Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Frat Life 101, Night Of The Dunking Pledges, Part 3

The next plan came together quite simply. Somebody had some balloons. A few other people had some shoe polish. The rest of our supplies were inadvertently "donated" by the university as we went through our dorms and gathered every single roll of toilet paper that we could find. The only toilet paper left in the entire dorm was the rolls on the floors where our rooms were. All else were taken and thus properly armed we made our way to the fraternity house for what would be our final showdown. We quietly left our vehicles and stationed a few pledges at the front door armed with the balloons that were now filled with water. The rest of us started applying shoe polish to car windshields and toilet paper to the cars and the trees on the property. The wind was blowing slightly and it was a magnificent sight to behold.

We were unsure of how many, if any, members were inside the house and eventually I guess we made enough noise for one of them to open the front door. As he did so several water balloons flew at him and he quickly slammed the door shut and locked it. We gave up on the rest of our work and decided that now we had to get into the house and get someone else to take a trip to the river. The siege on the house had begun and would not be halted for any man or reason. As we were looking for a way in we found that those inside had quickly procured their own water balloons and a brief firefight broke out. At some point I came up with the idea that the lock on the small bathroom window was broken and that if we were quiet enough we could sneak inside.

Thankfully I had remembered correctly and the lock was indeed broken. Somehow about five or six of us managed to climb through the window without making too much noise. We waited a few moments and then burst through the door. This is where with age my memory has started to get cloudy. I don't recall if Chris was inside and had made it into his room but I know for a fact that Gary and Spazz were. Someone was tasked to unlock the front door and the rest went after whoever they could find. Remarkably Gary made it past everyone and locked himself in his room that was right next to the bathroom but Spazz wasn't that lucky. I found him face down on his bed with Terry on top pinning his arms behind him. He couldn't move and was captured and knew that since no mercy would be given he wouldn't even bother asking for it. The handcuffs were thrown on him quickly and we took him outside and started loading him in a vehicle.

If you can believe it that's when things got really crazy. Gary climbed out of his window onto the porch wearing camouflage pants, no shirt and a Spiderman mask while carrying a boat oar. He screamed something like "I'm coming for you Spazz!" and ran at us swinging the oar. Swiftly he was disarmed and taken to the ground but he was fighting fiercely. A decision was made to send the vehicle ahead with Spazz and then we addressed our predicament. We chose to try and get away from Gary to another vehicle but he was holding onto someone so we ran back to help. Then as everyone let go he got ahold of my arm and I swear he was trying to bite me so everyone else came back and this time we held him up in the air by his limbs and at the count of three dropped him and ran to the waiting truck and dove in as it raced off. Once again another pair of handcuffs would have come in handy although I don't think that anyone involved would have relished the thought of what would happen once those handcuffs came off.

A quick stop was in order so that we could fulfill our part of the bargain and we found that we barely could scrape together any money so we were forced to purchase a single, generic cigarette and a single, warm, generic beer. Seriously, that's all we could afford. This was in the days before there were ATMs on every street corner and in every convenience store. Thus armed with our provisions we continued on to the river where Spazz chose to go in practically undressed but he was very cross with us when he found out what we had for him afterwards. Since he was an avid smoker and drinker he was offended by our offerings and perhaps thought that we didn't like him. Nothing could be further from the truth for we liked him very much but unfortunately, we were just broke college kids trying to get by on an amazing night.

We returned Spazz to the house and after this night of infamy I think we gained a great deal of respect in the eyes of the members and the alumni. They now knew that we had the right spirit and the cojones to go all out in the pursuit of fun and brotherhood. This knowledge however didn't cease to make us hesitant the next few days as we were on the lookout for some good natured retaliation. It didn't turn out to be necessary at that time but in an odd way I myself would suffer a form of payback a few years later when a very different pledge class did the same to me at the very same site where we had dunked those three members. The kick of it is that I wasn't even in school at the time. More on that story soon.

Published by Don Leach

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Frat Life 101: Night Of The Dunking Pledges, Part 2

We chose Jay and Keith who lived in a house just off one of the busiest four lane streets in town with their girlfriends, Kim and Kim, to be our next victims. Again the plan was simple. Terry was to go inside and tell them that his motorcycle had broken down at the river and that he needed help loading it onto his truck. The rest of us took up positions on both sides of the house in bushes, behind trees and so forth. Once they came outside all we had to do was pounce on them and choose which one we would take to the river. It would be easy and nothing could go wrong right? Wrong, so very wrong. Both Kim and Kim told Jay and Keith that they shouldn't go because they had already heard that we had gotten Mark and it had to be a trap but they ignored this very wise advice. They just didn't believe that Terry would try anything like this with them. They should have listened.

As they came down the front steps Terry made sure he was behind them but someone must have moved too early because both of them took off immediately. They ran straight toward the street and then split into two different directions. Keith went straight across all four lanes and then onto a side street and quickly outpaced his pursuers. Jay on the other hand ran out into the middle of the street and then turned left. Several pledges followed him and I paced him horizontally on the sidewalk. Perhaps he thought that he could easily get past all one hundred and thirty pounds of me and make it back to the safety of his house but it didn't turn out that way.

As he reversed direction and ran onto the sidewalk I was able to grab the back of his shirt and hold on for dear life, slowing him down until my brothers could get there and take him down. Jay was a tough guy and he fought and scratched every inch of the way. Once his arms were handcuffed behind him and the truck was brought over we started loading him in when we suddenly got very scared. Pulling in behind the truck was a Tahlequah City police cruiser and they were known for not playing games with anyone. I think that we all must have had visions of a Tahlequah jail cell running through our brains when our trusty pledge trainer Mark (whom we had earlier thrown in the river) said he would take care of this. Mark approached the cruiser and merely uttered the words "fraternity prank" to which the officer looked over the scene in front of him and merely told him to "get him off of the streets." That's it, nothing more was required. A motley bunch of young punks were loading a struggling, handcuffed guy into a truck and all he does it say make it go away and we happily did.

Once we arrived at the river we discovered that our battle was only half over. Jay made it very clear that he was not going to go quietly into the night, or should I say the river. He choose to take nothing off and fight his way through this. Now it would have been easier if we could have left the handcuffs on but we couldn't. It wouldn't do very well to have a member drown just for some fun so they had to come off. As soon as one handcuff was undone the struggle was on and Jay put up a heck of a fight. The details are pretty murky to me now but I know he took one and possibly two pledges into the water with him. Once it was all over everything was fine and many laughs were shared by all. Only, we still didn't want the night to be over, we didn't want to quit. So we didn't.

To be continued.......................
Published by Don Leach

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Trip To The Local Discount Movie Theater

Since I'm still on vacation today I got to do something that I haven't been able to do very much since I got married. I went to the discount cinema and caught a flick. For the mere price of one dollar I was able to go to see a second run movie and I had the place to myself. It's such a good feeling not to have to worry about other people talking or answering their phones during the movie. I'm just surprised that nobody else walked in and sat right in front of me. That's usually what happens no matter how many empty seats there are.

Fortune shone brightly on me though and I even enjoyed the movie. It was an action movie called The Mechanic and although there were a few outlandish scenes overall it wasn't bad. The time flew by and even though I was tempted to stay for another movie I decided I couldn't. There were a few errands I had to run before I was to pick up my son from the babysitter.

Before I was married I used to go all the time and see several movies in a row but that's just not possible now. Normally I have to see a movie that both my wife and I want to see and if my son comes then it will have to be a movie for him and we really haven't tried to do that yet. I don't know if he could sit still long enough to watch an entire movie. At his age his attention span isn't quite developed enough for that.

So I'm left with this and I'm grateful for the time. It's a very rare occasion but one that has been greatly needed and long overdue. It's in my personality to need time to myself. I'm just not a very social person so when the opportunity comes I have to jump on it. That's all we can try to do in life because if we don't you never know when the chance will come around again.

Published by Don Leach

Before Technology Became A Part Of Our Lives

I'm a part of a very unique generation. We were here before today's technology existed and then became so prevalent and all encompassing in our lives. We know what it's like to exist before all the technological advances came to be and yet they are now a major part of our lives. My son on the other hand will never know what it's like unless something cataclysmic happens to the world, which isn't so far fetched an idea.

When I was a young the only remote control for the television was the youngest child in the room. I can remember only having three or four channels to watch and that was dependant on the antenna being turned in the right direction. As a matter of fact, at about two or three in the morning those channels went off the air. That's right, there was nothing on the TV until the local stations started airing morning programming about four or five hours later.

My grandmother Adkins lived in three houses out in the country and I recall all three quite clearly. The first had no running water. You had to go outside and there was a pump in the yard that you had to hand crank to get water. Then it was brought inside and heated on the stove. To take a bath you had to fill water up in a tub and clean yourself. Need I mention that the tub didn't get emptied and refilled with clean water for the next person who needed to take a bath and instead it was reused? The toilet was a standard outhouse and I was always terrified that a snake would crawl up and bite me on my butt. I'm not sure exactly why I had that fear but it was there. Her next house employed the same setup except that at least it did have running water in the kitchen. The last house had complete indoor plumbing although it was built on the side of a hill and had no front yard to speak of. But hey, beggars can't be choosers.

My mother remarried when I was in fifth grade and I remember quite clearly when my step-father (henceforth to be referred to as "the jerk") brought home Pong. It was the greatest day in my life up to that point. I was amazed and transfixed watching that little dot bounce from side to side for hours at a time. Of course it wasn't very long before that progressed to standup video games strategically placed in stores and later their own arcades and I also thought that it couldn't get any better than that. Then that also was taken to current unbelievable levels.

My mother had 8 tracks when I was growing up but by the time I reached high school they were starting to die out, soon to be followed by albums. I still have many of my albums and singles and tend to refer to music releases by that name. Cassettes followed and I hung onto them dearly for a very long time, perhaps longer than I should have. I'll admit that I didn't give into compact discs for far too long. As a matter of fact it was until years past the very end of them being offered that you could still find me making mix tapes from my cds. What ended up really pushing me past my love for cassettes (besides the music industry abandoning them) was the fact that I volunteered at Marshall University's radio station (WMUL) and did my own ska and reggae show which netted me a massive amount of free music, almost all of it on cd.

It wasn't until more than a decade later that I gave into getting an mp3 player of which I went through several cheap ones until I ended up with an Ipod by chance and luck. Armed with the Ipod I now listen to a variety of podcasts without having to do very much to receive them freely and easily. Finding good podcasts is another matter however and I've searched high low to find them and am still searching for one to play my kind of music. I guess that means I'll have to do one of my own to find happiness on that front.

My first computer was acquired very cheaply around 1998 by a friend at Marshall's bi-annual sale of all computerized things old and obsolete. Remarkably it had a 2 gig hard drive and once I hooked up my telephone modem I was in business. A horrendously slow business but at least I was catching up with the world. This past December I finally got a laptop which has let me be free to roam and leech what free wifi I can find as I continue in my quest to become a better writer. It amazes me to think that about 20 years ago it would have taken a room full of hard drives linked together to do what a smartphone does today. They are no longer just for making telephone calls and instead are little computers really that you can take videos and post them on the internet or have a video conference while downloading music or buying concert tickets while talking to your friends. I shudder to think where we'll be in 5 years at the pace that technology is moving.

Still, I can't help that things were better when we didn't have all of this technology. We weren't so hung up on instant gratification and had more patience. Plus I didn't have to hear the conversation that the person in front of me in the checkout line was having with their friend about why so and so is a piece of crap jerk and needs to go away or why their mother is wrong for not allowing them to have sex with multiple partners. Back then people were so much less likely to share their pathetic lives with the general public and I have to admit that I do miss those days. Do I miss them so much that I'm ready to give up on technology completely and revert to my old form? Let's not be too hasty here. It's just interesting to remember what life used to be like, if only for a little while. Who am I kidding? I love it all and wouldn't give it up for anything. It's too much of a part of my life now to go back.

Published by Don Leach

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Cars "Sad Song" From New Album

This is the second video released from The Cars forthcoming album Move Like This which is due out in May. I can't say enough how much I like what I've heard so far from them, let's hope that the rest is just as good and that they tour. Please guys, I need this!

Published by Don Leach

Drifting In And Out Of Our Lives

It's strange how people drift in and out of our lives in patterns of randomness. One moment they appear, a part of your everyday existence and the next they're gone. Then you have to start adjusting your habits and routines as if they never were there in the first place. Of course when you're very young it's easier to make changes and then for in the grade school range it can be really difficult until you reach a certain age where it's almost expected and you don't even notice.

When I was in college people came and went with regularity. Some would hang around my group of friends for a time and then drift away or sometimes even leave school. I did that myself more than once. Often we would leave for the summer and then come back after having worked jobs and presumably saved some money to help offset the extreme poverty of being a student that we would soon have. Some of our friends would be gone with little to no explanation and inevitably there would be new ones to take their places. I'm still looking for some of those friends.

For me right now it's also an issue of family. Neither my wife nor myself have any family even close to this area which can make it rough. My family has only seen my son twice. My mother in law has seen him three or four times and my wife's brother and father who are in Peru only once. So we are drifting in and out of their lives as we are able to and the same applies to them. Because everyone lives so far away and the fact that we don't have a large amount of disposable income that makes it difficult to stay close and see each other.

Thankfully we have the use if the internet which makes it easier to post pictures and videos on my blog so that all of our family can keep up with us. There's also programs like Skype (if only I could get them to use it) or other video messenger programs available. More often than not though it's the cellphone that gets used the most. Luckily now my wife can call as much as she wants whenever she wants, even to Peru. I wish we had found this phone plan out before getting the large bills for going over our minutes.

The internet has also been resourceful in finding some of those old friends from the old days but still, as I said before, there are some that remain lost, stuck back in the old days of my memories. One way they can drift back into my life is by writing about them on my blog, looking at pictures and making them available to other old friends so that they can also let us all drift back into our old lives. Regrettably, we can't all remain together for the rest of our lives no matter how much we wish it could be sometimes. It's just not possible so we continue to drift and perhaps if we're lucky we can make it happen more frequently. At least I have some very good memories of times with family and friends to carry me through. Right now that has to be enough.

Published by Don Leach

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The NFL Draft vs The Players Union

I hope this is the last thing I'll be posting about the NFL and their labor issues for a long time because frankly both sides are getting on my nerves. As it stands the players Union, oops sorry, they decertified Friday and are no longer a union. Instead they are a a "trade association" although everything that they do and say now really sounds like they are a union dictating their plan of action to their members. Anyway, the Union is telling college players who normally would be invited to attend the NFL rookie draft (a huge day in their lives) that they must now instead forego it and boycott anything associated with it.

So let me get this straight. A Union that no longer is, is telling prospective rookies who are not even a part of the Union (or the trade association that it has become) that they must give up the biggest day so far in their sports career? Talk about brass balls. I can understand that if you are a member already that they can tell you what to do but we're talking about young, former college players who have not yet joined the Union. How can tehy tell them to do anything? Honestly it still is a union and is doing things as a union and not a trade association. They're just hiding behind legal jargon now.

Neither side gets any sympathy from me no matter how hard they try to paint themselves as the victim. They both make obscene amounts of money and only want more no matter what else they try and say. I feel that if they keep this up all they will do is lose fans and money and in the end hurt themselves. Me, I can live with or without it already so take how I feel with a grain of salt.

Published by Don Leach

Japan, Tsunami, Athletes Who Talk Too Much

A lot has been written lately by better writers than myself about the insanity that's been going on in Japan so the the only thing that I'll add is how unbelievable it all is. The force that the tsunami hit with, how fast the water rose and all the damage it caused was bad enough but now with the damage to the nuclear reactors and their leaks/meltdowns is just so hard to believe. I can only pray and hope that the damage can be contained before too much more death and destruction is suffered.

Some things have been bothering me recently about sports figures in the United States and how they've been opening their mouths only to insert their feet in them. Too often they speak without thinking first or wrongly assume that because they have some level of success and then subsequently tons of attention given to them that it means that everybody else in the world should hear what they have to say. The following people were oh so wrong to assume that.

First is Adrian Peterson, one of the top running backs in the National Football League who made 3.64 million dollars last year and is scheduled to make 10.72 million dollars this year (providing there is a season) had this to say about the league's labor situation: "It's modern day slavery, you know? People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way too. With all that money...the owners are trying to get a different percentage and bring in more money." So Adrian is saying that people working regular jobs get the same treatment as these star athletes do and that's the same as slavery. I'm wondering if this treatment that he receives, such as millions of dollars, endorsement deals, being catered to in every aspect of his life, is the same as people earning a low wage, being made to work extra hours just to scrape by and pay their bills without ever moving forward in their lives. Somehow it just doesn't seem the same to me.

A basketball player at Brigham Young University was removed from the team because he broke the schools honor code. Most colleges in America do not have an honor code and if they do it's usually ignored at best when it comes to athletes and their activities. However not at BYU. This is a private college that values their image of students who live a clean cut life. After this occurred professional basketball player Amare Stoudemire went to twitter to voice his displeasure. He railed against BYU saying "Don't ever go to BYU. They kick a young educated (black) brother OUT OF SCHOOL. The kid had premarital sex. Not suspended. Not release. Wow!" A second post said "P.S. With his girlfriend. Come on BYU don't kick the kid out of school. Let's be honest he is in college. Let the kid live a little." The only thing wrong with this is that BYU didn't kick the player out of school. They suspended him from the team and a disciplinary committee will meet later to determine in he will be kicked out of school or if other disciplinary action is warranted. BYU has strong religious beliefs and every student as well as every athlete recruited there, are made well aware of what they are. The athlete and regular students must abide by them in exactly the same manner and if they don't want to or don't think it's right then they have the choice to go to school elsewhere. They don't have to come to BYU. By the way, what does the honor code say at BYU? It requires students to be honest, live a chaste and virtuous life, use clean language, abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and illegal substances and attend church regularly IF they are a member of the church. These are the beliefs of the LDS church (BYU is run by the church) and what they expect of their members as well. If you don't abide by them all it's your personal choice and doesn't necessarily mean you will be kicked out of the church, especially if you aren't overt about it. But anything is possible. They just expect people in their church and those attending their college to try and live a better life. And if you don't like it you are free to live as you want just go to a different school. By the way Stoudemire, it didn't take you very long to play the race card, would you have been so interested if the player had been white? Or how about if it was just a regular student and not an athlete? Somehow I don't think so.

Lastly, a U.S. basketball player has been forced to apologize after her tasteless Twitter comments following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Cappie Pondexter who plays in the WNBA tweeted "What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people in there (sic) own country! Idk guys he makes no mistakes." "U just never knw! They did Pearl harbor so u can't expect anthing lss." After someone complained she asked them "r u jap?" as if that would matter. In her apology (and I use that term loosely) she said she didn't realize her words could be interpreted in the manner in which they were. How else could they be interpreted I ask? It's pretty clear what she meant. She isn't leaving a lot to the imagination. Then she goes on to say she's a spiritual person (clearly) and that even disasters happen for a reason and God's will shouldn't be questioned. Wow, what an apology. She did everything except well, apologize and even in this she had to be forced to do it. So let me get this straight, God decided over 68 years after Pearl Harbor was attacked that it was time for a little payback, a little revenge? And here I thought that perhaps having 2 ATOMIC BOMBS dropped on Japan was revenge enough. Apparently I was mistaken. The god I believe in doesn't deal in revenge or anything negative like that and lets us make our own choices so maybe her god and mine are different.

Everybody has a right to think and feel the way they want to no matter how strange or unpopular it is however they should at least put some thought into it before opening their mouths or else they can come off looking like an idiot. I know in this day and age of instant access it's easy to get inflamed about something and make an unresearched comment about it immediately but just remember that when you speak out of ignorance, is it any wonder that you end up sounding ignorant? That even applies to me making this post.

Published by Don Leach

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Frat Life 101: Night Of The Dunking Pledges

It was made abundantly clear to the Fall 1983 pledge class of Sigma Tau Gamma that we were expected to show the membership that we had unity, teamwork and most of all some backbone. The members wanted to make sure we exhibited the characteristics that they were looking for in prospective members. To that end we came up with a simple plan that by the end of the night had grown and expanded into something completely unforeseen and dare I say legendary. The fraternity had long had a tradition of throwing members, pledges, etc. into the river, primarily on their birthdays but on other occasions as well. We determined that this would be one of those other occasions.

One of the pledges came forth with a pair of handcuffs (we really didn't want to get into too much detail as to why he had them) and we decided that we would follow this time honored tradition by throwing our pledge trainer into the river. The pledge trainer is just what the name implies. He is given responsibility for training the pledges in fraternity history, rules, alumni and what is expected as individual pledges as well as a the pledge class as a group. Our trainer was Mark and we decided that the best time to get him would be as we were leaving the campus library from our mandatory weekly study hall. It made perfect sense due to the fact that after leaving we normally all walked out of the library together and most if not all of us would then go to the house to hang out.

On this night that would live in infamy we had a problem though. Besides Mark there was another member attending the study hall with us whom I'll call Les mainly because my memory is a little suspect at the moment. While we plotted our strategy it was suggested that if we had another pair of handcuffs then we could have simply altered the plan by taking both of them to the river however we didn't have an extra pair so it was a moot point. We simply decided that half of us would tackle Mark and get him handcuffed and the other half would tackle Les and subdue him. Divide and conquer. After that the first half would put Mark in a truck and start towards the river and then after they had left the rest of us would get away from Les and make our way as best we could to our spot and then let the dunking commence.

However this part of the plan proved to be unnecessary. As we left the library we surrounded the two members and almost immediately they knew something was up. We did as planned and split our forces and took them to the ground. They resisted as best they could but we had a numbers advantage over them and quickly had them at our mercy. As soon as Les realized that the plan didn't include dunking him he stopped struggling and told us that he had done his duty to try and help his brother out and that now he just wanted to see us throw him in the river. He promised that he would not interfere and was a man of his word. With that we loaded up Mark in the back of a pickup truck and off we went to the river.

Part of this tradition requires that if you throw someone into the river you must give them three things whether they use them all or not. First is a blanket so that they can get warm or dry off after exiting the river. Second is a cigarette and third is a beer. There can be no changing of these requirements. We had planned ahead and had all three of them for Mark. Another part of the tradition is that the person being thrown into the river has two options. They can go voluntarily and as such are allowed to remove as much of their clothing as they choose or they can resist and go in as they are. Mark chose to remove some of his clothing but not all (thankfully) and in he went. Afterwards we were feeling pretty good about ourselves and it was brought up that we shouldn't stop now so we brainstormed to think about which other member or members we could get next.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Night Of The Dunking Pledges coming soon.

Published by Don Leach

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yearbook Day Was The Worst Time Of The Year

A few days ago as I had finished my shower and was drying off (I know it's a scary thought) and I started thinking about how one of the worst times for me back when I was in high school was at the end of the year when the yearbooks came out. Now I don't recall how I got to that unusual point because normally I'll just have a thought that reminds me of something and that leads to a similar thought and the next thing you know I'm miles away from where I started out and I'm thinking about something bizarre. Like on this day.

The day that Yearbooks (or rather Annuals in some places) were given out was quite stressful to me. Frankly put I was horrified about the thought of going around the school asking a load of people that didn't really know or like me to sign my book. Then there was the unlikely scenario that people would ask me to do likewise. I've mentioned on this blog before that I had absolutely zero self confidence in myself and really believed that there was nothing about me for people to like. I was too different, too far from "normal" for the vast majority of my classmates to understand. Plus, I had moved around and attended three different schools in a year and a half's time so that made it especially hard for me to have had a chance to make friends or even acquaintances.

I considered myself extremely lucky to have one good friend, one or two somewhat friends and then perhaps a few other people who knew me by name. That was a best case scenario. So there I would be, sweating over who I would ask to sign my yearbook. It was easier to know who I wouldn't ask. Anybody popular or a high level athlete or a cheerleader was out. They weren't even in consideration because the thought of one of them deigning to sign my yearbook was ludicrous. Then there were the students who weren't quite at that level, who hung around the popular kids in the hopes that they might be thought of as cool by association. Out. The students who thought I was in a different grade? Out. Foreign exchange students? Maybe, if they didn't have a full grasp on the English language although usually they did.

For the most part that left the usual suspects of the losers, geeks, nerds and other forgotten loners that just didn't fit in. Unfortunately it didn't include the sluts although years later you normally found out that they really were more chaste than any other girl in school. Damn those high schools boys and their rumors! Well, from that group I would choose the the ones that didn't terrify or frighten me too much and chance a request for their autographs. I was happy if I got signatures on the front and back pages. I thought that at least that way it would look better years later to anyone going through my yearbooks. They might actually think that I was somewhat well known and popular.

Now those yearbooks sit in a box at the bottom of a closet and are rarely brought out and looked at and I could care less who did or did not sign them. They're just a reminder of days long gone past that time has shown weren't really all that important at all. My "permanent record" didn't follow me nor did 99% of those that purported to like or dislike me. That's the way it is for almost everyone I'm sure, we were just too young and stupid to realize it.

Published by Don Leach

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Grass Fires In Oklahoma

While at work last night my sister Teresa left me voicemail on my work phone as well as my cell phone due to the fact that my niece Megan was worried about us. It seems that Oklahoma had been declared in a state of emergency due to grass fires mainly in the Oklahoma City area. This was news to me since I work in the dungeon and we don't get cellphone reception and generally don't see many people down there. I tried reaching my sister but, par for the course, she didn't answer her phone, so I left a voicemail letting her know that we were okay. Afterwards I broke out my laptop and posted pretty much the same message on Facebook just to let anyone who was interested know that we were okay.

The strange thing is that when I left work and stepped into the parking garage the smell of smoke was extremely strong. Oklahoma is known for it's strong winds and even though most of these fires are about an hour and a half's drive away the odor still is very pungent and would almost make me think that a fire was close by if I didn't know any better. That's the thing about living in Oklahoma, the weather shifts constantly and often has major changes all in one day and the wind gets stronger than any other place I've ever lived before. I guess it keeps things interesting, though I'm not so sure if that's a good thing or not.

Published by Don Leach

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Sad State Of Youth Today

I've recently seen an article on Yahoo about a mother being upset how her son's grade school teacher had sent a note home to her. It seems that the teacher in question had stapled a note to the boys shirt informing his parents of his actions. When questioned she stated that she had done so because she had previously sent homes notes and believed that he wasn't giving them to his parents. The mother said that she had received the notes but was upset because her son had been publicly embarrassed by this treatment and that it was unfair.

Now when I was young it was common for teachers to pin a note to your shirt so that it wouldn't be forgotten or overlooked and yes it was normally because you had done something wrong in their eyes. Since I'm not part of this situation and don't have all of the details the only thing that I can comfortably comment on is to speculate that if the parents say they had received previous notes and that the teacher was unsure if they were being given to them then it seems to be that perhaps there was no communication between the two parties. That would explain this disconnect between them.

Thinking a little deeper though this makes me think about how we are raising our children. Currently I feel we are raising generations of children where they don't seem to be able to take criticism at all nor do they understand why they are suddenly not special anymore. Case in point, athletic leagues. Nowadays every child on every team gets a trophy because sometime in the past some parents thought that it wasn't fair that only the top three finishing teams got trophies and that it made their children feel left out and that they weren't good enough. Instead of teaching them lessons that have real life implications such as you can't always be first and that sometimes your team may not be that good and it holds you back but doesn't diminish who and what type of person you are, they chose to try and make every child feel that they were all equal.

That's the problem right there. No matter how much we try to make it so, everybody is not equal. Some are faster, some are smarter, some more athletic, some bigger and some smaller. Some catch on quickly and others have to have things explained to them point by point. None of this means that one person is better or worse than any other, it only means that we are all different and can't be judged by the same standards. I may not be as good looking as others but I have things about me that stand out and make me who I am. So what if I'm not the best athlete or video game player? None of this matters in reality. Just find out what it is that you like and makes you unique, if only even to yourself.

Everybody cannot finish first in everything. It's impossible. There have to be people who finish last the same as there has to be doctors as well as ditch diggers. Simply put, we should be addressing ways to make the children understand that where you finish isn't always the most important thing, it's how you finish. It's the work that you put into it. We need to stop worrying if they get their feelings hurt so much because that's going to happen when they hit the real world. Right now most of them are unprepared for when they hit problems. They don't understand when their boss tells them that their work isn't up to standard or that they need to put forth more effort. They don't understand why they cannot immediately make the kind of money that their parents make. They just feel that everyone is being unfair and hurting their feelings.

So basically they are going to go through everything cruel and unkind in the world that all before them have gone through to some degree or another but they will have no idea how they should and can react. Instead it will be like a gate closing to them. Solid, unmoving and impenetrable. What do they do then? We need to be more understanding of what skills they are going to need to learn so that when this happens, and it will, they will be prepared and be able to solve problems on their own instead of coming running home because life isn't fair. It isn't and never has been so let's try to teach them something about this because it really is so important.

Published by Don Leach

Sunday, March 6, 2011

They Say That Love Is Pain....

While on my way to church today I was listening to a song by The Slackers called "You Don't Know I" and part of a lyric got me thinking. The song says "they say that love is pain" and as I sat in church I started to think about it. It's true that love can be painful when it is not returned or when it was there but no longer is. It can even be painful when one is with the wrong person. But perhaps we need to also look at how we define love. Instead of merely seeing it as between two people we should realize that we love our families, our friends and those that are in our church, albeit in different ways.

When viewed that way the lyric can take upon itself a different point of view. Within a family love can be painful when a member of the family falls away because they have found something else to occupy their life and it consumes them. My younger sister has had a battle for most of her adult life with drugs even though she would only admit it on rare occasions. She ended up with drugs being more important to her than her own daughters whom she was not there for and let others raise. There is much pain there. My nieces love their mother on one level however they also know on another level that she cannot be trusted to tell the truth about anything or even show up clean for important events in their lives. They have suffered with the idea that their mother was not there for them no matter what they did to try and let her know that they needed her, no matter how much they loved her.

I won't even pretend to act like I know why my sister is this way because I have no idea. The three of us (there is also an older sister) went through the same things however they impacted us all in different ways. For myself I became very introverted and had no belief or faith in myself, no self confidence and thought that I wasn't good enough for other people to even like. Whatever she has felt she chose to try and fill what was empty with drugs and that never will work for very long. It's a short term solution to a long term problem. Amazingly she has never hit rock bottom, never sunken low enough to try and make something of her life or to be a part of her children's life. Perhaps she never will.

She has her own pain to deal with and this is the manner she has chosen. I think we all do this in different ways. If you are unhappy because you work a horrible job that is intentionally putting out products that you know will harm people in the long run or you are stealing money from clients then no matter how much you act like it doesn't bother you it does, somewhere deep down below and that knowledge manifests itself in varied ways. Addiction is the usual path but people can be addicted to so many things. We often think of addiction as only to drugs, alcohol (okay it is a drug too), porn, sex and things like that but there is also addiction to eating, to living life on the edge or to religion. You can be addicted to anything, even so called good things.

Anything can be taken to an extreme when you are unfulfilled, living a life that you don't want to live, being a person that you don't want to be. Kurt Cobain blew out his brains when his band Nirvana got too big too fast when he simply could have backed off, stopped all of the interviews to people he couldn't respect or didn't want to know. He could have stopped all of the massive touring and the major label nonsense and just made music for himself. Sure he would have made a lot less money but somehow I think that money wasn't all that important to him given how he chose to end it all. I don't know if it would have made him any happier but he couldn't do that.

Love can be wonderful, full of happiness and good times but unfortunately it can also be pain and that can change from one person to another in how it is felt and dealt with. The trick is learning how to accept the pain and grow from it and understand that it is a natural and normal part of life. Just try not to let it happen too much. Other than that try the advice of Joe Rogan and surround yourself with cool people and get all of the fake losers out of your life. You'll be amazed at how much stress and garbage leave your life. It's worth a try.

Published by Don Leach

Please Don't Add Me To Your Group, Jerky

On Friday night while at work I decided to check my email from my work computer, something I am still able to do since they haven't blocked it yet. They've managed to block many things so far like Facebook, personal blogs and so forth so I don't doubt that it will happen soon. I noticed that I had seven new emails and my first thought was that perhaps one of my friends had read my message on Facebook about my series of blog posts that I am making concerning my college fraternity days and were giving me some asked for feedback. When I went into my inbox however I found that I wasn't even close. They were notifications about posts from a group on Facebook I didn't know and were from people that I do not know.

I started deleting them and the last one was from a friend of mine letting me know that he had signed me up for a group called Friday Night Video Fight. Now I had heard many months ago that Facebook was going to allow this but this was the first time that it had happened to me. Personally I hate that this egregious attack on common sense has been cleared by the powers that be at Facebook. To me it is arrogant for a person to decide that they know better than I do what groups I should be in. It smacks of the highest level of douchebaggery. It's one thing if a friend thinks I'll like a group or band or something like that and wants to recommend it to me but to take it upon themselves to add me without my prior knowledge is quite a different thing. It's just wrong.

Now before you start saying it's not that big of a deal and that I can easily unsubscribe from the group I feel that I must let you know when I checked my email about 2 hours later I had 159 of the same emails notifying me that people had posted to this group and that is just ridiculous. It's far too much. Why should I have to unsubscribe from a group that I NEVER subscribed to in the first place? Why should I have to deal with the problem of my inbox getting swamped with garbage emails from people I don't know, about music videos of bands that I don't care about? Just so you can do what you want?

Screw all that. How about holding people accountable for their actions and making them think about what they are doing to other people who are supposedly their friend? How about Facebook not allowing this kind of stupidity to go on? How about people using their brains and thinking of others instead of only themselves? How about I finish this rant and get over it?

Published by Don Leach

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Return of Beavis and Butthead?

I found out some of the best news I could get the other day. Beavis and Butthead are returning to MTV and no, I do not mean in reruns. Series creator Mike Judge has agreed to start creating and voicing new episodes of the dynamic duo. They'll still be the same age yet this time around not only will they watch music videos but also Youtube viral videos and other events like the Ultimate Fighting Championship as well as using modern technology. This is a no brainer unless the powers that be want to take the teeth out of them and actually have them liking people like Lady Ga-Ga instead of reviling her. I have so many fond memories of watching this show and honestly I think that most everybody knew somebody like this at some point in their lives. I'll even admit to owning a Burgerworld t-shirt at one point. I'll go even further, my roommates and I would imitate their voices for our answering machine.

This information came to me from a most unlikely source, Rolling Stone magazine. Somehow I have been receiving a subscription even though I never ordered it. This has happened to me several times in the past with different magazines. My wife thinks that I must be receiving it as a gift yet nobody has come forward to tell me that it was from them so I tend to disagree and instead believe that my name must be on some marketing list where they send you a free subscription and hope that you'll enjoy the magazine so much that you will want to renew your subscription when the time comes and that way they'll have you hooked and get your money. At least that's my working theory.

At any rate, I do not like Rolling Stone magazine very much. It just doesn't have the kind of content that I enjoy so when I received the most recent issue I left it untouched for a few days and then decided to throw it away. As I picked it up however three headlines caught my eye on the cover. First was a story about The Clash whose music I still enjoy. Second was Beavis and Butthead and the third was a story about The Cars and their album that will be coming out in May. That was enough for me to be enticed into opening it up and to read the stories and honestly I liked all of them.

However another thing that I hold against Rolling Stone is that publisher Jann Wenner is the bigshot in charge of bands that get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame or should I say Shame? He has let personal biases interfere with many bands that more than meet the requirements for enshrinement and they end up being left out in the cold. Bands like Rush, Journey, The Cars, Devo, Kiss, Los Lobos, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Foreigner, Iron maiden and Judas Priest are so deserving yet still cannot make the cut. It's a sad reflection on Jann Wenner and his ilk who believe that they are smarter and cooler and hipper than anyone else when truthfully, they're just pale wannabes.

Ah, enough of this drudgery. I'm not here to endorse or condemn Rolling Stone (well, maybe condemn a little). Back to what's really important. Reading about The Clash = cool. Reading about The Cars new album coming out = great. Reading about Beavis and Butthead making their valiant return = fantastic. Maybe there's some hope for fun and happiness after all.