Sunday, October 19, 2008


Thank you, all, for being part of last weekend. As a cap-off of the UBBT it was just what I had hoped it would be. Celebratory. A sense of family. The easy companionship of shared sacrifice and accomplishment.

Each and every one of us had important things to say...

  • Hal told us the most important aspect of UBBT is the people who walk the journey with us.
  • Susan said eery time we look outward it gives us a chance to look inward.
  • Dan's energy and enthusiasm showed through when, after rolling and sparring until he was winded (and injured) he said "All right, now I'm warmed up".
  • Carol told us that before, courage was just a word to her.
  • Lucinda reminded us how we never stop testing.
  • Jeremy's story of a crisis of faith touched us all, especially his realization that this was about far more than just him.
  • Todd shared his eye-opening realization that even outsiders were members of our family.
  • And Terri reminded us that every day, we're writing our life stories.

This was an inspiring, challenging, difficult year for all of us. Thank you all for the support, the push, the friendship. I look forward to keeping in touch, my friends.

I won't be enrolled in UBBT this coming year, although in many ways it will be a part of me forever. I have another aggressive set of goals to accomplish. But I plan to come to Alabama, and with luck I'll bring some backup.

Also, I'm going to continue blogging on my backup blog site. . Stop by sometimes. And be sure to email.

Keep in touch, my friends. My family. This was a long, tough road to wind up back home.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Holy Crap! Goats!

My parents live on the border of a protected wetland. They love it. Ducks, nutria, beavers, hawks and herons are what we watch from their porch. Bats and bullfrogs keep the mosquitos in line. The green and the water keep temperatures down in the summer. It's pretty wonderful.

But it's not without cost. There are many restrictions on what they can grow on their land and how they maintain it. One particularly thorny (no pun intended) aspect is what to do with their blackberry bushes. About a third of the land is covered with blackberries, a delicous but notoriously aggressive and sharp-edged plant. Every year they threaten to overrun the property and every year my parents have to find a solution that doesn't involve chemicals, power tools or other pollutants.

This year's answer? Goats!

Apparently, you can rent goats to graze your land for a day or a week. So Nelson and Desmond, two south african goats, are spending the week at my parents' place. They don't need much to eat, just some water, and they came with a little pre-fab barn to sleep in.

I think this might be the coolest thing I've heard of in ages.

What's more, it ties in to today's empathy project.

I opted out of doing the wheelchair thing. I'd done that once in high school and have a good friend who is wheelchair bound. There's not much new there for me. So I looked for something else and settled on a day without electricity. Today was going to be that day.

As the kids say, EPIC FAIL.

Let's ride on past the morning where my alarm clock woke me up and I ate breakfast with food from the refrigerator. Or how today was my day to volunteer at my son's school and I spent an hour with a copy machine. Or how, even after walking to the grocery store (the car has a battery after all) I got around in there because of electric lights and used an electric cash register/scanner doohickey to process everything.

Man, even using the toilet required electricity (not here, but that water doesn't get pumped by goats on a treadmill).

By noon I gave in. I think I got the point. We are so blessed by the technologies surrounding us. Sometimes they are an addiction, and I often fear they make us weak (or at least lazy). But wow, we have access to some amazing stuff and it's part of our lives every moment.

My electric bill is probably the best money I spend.

I thought it was going to be easy. Heck, I like camping. I sort of like black-outs, at least for a little while. I go on 'phone and email strike' a couple days every month.

But what I learned was that electricity is such a part of our lives, I totally failed to anticipate how much I'd have to prepare to do it right.

Wow. Seriously.

Thanks for listening.