Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kids Say the Darndest Things

I love hanging out with kids! Maybe that's one of the reasons I have a part time job driving school buses. Kids keep you young, they're full of energy, and often times they say things that most adults would never say.

My mother always reminds me of something I said when I was young. My brother Adam was just home from the hospital and was all of 5 days old. Like any highly coordinated 4 year old would have done, I decided that my 5 day old brother laying on the floor looked a lot like a hurdle, and he'd be perfect for me to jump over. I came running down the hall and hurled myself through the air and over my baby brother. About 1/8th of a second later my mom and I had this conversation:

Mom: "Paul, I don't EVER want to see you do that again!"

Me: "Well, then don't yatch me." (I had a hard time pronouncing my w's.)

Kids are so honest with their feelings and emotions, I think we can learn a lot from them. Watch the video below and meet Logan, he's only 13 years old, but he is wise beyond his years.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Merit Badges

I was in the Boy Scouts when I was younger, although I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't much of a Boy Scout. I only went to den meetings because there were snacks, I never learned any cool knots, I can't start a fire with sticks, my pinewood derby cars usually came in last place, and my idea of camping is a Holiday Inn.

One of the things Boy Scouts proud themselves on is earning merit badges. There are more than 100 merit badges a scout can earn by learning something new or performing some sort of community service. There are merit badges for obvious Boy Scout activities like archery, wilderness survival, canoeing, woodworking, first aid, and rifle shooting. Then there are merit badges for activities that I never thought a Boy Scout would be involved in; railroading, salesmanship, lifesaving, and bugling for example. I don't know how many bugle playing train conductors there are, but like I said - I wasn't exactly a model Scout.

Tonight while I was out on a bike ride, I rode through a neighborhood intersection. There was a little boy standing on the corner, he was maybe 5 years old. As I rode by him I said, "Hi buddy!" He looked at me, and then shortly after I passed him I heard him exclaim, "I need help!" I stopped my bike and turned around to ask him what was wrong. He explained (in five year old speak) that he was at a friends and he was supposed to call his mom when he wanted to come home, but he kept calling and she didn't answer because she's always on the computer playing games (which is another topic in itself). So, he was trying to get home but he wasn't allowed to cross this particular street unless a grown-up helped him across. He probably didn't know that I don't qualify as a grown-up, but I asked him if he wanted me to help him across the street, he shook his head yes. As we crossed the street together I asked him where he lived. He pointed to a house that was kitty corner to where we had started this adventure, there was a dog in the yard. He told me the dogs name and then said that it was as wolf. I was confident that I had gotten him home safely - I wasn't so confident that this dog was actually a wolf. He went running inside and I continued my bike ride, happy to have helped a little boy across the street.

I don't remember what I earned merit badges for when I was a Scout, but this kid deserved one for street safety, decision making, and asking a grown-up for help. I don't think he's quite earned the Mammal Study merit badge however - because that was no wolf.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The garage door's open - and will stay that way!

My wife and I live in a townhouse located in a great neighborhood in one of the cities finest suburbs. We have wonderful neighbors, kids play in the street, it's close to schools, there are plenty of trails and parks nearby - I couldn't ask for much more. Although townhouse living is great, someday a "real house" will be called for.

One of the conveniences of townhouse living is having "people" to clean the driveway in the winter, and mow the lawn in the summer. As an airline pilot, this is wonderful because I know my wife won't get stuck shoveling 4 feet of snow or cut her toes off in the lawnmower while I'm away. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the kind of guy who normally has "people" to do those things for me, and if we lived in a real house I would do those chores myself, but it's part of the deal I signed when the house was purchased. I would love to boost my cylinder index with a lawnmower, snow blower, and other loud power tools, but for the time being, it's just not necessary.

There are downsides to townhouse living however, some of these include; shared walls, no choice as to what color the outside of your house can be, and having to get a permission slip just to plant flowers. I can deal with most of these disadvantages, but recently we received a letter from the association that put me over the edge. Before I go on a rant, I'll let you read the letter:

Dear Resident:

One of the most difficult tasks of a manager's job is to inform homeowners when they are in violation of their association's governing documents. This notice to you is one of those tasks. Quite often, owners are not aware that they are in violation of their associations governing documents.

Your Board of Directors conducted a recent property inspection and noted you have been leaving your garage door open for extended periods of time.

To assist the Board of Directors in their efforts to preserve the integrity of the community, your cooperation in keeping your garage door closed when not in use would be appreciated.

Rule 8 states:

"To reduce the risk of theft, pest infestation and improve the property appearance, garage doors, must not be kept open for extended periods of time. When not in immediate use, doors must be kept closed."

Please refer to your association Rules and Governing Documents if you have concerns or would like further consideration of this matter.

I am confident that you understand the necessity of having an established Rules and Regulations program and will take the required corrective action on this issue.

Tamara Eiden
Multiventure Properties, Inc
Edina, Minnesota

Are you kidding me! The association has taken the time to send us a letter explaining why the garage door should be shut! MY GARAGE DOOR!! This is the same association that did nothing after a weeks worth of phone calls when there was raw sewage flooding the lawn and floating in the street (thanks to some neighbor kids clogging the outflow line with rocks). This is the same association that calls the tow truck every time a car has been legally parked on the street for 24 hours because it doesn't look nice! Do these people have nothing better to do!?

In the letter they talk about preserving the "integrity of the community." Wouldn't the "integrity of the community" be better preserved if all the garage doors were up and people were outside talking to each other, instead of closing the door as soon as the car's bumper clears the garage door track? We have all winter to be holed up inside but when the weather is nice, the garage doors should be up and we should be outside, talking to our neighbors, keeping an eye on things, preserving the integrity of our community - whatever that means.

I wonder what's going to happen if we keep leaving the garage door open? Are they going to stop mowing the lawn or shoveling the walk? Maybe they'll send another nasty-gram, I'm really very scared. As far as I know, we still live in a free country, this isn't Nazi Germany or Communist China - leaving the garage door up is one of the many freedoms we enjoy as Americans. We have that freedom thanks to the soldiers of the United States Military, some of which are my neighbors - who I've had the opportunity to meet, only because their garage doors were up.

As far as I'm concerned, the association can send as many letters as they want, but as for me and my garage, the door will stay up until I'm ready to close it!