Grow your own roots

Grow your own roots
Grow your own roots
I was walking along the back road at the MetroPark and noticed this row of posts that looked like telephone poles, cut off about five feet high. On top of many of them were these little trees that started to grow in the rotting out center of the posts.

These young trees that are growing rapidly and happily atop these poles had no idea that their lofty outlook and elevated position were the result of a seed landing somewhat serendipitously on top of a pole that someone else stuck laboriously into the ground. The small trees were completely oblivious to the fact that their progress — while grand and far above all their other peers who landed on the ground — would eventually be cut unceremoniously short when the caretaker snaps them off the top of the poles during regular maintenance.

Yet, the seedlings that got their start of the ground have developed roots and grown slowly will continue to thrive, some even growing to tall, sturdy trees, far surpassing the poles that once surrogated the brash, over-eager seedlings.

It occurs to me that this odd relationship among the poles, the seedlings atop them and the seedlings that grew from their own root structure is an odd metaphor for the generational clash we hear going on in the corners of the Internet. While there are some GenY who are developing their own roots, many are sitting atop tree stumps that are not their own. After a while, their lofty perch will be exposed for what it really is; a rotting tree stump center for which there is limited room for a root structure.

But at that very moment this metaphor was at its clearest, I felt the urge to lift my leg and pee on something. I chose the closest pole.

The kids are alright!

I was walking along on Friday and I hear these voices from around the corner. “Mow that lawn straight!” “Don’t talk to me, keep working,” “Turn that mower around,” “Watch the edge,” “Mow AROUND the bush, not in it.” etc…

As I turned the corner, we saw two kids, 12-13 years old. One was mowing his lawn and the other was walking next to him, shouting these orders. The kid mowing was clearly competent, but the one walking next to him was still telling him what to do at every step.

It looked like the one kid mowing lived there and his “boss” had come over to visit. Maybe they thought this was a funny way to pass the time and have a little fun with a menial task that had to get done before they ran off and did what they really wanted to do on a Friday afternoon.

But, in play, they were learning some valuable life skills and lessons. Your boss will almost never think you are capable of doing a job without him/her telling you what to do at each turn and everyone has a boss, even in play.

So, GenY… this is your legacy. The NextGen is learning that work is not showing up when you want, mowing the way you want to or never having a boss. The NextGen is learning that work is work and you need to get that done so you can play. And while you are working, you will endure horrible indignities and you will learn how to deal with them with grace.

The kids are alright.

Seeing change…

Dead worms in a gutter

We found a different path today and as I was sniffing around on the ground, I came upon this whole line of dead worms in the gutter along the blacktop. Apparently, at some point, there was a lot of water in the gutter and life was good. But, then the heat of the day came along and dried up the water. The worms died because they could not see change around them and did not move quickly enough to get back underground where it was moist.

Eat dessert first

Wall Street Journal 2008-07-14 Michael WitteI read the Wall Street Journal. I have since I was a young puppy when I got my first job at Dog Pound, Inc. While my peers always flipped to the Money sections, checked the stock quotes, etc., the first section I read was MarketPlace. This is where all the “life” bits happened which drove the other parts of the paper, like stock prices, financial markets, etc. Its a bit of wisdom that most dogs get later in life when they figured out that “managing stocks and portfolios” is really wagging the dog.

Anyway, almost the entire WSJ today was gloom and doom about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the collapse of Steve & Barry’s, the feds seizing IndyMac, how to sell your home in a down market, consumer confidence at an all-time low. But, on the very last page, I ran into an article by George Anders titled “Buy Now, Don’t Regret it Later.” What a remarkable bit of wisdom!

It is a few hundred words and worth the time to read, but it all boils down to “take time out to pee on that bush, linger over the smelly thing, say hi to the neighbor dog…” Pay attention to the non-money things in your life as that is what will make it richer. Read the opinions, essays and Marketplace FIRST.. then, when you have time, read the gloom and doom on the financial pages.

The photo was shamelessly lifted from wsj.com and is credited to Michael Witte. If he complains about it being here, we’ll take it off…. but, I hope he doesn’t

Can you own a dog?

I grew up in the great state of Minnesota. All of my views of the world, especially the ones about gender relationships, power balance, worth, etc. were shaped by my litter and the other dogs around me. For those of you not quite up on your Minnesota demographics and political history, the state was settled mostly by Scandinavians and Germans. Anyone knowing anything about these two cultures know that they have figured out the balance of power between the sexes a very long time ago. Bottom line; different parts, but equal in intelligence, decision-making ability and neither is subservient to the other. For that alone, Minnesota may be known as the most liberal state in the Union (next to California, of course, but they are all nuts!)

My litter consisted of me, my older sister, two younger sisters and a brother. My mom was in charge of us kids and she was always carrying around this big wooden spoon. When she got mad, she would start spewing out this string of French curses and her dentures starting flapping out of her mouth. If you weren’t already running, you were a dead dog. (She was French and took that quite seriously.. in fact, I think the only reason the French did not do so well during WWII was because they wouldn’t let their women fight. To date, the only thing that is scary to me than a French women with a wooden spoon is the thought of a French woman with a gun. But, I digress.)

The short order of that story was if you, as a male member of the litter had any thoughts whatsoever of being “better than” the females you were surrounded by, you were put in your place faster than a prison yard bitch. But, in a kind, non violent — though estrogen-charged — way.

I am amazed to this day with women who allow themselves to be “owned” by men, but am more in awe of the men who appear to like owning women. I’m not quite sure why a man would want to dominate and suppress one of the most creative, intelligent, strong-willed, resilient and beautiful beings God has created. I am not sure why men would rather not let them unfurl and touch those around them, making the world a better place one day at a time.

Can you own a dog? Probably, but why would you want to? And what do you do with it when the life has been crushed from its soul.

Appeasing the under-educated white guy


Since Hillary’s win in North Carolina last Tuesday, the “news cycle” has been all about how Barack Obama is going to get the “under-educated, white man” vote. After watching news story after news story on this, a very large question suddenly dawned on me:

When did this country get to the point where the under-educated, white working class decides who gets to be the president of The United States of America in an information-based world-market economy, where the competitive advantage is determined by who has the smartest and most clever on board?

Wow! But the REAL question us dogs are barking about is:

How did we get to the point where the richest country in the world — with the greatest opportunity for individual achievement — produce such a large majority of under-educated people?

Could it be that the public education system is failing us? Could it be the we have become so arrogant and confident in our “place” in the world that we simply quit trying to become better? Could it be that our parents, in their quest to “give us a better life than they had” simply handed us what we needed for two generations instead of making us work for it? Could it be that we value economic contribution more than we value human contribution like art, creativity, knowledge, wisdom, music, love, etc as an end rather than a means? Could be a lot of things. Could be a lot of a lot of things.

I watched an episode of 30 Days by Morgan Spurlock last night where he and his wife tried to live on minimum wage for 30 days. In the richest country in the world, what did them in was a “medical emergency” that cost them $1,200.00 and change. They worked hard, they saved.. but they worked minimum wage jobs. Only their time and labor was valued; their health was something that they could have, if they could afford it. In the richest country in the world. That should anger people everywhere, educated or not. But, it doesn’t seem to. We’re all just living each day, hoping to not get sick or injured.

I suspect that for a lot of under-educated folk in this country, that is their fate. While there are probably many reasons that “white guys in North Carolina” may be under-educated, the argument I’ve been getting around the block is that there is nothing wrong with not having a college degree. There is nothing wrong with wanting to work a blue-collar job.

Except there is EVERYTHING wrong with having a MAJORITY of a population NOT being educated in the richest country in the world, in the middle of a world economy that is fueled by a knowledge workforce. If you want to become a plumber, that is fine, but don’t do it without an education. And don’t allow the media to define “under-educated” as “stupid and provincial”, but that is a whole other argument. Please forgive me if I don’t address that; I can only sniff one topic at a time. I’m a dog.

So, I think we are witnessing the first step in the decline of a great nation, whether we want to or not. There is still time to reverse this trend and make education a top priority; not just for those who can afford it, but by anyone who wants it. Because, if we don’t do that soon, we will soon have a majority of under-educated citizens falling prey to short-term solutions that eventually resolve nothing except our own demise.

We must resolve to become competitive and invest in our human infrastructure. Education for those who want it, regardless of the ability to pay and health care just because we are human beings. That is not socialism as uber-conservatives would like you to believe; that is just plain ol’ common-sense capitalism. Invest in what will make you more. And smart people are now the new machinery and factories.

Hillary is going nowhere

As I was lifting my leg to relieve myself on the newspaper this evening, I noticed an article in the Wall Street Journal that said ‘Democrats look to life after Clinton.’ Well, that is an odd thing to say. Life after Clinton? Really?

Hillary Clinton may never become president, but she will become even more powerful than a mere president. She will become a power center where every Democrat that wants to sit on an influential committee or even run for president in the future will need to come and pay her homage and get her blessing. She will, ironically, become Ted Kennedy’s successor.

With Bill right behind her.

Just watch and see.

Celebrate Arbor Day and celebrate the future


I was really bored in the van today as we did a bunch of errands, so I turned the radio up a little louder to listen to the commentary on Arbor Day. Tress are really, really important to us dogs because you never know when you won’t be able to find the next fire plug.

Anyway, the guy on NPR who was speaking said the most insightful thing I have probably ever heard. He said:

“Arbor Day is the only holiday where we celebrate a FUTURE EVENT, instead of a past event.”

Wow! The future event is the tree growing to full-size.

But then, I got to thinking that the tree may grow just a little bit, but hit a drought and die. Or, it could be infested with beetles or some horrible root disease and die. BUT, it could grow tall and strong and provide shade for another puppy on a hot summer day. It could also stretch out its arms and give a child a place to climb or swing. It could also give up a piece of its bark so lovers could carve their initials in a heart, for their kids and grandkids to see and have a story to share.

And all because somebody, somewhere stopped for a few seconds on the last Friday in April to plant a tree.

So, as you go through life, try to find some fertile ground and “plant a tree” each day. You just never know which will grow to be grand.
Arbor Day Foundation