26 September 2008

The Name Remains The Same

You can call me a Led Zeppelin fan if you want. I wouldn't . . fan, after all, is short for "fanatic".

I have, however, appreciated the music of Page, Plant, et al since way back in high school. A neighbor, Kevin Byrd (I hope he doesn't mind being made famous), had a great collection of 1970's classic rock music, and he generously allowed me access to it while I babysat his kid. It was then that I discovered Houses of The Holy, and its opening track "The Song Remains The Same". I tell you all of this hoping that you'll forgive me for so blatantly plagarizing the title to this post, which will eventually be about something totally unrelated to Led Zeppelin or their music.

It does have something to do with another partially plagarized title with which you're all familiar . . the title of this blog. I can say with conviction that there were only two books that I read during high school which ever were scanned by my retina any time after that. The first was Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, and I only re-read it because in a discussion about it years later I realized I had absolutely no recollection of what the book was really about. The second, of course, was The Hithchikers Guide to The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. I have re-read The Guide at least ten times since Ms. Wilson's AP English class, and it gets funnier every time. I think it just resonated with my personality . . strange, sarcastic, and often incomprehensible. I chose the name Stay-at-Home Dad's Guide to The Galaxy not because I intended to teach anyone anything, but because I thought it was clever. I stand by that decision.

With that foundation laid, we arrive at the point of this post. As of Wednesday of this week I am gainfully employed and, therefore, no longer exclusively a stay-at-home dad. I have taken a position with the YMCA as Sports Program Coordinator, a job I think fits my skill set nicely.

Communication skills? I'd like to think so.

Experience managing teenagers? Unfortunately, a lot of it.

Ability to effectively handle complaints? Depends on how effective "stuff it" is . .

Essentially, I'll be running the sports leagues for kids age 3-13, including soccer, flag football, baseball, basketball, and whatever else comes along. It was time to get Daddy out of the house a few days a week, and this came along with perfect timing.

Fear not though my loyal reader(s) (really depends on the day), even though its accuracy could now be called into question, I will not be changing the name of the blog. I figure since it was never really that accurate of a name to begin with, it shouldn't cause too much of a stir if I stick with it after changing "titles". Any complaints with this logic can be sent straight to the head of our customer care department. That address is haywoodyabuzzoff@stayathomedadsguide.com.

22 September 2008

Write It In Pencil

When making important decisions in life, one of the smartest things an individual can do is exercise patience. Anything that has the potential to define who you are deserves this type of prudence.

Take, as an example, a couple whose lifelong dream it has been to own their own restaurant. What steps do they take? They probably spend a year or two saving up the money, picking out a location, and deciding on the menu. They may spend half a year building the restaurant, six more weeks hiring staff and managers, three weeks training them, and the next 15 years turning their dream into their legacy.

With that in mind, a question arises. What's in a name?

In the words of William Shakespeare, "That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."

But is that really the whole story? Or is it possible that a flower, or even a restaurant, could be forever tainted by its name. In a word . . I'm pretty sure it can.

I offer you this example as a case in point. I was at the gym today when something struck me. It was a t-shirt, worn by someone exercising directly in front of me. People wear all kinds of things to the gym, certainly not the worst of which are t-shirts advertising restaurants they frequent. Remember the lady with the leopard print and the house shoes?

This shirt, in comparison, was benign. It didn't dawn on me until the third or fourth time I read the shirt how completely unfortunate the name of this particular restaurant was. Again, not offensive or absurd to the point that it stood out like a sore thumb, just something that after processing it a few times seemed truly, well, not good.

Yep, you read it right . . the name of the establishment is Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant. Now doesn't that just smack of a comfortable and relaxing place to unwind after a long day at work? I mean seriously . . how many bevnaps did you go through writing down possible names for your life's ambition before you came up with "Sanitary"? Was it an oversight . . you did EVERYTHING else, were ready to open the doors, and when the sign painters came and asked you what you wanted on the monument sign you were just dumbfounded.

"Well hell Mable, I hadn't given that a lick o' thought."

"Me either Paw."

"Well, what should we go with?"

"I don't rightly know Paw."

"The health department said the place was mighty sanitary. You think that might would make folks feel at ease on days when the buffet ain't holdin' temp?"

"Heck yeah Paw, that dog'll hunt!"

Whatever the case, I think the name you give your establishment deserves at least a night's sleep worth of consideration. Write it down, in pencil, and come back and look at it again in the morning. Does it say everything you want it to say about you? Who knows, maybe the sanitation's the only selling point of this particular fish camp (besides the t-shirts, that is). If not, I suggest giving it a little more thought.

21 September 2008

Goals Achieved

I'm home. The drive back was quick and painless, and I had plenty of time to reflect on my weekend of solitude and birding. I went into the trip with a few "soft" goals, and I met them all.

Goal number one was to exceed the 150 species mark on my Big Year list. As of this evening, the number stands at a respectable 162 species identified. I'm happy with that number, and I expect it will climb a bit higher as migration continues throughout the area.

Goal number two was to see AN owl in the field. I saw 4 this weekend, 3 Eastern Screech Owls and one Great Horned Owl. The look at the Great Horned wasn't great, but nonetheless I saw it. The Screech Owl might just be the cutest bird in existence.

And goal number three was to see all three of the falcons prevalent in the United States. This one looked like it might not materialize, as my stop at the Hawk Watch platform was on the windiest day of the weekend, and the numbers were way down. I managed to see numerous American Kestrels and Merlins, but the final falcon remained an enigma. My Eleanor, if you will.

Then, this morning, as we were making our way back to the parking lot after a 3-hour hike at Wise Point, a medium-sized raptor unlike any we were accustomed to seeing came overhead. Four of us looked and looked as it soared on a thermal, all unable to ID the bird. Then, as if it had sensed our discouragement and just felt sorry for us, it dove down to near tree-top level to give us a better look. Long, pointed wings? Check. Pushes its wings forward when diving? Check. Large, unmistakable black "mustache"? Check. Ahh!! Peregrine Falcon! I called it first, everyone else immediately agreed, and I had done it . . all three goals had been achieved! The Peregrine Falcon is one of the most amazing animals in the world, capable of achieving speeds in flight of over 160 miles per hour, and to see one at that moment added a marvelous exclamation point to the end of my otherwise exhilarating (and slightly exhausting) weekend.