Friday, December 26, 2008

A Mess Out Of Our Control

Why does the federal government think they can buy this country out of hard times? Correct me if I'm wrong, but they are at fault - at least in part - for the current problems.
Some 500 people in this country are elected to govern the rest of us. Those individuals should be held accountable for so much, yet they never will be.
Blame Bush you say? Sure. But, seems to me Congress has plenty of votes to disagree with the president once in while. Instead they march lock-step, throwing good money after bad ... making a bad situation worse.
Today, many companies are opting for a handout instead of using normal means to save themselves. However, I don't blame the corporations seeking billions. I blame the government for opening up this Pandora's Box.
Ask yourself this: If someone said you qualified for $1 million at nearly zero percent interest, and really didn't consider how you would be able to pay it back, would you take it?
People need to understand that things don't always go up. There is an evolution to business. Simply put, some are destined to die or become something else.
Does the government really expect us to believe GM can fix itself by March? It can't. It's impossible. They've bought themselves time for one of three things: 1. Ask for more money; 2. Get bought; 3. File for bankruptcy on their own terms.
What really boils my blood is that the president, president-elect and all of Congress know there is no way some of these companies will survive yet they are willing to throw our money into this abyss.
Wonder what the government would do if every citizen decided to stop paying taxes? I imagine they'd just keep printing more money. Who cares about the value of the dollar anyhow.
When I see these jokers on television, it drives me crazy. They are no longer held accountable for any of the terrible decisions they make on a daily basis. The mainstream media, who is supposed to serve us in this one capacity, has lost it's way. Maybe it has decided that Congress can do no wrong. More likely, they are in bed with the media and the media likes the privilege.
Contact members of Congress and tell them to turn the money-faucet off. It is only making things worse and it is placing way to large a burden on future generations.
Or, tell them to annex Canada and Mexico and sell it back to Americans and the rest of the world to raise enough money to bail us out of our $10 trillion national debt.
Really, I'm shorting the debt. The actual national debt as of this week is $10,611,892,686,306.43. The estimated population of the United States is 305,328,096. That comes to $34,755.70 for every man, woman and child in this country.
By the way: Congress is getting another raise - over $4,000 next year.
Raise for what? Running the country into the ground?

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Feeling Lost This Year

I feel kind of lost this year. Many of you have been through it as well.
I lost my mother in February and my father resides in an Alzheimer's unit and has no idea who I am. My grandmother passed in January.
Dad was pretty bad last year, but we managed to have a nice Christmas. We will this year as well, but I find myself lost with the thoughts of Christmases past.
My mom worked hard at Christmas. She worked hard on the house, food, presents and everything else. She made it very special.
I remember coming in the house and the incredible smells there to welcome anyone who entered.
Despite the usual holiday stress, Mom was happy. Actually, the holidays were the time she was the happiest.
Dad was always in a good mood around the holidays as well. He liked to play little tricks. One time he bought a baseball glove for himself and wrote on the card, "To: Bill - From: His Secret Admirer." Pretty clever guy.
My wife and I were talking about how our children seem to make this first Christmas without my parents okay. The joy of their experiences have a way of helping with the pain and emptiness left by those who've passed.
There are other joys as well. Simply finding a quiet time to remember exactly what we are celebrating puts things in perspective. I'm still amazed at the humble nature of the birth of Jesus. It's astounding and moves me.
Doing something for others also has a way of helping ease the grief. There are many who need the aid of a friend or the goodwill of those of use better off.
Still, this Christmas will be difficult at times... Really, it already is. Just this past weekend I tried to count the number of phone calls I would have received from my folks on the weekend before Christmas in the past. I'm sure it would have been at least six. Strange ... half of the phone calls probably would have annoyed me in some way. Man, I'd love for that phone to ring right now...
For those of you who've lost loved ones this past year, my heart goes out to you and your families. Fill your homes with love and let those sharing your pain know how much you love and care for them.
For those of you with families intact, give them an extra hug and kiss this year and take just a second and think of this special time without them. Then go ahead and give them another hug.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Classy Champion

Sometimes nice guys do finish first.
In a "me first" society, how refreshing it is to see someone with the character and strength of Stran T Smith win at the highest level.
If you had to go out amongst the people of Childress and select the best ambassador to represent us all, you could not go wrong with Stran. Thankfully, he already does a fantastic job in that regard as he's been putting us on the map for years.
As Stran told me yesterday, only 320 people on the planet have ever won a gold buckle in the PRCA's 50-year history. He is one of a very elite club.
Stran and wife Jennifer have teamed up once again to let the world know that if people like them live in little old Childress, we must have a pretty good place here.
It is a thrill to watch Stran rope and Jennifer interview during the NFR each year. This year was different however. This year we had the pleasure of seeing the two of them in the moment. A moment which will last in our memories for the rest of our lives.
The Smiths are a strong couple. Like most of us, they've endured the ups and downs of life, they just have the misfortune of being very high profile while doing it. It is something they handle with class and dignity.
In Stran's rodeo career, he's nearly been killed in a tragic wreck which took the life of his best friend, he's been seriously injured and he's suffered a stroke, after which he was told he'd never rope again.
Just as he's done his entire career, Stran got up from each setback, dusted himself off and got back in the saddle.
All week Stran flew under the radar. The commentators spoke of this roper and that roper having a shot at the championship, but Stran's name was rarely mentioned. I guess he had them right where he wanted them.
Stran roped well during the NFR putting himself in great position to win the average and finish in the top three in the world. But what he needed to win the whole thing was a heck of a time Saturday. He did just that, finishing second with a 7.2 to put him on top. It all fell into place for him in his tenth NFR.
Stran is one of those people who makes us all feel like winners when they win. We hope and pray for him, cheer him on and feel great when he wins. But this is different. This is huge. Stran is the very best in the world and he's coming home to Childress to share that title with his hometown.
Congratulations to Stran T on a job well done. And thank you for representing Childress in a way we can all be proud of.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Large Newspapers Struggling

You may have heard on the news that America's largest newspapers are in serious financial trouble. In fact, don't be surprised to see several begin to close their doors.
On Monday, the Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, filed for bankruptcy. The New York Times Company followed by saying it might mortgage its beautiful headquarters - a building by Times Square - to reduce debt.
The San Francisco Chronicle has been losing $1 million a week for some time. Mid-size newspapers such as the Amarillo Globe-News and Lubbock Avalanche Journal are feeling it as well.
Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, put it like this: “Good journalism does not come cheap. And, therefore, you’re not going to find a lot of blogs or non-profit websites that are going to build a Baghdad bureau.”
Thankfully, the market for smaller newspapers like the one you are reading are not facing the same economic hardship.
Let's face it, in today's world, the need for 130 pages in a newspaper simply does not exist ... particularly at $1.50 or more per issue. The Internet and the duplication of news by several sources (weather, Washington, D.C., major stories) has helped in placing these newspapers in peril. The poor economy is sending them over the edge.
The government should not even consider helping these institutions out and I'd be shocked if it were ever seriously considered. That would be a disaster. The last thing we need is newspapers under the control (even if it is merely financial) of the U.S. government. Anything being perceived as a state-controlled media as terrible. See Iran, Russia and China as an example of countries in which the government controls the media.
Nor should the government bail out companies such as GE, which owns NBC. Again, such a bailout could be seen as the government getting involved in media. In my eyes, it's a clear violation of free press.
Anyhow, the way information has been collected and disseminated to the vast majority of Americans is changing by the week. The day of giant newspapers having reporters across the globe is quickly coming to an end.
I foresee a time when newspapers in Dallas, Houston, Denver, etc. cease to exist at all in the form we see them now. We'll continue to see an evolution of them until they are completely online. In the meantime, you'll see many more smaller newspapers rise up and take their place. Why? Because people can afford them and they still want to see their children and grandchildren participating in events. You'll continue to have the Dallas Morning News replaced by weekly or twice-weekly newspapers in Rockwall, Grand Prairie, Flower Mound, etc... News about Dallas can be found online at home or at work, but the story and photo about the local team can only be found in the local paper.
Don't get me wrong, it is wise for the smaller markets to develop online editions as well, but the need for major cutbacks and a complete overhaul is not there. When you're a giant, with a dozen offices and a couple of thousand employees which are in various unions, and much of what you do faces competition from ten other sources, it's plain to see what's coming. The fact that many of the largest newspapers in this country put off massive change will be their demise.
Meanwhile, small-town newspapers will quickly streamline and continue to produce an efficient product. It's ironic that us small guys can continue to plug along while the grand old ladies go to pasture. Usually, the massive corporations continue to grow while the small guy suffers.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Building A Cabinet

In case you haven't been keeping up with current events, President-elect Barack Obama continues to fill his cabinet positions. I'd say the review by those in "the know" have been favorable.
For those fearing Obama would line his cabinet with liberals, that has not been the case. The appointment of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates should speak volumes to conservatives.
Gates, a Republican and the former Director of the CIA, was fine in his position as President of Texas A&M University. To many Aggies, he is the best president in the school's history. While there, he declined the nomination to serve as the first Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security when it was created following the September 11, 2001 attacks. He also declined the position as Director of National Intelligence in 2005.
However, following the exit of then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2006, Gates accepted the appointment to lead the defense department.
I think what has happened in Iraq since Gates took over speaks for itself. Simply put, we've gone from losing the war to nearing it's completion. To those that know him, Gates is considered a soft-spoken genius.
Time Magazine named Gates one of the year's most influential people in 2007 and he was named one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report in 2008.
Without a doubt, Obama was very wise to let Gates continue in his position and will probably leave him there as long as he will stay. He will be one of the few men to serve a president from each party in this position.
When all of the dust settles on this piece of history, Gates will go down as one of the very best Secretaries of Defense we've ever had.
Back to Obama's Cabinet: Other members, Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Bill Richardson as Secretary of Commerce, are viewed as centrist.
So far, Obama seems to be siding with experience in his picks.
The authority to appoint Cabinet members is grounded in Article II of the Constitution which stipulates that the President "may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments."
The first Cabinet, appointed by President George Washington, had just four members, but take a look at the four: Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson; Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton; Secretary of War, Henry Knox; and Attorney General, Edmund Randolph.
If you're not a history buff, you'll have to trust me that those four individuals would make any president a hand.
Over time, the Cabinet expanded to its current membership of 15 officials plus the Vice President. Additionally, each President may give "Cabinet level rank" to other members of the administration. All appointees are submitted to the Senate for consideration where they must receive a simple majority vote for confirmation.
The list of President-Elect Obama's Cabinet members, those either announced or under serious consideration based on recent reporting, is as follows:
Secretary of Treasury - Timothy Geithner
Secretary of State - Hillary Clinton
Secretary of Defense - Robert Gates
Attorney General - Eric Holder
Secretary of Homeland Security - Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Health & Human Services - Tom Daschle
Secretary of Commerce - Bill Richardson
Ambassador to the United Nations - Susan Rice
Secretary of Agriculture - ?
Secretary of Education - ?
Secretary of Energy - ?
Secretary of Housing & Urban Development - ?
Secretary of Interior - ?
Secretary of Labor - ?
Secretary of Transportation - ?
Secretary of Veteran's Affairs - ?
With the exception of Eric Holder and Tom Daschle, I'd say Obama would get high grades from most with his appointments. Holder and Daschle are another matter entirely.
It will be interesting to follow the remaining appointments. Conservatives are saying the rest will be liberal. The liberals are a little ticked claiming the ones already appointed are no where near liberal enough. My bet is that he will continue to side with experience and pick mostly good ones with a couple of duds.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mr. Quickster And A New Tradition

The wife and I started a pretty cool tradition a couple of weeks ago and it's been pretty fun.
The Elf on the Shelf comes with a small elf doll and a book. The book tells the story of how the elf communicates with Santa about how good the children have been.
You also name the elf. Our is named Mr. Quickster.
Every day when the children get up, Mr. Quickster is in a different location in the house. This indicates that indeed, he has been off to the North Pole to let Santa know how the day went.
The boys have been pretty enthused with the elf. The other day, Sutton Hawk, 3, was overhead making a confession to Mr. Quickster after misbehaving. He followed the confession with an apology to Mr. Quickster and Santa. I'm sure Mr. Quickster told the Jolly One all about it that night.
I must admit, I'm guilty of using Mr. Quickster as a weapon. I recall saying something like, "I beat that elf is going to let Santa know about that." To my credit, I've said it for both good and not so good things.
It's fun to introduce new traditions to the kids just as my parents and grandparents did for my sister and me. Mr. Quickster has been a fun addition to our traditions.
If I had to pick my favorite thing about fatherhood it might be the sharing. That and the hugs.
I like the fact that my boys want me involved in what they do. They constantly seek that approval and admiration.
Several times a week I'm asked my opinion on a drawing, building or some other project. It tickles me to watch their progress.
Many times, I receive what I am complimenting.
"How does this look Daddy?"
"Boy, what a great airplane. That's one of the best ones I've seen."
"Thanks Dad! I drew it for you!"
At that time I usually get a big hug. I guess that's one of the best things I can imagine.
More and more we see teens and many others of us hammering away on their cell phones. They are either texting away or talking.
It's great that we have this technology, but texting hours on end is no way to go through life.
Encourage your kids to put the phone down once in awhile. Better yet, go for a walk without it.
If your child puts up an argument when you ask them, that's proof enough you just did the right thing.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bringing Them Down With Us Is A Good Thing

The planet is in financial turmoil. As crazy as it may seem, we are all in this together.
According to Kanaga Raja, global economic expert, the entire world economy is in the toilet. Raja said, "The downturn after four years of relatively fast growth is due to a number of factors: the global fallout from the financial crisis in the United States, the bursting of the housing bubbles in the US and in other large economies, soaring commodity prices, increasingly restrictive monetary policies in a number of countries, and stock market volatility.
"The fallout from the collapse of the US mortgage market and the reversal of the housing boom in various important countries has turned out to be more profound and persistent than expected in 2007 and beginning of 2008. As more and more evidence is gathered and as the lag effects are showing up, we are seeing more and more countries around the world being affected by this rather profound and persistent negative effects from the reversal of housing booms in various countries."
Basically, this will continue to get worse before it gets better. And yes, we'll be effected.
The Georgia Pacific plant in Acme is laying off 35 people immediately. There is not enough demand for drywall so the company has no choice. That's just one example of the ripple effect of this crisis.
The world’s financial firms have now lost over $2.8 trillion and global taxpayers have now spent around $8 trillion to shore up the world’s banks. These amounts will continue to climb as large businesses fail taking smaller ones with them.
On Monday, President-elect Barack Obama discussed items in his blueprint for turning around the economy - including a huge stimulus package and tax cuts for a "vast majority" of Americans paid for by the nation's "wealthiest."
The package will probably be around $600 billion. That's on top of the $700 billion package which Congress passed earlier.
Other countries around the globe are working to curb the recession as well. It seems every day the crisis is on the tip of the tongue when various leaders speak. And really, that's probably a good thing for us.
As bad as it is and as bad as it will get, it could be much worse.
We are all in the same boat, but what if we weren't? What if the price of oil had stayed where it was this summer? It would have had a catastrophic effect on the U.S. and our allies.
Had just a few countries entered into recession (with the U.S. being one of them), we'd be watching Russia, Iran, China and others gain power.
Russia has been flexing muscle of late and Iran has been trying to develop nuclear weapons for years. Had those countries not been apart of this economic disaster, think of those implications.
We are fortunate that our status as a Super Power and as the world's richest country that we have seemingly taken everyone down with us. As bad as it is now, I shudder to think of this world with us, Europe and Japan in an economic crisis while China, Russia, Iran and others are booming.
With this a world-wide problem, it is in the world's best interest for the United States to get back on solid footing economically. The reality of this whole thing is: as we go, so does the world.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Give Local Merchants A Chance!

Attention good readers - local merchants need your support!
The Christmas shopping season is well underway as businesses are getting aggressive trying to stave off a recession. All they ask is that you give them a shot to meet your Christmas needs before heading up the road to another town.
Shopping at home is a win-win-win for you, the merchant and the town. You get that much needed gift, the merchant gets revenue to keep the doors open and the town gets some tax revenue.
We all know that the big cities have items you'll have to have and you'll most likely be heading there at some point, but no one is going to bend over backward for you and give you the service you deserve like the hometown folk.
All your local merchants have ever asked for is a chance to meet your needs. Give them that chance this year!
I keep hearing about this harsh winter, but it's been pretty mild this fall. Personally, I'm no fan of snow, but I'm a firm believer that a couple of good snows help us in the long run.
My oldest son has seen a couple of good snowfalls and is now expecting it. He's been asking about snowmen and snow castles so I hope he's not disappointed. I did try to explain that there was no guarantee we would get that much snow at any one time, but he wasn't having any of it.
Walked out of the back gate Sunday just in time to see a passerby throw trash out the window. Man that really burns me up.
Is it that hard to wait until you're near a trash can? Do you have such little pride in your town that you have to throw trash into someone's yard?
It's a pathetic thing to see our parks and vacant lots covered in litter. Next time before you chunk it out of the window, think of that 80-year-old widow that's going to be picking up after you.
I received a lot of feedback on my column about my boys dressing up. Well, I walked into the house the other day and there to greet me were a red Power Ranger and a bounty hunter complete with beard and ski mask. Last night I put to bed a couple of super heroes ... Spiderman and Superman to be exact.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Never-Ending Halloween

I never know what I'm going to come home to.
A fire fighter, an astronaut, a cowboy, a football player, a mummy, Darth Vader and others ... and it continues.
Most call it Halloween. I call it the 31 days-plus of Halloween.
My sons, Jackson, 5, and Sutton Hawk, 3, have become costume experts and Halloween has now become a daily event. I don't want to sound like a jerk, but it's getting pretty old.
Since the boys dressed up this past weekend, a full week AFTER Halloween, there may be no end in sight.
The other night we were putting the boys to bed when my wife told Sutton to put his helmet, or mask, so some such thing in the "costume chest." That's right, you read that correctly. We now have a costume chest in the boys' room. It's not small either.
I guess it should come as no surprise. After all, my wife sells clothes. I'm not trying to place blame, I guess I'm just reaching out.
Perhaps I should just accept the fact that it's fun for them to dress up. Even better ... maybe I should join in the fun. I wonder what the kids would think if a 6'4 250 lb. space alien came in through the back door? I bet it would get their attention.
"Hello Boys! Daddy's Home!"
Or, maybe I should dress up like Santa and use it as a weapon to better their behavior.
Maybe they'll arrive soon and the real Darth Vader will be standing there waiting for them.
I guess I'd better rethink this because if I scare them too bad, I'll be causing myself more trouble than it's worth.
Anyhow, as you and yours are getting ready for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, think of me. I'll be at home watching my mummy and my dragon battle each other before their next costume change. And if you happen to see a giant elf walking down U.S. 287, just ignore him. He's probably locked out of the house.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Change has come to America

Change has come to America.
President-elect Barack Obama eloquently made this statement Tuesday following his historic victory over Republican John McCain. He was correct in that assumption.
Watching the night unfold and listening to Obama, thoughts of many generations of struggle ran through my head.
I tried to imagine the pride African-Americans were feeling. Of course, it's impossible for me to fully understand because I'm a white man in the United States. I cannot comprehend what it must have been like as an African-American over the past century. No one has ever told me I could not eat where I wanted. No one has ever told me to go to the back of the bus. No one has ever implied that I was not welcomed some place.
According to several stories and personal accounts I've read of African-Americans watching that moment - they were tense. Some felt as though the moment would be taken from them. Some, especially seniors, were finally able to believe that America is truly a place where anything can happen. For the first time, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s ultimate dream had really come true.
I was touched by the outpouring of emotion, the pure elation felt not only coast-to-coast, but worldwide. It was incredible watching positive significant history happen right before my eyes.
I've heard more than one time people say, "I didn't think I would live to see this day." I kind of thought I would ... years from now.
President-elect Obama has risen like few on this planet ever have. He has gone from obscurity to the highest office in the land in four years.
A little more than four years ago, Sen. John Kerry, while campaigning in Illinois, heard Obama addressing a crowd. He was impressed enough to have him give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention and the country took notice. Obama won a Senate seat that November and the rest is now history.
I've heard the saying, "Only in America" on many occasions in my life, but the saying and Obama's achievement made it true.
In this country, you can dream big. Everyone of us. Not only that, those dreams can come true ... for every single one of us!

Copyright 2007

Sunday, October 26, 2008

People Of Faith

Do you believe in God? Are you a Christian? Exactly what do you believe in?
If you are a person of faith, you are constantly at odds over the belief system of others. In fact, some things probably turn your stomach.
I don't know many atheists (at least I don't think I do), and that's probably a good thing. It's not that I would not like them, but there is a serious fundamental difference in the way I think and what guides me compared to the way they think. I'll be honest, it would be a big hurdle for me to get over.
A group of atheists is launching a new advertising campaign in London, England. The fact there doesn't seem to be much backlash is strange, but does not surprise me for Europe is becoming more and more secular.
Europe has become a hotbed for humanists, or people who reject religious beliefs and center more on humans and their values, capacities, and worth.
I guess it's a bit of "Be Your Own God."
Anyhow, back to the ad campaign these atheists and humanists are launching. On 30 buses around London, there will be a news slogan: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
The reason: nonbelievers are fighting what they say is the preferential treatment given to religion in British society.
I really thought since humans have been believing in a higher power forever, nonbelievers would be used to being treated a little different.
I also think it's strange how they say, "There's probably no God." I would have thought they would say, "There is definitely no God."
Comedy writer Ariane Sherine, who started the campaign, said she came up with the idea after visiting a Web site saying nonbelievers would spend eternity in hell.
I think the joke is on her.
Those of different faiths have had a pretty tame reaction to the group's new campaign. They claim it will end up getting more people to church.
"It tells people to 'stop worrying,' which is hardly going to be a great comfort for those who are concerned about losing jobs or homes in the recession," said Theos director Paul Woolley. "Stunts like this demonstrate how militant atheists are often great adverts for Christianity."
Stunts like this make me feel a little sorry for those nonbelievers. Then again, I'm just some crazy guy living in the sticks clinging to my religion and my gun!

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Working Out The Brain

According to a new study set to appear in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, surfing the Web could be beneficial for the brain. The study was made at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Volunteers carried out different tasks on the computer including Web searches and book-reading while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans. During the MRI, they were given search tasks such as finding out how to choose a car etc.
"The bottom line is, when older people read a simulated book page, we see areas of the brain activated that you'd expect, the visual cortex, and areas that control language and reading," Small said. "When they search on the Internet, they use the same areas, but there was much greater activation particularly in the front part, which controls decision-making and complex reasoning. But it was only for the people who had previous experience with the Internet."
Scientists and researchers now say "mental workouts" can improve concentration and help prevent dementia and memory loss.
As a child of an Alzheimer's victim, I'll be exercising my brain until I no longer can. I would suggest you encourage your parents or grandparents to exercise their brains as well. Puzzles, books, the Internet, etc. could be one way to staving off a horrible disease,
Sex offenders in Maryland will not be giving candy to trick-or-treaters. They are receiving paper signs in the mail that read "No candy at this residence," which they are required to post on their front doors or possibly face a parole violation.
The signs began arriving last week and were accompanied by a letter explaining they must stay at home, turn off outside lights and not answer the door on Halloween.
"Halloween provides a rare opportunity for you to demonstrate to your neighbors that you are making a sincere effort to change the direction of your life," the letter to sex offenders reads.
Maryland is also distributing pamphlets statewide to warn families to stay away from 1,200 homes with the pumpkin signs.
Maryland began the program in 2005.
If your wife is overweight, it could be your fault.
A study analyzing the female weight cycle found that happiness – or the lack thereof – greatly affects the woman’s waistline, London's Daily Mail reported this week.
The report found that females gained and lost weight in stages.
Stage one resulted in an average loss of five pounds when the relationship begins.
When the woman gets comfortable with their partner, they start to gain weight.
Wedding plans also send the scales down as women tend to lose weight before their big day.
The arrival of a baby then reverses the weight loss, followed by diet plans to lose weight gained when pregnant.
The study, done by the U.K. weight management form, involved 3,000 women and found weight varied an average of 28 pounds during the mentioned stages.
So, who is to blame for my weight gain? Certainly not me. How about Little Debbie!

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Mixed Bag Of Opinion

This news with ACORN is terrible!
You'd think with all of the technology used in this country, we could figure out a way to keep people from cheating.
ACORN members and workers violating voter registration laws should be in prison for years. And whomever is responsible for the idea of paying people per registration should be there as well.
With the Dallas Cowboys registered in Nevada and hundreds saying they've registered a minimum of 10 times, it is a slap in the face to every American!
I can't believe these cheaters get federal money. That's right, ACORN is using your tax dollars to commit voter fraud. Let your state and national elected officials know how you feel about this!
Great things are happening in Iraq and the media is not reporting on it. Why?
One reason is because they are pulling out of the country.
As a direct result of the stability of the country, major news organizations are now leaving the country.
"It (the war) remains important and it remains interesting," said Alissa J. Rubin, the New York Times' acting bureau chief in Baghdad. "But what's in front of us now is almost a static situation. There's not a clear narrative line. The stories are more complex."
In other words, Americans aren't getting killed as much and we don't want to do stories on U.S. troops helping others and keeping the peace.
It's no wonder most Americans think there is media bias in this country.
Here's something for you parents:
First-graders in San Francisco took a field trip to City Hall last Friday to celebrate the marriage of their lesbian teacher on.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the field trip was suggested by a parent at the Creative Arts Charter School. The school said the trip was academically relevant.
"It really is what we call a teachable moment," said Liz Jaroslow, the school’s interim director. "I think I'm well within the parameters."
The students even tossed rose petals on their teacher and her wife as they left City Hall.
How sweet!

Note to teacher: please let me know before doing anything out of what I may consider normal.
Concerned Parent
PS: Don't hesitate to call if you don't know what normal means.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The "Ridge" Is Worth It!

The first major event was held at StoneyRidge Municipal Golf Course Wednesday and was very impressive.
The T.L. Roach, Jr. Unit hosted a benefit tournament for the Special Olympics and the turnout was excellent.
Roach Unit personnel did a terrific job with the event and StoneyRidge did not disappoint those ready to play.
I love to golf. I took up the sport a little late, but it is very challenging and rewarding.
Golf can be humiliating. It is also addictive. It can anger you to the point where you invent new cuss words in one moment and make you feel like the strongest man in the world the next. Whatever the emotion, StoneyRidge is pretty enough to enhance it.
Many of you don't golf and have no desire to. I think you deserve to see what this place is all about should you desire to. I would like to suggest our City Council play up the official opening of StoneyRidge and invite the residents to come out and see the facility first hand. After all, they are the owners of the place.
Another major event will be happening at the club this weekend. The Ladies Golf Association is hosting a tournament with around 72 players participating, many from out of town. Some will be staying in hotel rooms and many will be shopping and eating a meal or two here. That's big money for Childress as a whole.
We may indeed be facing tough economic times for the foreseeable future, but that may be a good thing locally as Childress becomes an affordable and desirable alternative destination compared to larger cities.
Those in nearby cities can spend a Saturday in Childress, play golf, eat, shop and catch a movie for a third of what it would cost in the big city. Let's seize on these opportunities and begin to market ourselves to that degree.
Residents of Childress are blessed to be in a place where the future is not bleak. We are blessed to have opportunity because many around us are struggling.
Go take a look at StoneyRidge. Check out the new jail. Go see Bobby Sanders at the ATV park under construction. Take pride in your community and continue to work to make it better!
This city is positioned to grow and offer even more opportunity. But it won't stay that way.
Once upon a time, many small towns thought their future was secure. They had train stations, bus stations, grocery stores and a whole lot of retailers. Saturday night the farmers would load their families up and the town would buzz. Sound familiar?
Things change and as a community, either you're going to change with the times or you're going to regret it. I know this town is full of like-minded, good people who don't won't to regret a thing. As long as we have that, we have a fighting chance.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Rural Texas = Big Provider

Rural Texas is sometimes an afterthought. It's wrong, but true.
Many in urban areas consider us "hicks" or "gun-toting zealots."
According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, here are some facts for those who knock us small-town folk to consider:
• Texas is the second-largest agricultural state in the United States, accounting for about 7 percent of the total U.S. agricultural income.
• The food, horticulture and fiber industry is the second-largest industry in the state and generates $73 billion a year for the economy.
• Texas is the fifth-largest wine-producing state with more than 155 wineries and 220 commercial vineyards, producing more than 2 million gallons of wine. The Texas Hill Country Viticultural Area is the second-largest Viticultural Area in the United States, covering 15,000 square miles.
• Eighty percent of the land in Texas is in some form of agricultural production.
• Ninety-two percent of Texas' agricultural operations are still run by individuals or families.
• Although agriculture employs one out of every seven working Texans, less than 2 percent of the population is involved in day-to-day farming or ranching.
• Texas farmers grow more than 60 different commercial fruit and vegetable crops.
• Texas ranks first in the nation in the number of cattle and calves, accounting for 15 percent of the U.S. total. The Lone Star State also is the top producer of cotton, sheep, wool, goats, mohair and horses. The state's top crops also include vegetables, citrus, corn, wheat, peanuts, pecans, grain sorghum, hay and rice.
• Besides livestock and crops, the state's agriculture industry includes timber/forestry, aquaculture, bees/honey and nursery/greenhouse.
• Texas is the third largest exporter of agricultural commodities. Texas' top agricultural exports are live animals and red meat; cotton and cottonseed; hides and skins; wheat and products; and feeds and fodder.
• Each Texas farmer grows enough food and fiber for 128 people - 94.3 in the United States and 33.7 abroad.
• Texas' 1 million horses, representing approximately 15 percent of all horses nationwide, makes the state a leader in the United States. Texas also leads the nation in the number of registered American Quarter Horses, American Paint Horses, Appaloosa horses and American Miniature Horses.

Next time someone knocks rural Texas or America to you, tell them to get their facts straight.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You'll Be Okay!

Are you at risk?
Will you be okay?
I don't know if it will be this week, but you will be okay.
Many Americans are seeing first hand how ugly things can get in Washington. It's a sad truth.
Most of our elected officials have absolutely no background in economics, finance or business. They can tell you what you'd like to hear about law, but their knowledge on the economy is lacking to say the least.
I imagine CPAs and bankers across this country are shaking their heads when thinking about the attempts to educate the U.S. Congress on our economic problems.
That scares me more than anything. It's like someone coming to me and explaining how to do surgery and then pointing to the patient and saying, "You need to get in there and save this guy."
Many Americans know this and realize that when you put billions in the hands of the government, you can kiss it goodbye. That's why phones in Washington have been ringing off the hook with people voicing their concerns.
Of course Congress must act and they must act very soon. But, they must do what is best for you and I, not Wall Street. And we certainly don't need a bill which can be construed as Socialism.
Can you imagine the other troubled sectors in our economy running to Washington with their hand out?
"Here you go housing market."
"Hey airlines ... need some cash?"
"American auto makers - come on down!"
That's the last thing we need.
Like usual, the warning signs were there. Economists have been saying it for years, but it fell on deaf ears. Why? Again, because our elected officials lack economic knowledge.
How many times in the past week have you heard the word bipartisanship or partisanship?
More than ever, we need our elected officials to forget what party they belong to and listen to experts.
Bottom line: we need the best bill possible and we need it soon. And if you need to email our elected officials, tell them no pork, no golden parachutes for failed companies and keep the socialist rhetoric to a minimum.
By the way, if you are someone with some cash under your mattress, you might want to consider investing. It's looking more and more like a buyer's market in most sectors.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Biden Is A Gaffe Machine

Sen. Joe Biden is a gaffe waiting to happen. The more he speaks, the more feet he manages to get in his mouth.
Every time I see another mistake, I have to wonder what Sen. Obama was thinking when he chose this guy.
The other day during a rather odd conversation with Katie Couric, Biden claimed President Roosevelt addressed Americans on television in 1929.
"When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the princes of greed," Biden told Couric. "He said, 'Look, here's what happened."
Oops. Herbert Hoover happened to be president in 1929 and televisions were still a couple of decades off.
In a speech to the National Guard Association, Biden implied his helicopter was "forced down" by enemy fire while in Afghanistan.
"You want to know where bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me. Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down with a three star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are," Biden claimed.
Oops. Biden was never fired upon ... not even close.
Biden hung Obama out to dry and challenged him to take his guns away during a United Mine Workers of America fish fry in Castlewood, Virginia.
"I guarantee you Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns, so don't buy that malarkey ... They're going to start peddling that to you." Biden told the crowd that he is a gun owner. "I got two," Biden said, "if he tries to fool with my Beretta, he's got a problem. I like that little over and under, you know? I'm not bad with it. So give me a break. Give me a break."
Wow. With running mates like that, who needs opposition.
There are others as well ... plenty of them. Believe it or not, the gaffes above have happened in the past week.
Obama would be smart to keep this guy under a rock somewhere because he does not help his ticket.
With the election a little more than five weeks away, there is no telling what else he may say. And don't forget, he has to debate Gov. Sarah Palin in the vice presidential debate. I wonder if Obama is worried about that?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Law Enforcement Should Use Media

Newspapers should be the single largest tool a rural sheriff's department or police department uses to convey what is happening or solicit information from the public.
Sometimes administrators may forget this or someone with inexperience may think keeping information from residents is in the public's best interest. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Rural law enforcement can take tremendous advantage of the fact that newspapers are here, in part, to inform the public of crime or matters which affect them. In addition, the public can aid local departments by being another set of eyes and ears.
When a relationship is working as it should, the department and the newspaper can partner up to do a lot of good. I see it first-hand all of the time and the departments which use newspaper to their full advantage, have success due to the relationship.
When law enforcement decides it's better not to release names or keep vital information from the public altogether, it appears like either there is something to hide, or the department is not on top of things. Eventually, the public's trust of the department begins to wane.
Building a relationship with law enforcement is vital and is in the best interest of the department, the newspaper and the public.
There are many entities which use public funds to function. The governing boards of these tax-supported entities owe it to the public to disclose information, regardless of how painful it may be.
Being involved in several small towns, you see hospital boards, county commissioners, city councils and school boards elected to hopefully, govern these entities to the best of their ability.
Part of that is letting the public know where and how their tax dollars are being spent. A transparent government is one which has the public's best interest at heart.
Most of the entities we deal with are very forthcoming with information. And it is the job of the newspaper to get the reader that information in a timely matter.
As with law enforcement, the better the relationship between a newspaper and a taxing entity, the better it is for all concerned.
It's been my understanding that a transparent government works the best. The public understands when things are not going well, they just don't like to be shocked.
Small-town residents want the biggest bang for their buck. They want their elected officials to communicate what is going on and how and where their money is spent.
When elected officials abide by these simple principals, it makes all of the difference in the world.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Statement of Independence

As you've might have noticed, I'm somewhat conservative. Does that mean I'm a Republican? No. Actually, I consider myself an Independent.
I've known politicians my entire life. I stuck a cookie in the mouth of Gov. Dolph Briscoe as a boy and visited Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock in Austin because I thought he was brilliant. Both were friends of my grandfather, the late Morris Higley, a newspaper publisher from Childress.
Sen. Phil Gramm helped me get a dorm at Texas A&M and Rep. Mac Thornberry was a pallbearer at my grandfather's funeral.
The first two I mentioned were Democrats, the second two Republicans. I consider them not only skilled politicians, but good men. They served or are serving us well.
I have always admired Gov. Ann Richards and consider James Carville brilliant.
I've always thought Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts should have stayed in office and I appreciate the humor of Dennis Miller.
Richards and Carville are Dems while Watts and Miller are not.
Michael Moore may be one of the biggest jackasses in world history followed closely by Pat Buchanan.
I consider Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan the greatest U.S. presidents of the last century.
Why am I disclosing this? I think it's fair for the readers to know it.
We live in a very cynical time on both sides of the aisle and it has become borderline ridiculous. I hate to break the news to you, but there are good people in both parties and there are some who deserve to be ousted.
Currently, President Bush has an approval rating of 32.7 percent and a disapproval rating of 64.7 percent.
By contrast, Congress, which is controlled by Democrats, has an approval rating of 20.3 percent and a disapproval rating of 72 percent.
It looks to me like the vast majority of Americans are a bit fed up with both parties and the entire process.
For me, my biggest concerns tend to be rural issues. Are our farmers being protected? Are the state and federal governments paying attention to the needs of rural schools? Are we getting strong representation form our elected officials? Do we have the best law enforcement for rural residents? Is our health care adequate?
Simply put, we have issues which are either put on the back burner or never addressed at all and it is killing rural America. It's not a Republican issue and it's not a Democrat issue. It's because it takes population centers to get elected to office and that's one thing small towns don't have.
There are great Americans in both parties and there always have been. The trouble starts when members stop reaching across the aisle for the good of us all.
This election season, demand that whomever you vote for begin paying attention to the 80 million Americans who live in small towns. If enough of us do that, the issues affecting us might start getting the proper attention.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Two Sons

I wonder what the world record is for children producing sound? What ever it is, I think my two sons have a shot at shattering it.
Jackson, age 5, and Sutton Hawk, soon to be 3, have become very proficient at the art of making noise.
Jackson likes to whistle while he works ... that is when he's not yelling and screaming. Sutton Hawk likes to sing ... when he's not yelling and screaming.
By "yelling and screaming" I don't necessarily mean at each other. Sometimes, they just like to get rowdy.
My wife Sharon says they get this volume from me, but I'm almost sure she has no proof ... despite occasionally walking in on us going crazy.
On second thought, I guess their seemingly never-ending crescendo is my fault. However, I'm happy to report that their lungs seem to be in terrific shape.
Sutton Hawk has decided he likes to use colorful words. Not only will he occasionally use them, he knows how to use them.
Again, I plead innocent in this matter as my language continues to improve. However, Sutton is subjected to others who may frequently use descriptive words.
Luckily, he deserves a PG-rating rather than an R. We're working to get him back down to a G-rating.
Speaking of G ratings: Is it not ridiculous how few wholesome movies and shows there are out there?
The major studios (both TV and movie) want to work adult humor into everything. I guess that's okay for some families, but my kids pick up on the off-color humor and quickly use it to their disadvantage.
That leaves me in the position of telling them they can't say that which leaves them confuses because they got it from a "children's" movie.
Very few "children's" movies actually garner a G-rating. Most end up PG. I guess the studios figure they will try and entertain the adults who have to sit through the show with the kids.
My children don't know this, but I take great pleasure in watching them. For some reason, I think it's fascinating to watch them play - both individually and together.
It's fun to watch them attempt to solve their own problems and govern themselves.
Most of the time, they do a pretty good job. Jackson is not too overbearing to his little brother and Sutton Hawk is not too much of a pest.
As much as admitting this will jinx me, I'm happy to say their is currently harmony in the Blackburn Household.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Techno Revolution Rolls On

So much technology all around us.
In 20 years, we've gone from VHS tapes to hand-held computers/phones/cameras ... all-in-one. It's unbelievable.
I got my first cellular phone in 1992 and it was a Motorola phone about the size of a shoe box. You would roam as soon as you left the city limits and dead air dominated the landscape.
Today, there are phones everywhere. Scan a crowd next time you're out and count the number of people using a hand-held device. It boggles the mind.
I currently have a BlackBerry. It's a fine instrument and I will honestly say, I haven't a clue what all it is capable of. It is doing plenty for me, so I'm content.
My sister has an iPhone and it may be the coolest thing I've ever seen. Just as they did with the iPod, Apple continues to revolutionize the digital age with an incredible piece of technology.
Years ago - technology would seem to speed along then slow down. A few years later, there'd be a new product.
I remember when the first VHS recorder came out in the 1970s. Man was it neat to record television. Of course, that spawned the tape rental industry.
The poor old VHS tape was then chased by the laser disc and DVD and now Blu-Ray and High Definition products are available for all of these high tech televisions they are making.
When we finally pulled the trigger on that awesome flat screen we wanted, we realize another company has advanced the technology by doing this and that to it and ours is obsolete. It used to take a decade for things to become obsolete and now it takes a year or two.
New televisions, phones, digital devices, games, etc...
So where does it all end?
Until our current existence changes (war, famine, disease, etc.), I'd say it doesn't end. We're probably seeing just the tip of the iceberg. As the world economy broadens, the competition becomes greater. Really makes me wonder what things will be like after the next 20 years.
In some ways, it also makes me wonder what our technology is doing to us physically right now. With Alzheimer's and Autism rates continuing to climb, do all of these things being beamed from one place to another have an effect on us?
Of the things I have within 20 feet of me which emit something I count:
• Cell phone
• Remote control television, DVD, VCR, etc.
• Dish Network
• Microwave Oven
• Home Phone
• Computer
• Dog (an odor)
Are these things harmful. Hopefully not. Unfortunately, that is one of those things which will emerge in hindsight as with mesothelioma and asbestos.
I remember my first set of walkie-talkies and my first remote-controlled car. Man, I thought that technology was really amazing. Now, they're just antiques. Then again, so am I.
Each year I feel the need to write something about September 11, 2001.
What a horrible day for this country. I found myself watching a show on 9-11 on the National Geographic Channel Sunday and to this day, I can still feel the pain I felt on that day.
Deep down, I don't care if it's been luck, great police work, national security intelligence or what, I'm thankful we've not been hit again.
Love him or hate him, President Bush has traversed a horrible storm and kept the ship afloat.
I don't know the percentages, but I imagine nearly all of us thought 9-11 was the beginning of many attacks on U.S. soil. Thank God the attempts have been thwarted. And, like him or not, Bush, his policies and personnel should be given credit.
Back on that dark day, I would have given anything for the piece of mind security brings. Now I wonder if we take it for granted.
I was single on September 11, 2001. Now I'm married and have two sons. Priority number 1 for me is security. I don't want my family blown up. Regardless of which candidate is elected president, that priority will not change.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Palin - Great Political Timing

We now know who all of the players are. Either way, history will be made.
With a 24-hour news cycle and a camera on what was believed to be all potential prospects for vice-president, Sen. John McCain pulled the trigger on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. The move is being hailed as one of the most surprising in recent political history.
So far, the move can also be hailed as one of the most successful.
According to the polls, the Obama-Biden ticket received no bounce from the Democratic National Convention. Estimates last Thursday evening put an expected bounce at between 10 and 15 percentage points. However, the announcement of Palin less than 12 hours after a historic speech by Obama, resulted in virtually no bounce for the ticket.
"The convention and particularly Obama's speech seems to be well-received," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "And the selection of Sarah Palin as the GOP running mate, also seems to be well-received. So why is the race still a virtual tie? Probably because the two events created equal and opposite bounces assuming that either one created a bounce at all."
Truth is, the move by the McCain campaign improves his shot at the White House ... by a ton.
Friday morning, pundits were busy telling the world it would take a major mistake by Obama in order for McCain to have a chance. By noon Friday, all bets were off and the focus turned from Obama's speech in front 80,000 party loyalists and a huge world-wide audience to Palin and her acceptance speech.
Over the weekend, much was made of the Palin selection and several made the claim that is was nothing more than a political ploy and would not have happened had Obama selected Hillary Clinton.
Had Obama picked Clinton, would that not have been a political ploy as well? In other words, the entire process is a political ploy. You pick your VP candidate to give yourself the best shot at winning.
But did he?
Now comes the news that Palin's 17-year-old daughter Bristol is pregnant and she will marry the father. How do both camps respond to this?
Palin preaches abstinence and is staunch in her pro-life conviction. After all, she gave birth to a baby with Down Syndrome and knew about it well before giving birth. But, her preaching of abstinence has backfired in her own backyard.
Frankly, the media needs to stay away from the daughter. Nothing is more sickening than going after the children of candidates. By all means, let the candidates have it, but keep away from the kids.
It may not happen, but it would be refreshing if the race came down to merit. However, with the country seemingly split in half, the 2008 campaign will likely be a bloodbath.
With two months remaining before the election, it will be fascinating to watch the drama unfold. What ads will people respond to? What truths will be uncovered concerning the candidates? How will the debates go?
Regardless of what happens in the election, you have to admit, the timing and the selection of Palin got the GOP ticket on the map. Politically speaking, it was a stroke of genius because if nothing else, it took the focus off of Obama and kept him from jumping way out in front.
What happens now is anyone's guess.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Obama Dropped The Ball

I think the Barack Obama campaign dropped the ball with the selection of Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate.
Had Obama picked New York Senator Hilary Clinton, I think it would have guaranteed him the White House. Now, depending on who Sen. John McCain picks, it will be a dogfight.
Listening to the political talking heads, of which there seems to be no end, the Clintons have several problems with Obama. Likewise, I doubt Obama has much regard for the Clintons. We may never know.
It would be fun to be a fly and the wall and hear what the two camps have to say about each other. You know it gets heated.
At the end of the day, Democrats feel their best chance to win is to show the country how "unified" the party is and what a great opportunity for "change" their ticket is.
McCain now must pick wisely. He does not have the luxury of picking someone too polarizing nor can he ignore the Republican base.
I think McCain's best pick would be a woman, but unless he pulls a major surprise, that won't happen.
Of course, unless McCain can find a way to break through the Obama-media love affair, it may not really matter...
There is something about the fall and football season. You've heard the saying, "it's in the air." It certainly is!
Whether you like high school, college or pro football, there is plenty to go around. It's strange that a game where the goal is to cross a line for points, can be taken so seriously by so many, but that is exactly the case.
Football in America brings communities together and sometimes rips them apart. It can build pride and it can make you want to hide your head in the sand.
The great thing about football or any other sport is that is fuels the fire to compete. Regardless of what allegiance to what team you may have, it's good to get fired up occasionally. Just remember, when the final whistle sounds, the game is over and sportsmanship should be the rule rather than the exception.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Teaching Them To Say "No"

School is gearing up - do yourself a favor and remind your children to stay away from substances - all of them!
We have to find a way to convey to our youth that putting harmful chemicals into our body is not the answer to anything.
Since our children are so inundated with technology, I've been working on this with my children already. With a 5 and 2-year-old, you may think I'm crazy, but I figure, what the heck?
We discuss how cool and unique the brain is and how to protect it. They know they need to wear a helmet when doing certain things and they also know not to take things to damage it otherwise.
Here's the hard part though, they've never been tempted. They've never been told a pill can make them lose weight. They've never been told a drink can make them forget the bad stuff. They've never been told a joint will help them relax.
According to a study by the Columbia University National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 80 percent of high school students in American have witnessed drug use or possession or drunk or high students at their schools. Over 40 percent of middle school children have.
Those statistics should tell us our kids need to learn to say "no" from day one.
We probably all know people on drugs. The vast majority of us probably have someone in our family addicted to drugs. But not even an addict wants their child on drugs.
Parents and caregivers are really the last and best line of defense against drugs. If we're doing our best, we might be able to get our kids through high school safely. In other words, even a terrific parent or caregiver sometimes loses the fight, but we still must try every day.
So here it is. Here's what to look for. Here are the signs that your little one may be messing their brain up:
- Missed classes, lateness, incomplete or missing assignments, falling grades.
- Accidents, mistakes.
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss or gain.
- Neglect of school, work or family affairs.
- Discontinuation of hobbies, sports or group activities.
- Deterioration in appearance or hygiene.
- Change in communication with family or good friends.
- Secretive behavior.
- Missing money or unexplained money or new and expensive items, missing items of value.
- Health problems, change in sleep patterns, runny nose, cough, irritated shin, hangovers.
- Explosive arguments, often over small matters.
No excuses. Tell them why chemicals are bad every day. Stay close to them. Check their rooms, computers and backpacks. Let them know you do it for love and to help them maximize the chances they have in life.
Most of all, just try your best to be the parent you should be.