Thursday, November 29, 2007

Giving Thanks

(Okay, mysterious Portuguese reader, here is an update...)

We spent the Thanksgiving weekend with my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew at the Whining Bull Ranch in Baird, TX. Dad and Pansy came for a little while, but concern over the weather found them heading home early. All in all the weekend was totally uneventful - which is exactly the way I hoped it would be. We didn't venture out much. Too cold and wet.

We did the usual Thanksgiving stuff. We ate. We talked. We ate. We watched football. We sat around like bums while the kids entertained one another. The women watched the men take over the kids' video games. We ate. We napped. We gossiped. We fought over the last of the dessert.

We did a few things that are not so usual for us. We watched snow fall in November. We fed cows. We worried over one of the ranch cats that returned from her walk-about with a terrible bite wound. We marveled at how well-behaved the children where while being couped up in the house for days straight.

And we went to see a movie. That's not the unusual part. While we were at the mall waiting for the flick to start, we watched a guy dressed like Captain Jack Sparrow stagger around and let kids choose treats from his treasure chest while their parents selected "angels" from the Salvation Army Angel Tree. It was all kinds of messed up. I searched the memory banks for the Legend of the Christmas Pirate, but I came up with nothing.

I remember that one year my girlfriend Melinda received a pirate Christmas ornament from a buddy. We got a good chuckle out of it then. But now I feel like I have been missing out on some really important swashbuckling holiday lore. Would someone please fill me in?

Sis tells me that my nephew has been lamenting the departure of his cousins with the following wail - "Kids are GONE!"

I hope everyone had a nice, relaxing holiday weekend. And I also hope everyone gained more weight than I did. You'll need the energy reserves to get you through the Christmas rush, of course.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Party Time

The Little One celebrated her 9th birthday at the skating rink. The kids had a great time, and the staff at the rink were fantastic. The young lady that served as our hostess was friendly, helpful, patient, and professional. Who says young people have gone to the dogs? (Well, no one says it exactly like THAT, but you know what I mean.)

After most of the other parents left the rink, I did the unthinkable. I got some skates and took to the floor. Back in the day (I'm not saying which day), I was pretty good on wheels. My best bud, Sherry, and I spent at least two nights a week at the local rink, showing off and meeting boys, not necessarily in that order. We even snuck (or is it sneaked?) our skates into the school building on the last day of our senior year, skipped out of our least favorite class (government, of course), and skated up and down the halls until we got caught and sent back to class. We were actually terrific students with flawless records, so we did not get into trouble. We were a little disappointed...

Anyway, let me say that skating is not like riding a bike. It does not come back naturally to you after years (and I mean years) of inactivity. It takes several l-o-o-o-n-g unnerving moments of wobbling and flailing and screaming like a girl before you feel any semblance of control. And even then you can be going along pretty confidently until suddenly, for no apparent reason, you just start to fall down. And then there are those annoying little kids that go flying past you with no regard to your safety or pride. I only fell once, and it was not spectacular at all. And no one had a camera trained on me at the moment. Ha!

The event was a success. Yeah, yeah, sure - the kids had a good time, and the Little One got a load of cool gifts. But the real success is measured in the fact that I sustained no bruises or broken bones! More importantly, I have finally found something physical that I can do better than Mikel. He whups me at tennis, cycling, bowling, swimming, skiing, arm wrestling, everything. Until now, that is. I think we should go skating every weekend. Wonder if I can convince the DJ to play REAL skating music, like Boogie Wonderland...

Thursday, November 15, 2007


You know, it happens sometimes. It is the danger of the written word. Sometimes, regardless of the care you take to say things just right, someone reads a bit too much into your words or misinterprets their meanings or takes them too seriously. It is always a surprise to the reader and to the writer when this happens. And for the times that has happened here, I sincerely apologize. I may be a lot of things, but I am never intentionally cruel. So, dear reader, know that my ramblings are always a reflection of my thoughts but never a reflection of my feelings toward you.


Here is what I am currently contemplating: I recently read an article about two girls in middle school (not in our school district) that are being disciplined for hugging at school. The school they attend has a no hugging policy, surely a sincere effort to control inappropriate touching, etc. The rule sounds fine on paper, I suppose, but it makes me kind of angry.

If you've been visiting me for long, you have certainly ascertained that my childhood was less than wonderful. I often had to get my love and affection in places outside of my home. My friends and I (males and females) hugged at school A LOT. If it were not for that outlet for nonsexual human contact, I would have had none. Let me restate - girls and boys expressed friendship and affection through hugs. I never felt at any time as if the hugging was inappropriate or "icky" in any way. And I had lots of experience with "icky," I know it when I feel it. I'm betting you do, too.

There is plenty of research out there that supports the theory that human beings need physical contact to flourish and that they will fail to thrive if they are denied contact. We just need to touch, to feel connected, to feel supported, to be reminded that we truly do exist and belong to the human race.

It's easy to forget that we are animals, but the fact remains that we are. Have you ever noticed just now much physical contact occurs among other species? Turtles lie atop one another when they sun themselves. Cats groom each other (which means getting each other's cat hair in their mouths... ewwww). Primates sit hip to hip, picking and stroking one another. And this may come as a shock to some folks - these animals don't immediately engage in intercourse the second they are finished touching one another. Touching does not equal sex, people!

I have real concerns about the messages attached to no-touching rules. I am concerned that children will not form the attachments they need to thrive. I am concerned that parents will limit touching their children for fear of being reported to authorities. I am concerned that children will equate all touching (from any source) with sex. I am concerned that our entire society has become so negatively obsessed with sex that we sell ourselves short, telling ourselves that we are incapable of separating concepts like friendship and love and lust.

But mostly, I am insulted that some people consider us less capable of controlling our desires than other species of animals. I really want to believe that we are better than that.

[Hey, I just had a thought - could this be a reason that so many people are opposed to breast feeding? If someone, anyone, is sucking on a nipple, then someone must be experiencing sexual pleasure, 'cuz breasts certainly weren't designed for any other purpose, right? And that would just be gross, right? Right? I trust that sounds just as ridiculous to you as it does to me.]

These are my thoughts, not necessarily representative of anyone else's opinions. But I'd love to hear what you think.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


I have just returned from the Nation's Capitol where I spent four days immersed in heady and fascinating research presented at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting. Just about everything you ever wanted or needed to know about health you could get at this meeting. I am exhausted, my brain hurts, and I think I got a paper cut thumbing through the catalog. When I say "catalog," I mean for you to picture one the size of the Sears and Roebuck catalog that your mother used to order from.
Within one hour of landing, I (1) tripped and nearly fell on my bohiney, (2) got bitten by the rapidly closing doors on the Metro, and (3) was launched off my feet as the train left the station. Had it not been for the woman's suitcase in the aisle that impeded my progress, my suitcase would have just rolled all the way to the back of the car, taking me with it. I'm happy to report that I got the clumsies out of my system and that they didn't return for the remainder of the trip.

While I was there, I visited the National Museum of the American Indian. To my delight, tribes from all of the Americas were represented. I had no idea there were this many indigenous tribes. It was mind-boggling. Being the tactile freak that I am, I was drawn to all things beaded, and there was plenty to take in. They were all behind glass to keep the "touchers" like me at bay. Oh, but I could imagine how they felt.... ahhhhhh.............

In an effort to stop being the world's worst Asian, I have included a few pictures from Chinatown. You will see that these images are telling of my sick sense of humor.

Here's one of the billion teeny tiny restaurants vying for space and business:

hee, hee, hee.... Wonder whatever happened to the old one.............

Some of the restaurants proudly display their wares in shop windows:

Hungry yet?

I've been to DC many times, and I'd forgotten how COLD it is there this time of year. But that didn't seem to keep people indoors. Lots of folks walk to work from the Metro station, women in business suits and sneakers, etc. The folks I saw were fashionable and diverse. Heard several different languages spoken, read lots of stories in lots of eyes.

I love traveling and experiencing, but I love coming home even more. Hello, Texas!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

No One Got Axed

This is the first chance I've had to post since we returned from Nacogdoches. Things at work have been crazy busy. I am exhausted, having just put the finishing touches on our new policies and procedures for my program. Finished, my shiny white hiney - who am I kidding? I see several edits and revisions in my future...

Anyway, we all drove out to SFASU for homecoming weekend. There was a cool bonfire on Friday night, a parade Saturday morning, and of course an afternoon football game. And the Jacks..... lost. They were spanked. They were humiliated. As the Not-So-Little-One so aptly put it, "The Jacks didn't ax nobody. They got the ax." Indeed they did. However, we still had a terrific time in the Oldest Town in Texas. Did our best to support the economy by spending copious amounts of money on SFA apparel and paraphernalia. Man, I love me some purple!

It's tough to see it here, but the girls and I are giv'n 'em the ax in our new jerseys:

(Man, are we cool or what?)

I did my absolute darnedest to brainwash the girls into making SFA their college of choice. It has a high academic rating, it's just far enough away from home to encourage a little independence, just small enough for you to be somebody, just big enough to have real traditions, and just affordable enough that mom and dad can help with tuition.

Nac has changed a lot since I was last there. But the campus remains one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. I basked in shameless nostalgia as I walked past the buildings I spent the most time in. And it just smells good out there. No stinky traffic, just pine trees and clean air. I would gladly go back if only there were a way to make a living.

Took the girls trick-or-treating tonight. I'm the world's worst Asian. I always forget to take pictures. I escorted Harry Potter's buddy Hermione and The Devil all over the neighborhood. I had to ask the Little One to stop referring to herself as Satan.

Hope you all had a safe and fun Halloween. Don't eat all of your kids' candy (BB). Drop in and tell me what your kids dressed as to go begging door-to-door.