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Stumbling Home at 11:59

I apologize. This has not been my best week. And you, dear readers suffered for it.

I enjoy writing. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, stories, books, articles and for the past 5 years, this blog. I enjoy exploring different topics. I try to stay focused on business and leadership and team building and training and occasionally posts about camping and hiking and Star Trek Attack Wing. I guess it’s inaccurate to say I focus on anything.

But, through it all, y’all have supported me and kept coming back to read my scribblings day after day. . .Monday through Friday.

This week my writing has been more a chore than a joy. I’ve done it because I’ve been doing it and I don’t want to stop doing it. But, my attention has been elsewhere.

One of my kids spent the last 5 days in the hospital: kidney infections, heart issues, high fever, rapid heartbeat, lots of pain.

The child is home now and on the mend. I’ve also been working and holding down the homefront while my lovely wife stayed with our child at the hospital.

I’ve been a little. . .a lot distracted.

I’ll try to up my game next week.

Thanks for checking in.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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American Exceptionalism

. . .because we have the 1st Amendment.

I’m Canadian, so it’s not really the same thing.

Oh, sorry. My mistake for thinking you were American. (I mean, isn’t everyone?)

It was a facebook conversation on a friend’s wall. He and I, while great friends, don’t share political views. Most of his friends are on the opposite side politically from me.

It let me consider what seperates citizens of the Unites States of America from citizens of other countries. President Obama once stated, I believe in ameiran exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.

The former president was criticized by those who took issue with his acknowledgement that every country thinks it is exceptional. As Syndrome, the villian in Pixar’s movie “The Incredibles” said, When everyone is super, then no one is.

My grandmother used to tell each of us grandkids that we were her favorite. And we believed her.

I have great respect for many of the countries in the world. We recently watched in awe as Thai special forces rescued 12 boys stuck 2 kilometers inside a flooded tunnel. That was exceptional.

We recently saw some of the best soccer players in the world compete in the World Cup. Sunday, France and Croatia will square off to see who’s best in the world. The USA didn’t qualify for the tournament. But, even if we had, no one expects our boys would have made it to the finals. France and Croatia have done something exceptional.

So, was Obama right? Is everyone special? Sure, but I think there’s still room for making the case for American exceptionalism.

Last week we had our nations birthday. 242 years young. We date our birthday from a hot summer’s day in July, 1776. A group of men risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to wrest a country away from the most powerful nation on earth.

I’ve read enough history to know that things are never simple. Yes, the colonists defeated Britain. But, it took some help from France, and we were not the primary focus of Britain at the time. Still, a group of men stood up and said, From this day forward we will make our own choices.

We Americans discovered electricity. We put men on the moon, a feat still unmatched. We invented computers. Then, we invented them again. We invented a bomb so terrible that it shook the world. We have the most powerful military in the world, and yet the person in charge of that army willingly gives up control.

We invented television and then to try and make up for it, we invented the internet. Have have some of the richest men and women in the world. And many of them are giving away billions of dollars to aid education, eradicate disease, and bring all nations into the information age.

We’ve not always been at our best. We allowed slavery for far too long. Eventually it nearly tore our country apart and we paid an atonement in blood. We still treat groups of our citizens badly. Our Constitution allows people to be racist, rude and horrible citizens.

But, we remain the beacon on a hill. There are millions of people who dream of getting to start a new life in America.

Yes, I think Americans have reason to be proud of our exceptionalism.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Football vs Football

I’m so happy to see so many of my British friends finally embracing football. Who knew those NFL exabition games would have such an impact? Apparently they had a big match today. (They’re called “games” but you’re new to the sport, we’ll cut you a break.)

I thought it was a pretty obvious joke. My British friends got it, some of my American friends didn’t.

First let me say that I’m very disappointed that England lost their World Cup match. I don’t even like football and I was pulling for them. Well, I like football, just not their football, what we American call soccer.

Obviously there are substantial differences between the two footballs. The fact that one is mostly played with your feet, and the other with your hands, comes immediately to mind.

But, I wanted to focus on the difference in timing. In football, as played by the non-United States world, players run pretty much the entire game. I’ve played pick up games and you quickly become winded if you aren’t used to it.

European footballers will use this fact to look down on their American cousins playing “pigskin” football. That and the fact that American football players only play half the game: offense or defense, but typically not both. And yet, footballers don’t run full speed the entire game. Football players in America give as close to 100% effort as possible from the snap of the ball until the whistle blows. They may not be running the entire game, but during the time the ball is in play, they are exerting maximum effort. Between plays, they rest.

I’m playing American football at work right now. I’ve built a reputation of being on call 24×7. Of putting the customer first. Of giving up time with my family, or at least sharing it, in order to keep doing my job. That’s the American football attitude while the ball is in play.

But, this week, I’m not. Sure, I’m on call. And when something breaks, I’m still giving it 100%. But, the rest of the time, I’m not. I didn’t intend for this to be a down time, but it is.

I’m sitting in a hospital room. The lights are dimmed, the subdued light from my iPad competing with the green and yellow light from the various monitors.

I’m not sick. That would be too easy. My child was admitted on Monday after an emergency room visit for severe pain. The doctors are making progress and the longterm prognosis looks promising. But, in the mean time, I’m a scared dad sleeping at the bedside of a scared kid.

If my phone rings I’ll answer the call and run my routes, or fulfill my blocking assignments. But, until the snap of the ball, I’m taking a break.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

No Context

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

How Old Is Modern?

I was actually cold yesterday. That’s nice considering that Utah, along with much of the rest of the country is very warm right now. The air conditioning was making the main bathroom a little chilly as I was getting ready for church. I considered what it must have been like for people before modern conveniences. Would I be able to survive without modern inventions? I’m a fan of historical fiction. I will often imagine how I would fare as “A Conneticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court”?

Or would I do as well as my ancestors who crossed the plains with Brigham Young in 1847 on their way to founding modern Utah?I looked around my bathroom and tried to identify the modern items that I would have to learn to survive without if I were magically transported back in time.Certainly not the air conditioning. That would be gone. And with the outside temperatures touching triple digits, that would be a large adjustment.

And the electric lights. Those would be gone. Of course, they were invented over 100 years ago. Do they still count? For that matter, what about the glass that was filtering out the sunshine. Wasn’t glass an invention? Sure, it was well before the electric light. But, someone had to invent it at some point.And then I realized the problem with my mental exercise. Everything is modern. Not just cars, airplanes and computers. Literally everything had to be invented at some point. So, when searching for “olden” times, how far do you go? 100 years? 500? 1000? 10,000? You would probably have to pick a tipping point, beyond which is “modern” and before which is “ancient” or at least “old.” Likely tipping points include the discovery of electricity. Or maybe the transistor, which made modern computers possible. Gunpowder? But, the Chinese invented and used it long before the Western world. Do you pick the invention or simply the introduction into world culture?Maybe you pick a date. Two hundred years ago, the United States was just finishing the second war with Britain. Slavery was still a stain upon the national consciousness. We were still 25 years away from the Civil War. Certainly seems like a different era.Is it the lifetimes of the people we knew? My great grandfather was born in the later part of the 19th Century. I remember visiting my great grandfather, but I don’t remember much about him except the smell of pipe tabacco. Maybe modern is defined by those we have known.Perhaps it’s the invention of writing. The ability to record our histories is what seperates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Humans have been inventing since we became humans. Inventions are soem of the things that make us human.If you think about it, even clothes are an invention, albeit one that predates recorded history. And our bodies have evolved to require clothes. If that was the standard, I have to admit that, no, I could not surive without “modern” inventions. What I can’t do is tell you which of the inventions count as modern inventions or not.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

I Didn’t Work On The Flag Today (Well, almost)

It’s not terribly hot. (I’m in a nice air conditioned house.) And my feet don’t hurt. (I wore my new boots, but they’re broken in enough for casual wear.) And I (almost) didn’t go up the canyon where the worlds largest free flying Ameircan flag is blowing in a steady breeze in and out of Grove Creek Canyon in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Almost. Today was a work day for me. With the holiday in the middle of the week, it felt odd to be focused on email, outages and other tasks that I actually get paid for.

And then a guy came to install security cameras. We’ve been thinking about them for a long time and he had to postpone last time it was scheduled. And I was designated to help him.

And then, my son got sick. He had a high temperature and my lovely wife took him to the hospital.

And then, I had to run out to take a daughter to the bank before it closed.

And there was work.

And then I had to take my neighbor, who is always helping me, and drop him off at the temp because his car needs new tie rods.

And then, the radio broke and I had to fix it because my buddy who normally fixes it was at the temple.

So, I ended up back up at the trailhead.

My son did his eagle project around providing a continuous radio broadcast while the flag is displayed. It’s on 99.9 FM if you are in the PG area.

He volunteered for this project because he knew that my neighbor and I do a “Christmas lights” program every year. Our houses are across the street from each other and the lights on our houses are coordinated to music. He did it alone the first year and when he asked me to join in my only condition was that we add Dueling Banjos as one of the songs.

“But, that’s not a Christmas song.”

“Do you want my help or not?”

“Okay, I guess it’s now a Christmas song.”

It’s one of the favorites too.

So, we took that equipment, switched out the christmas songs for patriotic songs and stuffed it all into a scout trailer. We parked it next to a friend’s house. He happens to live literally next to the trailhead where the flag is flying.

All well and good. We borrowed power from my friend. My neighbor did the programming and ta da! We have a contributions that requires zero upkeep.

Not quite.

It got to 103 here in Utah today. Yes, it’s hot all over, I’m not saying ours is worse than yours. In fact, it’s probably better since we have about 35% humidity to go along with our triple digit summer.

Anyway, a metal trailer in 103 degree heat is going to become an oven. And electronics don’t bake well. For two days in a row it’s stopped broadcasting about 4:00pm. The hottest part of the day.

I took a fan up and eventually the electronics cooled off enough. But, it’s got us a little worried.

We’re already planning next year’s setup. We are thinking of ditching the trailer and actually building a protable wooden structure to house our setup.

A wooden structure with an air conditioner.

Oh, and the flag has had zero problems since being repaired and rehung.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Flying The Flag (And It Was Hot)

It’s hot. Of course, it’s hot. Utah in July is a desert. And hot. But, I’m sweltering more than normal. It’s 3:00pm and I’ve been sitting here since 12:30. I’m sitting on a bed of shale that is reflecting the heat of sun back at me. There’s shade just about 10 feet away. A nice Scrub Oak tree. But, that 10 feet is below me and the I worked hard for that 10 feet. Still my thermometer shows the temperature at 102. Yeah, it’s hot. I, along with two young men, am sitting on the North face of Grove Creek Canyon. Below and around us, we can see other volunteers taking advantage of what shade they can find. Above us, other volunteers are working to attach a flag to a kevlar line that stretchs 600 feet South across the canyon. The air is clear (and hot.) We can easily see the team that has assembled on the South side of the canyon. Sometime in the next hour they will start to pull that flag, all 75 ft by 155 ft of it across the span. Unlike yesterday’s abortive attempt, this time the flag will be largly unfurled as it’s deployed. Our task is to keep the flag from snagging on rocks and trees as it’s pulled across the canyon. At least that’s the plan. They’ve never deployed the flag that way and none of us are sure what will happen. We know that the flag can turn into a sail in the intermittent canyon wind. It could knock even the largest of us off our precarious perches. I do lots of hiking in Utah. It’s a desert, and while I don’t normally sit in the direct sun on a southfacing shale slope, I always take extra water. Typically I take a 2 liter bottle in a sling. My neighbor’s son is with me. He’s also well prepared. Unfortunately the other boy is not.

Do you want some of my water?

No, I’ll be fine.

Let me rephrase that. Here, drink some of this water.

Eventually, I didn’t have to convince him. His arms were also starting to resemble tomatoes. It wasn’t really his fault. We weren’t going to be up here that long. As the afternoon wore on we shared stories and jokes. We shared snacks and of course, we drank water. Water is life in the desert. Eventually, we noticed that the Westward march of the sun had created a shady shelf about 20 feet above us. We quickly scrambled up and were grateful to get out of the heat. We were quickly joined by several other volunteers. And we went back to waiting. We had a great view of the team trying to get the flag staged. Those poor souls were stuck out in the heat and sun. Finally, we saw them snap the first carabiner onto the line. Earlier a drone had ferried spider-wire back and forth across the canyon. Each side had a line to pull and then secure the flag. A cheer went up from the sweaty volunteers. We scrambled out of our shady perch and took up our positions. The flag, when flying seems so graceful and smooth. Getting her into position was anything but. The flag weighs 450 lbs. The line it was on dipped slightly into the canyon. As we slowly fed the flag out and worked to both keep our footing and keep the flag off the rock walls, we could see the team on the South side manually pulling the cord, hand over hand. Another cheer went up from the parking lot hundreds of feet below as the flag was slowly cinched out from behind a rock ourcropping and became visible. The wind still threatened to frustrate us as it tantalized the prospect of the flag curling itself around the support wire, only to pull the flag back at the last moment. Finally, it was time to pull the cord. The lines bundling the flag started to pull off one by one. Like a diva making her grand entrance, the flag slowly revealed herself. Another cheer from below. The volunteers on the side of the mountain were too tired, or busy to do much more than smile at finally seeing all our hard work finally coming to fruition. We scrambled up the last 20 feet or so to where the line was anchored. The guys with the pull lines continued to position to the flag for optimal viewing. The person giving direction was at Macy’s, about 5 miles away. (It’s a really big flag.) Finally, we posed for the requisite pictures and wearily headed down off the mountain. I finally drank the last of my water. It was brackish and about the temperature of bathwater. But, it was wet and after all, it was still hot. Really hot.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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