Sustained Effort Makes Things Work…Rock Steady

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential”
Winston Churchill

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Throughout most of the 90’s, we held concerts at our water park in Central Florida. Water Mania was a new water park and was hardly a match for the much more established competitor, Wet-N-Wild. We did not have a big budget and needed to do something to make us stand out. So at great risk, we decided to hold concerts at our massive wave pool.

As a revenue source, it was unreliable and often times very costly. On one concert alone, we lost $50,000. The chance of rain was always a threat. The chance that not enough people would show up to cover the cost of the concert, was always a possibility.

As a security risk, it was challenging. We had to have scuba divers underwater in the pool to make sure nobody disappeared underneath the carpet of inner tubes. Our friendly water park staff had to make the transition to becoming tough security enforcers typical of concerts.

As a marketing tool however, it was effective. We were up against bigger attractions with multimillion dollar ad campaigns. It did not work over night but over the years, it did what it was supposed to do…it put us on the map. Many people who would have otherwise not visited our young water park, made their way out to hear the bands. For some, it is their first memory of the park and it eventually helped make Water Mania an icon in Central Florida.

scan0001Bachman Turner Overdrive

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Kenny Loggins

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Molly Hatchet

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Bad Company

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America

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Greg Allman

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The Outlaws

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Little Feat

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The Marshall Tucker Band

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We closed Water Mania after twenty years of business in 2005. During the years that we did the concerts, we were constantly evaluating the risk reward tradeoff. It was tough on our family and staff but in the end, it was worth it. Sometimes simply sustained effort makes things work and it is not always clear while you are in the middle of doing it, that it is a good idea.

Consider your children. Sometimes it just seems like it is too hard to keep them pointed in the right direction, day after day after day. And then one day, they are gone from your home and on their own. At that point, you will know for sure what you already suspected…that every ounce of energy that you spent in their protection and development was worth it. Sure you have had a few bad nights and sure there will be more in the future but your effort made your family a family…you put your family on the map. You did your part…and it was worth it.

Would I do concerts again if I had a chance to start over? I would like to say yes but there is not enough rain insurance in the world to make my wife happy about it…so I guess the answer would have to be no…It was a dream that it happened and something that I will never forget. Sustained effort is what most of us need to achieve our dreams. Rock Steady.

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I Am Glad My Mom Was Not A Paramecium

“My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.”
Pablo Picasso
 paramecium mom

 

I am glad that my mom was not a paramecium because…well…I would have been one too. Since they mostly just split to make more, I wouldn’t have had a father either. And on those heartbreaking days when I just needed a hug, her numerous little cilia just wouldn’t be long enough to really reach around me.

I am glad my mom was not a flea. I love dogs but not that fond of drinking blood. I love to jump but would rather drive a jeep. I don’t think mom and I would have had that much of a relationship. I mean, if I got on a rabbit and she stayed on the dog, when would we have ever met again?

I am glad that mom was not a sparrow. I would have loved to fly but I never really got into sunflower seeds…and even though the Lord notices a sparrow when he falls, I wouldn’t really have had any knees to bend down on to learn to say my prayers.

I am glad my mom was not a salmon. I like the water but not really the ocean that much…too many predators. At least, I would have had a dad but then both of them would have died at about the time I would have been born…and so many brothers and sisters…I never would have known them all.

I am glad that mom was not an elephant. She would have protected me for sure but I am not sure that I would have liked the gentle nudge of her huge feet…and she would not have been happy with her big ears and teeth in the family photo. I would have never been picked up to cry on her shoulder or felt the gentle pat on my back that all would be okay.

My mom carefully selected the right mate and honored him his whole life. She has nurtured and protected me and my siblings since birth. She has provided shade from the constant and sometimes brutal challenges of the world. She has cried with us and laughed with us and encouraged us. She alone has been the stake in the ground that has prevented the vicious storms and whirlwinds of life from scattering us abroad. She has been the home to come home to. She has been mom.

I am glad that mom was not a paramecium but if she had been, I would have gladly swum the swampy waters with her. She makes any world she lives in a better place…a piece of heaven…a home.

Happy Mothers Day Mom!

Dark Matter Instead of Grey Matter Found In Guy’s Heads

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We recently visited our home in Utah in which our two college age sons  currently reside. Having been away for six months, their mom was hoping to walk into a house that was clean and well kept. She hoped against hope that at least an effort had been made by my boys. At first glance, everything looked great. After spending a bit of time in the house however, the ruse began to unravel.

Closets and drawers and even dryers had been used to the max to hide the disarray. Their mother took it in stride and got to work. I just took it in stride and went about my business because, well, I am a guy and they were just employing the survival tactics that I had passed along in their DNA.

We all know that weez guys think differently than youz ladies…that is, if weez guys think at all. It has been postulated that about 85% of the matter in the universe can’t be seen and it has received the mysterious name of dark matter. I think we can safely conclude that most of it can be found between the ears of guys on earth. Since we know that there are not enough guys on earth to make up all of the missing matter, we could therefore conclude that there must be other guys somewhere in the universe which resolves the whole question of is there life out there somewhere…but I digress.

When we were first married, my wife made quite an effort to refine me. Since then, she has seen her own sweet little darling boys grow up to be men and it has tempered her expectations a little. After all, she is partially responsible for raising those testosterone driven, fast food eating, TV watching, clothes shedding, sports nuts and she is realizing that it is hard to fight nature. If not a reprieve, it at least has helped my wife understand my guyness.

When a guy sees an empty washing machine he thinks…well, actually nothing comes to his mind at first and he just keeps on walking. However, if he is compelled to do laundry, he thinks to himself…might as well fill er up and just add more soap…why do two loads when you can get them all done in just one load? The same goes for a dryer…let’s see how many clothes we can squeeze in there and still get the door closed.

When a guy eats a steak he is cutting the biggest chunks that his throat will allow him to swallow. In his bedroom, he thinks…why hang the clothes back up when you can get a few more days out of them and they are easy to find right there on the floor or on the back of a chair? He ponders…why make a bed if you are just going to crawl right back in it in a few hours…and why lift the toilet seat if you are accurate enough which, by gosh we know every guy is…and if by chance he finds a toilet seat that is already up, why on earth would you ever put it back down?

There is just a basic fundamental genetic difference between us. Weez guys don’t think like youz girls. Clearly weez guys don’t think at all. Somewhere between selfish and lazy is a place where all guys visit…well…reside. In that realm, brain waves that beget non-selfish action just do not occur. It is all just dark matter…which is apparently some pretty important stuff in the universe but it doesn’t help much in the thinking category.

That’s okay though because if weez guys were to think, we might stop acting like guys. Then youz girls would not know what to do as we would no longer need you to make things stabilized and right in our worlds. The world would suffer and things would come to a screeching halt. At least right now only youz girls suffer.

So ladies, just bear with us. We die sooner than you do and then you can find peace and relaxation. Until then, could you bring me a glass of milk while you are up?

What do you mean I have to go live with the boys?

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What Do You Do When Somebody Talks Too Much?

“Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.”
Robert Frost

Have you ever been around somebody who just eats up all of the oxygen in the room with their incessant chatter? Have you ever been that person? Let’s assume for the “sake of talking” that the person is not you but that it is someone else burning up their lips and gums and damaging your eardrums and vestibulocochlear nerves. What do you do? Below are five possible alternatives for finding relief:

1. Don’t listen. Imagine yourself on a sailboat on a beautiful sunny day in your 20 year old lotioned and tan body (even if you are 50…well, especially if you are 50). All the while, keep moving your head slightly and paying just enough attention to not nod yes when they are complaining about their own mother or their excess weight etc.

2. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. This is good for only the first exit because after that they might start a rumor about your bladder. For the second and third exits, you can use excuses such as, checking the laundry, sprinklers or locked doors. If a fourth exit is required, feign fatigue and reschedule the visit.

3. Inquire about the mole on their arm and suggest that they need to get it checked. If you can’t see one then just assume they have one on their back. If necessary, share the story of your older relative that had a bad experience with a mole. It has to be just subtle enough to not create a whole new conversation while allowing a seed to be planted of personal survivability and worry.

4. “Did you hear that?” always stops the conversation and you achieve a moment of silence, which can help you gain energy for the next chattering onslaught. If you stand and turn around and look, it helps your charade. Ask one more time, “did you hear that?” When they answer “no”, you can ask them to stay quiet for a few more precious seconds and then explain that it must have been the rats that sometimes appear in your house. Add that one time one of them stuck their head out from under the very same couch your friend is sitting in. Assure them that they need not worry because you recently bought a pet snake and allowed it to roam through the house in the daytime and that it had eaten most of the rats. Add a little shrug and laugh and say “now where were we?”

5. As a last resort, you might try to engage the other person in conversation but direct it in a way that has a terminal point…eg… I don’t like funerals…or… my warts have been bothering me…do you mind rubbing them because I can’t reach them?…or… did you hear that continuous talking causes gout?

If none of these ploys work, then hand them your grandbaby and some carrots. He will know what to do. Everyone will be happy…well, what is your friend going to do…give you the baby back? Of course not….that would get all of the neighbors talking!  Ahhh…peace at last!

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There’s Smoking and There’s Mm…Mm…Smokin’!

“When I figured out to work my grill, it was quite a moment. I discovered that summer is a completely different experience when you know how to grill”
Taylor Swift

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Well…of course every man is born knowing how to grill. Telling him that he should take a lesson to learn more about it is somehow akin to plucking out his chest hairs one by one.

I have grilled most of my adult life at countless backyard get-togethers. I love it. Recently, I became reacquainted with a high school friend, Jeff Johnston, whom I had not seen in over thirty years. He told me that he had started a business that he has dreamed about and has become a professional grill master including manufacturing his own rub and BBQ sauce (9C Brand). I was so excited for him.

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A few weeks went by and my oldest son and family came to visit us in Florida. For some reason, I decided that it was time for me to actually learn how to smoke something on my new smoker/grill combo. I called up Jeff and he was more than anxious to share some insights with me. We met one afternoon and I could not take notes fast enough. He brought items with him that would help me including a couple of bottles of his special sauce. I learned the difference between types of coal. I learned about fruit woods and what a chip and a chunk are. I learned when to spritz the meat with apple juice and when to apply the rubs. I was overwhelmed with all of the information and so glad I was not cooking for a paying customer!

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I got prepared and did my shopping and a few days later began the process. I prepared the chicken the night before. Once I lit the coals, I must have referred to my notes thirty times. I had to work to get the temperature correct. It finally started coming together and I was able to put the chicken thighs on the grill.

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The result was that I actually smoked some pretty dang good chicken that everyone loved. It was amazing. Next on the agenda is to learn how to smoke ribs and then pork butts and brisket.

It takes a little longer to actually do it correctly but I found that when I took the time to actually learn how to do it, I did not lose a single chest hair in the process. In fact, the 9C sauce may have put a few hairs on my chest! I highly recommend that every guy out there take some time this spring to really learn how to use their grill.

It’s nice to have a smokin’ wife and it’s nice to have a smokin’ truck but when your grill is smokin’, you could wax every chest hair off and still stand tall as a man’s man. Get grilled on how to use your grill and take your weekend BBQs to the next level. Mm…Mm…Smokin’!

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Old Letters…Forever Thoughts

Doc - Apr 4, 2015, 7-006
My father has been gone for almost ten years. As I was cleaning my desk this morning, I found an old letter he wrote to me when I was home from college, almost 40 years ago. The salutation, “Dear Gary Son”, struck an emotional chord. The first line, “It is nice to have you here”, further melted my emotions. It would be nice to have him here with me today.

This Easter season, I am reminded that the possibility exists that we may see each other again and that he may once again tell me that it is nice to have me with him. Mine is a hope and a faith that calms my soul and enriches my life with purpose. I do not have hope and faith because I seek to be calmed or to have my life enriched with purpose. Instead, those feelings are a direct consequence of the quiet testimony that is in my heart that Jesus did live and that his mission was divine.

I believe that one day I will be able to say, “It is nice to be with you too Dad.”

Old letters…forever thoughts…

Happy Easter!

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Country Genius, Country Dummy

“Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.”
Elbert Hubbard

IMG_1821aSometimes having a little country in you creates a genius and sometimes it creates a dummy. I recently bought a smoker/grill from Lowes and it was too heavy for me to load into my truck. It took four men to get it loaded and I was not sure how I was going to get it out of my truck but I “figured” (country boy strategic thinking) that I would figure it out once I got home (country boy lazy thinking).

I had my shoulder and both hips replaced last year and a recent hernia operation and I am not supposed to lift more than 50 pounds. Even if I had been my old self, I could not have lifted it. My wife, as strong as she is, was also recovering from surgery and I would have hated to lose her under a several hundred pound grill. I guess I could have asked her 80 plus year old mother that lives next door to give me a hand but.…

But no, having grown up in Kissimmee, I learned that a rope and an oak tree limb can be good for more than just a sack swing.  I rigged a hoist over a huge oak limb but the only thing I had strong enough to pull on it was the truck that the grill was sitting in. So we tied the ropes to the truck and slowly pulled forward sliding the grill as we went until it was hanging in mid air. With only a little effort, I was able to slowly drop the grill to the ground. My wife was amazed it worked and I was a country genius for a brief moment.

Then she asked me how much it cost. Once again I became a country dummy.

I can’t think of everything…but I “figure” (country boy no brain activity) that she shouldn’t be able to either. My mistake.

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