Wednesday, August 29, 2012

On the Tail End of a Lull

I haven't written much lately.  For some reason, I'm basking in the glow of my marriage.  We're coming up on 11 years this Saturday and Kristine and I have become much closer in the last few months. 

Thankfully, closeness is mathematically infinite.  You can infinitely divide your physical and relational proximity by half and never quite complete the crash. 

I look forward to more half distances.


I. C.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

Answering a Critic - My Response to the Venerable Ed Baker

Ed Baker.  I love you buddy.  I see a lot of myself in you.  But, sometimes, I have to own up to the idiot I am.  I'm kinda like Joe Biden in a way.  I love me a great cheeseburger, am fun loving, tell a great off-the-cuff story, and yet, time and time again, stick my foot in my mouth.  Damn the cameras!

Anyway, as you, Ed Baker, may have noticed, I did not publish any of your comments under the posts you commented on.  I don't usually censor comments, but, every once in a while, a personal attack makes me question whether or not I want to let one go through.  Your personal attacks were so poignant that I wanted to publish all your comments in a post and answer them personally.  

Oddly enough, I look at what you have to say as eerily similar to how people treat women when they go out and forge a career.  As an example, look what happened to the drop dead gorgeous new CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Meyer when it was announced that she was getting the job.  This point will become more clear as I publish more of your comments below.

Ed Baker, under the post John Piper Wants to Go to Prison - An Argument for Spanking a Child:

"Wow. I'm not sure what is more disheartening, your incredibly poor reasoning skills... or that the nonsense you'd use them to write could pile up to such volumes. What do you do (or NOT do, for that matter) that allows you the time to spew out these mountainous heaps of absurdity? Surely you must be neglecting some responsibilities in your life, as it's hard to imagine any adult with a full-time job and social obligations to have so many idle hours in a day.

Your post was poorly reasoned, and you waste too much time blogging to elevate your self esteem."

This post was one of my finest.  I'm crushed.  I sit here at my desk weeping.  My self-esteem is beyond repair.

Actually, nothing of the sort.  When a person resorts to personal attacks, rather than reasoned arguments against something he disagrees with, my drivel (as you see it) is frankly much more thoughtful, much more articulate, and much more well reasoned than anything you have brought to the table.

But, let's do the numbers.  Then we'll look at the ethics of writing a blog, should there be any.

I began writing Incongruous Circumspection at the end of February, 2011.  So, to be fair, we'll round that up to March.  I don't want to stretch the numbers and give you more snark to deal with.  So, essentially, I have been writing for about 18 months.  In those 18 months, I have written exactly 248 posts.  That comes out to an average of 14 posts a month or around 1 post every 2 days.  The longer posts take me about an hour to write, while about 50% of my posts are very short, not to mention, one of the most popular posts was exactly one word.  To be fair, let me average all posts out to 1 hour to allow for organization and marketing of my brand.  This means, out of the 13,152 hours across 18 months, I have spent 248 hours blogging, or 1.8% of my life.

As you can see, I have 98.2% of the rest of my life to sleep and make my wife do all her wifely duties and mother my children.  Thus, I'm the awesome husband you want me to be - perfectly in charge, doing only what God intended for me to do.


Ed Baker, under the post How to Spiritually Abuse Your Children in Three Steps:

"The gospel is offensive to every un-converted soul on the planet. Abstinence before marriage is "weird" to many people in the US and around the world. Racial harmony is hated by many even today in America and certain parts of the world. So you'd say we shouldn't teach our children these things? Popularity of an idea isn't what determines whether or not it is taught, but how true it is."

Obviously, Ed, you have some pet positions you enjoy.  I never spoke of the gospel or anything specific for that matter. I was speaking of spiritual abuse.  Look up spiritual abuse.  You may be surprised at what you find.  Personally, the "gospel" is meaningless to me.  Once you travel around to the 33,000 denomination of Christianity, you will find that the "gospel" is also meaningless to you, as well.  The word is simply jargon.  It means nothing.  If you want to prove a point, I need a missive with a lot of decisive proof, what the gospel is.  Oh...and the Bible doesn't count as an exclusive resource.  I can show you a gospel from Harry Potter.  That doesn't make it correct.

Also, I never spoke of abstinence.  Personally, I think men and women should experience lots of unbridled sex before any kind of long term commitment.  My personal belief is that we have so many relational sexual issues because we attach so much significance to the natural animalistic act.  And yes, your position is purely religious.  I get that.  I am not religious.  Sex, to me, is probably the biggest reason I live.  Tomorrow, it will be to see the smile on Kristine's face.  The next day, it will be the giggle from the voice of my daughter.  Yes, life is life and rules suck.  But for Christians like you, they are necessary to fence in everyone else and make their lives a miserable hell.  I'm through with all of that.

Racial harmony?  What the hell are you even talking about?  I said nothing about racial harmony.  I don't give a crap about it.  I want it, yes, but it isn't on my radar.  I love people and I don't give a flying you know what about their skin color.  Religion is the reason why we have racial issues.  Your God started it.  Own that and then come to me with your stupid arguments from left field.

Finally, who said anything about popularity.  Incongruous Circumspection speaks with reason or logic.  I don't care about popularity.  I have printed some pretty unpopular positions.  Heck, you commenting so heatedly is proof that my positions are unpopular.  Maybe you haven't looked around after removing your head from the sand and realized that many of the beliefs you hold ARE ACTUALLY THE POPULAR STATUS QUO!!!  Grow up and stop listening to the Republican Party and your pulpit spewers.  They want you to believe that you are the minority and are being repressed.

Try being gay sometime.


Ed Baker, under the post 2 Timothy is not Referring to the Bible

"After scratching my head at a lot of what your write on your blog, it all makes a lot more sense after reading this post.  Please don't give people the impression that you're a Christian. It would be very misleading.  Again, how in the world do you have so much time to blog if you have SIX kids?"

Wow.  And what would you say to a woman who has a career.  Wait.  Don't answer that.  Everyone reading this already knows.

Say I have a full time job, have a family of six children, am happily married, and begin something on the side that all of a sudden makes me rich.  I get my picture in Business Magazine with a wicked suit on.  I write a book about my success.  I create thousands of jobs due to my success.  I fill the tax coffers of all levels of government through my success.  Charity is enriched.  People smile and live better.  All because of an on-the-side venture I started.

Ed Baker, you and your kind would be the FIRST to sing my praises.  You would yell to the hills about how I am a poster boy of why people need to work harder and not mooch off of government.  Yes, your kind.  The kind that mixes politics with religion.  It's obvious with the way you comment.  Holy crap!  I have SIX KIDS!  By gawrsh!

You're a hypocrite and you know it.  You only care that I write a few blog posts because it hurts your way of life.  You have no way of combating my words because they are so awesome, they blow all your arguments out of the water!

Ok.  I'll step down off of my facetious high horse.  But seriously, what am I supposed to think?  You attack but have no substance.  You question my family life but do not know me.  You act like six kids is so much work a man cannot spend a few hours a week doing what he loves.  Am I not supposed to hunt?  Fish? Cook food snobbery meals?  Take walks with my wife?  Seriously!  What the hell kind of life am I supposed to live in your eyes?!

Don't answer that.  I don't want to hear about your miserable standards.  And I never want to see you at a movie theater or spending one minute with your friends.  Redeem your time buddy.  The world depends on it.  Never do what you love.  Never take up a hobby.  Throw away all your toys.  They are worthless pieces of crap on this earth anyway.
  Grow up and get a life.

Finally, you spoke too soon.  You obviously have not read much of my blog.  When I wrote that well reasoned, terribly logically sound post, I wasn't a Christian anymore.  I began Incongruous Circumspection as a seriously questioning Christian and am now an agnostic by definition, atheist in practice.  But my words in this post are true, regardless of who or what I am.  The logic is inescapable.  No amount of magical mind games can break through good and sound logic.  No, the Holy Spirit cannot reveal to me how contradictions in Scripture are actually not contradictions.  That is, unless I decide to begin lying to myself.

Open your mind Ed.  Come over to the dark side.  Stay a Christian.  What do I care.  Most of my friends are still Christians BY THEIR OWN DEFINITIONS, not by yours.  Barely anyone would fit your narrow definition.  I love all people.  Religious or not.  Yes...hehe...even you, Ed.  We could have a beer together and I would enjoy every minute of it.

Ok.  That's enough.  Ed left another comment under my Male Headship post and tried, as the millionth person to do so, to crow about how I don't understand male headship.  Sorry buddy,  I basted in it.  It was my life.  I know all the arguments and how all of them don't make a lick of sense in practice.  I tried them all and guess what, life is life and rules just suck.  There is no formula.

Believe it or not, I am happy - without your narrow rules and restrictive religion.  Ed Baker, move on.  Or keep reading.  I may convert to you to a thinking person, Christian or not, one day.  Try it.  It's addicting.

Struggling in America - Ariel G.

My childhood did not prepare me for the real world. In a nutshell, dad worked hard to supply for our family; my stepmom stayed home with all 18 kids. I was homeschooled for most of my school years, although quite poorly, I am sad to say. My parents were ill-equipped and under-educated to be able to teach K-12 to 18 different kids, all with different strengths and weaknesses. Their way of teaching was “here is a book, read it and learn it.” I enjoyed learning, but by the time I was 15, I was only half-heartedly participating. We learned no social skills, no real life preparation. Jobs were out of the question for any of the girls in the family. We were expected to stay home and wait for prince charming to come and sweep dad off his feet, and then we would get married and stay home and have lots of babies, and cook and clean.

At 17, I joined the Navy. I had been kicked out of my parents' home for being ”rebellious”, and had been living with a neighbor family. This family tried to help my transition to normal life: The mom had given me a job; she was a manager at a gas station/fast food place.  They took me shopping for normal clothes, and talked to me about college. I really wanted to go to college, but without a diploma, GED, or transcripts, I couldn’t get any scholarships. I couldn’t qualify for federal aid because I wasn’t considered an independent student, and my dad refused to disclose his financial information.

My time on active duty was life changing. I met amazing people, learned a great job, went places I never dreamed I would go, and experienced things that have impacted me for the rest of my life. But on April 18th this year, my life drastically changed. I spent the last 5 ½ years on active duty in the Navy. It was an adventure, and something I loved being a part of, but at the end of my contract, I decided to transfer to reserves so I could have my baby, finish my degree, and widen my horizons, et cetera.  Unfortunately, my plans haven’t worked out exactly the way I expected. Believe me when I say the transition from military to civilian life is culture shock. The military has a support structure for its people that is unmatched by any other organization. They take good care of their people, and going from that, to nothing, was the hardest thing I have ever done.

 If any of you haven’t noticed, the job market isn’t that great, and I didn’t even know how to write a resume, or a cover letter, or even where to start when looking for a job. And don’t even mention networking. I’m not a huge people person. I had no idea how to go about getting health insurance (it’s free in the military, and hadn’t crossed my mind). I was planning to just go to school full time, but I ran into some problems with enrollments and have to wait until next semester. 
So with the job search continuing, and bills coming, I decided to apply for unemployment, which I had been hesitating to do. Growing up, I was told accepting any type of government aid was the lazy man’s way out, and was a disgrace to your name. It took my vet rep sitting me down and asking me how many months I spent on deployment away from my family, how many extra hours and weekends did I work without getting paid overtime, how many holidays did I miss, before I finally let go of that stigma. He told me to look at the 12 months, “no questions asked” unemployment insurance, WIC, and the state-run health insurance, as a type of thank you.

Let me add, that extra help is a lifesaver and the local work source has been amazing.  I’m still looking for a job while I wait for January for school to start. Hopefully I will find something soon, but in the meantime, at least I’m not completely lost anymore.

Response to Todd Akin

Full disclosure.  I hate abortion.  I will never get one.  I'm a man.  I'm married to a woman.  She hates abortion and says she will never get one.  I was snipped a year or so ago, so it isn't a concern with us.  We have daughters.  We (I, more than my wife) want the option open in case of rape or health of the mother.  Really, I am against the whole notion of outlawing abortion.  I don't like the politics around it.  It's all about controlling another person's life, mostly for religious reasons.

But I don't like writing about abortion.  I don't really care about it.  I like to write about women.  And Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin has riled my feathers.

First of all, as everyone who watches or reads the news now knows, Akin claimed that women can have two types of rape - legitimate and illegitimate.  He didn't specifically state that, but he did specifically say "legitimate rape", which leads anyone to conclude the dichotomous "other".

He then goes on to say that a woman that is legitimately raped has certain bodily mechanisms that naturally abort the baby or prevent a woman from even getting pregnant at all.  While this may be true (no study has shown this to be the case yet), it is actually quite a meaningless position to hold.  It makes no difference.  In fact, it muddies the waters and even sets a dangerous precedence.

Let's say a woman is raped and gets pregnant.  If we listen to Akin, we can assume two things:

1. The rape was not a legitimate rape and she willingly allowed it to happen, thus causing her body's natural aborting abilities to not work their magic.  She must have the child.

2. She deserves the baby because God's natural plan was that she must carry the vile sperm to fruition.  She must have the child.

The problem goes even deeper.  As much as Akin may say he cares for life, he really doesn't give a flying crap about women or children after they're born.  Look at his other policies that he supports, being on the GOP ticket.  If that woman's baby, that he forced her to have, does come to full term, he is perfectly willing to deny that woman and the child the services necessary in life, provided by a far-reaching and capable national and state government.  No, they must strike out on their own and live a life with no assistance in the GOP utopia.

"But, by GOD!  We'll never let them choose to NOT have a child!  They HAVE to have the baby and then enjoy the consequences of their decisions!"

But wait...the woman didn't decide to get raped.  She just got raped.  Oh wait...oops.  Do you see it now?  Their body didn't abort the child so the physiological decision was decided FOR her and she now has to live with her "decision".

I hope Todd Akin loses.  We don't need his kind in government.  We need people who care for people - all people.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Winning a Battle, Losing the War

Characters - My daughter, Analisse (2) and my son, Jack (3).

Setting - A house in Colorado.

I'm sitting at a long wooden dining room table, quietly chatting with our hosts, Kristine sitting next to me, when I hear a quick double pitter patter of small feet.  The sound is unmistakeable for that of two children beginning a fight.  My head whips to the right as the fight unfolds.

Jack has one of those children's toys where you turn, crank, screw, or press things and faces of cartoon characters pop up.  Then, you press those faces back down and do it again.  The toy is popular with the littles and even me in an unreserved moment, sitting in an easy chair, leaning over the side, playing with the toy on the floor, stopping only when a large drop of drool escapes my lips, dropping to the carpet, jerking me back to mature reality.

Jack reaches the hallway off the living room with Analisse right behind him but that is as far as he gets.  Analisse catches the back of his shirt, spins him around by the neck, latches her arms around the toy, and drops to the floor.  Jack begins to scream a very high pitched scream, weeping through his labored breathing.  Analisse is very quiet and calculated, making nary a peep.  She slides her legs expertly under his, twists her body over from her back to her stomach, and ends up laying on top of the toy.

Jack has lost.

Then, in two swift steps, he disappears down the hall and out of sight.

Analisse sits up and calmly begins to play with the toy.  Only, she isn't enjoying herself.  She is worried sick, not knowing where Jack is or what he has up his sleeve.  She presses one face down, looks up in the direction of his disappearance, then repeats.  Press, look.  Look....look, press.  Twist, look, press, look.  Push, press, look.  Look.  Look.

Fed up with her suspicions, Analisse jumps up and quickly walks down the hall, leaving the toy on the floor, looking for Jack.  She disappears beyond the turn of the hallway.

Before you could say "hello world!", Jack appears around the corner.  In one leap, he is at the toy, swooping it up in his arms, with the devastated Analisse screaming and crying behind him.

Analisse won the little battle, Jack won the war.

Monday, August 13, 2012

No, John Rand - You're Wrong

If you haven't studied Ayn Rand, do so.  Her name is being dropped all over the right wing political circuit these days.  American Republicans love her.  Libertarians consider her the mother of their movement, even though she considered their kind anarchists.

Ayn Rand considers the idea of free market capitalism to be the purest form of the protection of individual freedoms, allowing humanity to be freed from the tyranny of government.  This isn't a surprising conclusion, being that her native Russian family were wealthy Jewish merchants who were used and abused by the Czars as Jews and then later, by the Bolsheviks, as wealthy merchants.  It is my opinion that this shaped her extremism to the exclusion of all other inputs.

My disagreement with her is simple.  I disagree with her premise, narrated by the fictional character, John Galt, in Atlas Shrugged, that the worth of a human being can be linked directly to his amount of income.  Nothing more, nothing less.

If you carry this idea out to it's end - and she did - those who have much are the intelligent brains who should never be questioned, while those who lack are simply too stupid to understand the genius of the upper echelons of society.  Rand singlehandedly revived the idea that rich were morally pure while the poor and middle class were leeches on the rich and were, in essence, damaged goods - rats of necessity, if you will.  In fact, in her purest philosophy, those rats were not even a necessity, but merely a cancer on a perfect society.

I find this position to be morally reprehensible.  And it all comes down to a question that one of my college mates murmured as simply a "what if" that stuck with me.  This mate said, "If only we humans didn't have to spend our entire lives going to work and coming home, every day, just to exist."

In my opinion, that reality will never, and could never happen.  But it does shed light on what I deem as more important in considering the worth of a man or woman than income.  I find the worth of a human being to be more nuanced and complex - with one of those factors being income, in some circumstances.  But there is so much more.  How they interact with people.  What they do in a pickle.  How they treat family, friends, enemies, and strangers.  How they parent.  What tone of voice they use when they speak to me or those that I love.  What they do with their free time (have fun!). 

So much more goes into the worth of a person and yet it is purely subjective on my part.  What I consider good, others may consider less so.  What I see as valued, others may see as objectionable.  Thus, worth cannot be summed up in a definitive philosophy but must be determined by each person in their own unique way.

I am currently staying with a family while my van engine is replaced.  They have a beautiful home, a beautiful family, a chaotic household, a bright future, wonderful food, no room for error, and yet, here my family is, sitting in their house, enjoying their company and food, bothering them for a week.  What do they expect in return?  Nothing!  And yet they are so grateful when we do simple things like wash the dishes.

They aren't rich.  They are hard workers, yes.  But, as I sit here, I look at them and see the pure beauty of humanity.  Humanity that accepts assistance.  Humanity that rents.  Humanity that has many children.  Humanity that needs their children to help with the finances.  Humanity that started a business that failed miserably.  Humanity that loves chocolate like no other family I have ever seen.  Humanity that moves like a bat out of hell and yet works like a Swiss Watch.  Yes.  I see worthy human beings.  Worthy of my love and adoration. 

These are the people that I look up to when someone asks me, "What do you think constitutes the worth of a human being."

Yes, Ayn Rand.  You were wrong.  Humanity is so much more than how much I am worth to your cult society.  I am not here to uplift your economic utopia.  I am here to be like this family - loving others to the best of my ability, in all my glorious brokeness.

Stop Second Guessing Your Failures

Sometimes - no...many times - negative circumstances that happen in life just happen.  It's that simple.  There is no explanation to it.  People like me look at our lives and see a string of non-stop negative circumstances, but fail to see the huge gaps of blissful positivity that is hanging right in front of our faces, just waiting to be grabbed and used to its fullest.

When I was a professing Christian, I built up an imaginary complex narrative between myself and God.  I saw my life with God as a cat and mouse game.  I would build up a small nest egg of money in my bank account and...BOOM!...God would cause life to happen, draining the funds - or so I told myself.  I writhed in agony internally about it, shaking my spiritual fist in his direction, then turning to all my family and friends with a laugh and pretended life was perfect.

It took me many years to realize that negative circumstances in life tend to happen more to people who have fewer means to turn those circumstances into positive realities.  What is the best way to do that?

One word - MONEY!

Yes.  If I hadn't listened to stupid mailings that preached, "BE YOUR OWN BOSS AND FIRE 'THE MAN'" and "CORPORATE AMERICA WILL NEVER LET YOU SUCCEED!", I might have put greater stock in going to a reputable college and beginning my career long before I had five children and a mature marriage.  And yet, I didn't.  Thus, we struggled through odd jobs and a sales career that never really took off.

If you don't have money, every little negative circumstance in life feels like a hard punch to your gut.  All car problems fit into this category.  Medical issues not covered by insurance.  Job losses with no savings to back up the few months out of work due to living paycheck to paycheck.  Credit card balances being paid off with your tax returns, rather than enjoying an annual vacation like everyone else.  Name a problem that requires just a little bit more money and I can tell you how and where I experienced it.

As life moved forward, we moved from the poor to the lower middle class as I went back to school and we made some excellent financial decisions.  We are currently considered lower middle class for our family size and have breathing room where those nagging life issues simply don't have the same effect on our psyche.

Even so, if you consider money to be the answer to your life's problems, when you don't currently have it, you will still suffer those feelings of worthlessness and inferiority.  So, don't think about money.  Simply look forward to the next decision in life toward hitting your success goals and learn from the current crisis.  Money may follow, or it might not.

Don't buy that kind of car again.  Don't use that mechanic.  When you hear that noise, get the car in right away.  Learn when a car is on its last leg and don't pour any money into it after that.  Brush your teeth and the teeth of your children.  Attend preventative medical checkups.  Use every single available means of assistance so all your hard earned dollars go to bettering your life.

Do the little things right and treat them like stepping stones, all the while, keeping your focus downstream and enjoying the heck out of your present condition.  Always pay attention to the human community of family and friends around you.  As you grow from poor to better, they will be the most important part of your life.  Then, when you finally make it, reward them with your continued love and presence - with the added benefit of monetary pleasures.

Re-Introducing the "Rogue "pastoral" Team" Series

When I first began Incongruous Circumspection, my younger brother came forward with a perfectly legal transcript of a recording that he had secretly recorded of a meeting he had with his then "pastors".  The "pastors" were actually husband and wife and put on a display of horrible abuse and serious control freak issues.  I have not finished putting out the entire transcript and commenting on it, but I have 13 "acts" published, so far.

You can begin by reading Act 1.

Also, after the tenth "act", one of these "pastor's" congregants (who had a criminal history, including conspiracy to kidnap a federal judge) contacted me with a joke of an email, claiming he was going to send the FBI my way for breaking laws.  When I published his rant and informed him of my legal rights, as well as his legal liabilities for harassment, he apologized...sort of.

You can also read the whole series from the links here.

It's all quite riveting and mind-boggling, to say the least.

Enjoy it!

You Are Worthless - Own It

I know who you are because I am you.  But, because I know who I am, I am not going to continue to be you without realizing who I am and what I can be.

Let me explain.

You are good at what you do.  But, because life is life and "nobody is perfect", you make mistakes.  Not many mistakes, just some.  And yet, the majority of the time, you succeed at what you do.

But those few mistakes make you feel like a miserable failure.  News flash:  You're not.  You're human.  I know.  It's a terrible cliche and yet is has so much deep meaning. 

Being human means that you get to be an idiot sometimes.  If you look at your accomplishments and see only the black blotches, try and look at the whole picture.  That picture is much brighter than the few issues that continue to haunt your brain and pepper your nights with horrible dreams.  Everyone makes mistakes.  It's how we make up for those mistakes that really matter.

But, what if your last mistake led to a failure in your life - like a job loss?  Are you a miserable failure then?  Are you beating yourself up because the most recent event in your life led to misery? 

Don't.  Look at it this way:

A baseball player goes up to bat.  He swings through the first pitch.  Then, the second.  On the third pitch, he is determined to focus his eyes on it a bit better and does so.  The pitcher throws a change-up, completely blowing his timing.  The ball player takes a miserable looking swing and hears the scraping screech of the umpire as he calls him out - the last out...of the ballgame...of the series...the World Series.  The season is lost.

That baseball player has two choices.  First, he can listen to all the fans (yes, those bitter types with short memories (unless you're Steve Bartman)) and all their ridicule, looking at himself as a miserable failure.  Or, second, he can treat that strike-out as just one of the many poor plate appearances in the season - which just happened to coincide with the very last play of the season.  Then, after accepting it, he can look at the whole season and see that his team not only made it to the World Series, but was the best team in their league, in their division, and one of the top two in the country.  Someone had to lose.  There is always next year.

It's called life.  Own it.

Are you the butt of all jokes?  Really?  Is it only perceived?  Or is it reality?  In either case, work on becoming closer to those that actually love you for you.  And you won't have to look far for just one person.  Just one.  You can build more friendships later.  But that one person can be your rock to build your self-confidence upon. They already love you so leaning on them isn't really necessary.  Just talk to them about life.  They'll let you know what is special about you. It may also be helpful to work with that person to create some self-deprecating humor about yourself.  But don't believe in that humor.  Just do it to make others laugh - owning the jokes that you think others are telling.  It defuses their weapons, imagined or not.

You will still have feelings of inferiority.  But, as you learn to embrace your mistakes and poor decisions as simply a part of life, and build good into your life from them, they will begin to affect you less and less.

Write me.  I understand.


I. C.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Best Prank Ever!

Ok.  I might be a bit biased.  Why?  Because I did this prank and, when finished and successful, I was very proud of myself.

Anyway, let's set the scene.

If you're familiar with Mt. Evans in Colorado, you'll know that it has the highest paved road in North America.  We were driving it with a Chevy Tahoe which, closer to the top, is about as wide as three-fourths of the two lane road.  At points on the road, their is no shoulder and yet there is a 350 foot sheer drop to a semblance of a slope, then thousands of feet more, straight down.

Kristine was to drive up and I was to drive down.  Going up, my feet began to sweat and they soaked my shoes.  My hands were cold and shaking.  My face, whiter than the snow still at the top.

We made it.

Then, I began the slow drive down.  I was very confident in my abilities and yet cognizant of the precious cargo of my beautiful bride and six young children behind me.  So, I drove slow.  At one point, Kristine pointed out that I had driven dangerously close to the edge so I straddled the yellow line in the middle a little better.

Bear in mind that Kristine loves to look at maps.  It is a passion with her.  Everywhere we go, she has her nose buried in it.

At one curve, the land leveled out rather than dropped off on the shoulder.  Kristine turned her head to study the map just prior to this flat grade.

I saw my opportunity and grabbed it.  I let the right wheels go off the road and hit the wide gravel pad while at the same time yelling "OH CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!".

Kristine jerked her head up and turned blanket white.

I guffawed.

Yep.  Best prank ever.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Male Headship Does Not Work - A Practical Example

As many of my readers now know, we went on a long vacation and BOOM! Our van engine blew on the Continental Divide in Colorado.  The Fremont Pass, to be exact.

At 12:00 PM that day, we left our campsite in Leadville and drove over the pass to Highway 70.  We wanted to see the tunnel.  As we climbed the Pass, we heard the engine start to click.  The click got louder and louder and the climb became sluggish.  Even so, we made it up and down that Pass and up the seven mile, 7% grade, to the tunnel.  The van screamed and wept the whole way.

On our way back, we were climbing the Fremont Pass the other direction and the click became unbearable.  Then, it became a scream and a grind.  I shoved the van off the road onto a gravel pad overlook.  The engine died.

If you have ever driven the mountains with car trouble - anywhere with car trouble, for that matter, you know the feeling.  The white knuckles on the steering wheel, the beating heart, the tense muscles, the leaning forward in the seat, mentally coaxing the vehicle forward to the intended destination.  Then, the heartbreak and the internal wailing when the silent murmurings have no effect and the vehicle gives up the ghost.

That emotion needs some release!

Out I jumped, kicked the front driver tire as hard as I could, stubbing my toe in the process, and then looked across the valley and yelled as loud and long as I could at the peaks beyond.

No echo returned.  My scream was swallowed up into the mist.  The kids began to whimper.

I jumped back in the car.

"Daddy, is the car dead?"

"Are we ever going to get back home?"

"Why can't you just start it and keep going?"

"What are we going to do?"

"Are we going to be stuck here forever?"

"Are we going to die?"

"I'm hungry!"

"I'm thirsty.  Daddy, I'm thirsty.  Daddy, I want water.  Daddy.  Hey Daddy.  Daddy, I'm thirsty."

The questions wove themselves into the thick atmosphere of the van, creating an unbearably choking tapestry of irritation.  I exploded.


The whimpering got louder.  I turned to Kristine and yelled, "I can't do the van thing and take care of the kids at the same time!!!!!"

But Kristine wasn't there.  In her place was an empty seat and the van door was waving in the wind.  I looked through the open window and saw her on the phone.  She was staring at me with fire in her eyes, waving off my words.

I knew what that meant - she was on a mission.  In fifteen minutes, she called her dad, who accessed the internet and found us the phone number for the repair/tow shop in Leadville, who told us they couldn't tow the van over the pass and recommended another tow on the other side of the mountain, who told us they would be there in an hour and recommended a repair shop.  In fifteen minutes she had everything taken care of.

I took a deep breath, dressed the kids in long sleeves and jeans, applied sun screen on the bare areas, took Jack down the mountain to take a number two, and basked in the glory of having a woman in charge.

Vacation Through the Eyes of Analisse (2) - Part 3

That was a good breakfast.  Lots is happening around here now.  Mommy and Daddy are talking to everyone like they're old friends.  The other kids are all playing together.  Fights are rising and falling in the basement.  Hope they don't mess up my bed...wait...I won't be needing it anymore.  I'll sleep in my own bed tonight.

Wait.  Daddy!  Stop!  I hate it when you wash my face.  No!  Stop.  AHHHHHHH!!!!!   Stop!  Stop it now!  Crap...this always happens when I eat pancakes.  Why???! 

Good.  He stopped.  I'll yell louder and squirm more next time.  Maybe he'll quit sooner.


I'm being picked up all morning.  This is great.  Kids, that woman, that strong man, Mommy, Daddy.  Wait!  A deck to walk on.  Daddy, let's go.  Maybe if I grab his hand and pull him...yep...that worked.

Let's go down the stairs.  Ok, now up.  Now down.  Now up.  This is fun!  I even have my pacifier.  Now, let's go back down.  Why are you picking me up Daddy?  Ah...itchy kisses again.  No more.  Get away from me!  Good, pushing his face away worked.  He giggled too.  Sucker!

Sure, Daddy, let's sit down in these chairs and stare off into space for an hour.  Why do you do that!!???

What is Mommy saying?  Gotta go!

I won't be needing this pacifier.  I'll just drop it right here. be continued in Part 4

Vacation Through the Eyes of Analisse (2) - Part 2

This pacifier is good...  Wait!  I'm awake!  Uh...where am I?  Oh yeah.  That bed they put me in last night.  I smell food.

Daddy heard me rustle.  Yay!  Now I get to cuddle with him in bed.

Ok...two seconds was enough.  Time for food now.  Mommy and Daddy are still asleep.  Maybe I'll go find the food. 

Hey!  Here's some stairs.  Wait...where's my pacifier.  Oh, nevermind.  I'm hungry. 

Whew!  Those stairs were a tad hard to climb, but I'm up now. 

Who's this?  I recognize her.  She loves me.  Hey!  She's picking me up and giving me kisses and talking all sweet.  Very wicked cool.  I'll give some kisses.  That makes her smile.  I know Daddy and Mommy really like this woman.  Oh!  More kids.

Where are we going?  Oh..right.  Food.  Ah...there we go.  She knew it.  No need to scream. be continued in Part 3

Vacation Through the Eyes of Analisse (2) - Part 1

Mommy and Daddy are packing the car.  All I want is something to drink and eat.  I'm sucking on this pacifier, which I love dearly, trying to dodge their feet as they walk in and out of the house.  Ouch!  The door bumped me in the back of the head.  Maybe if I scream loud enough, they'll stop ignoring me or yelling at Naya to watch me and maybe pick me up once.  Tugging on Mommy's pants is doing nothing.

Yep.  That worked.  More itchy kisses from Daddy.  Feels good to be in his arms.

Now, were driving. 

We're still driving. 

Time to sleep.  WHERE'S MY PACIFIER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ah.  Screaming worked.  Time to sleep.

What?  Only five minutes of sleep and their waking me up, stuffing food in my face.  No!  I don't want food!  I'll just whine and scream and...PACIFIER!  WHERE DID IT GO!!!!!

Oh good.  Daddy's yelling from the front of the van at the top of his lungs to give me my pacifier.  Ah...there it is.  Time to sleep again. I'm being carried into a house.  Wha...!  This isn't my house.  That means my bed isn't here!  Oh no! 

Oh wait...this bed isn't half so bad.  Plenty of blankets too.  Daddy even gave me an extra pacifier.  No matter.  I'll sleep in my bed tomorrow. be continued in Part 2

Struggling in America - Becca K.

When I was 9, my entire world was stripped from me. We no longer went to school or church. I couldn’t wear pants, couldn’t watch tv, listen to music, no more Christmas, and I was not to date ever. Any shred of childhood was ripped away at this point for me personally. I loved my parents, and I was young, so I didn’t fight them.

My dad passed away unexpectedly 11 days after I turned 13. I knew that, with our small world crumbling fast, I would have to be the new head of the family as the oldest child. We had no church, no family or friends really, and our extended family was hurt and upset by my family’s religious actions. SO when I say we had no one, I simply mean, without malice, that no one was there for us.

The Amish people came in and did the funeral, gave the eulogy, helped us bury him, cooked the funeral meal, wouldn’t take money from us, but instead gave US money, and for a good while, I had about 20 Amish and Mennonite pen pals as word quickly spread thru the plain people.

My mom slept all day long. She didn’t get up much. To be honest, quite a few of these years are a blur to me, but I remember being super poor. My mom refused to go out and get a job, instead relying on charity and mine and my brother’s social security.

We lived on the “better side” of our town, but it was still a ghetto (if you don’t believe me, my brothers and I were chased by hoodlums several times and I was almost kidnapped twice). I cleaned the house. I also homeschooled myself, and my brothers. I made our food, and I made our life look good from the outside looking in, so that if you had the chance to peek in our lives, all looked well. Whether it was true or not, I was responsible for the well being of our family. I had absolutely no idea that this was not my place.

I had no idea that as a 13 year old child, I didn’t have to carry this weight on my shoulders. When and how the bills were to be paid, where the money was going to come from, try and not get sick, and when I was sick to not tell my mom. Having to ask the doctor how much the stitches were each before he sutured me up was more painful than the wound being torn open in the first place.

My brothers and I paid for as much as we could with the little jobs we got here and there, mostly mowing lawns. My mother took the firm stance from the Bible that she was now a widow and was to be cared for by people that truly loved Jesus.  I protected and shielded my brothers from as much as I could and let them have as much freedom and childhood as they could possibly have.

It went without saying that we did not ask for extras. We didn’t even ask for things we needed. There was a Christmas, several really, that I went without much of a gift so my brothers could have the better gifts. My whole focus was on protecting them and having them remain as unscathed as possible. Looking back, I feel I probably did more harm than good. I was extremely embarrassed by how little we had. I had to make my own clothes, and wasn’t allowed to dress like a normal teenager, so it was doubly embarrassing to feel like a freak, and also be dirt poor.

This isn’t to say me and my brothers didn’t have fun. It was a much simpler fun and it was made up on our own. My brothers and I were extremely close growing up- we fought terribly, but we always, ALWAYS, had each other’s backs.  Once we had legit jobs- 17/18, it went without saying that we helped our mom as much as possible with our money. It was told to us that she didn’t deserve the life she got and it wasn’t her fault and that we were biblically required to take care of her and support her.

My brothers and I have good hearts. We love our mom. Still. We didn’t question this, and the few times we did, we were met with emotional and spiritual abuse in the form of 3 hour “devotions”, which consisted of her preaching to us about how God was going to provide and take care of her.

We saw cool things happen. A box with an entire Thanksgiving dinner (needing to be cooked and baked of course) was left on our front door step. I became well seasoned at shopping for clothes for my brothers from clearance racks and Goodwill.

I don’t think if you asked my brothers or I if we were deprived, that we would say yes, but I know the hardships we endured left a lasting impression on us. Different things affected us differently. All of us have very foggy recollections of this dark period in our lives. We are not angry at our mom, or relative, or even well meaning church elders. It’s over, and wasting emotional energy on the past is not conducive to anyone.  I am trying to make sure my children do not feel the weight of that responsibility too early. I didn’t have a childhood, so I pray I will get to enjoy theirs with them. So far, so good. Very good.

Struggling in America - M. Cordero

This is the third story in this series.  I am still collecting your stories on an ongoing basis.  My desire is to show many perspectives of real life in America where real people are or have struggled.  Please send them to


I am exactly the kind of person you would expect to be on government assistance. Single mom with two kids.  And I love/hate that I fit that stereotype.

You see I have quite a few friends and acquaintances that don’t believe in welfare. They see it as people weaning off the government and too lazy to get off their a** and work. They picture a hoochie mama with six snotty nosed screaming kids in a rundown house on the wrong side of the tracks. They picture a clueless valley girl chatting on her bedazzled cellphone, pulling food stamps out of her Fendi purse to pay for steak and ice cream. They don’t realize that there are people who actually NEED assistance.

Well, I have worked in a grocery store where food stamps are accepted, meanwhile needing them myself because that part-time minimum wage job and the food stamps, were the only thing keeping me from being totally dependant on my parents for help, or running back to my cheating ex who treated me like garbage. In spite of having served for four and a half years in the Air Force, this was the only job I could get after getting out of the military.

The economy is bad and I don’t have a college degree yet, so my choices are limited. I’m not sitting around having a pity-party though. I will be starting my freshman year of college soon, and will one day be financially secure/stable. I will not take my success for granted, knowing that life was once difficult, and that I struggled to get by, month to month.

I used to feel differently about welfare. The first time I used WIC (Women, Infants, and Children vouchers) I looked around, nervous and embarrassed. My parents, though poor, would never have ventured into a welfare office if their life depended on it. They believed in staying debt free, but were never actually able to. My dad often worked two or three low paying jobs at a time, just to keep food on the table. One day there was no food. Some generous church people rallied together to bring us a box full of groceries. No offense to my parents, they did their best.

Even so, I would never deny my children food due to my own pride. And pride is exactly the problem with how people perceive governmental assistance. There are people who genuinely need the help. Those with lifelong disabilities, and those temporarily out of work alike. Churches, charities, and family can help only so much. If we pay taxes to the government, it’s only fair that the government be there for it’s citizens when they are down and out.

Engine blew. $10 grand!

So, here we are, in the middle of our 16 day, 8 state vacation and our van engine blows in Silverthorne, Colorado.

Renaya (10) was devastated.  Through her sobs, we discovered that she hates the fact that we don't camp enough and this was her only opportunity to force Daddy to do the deed.  Easy to rectify.  We'll just have to do more of it around home.  After all, with this setback, there is no way we'll be able to take another long vacation during their childhood.

When the tow came to the top of the mountain to pick us up, the gentleman asked me to direct traffic.  Later, Frederic (7) revealed that being a "director man" was his dream job.  When we arrived at our hotel in Silverthorpe, he stopped a car in the parking lot, allowing a little girl and her mom to get across the traffic lane.  He was tickled pink.

The tow put us atop his flatbed trailer and all eight of us sat in the van going back down the mountain.  Renaya said, "This is the best part of our trip!  I love feeling the van rock back and forth!".  I looked at Kristine and we giggled as we gripped the doors harder with our already white knuckles, pressing on our imaginary brakes.

The van, now at the shop, we walked to a park in town.  Felicity (5) caught up to me and softly tugged at my hand.  "Daddy, when I grow up, I want to be a worker man that picks up cars."

They won't remember the one night we camped.  That one miserable night.  They won't remember our trip to the zoo in Colorado Springs.  They won't remember visiting the Millers and the Fountains (okay, they'll remember that).  But, twenty years from now, they'll remember one vivid thing about this vacation - the fact that our van broke down and we rode a tow down the mountain.

Incongruous Circumspection, reporting from a hotel room in Silverthorne, Colorado, stranded in body and mind.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Please Do Not Read This Post - You Were Warned

This post will be where I throw myself a pity party.  A well-deserved pity party, of course.  Who, in their right mind, would throw a pity party for themselves without believing they deserve it?

Anyway, it will be uninteresting to most so, feel free to move along.

I am mediocre.

A month or so ago, I read a pithy article on some guy ranting about the fact that young people today believe the lie that they are special.  I think it was a teacher or something.  Basically, the idea was that society keeps pumping self-esteem pills into these young blokes, telling them that they are really awesome and will do great things when, in reality, the majority of them will die alone, having lived meaningless lives.

I'm there.  I'm that young-ish person.  The one that was told that I had the potential of being something great, of doing great things.  As a matter of fact, I am told this almost weekly.  Some person comes out of the woodwork and validates my personage, telling me how awesome I am and that the world would be a sad place without me.

But I know better.

I know how I am as a dad.  I'm damn good at times but a pathetic failure most times.  As a husband, I crow about my wife like no other man I know - and I mean it with all of my heart.  But that doesn't mean that I am the best husband ever.  Quite the contrary.  I slip all the time.  I yell and swear and am a prick and a veritable ass all the time.  (No.  The "nobody's perfect" line won't work on me.  I know better.)

I am a terrible camper.  A horrible person to have along on a vacation.  I care more about a clean house that I do a happy family.  When a motel owner tells me that my kids should be quiet so the other guests get some sleep, I care more about the other guests than to realize that my kids had been cooped up in a van for the last eight hours and need to blow off steam.  Who the hell needs sleep before 10PM anyway?!!  I'm angry at myself for my skewed priorities.

I began to write a blog in 2011 with huge dreams.  I have realized a few of those dreams.  I have many followers and have gained many new friends.  But I wanted to write full time.  I thought, in April of 2011, that I would be the next Longfellow by now.  And yet I find myself in the same dark motel room in a flourescently lit bathroom, hardly larger than a dog kennel, writing a note to myself about my failures.

I leave on vacation and the office goes to hell in a handcart.  No, not because I'm not there to hold it together.  Quite the contrary.  Every bone in my body tells me it happened because I am a mediocre programmer - just like everything else in life.  My coworkers had to leave their families for a whole weekend, just to clean up messes that I might not have created, but my mind tells me I contributed to them.

I went to school for Computer Science and ended up tops in my class.  I was a good student.  But I walked away feeling as if I learned nothing practical for real life.  Since then, I have learned on the job everything I know and yet still feel so inadequate.

I have nothing left to say - which doesn't surprise my mediocre brain.  At least I can make people laugh.

I only wish I could make my family laugh all the time and love every minute with me.  I hope tomorrow will be a brighter day.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Maria is My Kind o' Woman

On the second day of our eight state, sixteen day, road trip, we arrived in the small baseball market city of Kansas City, Missouri.  Our destination was Caribou Coffee (I know...we're tourists, hanging at a chain coffee joint - bite me), a few blocks off I-29 to meet a dynamic and brilliant woman, Maria.

She's my kind o' woman.

I love a woman that makes you think.  I love a woman that has her own educated opinion.  I love a woman that corrects you when she deems you are wrong.  I pout internally when a woman laughs at none of my jokes.  I love a woman who is so sure of herself that your opinion doesn't matter.  I love a woman that does not accept any status quo or group think philosophy, but devises her own beliefs by what she considers is right and worth devising.  I love a woman who walks into a high class coffee shop, orders a coffee, and, when finished, walks up to the counter and asks for a free refill.  I love a woman who challenges your petrified brain to consider thoughts beyond your current thinking.  I love a woman that doesn't laugh at the absurdity of a man having a mug, but rather assists me in picking out an epic few at the local thrift store.

Now that is an awesome woman.  Maria exhibits every one of those qualities and more. 

I am so glad we finally met in person.