Wednesday, January 29, 2014


We had to put our dog down yesterday.  Comet has been our dog for over 17 years, and he was the oldest midsize dog our vet ever had at his practice.  A steady companion.  Always there.  For years, Comet was convinced that the only reason any human being ever ventured outside was to play fetch.  He would drag that ball around to anyone who ventured anywhere near him.  If you threw it- even once- you were his buddy.  You were also in for awhile, because you couldn't throw it just once or twice. 

Cutting the grass.  Right there.  Going fishing.  Right there.  Shoveling snow.  Right there.  Home from work.  Right there.  Going for a walk.  Right there.

In his prime, he was the most athletic dog we knew.  He could run or swim all day.  And he was a gentle dog.  A good boy. 

So many stories.  He was a great dog in the car- most of the time.  No dog can live that long without a few mishaps - like the time he rolled in a bunch of dead leeches just before we needed to get in the car for a trip or the time he threw up in the car and the lysol I bought to try to cover the smell only made it worse- and a freak spring snowstorm made it impossible to roll down the windows.

There was no stopping him from going on a walk, even as he aged and slowed down.  He knew if we were going for a walk, and he demanded to come along, he needed to go.  Comet was part lab, part blue heeler- a shepherding dog by nature.  If he was on a leash, he felt the connection and wanted to be in the lead.  When not on a leash, he would go ahead, but then constantly circle back to make sure everyone was accounted for, and he often stayed in the back for long stretches.

The drive to the vet only took a few minutes, but I almost turned around at every intersection.  Even knowing that it was time, it was still so hard to follow through.

All of our kids have grown up and moved out of the house, but we weren't truly 'empty nesters' until just now.

Goodbye Comet.  We miss you.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Savin' Up

Apropos of nothing, really...

Sitting in the office doing some paperwork between meetings, a little background music on the ipod.

The song "Savin' Up" came on, by Clarence Clemons and the Red Band Rockers.  Clarence was perhaps best known as the "Big Man" in Bruce Springsteen's venerable E Street Band.  He also toured with his own band- The Red Bank Rockers.  A college buddy and I saw them perform in Minneapolis in the mid-1980's.  Fun times.

"You may have diamonds.  You may have pearls.  You may think you've got it, over all the other girls.  But honey you ain't got nothin', and I'll tell you why.  You're as empty as a soul can be baby, deep down inside.  You better start savin' up, for the things that money can't buy." 

The attached is the greatest version, but what a great song!

All of us could probably benefit by remembering to nourish the soul, and to make sure we've taken time to nurture the things that money can't buy.

Parenting Mistakes

Parenting is hard- really hard.  Parental love is unconditional, but it's often very difficult to know how to translate that unconditional love into specific responses to specific situations.  In my opinion, the two most common mistakes we make as parents are also the two most common mistakes we make in just about every situation- we choose from too narrow a range of options, and we focus on the immediate problem instead of taking the 'long view.'

We are all too prone to impose binary, either-or options, when searching for solutions.  That's a great approach when we have a rock in our shoe.  We can either continue walking or stop and remove it.  Most situations aren't that clear cut.  Find the shades of gray.  Take some deep breaths and consider a variety of alternatives.

Sometimes we create more problems than we solve.  But since those problems tend to be down the road, we ignore them and focus on solving the immediate issue.  Again- that works in some situations, but is a horrible idea in others.  It's never a bad idea to consider the likely long term ramifications raised by the immediate solution.

Here is a link to an article I found to be pretty insightful:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Oh the Hypocrisy of it all

WisEye is a site that allows people with an Internet connection to watch the inner workings of government by streaming legislative hearings.  As a political junkie, I occasionally tune in and catch a few minutes on topics of interest.  Charter Schools is a topic of interest.  So, I watched some of the coverage relating to the proposed legislation to significantly expand charter schools in the state of Wisconsin.

Oh the Hypocrisy!

Over and over and over again, the legislators pushing this legislation identified "competition" as an integral part of improving schools.  In doing so, they blithely ignored the incredible amount of competition that already exists.  Any parent within the boundaries of our district can easily access five different public school districts and three private schools.  Easily.  Many parents in this area Open Enroll their children into a non-resident district.  Fortunately for Friess Lake School, we are a net winner of that parental choice.  

But I digress, because this post isn't about the amount of competition that already exists between and among school districts- it's about hypocrisy.

You see, these very same legislators recently approved a map that changed the boundaries of many of the senate and assembly districts.  They have the right to do this and, even though some legal questions were raised, they apparently did so within the framework of the rules.  Fair enough. 

However, let's be clear about why the boundaries look the way they do.  No one believes that these new boundaries were created to "increase competition" for re-election.  This was power politics 101.  Again- fair enough.  Political power plays are part of the deal, and both Democrats and Republicans are capable of playing the game.  This isn't partisan, and this isn't an attempt to say one side is any more guilty than the other.

But, I have a hard time listening to someone wax eloquently about the virtues of competition (for others) when they have just made it easier for themselves to maintain their own political power.  That, my friends, is hypocrisy.  Maybe it's just me, but when I know someone is being disingenuous on one topic, I tend to think it probably extends to other topics as well. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Media Hype

We are supposed to have some cold weather this weekend, extending into Monday.  The TV stations are already gearing up into a hyperbolic frenzy.


Yes, it's going to be cold.  

Dress appropriately.  Make good choices.  Repeat.

If the Green Bay Packers can play a football game outside, and 73,000 people can assemble to watch them- for hours.  Then I'm pretty sure we can make it from our car/bus door to the front door of the school.

That is all.