October 23, 2011

Crap from our past...

Tonight I had dinner with the In-Laws.  Pretty good fare (corned beef & cabbage), and we brought a growler of beer from Sockeye Pub & Brewery.  Never bought a growler of beer before....that was interesting.

After dinner my Father-in-Law brought out this large box of crap.  This box-o-crap was salvaged from a couple of his cousin's safety deposit boxes.  Carolyn's Second Cousin died a couple months back and the remnants of the extended family (lots of only children, many without heirs) went out to do an initial sort of the estate.  The Cousin was a bit of a hoarder.  The "treasures" found inside these boxes were mostly pins of various types: political, educational, and some special groups (PTA, bowling, etc.)  There were also a few buttons and insignia from WWI.

When we got home I thought of some of my crap I have lying about.  I like boxes and tend to pick up ones that interest me.  Those boxes get filled with crap.  I went to grab one of my boxes and picked up another box that was with it.  One box is definitely not full of bona fide crap, but the other is filled with the same sort of stuff that my FIL was piling on the table for us to look through.

I thought it would be interesting to go through my box-o-crap.

Two boxes of many
First off, here is a shot of both boxes.  The wooden box was one of several I picked up when I was serving with IFOR (Implementation Forces) in Bosnia.  I just like the design on this thing.  A local artisian spent I don't know how much time carving this box so he could try to hawk it for a few bucks on the side of the road.  There was a decent amount of mortar shell art too, but I couldn't bring myself to purchase something made from an item that may have been used to commit genocide.  I'm a bit old-fashioned that way.  The blue box is special to me, but that will become apparent in the next paragraph.

The blue box is easy.  I got this a couple of years ago shortly after my maternal Grandfather's death.  His story is a long one I wish I knew more about, but I doubt that I will learn as much as I'd like to.  I do know that he grew up dirt-poor in Appalachia and ran away to join the Navy at 16.  He had to lie about his age to get in.  I know he made it to the top of the enlisted ranks before becoming an officer.  I know he met my grandmother on a train also serving as a troop transport and they married in (I think) San Francisco.  More germane to this blog post, my Grandfather was a Pearl Harbor Survivor.  He was aboard the USS Tennessee during the attack and at some point was trapped below deck and needed to be rescued.  The family was awarded this large medallion (?) after the funeral.  My mother obtained it after my Grandmother's death and gave it to me.  The memorial card has a brief prayer on the reverse, "Eternal rest grant unto him and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.  Amen" This box is definitely not full of crap.

The wooden box is filled mostly with medals from high school.  There are a couple of other items, such as my old HackMaster Association Member pin.  I actually have a couple of these pins.  For some reason I got new ones every year for a couple of years.  My first one, or at least I assume it is my first one, is still in the plastic baggie it arrived in.

Another item of my Grandfather's is one of his National Defense Ribbon medals.  My mother gave it to me along with the Pearl Harbor Survivor token.  He probably had a bunch of these over the years and who knows when he picked this up, but it was his.  This is significant to me because I've been awarded this particular ribbon/medal myself.

One of the many activities I was involved with in high school was National History Day.  A few students have been involved in NHD before me and one managed to make it to the State level.  My Freshman year I did a project about the Kiowa Indians for the "Conflict and Compromise" theme.  I managed to place 1st at the district level and 2nd at State.  That got me the opportunity to compete at the National level of National History Day.  My Sophomore year I switched over to the research paper event and got to State again.  I may have actually placed at State, but I'm not sure.  After they announced the winners I reviewed my judging documentation and realized they didn't add up my scores correctly.  I actually placed in a totally separate category!

Another activity I was involved with was Speech.  I went to State for Speech a few times and earned medals four times.  I cannot recall what two of those medals were for, but two were inscribed on the back.  In 1987 and 1988 I was part of a small group that competed in the TV News category.  We were given a large amount of fake news stories which we had to select a certain number of events, edit them, and then use them to put on a fake broadcast, which was taped for our entry.  We went "on the air" as WKED, which stood for Working for Killer Ed, the teacher in charge of Speech.  Good times.  Now that I think of it, I remember going to State for storytelling and I competed once doing a dramatic reading and another time doing some sort of debate.  Those weren't good times, but I competed anyway.

Yet another activity was Future Problem Solving Bowl, or "Future Bowl" for short.  This was generally a gifted and talented after-school activity. Future Bowl was a doozy.  We'd get a scenario describing some future situation in elaborate detail.  It'd be a messed up situation, like global warming, and we'd have to brainstorm a number of very specific problems from within the scenario. We'd then have to pick our "best" problem and brainstorm a number of solutions.  Then we'd have to pick our top five solutions, create judging criteria, and use that criteria to select our best solution.  The last step was to write up the solution.  The kicker was that we only had three or four hours to do all of this.  It really was an exercise in creativity and formalized brainstorming sessions.  I was in Future Bowl in junior high and the transition to high school kicked thing up a notch.  We competed every year and we went to State every year.  One of the things we did was learn generally how our work was judged.  When we brainstormed our required list of 20 problems, we made sure we had an environmental problem, an economic problem, a political problem, etc.  We also really had to learn time management because finishing the exercise in the allotted time was difficult.  I enjoyed Future Bowl with the exception of some of the competition at State.  At State they added an extra weird step.  We were given an odd assortment of school and craft supply odds & ends.  With this very specific pile of crap we were expected to create some sort of play/demonstration of our solution.  I think this was an attempt to make nerdy kids look utterly stupid on stage.  The only time this was done was at State, never at Districts or in normal practice sessions.  We ended up placing 3rd in the Skit competition two years in a row.  I have to admit I feel good being able to say I have more trophies in the school's trophy case than the rest of my family.

Another activity I was in....should I now mention that I was in every non-athletic extra curricular activity my school offered except French Club (I took Spanish) and Mock Trial? Oh and Band, I never took band.

I was on our school's Quiz Bowl team.  Have you ever seen Head of the Class?  It's an academic competition much like the one in that show.  It was fun.  We went to an assortment of school competitions and each one had it's own quirks.  I recall if we went to Missouri we would get more bibleish questions.  What was the shortest bible verse?  What Angels are given by name?  That kind of stuff.  The general layout of the matches was that there would be a pop-up question and if you answered that question correctly you would get the opportunity to answer a multi-part question.  Competitions ran something like a half-hour and they generally were double elimination arrangements.  To help make things run faster, many events had a 100 point rule.  If you were beating your opponent by 100 points they'd stop the match.  We went to the Van Buren County Invitational all three years I was in Quiz Bowl and we won all three years.  I remember the final match my first year because we won 390 to 10.  It was ugly......we were playing Van Buren in the final.

My Freshman year I also ran Cross Country.  I wasn't a very good runner.  I received medals at two meets, but this isn't saying much.  The one medal was for 9th place and the other was for 13th.  My family didn't put much stock in non-athletic extra curricular activities, but sports were important.  This was a feeble attempt to get my father to approve of me.  It didn't work.  Cross Country as a competition didn't work for me, but I later loved those rare times I got to go trail running and for a while I was running several miles at least a couple times a week.  That was until my knees started bothering me.  I've always been a little heavy set.  Never had much of a runner's body.  Football is where I probably should have focused my energy.  Allegedly the Coach wanted me to go out for football, but nobody told me that until the season was over.  Probably a story for another time.

Last, but not least, are some of the convention pins I have picked up over the years.  I have more, but these are the ones from the box.  There are pins from Origins Gamefair 2006, 2007, and 2008.  The last pin is from a small convention in Salt Lake City.  We went to the first one held.  I don't know if that one is still around.

We all pick up little trinkets throughout the years that may or may not hold special meaning to us.  Just how much of this ends up being crap?  I think that if my nieces and nephews had to sort through my boxes after I'm gone they'd have just as many questions and my In-Laws have sorting through their cousin's stuff.

If you lock it away in a box where it only sees the light of day every couple of years, is it really that important to you?




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