Monday, August 24, 2009

Great Time in San Diego

On Thursday, August 6th, we were hosted by our good friends Chris and Lorraine Stiehl to a delightful evening at San Diego's Petco Park. A great time was had by all as we watched the Padres beat the Mets 8 to 3.


Below is a video that captures some of the flavor of the evening.


video

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fathers Day 2009 – A Tribute to My Father

James Franklin Snowden, Jr.

April 26, 1924 – May 2, 2003

James Franklin Snowden, Jr., devoted husband and Father was born April 26, 1924 in Mt Vernon, Wa. The son of James Franklin Snowden, Sr. and Beatrice McCain, he grew up on a farm in Skagit County, WA. Upon graduation from Mt. Vernon High School in 1943, he entered the Navy to support the efforts of his country during World War II. He saw action in the Pacific Theater and ended his tour in 1946 with stations in Japan and China and achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

Upon his return from WWII, he married a high school sweetheart, Marilyn June Osbrink, in 1947. Together, they had four children. He briefly saw military action again when he was called up from the reserves during the Korean conflict.

After graduating in 1950, from the College of the Pacific, he began a 35 year career as a high school science and math teacher. He had a life long commitment for learning and achieved a Masters Degree from the University of California. Over his career, he taught at Tracy Union High School, El Rancho High School, Sierra High School and ended his teaching career at California High School, the last two in Whittier, CA. During this time he coached many sports but was most known for his support of Track and Football. In fact many of his athletes, students, family and friends simply called him “Coach”

Jim, as he was known to friends, spent most of his summers in his childhood home of Mt Vernon, WA where he worked for the Skagit Valley Trucking Company. After losing his first wife, Marilyn to cancer in 1980, he was fortunate enough to experience love again married Doris Mae Bogda in 1981. He was heard often to say how lucky he was to have been married to two wonderful women. This union created a family of seven children who eventually blessed them both with fourteen grandchildren.

Jim retired from full time teaching to Nevada City, CA in 1983 where he and his wife, Doris, have lived for the past 18 years. During this time, he continued to be an active participant in education. He was a substitute teacher for Nevada Union High School as well as other local schools in the district. During this time he was active in a number of local organizations such as the “Sons in Retirement”, where he was chapter President in 1994.

Jim had a special passion for horticulture and planted over 100 trees and plants on his property. He had a special interest in fruit trees, especially apple trees with several varieties growing on his property.

Jim is survived by his wife Doris, sons Jim and David daughters, Sharon and Suzanne, stepsons Bill, Richard and David and 14 grandchildren, all of whom will miss him dearly.

Services will be held at: Chapel of the Angels, 250 Race Street, Grass Valley, CA (530) 273-2446 on Saturday, May 10th, 2003.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Death of Common Sense

Someone sent this to me several months ago. I remember reading it and chuckling.

Well with all that is happening in the world, it seems to make sense to re-run this classic. While CS has been dead for more than 10 years, if you are like me you still miss "him".

By Lori Borgman
Three yards of black fabric enshroud my computer terminal. I am mourning the passing of an old friend by the name of Common Sense.
His obituary reads as follows:
Common Sense, aka C.S., lived a long life, but died from heart failure at the brink of the millennium. No one really knows how old he was, his birth records were long ago entangled in miles and miles of bureaucratic red tape. Known affectionately to close friends as Horse Sense and Sound Thinking, he selflessly devoted himself to a life of service in homes, schools, hospitals and offices, helping folks get jobs done without a lot of fanfare, whooping and hollering. Rules and regulations and petty, frivolous lawsuits held no power over C.S.
A most reliable sage, he was credited with cultivating the ability to know when to come in out of the rain, the discovery that the early bird gets the worm and how to take the bitter with the sweet. C.S. also developed sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn), reliable parenting strategies (the adult is in charge, not the kid) and prudent dietary plans (offset eggs and bacon with a little fiber and orange juice).
A veteran of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, the Technological Revolution and the Smoking Crusades, C.S. survived sundry cultural and educational trends including disco, the men's movement, body piercing, whole language and new math.
C.S.'s health began declining in the late 1960s when he became infected with the If-It-Feels-Good, Do-It virus. In the following decades his waning strength proved no match for the ravages of overbearing federal and state rules and regulations and an oppressive tax code. C.S. was sapped of strength and the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, criminals received better treatment than victims and judges stuck their noses in everything from Boy Scouts to professional baseball and golf. His deterioration accelerated as schools implemented zero-tolerance policies. Reports of 6-year-old boys charged with sexual harassment for kissing classmates, a teen suspended for taking a swig of Scope mouthwash after lunch, girls suspended for possessing Midol and an honor student expelled for having a table knife in her school lunch were more than his heart could endure.
As the end neared, doctors say C.S. drifted in and out of logic but was kept informed of developments regarding regulations on low-flow toilets and mandatory air bags. Finally, upon hearing about a government plan to ban inhalers from 14 million asthmatics due to a trace of a pollutant that may be harmful to the environment, C.S. breathed his last. Services will be at Whispering Pines Cemetery. C.S. was preceded in death by his wife, Discretion; one daughter, Responsibility; and one son, Reason. He is survived by two step-brothers, Half-Wit and Dim-Wit.
Memorial Contributions may be sent to the Institute for Rational Thought.
Farewell, Common Sense. May you rest in peace.

Note from Lori Borgman: This piece was first published March 15, 1998 in the Indianapolis Star. It has been "modified" and "edited" by others and circulated on the Internet, even sent to me several times. Imagine my surprise to see it attributed to some guy named Anonymous. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I take having my work circulated on the web as a compliment.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Practical Things

It has been awhile since I made an entry. So this is overdue.....





AMAZINGLY SIMPLE HOME REMEDIES




  • Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop.

  • Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by using the sink.

  • For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

  • A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

  • If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives; then you'll be afraid to cough.You only need two tools in life - WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

  • Remember: Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

  • If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.



Daily Thought:

SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES; NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS.

Monday, April 27, 2009

An Open Letter to My Children - Part 1

Last year, as you know, I became something new for me… a cancer survivor. That experience was one that gave me significant pause and invited a certain reflection on my life. It is not unlike the very first time I had a shock about mortality. Back in 1976, I experienced mortality for the first time in a very personal way. My mother, your grandmother, went through a radical double mastectomy to remove breast cancer from her body. As I observed her ashen body recovering from the surgery and before she had fully awakened from the anesthesia, a new thought went through my mind. Could my mother die?

While we were able to enjoy my mother for another four years, that thought, of her possible death, that I had that summer day in 1976 profoundly altered the way I looked at the world. I would say, it was my first true step toward becoming a man. I loved my mother deeply. She was not only a wonderful mother to me, she was in many ways my best friend and the possibility that she would not be with me to see me get married, have a family, grow old with my father and simply live life was unthinkable until that day.

So, on that summer day in 1976, death became part of my life.


In a similar way, when I got the news in October of 2007 that I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, suddenly I was faced with a new step in my life's journey. The possibility of my own mortality. Until that day, I fully expected to go on living my life for many years to come. Now all of a sudden, I had to confront some stark questions. Would I live to see Michael graduate from college? Would I live to give my beautiful daughter Kelly away at her wedding? Would I live to coddle wonderful grandchildren on my knee. Would I be there to congratulate Mark as he made strides in his career? Would I live to walk along forest pathways with the love of my life, Cheryl? All of these questions, and more, went through my mind on that Friday in October 2007.


So now, here I am with over one year since I was declared in remission. As each day passes, the memory of that shocking day fades a bit. Still, I never go a day without pondering my own mortality and wonder what kind of legacy I am leaving.


Yesterday would have been my father's 85th birthday. I thought it fitting as a tribute to him and to do what I could to honor you, my children that I would offer a few thoughts on what I have learned in my lifetime and who have been some of my key influences in my life. I do this both in a quiet way and a public way. I make no special announcement to you, yet I post it here for the world to see. Perhaps, you will run across this at some point and the discovery will intrigue you and you will find it fascinating. Or perhaps, you will find it and think, oh there goes my crazy Dad again imagining somehow that his thoughts are somehow more important than they are. Still I offer these thoughts sincerely with the hope that one day you may find comfort and perhaps a little wisdom in my musings.


For any of you who stumble upon this, and are not part of my immediate family, perhaps you may look at this as love letter to you from a father you may not have known as well but wanted to.


In the next few days, my father!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Don't Mess With Me

I had an hysterical conversation with my cousin from the great Northwest. She is absolutely a GREAT American. In fact, she shared with me a couple of items that all I have to say is GOD Bless You Kelly. You are almost keeping up the "John Wayne" tradition single-handed .

On a recent visit to her brother, the famous, Will Osbrink, she confessed to becoming enamoured with guns. Not some POP gun or BB Gun mind you, I'm talkin about .357 magnums. All I have to say is You Go Girl!

Here are couple of items that I am displaying that belong as badges of honor. The first is a picture of a coke can shot from about 35 yards away by her and the 2nd is definitely why you will always know if you shopping in Texas.
This is aptly and simply titled "Don't Mess With Me"

And now for a good humored poke at our fellow citizins from Texas, here is a video entitled, "How You Know You are Shopping in Texas.

video

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Lesson in Economics

An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class. Thatclass had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said ok, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A. After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The  students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. But, as the second test rolled around, thestudents who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F. The scores never increased as bickering, blame, name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because… when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that....
 
SOCIALISM goes against human nature – each person has an inate desire to be rewarded and recognized for work well done.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Way to Go Mike!

All.....

Got this update from Michael Morrow. Way to go Mike!!!

Hi Everybody!!!!I am back again to share with you my story of the LA Marathon! I am training hard and raising money for one of the best, most deserving charities around:

ChildSHARE.www.childshare.orgI am sure some of you may be wondering why i keep spelling SHARE in all capital letters. The reason is because SHARE stands for support, hope, advocacy, resources and encouragement; five things needed for a family to take on the challenge and adventure of foster care.I feel like i have finally hit a grove in my training. I just ran five miles yesterday and it was the best run so far. I changed a couple things in my running technique and feel like i really got a great runners high that lasted even several hours after i was back at home. Today is a maintenance run of three miles to keep my body ready for the eight mile run i have planned for this Saturday.

I first wanted to run in the LA Marathon when i heard that it was ChildSHARE's largest fundraiser of the year. My New Year's resolution for 2009 was to complete the Long Beach Half Marathon in October, and i figured why not train for a half marathon by running a half marathon? It makes sense to me...

A gigantic THANK YOU to all those who have donated to the wonderful cause of ChildSHARE through my web page at www.firstgiving.com/michaelmorrow. Your donations are greatly appreciated and i couldn't have raised as much without you. As of yesterday, I have just crested the $1000 mark on the way to my goal of $2500, which would be enough to place a child in a family that will love and care for them the way they deserve to be loved and cared for. if you haven't donated yet, don't worry. There is still plenty of time before the flag drops on the start line of the LA Marathon at 7:20 am!!!!

I will be sure to keep updating all of you about my training progress, ChildSHARE news, and the Marathon itself!

Until Next Time,

Mike Morrow

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Worthy Cause

One of my liflong friends, Paul Morrow, has a son who is someone to be truly proud of. He is running half of the LA Marathon. Cheryl and I have decided to sponsor him and encourage you to do so as well. It is for a worthy cause, ChildSHARE to place a child in a home.

If you would like, I invite you to contribute as well. Even $1 will make a difference.



On a personal note, Mo, if you read this, WAY TO GO!!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Family Matters

Did you hear about Gregg Herman, a family lawyer in Milwaukee, who had a 96-year-old client who wanted to divorce his 89-year-old wife? It was a second marriage of 19 years.

He told Herman: "I don't want to live the rest of my life being married to her."

Today we are living longer and having fewer children than ever.  This is the foundation of a very nice piece of writing done by Abigail Trafford  of the Washington Post.  In her article entitled “The Kids are Gone.  Now What is Marriage All About?”, she discusses the challenges of the aging American Family. 

Some startling statistics from her article….

Today, the majority of families do not have young children at home, according to a population survey released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. In the early 1960s, almost 60 percent of families had children younger than 18 living at home; that percentage has now dropped to 46 percent.

Contrast those figures with 1880, when researchers estimate that 75 percent of couples in the United States had children at home.

The huge demographic shift, the result of longer life spans and falling fertility rates, calls into question some basic wedding mystiques

Cheryl and I began our marriage with a simple question and premise, “What is the possibility of family"?”  During these years we have worked to fulfill on that vision.  Now that our children have moved on, we find ourselves in a transition time.  Not completely ready for full retirement and playing with grandkids, but not completely sure with what to do with ourselves with each of our children wither completely out on their own or soon to be.

Questions come up for us, such as “How much guidance do we give our adult children?”  “What does it mean to be about family, when there are no children in the home?”  These and other questions will be explored over the coming years. 

One thing we remain committed to, even after 23 years of marriage is “What is the possibility of family?”

Let us know your thoughts.  More on this later.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

How the stimulus will work!

My Good Friend. Chris Stiehl, author of "Pain Killer Marketing" forwarded me this. I couldn't agree more!!!

Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at the White House. One is from Chicago, another is from Tennessee, and the third is from Colorado. All three go with a White House official to examine the fence.The Colorado contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. “Well,” he says, “I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for me.”The Tennessee contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, “I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew and $100 profit for me.”The Chicago contractor doesn’t measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers, “$2,700.”The official, incredulous, says, “You didn’t even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?”The Chicago contractor whispers back, “$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire the guy from Tennessee to fix the fence.”“Done!” replies the government official.And that, my friends, is how the new stimulus plan will work.

Dilbert.com

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Who's Gonna Pay for All This Stuff?

Does anyone else have the concerns that I do about the programs that President Obama is proposing and how he plans to pay for them? According to the IRS we may have some challenges here. Consider their reporting for 2006, the most recent year that such tax data are available and a good year for the economy and "the wealthiest 2%." Roughly 3.8 million filers had adjusted gross incomes above $200,000 in 2006. (That's about 7% of all returns; the data aren't broken down at the $250,000 point.) These people paid about $522 billion in income taxes, or roughly 62% of all federal individual income receipts. The richest 1% -- about 1.65 million filers making above $388,806 -- paid some $408 billion, or 39.9% of all income tax revenues, while earning about 22% of all reported U.S. income.
Note that federal income taxes are already "progressive" with a 35% top marginal rate, and that Mr. Obama is (so far) proposing to raise it only to 39.6%, plus another two percentage points in hidden deduction phase-outs. He'd also raise capital gains and dividend rates, but those both yield far less revenue than the income tax. These combined increases won't come close to raising the hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue that Mr. Obama is going to need.
Don't get me wrong. I believe we should all pay our fair share for government programs that are needed. However, to add to the tax burdens of a very small number of people makes us all vulnerable to their success or lack thereof. What happens if they aren't as successful as they have been in the past? Isn't this the very issue that has bedeviled California? Now they are having to close their $42 billion budget gap with significant tax increases. How is that working out? In spite of having the highest income tax rates in the nation, they are going to increase them some more AND they burden the rest of their citizenry with the in increase on their already highest sales tax rate in the nation.
So while President Obama talks about a lack of tax increase to the average wage earner, he apparently is not considering the burden that states like California are placing on their citizens. Somehow, burdening the country with more taxes at a time of economic stress seems like leaning into a left hook.
What are your thoughts?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Weekend to Remember


Valentine's Day 2009

We have had the privilege and opportunity this weekend to participate in Family Life "Weekend to Remember" in Virginia Beach, VA. This weekend has been quite special for Cheryl and I. As part of our personal commitment to keeping our marriage new and fresh, we traveled to Virginia Beach to the Founders Inn and Spa to listen to a couple of Family Life speakers discuss ideas on marriage. Both Cheryl and I have loved this experience. We are here with literally hundreds of other couples to renew our commitment to our marriage to each other and to come away with a couple of new ideas on ways to keep our relationship fresh.

I must say that this has been more than we expected. I could go on and on about how entertaining and informative the speakers have been. I could tell you about how wonderful the setting is here in Virginia Beach, but the most important aspect of this weekend has been the opportunity to focus on each other and our marriage.

While the ideas have been good, the high point so far has been the opportunity to exchange a "love letter" to each other. Both of us wept.

The couples we have met have been special as well. I look forward to trading messages with our new friends.

Tonight we are going out on a "date". How great is that!!!! and on Valentine's Day to boot.

If you have the opportunity, give yourself a treat and come join one of these weekends. You will not regret it, I promise.

Jim & Cheryl

Monday, February 9, 2009

Blast from the Past

I have recently uploaded one of our older "music" videos from 2005 to YouTube. It is a compilation of antics from Basketball Senior Night at Southern Lehigh High School..

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Am I Dumber than Stella? Part 2


Well, Here is part two to my post from the other day. As many of you know, I received an email from a friend, found it interesting and amusing, so I thought I would share with all. Turns out that it was a fabrication. On the other hand, Randy Cassingham is a fairly well known author and has in fact published The Stella Awards along with several other books. Since 1994 this former reporter turned author has hosted This is True Wierd News.

So that got me thinking, was the Stella Award a complete hoax, or simply the message I received. I wrote to Mr. Cassingham and this was his reply....

May it please the court: Many stories are going around the 'net saying they are "The Stella Awards". Many of these stories are false, made-up, or (sometimes) true stories with false elements added to them. It makes no sense to use false examples of real problems when there are so many true examples that illustrate the actual problem.....

For his complete take on the validity of the Stella Awards, visit Stella Awards: Decidedly NOT the Stellas.

So apparently, their is much Weird News and what Randy has on his website and in his book is valid, (including the material in his book "The Stella Awards", but the material I received in email and posted here in my blog is not.

Am I Dumber than Stella? I will let you be the judge. My bottom line, as Ronald Reagan said famously, "Trust but Verify".
To see Randy in Action, check out this video..

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Am I Dumber Than Stella?

Well you might think so....



You see it turns out that my entire post from last week on the Stella Awards was a complete hoax. According to Snopes.com, the entire Stella Awards is another of those Urban Myths, perpetuated by those who love to decry our legal system.



As my good friend, Chris Stiehl, author of "Pain Killer Marketing" points out. It is the job of lawyers to represent their clients fully and to understand the legal implications of every clients complaint. Therefore, it should be the right of every citizen to explore all legal remedies to their situation. On the other hand, we expect the judiciary to be fair representatives of the common interests. They should be the watch guards of what is legitimate and what is a waste of the courts time.



It is not lawyers who run amok, it is the judiciary who should be exercising wisdom and judgement.



So, mea culpa, for perpetuating this urban myth.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Stella Awards (dumbest lawsuit awards in the USA this year)


It's time again for the annual 'Stella Awards'! For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald's in New Mexico where she purchased the coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Here are the Stella's for the past year:

7TH PLACE : Kathleen Robertson of Austin , Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.

6TH PLACE: Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles , California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps. Go ahead, grab your head scratcher.

5TH PLACE: Terrence Dickson, of Bristol , Pennsylvania , who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count 'em, EIGHT, days on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish. We should all have this kind of anguish. Keep scratching. There are more...

4TH PLACE : Jerry Williams, of Little Rock , Arkansas , garnered 4th Place in the Stella's when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun. Grrrrr. Scratch, scratch.

3RD PLACE: Amber Carson of Lancaster , Pennsylvania because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tail bone The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. Whatever happened to people being responsible for their own actions? Scratch, scratch, scratch. Hang in there; there are only two more Stellas to go...

2ND PLACE: Kara Walton, of Claymont , Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000....oh, yeah, plus dental expenses. Go figure.

1ST PLACE : (May I have a fanfare played on 50 kazoos please) This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down, $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home. Are we, as a society, getting more stupid...? Ya think??!! More than a few of our judge's elevators don't go to the top floor either!
editor's note: For something related, visit The Death of Common Sense a great little article that makes way too much sense for the world today.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What is Marriage?

I am conflicted when it comes to marriage these days. I must confess to being somewhat bewildered and not finding easy answers. I am told that if I do not support gay marriage then I am either a bigot or a neanderthal or both. That is not a fun thought to dwell upon.

My general tolerance and respect for all individuals leads me to want to support marriage regardless of gender these days, but I am troubled by certain questions.

Center in my mind is the question, "What is Marriage?" followed closely by "How do we best support unions between people that maximize the benefits to the society as a whole?" Finally, what is appropriate for the State to support that both respects our religious traditions and respects evolving technology and culture?

How do we best support unions between people that maximize the benefits to the society as a whole?

I begin in the middle. As a society, we have built one of the principle foundations of our society around the notion of "Family Law". In fact much of our legal codes center around "Marriage and Family" Law. Historically we have passed legislation with the intent of supporting the family structure as foundational to a vibrant, healthy society. In Paul Smith's excellent piece entitled, Traditional Marriage is Best for Rearing Children, Mr. Smith lays out several excellent studies that support the position that children are most likely best served in a home where there is a biological mother and father married to each other.

An excerpt from his Blog entry is as follows: Studies also provide direct evidence that traditional marriage relationships are better for the rearing of children than either single-parents or cohabiting adults, including same-sex couples. Dr. A. Dean Byrd states that “Mothers and fathers contribute in gender-specific and in gender-complementary ways to the healthy development of children. In support of this, Dr. Byrd referred to the following summary of Child Trends research:Research clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage…. There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents.

Now I have heard the arguments that a child would be better off with two loving people of the same gender than in a family where the couple were abusive to each other. While that may be true, it would also be true that a child raised by loving grandparents would be better off than in a family where one of the parents was an alcoholic and missing most of the time. Nonetheless, our society has codified a system that supports traditional parents over other forms of parenting because, generally speaking, it is what is best for the children. Society is well served by this position.

What is Marriage?

Our society has a long tradition of denying marriage to certain unions regardless of how they feel toward one another. I love my sisters absolutely. Nothing the state can do or not do would have an impact of the degree of love that I have for each of them. Still, it is appropriate that the state not confer the option of marriage on our relationship, regardless of our desires for each other (and to be clear here, NO, I do not have inappropriate desires for either of my sisters, yuck!). Still, there is a legitimate health concern here. Marriages between brothers and sisters (or even cousins) are prohibited because any children that might be produced would be at a very high risk of genetic issues that would impact their lives. Now some would say that this is not an issue in a same gender relationship because there is no possibility of children. That is true, but the point here is that there is a societal standard for prohibiting certain relationships from being conferred marital status.

So, this gets to the heart of my question; "What is Marriage". If you take the position that marriage should be between any two loving people, my question becomes.... OK, then why not a brother and sister? or how about a mother and son? a father and a daughter? Why just two? Why not a woman and three men? Three men and two women? What is the justification for having it be "two people" and how do we then continue to deny marital status to the other examples I just stated.

One argument I have heard that supports same sex marriage is that a person can not help themselves in their sexual orientation and therefore they should be entitled to marry the person of their choosing. OK, by this logic, anyone, who is born with any orientation that is non-traditional should be allowed to marry consistent with their orientation, whatever that is. The problem here is that this opens up Marriage as to be so poorly defined that it becomes meaningless as a distinction and unworthy of support by society and the state.

I want to be clear here. I am willing to be tolerant of any two or more people choosing to engage in whatever relationship behavior they want, especially in privacy. While I do not condone or knowingly encourage it, I am willing to be respectful of those individuals in their behavioral choices so long as it does not infringe or harm me or my family. I further want to be clear that I will not tolerate others being disrespectful to them as human beings or discriminating against them in a workplace environment.

Nonetheless, I say that our goal here should be to reserve marriage for those relationships that best support a family structure that benefits society as a whole. For me, a traditional marriage between one man and one woman, provides the best structure to benefit society. As such, it should remain the societal standard for "What is a Marriage".

My final argument is one that my son offered several years ago when I was engaged in a spirited discussion about this subject with a family member. After much heated conversation, my son stated his concern "OK in a gay marriage who gets to go to the bachelor party?" There is some wisdom here.

I invite your comments back.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Career Announcement

All,

I am pleased to inform you that I have accepted a new position within AT&T. I will be working within the Business Sales Operations group. Specifically our focus will be to support sales leaders who support direct sellers and their team leadership. In support of their Sales Leadership Development, I will be working to develop a "Coaching Web Community" on an internal website that is designed to encourage excellence in sales management. This will trade on my experience in sales management and developing cutting edge applications that serve the needs of these leaders of people.

The mission of our organization is to help realize the vision of an AT&T that is The "World Class" sales organization with the greatest respect in this global economy.

This opportunity is one I am truly excited about and am already engaged in supporting.

This role allows for me to remain here in northern Virginia. My wife and I will continue to make our residence in Alexandria, VA.

Thank you for your support and encouragement.