Honestly, if it weren’t for these two people, I would give up on trying to help society.

transfer - 1Just to bring everyone up to speed, I’ve spent the last couple of months dealing with the death of my father and helping to get my mother straightened away on being able to live as independently as she would like.  All this while trying to get caught up on all of my projects, raising a family, and trying to get ahead at work so that I could really enjoy the vacation which we just took.  (Incidentally, talking about one’s vacation after-the-fact on the old interwebs keeps people from knowing that one’s house is vacant for nine days…a fact which seems to escape some of you people…seriously, take note.)  All of this with an apparently freshly herniated disc just above my spinal fusion.  Fun stuff.

Taking care of the things that really matter did a great job of limiting my time on the internet and provided me with the “Cliff’s Notes versions” of all the issues that were being bandied about in all forms of traditional and social media.  To be completely honest, I thought that what was getting through the time crunch filter was bad enough, but I spent a little time perusing the web this week and I have never wanted to sell everything that I own and move out West or adopt a nomadic existence than I have over the last several days.  What I have been seeing is enough to make me just worry about my own family and let the world continue to burn, but then I thought that through and I don’t want to leave my kids to survive in a world which resembles a Mad Max film, so I’m going to give this one more shot.  Hopefully you guys will share this around and maybe we can get some healthy conversation going.

I would like to restate for what seems like millionth time that we, the general population, are being guided/coaxed/manipulated by the media in all of its forms and by giant corporations and by our respective governments to do the following:

  1. Buy things.  The movie Fight Club got that single thing right.
  2. Be at each other’s throats so that we don’t rebel against governmental systems that are exploiting us, while failing to provide adequate services or respect our basic or constitutional rights.  If we are busy fighting each other, then we can’t unite effectively against a common enemy.
  3. Buy more things.  I sense a theme.
  4. And finally, be calm, placated, productive citizens…all to the benefit of corporations and government.

If you want a quick primer, please go read George Orwell’s 1984 and then watch the news cycle for twenty-four hours.  Then it is okay to go hide in bed and pull the covers up over your head.  Trust me, you will want to do that very badly.

I know that I’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so I’m not going to attempt to do an overview or even an outline.  Today, I am going to start with one simple fact: When we are watching the news or looking at the internet or reading a newspaper we are talking about other human beings.  I can not state that more simply or seriously enough.  We are talking about the lives of other human beings.  If we can’t take that seriously than we are beyond all hope.

I am going to give you a list and everyone that reads it is going to agree and disagree with some of the people and groups listed, but I want everyone to take a deep breath and really think about what I am trying to do.  I don’t want my two children growing up in the world that is left by the next great war or having to be a part of that war.

  • When we talk about refugees, we are talking about human lives.
  • When we talk about aborted babies, we are talking about human lives.
  • When we talk about illegal aliens, we are talking about human lives.
  • When we talk about executed law enforcement officers, we are talking about human lives.
  • When we are conducting drone strikes in Syria, we are talking about human lives.
  • When we read about Christians being beheaded in by Islamic State, we are talking about human lives.
  • When we talk about suicide statistics, we are talking about human lives.
  • When we talk about drug reactions, we are talking about human lives.
  • When we talk about war in the Middle East, we are talking about human lives.
  • When we talk about floods and earthquakes and storms, we are talking about human lives.
  • When we are talking about domestic violence and human trafficking and orphans, we talking about human lives.

Humans lives means other human beings just like my kids.

Just like your kids.

Just like your nieces and nephews.

Just like your parents and grandparents.

Just like your friends and family.

Just like the people who look like you.

Just like the people with whom you attend church or synagogue or mosque.

Just like your friends from the bar.

Just like the people with whom you tailgate at the big games.

Just like your work associates.

Just like you.

What you think about the Pope’s latest speech or how he delivered or who he delivered it to does not matter.  The same thing goes for the President of the United States.  Your trendy hashtag does not matter.  Your political views and affiliations do not matter.  What you think about the Clerk of Court in Kentucky does not matter.  None of these things really matter until we start respecting and valuing human lives…and I mean that in a for real, get your hands dirty, get off of your couch, get-involved kind of way.

Hashtags don’t help people.  Tweets don’t help people.  People getting active and loving other people in a real, hands-on way helps people.

We need to turn off the filters and throw away the selfy-sticks and forget about whether or not we need the need an Apple Watch or McDonald’s product or Starbuck’s coffee.  We have got monumentally serious human crises all over the globe and those have always led to two things when left unaddressed for significant periods of time: Revolution and War.

You may have read this post and think that I’m all “conspiracy theory” or “gloom-and-doom,” but I suffer from only one problem:  I read history books.  I paid attention in every history class that I ever took and we are fools if we don’t start paying closer attention to the things that we do.  If we don’t make change, it is history who will be the judge.

Dad’s Journey is Done

Dad NavyMy dad passed away at 1:40am.  I’ll probably have a lot to say about the last week and his passing at a later date.  All that I’ve got to say, at this point, is that my dad was awesome.  I would say more about how amazing he was, but it would most likely cause many people to have feelings of inadequacy about their own fathers.

Objective Truth

I’m going to take a quick respite from trying to process what is going on with my father to get out the firehose for some of the folks that I’ve seen in debate with various Jenner and Dolezal-related issues over the last two weeks.  Hopefully, I can bring a little clarity to several of you who seem to be struggling and are perhaps out of your depth when it comes to the following two topics.

First, there is no such thing as “my” truth.  There is simply “the” truth.  The truth is objective.  The truth is reality.  The truth is a little bit of science, a little bit of religion, a little bit of philosophy, and a whole lot of reality.  The truth does not change and does not waver.  It is as solid as concrete and tough as forged steel.  The truth is the same for us all, only some of us choose not to see it.  There is simply one truth.  A person either accepts that or they don’t .

You can, however, have “my” perspective or “my” opinion or “my” feelings.  Those are accurate statements.  Those are things that actually exist.

Any time you hear someone say “this is my truth” you need to understand one thing above all else…you need to understand that that person is self-delusional and is not to be trusted.  You can pity them, you can humor them, but if you keep their company or listen to their counsel, you are a fool.

Second, you can say that you are whatever you want, but that doesn’t make it true.  I will give you an example:

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This is Bruce Ernest Greene.  He is my son and he is 2 1/2.  Two days ago, he decided that he was “Star Rebel” who is presumably some intergalactic rapscallion, much like Han Solo.  Although I am certainly proud of my son’s imagination and taste, he is not Star Rebel…he is Bruce.  He is always Bruce, although he may choose to pretend that he is a puppy or “some kid” or Star Rebel.

I hope that this helps some of you folks regain your center.  If not, our next discussion might cover a couple of different topics, such as whether or not a person can actually contract Sickle Cell Anemia as an indicator of racial determination or perhaps a lengthy treatise on Y Chromosomes.

This week, more than ever, I am acutely aware that there are far better ways for us to be spending our time than debating issues which are best left with those who are directly involved.  Our propensity to waste time on such issues and internet drivel is staggering.

So…today sucked.

The other day, I wrote that I was going to put my blogging on hold while I dealt with us having to call in hospice for my dad.  A couple of good friends encouraged me to continue to write, as it makes for a good outlet for processing grief.  At first, I was going to blow it off, but since I’ve had enough Pastoral Care and Counseling classes to know that they are right, I thought that I might defer to their wisdom in this trying time.

In case you missed it; I wrote a piece about my dad when we first started talking about hospice and palliative care in the fall of 2013.  I like to go back and look at it on occasion because I think that it perfectly sums up how I felt on the day that I wrote it.

Today is one of those days where I definitely need to document how I feel about Dad.

My dad grew up fairly poor.  I would like to offer exhibit A:Dad BucketsThis is a picture of my dad in front of my Papaw’s old house.  Those are not bricks.  That is some sort of tar-based siding which is similar to roll roofing but stamped to look like bricks.  You might take note of the ripped jacket which Dad is wearing.  Sometimes you have to wear a ripped jacket when it is cold and you are poor.  (I mean, not today, of course.  Today, homeless people have cell phones.)

My dad used to tell me about how he would hitch up the horses and plow other people’s fields for money.  When I was a kid, we still plowed certain things with a horse-draw plow and I learned how to hitch up the horse, so I know that this is something that he wasn’t making up.  In fact, Dad would often just hitch up the horse because he felt that it was too much trouble to get the tractor out.  Let that one sink in for just a moment.

My dad went from this to owning 3 auto parts stores and an interest in an office supply company.  He did this by working hard every day and not complaining.  My dad never, ever complained.  Dad had some strokes in the early 90’s which left him with some issues.  He worked through them with no complaining.  He didn’t complain when he lost his business to a real deadbeat who cost him well over half a million dollars 1999 money.  He eventually forgave the guy, which I still have trouble doing.  He didn’t complain when we had to sell the farm to pay for the outstanding business debt when his last store failed as a result of the 2004 flood. He never complained and he always did his best to keep a positive attitude.

Unfortunately, I think that I had my last real conversation with Dad earlier today.  After that, he took a nap and had a rather serious stroke.  When he woke up, he could no longer speak and it was clear that we could no longer take care of him at home.

Today, I had to help decide to move my father into a hospice facility rather than keeping him at home, even though he had wanted to remain at home until he passed.  Today, I probably had the last good conversation that I will ever have with my father.  Today sucked.

I want to write something really profound, but my day sucked.

I’m going to take a cue from Red vs. Blue and release a pre-planned PSA when I just can’t make my self-imposed deadline.

If you were any sort of fan of the Christian Alternative and Hard Music Scene in the 90’s, you owe it to yourself to listen to the two following podcasts:

The Never Was Podcast

The Urban Achiever Show

These two podcasts are done by Mark Salomon, of The Crucified and Stavesacre, and Billy Power, formerly of Tooth and Nail Records and Blenderhead.  Start with their first shows and listen all the way through.  They have some of the best conversations regarding music, life, and faith that I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

Bluetooth Keyboard

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This little guy has changed the way that I use my smartphone.  About a year ago, Jessica and I were discussing whether or not we needed to buy another laptop because we had just had one die and our other one was on its last legs.

We talked about the actual usefullness of a full-fledged laptop versus a Chromebook.  As we decided that a Chromebook was not quite as useful as a laptop, we came to a realization.

The smartphones that we carry in our pockets everyday are at least, if not more, capable than most Chromebooks.  They have constant connectivity to the internet, either over wi-fi or cellular data.  They have all the same apps and even sport better cameras and microphones.  Also, as screens on smartphones get bigger, it is much easier to see the interface.  Really, the only drawback is that nobody really likes typing on a smartphone screen.

Enter the solution:  Ta da!  The cheap bluetooth keyboard.  This one cost me about $19 on Amazon and every smartphone has bluetooth.  This means that you can spend less than $20 and you can have a very capable computer in your pocket.

Now, to be honest, I don’t keep the keyboard with me everywhere I go, but I can take it wherever I need it.  The bonus is that it doesn’t just work with phones.  It works with all tablets and just about all computers. 

No more taking a laptop on trips.  No more worrying about how TSA is going to treat my computer.  No more worrying about whether the hotel has wi-fi.  No more worrying about expensive equipment.  Just a whole lot of pure functionality.

This single keyboard has changed the way that both myself and my wife interact with our technology.  The best part?  We only need one keyboard for all of our devices.

I know this is excessively “techy” but I thought that I would share the idea.  I sure has saved us a lot of money and really increased our functionality.  In fact, I wrote this whole post on my cell phone.  There is no way that I would have done that without this keyboard.

Wow! That was a full day.

My day started with meeting this guy:

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It continued by hanging out with this guy:

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After that, there was a lot of cleaning and putting away camping gear, hanging out with my family, and mowing.  Lots and lots of mowing.  I love weekends like this, but they make me feel old.  Tired and old.

Fortunately, tomorrow will afford lots of opportunities to process the weekend and prepare for the upcoming week.  Perhaps tomorrow will bring something profound.  Regardless, last night’s camping and today’s mowing were a welcome respite from this past week’s media onslaught of dreck; focusing on everything from the Duggars to Bruce Jenner’s sex change.  There is nothing like a little bit of time outdoors to make one realize exactly how little the lives of celebrities that I have never met should mean to me.

My daughter got to hold a frog.  My son ate a bunch of marshmallows and entertained everyone with whom he came into contact, today.  I took care of the yard at my parent’s house.  I really didn’t have time to care about the internet.  it was nice.

The Absolute Last Place Where You Would Expect To Find Something Profoundly Truthful

FWord2I don’t make any apologies for my musical tastes.  Like everyone else born in the early 70’s, I grew up listening to the radio and then MTV.  A steady diet of pop and country (because of my parents) gave way to rock and metal and then eventually, punk.  Punk music of just about any form is the ultimate panacea for those of us with attention disorders.  It keeps us focused and productive, all while railing against the society which produced all of the jerk-wads who picked on us for being socially awkward.  I call that a win-win.

However, as much as I love punk music, the last thing that you can call punk music is a source of wisdom for a well-adjusted adult life.  Anti-antidisestablishmentarianism will only take someone so far.  You can imagine my surprise when I watched a documentary which was referred to me by a friend and I found that several of the pillars of the punk community have had kids and have some serious wisdom to offer, regarding fatherhood.  The documentary is called “the other F word” and you can find it here.

Be warned, this film is not safe for work…or kids…and most pets.  If you choose to watch it, ignore Fat Mike.  He is an idiot and a pervert.  Beyond that, you will find a collection of men (often from broken homes) who had kids and suddenly discovered that being a father brought about an amazing change in priorities.

What I found to be amazing was how much that it instinctively made sense to these guys to put their kids first.  The amount of traditional family values coming out of these guy’s mouths is absolutely astounding and it left me with this one, profound takeaway:  There is absolutely no excuse for not being there for your kids.

Not one acceptable excuse.

If this bunch of non-conformists and screw-ups can figure that out with all of their baggage, then anyone can.  Seriously, hearing Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 question how it was ever okay for parents to just let their kids roam the neighborhood from school letting out until the street lights came on was just sublime.  Mark Hoppus.  Mark “running through the streets naked in a music video” Hoppus.  Yeah, wisdom from guys like that.