Happy 30th!

I am fully aware that we are still in close proximity to my last blog which included a portion about funny T-shirts but my good friend Mike showed up to hang out last night sporting a great one. Its appeal was furthered by the fact that he drew, designed and had it made himself. I am not a HUGE Star Wars fan (I submit the fact that I am married with a child as proof), but I tend to appreciate good material regardless of the subject. Witness the greatness of The Coach:

This graphic is across the front with a large rebellion logo on the back. I know that you will all be relieved to know that you do not have to endlessly search the web for this item. Follow the link to The Coaches blog if you are dying to own one for yourself. I'm sure he would be glad to give you a sizable discount.


Talking Turkey, Part II

In a previous post I extolled the virtues of turkey season over other game seasons mostly on the basis of being able to gear-up completely without the depressingly un-sneaky blaze orange. I also bring up the challenge of hunting mountain Merriam's with the following passage:

The Merriam's turkey that we have in the Colorado mountains is a wily prey. Their eyesight is extremely good, their hearing is sharp and we are only helped by their lack of a keen sense of smell. Additionally, they are very sensitive to hunting pressure and though not intelligent, are instinctively suspicious. When you consider these traits and the fact that they are physically tough and nearly impervious to shots outside of 40 yards (sometimes inside this distance as well), it is not surprising that as we enter my 4th spring turkey season, I have yet to be successful.

And that was true until this past Saturday at roughly 9am. Hunting with Marshall (and wish Timmy could have joined us) we had hiked about 4 mountainous miles when our joking brought out a gobble from a moderately distant hillside. I must be honest and say that with my lips flapping, I did not hear the first call. We waited silently and heard a follow-up gobble. Quickly we geared back up (we were mostly out of our overly-warm outer camo layers) and crept up to the crest of the hill to sit under 2 trees roughly 20 years apart. Marshall had earlier told me that he wanted me to have first shot so he was calling and I was patiently waiting to see if the strutter would come closer and from what direction. A long story made short, through MP's aggressive and realistic calling, 2 gobblers traveled upwards of a mile over steep terrain to get at the foxy hen they were hearing. I took the first with one mystery shot (even after processing the animal we were unable to discover how I killed it) and after slight panic, Marshall took the second with 4 shots (it was a dead turkey walking after the 2nd, but we didn't really know how to deal with its ability to stay on its feet).

It was no more than 6-7 minutes between our successes - meaning Marshall's was pretty close at the time I fired - which is completely contrary to what we understood about turkeys wily nature (see excerpt above). It was one the coolest feeling to finally be a turkey hunter (vs. someone who hikes with a turkey gun), made that much more special because I got share it with Marshall. We tossed the big birds on our backs and hiked the grueling 3+ miles out to the truck.

I know not all of you are excited to see dead animals and are not big fans of hunting so I apologize for the slightly gory picture: it was the best photo I have of both birds.


I am starting this post early to make sure they are of a higher quality than my standard musings. I find that this venue is good for conveying the respect, good wishes and affection felt for loved ones. It is more transferable and permanent than a card, not to mention more heartfelt. I know that Campbell will likely not be able to read this for at least 6-7 years and probably won't really understand the sentiment for another decade or so (by which time I doubt this blog will still exist), but I need to write this for me.

As of Tuesday, April 24th of this year, Campbell Kelly will have been with us for a full year. Fatherhood has proved to be everything I hoped it would be. That is certainly not to say that it has been easy; it has not. I have a very hard time being anything approaching sensitive or caring when I am sleep deprived. I am willing to do a lot of fathering during the day of which I am literally incapable between 10pm and 6am. Midnight sobbing parties - sometimes by all participants(see Mike's blog) - aside, I have been blessed to see the advancements that this little fella continues to make on a daily basis. At this point my favorites are:

  1. He shakes his head "no" vigorously when asked if he's crazy (or when he's a good mood, when asked just about anything).
  2. He has fallen in love with motor vehicles of all kinds and makes something like a motor noise whenever he gets excited about cars and trucks.
  3. Starting this past Tuesday, when I show up after having been away all day, he will (only once) say "Daddy" when he sees me.
  4. He finds Diesel hilarious pretty much under any circumstance.

This list cannot be comprehensive as he learns something new every day at this point, particularly in the arena of communication. Last night while playing with his tractor, long-time friend Katie asked if it was a diesel (based on his version of a engine noise). Without looking up from his toy, he promptly repeated "diesel"(though it sounds more like "dees"). Of course, this is not because he was mimicking Katie but because it's our dog's name, which he's been using for weeks now.

I have no problem saying that I have become a better person through the past year and by God's grace, I hope to become the father that Campbell needs as he continues to grow and mature. In an earlier post I mention that I am worried that he will be like me. I have to believe that since every father knows himself best - to the dark core - it is only right to feel this way. I ask all of you that see or speak with me on a regular basis to help me to be the man that he needs. I know that a few of the people that read this have learned their families will be expanding soon and I hope that I can encourage you in the same way. Daddies of the world unite!!!


Forgive me for bringing it up...

I debated making any kind of statement today about the VA Tech shooting yesterday, but I decided that I must. This situation has given those who dislike America an opportunity to criticize us for what they perceive to be ridiculously lax gun control laws. Speigel Online International does a great job of collecting the reactions from around Europe to this tragedy and I am slightly disgusted by the lack of respect (and in many cases obvious misrepresentation of our laws). In most of the selections there is an overriding sense of "they had it coming." I liked how Michale Medved put it yesterday: Why would it help to make guns illegal? Murder is illegal and that didn't seem to make any difference for those poor, terrified kids in Virginia.

Regardless of your stance on gun issues, let's at least wait a few days before we start flinging mud.
If any of you feel that it is in bad taste to write about the political fallout so soon, please let me know. I covet your opinions and respect most of you.


The Coach, The Man, The Mike

I have made it a habit to post about the people I care about on their birthdays and I started this post on Friday in preparation for the birthday of one of my oldest and best friends. And not just any birthday - his 30th birthday. Michael Richard Pollard and I began our friendship as the sons of fellow Air Force Academy graduates. Our parents forced us together as 6-7 year-olds, probably with the intention of giving us a "controllable" friendship. At first, we sort of fought this intrusion on our circle-of-friends sovereignty, but we developed what could be called a mutual respect (correct me if I'm wrong, Mike).

Mike was little for his age and always smaller than me-despite is advantage in years-but made up for it with a feistiness that is hard for me to describe to those who didn't know him then. He would not back down to anyone (he is identified by name in an earlier post about supporting your boys) and even as a child I respected this. In true brotherly fashion we competed against all comers, but also against each other. I had the size (I haven't grown since middle school) but he had the temper, speed and passion. We made the perfect team as no one wanted to mess with the devious little fiend or his big friend who had no concept of consequences.

He was my consistent friend. As I changed classmates each school year and my school "crowd" fluctuated, I always had Mike for backyard baseball and football, shooting BB guns at anything we could find and exploring the mysterious "backwoods" of Air Force Academy base housing. I stayed with him for days when it was too snowy to go home or when my family was having troubles (thanks to Mr. and Mrs. P for keeping me).

As we got to high school, our relationship evolved with our lives. Mike discovered music and I devoted myself to sports. He learned guitar, bass, piano, drums and the pan flute (though I don't think I have ever seen him play one). I learned that I would never have any musical talent, no matter how hard I practiced. I recall Mike once observed that one of the things he liked about he was that when we sang (at church or to a song on the radio), I would frequently harmonize to him on accident. Even though his goal was to be funny and it wasn't a complementary statement, he knew me well enough that I laughed right along with everyone.

Changing interests didn't stop our competition, it just tweaked it a little. We still competed over girls or rally racing our twin Dodge Colts or whatever might come up. He kissed my first girlfriend before I did and we did take swings at each other in the middle a basketball game (also nominally over a girl). The strength of our friendship is born out by the fact that we were soon able to laugh over these and we are still very close today. The first time I drove without parents was in his nasty old Volvo. He went to my sporting events and I watched him showcase his musical/theatrical talents (he made a great 11 year-old at a high school rendition of "The Sound of Music"). I was part of his surprise proposal and engagement party for Stephanie and we were the best men at each other's wedding. We have become like uncles to each other's sons and in-laws to each other's wives.

Since this post is getting long enough that I am approaching the point where people may not take the time to read it, I will conclude this walk down memory lane. Mike Pollard is a great coach, a great friend, a great husband, a great dad and a great man. I am a better man for having grown up with him and for his influence in my life today. We are close enough that I can tell him anything and he's wise enough enough to kick my butt when I need it. He is in the circle of men that I trust implicitly.

If you read this blog but not his, I recommend that you avail yourself of his wit and wisdom. I promise it will brighten your day and inform your life. Happy Birthday, Mike!

Oregon Trail Redux

In true Colorado fashion, the city is shut down today by the PROSPECT of weather. I would love to think that as a semi-mountain community, we would be more capable and resilient to weather extremes but sadly, we are pathetically fearful of precipitation. I digress; that is topic for another post.

With the office largely empty, there is no one better to ask for time-wasting, online activities than my co-worker Kacie. This isn't due to Kacie's propensity to waste work time, but rather her off-hours commitment to all things techie. As a Mac person she immediately suggested that I check out the online version of Oregon Trail which plays exactly like it did on the old Apple II. By attacking this new workplace challenge, I wasted much of the morning (though I really had nothing else to do since all the bosses are gone today). I made the rookie mistake of trying to ford a deep river about 7 steps into my journey and lost 2 of my traveling companions (sorry Paul and Sarah), otherwise I might have safely carried my whole crew the entire distance. Unfortunately, I am probably about as good at O.T. hunting as at real hunting, which is to say mediocre.

Nonetheless, I endeavoured to persevere (I love that obscure quote from The Outlaw Josey Wales), and finally made it to the promised land around 11am this morning. While I felt vindicated that I made the correct choice in pushing hard and saving no money, I didn't think this was a noteworthy accomplishment until the game asked meto input how I would like my name to read on the Top Ten list. That's right, I have been semi-immortalized as the #4 finisher on the Internet Oregon Trail game.

So, to all my elementary school teachers who said I'd never amount to anything; read it and weep. Success in this arena must be vitally important or they wouldn't have had us participate during our valuable school hours between recesses, right? If you doubt that a man from such humble beginnings (that being my grade school results not my parentage) could rise so high in ranks of obsolete, supposedly educational, 3-color computer games, go to the site and select See the Oregon Top Ten. I am listed as adventurer-level traveler Fat Matty.

Once you get to this site, you will have a hard time resisting the urge to play, if for no other reason than to beat my score and rub it in my face. Further, once you have done this and channeled your inner 10 year-old, you must check out the kickin' apparel available for us Trail Masters online.

Times have changed and years have passed but there's no reason to become an adult yet.


Just Change the Station

Time for more of my commentary on the news of the day:

I am not sure what the real furor is about in the Don Imus scandal, but I am amazed both by the lack of consistency by the angry left and their apparent inability to see this inconsistency. To help those of you who ignore current events, Don Imus, an iconic (due mainly to longevity, not talent) though mostly ineffectual radio and TV host, called the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" and the world has come down on him. Despite his profuse apologies, there have been calls for his firing from all over country and from all segments of society. I have no respect for Imus; mainly because I don't listen to him, and this hasn't inspired me to start. Despite quite a few contentions to the contrary, he is much closer to a geriatric version of Howard Stern than Rush Limbaugh. I repeat, he is not by any means a conservative. I am not necessarily unsympathetic to the outrage that people feel, rather I am a bit confused at where these angry people draw the line.

I have heard time and time again from those who are not worried about the "pornification of the culture" (thanks to Laura Ingraham for the phrase) that if I am offended, just change the channel. They say that if I am a prude and nudity offends me, just change the channel. Of course that only applies when I am offended. If they are offended AND it comports with their political agenda (which at times is as simple as sticking a finger in the eye of cultural conservatives) heads must roll. However, when Jesse Jackson calls New York "Hymie-Town" in reference to its large Jewish population, they are not bothered. When last year's Oscar winning-song was "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp," they applaud their own multi-cultural interests (despite the same socio-racial stereotypes being propagated in the lyrics). Even more poignant, when Imus himself has made anti-Semitic comments in the past, no one seemed to care.

I decided to check with some anti-censorship organizations to see how stridently they were coming to Imus' defense. The Free Expression Policy Project was certainly strident in its defense but not of Imus' freedom of speech. They seem to be preoccupied with such vital issues as protecting a high school student's right to proudly proclaim "Bong Hits For Jesus" during a school event.

Someone once said that if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. I prefer Dennis Prager's take on this sentiment.

Those who choose to ignore big evils will fight all the harder against the little ones.


Time for Turkey

I know for a fact that less than half of the people who read this blog have any interest in hunting. It is either because of, or in spite of this fact that I must post on the upcoming turkey season.

The fun starts next Saturday morning (April 14th), 30 minutes before sunrise, which in the area that we hunt is about 6:30am. You may have seen the countdown clock that was previously in the right-hand column on this blog (I removed it for aesthetic reasons) which was giving a running time until the season opened. I am so excited that I can hardly handle it and I thought I should take the opportunity to explain why I enjoy hunting this elusive bird.

I will begin by explaining that there are safely rules in place designed to protect hunters in the woods which are necessary but nonetheless somewhat annoying. During any Colorado hunting season in which rifles are used, it is required that all hunters wear no less than 500 square inches of blaze orange clothing above the waist, to include some hear gear which can be easily seen from all directions. The rational for this is that while the orange is clearly visible to humans, it does not significantly increase the hunter's visibility to the supposedly color-blind game animals. Part of the joy of hunting is getting all geared up in your cammies (that is, camouflage clothing) for slinking around in the woods and having the requisite orange takes away from the feeling of being "sneaky". During fall hunting (deer,elk,antelope) I put up with this because hunting with a firearm is the method that I can currently afford and enjoy.

This brings us back to turkey hunting. Since spring turkey season requires a shotgun (as opposed to a rifle during the fall turkey season), the blaze orange rules no longer apply. This means full concealment and plenty of sneakiness. While I concede that the joy of being armed and hidden in the woods is a boyish obsession, I would contend that it is considered so because frequently it is the young who are most honest about these desires. I think most men (by God's design) want to be:
  1. Dangerous, in a knight-in-shining-armour kind of way.
  2. Capable of providing for the physical needs of themselves and their family.
  3. Able to tame nature.

Hunting fulfills all three to these innate desires. On top of that, it is challenging and communal when done with friends or family; I hunt turkey with Marshall, Tim, Mike and someday I hope to teach Campbell.

The Merriam's turkey that we have in the Colorado mountains is a wily prey. Their eyesight is extremely good, their hearing is sharp and we are only helped by their lack of a keen sense of smell. Additionally, they are very sensitive to hunting pressure and though not intelligent, are instinctively suspicious. When you consider these traits and the fact that they are physically tough and nearly impervious to shots outside of 40 yards (sometimes inside this distance as well), it is not surprising that as we enter my 4th spring turkey season, I have yet to be successful. This is a blight on my short hunting career which must be rectified in the next 8 weeks if I want to return to Michigan for the holidays with my head held high.

If you find this subject at all interesting, I am willing to supply autographed pictures of me in my "hunting outfit" to anyone who sends an addressed, stamped return envelope and $5 for my hunting fund.


Kenya 2007

I know I just posted, but I wanted to share this website with you guys. One of our Global Action teams is going to Nairobi, Kenya in 2 weeks from California. They started a website for getting the word out and raising funds. What really amazed me was the movie they made and put up on the site. Granted, they are a team from LA-LA Land and probably didn't have much trouble finding someone to film and edit a short movie, but it is a really well done clip.

If you're inspired by this, you should think about supporting them via their Paypal account too(as the tracker of their funding I can tell you they need it).

Bono with Bill Hybels

For those of you who may have stopped by during one of the times that I was trying to perfect embedding a Google Video clip in a post may have been confused by my frequent reference to a Bono/Bill Hybels video which never really came about. Unfortunately I still haven't figured out this little piece of technology.

Nonetheless, I still want to recommend this clip to all of you who weren't there when I watched it (that's pretty much just you, Kacie). This clip is as much of that interview as I was able to find, but is by no means all of it. As a follower of Christ but no fan of the Christian church, Bono is able to straddle the fence between insider and outsider. His perspective is convicting and his passion is humbling. I only found disagreement with him in one respect; his reliance on governmental means in poverty relief.

As a conservative I am not as heartless as libs might claim. I just feel like the less we leave in the hands of the government, the better. Do I believe in helping the poor? Of course, but I prefer responsible non-profits who get 85-90% returns on the money given over a government institution who is lucky to get 50%. In this I differ with Bono, but he is spot-on in his challenge to the Church's ambivalence toward “the least of these.”


What's My Dang Problem!?!

I must apologize for my serious case of blogger's block (I like the silly way that sounds). I still check my favorite blogs daily (sometime even my own, though I am pretty sure it won't have a new post) and get excited when I get a comment. I just can't seem to come up with topics for further posts. The time between this post and my previous one is clearly a record and the current one doesn't even have a topic.

Wow, just the act of writing that I have nothing about which to write is getting the juices flowing. Please stick with me, I will have more to say soon.

Oh yeah, I think I should add a picture to give the illusion that I am saying something. This one is picked at random from those on my computer. I'm just testing the scope; not shooting someone from Timmy's apartment living room.