Sunday, September 16, 2012

some stuff from a while back

Here are some posts I had written for an earlier attempt at a blog. The premise of the late blog was to help me remember things I want to teach my son...

These days all you seem to talk about is fire trucks and putting out fires. I'd like to think that part of the reason is because you want to be like your old man. Well, if I can give you one piece of useful advice about fighting fires it would be this:
Keep your feet as dry as possible by changing into a dry pair of socks at least once a day.
This may gross some people out, but I want you to notice that I didn't say "clean" or "fresh" socks, but "dry". It's not really practical to carry 15+ pairs of socks on a fire assignment when you are limited by weight and space restrictions; so here's what I use - the "1n2" rule. It goes like this: wear a pair of socks for 1 day, let them dry out for 2, then they can be worn again. This way you can cut the number of socks you pack by about half.
There are a few caveats though:
1. Never wear the same pair of socks more than twice. Things get kind of iffy after this...
2. 1n2 only works in relatively dry conditions. Granted, most fires burn when it's hot and dry; but if you're in the Southeast or on the Coast you might want to have other options available.

Keep your feet dry, Bear. Trust me, your feet will thank you.

I've currently stopped reading non-fiction books exclusively and decided to read a few works of fiction recently. The first book I picked up was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Not the lightest book or "sunniest", but I'd heard a lot of good things about it. Well, not long into the book I found this quote by the father (talking about his son):

"...the child was his warrant. If he is not the word of God, God never spoke."

That line has really stuck with me. For those that aren't familiar with the book (or the movie, for that matter) it's the story of a father and son's journey through a post-apocalyptic world. It's a dark and scary book, but there's something uplifting about the way the father is supremely focused on the well-being of his child. Reading the book, I'm constantly putting myself in the father's shoes and asking "What would I do if it was just Bear and I in a similar situation?"

I apologize for taking so long to write again. I'd like to say that there was a good excuse, but there isn't one...
So let me tell you about sportsmanship. I'm sure you'll here about being a good loser, but it's also important to be a good winner too. Sportsmanship is also about being a good sports fan too. I'm all for supporting your favorite team or school, but and kind of sport is just that - a sport or game. It shouldn't be taken too seriously. Unless you're in really deep with a bookie, any game is not a life-or-death situation. You should also be respectful of the other team's fans as well. It's going to be hard because there are always those obnoxious fans that you want to go all "spider monkey" on, but please try to refrain yourself...

I suppose I can throw in one quick lesson:
When BBQ-ing, try and use primarily oak. It seems to have just the right heat output and burn time. Mesquite burns pretty hot and doesn't last too long. Plus it can leave a lot of soot on the meat. Hickory and/or pecan are good in moderation, but keep at least 75% of the wood used good ol' white/post oak. Oh, and make sure it's good and dry - it'll make your life much easier.

two years & judging character
I can't believe that it's been two years since you were born. It really just seems like yesterday that I heard your first little cry. I'll never forget that. I'm also glad that your head went back to a normal shape. I have to admit that I was a little freaked out by the "cone-head". Anyways... Happy Birthday.

I'm not sure where I first heard this (I think it was from your Mother) but it's great advice: "You can tell a lot about a person's character by how they treat the elderly, children, and wait staff."
This is something that I feel is an important observation to make. Watch how someone treats their waiter or waitress and you should be able to get a good feeling about whether or not that someone is a good person or a jerk. The same goes for kids or old people.
Oh and by the way, be a good tipper. Tip at least 15% (20% is easier to calculate in my head) unless the waiter/waitress is rude or incompetent.

careers and highways
Today I'm on the road for work and missing you and your Mom. My job often takes me away from you guys - which stinks - but it's just part of the job.
I've been thinking about what I can tell you about careers... Well, I suppose the best advice I can give you is to find something you really enjoy doing and try to make that your career. If you love sports, then find a job that involves sports. If you really like dinosaurs, then become a paleontologist. Just remember that if you really enjoy whatever it is you do for a career; then it won't ever really feel like work.
One the same note, if you come to realize that you don't really enjoy what you do anymore - find something else that you love and pursue that career path.
The bottom line is that there is no need to be miserable at your job. It's not good for you or those around you. Do what you love..

Something else that I thought of while we were driving across America this past week. All US highways and interstates that are even numbered are east/west and odd numbered highways are north/south. Just a bit of trivia. I'm not sure where or when that will come in handy, but it's something you should know.

Hope to see you soon.

toothbrushes and fashion
Here’s a little tidbit that may not be helpful right now, but it will someday.
Always have a toothbrush handy. This doesn’t mean that you have to carry one around in your pocket, but you should have one close by just in case. In case of what you might ask?
Well, if you’re working on a fire in the middle of the wilderness and your boss tells you that you’ll only be there one night – and that one night turns into six or seven, you’ll need a toothbrush.
Or if you happen to meet a pretty girl right after you’ve just polished of a big plate of nachos, you’ll need a toothbrush (and toothpaste, but I assumed you pick up on that).
So keep a toothbrush stashed in your backpack or vehicle or where ever. You just never know…

Your Mom will probably disagree with me on this one, but it’s ok.
As far as clothes and fashion trends go – wear what ever you want (within reason). I don’t really care how ridiculous the clothes you want to wear are, go for it (within reason). If it’s a jean jacket with the sleeves cut off (I guess that’s technically a vest) or neon green pants, that’s fine with me. Just remember that I reserve the right to make fun of you and take pictures – a lot of pictures. And I will save these pictures and someday use them in such a way that will probably embarrass you. You’ve been warned.

asking questions
I’m pretty sure here in a year or two you’ll start asking ‘how’ and ‘why’. Why is the sky blue? How do birds fly? Why do the girls say I have cooties?
I’m also pretty sure that after a while, I’ll get tired of having to explain everything. Regardless, NEVER stop asking. And if you can’t get a good answer, figure it out for yourself. I promise I won’t get mad if you take the TV remote apart to see how it works or go to college and major in philosophy to understand why... well, why anything.
The point is that you should always strive for knowledge and look for answers all of the time. Or you could just ask your Dad, and we can work on it together… if I could just find my hammer…

responsibility and guitars
I will do my best not to let this become a rant or lecture, but this next topic is one that I feel very strongly about… personal responsibility.
It seems that every where you turn everyone is blaming everyone and everything else for their problems or mistakes.
This just drives me crazy.
No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes (including your Dad). So what? Mistakes are a part of life. It is what you do after you make a mistake that defines what kind of person you are, not the mistake you made…So the point is to fess up when you make a mistake or are wrong. And besides being the right thing to do, taking responsibility for your own actions will show other that you have integrity and are honest and will make them respect you.
This is a little off of the subject, but I would personally rather someone respect me than like me.It would be nice if they could do both, but it I had to chose, I’ll take being respected…
Sometimes you could even take responsibility for a mistake when it wasn’t technically even your fault.I suppose that’s part of being a good leader.
Bottom line – hold yourself responsible for your actions.

On a lighter note,
I’m not entirely sure about this, but I think that girls will be much more impressed with you for being able to play an actual guitar than being able to get a high score playing a video game guitar. Instead of strumming in front of a TV, practice on a real ax play for the ladies. It would be even better if you’re a good singer. Hopefully you’ll get your singing ability from your Mom.

Somewhere I read that there are 3 kinds of people in this world: the sheep, the wolves, and the sheepdogs. Try and be a sheepdog... This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to necessarily be a firefighter or a cop; but always remember that there are people in this world who will need your help and those who are out to harm you and others. I hope you never have to find this out the hard way..
Just always try and be aware of your surroundings. It seems like a lot of people nowadays are so engrossed in their own little "world" that they are unaware of what is going on around them. Try and not to be one of these people.

Texas BBQ
I hope that you have all of the opportunities that I have had to travel and try different kinds of food. I know that you already have somewhat developed a taste for barbeque. I also know that there are a lot of good styles of bbq around the country: Memphis, Kansas City, Georgia and the Carolinas...

However, this note is about true Texas barbeque.. You will know if you are eating true Texas bbq if there is no plates and no silverware (except maybe a knife). Also - and this is the most important part - Texas barbeque does not have or need bbq sauce!

communication and squirrels
To be successful at anything you do, you must be able to communicate effectively. It doesn't matter if it's school, work, sports, girls - whatever; if you can't effectively communicate to others, you're not going to be successful. I'm not saying that I am the best communicator in the World - far from it, it's just something that I have learned watching others and through my own experiences. When you're saying, "A B C" and the other person is hearing "X Y Z"; it's just not going to work.
So how do you make sure you're being understood? Try and get the person to repeat back to you what you said to them. Or, repeat back what they just said to you. That way you both know that the intended message got through.

If a squirrel runs into a hole in a hollow tree and you want to get it out (for whatever reason), DO NOT start a fire at the base of the tree to 'smoke it out'. It doesn't work and it will lead to a long night - trust me, I know. I'll tell you about it when you're a little older.

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