Leap Day

I just could not let "Leap Day" go by without a post, officially stamped 02-29-2008.

Heck, I wont be able to do this again for four years!

Guess What Was Waiting For Me

Today after I got home from work, sitting on the entryway table just waiting for me to come home and appreciate it (fully) was a court summons.

Normally, when I get a summons from work, it comes to me AT WORK, and from the county I work in, not the county I live in... So that instantly got me wondering...

What crime did I commit? Who is suing me? What did I witness?

Well, it's none of the above.

I am REQUIRED TO APPEAR at the Scott County Justice Center for TWO WEEKS AS NEEDED BEGINNING March 17, 2008 for JURY DUTY.

(Bold, red, and capitalized text were... well... Bold, Red, and CAPITALIZED - to stress the significance of the importance of this SUMMONS.

This will be my second foray into the duty known as Jury. I was summoned right-of-the-bat at age 18... It was an interesting two weeks.

Now, I have to make all the arrangement with my employer.

Wish me luck... (rolling my eyes)

A Dodged Bullet

Last night, as things started to quiet down... #1 of 5 was at a friends house, #2 of 5 was reading from his Calvin and Hobbes Complete Collection (* more on this later), #4 of 5 and Mother of Five were out picking up the Girl Scout Cookies she sold, #5 of 5 was playing in the tub. When all of a sudden #3 of 5 remembered that he had some "homework" from his new D.A.R.E. class.

Having been through #2 of 5's D.A.R.E. class last year (and working at a "Local Police Department"), I pretty much knew what to expect as far as D.A.R.E. homework goes. Most "homework" involves (or in some families CREATES) an opportunity to sit down and talk to your kids about age appropriate Alcohol / Tobacco / Drug topics.

Well, #3 of 5 and I started rappin' about the topics his "homework" covered.

#2 of 5 set down the Calvin and Hobbes, and joined in - which was good, but in
some ways, he has such a stronger personality that #3 of 5, that he tends to
overpower the conversation. I was glad to see him join in, but had to "remind"
him that it was #3 of 5's assignment, and perhaps he should answer first...
Through the assignment, one of the questions asked was "What type of message do advertisements for tobacco products send, and how can that be viewed as a mixed message" (Not an exact quote of the question, but that's the "jist" of it.)

And, of course we talked about the Marlboro Man, Joe Camel, and all the "Beautiful People" that adorn the pool side cabanas, beaches, and "cool kids" clubs in all the adds. We talked about why advertisers don't put hospital beds, chemo patients, or tumors in their pictures. This led us slightly off topic, and we started talking about how other advertisers get you to "want" or feel like you "need" their product too (iPod). We also came up with our own marketing / advertisement character named "Ciggy Butthead" (that's the great thing about having both a sense of humor that matches that of your "tween" or teen-aged boys!) Oh, we had quite a few laughs over "Ciggy Butthead"!

Marketing... Oh yeah, that's what I was going to talk about here - Marketing...

So, anyway, while discussing the "Marketing" of cigarettes with my boys, I remembered something from my youth. Something you don't just "find" at any old store. Candy Cigarettes. Sure, you can find them in some "retro" shops, and on-line, but I have not seen these things sitting on the shelves of any local gas, convenience, or drug stores in many - many years. Also, when was the last time you actually SAW a kid eating candy cigarettes??? Can you think of a bigger ploy to try and get kids smoking (other than giving them free cigarettes)?? It's amazing that anyone over the age of 30 grew up as a non-smoker!

Which got me thinking... I wonder how I dodged the smoking bullet.

Yeah, I enjoy the occasional cigar, and around hunting season, enjoy them a little bit more often (blushing), and I own a couple of pipes, that I'll "pack" and fire up once and a while. (Packed with "legal" tobacco!) Yet, I find the thought of smoking cigarettes most repugnant (not to mention too costly for my budget!)

My Mother smokes. She has for as long as I can remember.
She has tried to quit a number of times, and has had (off and on) mild successes
with it - but in the end, she is still a smoker. She makes it a point to "not be
seen smoking" around the kids - which I guess is O.K. - but as a believer in the
"teach kids through real life lessons" & "don't shelter kids from
everything" philosophy of child raising, I am not "afraid" to let the kids know
that their Grandmother smokes. In fact, Grandma's smoking can open a dialog
between them someday on reasons not to start smoking! They see me smoke a cigar
(or pipe) from time to time.
My Grandparents smoked (for many years). They even had all the fancy "smoking accessories" like tabletop lighters, chrome and fabric cigarette holders, and fancy cigarette pack/match book holders (with clasps like the old coin purses). As (very young) kids, my sister and I used to try to find old receipts on the ground, and we folded them to look like a match book, and used to play "lighting ciggys"...

Growing up, my parents friends smoked. In fact, we used to go to Christmas parties at a particular home of one of their friends. By the end of the evening, the air inside the house was (no exaggeration) BLUE. Breathing was difficult, and it even felt like the air was "thick". As a youngster, I took it upon myself to step outside every few minutes (in December or January) just to get some fresh air. It would (literally) make me ill. (I never told my parents this until many years later - so don't go bashing on them... Also, it was the early 70's. People smoked... pretty much everywhere, and anytime. No one gave it a second thought...)

I had friends growing up that smoked. They were respectful of my choice to not smoke. They never made me feel left out for not smoking, nor did they pressure me to smoke. I just never had a desire to start smoking.

My one and only cigarette came as a young adult (about 20 years old) when (while working overnight security for a local "Horse Racing facility") I found a pack of cigarettes laying on the floor. Boredom got the better of me, and I decided to light one up - just to give it a try. I only took one puff into my lungs, and I had enough. The cigarette was extinguished, and the remainder of the pack went into the trash. One-and-done.

It was not until many years later that I was introduced to the cigar, and although I enjoy the occasional cigar, I would hardly call myself "addicted". The last cigar I had would have been sometime in October - during duck hunting season. I have a stash of them, (and several mason jars of canned piped tobacco) squirreled away for that beautiful morning in the duck boat, or that delightful afternoon of tinkerin' in the garage, or that gorgeous spring evening on the deck..

So, until that time comes that (as an ADULT) my kids can sit down with their ol' man and enjoy a cigar on the porch, patio, or deck (or duck boat) - I hope that they too can dodge the "tobacco bullet" as I have. (Although I think it is easier now than it was before. We know a lot more about the adverse affects of smoking, and there is more help out there to quit, or to keep kids from starting in the first place.)

On a side note... Another thing about my wife, the amazing Mother of Five. She was a smoker. When she found out she was expecting #1 of 5, she quit - cold turkey, no questions asked, and has never looked back. She did so because she knew the risks involved with smoking and pregnancy... She tackled a very difficult task (quitting smoking) for the sake of her unborn child. Reason #578 that I love her so darn much!

(* If you are a fan of the 80's and 90's cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes, then the Calvin and Hobbes Complete Collection is a MUST HAVE! If you are not sure if it is "worth it", you have my word that it IS indeed worth it!)

Wow.

As many of my regulars know, I make it a policy to not talk about work here.

I've learned that the less I talk about work, the happier I am as a human being. When I first started doing this job, I would come home and "unload" on Mother of Five. After a short while it got to be too much for her... Not so much because of the nastiness of what I do, but because I was so excited I tended to ramble on and on about each and every detail of the day. It got the point that she asked me to cease and desist. Which (for the most part) I have.

I only "bring home" the "best of the best" or the "worst of the worst" nowadays, and so I doubt she (or anyone who has never done what I do) can fully understand what it is that I do, and what it is that I go through each and every day while at work.

I am sure it is not healthy, but for the most part - I tend to bottle what happens up at work, and like a message (of bad news) in a bottle, hope it will float away with the tide after being tossed it in the ocean.

For the most part, this method has worked.

Today, fellow dispatcher (and blogger) Linda from "Are We There Yet", wrote one of the most poignant and articulate descriptions of what it is like to be a dispatcher (or what 10 minutes of being a dispatcher) is like.

I am amazed on just how similar the experience (of dispatching) can be - even 1/2 way across the country. Although, I guess I should not be surprised... After all - human emotions are human emotions - wether you are in Minnesota, Connecticut, New York, California, or Alaska.... (Linda is a dispatcher from Connecticut... I am from Minnesota)

- - - - - - - -

I don't remember the name of MY caller... But I remember her husband's name. It was Harold. And almost EXACTLY like Linda's story, Harold's wife was not ready to let him go. She begged and pleaded with him not to leave her yet, she was not ready. It was like a punch in the stomach, knocking the wind out of me, when I heard Harold take his last breath on this earth. Harold's wife did not yet realize what had just happened, but I have heard that noise on the phone before... You learn to recognize it... That last breath..

Or the desperate and confused cries from a little five year old who was "exercising" with her grandpa (he was babysitting) - when he suffered a cardiac arrest. She dialed 911 for help, and while help was on the way, she kept asking her grandpa to wake up. "Grandpa, wake up. Wake up phuleeese! Grandpa?" Then, after not getting any answer from her Grandpa, asking my partner if she knew why her grandpa wont wake up (in the way only a little five year old girl who has no idea or understanding of what is happening can...). Remember folks... she was there alone with her grandpa... and just watched him die in front of her (very young and impressionable) eyes.

And who could forget answering the 911 call from the 11 year old boy who just discovered his TWIN brother had hung himself in their basement. Yes folks... ELEVEN YEARS OLD. This young lad had hung himself because he was upset for having been sent to his room for spilling cereal all over the kitchen table. So upset in fact, that while in his room, he hung himself... When his brother discovered this, he ran up and told his mother, who then ran downstairs and was trying to render aid to her son. Mom told the other twin to call 911 for help. This call had me sick to my stomach for many days, I nearly vomited.

These are just a few of the examples of thoes bottles that the tide just wont take away. These bottles just keep "lingering in the lagoon".

So, please take the time to visit the link, and read one of the most telling descriptions of a call I have read - ever.

And next time you have to dial 911, please remember that the person you are talking to may have just hung up from a phone call like one of the examples listed. With not even 10 seconds to try and gain some composure... or try to understand...

THERE IS NO CRYING IN DISPATCH

Linda - that was nothing less than Remarkable! Kudos to you!

My Town - Circa 1988

Before I give the "surprise ending" to this post away, I’ll fill you in with some “preliminary” information about this post. Then, at the end, I’ll explain myself a little more - it will all make sence in the end.. Be patient.

This is an assignment from a course I took during my freshman year of college. The only guidelines to this assignment was to to write a one page theme titled "My Town". It was to be written in a way that would make the reader feel like they knew “My Town” without having ever been there. “My Town” could be anywhere, at any time.

I got a "A" - Here is that paper..

--------------------

My Town

I live in a town that has lush green areas with rolling hills and many people abound. With every passing day the population increases and never decreases.

In my town everyone is accepted. There is no hatred or prejudice - unless it is brought in by the small trickle of people that come to visit. Visitors are usually very somber, sometimes sad or even crying at times. I don't know why, and I don't ask.

The residents of my town are all very quiet. There are never any loud parties, or noisy neighbors - in fact, where I live, nobody comes out much, they all pretty much keep to themselves most of the time. Most of the residents are elderly, with a few certain exceptions. We have a couple of little children, and a troubled teenager (or two) who thought that they could solve all their problems by moving here.

My town is a very lonely place to be at times. It seems that hours turn into days, days into months, months into years, and even years into decades. There is very little variety here; everybody just seems to lie around. There is not much that breaks the monotony - except for the few visitors that come, and the sound of the weekly mowing that can be heard overhead.

Winters are unusually lonely around here. When I first moved in, I got visitors at regular intervals. As the years have passed since I moved here, my visitors have become less and less frequent. Usually around Christmas I get a few visitors, and sometimes they bring me a wreath too! As Easter rolls around I usually get a visit and some pretty flowers. Then around the week of August 17 (which is an important date in my life), I get a few visitors and more flowers. (It seems like all anyone ever brings are wreaths or flowers…)

The neighbor to my left is a former Officer in the U.S. Army. He nobly served our country in World War 2, and has many medals for honor and bravery to show for it. Alas, nobody ever comes to visit with him anymore. He has faded off into the memories of those that loved him.

The neighbors to my right are an elderly couple who had no children, and no real close friends. (If they did have any they would be most likely too old to visit or deceased.) No one ever comes to visit them. Nonetheless, I think they are happy to be together.

In front of me is a young mother of four children (one boy, and three little girls - all under the age of five). This poor woman had her children "snatched" from her not that long ago, and everyone seems devastated about it. Her children often come to visit, along with their father, but I suspect that this will change soon because the father has started bringing another woman along to these visits.

Behind me is an empty lot, just waiting for someone to move in. Rumor has it that I will have a new neighbor soon. I heard that a retired police officer has terminal cancer and is in need of a long term place to stay.

Well, enough of this rambling on about my town. I have probably board you to death. I would like it if you could come by and visit me again sometime. My place is not that hard to find either. The address is Row 23, Plot 12 of Resurrection Hill Cemetary. You can’t miss my place. I have a sign above where I stay - it reads...

James Bromann
April 4, 1917 - August 17, 1982
A Loving Husband, Father, and Grandfather

- - - - -

Would you call that a surprise ending? That's what I was trying for.

My professor was completely thrown by the ending. He said that he was not expecting anything of the sort, and was impressed by the creative license I (unexpectedly) took in the way I wrote this theme (in the first person) from the perspective of a (deceased) “resident” of the “town” (cemetery), he acutaly read this theme out loud to the class.

Apparently most of the students talked about their “home towns”, and a few wrote about their “favorite towns” or "favorite places"… But he said I took the assignemnt to a new level. Which is why he read it to the class. Man, was that embarrassing…

Why am I posting about this? Well, remember back to the “Seven Layers of Me” post? In layer number six titled “I LOVE visiting old cemeteries.” I wrote…
I'll post a surprise followup post regarding #6... It should prove to be quite enjoyable for my "regulars".
I hope my regulars enjoyed this small peek into my nerdy, odd, slightly maccabe yet moderately creative mindset!

NO SCHOOL!

Pipe burst in St. Johns, school closes
By Brandon Otte

At about 6 a.m. this morning, the school week began at St. John the Baptist Catholic School. But it wasn't the way the week should have begun.

A pipe burst in the schools fellowship area flooding much of the school and the church with water. The school will be closed Monday and Tuesday while crews work to clean up the mess.
The clean-up and restoration work will be handled by Advance Companies. Owner Larry Trapp said the process could take days or weeks.

First we have to extract all the water and dry everything out, Trapp said.Then the company will come back and see what other work needs to be done. This could range anywhere from making sure carpet and woodwork are back in their proper place to re-flooring or repainting sections of the school and church.

While the drying will take at least three days, Trapp said, the school should be able to open up again by Wednesday morning. When it does, the students will likely have to work without a library or computer lab two rooms in the lower level of the school where much of the water pooled.

The fact that the school can open again by Wednesday is good news for Principal Bonita Jungels, especially because the staff and students were preparing for an open house on Wednesday and a Guatemala Day celebration Thursday evening.

Most of the classrooms, which are on the main floor but up the stairs from most of the damage, are undamaged, Jungels said. The school may have to change its plans slightly moving the Guatemala Day carnival upstairs and keeping the open house in the classrooms but the show will go on.

Jungels said while the students would not be in school tomorrow, there will be a staff workday during which they'll discuss plans for keeping their two events and regular classes running smoothly.

The Rev. Father Timothy Yanta of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church said the next step is to just wait and see what the damage is and try to get back to normal.

The water leak began with a break in the main line of the sprinkler system. Chris Carlson of Simplex-Grinnel, the company that handles the fire sprinkler system, said he didn't know yet what caused the leak. There was a big chip off the pipe, and the coupling was loose, but he said if he had to guess as to the cause of the problem, it would be that the pipe froze an unusual occurrence considering it was indoors, but not uncommon.

I've seen pipes freeze much farther in buildings before, Carlson said.

But, he said, there are a number of different possibilities as to what could have cause the leak.

The water damage to the school and the church was extensive. Water pooled in the front entryway and fellowship area, damaging the walls and ceiling of that room. It also ran into the main church sanctuary, flooding the front section of the church all the way to the other wall. From there, it leaked into the ceiling of the kitchen area and lunchroom.

Water also ran down the steps into the schools lower level, damaging the carpet in the main hallway, in the computer lab, and in the library, which also saw water leaking through the ceiling.

How extensive that damage will be, Trapp said, is a mystery until the water is removed and the school and church dry out.

Have you ever seen a "Teletype"?

Have you ever seen a winter weather advisory "teletype" from the National Weather Service?

This is what comes across the "Police Teletype" when weather gets like it has this weekend.

It's not some super-secret thing.. these teletypes... The text can be found at the National Weather Services's Website.

Check under Warnings by state, then Minnesota (or your state), and then Hennepin (or your county) to find any warnings for your area.

This teletype can actually be located HERE.

- - - - -

06:22 02/10/2008 20187
06:22 02/10/2008 24811 MNNWS0000
TXT
000
WWUS43 KMPX 101323
WSWMPX

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN
723 AM CST SUN FEB 10 2008

...DANGEROUS WIND CHILLS COVER THE REGION THIS MORNING...
.A WIND CHILL WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON TODAY FOR
CENTRAL AND SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA AND WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN.
ARCTIC AIR AND HARSH NORTHWEST WINDS COVERED THE REGION THIS
MORNING. OBSERVED WIND CHILL READINGS ACROSS THE WARNING AREA
WERE BETWEEN 40 BELOW AND 45 BELOW ZERO.

THE DANGEROUS WIND CHILL READINGS WILL PREVAIL THROUGH THE MORNING
BEFORE MODERATING IN THE AFTERNOON AS NORTHWEST WINDS BEGIN TO
DECREASE AND TEMPERATURES RISE A LITTLE. MAKE SURE TO COVER AS MUCH
FLESH AS POSSIBLE WHEN GOING OUTDOORS TODAY.

MNZ041>045-047>070-073>078-082>085-091>093-WIZ014>016-023>028-
101800-/O.CON.KMPX.WC.W.0003.000000T0000Z-080210T1800Z/

DOUGLAS-TODD-MORRISON-MILLE LACS-KANABEC-STEVENS-POPE-STEARNS-
BENTON-SHERBURNE-ISANTI-CHISAGO-LAC QUI PARLE-SWIFT-CHIPPEWA-
KANDIYOHI-MEEKER-WRIGHT-HENNEPIN-ANOKA-RAMSEY-WASHINGTON-
YELLOW MEDICINE-RENVILLE-MCLEOD-SIBLEY-CARVER-SCOTT-DAKOTA-
REDWOOD-BROWN-NICOLLET-LE SUEUR-RICE-GOODHUE-WATONWAN-BLUE EARTH-
WASECA-STEELE-MARTIN-FARIBAULT-FREEBORN-POLK-BARRON-RUSK-
ST. CROIX-PIERCE-DUNN-PEPIN-EAU CLAIRE-

INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...ALEXANDRIA...LONG PRAIRIE...
LITTLE FALLS...PRINCETON...MORA...MORRIS...GLENWOOD...ST. CLOUD...
FOLEY...ELK RIVER...CAMBRIDGE...CENTER CITY...MADISON...BENSON...
MONTEVIDEO...WILLMAR...LITCHFIELD...MONTICELLO...MINNEAPOLIS...
BLAINE...ST. PAUL...STILLWATER...GRANITE FALLS...OLIVIA...
HUTCHINSON...GAYLORD...CHASKA...SHAKOPEE...BURNSVILLE...
REDWOOD FALLS...NEW ULM...ST. PETER...LE SUEUR...FARIBAULT...
RED WING...ST. JAMES...MANKATO...WASECA...OWATONNA...FAIRMONT...
BLUE EARTH...ALBERT LEA...AMERY...BALSAM LAKE...RICE LAKE...
BARRON...LADYSMITH...HUDSON...NEW RICHMOND...RIVER FALLS...
PRESCOTT...MENOMONIE...BOYCEVILLE...DURAND...PEPIN...
CHIPPEWA FALLS...BLOOMER...EAU CLAIRE...ALTOONA

723 AM CST SUN FEB 10 2008
...WIND CHILL WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON CST TODAY...

A WIND CHILL WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON CST TODAY.
WIND CHILL READINGS AROUND 40 BELOW ZERO WILL BE COMMON THROUGH
THE MORNING ACROSS CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA AND WEST CENTRAL
WISCONSIN. WIND CHILL READINGS AROUND 45 BELOW WILL BE COMMON OVER
WEST CENTRAL MINNESOTA.

THE DANGEROUS WIND CHILL READINGS WILL BEGIN TO MODERATE IN THE
AFTERNOON AS NORTHWEST WINDS DECREASE SOME AND TEMPERATURES RISE
A LITTLE. MAKE SURE TO COVER AS MUCH FLESH AS POSSIBLE WHEN GOING
OUTDOORS TODAY.

A WIND CHILL WARNING MEANS THE COMBINATION OF VERY COLD AIR AND
STRONG WINDS WILL CREATE DANGEROUSLY LOW WIND CHILL VALUES. THIS
WILL RESULT IN FROST BITE AND LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA OR DEATH IF
PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN.

- - - - - - - - - -

I am so Jealous!

Well, ok Jealous is a pretty strong word, but after reading about Dad Stuff's recent Father / Daughter activity, it got me thinking, and then I remembered that the local Jaycees were holding the same thing - a "Daddy / Daughter" dance. I just could not recall when it was scheduled.

I had emailed the editor of the local paper, and he confirmed that there was indeed a Daddy / Daughter Dance - and that it was tonight (Saturday). With less than two days notice, it was (unfortunately) not going to work with our schedule.

I did talk to Mother of Five about it, and she said she would help me remember to watch for it next year.

I guess disappointed is a better choice than jealous...

A Heartfelt Thank You.

For all of you who answered my prayer request, I want to thank you.

Once again, the power of prayer has amazed me. This young little fella is going to be JUST FINE. The tumor on his brain stem was found to be a benign tumor. He is going to have to spend a week in the hosptial recovering, and then a few months in O.T. re-learning how to walk. (Apparently a side effect of the surgery - and expected...).

Again, I cannot thank you all enough for the prayers you sent his way... I have no doubt that you played a part in the sucsusful outcome for this little guy!

Thanks alot for rubbing it in!

Just a couple of quick pics for AtHomeDaddy who posted about Spring Yard Cleaning (tinkering around his yard, flowerbeds, and having to actually turn on his air conditioner).

Yes... 02-04-08 - o2 as in Feburuary!

Well, since today we were getting another 3" of snow, I thought I would dedicate this lil' ol' post to him...


(The kids backyard swingset and then (dedicated to his "White Trash Firepit") the current status of the FOF Firebowl...

Lent

Yup... It's that time again... time for the Lenten Season, which begins on Wednesday.

I am what I would consider a moderately religious person. I am a church-goin' guy. I send my children to the private school affiliated with my Church (and do so at a tremendous expense), I have faith, and believe in the existence of good & evil, God & Satan, and live my life doing more "good" than "bad".

Yet, I do not blindly follow what I believe to be "decisions made by man" on arbitrary issues. For example. I doubt (and who knows.. I could be wrong) but I doubt I will spend any time in Gehenna or Purgatory for not fasting 60 minutes before mass. The church has MANY rules like this... Some I choose to follow, others I follow a bit more "selectively".

Now, here is where I become a confusing, contradictory (and perhaps hypocritical) mess of a man. While some of these "arbitrary" rules I follow "selectively", others I embrace. After much reflection on this over the years, the only thing I can seem to associate this to is a fondness for traditions. Yes, much like Teyve from Fiddler on the Roof, I choose to cling to some of the traditions of my church, even when I have a hard time finding significant merit in why they are in place. I can not find any real consistency to how or why I choose which rules I embrace as tradition, and which ones I dismiss as arbitrary. That would be the confusing, contradictory, and perhaps hypocritical aspect of this whole conundrum.

Lent is one of these examples. Among my Church's Lenten requirements are fasting from meat on Ash Wednesday and each Friday of Lent, and we are also asked to partake in the practice of asceticism (a self imposted constraint from certain pleasures - i.e. Giving up something you enjoy). I do not believe that I (or anyone else) will be barbequed in the fires of hell for eating meat on Fridays in Lent. Nor will I be forever damned for not "giving up" something for Lent. Yet... each and every year, I do follow the traditions of my faith, and abstain from the consumption of meat on Fridays in Lent. I also participate in a form of asceticism.

When I was younger (as a child) our family would talk about what we were giving up for Lent, and (for the most part) by the end of Lent I would have a hard time remembering what it was that I gave up. As a teen, and then into my young adult years - I continued the Friday Fast, but had pretty much dropped the asceticism from my Lenten ritual.

Many years ago, (I think as an example to #1 of 5) I decided to reintroduce asceticism to my life, and gave up something I would have a hard time giving up. I gave up Soda pop. Yup, may not seem like much to many people... But (and Mother of Five will testify to this) I am addicted to Soda. I have tried many times in my life to limit my consumption to only 1 "serving" (be it can, bottle, glass, or whatever) a day.. but that constraint only lasts so long, and I am back up to two or three. Oh, I know.. the stuff is horrible for me, and each year I give soda up - I drop between five and ten pounds, but yet the call of the glorious cold, wet, sparkling (carbonated) beverage, and it's associated qualities of "caffeinization" is just too great - and I am back to my 2-3 "servings" a day... There are days that the only thing I drink is Soda. No water, no milk, just soda. Yes... It's sad. (bowing my head in shame).

It is never easy. The first week or so each year is VERY hard. It is almost constantly in my thoughts. Then, it slowly gets a little better. I replace soda with fruit juice, and ice tea, lemon-aid, and sometimes I even "push the envelope" and have a SoBe Lizz Blizz. As the years have progressed I have continued the tradition. Last year I added another "guilty pleasure" to my list of sacrifices. Fast Food. Yup. It's another one of those things. This comes more from convenience (and lack of planning) than from an "addiction". It's just too darn easy to not pack a lunch, and either run out and grab a "number two", or just go without eating at work - knowing I can hit the drive through on my way home and grab a little somethin'-somethin' that will hold me over until dinner. It's a horrible habit, and another unhealthy and shameful activity. (again bowing my head (even further) in shame).

So, once again, as we approach the beginning of the Lenten Season, (even though we are taught from Matthew 6:16-18)

"Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 "But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

I pledge my continued ascetic practice of giving up soda pop and fast food this Lenten season. To make sure I am not a complete hypocrite - you will not hear me lament on and on about this. This is my one and only post in regards to this year's Lenten asceticism.

The original purpose of this blog is to archive some of my thoughts and feelings for my children, so that one day, when they are old enough to understand, they may comprehend why their father was the way he was (odd, weird, contradictory, etc), what was important to him, and why...

That is the purpose behind this post - and I sure hope I don't have any extra time in purgatory for doing so! (wink)

A prayer request.

The Mother of Five just called me and told me some shocking news...

A member of our Church / School family - (who also have five children) just found out last night that one of their five has a brain tumor.

They were given a high priority "next day" appointment for surgery, which is supposed to happen today.

#2 of 5 is very close friends with one of their five, and our #4 of 5 is classmates (and plays with) another one of their five.

I (personally) believe in the power of prayer - and so I am asking anyone who is reading this to pray, meditate, think kind thoughts, or do whatever it is that you do to send some good karma towards this young family, and this little child.

It would mean a lot to me - and I know it means even more to their family.

Thank you.

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