Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday Picture Post

All are pics I've taken in this area of Florida.

This was south of Malabar, Florida, looking east toward the beachside barrier island.

This was a grasshopper at Turkey Creek Sanctuary in Palm Bay, FL, about three miles from our home.

Two manatees at Turkey Creek Sanctuary in Palm Bay, FL.

Sunset looking west from the beachside in Melbourne Beach, FL.

A HUGE manatee at Jetty Park in Port Canaveral, FL.

At Ballard Park on the Indian River Lagoon in Melbourne, FL.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Being from Louisiana, and having grown up seeing national weather reports only showing the lower 48 states, I think of Minnesota and Maine as having brutal winters.

On the occasion in Louisiana, or anywhere in the south for that matter, when an arctic blast will bring down cold weather, it rarely gets below 20 degrees F ambient, and 0 degrees F with the wind chill factored in. But growing up hearing about the coldest spot of the day in the U.S. being usually in International Falls, MN, or Caribou, ME, I think of those places as being pretty rough in winter (putting it mildly).


BRRRR! (I DID go to Louisiana public schools, remember? Cut me some slack for slowness.)

And Florida? Fugettaboutit. We've been here over nine years and I don't own a winter coat. All I have is a sweat shirt type hoodie thingy. I honestly only remember the offical Melbourne airport temperature reaching freezing ONE night in those nine years. It might have been, say, three or four times because I don't keep up with it, but whoop…eee.

No wonder there are so many Canadian car lisence plates to be seen in Florida in the winter. It's probably cheaper to come here than to keep their houses heated to comfortable living temperatures through a whole winter.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Gasoline Prices

This is El Presidente pointing at Lovely Wife and I and saying "You-uns aughta do whatever you can to save pertrol... patram... gas. Yeah, that's it. Savin' gas is good for 'Murica, and all 'Muricans should save... Gas."

Lovely Wife and I acknowledged the impact of the higher gas prices by switching cars this week. My commute is mostly up and down I-95 and Lovely Wife's driving is mostly running all about town for her job as necessary, for her Mom and Sister, and various family related tasks.

I usually drive the '99 Camry, which gets really good mileage and Lovely Wife is usually in the six cylinder 2002 Taurus which eats a lot of gas around town, but is newer and has fewer miles. I would rather risk me breaking down in the older car than her, but on the highway, the Taurus gets a dramatic increase in mileage, so we switched to try to minimize the impact of rising gas costs.

I'll see in a few weeks how much this is saving us.

Lovely Wife was also nice enough to take the poodle plate off the front, and the poodle magnet off the rear of the Taurus and put them on the Camry. (a magnet like the one to the left, which looks EXACTLY like one of our poodles, Lilly)

But she did leave me the pink foam flower on the tip of the radio's antenna, just like this one. :)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I'm A Goner For Sure If...

Splenda ever tests out to be bad for you.

We've used Splenda for about five years in our home. I drink lots and lots of good ol' southern sweet tea (or simply, 'ahs tea'). But, trying to avoid sugar and other white processed things, we switched from sugar wherever we can.

Yeah, I know Splenda is white too, but it's pretty much calorie free and as such a better choice than sugar. I had gotten to a point where drinking sugary things and eating things like white bread and pasta made me feel terrible. I'm talkin', like-I-was-drugged terrible.

So I've been trying what is basically a diabetic eating lifestyle, but trying to stay closer to what Dr. Atkins promoted. Also, Splenda, mixed with some sliced strawberries, will pull out the juice like sugar does. And berries don't have many carbs. Yummy.

I have gotten so used to diet sodas and making my tea with Splenda that I prefer them over ones with actual sugar. It's as if the ones with sugar are oily or something and I get barracuda breath really bad with the sugar drinks.

I Wonder...
While I'm on the subject, does anyone else out there think that maybe the soda manufacturers intentionally make the diet drinks taste not quite as good as the sugary ones?

I have had people at our house that loved our sweet tea, yet also claim to hate any and all artifically sweetened drinks. If you don't tell them it's Splenda, they can't tell, but diet sodas, even the ones using Splenda, have a bit of the 'diet soda' taste. I mean, if I can make tea and foods at home with Splenda that even people who supposedly hate artificial sweeteners cannot discern, why don't the Splenda sodas taste as good as the regular sugary ones?

I think it must be part of the vast right wing conspiracy Miss Hillary warned us about.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Disciple Will Rock You! (and bless you)

These guys have come to Palm Bay a number of times. I've seen them in concert 7 times, even went up to Jacksonville to see them. They never fail to give a hunnerd percent.

So here's a shout out to my all-time favorite hard rock/metal band, Disciple.

Heck, they've even passed up King's X in my book, which I would have thought impossible.

So if youra needin' some guitar driven, meaningful lyric, rock and roll, you couldn't do any better than Disciple.

Plus, after their concerts they are always willing to shake hands and chat a few minutes with the fans and are all all-around swell guys.

There are a lot of good bands and guitarists out there, but Disciple with Brad Noah on the geetar (Les Paul/Dime Bag Wah/Marshall) will rock your socks off.

Go to their web site and give them a listen.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Living In Florida Sucks!

I hate Florida.

I have this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off, and the weather is supposed to be sunny all three days with highs of 82 degrees F.

This past weekend, our swimming pool's screened enclosure was repaired (finally) from damage in 2004's hurricanes Jeanne and Frances. We're getting the whole area under screening cleaned up and the pool cleaned out and in general getting ready for some swimming and for charring some animal flesh on the ol' grill.

Sometimes it just sucks to be me.

The same guy that repaired our screening over our pool and patio also repaired and rehung our gutters all around our home.

I'm more jazzed about having level, cleaned out gutters than having the screened enclosure in the back yard fixed.

I'll bet my neighbors appreciate my non-sagging gutters more than I do, though.

Gas Prices
I saw that gasoline costs 60 percent more than it did in 1985, but that the legislators in Washington's are making 120 percent more in the same time period.

Where's the whinin' and cryin' over that?

Why do we need someone to blame for gas prices going up? Have Americans become so pathetic that we have to have some one person to blame for everything?

I guess so, but it's just market forces folks. China and India are competing for the same oil we want so it costs more. Our environmentalists have clogged up US drilling for oil in deposits WE KNOW we have in the US, so why cry when gas prices go up?

Oh, forget it. I'm just wasting my breath.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Help Someone Whenever You Can

Or, My S & H Green Stamps Guitar
I believe that most anyone, barring a handicap, can learn to play a musical instrument. Sure they may not ever have that spark that makes a Jimi Hendrix or Mozart, but they can nonetheless learn the mechanics and enjoy making music.

I fall into the latter category. No innate genius with regards to music, but I have learned to play the guitar. I'm a pretty decent strummer and can noodle around some fill notes and such but I have no illusions that I could ever be one of the greats.

I started playing guitar in my mid-thirties and am self taught, so there are huge gaps in my knowledge of guitar playing and music theory. I don't aspire to making a living playing guitar, so I probably don't have enough get-up-and-go to push myself to the absolute best I can play.

Enough background. What I would really like to talk about today is trying to help people when you see that they need help and you are in a position to help.

What the heck does this have to do with playing guitar, you ask?

This. From the time I was a small child, I was drawn to stringed instuments like the proverbial moth to a flame. My mother loved lullabys and had an LP of Brahms. One of my earliest memories was of her playing this record and it making me cry. I would have been about four years old then. I used to sit in the hallway of our home in Vidalia, Louisiana when I was a bit older, and hope that my older sister would play 'Paperback Writer' by The Beatles so I could hear George Harrison's opening guitar riff to that song.

And when I was about ten, I talked my parents into getting a guitar for me.

My mother was a collector of S&H Green Stamps. The grocery store would give them out with every purchase, and over time we filled up books of the green stamps and she would trade them in on lamps and stuff like that. Heck, our house was probably half furnished with S&H Green Stamps items. Bless her heart, she got me a guitar with those things.

It was an acoustic guitar and I plunked around with it and tried, but with no lessons, well you can guess that I didn't learn squat. But when we moved to Monroe, Louisiana a couple of years later, my parents let me start taking lessons at Zeagler's Music. That only lasted about three months, I just couldn't get the hang of learning to read music. I just wanted to play, but the reading music thing was just boring to me.

But what really stopped me more than anything was the Mount Everest action on my guitar. Man, it was murder pushing the strings down enough to fret a note. Even after building up calluses, this guitar proved too difficult to play for long enough to really learn anything anyway. So, in my thirteen year old impatience, I quit taking lessons. I had other things to think about anyway, what with having hit puberty and all, so...

Regardless, I still craved guitar. Most of my favorite music, even 'til today, is guitar heavy. Regardless of what genre, I love the particular groups that are guitar heavy. I would see someone play guitar and I would stand in rapt attention. I'm not a jealous person, but I would come closest to being so when someone was wailing on a guitar.

Now that I'm grown and can play guitar, and also adjust the various features of a guitar, neck, intonation, etc., myself, I just have one question:

Why didn't my childhood guitar instructor, or the people at the music shop, at least recommend that my guitar be adjusted for easier play? If I still had that old guitar, it would take me about twenty minutes to file the nut slots at the head of the guitar to make it play easily. The main reason I quit as a kid was that the guitar was so stinkin' hard to play. BUT ANY PLAYER WITH HALF A BRAIN COULD HAVE SEEN IN THREE SECONDS WHAT NEEDED TO BE DONE TO MAKE THE GUITAR PLAYABLE, AND MY TEACHER AND THE MUSIC STORE PEOPLE WHO HAD THEIR HANDS ON MY GUITAR AT TIMES, NEVER ONCE SUGGESTED THAT THE GUITAR COULD BE ADJUSTED.

It took me until I had almost finished my engineering degree, over twenty years later, to get the courage to try again to play. And the first guitar I bought was a pleasure to play and easy to learn on. A total revelation.

Now, in any aspect of life, when I can help someone, I do. Whether it be adjusting a guitar for a friend's kid or whatever, I do it. I lost over twenty years wherein I could have been playing guitar and getting better, simply because I was too young and ignorant of the possibility of tweaking my S&H Green Stamps guitar, and because the knowledgeable ones who could have helped make the guitar better, didn't bother.

I'm not blaming them, and I have absolutely no animosity to anyone about this. I'm still ten years old when it comes to guitar and love to play what I can and to hear others who can REALLY play.

I just wish someone would have helped me out. Because even as limited as my playing is now, if I saw someone with a guitar like my childhood one, I would immediately tell them to take it to a pro for $30 or so and they could have a much better instrument. Hey, I would do it myself for free if they trusted me enough to do it.

But I have learned to help people with even the little things wherever I can. That small help could pay HUGE dividends over the years.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rolling Stone Magazine

I saw the following cover on the new Rolling Stone and stupid me, just had to look inside.
I flipped to the Bush article by Sean Wilentz and read the first paragraph.

This is how he started the second paragraph:
"From time to time, after hours, I kick back with my colleagues at Princeton to argue idly about which president really was the worst of them all."

Oh, really?

Punk almost lost me right there. I realized that this is just another liberal elitist at a hoity-toity university bashing Bush. I mean, if that sentence is true, what a fun bunch of guys this must be.

Seriously, he could have just said something like: 'My friends and I have talked about bad presidents…' or something to that effect, but NOOOOOO, its he and his colleagues at Princeton blah, blah, blah. What an exclusive club you're in there Sean, ol' buddy. Truly. We're all impressed.

Yeah. Whatever. He sounds just like the snotty character in the movie Good Will Hunting that Matt Damon's character one-upped in the bar scene with Minnie Driver's character. I wouldn't be surprised to hear Mr. Wilentz has referred to himself as an 'intellectual' before, like the self-important often do.

Pin heads like this are dragging down great old schools like Princeton.

Rolling Stone makes it so easy to decide not to buy their magazine.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Earth Day 2006

When I lived and worked in the Atlanta area, I worked with a young man who lived out in the country on a farm south of the city. As an adult, he, his wife, and his children lived in the house that he had grown up in.

His father had passed away a number of years before and his mother wanted to simplify her life. She bought a condo closer to Atlanta and he bought the home from his mother. He didn't farm the land, he leased all the land to area farmers to use. So, he lived on a farm in a big, beautiful home, but worked with me at Delta Airlines at Hartsfield.

One day I went in to work and we were sitting there waiting for our shift to start...

Me, sarcastically: 'Robert, today is earth day, how did you celebrate?'
Robert, with sly smile: 'I burned my trash today. I heard earth day was coming up so I've been saving our trash and burned it all this morning. Took me all morning too.'

I had thought I was mentioning something he didn't know about, but he was ready for me. In fact he was glad I mentioned it so that he could tell somebody what he had done.

I haven't seen Robert in fifteen years, but I always celebrate earth day by thinking of him and wonder how much trash he was able to get burned before getting ready for work.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Hurricane Season Is Approaching!!!

No. Not the college team. Real, wind blowing, damage causing hurricanes.

I live in Florida about thirty or forty miles south of Kennedy Space Center. This part of the state has historically been a pretty good place for living in Florida and not get too many hurricanes. But in 2004, we got the northern wall of both Jeanne and Francis, whose eyes came onshore within five miles of one another. They did a whole lot of damage in the area, but not on the level of what Katrina did in LA, MS, and AL.

Still, all in all, almost every house had damage. Blue tarps were everywhere covering people's roofs. Fences down. Some homes and buildings flattened.

But for myself and my family, we were extremely thankful we didn't have more damage than we did.

About half of all our shingles were blown off, evenly distributed from over the whole roof. We had leaks of course in several areas to our ceiling. The aluminum/screen enclosure over and around our swimming pool had all the screens blown out and a couple of the aluminum bars with them. Our wooden privacy fence was blown down. What the first hurricane didn't knock down, the second one finished. And we had a big, beautiful palm tree snap in half and the broken part laid over on our roof in such a way as to not do any roof damage (phew!).

And the one that broke our hearts was our mango tree. We had a gi-normous mango tree beside our home that lost many main limbs but was salvageable, then the second hurricane hit and finished it off. We had the rest of the palm and mango cut down and the stumps ground out. FYI, mango tree limbs are very, very brittle. But our mango tree produced huge amounts of fruit every year. We would give mangos to anyone, I would take them to work for coworkers, and we ate a bunch ourselves in cobblers and such. We do miss that mango tree.

But overall, we fared better than many and were and are thankful that we only had what damage we did. The worst part for us was that they came at a time of year where nine days (for each hurricane) without electricity and air conditioning made it difficult to sleep, and comfort was a forgotten commodity.

We were also fortunate to get our roof repaired and reshingled in only three months. But everything else has been delayed.

At this time it is now over a year and a half since the hurricanes hit us, and we are finally getting our pool enclosure repaired and rescreened. They should finish the work this weekend. WooHoo! Now we can sit out back without getting eaten by mosquitoes. We need to pressure wash all the accumulated grime and mold and stuff from everything being open to the elements. Leaves in the pool, you can't stay ahead of the things blown in there.

We still have to find a licensed person to repair our inside ceilings and drywall. Even at this date, all of the reputable companies won't even come out to give us an estimate. They are too busy and already have a year or more of work lined up. Many companies turn off their answering machines and don't answer the phone. They have so much business.

So, if this area which was hit hard but not catastrophically is still so backed up it's still hard to get work done a year and a half later, then how can people expect things to be getting back to normal in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama?

Florida still has thousands of families in FEMA trailers a year and a half after the hurricanes.

How can people expect New Orleans to be getting back to normal yet? I see and hear all these reports from New Orleans, which is treated like the only place decimated by Katrina, and the attitude is, why isn't more done yet?

I just think it's easy for people to watch their TVs and say stuff like that, but the reality is that there are not enough people and resources to have things fixed up quickly. Like I said, we didn't get it like they did and we still have trouble getting work done, how can anyone expect the Katrina damage repairs be farther along than they are?

I mention all of this now because hurricane season is just over a month away from beginning. We are already starting to buy supplies. Bottled water, long lasting foods that don't need cooking. Batteries. We buy them a bit at a time, over time and build up a week's cushion.

We will be ready, and if anyone out there lives within one hundred miles of the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, start buying your supplies. There is really no excuse for the need of water and food we saw after Katrina. It's the old American way of saying to ourselves 'It won't happen to me,' but it does eventually. Every year we build up supplies over time and when the season arrives, we're as ready as we can be. And even if we are displaced from a flattened or flooded home we each will have backpacks full of water and granola bars and such to get us through 'til help can arrive.

One thing I couldn't help but notice just after Katrina hit. On the news, they flew their reporters in and people were cussin' and screamin' for food and water, but there they were smoking cigarettes. I almost couldn't believe how many of the people they would show freaking out to the reporters were smoking cigarettes. I couldn't help but wonder why they chose to vacate the flooded areas with cartons of cigarettes instead of bottles of water and boxes of pop-tarts or something. If they could afford cigarettes at two or three dollars a pack, they could have bought enough bottles water and granola bars to last a few days.

Yeah. They got blasted. It was a disaster of epic proportions, but the people there had done NOTHING to prepare themselves except make sure they had plenty of smokes.

Hopefully everyone that could possibly be hit by a hurricane this year will stock up on a few basic things to get them through until help can arrive.

That is all.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I'm Gonna Tell You Why...

I think Fat people are fat, and skinny people are skinny.

Yesterday, they guy in the cubicle adjacent to mine, had at his desk, one, count 'em, one, Krispy Kreme donut, neatly wrapped in an official Krispy Kreme bag that could have only held one donut.

I didn't know such things existed. I have never, ever, ever, been to Krispy Kreme and left with anything other than a BOX. And said box being at least big enough to hold six of their magical confections.

And, to top that, where I work, the company sometimes pays for donuts or a meal to get a bigger draw at meetings, and I HAVE SEEN PEOPLE CUT A DONUT IN HALF AND ONLY EAT THE HALF THEY TOOK.

It just blows my cotton-pickin' mind.

But I'm learning from these people. I went to the doctor this morning and have lost 11 pounds in the last 4 weeks, which for me is fast. And this rate of two to three pounds a week is Dr. approved as well. Bonus.

So, any other heavy loads out there besides me who wonder how they stay so skinny and you stay so fat, watch what 'they' eat.

Hey, does anyone out there remember sniglets?

Think way, way back in the mists of time to mid to late eighties on HBO. They had a comedy program called "Not Necessarily The News." It was mostly sketch comedy, but one of the comedians on there, Rich Hall, had a segment where he would go over words for things that people sent to him. Words definitely NOT in the dictionary, but were useful in referencing wordless things.

For example:
Lactomangulation - When trying to open up a cardboard carton of milk, you screw up the 'open here' side so badly that you turn the container around and open the 'illegal' side.


Motspur - A shopping buggy with one wheel that rolls funny or just barely touches the floor and spins around while you push it.


Discomburbulation - Trying to open the refrigerator door really fast and catch the inside in darkness before the light comes on.


Aquadextrous - Having the ability to turn off or on the bath water with your feet.

That was a really funny show. It would be cool to have tapes or DVDs of them.

Anyhoo, just thought I would share...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Alligator Warning

The company I work for just sent out the following email to us. I made some changes to make it less revealing...

To: Melbourne-Area Employees
From: (company I work for) Security
Date: April 19, 2006
Subject: Alligator Warning

(company I work for) Security advises employees to stay alert of alligators and take extra precautions during the summer months. It is alligator mating season, so they are more apt to be seen out of the water near ponds and canals.

This week an alligator was seen accessing the pond adjacent to the north parking area at (our location). The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has been contacted, but cannot respond until later this week.

Do not approach or feed alligators, or throw food near the banks of ponds. FWC warns alligators should never be fed or enticed. It is dangerous and illegal. When fed, alligators overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food.

Please dial xxxx to report sightings of alligators on any Melbourne-area campuse

Sorry About Yesterday's Angry Post

Yeah, so I admit that yesterday's post was a bit angry. Angry for me that is. I don't hold a candle to the real political bloggers out there, though.

Yesterday I had to go to a meeting at another facility of our company's and had to take my car. I heard the five minutes of news a the top of the hour on the radio and it just kinda got under my skin. So I talked about those things when I got back and ate lunch.

So sorry for the departure from the normal useless drivel.

Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Program:

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
Many, many people have started hating Tom over the past year. He and Ms. Holmes are on the news all the time and people are freaking out over his every word and action.

I have decided to start liking Tom Cruise. I'm a sucker for liking things that everybody else hates. From now on when someone bad-mouths Tom or Katie I'm gonna let 'em have it.

So here's a big shout out and congrats to Tom and Katie on the birth of Suri yesterday. I wish you all health and happiness and big box office.

I Wonder Why...
On TV and in movies, non-Asians always use chopsticks to eat Chinese food. And when they do, they use them like a fork. Sit up straight. Reach down and pinch a bite of food with the chopsticks and bring it to your mouth and eat. And it's always lo mein or a piece of chicken that can be pinched and held with chopsticks. They NEVER show them eating rice with chopsticks. They had a big scene like this on last week's episode of the Criminal Minds television program. It was lame.

Now how is that different or more chic than using a fork?

The ONLY way I have ever seen Asians use them is to hunch over a bowl that is right in front of their mouth and use the chopsticks like a rake to push food over the edge of the bowl into their mouth. They may be able to do magic with chopsticks, but that's the only way I've seen them actually use them.

And the Americans make it look as if you better not be pathetic enough to eat with a fork or spoon. That would mean immediate exclusion from the 'cool' group.

Yeah, like I care about that.

Where's my fork?

And everybody twirls their spaghetti on TV and in movies. No cutting up the pasta or you mark yourself as a total loser.

But I saw a poll a couple of years ago which showed that, in America, 51 percent of people twirled their spaghetti and 49 percent cut it up and then ate it. I felt better about myself after reading that.

Count me in that 49 percent that cuts up my spaghetti. AND... I like my spaghetti sauce chock-full of ground beef. And lots of oregano.

How shameful. I would make a terrible Italian.

But I bet I could impress some Italian grandmother somewhere with the sheer volume of groceries I can put away.

Where Did The 'People Die In Threes' Theory Come From?
Lovely Wife is a big believer in this one.

I have no response to that. But I would like to know how it started.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Warning: Political Rants

Retired Generals
Former general and one time presidential candidate Wesley Clark better watch out. Looks like we got another half dozen or so former generals taking pot shots at Bush via attacks on Donald Rumsfeld.

Let me see if I get this:

We lost almost 60,000 soldier's lives in Viet Nam, and lost the war.

Russia was in Afghanistan for about 9 years, never won, and lost about 15,000 soldiers.

America defeated the Afghanistan Taliban in a matter of weeks and have helped the people set up a fledgeling democracy. US deaths, about 400.

America defeated the Iraqis in a matter of weeks and have also set up a fledgeling democracy where 70 percent of the country went to vote, repeatedly, knowing they might be killed. US deaths, about 2400.

Yes there is still work to be done in both places. Yes insurgents from all over the arab world pour into Iraq and Afghanistan and try to kill our troups and the new armies and police. I know this.

But Donald Rumsfeld is an incompetent who needs to be fired? Come on people. Give me a break.

Methinks Wesley Clark might have some competition setting themselves up for the next presidential race.

Illegal Aliens
Man this whole illegal alien thing in the US is getting all out of hand. I mean, now the illegal aliens don't like being called illegal aliens. But I personally still call all illegal aliens, illegal aliens.

I grew up being picked on because I was fat. I never let it bother me much because, hey, I was, and am fat. Come on, use your brain if you have one and tell me something I don't know. Besides, I was bigger than most of them, and you know that the bigger they are, the harder they hit.

Not only that, but I'm a fat, white, Christian, politically conservative, male. Just myself, I fulfill five of the last bastions of America where it's considered ok to be openly disrespectful and to call names.

Take your average liberal on DailyKos or wherever as an example. Any time they speak about Rush Limbaugh, they get to the fat, white, male insults within three or four sentences. And these knuckle-heads are the politically correct crowd, right? On the moral high ground and whatnot? And Rush Limbaugh hasn't been fat in years now, but they tear into him like a starving dog with a fresh sirloin.

So these same folks immediately call anyone who refers to illegal aliens as illegal aliens racists and bigots.

Go figure. Seriously, is that all ya got?

But I for one will stand firm and continue to call illegal aliens, illegal aliens.

Because that's what illegal aliens are, illegal aliens.

Lou Dobbs
CNN business guru Lou Dobbs is now target number one for the illegal aliens and the carpetbaggers who are using the illegal aliens to press home their socialist/communist, excuse me, 'progressive' agenda.

We ought to all watch Lou Dobbs as much as we can and inundate CNN with support letters and emails for Lou Dobbs to counter the illegal alien's attacks on him.

Why are the illegal aliens and their handlers doing this? Because Lou Dobbs has the stones to speak out bluntly about the REAL cost to America and the drag the illegal aliens put on the country's economic situation.

So the illegal aliens now have it in for Lou Dobbs because he is speaking the unvarnished truth about illegal aliens and their cost to America and Americans.


That is all. Carry on.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Many Musings Of A Manic Monday Morning

Went to heaven, excuse me, Barnes and Noble yesterday afternoon and seriously promised myself I would not buy anything.

Of course within three minutes I had found a re-issue of a book I had wanted twelve or thirteen years ago. AND it was in the cheap, buy-this-and-get-it-out-of-our-store section.

Being from Monroe, Louisiana, and a guitar nut, I had been enthralled by a coffee table type book that came out in the early 1990's about the guitars of master luthier Daniel Ferrington.

Go see about it HERE.

Mr. Ferrington is also from Monroe and in fact graduated from Ouachita Parish High School (pronounced WASH-itaw), the same school my wife graduated from. He was there a few years before my wife though.

He moved to Nashville and made custom guitars for a lot of famous country music folks and later moved to LA and did the same there for some pop/rock icons. It is a fascinating book by one of the few truly original luthiers out there. I thought it was cool that we are from the same area.

The book is big and well-done and comes with a CD of many famous musicians/singers playing their Ferrington guitars.

Mucho cool.

Cheap Candy
With yesterday being Easter and all, today you can probably get some killer deals on left-over Easter candy.

But I'm on a pretty strict diet when it comes to sweets, so would somebody out there buy some Cadbury Cream Eggs, eat them, and think of me? Maybe even write to tell me how they were?

I love Cadbury Cream Eggs.

Notorious Bank Robbers
When I was ten or so and went to my local Baptist Church, I was in Sunday School and Galileans with two boys named Frank and Jesse James. They were really nice kids though, but why would their parents saddle (ha, ha) their sons with names like that?

I hadn't thought of those guys in probably twenty years or more. Wonder where they are now?

Don't Try This At Home
I also went to Sunday School there with another kid who held a .22 bullet over a fire with a pair of pliers to see if it would go off.

The answer is yes. The bullet went through his hand.

I've done some dumb things in my life but never anything that dumb.

I Can't Believe We Did That
At this same Baptist Church, when I was about ten or so, we created a haunted house for Halloween. At the church!

Can you believe that? Why in the heck would the adults at a Christian church have us create and act parts in a haunted house on Halloween?

Halloween is the very antithesis of what Christianity is about!

And me?


Us kids didn't know any better and I now find it almost impossible to believe the adults put us up to all that.

It's a wonder we had enough sense to get out of the rain.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

100 Things About Me

In 'as they came to me' Order...(Updated July 2008)

1 I'm a Christian.
2 I have now been married over half of my life.
3 I graduated from high school in 1980.
4 I earned an AA in Law Enforcement from Northeast Louisiana University (now Univ. of Louisiana at Monroe) in 1983.
5 I earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Louisiana Tech in 1996.
6 I have a 2 year bible study diploma from Victory Bible Teaching Center, although that's just for me, and not an accredited degree.
7 I have two daughters, 19 and 22.
8 I have lived in Louisiana three times. (Monroe and Bossier City)
9 I have lived in Texas. (Bedford, Irving, and The Colony, all near Dallas)
10 I have lived in Georgia. (Powder Springs, NE of Atlanta)
11 I have lived in Florida twice. (Fort Walton Beach and Palm Bay)
12 I liked Georgia the best.
13 I (we) have 4 small poodles (Angel, Rosie, Lilly, and Spike).
14 I (we) have one cat (Sassy) who was a stray and still kinda wild.
15 My father has passed away (in 1994),
16 but my mother is still living in Louisiana.
17 I have an older sister in Louisiana,
18 and a younger brother in Louisiana,
19 but my older brother passed away in 2001.
20 I HATE talking on the telephone.
21 I have had four back surgeries, and one kidney stone.
22 I have ABSOLUTELY NO fear of any dog, regardless of size or ferocity, and I do not understand why.
23 One of my dreams is to cross America on a self-supported bicycle tour.
24 I play guitar, but I'm not that good.
25 I worked for Delta Airlines for a number of years,
26 and it breaks my heart to see Delta in danger of folding.
27 I don't like sweet tastes with my main meal. (Cranberry sauce, sweet and sour sauce, etc.)
28 My favorite foods are pizza with everything, including anchovies, and home grilled hamburgers.
29 I prefer writing by hand on paper to typing words on a computer.
30 I watch TV some, but could totally live without it.
31 I have never liked sitcoms. Not even Seinfeld, Friends, MASH, or Raymond.
32 I have never seen even one episode of The Simpsons.
33 I have never seen even one episode of Southpark.
34 My number one all-time favorite CD/album is 'Seeds of Love' by Tears For Fears from 1989;
35 but it actually might be in a tie with the 'By God' CD by the group Disciple.
36 My all-time favorite movie is Local Hero.
37 Since I had an older brother, I NEVER got to be Batman when I was a kid. I was always Robin.
38 I know what I believe about life, God, and politics; and I know WHY I believe what I do,
39 but I don't like to argue about life, God, or politics.
40 I will, however, answer with complete honesty and sincerity any question put to me about life, God, or politics.
41 I like being with people and talking for hours,
42 but I also love being by myself in silence for hours.
43 I've always wanted to live in a two story house, because as a kid I thought stairs were cool. (unfulfilled so far)
44 I would like to move back to Georgia some day.
45 I would like to go back to college for a Master's Degree, and I am working to start that effort in 2007.
46 The famous person I'd most like to have over for Bar-B-Q and talk with a while is Lance Armstrong.
47 I wear glasses all the time, but my eyesight isn't bad enough to be required for my driver's license.
48 I'm nearsighted in one eye, and farsighted in the other.
49 I grew up going to Baptist Churches,
50 but as an adult I've always gone to Charismatic Churches.
51 I realize now that I had a 'Leave It To Beaver' childhood. I had it good, and I have thanked both my parents for this.
52 One of my big regrets is that my Father sold something precious to him for me to go to the doctor as a child, and I always wanted to replace it, but he died before I could.
53 I like sunsets better than sunrises.
54 I have four electric guitars (ridiculous) and one acoustic guitar.
55 I have one electric bass.
56 I have played both guitar and bass at times for my church's services.
57 I have had tinnitus (ringing in the ears) for as long as I can remember, certainly since childhood.
58 I have only broken bones twice; once in the right wrist, and once in the left wrist.
59 I would like to write a fictional novel, and am confident I will some day. UPDATE: I wrote one whole novel for National Novel Writing Month in 2006 and about half of one for NANOWRIMO in 2007)
60 I used to be a serious amateur photographer, but now mostly just take snapshots for posterity. UPDATE: I've re-established my love of photography since starting this blog.
61 I embrace the digital revolution in music and photography.
62 I do not miss film or vinyl records. AT ALL.
63 I like to eat bananas when they are a little bit green and before they get spots.
64 My hair is so thick that every barber I've ever had remarked on it; they earn their money when they cut my hair.
65 My favorite color is blue.
66 I don't have a favorite number, none spark an emotion in me like colors or smells. I really dig prime numbers though.
67 The only sports I really like are pro cycling and college football. Well I usually watch the super bowl in the NFL, but I dislike basketball, NASCAR, and pretty much every other sport.
68 I can't speed read, but I can read a 500-600 page novel in one day. Or two smaller mysteries which tend to be about 300 pages.
69 My memory is such that I can reread books I like every few years and enjoy them again.
70 But I can still do most math I need for engineering work without having to look it up, but I generally do anyway to check accuracy because I'm getting paid for it.
71 I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, and if you break into my home one night, I'll prove it. I'll even let you pick which caliber I use.
72 Over the years I have bought newer versions of my favorite old Hotwheels die cast cars as they are re-issued.
73 My favorite Hotwheel is the Red Baron.
74 I have always LOVED riding bicycles.
75 I usually over-explain things. I stop when I see people's eyes roll back in their heads or if they start snoring.
76 I (we) have one fish. (A beta named Mr. Fish) UPDATE: R.I.P., Mr. Fish. We now have another beta named Mortimer
77 I do not like coffee in any form, hot, iced, coffee flavored candy, nothing.
78 I'm a very good cook, but I don't like cooking. I just like to eat a lot, so I cook.
79 I was born with platinum white hair, but was blond when young, that became light brown hair as an adult, but God is slowly turning my hair back to the original white.
80 I have light blue eyes.
81 I'm extremely right handed, that's why it has been slow going for me learning the guitar.
82 I sat through the full force of hurricanes Jeanne and Frances in 2004 with my family and critters.
83 I also have sat through the outer edges of other hurricanes.
84 I still have home damage yet to be repaired from the 2004 hurricanes. UPDATE: Repairs are all done.
85 I shave most days but have kept a bushy mustache all of my adult life.
86 I still have a strong enough southern accent that people pick on me about it.
87 I have a big vocabulary but I don't use it much when talking because I think $20 words sound stupid spoken in a $2 accent.
88 I have no tattoos or piercings.
89 I like the color pink even thought I'm a male.
90 I like bunches of multi-colored, twinkling lights on my Christmas tree.
91 I detest gangster movies. Detest, I say! (Godfather I, hated it. II and III, didn't bother. Goodfellas, nope.)
92 There have been very few people in my whole life that I couldn't get along with.
93 I'm not naturally a touchy, huggy type person, but I wish I hugged my family more that I do.
94 Other people's traits that bother me are almost always things I hate because I hate them in myself. (does that make sense?)
95 I love doing touristy stuff like stopping at scenic overlooks and to read historical markers.
96 Even as a kid in school I liked word problems best and never understood why people hated them. (still don't I guess)
97 I like any music with great guitar, especially heavy metal (rowdy) and smooth jazz guitar (relaxing).
98 I always read the manual first for any new purchase and always read and follow assembly instructions. It saves time and stress.
99 For pleasure I mostly read fictional adventure and mystery novels to escape for a while. Nonfiction is usually bible related, physics, travel stories, or on the craft of writing.
100 On more than one occasion in my life, I have run while holding a sharp object. I was not harmed.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Wondering How I Would Have Been Different If ...

When I was young, I lived in a small town in Louisiana called Vidalia. It's on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River directly across from Natchez, Mississippi. I went to school from first through seventh grades there between fall of 1968 and spring of 1975.

Then one day my Dad came to me and asked me how I would like it if we moved to Monroe, Louisiana. Now you gotta understand, at age 11, and living in a town of about 4,000 souls, the prospect of moving to a city of 50,000 people was an awesome thing to contemplate. Heck, when we used to travel to visit my paternal grandparents in Bastrop, LA, we would BEG our parents to drive through Monroe so's us country mice could see the big city. People even had two story homes in Monroe! And there were many multi-story buildings too! Wow!

It was like asking me if I wanted to go visit Santa's workshop, so my answer was a big ol' YEAH!

So, after the school year ended in May 1975 (and my sister graduated from HS), we moved to Monroe. And I went from 8th grade through high school there and my first time in college. I consider Monroe to be my home town. This move changed my life so drastically.

And I wonder, what would my life have been like had I grown up in the small town of Vidalia? Not necessarily better or less so, but certainly different.

I think about this because we moved to Palm Bay, Florida when my daughters were in 2nd and 6th grades. How different would their lives be if we would have had an opportunity to stay in Monroe. They started school in Monroe because we had moved back to Louisiana from Georgia for me to attend Louisiana Tech, to finish the electrical engineering degree I'd started at Southern Tech in Marietta, Ga.

It's just strange to think about how different our lives would have been had we gone down different paths than we have. For example, my time in the Atlanta area was the genesis of me starting back to college in the first place. And what a difference my engineering degree has made.

Of the two moves I've talked about here, I would change neither.

Have there been moves or changes in your life you wish you could take back or do you ever wonder how things would have been different?

Terry Bradshaw

Since I talked about having gone to Louisiana Tech, I have to mention this about Terry Bradshaw, a fellow graduate of LA Tech. He just donated a bunch of his football stuff, including super bowl rings and whatnot to the school.

Very, very cool.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Stuff I Think About

I personally think that one of the most fascinating and inspiring things that man has ever accomplished was the launch, repair, and finally the use of the Hubble Space Telescope.

In this world of wars and rumors of wars, voices screaming at the top of their lungs, and plain ol' confusion, it's nice to be able to simply do something that causes my mind to expand and embrace wonder.

As a Christian, I can read my bible. Pray. Meditate on God's awesomeness and be inspired and energized. For me that's big league stuff. But on a different level, I can sometimes be blown away by a sunset, or a cute kid giggling in the grocery store. (I know. Kids are usually screaming in the grocery store. Just go with me here, ok?)

And in that vein of more earthly things that can thrill me, I really like scientific stuff. The Hubble Telescope is the pinnacle (pronounced pea-knuckle) of scientific effort in my book.

And man, the photos from Hubble have been spectacular, haven't they? Beautiful and awesome things out in the universe that we had never seen. Many of it's photos have become famous, but my favorite is one that is not visually that spectacular.

In 1995 Hubble was pointed to a 'keyhole' part of the sky that was, from our perspective, very dark. It was an attempt to see past the closer stuff out into the universe as far as it could see. These photos are called the Deep Field Images. What will amaze you, if you'll enlarge the photo below and just look at it for a couple of minutes, is that almost all of the lights in the photo are GALAXIES. There are individual stars, but what never fails to blow my mind is how this photo of a tiny part of the sky, looking almost to the edge of the visible universe, is the astounding number of galaxies. Hundreds of Milky Ways in one tiny section of sky.
How many lives are on planets out there? At what point in time were these galaxies existing when the light captured by Hubble left them? A billion years ago? Two billion for some?

The universe is so big. It's just SO much to try to take in.

Astronaut Joe Tanner
In the photo to the left, of one of the shuttle missions to repair the Hubble Telescope, you can see a man's arms reaching down from the end of the mechanical arm, near the center of the photo.

This is astronaut Joe Tanner. My daughters got to meet him when he came to their school a number of years ago. And five years ago I got to go watch a night launch, from the VIP area at Kennedy Space Center, of a shuttle mission with Mr. Tanner on it, and it was one of those great memories I'll take to my grave. (STS-97, Nov. 30, 2000)

It's all neato and peachy keen, but those Hubble deep field images never fail to fill me with awe and wonder at this universe.

There IS some justice in the world!

It's about dang time!

Just trying to keep it reah, and represent, here on the Least Significant Bits blog...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Big Headed Quaker Oats Guy and Burger King Guy

Is it just me, or do you guys think these two are pretty creepy?

I like the Burger King commercials because they're funny, like the one the guy rolls out of bed one morning, opens the window shade and there's Huge Head Burger King Guy standing there looking creepy with a sack in hand. But the oversized head and the Hannibal Lecter 'I'm gonna have you for lunch' smile is really freaky lookin'.

The Quaker Oats guy is pretty freaky too because his expression is the one people make when they try to keep their mouths closed and burp quietly. But the Quaker Oats commercials are pretty tame and rather boring.

And hey, I have a pretty big noggin my own self, but these guys...

Maybe they're big-headed brothers who have both found a way to make a living doing characters, like Michael Jackson and Elvis impersonators. (No disrespect to Elvis impersonators meant)

I'm not complainin', I'm just sayin'...

Also, Happy Birthday Lydia


When I was a kid, I loved the old black and white, Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies. And I loved Cheeta, his chimpanzee friend.

The original trainer for Cheeta had 4 chimps. And one of them ended up doing 10 or 12 Tarzan movies.

This Cheeta is still alive and just turned 74 years old!

And is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest known primate. Still relatively healthy although it has to have insulin shots daily for diabetes.

Still has all of his teeth!