Open letter to the teen who nearly died yesterday in Englewood

Dear teen driving the car on Walnut Street;

You nearly died yesterday because you were impatient and you thought you were owed the right-of-way making a left turn onto National Road.

From page 36 of the Ohio Digest of Motor Vehicle Laws on left hand turns;

Is required to yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. Prior to engaging a left-hand turn, the driver must wait for oncoming traffic to clear the intersection. One may advance into the intersection as a prelude to turning, provided that no other traffic control devices prohibit this action.

I was the vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. I outweighed you by at least two tons. If I had hit you, one of us would have gone to the hospital and it would not have been me.

You did not have the right-of-way simply because you were waiting longer than I was at the 2-way stop. Yes, I have been where you were, trying to make a left-hand turn onto a busy road at 4:00pm. Yes, the lights in “downtown” Englewood are timed badly, if at all. Yes, it is maddening that others pull up in the opposite direction to make a right-hand turn just as the road looks like it is clearing up.

But your sense of what is fair does not give you the right to punch the gas and pull in front of me simply because you felt it was your turn to go. The traffic laws do not work that way. Life does not work that way. Your sense of fairness nearly cost you your life. Defending traffic laws are not worth dying over.

You are very lucky that I yielded my right-of-way to you, even though I really didn’t have to. I have seen other drivers in my situation who would have pushed their advantage. The look on your face clearly indicated that you thought I was the one in the wrong, so I suspect you learned nothing from our chance encounter. Perhaps by luck, you will read this open letter.

I understand you may not have received as much training as you needed from our local driving school. I know my two kids did not. I also know from experience that the “testing” given by the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles is not all that hard to pass. A drunken monkey could pass that test. But that really is no excuse to not know some basic right-of-way laws.

Few interactions on the road determine whether you live or die behind the wheel than knowing who has the right-of-way and when. Please learn these laws. And when in doubt, yield the right-of-way and live to drive another day.

It’s not about fair. Ultimately, it’s about surviving other drivers. You should not also have to fight yourself.

Regards,

Rufus Dogg.

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My #SOPABlackout thoughts

SOPA Blackout

SOPA Blackout

The DogWalkBlog.com is not going dark for the SOPA Blackout today for a few reasons.

Firstly, I am not entirely against SOPA and PIPA (I’d link to the bills, but the ones in Congress are still in flux, the Wikipedia one is skewed and blacked out).

Secondly, the sites that are going black remind me of a small child throwing a tantrum, screaming that he will hold his breath until he turns blue. I want no part of that childishness.

Thirdly, if we just stop talking, how we will convince anyone of our point of view? Instead of going silent, we should become louder.

Many sites are going dark today and I think — as adult human beings — we should grab this as a learning opportunity in human evolution. We did not become the dominant species on Planet Earth because we cowered in the face of adversity. We did not become top of the food chain by hiding in the darkness. We became king of all beasts (except dogs, dogs still rule) because we learned how to adapt and survive in our environment.

Taking that lesson, all the librarians need to herd the students into the libraries and teach them the magic of the Dewey Decimal System. Newspaper journalists should use this as an opportunity to tout their product and process as immune to going dark. Book publishers should launch a campaign that says, “see, we’re still here! You can always read us without the Internet.” Same with music CDs and movie DVDs. Television… ok, you can play too. HAM Radio operators, you are definitely invited to the party.

A blackout should be an opportunity for this generation to teach the next how to truly navigate their world by clock and fist. Because some day, they will have to. Someday, the machines really will go dark.

Forever.

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You cheated me. You stole my destiny.

There is a scene in Forrest Gump where Lt. Dan hauls Forrest to the floor of the military hospital and lashed out at him for saving his life. His destiny, he yelled through clenched teeth, was to die in battle like his ancestors before him. He was angry and bitter that had been taken away from him, even though he had been given his life in exchange.

We see this facet of the human condition all around us.

Mitch McConnell was supposed to serve in a government that was stately and hallowed, where learned white men exchanged discourse of higher ideals. Instead, he found himself in a Congress where he perceived the shoe-shine boy and coat check girl were in charge. And that made him a bitter, frustrated old man.

The same could be said about the recent spontaneous student riots when Joe Paterno was fired from Penn State. The media prattled on about how the students were showing support for JoePa. No, they weren’t. They were scared, bitter Lt. Dans, lashing out at any ol’ Forrest, screaming “you stole my destiny.” They knew in their hearts they were not ever, ever going to be a part of that great football legacy of Penn State. It was stolen from them.

To understand Occupy Wall Street is to understand this fundamental facet of the human condition. An entire generation (or class, or 99%) of Americans have become overwhelmed by the fear of losing the destiny that they were promised. The same is also true of the Tea Party.

The media spins stories around facts. They have to. They need to be able to verify human behavior — especially perceptibly irrational behavior — around a series of facts. This caused that, that caused this other thing, etc. Journalism isn’t about waxing philosophically about the inner workings of the human mind and heart.

And so we end up having a discourse around the talking points that are on the surface, those that we were told were the causal elements of an event instead of what is really going on.

What is really going on is basic human fear. The real cause is nothing you can prove, but deep in our hearts, we know it to be true.

Nobody stole our destiny. The truth is our destiny is to create our own world, to figure out how to grow legs when the world cuts us off at the knees. While our initial reaction is to lash out at the world, to get drunk on New Year’s Eve and rail against God and his creation, eventually we need to figure out the answer to the fundamental question Lt. Dan asked of himself in that military hospital; “What am I gonna do now?”

Some of us will figure it out, find peace and go get some new legs. Others will simply run out of time. Most will remain angry, frustrated and bitter.

What are you gonna do?

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Crowdsourcing bridges

In the past week, I’ve stumbled onto two major brands that launched crowdsourcing design projects they probably should not have. The first is the Barack Obama Reelection Campaign (MY poster submission is posted to the right) and the other is Moleskine. For obvious conflicting reasons, Obama should be giving young designers paying gigs instead of trying to steal ideas from the most vulnerably unemployable during this recession, but more unforgivable is Moleskine for poking their core audience in the eye with a disrespectful rusty finger. (You figure out the euphemism.. you’re all smart people)

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A thousand words in a million keystrokes

This morning, I pulled the dust cover off the old manual typewriter, rolled a sheet of paper into the carriage and typed something. I wanted to see what it felt like again to be a “real writer.”

In truth, it felt like getting on an old bike after having not ridden for years; slow going at first… a lot of fits and starts but eventually that rhythm… aw, who am I kidding. It was painful as heck. It felt more like learning how to walk and talk again after someone hit you upside the noggin with a hammer and broke both your legs with a Louisville slugger.

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She’s back! Karina Stenquist

Karina is one of the reasons why I think the future of journalism is in pretty good hands.

Short story long, I became a fan of Karina’s when she was hosting an Internet vlog called MobuzzTV. She had that combination of quirky, combined with a lot of brains. She was much more than a “talking head” on camera. She really knew her stuff and talked fluently about it. Her blog — which she does not update as much as she should — is here. She is “all grown up” in this video but her Mobuzz segments were irreverent, a bit snarky and engaging. It was a “must-see” for me every day.

Anyway, Karina went to Berkeley, moved to Spain, lived there illegally for six years, moved back (ok, got kicked out) and is now attending American University in DC pursuing a journalism degree. In the middle there she had a short stint with CNN and did whatever Americans with superior language skills abroad do.

Anyway, she is going to be really big someday. I just wanted you to see how she started out.

Now if she could only quit smirking when the camera starts rolling… (but I secretly hope she never does…)

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Mommy and daddybloggers, what’s your exit strategy?

I have two kids, 19 (girl) and 25 (boy). I blog, I tweet, I can make WordPress sing and I know all the ins and out of social media. I can cook, clean, iron a shirt or a pleated skirt and go bra shopping if called upon (not often these days, but earlier.) I have changed thousands of diapers, I have rocked each kid to sleep many, many times. I stayed up way past the point of tired to tell them stories. I have helped them through the frustration of homework and I have played in sandboxes. I have sat in emergency rooms in the wee hours of the morning and have held their hands during shots and stitches. I have held them through crying and anger after a breakup or a betrayal. And I have shared their happiness at making a team or singing on stage.

But I am not qualified to be a daddyblogger or contribute into the online dad community because I am too old. My kids are too old. “Parenting for dads has changed since you had kids,” they tell me. “Go away, old man, we don’t need your ideas. We’re the experts now.”

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If money were no object, here is what I would gift to you #letsblogoff

First, I would buy health care for everyone who was willing to take care of themselves. If you don’t have health, you have nothing. Then I would buy an education for everyone willing to learn. Educated people influence others around them to want to learn. Lastly, I would buy a home for anyone who is homeless and wanted one. Everyone should have some place to call home.

Then I would figure out how to save time in a bottle and give it to all the writers and artists who left works unfinished. The world is a poorer place without artists and the art they create. Most often, they just need more time.

And I would create bottles of compassion, wisdom and patience to give freely to those who need each. Because there is no such thing as a self-made man and those who think they are need to be reminded from time to time.

Happy Holidays from Rufus, Sallie, Charlie and our intern Zoey. We wish you and yours lots of cold noses and many long, pointless walks.

This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about “if money were no object, what would you gift.” To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.

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Optimism is having faith in youth — a blogoff

I spent about ten solid minutes this afternoon just staring outside my office window yesterday afternoon. The wind had kicked up fiercely, the sky had gone gray and the yellow leaves were blowing off the roof, falling all around like snow. I had no particular thoughts other than how beautiful this little scene was, that a scant few weeks ago these leaves were green and alive and that they would fall to the ground, decay and turn into rich soil for the next crop of leaves in the spring. It was at once a very sad mourning and a moment of hope and optimism for a new season.

I have no doubt there will be another spring, but I have no reason to believe that other than there was one earlier this year and the year before that and the year before that. I suppose there will be one autumn where I will be wrong, but I hope that is a long time off, despite the best efforts humans have undertaken to destroy each other over the past decade. And the decade prior to that. And so on.

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GenY, get off your a** and vote, you jackwagon!

Yeah, that’s the old geezer me yelling at you to go vote. Does a blog post from a geezer voter make a really bad motivational speech to go vote?

Probably, but I’m doing it anyway.

This is not the first time I’ve read about GenY pouting about being ignored and protesting by not voting. The five reasons listed sound more like excuses than reasons. Did you all not overcome these obstacles for the 2008 election? Did you do it for yourself or for Barack Obama?

And now you are not voting as some sort of protest? Who pays attention to people who don’t speak up?

Nobody, that’s who.

Not speaking up is the same as agreeing.

If you don’t vote, you are just giving the folks who win a reason to ignore you and take advantage of you. Will you look back at your 24-year-old self from your 36-year-old self and ask why you didn’t care enough to get involved? Do you really want people in power to ignore your point of view, even when you’ve taken the time to write a letter, find a stamp and mail it?

People we vote into Congress have very real power. Congress is not like some Facebook protest group or Twitterstorm. A vote cast in Congress affects millions of actual lives. A vote in Congress puts people back to work or puts them out of work; decides whether they get health care or dies in an ER from a treatable condition; takes away their home or stops banks from foreclosing. While it may not seem like much, one vote begets another and another and another. Just like you may only be able to whisper as one person, when gathered together, you are deafening.

WIll you be proud of you or will you still be pouting?

Manup. Vote.

NOTE: The voice in my head while writing this was R. Lee Ermey in the Geico commercial. Click here to view in YouTube if you have not seen it.

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Get your own ham; it’s all about self reliance

When my son was just shy of his fifth year, we found ourselves in an Old Country Buffet on a Saturday afternoon. For those of you not familiar with the format of the all-you-can-eat-for-one-low-price buffet, these places usually have a lower price afternoon service that did not include carved meats and a higher price evening service that started about 4:00pm. For the extra savvy buffet-goer, it was generally known that if you came in about 3:30 or so and stalled a bit on some salad, you could sneak in and get the good stuff for a lunch price. I did not partake of this little loophole but sometimes, we found ourselves in that limbo time.

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The kids will be ok

Someday, every kid in high school now will inherit the world we leave behind. And I think they may be deciding right now that they do not want to live in a permanently divisive, hate-filled community.

March 30, 2010 — When the Kansas Hate group known at the Westboro Baptist Church announced it would picket Bay Area Schools and Jewish Institutions, students at Gunn High School decided they could not sit quiet.

If every community stepped up and showed up as a counter-demonstration for the WBC, I wonder how quickly it would shut them down. Here is their schedule just in case you wish to get involved.

Lastly, this is the same group that demonstrated at Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder’s funeral, where his dad has been ordered to pay $16,000 in legal costs. Pretty amazing.

I know this was published on April 1, but it is not a joke. Never has been.

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When it is time to pass a torch

I spent this Sunday morning listening to a fair amount of Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan and a few other more obscure artists who moved and continue to move an entire generation. The first thought I had was “how sad that they will never be able to create another PP&M song.” The second thought I had and tweeted out was, “I wonder what 20-something know-it-all sh*t will become the voice of this generation in 40 years.”

But in reflection, I think the hardest thing ever for an artist is to know when it is time to stop creating and begin to start passing the torch. We’ve all seen the athlete who has had a stellar career and just can’t believe his career is over. Just one more season, he begs as he spirals into a late-night talk show joke instead of as a revered elder of the sport.

Fame is intoxicating; money is even worse. Our culture rewards those who talk more than it does those who support and listen. It must take an incredible amount of courage to recognize when your voice is no longer the most important in the room, that you have said all that you need to say and that it is someone else’s turn to be heard.

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Corporations are not human, people are not brands

The logic of the latest Supreme Court ruling has me scratching my head a bit and scrambling to read my copy of the United States Constitution. I found all sorts of references granting rights to people, but none that granted rights to corporations. In fact, apparently there is no right of the people to incorporate, unless you count incorporating as assembly. Really, it’s not in there. Go read it for yourself; I’ll wait.

Corporations don’t have the right to free expression because corporations are not people, no matter how the State chooses to view them. Corporations are just containers of people working toward a common goal to make it easier for other containers of people — governments — to deal with them. And ironically, many times corporations insulate the people within the corporation from liability because of their choice of expression that offends or harms others. Ideally people should be able to express themselves by voting with their stock purchase on the action of the corporation.

Chief Justice Roberts asserted during arguments that if shareholders disagreed with the way the corporation was spending money to support a particular issue or candidate, they could merely sell their stock. And, in some cases, this is true but as more and more 401(k) programs have stock options for their employees that have limited periods of participation, this is simply not a reasoned or informed argument. When you throw in mortgage-backed securities and derivatives that are not severable from mutual funds that make up a large portion of 401(k) programs, the assertion becomes laughable. We may even see shareholder lawsuits demanding 401(k) reform based on this ruling.

It’s as if the Supreme Court has not been paying attention to all the causes of the current recession or worse, willfully ignoring them.

In any case, money is almost always the weakest argument. If you were able to persuade someone to agree with you on the merits of your argument, then you wouldn’t have to pay them. Consumers — and now voters — understand this and are quick to dismiss the legitimacy of influence when money is involved. We see this all the time with bloggers and their readers, between products and their endorsers.

In spite of the hysterical arguments that some have given regarding this ruling, I don’t see much changing with the exception of PACs becoming obsolete as they are now just the useless middle-man who adds no value. Political contributions are not tax-dedudible and the cost of contributions as a means to achieve a business goal must always be less than any other means for a corporation to engage in it. As anyone in business — and government — will tell you, influence is a very fickle thing. Senators are not cheap nor do they come with guarantees.

Money has always been the biggest point of influence with government. The voters know that. We are cynical because of it. Yet we continue to hope and believe that our Senators, Representatives and Presidents all aspire to their offices with the intent to serve the common good, even as we disappointed time and time again.

It is ironic, though, in the same period of the rise of social media and it’s rally cry for authenticity and a human voice behind the brand, the Supreme Court would rule that corporations have the same right of expression as does a human being. It’s one more thing with which government is out of touch.

Corporations are not human, people are not brands. To give corporations and brands the same rights and attributes as human beings and to see them legally as no different cheapens what is means to be human.

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