Sunday, December 30, 2007

Snow-time like the Present

I went XC skiing today. I actually went for the first time all year last night. It was beautiful with the snow covered trees and the silence of the woods. A few hairy moments on the hills when I fell out of the tracks that were pre-formed and blazed my own trail. Not recommended, by the way.

So today I went out determined to do more and get a real workout. As I set out with great zeal, life was good. I had my new Ipod going, the trails were fast (and visible), and I felt invincible. I passed a couple and a family trying to look like the Olympian I never was.

Now I thought I had a decent understanding of the trail system at Minooka Park. It's a County park near us and while it is impossible to get lost, it seems they've added a few miles of trail since I last skiied it. I kept taking the "long" trail because, as I mentioned, I was invincible. Well, as time wore on and I began to tire, I thought "Hmmm...where am I anyways?" I took a path that I thought led to the sledding hill, a good point of reference for me. It turned out to be a forked path going either much farther than I wanted, or to a snowshoe path.

By now I'm thinking "OK, I want to be done now. I'm tired and hot." A few more twists and turns, and a stop at a path map that told me what I did not want to know and I began to hate XC skiing. In fact I hated skiing, winter, my Ipod and county parks. I began to see the headlines taking shape in my head: "County employee dies of exhaustion and exposure in County Park." I knew I should have brought a flare gun instead of an Ipod. Then I schemed up a million dollar plan for when I was rescued. I would invent an Ipod that is GPS enabled. No one's thought of that yet, right? Either that or an Ipod that shoots flares. It'd be a bit bulky, but hey, can you really put a price on a life?

So anyhow, I end up making my way back the trail I had gone down in hopes of finding a quicker way home. I passed a few folks in the dog exercise area who looked as though they'd never seen a cross country skier before. Never mind that there were no trails near the dog area, that was beside the point. I was just glad to see people. "Hey is that a Labradoodle?" I'd say to deflect them from knowing that I was having a near death experience. It's all about appearances, right?

Eventually I made it back to my van, which I promptly kissed. During my adventure I thought "That's it, I'm done skiing for this year." It's likely that I'll go out tomorrow though, because I like to punish myself. I'll go right after I file my patent for the Ipod Flare Gun.

Blogging off...

Jim

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Heart 2 Times Too Small


I stayed home from work today, sick with a head cold. Ben was sick with a stomach thing too, so it was a boys "Ferris Bueller's day off" today. I HATE getting sick. I don't expect anyone likes it much.


Last night as I was walking home from another forgetful day at work, I came across a stranded Carroll College motorist who's car was dead in the middle of a busy street. A woman had stopped to help, but both of them were just standing in the street looking at each other like God was going to magically jump the kid's battery without provocation. When I joined the deer-in-the-headlights party I suggested we PUSH the dead car out of the intersection into a nearby lot. Let's move everyone out of harm's way shall we?


So this student finally comes to and says "Yeah, I guess we could". Yeah let's, I think. So he gets in and steers while this poor woman and I push. Evidently he's never seen the open-the- door-and-push-and-steer method, but preferred the comfort of the drivers seat. I thought he was going to ask us to make "Rrrrmmmmmm" noises.


So we get the car most of the way into this unplowed driveway. It's rear end was sticking out a ways until some other young 20-somethings walking by came and pushed him up out of traffic entirely. Don't say young people don't care about anyone but themselves. They stopped, many older drivers did not.


I let the student use my cell to call for help. He eventually got his parents. After he hung up, he said that he'd forgotten to tell them to bring jumper cables. I don't know what this guy was majoring in, but it wasn't Common Sense, that much is true.


I told him I live about a mile from where we were and that I'd be back in 25 min. with cables and if he was still there I'd jump him. If he was gone, well I'd just go home. So I walk home and get the cables and drive back. When I get there, his dad is there, but he's stuck in the snowbank coming out of the same driveway. He was hung up good on the frame of his car. How much bad luck can a family have in one day? One dead battery, one snow-beached rescue vehicle.


I ask if they still need help and his dad said that they'd welcome a jump if I could do that. I pull into the lot and almost get stuck myself. After we disagree a bit on the proper battery jump connection sequence, I was able to successfully jump the dead car. After being reassured that his wife was coming with their SUV to push the snow-bound car out, I wished them luck and Merry Christmas and was on my way.


The moral of the story is that you need to look for opportunities to help people. If that was my son out there, I'd want somebody pushing his dead car out of traffic and borrowing them his cell phone and then following up with a jump. I don't tell this story because I want accolades. I'm just saying that we can all touch others, complete strangers sometimes, if we just think about someone other than ourselves. I had a cold, didn't feel very well, and very easily could have walked right by this guy. Maybe the kid will remember this random act of kindness and pass it on, maybe not. The point is doing it because it's the right thing to do.




One of my New Years Resolutions is to get out of my bubble more like this.
Blogging off for now...
Jim

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Holiday Whoobee Whatee?

Ah, the famous quote from the Grinch movie. (The Jim Carrey grinch).

Speaking of grinch, I did my Christmas shopping today. It was as bad as expected. A beautiful snowfall ruined by traffic and frantic shoppers. I tell ya, it's insanity. Everyone and their father Mitch was out today. You'd think Christmas was next week or something. Criminy sakes.

And don't even get me started about the parking thing. I would have been better off parking at home and walking the 6 miles to the mall, I kid you not. I'm not one for the mall anyway. I don't like them. I start hyperventilating looking for a parking spot, especially this time of year. I end up abandoning my vehicle in a distant snowbank thinking, "Yeah, this'll do." Nevermind that it's usually a 20 minute walk to the mall. Hey, as long as I can see the store logo, I'll find my way.

It's snowing again. It's been snowing all day. All month really. If it keeps up, I'm going to have to get a smaller vehicle, as mine will no longer fit into my ever-narrowing driveway. I'm serious. It's very similar to the Dec. of 2000 when we had record snowfall. It's like groundhog day around here when it comes to shovelling. Friggin' Alaska. Global warming my eye.

Walking the dog is a real treat in this stuff too. He's so short, he cannot get up onto the snowbanks. Today he just gave up and pooped on the sidewalk. "There ya go" he seemed to look up at me and say. "That's as much work as I'm going to put into that today. If you want better, get yourself a Husky or a Malamute or something. If you want cute, there ya go." At least that's what I heard coming out of his small head. It may have been something like "Hey, sorry about that Joe." But I think not. I think the former was what he said. I guess only Ceaser Milan knows for sure.

The high point of the day was getting a free Americano coffee at Evil Starbucks because the Verona and Breakfast Blends were both out at the moment I ordered. I love when that happens. It makes all those other $2.00 cups almost seem worth the money. Yeah right. I did say Evil Starbucks, did I not? I'm much more a PDQ coffee guy than a Starbucks coffee guy. People there are such snobs. "I'll have a grande, fatte, frappa-lappacino, extra bold, skim, iced-eggnog coffee with a shot of espresso". Give me a break. I can barely remember Grande Verona with no room for cream. When they make Starbucks more like PDQ where you pick and pour your own, then I'll be their best customer. Besides there's something much more middle class about PDQ. Poor man's starbucks without the pretentious clerks.

Well, I've spouted enough. I'm really not a scrooge. I love this time of year, mostly when my shopping is done though. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and remembers to Praise the God in heaven who sent His one and only Son to earth and started the whole thing.

God Bless you all.

Blogging off...

Jim

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Blog Drought

A holiday hiatus it was. I missed blogging, but had a good break nonetheless. Thanksgiving is gone and done with for another year. A successful trip to the polar ice cap known as MN. Cousins played together nicely with no incidents of not. Well, maybe one.

When Ben returned from an overnight stay at his cousin's house, he whispered to me, "Dad, Hunter shot me in the ear with his pellet gun." When I expressed my surprise and shock at the statement, he added "…but it didn't hurt as much as when he shot me in my side."

Horrified, I thought this needs addressing. Until I realized he was smiling and was adamant that both incidents were accidents and that he was OK. He also mentioned that the gun had been taken away and that he didn't want Hunter to get in any more trouble. I shrugged it off as a boys-being-boys moment and told him to be careful and not get hurt. I can't say I never shot my brother with a projectile before.

I had Ben's third grade teachers conference this past week. It's always good to get a perspective on your child from another person, esp. one that spends 8 hours a day with him/her.

The teacher mentioned Ben's gift for writing and showed me a couple of very descriptive pieces. One even described a breakfast with Hunter where he said Hunter was "Mongling" his cocoa puffs cereal. The teacher challenged him to find that word in the dictionary. When they couldn't find it, he said that that was what it sounded like to him at the time. The teacher told him that then he should use it. I thought that was a refreshing piece of creative encouragement on her part.

Then, the teacher showed me one of his social studies projects he was working on that had two parts to it. One written area and one containing some maps with questions about the maps. He had scored kind of crappy on the maps part, which I found fairly humorous in light of what I do for a living. When I called him on it after I got home, he said that the map was hard to read, which I had to admit it was. Another case for better mapping quality control.

It occurred to me that for a guy who was going to the park 3-5 times a week, I didn't go to a park with the kids all summer. They're just too big and think the park is for little kids (it is). It just struck me as kind of sad. A closing of a chapter if you will. I won't be able to go to the park again until I have grandchildren, most likely.

There's a woman, a student at Carroll who I pass everyday who walks like a speed skater. Same gait and arm swing, just not as pronounced. Strange, but she probably thinks I walk too knock-kneed or something. Or perhaps that I'm a knuckle dragger. Hey!

The Packers played Dallas on the NFL network last Thursday, and I can say without hesitation that that is the worst announcing crew I have ever seen. Bryant Gumbel, Cris Collinsworth, and Deion. Gumbel's getting the players and the teams mixed up, messing up calls and in general being a nasally annoyment to us all. (There's a word, eh?)

Well, I've got to try and figure out how to get my daughters Ipod to work on the TV. Good luck with that, right? It can be done I'm told.

Hope to blog again during the week.

Blogging off...

Jim