Thursday, September 30, 2010

Phases and Stages

I've been watching the leaves since they began changing a few weeks ago. The view from my back door allows me to see across a small hollow and the trees and bushes are are all flaunting their finery. Apparently, the local fauna have decided that it's time to make an appearance as well. There have been V formations of geese flying and circling overhead and the other night there were three yearling does from the local deer herd that stopped and stared as I drove past them on a street below my house. Another sign is that I have what appears to be millions of acorns in my driveway. Supposedly, some acorns are edible, but I don't know if the ones off my trees are the kind that are and I'm not so adventuresome that I want to use my own self for testing. I do have some candidates in mind, however.

I also have seen some changes and alterations in friendships. I've reconnected with some friends lately that I haven't spoken with for a while and I'd like to think they are enjoying it as much as I. One friend, Kathy, grew up just down the street and started being more a friend of my sister, then we phased into school friends which was followed by morphing into acquaintances. I recently asked friends if social networking friends were "real" or just "tech" friends and was pleased to hear form Kathy that she felt we are "real" friends while another friend was truthful enough to admit that they felt that these friendships were "light compared to "in-person" friendships. I'm glad that Kathy and I have progressed to that stage. And I also wonder if maybe the anonymity of social media allows us to maybe be more forthcoming with personal "stuff" (technical term...) in turn getting us electronically closer to each other.

Another phase currently in change is happening at work. A few years ago there were things going on that were less than ideal. Things were happening that were making my life, and a few others as well, pretty miserable. I was patient, and I worked things through and was able to use channels to fix the problem without a lot of cost and without a lot of hurt feelings. Some hurt feelings, but not a lot. Things got better and then even better. Phases and stages.

Recently, however, some things are going on that are reminding me of a darker time. A time that I was hoping not to go back to. Things that are escalating to an almost insane level. Circles and cycles.

But I am a patient man. And, being a patient man, I know that there will soon come a time when things will improve. Possibly drastically. Maybe, if I am lucky, dramatically. But I am also thinking permanently.

My friends, I want to thank you being, well, my friends. I want to thank you for being there, and for sharing a little of your lives with me. You have helped to make some dark parts of my own existence a little less daunting, and a lot more warm.

Thank you once again, with all my heart.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Tech" friends vs. "Real" friends

Technology is an amazing thing. Each new development makes the world smaller. Radio, gave people a means to reach out to others, a way to share ideas. Radio operators on ships and in the armed forces would take the opportunities to "meet" friends and exchange news, play chess and share recipes.

15 years ago email was in its infancy. Computers were nowhere near as available as they are now. Cell phones were called "bricks" and we all clamored for them, we all were reaching out. User groups and forums were starting. The Internet was building momentum and "networking" was becoming vogue.

AOL and other applications were becoming more and more popular. People were, again, reaching out just as they did in every community they ever lived in. From villages and farmsteads, to townships and on up the food chain, people have always looked to their neighbors, looked beyond their boundaries. Technology has given us more and more opportunities to do so more conveniently than ever before.

Through Facebook and other networking sites (AOL, MySpace, Twitter, Linkd) people are finding it possible to connect, reconnect and create relationships with people from all over the world. Through one group I've been able to reunite with friends from the small town where I grew up, friends from school and even family members from all around the country.

With another forum I attend online, I've made friends literally around the world. It's a group of motorcycle riders that has become a virtual family. We reach out through pain and sorrow, through illness and death, and through life, through love and through happiness. This family, most of whom have never met face to face, has come together to help make repairs of homes, computers and bikes; come together when one was in a crash and nearly died, when one lost a spouse to cancer, and when some have lost pets.

One example is that when one of the group had a bike that was his only source of transportation stolen and didn't know what to do, we all came together and chipped in and bought him another bike. Not a new one, but one that was 100%. A motorcycle. A Goldwing motorcycle. Not all friends will do that. Not all family will do that.

The kids I went to high school with? We can't even seem to get together for lunch one day, let alone go out of our way to make a major difference in our lives. I drove from Layton to SLC to pick up a motorcycle part, then delivered it to Pocatello with a "thank you" as my reward. It was enough.

On another side, I have a twin sister and we went for about 16 years without speaking. No cards, no calls, no contact. Not a lot of friendship. I know that my family isn't typical, but neither are my friends.

Then again, with the changes in technology, maybe they are.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


What an odd day. I've wanted to post something here about remembering that day not so many years ago when we were jolted from our security. Do you remember where you were? Are we going to play this game that was played with the Kennedy assassinations or John Lennon's murder? Of course we are, it's human nature to relate an event or a time or memory, to associate it with something and personalize it to set it in memory.

I remember where I was. I was teaching a Baseline Class at work. Bill, a friend of mine, was attending. Two co-workers, Joyce and Ed, were watching things transpire on a TV in a conference room and we kept turning the TV in the training room on during breaks. What a long, long day. After work I helped another friend, Ken, with a class at a shooting range.

Driving home I saw a most heart-rending site - a lone figure was standing on one of the freeway overpasses in Morgan holding a US flag. Simply, heartbreakingly and peacefully, standing there, silhouetted in the sunset.

All day long I had felt anger and frustration. All day long I wanted to strike back, to exact my own toll against those who perpetrated this upon our soil. But seeing that lone flag bearer, lighted from behind with the the dying rays of the days sun, I suddenly was more focused and more my anger was tempered with sorrow. Anger would return, but just then I felt sorrow for those many people who lost friends and family in this tragedy.

While I lost no family of mine, I did lose some acquaintances and people with whom I worked. This was driven home later while at a conference and talking about this attack with some FBI trainers. They were commenting on one of the assignments they had in New York following the attack and mentioned one of the men working on the phones and communications lines they used. They stated that he was always there. He was there in the morning and there at night and never seemed to go home.

When he was asked about it, he bluntly stated that he was the only person in his office in the North Tower that wasn't killed in the attack. Some happenstance had kept him delayed from getting to the office on time that morning and his entire floor was destroyed killing every other person in his office. He alone survived and the guilt that he felt for that drove him to service. He needed to work, he needed to expiate this guilt for not dying with his co-workers by serving those who worked to investigate this tragedy.

This was something that was seen all across our country. Suddenly, people were coming out to enlist. Our military experienced a growth curve as did our police and fire departments. People, just everyday, ordinary people where volunteering to help others. The crime rate dropped, violence dropped, and people cared for each other again. I hadn't seen people care like this since the early '70s. People simply cared.

Since that time, however, there has been a slow decline back to the status of pre-9/11. People have returned to the "what's-in-it-for-me" attitude, the feeling of watching out solely for one's self rather than a "we're-all-in-this-together" attitude.

I beg, I implore, I seek or WHATEVER works with you, care for others. Care for each other. Care for yourself and your family, certainly, and care for your friends. But care also for those in need. Care for those that are alone. Don't be afraid to take a minute and remember those who serve and protect the freedoms we so freely enjoy.

Remember the men and women in our armed services, those who fight daily in their police, fire and EMS duties to protect and provide these freedoms for us. Don't forget the police, fire and EMS workers that rushed in while others were rushing out. The ones that knew they weren't coming out yet still sacrificed in an attempt to save as many people as they could.

And while you're busy not forgetting, how about we not forget to offer them our thanks when we get the chance. Sadly, I don't think that we're through with this battle, I am afraid that we will once again have visited upon our land another attack on this great country. I hope we're ready this next time.

And I hope we learn from these attacks that we truly are a great people living in a great land.