Information and Trust

On some level, we know from social revolutions that restricting people from information does not lead to willful compliance.

Then, on another level, selfish people think they can get away with it by forcing compliance. Newton knows about forces, and science is not that different from social studies after all…

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Able vs Willing

Time and time again, I find this very disturbing truth about people….

Those who are able to help, won’t; and those that would help in a heartbeat, are unable.

It’s been rainy here, spring monsoon kind of rain. We noticed a car parked down the street with a loaded shopping cart beside it. It didn’t take a day for the car to be removed. In the evening, I took out the garbage to find a man digging through the dumpster. He gave me a ‘how ya doing’ and I carefully set my trash out of his way as I gave my response. Only a few minutes later, he was done and sitting on the curb across the street near where the car had been.

It was still raining buckets. We saw him with a phone looking upset as he sat there trying to figure out what to do. We sat the kiddo down for dinner, and my girl said she wanted to bring the guy some dinner. I started making phone calls. Shit, what’s that guy to do? His only shelter presumably got towed, and he didn’t have so much as a tarp to hold back the rain.

As I was on the phone with help, I see the old guy across the way come out and chase the guy away. The poor guy wasn’t even on the homeowner’s curb, he was across the intersection! But, that old man chased the homeless guy away even as we were trying to bring him food and help.

This old man is retired. He owns his house with attached garage. He drives a nice, pretty new Subaru outback. He had a nice motorcycle he can no longer ride. Aside from a car, there is little else in his garage after last summer’s garage sale. With room to spare, at least a garage, I found it awfully appalling that he would walk out and tell the guy to be out of his sight. Did this same crotchety fucker have the guy’s car towed? I’m pretty convinced he did.

We don’t exactly have means. We are struggling ourselves. Man, I could go for what would have been dinner leftovers right now, in fact. We get the occasional bag of cans to cash in (10 cents per), which we also need. Still, we have often given them to poor folks we find digging in the trash.

So, US of A, what the fuck is so great about a country where a homeless guy gets chased away from the vicinity of homes that are half empty and an apartment complex that can’t fill their apartments? What the fuck is so great about owning a home and hoarding it all to yourself? What the fuck is wrong with people that can do so much for society, but keep everything they have from everyone that needs it? Why are the only people offering help the ones who can’t afford it?

I catch myself feeling this way so often. I see friends buying cars, buying houses, going out to eat, going out to party… in a recent moment of desperation, I found myself texting my friend, “I hate to have to ask, but what can I do for you for __.” I hate feeling bad for asking for help. But the predictable response comes through, “I love ya, man. But, we just aren’t down to help.” Am I supposed to feel okay about this? He has helped a lot, so maybe he reckons I’ve had enough. I just thought that’s what friends are for. Then again, I have had the same experience with my family on many occasions, too.

It just leaves me realizing that this country is polarizing. Those that have plenty, keep having plenty by not giving. Those that give are often giving of their own necessities.

The States are only great when they are United. We are not. We are in a civil war of economics, not divided by geography, but by income. Roosevelt must be rolling in his grave at Americans working 50 hours a week just to exist.

No Limit

I want to set the scene for this one. Imagine a toddler, just turning one year old, barely able to walk. Imagine him screaming, wailing, crying. First tugging one parent’s pants for comfort, then stumbling to the other parent and doing the same, also to no avail. Both parents yelling at each other relentlessly. The child stumbles back to the first parent, cries harder and tugs again. What else is a 12 month old supposed to do to stop an adult quarrel? The parents yell louder to overcome the child’s desperate cries instead of realizing the trauma they are causing their child…

That moment, watching my son pull at my pants in fear at our lashing out, that look he gave me, haunts me to this day. It was the beginning of the end, even before she turned to outright violence.

I am sort of surprised, but absolutely shouldn’t be. I knew upon posting a project on instagram and hearing my son ask me about it (though he had never seen it himself). I left Facebook for the very same reason: Stalking.

So, a special someone has been reading my blog. She has been very quiet about it, right up until I put the truth out there. Now, she is asking the court for a gag order against me. She doesn’t like being exposed, you know?

Next week, we will be going to court for modification of parenting time, because seeing my son every weekend is just absurd according to the gender biased status quo. Ever since the very beginning, she has been pushing for every other weekend. She took me to court a few years ago to try to get it and failed miserably after I brought forth some emails she sent. I have more to bring this time around, and I expect more of the same.

I’m glad there’s all this awareness being raised around bullying. However, there seems to be some vagueness about who that bully is or what harm they actually do. There’s a Hollywood romantic idea about a yellow eyed punk and his only friend chasing and picking on you on the way to and from school everyday. However, it has been my unfortunate experience that bullies are often the ones closest to you. They are the ones that go out of their way to upset you, to vicariously gain from you, who seem to have no motivation or focus in life other than having a problem (mostly with you). Bullies often know full well they are being so in their actions and, especially as adults, are not about to be so obvious about it. Bullies tend to be the ones to bring up a problem they have with someone to everyone except that person. They can be positively identified the moment they utter something along the lines of, “After all I’ve done for you!” It has also been my experience that bullying in the adult form almost always brings with it alcoholism, which is where the real sinister side comes out as the abusive drunkard. And please note that this is absolutely gender neutral! Bullying is by no means restricted to physical harm. It can come in the form of put downs, threats, triangulation between friends and family members, stalking, and really anything that knowingly and intentionally causes another distress. Even going to court repeatedly has been proven to be a form of harassment. Making blatantly false accusations behind a veil of anonymity to cause someone to be investigated by the authorities repeatedly?

There is simply no limit to how far a bully will go just for the entertainment of making another person miserable. Is there, Meagan Theresa Margaret Jones from Perth?

With that said, I don’t care if the court does rule against my inalienable right to free speech in this matter. Someone is going to hear about it until I feel like I’m being listened to. Until fathers get the gender neutral treatment the judicial system swears up and down every hallway they are entitled to. Until there is a branch of local government enforcing parenting time with the fervor that child support is enforced. Until fathers stop getting 4 days per month with their kids by default. Until divorcee mothers stop beating the dad to death and calling it his fault, I’m going to write for the world.

Affecting Change

I was all of 20 years old when a promotion put me in the leadership category. Major Payne has military leadership boiled down properly: “If they win … it’ll be because you had led them to a victory. If they lose, it’ll be because you failed them.”

On one hand, that kind of ownership for outcome is the kind of thing that makes a leader. On the other hand, when you’re in charge of a team that doesn’t care about the objective, it just causes a lot of grief.

My partner and I are coming up to 4 years together, and I have to say it’s been damn difficult to lead the family to any kind of victory. My frustration comes about because I’ve had the pleasure of leading some fine warriors to victory and I’ve had the pleasure of leading amazingly brilliant students to high grades. This family has only been sinking slowly for the last 3 years. So, why keep on?

Well, I guess it’s ultimately because my family is focused on staying a family. I suspect that my partner’s little girl is not on board and rather wishes she could drive the wedge between her mother and I, but I can’t just change her heart. Strangely enough though, that little powder keg is a central character in this whole play.

First off, my son suffers from living a split life where his mother’s main squeeze has an older son who is not terribly interested in him. Despite that girl’s challenging attitude to adults, my son and her do get along very well. Not to say there aren’t spats, just that they are few and pretty mild these days. Her whole week she sits in her room and struggles to entertain herself until he gets to join us. From there, it’s almost impossible to separate them. I value my parenting time, but I also know my son values having a sibling with his dad’s time.

In a few deep and meaningful discussions with my partner, I have brought to light that some of the struggles we have raising her little girl are reminiscent of the things that made me divorce my son’s mother. To accuse your partner’s child of exhibiting the same behaviors that made you dissolve your marriage is a big deal. Not surprisingly, she took it very offensively. (We all want open, honest communication up to the point that we don’t like what’s being said, right?) In any case, my blunt force honesty came through as it inevitably does. Now, not only am I still frustrated that I have two explosively emotional and controlling people in my life, both of those girls’ mothers seem to think I’m out of line for calling it a problem. It’s challenging having a spirited child that is simply not dissuaded by consequences and picky about incentives. It’s even more so when those people who are most influential in these girls’ lives do not hold them to a higher standard of behavior. Ultimately, I find myself to be the one throwing the flag and calling misconduct the most. Sometimes I’m overruled, sometimes I’m seconded, sometimes I have to be the one to tangle in with the offender and handle the situation myself. It’s tough. Nobody ever taught me how to have a good relationship with the opposite sex, much less how to deal with really strong willed ones!

I’ve mentioned before that I always have my camera rolling when I exchange my son. It’s not for if shit goes down, it’s for when shit goes down. I won’t lie, it’s been a whole year since the last altercation and I sort of get tired of having to point a camera at baby’s momma for every peaceful exchange. Then, this week it happened. She sent me an email the night before that sounded tense and pushy. Believe it or not, I’ve been busy, so potentially sparking an email argument was not at the top of my list. I started to respond so as to hopefully cool the situation, but it never made it past a draft before we were rolling up to her car. She brought my son out, gave me a series of, “You stop talking” and “You listen here. ” I was listening and trying to tell her that everything she was upset about hadn’t at all happened. She kept being pushy and got louder after I told her again that nothing she was upset about had happened, that she was getting upset over literally nothing at all. She went from pushy to yelling. Our son ran to the car to get away from the conflict. I pointed out that I wasn’t yelling and there was no need for it. Predictably, she yelled back even more. I held my phone up to her face and pursed my lips to express my disengaging from the fight. She continued and my partner announced that she was calling 911. (We have found the police in our area are on the scene in less than a minute! 💪) At that point, the situation started to calm down. The call wasn’t placed, the yelling subsided, and she handed over my son with a goodbye hug.

At the end of it, my partner said, “God! That was just like my child’s fucking temper tantrums!” Well, no kidding!

The thing is, it’s been a tough year of changing for all of us. I have had to put pressure on my partner and both children to break some of the cycles we were stuck in. I’m not used to gently pushing people in the right direction, nor am I used to talking down an emotional explosion. The fact that I was able to de-escalate my ex in a few minutes is something I never expected I would be able to do. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have come to that ability if not for that spirited little girl. I guess we have all given each other a motive force to change over the years.

Paging Dr Quack

Prescribe me another dose of your sage advice

It was after 5pm that I ate a clementine and realized I only put two coffees in my belly the whole day. Everything else having been a tornado, we took advantage of the kids’ eyeballs glued to a screen and went to the store for some burger meat and buns. My partner has been wary of greasy food, so we chose a delicious looking pack of extra lean ground beef. We were both starving, but the kids came first. Then we made two big burgers for ourselves. We were so hungry, we hovered over the pan asking each other if we thought they were cooked enough yet. Finally, we called it good and threw them on the buns. I took a couple of big bites and studied the redness as I tried to spend enough time chewing to taste it. Admittedly, my brain said, “umm ” but my tongue said, “om nom!” All of my close friends have at least one account of seeing me eat something absolutely expired, so I try to remember to get an okay from someone before wolfing something down. This time, though, my girl looked at me after one bite and said, “I don’t care, I’m eating it!” As we ate, I told her that completely raw ground beef is a culinary specialty in some parts of the world, being served with raw egg and garnished with chives. She reminded me that her brother swore by two raw eggs a day to benefit his workout routine. Her dad walked up to us in the middle of chowing down and was horrified by the scene. He gave her a fairly fired up lecture on how we were going to get sick and blamed us for being bad parents for putting our children at such risk. I looked at her after he walked away and said, “raw eggs, right?” We gave each other the look and finished our raw ass red meat sandwiches.

I guess the first thing to clear up about the bug bombs was explaining to my son that the place was not getting blown to smithereens!

The second thing was to ascertain for absolute certain what substances were being blown into and onto our living quarters. The directions boast that it kills on contact and keeps working for weeks afterward, but it’s perfectly safe to stroll back into your gas chamber home after 2 brief hours. Oh, and they just happen to forget to tell you that the propellant is not the only volatile gas being released.

My partner visited the neighbor lady, a sweet old, free spirited hippie with a yard full of exotic trees, berries, and apothecary herbs. Well, she had all kinds of things to say about the bug bombing. That we should protest them using it, that we should make them pay for a motel room, that it’s just going to be the end of our health forever. She kept my partner and kids late into the evening telling her about how intolerable the notion was. Given another complex tenant’s stories, I’m just glad they took any action at all! And, honestly, I know they transmit diseases, but I’ll take cockroaches over brown recluse, black widow, or redback spiders any day! Same for those several dozen species of scorpions that will kill you because no treatment exists to neutralize the toxins.

Anyway, as the saying goes, the only things that can survive a nuclear holocaust are Volkswagens and cockroaches. It’s been thoroughly tested and proven that they can even develop a resistance to bug bombs after repeated applications. I even spotted a cranefly flitting around the window as I opened up the place to air out, so…yeah.

Nonetheless, the lady sent them home with a jar of Borax and a jar of diatomaceous earth. She adamantly defended the use of such as being perfectly safe for people. Why? Because her father (this lady is older than most of the trees in Tillamook Forest, we found out) used to flush his eyeballs with borax to neutralize the irritating smoke after fighting fires. As for the diatom’ earth, in case you don’t keep up on the hippie shit trends, people swear by drinking it to treat, like, everything that’s possibly wrong with you. It is also used against insects with the belief they will die from microscopic lacerations. Yet, I have never seen the stuff even deter ants or have any measurable effect against soft bodied larvae.

For fuck’s sake, people!! Never in human history has such a mass of collected knowledge been so freely available and accessible.

Labels are made to sell, not warn you against using the product!

Read the MSDS!

Read the peer reviewed studies!

Read all 537 pages of the prescription drug disclosures!

Then, when you can break out the molecule set with me (yes, I actually have one) and split hairs on the difference between Borax and boric acid, when you can explain specifically how plankton skeletons benefit your digestive tract, and when restaurants stop cooking your beef to your preferred temperature, I will consider your advice on what to put in and on my body!

And Now For Something Completely Disruptive

My partner woke me up with a kiss, followed by a meltdown. She saw a cockroach in the bathroom.

We first spotted them a couple months ago and caught one while Terminex was poking around to give a quote. German cockroach we were told, the kind that emits a musty smelling pheromone. I don’t know why it suddenly got escalated to Category IV Major Fucking Problem, but the manager got an earful and wasted no time in responding.

While the girlfriend went to work, I put the kids to work having a good, old fashioned, Marine Corps field day. Anything that looked even marginally like garbage got snatched with a stern look of “don’t you even open your mouth!” Everything came out of the closets, most of it got the wipe down, the bed was moved, two dressers just got tossed altogether, and every inch of floor got swept and mopped.

The place was scheduled to be bombed in the afternoon. Now, the package label says that we could reenter after 2 hours, but I’m just not that quick to jump into any kind of area of chemical exposure. A friend had offered his place for camping, having a field, stream, and a large tent already set up. After a bit of struggle and debate, we nixed that plan and decided to take the kids, guinea pigs, and gecko to Nana and Papa’s.

Tomorrow will be another major cleaning as we wash dishes, wipe down surfaces, and throw the toys in the bathtub for washing. We packed up most of the laundry, so thankfully we don’t have to fight that battle again. Everyone is tired and grumpy over the chaos, and I’m mostly just ready to be done with the summer. Two more weeks to go, just two more weeks…

More Changes

Just as sure as the earlier sunsets signal the upcoming season, writing the first day of school on the calendar has signaled the need to get ready.

Attitudes flared in the heat, and it was decided that we give the kids two full weeks to acclimate to the school schedule. Complaints aside, there is a distinct comfort to knowing what happens at 8pm, even if it isn’t what they want to be doing.

My partner had the idea of making the morning routine a checklist over just a posted schedule. The simple act of a checkmark somehow made all the difference in whether the kids achieved all 4 objectives. I printed the checklists out and just need to laminate them to be school year ready.

The other major change was to settle my son into his own space. A stupid ugly situation developed around an unrelated claim as the local sheriff deputy insisted the children could not be allowed to sleep in their bunk bed anymore. With only two bedrooms, the question arose of who would be relegated to the living room. The band-aid solution was to pitch his pup tent in the living room. This worked for a weekend until the other child got jealous. We then spent the rest of the school year and the summer up to now switching out who sleeps in the living room each night. Every night, pitching the tent, hauling pillows and blankets and sleeping bag and a dozen stuffed animals around, just to do the reverse every morning.

I see all the Murphey furniture on the IG, so I had been developing a sensible plan to build something like it ever since. Over the summer, after busting tail to push a big order out, I dug into a pile of pallet lumber that I’ve been lugging around and tripping over for way too long. I got as far as gluing them into panels and planing to thickness, but then the project stalled. I had slightly more than two weeks without my son to knock out the project, and I wanted so much to do so. Days into the break, I scaled down my expectations to just the bed. Halfway through, I started to just accept that nothing was going to happen on it at all.

I picked up my son last Wednesday to begin my summer block, and it was the tent as usual. Finally, with implementation of schedules came the fact that we had to do something for him. I scavenged a steel bed frame (and disinfected it!) to help deal with the situation when it came up, and the time came. A few pieces of furniture got nixed and we attempted to use the ez-up to wall out a room, but no avail. So, like the hippies we are, hung bed sheets on the ceiling! But, at least he has a proper bed.

Meanwhile, I’m stressed out by the difficulty in just getting productive hours clocked in. My son’s bed is just the latest project to stall and get me down. Finally, leaning on the schedule and just insisting on getting my hours in has allowed a bit of a breakthrough.

I made decent progress yesterday and made it home to put the family to bed, not on schedule, but maybe 15 minutes earlier than usual. This is why we called for two whole weeks of working on it! As I put my son to bed, I let out my plan of making him a bed that folds up against the wall and some kind of solid walls. WHAT!?!? A BED THAT SOMETHING INTO THE WALL!?!? …ugh, wrong thing to say at bedtime! A million burning questions later, I get him to calm down by telling him he’s just going to have to wait to see it.

Well, that bed is about the coolest thing since sliced bread now, and there’s a recognized need for it to be done. Today, the neighbor upstairs delivered a PBR under the mostly closed bay door and once I stopped running the saw, I told him about my project. I went back to the saw and kept at a big pile of stock all getting 2 1/4″ rabbets. As I was gluing up, the guys decided to call it a night. I called my partner, who was struggling to pull our kids away from the extremely sweet old neighbors, and decided I would stay and put in a few more hours. There’s something I relish about burning the midnight oil. Probably just the time to myself. To be in my thoughts and work through things. To just chew on something, mentally speaking. I lined out the rest of my cuts and did some more gluing up. It’s a long process as I’m tragically short of clamps, but isn’t every maker? Upon closing up tonight, my son’s fold up (into a cabinet) bed is only a few more glue ups, sanding, and spraying finish away from him having it.

Having basically clinched the regional title for #1 Dad, the only thing left to do was run for the light rail home after the tracker app lied to me. I hopped off the bus casually, thinking I had only four blocks to stroll in 2 minutes. To my horror, I saw the unmistakable blue light and ran. Of course, I didn’t make it at my intended stop, but the stop after that was only 2 more blocks down and I stood a chance of getting home by midnight if I ran. So ran I did! I ran until my lungs burned, and in defiant spite my fears that I wouldn’t make it, I sprinted the last two blocks. I stabbed my arm in the closing doors as I more or less crashed through them! A small round of applause was the cherry on my day as I plopped down on the nearest seat.

Small victories, maybe. But I take what I can get these days!