Saturday, July 28, 2012

Non sibi, sed toti

I'm fortunate I rarely hear from the grammar police, but maybe I'll hear from the Latin purists. The title translates to "Not for self, but for others." (If the last word were "omnibus" it could be considered "everyone".)

I have yet to find a religion that preaches putting oneself above others. Most philosophers from Socrates onward opined that we exist to serve the greater good and the greater good is to serve others. There must be something to it; history is filled with accounts of great societies like the Byzantine Empire, the Roman Empire and the city/states of ancient Greece crumbling and collapsing because the populous went the "Not for others, but for self" avenue. Life is precious and the self preservation instinct has been imprinted in our genetic make up for about four billion years. Because of that we revere war heroes who sacrificed their lives to save fellow soldiers and firefighters and police officers who died in the line of duty. A parent's death while saving his or her child usually makes the national news. Altruism is noble indeed.

Putting others first is not easy. Many times it is thankless and emotionally draining all the while requiring huge sacrifices of time and energy. Some of these people become grief counselors, others become ministers, still others firefighters, peace officers, medical professionals, teachers, and first responders. It takes a special kind of person to devote her or his life to helping others, especially when the other person is in dire need.

Most of us will face situations in out lives where we will have to make sacrifices for the sake of others. Parents do this routinely for their children. I was never fortunate enough to be a parent, but I have been around some incredible people raising children in difficult circumstances yet the children are happy, well loved and well adjusted. Time spent shuttling children to activities could have been spent in badly needed "me" time. Money spent on activity fees and supplies could have been spent on entertainment. The great parents are the ones who make the sacrifices without the child knowing it is a sacrifice. The really great ones manage that along with helping others in need.

Aging parents are another challenge most of us will face. The difficulty is the sudden role reversal that occurs: the parent is the child and the child becomes the parent. Adding to the difficulty is the fact the parent realizes his or her independence is slipping away, certainly temporarily but possibly permanently. There is an old saying that goes to the effect of "After a taste of freedom, captivity is never the same". Captivity can be caused by lack of mobility, or needing to move to a care facility because living independently is no longer safe. In some cases, an aging parent may experience mental decline. That is the hardest of the changes because that person is becoming someone else. All this is happening while trying to balance a home life and work demands. Strained relationships and hurt feelings are not uncommon. Someone may snap a pithy comment out of frustration, or leave in a huff, or withdraw into a deep shell because of the pressures, and the others feel some pain. It becomes hard to remember that these sacrifices are made for love and of love, and that there is a greater good everyone is trying to achieve.

I went through caring for a terminally ill loved one, and I know others of you have, too. The only reason I made it through was because people were willing to sacrifice their free time for us. Hospice workers and volunteers, friends and family, all were there at the time of our greatest need. I had to focus on ensuring Lucy was well loved and well cared for in her time of need. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and I pray I never have to do that again, but I did it for her. The love and support from all of you helped in ways I will never be able to describe and can never adequately repay.

Unfortunately we lose some of these great people along the way. Some are lost because they got hurt one too many times helping an ungrateful person, others because the stress and strain of the sacrifices wear them down, and still others because they have nothing left to give. Each time that happens a bit of our society crumbles. We all feel the loss. I hope that the ones one the cusp of quitting reconsider. There will always be someone in need.

Thank you to all of you who put others first! You are the unsung heroes in our society. If you know anyone like that, give them some support. After all, they would do it for you.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Warm 'nuff for ya? Cripes!"

When I heard someone utter that quote this morning in the checkout line at Cub Foods, I looked around to see if the Coen Brothers were shooting a sequel to "Fargo". While the past several weeks have been in the mid to upper 90's with a couple 100+ days thrown in, today wasn't too bad. These are air temperatures, not heat index readings, by the way. I'm sure in a few months I'll hear someone (probably me) complaining about the cold and wind chill.

For those of you in the south metro area, the Genesee condos at American Boulevard and Penn Ave. S. are nearing completion. There are a couple of interesting food places that will also open soon. One is Moe's Southwestern Grill and the other is Which Wich. I believe these are the first in Minnesota for either chain.The El Loro's at 84th and Lyndale opened two months ago, and there is a rib place in Eagan called Rack Shack that I want to try sometime. Lucy would have enjoyed any of the places.

The video card in my desktop conked out in a blaze of glory this morning. Apparently two of the wires to the power connector got too close to the CPU fan. Over the course of a few days, the insulation wore away. Even at 5 volts, having a hot and a return short against each other is not a good thing. The video card went from an old GeForce GT 8800 to a dual head GeForce GTX560ti. I have to find a VGA to DVI converter to hook up a second monitor. Of course, the drivers are taking forever to load, and with Vista, I'm sure there will be the requisite and ubiquitous reboots.

There has not been a lot of rain lately. The weather folks are mentioning drought again despite our year to date rain total running 6 inches over normal. Unfortunately the Japanese beetle harvest goes on. I think I am approaching 10 pints of beetles. As much as I hate using lawn chemicals, I'll be dumping Grub-X on the yard this fall and next spring.

Work will be insane this week. I'm trying to enjoy a little downtime today. I do hope the pace throttles back a little. I know those of you still in the work force by and large have had to do more with less. Those of you in retail or the service industry have noticed people are not has happy as they should be, either.

Since it's hot and people aren't very cuddly right now, make your hugs meaningful!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

At the Zoo (28 years)

No, Lucy was not a Simon & Garfunkel fan, so Suzy, you don't have to dig around for a song that was released a few months before Julie was born.

As I mentioned Friday, Lucy and I went to the Minnesota Zoo on our first date. It was also a hot and muggy day back in 1984. It was very sunny that day with no breeze with a high in the low 90's. Today was overcast and breezy with a high in the low 90's.

As I turned on the radio when I got in the car, "Second Chance" was playing right at the verse I used in Lucy's eulogy. The odds of it happening once is pretty remote; twice has to be close to astronomical.

The zoo has changed through the years, of course. It took me three hours to walk through everything. That's about the same amount of time Lucy and I spent on our first date. I stopped in the bird show just after it started. One of the new birds on exhibit is an eagle owl. Lucy would have been in awe of how big it is. Unlike other owls, it does not have yellow eyes. (And no, the owl's name was not Lucy).

One advantage about going to the zoo on a very warm day is the predominate species on display, Homo Sapiens, is reduced in numbers. However, there also is marked reduction in patience, manners, hygiene and intelligence. The younger members of the species tend to be crankier and gravitate towards the water features. Of the numerous couples there, some with offspring in tow, it was obvious a few were on their first or second date. I wonder how many would be lucky enough to have found the person he or she want to spend the rest of their life with?

There was a serious run on the $4.00 frozen lemonade. When the guy at the booth said "Lemme guess, frozen lemonade?" I asked him if he had a turtle mocha with two shots of espresso. At least he got a chuckle out of it. I didn't get a discount of the lemonade, either.

The Dinosaurs exhibit is supposed to run until September 3rd. I didn't go to see it. The nerd in me wanted to go, but I think it would be more fun to go with someone. Anyway, I'd probably need adult supervision because I would be trying to take the animatronic critters apart to see how they tick.

I didn't make it to Don Pablo's. It was more of a Dairy Queen day. Trying to move forward doesn't always happen in leaps and bounds. Sometimes it's more of a nudge and a scoot.

Eagle owl

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Eagle owl

Notice the eyes are reddish brown on the eagle owl, not yellow like other owls.

One slightly agitated bald eagle

Just before getting very vocal

Friday, July 13, 2012

Three months

At times I can't believe it's been three months since Lucy passed away, and yet it seems like an eternity. I know I've aged 20 years in the past eight months. Like April 13th, today was also a Friday the 13th. I thank God for the love and support all of you have given me. I pray that you all are healing.

Sunday marks the 28th anniversary of my first date with Lucy. We had a lot of fun during our time together through the years. We tried every year to get to the Minnesota Zoo in mid-July and then go to Don Pablo's afterwards (only because Chi-Chi's went toes up). I'll try to do both yet this month. It won't be the same without her at my side.

Life goes on. The building that housed the Richfield Chi-Chi's is being leveled so the replacement Richfield Menard's can get built. Some of the movie theaters we went to are razed and some of the restaurants are either out of business or are completely different. For better or for worse, things change and life goes on.

Thank you for your time and for sticking with me.