Commercials on TV

I do not subscribe to cable TV. The reason is because of what a secretary said to me as I was paying my bill one time. I had told her I was fed up with all the advertising and commercials. Her response,”Advertising pays for the shows”. To which I said,”No, I pay for the shows!” That has been well over 7-years ago, and I still do not miss paying $60 + a month, so that I can go out and buy more batteries for a remote that I seem to wear out flipping through worthless channels. Now I get free tv from an antennae where I never know which channel will come in due to the weather. It has limited my choices, but also has supplied me with some quality programming. I speak of the Public Broadcasting channels. I enjoy their news and enlightening shows. When I get bored I turn on the Spanish channel and try to decipher  the conversations. Better than Wheel of Fortune.

Yesterday, while watching a series of programs on CBS, I know for a fact there were more commercials being played than the shows themselves. Sure I know it’s Christmas time. Sell sell sell. But there wasn’t one commercial about the true reason for Christmas. Why? Are they afraid to offend someone? Well they offended me by trying to cram all the latest gadgetry down my throat, and even playing some commercials over and over. I was actually hoping to see some bicycle commercials. Not a one. Come to think of it, I have never seen a commercial for bicycles, except when the Tour DE France is on. Well I guess it’s true: you can’t have everything.

New Snow

Our area received a new blanket of snow today. While I do ride a bicycle all winter, I shy away from riding after a snowfall. I give it a day to settle, and give the automobile drivers a day to sharpen their skills in driving. I have noticed that people seem to lack the ability to remember how to drive in snow, each time it snows. If they did remember, accidents would be down and insurance salespeople would not be in the local saloons, trying to forget all the new paperwork that comes from accident claims. So tomorrow I will be making my rounds on 2-wheels. Today I stay inside and do housework.

Wisconsin Fashion

Friday December 6th saw temperatures plummet  across the state of Wisconsin for the first time this winter.In Sheboygan, with the wind chill, the temperature was around 10 degrees. The wind was ferocious and nipped at your skin leaving everyone with rosy cheeks. Since I had errands to run, and without a car to do them in I opted for my mountain bike. At one stop a lady asked me,”How can you ride a bike in this weather?” “It’s my only choice” I stated. “I am one of the 12 percent of the population that does not own a car”.

I suppose by some people’s standards I was a little crazy for being out in this weather, but I was prepared for it by wearing winter gear. My thought is this: If you don’t like the winter weather we have here in Wisconsin, then you should consider moving somewhere else that’s warm.. If you do like the Wisconsin weather, or “you don’t mind it”, then either you are going to stay indoors all winter and venture out only when you have to,  or you will get out daily and enjoy the brisk winter weather. Either of those will force you to outfit yourself with some basic winter gear. 

So what kind of gear do you need? For the occasional trip to the grocery store you will need a hat, boots, gloves, and a warm winter jacket. Not a jacket for fall or spring, but one that  is made for temperatures  below 30 degrees. That is the basics. From there you can add scarves, big furry hats, wool socks, thermal underwear,  and insulated vests. There are many choices available to add to your basics: it all depends on how cold it is outside, and how long you will be out in in the elements, dashing from your car to the interior of a heated building.

A number of years ago while attending college in Waterloo Iowa, the students and faculty found themselves facing -15 degree weather. That day of school I was wearing my insulated Carhart bibs, that looked a lot more for work than school, but the fact was,  I was warm and protected. As I was walking up to the main entrance I saw a couple of ladies outside smoking and wearing dresses and summer shoes. Once they spotted me and my “school clothes” they gave me the look of total disapproval. I said the only thing I could think of at the moment,”I gave up fashion for warmth”. I was warm and secure in my bibs and they were cold and shivering from the cold, but they looked great while doing it!

So it is now, that when I know I need to ride my bike around town for food and necessities, I dress for success. I dress warm, wear nylon to break the wind, and underneath my clothes are layered so I can control the heat my body expels while pumping the peddles  of my mountain bike.  The very worst that can happen is that if I sweat, my clothes become damp and that brings chills. I wear only what I absolutely need to. I know that I live in a state where it is winter 6 months out of the year, and I am not one to hole-up in my house and get cabin fever. Riding a bike in winter is not for everyone, but for me it’s another way to enjoy another season. Sure it’s rough for the first few minutes, but I like to think it’s my heart that keeps me warm, and as long as I can ride a bike I plan on doing it in any season this great state of Wisconsin dishes out. 

Life Kind of Today

It sure was a lot easier being a single dad when my son was 4. I would even say I could still wing it when he was 9, but now at 14 (very soon 15) I really am going into unchartered waters. I can’t bluff my way out of conversations as easy. Not only do I have to act like I know what I am talking about, I actually MUST know what I am talking about. I am both a mother and a father to a young man who uses phrases,”I will wack you on a game of Xbox”. Nowdays he still remembers what I said the day before, and he catches me and makes me sweat when he grills me about going shopping, and if I have enough loot to get him shoes and jeans. At 15 he can tell when I am not telling the full truth, and it’s times like that , I swear I see vultures flying overhead, just waiting for me to drop. I will live to see another day though, he makes sure of that.  After all, while he is in school I have a list of things he wants done during the day, and the afternoon snack had better be on the table when he comes in the door like Outlaw Josey Wales from school! Man, what ever happened to the times I could make up excuses and he would believe me? Gone…never to return till he has kids, and I can get by, by telling those little white lies to HIS kids!

Return To School

As a single parent of a teen boy, my ‘worry-meter’ is reaching new heights. These are troubled times, one that my own parents had no problems with, give me cause for worry the minute he steps out of this house. Is it the area we live in? If I thought for one moment that there is an area in these United States that a parent does not have to worry about sending their teen out into the world each day, I would have my bags packed and headed there. So we start a new school year and all I can hope for myself and the other parents is that we can make it as worry free as possible.

End Of Summer

School starts in a couple of weeks. My full time job as dad will be cut in half during the week while my son is away at school, which means more time for me to get things done. Except then the two sheepdogs will be putting all their attention on me daily. Summer went by fairly fast this year. The 2-3 weeks we had of high temps changed how we enjoyed the summer, by forcing us indoors and coming out when the sun went down. The sheepdogs spent thier days laying on my bed soaking up the air conditioning and reminding me at nite that it was cool enough for them to take their long walk. All in all it was a uneventful summer. Nothing of major concern happened where we would reflect back to this summer in years to come. I did however lose some very close friends in the last year.

My Sheepdogs and Insanity

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While my son is in school, Bliss (female) and Panda (male) do their best to keep me busy. Evidently going for a walk every half hour is in their ‘must do’ book. But in the long run they keep my mind off the serious stuff that every parent must think about when they have a teenager. My son has been screwing around so much at school, he has fallen behind in his studies. Now if he was going to prepare for a life of  being a comedy writer/actor, I would say he is on the right path. But as it is, there is no way he is going to enter high school with enough education behind him to be able to compete with his classmates. Even I who was once labeled “troubled” did not get in as much trouble as he has.

Noah and I used to be friends first and father/son second. Now I have become the enemy, the face of which he can point his finger and say “You are the reason I am so angry!” What got me high in his rankings of problem causers, was when I started taking his Xbox away. The power that little machine has over our children is staggering. Just watching my son go through the levels of withdrawls from not having a video controller in his hands tells me; we got a serious problem on our hands. Maybe it started when I let him play for 6-hours straight. There were times when I got involved in personal matters that I left him alone in his room to live out a fantasy of being a soldier dropped behind unfriendly battle-lines. But I let it go too far in the amount of hours he spent in front of a tv screen with the $89 modified controller, that he just had to have. Then again, maybe when I went to bed and left him stay up late to play video games, I should have told him to “shut er’ down junior!” Whatever the reason, I let him slip into a full-blown addiction of video games, and I am now sorry I ever let that game system into the house.

So now, because of the video game addiction, I have to spent hours reading emails on how bad my son’s performance is at school, from teachers, counselors and social workers. Gone are the days of reading a book. Just insert  a game disk, pick up a controller and “poof”,  you are instantly in another world. No more chatting on the phone with your friends. No, now you have a microphone and headset, so you can communicate with your team on how the killing is going. My son has more friends as soldiers in a video game than he does running around the house playing Tag. Also from these hours of video game playing comes learning new words and phrases. None of which I will put here because they are all filthstraight because all I think about is getting my Xbox back!” Well it’s put away and if I have my way it will y swearing. Another reason this machine should be taught flying lessons right out through the back door!

So now the Xbox is put away out of reach. Now the new excuse for failing at school is,”I can’t think because all I think about is playing my Xbox!”  Well the Xbox will be playing “Locked Away”. Until he gets back into the school swing of things it wll stay gone. I am saving his life and he does not even realize this. The Sheepdogs do though. He is starting to pet them more. Instead of racing to his room to start up a new battlezone, he is stopping to rub their stomachs upon entering the house after school. Just maybe life will return to normal where he is the son and I am the dad, and one of our favorite games is tossing the football in the back yard. Maybe soon he will see those games for what they really are. Mind stealing, real life thieves that rot your mind and turn the every day kid into a garbage talking grunt!