A weekend of contrasts #life #Health #kids


The weekend did not start well for Freereangegeek. He watched his beloved Buffs get demolished while recuperating from a medical procedure. Then he spent the majority of the day Saturday watching wrestling, followed by another evening of football. Sunday dawned with a day of promise. Kids were given their assignments, a good breakfast was followed by shopping. Then a day of relaxation followed. It was a weekend of activity and a time of rest.

Friday was the rite of passage that accompanies turning 50: a colonoscopy. Which followed a no fun night of little sleep combined with no food. But the returns were all positive from the procedure, no growths or problems. Friday evening was devoted to catching up on recorded shows and then football. The football was fun for a while. But it became clear early on that it was not going to be the Buffs night. Which was okay as they were effectively playing with house money on this season.

Saturday came with the chance to attend Number One Son’s first JV wrestling tournament. It began well. As said son won his first 2 matches handily. It seemed that great things were coming. But it was not to be. A lack of experience and development showed in his last 2 matches as errors were made, and the shock of playing someone 4 years older kicked in. But a respectable 2-2 record for the day with real signs of improvement from previous seasons made it all a success. Even if it was a long day for the Freerangegeek.

Saturday evening was spent in more relaxation and watching two exciting and close college football games. It was entertaining, to say the least, and a good way to unwind from the day.

Sunday was initially devoted to household items. Cooking breakfast, picking up the kitchen. Assigning chores to the children. Then grocery shopping and meal planning. That was followed by some time devoted to holiday shopping and planning. During which Freerangegeek was abe to keep abreast of football scores using his early Xmas gift.

However, when he returned it was like all energy seeped out of his body. As his usefulness went away and he fell into the depths of televised sports again.

There was a strong set of contrasting events and feeling over the course of the weekend. There were moments of excitement and activity. And there was time spent in grips of the couch and televised sports. In all, it was a good weekend, but there were moments when it felt like time was being wasted. When his employment changes in a week the Freerangegeek will have to find a better way of handling the time when he is not at work better so it will not feel like as much time is wasted.

It was occasionally difficult, but the transition period is almost over #life


It is a hungry and tired morning for the Freerangegeek. He has an appointment today for a colonoscopy (welcome to turning 50!) Which meant he had to fast all day yesterday, then spend last night on the couch in between trips to the bathroom. He is really looking forward to getting home this afternoon and preparing a meal.

However, he is still in a good mood. Because he was hired yesterday, ending the job search that was bringing him down. It is a definite pay cut from his previous place of employment. But it is doing work that he knows he can excel at. And the company is growing and has a track record of promoting from within, along with the potential for pay increases. So he can envision making more money eventually.

Most importantly he knows that with his capable and beautiful at the controls of the family budget that the necessary things will be paid for. Second most important, the company is not open on weekends so he will be able to continue with his favored hobby meetings.

Also, number one son is beginning to show signs of getting a handle on school. And there are chances to see said son excel at his sport of choice.

It was an interesting 3 months. It allowed Freerangegeek to get some perspective. To get a crucial transitional school year for his progeny off to a good start. And he had a chance to enjoy numerous fun events for the family and friends. It was a unique way to transition to his 50th year on the planet. But he is thankful that it is almost over and he can return to a more normal schedule and life pattern.

There aren’t many like it, and this one is mine #Sidgl #Organizer @Sidgl


Last year one of my good friends began making bags. Messenger bags, laptop bags, tango bags. I bought one of his laptop bags in January and have been very pleased with it. It has been everything I would want. Durable, flexible, eye catching. In the spring, in a fit of whimsy, I suggested that he make a dice bag. He took that suggestion to heart. He has been very busy making bags (even missed out on our school reunion because he had to sew.)

He has added organizers to his repertoire. Which looked very cool as well. Then about a month ago he asked for my address. A few days later I received an organizer in the mail. I have been busy figuring out what to put where, and how to best utilize all the spaces. Without further ado, here is my review of this fantastic piece of work.

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First, let’s talk about that eye catching cover. At first glance those rivets seem a little odd. Right up until you actually grab it where the hand is. Then that design makes all the sense in the world. The rivets make the grip very natural and feels very secure. The read hand on the dark canvas cover also just pops from a color perspective. Very attractive. Functional and attractive, just what you would want.

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The size seems a little odd at first. Again, until you actually pick it up and use it. Having done my time with the corporate portfolios of the pre-electronic era this is far more manageable. The zipper is very high quality, I am not even reomotely concerned with it beginning to detach with repeated use. And the handy little tag at the top helps you remember which side is which.

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Just lok at all that stuff! That is a composition notebook. An iPad mini. 3 pens of varying sizes. My reading glasses and headphones. And my essential dice. There is more there in the pockets that you don’t see. And room for even more, if I wanted to carry more pens, or a charging cord or similar stuff there is plenty of room for it all.

And that interior is plush! It just feels really nice. I am not even remotely worried about the screen of my iPad getting scratched or smudged. Again, all of this is in the same eye catching, attractive colors as the outside. The catches on the potckets are real heavy duty and solid, no tacky velcro that willl wear out in a few months. Everything is real solid in there, no concerns about losing stuff or having it get loose and roll around inside the organizer.

At heart I am a minimalist. I like to be as self contained as possible. But I also realize that there are times when I might want more stuff that I can keep in my pockets, especially when I am going to a game. And as a gamer you always need a place for your dice. Thus the idea for a dice bag. Well my friend at Sidgl has taken that idea to the next level. This is a dice bag on steroids! I can’t hardly wait for the chance to game again so I can show it off to my friends and make them drool with envy!

 

Breaking the silence #Life #Mentalhealth


It has been a rough couple of weeks. There have been some good moments, but not enough to offset the bad. Kids were making my life difficult, not intentionally. The job search hit a particularly rough patch. All of my role playing games kept canceling. Just now getting a chance to breathe and look at some semblance of a regular routine again.

I had to spend the week home with the kids for Thanksgiving while Kim put in extraordinarily long hours. I was not looking forward to that because Jimmy especially was on extra restrictions. Which meant I had the possibility of spending a week home with a grumpy teenager.

Fortunately, Jimmy was actually very good. He had wrestling practice almost every day which helped occupy his time. He kept to his part of the restriction for the most part. Did a lot of useful work around the house. Helped entertain the little ones instead of sitting in his room sulking. It was not perfect, but it was better than I anticipated.

I finally got word on 2 jobs I had interviewed for. One I was kind of counting on, and it took a long time to get a response from. The news was not good, though. I was turned down for both positions. Which was very discouraging. I am in a rough spot career-wise. I maintain I have spent 20 years working in customer service. But the normal customer service folks look at my resume and see 10 years of technical help desk work. On the other hand, I do not have the technical training and background to make the technical support postings look at me. It is rough. And a real emotional drain. I am sticking to it, and am being as realistic as possible. It just is not fun or enjoyable.

Normally in all of this, I would at least have had the escape of my role playing games.  I did resume the boys game. With a couple of beginning sessions. But that is not the same escape as getting out of the house and playing with my friends. And the last 3 of those sessions have been canceled due to illnesses of other plans. There is hope on the horizon. But that is colored by the possibility that when I do get a job I could very well be working the kind of hours that preclude my being able to attend those games.

Like I said, it has been rough. I have endeavored to persevere. I have constructed escapes when I could. Tried to keep my mind busy with things I enjoy. Focused on what is good. I know that this is temporary. It will pass. It is just not easy to see that in the moment when I feel stuck and trapped. I am still here, still breathing, and focusing on the moments ahead as much as I can. Always Forward, Never back.

Handling disappointment and making the best of it #Life


Last week was not a great week. The election was so disappointing. The follow-up was not easy to accept. I was fighting what I thought might be the beginning of a cold. I was really looking forward to the weekend and the escape of my role playing. Only to end up with more disappointment.

Saturday was relaxing for the most part. We got some work done in cleaning up the house. Kim did some Scout events. Then I received an e-mail that my Pathfinder game was canceled. The GM was sick and unable to run the game. Which meant that my monthly escape from house and family was not going to happen.

That was upsetting and disappointing. I was really looking forward to the game. Excited about the game itself. I had a lot of ideas for the game and things I could do. It was not solely about the escape. But the escape was still very important.

Kim was very understanding. Which helped. I had to accept it.

I did end up getting out anyway. I went and saw a good movie, Dr. Strange, that I really enjoyed. I drove around some and then got some food. Took some time to read and finish a good book. And did my best to avoid the Broncos game, not wanting or needing additional disappointment.

It turned out that I was avoiding what was a stressful but good football game. In total, my teams had a great weekend. That helped me some.

In all, I overcame all of the terrible feelings in my life. I watched plenty of football. I saw a good movie. I finished a good book. I won’t say it was easy. The feelings of disappointment from the election are still there. But I have the opportunity to play next weekend and the week after that, so chances to escape do dot the horizon.

In a way, the messaging was dead on #Politics #Love


Love Trumps Hate

That is the bumper sticker on a lot of cars. Also on many t-shirts and signs, and placards. It was meant to be a clever twist on words. The implication being that since Trump preaches Hate, and if Hillary preaches Love then Love would triumph. That was the great hope this election. That the voters would reject the candidate who spent a lot of time making arrogant, hate filled speeches. The reality though is that the logic was dead on, just not in the way people thought.

The problem for the Democrats was less that they were wrong to hope that a message of unity over a message of division would win the election. The problem was that they underestimated how much people would want to vote for Trump. At the same time, they overestimated how people would want to vote against him.

Funny how people act. In general, people want to do something positive before they want to do something that will prevent something bad from happening. Telling someone that they have to vote just because one candidate is bad is not a great incentive. People want to be for someone or something.

To some of us, it seemed so easy: Trump was seemingly a terrible candidate, a deeply flawed man who could not help but say ugly things about a wide array of folks. The tactic seemed to write itself: tell American voters how bad this guy was and people would rush to the polls to vote against him. Yes, that tactic probably worked for some people.

That is not how most people think, though. They want to be for something or someone. The flip side of the coin was that as great a person as Hillary is, no matter how qualified, smart and capable, she was simply not all that charismatic. And there was difficulty in getting people to love her and her ideas. Last, her ideas could not be summed up in a  simple, powerful message.

The result was that people wanted to vote for Trump and his central simple message. While fewer people could get excited about Hillary. And even fewer were willing to go out of their way just to vote against Trump.

There was plenty of negative messaging on both sides. But I saw a lot more negative messaging from the Hillary campaign than I did from the Trump side. And that did not bring out the voters. There has to be a person or message that people want to vote for to get them out to the polls, and one side had that love, while it felt that the other side relied a little too much on the hate and fear.

Understanding the goal versus the practice #Politics #Electoralcollege


This week the United States chose a President who did not receive the majority of the votes cast in the election. This is the second time this has happened in the past five Presidential elections. This result came about because the United States does not provide for the direct election of the President. Instead, the President is elected by the Electoral College.

The Electoral College designates that each state will have a number of Electors equal to the total number of Senators and Representatives to the House of Representatives. For example, my home state of Colorado has 7 Representatives and 2 Senators, which means it has 9 Electoral votes.

With the second of these occurrences in such a short time, the subject of the Electoral College has come up in recent days. The big argument that I am seeing used by those who are defending the system is that it keeps small states involved in the electoral process. Guaranteeing them a spot at the table. The problem is that this was not the intention of the system.

The purpose of the Electoral College is actually far more elitist than just ensuring that small states have their say. The purpose of the system was to make sure that the majority of people did not elect someone that was not worthy of being President. Fortunately, we do not have to guess to come to this conclusion. We have the words of one of the Framers available to us. In Federalist Paper 68 the writer (likely Alexander Hamilton) says:

It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

That pretty much lays out the idea that the Electors would act as a filter for the actual voters. And that the body of the Electoral College would as a total filter in case a block of states wanted to act against the interests of the nation.

What the Electoral College was not intended to be was a check against the larger states controlling the government. That check already exists elsewhere, within the Senate and the House. The way those bodies are apportioned ensures that the small states will have their say in the government.

It is important to note that the President (and Vice President) are the only nationally elected offices in the government. The import being that while a member of Congress might represent their House district or State, the President represents the entire nation.

That is why the Electoral College is an archaic system that feels like it is subverting our democracy. When the majority of the voters choose one candidate, but due to geographical circumstances, a group of 200,000 voters can effectively block the votes of millions.

While a Constitutional Amendment eliminating the Electoral College would be the desired goal that has become an impractical solution given the size of our country. But there is a practical, workable solution out there. The National Popular Vote Bill can correct this problem. The essence of what it will do is this:

Under the compact, the winner would be the candidate who received the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) on Election Day. When the Electoral College meets in mid-December, the national popular vote winner would receive all of the electoral votes of the enacting states.

What this means that the Electors from the states would no longer follow a winner take all approach in each state. Instead, they would simply respect the votes of the majority of American voters. The President would truly represent the majority of the country, not the wishes of people in certain geographies.

I think this is the best option for making sure that we do not have a President whom a large portion of the populace dislikes, opposes or even fears. Because the President must be a national figure and represent the will of the national electorate, while Congress provides the check of the states wishes. That is the goal of the system.