Sunday, June 25, 2006

A MASTERS Fairy Tale

When I was six, I noticed that all the stories I really liked started with “Once upon a time” and had happy endings. This one is no different.

Once upon a time, there were two young people named Ralph and Char. They were married and had two young children named Nathan and Tiffany. One day while in the kitchen Char announced, “I am going to back to school.” Those words started a long, but fruitful journey.

Char did go back to school but it wasn’t always an easy journey. The kids were young, her husband was gone a lot, and she was also working. But one day Char graduated with her Bachelors degree.

She took the next several years and raised the kids, taught school and became a great teacher. Teaching at a few different schools, and dealing with different situations at each. She kept learning and kept teaching.

Then one day the Nathan and Tiffany were no longer at home. Once again, Char announced, “I am going back to school.” These words also started another journey.

Even though the kids were gone other challenges were there. Char’s dad came to stay with Char with Ralph, yet, while it wasn't easy, she continued with school. Sometime (okay, a lot of times Ralph was a jerk) but she stayed in school. Then one day Char graduated with her MASTERS degree in counseling.

Even though this story started with “Once upon a time” and had a happy conclusion. There are a few things that aren’t told. First of all, the story is not over. It won’t be for hopefully a long time.

Secondly, it is hard to express how proud I am of her. Not just for the degree, which is a remarkable achievement, but for her willingness to stick with it through some extremely difficult circumstance along the way. She is a remarkable woman.

Third, while I am not downplaying the degrees she has earned in any way. She has done far more than that to leave her legacy. She raised, single handily at time, two great kids. Then through her teaching, she has touched the lives of many, many other young people. It’s fun to go with her to a store or restaurant. You’ll often hear things like, “Mrs. Campbell do you remember the time. . . “, “Mrs. Campbell I remember what you told me back . . . “, “Mrs. Campbell because of you . . . “ I lot of lives have been touched and influenced by what she does.

So all I can say is congratulations on your Masters degree Char. Congratulations on the lives you have touched and difference you have made in this world. And most of all, thanks for being my wife.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Caps and Gowns

Cliff made a great post about Char getting her Masters degree. It’s true and I am really proud of her.

Today is graduation and the party. Tomorrow I will make a post about her amazing journey.

Thanks for all your comments to her on my previous post.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I Got Air

Golf is a pretty humbling game. Have you ever been beaten by an eight year old?

Yesterday, Geno (my eight-year-old friend), Bobby (his dad), and I went to play a little par 3 course close to the house. I was the official score keeper and here is how the first few holes played out:

First hole: Bobby 5, Geno 12, Ralph 6
Second hole: Bobby 4, Geno 11, Ralph 4
Third hole: Bobby 4, Geno 15, Ralph 6
Fourth hole: Bobby 4, Geno 14, Ralph 5

Geno enjoys golf but tonight he was hitting a lot of ground balls. At the fifth hole, he took out his driver. Bobby and I were getting ready to play when Geno yelled out, “I got air!” I looked up to see his golf ball land just short of the green. That was a heck of a shot for an eight year old. It would have been a heck of a shot for me.

Soon we were all on the green and that’s when ‘Geno rules’ apply. When on the green we wait for Geno to make the hole. On a few holes, he had quite a few putts. I was lining up my putt when Geno said, “Ralph, I got five.” The pressure was off - I already had six. I congratulated him, it was the best he had ever done.

I made my putt and then had my first ethical dilemma in the game of golf. Do I lie about my score or just admit I was beaten by an eight year old?

Later that night when we pulled into their driveway, I handed the score card to Geno and told him he might want to keep it. It had his best hole ever on it and the first time he ever beaten me on a hole. He got out of the van and ran into the house. I’m sure that score card is on the refrigerator.

Yep, golf is a humbling game.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lessons from the 'Dog'

For the past several weeks, it has been hot and dry. It’s complicated by the fact that we have been having lightening without any significant moisture. Because of that, fires are popping up all around the state. Right now, the largest fire is 9,000 acres. It’s burning in a steep area with dead trees. Fortunately, so far, no homes have been lost and no serious injuries have been reported.

So, you are probably wondering what is up with hotdog stand?

This hotdog stand is in Aspen Park. It’s been there as long as I can remember. Thirty years ago, when I started my career it was there. Most likely, it was there long before that but I don’t know.

In my youth, I responded to many wildfires. It was still new to me and the only way to make extra money. A young married couple with two small kids can always use a little extra money. So, I went out on a lot of fires. After a few years reality set in and I realized it was mainly the extra income that made me fight wildfires. Fires paid for many things we otherwise could not have afforded.

Okay, okay, but what does that have to do with the hotdog stand?

One day on the way to a fire, we realized we would be out all night so we had better get something to eat. We stopped at Coney Island. I got a foot long dog, with extra chili and cheese. I thought that would last me through the night.

That chili dog taught me a few lessons. The first lesson was chili dogs are not the easiest food to eat while driving. Don’t get me wrong it can be done it’s just not easy.

The fire was in a bad spot. It was near the top of a very steep hill with the closest access over a mile away. We would have to hike in. No problem, we were good shape and had done that time and time again.

That’s when the chili dog taught me lesson number two. A chili dog is not a good dinner choice before doing a hard, steep climb, with five gallons of water strapped to your back and a fire tool in each hand. For me the climb seemed harder than usual. About fifty feet from the fire, I realized I wasn’t feeling good. In fact, I felt bad. Real bad. That’s when I started to throw up. The five gallons of water, the fire tools, and I almost fell down the hill. I dropped to my knees and . . . well, threw up some more.

I was really sick so I curled up under a tree while the rest of the crew tended to the fire. Ever so often, someone would come over to check on me.

The final thing that chili dog taught me was how fires are named. One fire in Colorado will forever be known as the “RAAAALPH” fire.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Bird Man

It’s been a great Father’s Day. We actually celebrated Father’s Day a few weeks ago, before my first golf lesson. Tiffany and Nathan got me a new set of clubs and a bag. I think the thirty-year-old bag and the eight clubs, all different, might have been embarrassing them. They got me a nice set of clubs that should last for quite a few years.

Nathan is camping and Tiffany has a basketball camp today. They both called as well a Tiffany’s boyfriend, Jason, to wish me a happy Father’s Day.

So I got up early and went with the neighbors to play golf. Geno was pretty excited about going. He got a set of clubs a few days ago and they bought their father a set for this special day as well. So, we all went golfing.

First of all, it was pretty cheap. Seems likes Geno’s older brother knew someone who worked there. So here is how it came out:

9 holes of golf – No Charge
2 golf carts – No Charge
Breakfast - $10
Another 9 holes of golf – No Charge
2 golf carts – No Charge

It was GREAT. On the first nine, I got my first birdie – ever. One under par, never ever did that before – it was great. At breakfast, I asked everyone to call me “Bird Man” the rest of the day.

After a great breakfast, we went out to play another nine. Different hole but it happened again – I got another one under par thanks to an amazing putt. Now, with all that being said. There were also a few holes where had someone walked by I would have sold them that whole bag of clubs for $1.

But all in all, it was a great Father’s Day for Bird Man.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The World's Largest Restroom

I’m not a big fast food fan. But, let’s face it sometimes in the morning that is the only place to get a reasonably priced cup of coffee. One morning last week I stopped at Carl Jr’s. That’s where I saw it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

First Day of School

For years, I have taken pictures of everyone on their first day school. Including pictures of Char on her first day of school when she teaches and when she went back for her Masters. It’s kind of a habit.

Here is a picture of me on my first day of golf school. It was taken on Saturday. Class was to start on Thursday but because of all the lightening, it was cancelled. I guess until Thursday night I had never given a lot of thought about holding a piece of iron above my head in a lightening storm.

We worked the seven iron a lot and went over many things dealing with posture. This game might be a lot of fun if you learn how to play it. I would write more but have to go do homework.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mean Lucky

There is a lot to write about but it will have to wait for a day or so. Geno has been coming over wanting to hear the comments left on his story,’The Schoolers Against the Avalanche’. He was happy and I quote,”nobody said anything mean.” I explain that people who read my blog were really nice people and he liked that.

So, Geno, who is eight, stayed up late one night to write another story. I told him I would post it. Please take a few minutes, read Geno’s story, and if you would leave your comments addressed to him. He will most likely respond. Thanks. Once there was three friends named Lauren, Donovan, and Geno. One day they went to the forest. Suddenly, they ran into a leprechaun.

“Sorry laddies. My name is Lucky.”

“Our names are Donovan, Lauren, and Geno.”

“I’ll give you each one wish.”

But, they did not know Lucky was a mean Leprechaun.

“I wish for a car,” said Donovan. A car appeared suddenly and chased him and when Donovan wasn’t looking he ran into a tree.

“I wish for a cat,” said Lauren. And the cat chased her up a tree and made her fall out.

It was Geno’s turn.

“What do you want lad?”

“I want a robot.” And suddenly a robot was destroying the forest. Suddenly Geno heard a crushing sound.

“Where did Lucky go?”

“He got squashed,” said Donovan. So did the car and the cat.

And they lived happily ever after.

The End.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Fire Danger

Wildland fires are now a big threat in our state. For the past couple of weeks I have been reading all the predictions, warnings, and red flag alerts. A red flag alert is when you have extreme fire danger, strong winds, lightening, and little or no moisture.

Many long-range models and forecasts say that 2006 will be as bad as 2002, which was the worst fire season in our states history. That was the summer I spent only three nights in my own bed. I really don’t want to do that again.

But, it’s not just here where those kinds of fire conditions exist. The picture below shows that our friends in Canada are in the same predicament.
Now, that is a serious warning.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Gone by the Wayside

So. . . Char and I were driving down the street on Sunday and I just blurted out,” You know what you rarely see anymore?”

Before she could answer, I told her, “Pay phones for one. You rarely see a pay phone anymore. The other is people driving with their arm out window. Hardly anybody drives with their arm hanging out the window like we all use to.”

Although she never came right out and said she agreed with me I read it in her response, “So, really, how does your mind work?”

This is a pay phone. They use to be on just about every street corner. Remarkably little inventions – you put money in and you could make a phone call. I remember back when they were a dime. The last one I saw was a quarter.

They are no longer with us because today almost everyone has a cell phone. Speaking of cell phones, have you seen the ones that hook directly to your ear? They have an attachment that hooks to your belt or can be carried in your pocket but the speaker and receiver are always on your ear. They are really small! I went into the grocery store not to long ago and this lady had one. It took me awhile to notice it but I am glad I did. For a minute I thought she was saying, “Oh, show up you’ll have a good time” to a frozen chicken!

The other thing you don’t see very much anymore is people driving with their window down and their arm hanging out. I’d like to think it is due to the increase in traffic and people are just driving with both hands on the wheel. Char says it because most people have air conditioning. Most likely the truth is people have the air conditioning going, one hand on the wheel, and the other hand holding a cell phone to their ear.

I’m not sure how my mind works either.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Schoolers Against the Avalanche

Some times you just run out of ideas on what to post. I did so I asked my good friend Geno, who is eight, to get me a story. Here it is.
The Schoolers Against the Avalanche

By Geno

There was a hockey team called the schoolers. Tonight they are facing the avalanche. Tonight. Drake, Matt, Donovan, and Geno were on the ice. Joe Sakic, Yell, Wayne Gretzky and Rob Blake.

The face off was in the left corner. Matt passed to Drake. Drake passed to Geno. SCORE!

Next period. Drake, Matt, Geno, and Donovan were on the ice. Joe Sakic hit Matt into the news people. They went to the hospital.

Matt got back on the ice and he punched Joe Sakic. That was a penalty.

It was half time and the schoolers were talking about the game plan. Geno had an idea, “Flip the puck to me and I’ll get a goal.”

Drake flipped the puck over to Geno. Geno shot – GOAL! The game was over.

Everyone got gold trophies.

There was a party at Geno’s house. Everyone came even the Avs.

The End.