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Archive for September, 2008

When I tell people that my oldest son is having his 20th birthday (this week!), I often hear an exclamation such as, “Get out of here”! Apparently, I still look reasonably well-preserved for my age, which can be attributed either to good genes or daily tumblers of formaldehyde. Not sure which.

But that phrase has far more meaning attached than might first meet the ears. You see, #1 son was very nearly a casualty of childbirth gone haywire.

It had taken us a while to conceive. Not that I had any argument with the required process, mind you – in some things, both trying and succeeding can be quite rewarding. Finally, a bit of intervention-by-Clomid was required to jump-start the female plumbing out of beta and into production mode. Bingo!

My wife was not subject to the digestive disarray suffered by so many millions of her sisters, and all the standard prenatal tests were happily unremarkable. We patriotically jumped through all the expected first-time-parent hoops, including LaMaze class, where I was first introduced to the all-important concept of the “cleansing breath.” We also learned all about the expected run-up to labor and delivery, so we settled in and prepared for a nice, normal, healthy, middle-class, suburban-hospital delivery of baby #1.

Sunday, September 25th dawned with contractions. Woo-hoo! But, first-timers that we were, our early morning trip to the hospital was quickly followed by an early-morning return home to “wait” – the expected centimeters of dilation turned out to be millimeters of frustration. Oh, well.

Then, as morning turned to afternoon, the childbirth-by-textbook started to break down.

Contractions became weirdly irregular. The uterus tightened up and didn’t want to relax. A sharp and continuous pain began to develop from one spot. Perplexed and concerned, it was time to head back to hospital.

After the usual hookup of the myriad of monitoring devices, an ultrasound was ordered to take a look. That’s when stuff starting flying. Fast! Forms were tossed in front of me to sign – right now! “This one is for such-and-such: sign! This one is for such-and-such: sign! This one is for a normal vaginal birth – don’t think we’ll need it, but sign anyway!” That one kinda clued me in that we were in for an emergency C-section – hey, I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid! Sign, sign, sign!

Meanwhile, they start prepping both my wife and operating room down the hall for a very quick meetup.  Diagnosis: Placenta abruption (premature separation of the placenta from uterus – the cause of her unusual pain, and a common cause of both fetal and maternal mortality). No time for discussion – this was an emergency bailout!

To my surprise, they let me stay in the operating room for the procedure. Spinal anesthesia started the process, and I’ll just delicately skip over the rest – let’s simply say, on my part, it was part medical fascination mixed with a generous dose of high anxiety.

In very short order, they extracted a bluish/ashen looking baby, cut the cord in the blink of an eye, and rushed our limp little Nathan into a room across the hall. As the seconds ticked by, the silence got to me – I hesitantly left my too-brave wife and wandered over to where my too-still son was.

“Get out of here!!” roared one of the doctors massaging my still-silent baby, as he saw me walk wide-eyed into the room. Too stunned to do anything but comply, I hustled back to the operating room, and shortly thereafter, we heard that sweet, stark, wonderful sound of baby-cry floating across the hall from the other room. By the grace of God, and through rapid and skillful medical care, our first son made it. With not a lot of margin to spare.

Later, I find out that I had agreed, through one of the many forms which I had hastily signed without reading, not to leave the operating room. Ooops, I guess I missed that memo. But even at the cost of being told to get out of there, it was worth seeing those doctors do their thing to jump-start our first-born.

Now, twenty years later, Nathan is taller than me and looking frighteningly adult-ish. He’s far more talented, personable, and, yes, good-looking than I was at that age (mother’s genes). Yesterday, on the way back from working out at the gym together, he whizzed past me on his Rip-stick (a variation of a skateboard) and I held my breath as he sped down the hill, literally and metaphorically moving ever farther out of my orbit, and with mingled fear and trust, I had to once again learn to let go.

The goal has always been to successfully launch him into an independent life – not to say “Get out of here!” at the front door, but to lovingly hold it open when it’s time to leave this little womb called home, and trust that he’s in better hands than mine for the rest of his days.

It’s been a wonderful 20 years. Happy birthday, Nate.

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“Deer Mr. Woodruff…”

On behalf of the Boonton/Boonton Township herd of wandering whitetails (the “Rampaging Ruminants”), I’d like to personally thank you for your donation of land and foodstuffs during this past season.

After a winter of the typical boring forest fare, my companions and I found your yard and its carefully cultivated hors d’oeuvres to be particularly engaging. A night-time stroll through your delightful property revealed such delicacies as tender shoot of tiger lily, sweet dogwood greens, fresh cucumber stem…not to mention an array of perennial flower buds too numerous to list on this brief note of thanks.

Your kindness to me and my companions has not gone unnoticed. In fact, we left deposits of our thanks in a multitude of places throughout the yard, where you’d be sure to notice. Hopefully, these symbols of gratitude warmed your heart, and have made you even more determined to set a bounteous abundance before us for the upcoming 2009 foraging season.

I studiously instructed my young ones not to forget that your property is THE place to come for midnight snacks, and they have assured me that the word has been spread to all their four-legged friends. How grateful we are for homeowners like you, who look out for our interests every season, and who are stringently outlawed (may I simply remind you) by local ordinance from using those dangerous “firesticks” of yours to turn us from strolling minstrels of appetite into appetizing venison steaks.

In closing, as we now turn our white tails toward more distant fields for the cooler season, having assisted you with keeping your many plants “under control” for yet another year, may I give you one more tangible expression of my thanks by leaving a final love offering in a pile right next to the gazebo there. For all that you’ve given me, it’s the least I can do to give something back.

Sincerely,

Bambino Buckshot
Chief Eating Officer

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I don’t like labels. Over time, they do more to distort than they do to clarify.

If you say that you are a Democrat, that term carries with a whole load of baggage in my mind – ideas, associations, past experiences, etc…only some (or none!) of which may apply to you. Nevertheless, in order to simplify our lives, we are classifying creatures, and we instinctively put people into buckets, then view them through a lens we’ve associated with that group.

Those who are on left side of the spectrum, often identified and/or self-identified as liberals or Democrats (labels just as prone to distortion as conservative and Republican), have quite a task sorting through the rhetoric and slogans to actually understand what a conservative is. In fact, an entire book was recently published to try to accomplish just that! But I’m realistic – I think the typical terms to describe people on either side are hopelessly compromised.

That’s why I’m not a Republican. And I’m not a Conservative. I’m a PIP.

“Wait – that’s a new label! You just said you hate labels.” True – but it’s a NEW label, and I get to define it, so it can be accurate (at least for the next five minutes).

I’m a Principled, Independent Patriot. A PIP.

I believe that principles – the enduring principles that served as the foundation of this country – are far more important than parties and positions. I believe that independence – independence of thought, independence from government interference, and independence from international interference – is far more vital to individual and national health than the pursuit of collectivism and socialism. And, I’m a patriot – yes, I fervently believe that the astonishing American experiment in liberty, representative government, and opportunity is vastly superior the alternatives that continue to be tried elsewhere, our many personal and national failings notwithstanding.

And I’m not alone.

Many in the leftstream media (LSM) have been perplexed (and vexed) at the fervent, positive response to the Sarah Palin nomination. Let me make it very simple for you – Sarah is a PIP. Fellow PIPs are looking at her character and her convictions, and understand that this is the type of person who can lead. She is not afraid of principles. She is not afraid to own her guns and religion (without bitterness). She has the independence to take on even her own party bosses. She is an unabashed patriot, and didn’t only recently discover a feeling of pride in being an American.

Unlike Obama, Biden, Hillary, Edwards, Romney, Giuliani, even McCain, we can relate to her. She’s “one of us.” With the pit-bull spine that we like to see in our leaders. PIPs aren’t into endless “nuance” and situational ethics that generally drift toward socialism. We want 16-oz to the pound, clear, forthright principles.

There has also been amazement at the dedication of the Ron Paul camp. While media types like to focus in on the kook factor among his followers, Dr. Paul’s grassroots popularity reflects the fact that he is a principled, independent patriot. Those of us who want truly limited government, less confiscation and redistribution of income, and a greater emphasis on individual rights are far more energized by the principled track record of these rare candidates than by prior Washington Beltway experience – which usually means compromised convictions, self-interest first, and dependence on too many inside people and interest groups to ever actually represent the rest of us (many of us would love to see term limits for that reason). Throw the bums out, whatever party they belong to. Lobbyist-loving lawyers: no. Citizen-servants: yes!

While PIPs often find themselves more in alignment with Republican platforms and conservative ideas, we are happy to see replaced any elected officials and bureaucrats who hide their avarice and socialistic tendencies behind party labels and empty talk. If you call yourself a Republican we’ll listen politely. If you call yourself a conservative we’ll pay attention. If you ‘re a principled, independent patriot we’ll support you with everything we’ve got. We want effective people who believe what we believe about this country and its government – not grey-suited drones with dossiers of experience horse-trading, earmarking, and compromising.

The rabid Hate-America-First crowd can’t understand a PIP. Reasonable, thoughtful people of a more “liberal” persuasion can carry on a debate, but to the Daily Kos disciples, the Michael Moore mavens, the “we’d-remove-the-red-state-vote-if-we-could” elitists, any PIP candidate is has to be “borked,” because they represent one major thing: a threat to their social re-engineering agenda.

John McCain is unquestionably a patriot. He has shown an independent streak (to some extent). Whether or not he is truly principled has been open to question. But by selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate, the PIPs that were lukewarm about his candidacy now feel like “one of us” is on the ticket.

When I vote, I don’t look at party first. I don’t care about gender or race. I look at principles, convictions, and readiness to go against the tide if that’s what it takes. And that’s why I’m not a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, a conservative, or a liberal. I’m a PIP. And I wouldn’t mind seeing a Sarah Palin/Bobby Jindal ticket in 2012!

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