worst thing that our children are subjected to on a typical Saturday morning is the fat shaming of Daddy Pig by his family then I think that is progress that should be celebrated.

It made for an oddly difficult conversation, my attempts at explaining why we shouldn’t color our faces with permanent marker more successful than those trying to convince her that actual Native Americans might become upset about her pretending to be one of them or seeing the manner in which they were depicted in her book.

How much good I did is debatable but it was a good reminder that teachable moments can be upon us at any time. Also that I should probably spend some time going through all these old books we have lying around and hide the markers.

 

 

 

Opinions of The Year

 

2017 may be best remembered as “the year of the opinion.”  As the saying goes, much like a-holes we all have them, but this was the year when everybody decided to share them. Politics, tragedy, and a seemingly endless stream of controversy leading to vocalization of beliefs that led many to look at their co-workers, friends and even sometimes family a bit differently, people that we thought we knew suddenly on the other side of an increasingly wide chasm.

I count myself among these keyboard warriors, spending way too many nights engaged in debate with those whose opinions I had no chance of changing. Many of these times I enjoyed, intelligent discourse leading to interesting discussion. Other times I just got angry.

Some of the things I wrote led to loss of readers, some even to loss of campaign opportunities. I’m happy to say that I don’t think any led to a loss of friendship, something that I’m proud of.

These are my ten favorite non-parenting posts of the year, much like my parenting list from yesterday, a difficult one to narrow down. I’ve always been one to write about whatever I feel like, abandoning my niche and rambling as the mood strikes, but like everyone else it seems, 2017 led me down this road more often than year’s past. Not all of these are controversial but be warned, not all of my opinions are ones you’d agree with.

 

Sore Losers, Hoping For Failure  I’ll just get this one out of the way right from the start. I’m on record as saying that it was with bile swallowing shame that I pulled the lever for Hillary Clinton, but my hatred of her opponent hasn’t diminished any since the election. This one partly explains why and was one of my most read, most shared pieces of the year.

Stick To Your Own Bedrooms  I never cared much for people telling me what I could and couldn’t do based purely on their ideas of morality. I didn’t attend the Fetish Flea Market this year, but I’d like to reserve the right to do so in the future if I decide to.

Confession of a Cry Baby  Nothing controversial here, just me making fun of myself for being a big baby. Based on the dust that apparently found itself into my eyes at the end of CoCo, not much has changed there.

Adrian Peterson? F That Guy   I was surprised by the amount of New England Patriots fans that were offended by my view that they shouldn’t want this piece of trash on their team when he became available. I stand by the fact that I will root against any team that ever employs him.

Politicizing Tragedy For as many times as I’ve been called a “snowflake” or “libtard’ over the past few years, I’m actually very centrist, very moderate, leaning towards what I call “common sense.” It pisses me off when I see people on either side of the aisle use tragedy to try and further their own agenda.

Beaten For Helping  A reminder to not believer everything you see on Facebook, to research before you share. People’s lives and reputations are being ruined.

The Good Old Days  An afternoon spent drinking Zima and thinking back on those mythic times in our past when we were happy and care free.

No One To Cheer In This Fight  Written in the days prior to the Mayweather – McGregor fight. The world is full of shades of grey, the good and bad guys not always easily distinguishable. The appeal of sports is that you can usually just choose a side and feel OK with that choice.

I Stand, But I Support Those That Take A Knee  I just can’t seem to keep my mouth shut about Colin Kaepernick and the other athletes taking a knee before the National Anthem. This one led to the only time I really got any negative comments on the Thirsty Daddy Facebook page.

Reluctant Lessons For Darkened Sidewalks Written just before the #metoo movement put those in positions of power on notice. This is a topic that I hope to one day be able to stop writing about. Not because I’m the father of girls, but because everybody should be able to walk down a darkened sidewalk without worry.

 

controversial posts of 2017

 

 

Favorites of The Year

 

There is a lot that I have come to enjoy about blogging, a hobby that I never would have expected to have started. There is the extra few bucks every now and again and the ego stroking of course, but also the creative outlet, the documentation of my children’s lives, and the satisfaction of having built something for myself.

There is also the community, an unexpected making of new online friends that support each other not only relating to each other’s writing  but with real-world issues as well.  Genuinely nice people that I have been fortunate to connect with.

In one of my many blogging Facebook groups an idea was put forth recently to share our most read posts of the year, the idea being that it would help each other gain some insight into what people are interested on clicking on. I wasn’t surprised to find that mine was A Dad’s Guide to Disney, by far the most “Google friendly” title you’ll find in these archives, but I was surprised by how many other things I’d written over the past year that I’d forgotten about.

With that in mind I put together a list of my ten favorites of 2017, a process much harder than I anticipated. Some of the pieces I’m most proud of were political, sports, or current events related and may make up a separate list in the days to come, but for today I narrowed it down to parenting musings and recollections.

 

Why Rush to Grow Up?   From this time last year. Both my daughters still seem to be rushing headlong into adulthood. Adulthood sucks. I want to be their ages again.

My Baby Forever  A long, cold night last January and a late night writing session. This one still makes me a little misty.

The Baby Garden   Not the first or the last time I made a complete mess out of trying to explain to the six year old where babies come from.

T Shirts and Tattoos  Some thoughts on changing priorities and changing wardrobe choices. Also a gratuitous picture of my backside.

Holding Her Hand, Picking Her Up  Written after our first visit back to the park where my daughter busted her chin open. Some thoughts on the “bubble wrapping” of today’s kids and what I think they really need from us.

Parents, Trying to Understand  I didn’t write as much about the teenager this past year, a good thing in retrospect because it meant less drama was occurring. This is one about how important I think it is to always continue to fight through their shields.

First Crushes  A bittersweet post about first and last loves. About the innocence of the young and the reality that unfortunately follows, a common theme in these pages.

A Child’s God  This is one that I like a lot more now than when I first wrote it. It’s a reminder that as they get older our kids will be exposed to more and more outside influences and it’s up to us to help shape those ideas.

Never Stop Laughing  The closest that I get to life advice. If you want to be happy, surround yourself with people that make you laugh.

Tons of Fun at the First Ever Hasbro #HasCon  Not my best written, most insightful, or even probably all that interesting, but I’m including it because this weekend was one of my favorites of the year.  My daughter and I were given complimentary tickets to a toy convention in early September and had an absolute blast. The pictures and video of her dancing to Daya are guaranteed pick-me-ups when I’m feeling down.

2017 has been a weird year. There have been lots of good times, an unexpected number of bad.  This list is accurate today but if I sat down tomorrow it might look very different. If I’ve learned anything from 2017, learned anything from parenting, it’s that change can happen when you least expect it. How we handle that change is a big part of what makes each of us who we are.

As always, thanks for reading and taking the time to come along for the ride.