Always By My Side


As a young child it was play time and bike lessons

as a teenager it was it was 4 wheeling and parties

as a young adult it was carpentry lessons and watching football

he was always by my side

Me and the best big brother ever 1976ish

Me and the best big brother ever 1976ish

as a carpenter he was my mentor

as a friend he was my closest

as a man he was second to none

he was always by my side

Jason and I on my 28th birthday.

Jason and I on my 28th birthday.

with his death he became a mystery

with the mystery I gained a mission

in my mission I will prevail

because I have no doubt that he is still, and will always be, by my side

I finished. Can you?

I finished. Can you?

 

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10 Year Miracle:How The Other Half Lives


10462740_913137818703191_7582204443527864102_nYesterday marked the 10 year anniversary of Esja and I getting married. We sent the boys off for a sleep over at their friend’s house, and set about our 3rd date in 8 years. That is when the world changed and the lights came on. Doors opened and angels began to sing. We were not prepared for what was about to happen!

Many years ago on Saturday Night Live there was a skit with Eddie Murphy called Mr. White. It was a spoof on “the white world and the black world”. Eddie went undercover as a white man to find out how they lived when there were no black folk around. I have a link posted at the end of this post to the clip and it is well worth a watch. What he found was that white people gave things to one another for free when there were no black people around. It was a world he never knew existed and the skit is really funny. Yesterday Esja and I discovered that the same is true of people with and without kids!

We go to Olive Garden on a semi regular basis as it is one of my wifes favorite places to eat. We usually spend a great deal of time waiting for bread sticks and the food takes forever to arrive. We now know that this is because of our children. Last night we entered and were told there was a 35 minute wait for a table. Just as we were resigning ourselves to the long wait, we noticed the bar! There was a large room with chairs and tables and booze set aside only for people without children! It did not take long for us to decide that we would enter this world, if only for one night! Grabbing two seats at the bar a man walked quickly in our direction. We assumed he was going to ask us to leave because we were parents, but it seems without the children in tow, he didn’t realize it! Instead he asked if we would like a drink. We ordered and received them within seconds. Already floating on cloud 9 we ordered our meals. Our soup, salad and bread sticks arrived within 3-4 minutes. I plowed my way through the soup and bread sticks and asked for more. 1 minute later there they were. Hot and delicious. Before they were gone our dinner arrived. I looked at my watch and made a note that the people in line for a table in front of us (they had children) were still waiting to be seated, and here we were, stuffing our faces with our main course!

After the meal they asked what I wanted for desert, since it came with the meal I ordered. I told them, and then they asked my wife. She politely said “mine didn’t come with desert” to which the man replied “it does today if you want it!” We both ordered and then the glorious human behind the bar said “If you would like we can upgrade those for you for free. The ones on this menu are so much better than the ones you ordered.” Why yes. Yes we would like that! We ordered our much larger and better treats and waited for about 3 minutes before a lady brought Esja hers. She told me that they were out of the one I ordered and asked if I would like something else. I made a second selection and she went back to get it. (now this part is like the bank in the skit. watch it and you will know what I mean… silly parent…) A moment later she walked past me and said the bartender was getting it for me. Right on her heals he came out with my desert, not the “we don’t have any more you loser parent” one, but he had found the original order, plus another one for my wife. “oh, you already have yours” he said. “I guess now you have an extra one to go!” He set them down with a smile and walked away. As we enjoyed our treats he came back with a frozen blended drink that tasted like heaven, sat it down in front of us and said enjoy! We did!

Once we finished everything and got the incredibly low bill (since most of our stuff was free) we paid, left an unusually large tip, and headed to Silverton for drinks at the Gallon House. Upon arrival the manager asked for our drink order. We told her and she came back moments later with them, placed them on the table and said “these are on me. Happy anniversary.”

What a great, inexpensive, lavish evening with my beautiful bride! Now that we know how the other half lives it will be tough to go back to being parents again. We love our boys, but there is no doubt, we need them to have more sleepovers with friends!

Here is the link to “Mr. White” http://www.snotr.com/video/422/Eddie_Murphy_goes_undercover

Bad News Beers


10390128_907232142626707_3220983100132201699_nA couple of months ago I had a crazy idea. I was bored, and thought about things that would be fun to do. One of the things that kept jumping out to me was sports. I am nearly 40 and not in peak shape (unless peak shape is beautifully round) so I needed one that took a little less energy than basketball or football. I decided that softball sounded like a good fit.

My next step was to see if there was anyone around that shared this desire. After posting on Facebook, asking if anybody would want to play if I started a league, I was overwhelmed with the response. Within a couple of hours I had 60 people wanting to know when we start. The local YMCA sent me a message saying they would be interested in running the league for me, and off we went!

Yesterday marked day one of games for this league. More than 100 players all showing up at their scheduled times because I got bored one day. I was beaming with pride. My team got beat 15-8 (I think was the final) but I had more fun than I even imagined. There are 14 people on my team. They all have great attitudes, and are crazy fun to be around. Do we want to win? Hell yeah we do. Do we care if we lose? Not really. Every member of my team (The Bad News Beers) is there for fun. We want to remove our butts from the couch and play a game for fun. That is exactly what happened.

I guess the moral here is never doubt your desires. I wanted to do something like this for a very long time, but didn’t think I could get enough people to be interested. All it took was saying something, and here we are! 8 teams. All with local sponsors, promoting our small town business. All playing for fun. I pray that this league sticks around for many years to come! I plan on playing until my body gives out!

I can’t wait for next weeks game, and the beers at The Gallon House afterwards where we can all laugh about our errors, brag about our good plays (Like Larry’s insane leaping grab of a line drive that had no business being caught….superhuman play Larry…) and bitch about calls we think should have gone one way or the other.

Thanks Bad News Beers for being my friends, and my teammates. This old man is loving it!1238913_888179191199054_8836001347593630122_n

Is There Still Good In The World?


6a00d83451c49a69e20153905f231d970b-800wiWatching the news these days brings up a question. With all the bombings around the world, and murders and theft, the human trafficking and everything else if forces you to wonder if there is still any good in the world. Well my friends I have the answer, and it is a great big YES!

My family does okay. We have a nice house, decent vehicles, we can feed our kids. We are better off than many, but still have to pinch pennies to pay all the bills. Sometimes something comes up that we want and just can not afford. Recently my 8-year-old son wanted to sign up for football. He was very excited, but I just didn’t have the money. I knew how important it was to him, and to be honest, I am as excited as he is, so I took a few of my old football collectibles and put them up for sale online with a brief explanation of what I was trying to raise the money for. Within a few hours I had several people tell me they would like to sponsor my son and that I should keep my collectibles. Some of these people knew that one particular item I was selling had a great deal of sentimental value, and others had no idea. More than one of the people who offered had never met me or my family. They just wanted my boy to be able to play ball. One of them said, “I would like to sponsor your son. Please keep your items and give them to him in the future instead.” I was overwhelmed by the response. The fact that so many people had such big hearts was a joy to see. I didn’t take any of the offers, as I believe in earning what we have, but I did negotiate a deal with one of them to build a fence for them as payment. This is just one example of the remaining good in the world.

I live in a rather small town in Oregon, called Silverton. This city should be famous for the way they care for one another. There is a Facebook page called Silverton Connections. It was set up basically as a way for people to talk about upcoming events, promote garage sales, sell items online to each other, or to try to find others with things they might need. The other day a tragedy happened in our little town. Someones house burned down. A family with several children ranging from diapers to teens. They lost everything. One of their friends posted on this Facebook page about what happened, and the true colors of our town came shining like the sun on a summer day. Within minutes dozens of people were going through their belonging looking for clothes for the kids, diapers, toys, shoes and anything else that could help them. Shortly after that people were asking, “what about the mom and dad?” and everyone searched again to make sure the parents were also taken care of. Yesterday I went by the donation drop off and left a few things, and when I walked into the house it was piled with clothes.  I will be heading to Salem on monday to pick up a washer and dryer that someone donated. A GoFundMe account was set up for cash donations and people have donated what they can. Many of the people donating items and money have never even met this family, but love them all the same. Why? Because they are Silvertonians. Because they are human beings, because they need help and that is why people here do. They help! They support each other. I have seen it myself in many ways. Not just with the football sign-ups. When my mom died there were strangers stopping by to give condolences. When my brother vanished from that cruise ship there were people asking how they could help me fight for better laws at sea, when my book was released they shared links and told their friends to check it out.

I am a Silvertonian and could not be more proud. This city is incredible, but not nearly as incredible as the people who live here. We are a community of givers. Thank you goes out to my mom and dad for moving here when I was very young. Had they not done so, and we lived anywhere else, I might still be wondering if there is good in the world. Because they did, I KNOW that there is.

If you would like to be part of that good here is how you can help.The family has enough of the local donations (clothes,shoes and such) but here is the link is to the donation page. Every single $ helps get this family back on their feet! http://www.gofundme.com/8yv69s

Flashbacks and Dish TV


lamarcus-aldridge-2047798Many years ago my mom recorded a movie for my dad. It was a Clint Eastwood pic called The Eiger Sanction. (spoiler alert) I have not watched it in well over 25 years so the details are a bit sketchy but here is a very brief synopsis. Clint was a good guy. There was a bad guy, who as I recall murdered someone or something and Clint had to find out who it was. Towards the end he is with a group of people climbing a mountain and he falls. His best friend is there with him and is the only one in position to save his life as he hangs from the rope. At that moment Clint realises that his best friend is the bad guy he was looking for. Then the tape stopped. (that s right. the tape….it is what we had before dvd.) I still to this day have no idea what happened next, although I did just put this movie into my Netflix que. I have wondered if the friend chose to save him, or if he chose to kill him causing Clint to fight and ultimately throw his best friend from the mountain while saving his own life.

Okay, all that said, here is why I am thinking of this today. I have Dish Network. Dish has this awful little thing that it does. If you don’t change the channel or anything else for a certain amount of time it assumes you fell asleep or left and shuts off the cable automatically. What this means is that if you are watching a movie you like, it will shut it off right at the end since you like it enough to not have changed the channel. This happened to me yesterday. I am a big sports fan, and when it comes to basketball, the Portland Trailblazers are my favorite team. They are in the middle of a great series with Houston right n, ow and last night I was watching game 4. The Blazers were down for almost the entire game. In the fourth quarter they fought back and took the lead only to have it slip away and force overtime. Overtime was insane. The Blazers came out like crazy and got a good size lead. with just 12 seconds or so left they were up by 5. Houston got a bogus call and it moved the ball forward. they inbounded and put up a three-point shot, that missed. That should have pretty much done it, but there was another bogus call with 10 seconds left and the Rockets got 3 free throws. All three sank. 2 point game. L.A. gets the ball and fouled. He misses both free throws. Houston gets a quick basket, fouls Portland free throws sink. Up by a couple Houston has the ball and 7.9 seconds. They start to drive the ball down the court and Dish decided I was sleeping.

After a mad scramble for the remote I get it angrily turned back on and see that Portland won. How? What happened? It was the Eiger Sanction all over again. I was so disgusted that I had sat there for what seemed like an eternity waiting on those last second and Dish stole them from me forever…

Now that this rant is done, I think I will make a cup of coffee, sit on the couch and watch about 5 minutes of Eiger Sanction before I start my work for the day! Thanks for reading, and I hope Dish never decides to screw you out of hours of your life!

Those Crazy Kids


I wanted to share some smiles with you all today. My kids have me rolling on the floor laughing several times a day with some of the things that comes out of their mouth. I thought I would just share a few of the silly bits with you all.

Eric Jr and I

Eric Jr and I

ERIC JR

1. Working with my son on telling time we had a watch with no battery. I would set the time on it and ask him to read it. After several attempts, all successful, I decided to ramp it up. I showed him how to set it and pointed to our wall clock which has Roman Numerals. Jr looked at it for about a minute before saying: “I can’t set it dad. I can’t read spanish.”

2. At lunch with the family for his birthday, while the waiter took drink orders. Me: Root Beer please. Evan: Root Beer. Eric Jr: Coors light! (he just turned 8)

3. Eric Jr: If I was a super hero I think I would be Joker. Me: But The Joker is a bad guy. Eric Jr: Duh, not if I was him!

4. Eric Jr: Dad, can I take my laptop with us? Me: You don’t have a laptop. Eric Jr: Exactly, maybe we should go to Best Buy first!

5. Eric Jr: Dad, does everyone die? Me: Yes, sadly we will all die someday, but the good news is that when it happens we can see everyone that we already lost again. Eric Jr: Well I hope you don’t die until you are really really old. Like 40. (I will turn 40 in September…)

Evan Wyatt and I

Evan Wyatt and I

EVAN WYATT

1. Evan: Can I have some more cereal? Me: What do I look like? A cereal tree? Evan: No, but you do look like someone who ate too much cereal.

2. Mom, I hope you never die. If you do we will have dad cut the floor and we can bury you under it. That way you will always be with us!

3.  (Evan runs into the living room dressed like batman)Me: Hey look! Batman is here! Evan: I am not batman! I am just wearing a costume. Idiot! Me: Hey, don’t say that its not nice. Evan: I am just wearing his clothes then. Idiot.

4. Evan: oh sh*t. Me: Evan that is a bad word. You are not supposed to say that. Evan: What is a bad word? Sh*t? Me: Yes, don’t say that anymore. Evan: Okay sorry dad. (five minutes later I overhear this) Evan: Brother, dad said Sh*t is a bad word so we can’t say sh*t anymore. Eric Jr: You just said it. Evan: (angrily)I am teaching you that Sh*t is a bad word! (needless to say we had a more detailed talk after that)

There are many more and maybe I will share them with you in the coming weeks, but for now I hope my boys were able to put a smile on your face like they do for me every single day!

The Best Big Brother Ever


Ross, Jason, Dad and I at the Death to youth party watching the band.

Ross, Jason, Dad and I at the Death to youth party watching the band.

Three years ago today I was with my sister-in-law running around like crazy. We were picking up a smoked pig, telling people where to park, getting a band set up, and preparing for an epic 40th birthday party for my brother Jason. He pulled up in the driveway and saw dozens of friends and family come out of the woodwork to greet him, and the look of joy and surprise on his face is something I will never forget. He got out of the car and we put him in a makeshift coffin, as the theme was “Death of Youth” and carried him to the back yard. When we opened the coffin he sat up to see dozens more people, and the band and that look of joy was refreshed.

That party was one of the best I have ever attended. We all had plenty to drink, the band was awesome, and there were so many of our loved ones present. We just had a great time. Part way through that party Jason started to notice that his vision in one eye was a little blurry and at the time we all just brushed it off as too much beer. Later we discovered that it was cancer. A cancer that he overcame, even with losing the eye, with strength and even humour.

We did not know that this would be Jason’s last big bash. He had another birthday, but 41 is just not the same magnitude that 40. We didn’t know that some at the party would never see Jason again, and that the “eulogies” we gave would be our only chance to do one at all, since his body was never recovered from the sea. Today would be Jason’s 43rd birthday, so I am going to give him a bit of a eulogy today, right here.

THE BEST BIG BROTHER EVER

Jason was my big brother. He was not a typical big brother to me, as he actually seemed to enjoy including me in his life most times. He was honest and loving, but also not afraid to give me shit when I needed it. Sometimes even when I didn’t, but mostly he was supportive of everything I did. The best book review I ever received was from him. He said “I have now read two authors. Orwell, and Eric Rappe. Both books were great.” He loved my book and supported my writing 100%.

Jason was not afraid to share his knowledge. He was always teaching people what he knew. I learned a great deal from him over the years. He was also not afraid to learn. If I knew something he didn’t, no matter what it was, he was interested in learning about it. Not only is it rare to find someone who is willing to both teach and learn, he did it with a strange and almost super human skill. He could take something that took me years to figure out, see it done once, and recreate it like he had done it for years. Everything he did, he did 100%.

When we found out that Jay had cancer, I cried. I cried because my world was proven wrong. Jason was a super hero. He was immune to the problems of mortal man. How was it possible for him to have such an affliction. Then he showed me how it was possible. It was all part of his plan to teach. Throughout his treatments, and in his decision to have the eye removed, he showed me that even something as horrible as cancer can be destroyed as long as you have strength and a positive attitude. Once his eye was gone he chose not to wear a fake one that looked the same as a regular eye, but one with the Pittsburgh Steelers symbol on it instead. That way people would know he had won his battle, and he could further support his team at the same time. That was Jason. He might have cried or been upset about it when he was alone, but to others he was a hero all the way through it. The only time I saw him with any tears was a response to mine. He saw that I was hurting and worried, and it hurt him as well.

Jason was great at pretty much everything he ever did. He was one of the best carpenters I ever worked with, could work on his own cars, remodel his own house, fix broken electronics, and drive a tank. None of these compare to how great he was at being a big brother. Even after losing him, he continues to teach me things. I have learned that I can do the impossible. I can meet with politicians, and fight for a cause bigger than me. Growing up people thought I would one day be a comedian, or some sort of radio personality, because I made a joke of everything. Nobody would have ever guessed that I would walk the halls of Washington D.C. and try to change the world.

Losing Jason has been one of the biggest life changes I have ever dealt with. We watched football on Sundays, we worked together monday through friday (and sometimes saturday and sunday) and we hung out in between all of the above. I have learned so much from him, and I am proud of the man he was. I only hope that I am 1/5th the brother to my younger bro Ross, as Jason was to me.

I reaffirm my promise to you big bro. I will not stop fighting the cruise industry until they admit they have been unsafe, and make the needed changes to protect people in the future. Your super hero status is still intact, as in your death, I will make sure you save lives!

Happy birthday Jason. You are gone from my sight but will live in my heart and the hearts of those who knew you forever. You simply were the best big brother ever!

Me and the best big brother ever 1976ish

Me and the best big brother ever 1976ish