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