Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Time As A Stay-At-Home Dad

For the past few months I've attempted to work at my day job and keep both of my sons at the same time.
To all of you stay-at-home moms - my hat is off to you. To you working mothers - I don't know how you can sustain it for any period of time. I won't even go into the difficulty of being a working mother.
Men - either by nature or tradition - fail to do near as much as women concerning our children. This is not a certainty, but it is obviously the more common of the options. Maybe in all societies, women are the chief care-givers of the home.
Please understand that I can get the job done. I can handle the normal activities of my children, but it's not easy. Throw in the fact that I'm trying to run a business and it was pretty darn tough.
Now I love my boys more than I can even begin to explain, but it's good to be back at work. The constant distraction of even the most basic of questions became overwhelming.
The boys are ages 5 and 3 and the number of questions they can fire from those fast-moving mouths is amazing.
They're needy as well. Examples:
"Dad, can you get me a drink?"
"Dad, can you put my show on?"
"Dad, may I have a snack?"
"Dad, when's Mom going to be home?"
"Dad, can you wipe me?"
Honest to goodness, I should be as skinny as a beanpole because Sutton Hawk is a frequent visitor to the accommodations.
I don't want this to seem as if I didn't enjoy my time with them. I very much did. Maybe too much.
The boys and I are close. I would say we are as close as humans can get. That won't change because I'm now away for several hours a day. But being at home was special.
We're all familiar with the cliche, "Enjoy it now, they grow up fast." Truer words have never been spoken.
I'm glad to have our friend Darlene back with us to help with our kids. She was greatly missed. I wish her absence would have been under different circumstances as she lost her mother, but I think the boys will help provide a release from the sadness of losing a parent.
I firmly believe this time spent with them helped me to heal from the death of my mother last year.
The love of a child is a mighty powerful thing.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Land For Sale?

I have a solution for our country’s economic hardship.
Instead of putting the U.S. taxpayer on the hook for trillions of dollars, why doesn’t our government liquidate assets?
Our government is the owner of probably the most valuable asset on the globe - land. In fact, the United States Government has direct ownership of almost 650 million acres of land - nearly 30% of its total territory.
While some federal lands are used as military bases or testing grounds, nature parks and reserves and indian reservations, or are leased to the private sector for commercial use, the vast majority of it is used for very little if at all.
Consider the following states and the percentage of land owned by the federal government:
1. Nevada 84.5%
2. Alaska 69.1%
3. Utah 57.4%
4. Oregon 53.1%
5. Idaho 50.2%
6. Arizona 48.1%
7. California 45.3%
8. Wyoming 42.3%
9. New Mexico 41.8%
10. Colorado 36.6%
Contrast that with the land owned by the government in the East:
1. Connecticut 0.4%
2. Rhode Island 0.4%
3. Iowa 0.8%
4. New York 0.8%
5. Maine 1.1%
6. Kansas 1.2%
7. Nebraska 1.4%
8. Alabama 1.6%
9. Ohio 1.7%
10. Illinois 1.8%
The US government owns a whopping 84.5% of Nevada, but only a 0.4% of Rhode Island and Connecticut. The government only owns 1.9 percent of the total land in Texas.
Obviously, Uncle Sam owns some pretty prime real estate. Take the Rocky Mountains for example. How much would that land bring on the open market. Furthermore, what if said land could be used for development, natural resources, etc...
Why burden 300 million Americans with $10-$13 trillion in national debt when they’re sitting on trillions of untapped potential they could not only liquidate, but also tax.
How fast could California get in the black if just 10 percent of the land owned by the government were sold to the public?
Read it one more time: 650 million acres of land. Texas is big with approximately 172 million acres. Much smaller than the total amount of land the government owns.
I’ll be sure to send this column to various elected officials and see what kind of response I get and keep you posted.
After all, I think we’d all rather the government be in the real estate business instead of the banking business. And if they insist on bailing everyone out, they should use their own money!

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Off My Rocker

I saw a show on depression the other day and it seems it is simply human to become depressed. It got me to thinking about other mental "problems" we may face in our day-to-day lives such as worrying too much and denial.
I don't want you to think to yourself: "Boy, might as well stop reading because this is depressing." I'll try to keep it interesting.
Anyhow, we all get depressed from time-to-time. Some go through horrible depression while others only mildly and not very often.
Some try and disguise the fact they are depressed for they see it as weakness. For those people, now that you know that everyone has it, you can let go and get a little sad like the rest of us.
I think I'm somewhat like Mom was. Outgoing on the surface, but I can become introverted and reclusive. There are times when I just want to be alone. Don't know why, I've just always been like that.
I also like to worry. Well, I wouldn't say I like it, but I do worry about things out of my control. Don't know for sure, but I bet worrying and depression are linked somehow. Mom used to make up things to worry about. My wife reminds me not to worry about things I can't control. I try to obey her and it works pretty good.
Back to the topic of depression: In this country, billions of dollars are spent on anti-depressants. That alone should tell us it is human to get sad. I wonder if every person in the country who claims not to get depressed could be diagnosed with a case of denial. Oh man, I think I suffer from denial as well.
I may be getting depressed from the denial I have about worrying too much ... or maybe it's the other way around. It's insane to me the amount of trouble we can get into while mulling these things over. Not that there is anything wrong with insanity...
Since I'm cleansing my mental state in this space, I might as well disclose that I suffer from a fear of failure. It must be a mild case, however, because I keep trying new things.
When I was a child, I had a sense of normalcy. I watched reruns of "Leave It To Beaver," "I Love Lucy" and "Father Knows Best" and thought the world was this normal place where there was little crime and divorce and no one got depressed. Now I really wonder just what exactly normal is.
Am I normal? Are you? Between us, I'm a walking, talking freak-show who sometimes gets depressed, worries too much, is in denial and who has a fear of failure. How about you?
At the very least, I feel better haven gotten all that off my chest. I can honestly say that I feel pretty "normal" at this very second and that's good. I hope you do as well.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

How Will It All End?

Maybe it’s the economy, but I’ve seen several things of late on the end of the world. More specifically, HOW the world will end.
Last time I remember seeing so much talk of this nature was before the start of new century.
I’ve compiled a list of some of the most “popular” theories on how the world could end:
• Massive asteroid impact: Asteroids and comets crash into our planet and can be seen in our “neighborhood” all the time. The last large collision occurred 100 years ago in Siberia, but in a very remote area.
An asteroid or comet of decent size would obliterate human life. And being that they travel much faster then the speed of sound, you’d probably never know it unless we happened to notice it on it’s way here.
• Massive volcanic eruptions: Some scientists now say dinosaurs were killed not by an asteroid, but instead, or additionally, by enormous eruptions in what now is India. There is proof that life-ending eruptions have occurred throughout history and will likely occur again.
Yellowstone National Park is said to be a super volcano and scientists say it could erupt at any time - or not at all.
• Nuclear war: Obviously, a full-scale nuclear war would ruin human life. Scientists say numerous explosions the magnitude of nuclear bombs would blot out sunlight for months or even years, causing mass extinctions as most plants died and most animals starved.
Research has also indicated that the ozone layer would also be destroyed and would let in more extraterrestrial radiation,further cooling the planet.
• Climate change: There seems to be some debate amongst scientists regarding global warming, which is referred to as climate change. If you believe manmade climate change and the mass migration of millions and millions of people which would ensue, it would be a cataclysmic mess.
Some say the world would become too crowded and the adjustment which would be required across the planet would be too much to overcome. Low lying areas like Houston, New York, New Orleans and Florida would be no more and that’s just North America. Much of China and other countries would also be lost to the rising oceans.
At the very least, it would take decades so solve such a crisis. Crime, disease and famine would be the order of the day.
Biblical prophecy: If you are a Christian, the second coming should probably be on the list. You don’t hear many scientists speak about Christianity, but make no mistake, the Bible tells of an end of times.
Throughout the history of man, people have been asking how it will all end. Will it be quick? Will it be soon? The answer is still unknown and will probably remain so until it occurs.
Like all of you, I’m going to live my life the best I can through whatever the world throws at me. I guess the bottom line here is to get the most out of your life each day during your brief time here on this planet and love those around you each day. Pretty basic stuff...

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009


It's time the county, city, hospital and school declare war on gophers. It seems they inhabit property owned by all of the entities and they are messing things up pretty good around here.
Fair Park, Childress High School, Childress Junior High, Childress Cemetery, StoneyRidge Golf Course ... these varmints are taking their toll. And no one wants a cemetery and golf course with an infestation.
I know we don't have the resources to wage an expensive war, but there are ways to combat the situation.
If just one person associated with these entities conducted a few experiments testing inexpensive ways to rid ourselves of this problem, then shared with the rest, we could get these rodents to move on out or face extermination.
I thought I would help get the process started so I Googled "How to kill gophers?" and a wide variety of solutions popped up.
One of my favorites is the Juicy Fruit remedy. Supposedly, if you place a piece of Juicy Fruit near or in a hole, the gopher will consume it and it will kill him. They are unable to digest it.
Other remedies found but untried:
• Hook a hose up to an exhaust pipe and shove it into their tunnels.
• Place hot sauce or peppers in the newest hole. They don't like it and it will drive them away.
• Drop a fire cracker in the hole.
• Use poison.
• Trap them using spring traps placed over their "runs."
• Soak some rags in mint oil and place them in the holes.
• Watch the movie "Caddy Shack."
I have no idea if these ideas will work or not, but something needs to be done. If you have a proven remedy to this problem, please don't hesitate to let someone affiliated with one of our taxing entities know. Or you can log on to this column at the Web site below and place your remedy in the comments area.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009

To Spoil Or Not To Spoil

Why do we spoil our children/grandchildren?
We know it's really not a good idea then we go and do it anyhow.
My wife and I are guilty as charged for doing so this Christmas and I'm sure a large percentage of you are as well.
My parents and grandparents were guilty of this crime as well. Hey, I'm grateful, Christmas was a blast for me growing up. But the reality is, we are too materialistic and in a way, we create little monsters who think they can get what they want.
A few generations ago, there were very few spoiled children. When you think about the World War II generation and before, money was very hard to come by. Most didn't earn much and there were no credit cards handed out like today.
Somewhere along the way, the toy market exploded and it continues today. My theory is television exacerbated the problem. As soon as toy commercials hit the air, kids started making mental notes of the toys they wanted. Today, with eight or so children's channels broadcasting 24-hours a day, our children are absolutely overloaded with the sights and sounds of the latest toys on the market.
I have literally seen my 5-year-old son turn his head to me after a toy commercial and say, "How about that for Christmas Dad?"
On the positive side of this mass spoilage is the fact that it certainly pumps them up when they get their hands on what they wanted. There is nothing like seeing pure joy in the eyes of a child.
While on the topic of toys, can you believe what cool stuff there is to play with? Without a doubt, the neatest toys ever made are available now. However, you better have some batteries to power these gizmos up.
My children now possess toys someone could witness me playing with if I weren't careful. And I don't mean playing with the toys while the boys are, but rather when they aren't. For instance, when my wife takes the boys to their grandmother's in a moment, I may be inclined to get out the MegaRig and fly around a little bit.
Maybe that's the real genius behind these toy and game producers. Maybe they realize if they can get us adults interested in the toys and video games, their work is done. If that's the case, not only am I guilty of spoiling my children, I've been duped myself.
Oh well, I can't wait until next Christmas.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009