Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Life Coaching

Recently, I have learned that there are those who offer their services as one’s “life coach.”  Presumably, a life coach can help one set goals, get organized, and, generally, get one’s act together. 

So I talked with an experienced life coach.  She had some very valuable advice, including constructive criticism, with real life examples of how I could have handled many situations in better ways. 

She explained in detail, not just generalities, what I should do to be a better person.  This was not a cookie cutter session in which the life coach gave vague suggestions that could apply to anyone, such as the horoscope writers.  This guidance was specific for me and the areas of my life in which I needed to improve.  It really hit home.  I actually became repentant.  I resolved to work on myself.

I am required to report back to my life coach weekly, at which time I am asked probing questions.  She has no boundaries.  I have been asked whether I timely filed my taxes.  I have been asked if I cleaned out the chimney and whether my tires are in good shape for winter driving.  In particular, my life coach questions my preparation for upcoming tasks, such as cases going to trial. 

Often the questioning makes me uncomfortable, but I feel compelled to answer, even about my weight, dietary practices, exercise frequency, and church attendance.  My life coach is interested in helping me with every aspect of my life.

I am overdue for my next life coaching session so I better call Mom tomorrow.

The Nature of Nature

Hurricane Sandy, related storms and their aftermath remind us that we humans are not in control of nature and the occasional natural disasters.

We do have some control over how we respond.  I cringe when people who refused to evacuate do not refuse, indeed invite, rescuers to risk their lives coming to the assistance of the non-compliers.  I guess they are entitled to change their minds after such a dangerous mistake in judgement.  Maybe I would not evacuate either, but I would feel guilty about then needing assistance.

When we face disasters together, we share fears and witness acts of heroism.  We feel connected.  We are connected by the shared experience, at least, and for most, by shared responses of helping one another.  Many of us turn to the Lord in prayer.

Rain can be good.  We longed for it during the wildfires last summer.  Too much can be destructive, such as with hurricanes and flooding.

The Bible reminds us that rain does not come as a reward or punishment for individuals based on merit.  “Rain falls on the just and the unjust.”  It falls on the general public, of which we are all members.

Multilingual, Multicultural, and Cool

Air travel and television and the internet and other technological advances have made many more opportunites to communicate with people who do not live in your own area, thus exposing one another to different cultures and languages.

Now let’s talk about me and why I am multilingual and multicultural and, consequently, very cool.

One of my grandmothers could only speak Swedish until she started school because her parents were immigrants and she was the oldest of six children.  She learned English because she had to do so, living in Nebraska, U.S.A.  So I took Swedish as my foreign language in college in order to please Gramma.  Unfortunately, there is not much call for me to speak Swedish in Colorado, nor am I fluent, but, it might make me a little cooler.  For where I live, Spanish would have been a better choice.

My father learned French when he was a young man serving in WWII because he was in France and Belgium from D-Day until the end of the war.  So I took French in junior high in order to please Dad.  Unfortunately, one half hour of class time twice a week in 7th and 8th grade did not make me fluent in French either.   However, I am a better person for having met Mademoiselle Conn, my teacher.

Mademoiselle Conn was young, with wild red hair.  Miss Peterson was old, with well-controlled white hair.  She was my Latin teacher in high school.  I took Latin because I had a premonition that I might go to law school, I suppose, or seminary.  I’m not sorry I had two years of Latin, but I wish Mademoiselle Conn had taught it rather than Miss Peterson.  Again, Spanish would have been more useful as I have had few opportunities to converse with Roman emperors.  But you never know………..  I might get a ticket on a time machine.

You can’t tell by looking at me, but prior to starting law school, I had a “trial year in seminary.”  There I learned a little Hebrew (very little) as part of an Old Testament course, and a little Greek (very little) in a course of a few weeks that was remedial in nature for those who had not taken Greek in college.  Oh, and I took a wonderful course called “Concentration in Cross Cultural Communication” which was mostly for seminarians preparing to be missionaries.

The courses I mentioned above did little to prepare me for my greatest cross-cultural experience:  being married to Miss Sugar.

My wife was raised in Texas, which is, as its tourism ads used to admit, “a whole other country.”  Despite having lived in Colorado for nearly three decades, Sugar still spices up her speech with phrases such as “y’all,” and “fixin’ to,” which I kinda like.

Our marriage has also brought me into another cross-cultural experience, which is joining into an Italian family without being Italian.  It kinda makes me wish I was.

That, y’all readers, is how I became multilingual, multicultural, and, well, just plain cool.  Having a cool pickup and hot trophy wife don’t hurt none neither.

Rover Snow Photo

Have you seen Bev Doolittle pictures of spotted horses that are hidden in snow and trees?  Well, Miss Sugar took a photo of Rover in our new snow.  It reminds me of Bev Doolittle’s art. 

What do you think?

Launch Cancelled Again

Yesterday I wrote about why we have twice cancelled our maiden voyage in our newly acquired used RV camper. 

So today we were scheduled to finally take the camper out for a drive to a destination just 140 miles from where it is currently parked at our ranch.  That destination is Saratoga, Wyoming, which boasts of natural hot springs by the North Platte River.  Sounds like fun.  We went there a few years ago for a Cowboy Poetry Gathering in a nearby community, Encampment. 

But here is the thing — we watched the news this morning and learned that temperatures there are much colder than temperatures here.  Ergo, we are reluctant to travel 140 miles so we can sleep in a tin can in below-freezing weather. 

We can’t spend the entire weekend in the hot springs.

There is no place like home, especially if home has a cozy fireplace.

Failure to Launch Our RV

There might still be a few people throughout the world who are not fully aware of exactly what a cool dude I am and why.  Of course, there are too many reasons to list in this forum as to why I am cool, but one clear reason is my truck.

My pickup truck is a Ford F250 XLT Superduty Supercab 4 wheel drive with a 7.2 Diesel engine.  Enough said.  I am jealous of no one with the possible exceptions of those with the King Ranch or even Lariat package.

My truck is so cool that one of my Texan brothers-in-law, after seeing mine, bought one just like it to pull his RV and boat.  More recently, my father-in-law, who art in Texas, traded in his silly Dodge pickup for a Ford F150 (note: 150 vs. 250) which is almost as cool.  He did one-up me by getting the Lariat package, which includes leather seats.  I covet those leather seats.

Anyway, back to my truck, I had a little disappointment last Thursday.  In my previous post, RVing Further, I described how we fixed up our newly purchased used RV trailer.  We are itching to actually use it.

We have suffered three disappointments.

The first weekend we planned to go, Miss Sugar, my trophy wife, suffered an allergic reaction to a medication and made a trip to urgent care rather than a camping trip.  So we rescheduled for the next weekend, which was last weekend.

Well, above I said that last Thursday I had a little disappointment.  Since I have such a cool truck, I was not concerned about pulling the RV.  Turns out, I was wrong.  Turns out that my very cool truck shut itself off as if out of fuel, despite having plenty of fuel.  When I failed to restart it, I called good old AAA for a tow.  Then I called Miss Sugar to come get me.  Then I tried to start it again and was successful so, optimist that I am, I called AAA and cancelled the tow truck.  After two miles, I called AAA again and informed them of my new location in a truck that died.  Oh, I told Miss Sugar too.

I had drifted into a safe haven in the middle of Mountain Avenue in Old Town Fort Collins.  When the tow truck arrived, the driver said he could not hook up my truck from its position and asked me to help him push it into a preferable angle.  So I started it up again and backed into an appropriate position for towing.  Thus the truck  made me look as if I did not need a tow.  However, I had learned my lesson and insisted on the tow nevertheless.

When we got to the repair garage, I informed them that I needed the truck to be ready to take on a trip the very next day, Friday.  I was very clear as to my needs and schedule.

So the truck was ready on Monday, which some of you readers who learned the days of the week will recognize came at a time after the weekend.  That means we did not go on our weekend trip with the RV.  It needed a new sensor and some other stuff that only cost $420.  We look on the bright side.  Now it does not take as long to count all our money.  Oh well.

Miss Sugar, a kind soul, comforted me.  “We can always go this weekend.”

We could, except it snowed last night and more snow is expected tonight.  But who knows, we might give it a whirl.  Stay tuned.

RVing further

Back in September, I posted Stinky Slinky and Miss Sugar, which described our adventure renting a camper trailer (RV).  We, and by we I mean Miss Sugar, decided to shop for RVs.  She is the chief executive and I am in a role of giving advice and consent to the decisions.  So we went together to shop for RVs. 

We found a real good deal.  By purchasing our used RV trailer “as is,” we not only lowered the purchase price but slyly avoided the complication of bringing it back pursuant to a warranty.  We prefer to pay for repairs ourselves and leave out the middleman. 

I have previously described my vast experience of hooking up horse trailers, so you will not be surprised that I waived any assistance from the dealer when we paid for the RV trailer.  What kind of a cowboy would accept advice from an RV salesman concerning the proper manner to hook up ANYTHING to MY PICKUP?  “Just point me the way,” I says, “and I will hook up and head for home.”  Which, by the way, I did, pretty much successfully.  I say pretty much successfully,  because Miss Sugar pointed out one petty little failure on my part, which was that I left the little wheel below the hitch where it was.  Well, not where it was when it was on the ground in the dealership lot.  I raised it a few inches above the roads so we drove home  on the Interstate Highway without it scraping the highway at a high rate of speed.  However, I did not properly calculate the height necessary to drive over a speed bump in the McDonalds parking lot, nor the portions of our very own lane where a wheel placed where I had placed our trailer hitch wheel scraped bottom.  But in case you are wondering, I did not even bend it and, anyway, after we got home, Miss Sugar figured out how to remove it during times of travel. 

That was not the only thing Miss Sugar figured out.  She studied the the owners’ manual and joined an RV forum on the internet.  She cleaned the trailer and contacted a man to come show us how to work all the RV devices.  In case you are worried that I did not pull my weight, let me recount that it was ME who carried a mattress to exchange with the mattress in the trailer and it was ME who hooked up the water hose and plugged in the electric cord.  It was the handy man, who, in demonstrating how everything worked, uncomfortably pointed out that not everything did work.  Who needs the water pump to actually operate?  We decided that we did, so we paid our new friend to replace it.  And we also elected to replace the corroded battery cable and fuse socket.  As I said above, we preferred to pay $500 for those repairs rather than, as fools do, use a warranty. 

And another thing, had we not bought the RV “as is,” the dealer would have cleaned out the “black tank.”  For the uninitiated, the black tank is the self-contained sewer of the RV, if you will.   What this means is that rather than allow the dealer to deal with the waste of those who traded in the trailer, we got to empty it.  Now in an RV park, there is a place to hook up the stinky slinky hose.  On our ranch we neglected to install RV hook up facilities.  Consequently, Miss Sugar gladly emptied the fecal matter of strangers into buckets so that we were able to fertilize a portion of our property.  Most RV buyers don’t think of that bonus.  They are not professional negotiators such as me.  I am a lawyer.  I have been around you know.  I can sling the sh-t, figuratively and literally.

I am available, for a reasonable fee, to serve as a consultant for those of you contemplating the purchase of an RV camper trailer.  I will help you get a real good deal.

Political Science Lesson RE Presidential Campaigns

It has been awhile, but back when I was in school, taking government in high school, political science in college, and constitutional law in law school, I was taught about the three branches of government, being the executive, legislative, and judicial.  As far as I know, that has not changed.

Knowing about the three branches, most political advertisements for the presidential election campaign make little sense to me. 

For example, the women in ads telling me that if Governor Romney wins the election they won’t be able to practice birth control or take care of their gynecological health  ought to read the Constitution.  The President, even if he does not want to fund Planned Parenthood, has several layers of government to contend with. 

First, Planned Parenthood is a non-profit corporation.  Whether or not it receives government grants depends on the budget passed by Congress, which is comprised of the Senate and House of Representatives.  The President can’t get up in the morning and cut off its funding.  He can recommend it, but not actually control it.  Also, even if Planned Parenthood loses government funding, as a private non-profit corporation, it charges for its services and it  gets donations from private contributions.  It does not have to close its doors if Romney wins the election. 

Second, even if Romney does not like the 1973 Supreme Court decision known as Roe v. Wade, concerning abortion, he will not have the power to overturn it.  The Supreme Court has to do that and it has already had nearly 40 years to do so but has not.  The most a president can do is appoint Justices to the Court in the event of vacancies.  Those appointments are subject to the approval of the Senate. 

Third, in America, women have the opportunity to choose doctors for their health care even without Planned Parenthood. 

That is just one issue.  Another is taxation.  Similarly, whoever is elected cannot on his own raise or lower taxes.  Nor is the President the person who sets gasoline prices charged at service stations.

What presidents CAN do is promote policies and legislation that affect healthcare, the budget, taxation, energy and the military, among other things.  What presidents can do is offer effective (or ineffective) leadership.  Presidents can try to persuade Congress to pass budgets, approve appointments, and pass legislation (new laws).  Presidents have to provide leadership in times of crises.

I recommend to the campaign managers and the candidates that they talk about the kind of leader the person running is, what he wants to accomplish, and what he believes.  Avoid saying things like, “When I am elected, I will (fill in the blank, e.g. reduce the deficit, end abortions, fix whatever…).”   He cannot control everything.  He is not running for dictator.  That is by design.  Read the Constitution of the United States of America.

It reminds me of kids running for Student Council in junior high promising to have soda pop in the drinking fountains.  They will not keep that promise if elected because they lack the power. 

Presidents get too much credit and too much blame because people credit them with  much more power that they really possess.  

Vote for the person whose values are most like your own.  Vote for the person whom you most trust in a crisis.  We do not know in advance everything that America might face in terms of natural disasters or actions of foreign nations.  We do know the problems that exist with our economy.  Vote for the person whose judgement you most trust for providing solutions for unemployment, or deficit spending, or whatever, recognizing he will have to sell his ideas to Congress.  Experience is important.  Character is more important.  Who can best lead the nation? 

My Gramma used to say she voted for the man, not the party.  As with many things, Gramma was right.

Vows Kept, Vows Broken

I am happily married, a blessing that I do not take for granted.

In the past three weeks, two men have confided in me that their wives have been unfaithful and they are getting divorces.  Both have children.  The news makes me very sad.  I am a lawyer, but not a divorce lawyer.  They were not asking me to represent them, nor for a referral.  They were talking to me as a friend.

I do not intend to imply that women do not suffer the pain of having unfaithful spouses to the same extent, but women are not likely to tell me about it.  They seek support from other women mostly.  I suppose these men talked to me about their pain because I am another guy and would not have shared with me if I was a woman. 

One of the men was served the divorce papers at church.  Maybe his wife had a reason, but I cannot imagine what it was.  He was living in the family home.  She knew where to find him.  How do people who vowed to love and honor one another “as long as you both shall live” fall so low?

I am certain these wives each have another side to the story.  Obviously, they are unhappy with their husbands, maybe for good reasons that I do not know about. 

I’m just sad.  A marriage between partners who stick together “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health,” is a wonderful mutually supportive and loving relationship.  A marriage between people who betray and hurt is the antithesis of love.  It takes two to make a marriage work, but only one to destroy it.  One hand cannot clap alone.

I think I better quit writing this and go give my wife a big hug.

Welcome to the General Public

In the original Rocky movie, when Rocky wanted to take Adrian ice skating, he was told that the ice rink was closed.  He asked, “Is it closed to everybody or just to the general public?”

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray what we call The Lord’s Prayer, which includes asking our Father who art in heaven to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” was he intending that only those twelve individuals pray that prayer or was it meant for the general public as well?

Like Rocky, I don’t always want to be part of just the general public.  Maybe I don’t want to forgive those who trespass against me.  Nevertheless, I do recommend that those in the general public ought to be forgiving.  I like to be forgiven by others and certainly I want to be forgiven by God.

Of course, Christians believe that Jesus died for the sins of everyone, to redeem everyone.  Everyone is in the general public.

Unfortunately, we do not always behave as we believe.

Have you had the experience of telling a fellow Christian that you have been hurt by that person and instead of being asked for forgiveness, such as a simple, “I am sorry,” had that person explain to you why you should not have been hurt?  Disregarding your feelings.  Or explain why you deserved to be hurt.  No remorse.  No apology.  Why?  Because the “hurter” will not accept blame and is unrepentant.   Too good.  Too superior.  Too “Christian?”

On the flip side, have you asked a Christian brother or sister to forgive you and been ignored?  Or refused.  Imagine a fellow sinner withholding forgiveness  from someone whom Christ died for.  How can any Christian be too good to forgive another?   Isn’t that disregarding what Christ has accomplished on the cross?

Apparently, such Christians are blind to the applicability of Jesus’ words to them.  Apparently, they do not see themselves as part of the general public.  Apparently, they deem themselves special.

Jesus was upset by similarly self-righteous attitudes by the Pharisees of his day.  He said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you put burdens on others that you yourselves are unwilling to bear.”

Feeling superior about one’s righteousness might be comfortable for such persons, but I fear they missed the point of Jesus’ gospel.  They would be well-advised to acknowledge being part of the general public because Jesus came to save everyone.

Abraham Lincoln said, “God must especially love the common folks because he made so many of them.”

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