The Handbook

Foreword

This handbook is intended as a light hearted approach to the journey of males and females as they pursue their best self and a mate.  The focus of this handbook is on heterosexual relationships, not by exclusivity, but the limits of the authors in their practical experiences and sexual preferences.  The authors for the record, have 7 glorious children (6 of them girls) and 50 years combined of monogamous and monotonous dating then marriage.  They are centered on their wives and children. But both felt a burden and a calling to share their life experiences regarding female wants and male desires. And we both were really bored with our jobs. Our hope is a better understanding and relationship prosperity for the readers.  It is a handbook, to be read and reread, as you navigate the complexities of a relationship in today’s difficult world.  Ironically, the wants of women and the desires of men have remained the same over the years, despite a world who changes its hairstyle every day.  To protect the guilty, we will refer to actual characters as The Gal and as The Guy. Throughout the handbook we have highlighted in bold some Key Points for quick reference. We hope you will laugh, learn, reflect and find it useful. One of our goals as authors of this handbook is to make other people really uncomfortable with themselves and others. Then you will be ready to begin your successful journey!

James Judson & William Scofeld III

 

Struggle is the essence of being human 

To avoid the struggle, is to avoid the humanity

James Judson

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About the Title

Each of us perhaps has someone, something or an ideology that defines us and we hope to embody as a person. A Knight’s Tale site is based on a personal admiration for a fictional character the Dark Knight as portrayed by Christian Bale.  For the first time, the Dark Knight series made the concept of a Super Hero somewhat plausible in the real world.  The Dark Knight:

  • Sought to remain hidden and do rightful deeds without an audience or fanfare
  • Was willing to be blamed for misdeeds not of his creation
  • Was humanly vulnerable,  lost many battles yet continued to persist
  • Was willing to do the right thing, even when no one was watching
  • Fought for a better future for everyone
  • Despite the painful loss of love, resolved love and support from others
  • Had a strong commitment to his community

The Dark Knight was an elusive force, always protecting, never seeking an audience or gratitude and was willing to accede the undeserved blame from those he cared for so much.

Featured post

Introduction

Thank you for viewing my site.  I recognize everyone believes they can write, sing, act or be entertaining.   I have no such misgivings.  However, I do at times medicate myself through the power of observation, thought and writing.  It has been my escape route most of my life.

My first four blogs are an observation piece on Millennials and the world they live in, a light hearted co-authored Handbook on navigating today’s single life and dating, an two observation posts on a recent trip to New York City and a solo camping trip.   I hope they make you think and laugh.

-James Judson

 

Featured post

The Birth of Fire

Categorize this one as another “James goes camping” adventure, learns something neato and then has to narrate it. But regardless of the circumstances, I did witness and participate in an amazing process.

I went camping with my son for an overnight trip in a semi rustic tent site. The site was magnificent. A tunnel of native trees provided substantial shade, we were secluded from others, and 2 trees were perfectly spaced allies for our hammock. We were blessed with a cool breeze all day long masking the 90 plus temperatures. Our view was the portrait of Kansas; prairie grass fields, distant rolling hills with scattered trees, all supervised by cloudy dark blue skies above. It had to be what our Kansas pioneer ancestors witnessed every day.

One of the items on my son’s bucket list was to build fire with a Firestarter using the natural kindling of the habitat. Admittedly, my fires are started with man made aids and the whole event takes about 15 seconds. However, this time I brought with us a Firestarter and full disclosure, 6 cotton balls and some tiny twigs.

To be clear this was his effort. This was his idea. This was his bucket list. I was 4 beers in and was past any ambitions beyond the scenic view and the next round. Meanwhile over the course of an hour, my son gathered area leaves, twigs, and handfuls of dead prairie grass as conspirators for the fire.

As I watched him patiently, deliberately and intellectually create an environment conducive to fire, I observed many things I have never contemplated in 40 years of campfires.

The title of this article is not to be clever. I did witness a birth:
1. There is a lot of blowing
2. Each heating element, each contraction builds on its predecessor
3. It takes a really long time, with many starts and stops
4. It helps to have a good coach
5. To be successful there is only one outcome it is non-negotiable
6. If all goes well there is joy and celebration

Over the course of an hour, with numerous trials with different kindling, slowly fire revealed itself. Fire is not the end but the beginning of a strata of heat that must be created and maintained as the next stage is initiated. Dried prairie grass is highly flammable. It burns readily and quickly. And if the goal is to have a short lived fire, it is easily accomplished and we had several. What makes the flame endure is creating heat and slowly and methodically adding players to the mix each with the next level of flame and heat retention. Over time, these layers gain substance and ultimately a small piece of firewood can become the final installment. During this entire process, you must blow on the mixture constantly to create the heat. To make the point again, the constant blowing actually puts out the flame temporarily, but fuels the heat. If successful, heat triumphs and a fire is born.

To be fair, my son has his PhD in Theoretical Physics and I am certain his tenacity, intellectual curiosity and perseverance was the only reason I can proudly say I witnessed and participated in the birth of fire. Regardless, it was amazing.

Women’s Lives Matter

There is a credible, powerful untapped force in our society capable of significant social change. It is not the President, Congress or the Supreme Court. It is a large, diverse, semi-united group of people, many occupying the highest offices in private and public service (albeit disproportionately). They are the only minority in our society that can credibly protest without being labeled racist, illegal immigrants or other profiling by society to disarm their cause. They are Women.

The plight of women is historically a catastrophe in most societies and regions of our world. Even today, the physical, mental and emotional anguish endured by women every day is prolific. I am not a woman. I have a living mother, a wife and 2 daughters. I was raised to believe all men, women, colors, religions, races and orientations have a place in this world and everyone fundamentally should be treated as a human being first. This foundation plus my selfish interest in the propensity of my loved ones is enough cause for me to be concerned.

It bothers me that in my lifetime besides all the enduring racism, sexism, religious intolerance, gay bashing and polarization of our society, men and women are not getting along like they used to. I get it. Women are often underpaid, underrepresented in high office, victims of a government that uses their body choices for political candidates and pundits, and many have been sexual abused institutionally and privately. We now know of these occurrences because it is finally being revealed, chapter by chapter and it is certainly not a story anyone likes to tell or hear. Most stories of struggle either partner triumph with an enduring sense of empowerment, or it leaves the victim weakened, defeated, and perhaps angry at the outcome. This anger fuels the division of people and will determine the future outcomes of society and women’s roles. These defeats, absent enduring anger can foster a constructive path forward and can reshape the world with powerful force.

Game (Over) of Thrones

8 long seasons, it finally concluded
Bootlegging HBO, hidden and secluded
Dragon Queen dead, Jon back to the Snow
Bran and his stare, is all we will know

Tyrion sits as the hand of the throne
Brienne a Knight, no Jamie, alone
Sansa a victor has the North as her own
Arya hits the seas, tiny sword in her loin

So many parents regret their name choices
Daenerys a murderer, say now all the voices
The story ends, the new reign begins
Perhaps no more murder, Drogon and sins

The Departed

A coworker laid off with 25 years of service sent this note the last day of employment.

Please indulge me one last time.

Last night I had a dream. I was on a business trip with coworkers. We conducted our business meetings and started to depart for home. For some reason we took a train home (budget constraints)? We were all on the train but I decided to get off for a few minutes to get some souvenirs for my family. When I returned, the train had left. I was devastated and felt embarrassed, ashamed and irresponsible. It turns out the train departed a little early that day, an oversight by the Engineer. I sat there silent, very much alone, staring at my wireless phone realizing I had no one to call. They were all on the train going home.
A person I never met before who was watching me, caringly approached and said, “There is another train that leaves in a few hours. Just get on that one, you’ll be fine.”

Probably a lot of layers in that story, but most importantly how people come into your life, sometimes just briefly, but can make a significant difference. At one point you and I were strangers, and I am grateful I developed a friendship with you. Thank you for your friendship, kindness and laughs. I wish you all the best personally and professionally.

Learning Curve

I’ve learned that sometimes very bad people do very well in this world. Being a good person does not always ensure success, only that you are a good person. And we need good people.

I have learned that my race and gender frame the view I have of the world and will make me blind to my surroundings if I don’t look around.

I’ve learned that societies where women, children, minorities and the disadvantage prosper, often leads to prosperity for all.

I’ve learned that raising children is like a relay race and all you can do is do your best leg, successfully pass the baton and then bear witness to the finish knowing others must advance the cause never looking back.

I’ve learned wealth is like alcohol. Just enough can keep us satisfied, but too much makes everything become disoriented.

I’ve learned The Boomers are the last generation to live better than their parents, right before they took their parent’s legacy of a massive inheritance.

I’ve learned that many people who are successful do so with average abilities and above average drive, support and sponsorship.

I’ve learned that people are attracted to who they are attracted to. I’ve learned we spend more time and money trying to prohibit this, than prosecute those who violated the men, women and children under criminal or religious indiscretions.

I’ve learned that planning one’s course is often a luxury of those who are not faced with getting pass the immediate terrain.

I’ve learned that people who present themselves as a Hero, violate the character of heroism.

I’ve learned that I like people who like animals.

I’ve learned than some politicians enter the chambers as genuine public servants and exit serving themselves and a powerful few.

I’ve learned that in developed affluent nations, the elderly are isolated in their old age.

For Evergreen

The winter of 2019 in the Midwest has been brutal. I was fortunate that despite the record breaking snowfall and temperatures, the only mishap so far has been to my evergreens. I recently read a very (unintentionally) insightful article regarding the upkeep and care of evergreens during the winter months.
The evergreens in my front yard have been damaged and suffered an afflicting event beyond their control. Their only contribution to this was a mere existence in this world, in this area of ice and heavy snowfall. The article provided these guidelines:

– Evergreens are resilient and flexible
– The damage is probably not permanent
– A tie rope can be used to temporarily support the evergreens during the season
– Any support system after the season actually hampers the trees ability to support itself and becomes an obstacle for its continued growth

Sometimes we experience things in life that we either contributed to or not. Some individuals under extreme hardship and duress, demonstrate an astonishing will to survive. Sometimes we may need a support system either through family, friends or our governing agencies. And finally at some point, we all must unharness ourselves from those support systems if we want to continue to grow and maintain our freedoms.

Perhaps local, state and federal politicians and our society could learn a lot from these evergreens.

The Lay-Off

Samantha Williams opened the door to her oversized walk in closet. She scanned the guest room sized closet staging her arsenal. As a middle aged woman she was slowly losing the battle with her physical decline. She had always prided herself with her legs. Every free moment in her life, which was few as the VP of Marketing, was spent on a treadmill, set at 5% incline to avoid an avalanche on her legs and backside. Today was an important day and the wardrobe choice had to be perfect. One by one she eliminated pieces that didn’t cloak her insecurities. She chose a blue skirt and white top. It was her standby costume. In it, she felt confident, vibrant and in her view, showed off her legs, barley covering half of her thigh. She slide the dress over her calves and adjusted it until it rested snugly on her hips. In private thoughts she knew that this dress would capture the attention of her Senior VP, Jonathan Brood.

Samantha had progressed through the ranks quickly, although most never knew why. She had long hair, too long for her age, dried out from curling irons and stress. She was tall, attractive, had nice legs, but did not seem to possess any leadership traits expected of a VP. When she spoke, her words were bland, cautiously spoken almost as if to conceal a minor speech impediment that no one her upbringing admitted to. It was a nervous voice, the type to hide uncertainty. It was annoying to listen to as well. Checking her phone as she left the room there was a text. It was from Jonathan.

Looking forward to a productive trip 🙂 it said.

Samantha slide the keyboard on her phone, her long nails precluding her from most touch screen electronics, and replied.

I think we can accomplish a lot. See you there! 🙂

Professional encryption. She knew exactly what was on the agenda. Most of the activities would be after the day time meetings. Looking back at the mirror for a final assessment, her image now reflected reassurance from her morning text. She had been validated. Samantha made her final preparations to leave for the airport.
————————————————————————————
Jonathan Brood put down the phone and smiled, cautiously searching the room for his wife of 35 years. He would carry with him this morning the anticipation of Samantha‘s company during the day and night.
Jonathan Brood was the Senior VP of Marketing and Sales. He was a bald man in his 60’s. He was not blessed with a nicely shaped head, his baldness unveiling several imperfections in his skull. He was not particularly handsome either, a crooked face that lacked any symmetry with eyes that squinted from his refusal to wear reading glasses. He religiously visited the gym for confidence. His self-worth also came from Samantha, a woman 12 years his junior. But realizing his visual limitation early in life, he worked tirelessly to rise in the organization to salvage his identity. He was known as an outspoken tyrant, thrashing at his lead team with every word. Except Samantha.

The 3 day meeting was scheduled in Sanibel Florida. Jonathan was in charge of the logistics. The beach and hotel swimming pool would prove ground cover for swimming and swimsuits. Samantha packed three swimsuits. Nothing went unplanned. Two other VPs would attend. One was Kimberly Dawkins, an older seasoned female who despised Samantha for all she exemplified and her lack of performance and results, at least during the daytime. Kimberly was a confident, outgoing person, but quick to take an idea and claim it as her own. Jonathan liked and respected her, and often expected more from her than the others. A role she enjoyed. The final VP was Curt Johnson. He was a very religious man in his private life, but surrounded himself with corporate gorillas to buffer himself from the messy side of running the business. His small gang of loyal followers who were willing to do the dirty work earned him the nickname the Godfather among his closet allies. The perfect name to mix religion and underhandedness. He was fit from running and had full arctic gray hair. He had a nervous twitch that made any onlooker uneasy. Perhaps it was the internal dual between religion and corporate callings that overloaded his senses. Jonathan respected Curt, but always had a stern reminder of who was the boss, especially if Samantha was in the room.

The business purpose for the meeting was to discuss upcoming budget challenges and layoffs. A task very familiar to all four of them as the Energy industry was heavily regulated, extremely competitive and the company had made several billion dollar blunders in failed mergers, investments, executive compensation that left the company without a safety net, at least for the non-executives. Despite disrupting lives, marriages, families and employee’s personal security, the VPs all developed a cost saving plan like they were allocating life boats for the Titanic, but were already safely in theirs. To those in the boats, the water did not seem so cold and no one understood why such a fuss. They would employ that cold demeanor again as they met the latest budget challenge and headcount reductions. Although not a pleasant exercise, there would be time for fun on the beach at least.

Camping

I recently took a camping trip, solo at a nearby state park.  I planned on staying 3 days and 2 nights.  My wife and our family dog were to arrive day 2 to hike and spend the day with me.

I have learned many things while camping with my wife, family and dog. Most of them were revealed when solo.  Most of my reflections are based in the solitude of being near a fire, all alone, away from home, living out of a car and a small tent.  That last sentence usually divides people who either understand the liberation, or want no part of it.

I have camped in extreme heat, wind and cold but never rain.  I am always willing to forego camp site fees in lieu of getting drenched.  You observe so many things about the particular day.  The morning dew on the rainfly on your tent.  The moisture on the ground before the sun can find your campsite.  Using the sun as a dryer for clothes and camping paraphernalia. During the day the sun, clouds and wind are either your friend or foe in varying conspiracies.  I have witnessed at night, the wonderment of a moon that illuminates the evening in various stages overhead based on the seasons.  I learned that moonlight can be used as a natural porch light on a clear night.

During my last camping trip, I arrived the first day excited and nervous.  I knew my success was totally dependent on my own abilities to set up camp and get settled for the evening.  It was 60 degrees, there was a 15 mph wind, very cloudy, no sunshine at all and was somewhat chilly.  I needed to set up a shade tent to sit under and a 3 man dome tent for shelter.  Both of these should have taken about 30 minutes in total.  Because of the winds and lack of any assistance, it took me 2 hours.  I was proud of my accomplishments as I am not known in any circles as a patient person.  This was indeed a personal victory as I erected both structures, inch by inch, in winds that did not want me to succeed. It was on this day later in the evening I enjoyed my most impressionable moment.  All day I was cold, the wind was unrelenting, and the sun was hidden by a blanket of thick clouds.  I was safe, just inconvenienced a little.  As the evening came I sat by the fire, full from dinner, drank a beverage and watched the evening sky line.  Over the course of 30 minutes I watched the most magnificent sunset.  I took numerous pictures as the storyline of this sunset unfolded.  Finally, the last picture I took on my phone showed a bright orange sky layered in colors.  It occurred to me that even the darkest, cloudiest days we encounter, can sometimes have the best endings.

The Crow

Although admittedly crazy to reveal, for the last 3 years I have camped at a particular site we enjoy.  Every spring, summer and fall, every visit, a large black crow eventually perches on a nearby dead tree and caws.  Every morning, every visit, he caws at the moment of sunrise and wakes me up unwillingly.

It is possible it is not the same crow.  It is possible they are merely random events with no connection.  But it happens every visit.  During my last visit after looking around for anyone who might see me, I verbally spoke to him as a guest of his habitat.  I would speak and conclude.  He in turn would caw and finish.  We both would take turns, never interrupting, each of us with our story to tell. This went on for 3-4 minutes.  Eventually he flew away off to his rounds that day.  But somehow when we are all alone, away from others and the trappings of our lives, there is great pleasure in believing, even if mistakenly, that a black crow can remember and associate you as an enduring friend.  I believe this crow does.  I have photographed my friend many times. This last time I was too intrusive with my phone and missed my opportunity to document the latest installment of our kinship.  I will reunite with my friend the next visit I hope.

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