Thursday, February 26, 2015

Taking a stand against taking a stand

We live in an age of being overly PC. It seems that we must always be extremely careful about how we express ourselves. If I say something that offends another person, then what I said is automatically wrong and probably bullying. In some cases, if you’re not labeled a bully, you’re just not respecting diversity.

Let me be clear on this, I know bullying exists and I know it can be very damaging and at times have deadly consequences. I stand firmly against this in any form. I do not support bullies in any way and I have no problem calling people out for what I perceive to be bullying. It’s just that on the flip side of that argument is what I see as the over application of the term to a degree that seems to moderate the free exchange of ideas and opinions. This moderation seems to slant in favor of the person(s) that are the most offended by a particular idea or opinion. Sometimes thoughts and ideas have to be suppressed for fear of being considered a bully. For this reason, it seems to me that the pendulum has swung so far to one side that the concept of anti-bullying has in and of itself, become bullying.

I see the exact same counterproductive measures being applied to the whole idea of diversity. I see the diversity movement as an attempt to divide people into different groups, point out all their differences and then ask us to ignore them while celebrating them. Yep, this concept thoroughly confuses me. I have seen some people carry this to such an extreme that they seem to seek out a gay person or a black person to be friends with so they can pull them out of their pocket and show them off to try and prove how diverse they are when the need arises. You know who I’m talking about, in a discussion they like to declare that they have LOTS of gay friends. In reality, they probably have 2 gay acquaintances on facebook and have only met them a couple of times. I think this kind of patronization is discrimination in its ugliest form.

So I’m taking a stand against the Anti-Bullying Movement with what I will call the Respect Movement. I don’t care what the color of your skin is, where you were born, who you vote for, who you pray to, who you spend your personal time with or anything else that makes you different from me. You have every right to be who are your first obligation is to yourself. Even if I disagree with you, I will fight to my dying breath for your right to be whoever you are. I believe this is what freedom really is. Freedom for anybody means freedom for all. However, I still reserve the right to disagree with you. You also reserve the right to disagree with me, I’m not new to that idea. But disagreeing must not cross the line into harassment.

I would also like to take a stand against the Diversity Movement with what I call the Unity Movement. I think all people can come together and learn to get along based on what we have in common. We all bring our own value to any group. We are all different and through those differences we seem to cover each other’s gaps and become a better and stronger whole. In order to accomplish this, we need to learn to first come together and stop dividing people into groups.

With that, I’m trading the idea of the Anti-bullying and Diversity campaigns for Respect and Unity campaigns. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Tree-mendous idea chap-tree 1

My wife and I were discussing some ideas for a getaway a couple of months ago. Of course, the ole' stand by came up, let's go spend some time at the coast. As much as I love the beautiful Oregon Coast, I was starting to feel like I was completely out of fresh ideas. I started to question...Have I really seen EVERYTHING this wonderful State has to offer??? So I made it my mission to find something we haven't done before. Something that was very different and lots of fun. After toying with several ideas, some that were out of our price range, we ended up booking a stay at Out 'N' About.

As much as I would love spend hours on end filling up space with boring text in order to lead to the big hook at the end, I will just jump past all that today and get right to the heart of the story.

Out 'N' About is Bed and Breakfast that is built in the trees. Yes, this is a place for adults and kids alike who want to stay the night in a tree house. 
This is what we saw as drove into the place

The place is set about 10 miles outside of Cave Junction in Southern Oregon. 
Swiss Family Robinson tree house

As you come into the place, you immediately know you came across something very different. The place is very relaxed and almost feels like a hippy commune. Please, don't let the hippy idea scare you off just yet. You just might find that you have an inner hippy that is needing to be set free, if only for a weekend.

The door to our room

I have to admit, we kinda cheated. We went to the tree houses and stayed in a room over the lodge. It was the only room in the complex with a king bed and it also had a bathroom and a shower. Some of the tree houses that were closer to the ground lacked certain facilities. There are communal (and clean) bathrooms close by. However, some people (me) enjoy having their own space. To their credit, all the communal bathrooms are single occupancy, so you don't have to take care of business while looking at somebody else's toes under the stall walls.

Out the door to our tree-zebo
Looking out of the door to our room. We had our little private tree-zebo. There are some chairs out there on the deck so you can relax. There is also a small loft over the deck, but probably only suitable for children or petite adults.

There are four rooms like this that are up higher and built around a single tree. 

If you look just past the basket ball hoop, you can see the Cabin. The Cabin is the only ground floor accommodations.

All four of the higher rooms are accessible only by a brave trek across two suspension bridges.   

one of the suspension bridges
The Majestree. This one has it's own deck below the room. Look closely at the left side of the deck. There are stairs that lead up to the neighboring tree and then to a spiral stair case that goes around the tree and into the cabin.

This one is 47 feet off the ground and you can feel it sway when you're in the cabin. Kinda freaky, kinda cool.

I took about 150 photo's and I want to share many more photo's and stories with you. Due to personal time limitations, I will probably do this in several installments. There is just WAY TOO MUCH to say all in one post. Keep your eye's peeled, more coming real soon!!!

Or, since my anonymity has been blown.....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

1600 miles behind us

My Dad and I have started our trip to Georgia to pick up a antique glider that was donated to WAAAM.

I did say that I would write every night and had the best of intentions to do so. My best excuse for the lack of updates is the unexpectedly long days.

The first night started on Friday as soon as I got off work. We pulled out of Gresham OR at about 4:30 in the evening and made it to La Grande. The La Grande Inn, our host for the night, needs to do a little mattress shopping. Turns out, beds as stiff as boards do not make for the most refreshing sleep.

The amazing red rock that we found all through Utah

We were on the road at about 6:30 the next (Saturday) morning. The well priced continental breakfast providing some minor nourishment and we put our faces toward the sun and Rock Springs Wyoming. Once in Rock Springs, we decided to taste something local and landed at some place called White Mountain Steak House. I got to tell you, those Wyoming cattle ranchers can raise some good beef. I enjoyed the best steak I've ever had in my life, bar none!

 Sunday morning greeted us with another continental breakfast and an early start toward the East. The first 100 miles of Wyoming was very scenic, the reminding 300 miles was quite boring.

After 400 miles through corn town Nebraska, we made it to Lincoln. In the morning, we head for Cadiz Kentucky.

While I'm out running about the country, I missed a memorial service for my aunt that passed away last weekend. I wrote something that my Mom read at her service. As a last tribute to my Aunt, I will post what I wrote.

For each and every one of us, we’ve all taken our first breath of life. With certain assurance, someday we will also take our last. These are separate events in our lives that create many emotions and very lasting impressions on those around us. It is at these two moments that many people will have the strongest memories of us.  

From the time we take that first breath, life becomes a nonstop learning process. We start out completely innocent and blameless. We are a work of art in which the brush has not yet touched the canvas. We have yet to be molded and developed. In those first few hours, our only job is to be cute. Although, some accomplish that task better than others.

As life progresses, we grow and learn. We develop personalities, traits, characteristics. By our late teens, we are usually set on path that we will follow for the rest of our lives.

When it’s all said and done, at that moment that we pass through that door, those around us will often reflect on the legacy that we left behind. This moment shall be no different.

As I consider what legacy my Aunt Sharon left for me, I always seem to come back to one thing; learning. In the almost 43 years that I’ve known my Aunt, I’ve watched her go through many learning experiences. I’ve witnessed times when her character and her strength were tested for integrity. Through it all, I’ve seen her learn and progress through life. She has taken from the past and applied it to the future and made that future better for her and the people around her. This is the inheritance that I shall so graciously accept from you, that I can always learn in life and I can always apply that to my future.

Aunt Sharon, I thank you so much for all the wonderful comments you left for me. The compliments that you left for Bekah on facebook lifted my soul and were such a blessing to me.  I will always cherish the wonderful things you had to say. As my way of saying thank you, I will learn to do a better job at passing on compliments to those around me.

Be at rest, dear Lady, you have finished well.

Need to relax a little, hope to write more soon.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Highs and Lows

The Highs.....
My Dad (Steve version) and I have been actively volunteering at a museum in Hood River Oregon. I have previously written about about WAAAM and what an amazing museum it is. My Dad and I have become more and more involved and have our collective hands in several pots now. We had a Ford Model A donated to the museum that was about 98% present yet completely disassembled. My Dad has taken on the project putting the car together and plans to have it on the road by our Cruise in October.
For the last 3 months on our 2nd Saturdays, I've been driving the 1916 Dodge Brother Roadster giving customers rides.

Recently, the museum received a rather generous gift of some areoplanes and gliders. The donor wanted his planes in the air so he also donated the funds to keep them maintained and fueled for the next 10 years. He also donated the funds to help us retrieve these artifacts from their remote locations. 

All 4 gliders are in a garage just north of Atlanta Georgia. Our Director, Judy Newman put out the word that they were looking for 4 teams of volunteers to drive to the Peach State to drag home our newest prizes. This was a lot like waving a face sized lollipop in front of a 5 year old and asking the silly question...who wants it? My Dad and I both went into the "Pick me, Pick me" stage. I immediately secured a week off from work and was waiting to get the green light.

 We were later told that there were several volunteers and since we were the new kids on the block that the other people would get first crack at the opportunity. Since my week off was closing in fast and we still haven't received final word, I was just about ready to cancel the vacation and give up on the idea. Then, fate would have it... We were at the volunteer potluck on Friday night and Judy approached us let us know that we were next in line and if we wanted the trip, it was ours to take. Needless to say, we were like 5 year old's that had just been handed a lollipop. My Dad was smiling ear to ear and I started belting out my best rendition of Midnight Train to Georgia. 

We are planning on leaving June 22nd as soon as I get home from work and will be back no later than July 1st, so I can be back at work on the 2nd. I will plan on blogging the whole trip.

The Lows....
Within 12 hours of receiving the news that we were headed to Georgia, I received a call from my Dad (Russ version) that my Mom's Sister, Sharon had passed away that morning. 

I didn't see My Aunt Sharon a lot but being friends on facebook we interacted often. She would often leave very sweet comments about My daughter and her singing/musical abilities. She often told my Mom how much she enjoyed getting to know me on facebook and what a wonderful nephew I was. I don't know, maybe she was a bad judge of character.

Rest in Peace Aunt Sharon. My daughter will keep singing, I'll keep telling the stupid jokes you laughed at and I'll continue to make the pumpkin butter that you so graciously complimented. 

Pass through the gates dear one, you have finished well.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Renegotiating the lease

Quite often when people gain a new perspective on life you hear them use the phrase "I got a new lease on life". Myself, I'm not really looking for a new lease, but I'm trying to renegotiate the terms of the current one.

When I started this blog a little over a year ago, I was going through an economic shift in my life. I was recently laid off from a great job at the Federal Reserve Bank, I realized the dream of opening my own photography studio and quickly realized the nightmare of not being able to make it financially stable. I  was then preparing to start a new career as a long haul truck driver. After learning that my personality was not very accommodating to living in the cab of a truck, that career soon followed the rest of my doomed choices. By that time, I was starting to deal with a wide range of emotions. I was scared, worried, sad, angry and several other things all meshed into one unpleasant emotion that I'll just call Funk.

By the end of May of 2011, I was lucky to land a job at Wells Fargo through a staffing agency. As of this post, I'm still working at Wells Fargo as a temp. Being a temp adds to the stress level being as it is very quick and easy to let you go should they no longer want your services. having seen several of my temp co-workers use the exit for the last time, I just figured that my time to follow them was close at hand. As it stands now, it appears that I will be picked up by Wells Fargo and get to stay as a regular, full time employee. Although, I am still waiting for that to be set in stone.

During that time, I have completely depleted my life savings and I'm currently earning 70% of what I was making at the Fed. Yet through it all, we've never missed or even been late on a single financial obligation. In fact, we were even faced with replacing a car during this time and have found a way to make that work.

By now, I'm sure you're asking..."what does all this have to do with renegotiating the lease"? The answer is this; I've grown tired of all the stress and worry. I've come to the point in my life where I will accept that I cannot control everything and sometimes you have to go with the flow. I will still put great effort into trying to improve my career but I will also accept that I cannot have a guarantied outcome. For now, the ill fated career pursuit is no longer taking the top spot on my "To Do" list.

The terms that I will be demanding in my new lease, life just has to be fun!!! I realized that in the last year I have developed 8 unique recipes and I love experimenting in the kitchen.
Making blackberry rolls
I also love riding my motorcycle and road trips
My wife and I with my Step Mom in the back

Taking scenic photo's
Columbia River Gorge at Sunrise

There are also several other things that I could put on this list. But, you get the point, life needs to have more fun.

My new focus in a single sentence....Smile more and make others smile.

Peace and Cheers!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The joy of relics

In recent months I have shied away from keeping my blog current. It seems I have resigned myself to the idea that a daily exposition of my memoirs would only serve as a benefit to those suffering from insomnia. With little refute to this accusation, I decided that I would need to do something about it. Yes, I am willing to take full responsibility for my boring life and accept that only I can remedy the problem. One such antidote and the one I will write about today; volunteering to help preserve history.

It all started when my Dad (Steve version. Yes, I have two) found a museum in Hood River, OR. This Museum, WAAAM (Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum) impressed him so much on his first visit that he immediately decided he needed to become a volunteer. He also felt it would be much more fun to share his new found joy with somebody he knew so he convinced me to volunteer with him. Myself, I was pretty much born a fan of anything that has a motor. From as far back as I can remember, if it has a motor and goes, I love it and want to ride or drive it. I love the smell of exhaust fumes in the morning. It's that smell, that gasoline smell. Smells like...victory! 

My Dad and I front of a Model T Depot Hack
This museum is known as a "living museum". All the artifacts are still operable and occasionally operated. On the second Saturday of every month they pull out some of the displays and fly & drive them. My first chance to volunteer came on the 2nd Saturday of February. One of my duties for the day was to help promote rides on the Model T Depot Hack. Due to the chilly weather, not too many rides were given. Most of the men returned with big smiles and most of the women returned shivering. In all, it was great to see the Model T in action.After Model T duty, we were put on dusting duty. We were actually asked to go behind the ropes and touch each and every exhibit. That's right, I know you're jealous.

1928 Boeing 40C
  This Boeing is the oldest Boeing that still flies. It was completely rebuilt from just a few salvageable parts taken from a wreck that sat in the wilderness for 75 years. 

There are about 200 exhibits in 2 large hangers

1932 Locomobile
This car sold in 1923 for about $10,000. At the same time a new Ford Model T was selling for about $300.

Along with cars and planes, the exhibits also cover some military equipment, motorcycles and even a display of old cameras. 

If you ever find yourself in the Columbia River Gorge area, I would highly recommend stopping in Hood River and visiting WAAAM. If you can schedule your visit for the 2nd Saturday of the month, all the better.

Hope to see you there!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What is the true meaning of Christmas????

It's that time of the year again. Just when you finally got all the lights down off the house and the decorations from last year put away, it's time to start dragging them out again. Now is the time that all the fun begins....planning parties, mailing cards, drawing names, checking each and every bulb on 250 strands of lights, baking fruit cake that never gets ate, fighting a sea of violent shoppers for the best bargin......the list goes on and on. For all the effort that goes into the whole season, it seems to end in an almost anticlimactic event. The kids wake up Christmas morning and are soon lost in their new toys, the big dinner usually takes less than 20 minutes to consume. Before long, hordes of guests are leaving you to the largest kitchen mess of the year (besides Thanksgiving) that will take close to a week to clean up. When it's all over, you sit back in your easy chair and stare blindly off into space and ask yourself why anybody would want to go through all the hassle. 

Every year at this time I hear lots of comments about Christmas, some hate it while others love it. Amongst those that hate the holiday, it's not that they're Grinch's or Scrooge's, it's just that the previous paragraph perfectly describes their hectic and stressful holiday schedule. I hear comments from people that Christmas is overly commercialized, extremely stressful, depressing. For those of you that fit into that category, I offer this to you, the true meaning of Christmas is....whatever you want it to be.

Remember this, nobody can force you to do anything on Christmas. Nobody can force you to load your credit cards, spend hours in the kitchen, risk your life climbing on the roof. There are few things in life that are certain, but I can assure that the harder you try to make things perfect, the more you will be certainly disappointed at the outcome. You cannot put peace, joy and happiness on a schedule and you cannot create fond memories by trying too hard.

This year, I would encourage you to try something different. Question all of your holiday traditions. Is a tradition something you do because it brings joy to everybody (including yourself) or is it something you do because it's always been done that way? Time to throw out some of your old traditions and take a fresh look at how you approach the holiday season.

First off, ask yourself the simple question; What is the true meaning of Christmas?

I won't try to answer that for you, that is up to you to decide. Once you decide what the meaning of Christmas is, take a look at everything you do for the holidays and ask yourself if it really supports that idea. Do you really need the Fine China for Christmas dinner or will it work with paper plates and Dixie cups? Do you really need to stress over small details or can the idea of Christmas be supported by simply going with the flow and letting the season play out without your careful choreography?

Take this year and make things different. Throw out at least one long held tradition. Allow the Christmas season to one of enjoying family and friends and stop trying to create a memory making environment. Once you decide to kick back and relax and stop trying to control everything, only then will you discover the true meaning of Christmas.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all!!!