Ever since the somewhat CDO* Southern Man discovered the "statistics" page on geocaching.com last fall he's been a little...obsessive about his geocaching. In particular about "streaks" (consecutive days with finds) and "calendar caches" (finding a cache on every day of the year) and "county caches" (finding a cache in every county of the home state) and so on. So naturally Leap Day is a big deal and Southern Man carefully laid his plans.
Planning is necessary as Southern Man works a fifty-hour-plus week in four days (which he loves as it gives him three-day weekends if Friday is meeting-free) but that makes work-day caching a challenge. He usually picks up one or two on the commute between day and evening jobs, but Leap Day is special: Southern Man decided to do some morning caching as well so he cancelled his morning office hours and selected four to grab after his usual Wednesday-morning chiropractor visit. Much to his chagrin he found only one of the four. This wounded his pride sufficiently that he emailed the cache placers on two of them (both fairly well-known in the local caching community) and got very kind replies (and hints!) from both. That alone made the DNFs worthwhile. You meet the greatest people geocaching.
The plan for Stage Two was to slip away from the day job an hour early and hit a park with several caches that Southern Man hadn't yet visited. Well, the "leave an hour early" part didn't happen but Southern Man still had eighty minutes or so to try for five caches.
Geese in the park
He ended up with two and a half (the half was the first stage of a "multi-cache" but the second stage will have to wait for another day) but couldn't find two of them (one of which had been found just the previous day). He made a second pass on those but then time ran out and he had to scurry to the evening job.
Planning for Stage Three got to "If I'm not too tired after work tonight..." and didn't get any further than that. So only three (and a half) out of nine, which is well below Southern Man's usual average but it will have to do. And as it was Southern Man got home at about the same time as Teen Daughter and we had a most enjoyable conversation. Which, remarkably, is no longer unusual. She had picked up some nice dress shirts that day and modeled them, and promised to take Southern Man to that store for his upcoming birthday. Yes, he'll still be in his thirties.
Why does Southern Man geocache? Because it's fun! You should join him someday.
As before, will add pics when the film camera gets developed [updated 3/11].
* CDO is like OCD, only the letters are in the correct order. Why, yes, it does matter.
Twelve-year-old daughter is the only sixth grader in her school to be chosen for her statewide honor choir so this weekend is all about her. With hotel reservations made and concert tickets purchased Southern Man headed north on Friday morning (geocaching along the way, of course) to rendevouz with Southern Parents and Southern Sister and nephew at the big conference center-slash-hotel where the state music educator's conference was held. There were musicians of every age and stripe, from middle-school choral to high school jazz bands, and the entire place was just buzzing with the excitement and energy of youth.
One of the many attractions was a large exhibition hall backed with vendors and goodies.
Twelve-year-old daughter's concert was that afternoon; it was terrific.
The flowers were sent by her youngest cousin back home.
Afterwards we ate at a fairly high-end steak house (everyone ordered appetizers rather than $40 entrees) and hit the swimming pool and hot tub.
Southern Mother and Southern Sister at the pool.
Of course diving is permitted. Can't you read the sign?
Next morning after breakfast and swimming the rest of the family headed home but Southern Man had already arranged to have his girl all weekend so we went geocaching and shopping and exploring and swimming.
Posing at the Hyatt sign. No, she is actually uninjured; she just has kind of a crutch fetish. Yes, it's a little weird.
Statue Dancing! We found a geocache nearby.
Southern Man's little mermaid can never get enough of the pool.
Next morning we reluctantly headed even further north to drop her off at her mother's house...
With her year-old half-sister.
...then Southern Man took a leisurely eight hours for what's usually a six-hour drive, stopping to geocache every hour or so, and arrived home just in time to relax and laugh as Teen Daughter and her gay boyfriend drunk-Twittered the Oscars.
The usually reliable digital camera had some sort of fit so post cleanup and updates when the disposable film camera gets developed, which may be a week or more.
First goal weight achieved! Southern Man will continue to replace a few meals a week with protein shakes until the existing supply of powder is exhausted and will slowly move back into his low-carb, low-starch maintenance diet and see if he can drop another ten or twelve over the next few months.
If there's one thing that drives Southern Man into a boiling rage of vengeful fury, it's property crime. He'd be a happy camper if all of those SWAT teams would get pulled off the War On Drugs and go after property criminals. He could care less what people do in their own homes, but stay the hell out of mine. Release all those non-violent drug offenders and fill the prisons with thieves and vandals!
This rant was inspired by Teen Daughter going down to the apartment laundromat to find that all of her bedding had been stolen from the dryer.
Teen Daughter is ill (a cold, with the aches and fevers and headache and all that goes along with it) so she is curled up on the futon for our favorite family cure: the movie marathon. Unfortunately we did it backwards, starting with Deathly Hallows Part 2 and then put in the first one. It was a little disconcerting.
They were such babies! And now they're all grown up!
Teen daughter leaves her iPod jacked into the stereo in The Hyundai so over the last month Southern Man has listened to pretty much her entire music library. It's an eclectic mix with everything from classical piano (she plays well, and how much Scarlatti and Mozart and Chopin do your teens have on their iPods?) to Broadway to rock from old to classic to new (Beach Boys, Queen, Green Day) and grrl bands (Bangles, Ting Tings) and former Disney starlets (Hillary Duff and Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus) and dance pop and pop rap (Kei$ha and others) and above all her beloved Lady Gaga. And that is but a small sampling and Southern Man appreciates the continuing education in modern music. But one tune by a girl band called The Pierces really jumped out at him the other day.
Nothing thrills us anymore Nothing kills us anymore Life is such a chore When it's boring...
Ah, yes, the ennui of modern youth who believe that life is over before it even begins. Southern Man sees a lot of that in Teen Daughter. But they continue...
Sexy boy Girl on girl Menage a troi Boring...
Whoa. That's boring? What else do these girls think is boring?
Caviar Escargot Dom Perignon Boring...
Beats what's in Southern Man's kitchen, which is more along the lines of canned chicken and cheap Mexican beer; the most exotic treat in his pantry is chocolate peanut butter. But the most telling is yet to come.
Love of my life Bear your child Everything I've ever wanted Boring...
In a rare moment of candor some months after the separation the former Mrs. Southern Man stood on the porch of our brand new mini-mansion and said "I left you because I was bored and unhappy and my friends said that being single would be more exciting."
Well, that's all water under the bridge and Southern Man, while amused by the truth unwittingly revealed by The Pierces, tries not to take pop lyrics too seriously. But then at work this morning one of the first articles to appear on the morning blog-read reports a distraught wife saying (all italicized text is quoted, more or less, from the article)
Help! I hate my husband!
Well, please describe this knave.
Well, he's a gentle man and a hands-on father. I have never been suspicious of him being with another woman. He makes a good living that enables me to stay at home with the kids. I find him sexy and enjoy sex with him.
My husband chews his food too loudly.
This is not a woman who hates her husband. A woman who says she hates her husband but then describes him in glowing terms but picks on a minor behavioral issue doesn't hate her husband; there's something else brewing in her head. This is a woman who has everything she ever wanted and is still unhappy. And now life has become such a chore that her marriage is disintegrating around her. All she can see is that things aren't right and it must be his fault.
Now let's put ourselves in the husband's shoes.
I'm a good husband, a good father, a good provider, but my wife is never satisfied. It's as if she hates me!
Oh, yeah. Been there, done that, thought that, for sixteen long years.
Some women (and Southern Man's ex was certainly one of them) go into marriage expecting that The Prince will carry them off into the sunset and they will live Happily Ever After...
When we got married I imagined this great life we would have together and instead we seem to be always fighting, about the kids, about the fact that he is so remote, about the stupidest things.
Been there and done that, too, and carry plenty of the blame for it as we had lots of (in hindsight) really poor church-based counseling in which it was claimed that the husband is responsible for keeping his wife happy and that her emotional issues were his fault, not hers - and, unspoken, that his happiness was irrelevant. Needless to say, this "counseling" was no help and actually did a lot of harm. Neither of us had any idea what the other really needed and didn't provide it and what Eggerich calls the "crazy cycle" took hold early (Southern Man's response was to withdraw, just as the woman above complains) and we never recovered. And it took a lot of post-divorce counseling before Southern Man began to understand that, just maybe, it wasn't entirely his fault that his ex wasn't happy.
But that's not an excuse. The bottom line is, had Southern Man known twenty years ago what he knows now we would have a rock-solid, very happy marriage. But he didn't. And the sad part is that most of what he needed to know was right in front of him and he was just to young or stupid or stubborn to understand or accept it. No, you can't be responsible for another person's happiness, but you can affect it. Southern Man knew we were both unhappy and didn't know how to counter it and thus did (mostly) the wrong things. And we stayed unhappy and the marriage ended. Sadly, it's not uncommon; Southern Man knows lots of men who were good husbands and fathers and providers whose wives left because they were "unhappy."
With age comes wisdom, and regret, and longing for what might have been. And determination to learn from error, to put the past behind and move on. Lord, I'm so sorry for my past failures and for those who were hurt because of me. Let me grow in Your wisdom and Your love, that the future will be brighter. Amen.
The lapses of the previous week were overcome and more and Southern Man is within a whisker of the first goal weight. Sadly he plugged his height and weight into one of those online BMI calculators and it claims that he still needs to drop a good twenty pounds before he's not "overweight." Southern Man does not believe this but he would like to lose ten and redistribute ten. With courage and discipline, on to Week Six!
Southern Man and Teen Daughter have made it a habit to join the rest of the extended family at the Ancestral Manor on Sunday evenings for home-made pizza and fun and games and when Southern Sister (who generally acts as host) let all know that "Sunday evening was cancelled" because she was engaged elsewhere we were determined to carry on without her so we picked up a large bag of Chinese take-out and headed west.
It was only the four of us tonight so we enjoyed our meal and broke out the Scrabble.
Southern Father makes his move as Teen Daughter keeps score.
Southern Mother always complains about her tiles but she always wins.
Teen Daughter is perpetually annoyed by Southern Man's desire to photograph her but he managed to snap a few candids anyway.
Teen Daughter by the fireplace. Coffee, iPhone, and a warm fire - who could wish for anything more?
Hard to believe that Southern Father built that house nearly forty years ago. That's about forty Christmas Eves in the fireplace room. Southern Man treasures the time he spends with his parents and hopes for forty more.
This article in The Guardian in which a British nurse relates the five most common regrets expressed by the dying struck a nerve with Southern Man, who is struggling with minor issues like the meaning of life and the inevitability of death and all the dreams that he's surrendered and all that he wishes to accomplish in his remaining years. So in response to the five regrets Southern Man proposes five goals for a life without regrets. Happily, he's already gotten a good start at most of them in the last few years.
To thine own self be true.
Southern Man has spent much of his life doing (and being) what others expected of him rather than what he wanted to do or be. One does not abandon ones responsibilities but it's not selfish to devote at least part of your energy to following your own dreams.
Work hard, but not too hard.
According to the nurse these first two regrets were expressed by every patient for whom she cared. Southern Man missed enough of his children's lives by working two and three jobs at a time and is determined to make up for that in the future. Making time to be with your family and friends is worth the effort.
Have the courage to express your feelings.
Southern Man spent years bending over backwards to protect the feelings of others at the expense of his own but over the last few years has had the courage to let others know what he thinks and feels as well. And he has a lot of difficulty expressing his deep love for his family and tries not to let chances to do so slip by.
Stay in touch with your friends.
There's one dear high school friend in particular for whom Southern Man has searched for years, to no avail; he deeply regrets letting our friendship fade away when circumstances sent us in different directions. There are others, as well. And Southern Man is very protective of the friendships he has today and works hard to cultivate new ones.
Let yourself be happy.
This is the hardest of all. Southern Man has on occasion achieved contentment; he's not sure that he's ever actually been happy. Is it selfish to make your own happiness a priority? Southern Man has never really let himself do so. He's going to try it and see if he can.
Let's face it, Southern Man has a weakness for free building materials. And so when a truckload of free brick popped up on Craigslist yesterday he jumped right on it and yesterday afternoon and evening was spent loading brick and hauling it out to The Land and unceremoniously dumping it, twice. It took three trips (it's good red brick, very pretty and a good match to the red shale that's about the only native rock out there, but very heavy; filling the bed half way had The Titan plenty low on his springs) but the last load (OK, half-load) didn't make it out until this afternoon. And it was just too cold to do much of anything else out there but there is now probably six hundred bricks that need to be cleaned and stacked and allocated to whatever upcoming project calls for lots of red brick. Plus there's a fair stack of white brick from the last outing. What can one do with red and white brick?
Something that women just do not understand about us men is our sex drive. Our brains are hard-wired for sex and marinated in testosterone. Sex is on our minds all the time. Believe me, you think you understand but you don't. You can't. Your genetic prime directive is babies. Ours is procreation. Once you've had your babies your sex drive dwindles to nothing. Ours never fades. The flesh may become weak but the spirit is always willing.
So what do men do with all that passion and drive when there's no sexual outlet? They design, they build, they achieve. Go outside and look around. Everything you see was designed and built by men, from the car you drive to the gasoline that powers it to the garage it's parked in to the road upon which it travels. And don't get all hot and bothered and post that women achieve as well. For every woman who achieves something of note there are a hundred men. And every job that is devoted to actual construction of actual stuff is utterly dominated by men. Women sit behind desks and push paper and gossip.
The male sex drive built civilization. If not for the male sex drive we'd have never come down from the trees.
But look what we've achieved. By erecting the most prosperous society in the history of mankind, where poverty is virtually unknown and almost every need of every citizen is met, we've built a world where women no longer need men. The State is surrogate provider and husband and father. Men, having constructed the State, are now superfluous. Even worse, men are actively excluded as not just unwanted but undesirable or even dangerous - from schools, from playgrounds, from HR departments. Exiles from the world they created.
And thus the West falls, not with a nuclear bang but a feminist chortle. Enjoy it while it lasts.
As regular readers know Southern Man has adoptedTaube's diet advice of low carbs and starches, which is consistent with the increasingly-popular "paleo" diets (eat anything that grows or that you can hunt). And yesterday he dropped in on a diet support group at work to see what they were up to (and to see if there were any cute dieting co-workers to co-opt into his own private support group) and found that the USDA has adopted a new eating guideline called MyPlate.
It's interesting to compare this to the old Food Pyramid...
...and for once it looks like the government's advice is actually moving in the right direction by reducing grains (and the accompanying carbs and starches) from nearly half the recommended diet to less than a quarter. Note that some (including Southern Man) argue that even that is too much and grains ought to be dispensed with about the same rarity as dessert. MyPlate is also a testament to the tireless work of the dairy special interests. One also notices that fats, once deemed evil, are not mentioned at all in the new scheme, but neither are sweets. Yes, dear readers, "added sugar" was once included as a part of the government's recommended diet.
So Southern Man is pleased to introduced Southern Man's PlatterTM which is the only diet advice you really need.
In Southern Man's PlatterTM whole-grain products and starchy veggies, like dessert, may be consumed in small quantities. Processed foods are permitted as occasional snacks; heck, anything you want (even grits!) is permitted, on occasion and in small quantities, as long as the majority of your diet is as above. Recommended drinks are water, milk, fruit juice (but be wary of the source), and (occasionally) diet sodas or adult beverages. Or diet sodas and adult beverages, as Diet Sprite and Triple Sec make a fine inexpensive mixed drink (Diet Sprite and Grand Marnier is much better, but much pricier). Eat like Southern Man and be healthy, wealthy (as you're not spending all your hard-earned cash on processed foods and eating out), and wise (for following Southern Man's advice, like the fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom).
Well let's just say that no progress was made this week. In fact if truth be told the progress was slightly negative. Southern Man blames the vast quantities of off-diet foods at the Ancestral Manor last night. Well, and a week of moderate cheating. So this week it is back on a strict regime of protein shakes and one meal per day and no cheating and see if we can't drop a few pounds.
After a relaxing morning Southern Man headed to a small city about an hour southwest to help a friend who's mentoring a high-school robotics team that wanted to branch out into geocaching as a means of advertising their program.
The students hard at work on their robot.
Having taught a bit of robotics from time to time Southern Man was impressed by both the facilities and the enthusiasm of the students who were eager to demonstrate some of the various modules they were constructing for the upcoming competition. But after a bit the geocaching group broke off and we planted a cache near City Hall.
The students suggest a hiding place.
The sponsor's husband appeared after a bit with a travel bug and a few additions to the cache.
"Hey, you can't do that here!"
Well, yes we can; he's one of the city managers and formally gave permission for the hides earlier.
Southern Man and the team sponsor establish GPS coordinates and finalize the cache contents.
Then we headed back to the school and the students got to work on publishing their cache.
The geocaching web site on a very cool SmartBoard.
The students craft their web page.
And after this most enjoyable afternoon Southern Man headed back towards town but as is his custom hit several geocaches on the way...
...one of which was hidden on this fine old bridge.
Then it was dinner with friends and a movie for the guys. Quite a pleasant way to spend a Saturday!
Upon seeing the first few seconds of the trailer for Red Tails Southern Man proclaimed that it would be both good and bad "for all the same reasons that Pearl Harbor was good and bad" and he was pretty much right. It didn't help that those first few seconds incorporated more historical and logistical inaccuracies than one could quickly count. If that annoys you too much the HBO production of The Tuskegee Airmen (which features the younger version of Cuba Gooding Jr as a pilot rather than a commander) is a fine film and reasonably accurate portrayal of the history and deeds of the justifiably famous 332nd Fighter Group. But a friend pointed out that viewed as a live-action comic book Red Tails is a fine film, at least while in the air where you have lots of CGI airplanes shooting slow-motion bullets and performing variously impossible maneuvers while flying far too close to one another (and everything else) which is a lot of fun to watch. There's even a German arch-enemy ace clearly meant to stand in for Galland. The ground sequences are entirely forgettable and include a couple of subplots that could have been dispensed with entirely. I doubt that George will make his money back on this one but it's enough fun to be worthy of addition to the DVD collection when it comes out, shelved in the "movies about a parallel Earth in a conflict similar to WWII" section where it will have plenty of company.
is a thirtysomething*CS/STEM educator in the Midwestern USA. After many years at church-affiliated liberal-arts universities he now teaches at a state school (lower salary, better benefits, and hardly any drama at all) and works in a building named for a dead politician.
He started blogging in the summer of 2006 shortly after his wife of sixteen years divorced him and this blog began as an account of
how he copes with the unsettling process of learning how to live as a single parent and deal with visitation and physical custody and all the other stuff that comes with divorce
and has evolved into an outlet for writing about his adventures and opinions on travel, geocaching, politics, religion, film, music, relationships, preparations for the upcoming zombie apocalypse, and whatever.
*Southern Man will be stating his age in hexadecimal until further notice.