10. The Internet & Electronic Social Media – What did we do before we had the internet when we needed a trivial answer to an obscure question? Sure, for important stuff, you had your World Book or the Britannica. But you could dig for a week and not find the name of, say, the owner of the Cavern Club where the Beatles got their start. (Just now it took me exactly 33 seconds to find out it was Alan Sytner via www.ask.com) As if Wikipedia wasn’t special enough, along came Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter. Although I still don’t tweet (I predict that Twitter will go the way of My Space,) FB and L-I are sites I am on multiple times every day. It all started a year ago when I got laid off and realized that I had been woefully inadequate about building a network. I joined FB and L-I to help myself find a job. What I found instead was that the people I had either brushed aside or forgotten in the past, I now have more in common with than some of the people I thought were my friends but now find they have disappeared. Now, connecting with friends is the main purpose of my social networking, and the job hunt is secondary.
9. My Teachers – My Dad, who taught me the value of the dollar and that if a thing was worth doing, it was worth doing right; My Mom, who taught me to love and laugh and be a peace-maker; Archie Devitt, who taught me that music was not only fun to listen to, but fun to produce; Cleon White, master geek, who taught me to love math – including trig and slide rule; Barb Cain, my first female boss who not only taught me to manage people, but to do it while smiling even though I thought I was too cool for that; Steve Ortiz, who taught me that I could give up drinking and still survive; Doug Snyder, who taught me how to separate my emotions and write objectively, and challenged me to learn more every day. Being a college drop-out hasn’t hurt me as much as you might think and I believe that is because I had teachers in my life that taught me to be curious and questioning, so even without school, I kept learning.
8. My stove and refrigerator – can you imagine catching a chicken, wringing its neck, plucking and gutting it, and starting a fire with two sticks so that you could eat that chicken after turning it on a spit over that pile of embers for so many hours that you missed lunch and now it's time for dinner? It’s hard to envision the hassle of people who lived a hundred years ago when I’m able to go to the freezer, grab a chicken breast, throw it in a pan and toss it in the oven to cook while I google a recipe for peach cobbler.
7. Life – what an amazing coincidence! I look out my window and see deer and coyotes and porcupines and elk and red-tailed hawks and blue jays and rabbits and lizards and spiders and ants and snakes and big black beetles that walk with their tail ends lifted high in the air. This all evolved from the primordial slime?! What a coincidence!!! And then a monkey evolved into me!? Wow, am I lucky! I’m also thankful that I am at the top of the food chain and recognize that I must occupy that position with nobility and concern. I must be a steward to the lower creatures. I must not take a life lightly. I’ll eat a cow or a chicken or even that elk, but I’ll do it with gratitude and reverence.
6. Living in America – where else can you vote your conscience without fear, berate the government officials without reprisal, buy anything and everything you need at a Wal-Mart or on Amazon without standing in line? And where else can you go out and drive on 4-lane highways and bridges across the flat prairies and majestic mountains of this great country, and do it all while you drink Mountain Dew, eat a Slim Jim and listen to Stevie Ray Vaughn? No country comes even close to America!
5. The view out my window – it is a privilege to live in Colorado. Clear blue skies, white snow, bright sun, majestic Ponderosa Pines. God is good. Colorado is where he lives. I'm grateful that he shares it with me.
4. My racquet-ball buddies – men need other men to bond with. We need guys to laugh with; to talk politics with; to talk smack to; to compete against. My racquet-ball buddies are all that and more. They are my best friends.
3. My sense of humor – I love it that I can laugh at anything, including myself. I love my silly streak. I like to cut up, especially with my siblings and parents, who taught me and nurtured my odd sense of humor. You should see us around the holiday table – napkin rings around ears, spoons hanging from noses – no utensil is safe from this bunch of comedians.
2. My health – My parent’s passed on their strong genes and taught me a healthy lifestyle that has kept me mainly healthy my whole life (along with a little luck and the fact that I used to eat dirt as a kid and thus built up some keen resistance to germs.) As I grow older, my body doesn’t always want to cooperate the way I think it should, but for the most part, it’s in pretty good shape.
And the number one thing I am thankful for is
1. My Family – I know that I am the luckiest boy in puppet-land because of the family I have. I’ve seen families that can’t agree and snipe at each other about all things, big and small. Though we certainly have our differences, we are as tight a family as you can imagine. My parents, my brothers and sisters, my kids, my aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and all the peripherals and step-relatives and extended families – they are the best and I love them all! And most of all, I love my wife, Marcia. After 35+ years, the spark is still there and the love is still strong. She is my rock and my foundation. She’s given me a very good life and I’ll be eternally grateful.