Saturday, October 04, 2008

It's Not Fair

Amber and I took the kids to the Fair last night. I'm not generally a big fan of the Fair, but I've got to say I had more fun last night than I have in a long time. It also gave me a chance to learn more about the many character traits of Caleb...

Trait #1 - Absolute Confidence: This trait was expressed in the “Monkey Maze” which is a maze made up of glass and mirrors...very tricky. Most kids and adults (including myself) felt their way through with their hands second guessing every step. Not Caleb. He charged headfirst in whatever direction he thought was correct. After a quick recovery from a glass face plant, he'd charge headfirst again in another direction. It may have been wrong of me to laugh every time his body crumpled against a piece of glass head first, but it was FUNNY. So I laughed. In fact, I'm laughing now while writing this because I can still visualize the stunned look on his face every time it made contact with an invisible wall. That alone was worth the price of admission.

Trait #2 - Leadership / Problem Solving: There was a small obstacle course of sorts for the kids. No one over 50" (or something like that...I don't remember exactly, but definitely shorter than me) was allowed to go in unless you are accompanying your child...which I was...honest. (Side note: Parents don't have to use tickets to get in either.) It consisted of a rope ladder, two swinging bridges, a bouncy house type enclosed slide, a tangled elastic band maze thingy, and a really super fast slide. Caleb conquered the rope ladder with ease and made his way onto the first swinging bridge. Did you know that swinging bridges can be very scary when your daddy is jumping and swaying side to side on them? After a little hesitation, Caleb made it across the first bridge. Problem Solving: “When Daddy gets on the bridge it bounces and sways way too much. Passage would probably be easier without him.” Leadership: “Daddy, you stay here,” he says with his little hand stretched out in an assertive manner. Once he made it across he looked back and waved me on. If you ask me, the second bridge wasn’t nearly as fun as the first. This is where I found out the reasoning behind the 50” max height restriction. The bouncy house type slide thingy was barely big enough for me to fit through and it was at an angle but it did not slide. By the time I wiggled my way through Caleb was almost all the way through the elastic band jumble. Then came the real slide. Caleb happily jumped in first and I followed closely behind him…maybe a little too closely…apparently dads build up speed much faster than Calebs. We ended in a pile at the bottom. Caleb’s muffled voice spoke out from underneath me, “Let’s do it again, Daddy.”

Trait #3 – Independence: We waited in the fairly short line for the kids helicopter ride. Caleb was very excited to get to fly a helicopter so the line wasn’t quite short enough for him. When they finally let us through the gate, I helped Caleb into the helicopter, buckled him in and sat next to him ready for the ride to start. “Alright dad, you gotta get out,” the attendant said as he walked by our helicopter. Apparently dads are not allowed to fly in the helicopters. At this point I was expecting a “Don’t leave me” or an “I want to go with you, Daddy”…which I did not get. Oh no, I just got a wave goodbye as the helicopter lifted off and began its circular flight pattern. I don’t know what bummed me out more, the fact that he didn’t need me with him or the fact that I didn’t get to ride in the helicopter.

We ended the night having consumed a two foot long corn dog (no exaggeration), funnel cake (a fair must) and some deep fried Oreos (just when I thought Oreos couldn’t get any better) and having collected a stroller full of prizes (apparently Caleb is quite the game player). One of his prizes was a miniature horn which we had the pleasure of listening to the entire ride home. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the horn might disappear soon. Horn? What horn?

I can’t wait until October of ’09.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What Are Rights Without Self Respect?

I saw a news story yesterday that bothered me. But what bothered me wasn’t the same thing that bothered the media and the rest of the world that sympathized with the story.

Back story: If you haven’t heard, a Colorado school decided to have a Patriotic Day in which all the students were encouraged to wear Red, White and Blue. One 5th grader shows up in a homemade white t-shirt that reads, “OBAMA IS A TERRORIST’S BEST FRIEND.” The school gave the boy two options 1) turn the shirt inside-out or 2) get suspended. The boy was suspended.

Minor point: The boy and his father (more on them in the Major point) claimed it was his 1st Amendment right to wear that shirt. The school claimed that the shirt was causing disruptions and was distracting other students from learning. I agree with the school (no printed shirts, no matter what their message, should be allowing in school). Public schools are a FREE place for our children to get an education, not a public forum for expressing your viewpoints (no matter how much we may or may not agree with those viewpoints). In the America of today where there is much more grey area than there is black and white, who is to say what is appropriate/inappropriate or what is right/wrong? While the shirt very well could have been referring to Senator Obama’s close friendship with William Ayers (after seeing the news interview I don’t think it was deeply thought out) who admits to attacking the United States, there are still some who do not classify Ayers as a terrorist. So now even the validity of the message of this boy’s shirt is at question. What if the shirt read, “Abortion – the easiest way out” or “George Bush is a murderer” or “Worship Satan with me…he loves us all no matter what we’ve done”? Would we be cheering for the school instead of the boy? If you want your child to be able to wear whatever shirt he wants, send him to a private school or make the ultimate sacrifice and home school (Warning: Home schooling may take away from your free time and may cause you to have to cut back some on your standard of living. Please make sure your children are worth that sacrifice before attempting). If you want the government to educate your child then exercise your 1st Amendment right by doing something about it…get involved, vote, write a letter to the editor…don’t hide behind a homemade t-shirt and wine about one of your rights being violated if you aren’t taking full advantage of all of your rights. And, oh by the way, during the interview it came out that the t-shirt was not the boy’s idea. He was “encouraged” to wear it by his Dad. Way to go Dad. Let your son take the heat for your freedom of speech.

Major point: Do we as American’s not have any self respect anymore? More and more I’m seeing things like this. When this boy and his father showed up for their interview for national news they not only failed to dress up, they didn’t even dress neatly or appropriately. During the interview I got to thinking, “I bet this is the way they dress to go to church as well.” Now that is complete speculation, but if I were a betting man I’d bet it was true. For those of you fortunate enough to have not seen the interview, I’ll describe their attire for you. The boy was wearing a black t-shirt with some sort of skull figure drawn on it with what appeared to be a bullet hole in the forehead…classy. The father was dressed in his finest camouflaged t-shirt. I can just imagine the conversation he had with his wife as he was getting ready for the interview. “Honey, have you seen my good camo?...No, not that one, that’s last year’s Mossy Oak. My good camo. The Hardwoods HD one you got me for our anniversary.”

Yes, sir, you do have a right to wear whatever you want when you receive your two minutes of fame. But people are watching…people in other countries are watching. Please have enough respect yourself if not your country to be presentable during your short lived fame.

Friday, July 25, 2008

That’s What Insurance Is For

A couple of months ago, Amber had the pleasure of introducing the front of our Civic to the front of someone else’s car. She was crossing an intersection on a green light and the other driver turned across the intersection from the opposite direction without a green arrow. Apparently a large truck in another lane blocked Amber from his view so he drove his vehicle into the middle of a four way intersection to get a better view. Luckily no one was injured. The police made a report. The other driver was at fault. Insurance information was exchanged. No problem, that’s what insurance is for. However, the other driver had the kind of insurance that comes as a prize in a Happy Meal. This news was like a ray of sunshine bringing joy to all involved. Of course the true fulfillment of joy didn’t occur until we finally received the return phone call from the McInsurance Company explaining that McCrashy hadn’t been paying his bills and therefore his insurance had McLapsed. So, I guess that’s what our insurance is for.

I had a real struggle with this. The other driver was driving a beat up car, was not dressed like money, lived in a low end neighborhood and obviously was having budget issues since he wasn’t able to keep up with his McPayments. On the one side, that’s why we have insurance so even if it’s not our fault we don’t lose out…or at least no more than our $500 deductable. On the other side, you broke my stuff…you fix my stuff. It’s quite simple, black and white, no need for discussion. Since this did not happen, I have every right to turn him in to the authorities for not having insurance which will in turn strip him of his driver’s license and possible land him a fine and/or some jail time. Will this help me in collecting any of the money…no. Will it make me feel any better…that’s the struggle.

I really would find no joy in bringing extra hardship on this guy. However, I do believe he should be responsible to pay for the repair of my vehicle. And, in my mind, anyone that is not willing to even attempt to right their wrong deserves no mercy and showing mercy would only further instill in them the mindset of “just worry about yourself and if something bad happens you don’t need to feel responsible…someone else will bail you out.”

Mercy prevailed, I didn’t get the law involved. Allstate, my insurance company that doesn’t sell their insurance as part of a meal deal and who I pay in full every six months to protect not only myself and my family but anyone else who we may accidently cause undue harm, took care of the repair bill for us and is pursuing the reimbursement of the funds from the other driver. How they pursue it is their business. I’m over it and on with my life.

This past Friday (July 18th at 9:30am – this information will become important in just a moment), two weeks after we finally got the Civic back from the body shop, I was sitting at a red light in said Civic when I looked in my rear view mirror to see a full size Yukon Denali bearing down on me at highway speeds. She didn’t realize that neither I nor the vehicles in front of me were moving until my vehicle stopped hers from moving.

She was in Nurse’s attire on her way to work. Her husband later showed up to make sure she was alright (he’s a salesman for the local Cadillac dealership). They’re driving a very nice SUV. They both have good paying jobs. These are the kind of people that have good insurance. Our vehicle will be fixed in no time and at no cost to us and we’ll likely have a rental car provided to us while it’s in the shop.

Wait, what’s that? Cracker Jacks gives insurance away as prizes as well? I did not know that. All this time I’ve been spending my hard earned money on good insurance to protect others and I could have been paying (or better yet not paying) for el cheapo insurance and been dodging my responsibility as a law abiding American citizen. So Cracker Jack, Inc. calls me this morning to inform me that their client (the one that parked her Yukon Denali in my trunk) had not paid their insurance and it lapsed on July 16th. They did, however, call in a payment to catch their insurance up on July 18th at 9:37am…yes, 9:37am on July 18th…precisely 7 minutes after their Yukon informed my Civic that it was heading back to the body shop.

I’m not calling my insurance yet. If this guy doesn’t pay cash to repair the car and forces me to call my insurance, that phone call will be immediately followed by a call to the local police department.

Can I have fries with that?