Archive for June, 2006
It’s been said that youth is wasted on the young. Nowadays I’m not so sure. It seems youth is being wasted by adults who put safety and feelings over normal childhood activities.
According to an article in USA Today, educators are banning such games as soccer and touch football because they worry about “kids running into one another” and getting hurt. Tag, a playground favorite of mine, has been banned in some schools because it “progresses easily into slapping and hitting and pushing instead of just touching.”
Imagine that. Kids running into each other while playing sports or letting playground games escalate into fights. One wonders how any of us made it to adulthood.
Somewhere along the line we’ve become overly concerned with children’s safety. It’s progressed beyond the point where we make sure children have a reasonably safe environment to play in, to banning sports to avoid potential injuries at all costs.
I remember my friends and I riding bikes up and down our street on hot summer days. No one wore a helmet. In fact if someone had worn one, I’m quite sure we would have teased them mercilessly. We wrecked our bikes countless times jumping off dirt hills. Somehow we survived.
My favorite playground equipment was the merry-go-round. I remember taking turns with my friends spinning it as fast as we could to see how long we could hold on before flying off or becoming too dizzy that we begged the person spinning it to stop. I also remember playing on seesaws, jungle gyms, and tall metal slides which, at the time, seemed to reach all the way to the sky. Now it’s hard to find a park with any of those toys. They’ve all been replaced by safer but more boring equipment.
With life comes risks and sometimes children’s injuries go beyond the bruised elbow or scraped knee. No one I grew up with was ever seriously hurt doing the normal things children do: playing tag, riding bikes, or riding seesaws. However, I’m sure there were children somewhere who were seriously injured or killed doing routine childhood activities. In life there are no guarantees of complete safety, no matter how young or old one is.
Perhaps these “educators” that frown on tag should think about the message they are sending children: avoid confrontation. Don’t take chances because you might get hurt. Play it safe.
In part, thank the lawsuit happy society in which we live. Accidents are no longer accidents but always the fault of the company who made the equipment, the school, or parents. Someone must take the blame — especially when there’s easy money to be made.
It is naive to think we can prevent every childhood injury. In the process of trying we are sucking the fun out of being a kid. Maybe next time we start complaining about children sitting in front of the TV or playing video games for hours on end, we should ask ourselves what alternatives are we giving them? When they’re being told that just about everything they want to do is unsafe, perhaps sitting and doing nothing is the safe alternative.
As I age, there are times I wish I could be young again. However, if that means growing up in a world where kids aren’t allowed to play games such as tag or other normal childhood activites, I’ll settle for being an adult.
June 29th, 2006
Aidan accompanied me to vote in Utah’s primary election yesterday. He seemed to enjoy it but his favorite part was receiving an “I VOTED” sticker from one of the poll workers. All the way home he said “I voted” (but it sounded like ‘I Boated’) over and over again. When we got home he was so proud that he voted, he took off his voting sticker to give it to Steven but instead of putting it on his clothes, he stuck it in Steven’s hair. (Steven didn’t seem to mind until I tried to remove it.)
The most interesting part of voting for me was trying those touch screen voting machines. They were as easy as pie to use and I didn’t have a problem using them. I’ve heard a lot about them as far as security concerns but, at least with the machines at my polling location, I didn’t see a problem with them. They log a paper receipt of every vote cast and I’m hard pressed to see how anyone could fix them anymore than they could game a traditional punch card or paper ballot.
It’s hump day. Life is good.
June 28th, 2006
Marathon Girl and I took a walk with our kids last night through our neighborhood. It seemed as if everyone was outside enjoying the sunshine. Families were barbequing or playing in their yard. Teenagers rode their skateboards or scooters down the street. Younger children were playing in sprinklers. Everyone, it seemed, waved or stopped and chatted with us for a minute. After the walk we sat on the porch and drank tall glasses of ice-cold lemonade and talked while Aidan and Steven played and communicated in their own little language.
I love long, summer days like this. I love the heat and the sun and sitting on the porch with Marathon Girl talking about everything and anything — whatever happens to come into our minds. I love being with my family, chatting with neighbors and listening to the delightful cries of kids and adults in the park across the street.
I wish every day could be like this: warm with a cloudless blue sky, us sitting the porch sipping lemonade, and a sun that doesn’t set until 10 p.m.
June 26th, 2006
My brother, who is amazingly talented when it comes to writing music, musicals, and plays, graduated from NYU in May. He is the first in his class to have one of his musicals produced.
So if you’re in New York City next month and want to check it out, Rainy Day People will be preformed July 21 & 22 at the NYU Dance D epartment (111 2nd Ave (between 6th and 7th Streets, Manhattan). If interested in tickets, email email@example.com.
June 23rd, 2006
Last month Marathon Girl and I tore down a large dog run the previous owners had built. Tearing down the fence was the easy. The hard part was figuring out what to do with the gravel that filled the run.
The dog run was large — about 10 feet by 10 feet — and the half inch sized gravel was about a foot deep. Since we tore down the fence, we’ve been telling our neighbors that they’re welcome to have as much gravel as they want. Neighbors have come and hauled away about quarter of what was there but there was still a lot of gravel remaining. Fortunately one of our neighbors, an older couple, asked if they could have some to line part of their yard. We were thrilled to give them most of what was left. So Saturday I spent several hours hauling gravel from our yard to theirs.
It felt good to do hard, physical labor in the sun. It felt good to sweat and use my muscles to load the wheelbarrow one shovelful of gravel at a time. There’s something about manual labor I find refreshing and invigorating. I love putting in a hard day’s work and being physically tired at the end of the day. The aches and pains that accompany it, make make me feel like I’ve really accomplished something.
Aidan enjoyed helping his Dad. He followed me as I pushed the wheelbarrow from our yard to the neighbors and helped me load the wheelbarrow one handful of rocks at a time. Sunday morning he woke up and asked if we could “move rocks” again. I tossed his hair and told him once someone wanted the rest of the rocks, he could help me move them.
I love that kid so much. I am still amazed at times how much I love him and his brother. I can’t imagine life without them. And I can’t imagine hauling gravel without my tow-headed son following me from yard to yard, doing his best to help. Life feels so complete with my kids. I feel so blessed to have them.
June 21st, 2006
Dear Jim Leyland,
I have a problem.
It’s the middle of June and I find myself still interested in baseball. The Tigers have the best record in the American League! It’s like its 1984 all over again. (I was nine at the time so you’ll have to forgive me I don’t remember much about that year other than people had big hair.)
Your winning ways puts me in a bit of a pickle. Tiger fans aren’t used to rooting for a winning team. For us baseball season ends about mid-May when the Tigers find themselves about 20 games back of every other team in baseball. This allows us to enjoy the rest of our summer without checking the sports page every day to see who the Tigers beat up last night or talking in our sleep about how great those Tigers are.
Have you considered the millions of hours or productivity that are being lost as Tiger fans gather around the water cooler to talk about their latest victory. (Well, maybe not millions of hours. Last time I checked there were only about 150 Tiger fans though I hear another 10 are jumping on the bandwagon just to be popular.)
For people like me, this whole winning thing is really stressful. I was hoping that you could put my fears to rest by telling me how fast the team will collapse around, say, mid-August. That way I can go back to my lazy summers where baseball and the Detroit Tigers possibly reaching the playoffs are the last things on my mind.
The only Tiger fan in Utah,
June 15th, 2006
My artiicle Reaching the Summit was republished on Mixeye.com. Check it out!
June 14th, 2006
It’s been raining for two days — a rarity in the high deserts of Utah. During especially intense moments as the rain pounds against the house, Aidan likes to stare out the window and watch water run off the sidewalks and fill the gutters. I wonder if it’s the beauty of the storm that attracts him to the window. Maybe it’s the way the wind wraps the branches of the trees around each other or the way the lightning turns the sky from grey to white for one brilliant moment. Whatever the reason, Aidan loves to watch.
I like watching too. There’s something about powerful storms that I find captivating. When storms like this blow through our tiny town, I wish our home had a large covered porch so I wouldn’t have to watch it behind two panes of glass. I want to be able to sit and feel the wind on my face and listen to the rain as it beats upon the house.
Later I put Aidan to bed. Even though the blinds are closed, Aidan stares intently at the window as if he can see the storm raging outside.
“Goodnight,” I say.
“Night,” Aidan says still staring at the slits of grey light that peaked through the blinds.
Sometimes Aidan likes to open the blinds and stare out the window after we put him to bed. I know that tonight I’ll find him watching the storm when I come to check on him.
I head to the family room. Marathon Girl is lying on the couch watching television. She’s had a long day and is tired. I sit on the far end of the couch and start massaging her right calf. It’s been giving her problems of late and hampered her running. After a few minutes I can feel the tension in her body lessen and her breathing becomes more regular.
A gust of wind shakes the house. I glace up at the ceiling as if I expect the wind to tear the roof off the house and blow our quiet life to pieces.
“It’s been like this all day,” Marathon Girl says. “It never let up. I couldn’t even go running today — at least not with the kids.”
“Your leg needs rest,” I say and give her calf and extra squeeze to drive the point home.
Marathon Girl flips a few channels and stops on the local news. The main story is about a small plane that crashed into the murky waters of Utah Lake last night, killing the pilot and two passengers. An official looking into the crash blames the storm for bringing the plane down. The reporter says that recovery efforts were called off early today because of the storm. The story flashes to friends and relatives of the three men standing on the shores of Utah Lake crying.
The story makes me think of Aidan staring out the widow watching the storm. I tell Marathon Girl I’m going to check on the kids.
“Hurry back,” she says. “I don’t like being alone with the storm raging like this.”
My thoughts are on the storm as I walk back to Aidan’s room. Another gust of wind shakes the house. I marvel at the storm’s intensity and how something so beautiful can be so deadly.
June 12th, 2006
You can now listen to my radio show, The Abel Hour, via podcast!
If you use iTunes, simple click on the icon below to subscribe.
If you use a differnt podcasting tool, simply copy and paste the following URL into that tool: http://www.freecapitalist.com/podcast_abel/abel_podcast.xml
June 9th, 2006
He was 1,000 feet from the top of the world’s highest mountain. Exhausted and without oxygen, solo climber David Sharp huddled in a cave, succumbed to oxygen depravation, and died.
Dozens of climbers, including double amputee Mark Inglis, passed Sharp on their way to conquer Mount Everest. Only a handful of climbers stopped for a moment to offer Sharp some of their oxygen before continuing their ascent. Inglis later told the press he and others left Sharp to die because he was too far gone to save. That’s why, Inglis said, he pushed on and become the first double amputee to climb Everest on prosthetic legs.
After returning to his native New Zealand, Inglis expressed surprise that he, of all the forty-plus climbers on that expedition, was singled out for not helping Sharp. But of all people trying to reach the summit that day, it was Inglis who should have stopped and helped.
In November of 1982, an intense blizzard forced Inglis and a fellow climber to seek shelter in an ice cave high on Mount Cook. Stranded in the cave for two weeks, their dramatic rescue was a major press event in New Zealand and helped propel Inglis to fame and a career that includes motivational speaking and telling people that “every one of us can do anything we put our minds to.”
Because of the intense cold during his two week stay on Mount Cook, Inglis’ legs were severely frostbitten and had to be amputated below the knee. Inglis took his experience on Mount Cook as a lesson in life. On his website (www.markinglis.co.nz) Inglis writes: “Life…for me is all about participation…we are all here to make a difference.”
Apparently making a difference in the life of a stranded mountain climber is too much to ask of Inglis.
We cannot know whether or not Sharp could have been saved. He may have been too far gone for anyone to do anything. But why did Inglis, who was saved by others 24 years ago atop a high mountain, at least not attempt to do something? Of all people, Inglis should have known how Sharp must have felt. Instead Inglis pushed on and obtained his goal of climbing the world’s highest peak.
Our responsibility to help our fellow man in times of crisis should take precedence over our personal pursuits and goals. Mountains can be climbed again. Lives, once lost, cannot be replaced.
Inglis should be commended for not letting the loss of his legs keep him from climbing mountains, but he should be chastised for abandoning a dying man. In the pursuit of his goal, which no doubt he had been working towards for a long time, he forgot that we have an obligation to help our fellow man even if that means delaying or giving up noble personal pursuits and goals.
It was two weeks ago that Sharp died on Everest. Then in an eerily similar incident last weekend, Lincoln Hall was abandoned by his Sherpa guides and left to die near the summit of Everest. He was found the next morning near death by a team led by Dan Mazur. Mazur and the climbers with him decided to give up their summit attempt to bring Hall to a lower camp.
“We all just felt like we knew that’s what we had to do,” Mazur told an Australian newspaper. “Here was this person sitting there, he’s half-clothed, he’s sort of talking, we’re giving him our oxygen and food and water and he’s started to come good. How could we leave a person like that?”
On his website Inglis proclaims: “The message that I portray isn’t just about how to recover from trauma in our lives, but how to make the most of what we have in our personal lives.”
No one doubts that climbing Everest doesn’t come without its risks. Five people died this last weekend on their way up to or down from Everest’s peak. The total could have been six if it wasn’t for Mazur and his team who valued human life above getting to the top and decided to forgo their quest to climb the world’s highest mountain to save a life.
There are times when helping others at the expense of our own pursuits is in our best interest. Mazur and his team’s actions are worthy of our praise. They will be remembered as heroes that Inglis and the rest of us would do well to emulate as we journey through life.
June 7th, 2006
My talk radio show start’s today.
Tune into The Abel Hour, weekdays from 11 a.m. to noon MST and join in the conversation as we investigate a principle-based approach to tackling life events from love and loss to dating and child rearing and that is just what we have planned for the first week!
In Utah the show can be heard on KSRR 1400 AM and outside of broadcast range you can listen to the show online at here.
The live talk show format will allow you to participate by calling into the show at 1-800-331-4301.
Enjoy the show!
June 5th, 2006
Good news! Starting Monday, June 5, I’ll have my own radio show. The show will be called The Abel Hour and will be broadcast from 11 a.m to noon MST. The show will take a principle-based approach to tackling life events.
In Utah the show can be heard on 1400 AM. On the web the show can be streamed at http://www.audiorealm.com/player.config.html?page=listen&stationID=60659&relayID=-1&srefID=1
Stay tuned for more info!
June 1st, 2006