Death From Below

I have a few stories that I refer to as my “The Lord is My Shepherd Stories.”  These stories contain a common theme.  In each case, I give the Lord credit for either flat out saving my life, or helping me to get out of the situation before everything went to hell.

The first one took place on a deer lease that my father and uncles had in the Possum Kingdom area in Texas.  This particular lease was a bow hunting lease.  It was a great place for a kid to bond with the men of his family, and to learn many good life lessons, such as where food comes from, and how great that food can taste when it is cooked on an open fire in the great outdoors.

There were several perils for the average 10 year old.  Oddly, there were a couple of mountain lions on the lease.  These were part of a re-establishment program instituted by game officials. We knew something was not normal when 45 lbs of deer offal disappeared in about 30 minutes one day after a hunter had made a kill and field dressed a deer.  We questioned game wardens when they came onto the lease, and they admitted the existence of the cats, and reminded us of their protected status.  They had been relocated to the state park which backed up to our lease, and had moved onto the ‘mountain’ on our lease.  After that, the men carried pistols for protection.

Once, a large rattlesnake was killed about 30 feet from camp on the way to the two-hole outhouse.  On another occasion, a skunk waltzed into camp with a dog present.  This was not so dangerous, but sure smelled that way.  It was funny how suddenly a beloved pet became referred to as ‘that damn dog!’  I also remember eating armadillo a couple of weeks before I found out that they can carry leprosy.  Luckily, I have not lost any body parts yet.

Probably, the most likely things to cause pain to a 10 year old with a short attention span were the plethora of well placed cacti that seemed to be all over the place.  Prickly Pear cactus hurt, and those spikes can raise a nicely festered sore wherever they get you, but the worst are the little furry ones that are shaped like silos, known as a barrel cactus.  That’s not fur.  It is a bunch of evil that only the devil could dream up.  Rub a sock up against one of these, and you might as well throw it away.  You’ll never get all of those little hairy needles out.

Then there was the Skreech, but that is a story for another post.

With all of this danger lurking around every corner on the deer lease, it was surprising that I it was such a small thing that could have actually killed me.  The fateful day began with breakfast, of course, and then we got ready to go gather some wood for the fire.  It was early in the season, so it was still warm, and I started to put shorts on.  My dad, however, told me to wear pants.  I am not sure why, it had never been an issue for him before, but he did not back down even though I know I laid on some pretty good whining.

On this particular lease, there were frequent large piles of trees and stumps that had been uprooted by either the land owner, the oil company that leased the land or the Corps of Engineers.  These were prime varmint and snake habitat, but they were a great source of dead, seasoned firewood, as much as we could ever want.  We only had to drive about 200 yards from camp in order to saw up the wood, and load the truck up from a big pile of wood.

I was too young to wield a chainsaw, and was just in the way for the most part, stumbling around and watching the men do the real work.  It was while I was kicking around the edges of the woodpile that I felt a pain on the back of my neck.  Almost immediately, I felt a pain in my left arm, and then one on my right arm.  I realized that I was being stung.  It is these types of events where time seems to slow down.  I looked down and saw a little hollow stump about four inches across and three inches high between my legs.  There was a hole on the middle that went into the ground, and out of it hundreds, possibly thousands of what we later determined to be wood wasps (small yellow and black striped insects that look like a tiny hornet with an enlarged head).

I took off and ran as fast as I could all the way back to camp, receiving a couple of parting shots as I ran on my arms.

My father and uncles followed me back to camp, and that is when I realized that I would probably have been killed if I had won the argument over the pants with my father earlier in the day.  My uncles proceeded to take a couple of sticks and rake hundreds of the little wasps off of the legs of my pants and into the fire.  I guess this is what the Bible means when it says, “Honor your father and mother, and your days will be long upon the Earth.”

In the end, I was stung only five times.  My dad, who was twenty feet away, took one in the neck, and one of my uncles received a couple of stings also.  My dad tried to impart a little wisdom to be by saying, “Boy, if you had just stood still, and not ran, they would not have stung you!”  I countered this argument but reminding him that he had stood still, and still got stung even though he was twenty feet away.  “And besides that,” I added, “I think that the bees would have noticed the big thing that was standing over their nest that was not there a minute ago.”

One of the other hunters chewed tobacco (gross), and he wet some (no, not in his mouth), and put it on my stings.  It seemed take the pain and swelling away almost immediately.  I recommend it, though I am not a doctor.  To this day, I have a slight phobia associated with the flying, stinging insect, and I still do not have any regrets for running as fast as I could away from them that day.

Like Father…

Jesus Barragan has added a whole new demension to “Take Your Child to Work Day,” but I dod not think this is going to get him any Father of the Year nominations.  Funny,

What is Family Television?

My wife has always been a big ‘family television’ viewer.  She has seen every episode of The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, Touched by an Angel, and Highway to Heaven.  She still watches the Hallmark Channel on a daily basis, and if she is already watching one of the shows when I enter the room, I’ll sit and listen as if I am interested, but the whole time I am counting the minutes until it is over.

I, on the other hand, am no goodie-two-shoes when it comes to television, but I may be a nerd.  Most of the programming that I watch is on one of the channels owned by Discovery.  I watch a lot of sports, some reality based TV (Survivor, The Amazing Race, and American Idol), and a lot of the movies that are on the premium channels.  I watch very little scripted television mainly because the writing is usually not very good.  I watched the Sopranos religiously, but the dialogue on a show like CSI, for example, just hurts my head.

7th Heaven:

Several years ago my wife and I started watching 7th Heaven.  For the first few seasons, it was very enjoyable.  However, I remember a specific episode when one of the local elected officials was discovered having an affair.  Surprisingly, there was the reverend with as much angst as his character had ever shown preaching to the audience that it was ‘none of their business’ what the man was doing at home.  It seemed a little coincidental that President Clinton had just gone through the Monica Lewinski scandal.  At the time, I was offended that the writers of a show that purported itself to be a ‘family’ show about a minister and his wife trying to raise good kids, would slap their audience in the face in this manner.  I found myself watching it less and less, and pretty soon it was off my radar.  It was a good thing also, because the show devolved into an opportunity for the liberal writers to get their message out to a conservative audience, and later it devolved into one of the worst written soap operas on television.

The ABC Family Channel:

If you look way up in the numbers on most cable television plans, you will find the ABC Family Channel.  Don’t be fooled.  This is no more of a ‘family’ oriented channel than TLC is a ‘learning’ channel.  I just looked up tonight’s programming and found two episodes of That 70s Show followed by that wholesome movie Mean Girls (please read the last line with appropriate sarcasm).  There is nothing ‘family’ about any of this.  I don’t even give them credit for attempting to socially engineer their audience.  They are simply hoping that parents are letting their children watch this ‘family’ programming in order to get their ratings up.  I personally cannot think of a time when I will feel that slightly disguised sexual innuendos and drug humor are going to be appropriate for my daughter to watch before she is an adult.

This week, I was watching a movie that I can’t even remember the name of, and went to the ‘guide’ on my DVR.  I know I was on HBO, because I noticed one of the programs being offered for my viewing pleasure on the HBO Family Channel.  It was called All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise.  Smelling a rat, I looked at the information on the show.  It said, “Feature-length chronicle of a precedent-setting 2004 cruise, in which Rosie O’Donnell and her family joined hundreds of other gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight families on a weeklong trip from NYC to the Bahamas and back.”  Holy Crap!  This is what HBO is passing off as ‘family’ programming?

Of course, this is not family programming.  It is a blatant attempt by HBO and the disgusting Rosie O’Donnell at social engineering.  Period.  This would not even be considered programming outside of the gay and lesbian context.  There are no other programs on HBO family chronicling the trips of say the Smith family to the Grand Canyon.  I was appalled.  I don’t mind the gays having their own programming such as Bravo or here! TV (heck, I even watch Top Chef), but this is a clear offensive (and I mean that in the military sense).

They would do well to remember that America does not support this type of thing.  It has already expressed its opinion in several state bans on gay marriage, and with the number of states involved, a national constitutional referendum is a real possibility.  People will simply not put up with this sort of thing, and they will vote with their feet.

 

Gaffe ’08

I always enjoy getting comments on my posts (well mostly), but I do not often blatantly request people to post their opinions.  However, today I find myself in a quandary.  Recently, we have been graced with two of the greatest faux pas in the history of the English language, and I find myself wondering which one is worse.  Which one is the most painful?  So, here they are, and please let me know which one you think is the worst. 

The first is a nice fluff piece from NBC’s Toady Show in which Matt Lower asks Robert Kennedy Jr. how his father is doing.  It can be seen here.  Enjoy.

The second is the famous Joe Biden gaffe in which he asks wheel chair bound Missouri State Senator Chuck Graham to stand up.  After realizing what he has done, he has the crowd scoreboard the poor guy by standing up ‘in his honor’ and showing him how good all of their legs are working.  See it here, and please cast your vote for the one that is most uncomfortable.

Thanks.

Brought low by my own hypocrisy

This is a follow up to the last article I posted.  Earlier in the year, I was chronicling my very successful attempt to lose weight.  In May, I fell off the wagon.  For the last few months, I have proceeded to undo much of the good that I did before I fell off.  Several times I have tried to get started again, but found an excuse to stop.

Yesterday, as I wrote about not taking irresponsible chances with my life for my daughter’s sake, I was faced with my own hypocrisy, and realized why I failed back in May.

I took my eyes off the prize and lost my focus.  When I started my weight loss program, my daughter was the reason that I was doing it.  At some point, I was so proud of all that I had accomplished, that I forgot why I was doing it.

So, yesterday, as I wrote about other people being irresponsible, I realized that I could not hold them to a higher standard than I was holding myself.  As a result, the diet is back on (for her sake), and I got off my fat ass and walked today.  Stay tuned….

Taking no chances…for my family

Yesterday, I was reading a story about Andrew Lee, an ‘aspiring chef’ from England who bet his girlfriend’s brother that he could make a really hot sauce.  This inevitably devolved into a contest between the two to see who could eat the most of it and, of course, Lee proved that he was able to make a damn hot sauce.  Unfortunately, he lost the eating contest after it killed him. 

I am a guy, and I think I have a competitive nature.  I, however, do not understand why guys find the need to show that they are bigger, tougher, crazier and dumber than the next guy.  There is just no need for it.  I like hot sauce, and I like it hotter than most, but once the capsaicin is so potent that the food has no other flavor, I no longer see the point.  You might as well drink some battery acid and speed up the ulcer creating process, because ultimately that is all you are going to get out of it.

Obviously no one intends to die from eating hot sauce that is too hot or drinking too much water at a water drinking contest (check out water intoxication), but it seems every day we are presented with another act of needless bravado that results in someone’s death.  Perhaps when we are feeling all amped-up about something, it would be best to tap the breaks a little.

I will assume that in this particular case, the guy did not have a family, other than a girlfriend (though there is no guarantee of this by any means), which mitigates the tragedy a little.  However, in many of these cases people leave the world with a sad and confused family.

As a father (and even before I became one), I have developed some strong opinions regarding responsibility.  I really don’t care what people do with their lives before they get married as long as what they are doing is not hurting someone else or causing them to be a burden to society (see inexperienced climbers who decide to tackle Denali and have to be rescued: stupid), but I believe once you are married, and especially once you have children, you accept new responsibilities that should lead you to more responsible actions.  I believe that when we accept these responsibilities and limit our own selfish desires for challenges and expressions of bravado we effectively show love to our families.  Unfortunately many men even after they are married and have children approach life as if they are starring in their own movies, and of course, nothing bad ever happens to the hero of the movie.
For me, these responsibilities are far reaching, and affect my behavior.  I would not consider climbing Mount Everest (please refrain from personal shots at this point.  I know this is about the same as me saying, “I will not accept a date with Angelina Jolee.”).  The chances of dying are just too great.  I saw an article about a woman who died on K2 (the world’s second tallest mount which is considered by some to be tougher than Everest).  The piece talked about how brave she was, and what a pioneer for women she was.  It also informed the reader, near the end, that she was a mother of two, ages four and six.  I have to be honest.  This woman had her priorities all out of whack.  If you are a mother, that is your primary identity.  She was a mother before she was a climber.  Mothers, and fathers, should put their parental responsibilities ahead of their other petty desires for a challenge or even fame.  My feelings go farther than this needless act of irresponsibility, however.

Several years ago my sister and her boyfriend (who eventually became her husband) went skydiving.  I am not afraid to skydive, and think it would probably be an interesting experience, but now, as a father and husband, I just cannot do it.  I know that most people who skydive do not have any problems, and enjoy the experience, but I can’t do it.  The consequences of a mistake by myself or anyone else in this situation are too great for me to risk.  I am not motivated by fear.  I simply have too much responsibility.

It extends even further.  The best example that I can come up with is the motorcycle.  I live in the Dallas area, and commute some distance to work.  With gas prices as high as they are, it would be a lot cheaper for me to ride a motorcycle to work.  As a father, I will not do it.  There are too many other drivers out there that do not pay attention to the road for me to take the chance.  I owe my daughter and my wife too much to take the chance that something bad could happen to me.  If you are on a motorcycle, and get into an accident, you are going to lose, and it could easily be very bad.  Every day it seems like you hear of a local fatality accident involving a motorcycle.

Part of me showing love to my wife and daughter is to avoid these things that add needless risk to my life.  Raising her, helping her to be a good person, and being involved in her life are just too important to me.  I know that I still have no guarantees, but I am going to do my best to do what is right by her, and the things that are beyond my control, I cannot worry about.

As I wrote this, I was faced with certain issues in my own life.  I could not finish it without confronting them, but I will deal with that in the next post.