Blissfully Ignorant

Yesterday, as I perused my "Wall" of FB friends, I noticed one update that jumped out at me.

"_______________ hasn't paid much attention to the news OR Facebook for the last few days and I gotta tell you, it's been pretty sweet. I just wish I could "not" care forever."

IMMEDIATELY, that update got my mind whirling.  I could almost hear the different versions of this post being written in my head.  Titles.  Introductory sentences.  Themes...  All of it.  The "inspiration" (or is it more like plagiarism) felt good!  I really have struggled with that since switching to the overnight shift.  I said it before, and it bares repeating...  Sleep depravation is a creativity KILLER.

The News... 

As a child, I grew up HATING the news...  5pm, 6pm, 10pm.  WCCO on the radio.. It was EVERYWHERE (or so it seemed), and (as a child) it was BORING.  It interrupted my after-school cartoons and I resented it for doing so.  I think that is pretty common for almost ALL children, wherever they may be.

But as children grow up the world around them (and their part in it) expands.  The news becomes a bigger and bigger component. 

Then, somewhere back a ways, the AVAILABLITY of the news increased.  With the advent of the 24/7 news channels, and a few years later, access to Internet by the masses, news was only seconds away from you at any moment, of any day. 

I think the news really started being part of my daily life around the time of "Operation Desert Storm" (aka, the first Gulf War - circa 1990).  America was at war, and the news was a buzz with talk of reenacting the draft.

As the threat of the draft passed, and victory was declared in Kuwait, the news had become part of my life, and I felt I needed to become more aware of the  world around me, and my roll in it.

As I continued to "mature" (a term some folks who know me will question), the roll the news played in my life continued to gain momentum.  Married... (with children), and now in a career that often MAKES (or at least is IN) the news often (which involves talking to the "newsies" from time to time) only helped fuel the fire.  Every time things started calming down, and the news' roll in my life faded a bit, big events like the Oklahoma City Bombing kept me going back for more.

Then, it happened... 

A day that defines a generation.  Every generation has them.  JFK's assassination, the moon landing, and for my generation...  9-11-01

Who was not glued to the TV for coverage (for seemingly days at a time).  Newspapers, magazines, radio.  You could not avoid it.  I felt in order to do my job the best I could, I HAD to be up on the news.  I had to know the latest and greatest of the breaking news.  Collapsing buildings, police and firefighters falling in the line of duty, rescue, recovery, terrorism, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, anthrax scares, the Second Gulf War... The list is endless, and frankly, it was information overload. 

The worst part of it all?  The news (and I mean ALL of it) is biased. 

  • The left thinks they "report" the news, and that the right "slants" it. 
  • The right thinks they "report" the news, and that the left "skews" it. 

From an independent (lower case L - libertarian) viewpoint (and someone who often sees "behind" the news - and the facts that often go unreported), I can tell you that NEITHER side "reports" the news.

From what I have seen from my limited viewpoint, I have ZERO faith that I am getting the whole story from EITHER side, or from ANY network.  Left, right, liberal, or conservative...  It's all garbage.  It's all corporate, bought by advertisers, and molded into the story the network, channel, or reporter WANTS you to see.  Nothing more, nothing less.

So, I made the decision....

I can not pinpoint the moment I made the decision, but I do remember making it...  I was done with the news.  DONE.  No more.  Finished.  I went cold turkey.  It was not easy... at least for about a week. 

After that initial withdrawal period, I found my mood getting better and happier....  The whole "doom and gloom" aspect of the news was GONE from my life...  (and yes, BOTH sides are responsible for doom and gloom).

I do not go out of my way to "avoid" the news.  I can often hear the news when others are watching it, I still subscribe to a couple of LOCAL (Twin Cities) Internet news feeds that I read (I only get headlines delivered - if it is worthwhile, then I click through to the story), and my alpha-numeric pager (which also gets headline news drops).  I do subscribe to our local city newspaper, but that has less to do with "news" and more about community events.  Other than these few "snippets" and "snapshots" of the news - I have successfully lived without a significant stream of news in my life for several years now... and I could not be a happier man for doing so. 

Co-workers, my parents, my neighbors - they all ask me "Did you hear the news about" - and I can stop there right there, dead in their tracks, and say "No.  I do not watch the news anymore".  I can not tell you how good it feels to say that. 

When I do hear/see the news, I am now amazed at just how sensationalized it has become.  You would think that each story is going to end with Armageddon.  Truly, if you were to believe everything the news is spewing out, it would be a miracle that we are able to wake in the morning to a world that is still intact.

Ignorance IS bliss. 

Call me a fool if you want, but in this time of my life (and foreseeably for the remainder of that life) I would much rather be ignorantly blissful, then woefully informed.  It makes me less stressful, and I truly enjoy the time I have with my friends and my family.  There is no longer an undertone of fear, of doom, of "the end" that the news WANTS you.. no... NEEDS you to believe. 

Your fears equal more time on the news.  More time on the news equals more advertising dollars for the network.  These networks have a vested interest in keeping you watching their news...  With more and more news outlet options, they are all scrambling for the same revenue dollar, and to be successful, they need YOU to tune in to THEIR channel. 

How do they do that??  Sensationalized, irresponsible, premature, and hack "reporting" of the news. 

Please believe me when I say that elimination of the news has been one of the best decisions I have made for my mental health... EVER.  If you are even CONSIDERING it, I URGE you to try it...  Give yourself a month...   You wont regret it! 

A Successful Hunt

Being in the middle of a sixty-eight hour workweek has kept me pretty busy.  My "on-line" presence has been pretty close to non-existent...   

I promised a post on our Duck Hunting trip - it's 75% complete, and will (I repeat WILL) reach 100%.  I refuse to let this year's post fall into the "... as evening approached..." category.

What is the "...as evening approached..." category you ask?
Example 1, Example 2, Example 3.

But, this Successful Hunt is not about ducks.  No. 
It is also NOT about mice - but that is a different post (follow link). 

This post IS about my cousins from Maine. 
(For a brief history on my cousins from Maine, check out THIS link, and THIS link.)

Anyway, back in June, while checking my email inbox, I discovered an email from my cousin Cindy.  She was sharing some VERY exciting news.  

After thirty years of applying, her husband Paul  was selected in Maine's annual Moose Hunt Licence Lottery.  He was in the lucky 5% (3,000 out of 56,000 applicants) to be issued a license.

Then, on September 28th, I received another email from Cindy. 

September 28th is opening day of the Maine Moose Hunt.

She sent me an email titled "WE GOT THE BIG MOOSE"
(and yes, it was in all caps - showing her obvious enthusiasm!)

Paul and the Moose

I received some preliminary info - that the Bull Moose weighed 635 lbs, and that it had a ten-point rack. 

Paul fell the moose with one shot from a Winchester .270 (an obviously GREAT shot!) and they felt (and I have NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER) that they received some "luck from above" from their dad (my uncle Dan) who passed away 19 years ago THAT VERY DAY

They had placed a photo of my uncle in their truck so "he could come hunting with us".

Just reading that email again brings tears to my eyes.  (Yes, I am crying right now.) 

I am so lucky, to have WONDERFUL Aunts and Uncles in my life...  ALL OF THEM! 
Dan, Greg & Marilyn, Vince & Theresa, Ron & Marty.  They have all been positive influences in my life.

It is just so sad to me that our family lost my Uncle Dan way too early...  I so much would have loved to know my Uncle Dan better than I did.  I have few, but fond memories of the times we did get to spend together. 

Like my Mémère, and Pépère (grandparents) - my Uncle Dan is one person I would do just about anything to be able to be able to spend some time with, now, as a grown man.  Even just one day.   

Jan, Cindy & Paul, and Dean - Please know that even though I did not get to know him as much as I would like to, your dad is STILL a strong presence in my heart, and is often on my mind...   

FOF and Uncle Dan        FOF, Uncle Dan, and Uncle Greg


Paul and the MooseBack to the story...

Just a couple of days ago, I received a package in the mail.  (Hmmm, that's funny - I did not order anything - I thought to myself) - then I noticed the return address...  Maine!!

The package was "video tape" shaped, and I was opening the package as I scrambled back to the house.  Inside I found (not only) a video, but a letter from Cindy, and a slew of photos from the hunt too!

AMAZING PHOTOS!

I sat down with most of the kids, and the Mother of Five, and we went through the photos, and watched the video.  It was AMAZING

I have processed a couple of deer in my life (including my own 10-point buck) but just watching them work with the MASSIVE moose was amazing!!  (Not to mention how much I really enjoy listening to their French/Canadian accents!!)

We found out that the moose was 635 lbs (field dressed) had a 29.5 inch spread on the rack, and that they ended up with 400 lbs of meat!  We were so excited for them!!

I want to take a minute to truly thank Cindy and Paul for including me so much in their successful hunt...  Even though it's only through email and snail-mail, it feels so good to be connected across the "way too many" miles. 

I truly look forward to the day that I can come visit them...  My cousin Bob has been up there, and OFTEN talks about the great times he has had there!

 Paul and the Moose

Congratulations Paul!!  
Congratulations on a truly Successful Hunt!

I Have Declared War!

It has not been since the Great Bee Battle of 2007 that I have endeavored to undertake a battle of such epic proportions.  (Be warned, there are graphic images of battle casualties included behind that link!  View images at your own risk.)

Back during the Great Bee Battle I emerged victorious after vanquishing two (separate) menacing hordes of bees by enacting  a edict of mass execution.  I was able to declare my victory after only one day of battle.

This new war will be nothing less than a personal Fatwā of Jihad.  Me versus my enemy.  I will accept nothing but victory.

IMG_0675A few nights ago, while the Mother of Five took all but #5 of 5 to the Jordan Hubman's (our local High School team) Homecoming football game, I found myself passing the time by doing several loads of laundry. 

It was while I was performing this duty (as I made one of many trips into the laundry room) I noticed a tiny bit of movement out of the corner of my eye. 

I immediacy ran to the location of the movement (behind our washer and dryer) and found myself face to face, and even being given the "stink eye" by my new foe. 

A Mouse...

But not just "a mouse" mind you.  Oh no. 

Having spent ten years of my life working in a medium sized local neighborhood Hardware Store, I can not even being to tell you how many times I reminded customers of the old adage...

"You don't just have a mouse.  You have MICE."  

Immediately, #5 of 5 freaked out - and ran as fast as she could away from the laundry room - and WOULD NOT go in there to save her soul.  No, in fact when I took her in there to get her some jammies out of the dryer, I had to carry her - and when I set her down to sort through the clothes in the dryer, the only way I could let her down was if she stood ON my feet.

Several days later, and she still refuses to go into the laundry room alone.  I do not completely understand this for two reasons..IMG_1539

1.  She never SAW the mouse, she only heard me talk about it - and I did not even freak out  or anything.. It was said "matter of factly" - like "uh-oh... We have a mouse in the house.  I'm going to have to try and get some traps to catch the little bugger"...

and...

 2.  My daughters (#4 and #5 of 5) have gerbils.  Well, they had "gerbils" until our cats changed that to we have "a gerbil" - if you know what I mean. 

But that does not change anything.  Our girls have played with, and man-handled our gerbils. 

And let's be frank here for a moment.  Really, how different are mice from gerbils??  Isn't the word "Gerbil" Spanish for "Domesticated Mouse"?  If it's not Spanish, I am certain it is in some other obscure language...

Photo on the right is of #4 of 5 and either "Nibbles" or "Cookie"... I never could tell the difference between the two of them - especially since this photo was taken before the cats...  Well...  I hope you know what I mean...    

If this photo was a bit more recent, I could tell you that it was "Nibbles" for sure, as "Cookie" has gone to that great "Cookie Jar" in the sky thanks to our cats.

heavy artilleryBefore we moved to our new home, our last house had a single attached garage that was too small for a car - and became a oversized storage area.  I was still working nights back then (how ironic... I'm back on them again) - and the Mother of Five told me that at night, she could hear scratching in the walls and ceiling. 

Like a good husband, I gave her the ol' "uh-huh" and never gave it another thought - until I heard them... 

Over the next couple of months, I had a great time setting traps, poisons, looking for holes, and evidence of where the mice were at. 

Truth be told, I ENJOYED the battle against the mice. 

After dinner, I would set the traps, and would listen quietly for the inevitable "snap" of a trap.  Sometimes we would hear two or three "snaps" within a few minutes of each other.... That's when I knew they were on the move! 

Mission-accomplishedBy the end of that winter, I had just under twenty "kills" under my belt. 

So, now it's time to dust off those battle hardened skills, and put them back into use.  Step one?  Break out the Heavy Artillery".  Not wanting to be looked upon as a brutal, oppressive warmonger, I only deployed half of my "Heavy Artillery" - hoping that would solve my problem without having to make a tyrannical show of force.

Until "they" were able to circumvent my best efforts, and disarm my Artillery (eat the peanut butter off the traps) without succumbing to raining of hellfire from above (the spring-loaded snap-bar).

Yup, they ate the bait off of TWO traps - without setting them off.  I (in theory) FED the mice!!!  They (in theory) stole food from my children by eating that peanut butter, and not having the common courtesy to set off the trap.

As of Tuesday morning, I have reinforced the traps with something a mouse just can not turn down.  Provolone Cheese (smeared with peanut butter).  The Peanut butter for the taste and smell, and the gourmet cheese as something the trigger can "bite" into.

I am certain that this time around, the mice will have no luck disarming my artillery, and will fall victim to it's version of a swift death from above.

In fact...  I am so certain of my future success, that I may just take this (premature) opportunity to announce "Mission Accomplished"...

Oh, wait... That did not work so well for the last fella that used it...  
Maybe I should change my announcement...

I can NOT be the only one... can I?

IMGA0329

 

Guilty Pleasure...

Home-made "cherry" coke.

  • 1 can cola
  • 1 "flavor-ice", popcicle or other similar "frozen fruit flavored treat".
  • Add Flavor-ice, cola and crushed ice to a glass, stir, and enjoy.

Am I the only one that does this??

FOF Observation #15

The "FOF Observations" are a series of "Perpetual Posts" where I will share with you, my readers, short little "one line" observations that I have made (or will be making) on being the father of a large family. You will be able to access each of the posts in a cohesive list by clicking on the "FOF Observations" link in the "Perpetual Posts" group on the sidebar.
-----------------------------------

Having two teen aged boys in the house, you can expect to hear just about anything, at anytime.

Example...

Said at our dinner table tonight by #3 of 5 (and said completely out of the blue, unexpected, and not related to any conversations we had prior..)

"My hands smell like feet."

One can only wonder what made this young man choose that exact moment to make such an  observation /decleration / proclamation is beyond me.  Although it did get everyone at the table laughing (literally) out loud.

I do have to wonder though... What do his feet smell like?  That, my dear readers, will remain a mystery.  I refuse to check.

I Got Nothin'

I am not sure how many of you are "in the know" on this, but as of the first part of September, I have been working the "dogwatch" or overnight shift. 

We "bid" our shifts each trimester (4 month periods) by seniority.  The first five years of my career was spent working overnights. 

It was horrible. 

By the end, I could not sleep (I slept between two and four hours a day), I became chemically dependent on caffeine and was taking between two and four caffeine pills twice a night just to "barley" stay awake, I gained 100 lbs (don't get me wrong... I blame myself for that - I let it happen.  The dogwatch shift was what I call a "contributing factor"), my fuse (and temper) grew very short, I had became a angry and sometimes even a mean person. 

Finally, between my fifth and twelfth year I had reached a level of seniority that allowed me to not have to work overnights, and I worked a "mid" shift (3pm-11pm) or a "power" shift (7pm-3am).  Things got better. 

Then, the kids started reaching school age.  After work, I would be home by midnight, and in bed.  I was still able to be up and spend time with the schoolagers in the morning - then with the pre-school age kids during the day, until I had to leave for work (around 2pm).  They were young enough that homework was not a big issue, and after school sports were only just beginning. 

Finally about two years ago,  I achieved enough seniority to be able to work a "day watch" shift (7am-3pm).  I was home with my kids after school, I could help with homework, take them to baseball, basketball, Boy Scouts, Sewing class, and sleep like a normal human being!  I met neighbors I had rarely seen in the previous 10 years that we have lived in our house, I met parents of my children's friends that I really only knew by name, I attended events at the kids school (musicals, science fairs, etc)  It was as if a whole new world opened up to me.  I could not believe how "opposite" my life had become from the world around me.

Then, the powers that be decided that the schedule we were working was no longer "adequate" and have been changing it for the past year.  Some shifts have been eliminated, and others have been extended.  Here is where I will keep my personal opinions to myself.

Between some change in the people above me in seniority, and the changes in the schedule as a whole, I found myself facing a decision that I had not had to for almost ten years.  Work overnights, or work one of the "new shifts" that would prevent me from seeing my children AT ALL on the days I worked.  I would still be sleeping when they left for school, and I would be gone before they arrived home.

I did something that I promised myself I would NEVER do again... I selected the overnight shift.

Thankfully, (so far) I am sleeping between four and six hours a day (with the help of sleeping pills), I have not hit the caffeine tablets too hard yet (never more than one, and I do not take them every day), and I have remained (at least as far as I can tell) on a pretty level temperament. 

I am home to see the kids after school, can help with homework, still sign up for classes like Firearm Safety, stay involved with the Scout Program, and other similar things.  That is the upside.

The downside is, I have little time (or energy) for much else.  I vowed to make sure I get SOME exercise this trimester, and have been walking two miles with my wife each and every morning...  But after working from11pm-7am, it's a STRUGGLE to stay motivated to spend an extra hour walking, then coming home and cleaning up before going to bed. 

And even though I am getting MORE sleep than I did ten to fifteen years ago, the sleep just is not the same.  It's not as "restful", and it is a odd vibe to wake up at 2pm - and still be groggy in the middle of the afternoon.  But, at least I get to spend time with my family - and even though I may not care for the hours so much, in this economy, (let's be honest here) I am VERY thankful to have a job!

Great story FOF, but why did you feel the need to share this with us??

I decided to share this with you because one of the things I have noticed about myself while working overnights... Is my lack of creativity.  It is amazing how quickly my inspiration, and creativity to work this blog has been quashed.  Oh, the interest is still there... I see things that I say "Ooo... that would make a hilarious post", but when it comes time to sit down and write...

I got nothin'.

So please bare with me these next few months.  I have a feeling that posts will be coming less frequently, and for those of you who's blogs I read regularly (and I still do), you may have noticed my commenting has also dropped off dramatically...  Just remember this... I may not be commenting, but I am still following!

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