Are You Ready to RUMBLE??

When the boys were little they loved nothing better then to “play on the floor” with Dad. Mostly this involved them dog piling on me, and me tossing them about like 20# bags of sand with four handles. And this would go on with everyone having fun until someone got hurt, which was inevitable. Then we’d tend to the wound with duct tape and bags of frozen peas, and go back into the mix.

Then a couple years ago, the frequency of this sort of play seemed to slow. They wrestled more with each other, and I was injured a lot (not game related), and maybe they were just growing up and out of that sort of thing being fun. But all of a sudden, it’s back. It’s different, but it’s back.

Actually, the tactics of my younger son are still those of the dog piling boy. And since he still doesn’t weigh much more than a 20# sandbag, the results are pretty much the same. But my older son is on the verge of teen-dom, and his tactics have changed dramatically. He is considerably stronger and is learning to use his weight and the leverage of his impossibly long limbs to his advantage. And the attitude has changed. He’s definitely feeling his oats a bit. There is a decided element of “challenging the old man” to his actions. Not in a bad way. He almost seems delighted to be repeatedly pinned, flipped, and tossed. As if there is an odd comfort in knowing that despite his growing body, he’s still not the lead dog.

It’s a cool transition, and it’s fun to see it from this side. So far. I still remember vividly the exact moment I knew I was stronger than my father. We exchanged a glance, but never spoke of it. I had always dreamed of that day when I was little, but when it came I didn’t want it to be so. And maybe by never acknowledging it, it never was. There remains comfort in not being the lead dog, even when you know you could be. And I’ve come to realize this is the basis of respect.

When his time comes, how will he handle that moment? Hell, how will I? Time will tell. Right now, I need some Motrin.

Hard to Port

I’ve been struggling with what to think about the whole Dubai Ports World deal. On the one hand, I do think there is probably not a substantial change in our security risk as a result of this change of management. But that’s only because port security couldn’t get much worse than it already is. On the other hand, it seems damn peculiar that we’d hand over any such operations to a company owned by a country with stronger and more tangible ties to 9/11 than the one we choose to invade. But then the UAE and the Saudis’ have been our pals for a long time regardless of all the money they also pump (indirectly) into terrorist groups. As a minimum, this is yet another situation where we are really funding both sides of the war we are currently fighting. But relative to direct oil dollars, this is a drop in the bucket.

But much like the Cheney shooting, the administration’s handling of the event is more suspicious than the event itself. Bush admitted he was completely unaware of the deal prior to it surfacing in the news. And then he turns around and promises to veto any legislation designed to stop it. Why? Why is something he claims to not have a personal awareness of, much less interest in, suddenly something he’s willing to go to the wall over? Is there really a web of secret deals here that this is a part of? Or is this simply a control issue and Bush can’t bear the notion that Congress should actually have a say in the matter?

Is the press making too much of this? Maybe. But again, I think the press and the public are reacting to how it’s being handled. If the president had said that he was unaware of the deal, but was going to investigate, I think that would have been received much differently. It’s all about disclosure. If it looks like you’re hiding something, it’s only natural to suspect you’re up to no good. And it sure looks like someone is up to something here.

Spa’d On

We just returned from a wonderfully relaxing couple of days at a spa. It was my first experience at such a place, and while it lived up to every expectation, two days was plenty.

The atmosphere was amazingly serene. This extended right to the tone of voice that every staff person used when they spoke to you. There was gentle soothing music or sounds in the background everywhere. The pace was slow. I pondered what it must be like to work in such an environment. Did these people ever have a bad day at work? And what would constitute that?

There were ample places to relax both in and out of the room. Places to soak in warm water. Places to have people rub out tensioned muscles. Quiet rooms with napping places, foot baths, herbal teas, and cucumber water.

Perhaps one of the oddest things was that packing for the trip turned out to be unnecessary. Upon arrival you are given this thick terrycloth robe and slippers, which you are encouraged to wear everywhere – even to the restaurant for lunch. And everybody does.

All in all, it was a rewarding and rejuvenating experience. I recommend it highly. But a day or two is really enough. After a fashion, you actually get restless for a little “something”. Oh, and don’t go to a spa if you’re hungry. We lunched on a featured 3-course meal one day, and while the food was excellent, it was, shall we say, less than filling. I had a small salad, two raviolis, and a piece of beef so tiny that I’m pretty sure the donor cow would not have qualified for workman’s compensation following its removal. I suppose the good news is that it’s unusual to go on a vacation where you do absolutely nothing and don’t gain any weight. This one qualifies.

"DO NOT CALL" – Which Word Confuses You?

I probably shouldn’t complain as on a whole I get almost no solicitation calls. The Do Not Call lists really do seem to work pretty well. But every now and again I get a call from some organization who is not “selling” anything, but they sure would like a donation. Most of these groups have worthy cause sounding names, but honestly I’ve never heard of them.

As a practice, I inform them politely that I am on the Do Not Call list and that I don’t take solicitation calls of any kind. That deters very few of them. Some keep right on going with their pitch. One woman latched onto the word “solicitation” and informed me indignantly that she was not offering that. But increasingly, many will argue that because they are not selling anything that legally they can call me. Maybe so, but given that I asked not to be called, and when they did anyway, I asked again to be left alone, do they really think their chances of getting my credit card number out of me are all that high?

I have to believe this approach works on at least some people. There must be those who say to themselves, “Oh, he’s allowed to do this. I guess I better listen.” Those people exist in number large enough to sustain this marketplace of annoying hawkers. And more disturbingly, they are allowed to vote.