Aug 302013
 

Stopped by the Madison post office today to get stamps.  I usually handle this online, but forgetting to reorder a time or two meant I was out and needed some.  But no problem.  I’ll just pop in and get some from the vending machine…

…except there is no vending machine anymore.  Now there is a multifunction kiosk with a touch screen that will sell you stamps, weigh your package and sell you postage for it, and so forth.  It’s pretty neat, really.

Except there’s only one.

And upon your arrival, if someone who requires an alarmingly large percentage of her mental capacity to operate the thing is using it, then well, you’ll wait, won’t you?  We have here someone taking 30 seconds to read the screen before she touches it (and there are 8-10 screens).  Wait behind her?  Or wait behind eight people to see a human being?  I went with the former because it was more predictable.  It was still about an eight-minute stop instead of a ninety-second one.

This is not progress, USPS.  You want to have your fancy touch screen kiosk, then by all means, please do so.  But taking the conventional vending machine out as well was a mistake.

 Posted by at 1:16 pm
Aug 292013
 
  • I’m watching college football tonight, and it is good.
  • Johnny Manziel is suspended for the first half of the Rice game, and that’s the extent of his punishment.  That suits me just fine, because I want him.  Johnny, these are my friends, C.J. and Trey.  They’ll see you in two weeks.  Some prophylactic ibuprofen is strongly indicated.
  • I had a meeting with my son’s band director night before last, and I purchased a trumpet for him.  This is, of course, thoroughly ridiculous.  He was only born a couple of years ago, right?  Right?
  • Lone Star closed.  This is a shame.  This was mine and Melanie‘s alternate location.  It’s yet another wound to Madison Square Mall, and the death of one of the finest ways to spend $10 for lunch in Madison County (that being the bleu cheese wedge salad and lunch sirloin).
  • A red Jaguar F-Type showed up at work this week.  It’s a pretty car with curb appeal—I particularly like the rear—but it’s still much too safe.  Come on, Jaguar.  This is ostensibly the spiritual successor of perhaps the single most sexual automobile of all-time.  Let’s get nasty.  Mix it up.  If the Fisker Karma came to market looking like it did, then you can do better.
  • Neil Diamond wrote “I’m a Believer.”  Carole King wrote “The Loco-Motion.”  Willie Nelson wrote “Crazy.”  Shel Silverstein wrote “A Boy Named Sue.”  Did I surprise you with any of those?
  • You ever heard of the Asian giant hornet?  Click that and go read about it.  Yipes. That’s a scary bug.  There are reports that they’re in the United States.  They’re anecdotal, but there are a lot of them.  Misidentified cicada killers probably account for some of them, but there are some folks who say no, I know about cicada killers, and these aren’t those.
  • I have Mexican oregano in my possession.  I feel another shot at Texas chili coming this weekend.
 Posted by at 12:42 am
Aug 272013
 

kisssmallI’m gay.

What are you laughing at?  There’s not anything wrong with that.

Well, OK, you might be laughing because it’s not accurate.  I’m actually relentlessly straight.  But I think I must have received several gay circuits.  I have been platonically friendly with women my entire adult life.  I have five female friends for every male friend.  I have several close male friends, but generally speaking, I prefer the company of women.

This was definitely something for Lea and me to navigate when we started getting serious, and certainly when we got engaged.  Fortunately, neither of us is jealous by nature, so we tended to have conversations of validation as opposed to arguments about it.  I am careful to keep her informed about changes in my routine—if I’m going to have lunch with someone I don’t see often, for example, or if I’m going to be in a part of town I don’t normally visit—but mostly, it’s just not a thing.

Jealousy isn’t a malady; it’s a symptom. Unfortunately, it tends to be a symptom of highly destructive things.  I’ll put it just this simply:  if jealousy is a defining component of your marriage, and you’re not actively working to change that, then you and your spouse are not going to make it.

An environment inhospitable to jealousy is an environment amenable to marital success.  A primary component of that environment is a healthy level of self-esteem.  (Yeah, I guess that’s a reach back to last week, isn’t it, when we talked about being all right by yourself?)  When you are aware of your own worth, then you also build a reasonable sense of what you deserve.  You understand that you have a lot to give to someone, and that what you give best be taken care of.  That is not arrogance.  That is dignity.

You each carry that dignity into how you value your marriage.  It tends to be the biggest thing in the room, and risking it trivially becomes a silly thought.  The dynamic is a little like mutually assured destruction, when you think about it.  Your respective self-confidences are primary contributors to the covenant, but they’re also powerful deterrents.  When you believe in what you have together, and you’re each further confident that the other believes in himself/herself, then why would you toy with it?  If you misbehave, and your wife says “enough,” then you know that she knows that she has options.

There are two realities of life that become highly combustible with a jealous spouse.  The first is that any married person who interacts with society will continue to encounter objectively reasonable candidates for marriage from time to time.

Gasp!  What did he say?  Relax.  This is not scandal, it’s simple mathematics.  There are a couple billion people in the world demographically similar to your spouse.  You can filter pretty stringently—geography, religion, a certain age range, or whatever—and still be left with many millions.

And prithee, where are these millions?  Look out the window.

So you didn’t marry the only person you could have (and if you believe you did, please see this earlier post in which I discussed the “soul mate” claptrap a bit more).  You don’t have to be looking for trouble to encounter another one.  When you do, there might be sparks.  And what’s wrong with that?  What were you doing but going about your business?  Yet that can easily become a grave offense in the eyes of a jealous spouse.

(Now to be clear, you don’t fall in love with another person without your sustained participation.  More on that in a later post.)

The second reality is that flirting is fun, and it’s fun because it feels good.  (“Hey!  Bo said ‘if it feels good, do it’!”)  Heh.  No he didn’t.  I recognize, though, that flirting is a special social, and even emotional, channel.  It can be as simple as a glance held a little too long in a meeting, with someone you’ve never seen before and never will again.  Or, with some kinds of friendships, it can be a downright barrage of verbal bawdiness.

Whatever form it takes, what makes it special is that it is a source of personal validation that your spouse can’t provide.  The takeaway is “I am desirable, and someone besides my spouse thinks so.”  That’s a boost, and it’s real.  I would never try to prevent my wife from experiencing it, nor would she me.

I have never seen marital jealousy that wasn’t underpinned by a lack of trust, and that lack of trust is itself underpinned by low self-esteem.  That is where to attack the problem.  If jealousy is a significant component of your marriage, then I strongly encourage you to work on it together.  Start with a heart-to-heart.  If you can’t identify a path forward yourselves, don’t be afraid to seek counseling.  Unchecked jealousy is powerfully destructive, and most marriages won’t survive it.

 Posted by at 10:07 am
Aug 262013
 

I drive by a few dozen rotting sailboats most days.  Many of you do, too.  These are on the north side of Madison Boulevard, just west of where it runs into I-565.

sailboats(Not a great shot, I know.  This is with my phone, through the open car window, at about 45 mph.  ‘Course, that does lend a certain authenticity to it, I suppose.)

I thought for a while I’d stop and try to get some artistic shots of them, but it’d be pretty tough to do without attracting attention nearly immediately, and given that I don’t know the purpose of the pile of rotting sailboats, I’m not sure that’s something I want to do.

I’m confident they haven’t moved in years.  This is not a storage facility for vessels in working condition.

So are they totaled hulks?  What would total so many boats but a hurricane?  If that’s what happened, then why are they so far inland?

What else could the story be?

 Posted by at 6:14 pm
Aug 252013
 

We had a fantastic plan for the weekend at Dad’s lake house that degraded to about a C+.

First David was bringing his family.  Then his wife had a commitment she couldn’t avoid, so she couldn’t come, but he was still bringing their kids.  Finally, he called me yesterday morning with a sick child.  Hate that all the way around, man.  We’ll try again soon.

Our boys began lobbying immediately to go anyway, and I was persuaded.  Got to hang out with my dad a bit.  Great day to tube yesterday.

smith08251

They did this for most of 45 minutes without stopping.  I don’t know whether I could ever do it that long, but I certainly can’t now.  This beats you up more than you think.

Don’t you love it when dogs smile?

smith08252

So, we extracted some fun from yesterday.  Then, Nathan woke up this morning with throat pain sufficient to bring tears and, according to the back of my hand on his forehead, an unambiguous fever.  Had planned to stay until after lunch today, but with Nathan suddenly barred from the water, I took Aaron down to the dock for one last WaveRunner ride, and we came on home.

Not the weekend we wanted, but it wasn’t without its good parts. I think it was an important restorative for Aaron.  His back-to-school unevenness is gone.

So here we are, and it’ll be Monday in the morning.  But, it’ll be Monday of WEEK ONE OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL, BABY!

 Posted by at 8:09 pm

BoWilliams.com is using WP-Gravatar