Risk as a downhill ski run, Bode Miller style

I was reading my Wall Street Journal today, page after page of blah, blah, blah and then I came across this story on page B8. It stopped me dead in my tracks.

I am not following the Winter Olympic Games nor am I really a fan of Bode Miller. I didn’t even read the article, but what I did do is stare at the photograph.* Here’s why.

Notice how much of the ski is touching the surface of the snow. Notice how “off center” Miller’s body is. Now, imagine how that feels at 90mph (I don’t know how fast he is going, but pretty dang fast.)

And it strikes me that downhill skiing is a lot like doing something that you are passionate about. You hurl yourself headlong into it without thinking about the risk. Your actions and reactions are instinctive, you trust in yourself and your skills and when you doubt yourself for a split second or become aware of the cheering (and sometimes jeering) fans along the fence, it all unravels quickly.

You may crash, you may win a gold medal, but if you don’t hurl yourself out of the gate, you’ll never know.

*I kinda stole the photo from the WSJ and they may find out about it and not share the same enthusiasm I have for showing it to you… so, until I get that cease and desist letter, posting it up here is my downhill ski run of the day. 🙂

Some things I know

I just got done speaking with an American Express rep to pay my bill. I had to call them because I missed the bill pay window between 3:00-7:00am where their web site will actually work to pay my bill.

It got to think about stuff I “know” to be true, even though other dogs swear they aren’t having the same problems.

I KNOW the Amex web site will not work during business hours.

I KNOW the Chase drive-through will make me wait for hours after 2:00pm on Fridays.

I KNOW the shake machine at the Burger King in Englewood will be broken.

I KNOW Time Warner will not really send someone out between the hours of 8:00-12:00am and I should just set aside an entire day.

I KNOW the only flights that ever leave on time from the Dayton International Airport are the first one and the last one of the day.

I KNOW any rental car company will not have a sub compact car available when I arrive.

I KNOW I will not be able to get out of Meijers without waiting in line at the register, even though I will have found everything I needed.

I KNOW my cell phone bill will never be what I was told when I signed up for the plan.

I KNOW the latest gadget I bought will not be compatible with anything else I own.

I KNOW that “no assembly required” really does require assembly.

I KNOW the directions someone just gave me that includes the phrase “you can’t miss it” will not actually get me where I’m going.

I KNOW portable electronic devices will have a 50lb power brick attached to the cord.

What else do YOU know that customer service reps tell you never happens to other people?

Contributed:
@Eva_Abreu via Twitter: I know that I’ll press 3, then 6, then 2, then hold for 13 min. only to get disconnected!

I’d rather be certain than right… PUCO storms again

A couple of years ago, John Stewart of The Daily Show asked one of his guests if Pres. George Bush would “rather be certain than right.” (RBCTR) I wish I could remember the guest, the show, the context, but I do remember the question and apply it to any politician, elected official, boss-man that uses hyperbole to describe a situation or action.

The latest RBCTR came from the PUCO chairman, Alan Schriber in a DDN article when asked if Dayton Power & Light was somewhat at fault for not maintaining their lines and poles, exacerbating the power outage that even now, one week later, 74,000 people are without power.

PUCO Chairman Alan Schriber said it’s “absurd” to think better maintenance would have made a difference in reducing damage from the “absolutely, unequivocally unprecedented” storm.

Hmmmm… unprecedented? Let’s take a look at some recent “unprecendented” events… Xenia tornados April 4, 1974, and September 20, 2000 (they even have a web site!) … oh, we don’t even have to go further, but we could back to the Great Dayton Flood of 1913.

So, Mr. Schriber, before speaking in absolute terms, please look up your facts. Dayton sits in a valley (Miami Valley maybe?) that is a conduit for wind. You could even say that it is God’s little wind tunnel if you want. It is the termination point for large storms that plow onto land from the Gulf Coast. When they are strong enough, we get the last of the rains, winds and general bad weather. Moreover, I can predict when my alarm company is going to be calling me, saying the power is down at my office. I just lick my paw, lift it into the air. If it is dry within a minute, it is windy enough to knock out a DP&L power line somewhere with ease.

PUCO is supposed to be the advocate for consumers to protect us from the monopolistic activities of the utility companies. It looks like the Commission has already made up its mind that DP&L is entirely, unequivocally and absolutely without blame.

Of that, I am certain and right.

Scott McClellan from a dog’s point of view

There is a lot of talk about Scott McClellan’s new book. Comments from it range of “now, we know the truth” to “he is bitter” to … oh, who really cares. Just everyone shut up already. If you want, buy and read the book, if not, just quit talking like you know anything.

Here is the canine take on what really happened in the White House and is best illustrated by the fable, The Emperor’s New Clothes, written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837, 171 years ago! Amazing we knew so much about humanity back then and still we don’t pay attention. Kids, stay in school, crack a book!

For anyone under 40ish, here is the synopsis from Wikipedia,

An emperor who cares too much about clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they tell him, is invisible to anyone who was either stupid or unfit for his position. The Emperor cannot see the (non-existent) cloth, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing stupid; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they dress him in mime. The Emperor then goes on a procession through the capital show off his new “clothes”. During the course of the procession, a small child cries out, “But he has nothing on!” The crowd realizes the child is telling the truth and begins laughing. The Emperor, however, holds his head high and continues the procession.

But, this is a fairy tale, so the emperor had to be the laughing stock. But, here is what would have happened if this were a true story.

Royal guards would burst out of the royal procession and beat the kid to death in a bloody attack, in full public view. Then, they would have arrested the kid’s family, beating them the entire way to the dungeon, where they would have been tortured and held without a lawyer indefinitely. Do you think the crowd would keep laughing? Do you think the crowd would turn on the royal guards and administer mob justice? Probably not. They would have kept their heads down, waved like they meant it and worked on trying to get out of the parade and go home as quickly as possible.

A lot of royal guards burst out of the royal procession after 9/11. And the crowd did not stop them and did not speak up. The few who did were beaten back like a bratty little kid. And deep in their hearts, the crowd knew this was wrong, yet kept silent because they didn’t want to get beaten and they didn’t want to get hauled off. (Bill O’Reilly, if you are reading this, this is a METAPHOR for what happened, not a literal representation. You use a lot of big words at the end of your show to describe how folks should write you. Can you say metaphor?)

For the people who are saying “If Scott felt this way, he should have spoken up sooner, not write a book later.” Hmmm…. 171 years ago, Andersen knew this. I think what Scott did was kept his head down, waved and tried to figure out how to get home as quickly as possible. Then, when he was safe, he cried out “The emperor is wearing no clothes.” But, the royal guards came after him anyway. And probably will for a very long time.

Please read, then speak. In that order. Start here.

Memorial Day

As I was lifting my leg to bless the Englewood Independent lying on my doorstep this morning, the front page article caught my eye. So, I bent down to read it before soaking it. The main headline read “Memorial Day: Remembering those who preserve freedom.”

It was a good article about Air Force Capt. Bob Everdeen from Clayton who served in Afghanistan. However, the headline just kept sticking in my head. I am not anti-military, though you may view the following as such. But, if you leave a comment about me being anti-military, you just have not read this post nor have you thought about anything in it. Fair warning.

The military does NOT preserve freedoms. It protects the citizens from military threats, both foreign and domestic which are casually ASSUMED and “marketed” by our leaders (and reflected by journalists, shame on you) to be launched to take away our “freedoms.” In reality, our freedoms are being taken by our own government, who seek to control the citizenry through fear, intimidation, abuse of power and any other tool it can contrive to keep power. For example, Osama bin Laden did not want to take away our freedoms by striking the towers and the Pentagon; he just wanted to strike America where she hurts the most, in the wallet. He doesn’t care about our “freedoms,” but he does care about killing Americans, crippling our economy and forcing America out of the Middle East. Big difference. Yet, the actions were marketed by the current administration as an attack to “take away our freedoms.”

Read the Patriot Act, take a look at the laws that allow wire-tapping, racketeering, eminent domain, declaring a US citizen an unlawful combatant and see how they are being perverted and applied to US citizens. All of these things should scare the average citizen, not just us dogs. It is all of these things that the military is “preserving” for its citizens? Hmmm….

Freedom is preserved by Americans by NOT allowing our government to overstep any authority it derives from its CITIZENS. This starts at the local level in school boards, at city government council meetings, county tax offices, etc. Leash laws, for example. Why? To take away my freedom to sniff on a tree, to pee on a bush — purchased with tax dollars, planted by a city worker on city property, to dally over a smelly bird carcass, to be in the city park behind the Englewood government center palace stretched out in a full run with the wind in my ears?

Freedom is also preserved by skilled diplomats who talk with other government leaders. More good comes from mutual respect and patience than by any military action any government can impose on another. It is just a matter of time — 1 year, 100 years, 1,000 years — before the oppressed rises up and crushes the oppressor. But, mutual respect and patience builds a common goal that preserves freedoms for both parties for 1 year, 100 years, 1,000 years.

Get involved, find a voice, preserve your own freedoms. Make this country a strong America that only the really stupid would ever think of invading. When every citizen has the passion to defend his/her freedoms from any enemy, foreign and domestic, perhaps we will feel less like relying on a military force to “preserve our freedoms” and take on the role for ourselves. And, perhaps our government leaders will think twice before “defending” our freedoms through laws that serve to limit the activities of its citizens for their own protection.

My buddy Kevin


This is Kevin. He is there every morning as we go through the Englewood Tim Horton’s drive-through window. He knows who I am, he knows I like two honey-dipped Tim Bits with my decaf coffee and he is always cheerful. I don’t know if he likes his job, what he does on his day off (except he sings at the Salem Church of God) or what his family is like. I don’t know if he lives with caring people or whether he is even happy.

But, I do know a few things about him. He always makes my morning a whole lot more cheerful when I see him, he makes it a point to know a lot of people who come through his window — and makes them feel special as well, and Tim Horton’s is very, very lucky to have him. But mostly what I know is, whatever they are paying him to make my day a little bit better will never, ever be enough.

Thank you, Kevin, for making me feel like a very special dog every morning.

Clinging to my walks

I recently had the opportunity to take a ride through Red State America along Hwy 35 through southern Ohio, West Virginia and onto Interstate 64. The ride was a bit odd as I emerged from Dayton, the rich, white, mall-laden Beavercreek into the hills, holler and trailer-park homes that lined 35 for miles upon miles.

I listened to Obama’s speech again and again (we dogs have pretty good hearing) with his “bitter” and “cling” comments. In context, they make sense. Out of context, he sounds like an elitist.

The same parts of America that will never vote for a [insert racial term here or use the term “black man”], that believe the unions are in their corner, that believe that when bad things happen, singing “God Bless America” will make things ok and when things go well, sing the praises of God and thank him are who need the message of hope the most. But they will reject it for things they “know” to be real. Guns, God and Government.

Before you can change, before you can grow, before you can hope, you MUST start from a truth. The truth is that when the economy goes badly because our market shifts to making things in China instead of America, small towns who depend on a single source of manufacture are devastated. Lifestyles that were thought to be solid are disrupted. And people need to find a cause. Governments can’t be the cause, certainly you can’t blame God; that according to faith, would be despair, a deadly sin. Small town America struggles for understanding and “clings” to what it knows to be true. God is everlasting, omniscient and ever-present. Guns will protect you from someone else’s desperation. And government will bail you out with food stamps and medical care for your kids.

That is the truth that this country NEEDS to accept for us to move forward. Instead, Clinton, FOX and other “thought leaders” pounce on these comments as elitist. They should be looking inward and asking themselves if perhaps Obama hasn’t driven along Hwy 35 in southern Ohio and West Virginia and looked out the windows more often than they have.

You can’t pay your mortgage with HOPE, you can’t feed your children with HOPE. You can’t pray to HOPE. But HOPE is what will fuel a movement for change because hope — combined with the kind of desperation that is felt when things are as bad as they get — will cause people to change, to stand up, clinging to their guns and God and use that power for change. There is a reason God is in the First Amendment and Guns are in the Second.

But, what do I know. I’m only a dog who only want to cling to walks three times a day, sniffing butts and checking out the cute puppy chicks on the corner.

Autumn at Tim’s

We were eating the Tim Bits outside the Tim Hortons yesterday and this amazingly bright orange tree was right outside Rufus’ window. The photo does not do it justice and it has probably dropped all its leaves by now, but here it is.

Fall in Englewood, Ohio. Enjoy.