Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Shia LaBeouf and Moi

Maureen and I saw “Eagle Eye” at the local Deluxe Theater.

Once the action started, it hardly slowed down for any turns, taking some of them on two wheels. I was hanging outside the passenger seat window, flapping in the slip-stream. I don’t believe I exhaled until the end of it. I know others could hear me sounding like a semi on and off the air-brakes.

Today I caught the rerun on HBO and the movie had lost none of its ability to scoop a viewer up and take them for one hairy ride.  I don’t recall at what point in the movie it struck me, but I told myself that Shia looked an awful lot like me when I was sixteen or seventeen years old.

So I did a search on Google for images of him to put along side some of my own I had in my possession thanks to my slideshow project I turned into Christmas presents.

scan0114 Shia LaBeouf3

scan0111 - Copy

So…What do you think?  Am I imaging things?

Bet you can’t tell which is which….Right?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What is MOACA?

Men of a Certain Age is a new series brought to us on TNT.  YES! TNT does know drama and dramedies too judging by this latest presentation.

I can’t help it; I like Ray Romano and have ever since I watched the first episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. I’ve watched the reruns and rented it from Netflix. Loved it the third time around.

My favorite episode is the one where Marie had baked a Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake and left it out on her kitchen table while visiting at Raymond’s house. Of course, a big quarrel broke out and the men ran out, then over to Marie’s kitchen, sat around the table with a fork for each and talked while slowly devouring Marie’s cake.  Marie called on the phone; they let it go to the answering machine while continuing to scarf down the cake.

The more Marie talked, the faster those three went to eating.  When she said “Are you over there eating my special cake?”  You should have seen the forks flying then. Then, when she said “I’m coming over there and you had better not be eating that cake” and with that those three packed their jowls while slowly raising up from their seats and leaning toward the back door. Robert tripped as he followed Ray and his Dad to the door.  Those two paused at the doorway, trying to decide if they should go back and help poor Robert.

Robert cracked me up as he called out to them…

“Save Yourself!”  I could hardly breathe after that remark.

If that kind of humor is what you are expecting when you watch Men of a Certain Age, forget about it. This is a different kind of humor.  Still, it is very funny in spots.

The cast is great Joe (Ray) plays the owner of a party supplies store who is separated from his wife. Scott Bakula plays Terry, a man who considers himself a real “Playa” in street jargon. His conquests are many and he doesn’t know what commitment means.  Then there is Owen. Is he ever a piece of work. Andre Braugher plays Owen. He works at a car dealership; one his father owns. Recently demoted and looked down upon by his own father (who could imagine such a relationship) Owen is the only “married” one of the three. He has diabetes, is overweight, ( I really relate to him) and hates his job.  No kidding!

Joe(Ray) has a gambling problem.  I know what that’s like. Thank God I saw the light before it destroyed me and now I won’t even buy a scratch-off but I root like everything for Maureen and Gail when they buy Powerball and regular Lottery tickets. I’d be a winner by proxy that way. 

Joe(Ray) isn’t a great father but he’s trying to become one since he realized his shortcomings as an afterthought that came to him while mulling over the “Whys” and “What-ifs” of his separation and soon to be divorce if things don’t change between he and the wife, who; it turns out, was cheating on him with a teacher she had in a local college while trying to improve her resume so she could get a better job and be more self supporting. WHEW! What a sentence that was. Sorry!

The realization that one is “middle-aged” is no picnic. Those mid-life crisis experiences can be pure hell. I recall my own when I was 43.  I guess that’s why I like this series so much. I can relate to the reality these three men are experiencing at this awkward time in most men’s lives.

Three men at that certain age, trying to adapt to life’s changes, maintaining a friendship and continuing to bond with one another, all the while desiring to be better men, better friends and sharing life’s pitfalls and obstacles, celebrating victories and failures together.

We are into the season already. If you haven’t joined me yet, perhaps you’d be better off trying to catch up on their website where full episodes are made available for late comers.  Please give it a chance; then make up your mind. It may not be for everyone.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Christmas to remember

I cannot recall the last time I spoke these words, but today I can honestly say,

"We had so much FUN this year at the family's annual Christmas Eve gift exchange dinner."

I can also state that Maureen and I have never put so much time and energy into the gifts we were presenting to our sibling, family members. I know, Christmas is said "to be for children" but not this year; not in this family. If I'm remembering accurately, there was only two children under the age of ten years present at this gathering. The children's time would come either later in the evening back at their homes or Christmas morning when they would gather around their family's Christmas tree.

It was a few years ago when all the grown-ups got their heads together and seriously discussed the concerns of several heads of families about whether we could afford to continue to buy and give gifts to all the children in our huge extended group, what with the average family income being what it was and how there was little hope for much improvement in the near future. We decided that no one would continue to do so. Let's face it, our family was growing at a never before known rate when it came to the number of children there was to buy gift for. It was time for everyone to tighten their respective belts.

Even Santa knows these are desperate times for millions of families throughout the nation.

You couldn’t tell it from this photo of my daughter and me on Christmas Eve.


We had just eaten a superior buffet style dinner and were enjoying the good spirits displayed by all present.

Maureen began working on this year’s gifts last January. She dedicated countless hours to each gift she created in her spare time.  She’s retired but still works three to four days a week at her part-time job as a check-out clerk for one of our local supermarkets. That job cuts deeply into her spare time so whenever she sat down to watch the evening TV line-up with me, she had her crocheting box along side and worked while she watched.

Do you have any idea how long it would take most folk to crochet seven very large afghans?  Each one required approximately thirty dollars worth of yarn. Add the value of her time and you still would be guessing trying to place a price on one.  Beautiful and of higher quality than most due to the expertise she had developed over the many years she has spent perfecting her technique, I’d say that calling one of her creations “priceless” is not a stretch of the truth.

When our hosts opened their gift, they immediately reached out and grasped me in a big hug. I assumed that was their reaction to my giving them the present. I could only say “You are hugging the wrong person,” Maureen did ALL the work involved. With that they rushed off to find her. I followed until they found her and  they in turn, hugged her even harder than they did me, also expressing their gratitude fervently. Doug, whom evidently was thinking about obtaining an afghan for someone close and dear, asked Maureen what she would charge to make a special afghan for him.  She thought about it and estimated a price of two hundred dollars. Doug was surprised and assured her that she was way under pricing her creations.

My gift to everyone was a two hour long memory disk of old family photos in the form of a slideshow with special affects and my personal pick of appropriate background music from my “Favorite songs” folder.

I too had spent many hours gathering photos from various family members, going though every box that was given to me, selecting what I considered to be the most thought provoking and comment or question generating images. My brother, one of the hosts, took a disk, placed it in his DVD player and got it started. People came from all over the house to sit or stand where they could to share the experience. Their reaction was exactly what I expected. Questions were shouted out as never before seen faces appeared on the large TV screen in black and white.

Several people commented on my excellent choice of music and most had something to say about how someone on the screen had changed, either for the better or worse. The friendly, verbal pokes and prodding went on endlessly.  You know how siblings and other relatives can be at such gatherings. There was a few cat-call or whistles when someone’s shorts were too short or a female had adopted their version of a sexy pose or a young, buff, male displayed all his beefcake attributes and looked very proud while doing it.

Everyone present seemed to love the show and wanted me to assure them that their copy would be exactly like the preview presented. It was cut short because no one would want to experience all that for two hours. There were presents to be shared and gushed over. Also there was desserts to follow the previous feast, enjoyed along with contributed, favorite, family stories.

It may be a while before this year’s event is topped. Maybe it can never be…topped that is.

I only hope everyone had a gathering like this and came away, refreshed and rejuvenated about Christmas as this old man did. Perhaps it isn’t hopeless after all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


My LIPS have sunk no ships, but they have hurled verbal stones that crush egos and diminish self-esteem.

My LIPS conceal a weapon so fierce one dare not draw it from it scabbard.

My LIPS have cursed God and in the next instant, kissed the cheek of my precious child.

My LIPS have brought me great shame and regret because they expressed the contents of my heart.

My LIPS have invited many strokes upon my face and knew no remorse.

My LIPS have become thin lines, barely perceptible, compressed by my will in an attempt to still their anger and wrath.

My LIPS one day found other lips upon which they were pressed with great passion and desire and were changed.

My LIPS tasted genuine love, a love that taught them to grin with pleasure, then smile broadly with joy.

My LIPS learned to confess unspeakable truth in repentance, to beg for forgiveness and allow the breath of renewed life to pass through them.

My LIPS will, when the time comes, form words of thanks to my God as their last deed, for these lips have become instruments of love.

Then my LIPS will say “Good-bye; I pray that they have learned to love well.”

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Looking out through a broken Windows7 aftermath

12/12/2009 7:50 AM

I had read a little about this new Windows7 software I was waiting on. Chuck Sigars said his upgrade was working well, so that placed my mind at a little more ease. I wish I could say the same...NOW!

I purchased this computer back in June of this year. It came with the promise of a FREE upgrade as soon as it was released. The expected release date was Oct 22, 2009. I made my application for said FREE up grade a day or two after that date. My package of disks and instructions finally arrive on Dec 7th. I should have seen that infamous date as a sign of impending disaster but I have always been naive.
I'm so glad I managed to get those gift DVDs created that I was giving for Christmas before I began the up grade.

I followed the giant sheet of step-by-step instructions more carefully than I've ever followed any other instructions before. It didn't matter. When I was through, I had a full-blown computer disaster on my hands. There was nothing I could do but take it back to the Geek Squad at Best Buy. They promised me results; results I paid in full for before I left the store. Two days later they called with an apology about not being able to retrieve my personal information. They said all the files had been totally corrupted. "Corrupted!" Corrupted by what? I did get a refund of charges for the failed recovery of my personal information. I'd rather they kept the money and fulfilled the recovery.

It took me a few years to realize the value of backed-up computer files. I am also thankful for the fact that my sister-in-law is currently using my old computer...the one with all my user info still intact. I'm also glad that I thought to purchase one of those small, Flash-drives. It sure came in handy as I manually restored all my document files and music.

I need to use this Windows7 software up grade a while longer before I can pass judgment on whether it was worth all the trouble and expense I've experienced. Geek Squads don't work for peanuts.

I'm very glad to be back in the blogosphere's polluted atmosphere adding to the contaminates.This is a very abridged version of all I've thought and said over the last few days related to Microsoft. I'm sure you don't want to be bored for that long, so I spared you. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

So - This is Christmas?

Oh My! How times and I have changed. I’m just baffled by my attitude and no matter what I do trying to get it back to normal, if anything; it gets worse.

I hate winter – I hate snow and ice – I hate being cooped up in the house with its dry, stale air.  I hate having dry, flaky, itchy skin all over my body. I hate having colds, runny nose, choking cough and that general feel bad ache all over. I hate to even think about having the flu. Isn’t it bad enough, being deprived of sunshine and fresh air for months on end, totally dreading next month? January – what a total waste of calendar space. Do you have any idea how much I wish I could hibernate with the Bears and other wild creatures? Just to sleep until Spring; what a blessing that would be.

Instead, I can’t even sleep normally, like ALL NIGHT LONG! I wake three or four times each night, sit up and listen to the cold wind howling around the storm door and shudder at the thought of what it would be like to be outside right now. Wouldn’t you think I’d be glad just knowing that I DON’T HAVE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE IF I DON’T WANT TO? The thing is; I do want to – I NEED TO most desperately. I have gifts to buy for people for Christmas.

Okay! I’m forced to admit it. It appears that what I hate is this Holiday Season and most of all, CHRISTMAS. BAH! Humbug! I’m worse than Scrooge ever thought about being. Not even a few ghosts taking me on spiritual journeys into the past and future could make a dent in my attitude. I don’t have anything against people; I love people. I even like to give them gifts when I have them on hand, but that’s just it, they aren’t on hand. They need to be shopped for and purchased, and wrapped. I’ve given away many of my prized possessions just so I didn’t need to go shopping. If that isn’t desperate, I don’t know what is.

I haven’t always felt like this.  I can remember thirty-two years ago, I was just dating my present wife. We walked hand-in-hand, down the sidewalk in front of all the stores along the main avenue of Newport's shopping center. I had just gotten a very large Christmas bonus from my employer. I had six hundred dollars in my pocket and I didn’t know how to deal with it. It’s a good thing that my girlfriend had her wits about her. She was my advisor. She kept me thinking straight.

Everything was perfect! I was at the mercy of the Christmas Spirit. The lights and decorations, the music and the weather were as they should be at Christmas time. The Lion’s Club had their little booth all set up. The long tray down the entire front covered with chicken wire so no one could do a “snatch and run” theft from the contributions laying there. Coins tossed into it had no problem getting through. You could even contribute a bill of any denomination by rolling it up and sticking it through one of the grid openings. A little further along, there was the Salvation Army’s representative, ringing his little bell, holding that can with the slot in the top. Still a bit further was one of Santa’s Elves, dressed in his Santa costume, standing beside that cast iron pot, ringing his bell too. I put something into every one I came to. It felt so good to give. I had it to share, so why not? Maureen thought it was great that I felt so charitable and generous.

Snow was falling, bells were ringing, carols were permeating my whole being from all directions. People we passed were smiling and laughing, really enjoying the atmosphere and I felt just like them; HAPPY! The air was cold and crisp. I liked being able to see my breath as I exhaled. It was exactly as it should be. It was Christmas!

I’ll never forget those times. The sights, sounds and smells can still be conjured up within my mind. All of that can still be found today. But, where is the happiness and joy?

Last Sunday, I went through my music files on the computer. I have a great music collection, all MP3.s. Over 2.6 GB of them and many of them are Christmas songs. I cued up a long play list, cranked up the volume a bit and let the music waft throughout the whole house. I suppose I was hoping that if I listened to enough Christmas music, that would somehow affect my attitude. It affected it alright, in a negative way. Celine Dione came on singing “So, this is Christmas?” I don’t recall hearing that one before. I ran upstairs and started it over again so I could focus and hear the lyrics. By the time she was done singing, I was in tears.

So, this is Christmas – and what have you done?
Another year over – a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas – I hope you’ve had fun
The near and the dear ones – the old and the young
A very Merry Christmas – and a Happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one – without any fear
And so this is Christmas – for weak and for strong
The rich and the poor ones – the war is so long
And so Happy Christmas – for black and for white
For yellow and red ones – it’s tough where they fight

Those words are in such strong contrast to the true message of Christmas.

The Book of Luke, chapter two:
8: And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9: And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10: And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12: And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13: And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And so – this is Christmas – or what it was intended to be

When Christmas becomes what God intended, then and only then will this old man know true joy and happiness.

Happy Holidaze

There is no other time of year which can affect the human spirit the way the up-coming Holiday season can.  Who can explain the sudden change in behavior, the constantly present smile seen on practically every face, the welcoming warmth of total strangers, the hustle and bustle of everyone, everywhere.  You just know they aren't really in control of all they are involved in, but they do radiate that feeling.

Picture this scene, a clan, a tribe or a family gathered together under one roof.  There may be as many as four generations represented by those present.  Ages range from the late nineties to only days old.  Every chair and most of the available floor space is occupied by at least one individual.  No closet can hold the winter apparel of this great horde of human flesh, so one bedroom is chosen for temporary storage.  This system has never proved successful, some articles remain lost to this very day.  I suspect they ended up in the same place all of those missing socks find their way to, sort of an Elephant burial ground for lost items.

It is a time of seemingly endless small miracles.  Everyone was able to clear up their busy schedules and converge on a single location at an appointed time.  It is hard to say exactly how it is accomplished, but somehow all of that wonderful food is ready on time and the table is set.  Differences between individuals are forgotten for this time and there are friendly handshakes, compassionate hugs, and loving kisses spread around everywhere.

The aromas which hang in the air, the cheerfulness and joy in every heart, the atmosphere of togetherness, the peace which seems to control everything, and everyone.  These conditions and circumstances exist all over the world.  National boundaries do not confine the Spirit of this season.  Who can explain the reason or the source of its existence?  Yet it does exist.

Have you begun to feel the effects of its influence?  If not, I am sure you will soon.  Don't try to resist it, you can't.  Just give in and enjoy it.  You will be your old self soon enough.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Memories of one more Christmas (1995)

Christmas Eve, and we were observing what has become a family tradition.  Everyone has gathered at my sister, Frances's house for food, fun, singing, and exchanging gifts.  Forty-five, I believe, was the total number of people crammed into that small house.

One bedroom held all of our winter coats, gloves, hats, and scarves.  All of the ladies purses were stashed in one closet, on the highest shelf, away from prying children's hands.  The other bedroom served as an expansion tank for periods of overflow, when a portion of that mass of humanity moved around, changing positions.  There were periods, when all the children, who had been exiled to the basement to play and roughhouse, would surge upstairs and all the adults would stand motionless, while they wiggled through toward some unknown destination.

All the food which Frances had prepared or others had brought, was laid out cafeteria style.  We would eat in stages, one small group at a time.  While one group was eating, the other sat or stood and talked.  The noise level has to be experienced to be appreciated or abhorred.  The range for voice communication was approximately two feet if you screamed at the top of your lungs, six inches if you spoke normally.  The scene made you think it was a reunion of secret tellers.  Everybody looked like they were whispering into someone else's ear.

It was an evening of unending miracles.  Somehow we were all fed without any serious injuries.  There were some mashed toes, a fork puncture or two, but thanks to skill and quick thinking, all bleeding was brought under control and no one passed out from loss of blood.

What a madhouse it turned into when it came time to pass out the gifts.  The term pass out is a very accurate usage of language in this instance.  The Christmas tree, which was positioned in one corner of the living room, was all but obscured by the heap of gifts.  Whoever was chosen to perform the task must, out of necessity, have a good arm.  The delivery of some of those packages would have made Terry Bradshaw green with envy.  He had never thrown a pass farther or with more accuracy, while guiding the projectile over, around and through obstructing heads and hands which were trying to intercept those packages in route to their intended destination.  There were invisible hand-offs and nimbly executed laterals but not one single run for yardage, unless it was in a pair of panty-hose.

It was December 24th, but the furnace was turned off and the front door was standing open.  No one could have remained conscious for longer than five minutes without that door being open.  All the oxygen would have been depleted long before that.  Everyone had their empty shopping bags at the ready.  As they received their gifts, they were placed in the shopping bags, and as each bag was filled, someone would shuttle them out the door and into a car trunk.  As soon as the gifts were passed out, those who couldn't take it any longer, would hug and kiss anyone within reach, thank them for their gift and say their good-bye’s on the move.  Slowly, the house had enough room for those remaining to find a corner to stand in.  Some truly fortunate souls actually found a place to SIT!

Despite the constant threat of a fire breaking out in all that crumpled up gift wrapping paper and empty boxes, the evening passed and the house escaped unscathed.  There were times when I imagined I could hear the floor joists moaning under the strain of all that weight and I thought I felt the house quiver a time or two, just momentarily.

Talk about miracles!  As hard as this is to believe, there is only one bathroom in that house.  Need I say anymore?

The evening of musical chairs ceased when someone managed to yell loud enough to get everyone's attention.  It was time to sing Christmas Carols.  We stood in corners, leaned on doorways, and walls.  The children were able to find a place to sit on the floor after all the wrapping paper and boxes had been picked up and stuffed into plastic garbage bags and placed out by the can rack in the side yard.  One after another, the talented members of the family would make their way over to the piano and play their own special selections while everybody sang.

I had waited for this all year.  Our family is so blessed by God, and sadly some of them can't see it.  They think that every family has five or six members who play the piano like these do, and everybody else has a beautiful singing voice.  Some members of the family have voices of solo quality, but the outstanding aspect of this family is the perfection in the blending of the voices.  It sounds like a natural harmony, with no one out of tune or off key.

There is a special kind of reverence noticeable in the voices as they melt into one beautiful choir.  After the traditional carols, we all join in on specially requested Gospel songs we have all learned over the years. 

I would like to think that every family is much like ours but I know that there are many who wish they had what this family has. It breaks my heart sometimes, to see how ungrateful some can be for the blessings that are all around them.  I give God all the thanks I can muster each year that passes by with this family not knowing some terrible tragedy.  How blessed we are!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Of heirlooms, antiques and a little creative effort

I’ve often suspected that most family groups are not even close to being like my own.  I’d bet that there are some families where every member is sane. 

No one in my family has a card certifying that they have been examined by psychiatrists at length and found to be certifiably SANE, so I have room to be suspicious as I continue relationships with them.

I also wonder if other families have certain individual “types;” you know,  those members with certain attributes that mark them as “collectors of family heirlooms” such as photographs, antiques, ceramic ware and glassware, etc..

I write about this subject because, though I don’t collect anything specific and relevant to my family as a group, I have been taking many pictures at family gatherings.  Maureen has taken twice as many as myself and thus, over the years, our digital image files have grown to a level whereby we couldn’t manage them without the help of specific software; something like Picasa or better.  I haven’t been looking for any of said software due to the fact that I’m quite happy with the FREE version of Picasa Google allowed me to download and use for some time now.

In my family, there are several members I’d classify as “collectors of family heirlooms.”  I don’t know why this is… but they are all females.  That fact may not be indicative of anything meaningful; it’s simply something that I’ve noticed and pondered about.

For years now, I’ve been trying to produce various Cds known as “Memory Disks” for my siblings.  They were nice to have but had limitations.  Once I was exposed to software like “Pinnacle Studio 12” being used to produce a video and photo presentation at a nephew’s 50th Birthday Party recently, I began to kid myself that I too could create something of that caliber and quality. I realized that if I were going to be successful, the first thing I needed was more family pictures, preferably the oldest photos of our family’s ancestors and of our oldest surviving members younger days. I knew they existed because at some time in the past, we had set around a large table on certain holidays with a large pile of old photos in the center that we were all going through.  Someone would find one that they just had to pass around for others to see because it was so special and then some would be found of someone that person didn’t know, so of course they would hold it up before everyone and ask, “Who is this?”  I know there was a time or two when no one present had a clue as to the person in a certain picture was. 

It turns out that most of our family heirloom type photos are in the possession of a few sisters or WAS in their possession until they had passed away.  I’ve lost two of my older sisters and today, I am the oldest sibling in our family.  For some time now, I’ve been literally “begging” anyone in my family to allow me to borrow their collections of photos so that I might scan them into my computer’s memory.  Once there, I could back them up and put them away for safe keeping.  Then, once I had them scanned, I could proceed toward my dream of creating special DVD disks of everything I had collected that could be presented to everyone desiring one.  These disks could be placed in their DVD players at home and shared with guests or family that hadn’t seen them before.
Last Sunday, the family gathered at my brother Bobby’s home for his version of Thanksgiving. He would be repeating the event on the actual day of national observance for Thanksgiving Day only then, he had certain others present. That way, those of us in our family that normally have a Thanksgiving meal in our own homes on Thanksgiving Day would still be able to continue on with this new tradition.  That’s what it was too; a new tradition.  It became one after those two older sisters had passed.  From that time on, no one had the experience or the desire to become the new gatherer of the CLANS.  It was a huge responsibility, one I personally couldn’t fathom taking on either.

Maureen had decided that she would make an afghan for the remaining siblings.  There was five currently living.  I was the sixth of that surviving group.  We had been nine in number for far more years than any of us expected.  Each and every year we came together, we realized how blessed we were to have everyone healthy and present, it was noted and commented about by more than a few.  Maureen managed to fulfill her intentions.  She created a total of six of her best works.  They were beautiful, each one an origin design.  After all…she was the owner of  Afghans by Maureen; her own Cottage Industry.

Long observed family traditions are almost always next to impossible to organize each year, but somehow, sister Becky and sister Frances had managed miracles on Thanksgiving and Christmas to accomplish the events that everyone enjoyed and shared for so long. I did all I could in an attempt to prepare the younger family members for the day when those older miracle workers would not be with us and  were unable to bring us all together once again.  I told them, “You must create and maintain your own family traditions.
This generation cannot continue this way forever.”  I hated being so right.  It came much sooner than any of us expected.

I took advantage of our most recent gathering at brother Bobby’s home, caught my brother-in-law as he was making his rounds of greetings and hugs with everyone and brought up the subject of what it might take to get him to allow me access to our second oldest sister’s picture collection now that she was gone on. I was concerned that he might not want to continue keeping them safe and undamaged.  I supposed that he was not the type that cared about such things.  What would happen to them should, God forbid, something happened to him?  Who would inherit the guardianship of such a family treasure? Had that thought even crossed his mind?

Becky; his wife and my sister, died in Oct of 2006, a little over three years ago.  Had he moved on?  We thought that he might have.  I know, back when she died, if anyone asked about those pictures she had accumulated, he hummed and hawed around, seeming very reluctant to let them out of his sight. He would say…”I don’t think Becky would appreciate that.”   So, that Sunday afternoon I asked him if I could make an appointment to come to his home, look through those pictures and select those I wished to scan for the record and return immediately when I was finished.  He thought about it and said, “Next Wednesday would be alright.  “That’s the only day of the week I don’t bowl.”   I asked him “What time should we be there?”  He said “Around ten o’clock, I’ll be up moving around by then.”  So, the day and time were set.
Would something change before then?  I hoped not.

I could think of little else other than that fateful day.  Next thing I knew…it had arrived.  We headed out for his home around nine, thinking we’d stop for some breakfast at a little family restaurant on Monmouth street in our old home town of Newporty, Kentucky.  Maureen’s cell phone rang while we were eating. It   was her sister, informing us that Howard had called, wondering where we were.  Maureen called Howard at home.  He said he was expecting us and wondered if we were coming.  Maureen told him we would be there in five minutes.  Believe it or not, we got lost on the way there.  So much had changed and besides that, my memory was not what it once was.  That fact says a lot.  It had been many years since I had roamed around my old haunts.  I forgot street names and city layout.  But, we finally DID arrive there.

No one was more shocked than Maureen and I.  Howard had brought all those pictures up from the basement and had them waiting near the front door.  He warned us that it might take a truck to carry all of  it and he was right.  Good thing we have a RAV4.  It is classified as a truck in the title.  We chatted while Maureen began to carry the containers out to the car and load them up.  Howard and I took the biggest and heaviest plastic tub out for her since she said she couldn’t handle it.  We stayed for a while after the pictures were safely loaded.  One can tell when someone they are visiting is anxious and would rather be going somewhere else if we weren’t there.  So we excused ourselves, thanked him profusely over and over for his generosity and cooperation.  Howard confessed that he had made plans for the day and had to get ready to leave.  He was going to “The Boats” to do some gambling.  I hoped that he won something.

We spent the rest of that day and most of the next two days going through all those pictures.  I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the experience.  I was thrilled to see all those faces I knew from so long ago. We had our Thanksgiving meal Thursday, sharing it with our daughter, Kellie.  After it, Kellie volunteered o help with the scanning of the pictures we had already selected.  She was fast and accurate.  I knew all that experience with computers and software would come in handy one day.  I know we went through several thousands of images just to get the five hundred or so we selected as the chosen few.  I’m glad I had some measure of control and a practical mindset.  If it were not so, we may have ended up with way too much for one DVD disk. 

I burned the first two copies of the prototype and tested it on our DVD player to see if it would work and how it looked. It looked and sounded great.  Oh! Didn’t I mention that it has background music of my choosing on it too?  Then, just to be safe, we called brother Bobby and asked him if we could run over to his home and try it out on his home theater set-up.  If it works there, it should work anywhere. It was amazing.  Bobby seemed entranced by what we saw.  That was a good sign.

I just love it when a plan comes together.  If all goes right, we will have DVDs for everyone on Christmas Eve night at our traditional gift exchange and handmade creations from the hands of my loving bride for a special few. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

When Vultures are flying through my house

I was wondering…is there anyone else out there that has some “cute” little behavior belonging to them and their better half, one that only some very close relatives know about and possibly witnessed being played out?

MLB and I have one that’s been with us for almost 38 years.

Once in a while, one of us will go to the kitchen and make a sandwich, bring it back and place it on the small table that sits between our individual chairs in the TV room.  Suddenly, we think of something we forgot to go with said sandwich and hurry down to the kitchen again to get it. When we return with it, sit down and reach for our delicious looking sandwich, we notice that someone has taken a very large bite out of it.

We usually ask “What happened to my sandwich?”

The other one, who may be still chewing on the stolen bite and speaking with food in their mouth, will explain…”As soon as you left the room this huge Vulture swooped in through the window, took a big bite and flew right back out again.”  That always gets a big smile from both of us.

It had been a while since either of us had any opportunity to steal something from the other like that.  Then, Easter came around.  You know, stores usually have plenty of Easter candy left over that they need to get rid of before it gets stale.  This Easter was no different and considering the fact that Maureen is now working for a chain type grocery, she had opportunity to take advantage of their after Easter sale.  She came home with two boxes of Papa’s chocolate covered marshmallow, one each of light and dark chocolate coatings.

Me having diabetes, I’m not supposed to eat such things…BUT, being human, a very weak human that loves that kind of candy, when Maureen came up here with two of those eggs last evening and laid them on the table and went into our bedroom for something, I remembered out cute little behavior.  I said loud enough for her to hear…”I hate to tell you this but a huge Vulture just flew in the window and I think he has his eye on your candy.” 

She shouted back…”Well that Big Vulture will leave my candy alone if he knows what’s good for him.”

“OK! I’ll try to hold him off but he’s bigger than usual and seems determine to have a piece of your candy.  You had better hurry!  I can’t hold him off much longer.  (There is a loud scream)  best as I could conjure up with one of those eggs in my mouth…Then I yell…”He’s pecking me in the eyes and scratching my cheeks with his huge, filthy talons that I just know he had been holding down a piece of carcass with only a short time ago.  I simply can’t hold him off.  I’m bleeding profusely.”  With that…I got quiet as possible.

Maureen didn’t even come in to see what had happened.  She turned to the right as she came out of the bedroom, returned to where she had stashed those eggs and got herself two more before coming back into this room.

My head hung in shame but I was smiling all the while and I believe there was some thin, chocolate spittle oozing out of the corners of my mouth when I did look up and smile.

I was glad to see that she was smiling too.

How about you…………
Are you smiling? 
I’ll bet you are.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Along the corridors of my soul

This morning, as I walked along the dimly lit corridors of my soul in search of something to share with others, I discovered this small room, way down at the end. I hadn’t been in there for many years.

I felt along the edges of the doorframe for a light switch. There wasn’t one to be found. What I did find sitting on the floor close to the door was an old kerosene lantern and a box of stick matches. Both of those items were antiques. They were clues as to the contents of that room. I picked them up and back out into the main corridor. The main corridor was dimly lit but compared to the inside of that little room a single candle would have been a brilliant light.

The little lever on the side of the lantern squeaked in protest as I forced the glass chimney to raise enough for access to the top of the wick. I slid open the matchbox, drew out a long stick match and drug it down the abrasive side strip. The match sparked and sprang to life, wafting that familiar sulfur odor under my nose. I breathed it in deeply, waiting for the scent to give birth to old memories. I wasn’t disappointed; they came to my mind’s eye in a flood.

I recalled how long it had taken me to grow a thumbnail of sufficient length and strength that would allow me to strike a match the way I had seen so many old western movie stars do it. It wasn’t as easy as they made it appear. How many times had I broken the matchstick because I used too much pressure on my thumb?  How many times had I received a painful flash burn because the match ignited so quickly and I wasn’t fast enough at getting my thumb out of the way in time? Finally I resorted to the tried and true method of dragging the match head along the outside of my denim covered thigh.

With all that remembering I had to blow out the first match and strike another, then I reached in and under the glass and lit the wick. It ignited slowly. I supposed that the wick had dried out a lot. I was fortunate that there was still some fuel left in the lantern. The flame grew and smoked badly. The wick actually needed trimming but I hadn’t thought to bring along any scissors. Dummy me!
The flame was burning more wick than kerosene so I adjusted the wick a bit higher and the flame brightened somewhat.

Stepping inside that dark room and holding the lantern up high I could begin to see the contents of the room. What a mess! There was a heavy layer of dust and cobwebs everywhere. I spied a rusty, old bow-saw laying on top of a chopping block. Suddenly I knew what was stored here. These were my memories from way back in 1953. Peppertown Ridge Road, Dearborn County Indiana, just outside of Harrison.

Suddenly I was overcome with feelings that I hadn’t experienced in so long, they felt alien to me. Want, need, hunger, no; starvation! It was much more intense than simple hunger. Hopelessness, depression and FEAR. Then I became aware of this growing weakness in my body. My knees wanted to buckle and stop supporting me but something inside kept them from giving in. Where was this strength coming from? It shouldn’t exist. I knew; it was my survival instinct taking over the circumstances. A hard life would not defeat me that easily. I was made of better stuff than that. BUT fear won out and drove me back out into the corridor.

“No wonder it has been so long since I’ve been in there,” I thought to myself as I could feel my strength returning. I stepped back inside long enough to retrieve the lantern, blew it out and set it back on the floor just inside the door.

Back in my writing room, I tried not to think about those days. If it’s true what they say and anything that doesn’t kill us has a way of making us stronger, then I should be Superman now. But I know; Superman didn’t cry or fear anything. I was weeping and fear had come and sat down on my lap.

It didn’t help when I thought about Mom and Dad and how those circumstances must have affected them back then. No wonder Mom died at the age of forty-three years. She had been consumed by worry and concern for her five children. The amazing thing was; she never allowed any of us to see it.

I watched Dad take his last breath and leave us. He expelled his last lung full as if it was a great relief. A life-long struggle has a way of doing that to the strongest of men. I don’t know what sense organ was functioning that allowed me to understand, but I knew it was time to let him go.  If he thought that we couldn’t have gone on without him, he was the kind of man who would have fought death with every ounce of strength he had. We owed him that final liberty. He had earned it. I took that great ham of a hand of his in mine and said “Go on Dad; Mom’s waiting for you.”  I think I saw a faint smile on his lips as he stepped out into eternity. There was a great “Swoosh” as his absence created a vacuum in my spirit.

That’s all I have for you today. Hope I didn’t leave you hanging. It’s just the wrong time of year for this kind of memories. Up with joy and happiness. Down with fear and sorrow and regret.    

The gloaming time of life

Last evening, our daughter Kellie and her roommate Sue came over for a visit. My sister-in-law, Gail, being forewarned of their visit got busy preparing Chicken fillets, one of their favorite dishes. There was a side dish of packaged noodles and some creamed peas to boot. Simple but filling stuff.

We all ate with great gusto and then took Jenny (our dog) out back for a period of play.  Jenny loves those two young women. Going back inside when Jenny got tired and thirsty from chasing the ball the girls were tossing around, we settled in the living room for some relaxing conversation. The girls shared a little song they had composed while driving back home from church on Sunday. It was cute but I won’t reveal the subject matter.  We three older adults agreed that they need to get another hobby to occupy some of their idle time.

It’s funny how I was the only one to notice the changing light outside. Every window and door was open, anyone could have noticed; but no one else did. During a lull in the activities and conversations, I pointed out how this time of day was my favorite.  I explained why but hardly anyone understood what I was saying. Were they blind?  Could it be that my old eyes were perceiving something that didn’t exist for everyone?  I call it the “gloaming.”  That’s a word that some old, Irish Poet must have come up with.  It’s a magical time.  A time when Leprechauns come out of hiding and dare one to try and catch them. There’s a pot of gold waiting as a ransom for those who are successful.

I seem to recall that it wasn’t until I had achieved the ripe, old age of fifty-five years that I myself was able to appreciate the gloaming time of day. I was parked on a hilltop in my golfcart that day.  Working on a golf course as a Player’s Assistant had it rewards.  This one aspect of it was very unexpected.  The sun had dropped below the horizon but its influence was still very powerful. The light took on a golden hue. I thought to myself at the time that it must be the result of fall’s natural tendency to bring about changes in the color of the trees leaves that was responsible for the sparkling gold radiance that was all around me. The leaves had soaked up the sun’s rays all day and only now were they releasing the stored up energy. 

From that day till this, I have been especially alert, looking for and expecting to enjoy the phenomenon at every opportunity. But this was the Spring of the year. There were no golden leaves on the trees.  It’s so strange how that golden hue in the air has the power to amplify all the other colors.  The grass outside was greener. I didn’t think that was possible.  Even the color of the cars parked along the street out front was more vivid than usual. It had been raining for most of the day. The air was as clean as it would ever be.  Every leaf on every tree and every blade of grass could be seen in a higher definition.  I found myself wishing that my old eyes could always see this sharply.

It is said that it is the darkest just before the dawn of a new day.  Could it also be said that it is lighter just before the night sets in? 

It was about that time that my mind made its own segue into another realm of thought. Seems that everyone was commenting on the golden years of life. One diarist would write about it, another would read their words and expound further upon the subject and I was taking it all in and contemplating their meaning.

Oh! What we MIGHT be able to accomplish if we older folk had the energy of youth. Combine that energy with the knowledge and wisdom we have accumulated over the passing years and the potential would be awesome.

In the back of my mind I can hear Frank Sinatra crooning one of his hit songs. “MY WAY.”  The words ring so true for myself.  See if you too can find something familiar in them.

And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.

I've lived a life that's full.
I've traveled each and ev'ry highway;
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I've had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.

I've loved, I've laughed and cried.
I've had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that;
And may I say - not in a shy way,
"No, oh no not me,
I did it my way".

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!

REGRETS – I’ve had a few.  I wish I could continue on with the following line and nod in agreement, but alas! I fear that my own regrets are many and yet I care not to mention them to another. 

Certainly I did it my way, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t have been done better.  Life presents choices to us all and we must pick one and go with it. It’s only after it all played out that we can see clearly whether the choice we made was the right one. Which one of us can say that we always made the right choice?

If we older folk are not careful, a bad case of the “IF ONLY’s” could overpower us and steal away what little joy we are able to find in our waning life.

What would any life be without that risk?  SAFE! Perhaps.  But empty also. Sterilized by the fear of loving someone so much and risking losing them.

I know about that kind of fear.  It overcomes me at times as I wander about the house in the wee hours of the morning.  I pass by the wife’s bedroom door and I cannot hear her snoring. I pause and listen intently, hoping to hear her faintly breathing.  If I cannot, I MUST go in and lean over the bed and listen again until I CAN hear her breathing.   Failing that, I feel that I MUST touch her and cause her to stir but not awaken.  I reach out and then freeze in mid-reach.  What if I touch her and her body is cold?  OH GOD! What would I do?  It’s only after I force myself to touch her and feel that reassuring warmth that the paralyzing fear subsides.

I tell myself that I would not want to awaken her fully to the point of having her ask, “Are you okay?  What’s wrong?”  You see; she believes she is the only one who finds it necessary to creep into a bedroom and bend over someone she loves to make sure they are still breathing. She has done that for most of her life she tells me. She did it with her mother and she does it today with me and Gail or Jenny and Lucy, the dog and the cat.

I believe, if she had her way, she would sleep in this gigantic bed and everyone she loves would be in it with her, where she could wake at any time of the night and listen or feel for signs of life and then fall asleep once more, reassured that all is right in her world.

Maureen is the one who has taught me what it means to love another that deeply. She is also the one who taught me what her kind of compassionate concern is like. She has this habit of going around the house at the weirdest times, asking each individual if they are all right.  After she gets the desired response from each one, she explains; “It’s my job.”  I’ve often wondered who gave her that work assignment?  It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

As Ellen, a friend of mine wrote one day long ago:
“If I’m allowed to wish for others I would wish that everyone’s life ends up full of great holes.  Holes that are the result of losing someone we were able to love with the kind of depth that caused their absence to leave that kind of hole in our life. Those holes are not empty holes.  They are reservoirs of treasures that we can draw from when the need arises. They are deep wells, covered with lids of grief.  Lift the lid and draw from any one of them, a refreshing drink of cherished memories.  Drink deeply and draw strength from shared love. Like dust, floating on the surface of a freshly drawn bucket of water, sorrow may be found, but tilt the bucket and blow the breath of thankfulness across its surface and underneath is revealed the purity of life’s pleasures.”

What beautiful words.  I will be forever grateful that she shared them with us.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Type 2 Diabetes and how to recognize its onset

Ronni Bennett of Time Goes said “Very few people actually know what it feels like to reach an advanced age, become old  or simply grow old. That’s not a verbatim quote, I’ve “tweaked it,” embellished it somewhat or put it in my own words but she was the one whom tried to express it as best she could.  Her comment was much better than anything I’ve come up with yet.

The moment I heard her say whatever it was she said exactly, a thought came to mind that I had used her words to my doctor at one time, immediately after he had diagnosed me with Type 2 Diabetes.  The doctor asked me “ Clarence…didn’t you feel just awful?”   I replied “Yes! But I thought it was just part of growing old.”

He couldn’t figure out where I had gotten that belief from and went to considerable lengths to assure me that such was not the case. 

Honestly…I wish I didn’t have that frame of mind then because who can say how much permanent damage I allowed the onset of diabetes to do to my body because I shrugged it all off as what one feels like when they get old.

I’m going to list the symptoms I found on-line that were provided by the Mayo Clinic just so some of you out there can see if you have any of them right now and keep them in mind should you notice any of them in the future.

Type 2 diabetes symptoms may develop very slowly. In fact, you can have type 2 diabetes for years and not even know it. Look for:

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination. As excess sugar builds up in your bloodstream, fluid is pulled from the tissues. This may leave you thirsty. As a result, you may drink — and urinate — more than usual.
  • Increased hunger. Without enough insulin to move sugar into your cells, your muscles and organs become depleted for energy. This triggers intense hunger.
  • Weight loss. Despite eating more than usual to relieve hunger, you may lose weight. Without the ability to use glucose, the body uses alternative fuels stored in muscle and fat. Calories are lost as excess glucose is released in the urine.
  • Fatigue. If your cells are deprived of sugar, you may become tired and irritable.
  • Blurred vision. If your blood sugar is too high, fluid may be pulled from the lenses of your eyes. This may affect your ability to focus clearly.
  • Slow-healing sores or frequent infections. Type 2 diabetes affects your ability to heal and resist infections.
  • Areas of darkened skin. Some people with type 2 diabetes have patches of dark, velvety skin in the folds and creases of their bodies — usually in the armpits and neck. This condition, called acanthosis nigricans, may be a sign of insulin resistance.
If you notice one or two of the above symptoms, please don't do what I did and chalk it up to the natural aging process.  Yes! A good many things may slowly change about yourself but most of those ARE due to advancing age.  Let's face it, growing older has negative consequences for most of us.  You are one of the lucky ones if you haven't noticed things changing for you.  Make a list of things you notice and talk them over with your doctor as soon as you can.  Don't allow him to tell you it's nothing. "You're imagining all of it" is not an acceptable answer from a medical professional. This is not one of those cases of being damned if you do and damned if you don't.  It's just too easy to check your blood sugar. But...if you don't mention things you've noticed to your doctor, damned could be exactly what you will become. If I'm scaring you...GOOD! More people need to be very afraid and alert but let's not get carried away and become Whackos and Wingnuts about every little ache and pain. That's where hypochondriacs come from and we certainly don't need any more of those clogging up ERs and doctor waiting rooms.

For years after I passed the age of 40,  I noticed that my fingertips got to humming a lot when I drove my car and I drove my car a lot. That's the problem with Type 2, adult onset, diabetes, it diabolically slow and persistent.  I told myself that it was simply the blood draining away from my hands because they were almost above my heart's position in my chest. I worked on old cars a lot because that's all I could afford then. Laying on the ground and reaching up over my head to loosen some bolts or hold up a part with one hand while replacing the bolts with the other was often very painful. No wonder I thought nothing of it when in later years finger and hand numbness became a common problem under a variety of circumstances.

In my late 50's I had periods when I'd get so light headed that the only thing I could do that made it go away was to go lay down for an hour or so.  Once it disappeared, I was good to go. I also noticed that those spells usually came upon me shortly after I had eaten a good meal.

I drank approximately ten twelve ounce cans of Classic Coke for a decade or more. One can of Coke contains 140 calories due to its sugar content or at least, corn syrup content, I'm not sure which is which.  All I know is, I was putting around 1400 calories into my body solely from my favorite beverage.  Here's something I wondered about as an after thought: Why don't I weigh 300 lbs?  For many years I hovered around 200 lbs and told myself I was feeling pretty good for my age.  Perhaps I was but the bottom didn't just drop out one day. I did a lot of walking on my regular job and I was also an avid hunter.  I'd work all week and then go out on the weekends and walk for miles over hill and dale, through fields of briars and brambles, hunting wild rabbits. The same could be said for hunting squirrels. Both game types required plenty of walking up and down hills or along steep hill sides. I considered myself to be in great shape all that time.

After I turned fifty, I suddenly had a problem with gallstones that required emergency surgery. After that I had a bout of Ecoli that put me in the hospital for almost a week and even after I recovered from that, I was still weak as a kitten.  My digestive system never did return to normal.  I was bothered with ulcers, acid indigestion, acid name it. If it was related to my intestinal tract, it was a problem.  I was told they had to give me some new, very powerful antibiotics with the ruptured gallbladder and the Ecoli.  That killed all the good bacteria along with the bad.  Try as I may, my attempts to replenish the enzymes and bacteria in my digestive tract was a pitiful failure.  It was all downhill after that. My immune system was shot. How else was I supposed to feel except bad?

I never really expected to live past the age of 40 years for most of my life and then, I made it past 40 years, then fifty years and then 60 years.  Feeling bad most of the time was life for me. I stopped smoking. I still didn't feel great.  I really missed feeling great.  We lost our "Baby Brother" at the age of 41; he had Type 1 Diabetes from a very young age and it took him pretty quick and then one of my older sisters and shortly after that, our oldest sister.  One died of breast cancer and the other died after suffering with Type 2 diabetes for years. My Father had diabetes and heart complications due to that disease and lived to be 82 years old. Diabetes was in my family all along.

Is it in your family?  NO!  Are you sure?
How long has it been since you've had your blood glucose levels checked?
Better safe than sorry!

If you have someone in your family with diabetes and they are taking insulin and checks their blood sugar every day, I'm sure they'd check yours the next time you visit.  You don't need to go to your doctor's office to have it done.  A modern glucose meter and a test strip that costs about one dollar each can put your mind at ease.  That's not much of an investment for some peace of mind for a period of time.

I hate having to check my blood sugar all the time and I hate it even worse having to stick needles in my belly twice a day to inject insulin but it's better than having a foot or leg amputated or going blind or any of the other problems caused by too much sugar in one's blood.

I've already lost most of the sense of feel in my fingers and in my feet.  Do you think that's nothing?  Let me tell's bad enough to make you wish you had told someone about all the little things that are going on in your life that seem unusual for the normal YOU.

Watch your diet!  Man! Is that a millstone around your neck.  Too much trouble?  Eat what you want and counteract it with insulin.  That's what my oldest sister thought too. What's really bad is ... I catch myself thinking similar thoughts now and then.

Another thing, I now weigh 250 plus or minus, depending on the time of year. I am hungry all the time.  I gain weight if I only smell a cake or something else taboo for a diabetic. The doctor tells me it's the insulin making me hungry and easy to gain weight no matter what I eat. Is this a "Catch 22?"  I've often wondered what it would be like to be caught up in one of those nightmares. I don't like it.  Neither will you if you develop adult onset, Type 2 Diabetes.

Try typing all that I just typed without feeling in your hands.  It's a miracle I tell you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

If you talk trash and do sneaky stuff when the ref isn't looking, you should expect to receive some retaliation very soon.

If you are someone without a TV or seldom watch news, than perhaps you haven't seen the video all the news sources have been clogging up the news channels with of one Elizabeth Lambert, who plays or before this, did play for the New Mexico Women Soccer Team. Since that, she has been suspended indefinitely for her actions.

Ms. Lambert apologized for her behavior but I could tell...her heart wasn't in it and I for one don't blame her alone for the events that took place during the match. If you don't know or believe that women athletes can be just as aggressive, just as competitive and just as vengeful as any man under the same set of circumstances, you may need to investigate as I did and then to think it over again. 

Women are known for their ability to talk and when it comes to talking "trash" during athletic competition I believe they do excel at it.  Once more I must call out the news media for being biased in this particular matter.  Yes! It looks bad for Ms. Lambert when they show the tidbits of video they gleaned from whomever was taking video of the match between New Mexico and BYU. I will also call to your attention the footage shown along with the excessive ponytail pulling where a little, blond BYU player confronted Ms. Lambert after the match ended and tried to throw some more gasoline onto the smoldering embers of Ms. Lambert's fury by pointing out that Ms. Lambert's team LOST in spite of her efforts. She was lucky she didn't get a shot to the lips for that remark.  I think I may have applied strokes to her face if she did that to me.

Go to YouTube and watch the video for yourself.  Witness the behind the back grasping of the short hairs in the crotch area of Ms. Lambert's person.  Notice how high the dark haired woman in front of her lifted the handful of purchase she had obtained before Ms. Lambert took her to the ground.

There was also an episode the news person likes to use when proving their point that this young woman is aggressive and violent to a fault, where she punched another player in the back.  Did the fact that the person she punched in the back had just applied an elbow to Ms. Lambert's breast escape their notice?  It didn't escape mine.  See for yourself while you are at YouTube.

There was one or two other interactions between herself and various opposing players and I must admit, it put her in a bad light but that's because the editing efforts were so exhaustive.

It was a close to nothing in favor of BYU.  I cannot say at what point in the game BYU scored their one goal but I will venture a guess and say that once they had gained the lead, they used well practiced methods to try to keep New Mexico from tying the score. I would be glad to sit through the whole match if I could find a resource for viewing it.  Still, a viewer would be at the mercy of the organization doing the video taping. How many cameras did they use?  What angles for vantage points did they cover?  Look! If the ref didn't see everything that went on under his field of view, is it possible for those video taping the event to catch every act that occurred on the field?  It may have been possible but we don't know the number of cameras being used.  Cameras at such events try to follow the action, as does the referee in charge.  I'm not even familiar enough with the sport of Soccer to state how many referees are used to officiate during a soccer match.  Surely, there is more than one.

Considering the pressure of competition and knowing how verbal taunts can affect participants that are very aggressive and competitive, who can say how they would react under the same set of circumstances.  These are not professional athletes; they are college students that may not have enough experience to have achieved a high level of self control while playing the game. Just consider what takes place in a hockey match among pros. Fans and viewers at home have come to expect violence during a match.  It's very, very common. Blood has stained the ice during many matches...and those guys carry big sticks and don't skate around particularly quiet while doing it.  Just listen to the swishing, swooshing and collisions with the boards and other bodies.  Glass gets broken and so do bones, teeth and faces.  I know...that's hockey and not Soccer but it's still a highly contested sport.

If Ms. Lambert is thrown out of the sport permanently, I feel that someone should look closely at the available video and make sure that there aren't some others that need to go with her when she goes.  Somehow, I don't feel that she was the lone culprit, just the one that got caught on tape the most.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Going where few have gone...on purpose that is

Ronni over at TGB posted this entry concerning health care reform and the bill that was passed by congress only recently.

Out of my own ignorance, I asked a question and stated my own personal opinion about the topic of "abortion" which is an area of considerable concern for some.

As for myself, I've accepted that the Supreme Court has legalized abortion. The part I questioned was whether any private insurance provider allowed the abortion procedure in the recent past.  In my non-up-to-date mind, abortion was an "elective type surgery" and no insurance company was going to pay for an elective surgery procedure. Someone informed me by using the comments feature on TGB's blog that private insurance companies HAVE been paying for abortions.  I'll admit that my already wrinkled brow grew even more wrinkled at that news.

My experience with insurance companies told me that they would not pay for a woman having her tubes tied, nor would they pay for a man having a vasectomy if it wasn't for the fact that doing so would mean a married couple wouldn't be having any children that they would need to cover for years to come.  So...can I assume that is the reason they decided to start covering abortions?

The next thing you know they will start agreeing to pay for liposuction procedures and the means of helping people stop smoking for similar reasons.

No wonder the cost of Health Insurance continues to go through the roof.

Roe vs Wade may have made an abortion legal but women still had to pay for having it done back then.  What happened?  Will they pay for face lifts too?

It just doesn't compute for me.  Should I add that it's not logical?

In the case of auto insurance, if a person has an accident and it's their fault, they may be excused for one accident by one or two insurance companies in the business today but if they have two or three in close order, they are sure to be dropped. I wonder; is there a limit as to how many abortions an insurance company will authorize payment for?

A movie review - 2012

I loved this movie.  It had some of the best computer generated special affects I've ever seen.

There was something quite strange about it though.

It was very long and by the near end of it, I reached a place in my mind that I didn't particularly care for.  I began to feel so hopeless and had given up.  The world was dying, the planet and every creature on it, except for the privileged few. I accepted my fate.

I wondered why I reacted that way to "a movie."  It WAS only a movie.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Reminiscing about my time in the U.S. Army on Veteran's Day

Yes! That's me in the center, leaning on the howitzer wheel.

My daughter said "Happy Veteran's Day Daddy" and I replied "Thank You."
She came back with "NO! Thank You for your service Mister."
I can't say what I was feeling right then but it felt good somehow.

Later that morning, my sister, Phyllis called me before she headed out to work and wished me a Happy Veteran's Day too. That was very unusual. I liked it. She's a great sister.

I began to think about my time in the Army. Since then I've gotten special recognition many times on Veteran's Day. If it wasn't during a church service it came from some total stranger who happened to notice the black hat I had on that read "ARMY" across the front. I've liked that hat ever since my wife gave it to me this past spring. I recalled recently while we were eating at our favorite Pizza place, this one man spoke to me and commented about my attire. He said "I like your hat and shirt combination...are you really that patriotic? "Clear down to my bones" I replied. He liked my response too. I was wearing that Army hat and a white T-shirt with "AMERICA" in red-white and blue colors included in the design.

I hated that I didn't have a flag to fly out front today. The wind had reduced my last one to tattered shreds and I finally had to retire it. Haven't gotten around to replacing it yet. I am seriously considering one of those twenty foot flagpoles that Sunsetter Awnings is always clogging up my in-box with on a regular basis. That sure would be nice for days like this. If I had all the say about it, I would install some lights at the base of it and keep Old Glory flying all the time. That image stirs something within me every time I see it.

NO! I didn't see any combat, but at the age of nineteen years I enlisted and volunteered three years of my life in service to my country. That period was at a time when the Berlin Crisis was causing us to be called out on "ALERTS" repeatedly and any one of those events could have taken us into harms way. It was also the beginning of the Vietnam era and bullets were flying around over there in Southeast Asia. Most of us understood that we could be deployed to some critical/dangerous area at a moment's notice. Yeah! It was a risky time to be in the military.

I recall the day they posted a notice on the Battery bulletin board informing everyone that the Army had need of individuals with a 115-IQ or better to be trained for helicopter pilot service in southeast asia. I inquired as to what was going on over there. One trooper told me I had better forget about it. I know it's tempting he said; getting to return to the states for all that training and if you make it through, you will be made a Warrant Officer, qualified to fly those Huey's (or Hewey's) and see plenty of exciting duty. Yeah! Exciting alright. There are bullets flying around over there and men are dying right now even when it's not a declared war - YET! I had a 118-IQ and might just qualify but I thought better of looking into it any deeper. Does that make me sound like a coward? I hope not but if the shoe fits, I'll wear it. I'll go if my country calls me but I already volunteered to serve and so far, the Army wants me where I am or they would change it.

Basic training in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Advanced Individual Training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, learning all about artillery. The Army went back on their promise to give me the kind of training I asked for should I decide to volunteer and pass the tests for said training. I had a 96% overall grade on all the tests they gave me. I wanted Engineers, Heavy Equipment and they gave me Artillery pieces to handle, not bulldozers and backhoes. I was pissed.

When I arrived in Germany, the First Sargeant was in dire need of a Battery Clerk and that required typing as a skill. He asked if either I or the man with me knew how to type. I lied and said I did but the truth was I had one year of typing in high school. That was good enough for him. He told the man with me to take my duffel bag upstairs with him and told me to come with him. He took me to vacant room next door, showed the typewriter I was to use and put me typing up some supply records. I was a natural! I took to all those new duties like a duck to water and in no time, I was the First Sargeant's main man. I had responsibility for the duty roster, the supply room records, all special orders that needed typing and run on the memeograph machine. I was also made the liason between the main personal office and our unit and give duty as the Postal Clerk. I did it all. I learned quickly how to suck-up to the NCO's and all officers of the unit. The Inspector General and I become fast friends not long after when he made his first inspection of our unit. He gave my work his seal of approval and I was off and running. A private when I arrived and a Specialist forth class in no time; that's equal to a Corporal in most military branches.

The commanding officer, exec officer and First Sargent received fresh, hot cups of coffee just the way they liked it first thing upon their arrival at headquarters building. I extended that service to the highest ranking NCO's sometime later. Got to grease the wheels of progress if you want to get ahead I often heard said. I believed I understood what was meant by that saying and implemented it as best I knew how.

I kept my nose clean, did my best in every assignment given me and was rewarded for my efforts. Weekend passes were common. A good friend of mine over in the personel office had an Opel car. We took trips within reach of a two day pass. It was great. My favorite passtime was roller skating at the post roller rink or seeing a movie at the post theater. I also played some great cards over at the EM Club, got involved in photography, learning to use my new 35 milimeter camera, developing the film I exposed and making prints; black and white of course. I participated in ping-pong and pool in our rec-room and eventually had the responsibility of running the unit snack-bar. I was accumulating all kinds of respect and power for an Sp-4.

Look! If one soldier controlled the duty roster, the unit mail and the unit snack-bar, they had others by the testes, so to speak. I knew what influence I possessed and used it to maximum personal benefit. I would have made a wonderful Non-Com. Why was it no one that mattered could see it?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I know I'm only wasting my time by writing what follows...BUT:

Here goes any how.

Let er rip Mr. Bee!

Did you know that there is a twenty percent jump in the likelihood that one WILL be involved in a traffic accident when they are using a cell phone while driving? WELL! Did you?

If you are one of those kind of people, Please stop it...NOW!

You are going to cause everyone's insurance rates to jump right along with the jump in traffic accidents.

Distracted Driving is going to be the death of us all if something isn't done to ban and enforce any and all enacted laws against it. OK! So that is a little over the top but I still insist now is the time to take action and not wait until all our highways are littered with wrecked cars and dead bodies.

Even the young skateboarders that use our street as their own personal skate park can't stay upright on their boards because they are distracted by the cell phone in their hand while trying to do it.

The whole topic is ludicrous and not even debatable. The negative impact of cell phone use should be as obvious as the nose on Cyrano de Bergerac's face.

No one wants to see the truth about the matter but it's there regardless of anyone's attitude.

I'd be the first to admit that cell phones are a great invention, then again, so are condoms but no one wants to use those as much as they do cell phones.

Cell phones are beginning to leave noticable imprints on our favorite pair of jeans just like those smokeless tobacco cans have.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Here's a news article we all need to be aware of and respond to

The Washington Post's Scott Butterworth has suggested that President Obama has committed a terrible mistake. Read his accusation.

I read this story and just sat here bewildered by the reporter's implications. The term "Army Psychiatrist" does not name the alleged shooter by name. How is this statement a violation of the supposed CODE involving the offense of "LIBEL?"

In my opinion, the Obama Whitehouse doesn't need to bother with a comment on the matter.

Unless there is only one Army Psychiatrist on the roles of the Army's mental professionals scattered around the world, how can anyone make the connection with the man whose currently being guarded in a local hospital somewhere in the Fort Hood area of Texas?

This a perfect example of what is wrong with the country's legal system. Stupid news articles like this being written and published about.

The real problem in this matter is the fact that the female, private police officer that confronted the shooter while he was in the act of killing his fellow army members was that her aim wasn't more accurate and that she didn't kill him outright, then and there. "It's not possible to libel or slander the dead," they say.

Is there any doubt at all that the man this brave officer was exchanging gunfire with was NOT the one who had just shot and injured all those victims, including herself?

Perhaps she only allegedly shot back at him.

Come on people! When are we going to quit coddling these caught red-handed criminals and murderers?

How many promises did he (Obama) make?

Here's a source for Political information concerning over 500 promises the President allegedly made while running for office. I knew he made many but even I was shocked to discover there had been that many. This source has done most of the legwork for anyone researching the topic. I want to be sure they get ALL the credit and any blame which may arise later should it be discovered that it is biased in any way.

I'm sorry, but I hold this opinion that ALL, MOST, SOME, A FEW, or perhaps ONE news publishing entity has an agenda and is suspect when it comes to political views and the resulting reports they publish. I have no proof; not one iota of evidence that such is the case, so I reiterate, it is purely my personal opinion.

Here is type of "mission statement" published by them:

"PolitiFact is a project of the St. Petersburg Times to help you find the truth in American politics. Reporters and editors from the Times fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups and rate them on our Truth-O-Meter. We’re also tracking more than 500 of Barack Obama’s campaign promises and are rating their progress on our new Obameter."

Here is a link to their Obamameter promise tracking page.

I found this site to be very interesting and should I reach the place where I believe I can put my full trust in the conclusions they reach, I will become one of their biggest Blogging supporters. If they prove to be worthy, their site will become a very popular source for political blog fodder. At this time I will express my thanks to them for the funds, time and effort of management and the employees that are doing the lion's share of the research for all of us.
Thank You St. Petersburg Times!

My wife and I got into a discussion recently about lobbyist's influence upon politicians and whom is contributing the most toward a candidate's campaign while they are running for office. I saw on this site that at one point Obama hinted that he "might" go the public funds route to support his campaign and then, crawfished somewhat about it and decide not to.

I know from experiences while in the work-force that there are many jobs a person can work at which receive a lot of attention from various forces of potential influence attempting to sway someone in their direction and I will confess that it can be very affective.

I witnessed the departure of purchasing agents and the heads of shipping departments when it was discovered that they had accepted "gifts" in one form or another from companies that desired to obtain an "edge" over their competition when it came time to select someone to fulfill their company's business needs.

I would also hazard a guess that a large percentage of those decision makers in many companies have been "wined and dined" if nothing else by sales agents or other company reps at some time in their career. Being the shipping clerk for one employer of mine for a period of time, I attended parties, was given Christmas gifts, etc. At the time, I saw nothing wrong with that but later in my career, my eyes were opened to the truth and I began to refuse those kinds of offers, if for no other reason than to protect my job. People have been let go for less.

I remember hearing President Obama mention during one of his televised speeches, that he would do all he could to block or reduce the access "lobbyist" have to the halls of the Congressional/Senatorial office buildings and the public servants that worked in them. Don't quote me on that statement being verbatim but it's what I understood he was saying at the time. It's way beyond time that someone did something to curtail the activities of Lobbyist within our government. Our elected officials must deal with these influence peddlers day-in and out, everyday and I can only imagine how it weighs upon any resolve they might have had when they first took office, not to fall prey to such attacks. YES! I said attacks. That's exactly what it is. It's no less serious an attack than any outside enemy who trys to infiltrate and alter our present government.

These attacks on the will of our elected officials has the potential to cause them to forget exactly whom it is that they work for.

I am also an advocate for term limits being imposed upon our elected officials time in office. I don't believe that it was ever intended by the formers of our constitution to establish "Professional Offices Holders" within our government. In my opinion, it is not good to expose any person to the temptations that one can be exposed to while in public office for forty or fifty years. They would need to be super-strong in all aspects of integrity, ethics and morality even to survive for a short period in some elected offices. Even if the spirit is strong, the flesh is proven to be weak in many circumstances.

Here is the link for an interesting page on that same site that involves quotes about ethics.

If you find these links and the information provided by this site to be useful and relevant to your own person purpose, be sure to thank the kind people represented in some way.

Thank You St. Petersburg Times!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Of God, Men and Politics

Recently, my daughter and I were having one of our frequent Father-Daughter fat chewing sessions. Don't you parents love to talk to intelligent, young, upwardly mobile offspring? We touched on a variety of subject matters and somehow got into the subject of prejudices. Both of us threw in some relevant facts we had become aware of recently and stated our own personal summaries of how we saw the subject affecting our nation and whether we thought a solution would ever be found to resolve it.

I summed up my own thinking this way. If it were possible to take the sum total of the individuals who live in this country, put them into a gigantic blender and puree their genetic make-up, pour out the resulting combination into molds and create a new kind of human being, both male and female, many or even most of the same problems we see today would still exist. Such is the nature of the human creature.

PREJUDICE: A judgment or opinion formed without due examination of facts. An unreasonable judgment held despite facts to the contrary.
Fear of and hatred of other races, religions, etc. Detriment arising from a hasty and unfair judgment. A biased preconception, bigotry, intolerance.

RACISM: An excessive and irrational belief in the superiority of one's own racial group.

I am thoroughly convinced that if two individuals were isolated on a deserted island, one or both of them would quickly find something to look down their superior noses at the other about.

It is a proven scientific fact that no human being enters this world with built in prejudices, so we can correctly conclude that prejudices are acquired or learned as an individual matures.

Since prejudices are so obviously present within each one of us, can we assume that it is a natural aspect of being human? I've often wondered why it is that human beings have this seemingly natural need to see themselves as superior to someone else? What does it add to one's life that wouldn't exist if it were not for this belief? Is it connected to the basic instinct for self-preservation or an accepted law of nature that says the fittest will survive? Is it a force that is impossible for us to resist and alter?

As best we can determine with our scientific research, no other creature possesses the concept of good and evil. No other creature has the ability to conceptualize their own existence to such an extreme as to believe they have an immortal soul; that some portion of themselves will exist forever. No other creature has the ability to expand their understanding and reasoning ability to the point of believing in a supernatural, spirit realm, invisible to the natural eye. A realm that exists perhaps, on another dimensional plane and we human beings have within us, something so special it enables us to reach out from within and contact that realm, communicate with its inhabitants and gain even more knowledge. Isn't all that simply amazing?

If we as a species are so intelligent, so special, so gifted, so blessed, so civilized, so loving, caring and compassionate, so godly, so wise, so knowledgeable, and so rational in our thinking, wouldn't you think we would have reached perfection long before now?

We, as a species can look back at our recorded history and through a process of comparison conclude that we have made some giant strides toward that goal of perfection. Still, we must also conclude that we are not there yet. Our tendency to be prejudiced toward one another has not declined. If anything, we have found other, more glaring differences between individuals that only contributes to our prejudices.

If God, for some reason not yet revealed to our understanding, was to deem it necessary to come to earth once more in the body of a man, live among us, performed endless miracles before our very eyes and continuously proclaim His heavenly truth within range of our hearing, do you believe the eventual outcome would be different than the first time He did it? How many times must the supreme price for our salvation be rendered? It is evident that once was not enough. What have we done with that first redemptive act of sacrifice? Have our hearts really been changed?

If there is anything the United States of America needs, it's godly, highly moral, intelligent leadership. In my own humble opinion, we as a nation appear hopeless when it comes to the political choices we make. Does this scripture mean anything at all to us today? Eph:6:12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. It appears to me that it does not. In the recent past we witnessed for ourselves a demonstration of the truth of that scripture in the highest office our nation can bestow upon any single person. How did our nation react to it? They looked away, ignored its implications, and used their individual state of seeming prosperity as an excuse for condoning said wickedness.

Now, one year after this nations voters elected our first racially mixed man as president; many refer to him as being “Black,” but I see that as an old racist concept, where one drop of black blood means the whole creation is black or as equally racist from another viewpoint, to claim such a person as “one of our own” due to racial pride or desperation in an attempt to lay claim to a portion of his success. In reality, his mixed blood makes him acceptable to both black and white races equally. Now we have another opportunity to help our nation become the greatest example of what a democratic republic can be in this world. One nation, under God. It seems that our eyes do not see evil and our ears cannot hear truth, or recognize a genuine opportunity when it stares us directly in the face. We need to wake up people!

In the beginning, the candidates were many, but some fell by the side of the campaign trial, out of the running. Those that remained, were they the best we could hope for? Will we as a nation, as a people ever learn to take control over our prejudices, to look beyond the color of a man or woman's skin, gender, political affiliations, party platform rhetoric and judge each person by the contents of their heart and by the spirit that holds rule over them? I, for one, didn’t believe it to be possible, but I had a great hope that we might one day.

Why is it that some candidates seem invisible to the voting public? Why do their words seem to fall to the ground with little affect? If we examine them closely enough we will plainly see that either they practice what they preach or that they are only projected images of what they know we want to see and hear, but in reality are nothing like that image. Then, we give what we consider to be due diligence in working out the right choice only to proceed to choose the wrong man. Based on what list of qualifications I cannot fathom.

I believe that God sends us the person He would want to see in the office of our nation's President in every Presidential election. He had a plan, but we won’t cooperate. There is no glowing halo suspended above that person's head. When they speak, there is authority in their words. Their words have authority because they are truth. But truth does not always tickle the ear, yet it is truth all the same. If we cannot believe them for the sake of their words, then believe them because of the works they do. Be a fruit inspector and then decide upon that which is produced. But, we need to see that person’s fruit and in order to do that, they must be voted into office. No tree can bear both sweet and bitter fruit. It is either one or the other. Still, it appears that we keep making the wrong choices.

I am no better at making the right choice than the next person. I don’t seem to be able to take my own advice or listen to the right voice in my head or heart. I looked into the various candidates while there was a large group of them contending for the office early in their campaigns. As soon as I started to lean in one candidate’s direction, he would drop out and grow silent and withdraw into the political shadows. Here is our impending truth.

Hosea:4:6: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Be afraid! Be very afraid. For mankind continues to shoot himself in the political foot or so it does seem.

A personal, intimate outpouring of compassion in my best words and expression

There was a time when words expressing my love for you flowed like a wild river, churning, boiling, gushing forth, cutting deep channels in my soul.

My passion for you grew uncontrolled, consuming every moment of daily awareness, blocking from my consciousness, the rest of my surroundings.

There was only you and I, this love we shared and our need for each other.

Separated from you...I was half a person, pleading with time to hurry and allow me to be whole again.

Does love that powerful have the ability to compress time? It would seem so, for it was only yesterday that we met and grew to love.

Thirty years later, our passion has not ceased, it has been transformed, aged like fine wine or great art, a timeless treasure.

Our love was not subdued as one might a wild thing, but gentled, quieted, calmed and mellowed.

I can only know comfort when you are within an arm’s reach.

Each day we put on our union as one would a favorite pair of comfortable jeans, rest in the familiar touch and know joy in our aging hearts.

There is nothing else in this world I would be willing to exchange for the life we have had together. Heaven must have ordained it to be so.

Stay close now my love, for time will try to tear us apart, we must not let it succeed. One heart, one soul, one spirit, one love is what we have become. There is no force in the universe that has the power to divide us now. Not even death.

Written for my dearest wife on her 49th Birthday..August 1st, 2001