A President’s Party

by Greg on October 9, 2016

Back in 8th grade, my grasp of the political scene consisted of student elections. A time of year when two or three interested students elevated themselves to candidates and adorned the hallways with colorful posters and fancy messages that begged the rest of us to vote them into an office we were all too happy to avoid. The more hearts or stars one plastered on their posterboard, the more qualified that person became.

Myself, I had no clue what a class President was supposed to do and even less about what a class VICE President was supposed to do. I realize now that the Vice President was there to act as a replacement should the President be grounded by his or her parents.

What I did know is that we had to endure two weeks of campaigning by people who had no grasp of the issues that awaited them, nor the realization that once they were placed in office, they had absolutely no individual power or clout that would enable them to accomplish anything without it being the Principal’s idea in the first place.

Still, this particular year, we had two people willing to make a run at the presidency. One, was a student near or at the very top of our class. He was well-liked, kind, extremely intelligent, and seemed to have the temperament for a political or corporate future. I don’t remember anyone saying a bad thing about him.

The other, was a brand new student near or at the very bottom of our class. He came to our ultra-rural almost farm-like community from the inner city. He was rough around the edges, intimidating, bully-like, and had a set of eyes that looked in different directions. While one would be looking straight into your soul, the other was busy perusing his peripheral flanks for imminent threats.

He was a scary dude.

I don’t remember anyone saying anything nice about him, yet this scary intimidating dude had a ton of friends. Not so much because we treasured his character traits, but more because we were less likely to be squished should he go off the rails.

When the time came for the student body to hear from each candidate, it became the most anticipated debate in the history of politics, only recently eclipsed by Clinton/Trump.

Quite obviously, these two had very different platforms. The smart kid, dressed in a nice shirt and tie, talked about adding activities during lunch, pursuing change in a variety of policies that we had no idea even existed, and promising to represent the entire student body despite him only being one person. He finished his eloquent remarks and then sat politely to a smattering of applause, most of which came from nodding school officials.

Now it was Darryl’s turn. We really had no idea what he was planning to say because his entire campaign hinged on one poster that hung cockeyed in the front hall. He had obviously placed it himself. It simply read, “Elect Darryl…Class President.” It seemed like more of an order than a request, and I think that was the intent. In fact, the bottom right-hand corner had the remnants of “…or else,” which he must have erased to show a more softer side.

When Darryl stood from his slumped posture and approached the podium, the school officials’ applause and approving smiles turned to apprehension as they nervously scanned the student body. He had no notes, which meant that he was either very well prepared or completely out of his league.

The fact that it was the latter had absolutely no impact on the balloting.

His promise? Parties.

Not party politics, not cross-party cooperation, just…parties. He wanted more parties. He wanted popcorn parties and dance parties and carnivals. He promised these things. We all looked at each other like, “Is this guy for real?”

Darryl had no plan as to how he was going to provide more parties, but plans are irrelevant during an election cycle. First, you get elected with rhetoric that the masses like to hear, and THEN you work on fulfilling the plan. If such a plan goes awry, you just blame everyone sitting across the aisle. It’s a strategy that has worked for centuries and this particular day was no different.

As school officials shook their heads in disbelief, the rest of us erupted in applause. His platform was so simple and had no concrete plan behind it, but parties are the most pressing issue facing 8th graders, and that was all it took for Darryl to experience a landslide victory.

Now, whether he couldn’t get a ride to after-school events or was unable to get approval from the parole board, Darryl never attended one meeting.

See, Darryl never really intended to be presidential in the first place. He had casually said in jest that he was going to run for President and the ever-approving yes men gathered around him at this particular moment encouraged him to do so.

From the moment he entered our school, kids were afraid to say no to him and they’d certainly never give him the impression that he was completely unfit to hold office. We ignored the fact that he had zero experience in being cordial unless it was self-serving because all that really mattered was living vicariously powerful through him. In turn, his candidacy just naturally progressed and festered from there. Like a snowball building into an avalanche, he went from being a new kid that no one inherently liked to our class President.

We cheered when we found out he was elected because the things he said sounded great.

“More parties.”

Do you really need a stronger platform than that at the age of 12?

In the end, after the confetti was swept and posters removed, Darryl was impeached. I don’t remember who replaced him but I do remember not having any parties. It taught me a valuable lesson…the person matters, not the slogan. Experience matters, not the promises. And most important of all…friendships matter, not the rhetoric.

The upcoming election is frightening to me. It really doesn’t even matter who wins, this country will remain divided for a very long time. I’ve seen some horrific things shared and believed on social media. I’ve seen friendships obliterated, hurtful words hurled, and misinformation scattered about in the form of “it’s gotta be true” memes.

Sadly enough, we have evolved from an Us society to a Vs. society, and I don’t see it changing in my lifetime.


I wish I could go back to the simpler days when popcorn parties dictated Presidents. Because, quite honestly, I’m gonna need a LOT of it if I’m gonna watch these two spar through election day.

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Update 3-27: Let’s Get This Done!

by Greg on September 30, 2016

Okay, so my original plan was to write one update for every month I missed during my writing hiatus. But seeing how I can only sit down once every week or two to write, I’ve come to realize that I will remain in perpetual catch-up mode for the rest of my life if I don’t hurry this along.

So, out of a desire to “live in the now,” I’m just going to blast out 25 quick and quasi-pointless blurbs about the last 27 months of our lives so we can move on to bigger and better quasi-pointless blurbs.

In no particular order…

1. Our adopted dog from Turkey sadly passed away. We miss her dearly.

2. Fire engine Perry was sold and shipped to Chicago after getting a repair quote of $4,000. Proof that love does have a price.

3. Kamryn saw a barn cat at her grandpa’s farm. Said cat is now tormenting Kamryn’s other previous finds right here at home.

4. Heather’s health continues to be our primary concern and we’re now 0-10 with specialists finding a cause or a cure.

5. An appointment where my wife’s endocrinologist made remarks about her “brittle hair,” “ashy skin,” and some unintelligible mumbling about her face has created a treasure trove of post fodder.

6. After knee surgery where I was told I have no more cartilage left and am now bone-on-bone, I made the difficult decision to quit playing basketball.

7. I missed basketball too much so I started playing again.

8. The knee pain was too great so I quit playing basketball.

9. I went to visit the rec center where I once played basketball and the shine of the court coupled with the squeaks of the sneakers led to me calling my wife and having her bring my gear. I once again started playing basketball.

10. After being unable to walk for two straight days without knee and hip pain, I finally decided to quit playing basketball.

11. I’ll be back.

12. During a vacation to the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia, we happened upon a black bear while wandering through the woods. Gripped with fear, we cautiously passed despite Kamryn’s boisterous Oooo’s and Ahhh’s. He was too busy eating to care about us. We think it was another hiker.

13. Our cool cat, Rick James, lived a short but charmed life.

14. Our minivan held on as long as it could, but with 258,000 miles on its weakening frame, we traded it in for a Chevy Surburban. It is, by far, my favorite vehicle to date. We can actually fit the entire family inside AND bring things with us.

15. Kamryn has made it her mission to memorize all 32 NFL teams based on cities and helmets. I must admit, I’m a little bit misty-eyed.

16. After a rough start in his freshman year, our eldest son has made the Dean’s list ever since and is now in his senior year. Proof that effort and threats CAN make a difference.

17. Michael is still…Michael. He saved up 35,000 pennies to buy a huge full-size mascot outfit of some Pokemon named Lucario. He proudly walks around town in it. It’s only a matter of time before someone playing Pokemon Go captures him.

18. Kamryn has followed in Heather’s cleated footsteps and found her passion in soccer.

19. We started a bubble soccer business where people gladly pay to get crushed by one another.

20. I successfully convinced Kamryn’s entire elementary school that my real name is “Superstar.” I love when they call out my name when seeing me in public. Now to work on the rest of the world.

21. I went full-on Keto to try and trim down. I lost 40 pounds and started to hit the gym on a daily basis. I’ve since resumed some of my bad eating habits but purely from a reward standpoint. I’ll be back.

22. We went to the shores of North Carolina in the middle of summer in the middle of the day and, for the first time ever, I never once got a sunburn. It’s probably my finest accomplishment.

23. Heather and I realized that our last “date night” was three years ago. She won’t let me count childless trips to Wal-Mart.

24. Heather continues to serve on the school board and has been added to numerous committees, such as the “I Won’t Be Home For Dinner Committee,” the “This Should Only Take An Hour So I’ll See You In Four Hours Committee,” and the “Committee to Form More Committees Committee.”

25. Earlier this year, I had bought a taxidermied black bear on a whim at an auction. I later added a female mannequin to create an artistic piece I like to call, “Bear Naked.” Heather isn’t nearly as in love with it as I am.



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Update 2 of 27: We Bought an Ewok

by Greg on September 20, 2016

Updates will become more frequent now because I need to get this blog more current. Alas, here is another promised update from my 27-month hiatus.


After the theatrical remake of 101 Dalmatians in the late 1990s, there was a mad surge in Dalmatian “pup”ularity. Countless families brought home the spotted canines only to realize that the breed needed diligent obedience training (something Americans aren’t great at) and a high level of exercise (something Americans are even worse at). The end result was a mad surge in Dalmatian abandonment and subsequent pushes for rescue.

The same phenomenon happened after Finding Nemo, which caused a massive spike in clownfish popularity to the point where reefs were pillaged at perilous rates and aquarium-housed clownfish died in record numbers due to the highly specialized care they required.

Even the animated movie, Ratatouille, led to a 50% increase in rat sales. Turns out, people didn’t want them as pets, but rather as sous chefs. And once people realized that rats brought nothing to the kitchen beyond Bubonic Plague, they were given a one-way ticket to the New York subway system.

All this in mind, it’s no wonder that the iconic film, Return of the Jedi, led to a dizzying boost in Ewok popularity. Poachers descended upon the forest moon of Endor and bagged up satchel after satchel of unsuspecting Ewoks for the open market. In typical “history repeats itself” fashion, the care, attention, and oversight they required were too much for people to take.

Ever the ones with a soft spot for abandoned or unwanted animals, Heather and I agreed to take one in. The family was moving out of state and were already burdened with a dancing penguin, a lemur with a God complex, and a panda with a penchant for martial arts. There just wasn’t enough room in their Mystery Machine to take him along.

They called him Cooper, or Coop for short, which happens to rhyme with what he does most. The thing about Ewoks is that they’re pretty much untrainable. For centuries they had lived peacefully in bands of harmonious tribes until the white men came. Despite the fact that these white men couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with their laser pistols, they were overridden and had to find a way to adapt. This kind of struggle for survival breeds independence, and here we’re asking this little creature to go outside to poop? Our audacity was almost embarrassing.

You can’t really ascertain this from the movie, but Ewoks are actually quite stupid. I’m sure each tribe has its fair share of Einsteins, but the one we got isn’t one of them. It’s proven to be a challenge, so I’d like to extend a PSA of sorts for anyone considering taking one in.

There’s no guarantee you’ll get one with a brain.
I’m sure there’s a lobe in there somewhere that can handle simple requests, but we have yet to find it. Instead, we try to dumb things down a bit based on his visual cues. You’ll know your Ewok is confused if he cocks his head to one side when you speak. In our case, it happens if we say anything high-level, like “Sit” or “Stay” or “Cooper.”


They growl…at everything.
This is one attribute I do remember from the movie but I also remember it being a lot cuter then. Perhaps because it only happened once. If a living or non-living thing happens to cross an Ewok’s field of vision, it will trigger an involuntary and completely unintimidating growl. If you tell the Ewok to stop, he’ll turn to look at you, cock his head, and forget all about it. Until such time that he turns his head back around and sees the object for what he thinks is very the first time…again.

They don’t worship droids. Or you.
Contrary to the scene in the movie when they cower at the sight of a levitating C3PO, Ewoks bow to no one. Nor do they sit. Or stay. Granted, if you say “Sit” enough times, he’ll eventually touch his rear end to the ground, but it’s only due to exhaustion.

They will absolutely lose their shizzle if they see a dog.
Imagine seeing a gigantic human-like form approaching you on the street but you knew it wasn’t human. Would you freak out? Same goes for Ewoks when they see something approach that looks like a lab experiment gone wrong. This is when you’ll finally get to hear the elusive Ewok battle cry. For those who haven’t heard it, it can best be described as a blend between a Barn Owl’s shriek and a bronchial T-Rex. Should this happen, just smile nervously at the dog’s owner and casually explain it away as a rabies infection. Ewoks can’t get rabies so I think he’ll appreciate the joke.

They’re picky eaters.
Gone are the days when you could tie up a few Rebels and enjoy a hearty BBQ. When you place any morsels of food in front of your Ewok, he’ll look at the dish, look at you, and then look at the dish again before slowly walking away. This will only happen after he engorges himself on a sample of the most expensive food you can find. Once you buy a giant bag of this same food, he’ll completely lose interest.

Veterinarians won’t know what to do with it.
Most veterinarians aren’t familiar enough with Ewoks to provide proper guidance on their care and behaviors. Instead, they’ll try and treat your Ewok the same way they would a dog, but I’m not about to embrace that trend. I know what I have here, and it’s no dog. Humans already took away their independence, I’m not about to take away their identity as well.

They’ll love you unconditionally.
Quite honestly, we’re glad he’s here. Ewoks are lovers. They’re gentle with kids, playful, aloof, and habitual cuddlers. They’re vigilant in their protection of their new home and will go completely bat-shizzle to warn you of approaching UPS trucks, squirrels, and gently overturned leaves. They’re kind, they don’t shed, and let’s face it, they’re just plain cute.

Sure, the evil Empire disrupted their lives, but having the Ewok population here on earth is the silver lining. And like others in the Ewok Rescue community, we’re going to do our part to create a little piece of Endor right here on earth.

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Update 1 of 27: We Bought a Submarine

September 2, 2016

This is the first installment in what will be a 27-part update of the last 27 months of our lives since I’ve been away from the blog. By the time I’m done updating, I’m sure another 27 things will have happened in the meantime, but hey, it’s a start.   If you happened to read […]

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It Wasn’t You. It’s Me.

August 30, 2016

Boy, a guy takes a mere 27 month break and suddenly he’s alone in the room? I must say, I’ve missed you all. I’ve also missed writing, but oddly enough, only recently. Over the last 2+ years, the burning love I had for this place slowly dimmed, until one day the flame simply extinguished. No […]

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T-Bawl Season

May 3, 2014

Our daughter Kamryn, who just turned six, had her first T-ball game today. And it was every bit as adorable as I thought it’d be. After a grand total of 51 at-bats among all players, her team lost 27-24, victims of a smaller roster. In her particular league, every child gets to bat, every child […]

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Cat Pimp

March 21, 2014

It’s probably odd to make my return with a post about pimpin’ but it makes too much sense to ignore. Just don’t go stealing my idea. Our 5-year old daughter Kamryn likes to watch a show called “Too Cute,” which is essentially an infomercial for puppies and kittens. If you ever find yourself on the […]

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In a word…Zikomo!

December 1, 2013

Well, it’s been two months so I figured I should probably write a post. And what better way to break back into the world of blogging than to share the end result of our Flip Flop campaign. Thanks to your generosity and thanks to you embracing our project, we were able to provide every single […]

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With Apologies to Cashews and Almonds…You’re Nuts

November 30, 2013

Earlier today I was given a link to one of the more enjoyable, funny, and sarcastic posts I’ve read in quite some time. It focused on the growing obsession over being politically correct in all facets of speech and communication. Ironically enough, the post wasn’t intended to be funny OR sarcastic. It was definitely enjoyable […]

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Blog Star: A Parody for Bloggers

November 23, 2013

Time for another blogging parody! I was inspired to write this particular song after having my Guest Speaker application rejected by a blogging conference I had previously attended as a panelist. It made me realize that while I enjoyed writing and had a small yet loyal following, I was a virtual nobody in the blogging […]

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Walk a Mile FOR Their Shoes

July 1, 2013

It’s time to pay the piper. Me, of course, being that piper. But I don’t want it for me. I want it for the Flip Flop campaign my wife and I have organized for the Children’s Village we support in Malawi. Over the past several months, I have done dozens of blog tweaks, security updates, […]

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The Five Stages of Orphan Cat Ownership

June 3, 2013

Vet bills. This is the fallout I forget about when fostering my wife’s favorite hobby, pet harvesting. If she weren’t so compassionate and caring, we’d have far less dander in this house. But because her heart behaves like some maniacal co-pilot struggling to take the controls away from her brain, we have a stockpile of […]

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I Love Naked Ken

May 24, 2013

I look forward to Christmas every year. Next to Thanksgiving and the mystery surrounding that lying little rodent on Groundhog Day, it’s my favorite holiday of all time. I just need to remember to avoid Facebook this coming season. If you were on Facebook at any time between December 1st and Christmas Day then you […]

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Kitty Cat Warfare

May 11, 2013

As many of you might remember, I had made an agreement with Michael and Kamryn that if they could go two weeks without fighting and misbehaving, we’d get them a kitten. [See: Kitty Cat Countdown] And, as you can see from the picture below, there are now three furry little balls of curiosity chilling on […]

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In Remembrance

May 4, 2013

Today we gathered at the church to celebrate my mother-in-law’s life and say our collective goodbyes. I was asked to write and deliver the eulogy, which I felt was a tremendous honor. I had hoped I’d be able to do her justice and was so touched by everyone approaching me afterwards to say that I […]

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