Saturday, November 26, 2005

Here we go again!

Sorry I have not updated in a bit. Life in Indiana has been a bit busy. But I wanted to share a link with you on the lead story of the Indy Star today as a follow up to my previous ramble. Once again we are rewarding executives that have managed a business into bankruptcy while punishing the workers. As a CEO I just don't get it. I understand you want to keep a team intact thru bankruptcy but this is nuts.

Ramble more soon.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Reaganomics, NAFTA, CAFTA, Wall Street and greed!

As I usually do on Sunday mornings I watched Meet the Press. Now my wife would say that I spend the morning yelling at Meet the Press not watching. In today's world the disdain between the right and the left just never ceases to amaze me. It's never about what is right for the country or about the people back home that elected them it's about the party they belong and getting re-elected. And unfortunately we keep sending them back to Washington year after year for the same old results. Someday we may have a third party in this country that will actually represent the middle of the electorate not just the far right or far left.

I can honestly say that one of my favorite people in the world was Ronald Reagan and I feel he served our country well but he would not be happy today with the way the politicians use his name when they try to justify the way they do things now.

Let's take Trickle Down Economics as an example. If you lower corporate taxes it will stimulate their financial situation and they will spend more money on R&D, create more jobs, ect.

In theory and in a certain period of time this was right on the why does it not work today?

1. Corporate taxes are already very low compared to the individual taxes paid in the US,

2. Today such a big amount is paid in bonuses to exec's that are beyond belief. Now I am a capitalist but how much money is someone really worth for a year at the helm of a corporation? Why is it that in our country today we ask airline employee's that are hard at work to take a pay cut and a reduction in benefits while we give the CEO that put them into bankruptcy a huge bonus to stay? I am not just picking on airlines here it is true with auto companies, insurance companies and the like.

3. NAFTA and CAFTA seem to only allow products into the US and creates jobs in other countries while reducing the number of jobs here in the US. They want and want and want from their employee's and then cut them loose when they move manufacturing to Mexico.

4. Wall Street seems to create so much of this. You get some analyst on Wall Street that has never run a company, never made a thing in his life, never had to make payroll or any other decision in a business yet he is making the decision on what the performance of a company should be. I remember not so long ago a major corporation turned in their best quarterly report in the history of the company but their stock took a 9% hit because they did not meet Wall Street expectations. Too many companies are worrying about Wall Street instead of their customers and their employees and the families those employees support. Maybe that is why the Fortune 500 has not had an increase in job creation for a long time.

5. A good example of greed is the belief that the rich are over taxed. Does a person making $300,000 a year pay more in taxes then someone making $30,000 per year? You bet they do but do they pay a larger amount by percentage of income? Recent studies show they actually pay less as a percentage. Now I am all for taking advantage of every tax break you can but don't whine about the amount you have to pay if you are making a good living. Don't want to pay it.......quit.....go to work for the government or a not for profit. If we did not have this fight over taxes, fixing Social Security would be easy. Just take off the income cap and pay social security taxes on all your income. Problem Solved.

Ok enough rambling on this topic for tonight. But if we really put our minds to it we could make this country even better then it already is today. I mean as frustrating as things can be someday's people still will endanger their lives to get here to chase the American Dream.

New Picture of Nash by an artist with Down syndrome.

I hope you all can take a minute and shoot over to my better halfs blog and see the latest art work by Michael Johnson.

I hope you enjoy.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hanging out with Nash

The last two night Nash's mommy has been out of the house. On Thursday night she had a board meeting at our local Down syndrome foundation and tonight was Mom's night out with 25 other mom's from our organization.

With that in mind Nash and I got to hang out and entertain ourselves and as guys do when Momma is not home we went out to eat both nights. I always enjoy hanging out with Nash and always am intrigued by the looks that we get as Daddy and son goof off and entertain ourselves in public. We always have a great time. I do always wonder why we get the looks that we receive.

Not long ago our DADS group that I have talked about before had received a behind the scene tour of the elephant barn here at The Indianapolis Zoo which I will tell you is a wonderful place and we are so lucky to have a zoo of this quality here in Indianapolis. That day there were 25 dads and their kids whom all have Down syndrome that got to have some fun with the elephants. We even had the chance to get up close and pet one and pose for a picture. I am not sure who enjoyed it more us or our kids.

After the tour the DADS and kids that could stay went off to a local Mexican place here in Indy called Acapulco Joe's which is a wonderful hole in the wall that is famous in these parts because they serve their home made salsa in squeeze bottles. It's great tasty stuff and fun to squeeze out on the chips and the kids love it too as long as you make sure the have the mild stuff. Nash will eat the mild salsa and go....Yum Daddy.....Spizy. Which always makes me chuckle.

As we were enjoying our time one thing that I had noticed when we walked in were quite a few stares that we all received as we came in. As usual I processed these stares as looks of interest at all the children with ds in the same place at the same time.

As I sat there on that Friday afternoon being so proud of my son for the day he was having I pondered the stares a bit more. Then I noticed the two ladies behind us were very interested in our table and watched us closely. As they discussed us at their table they noticed me watching and we struck up a conversation about the food.

As we talked they finally confessed they had been watching and talking about our group and made the comment that you guys really stand out in the crowd. I thought to myself here it comes .....The conversation about our kids and how sweet they are and they are gifts from god and all the things people can sometimes say trying to be nice when they notice your child has a disability.

Well you could have picked me up off the floor when what they had to say was how awesome it was to see a group of DADS taking off of work on a Friday to spend time with their kids. They thought it was really awesome and they never even brought up Down syndrome.

So what is the point of my story today..... As fathers and dads we need to spend more time with our kids just hanging out. It has nothing to do with whether our kids have a disability or not.....what matters is that what these ladies noticed was a group of fathers taking a day off work to spend it with their kids. Nobody would have looked twice if it would have been a group of moms.

I hope all the fathers who may read this post will make a point of doing something this week with their children. Leave Mom at home and give her some time to herself. And if you are lucky enough to have some other friends that are willing to join you it will be a great experience.

Sure am glad Momma had things to do last night and tonight so I could hang with Nash last night over steak and tonight with our buddy Kirk and his son Avery.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Are we ready for some Football?

Tonight is the Monday night match up all of us in Indianapolis have been waiting for. Our beloved Indianapolis Colts March into New England to play the Patriots.

I even left my tie at home today to wear my Colts sweatshirt.

It's been a long dry spell for our Colts in Foxborough so I am hoping for the best.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Honey, you need to call a guy named Joe!

It was a nice sunny day in May 2002 that I received a call from my wife to call this guy named Joe. I had recently started my new job in Indy and Jan was working on networking with families in the Indy area who also had children with Down syndrome. So when Jan told me I needed to call this guy named Joe I asked the obvious question.....WHY?

Well Joe was starting a support group for fathers of children with Down syndrome. There was not way I was calling Joe and I was not going to join a support group. I was fine with the fact that Nash was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome and I did not need a support group. My idea of a support group was people that met in the basement of a church, sat on metal folding chairs, drank coffee out of styrofoam cups and sat around feeling sorry for themselves. Not this guy, no way. But as most of us know we usually break down and do what our wives ask us to do because we all live by those famous words...." If Momma Ain't Happy, Nobody is Happy".

So I dialed the phone number and talked to Joe. I found out a small group of men were getting together that night in a social setting to discuss how we could help The Indiana Down Syndrome Foundation in reaching some of their goals. The truth be told some of the Mom's had told Joe to quit complaining and either do something to motivate the Dads or shut up.

Well off I went to the meeting....It was not at a church but at a place called Loon Lake Lodge here in Indy. There was no coffee but beer and pretty darn good food. The 8 of us that sat around a table that night did not have alot in common. Most of us had very different jobs and socialized in different circles and would probably never met except for the one thing we all did have in common. We each had a child with Down syndrome. We found that we all immediately had a bond that surprised us and three hours went by in almost an instant. We all talked about our families and our kids and the different ways and times we received the diagnosis. Many of those stories were different, but some were the same. We all agreed that we wanted to get together again next month and we would all try to invite another father that we knew to join us. We really had no idea where this was going.

We continued to meet and the group continued to grow. We finally named the group as it's known today......DADS! Which stands for Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome. We chose appreciate because none of us really love it or wished it our any of those things and in all honesty one thing many of us agree on is we hated it a bit in the beginning. But we all felt like we came to a point where we had learned to appreciate it. DADS decided to be the muscle behind IDSF and do the work behind the upcoming Buddy Walk in Indy. What a great success that day turned out to be.....we had created a display and a hat and a shirt with our new logo. It was awesome to watch other dads come up and get a hat or shirt or both and walk a little taller when they left. We had almost 100 men sign up to join the group that day.

Since those early days just a few short years ago DADS has grown into a small movement. DADS now has chapters around the country and our logo speeds around the NASCAR Busch Series on the number 43 car driven by brothers AJ and Aaron Fike. A group of DADS have spoken to other DADS and a few moms at the last 3 National Down Syndrome Society annual Conventions. We continue to grow.

Is a group like this for everyone? No it is not for everyone, some people participate a lot, some a little and some not at all....but the one thing I know is when I am with this group of men today most of the people I consider my best friends are there at the monthly DADS meetings. And some of my other best friends are at those meetings in VA, TX, GA, KY, WI and other places.

And Joe? Ya I consider Joe one of my very best friends and I have to get him to start a blog because no one can type a story like Joe.

Have a great evening.

Oh My, I think I woke up a Democrat!

Well I forewarned you all that I may write about anything.

I have spent most of my life living here in very conservative Indiana but have traveled and studied issues around the country and the world. And for many years of my life I would have considered myself a die hard Republican but I am not sure what I am today based on the ramblings and grand standing on both sided of the aisle. The most recent issue being dealt with here in Indiana is prayer in our General Assembly.

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union if pushing a lawsuit here in Indiana about this issue. With a hearing a few days ago it has been a major issue in our local paper especially in the letters to the editor section which I think has become reserved for the extreme activists on both sides. And that is funny in itself as people on the far right think only liberals are extreme and vice versa. Both both sides seem to be out of touch with the majority of America.

So the controversy continues about prayer and whether there should be any prayer, or a random sampling of different religions EST. Recently many from the far right are taking shots at my local state Rep over his opinion that there are too many Christian prayer, he happens to be Jewish. I personally think they should have prayer to open the sessions at the state house and they should be non-denomanational prayers. This country was founded on a belief in God! But leave it at that, let each person decide who God is to them, the state house is not a place to decide or grand stand as the whom the real god is.

Have we all forgotten why this country was founded? Why those farmers and local officials decided to tell England no more? Taxes and Religion! They wanted a voice if they were going to be taxed and they wanted freedom of religion. And if you look at the history of the world most wars stated over religion and how many of them have settled that debate?

Well here is one issue that makes me question whether I am on the right or the left or in the middle and if I am in the middle who represents me in government?

More to come....

I wonder where we are going with all these fights.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Howdy World

Well here I am with my brand new blog and I am still not 100% sure what the heck a blog really is. I hope to be able to share many thoughts, views and experiences with you on a regular basis.

So how in the world did I get here. I grew up in a small town in central Indiana and have been able to keep those small town characteristics that have served me so well. Anyone that knows me will assure you that I have an opinion on everything and I am usually ready willing and able to share it and I will here in big dawg tales.

My life changed dramatically on February 16, 2001 when my son was born. Nash came into this world with a bang and changed my life for ever. Not long after Nash was born the doctor came in my wife's hospital room and very professionally explained to us that based on his visual diagnosis that Nash had Down syndrome. Now I played football in high school and college and I can tell you I had never been hit as hard as I was hit with this information. Not because of Down syndrome but because I had already counted Nash's fingers, toes, ears, eyes ect and had been holding him for about 2 hours and I knew he was perfect. Why did this hit me so hard? Because I knew nothing about Down syndrome, I had never met anyone with Down syndrome and never read anything about Down syndrome.... I was clueless! My only reference was Chris Burke who played Corky on the television show "Life Goes On", and I am thankful my only reference was that positive role and am thankful to be able to call Chris Burke my friend today.

Inside this blog I will share more stories about the first few days and the first few years and the current happenings in our journey and the many surprising directions it has taken.

Besides Down syndrome I will talk about many things including football and politics.....It should be fun.