Be Wary of a Woman

There’s a song by Darius Rucker called “Be Wary of a Woman”.  It is one of the many songs I relate to my wife Beverly.  In fact, every person I know or have ever known has one or more songs.  Perhaps in a future post I’ll publish that matrix…

In any event, I’m going to post the lyrics and a link to the song here before finishing this.  It’s important to the reason for which I am writing this morning that you understand who Beverly is.  Darius seems to know her.  My favorite line is where he says, “Man you don’t stand a chance, don’t even try…”

Be Wary of a Woman

If you’re a man like me who’s good at leaving
If you like your space and you love your freedom
Don’t see yourself as ever settling down
Or your whole world being tossed around
Be wary of a woman
A woman so fine
Don’t wanna change you
Loves you just right
Makes you feel like a man inside
Sometimes she’ll make you cry
Till you don’t know what your doing
Your out of control
Forget about leaving your heart wont go
If don’t like that you better run and hide
And be wary of a woman like mine

She’ll make you laugh when you feel like crying
Make you wanna live when you feel like dying
So if you like living in the dark
Just walk away your gonna lose your heart
Be wary of a woman
A woman so fine
Don’t wanna change you
Loves you just right
Makes you feel like a man inside
Sometimes she’ll make you cry
Till you don’t know what your doing
Your out of control
Forget about leaving your heart wont go
If don’t like that you better run and hide
And be wary of a woman
Be wary of a woman like mine
Man you don’t stand a chance don’t even try
Be wary of a woman like mine

Now, on to why I sat down to write this post this morning…

Two Thursday’s ago, completely out of the blue, the government cancelled the contract I am working on.  I work for a sub.  The prime was kind enough to give us two weeks before we had to vacate.  I woke up on that Friday intending to install all the equipment I had purchased for my new 180 gallon saltwater setup.  Roughly $5,000 worth of equipment sitting in boxes, and a probably a thousand or two in things like sand, rocks, chemicals, etc.

Needless to say, what was supposed to be a fun even involving the whole family turned into a long ass weekend, wondering what the future holds.  It’s hard to sleep when you just lost your job… and spent a butt load of money.

So there was a flurry of email activity, phone calls, resume’s being traded amongst the folks in the office.  In fact I have to say I have worked in a lot of places, and I have never seen a group of people work so hard to help each other out.

But let me get to the part about my wife…

I got an offer fairly quickly.  $100,000 to do vulnerability management at the Pentagon.  I went home concerned…

I told Beverly about the offer and she could tell by my tone that I wasn’t excited. She asked me what the problem was and I told her honestly, “I don’t want to work at the Pentagon”.  And then Beverly did something I cannot imagine a lot of wives doing…

She said to me, “I have faith in you.  Even if you have to spend some time looking, I know you’ll find a new job.  If you don’t want the Pentagon job, don’t take it.”  And so I didn’t.

As of this writing I have another offer letter sitting in my in box, and two more interviews lined up for tomorrow.  True to Beverly’s prediction, I will I fact have another job.  But there is freedom in knowing I am married to a woman who has complete faith in me.

This is what allowed me to walk away from an offer when I had nothing else on the horizon.  This is what allows me to be me, and to be who I want to be.  It’s what let’s me know that no matter what life throws at me there is one constant I can always count on…like gravity…like the speed of light…

So let me say officially…  I love you Beverly.

And to those of you who aren’t married to a woman like mine… you should try it sometime. 🙂




How a Fish Tank Kicked My Ass

On Thursday I left work excited.  I had purchased a bunch of new stuff for my 180 gallon saltwater tank.  Some of it I needed.  Much of it I just wanted.  I knew there would be some challenges, but I also knew I would overcome them.  I invited my children and my oldest daughter’s boyfriend to help out with the project.  I set up the camera to record it.

Then came Friday….

On Friday we began by upgrading the RODI unit while we waited for the kids to arrive.  Sometime early that morning I checked my email to find that the contract I was on had been cancelled.  Meaning, I am about to be unemployed.  So, I looked around my living room at thousands of dollars worth of equipment…and went back to it.

It only now (Monday morning) occurs to me that I could have simply sealed up all those shipping boxes and sent the stuff back.  At that point I hadn’t removed a single rock, fish, or gallon of water from the tank.  But, I have a tendency to focus on an objective, plot a route to achieve it, and move forward.  So the thought of giving up on the project didn’t cross my mind.

I think there is a tendency to reflexively look for an excuse when things go sideways.  It is certainly possible that the news of my pending unemployment, coupled with the fact I had just spent a whole lot of money, affected my thinking.  I know I didn’t sleep well Friday night.  In any event, for whatever reason, I made some mental errors.

I’ll end the suspense.  The tank is back up and running.  But, it was much harder than I thought it would be, and there were a few moments when it seemed uncertain.

On Friday, while I was still in relatively good spirits, I made an effort to capture a lot of the detail.  By Saturday night I was less enthusiastic about it, but I still captured some of the work we were doing.  Sunday….bloody Sunday…I don’t think I recorded a damn thing.

It boils down like this.  We took all the rocks and sand out of the tank and sterilized it with a bleach solution.  We disconnected the sump, removed the skimmer and other equipment, and sterilized all of that stuff as well.  We placed the fish in a 20g tank, and the inverts went in the 10g tank with the corals.

We put the new rock and sand in the tank and I filled it up…at which point I realized that I did not rinse the sand, and now my tank was a giant mud puddle.  I tried adding some clarifier, and we settled in to watch UFC 220.  At 1 am I was draining the tank again…  I got it empty and turned on the RO unit with the hose in the tank.  The next morning I discovered two things.

  1. The tank was only 1/3 full, and that wasn’t going to work.  So I finished filling it with the garden hose
  2. I had left the heater in the sump on all night.  Fortunately it was in the slightest little bit of water and hadn’t burned a hole through the acrylic.

After buying more salt and starting over we got the tank running and it cleared up reasonably.  My daughter and her boyfriend then hooked up all the pumps, dosing units, lights, controller, power bars, etc.  Needless to say the area beside my tank is a jumbled mess of wires and tubes.

Then came all the programming and calibration….

We finally finished at 8 pm Sunday night, and I went to bed exhausted.  This morning the tank is relatively clear, though not crystal clear like the 75g is.  The sump and everything in it is covered by a fine layer of dust.  The lights need to be mounted differently.  The corals need to be placed.  There is a ton of wire management needed.

Bottom line…. my weekend project is likely going to take a lot longer than that.  All the youngins are gone.  It’s just my wife and I.  I will spend days thinking of how I could have done it differently, more efficiently, better.  I will likely swap the rocks around repeatedly, chasing a “perfect” look that I will never find.

Eventually I will find some level of contentment.  There will be an agreement that what could be done, and what I can do, are not the same thing.  I will question for some time whether it was worth the expense, then ultimately conclude that it was.  In the end I will be happy with this tank.

But for right now, this fish tank is kicking my ass…

A New Blog

If you have ever enjoyed reading anything I’ve written here, I hope you’ll consider following me in my new endeavor.  I am going to write a blog to permanently store my thoughts and feelings for posterity.  Specifically to offer words of advice/wisdom to my girls.

You can find my new blog here:

I look forward to seeing you there.

My Dog Died

Wow…has it been 5 months since my last post?  I wish I could commit to writing more frequently.  I’d like to put out more of my thoughts and feelings on a variety of matters; but the truth is if something doesn’t move me beyond my natural laziness barrier, I can’t find the motivation to write about it.

So, like the title says, my dog died Saturday night.  He was a little Jack Russell Terrier named Elric (named after Elric of Melnibone).  He was more my wife’s dog than mine.  He had been in declining health over recent months.  My wife and I had begun the conversation about putting him to sleep.  Then, Saturday evening, he passed away on my wife’s lap.

To be clear, this is not some tear jerker post about how awesome a dog he was.  I have no cool photos or heroic stories.  Much like my sentiments regarding my father, he was in my opinion not a great dog.  He was a dog.  A loyal companion.  A member of the family.  My wife will miss him.  I will not.  Though his passing did not please me, it also did not truly affect me.  Until this morning….

This morning on my ride in to work I began to think about a number of things relating to death.

My wife sat on the bed holding the deceased dog for a while.  She called me in to say good-bye.  When I went into the bedroom our Dobe “Kyrie” (his AKC name is Fate’s Kyrie Eleison) followed me in.  For those who wonder, yes… he’s named after the Mister Mister song, taken from the Latin meaning “Lord have mercy”.

Anyway, Kyrie walked over and put his nose against Elric’s nose and sniffed.  Then he laid down.  Not a sound.  Not an odd look.  Not even an extra sniff.  He just inhaled, knew what he needed to know, and moved on.  And I stood there asking myself one of life’s unanswerable questions.  “What does Kyrie think happened to Elric?”

A little later that evening Kyrie walked over to the bowls set aside for Elric and ate his food, and then he laid down on the couch and went about his normal day.  And I began to think about life and death.

It is a fact that all living things must someday die.  But, I think that when we witness the death of an animal or a person it brings to the forefront how fragile life truly is.  We confront our own mortality.  We begin to think about things.

I began to think about things.  I will try to convey those thoughts and the way in which I thought them by putting it like this.  Read each of the following sentences as fast as you possibly can, and then times that by two.  After a period of time I slow down the spinning cacophony of thought and focus on one or two at a time.  But in the beginning it happens like this:

What does Kyrie think?  Kyrie doesn’t seem to think anything.  I wonder if Elric dying makes Kyrie think about dying.  I wonder of Elric knew he was dying.  I wonder if he was afraid to die.  I am not afraid to die.  Of course I’m afraid to die!  Everyone is afraid to die!  Why am I afraid to die?  Because I don’t know if there is anything after this.  Which scares me more, the thought that there is something, or the thought that there is not?  Hmmm…good question, let me get back to you.  Bev is hurt.  Bev’s a big girl, and she knew this was coming.  Yes, but you should be kind to her.  I AM KIND TO HER! (in my own way)  She’s calling people.  I will probably call people.  She posted his death on FB.  So will I.  Why do people share pain with strangers (or friends for that matter)?  I don’t know…but that’s another good question, so let me get back to you on that one too.

And thus we arrive, finally, at today’s post.

Why do we (specifically I) fear death?  Why do people share pain?

The easy one first…

We share pain IMHO for essentially two reasons.

We want to feel connected to other people.  So, we share our pain so that we might receive comfort in return.  We are assured in these moments that our losses are felt by others and that we are not alone.  This is the likely reason Bev shared the loss of Elric via phone to those who knew him, and via FB to those who did not.

The second reason is a bit more nefarious, but still true.  Having grown up in church I watched on countless Sundays as people stood to give their testimonies.  It seemed that with each passing week the circumstances from which the Lord had saved folks got more and more dire.  What started out with “I’m just an old sinner saved by Grace”, became detailed accounts of drug use, prostitution, prison, child molestation…you name it.  It seemed to me the point was to say “look at me and all I’ve been through”.  Like the Lord had to take a couple extra steps to reach down to where I was at.  Or maybe simply to say, “You wouldn’t have made it through what I made it through”.

This is essentially the basis of Münchausen syndrome and Münchausen by Proxy.  When it reaches the level of full blown mental disorder.  Prior to that it falls under the age-old axiom that misery loves company.

Now, with regard to death…

It is the essence of life to know and be known; to see and be seen; to love and be loved.  Many people have a serious fear of being lost.  When you boil it down, what does that fear actually represent?  “What if I die out here and no one even knows?”  So too I think with death.

Tomorrow something will happen, but you will not be here to see it.  Your kids will grow up (or not); your wife will remarry (or not); your job will get done (or not); and you will not be here to witness it.  And so, in a very real sense, because you did not see it,  it did not happen.  Much like a child does not remember their birth.  They were simply here when they first became aware that they were here.

So death is the end of the story.  A story you very well may have not finished.  Suddenly, it’s over…and you have no idea how it ends.  But the truth is, it’s a circle…it never ends.  As such it is also, in many way, utterly meaningless.  You’re born, you procreate, you die; and the universe moves on unaware of your passing.

Unless of course you are religious.  Then you move on to a “better place”.  You live on eternally.  You break the circle, and suddenly life has meaning!  Wouldn’t that be awesome?!

Unfortunately, I’m more of a first scenario guy.  So I reckon I fear death to the extent that I do because I cannot imagine life going on without me.  I also imagine that the inability of a whole lot of people to face that simple reality is the reason there are so many people searching for spiritual meaning.

Perhaps not the deep psychological epiphany you were looking for.  But IMHO it’s the truth.  We fear death because we fear that we will be forgotten, and thus our lives had no meaning.  We seek comfort in religion because it promises us that we will remain.  Alive and aware, eternally a part of the story (and the best part if the writings are to be believed).  But then you have to ask yourself why it is that Christians cry at funerals…

Anyway, it’s about time to go home and bury the dog.  He deserves that.






The Living Years

I got a phone call Tuesday from my sister informing me that my father is on his deathbed. Stage 4 bone cancer. This on top of the dementia that has been eating away at his mind for the last several years. The last time I spoke to him it was a struggle to form a coherent sentence. He knew me, but could not tell me who my wife or kids were. That was a year or two ago, so I have no idea how far gone he is now.

Some of you may recall a song by Mike and the Mechanics from the early 90’s called “The Living Years”. The song is all about the distance and disagreement between a father and his son. The first verse says:

“Every generation blames the one before, And all of their frustrations come beating on your door.

I know that I’m a prisoner to all my father held so dear I know that I’m a hostage to all his hopes and fears I just wish I could’ve told him in the living years

Oh, crumpled bits of paper filled with imperfect thoughts,

Stilted conversations I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got

You say you just don’t see it he says it’s perfect sense , You just can’t get agreement in this present tense

We all talk a different language, talking in defense.”


That pretty well perfectly describes my relationship with my father. I did not listen to that song this morning on my drive in to work, but I heard it in my head nonetheless.

My father and I have been estranged for quite some time. So, as I type this post this morning I am not entirely sure how I feel about the news I have received. I guess, if I were a “normal” person I would have called in to work this morning, taken the rest of the week off, and rushed off to see him in his last moments. I didn’t do any of those things.

I did inform my manager of what was going on, simply because I am not sure how I am going to react. I wanted him to be prepared in case I abruptly left, or began sobbing uncontrollably, or something…

The thing is, I am as much a spectator in this situation as everyone else. I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know how I will feel. I have no idea how I will react when the anticipated passing of my father happens in what I assume will be the next few days. So I am, in many respects, watching a movie I’ve never seen before, and waiting to see what happens.

I think it’s entirely possible that when a new idea or concept strikes many of us we have a tendency to believe we have “discovered” something. Our epiphany is an epiphany for all mankind. I’m sure this is particularly true if we are considered (by ourselves or others) to be “smart”. But then you talk to someone else, or read something someone else wrote, and realize that there is nothing new under the sun.

Nevertheless, while exploring my thoughts and feelings on the matter I was struck by the notion that in the end our lives are really just a series of snippets in the memories of other people.

We are born, in many cases we procreate, and eventually we die. The circle of people who care about any of these things is relatively small. The number of lives most of us will touch is also relatively small. In the end, even if a whole lot of people know who we are, the people who actually feel our loss is a small subset of that number.

Who we were becomes a function of how we are recalled by those still living. Being forever silenced and unable to correct the record or defend ourselves, perception becomes reality. All the things we accomplished fade away. The awards and achievements, the degrees and certifications, all of the accumulated pieces of paper and plaques…all piled into a pine box alongside the husk of who we once were…and turned to ash and dust along with us.

All that remains are the smiles or frowns of those who knew us when, from time to time, we come to mind. The things we said or did traded in for the things people think we said or did. Nothing lasting, nothing permanent. In my case, having fathered two girls, not even my last name will carry on. All that will matter when all is said and done, is what those two girls think of me, when they think of me.

Lest I depart too sharply from my normal manner and thereby cause consternation amongst my friends, let me follow up by saying….I’ll be dead. So, in reality, I won’t know, or care, what anyone still alive thinks. It certainly does make for some interesting thoughts though…and no doubt quite a few tee-shirts and bumper stickers about how all that matters is how we treated others, etc.

Right now, in a house I’ve never seen, in a town I’ve never been to, surrounded by people I’ve never met…my father is dying.   When I imagined for a moment what going to his funeral might be like, and what I would say if I were asked to say something, I came to some conclusions. I guess it’s up to the reader to determine if those conclusions are sad, or insightful, profound, or ambivalent. I can’t rightly say.

For the record, and for those not familiar with the situation, I will briefly recap. My father left my mother in the most cowardly manner I could imagine. He was a pastor and he ran off with the church secretary. He married her shortly after his divorce from my mother went through because, as he explained to me at the time, they didn’t want to live in sin, “any longer than is absolutely necessary”.

My mother is, as are we all, a flawed woman. But she continually and constantly pounded one refrain into my mind from the time I was old enough to speak. “I hate a liar”. That can be translated over to, “I hate a hypocrite”. I did see, and still see, my father as a hypocrite. I believe he violated sacred covenants, abandoned his flock, led people astray, and committed a whole host of other things that his faith deems “sins”. Nevertheless, he did them. And he did them for the most base of reasons. I have never truly found it in my heart to forgive that.

That fact is in and of itself intriguing to me. I know women whose fathers sexually molested them, and they have found it within themselves to forgive them and attempt to repair the relationship. My father broke a vow to a God I don’t quite believe in, and (to be fair) he also lied to me in the process. But these things seem so much smaller than the things other people are able to see their way past. So I have to consider for a moment, is the failing his, or mine?

Not that I bear him ill will, or walk around with anger in my heart. I just added him to my internal list of people I prefer not to associate with. What that translates to is, in the last 15 years I’ve seen him once and spoken to him by phone 3-4 times.

I guess in my dad’s case what angered me was that he set himself up as a leader and an emissary of God, and then fell on his face. And he didn’t stumble over some unusual set of circumstances or extraordinary moral conundrum. He was tripped up by the same shit he lectured me on.

He demonstrated conclusively (in my mind) that Jesus isn’t changing hearts. He tore apart his own family, and the family of the woman he committed adultery with, and then he shrugged and said, “God forgives me, if you don’t that’s your problem”.

And now he’s dying.

What would I say if I were asked to say something?

My father was not a great man. Some would tell you he was a good man, and I wouldn’t rise to oppose them, though I would disagree. In the end, he was a man. He had his flaws. He had his vices. He had his shortcomings and failures. I do not begrudge him any of these things. We all have things about ourselves we are less than proud of. But he lacked honor, and was therefore not someone I chose to spend time with.

My father paid his bills, fed his kids, and served his country. He spent 4 years in the Air Force and the rest of his working life at NSA. He taught college courses, coached tee-ball, baseball, and softball. (An interesting aside, my dad was tried out to play Catcher for the Baltimore Orioles way back in the day.)

He gave to me my love of reading, chess, and debate. He taught me to think. And when he was younger and in decent shape, the man could play baseball.

He participated in the rearing of two moderately successful children. His progeny is no burden on society.

I hear that in recent years he got involved with child welfare and became some sort of court appointed advocate.

That’s it. That’s all I know about the man.

I recall a few ridiculous things like the way he would stick his tongue in his cheek when he was angry. I remember a few times we almost came to blows during my teenage years. I remember he was a bit of a clown, and enjoyed being the center of attention…which I suppose is the unspoken reason he chose to go into the ministry.

Mainly, since I hung up the phone with my sister, I have been thinking about more abstract things.

I wonder if he’s scared. I wonder if he’s even cognizant of what is happening. I wonder if he’s looking forward to “going on to be with the Lord”. Or is it possible that now that the question is no longer rhetorical, he has his doubts?

I wonder who has come to see him. I wonder, when I am in his position, who will come to see me? I wonder if he wonders if I will come…or if he even remembers my name. If he does remember my name, and does hope that I will come, will the last thing he feels be profound sadness? Is that my fault? Does it matter?

Assuming he has anywhere near a firm grasp on reality, I wonder does he look back on his life with regret, or satisfaction? I wonder how I would answer that same question.

In the end I am simply writing this because I am experiencing an event I will only ever experience once. I am not looking for pity or condolences. My father has not been an integral part of my life for a very long time. I won’t miss him more the day after he’s gone than I did on any given day last month.

I’m simply thinking about things, and seeing them, in a light that only shines once. So I’m capturing my thoughts and passing them on.

Maybe I’m just creating a snippet in the memory of someone else…

Inclusion and Diversity

A good friend of mine posted an article to LinkedIn about Twitter hiring a new VP of diversity and inclusion. In her comments she stated, “Diversity & Inclusion is necessary for long term success.”

I do in fact believe in inclusion, though my definition may not be up to snuff with whatever the social justice code word of the month is. But in the classic sense, I believe that people with relevant experience and opinions should be included in conversations. I believe that people with skills and expertise should have access to compete for open positions. I believe that access to things which are generally accessible, should include all the people who are interested in accessing them.

But I struggle with the notion that diversity is necessary for long term success.

The very history of this nation, and the fact that we are the most “successful” nation on this planet, kind of defeats that argument. We grew, and prospered, and defeated our enemies, and saved the world, and invented the most important stuff ever invented…all while being a nation primarily run by old, white, men. Which is not to say that we should be a nation run by old, white, men… but simply that it is entirely possible to have success without diversity. In fact, there are a number of fairly successful nations on this planet where diversity is pretty much against the law… Saudi Arabia for example.

If I run an accounting firm, and my employees spend all day adding and subtracting numbers…does the color of their skin matter? Is 2+2 more emphatically 4 if a black person says it? Is the math going to change because a Muslim quotes it? Are you going to pay less in taxes if your returns are prepared by a woman?

Diversity makes us feel good. It may even make us look good. It adds to our personal lives when we are able to discuss different cultures, beliefs, customs, etc. But it is, imho, wholly unnecessary for “success”.

My daughter is getting a college degree right now. She is doing the entirety of her program on-line. Thus her diversity is as low as it can possibly be, as she takes all of her classes alone. And yet, she is successfully completing her degree. She will also successfully obtain employment and begin a career. She will do this in the absence of diversity, and I don’t think it makes a bit of difference.

At the end of the day, it will be non-white, non-male, people who will disagree with me on this topic. I get that. But let me ask the next logical question…

Would the NAACP be more successful if they included white people in the interests of diversity?

Would NOW be more successful if they included men in the interests of diversity and inclusion?

Would whatever organization you support that discriminates against white, straight, male, Christian, Republicans be more successful if they included white, straight, male, Christian, Republicans in the interests of diversity?? Yeah…I didn’t think so.

In my personal experience when people say “diversity”, they mean that *I* should let *them* in. They NEVER mean that *they* should let *me* in.

American Values

In recent days various individuals and representatives of various groups have claimed that executive orders issued by the Trump administration do not represent “American Values”.  I have found this particularly interesting in light of recent protests.

At UC Berkeley last night property was destroyed, people were injured, police were assaulted.  All of this during a protest of a speech by a Breitbart news editor.  Oddly, I was under the impression that “Freedom of Speech” was an American value.  But it seems I was mistaken.

At The Women’s March in Washington speeches were given expressing vulgarities, profanity, and in one case discussion of bombing the Whitehouse.  I thought, apparently mistakenly, that public decency was an American Value.

The simple fact here is that the left is only in support of free speech if they agree with what you are saying.  They are only concerned about what their sons and daughters hear from national leaders, if those leaders are Republicans.  So they run ads saying “Our children our watching, what kind of President do you want them to see?”  But they have no problem with the filth that spewed out of the mouths of Madonna and Ashley Judd.  In fact, their children weren’t just watching, they were brought to the event.

The truth is, we are going to have to take this nation back from the left-wing loons now attempting to control it.  We have beaten them at the ballot box.  We have beaten them in the courts.  Now they want to reduce a difference of opinion to riots in the streets.  I’m afraid we’re going to have to beat them there too.

Amazingly, though 6 people were injured and tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage done, not a single person was arrested at Berkeley last night.  Clearly the police are either ill-equipped, or not motivated, to do their jobs.  We may have reached the point where we need to do it for them.

We may have reached the point where the only reasonable response is a proportional response.  Because people who refuse to have a discussion, or accept the results of an election, apparently understand nothing else.

IMHO the time has come to meet violence with overwhelming force.

It is sad that we have gotten to this place, but it is the left that has put us here.  It is simply up to us, the sane, rational, normal people of this nation to decide if we will allow anarchists to tear our nation down one brick at a time.

I, for one, am not okay with that.