Unplug

Have you tried unplugging it and then plugging it back in?”

One aspect of my job as the Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources is to manage the Nation’s beef cattle operation. This helps break up the monotony of office work and allow some horseback and feed truck time! Pictured is our brand, “the Looped Square” which is taken from Muscogeean art found in the southeastern United States, the original homelands of the Creek Nation.

We’ve all been there, right? Term paper is due. Client wants their edited pictures now. The season finale of your favorite show is stuck at 80% loaded and Twitter is rife with spoilers. You promised your boss that you’d take care of that thing by quittin’ time, but the only thing quittin’ is your trusty technology. Panic sets in. You try to turn it off, hit the escape key like a woodpecker on a log cabin at 6 am, CTRL+ALT+DELETE, re-connect to wifi, pray, dance, change into your lucky shirt…no dice. 

So, you humble yourself and make the dreaded call to customer service. And they have the audacity to ask, in your moment of crisis, if you’ve tried the most basic technological fix known to man (but, did you?). The hard reset. Pull the plug. Unplug it and plug it back in. Before long, you’re thanking them for their contributions to society and settling back into whatever task seemed on the brink of ruin moments before. Look at you. An IT savant. No network is unconquerable!

Another aspect of my job involves working with youth that are interested in agriculture. Each summer, we take a group of Creek students to Washington DC for a week. Pictured here is the group from 2019, on the steps of my favorite DC building: the Supreme Court of the United States. The inscription in the building above the students says “Equal Justice Under Law.” Pretty good standard to pursue!

Why does it work? I know next to nothing about how computers do their thing (seriously, my wife is the techxpert in our home), but a quick google says it has to do with an information overload. Your computer is likely fine, just confused. Too many tabs open (seriously, get it together, y’all). Computer can’t compute. It’s like a traffic jam—traffic may not be moving, but that doesn’t mean the highway itself is broken. Unplugging the computer or router allows the computer to begin functioning again when power is restored because it starts from a “known state.” A clean slate, if you will. 

Baseball is a big deal at the Kissee household. My grandpa pitched well into his 60s, and Dad and I both played college ball. St. Louis Cardinals games were the soundtrack of my childhood. My family loves to go watch America’s pastime each summer. Go Cards!

Speaking of a fresh start, it’s springtime in Oklahoma, regardless of what your calendar says. Green grass is poppin’ up through the dormant range, baby calves are being born and all around the United States, baseball and softball diamonds are full of the sounds of leather poppin’ and sunflower seeds crackin’. I know lots of people like their fresh start on January 1st, but you can’t look at all the signs of spring and not think about new beginnings. 

I think spring is a particularly good time to reflect on our relationships. Isn’t everyone more easily tolerated against a warm, sunny backdrop? It’s no secret that the world is a tricky place and interactions with others do not always go as planned. We’re constantly bombarded with opportunities to pick sides and throw tomatoes at anyone that disagrees. It’s also election year (aren’t they all?) and the presidential primaries are in full swing (VOTE, people). But amidst all the shouting of opinions and drawing of arbitrary lines in the sand, I’d challenge you to examine your relationships, old and new. Most of us can think of at least one person we used to enjoy being around, but for whatever reason we couldn’t agree to disagree and now the relationship is at a standstill. You might not even remember the reason why you disagreed, you just know they were wrong and refused to see it. You can lead a horse to water, as they say.

Calving season is one of the busiest times for ranches, but it’s a sure sign that spring is around the corner! Pictured here is a newborn heifer calf, bedded down in some standing, dormant forage that we left for calving season. We tag heifers in the right ear and bull calves in the left. That way we can tell a little more about them as they run frantically around when they’ve got a little size on them and the warmer temps hit!

But truth be told, we probably miss some of the interactions with this person before that one. They might’ve even been our go-to when we had a difficult topic to grapple with or an opinion we needed to flesh out. We probably valued their opinion to some extent, or we wouldn’t have been wasting our breath arguing…right? Relationships with those around us are a vital part of our lives. Even for the most introverted of us, relationships and community are vital to the human spirit. We need interactions with others to be fulfilled. And others need us. 

We put a lot of emphasis on handling our livestock in a quiet, safe and efficient manner. Most of the time we use a horse and highly-trained cattle dogs. Pictured here at the waterin’ hole after a big drive are Earl Grey, trustiest steed in the Creek Nation Indian Territory, and my Border Collie, Sis. Sis now knows over a dozen commands, but typically works by using her instinct to herd and move livestock. Together, they move cattle with incredible precision and skill while I get to take in the beautiful eastern Oklahoma scenery!

So, back to that stalled relationship. I know there are things that people do and say that are far deeper than what I’m talking about here. And you should never gloss over toxic qualities in others that cause you harm. But for the sake of this discussion, forget needing an apology or admission of guilt because of an argument over a political candidate or a job prospect or a tattoo. Maybe your friendship with your old roommate or relationship with your brother or parent just needs a hard reset. You know they’re good people, y’all just had too many tabs open and next thing you know, the pinwheel of death popped up on the screen and neither of you have known where to turn to fix it.

My favorite way to reset a relationship: grab a cup of coffee, get around the table and talk about shared interests. Obviously, a big one around here is agriculture and specifically the beef industry! Pictured here is my favorite Pendleton coffee mug (they’re 20 ounces!) and the Oklahoma Cowman, official publication of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association.

Forgive me for being overly simple here, but, have you tried unplugging it and plugging it back in? No need to rehash the issue. No need to declare a winner. Just do a hard reset. It might take a little time (for whatever reason, the IT folks at my internet company make me stay awkwardly on the phone while I leave it unplugged for a whole 30 seconds), but I’m a firm believer that with enough good coffee or a couple nice ribeye steaks on the trusty cast iron skillet, common ground is pretty easy to find. And our best, most important work takes place on common ground.

Just don’t over sugar the coffee or overcook the steaks, y’all. Until next week, tell someone I love you today.

My family. My “why.” These are some family pics from a beautiful fall day in northeastern Oklahoma, taken by a good friend of mine named Bryce. Before you say it, I know I married WAY up.
My family. My “why.” These are some family pics from a beautiful fall day in northeastern Oklahoma, taken by a good friend of mine named Bryce. Before you say it, I know I married WAY up.

Thank you to Trent Kissee for filling in this week and covering for me on the Tell Someone I Love You blog. Follow Trent, his family adventures, book reviews, baseball info and the looped square crew at Trenton Kissee on Facebook, @tkissee13 on Instagram, @TKissee13 on Twitter and hopefully more future blog post here or on his own. His wonderful Casey has a cool blog at carryoncasey.com as well. Casey moved to Oklahoma when she was 19 with 2 suitcases in her hands from Devon, England and is beating Chiari Malformation! Check it out. He’s not lying when he says he married WAY up. Thank you again my friend.

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