My very own epic fails, part 1

I had an epic fail yesterday so as I laughed at the mistake I made, I thought about other times in my life where I’ve had major goof-ups. A few solid ones came to mind, and a few that I was hoping I’d forget about. The first I’ll share with you takes place in a Coast Guard Day softball game. My dad was in the Coast Guard and on this particular day, he let my brother and I play in the softball game. I was probably 12 or 13 at the time. I had seen this on TV so at one point when I hit a ball to the infield, I decided to slide into first base… head first. Let’s just say I ended up back in the dugout because the mud I slid in wasn’t as slippery as I thought it would be. Dove towards first, slid a little, stopped sliding before I even reached first base! Embarrassing. Then to top it all off, I cried. What a sissy.

There’s another embarrassing softball story, but this was in college. And again, I was sliding. I rounded second base and sprinted towards third. The throw came in and the third baseman tagged me, I was out. But we were arranged in such a way that when he pulled out of the tagging position, he had to toss my legs to the side. I took that as an arrogant assault so I became visibly angry. Realizing I took this the wrong way, he offered his hand to help me up, to which I rejected and popped up on my own. Unfortunately I got up too fast for my own good and ended up falling backwards. It was the most embarrassing moment of my college career, and that includes the few times I crashed my bike riding down a hill.

Another epic fail while I was in college involves my brother, yet again. This time it was his college graduation. Me, being the techy video fanatic, brought along my video camera to record the once-in-a-lifetime event. It was a great day! The battery was charged, I had a tape in the camera and things were looking up. I recorded clips throughout the ceremony and when it was his turn to walk across the stage, I was ready. Or so I thought. Checking the video afterwards, I made a giant mistake. You know how sometimes you can be recording when you don’t think you are, then not recording when you do think you are? So I recorded him walking up the ramp to the stage, then nothing, then him walking back to his seat. I completely missed him receiving his accolades as he shook hands with faculty crossing the stage. I’m such an idiot!

I owe an apology to my brother-in-law for the next epic fail. It was a beautiful day in the Gulf of Mexico. The guys in my family went out for a fishing trip in hopes of catching grouper, snapper, rock bass, whatever we could. My bro-in-law hooked something big. It took him a good while to reel it in, and whatever it was put up such a fight that we all took turns reeling. Towards the end he took the pole back and I assigned myself video duty. It was a huge nurse shark from about 90 feet down! It was amazing. I’d show you the video here but much like the disaster that was my brother’s graduation, I hit record to capture the event, only to realize when I hit the button to start recording, it was actually stopping the recording. I got about a 1-second view of that big fish. Dang it, Ben!

And to circle back around to my most recent epic fail… it was yesterday. I set out to capture the total solar eclipse in video fashion so I planned and prepped. Practiced and packed. On eclipse day I was ready. I arrived a couple hours ahead of time to get a good spot. I wanted to record 2 separate videos… 1. A 360-degree view of the park where I watched the eclipse and 2. a timelapse of the Parthenon there at the park. The 360-video went off without a hitch, but when I went to start recording the images for the time-lapse on my GoPro, the information window said “no SD card.” My attempt at a cool time-lapse was eclipsed by my own silly forgetfulness. As it turns out, I was practicing time-lapse shots in my back yard and after transferring footage from the SD card to my computer, I forgot to return the SD card to the GoPro. Soooooooo instead of a cool shot of the Parthenon, enjoy my practice time-lapse of mushrooms in my back yard. You’re welcome, America!

-Out of the Wilderness

 

 

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That time I thought my dad was gonna freak out!

I’ve been nervous around my dad many times. And for all sorts of reasons but as a youngster it was mostly because I had done something wrong and punishment was coming down, sooner or later. Or other times growing up like when he was teaching me and my brother and sisters to water ski or basically teaching us to do anything near the water. That was his domain, hey he was in the Coast Guard for 27 years! If we couldn’t get it, we were sent to the poop deck!

As a young adult it was less about discipline coming from the former Coast Guard captain, and more about what he might say in front of friends about his single sons! “Any single girls out there… with insurance??” he would say.¬†

That line of questioning is an ongoing saga/joke in our family, but ya know what? I’m really happy to have a dad who cares about my life, even when he tries to play matchmaker. But I promise this isn’t about my life as a Hallmark movie, so moving right along…

This post is about back when I was in middle school in Stafford, Virginia. The years we lived there we attended Mount Ararat Baptist Church pastored by Dee Williams. We were faithful churchgoers on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday nights, too. My brother, who was year and a half older than me back then, and I had a lot of the same friends, and one was Daniel.

Daniel was out riding his bike one day. I think it was some kind of bicycle ride fundraiser thing. He had a 10-speed so the tires were really skinny. Well, partly because of that, when Daniel’s front tire hit a rock, Daniel went over the handlebars. It was bad. He hit the pavement face first and was rushed to the hospital. He had to have surgery, stitches, all that, but I don’t remember the exact extent of his injuries, except that it was bad.

So the first weekend that Daniel was back home, my brother and I wanted to visit him. He lived across the street from the church. Sunday we all spilled out of the van but instead of going to Sunday School like we were supposed to, my brother and I went over to see Daniel. Well, long story short, we ended up hanging out with him and missing church completely!
Red Fang GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

We were in for it.

“What, you don’t love God anymore!???” our dad would challenge.

“You’re terrible people.” he would say.

“Wash the van with your tears and a small rag!!” he would demand.

But it wasn’t like that at all. In fact, it was so much the opposite. Our dad was actually proud of us.

The day went on as a usual Sunday but I won’t ever forget the surprise of that day. I was expecting a fatherly fallout, a patriarchal poop deck punishment, a dad discipline to match the offense of missing a church service. Instead it was a pat on the back. He asked how Daniel was doing. He knew something I didn’t know way back then: relationships trump ritual every day of the week.

My relationship, and my brother’s, too, with Daniel was more important that day than going to Sunday School, than sitting to hear a sermon from Dee (sorry pastor, wherever you are!), than going through the motions of being a Christian. So on an pretty ordinary Sunday I learned something about my dad and from my dad:

  1. My dad is full of surprises.
  2. God is more interested in relationships than rituals.
  3. Sometimes it’s OK to skip church. ūüėČ

Thank you Dad, and happy Father’s Day from your slightly more favorite son!

-Ben

All the places I’ve lived, and a favorite memory from each

coast-guardMy dad was in the Coast Guard, so that meant a lot of moving around. Before I was born, my family had already been up and down the east coast, and spent some time on the west coast, too. My oldest sister was born in Key West, next oldest sister¬†was born in Monterey, CA and then my brother in Virginia. When it was my time, the family was back in Key West. I was there for a short time before we moved out west. Here’s the list!

born: Key west, FL (December 26, 1978)

Hawaii – I was just a little guy here, about a year old, so I have three memories: attending a luau, going into a building, and going under a bridge (or tunnel?) on the way to a beach. I guess the luau is my favorite because I remember looking across and seeing my baby sitter.

Hollywood, FL РStarted my academic career here at Sheridan Hills Christian School. Favorite memory: Our family took a lot of boat trips. We went down to the keys, spent nights on the water, I got sea sick for the first time, and still, these trips are easily my favorite memory!

me as 4th grader 2St. Petersburg, FL Р Attended Maximo Elementary School for 2nd and 3rd grade. Favorite memory: At school I met a friend that made me laugh so hard all the time. To this day, I measure everyone else against him. He was so funny. One of my least favorite memories: My funny friend was not at school one day, then not there the next day or the next. A few days later, his mom came in and picked up his things. I never saw him again!

Newport, RI – This is where I attended 4th grade at Underwood Elementary. Favorite memory: touring all the mansions, like these.

the-breakers

The Breakers. 62,000 square feet! 

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Rough Point. 39,000 square feet and 105 rooms!

A tie for favorite: all the lamborginis. Not sure why there were so many, but it was somewhat common to see one driving around the city. And Saabs. Lots of Saabs.

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5th grade at Widewater.

Stafford, VA – I was a 5th grader at Widewater Elementary School then moved to Stafford Middle School for 6th and 7th grade. These are my favorite years from growing up. I made great friends that I still have today. One favorite memory: trick or treating on Halloween one of the years. Somehow a friend and I got separated from our group of friends, but he and I still went around to so many houses. That was a fun night! Also, our house was situated on a golf course so we’d go out there to play football, capture the flag, flashlight tag, and hmmm, maybe hit some golf balls. I also came up with a list of things that happened in middle school that absolutely would not happen in today’s world. Here’s a link to that:

[11 Things You Can’t Do In School Anymore]

Miami, FL – Westminster Christian School for 8th – 10th grade. Favorite memory: being on the JV basketball team. And it was in 10th grade I had my first kiss. I know, I was late to the party! ūüôā

New York, NY – Curtis High School for half of 11th grade. Favorite memory: I got to see a taping of David Letterman. It was really fun. We lived on Governors Island, so it was nice to have a place with grass, and trees, unlike most of New York City back then! Also, riding a ferry past the Statue of Liberty every day on the way to school was pretty neat.

Tallahassee, FL – Finished 11th and 12th grade at Leon High School. My dad retired from the Coast Guard in 1996 so we moved back towards family in Florida. Favorite memory: this is getting difficult because with each place, I have more than one favorite! But to name a few, I’d say my aunt’s lemon squares, my grandfather driving 120mph in his Isuzu Trooper to get me to school, pb and j lunches at The Brown Bag Express, basketball with friends, and graduating from the same high school my mom graduated from.

Note: I stayed in Tallahassee for college, as well. I have so many great memories in those 4.5 years. Too many to pick one!

Nashville, TN – This is where I’ve lived since the mid-2000s. Also too many great memories to pick one at the moment. So I’ll go with the lame answer: My favorite memory of Nashville is all of them. ūüėČ

-Out of the Wilderness

The Case of the Missing Retainer

I was a junior in high school living in New York City. We had just moved there from Miami, Florida, where we had been for 3 years. Our stay in New York wasn’t for long, only 6 months because my dad retired from the Coast Guard. We couldn’t continue living on the military base (Governor’s Island) so we packed up and moved to Tallahassee, Florida. I wasn’t sad about the move because during the 6 months I was able to do make some memories: snow skiing, sitting in the audience for a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman, playing flag football, learning how to type fast, trying out for the school basketball team, and whitewater rafting with my dad. But one thing I wasn’t able to do was get my braces taken off.¬†I was in 9th grade when I got them. Why? Well, let’s just say the theme song for my teeth was Fleetwood Mac’s…

Some people had buck teeth. I had a buck tooth. And none of my other teeth pointed the right way either. I got braces in Miami, kept them in New York, and it was my senior year at Leon High School (go Lions) in Tallahassee when they were finally removed. “Phew! Just in time for my senior pictures!” But it was in New York that the unsolved case of the missing retainer happened.

One night, a lot like any other, I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed. I dutifully inserted the retainer which I was supposed to wear while I slept. However, when I woke up the next morning, it was gone. Ruh roh Raggy. I checked everywhere. The bathroom trash. My bed sheets. Under the bed. Beside the bed. Under the pillow? Nope. Days went by and the retainer was still missing in action. When it came time to move, I thought, “OK, now that retainer will turn up!” It didn’t. To this very day, I can’t explain what happened that night. The only chance of reopening this cold case is to find the retainer in the box of my stuff in my parent’s attic. And honestly, I hope it’s not there. That would be gross. Can you imagine the smell? Of course, I’m curious how much a vintage 1996 retainer would go for on eBay.

The moral of the story is that sometimes things just go away and you have to be alright with that. It could be a retainer or it could be a person you love. In the end your teeth might still be a little crooked and so might be the path you take, but you should still smile, and smell the roses along the way.

-Out of the Wilderness

Where Are All the Men

Last week I saw¬†a rerun¬†of Friends. At one point, Chandler was asked to do some handy work, and he said to wait while he goes to get his wife’s tools. I was struck immediately with the thought, “Is this the American man now?” That episode probably aired ten years ago, of course, so I understand it’s a bit outdated. But I wonder if there are more Chandler Bing’s out there now. Men who are not tough.

I remember when men on tv were ones I could look up to, men with character that were chivalrous and strong: MacGyver, Cliff Huxtable, Uncle Jessie, possibly Danny Tanner (although he wasn’t very tough except in the episode where he dressed like a rockstar to play at D.J.’s fundraiser), Mr. T, the father on Boy Meets World, Tom Selleck, James Garner and Tony Danza (Who’s the Boss?).

But over the course of a couple of decades they’ve turned into Charlie Sheen (Two and A Half Men), the guys on Big Bang Theory, Barney Stinson, the¬†Situation, and¬†professional athletes¬†that get in trouble for domestic violence. It seems like men in the spotlight now are either over the top, or way under the top. Womanizers, or pansies. We’re persuaded to tolerate those kinds of guys and that tolerance creates more of those kinds of guys. We mock the jerks on The Bachelor, and yet we tune in every week to watch. I guess I’m just tired of seeing the pansification of men in America. I’m tired of contributing to it.

Bring back the men that open doors for women, that don’t call or text after 10pm. Men that can budget money. Guys that play football on the weekends and go to church, too. Men that are less concerned if their fingernails are clipped and more concerned about securing leaks in the house. Men that rough house with their kids, nieces or nephews but will not tolerate outsiders who do the same. Men that care less about matching their shoes with their belt, and more about making a woman feel pretty and wanted. Men that get down on one knee to ask their girlfriend to marry them not inspite of¬†it being old-fashioned but¬†because it’s old-fashioned.¬†Men that would give their life to protect the ones they love. They drive trucks. They have a dog. They may even cuss a little when they get fired up. They eat horse radish because it puts hair on their chest. It’s ok to have calloused hands. It’s ok to believe in something and disagree with someone who believes differently. Tolerance is for the birds.¬†Buck up and be a man. Respect women. Cook burgers and steak. Grill¬†chicken and eat all of it that night. Eat broccoli because it’s healthy, but it’s ok if you don’t enjoy it. Eat a salad and take care of your body.¬†Excercise and get strong. Compete. Compete fairly. Own tools and use them. Be old-fashioned. Don’t be a Chandler. Be a Fred Wilder. He plays the drums. He travels weekly. He’s been married for over¬†forty years to one lady, my mom. He still enjoys washing his car and hers on the weekend. He was in the Coast Guard for twenty-seven years and served in Desert Storm. So he’s tough, but he also likes Hallmark Channel movies. He’s got a truck and a beagle. He has four grown kids that he makes an effort to see or talk to regularly.

He’s¬†an example of what men should be. Well, he and MacGyver.