Category Archives: Friends

Where is the Internet?

BoingBoing has an excerpt from the book “I Work at a Public Library” that is a prime example of far too many conversations I’ve had with people I won’t name (because I’m nice that way):

A man keeps wandering up to the desk to ask computer-related questions:

Man: How do I make the computer like a typewriter?

Man: There are squiggly red lines on everything I type. What do you suppose that means?

Man: The computer keeps asking me to save my work to a disk and I’m not interested.

Man: Now, eventually I want to make a website. Do I just get the framework up and going using the typewriter function? And do I just save it to a floppy to get it up on the website? And can I do any of this on one of your computers, or do I just take the disk home and do it there? Where is the Internet?

Man: Maybe you could help me make a website. How long do you think it would take? I have about an hour.

Friends and family, you know who you are.

Making a Difference

The story of Yadkinville native Nathan Harris's ordeal after being wounded in Afghanistan is told very well in this article by Susan Ladd of the Greensboro News & Record. Towards the end of the article you get to hear a little about another remarkable person who I happen to have the privilege of knowing:

His dogs didn’t get along with his mother’s dog, so he couldn’t stay there. By the time, he met Brian Sowers, Harris had moved five times in a month.

Sowers, a member of Greensboro’s Crescent Rotary Club, led the effort to provide a home for Harris through Purple Heart Homes of Statesville. The house was dedicated on Veterans Day.

“I could see from the start that he was a loving guy and appreciative of the opportunity being given him,” Sowers says. “Now, he is so much more upbeat and outgoing than when I first met him, because he knows he has a support system.”…

The Rotary Club also is helping him rebuild an independent life.

He’s gone out with club members twice this month to ring the bell for the Salvation Army. He helped serve the meal for the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club at Thanksgiving. He hopes to start volunteering soon at one of the stores.

“I’m getting there,” Harris says. “I have to keep working to get mobile enough to get a job. I want to be productive and give back, make a difference in people’s lives.”

I happen to be a member of Crescent Rotary and Brian recruited me to help out with Nathan's project, mainly because I live in Lewisville and by default was usually physically closer to where Nathan was living on a daily basis.  From my vantage point I can tell you that Nathan's new house might never have happened without Brian. The club members and other organizations like TIMCO Aviation Services and Wet 'n Wild definitely stepped up and moved mountains to raise the funds for the project, but without Brian's leadership and direction it would have either never happened or, more likely, the project would have taken twice as long to complete.  

Let me be real clear about one thing here, I didn't do a whole lot on this project other than give Nathan the occasional ride or drop off some materials for him, but even with my minimal involvement I felt privileged to be a front row witness to the difference that one motivated man can make in another's life. I didn't know Brian real well before the project began, but I got to know him over the last year and I can't tell you how proud I am to call him a friend, fellow Crescent Rotarian and a true leader. The world would be a much better place with thousands more like him.

To Be Thankful

One of the benefits of getting older is that you have the opportunity to experience good times, bad times and everything in between. Sure we've all had varying degrees of both good and bad experiences, but the older you get the more of each you've seen and the more you can appreciate the truly good times. It's hard to know what it feels like to be out of work until you've done it. It's hard to understand what true heartbreak is until the person you thought was the love of your life ends up not being the "one", and the relationship you thought would last forever goes down in flames. It's hard to understand true loss until you've lost a loved one to illness or accident. It's hard to understand the burden of being responsible for another human being until you've been a parent and had to shepherd your children through the tumult of childhood and the hell that is adolescence. In short, when you're young you don't know s*** because you haven't experienced much yet, and in turn it would be unreasonable to expect you to have the perspective necessary to know how thankful you really should be for what you have.

As a parent it's both frightening and bemusing to watch your children go through the process of discovering what good times and bad times truly are. Watching them learn that earning a "D" on a test isn't a tragedy, but not being able to go to school because your parents are out of work certainly could be. Seeing them suffer through a relationship because they don't understand that there are so many people out there who will treat them better, or on the flip side, watching them walk away from a relationship with someone who loves and respects them for who they are because of a short-term need. Or listening to them gripe about their crappy phone, and of course extolling the virtues of their friend's phone – you know, the friend with the cool parents who make sure they always have the latest and greatest – without ever considering how lucky they are to simply have a warm, safe place to sit and talk on their supposedly-crappy phones. It's bemusing to watch because we have the perspective that they lack, and it's frightening to behold because we know how much pain they'll need to experience to gain it.

If you've been on Facebook recently you've likely seen a new meme, or trend, that you could call the "Thankful" exercise; every day throughout the month of November people are sharing something for which they are thankful. Sure it's a bit hokey, but it's also useful to take a moment each day to remember how many reasons you have to be thankful. Of course I say this after having not participated at all to this point, so let me take a little of this space and your time to share just a few of the reasons I'm thankful:

  • First and foremost that I have a marriage that gives back to me so much more than I've put into it. Of course that means I have a wonderful wife – I'm not just saying that Celeste – but there are many marriages between two good people that haven't worked out, so I'm eternally thankful that ours has. As Celeste told me two nights ago, we're in a great place right now. I don't think we could know how great a place we're in if we hadn't had 20+ years of good, bad and ugly places up 'til now.
  • That I have three great kids who seem to still like their parents after all these years. Yeah, they do their share of weird and idiotic things, but they're great people and I look forward to seeing them gain some perspective.
  • That I have parents I can still call for advice and perspective – in particular a mother who calls BS when she hears it.
  • That I have a brother who I talk to as much as I ever have even though we live hundreds of miles apart.
  • That I have friends who have literally been with me for decades, through thick and thin, who know me better than I know myself and still let me call them friends. 
  • That I'm surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws and we all like each other.
  • That my grandmother has lived to the wonderful age of 93, and that my aunts are there for her – and that my aunts don't beat me up for not seeing my Grandmother as often as I should.
  • That I have a job that I truly enjoy and allows me to spend huge chunks of time with people I love and respect. 
  • That I've found a church that has welcomed my family and has made me feel at home. 
  • That I have a house/money-pit that has truly become a home – a vessel containing over eight years of memories with my family. 

I could go on, but I think you get the drift. Thanks for indulging me, and if you're so inclined please feel free to share what you're thankful for on this fine day.

LiFless

After an extended period of periodic posting Esbee is pulling the plug on Life in Forsyth. (That's an intentionally terrible sentence written specifically in honor of Esbee's impatience with sub-par writing).  I for one am grateful for the free entertainment and information she provided through the years and I'm also thankful she let us go gently over the last year or two.

She's moving on to far more important things and she's going to be fabulous at them all.

Do You Know How Hard It Is to Dust a Christmas Tree?

Good friend Ruth Burcaw, creator of the Burcaw Approach to Christmas decorating, has a nice post explaining why she shunned the Burcaw approach this year:

Still, I was surprised by the family reaction to my announcement that we would be taking down the tree at the end of the 2011-12 holiday season. What was I thinking? “We are the family who leaves their Christmas tree up! What will we tell our friends?” It just seemed like time; I mean, do you have any idea how much dust can accumulate on a Christmas tree over the course of two years?  Dusting a tree is not an easy task.  So, the weekend after epiphany (January 6), the tree came down. As I worked on the dismantling, I reflected about why it had to come down now:

  • Simple Boredom: Over time, I stopped noticing the tree. My trips into the living room to sit and read/knit by the glowing light of the tree became fewer and fewer. I began to take its beauty for granted.
  • The Process is Important : As I removed each ornament one-by-one from its carefully-chosen location nestled among the branches, I realized I receive great satisfaction in touching, admiring, and most of all, remembering the story of each ornament.  A thoughtful employee who moved on long ago gave me the gorgeous Santa and Mrs. Claus kissing fish ornaments.  We picked up the little Mickey Mouse in a Christmas light bulb ornament during our family trip to Disney World in 2006. Another rare wooden Santa I bought in a mall in Phoenix while traveling for work.  Santa riding a fish I gave to my husband, an aspirational fisherman. An old-fashioned Santa cross-stitched by my father-in-law was an early marriage gift. The elegant Radke, the whimsical Silvestri, the Santa on a golf ball from my childhood tree. Each ornament stirs up emotions and memories, most all of them good, associated with people and places throughout my life. Why would I deny myself the small pleasure of the trip down Santa Memory Lane?
  • A Tree Does Not Equal Happiness: Where does authentic happiness come from? Certainly, I am aware that nothing external creates happiness on any core level, but the tree has always represented meaningful aspects of  my life – the joy and anticipation of Christmas, special family memories and trips, light that shines in darkness, and moments of peaceful, quiet contemplation. But do I really need the tree to conjure up those thoughts and images? Can I create happiness without the physical reminder? I suppose it is time to consider the possibility.

I'm trying to convince my lovely wife that we need to pick up the Burcaw torch and run with it this year.  So far, so good.