Thinking Before We Speak

For some reason some of my closest friends over the years have been ministers and police officers.  They both, for the most part, are well respected professions. Next to lawyers, they’re probably two of the most joked about professions as well.  


I’ve realized over the years there are some things that people say quite often to them that is not only rude but can be quite offensive.  For example, my pastor friends always hear things like, “I wish I had a job like yours, where I would only work one day a week”.  Not at all true!  As an outsider looking in, I’m surprised at the number of hours my minister friends put in a given week.   In addition to the endless list of church meetings, they also get phone calls at home, get called out in the middle of the night to go pray at someone’s bedside, or counsel a family in crisis.  Not to mention all the time they spend preparing for their Sunday sermons.  


I’ve also noticed most of my minister friends are emotionally drained.  They pour so much into others they have little left for themselves and their own families.  The constant worry of living in a fishbowl with hundreds of eyes watching their every move and having to put on a put-together face to the church (because they expect it) yet crumbling on the inside from the constant criticism is daunting to say the least.   


I’m sure we can all come up with a list of things people say that offend us.  As a photographer, I often hear, “that camera you have takes nice pictures”.   That’s like saying, “that stove you have bakes a nice cake”.  It really has nothing to do with the stove or the camera.   


We’ve all joked about police officers and their donuts, but one of the most offensive lines I’ve heard spoken about police officers is, “I pay your salary!”.  Guy gets pulled over or questioned for something and the officer is quickly reminded that he’s a burden to all tax payers.  I believe people who say such things typically have greater issues with authority.  If you take a single police officer’s salary locally for example and divide it by the number of people who live in the city, we’re really only paying pennies a year for their services.   Its also good to remember that they’re also the ones who run towards danger to rescue the rest of us.  And they know when they kiss their wives and children good-bye each day it could be their final farewell, even if they’re cautious and play every move by the book.   Yes, there are officers out there who abuse their authority, but for the most part the majority of them understand their duty to “protect and serve”.  

bible and gavel

I’m thankful to have both cops and ministers around.  I’ve noticed over the years they both share similarities.  They both uphold laws and values, are mocked by those who need them most, and they’re really never off duty.  I would add they’re probably lied to more than the rest of us and at the end of the day most of us don’t heed their advice.   


So the next time you see one of them remember, they’re just like the rest of us…human!


The bottom line is as it always has been. If you can’t say something nice, well, you know the rest…



Summer 80s Style

I feel sorry for kids today.  For all the things they have, they’re really missing out.  Call me old fashioned or maybe I’m just getting older, but we had it good in the 80s.  As I’ve traveled around this summer, I see very few children playing outside.  What happened to building ramps out of old pieces of wood and jumping over them on your bike?  What happened to homemade popsicle, hopscotch, and double dutch competitions?  I suppose the only thing better than summertime was being a kid at summertime.  I’m afraid today’s overexposure to video games, the endless channel lineup, and lack of true childhood imagination has left kids bored this summer.  


My summers in the 80s consisted of getting up early riding my bike to a friends house and not coming home until dark.  We sort of ate what we wanted, made forts in the backyard out of stuff we found in alley way or my parents shed, and drink from the water hose.  Who can forget that?  We didn’t have bottled water to keep us cool.  We just found a water house and took a drink.  When it got dark we grabbed a mason jar and ran around catching lighting bugs.  

rubic cube

I do applaud my parents for one summer activity requirement – reading.  Every summer I had to read several books.  I think it helped to develop my love for reading which has continued into my adult life.  In fact, I ran across one of my old “choose your own adventure” books a few weeks ago. 


Today there are endless blogs, Pinterest, and articles loaded with activities for parents to do with their kids.  I checked out a few of the blogs and articles and found things like elaborate trips and expensive craft projects.  One idea called for buying more than a hundred pool noodles and constructing a backyard water park.  I’ll admit that sounds fun, but how long will that last?


I’ll be the first to admit, I enjoy our modern conveniences.  Smartphones, fast internet, and more than three television channels is enjoyable, but they certainly don’t take the place of good old-fashioned summertime fun.  Perhaps its time we all unplug and make it an 80s summer.  Here are a few ideas:


Take a bike ride or better yet, hike and take pictures along the way

Build a blanket fort

Play in the sprinkler or jump in puddles when it rains

Climb a tree

Have a bike race

Make ice-cream or popsicles 

Have a picnic (no fast food)

Play hide & seek

Turn on some music and dance 

Go stargazing

Learn to juggle

Do a puzzle

Hand write a letter to a friend


Lastly, get some crayons and color.  And by the way, it’s OK to color outside the lines too.  Let your imagination run wild!  Albert Einstein once said, “imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited.  Imagination encircles the world.”   Put the phone down, turn off the TV, and go enjoy yourself!  


Dog vs. Cats

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not too crazy about cats. Before you throw down your newspaper in disgust, hear me out. It’s not that I hate cats — I just don’t think they like me.  

In fact, some of our dear friends have cats and little Fido runs and hides when my wife and I come around.  

I guess you could say I’m more of a dog person. My first pet was a beagle named Tiny. Tiny was a loving dog even though he had some age on him. He was actually my sister’s dog, but got passed down to me when she left home.  

After Tiny’s death, my parents wouldn’t allow me to have another dog. It was not until I was married I adopted an over sized dachshund named Tex. Tex brought so much joy to our lives. We had birthday parties for him complete with pet-friendly cake, took him on vacations, and even took him to work a time or two. He was so spoiled my wife and I would jokingly say we would want to be reincarnated as him when our time on Earth ended. He had it great!  Plenty of food, a comfy bed, and was surrounded by people who took care of his every need.  

I suppose that’s the case with most of our pets whether dogs or cats.  

cats and dogs

A recent study by Carroll University in Wisconsin found there is a definite difference between dog and cat lovers. They polled hundreds of people and found dog lovers tend to be more lively and outgoing while cat lovers were more introverted and open minded.  

Here’s the part of their study that got me, though. They found cat lovers scored higher on intelligence than dog lovers. I don’t agree with that at all. How does the fact I own a dog instead of a cat have anything to do with how intelligent I am?  

The study, which was presented at the annual Association for Psychological Science meeting this year, goes on to point out dog people are more lively because they’re going to want to be outside, talking to people, and bringing their dog along.  Whereas cat owners, the study claims, tend to stay inside more reading books and lounging, are more sensitive and tend to be more introverted.  

The other interesting finding was dog lovers said they chose a dog because they wanted companionship. I agree with that finding wholeheartedly! After Tex died at the age of 14 we felt this overwhelming void in our house. Everything we did seemed awkward without him around. Some may say, “its just a dog.” I firmly believe pets become a part of the family and in our case like a child since we don’t have children. 

It’s possible we choose our pets based on our own personalities. Cats are obviously more independent animals and tend to be more cautious of others. They can also in some cases be more affectionate than dogs. Affection was one of the top reasons cat lovers said they chose a cat over a dog. 

Whether you’re an introverted cat lover or an outgoing dog lover, I think we can agree there is nothing like the unconditional love of a pet. Sure we all have our differences, but there’s very little that outranks my 11-pound dachshund Zeke enthusiastically greeting me when I walk in the door every evening. Call me fanatical or lacking in intelligence if you want, I prefer my dog over most people any day.