Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: People Crackers??

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Losing Self-Control: a Moment of Anger

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” ~Ambrose Bierce

Yesterday, I failed to maintain my composure. I expressed anger and dished back what I had thought been given. I believe myself to be one who usually can rise above pettiness and boorish behavior. Yesterday was different. I allowed others to get under my skin, and push buttons I don't usually let people know even exists.

I believe strongly in manners and politeness. In fact, I would say that most people that know me well would probably say being too nice is among my (many) faults. I have a different take on this. I take great pride in the fact that I (almost) always use great discipline in not expressing anger and personal unpleasantness. I try very hard to not share everything thing I think or believe, even when it is so tempting to "set" a person straight on where they are wrong. (Of course, there are exceptions, and I do believe in some cases, especially those where it is clearly a 'right or wrong' moral issue, silence condones consent. I absolutely have no problem voicing my difference). But more often than not, I think most people think their 'opinions' are the most correct and subsequently make it very apparent, with no discretion, in advertising confidence and certainty of their 'rightness.' A lot of these folks are the type who just love to hear themselves talk....

Communicating every random thought or feeling with the world is just not what I want to do. Keeping things close to the heart is increasingly harder. We live in an age that anyone and everyone can have a megaphone (FaceBook, Twitter) to express every inane and tawdry stream of consciousness tidbit. Rudeness is celebrated and encouraged (cable news programs & reality shows, anyone?). Civility has become a precious commodity and seems to be increasingly scarce. So often we see calculated and deliberate attempts to ridicule, disrespect and destroy others with impunity.

I try very hard to filter what I say, and try even harder to demonstrate maturity and politeness (yes, probably to my own detriment at times).  I don't believe it wise to show everyone the 'metaphorical' cards I am holding. There are people who would never know that I personally do not like them or think them to be incredibly sophomoric. Some would perhaps call this duplicitous. Maybe so. But the intent is much less sinister. Why engage in something that really isn't necessary, and may cost more than expected?

“Angry people want you to see how powerful they are... loving people want you to see how powerful You are.” ~Chief Red Eagle

One of the basic tenets of leadership is self-control. Anger, pride, avarice, and ambition have ruin many a powerful person because they allowed themselves to be consumed by such things. Often, "Power" is the pinnacle achievement for the corporate and politically ambitious. The pursuit of power without self-discipline becomes a noose in which they hang themselves. I've personally seen how those in leadership positions have used their anger to make others fearful and acquiesce to their demands. I would argue this really isn't leadership but cowardice & bullying, if not even an outright flaw in character.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ~Gautama Buddha

I am frustrated that I allowed others' anger and stupidity to become mine. I like to think it is rare. Lately, though, it seems that I care less and less what others think and tempted to just let things spill out without thinking. It's not so much that I am concerned about what people think, but rather, that I don't allow myself to be drug down to the lowest common denominator of crass and shallow behavior. Self-discipline and self-respect means to hold yourself to a higher bar of expectations and accountability....yesterday I failed. I hope to do better today. 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Now that's big!

I found this mushroom this was oddly heavy (I'd say it weighed roughly 2 lbs). I found it grotesquely fascinating.   

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Offerings by Sprowl...a new website

My better half!

So my better half is an artist. We've recently have talked about ways to market her works...and decided to start a new website. She will also have a new store on the Etsy website soon. For now you can check out her art at So take a moment & check it out...and if you happen to want to buy something, let her know!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Dad

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! For those men that are truly 'fathers,' you should be proud of fatherhood, and all the privileges that come with being a dad.

Today, my heart is heavy as I think about my father. He died when I was just fifteen. My dad was an unusual man. A grade school education is all he had. He sounded like a hillbilly when he spoke. Old fashioned and strict, things were simply black and white. He believed in discipline, respect for your elders, politeness and common courtesy. As a young teenager, I found his ways difficult and outdated. He truly was from a different generation.

My father was a consummate gentleman, setting a high bar for me in how he treated my mother. Such love I rarely witness today. His love for my mother was among the strongest things I've ever witnessed. He had his faults, and he struggled with things that were beyond his control. His health kept him from being financially secure, and was hard on himself for not being able to provide for his family like he thought he should have.

He was a devout man of faith, and believed the scriptures to be the inerrant Word of God. As a young man I had countless hours of conversations and debates with him. Ultimately, I found him to be right more often than wrong. He would be considered entirely politically incorrect by today's standards. He wouldn't have cared. He reflected a simple belief that Christians should be as much like Christ as possible.

And as stubborn and inflexible as he may have seemed, he was actually a man of incredible love and compassion. He loved others who had wronged him. He fiercely loved his wife & children in such an incomparable way. He demonstrated compassion and empathy for others, especially for the underdogs and those who had nothing. My dad loved animals, and taught us how to care for those beings who needed us.

My father had a crazy sense of humor. I can remember his hearty laugh to this day. It was genuine and contagious. And I miss it sorely.

Compared to the benchmarks of worldly success, my dad wouldn't have measured up very well. He taught me that materialism and temporal things are insignificant. Our focus should be on the Eternal. What we do with what we have in this life will make all the difference in the next. My father was a man of principal, and believed that one's values and morals speak far more about who you are than money and fame.

The older I get, I find myself saying the same things he said. Every day that passes, I realize how much he taught me (I must have actually listened at some point). As a young, self-absorbed teenager, I thought my dad was irrelevant. I often compared him to other friend's dads, and thought how lucky they were to have the comfortable lives they had. To an extent, I had allowed growing up poor to created a covetous mindset. How wrong I was. My father had given me a priceless inheritance. After his death, I began to realize those intangible things that couldn't be bought.

 As a husband and father, I've missed the mark many times. I can only hope to be the kind of man my father was. I miss you, dad.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Potato Anyone?

A couple of weeks back, the Idaho Potato Folks came to my town. I'm thinking that would make one big batch of French Fries!

By the way...I had to think about the spelling of potato (think: Dan Quayle, circa 1992). It's misspelled more than you think!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Can You Be Sued for Sending a Text? Or for Writing a Blog?

Heard something interesting while listening to a talk radio show yesterday (and, yes, I happened to be driving at the time). It seems our wonderful accident attorneys have found a new revenue source. There have been recent court cases in which lawyers argued third parties have responsibility for car accidents, even though they were nowhere near the crash. Their logic goes something like this: a person sending a text message is potentially causing a hazardous distraction. If the person receiving the text is driving and becomes involved in an accident while reading the text message, the person sending the text should be held as equally responsible as the driver causing the crash.

Lots of questions and implications here, if these lawsuits set a precedence. Smart phone are ubiquitous. People get email on their phones. People read web sites on their phones.  Could it be extrapolated that should someone who reads this blog post while driving and happens to get into a car accident, mean that I am now responsible for the resulting damages or worse? (DISCLAIMER:  I hereby absolve myself of any liability for anyone who decides to read my blog while driving--DO NOT READ MY BLOG WHILE DRIVING). I initially thought I was being humorous in putting up the disclaimer. Maybe not so funny in retrospect?

What about companies who send emails to their employees? And how can it be proven that the recipient actually read the text (or email) while driving? It may pop up on their phone, but that doesn't necessarily prove they actually read it.

Taking out a page from the the lawyers who sue gun manufacturers, attorneys now can try to sue any entity for which they attempt to assign blame or responsibility for tragedies. They have a previously untapped reservoir of people and groups to sue, and lord knows how much money they can rake in. What about large cell phone companies? Could they be the newest target of class-action lawsuits? Gives a whole new meaning to 'Can you hear me now?' doesn't it?

Perhaps I can sue a silverware company for being the third-party responsible for my being fat, or for my high cholesterol and high blood pressure?

No, of course not. Seriously, I understand personal responsibility for my own actions and behavior. Perhaps it's time that we all try to understand this, and put a limit to the encroachment of needless litigation and finding as many people to blame for tragic circumstances. Personal responsibility: a very limited commodity in a land of vast foolishness.


Wordless Wednesday: Julie's Peony

My wife took this picture of one of her many flowers this evening....thought she captured it rather nicely. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Is There Hope?

This past week there has been much heartache & loss in my community. A young middle-school student was found dead by a teacher and a group of students. She had apparently hung herself from the bleachers.

There has been much speculation in news stories & social media about what may have driven this young lady to end her precious life. Lots of discussions about bullying in schools.

I didn't know the girl or her family. But as a parent, my heart breaks for them. I can't begin to imagine what her family must be going through. What goes on in the mind of a young teenager (or anyone) that leads them to conclude suicide is better than life? That tomorrow will not be any better?

Adolescence has never been easy. But kids today face things that were unimaginable when I was their age. Bullies prey on those who are often the most vulnerable. Children with special needs, kids that are overweight, kids who, for whatever reason, are perceived to be different, are most often the target. And it occurs not only at school--use of social media is ubiquitous. Cruelty can be exponentially viewed and shared by thousands of people.

Kids are exposed to things they shouldn't see and hear. Oftentimes, they are forced to grow up much too soon.  I would argue we cannot overstate the impact of Hollywood & the entertainment industry's obsession with 'perfect people,' sexuality, and violence have on our children. Kids will compare themselves to the images they see.

Today's families have unprecedented challenges. Economic uncertainty, financial strain, infidelity, greed, self-destructive behaviors, divorce, and shifting values and morals are re-shaping our cultural identity. Once a prominent place in American life, the Christian faith is now relegated to some long-forgotten shelf of yesteryear. So many perfidious things compete for our time, money, and interest.

We not the same country we once were. Some will say that's a good thing. I'm not so sure. We are today, undoubtedly, more jaded, skeptical, and cynical.

I recently read that many of us now no longer believe in the American Dream. Many in my age group that believe their children will not do as well as we have. Although many would never verbalize it, a lot of people believe that our best days are behind us. We are constantly bombarded by news stories confirming our worst fears. An unsettling despondency plagues many hearts and families. Hope seems to be on the extinction list.

Hope is not something tangible you can hold in your hands. Although it can't be seen or physically touched, it is nonetheless 'real.'  Hope, much like faith, is something that you must believe in. And if one has lost all hope, life becomes a burden. A burden that sometimes becomes too much to keep carrying. Hope is a precious commodity that is needed now more than ever. Although it may seem to be a limited resource, it is renewable and sustainable.

Our children need to believe their future is bright. They need to have hope. They need to believe that each passing day leads to better things. If, as adults, we do not believe such things, our children are perceptive enough to know. Our mentality becomes theirs. Our hopelessness is contagious.

As a parent, a neighbor, a community, and as our 'brother's keeper,' we should understand and empathize with the pain and turmoil that occurs in the lives of many in our midst, often silently and unspoken. We need to demonstrate concern and love, and intervene before tragic events happen.

Is there hope? I am compelled and persuaded to believe the answer is, simply, yes. Life is way too miraculous, precious, fragile, and short to concur otherwise. We cannot let fear, doubt and evil triumph. Events like what happened this week in my town, in which a precious 14 year old young lady deliberately ends her own life, should not become commonplace. Kids need to know that someone cares.

Psalms 34:24


Monday, April 8, 2013

Favorite Quotes of Margaret Thatcher

I've always thought Margaret Thatcher was the quintessential British lady. She was tough, outspoken, and a lightening rod of criticism by her adversaries. I am a collector of quotations...I've included a few of my favorites from the 'Iron Lady.'

“If you just set out to be liked, you will be prepared to 

compromise on anything at anytime, and would achieve 

nothing. ” 

“Do you know that one of the great problems of our age is 

that we are governed by people who care more about feelings 

than they do about thoughts and ideas.” 

“Watch your thoughts for they become words.

Watch your words for they become actions.

Watch your actions for they become habits.

Watch your habits for they become your character.

And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.

What we think, we become.

My father always said that... and I think I am fine.” 

“Consensus: “The process of abandoning all beliefs, 

principles, values, and policies in search of something in 

which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the 

process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, 

merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. 

What great cause would have been fought and won under the 

banner: ‘I stand for consensus?” 

 “Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.” 

“When I'm out of politics I'm going to run a business, it'll be 

called rent-a-spine”

“If you set out to be liked, you will accomplish nothing.” 

“I do not know anyone who has gotten to the top without 

hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the 

top, but it will get you pretty near.” 


Note: All photos courtesy of WikiCommons, which are in the public domain. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Forgotten Lore: Post Three

Forgotten Lore

(A Quaint and Curious Volume)

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle 

slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without 

milestones, without signposts,

...Your affectionate uncle, 



Here are the uncomplicated rules: 
  • I will provide a line or two from a book (perhaps from famous or popular authors, and maybe sometimes from lesser known folks who penned a good line). 
  • YOU take a guess at the author and the book. 
  • And, if you'd like, provide a line from your own favorite novel/author.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Forgotten Lore: Post Two

Forgotten Lore

(A Quaint & Curious Volume)

"The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct: --It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness --until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears."


Here are the uncomplicated rules: 

  • I will provide a line or two from a book (perhaps from famous or popular authors, and maybe sometimes from lesser known folks who penned a good line). 
  • YOU take a guess at the author and the book. 
  • And, if you'd like, provide a line from your own favorite novel/author.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Forgotten Lore: Introduction

Forgotten Lore 

(A Quaint and Curious Volume)

I am beginning a new blog series...for those of you that love literature and the written word! I hope to occasionally entice you into an addicting, brief moment of bibliophilic delectation! 

Here are the uncomplicated rules: 

  • I will provide a line or two from a book (perhaps from famous or popular authors, and maybe sometimes from lesser known folks who penned a good line). 
  • YOU take a guess at the author and the book. 
  • And, if you'd like, provide a line from your own favorite novel/author.  


Today's quote:

"Words — so innocent and powerless as they
are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent 
for good and evil they become in the hands 
of one who knows how to combine them."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Indy Star Article: Woman Forgives Man Who Shot Her

An incredible story of forgiveness and redemption. Misty Wallace was shot by Keith Blackburn during a carjacking in 1992. Blackburn, now an IWU Divinity School student, will appear on Katie Couric's talk show on Monday.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Matter Park

Got to take a few pictures this evening after the snowstorm last night. Taken at Matter Park, Marion, IN. 

The above photo was taken with my digital Polaroid. A sudden temperature drop 
caused an unintended foggy effect. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

DailyFunLists Article: 25 Extremely Bizarre Laws That Don't Make Sense

Finding absurdity is an occasional hobby of mine. Oftentimes, I find the 'absurd' to be humorous, providing a good laugh, or at least a break from the monotony of everyday serious stuff. Of course, it helps if you are NOT the one who happens to be caught up in such strange being found guilty of breaking bizarre laws that make absolutely no sense! (Sidenote: To be a spectator of such heinous crimes would surely be pretty fun to watch!).

This particular list from Dailyfunlists really is kind of bizarre, and I think, funny. My personal favorites are #24, 23, 21, 18, 16, 13, 12, 9, 8 (really wondered about how someone did that!), 5 (just the sight of it would be funny), 3 (this seems downright un-American to me!), 2, and the last one (1) is, well, surely surreptitious and perhaps too unwholesome to be viewed by impressionable youths!

Have fun...but don't laugh too hard (especially if you're in public, it may be illegal in your particular municipality!).


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fictional Friday: Carlton

Carlton was expelled from high school his senior year after a series of altercations with other students. He is a magnet for trouble, seemingly to always attract the wrong people into his life. Carlton is now twenty years old, and currently resides in the local county jail.

About a year ago, Carlton's aunt brought him to my agency to inquire about services. Carlton's aunt explained that Carlton's father had passed away when he was only three. His biological mother lives in a large metropolitan city in an adjacent state, and dropped Carlton and his sister off with the aunt when they were nine and ten years old, respectively. This was supposedly a temporary arrangement (a few weeks) so their mother could get her 'life straightened out.' In the meanwhile, Carlton's mother's phone was disconnected, and had moved from the public housing apartment in which they had lived. Carlton's aunt eventually filed for guardianship when the mother failed to return for them after several months and couldn't be located.

Carlton has a moderate intellectual disability. He has significant difficulties with basic math, reading and writing. Carlton had struggled through school, exhibiting learning and emotional difficulties. And there was the occasional anger outbursts that would sometimes result in aggression towards his sister and students in the classroom setting. Carlton has difficulty with impulse control, possesses a low frustration threshold and has limited coping skills.  His aunt hinted that Carlton's mother had used street drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. She explained that she tried her best to keep on top of Carlton's issues, but during his adolescent years he become increasingly difficult to manage. It is important for Carlton to fit in and find acceptance. Carlton seemed to gravitate towards older boys who would often exploit him. Carlton naively thought of them as genuine friends, and often failed to see he was being taken advantage.

After expulsion from high school, Carlton rebelled and would often leave his aunt's home for hours or even a couple of days at a time after an argument. He was over the age of eighteen, and police advised his aunt she had limited options unless she pursed legal guardianship. They had limited financial resources, but his aunt began the process of obtaining guardianship.

We assisted Carlton with applying for the Medicaid waiver, but since he failed to complete high school he is ineligible for a priority waiver. Carlton will not be targeted to receive services for a few years. He would  have obviously benefited from being in a structured setting with positive mentors, supports and services.

In the meanwhile, Carlton was 'befriended' by a couple of young men. Carlton desperately sought their approval and friendship. A few weeks later, on a summer morning in a rough part of town, Carlton was found in an abandoned house, duck-taped to a chair. He had been beaten and burned with cigarette butts. The details are still somewhat murky, but as best as can be determined, Carlton was involved in delivering illegal substances for his new friends but he had failed to secure the entire 'payment.' Carlton's new friends had tortured him, figuring he had betrayed them or had perhaps taken their money. He was hospitalized and later released, and he eventually healed and recuperated from his injuries. Carlton refused to name his attackers.

Carlton is like a lot of young men with disabilities: he has limitations that may or may not be readily apparent, but his street smarts are just enough to get himself into trouble.  Recently, Carlton was in a passenger in a vehicle (with 'friends') that was pulled over by police. Carlton had prescription pain medication in his pocket for which he did not have a prescription. Perhaps conjecture on my part, but it seems to be a forgone conclusion that the authorities will fully prosecute Carlton, his limitations and vulnerabilities notwithstanding. He sits in jail, awaiting his court appearance. Carlton's aunt does not have the money to bail him out, and worries about his future. He obviously has difficulties making sound and wise choices. If services and supports were available, Carlton might have had a different outcome. Hopefully, someday, Carlton will connect with the right kinds of people. At worse, maybe he can survive his bad decisions.  


Note:   Carlton is a fictional character, based on a composite of real individuals. Composite characters who appear in my "Fictional Friday" posts are based on people with real stories, with particular details, names, and certain specific circumstances changed so as to protect privacy.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Go to the Back of the Bus

The actual bus Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in 1955 in
Montgomery, Alabama, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The bus now sits at
the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. (Picture courtesy of WikiMedia Commons)
Segregation. Seclusion. Isolation. Physical restraint. Exclusion. These are words that often bring to mind an unhappy segment of our past. Segregation is a lamentable piece of American history, something from a by-gone era. The idea of an entire group of citizens excluded from the rights, protections, and liberties afforded by the U.S. Constitution is something most people today would find aberrant   

Fast-forward to last week at the Indiana General Assembly. Senate Bill 345 is amended and passed out of the Senate Education Committee. The bill proposes the creation of commission that would develop a model policy for schools regarding the use of restraint and seclusion of students. School corporations would be required to have a restraint and seclusion plan designed to protect all students. This week there will be further discussion on amending this bill. Hopefully it will not die or be watered down to a powerless and meaningless law that has no teeth. 

Last month in Fredrick, Maryland, Robert Ethan Saylor, a young man with Down syndrome, died while in police custody. He was accused of refusing to leave a movie theater. The police were called, and he died from asphyxia after being cuffed and restrained. The death has been ruled a homicide by the Fredrick's County Sheriff's Department.  

In 2012, the Ohio State Dept. of Education re-convened a task force created in 2009 to examine how schools use restraint and 'seclusion rooms' after the discovery of their inappropriate use were made public by news media.  The Columbus Dispatch wrote a series of news articles last summer exposing the routine misuse of seclusion rooms and physical restraint of students in Ohio public schools.  

Many years ago I started out working in my field of occupation at a nursing facility for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in East-Central Indiana. The folks I worked with lived together in a two-wing building with the typical sanitized atmosphere and usual assortment of smells of a nursing facility. They were mostly isolated from their neighbors and community. When we would venture into the community, it was readily apparent the guys I worked with were not 'accepted' by the rest of the town. Most people would stare, but would never engage in conversation or typical small-town niceties with them. 

Much to my embarrassment now, I remember one particular incident in which I took a small group from the facility to Sunday services at a local church. The group I brought were regular attendees, although this was the first time I had taken them. I remember the members of the church were affluent and services were orderly, structured and well-orchestrated.  There was little to no interaction between my group and church members. When we had first entered the church,  I was advised by the usher that our group had reserved seating. In the last row of seats, in the balcony. 

Today, as one who helps advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, I still observe occasions in which people with disabilities are marginalized, segregated, ridiculed, and often excluded from having meaningful participation in their neighborhoods, schools, communities, places of employment, and sometimes even within their own families. 

I want to think that today, ALL people in our country are believed to be created equal and have access to the same rights (and treated with the same respect) as anyone else. We once excluded an entire race of people from the privileges and rights entitled only to people with white skin. All of our fellow citizens should be free from discrimination. However, it is obvious there is still a segment of our population who are not always provided the same respect, dignity, common courtesy and full range of rights that people without disabilities are typically given.

Yes, there are still folks in 2013 who are told (metaphorically) to 'go to the back of the bus.'  We need to advocate for progress and encourage our society to be big enough to allow everyone the right to pursue meaningful lives and participation in their communities without being excluded, disrespected, unnecessarily secluded, and forcefully restrained (or worse).  We are better than that. 


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I work for a Community-Based, Not-for-Profit agency. I have worked in the disability field for over twenty-five years. I am the father of two boys, and have been married to my teenage sweet-heart for 23 years. I live and work in the same town where I was born & raised.
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