Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: responsibility

Another United Miss and an Update

A quick post this morning. The next few weeks are going to be busy, busy, busy. I think I’ve figured out what the problem is with the conversion of Nocturnal Rebellion. I’m going to do a trial run this morning — after my second cup of coffee. If everything works, I’ll follow by uploading it to Amazon and putting it up for pre-sale. Once I have, and once it goes live, I’ll let you know.

Not only am I doing that but I am working on the “special editions” of the Honor and Duty series. More specifically, I’m working on Vengeance from Ashes right now. While the expanded editions won’t change the overall story arc, they will provide more of Ashlyn’s backstory as well as adding some scenes I cut from the originals. I’m really excited to get VfA to my beta readers by the first of the week to see what they think.

Once that is done, I’m going to take a couple of weeks (well, probably a month) to write something a bit lighter. That means a revisit to the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe. I have several things already drafted that just need to be fleshed out. More on that later.

In the meantime, real life continues to happen. It wouldn’t be a normal week without hearing yet another story about United Airlines. How long is it going to be before the feds finally step in and start fining them enough that they either sell or get their act together?

This time, a mother and her three-year-old son were flying from Hawaii to, iirc, Boston. One one of the connecting legs of their trip, mother and son went through check-in, their tickets were scanned and they were seated, waiting for take-off. Along comes a flight attendant who asked if the child belonged to the mother and she, naturally, said yes. A few moments later, another passenger came up and said that the seat the child was in was his. Yep, you guessed it. He was a standby passenger who paid a whopping $75 or so for his ticket as opposed to the close to $1,000 the mother paid for her son’s ticket. He gets to stay on the flight and she has to hold the young child in her lap for a three hour (approximately) flight.

In an interview with the mother, she explained she was afraid to cause a scene, referring to what happened when the doctor was dragged off another United flight last year. Plus, she had her son with her and didn’t want to risk anything happening to him. I can’t blame her for that. United, in return, offered her compensation as a “gesture of goodwill” days after this happened and they have said they will make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

The official explanation is that the child’s ticket wasn’t scanned right, so it didn’t look like he had boarded. That let them offer his seat to a standby passenger. Now, I have a problem with this. For one, they had eyes on the child as evidenced by the flight attendant coming by and asking the mother if the child was hers. For another, even if they made a mistake, it would have cost them a lot less in the long run — both financially and in good will — to have told the standby passenger they’d made a mistake than to have the woman hold her son in a manner the FAA says is unsafe for a lengthy flight. Oh, and it is against United’s own policy to have a child more than two-years-old sitting in a parent’s lap for a flight.

This is yet another indication of problems within the United culture. They look at the immediate dollars they can put in their pockets over the long term damage such actions might have. It is clear they are failing in their training regimen as well. The flight attendant should have either questioned how old the child was and then why he didn’t have a ticket or they should have informed the pilot and ticketing agent they had a violation of their own policy if the child was forced to ride in the parent’s lap.

But no. It was more important to get that whopping $75 from the standby passenger. How much is that decision going to cost them?

United, for your continued survival, you need to wake up and start acting like a responsible business.

People are crazy

Earlier today, I looked at posts on a neighborhood group I belong to and one of them caught my eye. One of the members found themselves with a change of circumstance that would require them to be away from home for days at a time. Because of that, the OP decided the best thing to do was try to rehome their beloved dog. You could tell from what the OP posted that this was not an easy decision nor was it one made in haste. In fact, the only reason they came to the mailing group was because the new home that had been found for the dog had fallen through.

Imagine if you will how difficult it must have been then for the OP to suddenly be barraged with a series of messages telling them what a horrible person they were for “getting rid of” their dog. The OP was condemned for not treating the dog as one would a child in the same situation. It isn’t as if the OP was turning the dog into the local shelter or pound. Instead, the OP was trying to find a loving home for the dog.

But that wasn’t good enough for these rabid folks who wouldn’t hear any of his very reasonable explanations. They mocked him when he tried discussing how difficult the decision had been to make and how he made it only with the best interest of the dog in mind. These people who didn’t know him or his circumstance decided it was their place to condemn him for doing what I hope most of us would do — consider what was best for the dog.

This wasn’t a case where he grew tired of the animal or the responsibilities of being a dog owner. He knew he wouldn’t be there to care for the dog, to give it the love he needed. He is a supporter of different animal charities. He worried about where this dog he had cared for for so long would go and if his new owners would love him as he had.

He wasn’t going to turn him into a kill shelter.

Now, I’m an animal lover. I grew up with animals and have always had at least one animal and usually more than that at any time. Right now, I have a dog and two cats and, when my old lady cat dies, I will get another animal, if not two more. But I also hope that I have the integrity this gentleman had to look at what is best for the animals and not what will make me feel best should there come a time when I have a change in circumstances.

What I wanted to do was ask these idiots who attacked the dog owner what they thought about how I came into possession of my dog. He, along with one other dog, had been in a retiree’s home. Their owner could no longer live on his own and had to give up both dogs when he moved to a care facility. The dogs finally found their way to a rescue group that brought them to the Metroplex from Oklahoma. I would have adopted both of them but one was adopted not five minutes before I arrived at the adoption fair. But they were given up and it quickly became clear the dogs were companion dogs. Even now, more than a year after we adopted Bentley, he has to be with one of us whenever he is awake. He is happiest when he is touching someone.

His owner could have just turned him in to a kill shelter instead of placing him with a group that would get them with another rescue group that would not only foster the dogs but keep them until a new home could be found. Still, under the approach of the rabid idiots on the mailing list, Bentley’s original owner shouldn’t have taken action to move to a care facility that wouldn’t let him keep the dogs. No reason was good enough in their eyes to justify giving up a pet.

Sorry, but if your circumstances change where you can’t care for an animal the way you should, the only responsible thing to do is find them a new, loving home. I applaud the fellow who made the very difficult decision not to let his dag stay home alone for days on end, or to be boarded for days on end. I feel for him and am glad he has found a new home for his dog.

As for those who attacked him, I hope they never find themselves having to make similar decisions. Or, if they do, I hope they remember every word of condemnation they threw out so easily and seek out this gentleman and offer him their abject apologies. Not that they will. Those who are so sure of themselves rarely admit they might have been in error.

Now I think I’ll play with Bentley Dog and make sure to give the cats, Thena and BratCat, a scritch or three.

Head, meet desk

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two days, you’ve probably heard more about the United Airlines kerfluffle than you ever wanted to know. It’s a given that the incident in Chicago is a public perception nightmare for the airline. No one, at least none that I know of, thinks the airline handled the original situation or the pr nightmare that followed in anything close to the right way. However, that’s not what this post is about — at least not completely.

Yesterday, as well as the day before, I blogged about how we need to be careful about what we do and say on social media. Those posts were mainly about how authors and editors present themselves to the reading public and to potential clients. Today’s post, however, comes via a series of comments in response to a FB post made by a friend of mine.

Now the post itself wasn’t that much different from many others I’ve seen over the last 24 hours or so. My friend discussed what happened on the flight and then talked about how the media not only named the passenger involved but how some outlets were attempting to smear his name in what looked like an attempt to make United appear to be the wronged party instead of the other way around. At some point, Sarah — and others — made the comment that they felt United might have been behind leaking the passenger’s name to the press.

And that is where the idiocy from a third-party came in. You see, this person read an opinion as a statement of fact and got all hot and bothered, demanding sources for such an outrageous statement. It didn’t matter that the people making it said it was their opinion. They had said it and he wanted proof.

No matter what anyone said, no matter how they tried to approach the situation, he kept wanting sources cited.

Now remember, this is in response to a personal opinion on FB, not a story released by a major media outlet. It was an opinion based on personal experience, on the reading and listening to a number of different sources reporting on the incident and more.

What gets me about how this person dug in and refused to let go of the demand for a source to back up the personal opinion is how they continue to ignore the fact that opinions and decisions are made all the time based on information from a number of different sources and that is colored through the lens of personal opinion. It is rare when we can point to something and say “THIS!” is the reason why something happened and have that, whatever it is, be the only factor involved.

In this particular case, I can see how United very well might have been the source of the leak of the passenger’s name to the media. After all, they knew who they had “picked” to be removed from the plane because they needed four seats for crew members. They knew who they had told security to remove. They knew who had tried to reboard and who had to be removed again. In other words, it all begins with United.

Now, it is also possible the security team leaked the man’s identity. However, usually when the media gets a suspect’s name from law enforcement, they tell us something along the lines of “as identified by”. I have seen none of that so far. In fact, the media is excruciatingly silent on how they identified the passenger.

One of the possible explanations thrown out by the person taking umbrage to the opinion United might have been involved was that the passenger had been in the news before and someone local might have recognized him and called the media to make the ID. Again, where is the confirmation of this. Media outlets aren’t hesitant to let us know how they came to identify someone — unless their source doesn’t want to be named. Then it is “an unnamed source” in the report.

Considering how some of the media reports have been trying to pain the passenger as being a “bad” person based on past behavior — which has nothing to do with what happened — I doubt a member of the reading/viewing public made the ID. No, this smacks of someone either at United or with airport security telling the press who the passenger was and the press trying to pain the airline in the best possible light by digging up events from the doctor’s life that had nothing to do with what happened onboard that jet.

So here’s the thing. While the person was demanding everyone give sources for their OPINION United was behind leaking the passenger’s name, he had no problem bringing up other scenarios about how it could have happened — without offering proof. Worse, and what brought about this post, was his inability or whatever to actually discuss the issue. He dug his heels in and wouldn’t let go.

Now, I love me a good debate. I’ve even been known to dig my heels in a time or two. But I also know I have to listen to what the other side is saying and make sure I understand their position. If they ask a question, I need to be prepared to answer it — not ignore it and continue to hold to my position without wavering. Hell, I have to be ready to admit I might be wrong or I might have misunderstood the original premise.

That is especially true when dealing with social media. One of my biggest pet peeves about it — and with email, texting and the like — is that we don’t get the human interaction. We see only words, not inflection or facial expression. What we might mean one way can be easily interpreted another because the person reading our words don’t see us or hear us as we speak them. They are nothing but words on the screen and in social media we tend to take shortcuts that don’t help get the real message across.

There is another thing to consider. If most of the commenters in a thread are taking you to task for something, whether you are right or wrong, you have to ask yourself if it is worth your time to keep coming back to the thread and trying to justify what you said. It is so very easy to fall down the time pit that is social media as it is. Do any of us need to add to the time we spend there?

In other words, think before you hit enter. Make sure you understand what someone said and ask for clarification if you don’t. Don’t waste time if the person has shown themselves to be incapable of engaging in discussion. And, most of all, follow Jim Baen’s main rule for Baen’s Bar — Don’t be a butthead.

Taking Responsibility

Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is adult. I would much rather go back to the time when the most stressful thing I had to do was make sure my room was picked up to my mother’s standards. Back then, I didn’t have to worry about being responsible or, well, being an adult. But, like it or not, I grew up and real life smacked me in the face. So, I adult. I might grouse about it from time to time, but adulting happens. It has to if I want to make sure there’s food on the table and a roof over my head.

Sure, I could sit back and go on the dole but that’s not me. I’m not saying it would never happen. I learned a long time ago never to say never. But what it does mean is I’m not going to do so as long as I am able to work and do whatever I can to bring in money. You see, I don’t believe anyone owes me anything and that goes doubly for the government. I don’t want to have to rely upon the idiots in Austin or Washington for my well-being. I see the strings that come attached with their “help” and those strings aren’t something I want to deal with.

No, this isn’t going to be a screed against the welfare system. What it is is me trying to make sense of all the whining I’ve seen of late — hell, let’s be honest, since the election — by folks who simply can’t understand why others can’t be nice and throw money their way. These folks offer to do work at a certain price and then take to social media when they aren’t paid extra — or if they aren’t given the appropriate words of thanks for their efforts.

Years ago, long before I went into business for myself, I did my research. I listened to those in the profession — and this wasn’t writing but the lessons apply to it or to any other form of self-employment. They told me to make sure I had enough capital on hand to meet expenses, plus reasonable extras, for a minimum of 12 months. They preferred at least 18 months. Why? Because it would take time to build the business up to a point where it was bringing in profit. Until that happened, I needed to have money on hand to pay my bills, not just for the business but personally as well. I needed to make sure I had money for insurance and utilities. I needed to be able to handle an emergency if it happened. And believe me, emergencies happen.

Even now, when I write for a living, I have extra sources of income I tap into because I know some months won’t have the same level of income as others. I edit, I do consulting in my former “real life” job. There are others things I do. I don’t always like it but I don’t take to social media to bitch and moan — in public — about it.

It amazes me the number of people who do just that. Oh, they might not name names but they give enough detail that the “offending” person would recognizes himself should he see the post. Even if he doesn’t, someone does and, if they’re like me, they make a mental note not to ever do work with the person complaining. Sure, the complainer might have ever reason to be upset but you don’t air the dirty laundry in public. It isn’t good form when it comes to your business. You especially don’t do it when you are then whining because you aren’t getting any new customers.

Believe it or not, I had at least half a dozen of these sorts of stories come across my morning Twitter and Facebook feeds this morning. Not one of them showed a bit of personal reflection where the poster wondered if maybe they were the problem. Not one admitted that maybe they shouldn’t have taken the job they were complaining about. Nope, it was always the other guy’s fault. They didn’t understand the amount of work put in. They didn’t get that the tips were a necessary part of survival. They didn’t get. . .  well, you get the idea.

Here’s something we all need to remember if we’re in business for ourselves. Don’t bitch in public.

I know not every person on social media understands just how insecure their comments are. They think they have security locked down and then they never check their settings again. Well guess what? Facebook is notorious for glitching and setting your security at lower levels. There’s even a way that if a “friend” comments on your post, their “friends” an then see it. So that bitch session you thought was private is suddenly being viewed by hundreds or thousands of potential clients. Clients who are most definitely not seeing you in a favoring light.

There’s something else to consider. If you are so dependent on clients paying you above the contracted price, and if you expect them to do so, you are going about pricing wrong. The only business where most people will tip without thinking about it is the food service industry. Why? Because we know tips are the majority of our server’s income.

That’s not the case for contracted services. Do you tip your HVAC repair man? I don’t. Nor do I tip my plumber or my roofer. I don’t tip my lawyer or my accountant. Hell, my accountant would probably skin me alive if I brought in receipts showing I had tipped anyone except my waiter or waitress. I bet most of you are the same way.

In other words, if you have your contracted (legal) services — editing or painting or whatever — offered at a certain price and both sides agree to it, then it is assumed by the other party that you have priced your work at what you think is the appropriate level. We rely upon the person we are making the contract with to know how much money they need to meet their expenses. Then it is up to us to determine if those services are worth the cost BEFORE we enter into the contract.

This is all a roundabout way of saying we each need to take responsibility for what we do and what we charge if we are in business for ourselves. We can’t expect our clients to know that we are being nice — or desperate — when we offer a rate that really is lower than it should be. We can’t expect those clients to then give us more money than we asked for in the contract.

In short, it is time to adult and take responsibility — not for what anyone else is doing but for ourselves. And, with that, I am going to adult by making another mug of coffee and starting to work on Battle Wounds, the third short story in the Honor and Duty universe. Links are below to the Taking Flight and Battle Bound, the first two shorts.

Taking Flight (Honor and Duty)

Duty, honor, sacrifice. That motto meant everything to newly commissioned Second Lieutenant Ashlyn Shaw. She thought she understood the meaning of those simple words. Little did she know.

Challenged by those who believed she made it through the Academy on her family’s coattails, a roommate who just wants to see “some action” and a gunnery sergeant determined to make a real Marine out of her, Ash soon realizes what it means to be a Marine. As the signs point to war on the horizon, she is determined to do everything she can to serve Fuercon and do the Corps proud.

Battle Bound (Honor and Duty)

Newly promoted, Captain Ashlyn Shaw has been ordered to take Delta Company to the Bennington System. Their mission is simple: secure groundside defenses and seek out the Callusian invaders. It should be a simple assignment. The Fuerconese Navy had proven itself time and again since war had been declared to be more than a match for the Callusians. Once Taskforce Liberator, under the command of Admiral Tremayne, secured the system approaches, Ash and her Devil Dogs could get to work.

Except no battle plan ever survives the first encounter with the enemy. This time the Callusians are breaking pattern and it will take everything Tremayne and Ashlyn have to lead their people to victory.

The Devil Dogs will get the mission done, no matter what the cost.

Taking Responsibility

This morning, a couple of things caught my eye, and not in a good way. Both also center on social media. The first is a prime example of how we need to always be aware of the potential for anything we say or do being captured on someone else’s smart phone, either via video or through their social media accounts. The second is an prime example of the faux outrage that is gripping part of our country right now.

The first is actually getting more media coverage than the second. I first became aware of the situation when I saw it being retweeted on Facebook, along with all the accompanying outrage. Very simply put, over the weekend, a gate agent in Denver refused to allow an 11-year-old to board a United flight unless she put a dress (or, I’m sure, any other “appropriate” form of clothing”) on over her leggings.

Another passenger, waiting in line behind the girl, was outraged. So she took to social media to chastise the airline for what was happening. I’ll admit, my initial reaction was basically to wonder why leggings weren’t appropriate. But, as I read more about the situation, I soon realized there was more to the story than what the initial tweets, the ones raising all the outrage, told.

First of all, let’s be clear here. Most airlines have a provision in their terms of service that gives them the right to refuse boarding to anyone who violates those ToS. I know I’ve never read all the fine print and I doubt most of the rest of you have either. It would surprise me if the woman behind the tweets had.

Second, what isn’t clear in the initial tweets is the fact that the girl was flying non-rev. What that means is that either someone in her family or a third party works, or worked, for United, and gave her a pass to fly free. Most airlines have a separate set of rules for their non-rev passengers. These rules include provisions about what clothing is appropriate for the trip.

So, at least in the mind of the gate agent, the leggings the girl wore were in violation of the dress code.

When that provision was pointed out to some of those on FB who were condemning the airline and the gate agent, they shifted the goal posts. Suddenly, it became an issue of United and the agent applying a double standard because the girl’s father was allowed to board while wearing shorts. He was in casual clothes, so why couldn’t she?

I have two issues with this line of argument without further information being given. The first is a logic issue. Those making the argument assume the father was also flying non-rev. He may have been, but I’ve not seen that reported. The second is the assumption that the rules weren’t being applied to him when they were to the girl. What this second assumption fails to take into account is that some airlines, and I assume United is included in this, allow for shorts to be worn by non-rev passengers if the shorts meet certain standards. Because the father was allowed to board without changing clothes, and assuming he was also flying non-rev, it is safe to assume his clothing met the standard of the dress code.

Now, do I think an 11-year-old wearing leggings should have been denied boarding, non-rev or not? No. However, I get tired of situations being twisted just to fit a certain view point so they can be used to argue something that might not even be an issue. I do think United needs to review their non-rev dress code and make sure it is fair to both genders (oops, will I get in trouble for that?) But to make a federal case out of something, especially when you don’t know all the details and when you admit you are doing it because you assume a bias, helps no one.

It also shows the problem with the easy access to social media and the way one tweet can be taken viral — and how those following the original tweet on someone else’s social media feed may never see the follow-ups and learn the entire story.

The second example also came from Facebook and is a prime example of the Trump Derangement Syndrome that seems to have infected some of those on the left. I see it every morning with the Dallas Morning News. Reminiscent of the early days of ABC’s Nightline during the Iran hostage crisis where the show opened with “Day X”, the Dallas Morning News has an ongoing post of “Day Y of the Trump Presidency” (or words to that effect).

The Facebook post bringing it all to mind this morning was dated 18 hours before I first saw it. Someone was condemning Trump because he hadn’t issued a statement about the protests and arrests in Russia. The implication being he hadn’t issued a statement because he is a Russian mole in the White House. The only problem was I’d been up for more than an hour and hadn’t seen anything about the protests in my wandering through the interwebs, nor had I seen anything about it the night before when I watched the news.

So, I went strolling through the internet, looking at the homepages of some of the major news outlets and other sites where such a story might show up. It took me four sites before I found anything and, even then, I had to scroll down three screens or more before I found the story.

Funny, there had been no condemnation of the media for not carrying the story, only of Trump because he hadn’t been vocal in condemning the Russian handling of the situation as soon as he learned of it. Oh the horror because Russia did something and Trump didn’t instantly jump in to say Russia needed to stop being, well, Russia.

But let’s not consider the fact Trump might be waiting for more information about what really happened in Russia. Information not only from media sources and Russia itself but form our own intelligence community. Oh no, let’s immediately respond. How much you want to bet the person condemning him on Facebook would have a different view if the protest and arrests had occurred in London or Paris — or even Beijing? The fact it was Russia and Trump is president was enough of a connection for her to condemn him.

That’s the problem with social media. Well, one of the problems. We can do or say anything we want and hit enter without thinking. Too many of us tend to do so. We post things without considering that we might not have all the facts. We forget that once something hits the internet, it is there forever. Social media is the modern day version of walking out of the restroom with toilet paper trailing behind you, tucked into your pants or stuck on your heels.

But there is another problem with social media, one we are all guilty of. We are too quick to accept as accurate what we see posted on Twitter or FB or whatever our favorite platform might be. It is up to us to ask the same questions of those “sources” we do of the media and of our politicians, etc. If we don’t, then we hold at least some of the responsibility if a story is later clarified or proven to be false and we shared the false or misleading information without disclaimers or questions. It is time for each of us to start taking responsibility for what we put out into cyberspace.

In other words, it is time we start thinking before hitting the “share” button.

What is a Father? Guest post by Jonathan LaForce

(Give a warm welcome to a good friend of mine. Jonathan LaForce is a Marine, a husband, a father and much more. The following is a talk he gave this past weekend. When I read it, I knew I wanted to share it. So much of it resonated with me because it reminded me of things my father said. So, without further adieu, here’s Jonathan.)

Good morning brothers and sisters, I’m Jonathan LaForce. By way of introduction, I served my mission in the Republic of Texas, greatest state in the Union. I love shooting cannons and I speak 3 languages: English, Southernese, and Marine. The last has a tendency to come out around my brother jar heads, my wife’s friends and people who annoy me.

Right now I’m in something of a quandary. See, when a Marine gives a period of instruction, the final command before we launch into our topic is “smoke em if you got em, chew or dip if you want, don’t miss the bottle.” The man giving the lecture will then light up a cigarette or insert a wad of chewing tobacco. We practice the word of wisdom as a church, so I chew sunflowers seeds. It is very much a comfort thing. If you see me making weird movements with my cheek, I really want Jim Beam sunflower seeds. I could also go for a tall Dr. Pepper. But we are in the chapel, and I can’t have those right now. Woe is me.

Today, we’re going to cover the duties of a father. Lest anybody think otherwise, that blond haired, blue eyed little boy with the big mouth? Over in the third row? That one? He’s mine.

Now what are the duties of a father? If you’ve ever watched McClintock, there’s a scene where John Wayne’s daughter demands that her father defend her honor. She’s says and I quote “if you’re my father and you really love me, you’ll shoot him.” This in turn leads to the most repeated line my sisters have ever used “Shoot him daddy! Shoot him!” Most of the time this request was aimed at me. I don’t know why. I’ve certainly never done anything to antagonize the women in my life. Nor do I know why my wife is rolling her eyes.

As fathers we are to love our children. George Strait said it best- “Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love A secret that my daddy said was just between us You see daddies don’t just love their children every now and then It’s a love without end, Amen.”

God in Heaven, our Eternal Father, loves every single one of us. Physically, we are the children of those who brought us into this world, but the father of our spirits is the maker of Heaven and Earth. He knows us, he loves us, and he sets the example. As fathers, there’s a time and place for everything. Sometimes the best thing we can do is sit our sons down on our knees and tell those boys that we still love them.

Years ago, my father told me that even if I never served a mission or married in the temple, he’d still love me. And in so many ways, it has made all the difference. When I went to serve a mission, it was me doing those things because I chose it. Not because my daddy made me do it. When I took a woman to be my wife and married her in the house of the Lord 4 years ago come November, it was because she and I knew that was where we needed to be married if we wished to be sealed together with our children for time and all eternity.

I still call him daddy, despite the fact that I’m nearly 30 with 2 kids of my own out of habit. It started when he introduced me to the movie Big Jake with John Wayne. The catchphrase of the movie is John Wayne saying “Don’t call me daddy” to which his eldest eventually replies “Where’s the money daddy?” This became running a joke in our house that stuck. It was Daddy who introduced me to John Wayne movies, a country band called Alabama, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. For all y’all young’uns, those are singers who didn’t need autotune to sound good. I still remember the first time I ever heard Sinatra. We were sitting in a pizza hut when Daddy saw the jukebox. He wandered over, flipped through some of the selections, started dropping quarters like it was a slot machine. For the next hour, there was nothing playing but music he’d grown up listening to in the 60s and 70s.

How do I know about flower shopping? Because I saw my father doing it often enough for my mother. He buys her flowers just because he can, not because he’s apologizing for something. Did he just get home after 4 days away at work? Man’s got flowers in hand when he steps through the door. It’s something that’s stuck with me throughout the years. I in turn learned how easy FTD Flower Delivery is. You can order flowers in time for mother’s day from Okinawa Japan when you really need to. Yesterday I was down in Los Angeles seeing a brother Marine for the first time in 3 years and came across my wife’s favorite flowers- Hawaiian plumerias. Turns out they grow nicely in LA. So I bought my wife her own blooming Plumeria. Now she can get to grow a little piece of something she loves from her home.

Another piece of advice Daddy gave me that has made all the difference in my life came with regards to dating and marriage. “Boy, dating is how you figure out what you like in a woman. While you’re at it, ask yourself something. ‘Can I see this woman being the mother of my children and raising them in a way that would make me happy?”

I’ve only had that answer once, and I got it at the same time I was told by the Spirit of the Lord that I had finally found the woman he meant for me to marry. I was told “yes, she’s the one, now quit goofing around and get to ring shopping.” That was the third week of May. By the 3rd week of August, we were engaged. The responsibility of being a father begins long before your wife ever tells you that in a few months you’re gonna have this screaming, always hungry little bundle of that looks like you but cuter. It begins when you’re dating. Take heed of that young men, it’s going to happen sooner than you care to think about.

After that baby gets here and you’re daddy, own that title. Eminem is famous for saying “Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?” For our purposes, its “Will this baby’s father please stand up?” A wife really cannot carry the whole load of running a house and taking care of kids on her own. I have learned how to change diapers and rock a baby to sleep because it’s what my wife needed from me. I have cleaned puke out of a crib at ten o’clock at night because it’s what needed to happen. It also helps that I can’t smell puke. Living in Marine barracks has killed whatever discomfort I might have had about it. Baby goes in the tub, crib goes outside, gets hosed off and dried off, baby gets rocked to sleep, I’m back in bed by eleven. Ain’t hard, it’s a matter of learning the mechanics of it all.

Johnny was 2 months old, Autumn was exhausted and needed sleep, and it was my day off. So I go to rock the baby. I also have a bad back, I can’t hold a baby for long periods. I decided to cheat a little. Grabbed a can of Monster for myself, put Johnny in my truck, cranked on the music, my son and I went for a drive. Who knew babies respond so well to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Poison and Whitesnake? I certainly didn’t. But I can’t complain about results. I’m singing Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird, he’s in the back seat snoring. When we got home, Autumn had been able to get more sleep, and she was ready to take on the day.

It still happens to this day. Autumn hit a point Wednesday where she could not get Dixie to fall asleep. It wasn’t even a question in my mind. Baby went in her car seat, I took her for a drive, and soon enough she was asleep. Thursday night we did the same thing with Johnny. God gave Eve to Adam as a help meet. This does not mean that Eve did everything on her own. Learn to help, learn to enjoy it. Because otherwise you’ve got years of being miserable ahead of you. No, washing dishes is not glamorous, but darn if it doesn’t make your wife happy to come home to a clean kitchen and her favorite flowers in a vase on the table. Young men, this also works on your mothers and it covereth a multitude of sins. Same with vacuuming the house and taking out the trash. I’m not perfect at it. But I am improving. Try it boys and see if it don’t improve things in your life.

Being a daddy is fun. I absolutely enjoy it. But every rose has it’s thorns. Sometimes, Daddy has to be the disciplinarian. When my son gets rowdy and won’t listen to his mother, I get to go deal with it. Just part of life. I don’t hate my son, I don’t regret bringing him into this world. Teaching a boy discipline and respect is just part of being a father. I was 15 years old the last time I talked back to my mother. And I gotta say, my mother is a master of timing. Daddy was at work when it happened, on a 4-day stretch of graveyard shift. He never came home during that stretch because of all the overtime. Add in an hour commute, all the man wants is sleep plus a hot bowl of ramen noodles. Instead he got momma, greeting him at the door with a hug and kiss and the words “your son has been talking back to me.” He did not even glance at my brother Matthew. Oh no. His head swiveled around like the turrets on a battleship, locked eyes with me, said “Boy is this true?” “Yes daddy.” “Go git your running shoes on, and a pair of shorts. You have a heartbeat, move.”

We drove me to the American Legion post on the corner of J and 40th East, he kicked me out the truck and said start running towards 90th, you run fast enough I’ll let you off early. Every mile marker he was waiting in his truck, yelling out the time and “Not fast enough keep running.” It’s a July afternoon. A sinner has plenty of time to contemplate their existence and the nature of their mistakes under such conditions. 52 minutes after I started, I finally made it to the stop sign at 90th and J. I was hot, tired, dirty, dusty and humbled. And there was daddy, with a cold bottle of Gatorade from the gas station sitting against the tailgate of his truck. Handed me the bottle, motioned for me to sit and listen. “You can be rude to a lot of people son, but don’t you never disrespect my wife, my eternal companion like that, and we are not going to have this conversation ever again, are we?” “No daddy.” “Good now drink that, let’s go home so you can apologize to your mother and take a shower because good gravy you’re sweaty.”

Sometimes, a father is the reinforcements you need to handle life’s challenges. I was 19 years old, middle of putting in mission papers when I went head to head against an Expedition with a ford Ranger doing 60 miles an hour. Both vehicles were spun out of traffic onto the shoulder of the road. My truck looked like a beer can that got stepped on by a combat boot. After I managed to catch my breath, I called my dad, told him what had happened. He beat the Sheriff’s deputies getting to M and 4th East. 911 does not move as fast as that man. By the time the deputies had a perimeter established and were looking things over, my father had walked my skid pattern to determine I was traveling within the speed limit, could verify I was still sober, and was prepared to lock horns with the world over my innocence. After the deputies got done and let me go, Daddy took me to Kaiser, sat there in urgent care with me so we could do x-rays make sure I still had a brain; we ended up at Carl’s Jr for a late night snack.

A father is a strong point of knowledge and advice about life. We always speak of Helaman’s stripling warriors and how much their mothers prepared them for life by teaching them obedience to the Lord. We forget how much it takes a father reinforce that example. The artwork depicting the 2,000 stripling warriors marching off to war is a motivational picture. But understand this- it took their fathers to teach them those skills. Something as simple as marching for hours and days at a time, with a combat load? That came from their fathers. Remember also that those same fathers swore an oath before God that they would never take up arms again in order to atone for their sins. But they were still some of the very best soldiers to be had, anywhere. I guarantee before Helaman ever rode outside the city gates at the head of an army, those fathers got together. They discussed what their sons were doing. And while those good men had sworn an oath, they never promised to not teach their sons everything they knew about a very hard profession. So they imparted that knowledge to their sons. It is a hard, painful process, whether you’re living in 62 BC or the modern world. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, the scars and a headful of memories to prove it.

Those fathers sent their sons off to war, and hoped it would be enough, prayed it would be enough. They waited for casualty lists. And they rejoiced when their sons came home. Because they finally knew they that all their efforts had been enough. And they knew how to help those sons adjust back to life on the other side of things. Those fathers were not perfect men, but they were what 2,000 young boys needed the most. Lord knows my daddy ain’t perfect, but it was the lessons learned from him, at a young age and on into adulthood that made Afghanistan a survivable experience for me.

Some folks don’t get along with their fathers. They learned by watching the men around them. A friend of mine declared that when he finally gets married and has kids of his own, the useless excuse of a man he came from is going to get a lesson about the good a father can do for his kids. My tutu kane, my father’s father, made a lot of mistakes in this life. But he also helped make sure my father attended church and was able to afford serving as a missionary to Japan. Nearly 30 years later, I actually considered delaying my mission because I couldn’t afford it. I didn’t want to put that burden on my family. The example my tutu kane set is what inspired my father to sit me down and he said “Son, we got this, now go get paperwork filled out and meet with President Banfield like you need to.” I spent two very happy years in the Republic of Texas and I have never regretted, not for one minute, serving as a missionary.

I still call my daddy for advice when I don’t know something, or I’m uncertain about it. As a kid and a teen, we’d grapple in the living room. More than once, my mother would hear a loud THUMP and come running to see what we’d broken this time. The piano has nearly bought the farm several times. Daddy taught me how to tie a tie, what’s involved with preparing the sacrament. I memorized the sacrament prayer because he taught it to me.

You can ask me what I fear. It ain’t a natural disaster, I’ve lived through tornados and earthquakes and tsunami warnings and a couple good Okinawa monsoons without a scratch. I’d enjoy going back to Afghanistan on deployment. Middle of a 140 degree desert with a dozen of the smelliest tattooed men, on a cannon throwing bullets down range? Sounds like bliss. Even MRE cheese with bacon sounds good. I’d take that vacation.

What do I fear, above all else? The day I lay my father to rest, because I still have a lot to learn from him, because I love him. You can call him strict, you can call him mean, I’ve heard people call him all sorts of nasty names. I still love my father and I am grateful I have had him in my life to teach me about that very sacred responsibility.

The family is a divinely appointed institution. Fathers are central to that. We hear it over the pulpit, we hear it preached at General Conference. We hear it from prophets and apostles in this modern dispensation- fathers have an important role to fulfill in the eternal plan of salvation of the human race. I absolutely believe that, I sustain that, and I bear testimony of that.


Growing up responsible

This morning, my mother forwarded an email to me that should have been funny. It was one of those “things we did when we were kids that you can’t do now” sort of emails. Sure, I grinned when I first started reading it. Memories of doing most of the things on the list filled me. I remembered those fun days. I also know that times have changed,but not necessarily in the ways Big Brother and the Nanny State of Mind would have us believe.

I can already hear the cries of outrage from the tiger parents at the thought of letting their kids have any free time that isn’t devoted to advancing the cause of getting their children into the best day car, nursery school, private schools and colleges. The helicopter parents scream in fear at the thought of their kids wandering out of their sight. I’ve never figured out if it was fear of something bad happening to the kids or fear the kids might have fun without the parent or, even worse, they they might find out that their parents don’t have to be involved in every aspect of their lives.

I know the arguments against letting our kids wander like we used to. The world has turned into a bad place to live. You have to be ever vigilant or something horrible might happen. The problem is, there have always been bad people and bad things could always happen. I can’t put my finger on when attitudes changed but no longer do all too many parents teach their kids to be self-sufficient. We teach them stranger danger instead of teaching them to read situations and avoid them. We have zero tolerance, reinforcing in our kids the idea that not only should they not fight back to protect themselves but that it is wrong to do so. I won’t even get into the lack of consequences for their own poor choices, much less bad choices.

Growing up, it wasn’t unusual for a group of us to get together in the morning and go off for the day. Sometimes we stayed close to home and other times we jumped on our bikes and rode and rode. We explored and played and — gasp — talked with one another. There were no cell phones tying us with some invisible umbilical cord to our parents. No, we were trusted to tell them where we were going, how long we would be gone and when we would be home. We might have to check in once or twice and there would be hell to pay if we were late and didn’t let them know.

Today, if a child goes across the street to the park and there isn’t an adult within a few yards of him, some “well-meaning” neighbor calls Child Protective Services. Children walking to or from school alone, heaven help the parent. They might have a visit from the cops and, if they are really lucky (tongue firmly planted in cheek), they will find themselves fighting to retain custody of their kids.

Our kids are prevented from protecting themselves at school from those who would bully them. If they are shoved or pushed, they can’t fight back. Were they to do so, they very well might find themselves in the same alternative school as the student who shoved or pushed them. Yeah, that’s going to solve the problem.

We have to police what we are about to say because it might hurt someone’s feelings. What is ironic, in a sad sort of way, is that so many of those who demand trigger warnings and want safe places are, in fact, the biggest bullies of all. They demand everyone else honor and respect their tender feelings but they have no problem trampling on the rights of those who don’t use the right code words and trigger warnings. They use their victimhood in an attempt to silence those they don’t agree with. We have universities that have basically tossed free speech out the window for fear of being sued by one of the special little darlings.

But what is truly troubling about the attitude so many in our country have that demands we wrap our kids in figurative cotton to protect them for anything that might happen or that might hurt their feelings is that we now have a generation where all too many are incapable of dealing with real life. When a kid grows up without ever facing consequences for poor choices, she won’t know that bad things can happen as an adult when she continues making those poor choices she had been rewarded for as a kid. Worse in many ways, those same kids aren’t being taught that real life includes sometimes failing. You aren’t always going to be picked for the team and you sure as hell aren’t always going to be the best at everything you do.

There are going to be people who don’t like you. Even if they do like you, they won’t always agree with you. We are doing our children a grave disservice by always telling them they are the best at everything they do.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my son and, in my eyes, he is perfect and he should be able to do whatever he wants. That said, the realist in me knows that there are things he isn’t perfect at. Fortunately, he knows that he isn’t perfect and, when he wants something that doesn’t come naturally for him, he works for it. He has learned that there are times when he will fall — or when he will fail. He knows that the only thing to do then is to get up and try again. If he really wants it, he will do whatever he can to earn what he wants.


He doesn’t believe he is owed it simply because he exists. He values himself but he also values the idea of having to work for something he wants. It means more when you’ve actually had to work for something. You value it more than if it is handed to you simply because you want it.

While I don’t want to give up my tech, I do wish we could get back to the mindset of letting kids be kids and teaching them that they need to work — whether it is academically or a job or whatever — to get what they want. We need to teach them that there are consequences to their actions and their inaction. Yes, our kids are precious but they aren’t perfect nor are they as fragile as we have made them out to be.

We need to let them run and play — hell, we need to kick them outside so they will do so. We need to let them walk to the park without fear of being picked up by the cops and the parents being turned in to CPS. We need to tell those well-meaning neighbors (and I use that term loosely) to get a life. While it is nice someone is keeping an eye on the neighborhood, where is the common sense?

Most of all, we need to remember that these special little darlings we are raising are the ones who will be running this country in another few years. It’s not too late with a lot of them to teach them what it means to be an adult. No, what it means to be a responsible adult who recognizes her shortcomings, knows her strengths and who works to improve and overcome. It means a return of common sense. It means we let go of the Nanny State.

It means stepping up and acting like adults and setting the example for our kids. A lot of us are already doing just that. Unfortunately, there are days when I wonder if we aren’t in the minority. Then I look at young adults like my son and his friends and know that we aren’t. It’s just that the others get the press. After all, the media would much rather cover victims, even professional victims, than responsible young adults who are doing their best to be the best people they can without asking for unearned handouts along the way.

But then what do I know? I rode my bike for hours, would be gone from breakfast to night, rode in the back of pickups and played on ball fields with dirt and grass and not artificial turf. I knew I had to do my homework or get a failing grade — and then get in trouble when my parents found out. I had chores to do around the house and had to earn my allowance. I am, you see, a dinosaur but I refuse to die out and, fortunately, there are a lot of others who feel like. As long as there are, there is hope for the future generations.


Please tell me this is a joke

I found the image below on FB this morning and I am really, really hoping that the originator of it was joking. For one thing, the vast majority of guys not only know everything it says but they follow it. But what really got to me reading the list is that there is nothing on it pertaining to the girl in the equation. It takes all responsibility off of her. But we will get to that in a minute. Here’s the list.


Now, I agree a guy should never drug a woman. A man shouldn’t assault a woman. A man should be a gentleman except, these days, even that is looked upon by some in our society as a sign of misogyny. In fact, if you do a bit of googling, you will find a study that came out not too long ago that says a man opening the door for a woman is bad. It shows he is a misogynist who thinks a woman can’t do for herself.

Which is a crock. A gentleman, the one most likely to hold a door or offer to carry packages, is doing it out of a sign of respect. It isn’t to say “hey, look at the little lady. She can’t do anything for herself and I’m sooooo much better.” Yet there are those who, for whatever reason, think they have to make such well-mannered men think twice about doing something nice.

And I am tired of it.

Just as I am tired of putting the entire blame on men, all men, for a woman being raped.

Look, there are steps a woman can take to try to protect herself and they mainly mean making sure she does everything she can to avoid being in the position for something bad to happen. Will these steps stop someone really determined to do harm? Not always. But if you take all responsibility for protecting oneself away from the woman, the problem will always exist.

I could respond to each and every one of the do’s and don’ts in the list above but I won’t. What I will say is that women — and men — need to start using common sense. You can keep out of a lot of dangerous situations if you do. Common sense things like not leaving your drink unattended, not drinking to excess, not getting into cars with strangers, not leaving doors and windows unlocked can save you not only from being robbed or raped but from being killed.

I am tired of common sense being tossed out the window.

I am tired of folks crying about how you demonize victims by simply saying “don’t be stupid in what you do.”

Yes, this is a hot button for me. I have worked in law enforcement. I have worked with victims — sexual assault, felony assault and the families of those who have been murdered. I have been a victim, just as many others have. But I don’t wear my victimhood on my arm and cry “trigger warning” just because something might, at some point in some unforeseen future, remind me of what happened.

So, damn it, common sense first and foremost. As important as that is, listen to that inner voice. When it tells you there is something wrong, listen. It will be right more times than not. Combine the two and you stand a greater chance of not becoming a victim than if you don’t.

There will always be men and women out there who are intent on hurting others. Yes, women. Funny how so many people forget about that. Men aren’t the only ones out there who rape and kill. Remember that as well.

Now, back to your normal programming.

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