Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Writer's Workshop-A Friend For Life And My 100th Post

I haven't participated in this much lately, but this really inspired me. This carnival, by Mama Katt, definitely can stretch your creative juices. Tonight, though, I'm only writing on one. You'll see why as you read.

1.) How did you meet your best friend?
(inspired by Kati from Country Girl, City Life)


2.) What are you feeling guilty about? or Memories of your childhood home.
(inspired by Josie from Sleep Is For The Weak)

3.) Tell why you are ecstatic "The one that got away" got away.
(inspired via twitter by Jay from Halftime Lessons)

4.) Have you found your bliss? What path did you take to get there? or are you still searching)
(inspired by Carma from Carma Sez)

5.) Create a conversation between one of these three couples:
(inspired by myself)

The fall of 1988 found me in a random North Texas College going to college as a freshman. I had picked this University for two simple reasons. One, I had a chance to walk on to their tennis team and two...well, my brother was going there.

I was not the most gifted socially and I felt that I need the security of having my brother there in case I got home sick or worse. So, in late August, I was trudging my way to the courts for the tryouts. I had a sense of dread as I felt I had gotten in over my head. You see, I wasn't that great in tennis. I was number three on my high school team...a small town high school team at that....and here I was playing against guys that went to region and state in 4A and above. Let's just say, I was a long shot to even be practicing the next day.

Well, as I was watching the action onfold on all the courts around me, I noticed that my earlier worries were ringing to be true. I was watching drills with the other players that I was competing against and I found they didn't miss a lot. One guy was an obviously rich asshole preppy with an red izod collared shirt. He had a fancy racket and was definitely standoffish. "He must be from the metroplex or Plano," I thought. Then I saw this guy hit a forehand into the net and say pretty loud, "HOOOORSSSSSSESHIT!" Okay, maybe I misread the cover on this book.

Roby Dearing was well off financially, but shy. He was not the asshole I pegged him to be. It turned out he was a farmer/rancher from north Texas. He was quiet, modest, and the best athlete I have ever known. In time, as our friendship grew, I knew that he was the strongest Christian I may ever really know.

From this first meeting, we developed a friendship that lasted through several years and weird moments. He was the one who took me to the Colonial Golf Tournament where I made Phil Mickelson wait to enter the tee box while I stood in the way oggling some girl. I was with him when his truck was broken into in Fort Worth. We were snowed in together as a freak snowstorm hit his house in 1990. All we had in the house was stale popcorn. Half starved, we decided to risk death to exposure to eat at the Green Frog Cafe in Jacksboro. We went to Ranger games, Cowboys training camp, and even a Mavericks game once. In Kansas City, where the NAIA national tennis tournament was held (oh yeah, I made the team), we paid a belly dancer to get Roby on stage and belly dance. It was the funniest five bucks I've ever spent.

We spent some sad times too. I was there when his grandfather died. I listened when he vented about his father's increasing signs of Alzheimers. He also helped me through the end of my first long term relationship. But, over the next decade, he would always be counted on for a game of golf, a pick up basketball game, or hitting the movies in Wichita Falls.

Then, in February 2000, Roby was diagnosed with Cancer.

He died in late June that year.

The day before his funeral, another friend, Grady, and I decided to spend the day playing golf and remebering Roby. We were to bring the balls that we hit the last putts in our round with to the funeral and lay them beside Roby. it was to be a tribute in our own way. As we stared at our friend in the casket, I guess my motor skills went sort of haywire and I dropped my ball inside the casket.

Grady looked at me with a "You didn't just do that, did you?" looks. We panicked for a moment. Here we were at the front of the church as the congregation was slowly filling up and I had dropped a golf ball that had fallen all the way to the bottom of the casket. We knew that when they moved him, it was going to roll back and forth. Fortunately, Grady solved the problem by reaching unobstrucively into the casket and finally found the wayward ball. The situation was saved.

As we said good bye, Grady and I knew, though, Roby was looking down on us laughing. He would be saying, "Man, that could've only happen to you, Lane."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fear Mongering? A Sneaky Rant

"No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. Participating in "If you agree, post this as your status for the rest of the day."

One of my friends on facebook had this on their profile.

Now, even though I haven't seen her in years, I have always known that she is a very level headed lady. So, when I read this, I didn't just dismiss this as stupidity. I decided to do a little research. It's illegal in the US for a hospital to turn away somebody away who can't pay and has no insurance if they aren't stable. Now, I realize that they still may not receive treatment if they are stable and that itself is a crime. But, is this a reason for socialized health care?

Some call it universal or national, but please don't give me a lesson in semantics, it will be socialized.

This is an idea that was given to the powers that be by the great 'success' of the same system in Canada and Europe. You know, they have a tax rate of over fifty percent in those nations to pay for the health care programs. It's an idea that isn't new. The government taking your money and using it for you. Like you're some kid who doesn't know any better.

Or, maybe, they plan not to raise your taxes? How much to our debt do you think this beauty would cause? Perhaps, they mean to raise your taxes a little at a time so you don't notice it as much? Five percent this year, another ten next year, and so forth.

I am not yet forty, but in my life I have learned a few things. Give the government control of something and they'll find a way to mess it up. Social Security, anyone? How about education? How about welfare? Are those some well run organizations or what?

In addition, how good are the doctors going to be in the future? I know people believe that the majority of doctors go into medicine to help people, but the stark fact of it is, a lot go into it to make money. You know, the best and the brightest want to get paid. The fact is this health care package is going to reduce their salaries. If they aren't going to get paid like they have in the past, do you think the majority of them will still go through the hell that is medical school? Do you really want the guy that scored a 'B' in sophomore level biology diagnosing you or do you want the guy that scored best in his class, no matter how big an A-hole he is? But, don't worry, you can still use him to sue the hospital for gross incompetence.

I mean, your next of kin can.

This idea of government providing health insurance is a very bad one in so many ways. It is also going to mess up the entire fabric of our medical community. If you think they are bad now, just wait until you spare them to death with mediocre service, practices, and procedures.

Look, I do not think a hospital should turn away anyone that is sick, even if they are stable. I also don't think that your life savings should be sucked away because of a protracted illness. But, my question is why should another twenty five percent of my income go to the government to give me practically the same care I have now? I know it's to prevent some one else from having to go through the loss of their income, but why is that my responsibility? Why should I have to pay for somebody else's health care?

I know that sounds harsh, but, the people I will be helping with half of my income would say the same about me. I know life happens and things will occur that suck. I know it's possible next year I will get cancer and all what I've worked for at that point will be gone. But, that's life. It has happened for centuries before us and it will happen for centuries after.

All you can do is trust in God.

Friday, August 28, 2009

First 5 Friday-They Say the Funniest Things

As we wade through the beginning of the school year, I decided to throw in some of the strangest things written or said by my former students. It's probably a post that should've been thrown in a while back, but hopefully you'll enjoy. For instance, this classic exchange which gained honorable mention.

Tennis Player: "Coach!! Coach!! I was winning!!!

Me: "Cool, what was the score?"

Tennis Player: "Three to three."

Me: (Stunned silence as I just stared.)

First 5 Strangest Things I Ever Heard A Student Say

5. "Ow...I hurt my knee". I know this doesn't sound weird...but please understand the young man was cradling his elbow at the time. From having him in class, I knew that he didn't know his ass from a hole in the ground, but I was surprised that he didn't know his elbow from his knee.

4. "I would go into town every weekend and get laid." This was a report on what the kids would do for fun if they lived in the 1800's. I was also told by his mom that seventh grade Ralph (not his real name in case the mom blogs) didn't have the slightest idea on what getting laid was. I made him do a report on the subject. I know it was more scientific, but hey, I wanted him to be informed.

3. "That's All-right...I got shotgun." This fine young man was going to alternative school for his extracurricular activities..and a few in school ones. He was told he was going to what basically educational prison in a police car. He wanted to get the seating chart correct for the squad car I guess.

2, "Bury the money under Moses." Okay, I'm cheating a bit. This one was a note written by a student of mine. The police gave this note to a friend of mine who was an English teacher who taught one of my students as well. Apparently, Tiffany (again, not real name), decided to do a little mischief during the Christmas Holidays. She and her she-gang stole the baby Jesus from a nativity display. The note said this: "We want $50 or you'll never see the baby again. Put the money under Moses." Yep, Moses...not Joseph.

1. "Didn't he circumcize the world?" Poor eighth grade Raquel thought she had answered a tricky review question. "What was Magellan famous for?" She threw out that gem and strangely enough, not many of the kids batted an eye. Well, except for my three 'brilliant ones' who all at once layed their heads down on the desk and enjoyed their own private laugh.

I hope you enjoyed this, I know I loved reliving it. Maybe this year, I'll have some new material to top these oldies.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Writer's Workshop-A Cat Caused Paranoia

I am honored to be a muse for the great Mama Katt's blog. In my few forays into the blogging world I have to say it's probably my biggest honor. Thanks, MK. For those that don't play the game, the rules are simple...she gives you five prompts. You pick one or five or one in between and right to your little heart's content.

1.) My animals are making me nuts.
(inspired by Jody from Take Me As I Am).


2.) List the 5 best things about the first day of school.
(inspired by Lane from Sneaky Daddy).

Um...just scroll below one story.

3.) Tell us about your crush.
(inspired by Lisa from Just Lisa, No Filler)

Such a fall season it was. I was a young lad whose teenage years had just begun and I had noticed a young girl. A very attractive young lady. As I watched, my head got weak and my stomach got weak. I longed to talk to her. I longed to go with her (you eighties ladies and gents know that term). Unfortunately, it was not to be.
Stephanie Powers was just a bit out of my league.

4.) How did you break it?
(inspired by Brandy from Not Your Average Soccer Mom)

It could've been many ways that I broke it,

I could've been mad and threw a fit.

I could've drank way to much bud lite,

or tied a string around it to fly it like a kite.

I could've acted silly or been really dumb,

I could've given it to a salesman or a bum.

But, I'm sure whatever I did to cause the crime,

The fault no doubt is totally mine.

5.) Show us a favorite summer craft.
(inspired by Kristin from The Way It Is)

I don't do crafts. I have no skills in this regard.

Now, the featured story. My Animal is driving me crazy.

This is P-Nut.

P-Nut the cat.

Cute isn't he? This bundle of cuteness, I believe, strives to piss me off as much as possible.

I'm getting ahead of myself. A little backstory to tell you how we were blessed with this eccentric feline. My wife's sister, Sneaky Sister-in-Law, owned P-Nut since he was a kitten. For years he lived in semi paradise in an apartment with SSIL and another cat...Butthead. To the rest of the Sneaky Household, he was an antisocial rodent that meowed. He hid when people came over and had loose bowel syndrome seemingly on command.

Disaster happened in P-Nut's life. SSIL found true love and was married. But, P-Nut's world was rocked as change continued to visit. The death of the ancient Butthead and the fact that the new little darling in their house, Sneaky Nephew, was allergic to cats. What to do..what to do?

In our household and really all over Texas, the rodent population doubled like something Moses would've done to Pharoah. Our field next door was teaming with mice. We found several in our garage and knew that we had to do something before they reached inside. In short, we needed a cat.

It was a match made in heaven for everyone...except for P-Nut. Now, he had to deal with change. Oh, and two mobile girls who love to pull his tail. But, both parties were satisfied with the arrangement. The weird thing is, soon P-Nut was happy.

He has been probably the best pet my girls could've had. No matter what they do to him he never fights back. He'll run and hide or go into the garage, but he never scratches. Plus, in a few hours time he is back in ready for more. (Case in point, he and eldest are cuddling on the girl's Dora couch watching Yo Gabba Gabba)

Unfortunately, his interaction with me is less than cute. I have stepped on two of his land mines that he has left on my path to the bathroom. (Once around 6AM) I think I saw him wink as he evaded my attempts at justice.

My foot also seems to be a fun, challenging target. Especially when my feet are under the covers of our bed. Especially in the dark. Nothing feels quite the same as waking up from your drowsyness with a fork stabbing your big toe. The last time it happened he caught me before I was asleep. He was catapulted pretty far as I used his furry butt as a soccer ball. GOAL!!!!

He likes to use our couch as a scratch pad...EXACTLY at 12:37AM almost every night. I even bought a scratch pad for him to use. He loves it...except at 12:37AM.

His final strategy for complete destruction of my sanity is to meow very loudly at 6:00Am on random days..usually Saturday. He will continue this until I get up. Then we play chase. I rarely win chase.

Again, he's lucky he's cute.

Thanks, Mama Katt for the prompts. Tune in tomorrow as First 5 Friday takes a kids say the weirdest things approach. It's well worth the read.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

First 5 Friday (Saturday)

School starts next Monday for most of us in the Lone Star State. But, although there is dread, I would like to take the three of you that read this and my wife, back to a time when you were a little tyke.

First 5 Best Things About the First Day of School

5. The Clean Slate-You get to start fresh. If you were a dweeb, you can be Joe Cool. If you had troubles in school the year before, you have at least one teacher who has never met you. You can be the Fonz or even Ritchie Cunningham if you wish.

4. The smell of the grass-It is usually freshly cut. It does have a waning scent of Spring revisited, but it's there. You can smell it especially right before the first football game (see below) as the greatest spectator sport on earth begins.

3. Shopping-Mainly the ladies love this, but it is cool to be wearing fresh clothes that had just gotten detagged. It will take at least until October before I would ruin them.

2. Football-No need to clarify, is there?

1. A chance to see old friends-Because I lived in the country, I didn't see my school buds There is so much wrong with facebook, but the one thing I enjoy is catching up with people I haven't seen. In fact, I actually caught up with a girl I haven't seen in almost twenty years.

School is a time of dread and anxiety for your kids, no matter how tall or small. The teachers sometimes feel the same sense of foreboding as they try to guide the unknowing into the unknown. Please enjoy the ride, the bumps and the scrapes. Without these, your kid probably wouldn't be educated to the fullest.

Good luck this school year and God bless.

Next First 5 should be worth a look next week, so tune in next week for a "Kid's say the darnedest things" edition..

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Writer's Workshop-The Better Late Than Never Edition

Beginning school blues pushed me past my deadline, but what the heck...better late than never right? Thanks, Mama Katt for allowing us an outlet to play in.

1.) What will you be doing now that the kids are back in school?
(inspired by Michelle from Honest And Truly)

Total role reversal. In the Sneaky household, the Dad get's to go to school and the kids get to sleep in...hopefully.

2.) Things I have learned from my toddler.
(Inspired by Big Mama Cass from The World Through My Eyes).

The things I have learned from my toddlers that they told me, The pink kitties are the best kitties, 'cause they're so pretty. Never leave home without your b-b (Blanket) or your pet, Desert is always best first, no matter what you get.
While they like Hogan's Heroes, the beginning anyway, Phineas and Ferb is what they would watch any day. No matter what the pressures of my 'big boy life' entail, These two gals seem to never let me fail.

3.) What would you put in your favorite things giveaway?
(inspired by Jill from Scary Mommy who is having a favorite things giveaway right NOW! Check it out!!)

Movies-Rounders or Tombstone (I do love Scary Mommy's Can't Buy Me Love and Defending Your life) Books-Harry Potter Series. (If we could find book 7, a goblin got it)

4.) Hi, my name is ______ and I am a _______.
(inspired by Emmy from Emmy Mom One Day At A Time.)

Hi, my name is Lane and I am a facebookaholic. Please help. I need and Intervention. Mafia Wars, Vampire Wars, Fashion Wars (don't worry it hasn't become that bad). I play Farkle, Yahtzee, scramble, poker (for absolutely nothing). What did I do before I found Facebook?

5.) If these walls could talk...
(inspired by JennyMac from Let's Have A Cocktail)

Kitchen Walls: "Why does she let him cook? Stupid ass friggin' leaves a mess every time."

Living Room Walls: "Heck, she should make him vacuum instead of cook. His fat ass is sitting in front of the TV watching 'Top Chef', like he could make it.


The youngest girl's room's walls: "I'd wish they do something about the f-ing cat. I swear I'm gonna tumble down if he scratches at that door one more time. Sack of crap in fur hides from the girls all day, but when they are trying to sleep NOW he wants attention."

The Eldest girl's room's walls: "Would you guys please make'em quit yanking the Dora stickers off. I like'em..they're cool."

Cheers, All!

Tomorrow, late afternoon, First Five Friday begins the ranking of educational moments, norms, and impossibilities.

Friday, August 14, 2009

First 5 Friday-It's CARNY Time

Jill and I took the girls to the local Carny and never fails to disappoint. Well, I guess if your looking for cool rides, fair games, and a more 'scenic atmosphere' then..okay, it might disappoint. But, if you're looking for that, I say, change your attitude and look at all the Carny experience give.

FIRST 5 Coolest Things About Being at the Local Carnival.

5. Check out the folks! Man, we live in a rural town and the scene is nuts. Believe me every one is very nice, but our scene usually doesn't drift into rowdy element very often. Heck, I know people that go to the Carnival just to see who else will come.

4. The Sales Pitch-Don't play the games...seriously they're all rigged....everyone knows it. But, the pitch is awesome. "Hey, Dude...come over here and win a real prize." "Get a free four wheeler if you can cover up the Circle" (Impossible by the way) "Hey, get your girl something to be proud of." I know I should feel insulted about how stupid they must think I am...but I don't. It is some type of awesome skill to sell something that should be pretty much unsellable. It's a gift that even I can recognize.

3. The Rides-Not actually riding them, but watching them. Seriously, I'm not much of a rider, but especially when it comes down to the fact they put up and take those things down like a hundred times a year. That doesn't stop me from enjoying others as they soar in the air, screaming. You can watch old men turn into scared boys from the Carny folks.

2. The lights-Especially in the country areas of this world, lights don't come like that often. Maybe at Christmas, but when you see all those lights blinking it reminds you of an outside casino.

1. The kids-Yeah, you have that group dressed like hoochy mamas..but it is really cool to see the kids running around and having fun. From the kids my girl's age that look at wonder at the scene in front of them to the older teens walking around, holding hands with their dates, the Carnival is a break in the norm. With the people..the sounds...the sights...and the rides, the carnival coming to town is, for the small town guy and girl, one of the coolest weeks of the year .