Like most children, our daughters are always asking if we can have more pets. We currently have two cats, Dreyfus and Calum. Dreyfus is the old man of the two as he just had his 15th birthday and Calum is right behind him at 13. Although my wife loves our cats — she picked them out — her biggest fear is that they will live forever.
Let me put that comment into a little more context. My wife grew up in a dog family whereas I always had a cat. We had dogs, but for the majority of my childhood, we had cats. She would love to have a dog again, and while I am not against it in the future, I would rather wait until our cats have found their way to “kitty heaven.” I would also like to wait until we move because that would be one less hassle when showing the house.
A few years ago, when my oldest daughter was four, she started asking about getting a new pet. I was blunt and said that we would not be getting any new animals until the cats have died. She surprised me with her next question.
“Daddy, when the cats die, can we get a zebra?”
I of course, was floored by her question and politely told her that we cannot have a zebra as a pet. Of course she asked why, so I did my best to explain why a zebra would not be a good pet for a family such as ours. Whatever I said must have worked because she no longer wanted a zebra.
Time went on and every once in a while the “getting a new pet” conversation came up. We kept putting it off, but the time had come for us to take action.
After a little back and forth, my wife and I came to a compromise. The finalists in the “New McGlothlen Pet” sweepstakes were hamsters, gerbils or fish. Because both of our daughters loved looking at the fish when we go to Meijer or the pet store, they are relatively easy to care for and both my wife and I had fish as children, we figured why not.
One day with our youngest at daycare, we took Hannah out to lunch and she asked to go to the pet store. While there, she asked if she finally could get her fish. We agreed, so the hunt was on to find the perfect one to join our family.
In addition to picking out a tank, rocks, and the other goodies, Hannah found her fish. Selecting a pink Danio, Hannah named her new pet “Pinkalicious.”
Once the tank was assembled, Pinkalicious was swimming in her new tank, awaiting her roommate, who would come later when our youngest picked out her fish.
Much to our surprise, Pinkalicious was found floating upside-down just 30 minutes later. Initially Hannah was sad to lose her new pet so soon, but recovered nicely when she found that she would be able to get a new fish when Alexis got hers.
As we said our goodbyes to the fish, Hannah quipped, “Pinkalicious is deadalicious.” I had to laugh because she was taking it so well. I also hoped that it was just a fluke that this fish passed away so soon.
Later that afternoon two new fish were swimming in the tank. Hannah’s new fish, “Angel,” was joined by Alexis’ fish “Cuckoo.” Life was good, the girls were happy and loved showing their fish off to anyone who came over.
Within a matter of days, both fish were history. Our water was fine, we followed all the directions that came with the tank as well as the “pet store professionals,” and we were still unsuccessful with the fish. Once again, the girls took it well. For now, I think we will stick to cats. However that zebra is sounding intriguing right about now.
The obvious answer is always, of course! I will say that I have not always been honest and a few little mistruths might have crept out of my mouth every now and then. Very few times, mind you!
But in any event, I admit that I have told a few stories in my time. I hate to say it, but sometimes, it just feels easier to say something that might not be totally accurate in order to save face, avoid hurting someone’s feelings or whatever the reason. It isn’t right, but sometimes you just do what feels right, even if you end up regretting it later.
Telling the truth after you have told a lie though, that is the hard part. Do you fess up? If so, how do you do it?
Being up front is one way to do it, but Val Patterson from Utah had a unique way to spread the truth about some things he had said or done in his past: he came clean in his obituary!
Now, I am not suggesting that this should start a new trend, but his obituary was not only clever and entertaining, it also had a message.
The obituary, which he wrote months before he died from throat cancer, was much more like a letter to those who both knew him and never heard of him.
What comes through in his writing is that he was a man who truly loved life and cherished his wife.
“I was a true Scientist. Electronics, chemistry, physics, auto mechanic, wood worker, artist, inventor, business man, ribald comedian, husband, brother, son, cat lover, cynic. I had a lot of fun. It was an honor for me to be friends with some truly great people,” Patterson wrote.
And he went on to say this about this wife, “But, the one special thing that made my spirit whole, is my long love and friendship with my remarkable wife, my beloved Mary Jane. I loved her more than I have words to express. Every moment spent with my Mary Jane was time spent wisely.”
I am sure those words provided comfort for his wife, as well as those who knew him best.
Then Patterson says the following: “Now that I have gone to my reward, I have confessions and things I should say now.”
Admitting to being the one who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in 1971, Patterson also admitted that he wasn’t quite who his “title” proclaimed him to be.
“Also, I really am NOT a PhD. What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan at the U of U, the girl working there put my receipt into the wrong stack, and two weeks later, a PhD diploma came in the mail. I didn’t even graduate,” he wrote. Patterson said that he in fact only had three years of college credits.
Patterson also reminisced about his youth, telling his friends that they grew up in the best time in American history to grow up. “The best music, muscle cars, cheap gas, fun kegs … TV was boring back then, so we went outside and actually had lives. We always tried to have as much fun as possible without doing harm to anybody — we did a good job at that.”
But he did express one regret: smoking. Saying that he felt bad for robbing his wife of more years or happiness together, Patterson said, “I feel such the “thief” now — for stealing so much from her — there is no pill I can take to erase that pain.”
I have checked various sources to verify that this story is true, but even if it wasn’t, would you use your obituary, your final goodbye, to admit to wrong doing? Even though my dad has passed, I will admit, I was the one who put his foot through the window well cover back in the early 1980’s. Sorry.
One less thing I can keep out of my obituary!
If you want to read the full obituary, just do an internet search for “Val Patterson Obituary.”
You don’t need a meteorologist to tell you that it is hot outside. It isn’t even hot, it is unbearable. In fact, a quick stroll out to get the trash can the other morning resulted in me breaking out in a sweat after just stepping a few feet outside my door!
We often complain that our meteorologists get paid too much money and can never give us an accurate forecast. I can see why people say that, but the weather is a crazy business. But why is it when I want them to be wrong, they are right on the money? They could at least play fair!
I actually asked WWMT Chief Meteorologist Keith Thompson about this very matter. He said that he does not often hear comments from people about never getting the forecast right. In fact, he says it is just the opposite. “But that’s probably because — even in this age of seeming inconsideration — people are too considerate to say that to me,” he said.
Thompson said people will jokingly say, “I wish I could get paid for being right 50 percent of the time.”
His response? He tells people he is actually underpaid! “I tell them that Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter get paid many millions of dollars, and they’re only right about 30 percent of the time,” Thompson said. Of course he is joking, but you see what he is getting at.
The heat wave we have been experiencing has been miserable to say the least. It is so hot outside that you want to stay inside. My wife and I have been trying our best to think of things to keep our girls entertained during the really hot times when we would prefer they not be outside. But heck, even they are smart enough to know that it is too hot to play outside and to stay in where it is cool.
I remember the heat wave back in the late 1980’s. We did not have central air back then, just fans and open windows. I am not sure how we survived!
Another side effect of this weather pattern that we have been stuck in is the lack of rain that we have received. My grass went from soft and green to yellow and crisp. Really crisp!
I made the mistake of walking out in the yard barefoot to pick up firework remnants from the last few days of festivities. Not my festivities, mind you, but my neighbor’s.
I have mentioned our wonderful neighbor a few times in this column. The guy who is in his late 40’s but acts more like he is 19. He is the kind of guy who mows his yard at nine in the evening, comes home with his music blaring and windows down (at all hours), has a “vintage” car that he loves to leave idling in his yard, letting the exhaust float into our windows while revving the engine, and on and on.
Anyway, for the past few nights he has decided to light off fireworks at 11 p.m. Thankfully, our windows are shut tight and the AC is on, so the sound is not too bad. But like I mentioned before, our yard is dry. Our water bills are high enough up here, so watering the yard is out of the question. Besides, if I water it, I will have to mow it and that is the last thing I want to do in 100 degree weather.
My neighbor decided to shoot his fireworks into my yard. Sometimes I just wonder what goes through people’s minds. A small part of me was hoping my yard would ignite into a ball of flame and I would watch him scurry to put it out. But then I thought … would he have the common sense to do anything at that point? And get this, he has been watering his yard all summer long, but picks my yard to shoot his flame throwers into. Makes total sense, eh?
Instead, I picked up all of the junk that he sent into my yard, put it in a plastic bag and hung it on his side of the fence. I am hoping my subtle hint will register with him, but I am not holding my breath!
On a side note, Keith Thompson said he hopes people have noticed that forecasts tend to be more reliable than they have been in the past. “And that’s not because the forecasters are necessarily any better. The rapid advance of computer technology has made it possible to devise newer, more accurate forecast models,” he said. “Without accurate computer models, any forecaster is doomed.”
So don’t blame your local meteorologist if you do not like the weather. Blame the technology!
Have you ever walked a mile in someone else’s shoes? You hear people say that all the time, “until you have walked a mile in my shoes, you have no idea what I am going through” or something along those lines.
Obviously, that task is not as easy as it seems since we all wear different size shoes, but that is not the point, is it?
In order to really understand what someone goes through on a daily basis, the old adage that until you have been in my shoes, you will never fully understand what it means to be “me.”
When I decided to join the Relay for Life in Three Rivers, which was held this past weekend, I never thought that I would, in a way, understand the meaning of that phrase. I was raising money, promoting the event, joined a team and participated in the roughly 24-hour event. I just felt that I was doing a good deed. But I came away with so much more.
Cancer never sleeps, and for those 24 hours, neither did I or many of the other participants for that matter. In fact, my cousin Kathie and I participated in a scavenger hunt at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning. It was chilly, the grass was wet and it was intense and competitive! We were the oldest team in the event, but it was great fun even if it wore us out.
The entire experience was outstanding and memorable. For me, the best part of the event was seeing the community come out and support the cause, remember a loved one or celebrate the survival of someone they know. Cancer touches every single one of us in one way or another.
Emotions ran high at several points during the event. It was touching to watch the Survivor Celebration and seeing all of those who have fought and won or are winning their battle with cancer. Watching as the survivors took a victory lap was not only emotional, but gratifying.
I had the chance to talk to several of those survivors, some of them who are very good friends of mine and others who were complete strangers. I am amazed at their strength and their positive outlooks. It also made me realize, when I complain about something, geez, I really don’t have much of a reason knowing what they went through.
Another time of great emotion was the luminary ceremony where we remembered those that we have lost to cancer. It was almost a surreal event. As luminaries lined the track, hundreds of people watched as the names of loved ones scrolled on a screen and with lighted candles, we walked a lap in silence to remember and reflect.
I thought about those that I have lost to cancer. My parents, Judy and Ray, my grandfather Edwin McGlothlen, brothers Gary and Al (Edwin)McGlothlen, and uncles Richard McGlothlen and Bill Swanwick. I thought about the pain and suffering that they went through. The loss we all felt when they died and how we miss each of them so very much each and every day.
Someone asked me why I decided to be a part of the Relay for Life. When I started explaining my feelings I started out by saying how I lost my mom when I was just four years old and I did not want my children to lose a parent so young like I did. But then I thought … I do not want to be a parent who loses a child to cancer either. I cannot even begin to imagine or WANT to imagine that.
This all brings me back to walking in someone else’s shoes. Being that I was participating in my first Relay for Life, I figured why not walk in someone else’s shoes. When my father passed away, I took a pair of his Nike tennis shoes that he hardly wore. Even though they were a little small and narrower than I would wear on my own feet, this event was not about me. It was about those who have battled cancer. Just like those shoes felt on my feet, cancer is not comfortable.
The pain and discomfort I felt by wearing my dad’s shoes pales in comparison to what those with cancer go through on a daily basis and it was such a minor inconvenience for me to wear them. I would walk a mile in his shoes any day if it brought us closer to finding a cure for cancer.
Everyone complains that the government has too much power. Everyone seems to get upset when new laws or regulations come out that seem to hamper our “freedoms” as Americans. Isn’t that what being an American is all about? Being able to make your own decisions and basically do what you want (within reason of course).
The government has taken a bad rap lately. Most of it deserved, but not all. You can’t make everyone happy all the time with the decisions you make. For me, even if decisions that are made are not to my liking, if I can see the rationale behind it, I tend to accept it and move on.
Every once in awhile a governor, political party or otherwise, rolls out a proposal that makes you stop and say “you have got to be kidding me!” But at the same time you say, “well, that kind of makes sense.”
That is how I felt when I heard about what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing. Bloomberg wants to ban 16 ounce and larger sodas. Bloomberg told MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell that the ban would not limit the selling of soft drinks to people, but instead it would force the vendors to offer smaller portions. If the customer wants more, they can buy more.
Bloomberg goes on to say that “we’re not taking away anybody’s right to do things, we’re simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup.”
Citing sky-high obesity rates, Bloomberg feels that if you are given more, you consume more. If you have a smaller portion, you eat less.
Well that makes sense, I suppose. Saying that this is not the perfect or only answer to the obesity problem in the United States and this is not the only cause of people being overweight, but he feels this is a good start, because “we’ve got to do something. We have an obligation to warn you when things are not good for your health.”
Bloomberg did say that while he wants to ban the larger portion sizes, there would be no limits on the sale of the beverages. The ban of the large drinks would pertain only to restaurants, stadiums and street vendors. Large drinks that are at least 50 percent milk or natural fruit juices are exempt.
Like I said, I see the bigger picture in this initiative. But if you go to a restaurant like McDonald’s, right now, you pay $1 for any size drink. And as we know, you can refill your cup as much as you want. Even if I buy a small cup, I can fill it up several times before I am even finished eating. Is there going to be a ban on that as well?
The New York City Board of Health approved the measure from Bloomberg, but questioned why large tubs of popcorn and even the 100 percent fruit juices and milk products because of the calories they contain. So as you can see, the ball is rolling toward other areas as well.
What do you think about these proposed rules in New York? Do you think that this is just the beginning? Is it the right thing to do? I would love to hear your comments.
And what do you think of Burger King’s new bacon sundae? Sound good?
The Constantine High School class of 1992 hit a milestone this past Thursday as we “celebrated” 20 years to the day that we graduated from high school. While it doesn’t seem like 20 years could possibly have passed already, at the same time it feels like a lifetime ago.
Today, several of my former classmates and I are making plans for our big reunion in September and while it will be nice to hopefully see most of those faces from the past, many of whom I spent 13 years with in school, I just can’t help but remember an incident that occurred at our first reunion 10 years ago.
While sitting in a group of about 10 people, one former classmate went down the line, shaking hands and saying hello to each person. When he got to me, he simply passed me without even an acknowledgment. I was not surprised. We were never “friends” in school, but we obviously knew each other. But for some reason, during school, he just didn’t like me, nor did I make an effort either. So the cold shoulder, after all these years, was kind of shocking as my hand was out, waiting to say hello.
What makes it even more interesting is that we didn’t have a fight, there was no grudge between us, but yet, 10 years after high school, he just seemed to revert back to those days when we roamed the hallways of high school.
I don’t want to sound like I am whining; because it really doesn’t impact me other than I was surprised that it happened. Recalling that moment reminded me of the song “Sunscreen” that was released back in the late 90’s. The song, which was derived from a column written by Mary Schmich, who said she wrote it as a commencement speech that, she would give, if she were asked to give one.
I listened to music producer Baz Luhrmann’s version of her “speech” yesterday and I was amazed at how powerful her words truly are and how I wish the youth of today (and even some adults) would take those words to heart.
Here are a few examples.
“Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.”
“Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.”
“Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
“Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.”
“Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.”
“Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.”
“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”
“Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.”
“Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.”
Not necessarily words to live by, but certainly food for thought in my opinion.