Thirty Five Minutes

I was already working as a Fire Dispatcher for a fire alarm as when my partner took a call of a “fully involved engine compartment fire”.  He shouted over to me that I have another fire call to tone out.  As I pulled the call up I realized that the location of the Vehicle fire just so happened to be directly under under one of MnDot’s freeway cameras!!

While I was putting out the initial dispatch, my partner pulled up the freeway camera!

Once I had the first unit on the scene, I was able to check the camera.  I took some screen captures to send to the Fire Fighters inside the responding engine.

I sent the photos home, and arranged them into a “A 35 Minute slice of life a Police Dispatcher”.


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“Engine one arriving, laying a quickline”.

 

 

 


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Not long afterwards I heard “Water on the fire” over the radio.  I checked back and sure enough!!

 

 

 


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Engine 1 – “Dispatch, the fire is out.  We are completing an overhaul.  Dispatch, order a tow please.”

Dispatch - “10-4”

 

 

 


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Then the owner is taken to their vehicle with Engine 1’s crew and gets their first look at what used to be their vehicle…  They are likely retrieving some personal belongings out of the vehicle before it gets towed off to “car heaven”.

 

 


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With the property out of the vehicle (in a little pile on the curb next to the slider), and the owner awaiting a tow truck – the firefighter begin cleaning up.

 

 


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The tow has arrived.  Here you can see the tow truck driver cabling the vehicle.

 

 

 


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The tow truck driver beings winching the vehicle for removal.

 

 

 


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The tow driver doing some last minute clean up.

 

 

 


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Here, the tow has pulled away, and the Police Cruiser (who was blocking traffic) is now clearing the scene.

 

 

 


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Thirty five minutes after we get call, the fire extinguished, the vehicle has been towed away, all units have cleared the scene, and the road is opened to traffic again.

 

 


Thanks go out to the members of BPD / BFD and my dispatch partners!  Each of you do an amazing job keeping all of us safe!!

There you have it – a thirty five minute slice of a day in the live of a Police / Fire Dispatcher!  Hope you enjoyed.

A FOF Definition - Trifecta Friday


Trifecta Friday - It’s a term I use once every six weeks.
 
Some of my readers are co-workers (or former co-workers) and know exactly what a Trifecta Friday is.  Others have had it explained to them, and still others may not know what a Trifecta Friday whatsoever.  Today (and I am not sure why it did not occur to me to do this years ago) I’ll officially define the term “Trifecta Friday” and how it came to be.
 
Let’s start with the word “Trifecta” itself.  Trifecta is (according to Wikipedia)…
 
In horse racing terminology, a trifecta is a pari-mutuel bet in which the better must predict which horses will finish first, second, and third in exact order…   …It is also used in sports to describe scoring three points at one time, or succeeding at anything three times in three consecutive attempts, such as in cricket.
 
Well, since I’ve never once played the ponies, and am anything but a sports enthusiast - you may be wondering where would I get such a term added to my vocabulary?
 
Once I graduated High School and was awaiting my term in SKILLS (police academy) to begin, I took a second job working security at a horse racetrack.  I started off working the first half of the season in the grandstand during race days and times, and later moved to work the backside where the barns housed the horses and living quarters of the trainers and horsemen.   It was during my time working at the Racetrack that I picked up on a few terms I have never heard (or used) before.  Examples include the aforementioned “Trifecta”, and another new one - “Stoolstepping” (WARNING:  Don’t google the latter term while you are at work).
 


 
The second term is Friday.  Friday is (according to Wikipedia)…
 
Friday is the last day of a five-day working week, and is viewed as a cause for celebration or relief (leading to the phrase "TGIF", for "Thank God/Goodness It's Friday").
 
My current work schedule operates on a foundation of a rotating shift.  The number of hours-per-day, days-per-week, day off pattern, and day off rotation can very significantly.  The shift I prefer to work is an eight hour day, 7-day-on, 3-day-off, 7-day-on, 4-day-off pattern.  The three days off always fall on Wed-Thurs-Fri and the four days off always fall on Sat-Sun-Mon-Tues.  It sounds more confusing that it really is.
 
Many of you have also seen or heard me say “It’s my Friday” on various days of the week.  Well, in my current shift selection – my “Fridays” currently fall on Tuesday, or Friday. 
 
Because my work schedule is on a three week rotation (meaning it starts over ever three weeks) I get MY Friday on a CALANDER Friday once every three weeks.  When it is my Friday on a calendar Friday it is followed with a four day weekend!
 
Every other “Friday on a Friday” is also payday Friday.  With a three week rotation - every other “Friday on a Friday” equates to once every six weeks.
 


Now, let’s put this all together.  Picture, if you will, a scene fading to FOF standing at what appears to be a crowded betting window at a race track (as unlikely as that sounds).  From some unknown corner of the room, a loud “Race Announcers voice” booms over a tinny sounding bullhorn.
 
AAAAND, as they cross the finish line -  
It’s FOF’s Friday in THIRD place by a length! 
It’s FOF’s Friday on a calendar Friday in SECOND place by a neck!
And it’s FOF’s Friday on a calendar Friday and it’s payday Friday in FIRST PLACE by a nose!
 
FOF looks down at his betting ticket in disbelief, and quickly proclaims…
 
WAIT!  WOULDJA LOOKIE AT THAT!!  COULD IT BE?!?  IT’S A TRIPLE WIN!
I bet on my Friday, on a calendar Friday and payday Friday!!


I JUST WON THE “TRIFECTA FRIDAY”!!     

“Family” (Quotation Marks Intended) Reunion

Last November, I wrote a little blurb about my “Family” (Quotation marks intended)

Unfortunately, a recent urgent situation has befallen one of the members of that “Family”.  Due to the circumstances this classmate has been in my thoughts and prayers quite a bit in the past week.  This has triggered a flood of emotions and memories from days gone by – and has motivated me to complete this “partial” post that I started before Christmas.   

Not long after that previous entry four delightful gals from my “Nativity family” (who organize a “girls night out” from time to time) decided to not only have one of their nights, but to open it up and invite as many of our class members as they could for an impromptu get-together!     

Cindy, David, Kris, MaryMargaretInitially, I felt a little trepidation about this.  Being socially anxious, and an introvert normally has me a little uneasy about such gatherings.  On the other hand, there were a number of friends I had not seen in years decades – and have been enjoying reconnecting with them on FB, so I was TRULY looking forward to seeing them in person again! 

I sucked it up (and my gut in – after all, the years have not been good to my “circumference”) and attended the event despite my anxiety.

I had a FABULOUS time!  We stuck around for several hours, and there was not one person I did not THOUROUGHLY enjoy catching up with.

The first photo is of myself with three of the four gals who set this whole thing up!  The fourth is gal is behind the camera.

David, Tom, Tim, DanOf my closest group of buds from elementary / junior high school, two of us went on to high school together, two more went to another high school together, and the fifth went to a third high school.  Unfortunately, only four out of the five of us made it to the get-together.  I was disappointed not to see the missing classmate and friend, but the four of us present talked about getting all five of us together some time for a “guys night out”.  This would really be something to look forward too.  Guys, if you are reading this – let’s make SURE this happens once it warms up again!

Afterwards a number of photographs (the ones from above – “stolen” with permission) from the get-together started showing up on FB.  One of the ladies who organized the get-together made an observation…  She said the photo above reminded her of an old photo I have (and posted a long time ago) of the same group of friends – apparently we were all standing in the same formation!

I checked back, and sure enough – there it was!  Not only were we standing in the same formation, but we were standing in front of a red-brick backdrop in each (and even a doorway on the right side of the pic) !! 


WOW!  Talk about Deja-Vu!

David, Tom, Tim, Dan - 2011 / 1983    David, Tom, Tim, Dan - 2011 / 1983 

Top photo – 2011
Bottom photo – 1983
28 Years Later!


Chris, Kris, Cindy, MaryMargaretI cannot call this post complete without a couple of last shout outs.

First – to the gals who gave up their “ladies night” and coordinated this (first of hopefully many) get togethers – a HUGE thank you!!

Finally, (but certainly not least of all) I’d like to send out a very special prayer and wish for our classmate who has fallen ill.  My thoughts and prayers go out to D.D. (and his entire family) for a FULL and SPEEDY recovery.  I have high hopes that when we do get our little “Family” (quotation marks intended) together again – that you will be there!


For those of you who where there – THANK YOU!  Despite all the years, you still all feel like family to me.  For those of you who were not there, you are never too far from my thoughts and prayers – and I hope that one day soon our paths will cross again!

Just a few of my "Family" (Quotation Marks Intended)

It Was Only a Year Ago…

This was one year ago…


This is today…


The top video was taken January 18, 2011 – after a slight warm up in temps allowed me to get out and chisel away an almost 6 inch crust of hard packed snow off my driveway (link).  The driveway looked so good (cleared off in the middle of January) that I had to take a video – well, that and the almost four foot mounds of snow on the edges of the driveway.

Fast forward one year and two days.

The second video was taken January 20, 2012 – after a trifle of snow fell upon us.  As you can see in the video – you can still see GRASS in our lawn.  True Minnesotans are embarrassed by this winter. 

The good news is that I have heard that February may be a very snowy month for us.  Let’s hope it will make up for the lack of snow over the past two months…

Mother Nature, are you listening?

E-Reading

It’s time I share my plan to resolve the LACK OF READING in my life.  (Link to previous post)


It’s not often that we spend our money on frivolous items.  When we do, it usually has something to do with the kids.  Yet, I’m a guy, and like most guys, I love “gadgets”.  While I cannot deny that I enjoy (and have been known to collect) my fare share of gadgets, I have seen (and know) many fellas who put me to shame.  I like to think / believe that I am on the low end of that bell curve.  Unfortunately, gadgets = frivolous items and frivolous items = money.  You do the math.    

But (like I said) I am a guy, and guys love their gadgets.

Over the past couple of years I have been completely intrigued by the concept of the e-reader.  I kept hearing about how convenient they are for portability, how much easier they are on the eyes (over LED/LCD screens), and the whole concept of easier access to reading materials equating to more time reading.

I have had a hard time justifying the cost / benefit ratio of such a device, but the gadget guy in me (who does a pretty good job of justifying the “need” for such frivolous items) has kept an eye on the e-reader market.  Kindle, Nook, and a smattering of other various generic names have come and gone from my radar.  I have scoured the refurbished markets, the discount and closeout websites, the clearance isles of department stores, and various other “brick and mortar” outlets, but gadget guy just has not been strong enough to convince the practical side of me to take the plunge. 

Throughout this past holiday season, there was a lot of talk about this year’s “hot item” – the e-readers.  Of course that piqued gadget guy’s interest.  I did a little research on them and would sneak off and spend a little time with each of the Kindle’s and the Nooks while we were Christmas shopping. 

Thanks a few extra hours of overtime, I decided to step outside of the box, and do something a little unexpected.  I decided that not only was I going to buy myself an e-reader – but I was going to buy one for the Mother of Five too! 

Yup, you read it right!  TWO of them!            

IMG_0764[1]Since I was going to buy two units, I decided we would pick up the entry level model.  While shopping (not for an e-reader but looking at the e-readers) another customer told us about a 20% off “bag sale” at a nearby retailer that also included the e-readers!

That 20% off was just enough to allow Gadget guy to overpower my practical side, and we decided to splurge and take the plunge.  We decided upon the Kindle Touch (with special offers).  

We have had them for a couple of weeks now and I am LOVING mine!!  Even the kids want to read on them!

Around Thanksgiving, an “anonymous” donor generously donated ten Nook Colors for the kids school (St. John’s)! The kids enjoy spending time on them at school already!

What I really like about the Kindle is Amazon’s selection of e-books!  Not only do they offer the best sellers, they offer copies of the “royalty free” classics, and a lot of new and inspiring author’s work at low prices, discounted promotions, and some even at no cost! 

Every day I get email updates from various websites highlighting books that have been discounted or free for the day!  Our Kindles are filling up faster then I expected!  

So far I have already finished one book and am half way through my second (which, if you are keeping score is more than I have read in the past two years).

51p tnuWIEL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-45,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_1.  Learn Me Good by John Pearson

This was a great read!  It is a comedy written as “chapters” in the form of e-mails sent by a first year elementary school math teacher to his friend (a former co-worker) from a previous career as a mechanical engineer.  As I read this book, I could not help but think of AtHomeDaddy (who is currently in his second year teaching elementary school math, and I loved hearing about his first year experiences!)

 

51FDwUS9E0L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-41,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_2.  Letters From Alcatraz by Michael Esslinger

There is something about the mystique of Alcatraz that caught my attention.  This book is about the history of, and views of the infamous prison through the eyes of both prisoners, their families, or the Correctional officers through copies of actual correspondence letters to and from those somehow touched by “the rock”.  So far it has been a great read! 

Once I finish Letters From Alcatraz – I have so many choices to choose from I don’t know where I ‘m going to go.  Since the first book was a comedy, and the second was a non-fiction, I think it’s time to get back to my “go-to” genre – Horror.

51WdaR44ZRL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-40,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_51I Nl8jCaL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-46,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_As of right now there are two books “on deck” – not sure which one comes next.  It will either be…  Forsaken – A Novel of Art, Evil, and Insanity by Andrew Van Wey or The Red Church by Scott Nicholson.

From there, I’d like to take a look at that list of “Lowlights” from high school and see about making good on some of those “assigned, but never read” list!

I’m not sure how or when, but I’d like to install a “currently reading” widget on the side of the blog – that way (if you want to) you can keep up with what I’m reading (and I can keep track of how much I have been reading)!!

The only real problem I have with this Kindle is that my reading list is growing faster than I can keep up!!  It has been really fun seeing how something so simple can (and has) reenergized an interest in reading!!  If you are on the fence about e-readers – I say go for it!  We have not had any regrets!

I Used to Read

When I was young lad (kindergarten through third grade) I was classified as a “strong reader” by my teachers and was clumped with the advanced readers in my class.  It was in the middle of my third grade year that our family moved from Minneapolis to Bloomington and we ended up switching schools.  I am not sure what happened (well, other than moving and switching schools) but the categorization of being a “strong reader” disappeared afterwards.  It’s a theory, but I suspect it may be because this is about the age that reading gets separated from “leisure” to “assigned”.  I often struggle with “assigned” reading.  In a nutshell - If it does not catch my interest, there is little chance I will finish what I have started.

Looking back now, I can see that even as a young child I have always been intrigued with the horror genre.  One of my earliest memories of finding a book I wanted to read was at the point where I was still having books read to me and/or I was just starting to read Dick and Jane books on my own.  I remember seeing a book in the “teenage” section of the public library with an illustration of a human skull surfacing through the cracked mud of a dry river bed.  Every time I went to the library, I tracked that book down and stared at the cover (sometimes multiple times per visit).  I do not remember the title or author of that book and (as an adult) I have tried to search that book out to no avail.  I’d LOVE to find that book and read it – just to satisfy the “five year old” in me!

One of my favorite early reader books (and I still have a copy of it) is The Ghost of Dibble Hollow.  Doing a quick Google search on this title shows me that I was not alone.  There are LOTS of references to that book!  Recently (within the last ten years) I have even re-read that book.    

There was another book I read that I would LOVE to track down.  I do not recall the title or the author.  My parents bought it for me at a department store (J.C. Penny’s or Sears) It was a discount hard cover book with a terrible quality binding, and I believe it had a purple cover.  All I recall is that the book was about a haunted “Ghost Town”…      

In 1979 (at the ripe ol’ age of 10) Steven King’s Salem’s Lot was made into a TV Mini-series.  While I am certain that my parents would have NEVER allowed us to watch it, we had a babysitter both nights it aired, and we watched it.  It scared the bee-jee-bees out of me.  I had to cover my eyes, and peek through cracks in my fingers, and had nightmares for weeks afterwards, but I could not resist.  This was foreshadowing a sign of things to come.

In my early teens our family took a summer vacation road trip.  I grabbed a book to take along with me from the library.  There was nothing more than then name that initially intrigued me.  The book was titled The Dead Zone.  It was the first time I remember being COMPLETELY captivated by a book.  Intrigued by the author’s style, I sought out more.  That’s when I noticed he was also responsible for Salem’s Lot.  I latched on to anything Steven King wrote!  I could not get enough of his work.  

In high school, under the tutelage of my Literature teachers Ms. Hanley and Mrs. Hanson, I was “assigned” a number of literary pieces to read.  (Assigned being the key phrase here.)  Much to their chagrin (and reflective in my Lit grades), I am living proof that “assigned” does not always result in actually having read these works. 

A few highlights – I did complete (most of) and found at least a moderate interest in Julius Caesar, and The Lord of the Flies.  I actually finished (and thoroughly enjoyed) Flowers for Algernon and Frankenstein.  (Flowers for Algernon? Really?  Why?  It is such a complete departure from what I usually enjoy.  I have NO idea what it was about that novel that caught my interest, but it did.  Mrs. Hanson was THRILLED!)       

A few lowlights – I never did read a word of The Catcher in the Rye, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Scarlet Letter, To Kill a Mockingbird, Death of a Salesman, Twelve Angry Men, The Grapes of Wrath, Ethan Frome, The Glass Menagerie, and a number of other titles that seemed so utterly forgettable that I (embarrassingly) cannot even recall their titles.

As you can plainly see, the list of lowlights is much longer than the list of highlights (and remember, some of the highlights were only partially read).  But worry not dear readers, while I did not partake in the works listed above, I did manage to read The Dead Zone, Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, The Stand, Pet Cemetery, Cujo, Christine, Firestarter, and a number of other Steven King horror classics!

This highlight / lowlight pattern continued through high school and into my college years.

I was once chastised by a college professor for reading Steven King’s It in her class.  I had the book nestled in the class text book, but I was so engrossed in the book that I did not notice her wandering around the class room (where she noticed me reading it).  It was not until she returned to the front of the classroom and proclaimed (for all to hear) “Mr. Father-of-five, I know I am not as engrossing as Mr. King, but I would appreciate it if you put his work away until after my class”.  

I worked my way through King’s collection of works, and then latched on to a hodgepodge of various other authors and titles.  During and after college, my attention was drawn away from reading and redirected towards my friends, work, and later marriage, fatherhood, homeownership, and so many other responsibilities I cannot begin to count. (Remember folks, I only have twenty fingers and toes in which to count upon.)  This downward spiral in reading continued until my transformation to the busy Father of Five that you see before you was complete.  I don’t like it, but My life has pretty much consumed any time / mental capacity / and energy I once had for reading.  I think (at this point) I am lucky if I average (and I am being generous with myself here) one book / novel a year.     

I hope that is about to change!!  (Stay tuned…)

If you are / were voyeuristic enough to have actually found this post interesting – be sure to check out The Horror in My Life – an older post (from 2007) dedicated to my love of the horror literary genre.

Legacy

Relatively speaking, I reside in “small town” Minnesota. 

Yes, I am still part of the “seven county metro area”, and our town is what I consider to be within the furthest reaches of the “rings of suburbia”, but nevertheless we are a fairly isolated little city with a population slightly over 5000, and surrounded by rural farmland. 

Ever since I was a young boy I have been intrigued by the history of the cities I have lived in.  I own a copy of “Bloomington on the Minnesota” (where I grew up) and I own both volumes of “Jordan, Minnesota:  A Newspaper Looks at a Town” (where we live now). 

IMG_0445On a “historical” note - I attended one of #4 of 5’s basketball games a few days ago.  While seated and waiting for the game to start, a couple of our town’s “ol’ timers” came up behind me and asked if the seats ahead of me were taken.  I turned around and noticed the grandfathers of two of my daughter’s team-mates (and a couple of her closest friends). 

As these men settled into their seats, I was suddenly aware of something I guess I always known, but never put together before.  These two gentleman (sitting here side by side) have some very deep roots in, and have had an amazing influence upon our town.  They are what I would consider pillars of our community, and each are the patriarchs of families that have become synonymous with our little town.   

I could not help but contemplate (and marvel at the thought of) just how much of our town’s history was sitting right in front of me.

It is out of respect for them and for their families that I won’t be posting their names here, but I am confident that if you spend any amount of time here in Jordan you will have some sort of (positive) interaction with something or someone that can be associated with these honorable men. 

I can only hope that one day the legacy of the Father of Five family name will be viewed as favorably as these two and their extended families. 

Not the Why, But the How

When I first started blogging, I stumbled upon a number of similar minded folks doing the same sort of thing (if you haven’t done so yet, be sure to check out my BLOGROLL to see what I am talking about).  Some of those links are to active blogs, some are to less active blogs, and others link to blogs that have not been updated in a LONG time.  Every one of them I connected with at one point on one level or another.  Even when they appear to have fallen off the face of the earth, I have kept their feed in my reader just hoping that one day they would return.

I was delighted to have seen a recent rejuvenation in one of those blogs!  The Adventures of Charlie Blockhead has now posted nearly as many posts since the new year started as he had in all of 2011.  I am excited about his newfound inspiration (and urge any other “dad-bloggers” out there who have never done so to swing by and take a peek).  He’s a real down to earth guy, and I enjoy his viewpoints.

Anyway, Charlie Blockhead’s most recent post got me thinking about my own experiences blogging.  Not thinking so much the part about “stats” (I’m a voyeur at heart, and am not afraid to say how much I love my stats, even the low ones!), and not even so much the “why” I blog (you can follow the link or check out my right sidebar right up at the top for that), but Charlie Blockhead’s post got me reflecting more the “HOW” it all started.

Much like Charlie Blockhead, a part of “fatherhood” scared me.  It was not the first child, or the second, or even the third.  For some reason, it was the fourth, and then the fifth that really threw me for a loop.  I was scared and even a little embarrassed by the growing “number” behind The Life of a Father of ______.  The fear of the costs and financial / emotional commitments got to be a bit overwhelming in my head.

It was after #4 of 5 was born.  Much like Charlie Blockhead, I turned to the internet in search of something anything that would help ease my concerns.  Do you know what I found?  Nothing.  Zilch.  Nada.  (At least not what I was searching for.)  I was even more discouraged – until a thought occurred to me.  If I could not find what I was looking for, why not CREATE what I was looking for.

I battered the idea around in my mind and after a couple of weeks before I started up a Yahoo Group called “Fathers of Large Families”.  I was certain that this group would grow, and become a haven for fellas much like myself.  I set it up with a forum, and a chat room, and place for photos, and videos.  It was going to be the quintessential hang out.  As each day passed with no new members (or obvious bot-members posting adds and links to pornographic garbage) it became apparent that my dreams of moderating a global network of fathers of large families would never come to fruition.  As time went on life got busy and my interest waned.

Then the news of #5 of 5 came along.  History repeating itself.  After the chaos of bringing another new baby into the house settled down, and we found ourselves settling back into a routine again, I turned to the net for help one more time – only this time instead of looking outward to others to provide me with what I wanted,  I turned introspective – and decided that documenting my thoughts / experiences was the way to go.

Within days of opening up shop I started discovering and networking with other “dad-bloggers” out there, and The Life of a Father of Five started down the path of becoming what it is today.

Welcome 2012

Well, here we are, the dawn of yet another new year.

2011 has been quite the ride indeed. It will officially go down in the annals of FOF history as one of the most tumultuous years of my life. Despite its frenzied tempo, a couple of notable setbacks, a painful absence, and my eagerness to see it in my rear view mirror, I refuse to complain. You see, I have so much more to be grateful for than what I have to complain about – and after all things considered, a life of blessings that outweigh the obstacles is truly something to be thankful for.

I know it’s customary to greet the New Year with a few “resolutions” – but I’m not going to make any. Not publicly or privately. Not a one.

Instead, as I bid adieu to 2011, I will welcome 2012 with hope and optimism that we can overcome our tribulations while remaining grateful for all the good things we have in our lives and for the courage to face any new obstacles with dignity.

That is also my wish for all of you.

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