Friday, June 30, 2006

Massachusetts Is Going TOO Far

First their state Legislature legalized homosexual marriage.

But this time, well, they are proving that they are just plain evil.

Here's a news article explaining it way better than I can.

I'm just so mad I could spit.

The news link won't last forever so I'll print part of it for you:
"Fluff" Flies In School Lunch Debate
By Scott Malone
Thu Jun 22, 6:41 AM ET

BOSTON (Reuters) - When it comes to food, Boston is best known for baked beans and clam chowder. But this week, state legislators have engaged in robust debate on Marshmallow Fluff -- a locally made, sugary spread.

State Sen. Jarrett Barrios started the tempest in a lunch box when he learned that his son's Cambridge grammar school cafeteria offered Fluff-and-peanut butter sandwiches daily.

In a nation where child obesity rates have...

Boston area public schools have long offered 'fluffernutter' sandwiches at lunchtime.

(Lovely Wife herself is a major source of income for the Fluff (marshmallow cream) industry. She was raised on fluffernutter, Fluff and peanut butter, sandwiches. They are still a major component of her daily intake of protein and sugar. She even turned my own Sainted Mother onto them. How bad could they be?)

Not only are they an institution up there in Taxachusetts, but the stuff is even made locally. They are helping their local economy with every fluffernutter they eat.

But a sinister plot is afoot wherein fluffernutter sandwiches might be banned from school lunches as unhealthy.

Yet again an American state's legislature moves against the clear will of the average citizen.

It would behoove each of us to keep track of pending local and state issues in our own areas.

If they'll take away a kid's fluffernutter sandwiches, could pixie sticks (my generation's Crack) be far behind?

Wake up Americans!!

You probably have some similar evil plot brewing in YOUR area. Be prepared to write your state legislators, before it's too late.

Not sure if I spelled it right, but did you notice I used the word 'behoove' in a sentence up there? I'm rockin' and rollin' this mornin', I tell ya!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I Coulda Been Rich!

I was gonna say: I coulda been Huge! But I realized, hey, I AM huge. Just not in a good way. I'm not huge, as in popular, but as in gravitationally challenged.

No. What I want to talk about is this: It's too bad we can't make a living at what we are REALLY good at.

My greatest talent is untangling things. Shoestrings. Knots in most anything.

My specialty is untangling all those tiny women's necklaces that end up in a jumble in their jewelry boxes somehow. (Why are they so thin?)

Coupla weeks ago, Number One Daughter comes home from work. I had given her one of those retractable do-hickeys that you clip your work badge onto. It reels out like fishing line and after you've scanned your badge, it snaps back to your shirt. Excuse me. Blouse.

Kinda like a janitor's keychain, only smaller.

Her do-hickey was all tangled up; a mess!

Took me less than thirty seconds and she was ready for work the next day.

I stood on a chair and beat my chest and gave a blood-curdling Tarzan yell, and…

Well, no I didn't, actually, but I did get a warm, fuzzy feeling for having helped her out with a modest display of my true talent.

Man! I'm good at that!

If only I could do it for a living. People would come from all over to have me untangle their stuff. Maybe move to L.A. and untangle all the gold chains of those rappers. Heck, if they'll throw down $800 for bottles of champagne (sham-pag-nee) think of the cash I could make off of those guys! Their gold chains are important to them. (Nah. Better not. Those east coast rappers would get upset because of the whole east coast / west coast thing and would probably bust a cap in me.)

But I coulda been RICH, I tell you.

If only. It's the story of my life.

And yes, I do realize I ended a sentence with a preposition up there. But it's my blog. So there.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The New York Al Qaeda Times…

Treason masquerading as free speech?

I know that I'm behind the curve on this one but it is still just sticking in my craw, so Ima gonna talk about it a bit.

Just a bit.

Some person or some people have seen fit to nullify a document they signed, wherein they swore not to reveal classified information to people not qualified to hear, see, or read such information. This person willfully sided with Al Qaeda against the interests of the United States.

Trust me, I KNOW this. You have to sit through briefings and sign papers, etc., etc., etc. There are many people in this country who daily work with sensitive information and you have to do some silly things to ensure you are not being too careless with this information and documents. But everyone knows, accepts, and deals with all the hoops you have to jump through because, at the end of the day, you love America, and you would never, ever, ever, risk being the knucklehead who accidentally puts sensitive information at risk of disclosure.

This person is criminal at least, and possibly treasonous.

The owners, editors, and reporters of The New York Al Qaeda Times have decided that they too, have willfully sided with Al Qaeda against the interests of the United States.

They should be all be investigated, arrested, and punished to the full extent of the law. And if they cannot be punished for some reason, I hereby volunteer my services to "accidentally" be left in a room alone with these people for five minutes.

The owners and editors of The New York Al Qaeda Times have decided that somehow they themselves are the arbiters of whether or not classified information gets printed for the world to see. Who elected them? What security minded committee in the congress or senate gave them this authority?


The owners, editors, and reporters of The New York Al Qaeda Times have proven yet again that they hate America.

The owners, editors, and reporters of The New York Al Qaeda Times have proven yet again that they WANT America to lose to Al Qaeda in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The owners, editors, and reporters of The New York Al Qaeda Times have once again made me sick at my stomach.

It really bothers me that so many Americans hate America and will willingly and publicly side with our enemies.

I'm glad I'm not a citizen of New York. Their local paper is a worldwide embarrassment and laughing stock.

I'm from Louisiana, and I thought that state had the market cornered on goofy politics, politicians, and general corruption, but WOW, this is ridiculous.

They pretty much ignore last week's story about WMDs that have been found in Iraq, but they turn around and release classified information because they hate George Bush.

And the guy that has revealed this info to The New York Al Qaeda Times, he has actually broken his sworn word to do this. We're talking classified U.S. government secrets that he signed his name that he would protect when he got the clearance here folks. That ain't robbing the Domino's guy of twenty bucks, that's possible treason. It blows my mind. This guy I would LOVE to meet.

And although I am a Bush supporter, I'm not a lock-step, blindly following, rubber-stamping follower. I do not agree with everything they've done and are doing. But we are at war, and I would think that Americans, especially ones working with classified and sensitive information that can help our enemies should be extra careful, NOT EXTRA STUPID. AT LEAST ERR TO THE AMERICAN SIDE, NOT AL QAEDA'S.

Come on people, at the very least you should work within the laws to oust the Republicans from office if you don't like them. That's what elections are for!

I hope, hope, hope, those involved are investigated and punished.

That is all. Carry on.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How To Keep Your Head On Straight…

Or how to straighten it out if it has gotten crooked. (me)

We live in one crazy, mixed-up world. I think both sides of the political spectrum would agree on that, although each would probably blame the other for this.

I can watch the news on TV. I can listen to the news on the radio. I can read the news in the paper or on the internet. I can let all of the horror stories and all the confusion and all of the contradictions drag me down. I can get as conflicted and confused in my mind as the stories themselves.

I can also be under pressure at work. I can be asked to do something that requires me to learn something new while doing that thing for real and for keeps. I can just be under pressure from within, because, with my bad back and the necessity of taking pain medication, I feel as if I've lost twenty or so points off my IQ. Engineering work is usually detailed and can be very difficult. It's like word problems from your old school days all pumped up and huge on steroids, all day long, day after day. I need all the brain power I can muster. Plus I went to Louisiana public schools ;)

I can succumb to worrying (I come from a long and proud lineage of world-class worriers) although I know it's sinful to do so. Kids. Money. Back Pain.

In the past few years, because of my back, I can count the restful, full night's sleeps I've had on my fingers. I can be operating at a low level due to simply being tired so much of the time.

I can also have other physical issues that my doctors find and are trying to treat, and which have symptoms that add to the levels of stress and uncertainty we all live with. (Yeah. Welcome to middle age there big guy.)

And then.

And then one day, while talking to my Pastor, I can casually be asked if I could definitely be at church this coming Sunday. They are going to (water) baptize a bunch of people. He wants pictures taken. He's gonna be performing the baptisms, so he can't photograph them. He asks if I will.

So I read the 215 page manual for my new camera over the days leading up to Sunday. I don't let it stress me. THIS is FUN. I get my camera set up in the ways to maximize my chances at ending up with most of my photos coming out well.

On Sunday, Lovely wife does all the things that help me wake up. Lights on. Talking to me, etc. I encourage this since I am, when actually asleep, a heavy sleeper.

I get up. Get ready. Gather my camera stuff, Lovely Daughters, and go.

I get to church. I haven't been attending regularly of late. I tend to use the weekends to recover physically so that I can last another week at work. (I know. It ain't right, but that's where I am right now, ok?) People are glad to see me. People shake my hand. People hug me. Despite my size, my life's goal has always been to be invisible. But these are all genuine welcomes and I appreciate it very much.

Being back at church is like putting on a favorite old flannel shirt or something.

Praise and Worship is awesome. Loud. People clapping. Singing. Guitars and drums and keyboards and basses. I get caught up.

Pastor M. preaches about the four baptisms spoken of in the New Testament. Preaches with joy from a heart filled with Jesus. From the perspective of someone with an incredibly deep knowledge.

Our church is relatively small, so we don't have the kind of baptismal thinga-ma-jig (font? fount?) that the Baptist churches I grew up in had. They all had a pulpit, a choir loft, and then a big picture window sized opening behind which all the baptisms occurred.

But this is central Florida. Typically, you can walk out in your yard, barefooted and in shorts, in January. It gets chilly from time to time but that's about it. It's now late June and has been hot for quite a while. Our church's baptismal font is a hot tub (not hooked up though) outside the building. It has been cleaned and prepped for today's baptisms. But still it's outside.

Here's where the heart is.

Water baptism is a public act of obedience. By someone who has become a Christian by confessing that they believe in God. That they believe His Son Jesus came to earth and lived as a man. Was put to death in their place. Was buried and rose again on the third day afterward. That He's alive now and sits at the right hand of God the Father pleading our cases before Him.

Water baptism is a public display by a person, that declares to world that they are identifying themselves with Jesus by mimicking of Jesus's death, burial, and resurrection.

This past Sunday, sixteen (16) people, after our church service, put on shorts and baptismal robes. They walked outside to one side of our church building. They lined up, with most of the congregation staying to watch, and one by one climbed into that tub, with it's cold water, and publicly spoke of their love for Jesus and were then were dunked under the water by Pastor M.

I took pictures. And while they came out great, that's not the point.

This is a church made up of every type of person, from high school drop outs to PhDs. People who are financially rich and people who are one step away from living in their cars (if they have one). We watch while some of these people go outside, with traffic going by on the street a hundred yards away, and while wearing white robes, they get baptized. It is a very, very humbling experience just to watch this.

Then, when they're all done, we have communion right there outside on the patio beside the church. And for this Christian, communion never, ever, ever fails to put the brakes on in my head and cause me to concentrate and make sure my heart and mind are clean before taking part.

All these folks wanted was to just follow Jesus's example of water baptism. All just to be obedient to God's word, The Bible. All this while the world goes crazy around them.

But for a couple of hours, people who are so fired up about Jesus that they will run the risk of ridicule and mockery to spend their Sunday morning in praise, preaching, and an extremely public baptism remind me what things are really important in this life.

This life can be painful, stressful, and hard. I can get so confused and so mentally off track that I don't know which way to turn.

But God can stop my spinning head. He can put my feet back firmly on the ground by allowing me the privilege of seeing some of His servants caught in the act of obeying Him.

I can't stop thinking about it and remembering how I felt as a boy and when I was baptized.

God really did choose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, didn't He? Thanks God for humbling me. Thank you Pastor M. for asking me to take pictures. While I enjoyed the opportunity to use my new camera, that turned out to be by far the least important part of that day.

Hebrews 10:22-25. (22)let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (23)Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (24)And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (25)Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV)

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Day Of Mourning

Me going into work.

I swipe my badge and go through the turnstile. (slowly. head hanging)

I go up to the building and to the door closest to my office (yeah sure, office. cubicle actually) and swipe my badge again and enter my code to get into the building.

I walk in and see some of my coworkers.

Coworker #1: Hey Jo... WHAT! Are you wearing?

Me: This old thing? Why this, my ignorant friend, is sackcloth and ashes.

Coworker #2: Sackcloth and ashes? Looks like a dirty burlap bag to me.

Coworker #3: Why the funky clothes? You better hope security doesn't see you running around the building dressed like that!

Me: Well, I'm in mourning. Trying to show a little family solidarity. There has been a tragedy in my family, and I'm showing my support by joining in on the mourning. I don't do mourning half way. I go whole hog. I even paid for some professional mourners but since they can't get a security clearance, they had to stay in the parking lot.

Coworker #3: I thought I heard some screamin' and cryin' out there, but aw man, I'm sorry for your loss. Who died?

Coworker #1: Yeah dude, it must be something serious for you to go into the whole Old Testament routine like that.

Me: Very astute of you Coworker #1, to recognize the origins of this outfit. But no one has died.

Coworker #2: So what gives?

Me: It's simple, guys. My Big Sis is totally in love with country singer Keith Urban.

Clock: tick, tock, tick, tock

Coworker #2: Oh! Oh! I see now! Keith Urban is that guy that married Tom Cruise's ex-wife, what's her name?, oh yeah, Nicole Kidman, this weekend. She's a babe.

Me: Right you are Coworker #2. Big Sis is totally bonkers for Keith Urban, despite her having been married to long-suffering C.T.H. for lo, these many years. (I hang my head and shake it in sympathy for C.T.H. I need a tissue.)

Coworker #1: So you are making a total fool of yourself at work. You're risking your job at worst, and risking getting sent home with an entry into your permanent record at best? All because your Big Sis is despondent over some country singer getting married?

Me: No way silly. You think I'm THAT crazy?! (Know-it-all smile on my face) This isn't really happening. This is all in my head to try to come up with a witty and clever blog post that will poke fun at Big Sis's infatuation with the guy.

Coworker #2: Oh. Ok. Well then, if this isn't really happening, I'm outa here. If I'm just in someone else's mind, then I don't have to be here. Moron. I even shaved today. Gyah! (Door slams)

Coworker #1, Coworker #3: We're gone too. Later dude.

Me: Yeah right. Like someone with as hard core an infatuation as Big Sis has for Keith Urban could be derailed by some arbitrary fact like his being married to one of the most beautiful movie actresses in the world. HA! What a bunch of kidders I work with! Boy howdy! Engineers sure is silly folks!

Me: I mean, check it, mm-K? She and her fellow Keith Urban fans even have a name for themselves: the Chevy subURBANS, or the URBANettes, or some other such sillyness. AND one time at a concert in Waco, Texas (of all places) Big Sis was actually called down front BY KEITH URBAN. DURING THE CONCERT. HE LAYED DOWN ON THE STAGE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF EVERYTHING. HE LET HER RUB HIS SCRUFFY BEARD.

Me: Do you really think that after such a, such an... ENCOUNTER, that she, or any of the other subURBANS, or whatever they call themselves this week, would lessen their fervor for him just because he got married?

Nah! Not a chance.

But this IS probably the darkest time in her life since Donny Osmond got married. ;)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday June25, 2006

Awww. This was taken probably in early 1963. That's me being held by Big Sis, and that's my Big Brother (Paul) on the left. I was scanning my family's old slides and this was one of the better ones of us yunguns. Younger Brother didn't come along until 1970. He's still young and has potential.

I'm including this one for humor. It just cracks me up. Me at about four, with Big Brother at about seven and Big Sis at about nine or ten. Dig those haloween masks.

Just for comparison, here's another one from around the same year. Sans masks. I loved my footy pajamas.

This next one, I had to crop the heck out of it. This is my paternal grandmother, known to us as Mamaw Eunice, me, and my cousin Caren as kids. If you notice in the previous two photos, the photographer (probably my Mom) tended to put the subject(s) in the lower left corner of the image. This was the worst of the lot in that respect, so I cropped it. I've got too much to do just scanning right now to worry about the ideal crop on most of these pics, but this one cried out for it.

These last two are a TOTAL change of pace. They are a couple of photos of the outside of our home after hurricanes passed through. This first one, this 40-50 ft palm tree broke perfectly and just layed over on our roof without damaging it.

This next photo is from the side of our home. We had a ginormous mango tree that got pretty much gutted. We had a guy out who said he could trim and save what was left, but before he could, another hurricane came through and finished it off. Mango trees have very brittle branches and two direct hits by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004 destroyed ours. It put out so many mangos every year we would eat them, freeze ones we had cut up and make cobbler with them all year, and I would take them to work to give away. We miss this tree. It was beautiful AND produced wonderful fruit.

Have a great day!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Are You Bored?

Alright people. Here's a few more. If I'm boring you, let me know. Leave me a comment if all the pictures are boring you. Or, if you like the pictures and want less writing, I could do that. I'm just in picture mode right now, what with all the scanning of old slides and the new camera.

Just cry mercy and I'll come up with more meaningless drivel for you to read, OK? Let me know one way or the other, I'm kinda flying blind here.

Here is a great picture Number One Daughter took of Mr. Spike. He's our only boy critter, which makes him and me the only guys in the house. So that's a total of seven females and two males. (woops, just remembered our fish, Mr. Fish. he's a guy, but definitely a silent partner to Spike and myself) We spoil him horribly, but he's the sweetest, most gentle dog you ever saw. His name is Spike but we almost always call him Mister Spike because Number One Daughter named him and that's what she calls him.

Our crepe myrtle is blooming up a storm in the back yard. I could google the spelling, but why bother learning to spell something I'm gonna forget the name of by tomorrow? I had to ask Lovely Wife what it's called. You know. The whole flower name problem I have and discussed a bit on yesterday's post. By the way, the blue flowers yesterday are called plumbagos.

Lovely Wife LOVES wind chimes. If our neighbors hate them, well then it's just too darn bad because within a hundred yards of our house it is wind chime city. Here's the most unusual pink flamingo a Florida resident can have in their yard. One of LW's loudest chimes.

Tangelos. Widdle bitty tangelos on our tangelo tree. Aren't they cute? And this December they'll be tasty too. I took a picture without my hand and realized there was no perspective on how little they are. So I put my hand in there and took another photo. Having citrus fruit trees is cool. They smell heavenly in Feb/March when they bloom.

And here's one more from our sunset adventure yesterday evening. I just like the colors and the wide angle look. And the way the pier zooms off into the photo.

Give 'em a click to enlarge, of course.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Guess What?

Your gonna be gettin' pictures here for the next few days.

Got my new Nikon Digital slr, a D70s, on Wednesday. Took a few shots in the house last night, but today we went out after work (and a short nap) to see the sunset.

It was world class.

Now these photos are pretty much just jpegs from the camera. The only things I have done is down size them, and in the case of the dogs, got rid of red, yellow, or green eyes. The rest are pretty much as we observed them.

Here are our four poodles, from left, Rosie, Lilly, Spike, and Angel. They were being baited with pizza toppings.

Here is our pool and you can see the new screening and the white fence we had put up after hurricanes Jeanne and Frances. We still need to get wonna dem pressure washer doober-flitcheys to blast the poolside concrete.

How 'bout some of Lovely Wife's flowers in one corner of the back yard? I forget what these are called. She tells me and I forget immediately. I would suck as a horticulturalist (is that a word?). Ah, yes Mr. M., what exactly are THESE flowers? Me: Uh. Hmm. Not sure, but they're definitely blue. Wait, let me call my wife. Only one I can remember is Alamanda, but I know those are yellow.

And now the sunset. This is the basic view from the bench we sat on.

Remember the 'Where's Waldo' books? See if you can find the crane in this photo.

Woo-EEE! Y'all are good! No more quizzes, ok? How about my favorite of the day?

It was warm and breezy and we just sat. And walked. And talked. And drove slowly, lookin' at the rich folk's houses.

All in all a swell evening with great company.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Summer Is Here!


Ok, Ok, yeah. I know. Technically, it began in the United States yesterday June 21, at about 8:30am Eastern Standard Time because...

that's when the earth moves... its yearly orbit about the sun...

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I'm an engineer and I can understand and appreciate the uses of, and need of precision in certain things, but



I heard about summer this, summer that on the radio about 500 times yesterday. And how winter is beginning in the southern hemisphere. And I don't listen to much radio either.

Uh Huh. Whatever.

I know better than that, and I went to Louisiana public schools.

Must have been a slow news day. I guess President Bush didn't try to open a locked door while the cameras were on him, or invent a new word yesterday.

In an unrelated story...


I hate basketball.


The whole World Cup Soccer thingy is goin' on in Germany or somewhere.

Why are they reporting that over here?

Don't they know Americans hate soccer?!

And. You can't get out of here without me being serious for one minute though. Did you guys read this?

Report: Hundreds of WMDs Found In Iraq

WASHINGTON — The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday.

"We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said in a quickly called press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

Reading from a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, a Defense Department intelligence unit,...

Now let's see if this gets wide press today. I wonder what my left-leaning friends will say today. "Well, it's only 500 weapons, blah, blah.

It only takes ONE to cause mass destruction, people!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Legal Aliens, Manatees

Yeah, I've ranted here about illegal aliens. Today you get some photos of some of our legal aliens, manatees. A week or so ago I talked about turning in 13 rolls of film I found, 10 print film and 3 rolls of slides. These are from the slides I finally picked up day before yesterday on the way home from work.

I took these photos a couple of years ago at a local park here in Palm Bay called Goode Park. It is on Turkey Creek and Turkey Creek is a favorite wintering area for manatees. The park has a boat ramp and lots of people launch from there and it has boardwalks onto the water to launch canoes and kayaks.

There are 'Don't Feed The Manatees' signs all over the place, but as soon as one is spotted, kids and adults alike grab soft leaves and put them in the water and they come up and eat them.

I'm not sayin' it's right, I just took the pictures, OK? So give 'em a click to enlarge.

I really, really like this first picture. You can see his snout is up so he can eat, but it looks like he's smiling for the camera. The jowls usually droop down like a Saint Bernard's jowls.

This next one I tried to get all creative on ya and ended up with too slow a shutter speed and the manatees moved and blurred. But that's what makes this shot work for me. It makes them look like alien creatures.

And one more. This shows more of the body and you can see his snout up so he can eat.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Prayer Requested

I had wanted to write something today that was delicate and crunchy on the outside while sweet and creamy on the inside. Something light and humorous and carefree. But I just don't have it in me.


New al Qaida leader killed 2 US soldiers

The new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq killed two US soldiers who it abducted last week, an umbrella group for Iraqi insurgents said in a Web statement posted Tuesday.

The statement said the two soldiers were "slaughtered" suggesting they had been beheaded by Abu Hamza al-Muhajer. The Arabic word used in the statement, "nahr," is used for the slaughtering of sheep by cutting the throat and has been used in past statements to refer to beheadings.

The authenticity of the claim of responsibility could not be confirmed. It was posted on an Islamic militant Web forum where insurgent groups regularly post statements.

Please, please, please, pray for the families of these men. Pray for all the coalition soldiers and workers in Iraq. And if you don't believe in God, please send these people some good vibes.

Can't people like Murtha and Pelosi see now that we must stay in Iraq until the Iraqis have their own police, army, and government in place to themselves squash terrorists like this like you would a bug?

We HAVE to stay and finish the job.

Terrorists are only interested in one thing. Producing terror in people.

We must stay in Iraq until they are prepared to deal with these people themselves. They have come a long way but aren't there yet.

Father's Day Booty

No. Not boody, or boo-TAY, or any referrence to hind quarters.

Lovely wife let me order a new camera. A digital single lens reflex. It's on the way. Nikon D70s with an 18-70mm lens, and a 55-200mm lens. 2GB memory card and other items as needed.

I wrote a post a while back in which I pined away for a new Nikon D200. The only problem with that is the price. The D200 is $1700 for the body alone. Everything I ordered, new camera body with lenses, flash, memory card, camera case, etc., cost less than the D200 body.

So I'm quite excited. It's still expensive enough to make me feel guilty for a few days, but I would have never been able to justify buying the D200 and all the items I got with the one I did order. So, I can waller (how you say wallow in a southern drawl) in my guilt for a few days, and then I'll be over it because, Hey!, my new camera will be here!

Thanks Babe! Love Ya.

Number Two Daughter bought me a Tears For Fears DVD called 'Scenes From The Big Chair', a documentary from the 1980's about Tears For Fears and the making of the classic album 'Songs From The Big Chair'. This Cd is one of my all-time, top 10 favorites. I had the lp originally, and have worn out cassettes of it too. This will have a place of prominence next to my DVD of Tears For Fears videos that were originally on the VHS tape 'Tears Roll Down: The Hits' that I got for Christmas. I love, love, love Tears For Fears. It's by far my favorite 'secular' band. I almost always get Christian music, but these guys just touch me deeply somehow.

I have never seen this documentary. I am stoked. I watched the beginning of it last night and I can't wait to finish it.

Number One Daughter bought me the new Stavesacre Cd 'How To Live With A Curse'. If you like rock. If you have never heard of Stavesacre, you are missing a treat. It is a Christian band, but if you aren't a Christian, don't be turned off. Go out to the Stavesacre website and check 'em out.

There are some things in life worth waiting for. A new Stavesacre Cd with all new material is always one of them. They don't tour much, and they only put out new Cds every two or three years, but boy they do 'em up right when they do put one out. This one is no exception. The singer and principle songwriter, Mark Salomon is my favorite rock singer. He's distinctive like Chris Cornell and there is no one out there I've ever heard that sounds like him. He's truly unique sounding and a GREAT songwriter. Deep and moving Christian music.

And massive crunchy guitars. Imagine Robert Duval's voice as in Apocalypse Now: "I love the sound of a Les Paul through a Marshall in the Morning."

Thanks kids. I love you guys with all my heart.

I'm happy, and you have change back from your $2,000 bill.

What a deal. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, knowwhatImean?)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ok folks. Last week was one weird week for me. My back is still giving me fits. But I found the answer to a problem at work that I can't really discuss, but guys with bigger brains and much more experience than me were working on this. I really struggle at work when my back is acting up, and on bad days it feels like my IQ drops 20 points. So to find the answer to a nagging problem when I'm like this just seems backward. That's why no post yesterday; I slept until 12:30pm and by the time I was mobile enough to sit at the computer and post, I just said phooey on it.

On to this Sunday's photos. I went all over time and space with today's pictures.

A while back I made a post that included a photo of President Reagan visiting my home town of Monroe, Louisiana in 1983. This was a shot of his Secret Service Agents conferring just before his arrival. I love this shot. Not much going on here but these guys were awesome to watch.

This photo is a pre-sunrise photo I took in Gulf Shores, Alabama in summer 1983. I've put a number of sunSET photos on the blog, but here is one from early morning; a rarity for me.

And another photo from the same trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama in 1983. The sand was so perfect and untouched that early in the morning, but needed a bit of something, so I put down a couple of shells I had in my pocket. I don't really know why I like this photo so much, it is contrived. But that's the way it is I guess. You like it or you don't. I do.

This one I took a couple of years ago when the Christian rock band Starflyer 59 played a concert at our church. They were AWESOME. And Jason Martin, the brains behind the group (left side of photo with guitar) was so nice and stayed and talked with everyone for a while. They guy playing drums, Frank Lenz, is one of my most favorite drummers of all time. He was formerly with a band called Fold Zandura that also had Jerome Fontamillas as a member. Jerome is now with Switchfoot.

And here we have the Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, Georgia (2002). Made famous in the movie Fried Green tomatoes. We didn't eat, the wait was way too long to hang around.

And from the area around Brooks, Georgia, was Starr's Mill and a spillway. Also 2002. This area was beautiful.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Are You A Backer-inner?

In the years I have been driving, I have noticed that there are people who just plain ol' pull into parking spaces (me) AND people who back into parking spaces.

The building I work in has a parking lot behind it where I, myself, park. It's the closest parking to my cubicle.

But methinks a sinister vibe lurks in yon parking area. At the rearmost part of said parking area, against the trees, seems to be one of planet Earth's nexuses, causing many employees to back into their parking spaces.

Either that or it is a prime example of monkey-see-monkey-do peer pressure.

I had to go by Quest Diagnostics in Melbourne this morning 'cause one of my Dr.s wanted yet another blood test (fasting of course, I'm HONGRY!) to help get me straightened out.

Anyhoo, I got to work after most everyone else and as I drove past 'the back row' I noticed that only one person out of about a dozen or so vehicles was pulled in. All the rest were backed in.

I wonder why.

My Big Brother was one of these people. I always chalked it up to him being a truck driver. He was expert at backing 18 wheelers into places I couldn't have put one driving forward. I never actually asked him why he backed in to places in his car.

There must be more to it. I notice that the backer-inners tend to drive either trucks, suvs, or sports cars. I even noticed this morning at Quest Diagnostics, while being drained of my precious blood, that someone who worked there had backed in. Their car was one of those spiffy lookin' Chrysler 300 cars. It's a sedan but they ARE sporty.

So I'm thinkin' that the type of person who prefers to back in is a sporty/competitive type person.

What do you think? Any backer-inners out there who can give me a clue here?

I just pull in forward and worry about getting out later. It's not like any of us are super heroes who need that extra few seconds when leaving to save damsels in distress or anything.

And first cousin to the backer-inners of the world are the pull-throughers.

Number One Daughter is one of these.

Say you are parking in the vast expanse that is the typical Wally World parking lot. They are usually 'straight' parking places as opposed to 'angled' parking places. I pull forward into these parking places and park in my space, EVEN IF THE SPACE IN FRONT OF ME IS EMPTY. I do NOT pull through.

Number One Daughter, if she is with me will shout 'Go through! Go through!'

But I don't.

Not only that, if the space in front of me is still open when I get out, I'll back out of my parking place instead of going forward through the other space.

Number One Daughter thinks I'm wrong. A freak.

I disagree.

Since I'm on the subject of parking…

What compels some people to circle repeatedly through a parking lot, hoping for a close-in parking place? You can be half finished with your shopping before these people even find an acceptable parking space.

My thinking is that these are the intensely competitive types. I've seen my own Big Sis do this, though I don't know if she always does it.

Am I a slug in human form, because I don't back in, I don't pull through, and I just go ahead and park out in Eastern Mongolia and just hoof it in to the store?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Nuts In The Walnut Tree

Ralph Horowitz buys a parcel of Los Angeles land for development.

The city of L.A. forces Mr. Horowitz to sell the land to the city under the imminent domain laws. Ok. Happens all the time. L.A. wants to put an incinerator there.

Flash forward twenty years. Mr. Horowitz is allowed to buy back his land (after suing) from L.A. because, hey, "ain't gonna build no incinerator in MY neighborhood"! L.A. is stymied on the incinerator thing.

Oh, yeah. During this twenty years illegal aliens use this parcel of land for personal farms.

They now demand and EXPECT to always have this land. Plain old fashioned squatting. Like in the westerns I read when I was younger.

Mr. Horowitz is cast as an evil man by the local media and the Hollywood types such as Darryl Hanna, Joan Baez, and that guy from the Titanic movie. (I have the darndest time remembering that boy's name)

I'm thinkin', can't all these actors and musicians come up with the money Mr. Horowitz is asking? Yeah, sixteen million U.S. dollars is a lot of money, but Titanic boy's yearly toilet paper supply is probably more than that. So, can't these people put their money where their mouths are?

I guess not.

An eleventh hour offer was rejected by Mr. Horowitz, on the principle that he has been raked over the coals and called every evil thing in the English and Spanish languages.

I don't blame him.

The political leftists in the U.S. have been carefully creating a culture of class envy over the past few decades. Their hypocrisy was in full force on this issue.

Good luck Mr. Horowitz.

Current Score: R. Horowitz 1, Liberal Elite 0.

(Leonardo DiCaprio. I had to Google the movie Titanic to get his name.)

Self Help

Here's a subject that I have never written about here. My tendency toward reading self-help books.

I believe that some people just 'get it' with regards to life, making good decisions, thinking things through, and setting and attaining goals. I could name several people I knew while growing up who I was attracted to (as friends) simply because they seemed to naturally do the right things. This intrigued me greatly.

As for myself, I realized at a young age that I needed lots of work. I realized that my natural tendencies were to laziness, and avoiding life. I was a couch potato way before it became cool.

My parents were (and are) salt-of-the-earth type folks. Intelligent, to be sure, both parents probably above average on the intelligence scale, but they had no other schooling than their generation's Louisiana Public Schools.

And of course the school of hard knocks; they both came from, shall we say, humble beginnings.

So while I grew up, I never had lessons from them on how to set and attain goals. Just to work hard and to always do my best at whatever I put my hand to.

I have mentioned in this blog numerous times about how unbelievably naive I was as a child, and in some areas, I still am very naive. I said above that I was intrigued by those around me who seemed to have a clue, and wondered why I seemed to have no clue. I feel like I was truly born with no natural instincts for survival and success in this world. Now of course I do have some, or I would have died young, but I think you understand what I'm trying to get at here.

Take my older daughter, whom I've referred to here as Number One Daughter. She gets it. She naturally went into her room and studied. She naturally took to writing lists and checking things off. She does some of those things by her very nature that I didn't learn to incorporate into my life until after I was grown and married. Number Two Daughter and Lovely Wife are more like me, we have to buy our clues.

But even if I had never been a goal setter, and as a young person I was always mystified as to how people determined what they wanted to do in life as a career, I WAS born with a healthy dose of natural curiosity.

And I think my curiosity about EVERYTHING is probably the main reason why I've done the things in my life that I have done. By that I mean, I would probably be on the public dole and spending what energies I have trying to make a living off the US 'system'. I'm old enough to have met any number of people in America who make a living out of not working at a paying job. It can be done, and some do it well. They aren't rich, but they do ok. But that's another story.

Then, when I was around twenty five and was working for Delta Airlines at DFW airport, I came across a book in a Christian book store (Joshua's on 183 in Irving, TX) that got me started on the self help path.

At the time I didn't know that there were men and women out there making a living writing and speaking and teaching people like me, with no natural aptitude in goal achievement and no natural knowledge on how to succeed.

The book was "Living Above The Level Of Mediocrity" by a Christian author named Chuck Swindoll. This book rocked my world. He put all the random ideas and thoughts I had thought and learned over the years into a concise, to the point, book about how Christians should live and HOW TO DO IT. Less than ten years after this beginning of my self help reading, I had a degree and I was working as an electrical engineer.

I have read a number of books like that over the years, and while I'm nowhere near the self help junkie that some I've 'met' on the internet are, many of the things I've read and learned have helped me a great deal. And, like reading the Bible over and over, I read some of the good goal setting and uplifting books repeatedly as well. Helps keep me on the right track and to remind me of the best ways to be successful at whatever task is in front of me.

Setting goals. Writing things out. Just simple things to some, but life changing helps to people like me born without the success instinct.

I was born with mainly a huge curiosity, but that curiosity has led me to find knowledge, both earthly and spiritual (engineering and Christianity), that has determined the course of my life more than any other thing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Liquid Sunshine

Well, if it's not one thing, it's another.

We've been having a whole lotta brush fires this year. They would be forest fires anywhere else, it's just that from Central Florida southward, what we have can't really be called forests. Just sad lookin' pine trees and palmettos. Until this past week we were eight inches of rain below what we should have received by this time of year.

But lately we've been getting a decent amount of rain and it just seems weird. Florida usually gets plenty of rain despite it's nickname. May through September, you usetacould count on a rain shower almost every afternoon. (Usetacould is a time honored southern phrase) But for the past eight years or so, it has been way too dry.

So now that the rain is kicking up a bit, things are getting nice and green like the old days and though things have been trying to bloom despite the dryness, it's getting really tropical here again. Grass growing extra fast. Trees and brush getting dark green instead of that sickly weak green from too little water.

Today is giving us storms and rainage from Alberto, the year's first tropical storm. It was one of those mornings that has everyone driving with their wipers going light speed and hunched over their steering wheels hoping for that extra smidgen of visibility.

All the retention ponds are filling up and making the landscaping look alive instead of dry and pathetic.

This morning I got up and sat outside before daylight on the back patio for a while and watched the distant lightning of the approaching storms. The breeze was really warm and wet. It was a really nice change from what we've been having lately.

Florida usually smells SO good. It's pretty much impossible to describe a smell in writing unless I happen to pick the perfect analogy for you to understand, but Florida in summer should smell like a mixture of pine forest, flowers, and a touch of salty air. But we've found out with all the years of drought, that this smell is totally dependent on having enough rain.

This morning, while sitting outside, that smell was in the air. Just two weeks of occasional rains and the real Florida is beginning to reappear to the eyes and the nose. It hits me every time I walk outside, at work or at home, and it's really nice. Like when someone walks by with pleasant perfume or cologne on, it's a nice little mental lift.

Here's to ya, rain. What took you so long?

Monday, June 12, 2006

No Reason To Laugh

Folks, I'm really sorry about the lack of humor here of late, which to me, is what makes a blog post interesting to write and to read.

I DO realize that for the past two weeks or so, there has been a conspicuous lack of humor in my posts.

I am in pain.

I have a royally screwed up back, and for about two weeks it has given me a level of pain that seems to rob me of my sense of humor. I can still find things outside myself that are funny to be funny, but it is almost impossible for me to BE funny. It's as if that part of my brain that produces sarcasm and humor are now being utilized to deal with the pain and allow me to simply function at work and as a reasonably normal husband and father.

I promise to try to get back with the program as soon as I get my pain under control. Until then, just hang in there with me, ok? (Believe me, I realize I'm not very funny to begin with, but this is ridiculous.)

Since I'm unable to be funny right now, I'll leave you with a funny joke I heard recently:
This guy sees a sign in front of a house: "Talking Dog for Sale." He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard. The guy goes into the backyard and sees a black mutt just sitting there.

"You talk?" he asks. "Yep," the mutt replies.

"So, what's your story?"

The mutt looks up and says, "Well, I discovered this gift pretty young and I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and in no time they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies eight years running. The jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger and I wanted to settle down.

"So I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security work, mostly wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings there and was awarded a batch of medals. Had a wife, a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired."

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

The owner says, "Ten dollars."

The guy says, "This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him so cheaply?"

The owner replies, "He's such a liar. He didn't do any of that stuff."

P.S. Blogger isn't letting me upload pics again today! Grrr.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday, June 11, 2006

I mentioned earlier in the week, that I had found and turned in 13 undeveloped rolls of 35mm film.

Here are a few scans that I made from some of the print film negatives.

The two bird pictures were at Ballard Park in Melbourne, FL, along the intracostal waterway. The beach is, of course, the Atlantic, somewhere here in Brevard County. I'm almost certain it was taken at Ocean Park in Melbourne Beach.

This is my little buddy, Angel.

This is Rosie. Her one goal in life is to be held AT ALL TIMES. Failing that she'll settle for cheese. Any kind of cheese.

Have a great day, everybody!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Color Shifted Slides

Here are a couple of before and after of what can be done with color shifted slides.

These first two are of the same slide of the Citrus Tower in Clermont, Florida. This is an old slide of my parent's from 1970.

Before: Color shifted red.

After: Color corrected as best I could. Looks good to me. A pro could do better, but I'm pleased.

Before: Train ride at Silver Dollar City, Branson, MO, 1974. Also color shifted red, but not as bad as the one above.

After: Lookin' really good.

This final one is just an after. I didn't keep a before scan of this one. I'm including this one because it's original slide that my Father In Law took around 1961 was just faded. Slowly losing all color, not color shifted like the two above. It isn't faded too badly, so with Photoshop Elements 4, I was able to make it look as if it was taken yesterday.

This is very fun, but also very time consuming.