Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Broken Glass And Cigarette Butts

Or, God's Ways Of Teaching Us Lessons
When Number One Daughter was a toddler, this would have been early 1987, we were living in Bedford, Texas, between Dallas and Fort Worth.

We had moved there in 1986 so that I could take a job with Delta Airlines.

Number One Daughter had some problems that prevented her from walking until she was about 14 months old. (Why, is long story, maybe for another post) So when she did start walking she surely made up for lost time.

And it was a joy to see her walk, especially in light of what we had been through with her.

She didn't like to be held that much after she could walk and so we let her walk. She wanted to walk, by golly, she had been carried enough!

At this time I worked early mornings and would pick Number One Daughter up from the daycare in the early afternoon. We would go to our apartment, take our stuff inside and head out for a walk.

The goal of the walk, from my perspective, was to go to the communal mail thingy for the apartment complex and get our mail.

Number One Daughter's goal was to explore.

Working mostly at odds with one another, we eventually met both goals.

One day as we headed along the sidewalk, Number One Daughter saw and immediately headed off the sidewalk straight to some broken green glass, like a broken sprite bottle or something. She picked up a big piece and I made her throw it back down. She was bumming because, hey, it was pretty.

We got back on the sidewalk and didn't get too far before she stopped and picked up a cigarette butt. Yuck! Put it down!

Yuck! she repeated, throwing it down.

We headed on, and a few yards from the mail area I had an epiphany.

That's just how God is with us. We call ourselves Christians, and for the most part do our best to follow in Jesus' footsteps as we go along life's path. But we invariably end up turning one way or another off the path to pick up the adult equivalent of pretty broken glass and cigarette butts.

God's trying to keep us 'on the path' and we're off trying to pick up cigarette butts and bottle caps and junk, and in general, do stuff that has no part in a Christian's life. To do stuff that we know is wrong. To do stuff that we know can only hurt us. To see how close to 'living like the world' we can and still think of ourselves as Christian.

There is absolutely no way that I can convey in words here just how forceful the impact of this revelation was to me that day. My head was spinning with the thoughts of it all and don't remember the trip back to the apartment with the mail.

This was the difference between 'head knowledge' and 'heart knowledge.' One is just knowledge, the other is WISDOM.

But I sure remember the lesson I learned that day. I loved and still love Number One Daughter, but as her father, I needed to show her the way and show her the dangers of getting off the sidewalk and getting into things that were harmful to her.

That's what the Bible is all about, people. It's our revelation from God to us about His Son Jesus. Its words contain the blueprint for the type of life we should be living and if we read, study, follow, and live by this Word, we can eventually get to our ultimate goal.

Eternity in God's presence.

How are you doing right now? Are you on the path or are you standing there with your hands full of garbage?

Matthew 7:13-14 (KJV) says, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

John 10:10 (KJV) The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Stolen From The Internet

Nothing original today folks. I saw this recently on the internet and it blew my mind. I LOVE this kind of stuff.

i bet yhou dnid't konw tihs

i cdnuolt blveiee taht i cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht i was rdanieg. the phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at cmabrigde uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.

the rset can be a taotl mses and yhou can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. azanmig huh? yaeh, and i awlyas tghuuhot slpeling was ipmorantt.

Is that cool, or what?

Just thought I would share.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day 2006

My thoughts and prayers go out for all the brave men and women presently serving in the U.S. military. God bless all of you and your families.

I salute all of those men and women who have died in military service to America.

Today is about you. It's not about hot dogs and car races.

Thank you all for your service and your sacrifice.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday May 28, 2006

Here is a representative cross section of the slides I have been scanning. Some are my Father in Law's shots, and some are mine.

My Father in Law took this of their side of the family in around 1960-61. You won't care about the people, but I put it here so you could check out all of the old cars.
This is one of Lovely Wife (right) and a cousin with Lovely Wife's new Beagle.

A cool red sunset one evening at a rest area off I-20 near Meridian, Mississippi in November of 1982.

A Studebaker Golden Hawk I took a picture of at a service station in Birmingham, AL, in November of 1982.

This is one of my parent's slides of me, Big Brother (on seat), and Big Sister on a family vacation to Florida in summer 1966.

Another of my parent's slides of Big Brother, Big Sister, and me on a family vacation to Florida in summer 1966. I wasn't saluting, the sun was killing my eyes.

I was out taking pictures of flood waters near Monroe, Louisiana around February, 1983. I set the camera on a picnic table and took a picture of myself. That would make me just over 20 years old here.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Here's The Deal

I'm sick. Yay me. Sick on a holiday weekend. I've just been trying to work on learning to scan photos better and to learn some new tricks in Photoshop Elements because they don't require much brain power or physical power.

So for the next few days you'll get to see my photo experiments because I don't feel up to trying to write new stuff.

Today you get my attempts at making matted photo frames in Elements.

An encrusted bottle on the beach. Ronald Reagan picture I took in January '83. And Sara, our family dog through my teen years.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Pet Communicator

The other night I was trying to scan some slides. It is a slow and tedious process, so what I was doing was starting a scan then surfing the web. Repeat until I needed to go to bed. I ran out of things to surf for and started Googling people I knew years ago to try to see if I get any hits. (I don't show up myself, either)

There was a girl, one year behind me in high school, that went to Neville H.S. up through the 11th grade. After that, she left to go to one of those 'Fame' type, performing arts high schools somewhere. I'll leave her name out of it. She is the niece of a famous TV actress from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Then around 1982 a high school friend told me he was at a club one night that was showing MTV on a big screen TV. Both MTV and Big Screens were pretty new then and he said he looked up to watch a certain group's video, and there was Year-Behind-Me-Girl as the main dancer. Essentially she danced and portrayed the girl the song was about.

Then years later when we're living in Georgia, around 1990, I'm trying to wind down after work and started watching some cheesy late, late, late, movie (I worked 3:30 to Midnight then and got home at 1am) and there was Year-Behind-Me-Girl in some horror movie. I didn't stay up to watch the movie despite having known her in high school.

So the other night, I'm striking out with my searches on the internet and it hits me that maybe at least Year-Behind-Me-Girl might show up on a search. Sure enough I got a few hits and saw stuff about the couple of horror movies she did, and stand in gigs for actresses who needed a dance double.

And in one of the links I saw that her actual name is not the nick name we knew her as, it's a full name. Like a Joey in high school might later prefer to be called Joseph as an adult. So I Googled that full name.

And there she is in all her glory. She is presently a world travelling Pet Psychic!

Excuse me. Pet Communicator.

She's even been on quite a few national TV shows here and abroad.

And here's the kicker. I read the WHOLE site thinking, well, good for her, she's successful and all, so more power to her. Then I got to reading her Bio on the site and it says she was born in 1973. I, being the mathematical genius that I am, did the math in mere seconds. That would mean she was 6 and 7 years old when I knew her and when she was a junior at Neville.


So, either she was a mature looking, genius, 7 year old when I knew her, or she's, shall we say, stretching the truth about her age on her web site.

I went to Louisiana public schools, but even I can't buy that she was born in 1973.

So, after all that, I was a bit let down. I mean, I can understand vanity and lying about your age, but isn't trying to get people to take you seriously as a pet psychic tough enough without lying? Yeah, not many people would really know that she's around 42 and not 32, but still, why lie about it?

And I have to hand it to her, the years have been very kind to her and it's obvious she takes great care of herself. If she can pass for ten years younger than she actually is, she's doing better than me in that regard.

But it makes the whole pet communicator gig seem kinda sketchy if you ask me. She even has some well known people saying good things about her abilities and has published books on the subject that you can get on

Say, we DO have one dog, Lilly, who is pretty schizoid, I wonder if Year-Behind-Me-Girl could... Nah! Never mind.

And though I suck at being a gossip, this is too good not to share. I don't even have the guts to name her here.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

What's That Song You're Playing?

I can't remember if I've mentioned it, and I'm, like, WAY too lazy to read my previous posts, but Lovely Wife works part time at our church.

Our church is small but we have a really nice recording studio and an FM radio station.

WWIA 88.5 FM, Where The Word Is Alive! is the zinger you hear on there all the time. Only plays praise and worship music. The license allows only enough strength of signal to cover Palm Bay and Melbourne, Florida. Not very strong.

The station basically was a dream of our Pastor's for years and in the early '90s, I think, it was actually a reality. They had to jump through mucho hoops with the FCC to get it on the air.

The station basically runs itself. It is so automated we just have to have people there for checking things, fixing problems, and whatever live stuff we want to do.

Last year they asked Lovely Wife to work at the church a few hours per day; basically to be the church secretary.

There is a telephone line for the radio station, although in general no one is manning the station. But as church secretary, Lovely Wife has to answer that line. Many times it's people wanting to know what that song they're playing is. Or, what was the song you played three songs ago? And she has to give a brief explanation of why she doesn't know, automated system, play list of thousands of songs, etc.

But when I call up there to speak with her during the day I always call the radio station line because it is little used.

When she answers, "WWIA!" I always ask, in different voices and accents, "What's the name of that song you're playing?"

She always knows it's me though. (frown) I haven't fooled her even once!

I told her that from now on, when people call and ask her what song is on, she needs to tell them it's "I Think I Love You" by The Partridge Family.

Because I think that would be really funny.

But then again, what an engineer thinks is funny can really be, you know, not so funny to normal people.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Anchoress

Oh my goodness! You simply MUST go and read The Anchoress's blog on "The Essential President Bush."



Hooya Gonna Vote Fer?

I decided that I'm not going to let politics upset me any more. I was born while Kennedy was POTUS. Then there was Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Daddy Bush, Clinton, and now Son Bush.

And I'm still here, despite their party affiliations and promises. Almost every single thing in my life with any value at all, was something I earned myself or was given to me by someone who loves me.

That's pretty much it. Looking back on it all, who the President was or is, hasn't affected my personal life a lot.

I do still think that being politically aware is important and also that all legal citizens of America should vote. I'm going to stay on top of things, pray, decide, and vote. Every opportunity I have to do so. It's a privilege.

Having said all of that I'm not going to rant any more about things political. I DO, however, reserve the right to speak as clearly and as calmly as I possibly can about political issues.

So, now, I ask again. Hooya Gonna Vote Fer?

We have elections coming up this fall. President Bush's approval rating is still pretty low as I write this. The Main Stream Media, henceforth referred to as MSM, seem to indicate that this spells doom for the Republicans in these upcoming elections.

But you know what I'm thinkin'?

I'm thinkin' that those polls are of just plain folks. And most plain folks don't vote. Even if they polled registered voters who plan to vote, Bush's numbers would probably be less than he and his cohorts would like to see,

but, in the end, most Republican voters, like me, will get out and vote for Republicans on voting day. And I personally believe that there will be a bigger turnout of Republicans than the MSM can imagine.

Know Why? Because most God-fearing, hard-working conservatives, don't spend their time whining and moaning to the MSM. They are too busy working, raising kids, and keeping their homes in order. And like I said, in the end, these quiet millions get out there and vote.

We saw it so plainly in the last Presidential election in 2004.

I had just had my lower spine fused in mid-October of 2004 and was pretty much living in my lifter type recliner. I could do almost nothing for myself and watched a lot of TV. Of course the Presidential election was less than a month away, so I spent fifteen to twenty hours per day watching election stuff. I couldn't sleep much because of pain, and all that was on TV was politics.

Without exception, the pundits of all stripes, on all the news channels predicted a Kerry win in a squeaker, or by a small but comfortable margin.

But unh-uh. That ain't what happened. It was Bush in a squeaker. Because all of the quiet ones got out there and voted.

Why do you think all the Democrats who normally wouldn't be caught dead in a church have been proclaiming their spirituality the last couple of years? They want in on some of that action is what they want. Recently we had the chairman of the Democratic National Committee (Ol' Yee-ha Dean) on the Seven Hundred Club, spouting lies just to try to take some of the Christian vote, and as soon as he was off camera, and being blasted by his own people, he recanted and basically denied truly having the position he spoke of on the Seven Hundred Club.

Why do you think the Democrats want to make twelve million illegal aliens into US citizens? Because they hope that every one of them will vote Democrat. That's all they see. Twelve million potential votes for Democratic Presidential candidates. Nothing more.

So where does this leave us? Do we abandon the Republican party and vote Democrat in protest because we are disappointed in Bush or Congressional Republicans? Nah. Anyone that would do that has no conviction of their beliefs. Vote for Independents? Nah. Not that either. I was registered as Independent most of my adult life and voted as such, but it got us nowhere. I didn't vote for Ross Perot, but his campaign put Clinton in the white house twice. I don't like how the two party system works, but what's a guy to do? Just like I said, pray, decide, and vote. A vote for Independents right now is a vote in the Democrat's favor.

In the end, Republicans, despite their obvious shortcomings, will still get votes from people like me and Lovely Wife, if for no other reason than to try to get the country to lean toward pro-family things.

At least I hope the quiet ones still care enough to get out and vote again. If only to counter the votes of people like Natalie Mains, Madonna, Barbara Streisand, Bruce Springsteen, and Neil Young.

I know Lovely Wife and Myself will. The quiet ones protest in the voting booth, not on the streets or from the concert stage.

Will you?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Warning: Intense Mathematics Ahead!

Not really. Just said that to wake you up and get your blood pressure up enough for all y'all to wrap your noggins (heads) around what I want to talk about.

It actually does deal with mathematics, but only subtraction, which, if you can read this post, you can probably do. Not gonna do any triple integrals here folks, so don't worry. Plus, even if I wanted to do triple integrals, I don't know how I would put the symbols and such that are necessary onto Blogger. I just use Blogger to vent, and don't want to have to, like, actually work or anything.

So here's the backstory: I love bicycles. I love riding mine, which living in Florida, is appropriately a cruiser. But it has six speeds to handle all the brutal inclines of Florida's mountainous terrain. Just kidding about the mountains, the gears are for getting someone of my mass up to riding speed. Anyhoo, I also follow professional cycling, which is mainly a European sport, but is more accessible with the availability in the U.S. of Cycle Sport Magazine and the Outdoor Life Network on TV.

Occasionally I buy a Cycle Sport Magazine but have never subscribed to it because it is really expensive for a magazine. But over the years I have bought items through Cycle Sport Magazine and regularly get emails from them at home about the new issue or whatever they are hawking at the time.

Here's the deal, or at least 'they' think it's a deal. Their latest email to me offers this subscription package:

Order a one year subscription for $49.95 for the next year, and they will give me a FREE gift. This free gift, they state, has a $19.95 value. So far, so good. OR I can NOT get the FREE gift and just order a year's subscription for $39.95.

Now here's the math part so follow along, ok? If a year's subscription is $49.95, and there's a free gift, even if I don't want the gift, using the finely tuned math processor between my ears, the subscription should still be $49.95. Am I right, here? But it isn't. If you don't want the FREE gift, you only pay $39.95 for a year's subscription. That means you are paying $10.00 for a FREE gift that, in theory, is worth $19.95.


I'm sure mere mortals would fall for that, but not me and my highly trained organic computational device. I saw their faulty thinkin' within a week immediately. I'm thinking that the powers that be, at Cycle Sport Magazine's headquarters, aren't very good at basic math. Besides, hey, you don't need calculus to ride a bicycle, right?

I've never looked into where this magazine originates, but now I'm thinking maybe France?

I went to Louisiana public schools and I figgered this deal out!

Don't believe me? Here is the jpeg of the ad.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Musical Weekend

I absolutely love music, and if you have read here for a while, you would know that I really lean towards guitar heavy music. The problem is, that although I am very blessed with a great job, I’ve had some health issues the past few years that caused me to miss a lot of work. We’re still trying to recover financially from my being on disability. Doin’ good, but things are still tight. This makes simple things like buying new CDs by favorite bands a bit difficult. The price of two CDs is like another bill, and that isn’t always easy to absorb.

But this past weekend, I broke down and bought POD's newest CD ‘Testify’ and also Kutless’s latest CD ‘Hearts Of The Innocent.’

Quick Aside: If you read this blog, you’ve gone also to the link on the right to Emily’s blog, Impressive Pizza. (If not, shame on you!) In her last post, she talks about Rap/Reggae sensation Matisyahu. (Sorry, I think it’s cool when they say ‘sensation’ about a rising star.) As Emily had ordered, I went and listened to his stuff, and although it’s not for me, it is undeniably well done music. I just really, really dislike straight up rap and reggae.

Anyway, I get the POD CD going and who is a guest star on the CD? You got it! Matisyahu. I can handle POD doing rap and reggae because they always throw in a heaping helping of distorted guitar. Kinda like a food you don’t like much but make palatable by adding extra salt and pepper, and maybe hot sauce.

POD ‘Testify’. After one complete listen, I’m gonna declare it to be 4 out of 5 stars.

I have to say that this CD is head and shoulders above the last one they did. I get a real good vibe from the CD and it is a good mix of really hard (heavy guitar) songs and softer ones. And the softer songs have a kind of dreamy sound to them. I love that dreamy, floating sound in the melody of a song. They lyrics are searching and hopeful and spiritual. I LIKE having to try to figure out what they’re talking about in a song and really dislike a lot of Christian music that uses the same tired ol’ Christian catch phrases.

Yeah, I know, I suck as a critic, but I’ve only listened to it once and am not prepared to give you a song by song break down. So, for now the 4 out of 5 stars and the great heavy guitar grooves by Jason Truby and the inspiring dreamy sounding slow songs will have to do. If yoose guys like POD even marginally, you’ll love this CD. There was only one song on there that gets a pass from me, and it’s really a total rap song. They shoulda thrown some more guitar at that one.

Kutless ‘Hearts Of The Innocent’. After one complete listen of this one, I’m gonna declare it to be 3.5 out of 5 stars.

But I reserve the right to up that star rating later. Only problem with declaring a star rating so early is the knowledge that many of my favorite CDs of all time were underwhelming on the first couple of listens. But after only one time through, I have to say that Kutless have come up with a really solid CD from one end to the other. In this day and time, one of my pet peeves is the knowledge that CDs cost little to produce and yet cost fifteen smackeroos, on average. So, if a CD only has a few good songs on it, I get upset. So a Cd that is good from end to end, even if not absolutely awesome, is fine with me. Plus I know already that this is one of those CD that will only get better with subsequent listenings. That is cool too and makes me look forward to listening to it more.

But I have to tell you, track number six ‘Winds Of Change’ is one of those songs that is worth the whole price of the CD. The music is great, lyrics are Awesome, and it is one of those songs that is a ‘total package.’ I love songs sung from God’s perspective.

So tell me all your dreams
Tell me all your fears and what you're longing for the most
It's not another way
That'll end up the same for it's under my control

I'll be the one who you can cry to
The one who will give you wings
I will give wings

So I have to recommend both the new POD ‘Testify’ and Kutless ‘Hearts Of The Innocent’ CDs to you. Both have a good mix of rockin’ tunes and slower, more thoughtful but super well-done songs as well.

Go get’em! Now!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday May 21, 2006

I have begun to scan and archive some of the many thousands of 35mm slides and negatives I have. To add to that, I also have all of my Father-in-law’s 35mm slides from all the years he took them. It is a massive job, and I can only deal with the sheer magnitude of the task by doing the ones that interest me at whatever time I feel like scanning. I just have to be careful to be organized and keep track of which images are done and not done. It is too tedious a task to either have do-overs or to miss some shots.

Anyway, this weekend I have done a few from my childhood. A family vacation in Destin, Florida in summer 1966 when I was three and a half. I include these slides because I was able to take slides that were so dark and out of focus as to have never gotten a good look at them, and with the help of Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0, resurrect them, so to speak. These were unusable images that are now precious because they are now visible.

Spiffy neato.

These first three images were 35mm slides that were so dark they couldn’t be seen well even if projected. I have a Minolta Dimage Scan Elite II scanner I used and then used Elements 4.0 to fiddle with the scans ‘til I had made them into visibly pleasing photos.

This first one with (l to r) me, Mama, Big Brother, and Big Sister was the worst one. All you could see of the people in the pic were vague outlines. Cool huh?
This next photo is of Big Sister, Me, and Daddy. I can’t stop looking at this one because I was never able to see it well enough to get visual information from it. I remember hanging on to my father because the little fish in the water would touch my legs and freak me out. What a wimp.
This one is cool because it’s just me and my Dad. Plus it was the only time in my life I had a documented six-pack. Check them abs out, would ya!
For kicks I scanned some B&W negatives of Lovely Wife’s old family poodle, Dixie, so this image is of her. This was one sweet and cute dog.
This one is a B&W negative from one of my college photography classes in the early 1980’s. Enlarge it and tell me what you see. This is a picture that I took of natural objects, but the image is deceiving. You are not looking at what you think you see at first glance. If you can tell me what it is, leave me a comment. It’s not brain surgery, but my photography instructor loved this photo and had me mount a copy which he displayed in the hallway of the art building on campus.
This last one is a scan of a B&W negative. I had taken a picture of a picture of my paternal grandmother. This picture was taken in around 1915. The original photo was a print that was horribly scratched. I’ve begun my fix with Elements, but have a ways to go. I’m including this because I feel like it. She was the person who told me about Jesus and instilled in me a desire to know God. Many Christians can point to someone in their family who prayed them into The Kindgom of Christ. Mamaw Eunice is the one who did that for me and my siblings. She was about 3 or 4 here. I remember her telling me that she was mad for some reason or another, so she refused to smile.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Tiger Crew And Shasta

This is something I never forgot about like I spoke of in my lion story the other day, and when I tell people about this, I can tell that some don't quite know whether to believe me or not.

I went to high school at Neville High School in Monroe, Louisiana from fall of 1976 to May of 1980 when I graduated.

They have a zoo in Monroe called the 'Louisiana Purchase Gardens And Zoo.' It's not a great zoo as zoos go, but it's better than you would expect a city of 55,000 people to have.

Anyhoo, at that time, the male Bengal tiger in the zoo actually belonged to our high school. His name was Shasta. He was born and lived his whole life at this zoo. Here is a picture of him (click).

My senior year I was part of what was called The Tiger Crew.

On the Friday mornings of football season, our responsibilities were as follows:

  • Get Assistant Principal's big 4x4 Ford pickup truck and get to the zoo.
  • Help zoo workers put small tiger cage against Shasta's cage door.
  • Wait for workers to coax Shasta into small cage with food or something.
  • All of us push 400+ pound tiger, with cage, up a set of rails into truck.
  • Cover Shasta and cage with big blankets to help him keep calm and to try to keep him from peeing on us. (more on this later)
  • Get back to school and put Shasta in cage on stage of auditorium for pep assembly.
  • After pep assembly was over, reverse above process.

If the game that night was a home game or in town somewhere at a local rival's school, we would do the following:

  • Get one of the rich student's big 4x4 Ford pickup truck and get to the zoo.
  • Help zoo workers put large pull-behind tiger cage against Shasta's cage door.
  • Wait for workers to coax Shasta into large pull-behind tiger cage with food or something.
  • No pushing of 400+ pound tiger with large pull-behind tiger cage, thank God.
  • Pull Shasta in big cage to whatever local stadium and park him behind our school's football team sideline on the running track.
  • Try to get girl's attention while being ultra-cool right next to 400+ pound tiger.
  • After the football game was over, reverse above process.

Now Shasta was, as I said, raised there in captivity. He was pretty docile but he was so big and impressive that you never forgot for a split-second that this guy could rip you to shreds.

I didn't know until my first day on the Tiger Crew that male tigers like to mark their territory. Male tigers mark their territory by raising their tails and spraying their scent straight back in a stream of pure ammonia urine. Or what ever that stuff is, but I DO know ammonia is the major component. Trust me, I know.

Not trying to gross anybody out here. Just trying to be real. This was a constant problem with Shasta.

Move a male tiger, and as soon as you stop, he's the boss and he knows it, so he commences to marking the new territory. This was the main reason we put blankets over his small cage for morning pep assemblies, too keep us from getting sprayed.

Shasta's spray to mark his territory would shoot ten or fifteen feet, and near the end of it's flight would almost magically atomize into a cloud. I've seen nothing like it before or since. Every single week after getting him back to the zoo, one or more of us had to go home to shower and change before going back to school. His spray was truly like being sprayed with a super soaker type water gun filled with pure ammonia.

Looking back it is funny, but we HATED getting sprayed with tiger pee pee.

One question I have since so much time has gone by:
1. Why would the Neville High School powers that be, and the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo turn a 400+ pound tiger over to four seventeen year olds? Were they stinkin' insane?

Four seventeen year old males driving around in a pickup truck with a 400 pound tiger in a cage in the back? Bah. Letem do it. What trouble could they possibly get into?

It absolutely boggles my mind that they let us do that.

I like to use the phrase, good times, good times.

But these were some of my Great Times! Great Times!

I loved every minute of doing all that.

Except for the whole getting sprayed with the ammonia scent, territory marking, tiger pee pee thing.

Here's a picture of three of the four of us at a game, with Shasta (me on right)(click).

Friday, May 19, 2006

Almost (in)Famous

My co-workers laid in wait for me yesterday. When I got to work they were hoping I hadn't heard the news. (I hate working with people who get to work REALLY early and then make you feel like a slacker for getting there merely on time)

"What news?", says I. Lamb to the slaughter folks, lamb to the slaughter.

With a certain glee, they told me there was a guy named JJJJ MMMM (name two letters different than mine, same last name) in Volusia County Florida, the next county north of ours, that had been arrested for soliciting what he thought was a thirteen year old boy on the internet, to come to Daytona Beach (Ormond Beach, actually) to be his sex slave.

When Guy-With-Basically-Same-Name-As-Me showed up at the Greyhound Bus Station to pick up his new toy, he was quite surprised to find cops instead of a tender thirteen year old boy.

Turns out that, on the internet, Tender-Thirteen-Year-Old-Boy was actually Detective T.C. Bloxom of Bossier Parish, Louisiana.

A cop.


My "friends" here at work, I might have to recategorize them, were just having fun at my expense because our names are almost the same.

Freaked them out when I told them that I lived for several years in Bossier Parish, Louisiana. (pronounced BOSE-yur) Number One Daughter was born in Bossier City, La. (Number Two Daughter was born in Texas, a total other story.)

If you-uns is interested, here's the story.

Anyway, I was an almost-celebrity yesterday. Yay for me.

Engineer humor sometimes sucks. Plus, if you go read the article, you'll see that Guy-With-Basically-Same-Name-As-Me was wearing suspenders with his blue jeans.

As If!

I'm a belt guy all the way.

Da Vinci Code Starts Tonight

I'm not gonna go see the movie.

I read the book as soon as it came out because I had already read all of Dan Brown's earlier works. When I read it, there was not even any hoopla yet, and I didn't know what it was about. I just knew that it had the same character, Robert Langdon, as his previous book.

I actually liked Da Vinci Code least of all his books. I don't begrudge a guy his success but he's not really that good a writer. He has good plot twists and stuff, which I love, but the writing itself just isn't too great.

I am TOTALLY mystified as to why this book has sold forty million copies in hardback.

I'm a Christian, but I wasn't offended at the premise, but the sheer magnitude of the success of this book makes me back off.

I hate to say it, but there are lots of people out there who will be influenced by this story. Doesn't say much for their intelligence or the strength of their beliefs (if any), but, well, never mind.

I'm not going to see it, even though I like Tom Hanks and Ron Howard.

I'm not too worried either. Christianity has hung in there for over 2000 years despite it's adherents being crucified, fed to lions and in general hated. (Shameless Self Promotion: speaking of lions, see yesterday's post for cool lion story)

One more movie isn't gonna bring Christianity down. But I won't be giving them my money.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Memory Lane Is A Dangerous Drive

Earlier today I wrote about lions, a couple in Kentucky trying to keep their pet lion, and also memories of an old friend who had a lion cub for a while.

Seeing that story in the news about the couple in Kentucky is what reminded me of Chris N. and him having a lion cub in his apartment.

This is what bothers me about the memories of Chris' lion and prompted the title of this post:

I had totally forgotten about Chris N. and his lion, and the times I was over there with my older brother Paul. I mean that literally. I had not thought of that in over twenty years! Those memories are some cool and funny things. That I had forgotten about them is not cool or funny.

Don't you think something as strange as having a friend with a pet lion that you wrestled with and played with would be something you would think of often, if only to liven up a half-dead conversation with someone?

I can't do anything to change that I forgot this for so long, but I've been in a funk all day about it.

I mean, what other things have I totally forgotten?

Pet Lion

Did y'all see this story about the couple in Kentucky who have a full grown pet lion, and that the county they live in is trying to pass a special ordinance that would force them to get rid of him? (His name is Kitty. Awww.) This is his picture.

Remember now, I'm from Louisiana, ok?

Just after I got out of high school in 1980, my older brother's best friend was a guy from West Monroe, La. Chris N.

You have to understand that there are some world-class rednecks in Louisiana. And Chris N. was an elite redneck. This guy was a real piece of work and easily one of the funniest people I ever have known. At that time Chris was 6'4" and about 325lbs. He was a welder and monstrously strong. Just a working class redneck who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.

Also, guns were EVERYWHERE. Owning and shooting guns is just part of life there, like taking out the trash, or whatever. (It cracks me up how characters on TV shows are so fearful of guns, and recoil with revulsion from even touching an unloaded gun.)

And Chris N. had a gun collection to be envied, iffen you were the type to envy another man's gun collection. Feared if you hate guns.

One day Chris, being a spur-of-the-moment kinda guy, trades one of his prize hunting rifles for a male lion cub. Yes, a male lion cub, probably about 30lbs at the time.

My older brother Paul tells me about this one day and we strike off to West Monroe to Chris' APARTMENT, to see the lion.

He's just as cute as can be, and loves to play, but even that small he's unbelievably strong. I'll never forget how rough his tongue was, he loved to lick people. And in less than a week this cub has shredded parts of the carpet and every single piece of furniture in the apartment.

You. Have. Never. Seen. Claws. Like. This. Up. Close. Nevah.

Oh yeah, Chris rented a furnished apartment. So the carpet and the furniture were part of the rented stuff.

Anyway, within weeks this lion is up to about 70lbs and about as tall as a big dog like a labrador or german shepherd. But at 70lbs, this cat can knock Chris (6'4", 325lbs), my brother Paul (6'1", 275lbs), or me (6'1", 225lbs) down at will, whenever he felt like wrestling (rasslin', in Louisiana). And the cat (I can't remember for the life of me what Chris named him) felt like rasslin' pretty much any time anyone got up to go to the kitchen or bathroom.

I will never, ever forget the sheer strength of this cat. I mean he's stronger than anything I ever personally played with. And if you have a house cat, you know that all of a cat's play is really just practice for killing. And this lion would jump out from behind stuff and tackle you. It's amazing to think about how big and strong we were at that time and yet how pathetic all our strength was compared to this 70lb lion. And, he was only about one fifth the size he was going to get.

Eventually, Chris' landlord found out about the lion and threatened to call the cops. Why he didn't do that first anyway, I don't know. Just another day as a landlord in Louisiana, I guess. And Chris being the world-class redneck he was (probably still is), was getting tired of taking care of the lion. So, he found someone in his northeast Louisiana redneck brotherhood who wanted the lion in trade.

What did Chris get in trade for a male lion cub?

Why, a classic, VW bug framed, 70's era dune buggy, of course. Similar to this one.

Ah, those were the days. Sigh. Good times, good times.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Nothin' Special


Well, I didn't have any nightmares about yesterday's snake. That's cool with me.


On I-95 down here in good ol' Brevard County, the on ramps are nice and long with gradual curves to get you on the highway. Plenty of room for even a twenty year old Hyundai Excel to get up to 70mph and safely merge onto the highway. And I-95 is brutal. You must have nerves of steel.

So why is it I'm always trying to get on the highway behind the knucklehead that only gets up to about 50mph and then just merges over into the highway regardless of the traffic at the time? Cars scatter trying to avoid these morons.

Just tryin' to stay alive on I-95.

This is a good place for some traffic rap.

Yes, rap.

I hate rap too but the movie Malibu's Most Wanted is hilarious and has an appropriate line:

B-rad: Traffic, traffic, lookin' fo my chapstick. Feelin' kinda car sick. There goes a Ford Maverick.

Good stuff man. B-rad is the shiznitz.


I Sound Like A Girl, but...

I was able to get into some of my older smaller blue jeans today.

Of course I can't sit down until tonight when I get home and take them off, but hey, I'm wearing them.

Just kidding. I actually didn't even have to suck in the ol' gut to fasten them, which is a nice surprise. But that means I could have already been wearing them. Bummer.

And you thought only women got excited about this?

Most guys just don't talk about it. But you're getting the straight scoop here on Least Significant Bits.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wanna See Something Scary?

You know how stuff gets passed around the internet and emails? You don't know the truth of half the stories, but the pictures alone can blow your mind. These creeped me out big time.

I know I'll have nightmares over this. Big Sister sent me this story and the accompanying photos. I don't know the accuracy of the text but the pictures? To quote the great philosopher Joey Lawrence, "Whoa!"

Photos of a snake caught on an electric fence on a sheep & cattle station near the NSW town of Nyngan....

Some tourists on holiday came across the snake caught in an electric fence, being continually shocked, and getting very angry!

The group wondering what to do, decide to divert the current, cut the wire AND let the snake go! (As you should do) When the property owner found out he went ballistic, besides being upset about his fence, the snake had been eating lambs in the area, and he'd been trying to track it for ages. He did not appreciate the help! Always whinging aren't they!) Australians are used to a big snake or two, but wait till you see this old fella!

Now assuming the fence you see is at least four feet tall, you get a sense of the size of this monster!


Monday, May 15, 2006

Florida Alligator Attacks

Living in Florida can be hazardous to your health. There have been three fatal alligator attacks in the past few weeks.

Go near the zillions of canals and retention ponds and risk alligator attack. (Homes have to be built up on mounds here and buildings like stores, the place I work, etc., have to create a drainage area, usually called a retention pond, to make up for area taken by the building.) The retention ponds look nice but soon attract all sorts of critters, some beautiful, some dangerous. If you remember, a few weeks ago, the company I work for sent out an alligator warning email (click link) to all employees in the Melbourne, Florida area. There are all kinds of drainage canals in this part of Florida to handle rain runoff from rain since building on land reduces area for rain to soak in.

Go in the ocean and you risk shark attack.

The odds of having one of these attacks is like trying to win the lottery (in a twisted way of thinking), but it's still scary to think about.

I grew up in Louisiana and when we went swimming in bayous and lakes we always had to check the area for leeches, snakes (water moccasins), and gators. It COMPLETELY creeps me out now to think of the places we went swimming when I grew up. I wouldn't swim in those places now for money. I guess I've gotten chicken as I've gotten older.

Even 10 years ago when I was back in Louisiana working on my engineering degree at La Tech in Ruston, when we would try to go swimming in the swimming pool that my in-laws had in Monroe, you had to walk around the pool and look to the bottom all the way around before getting in or letting the kids get in. We had to rid the pool of snapping turtles, opossums, snakes, and other critters at different times. And the pool was in a fenced yard.

Swimming in my tiny backyard pool is about as adventurous as I want to get right now.

As Roseanne Roseanna Danna would say, "It just goes to show you, Jane. If it's not one thing, it's another, BUT IT'S ALWAYS SOMETHING."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday May 14

I have been trying to scan some of the thousands of 35mm slides I've taken over the years. Here are a few I've done in the past few days that I liked. Some for color. Some for mood. Whatever. All are from 1981 and 1982.

Give these a click.

These were flowers in my then future in-laws' back yard.

This was a sunset at a rest area on I-20 near Meridian, Mississippi. The colors are accurate. It was totally bizzare. People were out of their cars looking at the sky.

This was a sunset on Panama City Beach, Florida in August of 1982.

This was also on Panama City Beach, Florida in August of 1982.

This is me and Lovely Wife in November of 1982, one month before we were engaged.