A Kiss Goodbye

Today I had to say goodbye to a very dear part of my life. I have always loved animals, but my preference was usually towards cats. However, a little over eleven years ago, I was at the vet’s office with one of our animal brood (I forget which one was under the weather), when I spotted a large box with about five or six sets of pointy ears bouncing around in it. Unable to identify exactly what I was seeing, I moved in for a closer look.

To my great amusement I discovered a box full of Australian Cattle Dog puppies; red heelers and blue heelers (I learned the difference later on that evening). Standard size adorable puppies with the biggest damn ears I’ve ever seen on a dog, proportionally.

I struck up a conversation with the woman who brought them in, and was quickly educated about the breed: two varieties (blue and red heelers), they are herding dogs that originated from Austrailia, favorites of the ranchers. Very smart, loyal, and very very active.

While I was not really looking to add to our menagerie, I couldn’t help but play with them. Their personalities were bright and playful, and while the size of the ears was a bit distracting – it was also a facet that I found adorable.

After obtaining the woman’s contact information, I scooped up the member of the family that was with me and headed back to the house to tell my family of these cool little puppies, in the hopes that they would be charmed by them as I had been.

We set an appointment to visit the pups, and it appeared they won over my wife and children as they had me. I remember them all dancing around us, trying to play – wondering how we would ever make up our minds as to which one we would like to add to our family.

Somehow my oldest daughter settled on a chubby little red heeler, and the decision was done. Welcome to the family… Latte.

I chose his name, as he reminded me of the contents of something I’d find in a cup at the local coffee shop, with his red and white snow capped ears.

The first couple of years were a challenge; these dogs are ACTIVE. However, we had a huge yard at the house we were living in, and the fact that he was a herding dog proved to be useful in getting the younger children in the house for dinner when it was time.

Over the years, he matured. He also showed us just how smart he was. Teaching him something new was rarely too much of a challenge (though I am probably romanticizing that part a bit, due to today’s events). He won the hearts of everyone who came in contact with him.

A handsome, dignified canine that was truly an integral part of this family.

Today – Saturday, May 25th – he left us.

After letting the dogs out for their morning run, I was concerned when Latte didn’t return with the others. I walked outside, and saw him laying in the sun, looking at me… then he tried to stand, and couldn’t. He hobbled on his back legs, and collapsed in the grass.

In the blur of the next few hours, I remember my son immediately coming out to help me; calling the vet and begging for a few minutes between scheduled appointments to have the Dr. take a look at Latte, in the hopes that it was something that could be treated with some pain medication.

In the end, we discovered that his back was betraying him. Maybe a herniated disc, but whatever it was, it was severely painful.

It was time. We had been lifelong friends, and now he was relying on me to help him. I was in the position of having to decide how to proceed. I was always afraid of this moment; would I be able to make the right decision? How would I know what the right decision was?

Then I hugged him. My son had my phone, and grabbed a few pictures of Latte and me at the same office where I had found him eleven years earlier.

Then Latte looked at me, and kissed me – on the chin like he always had. I believe it was his way of saying goodbye. I held him and stayed with him. I knew that he should not have to endure this kind of pain so late in life. So, while looking out the window at the redwing blackbirds surrounding the feeder, Latte left us.

Goodbye, buddy. Thank you for the wonderful memories. Say hi to mom for me.

We love you.

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Is there truly any privacy anymore?

With the onset of the digital communications, smart phones, and variety of  electronic communication methods that are now available to us – our lives have become infinitely more simple, right? Probably true: but they’ve also become considerably more open to scrutiny as well.

A few years ago, I was holding workshops for parents designed to teach them about the need for developing solid internet security practices for themselves and their families. For instance: how to spot insecure photo postings (blur all addresses, license plates, etc., to inhibit the ability for anyone to place a geographic location on your posting); placement of home computers to inhibit young people from visiting inappropriate websites; developing a new set of digital parenting skills to accommodate our rapidly shifting tech structure.

Now employers are rapidly jumping on the information planted randomly around the internet.  I don’t know about you, but in my youth I often made judgement calls that were less than ‘educated.’  In fact, I made some downright stupid decisions:  but that was part of a learning process, and consequences were often limited to private indiscretions that involved a minimal number of people.

Not today.

Now the internet is akin to plastering a billboard of your most embarrassing moments in front of every one of your relatives, surrounded by floodlights.

The concept of freedom of speech has completely changed. While in years past, one could easily have a radical point of view on a certain topic, and usually not experience too much confrontation over it:  not anymore. Be ready to defend your POV, and make sure that you want to share it (even with complete strangers).

Employers started demanding Facebook passwords (thankfully, this is now under control); but nothing stops them from searching you out on the ‘net to make sure that your POV will fit in with their corporate structure.

I’ve always told my kids that whatever they post, assume I will see it. Keep that in the back of your mind, as you are composing a rant about whatever topic you feel passionate about this week. Once it’s out there: it’s out there. Forever. Thirty years later, it could come back to bite you in the a**.

Don’t let it.

Online opinions can be dangerous…

Wow.  Years ago, my father warned me against discussing religion and politics with friends – that if I insisted on doing soapboxso, I would likely lose most of the friends that I have. They’re hot topic issues, with passionate and emotional issues attached.  Now, with the onset of the “Springer/Povich” media effect (low-class verbal vomit passed off as entertainment) I’m beginning to see the fearlessness that the Internet has generated in some people – especially when they limit interaction to posting online.

As many are now attached to either Facebook, Google+, etc:  a new digital soapbox has emerged. While I will (occasionally) take a stance on these sensitive issues publicly via these networks (as it is a group of ‘friends’, right?) – I still try to live by my father’s wise advice:  watch what you say around certain topics, or risk losing friends.

The other day, when Hostess announced their impending liquidation, and the executives of the company were laying blame at the feet of the baker’s union, I got a little incensed.  While on my G+ account,  I started spouting off to people (not rudely, from my point of view – but definitely pro-worker, as I could not imagine how an iconic brand such as Hostess could be sunk by barely above minimum wage employees).

In the space of less than 24 hours I had received more “slap-downs” that I had ever experienced in my life: analog or digital. Wow.  As an example:  “I’d be surprised to find out that I was the first man to call you an ignorant left-wing sh*t d**k, care to surprise me?” – this coming from a man who later referred to me as a “retard” and told me he was a comedian, therefore it was his job to ridicule me…

Again: wow.

So today I write a note to myself.

Dear self,

A few points to for you to follow:

  1. Never allow a person to intimidate you into changing your mind due to insults and extreme negative feedback.
  2. Look for those who disagree with your point of view, and have the patience to explain why.
  3. Relish a diversity of  opinion; as that is how one learns. 
  4. Enjoy debate and conversation, as knowledge comes from sharing.
  5. Finally, never EVER resort to the emotional vomit put forth by some people attempting to make a point.

Now you know why you have so many politically diverse friends on Facebook:  they are there to share their life experience and POV’s with you, so that your experience on this earth is as diverse as possible.  Learn how to see through the eye’s of others, and hopefully they will allow you to share your POV with them.  While you may end up having to ”agree to disagree” – at least the conversation happened. 

Best regards,
The ignorant left wing sh*t d**k 

Have a nice day!

Where have all the hippies gone?

Was talking to a friend the other night, after having read an article an article on a blog:  20 Things I Should Have Known at 20.  An excellent list that I wish I had thought up – please read it.

That evening, I was up late and scanning the options available via DirecTV and found the movie “Hair” playing on Ovation (one of my favorite channels) and I remembered:

9. You will become more conservative over time.

Suddenly the Tea Party movement began making more sense…

Hippies haven’t died out: they’ve simply cut their hair and began watching Fox News.

What a concept! The same determination for a cause, the media hype and attention; it’s all there!

Then, while bouncing around the internet a little while trying to locate the blog article mentioned above, I ran into another blog article:    Hippie, Conservative Republican! Oh My!

My observations / worst fears were confirmed…

Being half-assed never made anyone happy

mediocrity image from avitable.com blogDid that headline get your attention?It certainly grabbed mine…

First, please know upfront that these words appeared in an article from the blog Brazen Life (credit where credit is due).

Through my ramblings on the internet, I came across it by accident (some long-forgotten link) – and their upfront style of writing attracted my attention. This sentence caught my eye and I just had to run with it; it was just too good to leave alone.

Today I see too many people settling for ‘getting by.’ Just doing enough to satisfy the minimum in almost everything they do.

I am at a loss as to why they would do this to themselves.

Why would people not want to put forth the best possible effort when dealing with life issues? A positive approach to challenging issues will not only contribute to your happiness in the end run, but it might just make a small part of the world a brighter place.

A little too sappy for you? Sorry, but I’m the kind of guy that has watched “Field of Dreams” over 20 times and never tire of the effect that the story has on me. Same with “Pay It Forward” – another tale of going above and beyond what most expect, to share a special emotional human interaction with another person.

The real Antichrist is he who turns the wine of an original idea into the water of mediocrity. –Eric Hoffer

Rediscover yourself as a child – exploring life fearlessly, and devoting yourself to fully experiencing those moments when you share the best of yourself with others; friends, family, coworkers, and strangers.

It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding.

iWise – Collecting the Wisdom of the World, One Tidbit @ a Time

iWise

I’m not entirely sure how I found iWise (though I believe I ended up on it due to a Facebook friend link), but I’m glad I did.

Quotes from some of the greatest thinkers of all time abound in this creative layout and presentation of human knowledge.

You can search by topic or person, map it to other  related ideas, post directly to your Facebook or Twitter accounts (you can even schedule regular tweets).

It’s fun, inspiring, educational – and (if you’re not careful) – a major time consumer if you are into this type of information.

It is an excellent source to hit, when you are looking for just the right quote to accompanying that big presentation you’ve got coming up in a couple of days; providing you with some creative solutions – and generating new ideas as well (which is where the time factor comes into play… gotta watch that!).

Best thing to do, is visit iWise for yourself – take a tour, sign in, play around when you have a little free time. An excellent and well-designed resource for students, professionals and lay people.

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” By Albert_Einstein
http://www.iwise.com/41YAl

Creative expression with no budget…

A classic example of the power of creative thinking over money.

With all the problems the big-budget musical of Spiderman (and the disturbing method of their injuring most of their cast) – along comes some poor, destitute actors who write/produce/perform their own “Spidey” in less than 30 days.

Broadway needs to pay attention to this – but I could almost guarantee that won’t happen. Big budgets don’t necessarily guarantee quality – it takes talent: watch the video…

S