Tuesday, October 31, 2006

NaNoWriMo (again)

I have nothing this morning.

After the brave front I put on yesterday about entering NaNoWriMo after stewing over it for so long, I woke up this morning with an awful case of the butterflies.

A grade-A nervousness.

I'm under the gun at work too, so that just probably poured gasoline onto the fire.

Anyway, I still only have the vaguest of ideas about the book, but the character I want to write about has been with me for years.

For a long time, I wanted to write about him, and have started many times only to stop. He just wasn't ready to let me tell his story.

In the past, when I pictured him, he was doing something. It was as if I was able to magically look in on his life at will, but it was always a kind of a fly-on-the-wall experience.

But lately, and I know this will sound absolutely crazy, when I pictured him in my mind, he was just standing there, looking at me, like he's ready to have a sit down talk and tell me his story.

Only lately, I've been putting him off. It's like I tried and tried, but now that he's ready for me to get the show on the road, I'm the one not ready.

That's also one of the reasons I actually joined NaNoWriMo this year, it looks as if Casey is finally ready to have his story told.

And though I know a lot about him personally, I don't know much more about his story than you do.

Tomorrow is November 1st, and I'll be shot out of the canon.

Monday, October 30, 2006

National Novel Writing Month

Ok. Here goes nothing.

I have wanted to write a book for years and years now. And I've only told Lovely Wife, who is very patient and encouraging.

A while back, I heard of the National Novel Writing Month quite by accident.

I am a book junkie, and picked up a book one day a while back called "No Plot, No Problem."

This book turned out to be the semi-official how-to book for the National Novel Writing Month held every year since 1999.

NaNoWriMo, as it is referred to, basically encourages people like me, who want to write a novel, but never could get very far in the past.

It's totally based on the honor system, and their are no prizes other than the personal satisfaction of having written the first draft of a complete novel.

It is held every November and requires you to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and 30.

This is a rather short novel, on the order of Catcher In The Rye, 1984, etc. and is just to get people like me over the hump of finishing a first draft.

I have started so many books over the past 15 years or so that I just still didn't believe I could do it.

But the whole thing about NaNoWriMo is that you have to write so fast, and nobody's first draft is any good anyway, so the emphasis is on keeping on keeping on and finishing one with the blessing of not worrying at all about quality.

So, I've actually had the courage to sign up for this year's event, starting Wednesday November 1.

And I'm so unsure of myself that I have already come up with about 4,000 reasons not to go through with it.

That's why I haven't mentioned here that I signed up for it. If I didn't go through with it, well, then no embarrassing explanations would be necessary.

But I decided to put the word out, so that I would put a little more pressure on myself to perform, and go through with it.

At this point, it seems like such an impossible task that I'm not that afraid of it. I feel like I'm suiting up in football gear to play in an NFL game. I don't know enough to be all that scared.

So if this blog suffers over the next month, those of you who actually check in from time to time need to understand that the month of November might see this thing languish a bit in the interest of working on my novel.

That's about all I can say. I'll keep yoose guys posted on my word count. I need to write on average about 1700 words per day to make the 50,000 by the end of November.

I'll at least try to post some pics on here to keep the blog fresh.

Who knows, the act of writing a first draft novel might spark my noggin with inspiration and maybe my blog will get better.

We'll see, and you have been warned. So be patient with me through November.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday October 29, 2006

Note: Thanks to all who wrote and said they would pray for Lovely Wife. She's doing pretty well. Still in a fair amount of pain, but is up and about and moving much better than the first couple of days after the surgery.

Today's pics are all over time and space. I've been scanning more slides, so that's what's on the slate for today.

This first photo is of Lovely Wife, taken many years ago in Fort Lauderdale on a trip.

This one is also from that Fort Lauderdale trip. The slide looks almost black and white due to the exposure and the overcast sky, so I went ahead and changed it to a black and white photo. It looks better this way than the color one. I know this slide isn't very special, but at the time, I was totally captivated by the canals and how folks in Ft. Lauderdale could drive their cars into the front of the property and a boat from the rear. So I always loved this photo because it reminded me of some of the beautiful neighborhoods we saw there.

This is the final Ft. Lauderdale photo. It's looking south along the Atlantic coast. I remember how much warmer it was than it had been when we left Louisiana. It seemed delicious to stand in the warm air when a day or two before it was in the 30s (F) in Monroe. The ocean smell was pretty awesome too.

This photo was taken a couple of weeks before the trip to Ft. Lauderdale, and is of Lake D'Arbonne near Farmerville, Louisiana. The lake was frozen for about 50 feet all around the shore. D'Arbonne is a man made lake from damming D'Arbonne Bayou.

This photo was taken at Forsythe Park in Monroe, Louisiana. It's the side of a building for playing handball. I've always like the lines, shadow, and that little Charlie Brown Christmas tree looking tree there.

This last one is of Youger Brother, on his 14th birthday. Living a thousand miles from him gives me the courage to post this. But it's a good visual representation of his sense of humor.
Have a great Sunday. Ours is sunny and in the low 70's with a nice breeze. All the windows are open and the dogs are barking at all the new sounds they can't normally hear.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Life And Times Of A Peanut Butter Cake

My dear Sainted Mother always made Don C. (my Dad) a peanut butter cake for his birthday.

It was always by far my own favorite cake, so Mama always made one on my birthday every year too. Then Lovely Wife has made me one almost every year since we've been married.

If you've never had one you are really missing out.

A peanut butter cake is basically a yellow cake mix, Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, whatever, with a peanut butter, milk, confectioners sugar, and vanilla icing.

So basically it's a plain old cake with creamy peanut butter fudge as the icing.

If you have ever had a really good, soft peanut butter fudge, you are pretty close; just add cake.


The only problem with this cake is that unless you get the icing to just the perfect consistency, which is darn near impossible, the cake will slide on you.

So it's rarely a pretty cake, but it is one of the best things ever as far as taste.

This morning, Lovely Wife and I finished off my yearly birthday peanut butter cake. As of right now, I'm back on my diet, but that sure was some fine cake.

This is what I mean by the cake sliding. After this photo, we slid the top layer back into place and repaired the icing and put it in the refrigerator, which stopped the slide.

After that it was smooth sailing eating.

And in 51 weeks, I get another one!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Not Very Memorable (A long post)

I have put several stories on this blog, of things that I remember from being a kid. Many of those things have to do with my Big Sis.

Problem is, Big Sis doesn't remember many of these events.

Why do I remember them so clearly? Why doesn't she?

I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing the first time I heard many songs. When I hear those songs again, I can picture that exact moment all over. I have vivid memories of childhood friends and things we did at school and at play. I can even remember some of the things I sat and thought about as a kid.

But do I have a really good memory?

I have never thought so. In fact, I have always been on the prowl for techniques to help me to improve my memory, because to me, my memory has always seemed weak. I've read many books on memory improvement.

I still use one technique for remembering shopping lists of things I need to stop off for, that I learned while watching an info-mercial from years ago about memory. It works.

And to buy groceries, I usually first make a list, and then I can just lose the list, because as I make the list, I picture myself pulling that item off the shelf in the store and putting it into the buggy. When I actually go buy groceries, I just go up and down the isles and get what's on the list because I've already pictured doing it. It doesn't make much of a difference whether I actually bring the list with me or not. Once I've written and pictured it, it's in my head. Then, once the shopping is done, I clear memory. Though I must admit I get a perverse thrill from checking items off a list while shopping. Am I perfect at it? Nope, but close enough.

I've never really had problems remembering numbers, they typically have a 'rhythm' to them, that apparently, only I can see, in my own twisted way. For example, Lovely Wife has better luck remembering numbers if she can make it sound like the rhythm of a telephone number, but for me, things like my checking account number and things of that nature tend to have a rhythm to them all their own. When she recites a number in the rhythm of a telephone number, it confuses me, because her rhythm doesn't match what's in my head. I have to translate what she says into 'my' rhythm to see if she's correct.

I know Lovely Wife's Social Security number, our checking account's tracking number and the account number itself, and also know the account numbers of many of our monthly bills. I know the credit card numbers, expiration dates, and security number for several of our credit cards. It's easier to memorize them than to keep having to pull them out when doing bills.


I can't really explain it better than that, I can just literally picture in my mind the way numbers look to me. I can remember our phone number from childhood, and even my childhood buddy, Rocky's phone number. I haven't called either number in over 30 years, we've both long since moved, but I still can recite them. I can even recall some of the phone numbers in various places Lovely Wife and I have lived, though not all of them.

But many of the events of my childhood, I can recall in pretty good detail. As with most things that have strong emotional content, I can remember the feeling as I replay the mental movie of various things from my past.

When I was twelve, we moved from the small town of Vidalia, Louisiana to the much larger town of Monroe, Louisiana.

Leaving all of the kids I had gone to school with from first grade through the seventh grade, for some reason, etched them into my mind. I can still recall the names of and picture the faces of most of my childhood classmates. I remember that fraternal twins Dennis and Denise H.'s birthdays are the day after mine, and that Roger, a classmate up to about the fourth or fifth grade had his birthday one day before mine. As kids, our birthdays where 'bip, bip, bip', all in a row, and I always think of them on those days. Our birthdays were earlier this week as a matter of fact, and I think that's what prompted me to write this post. I haven't seen any of them in over twenty years.

Then, after living in Monroe for five years, and starting college (the first time) in fall of 1980, I was surprised to find several childhood classmates attending Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe. This shouldn't have been a surprise to me, it was the closest University to Vidalia, and therefore the most likely school for them to attend.

But although one or two of these former classmates remembered me, I was shocked to see the look of confusion on several other people I had gone from first through seventh grade with. They had absolutely no memory of me at all, and me reciting things we had once done together or talked about as kids only added to their confusion.

I've mentioned on this blog about how naive I was when I was younger, but when this reunion of childhood classmates happened, I distinctly remember being more intrigued with their response than hurt. I don't really expect to make a big impression on people, I'm not that conceited, but to have people that I went to school with for seven years totally not have any memory of me was, for me, the first inkling I had that I saw the world a bit different than many other people. What I call a 'light bulb moment'. Ding! I just realized something! I just realized that I see the world a bit different than other people do! It takes me a while longer than most people to make these kinds of mental leaps.

Something like that might be a big duh-huh for most people, but it takes a big push for me to have that kind of a paradigm shift.

So that all comes around and brings me back to what got me here in the first place: remembering childhood things that include Big Sis, and her not remembering them at all.

Do I really remember these things, or did I imagine it all?

Well, for one thing, I only write and post stuff I'm pretty darn sure of, so that's one point in my favor. But like I said earlier, I have never ever thought that I had a particularly good memory and I've had a life long goal to continuously improve it.

But when Big Sis doesn't remember the time Big Brother and I dug up first base and tricked her into stepping in it, I definitely stop and try to make sure I really remember that accurately. But in the end, I'm sure, because I remember Big Brother and I talking and laughing about that from time to time when we were adults.

Big Sis's lack of memory about some of these things is probably more normal, though.

Because if I as a person, and all the events of several childhood friend's interactions with me can be COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN by these childhood classmates, then Big Sis probably just forgot about some of these old things too.

It is strange though. At the age of 44, I have always thought my memory to be substandard, when in fact, it might be a bit better than normal.

Either way, my memory lets me have things to write out, for my own use as well as for this blog.

Besides, if my memory was like Big Sis's, all y'all would be getting a lot more pictures and a lot less stories.

And who knows, that might make for a better blog. But until I run out of stories to tell, y'all will just have to suffer through me telling them.

I do pretty much stink at remembering names though.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #12

The Party Pooper's Guide® To Halloween

Warning! I let my alter ego, The Party Pooper, write my Thursday Thirteen this week.

13 Tips For A Safe And Fun Halloween

1. Safe. Be extra careful putting the razor blades and needles in the candied apples and popcorn balls. Your blood on the treat will be too big a clue as to what's inside. Plus, razor cuts and pin sticks hurt. A chain mail glove is great for handling razors, but you just have to be cautious with the needles. Don't try this one. It's just too dangerous for you, and plus, you don't get to see the end result of your labors.

2. Fun. Have a set of treats that are extra heavy in case some kid has a paper or plastic sack for their treats. When you see one, get a heavy treat and THROW it into the bag and try to bust the bottom of their bag out. I suggest gluing a smartie candy to a big rock; Smarties are cheap but tasty, and rocks are free. Those who are smart enough to use those little orange plastic jack-o-lanterns with the black plastic handle get the razor apples and pin popcorn balls.

3. Fun. Give out huge handfuls of those black or orange wrapped Mary Janes. I have never known even one person who liked the darn things. The disappointed look behind the mask when you hand out these things is all the thanks you'll need.

4. Safe. If you are agoraphobic… Well, never mind. You won't even get out to buy candy and will just keep your lights off and the doors locked and the TV volume low. Smart move. VERY safe. Good job. Carry on.

5. Fun. Go to your local pet shop and buy up all of the tarantulas they have. Drop one in each kid's goodie bag, but do it slowly so they see what's going in, but fast enough that they don't snatch the goodie bag away before they get their free pet. This is only a suggestion. I'm personally terrified of spiders, especially big hairy ones, but if you can handle them, this would go over big. I'm sure of it.

6. Fun. One time, when you open the door, reach out, grab a little kid, step back inside and shut and lock the door, and turn off the outside lights. Man! The screaming that goes on with both the kid inside and the parents outstide… Woo-eee! That's fun.

7. Safe. Keep a loaded shotgun by the door, and if someone is dressed like a witch, blow 'em away before they can cast a spell on you. Or, if you’re scared you'll kill some innocent kid only dressed like a witch, just keep a bucket of water by the door instead. Throw water on all witches, 'cause the ones that are really witches will melt like that green one on The Wizard Of Oz did.

8. Fun. If you are one of those "adults" that likes to dress up when greeting kids at the door, THE hot costume this year is to dress up like a nudist. Trust me, you'll be the only nekkid adult answering the door in your neighborhood. All the kids'll be talkin' about you. Plus it's free, you already have a nudist costume. Well, in the wake of the Foley scandal, this one might be exhibiting your insensitive side a wee bit too much. (Note: Naked – means you don’t have any clothes on. Nekkid – means you don’t have any clothes on AND you’re up to something.)

9. Fun. Pay some neighborhood kid that's too old to trick or treat this year $5 per kid's candy bag they snatch and bring to you. Yeah, it might end up costing you a pretty penny, but remember that you're training the next generation of true halloween pranksters like yourself. Plus you have all of that candy; just be sure not to eat the candied apples or pop corn balls. Bonus; have you ever watched a dog try to eat a Mary Jane? It's a hoot, seriously.

10. Fun. In the two weeks leading up to halloween, check your local paper for kittens being given away. There are always some in there. Get a whole bunch of them. Lots of parents wait for their kids by the road and just watch from a distance. THOSE kids get a kitten! Of course the kid will be in love with it before they reach their parents down by the street and will throw a fit to keep it. If you have any kittens left over, just drive them out into the country and leave them somewhere on November 1st.

11. Fun. You and some other adults, get hockey masks and your chain saws and crank 'em up and go trick or treating yourselves. Come on! You know you want to relive the fun times, plus the look on other people's faces when they open the door to half a dozen adults wearing hockey masks and idling chain saws is worth the effort.

12. Fun. You know how you act all pretend-scared and stuff when you open the door to some kid dressed in a scary costume? Well, still act scared, but step back, close the door, and turn off the lights. Don't answer no matter how much they knock. Watch out the window, and when they leave your yard, turn the lights back on for the next batch of kids.

13. Fun. If you are invited to an adult halloween party, go late so that everyone is there. Then when you're inside, go up to the table with all the punch and goodies and scream and shove everything onto the floor. It's HILARIOUS! I did this at the most recent party I was invited to, this was about 18 or 19 years ago now, and it was great!

Just kidding folks. Also, I stole number 13 from Steve Martin's old standup routine from the 1970's. The rest I just made up. I hope you aren't offended. But hey, it's halloween, trick's on YOU! I don't do halloween and this was the only thing I could come up with, as I knew lots of folks would write stuff about halloween on their Thursday Thirteens this week.

No kids, adults, spiders, or kittens were injured or killed in the writing of this Thursday Thirteen.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Please Pray For Lovely Wife Today

I'm taking Lovely Wife today to have abdominal surgery. Please pray for her ok? It's not a huge deal, because it is a laparoscopy, but it's always a concern to have ANY type of surgery.

You Had WHAT For Lunch Today?

When Lovely Wife and I first started dating, her mother owned and ran a daycare center. It was called Pitter Pat Daycare. (My Mother In Law's name is Pat, and also the pitter pat of little feet.)

Believe me when I tell you that there isn't a more thankless job in the world than owning or working in a daycare.

Even if your eyes never, ever, ever leave the kids, you still can't magically be across the room to stop a bite or a punch thrown by angry toddlers.

Every kid's parents think their kid was justified in whatever they do. "She NEVER bites unless she's provoked!" the parents will say.

The workers are NEVER right. The kids are always angels and all problems are the result of lax workers.

My future Mother In Law took great pains to literally cook a hot meal, each and every day for lunch. I saw this many times. It's just the way she is.
But invariably, the parent, six hours after lunch when they pick their kid up would have a conversation something like this:

"Little Billy, what did you do today?"
"Little Billy, what did you have to eat today?"
Little Billy shrugs shoulders. Heck, the kid can't remember.
"Did you have a, a, bologna sandwich?"
Little Billy nods, affirmative, "Uh-huh."
So the next morning Mother comes wound up tighter than a two dollar watch. "You said you feed these kids a hot lunch but Little Billy says that you fed them a bologna sandwich yesterday!"

Mother In Law has to try to explain to the DingBat Mother that Little Billy can't remember what happened an hour ago, much less what he had for lunch (she does this nicely).

But this just fires up DingBat Mother even more! HER child is a genius! If HER child told her he had a bologna sandwich, then by golly, that's what he was fed!

So Big Sis, who was taking her oldest son to this daycare at this time, heard the parental grumblings and decided to test the memory skills of her Number One Son.

Big Sis comes back to Mother In Law one day to report her findings.

"I asked Number One Son what they had for lunch, after I picked him up yesterday."
"What did he say he had?"
"Alligators and popcorn!"
"He said that what they had for lunch at daycare yesterday was alligators and popcorn."

I've laughed about that for years and years now.

Only in Louisiana (or maybe Florida) would a toddler claim to have had alligators and popcorn for lunch.

Moral of the Story? Parents, give your daycare workers the benefit of the doubt. Don't trust a two year old for accuracy of memory, ok?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Super Cool Photos

It's not often I just regurgitate stuff I found on the internet, but this is too cool not to share. Well, at least it is to this geek.

These photographs were taken by French astrophotographer Thierry Legault, from Normandy.

These are pictures of the sun. Our sun.

But those are not sun spots, or dust on the lens.

They are the International Space Station (bigger spot) and the Space Shuttle Atlantis on this most recent Shuttle flight.

The bottom photo shows this a little better.

You can click 'em and make 'em a little better.

Spiffy huh?

If Lovely Wife would let me buy a $7000 telescope, I could do that.

I like to think so anyway.

See? Maybe the French aren't so bad after all.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Dreaded Rope Climb

There is much on the news these days about the fattening of America. Especially talk about how fat modern American kids are becoming.

As someone who has been fatgravitationally challenged most of my life, I can only say: Welcome to the dark side.

I say that in jest.

I truly hate to see more and more people joining the ranks of the gravitationally challenged. As someone who has been that way for much of my life, I hate to know that more people will go through what I have gone through.

As a kid, it wasn't too much of an issue; I've always been able to take a joke, and that comes in handy when you're a gravitationally challenged kid.

I have no resentment, and in fact, when conflicts arose, I KNEW I had the upper hand as soon as the other party started bringing up my weight.

This is also handy as an adult, when you're discussing something with someone, and you both get testy, you can know for sure the other guy has already lost the argument when the body size references start. You've already won.

So as a gravitationally challenged, white, Christian, conservative, male in America, I have to have a pretty thick skin because it is still open season on any and all of those types of people in America. Any one of those five things could make me a target, being all of them in one is, for the politically correct crowd, like shooting fish in a barrel.

But I digress.

As a gravitationally challenged kid and teenager, even my best friends were pretty quick to play the fat card. If there was whispering and giggling and they wouldn't let me in on it, I knew it was fat jokes being told at my expense.

If all of a sudden I was being called, say, J.B., and they wouldn't tell me what J.B. stood for, I would just go through all the different things a gravitationally challenged person could be called and figure it out for myself. In this case, J.B. meant jelly belly.

Oh well, that's life. And if my best friends did that, you can imagine what the people who didn't like me called me.

But the bane of any gravitationally challenged kid's existence is Physical Education. We always called it P-E, not phys ed.

The first inkling that things were going south in PE for me was in about fifth grade, and the dreaded rope climb.

The PE teacher I had, could climb all the way to the ceiling of the grade school gym, without using his legs. Arms only. It was actually scary to watch him, he would literally climb to the ceiling of the gym.

I, of course, would just grab on and hang there. My weight had gotten me to the point where I couldn't do pull ups or climb the rope.

Years and lots of frustration went by, until the most unlikely thing happened.

In Louisiana at the time, the state-school-powers-that-be decided that more 'meat' classes were more important than PE, and lowered the requirements for the number of PE classes in high school from all four years to only two, to give us more important class options.

What joy! What rapture! The PE I took in 9th and 10th grade would be my last!


That is, my last until I got to college. But that was no problem, junk like bowling and archery count as PE in college. I wouldn't kid about something like that. No special 'gym clothes' or group showers to suffer through.

Even a gravitationally challenged kid can bowl!

So as I see the talking heads on TV shaking their heads at the sad state of American youth, and that they need to be more active, and how so many schools no longer have physical education, I don't agree with them.

Like I said, I hate for anyone to become gravitationally challenged, It's no fun and causes a lot of problems.

But the memory of all those years of PE, and the humiliation by both teachers and fellow student, Every. Single. Year. well, I firmly believe that physical education in school is a bigger problem in most kids lives than it is a help.

But that's just one fat kid's opinion. I have always felt that way, and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday October 22, 2006

I haven't scanned any new slides this week. Last Saturday, I took photos of a wedding of a couple at our church, so I've been working all week to get those ready to give the couple.

I finally finished adjusting the wedding photos last night, and I really wanted to put some on here, but I just didn't feel right putting their photos up without their permission.

So what I have here are some photos I took two weeks ago at Goode Park on Turkey Creek here in Palm Bay. Lovely wife and I took our dogs down there to let them run and stayed long enough to see the sunset. It is such a peaceful place. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


This has been one crazy year so far, and the election isn't even here yet.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The upcoming mid term elections.

The U.S. Democrat's October surprise of the Mark Foley "scandal" to influence voters on the elections.

But for my money, Namibia takes the cake.

I mean, I had barely even heard of Namibia until Angelina Jolie and Baby Daddy went there for her to have their baby earlier this year.

Later, it made the news when Britney Spears said she was thinking about going there to have her last child, even though she ended up not doing that.

So now, the great thespian, Wesley Snipes is on the lam from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for owing something like 12 million dollars in back taxes.

Where did he finally show up?

That's right boys and girls, Namibia.

Now I know three things about Namibia:

1. There IS a Namibia.

2. It's a great place for birthin' babies.

3. They have no extradition treaty with the U.S.

Numbers one and two don't impress me much, but I'll try to remember number three.

Just in case.

One day coming home from work, I had my camera with me. This was the view through the windshield of our Taurus just before I turned south onto I-95. Just wanted to share.

Friday, October 20, 2006

She's All A-Twitter

I've talked about Big Sis's, ahem, infatuation with country crooner Keith Urban.

But right now, she's in a state of suspended anticipation. (Hey, not bad. I just made that up.)

Ever since Big Sis got to go down to the stage this past spring and rub her hands in Keith Urban's scruff at one of his concerts in Waco, she's been, well, wacko.

A couple of weeks ago, Big Sis and another Urbanite buddy, the sweet urbanite "L." went to Atlanta, Georgia to see ol' Keith kick off the tour in support of his upcoming new CD. (I have not actually met the sweet Urbanite "L.", but as a man, I have learned to always assume that any woman I've never met is ALWAYS sweet. It's just safer that way.)

Anyhoo, so Big Sis and "L." went off to Atlanta and shook their groove thangs, no doubt, and that's got 'em all fired up and ready for the 'official' release of his new CD in early November. That's what I mean by "all a-twitter." It's kinda like just shaking with anticipation, 24/7.

It must be hard though, to come down from riding the high of two concerts in two days. Of seeing one of the two concerts from close enough to catch a few drops of sweat from ol' Keith's sweaty hair. And then have to come back to her mild mannered job as a public junior high school office worker. Where the highlight of her day is probably changing her computer background photo to a different Keith Urban picture than yesterday's. Trying to sneak in some internet time while at work to look up news on Keith's whereabouts and to hang out in Urbanite chat rooms slingin' gossip and the like, but thwarted in her efforts by the old, slow computer that is all the school board could afford for her.

Oh, the humanity!

Oh, the crushing blows of a dull and dreary life, when her mind is filled with the memory of two concerts in two days, and being so close she could probably smell the tuna salad sandwich he had for lunch, on his breath as he belted out his new songs!

Tuna never smelled that good before now!

It must be hard to have been born beautiful instead of rich, otherwise she'd be following him like the deadheads of old. Forever on the road, following him, but ever living under the dark cloud of knowing that Keith takes every opportunity to visit with that stupid, gorgeous movie star wife of his, when he has all of these adoring fans following him around like lost puppies.

Life's not fair I say!

It must be hard to live in the middle of Nowheresville, Louisiana. Hours and hours of driving to get to the closest Keith Urban concert cities.

It must be hard to work so hard and be paid such a pittance, that you can only muster the cash for only one or two concert trips per calendar year.

It must be depressing to try and try and try to come up with ways to get more money for more trips to Keith Urban concerts all around the fruited plain, and the best you can come up with is selling your plasma for like ten bucks a pop, twice a week. But that's both too painful and not enough money.

It must be hard to know that your own husband and Sainted Mother and brothers won't throw thousand dollar bills at you every time you speak the name Keith Urban. Because, if they really, really loved you, they would do exactly that. They don't do that, so therefore they must not.

Poor, poor put upon, hard working Big Sis. All that hard work, all that scheming and clawing and reaching, and all she has to show for it are a few blurry memories, a few blurry pictures, and a vague memory of the smell of Keith's cologne (and tuna salad breath).

But it just may be enough. It just may be. Because she keeps hoping and scheming and clawing.

All those years of Mel Gibson fanaticism weren't for naught. They were just boot camp for being an Urbanite! All of that mental energy, all the hours of thought and planning and scheming, and Mel just turns out to be a drunken anti-Semite.

But that's OK! Keith is on the horizon now. Big Sis'll just bide her time, and if she can't have a money tree, well she'll just make do with the twice a year concert trips.

Then one day, Keith will look out in the audience, and he'll KNOW! Yes! He'll just KNOW that Big Sis is the one for him.

He'll dump that brazen hussy of a movie star he's married to, and finally be united with his one true love!

Well. Probably not.

But it won't be for a lack of Big Sis trying.

So, she'll just have to wait for the new CD to come out in a few more days, and listen to the songs she's probably already heard bootleg copies of a thousand times.

That booklet with the CD will be new though, and she'll devour every word.

Though of course she'll shed a tear when she reads where he mentions his beautiful, movie star wife by name.

But 'til that new Keith Urban CD is in her hot little hand, Big Sis'll be all a-twitter with memories and anticipation.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #11

Thirteen Thoughts About Our Ten Years In Florida

We just passed our tenth anniversary of moving to Palm Bay, Florida. My, how time flies.

1. We have lived in our present home nine years, longer than any one place we've lived in 22 years of marriage.

2. I consider my home town to be Monroe, Louisiana, but my daughters have lived here in Palm Bay longer than I lived in Monroe. Seems impossible to me.

3. I thought I would never get used to how different Florida looked with the palm trees and flowers and all, but I have. I have to remind myself to appreciate all the things we have to be thankful for here.

4. I love the beach, and thought I would never take it for granted to live so close. But the past few years I HAVE taken it for granted and go months sometimes without even seeing the Atlantic Ocean, which is only a 20 minute drive from our home.

5. I never tire of watching the Space Shuttle and rockets go up. Even if I can't go up to Cape Canaveral, and just walk outside where I work or at home to watch, it is still cool.

6. Palm Bay has, in the 10 years we've been here, gone from 75,000 people to over 100,000 people. It's the largest city in Brevard County, much larger than the better known cities of Titusville, Cocoa, and Melbourne.

7. I like the 'cold snaps' we get sometimes in winter, where the temperature may drop to the 30's and 40's (F), but I also like being able to walk outside in January in shorts and barefooted most of the time.

8. Florida is NOT a bicycle friendly state. I love to ride mine, but it can be intimidating. Consequently I don't ride as much as I'd like to.

9. I love the Disney parks, but at $60-70 per person, per park, just for admission, we haven't been in a while. Even if we don't stay overnight in a hotel (they're only an hour from home), that's about $100 per person, per day, including vittles.

10. I've been thinking quite a bit lately about setting some new goals for the next ten years. I've let the last ten slip by without getting much done. I feel like I've just been coasting since I finished engineering school. Seems like it anyway.

11. I still haven't gone over to Orlando and played on somma dem spiffy put-put golf courses they have. I mean it, they have some really cool looking ones. And put-put is the ONLY golf this boy plays. I'll have to get right on that.

12. For ten years I've been talking about how we need to go to Key West at least once, but we still haven't. I'd get right on that too, but it's like a 9 hour drive from here. One way.

13. I reckon I better start learning Spanish 'fore too long. Seriously.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bottle Brush Tree

Ok. This post needs some background.

One of the photography sites I like to check out is Cyndie Planck's blog, Digitalalterations. She takes photos like I want to when I grow up. Go check it out.

So last night, I was cruising some of the web sites that she links on her blog, and there was one blog, Daily Pictures From South Africa, whose authors posted a picture of a bottle brush trees' blooms, and asked if they grow in other parts of the world. It's on their Tuesday, October 10th, post.

It inspired me to put these up. I took these behind the Melbourne, Florida public library this past weekend.

In my case, the tree caught my eye because of it's zany growing pattern. These are trees that will go to great lengths to do whatever it can to be in good sun. We used to have one in our front yard that was apparently too much in the shade of a bigger tree so it started growing sideways to try to get more sun.

I think this tree I took photos of however, started growing sideways because it's in an open area with winds almost always blow from the east, so the tree grew toward the west. Several other trees nearby were growing with a definite westward tilt too.

The bottle brush trees just started blooming down here so the blooms aren't as full or as bright or as numerous as they will be in a week or two.

Anyway, here's my pics of the bottle brush tree. The reason it's called that should be obvious from the shape of the blooms.

The big clump at the right of the photo is the base/roots of the tree. The two main branches are growing leftward in the picture, with the one main branch touching ground and lifting back up again. Cool.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's A Major Award

I have always loved that part of the movie A Christmas Story where Ralphie's father, played by Darren McGavin received his 'Major Award' which turned out to be a sexy ladies' leg lamp. When it arrived and everyone was wondering what it was, he would just tell them, "It's a major award."

I am not exactly what you would call a competitive person.

One of my best friends while growing up was a VERY competitive person. One of those people who was right even when they are wrong, if you get my meaning. He would argue the other side of something just to be able to argue, even if you absolutely knew he didn't really believe in the position he was arguing.

But me, I just never had much need to test myself against others. I never got jealous when someone beat me in a game, or scored better on a test or anything.
In fact, jealousy is one of those things I have so little of that I truly am astonished that people will ruin their own and other's lives over it.

Sometimes over the years I have fervently wished to be more competitive, but in the end, I just have to try to work with myself as I am.

Consequently, I have won very few awards during my life. Shoot, I rarely even enter free drawings and such.

But when I was about 14, I went to a Baptist Church Camp near Shreveport, Louisiana. It was on an island in the woods.

Just picture some of those Spanish moss covered trees in old, old woods. Throw in the necessary bayous/rivers/streams, I can't remember which. We're talkin' SERIOUS back-woods here. (Way out in the middle of nothing.)

The 'camp' was actually pretty cool by rough camping standards. Everything was built up off the ground on stilts due to seasonal flooding, but there was a decent boys bunk house and a girls bunk house. There was a kitchen/cafeteria building.

All the comforts of home, minus air conditioning. But everyone else was sweating and the cold-only shower was a bonus in my estimation.

It was a whole week of immersion into Bible study, prayer, Biblical instruction, and teams and competitions.

It is a testament to how low the level of the talent pool was that, at the end of the week, who was to win the overall award as "best camper" out of about one hundred teens, but little ol' me.

While I never outran anyone in races and such, I was a whiz at memorizing Bible verses, and this being a religious camping experience, much of the competition centered on being able to quote verses perfectly and to answer Bible trivia questions. (Though I know Brother Jackie would bristle to see me write the words 'Bible' and 'trivia' in the same sentence.)

But then I've always been interested in spiritual things. And a week of intense Bible study was right down my alley.

I always grew stronger in my faith at such retreats as this, but was always saddened by friends who walked a straight line as long as someone was watching, and then snuck off for cigarettes or to make out with a new friend.

To me, at camp, Bible was serious business AND fun. To others, it was something to be endured between games and swimming and canoeing.

And when I would come home, the natural high of a week's separation between me and most of the world's temptations would have me walking very circumspectly.

Over time however, even I would slowly be ground down by the temptations of being back in the real world and allow myself to fall somewhat.

I have never liked that about myself.

I'll be 44 soon, but I'm still working on that 'being in the world but not of the world' part.

But when I was in that element, in the intensity of the Christian camp, I was able to exercise a part of me that can truly excel.

And for a little while, I could engross myself in something that I was naturally good at. Most others there would just tolerate the church part, but to me it was as easy and natural as breathing.

Winning the Best Camper award was really quite embarrassing. I did compete hard, but not for the overall prize. I competed hard because I happened to love that particular type of competition.

It was the very first time I had ever bested a bunch of other kids at anything.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Fall Colors, Florida Style

Here in Central Florida, there's not much in the way of fall colors.

There are a few hardwood trees here that turn colors in the fall, but nothing like what we saw when we lived in the Atlanta area. Heck, we have to mow our grass year 'round.

There is however, a type of tree, though it doesn't exactly shed it's leaves after putting on a show, it does turn colors in the fall.

The Rain Tree is widely planted down here, and in the fall, it produces many little pods that kind of look like colored little japanese lanterns.

The other day I went to the Melbourne public library, and they have a whole row of them planted beside the road, on the library's property.

I had my camera with me, and took some photos. Here's a tree that almost single handedly gives Florida a fall feeling. Down here, seeing a rain tree do it's thang, is the best signal of the arrival of fall.

'Cause otherwise, it's still pretty hot here every day.

Click on 'em.

Purdy, ain't they?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday October 15, 2006

Arkansas's Petit Jean State Park slides, continued from yesterday.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas, U.S.

Scanning more slides, I've recently scanned a batch I took on a visit to Petit Jean State Park, in Arkansas. It was Arkansas's first State Park, and is in Northwest Arkansas.

This would have been in 1983, and I went with Lovely Fiance and her family.

Petit Jean is an interesting story about a real person. (I almost wrote 'real live person', but Petit Jean has been dead, lo these many years.)

This first one is from an overlook on top of Petit Jean Mountain, looking over the Arkansas River.

Lovely Fiance, showing again, she's not afraid of getting close to the edge.

This is Petit Jean's grave, right close to the overlook in the above photos. It's where she requested to be buried.

This is way down at the base of the Petit Jean Mountain, after hiking down one heckuva trail. But seeing Cedar Creek and the beautiful forest was worth the effort. Plus, I was only 20 then and still thought I was superman. (except for getting close to the edges of cliffs)

This is Cedar Falls, the final destination of the difficult trek over a couple of miles of rough terrain. This is one beautiful place.
If you haven't already done so, go back up and click the Petit Jean link I put up there. It' is truly an interesting story about a courageous woman.

Go on, git!

Friday, October 13, 2006

I Complained That I Had No Shoes...

Until I met someone who had no feet.

It's an old saying. And as an adult I have always tried to realize that, no matter what I'm going through, someone else has it tougher. And that they are handling it better than me to boot.

I have encountered people over the years, who, although they have it tough, just seem to handle the problems of life with inspirational doses of grace and peace. Much more than I seem to be able to muster anyway.

One person whom I met years ago, once, has stuck with me.

I never even knew this man's name.

I had just finished my final, final exam of one quarter of engineering school at the time. (Louisiana Tech was on the quarter system, not semesters, I think it still is.)

[Aside: I don't talk about this much, because I always felt it was bragging, but I want to help you understand my frame of mind at the time, ok? Engineering school is hard. I only had a couple of easy classes the whole time there, and in geography class one day, before the teacher arrived, truly half the class was complaining that next quarter, they were going to have to have one, sometimes two classes that were hard. Whine, whine, whine. That quarter I was in geography, I also took the second calculus based Physics with it's lab, Differential Equations (basically the final calculus), and Linear Algebra. My next quarter was going to be much the same, so I had no sympathy for someone who was going to have to take college algebra AND English along with their art appreciation and philosophy class.]

Anyway, my last final that quarter was one of my electrical engineering classes.

Dr. Irby taught us out of one EE textbook, but used another one to find his problems he would give us on tests. This made his tests quite difficult. First, using this other book (he did this in all his classes) meant that the problems would be somewhat different than all the homework we had done. It was kind of like learning Cajun French and then having a test on Parisian French. But, it was easier on him to just copy some problems out of another text than to create ones more like the homework we had all quarter.

At any rate, studying for his tests was a nightmare. You just never knew what you were going to get. He ALWAYS ended up grading on a curve, because invariably, when he worked the test himself to generate a test key with which to grade our tests, he found that one or more problems needed skills that didn't quite line up the exact same skills he had been teaching to that point.

So walking out of that test, and heading to my truck to go home for a glorious, almost two week break, was a natural high. Pass or fail, A or B, the classes were over and done with. Like heading home on a Friday when you have the next week as vacation. The sun is a little brighter, the bird's songs are beautiful, and the grass is so, so green. Know what I mean?

I'm walking across campus to my truck, although I'm not sure if my feet were touching the ground, and I can still picture the warm sunny day.

I headed from Nethken Hall (the electrical engineering building) toward the southwest side of the Louisiana Tech campus where I had found parking that morning.

I cut through an area of dormitory buildings on the southern edge of the campus, and specifically across their parking areas.

I'm enjoying the ride up there on cloud nine when I hear a man say, "Excuse me, sir. Could you help me?"

The voice is close by but A.) I was jerked out of my reverie and back to earth and was a bit disoriented, and B.) I couldn't see anyone.

I made a complete 180 on the sidewalk, and saw that the man talking to me was kind of hidden behind the open front passenger door of his white, full-sized, conversion van.

When I made eye contact, he said, "Could you pick this up for me please? I can't quite reach it."

I looked right in front of him and saw a jacket on the asphalt just in front of him.

The man asking for my help was a dwarf. He was also paraplegic and in a customized wheel chair. He had use of his arms and hands, but not his feet.

Such a simple thing as dropping an article of clothing, and he had to ask for help.

I said, "Of course." and picked up and handed him his jacket and asked if there was anything else I could help him with.

"Nope. That's the last thing, I'm heading home for the break."

He had been putting a few last things into the passenger front seat area of his van, and I could now see that the van had no driver's seat. It also was configured for hand controls of brakes and such, and that it contained a wheel chair lift. He could drive his chair inside the van into the driver's area, lock his wheelchair down, and drive himself.

I wished him a good day and a good trip and continued on my way to my truck. The total elapsed time could have only been about 30 seconds with this guy.

But as I continued on, I was mentally JERKED into another frame of mind.

Here I was, euphoric over having finished such a difficult quarter, and looking forward to the break, when I encountered a man whose life was much different than mine.

I got to thinking about him. He was handicapped, but he was also a dorm room living, full time university student.

How much determination and dedication does it take for someone in his position to go against the grain like that?

I don't know what services were available to someone in his situation, but within seconds of walking away from him, I knew that I would always remember this man.

As I said, I never even knew his name, but I can still picture him. I can also remember thanking God for letting me be there to do that simple task for him that he could not. Just knowing how much more difficult university life must have been for him than it was for me on a physical level made me file a memory of him away.

I did not feel sorry for him in any way. I admired him then, and I still admire him now.

How many times in the ten years since have I wondered about him and thought of him when things in my own life seemed so difficult?

As often as I think of him, I pray for him, something I learned to do about everyone who pops into my mind for any reason.

I pray he's having a good life.

He has no idea that this moment, years ago, has inspired me to repeatedly pick myself up spiritually, mentally, and physically when I thought I was down for the count.

No matter how tough I have it at times, there's always someone in a tougher position, and they are succeeding with their determination and inner strength.

Being reminded of this man, helps me counter the inertia in my life in various areas where I'm either heading the wrong way, or just can't get started.

Sorry to be later than usual in getting my post up. Today is my every other Friday off Friday, and I slept until 11:00am.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #10

13 Movies I Have Watched Repeatedly (my obligatory Movie T13)

These aren't all of my favorites, just the ones I can think of off the top of my head that are my go to movies when I'm in the mood to see a movie but aren't sure which to watch, and am willing to watch something I've already seen.

1. Local Hero (1983). A big shot corporate buyout guy is sent to buy a small town in Scotland. It's a really low key comedy where a guy who has everything, a porsche, etc., realizes the folly of his ways. It's low key, British type humor. This is definitely one of my top 5 all-time movies.

2. Chariots Of Fire (1981). Lovely Wife and I went to see this on one of our first dates. But the movie, even after all these years is amazing. It seems like the pace of the movie is slow, it's so quiet and gentle, but still keeps me glued to the screen. It's the true story of the 1924 Paris Olympics, told from the point of view of one of the minor participants. If I could only see one movie ever again, it would most likely be this one.

3. Stargate (1994). I am by no means a huge fan of sci-fi, but this movie was right down my alley. I had wanted to see it in the theater, but ended up not seeing it until it came out on video. It's the first movie I ever sat and watched for the first time, and then turned right around and watched it over again right away. It's a cross between 'gotta follow the clues' type mystery movies, plus regular sci-fi. Egyptologist Daniel Jackson (James Spader) is all alone among his peers in believing that ancient Egypt, and possibly the whole human race, was started by aliens. He finds out the hard way he was right. Excellent filming and a story that just pulls you in.

4. A Christmas Carol (1999). Either ya like Dickens, or ya don't. I do. I love his books. This movie version with Patrick Stewart as E. Scrooge, and made by TNT is one of my all time favorites as well. It's really gritty and totally true to the Dickens book, to the point of many lines being verbatim from the book. I usually end up watching this 2 or 3 times in the run-up to Christmas every year, and usually once or twice in the summer to boot. If you have netflix, try out this version. I absolutely love it.

5. Contact (1997). I said I'm not a huge sci-fi fan, but here's yet another one on my list. I thought the movie was way, way better than the book, but the movie was different enough for me to really like it. Carl Sagan, who wrote the book, had, as a part of the antagonism to advancing science, characters who were supposedly Christians, but they were all hopelessly two dimensional and petty in the book. In the movie, they still are, but aren't as big a part of the movie as the book. The story: a life long stargazer, Jodie Foster, whose folly of using radio telecsope time to listen for alien messages, is rewarded by hearing and recognizing the earth's first alien contact, via an audio/video message. The message leads the entire world on a rush to build a contraption whose design is sent by the aliens. It ends up being a movie about faith, of all things. I couldn't help but love it and watch it again from time to time.

6. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981). No explanation should be required. It was fresh, new, and unique and I've always loved it.

7. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989). After the sorry affair of Temple Of Doom, the bar was raised back up high with Sean Connery as Indiana's father.

8. Peter Pan (1953). This Disney animated movie is by far my favorite Disney movie. It still seems dreamy and magical to me.

9. Star Wars (1977). Glenn B. and I rode our bikes to the closest theater to see this in 1977. Although I liked the next two almost as much, you can't beat the originality and surprise of this first one.

10. It's A Wonderful Life (1946). What can I say, I'm a sucker for stories in which ordinary people examine their lives and decide to make a change.

11. Cast Away (2000). A modern day Robinson Crusoe without the slavery. Just one man and his wits on a deserted island. As kid I used to fantasize about what it would be like to be the last person on the planet. This was a pretty close theme to that.

12. Phenomenon (1996). John Ravolting as a man who somehow gains amazing mental abilities and his impact on his community. A surprise movie. I remember walking out of the theater in deep thought about my life. The movie seemed to move in one direction that I thought I knew what was coming, then it flipped around to something SO surprising to me. But I love that 'live your life to the fullest' theme it has.

13. The Passion Of The Christ (2004). Ok, this is stretching it, because I've only seen it twice. But that first time, in the theater, I cried like a baby. Covers the final 12 hours of Jesus's life, and the resurrection three days later. I tell you, no other movie has touched me so profoundly. 'Nuff said. Plus, I'm due another watch of this one.

Yeah, there's more sci-fi in there than I would have thought, but that's ok. I could have made this list way bigger. Lucky for you this was a Thursday Thirteen.

You can see I like action, adventure, following clues, and meaningful introspection. Oh, yeah, and laser beams and explosions too.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

At The Risk Of Sounding Like An Old Man...

I guess that the years that I worked for Delta Airlines has left me with a lifetime of stories.

Each individual who worked the ramp in any way, baggage handler, bringing U.S. Mail to and from the mail room, etc., worked their shift for six months. And then everyone would bid for the best shift/days off their seniority would afford them, and that was their schedule for the next six months.

And, for example, there were something like 1600 ramp workers for Delta in Atlanta in 1992. Working at a job with that many people, you're just bound to end up working with a lot of interesting characters.

But when we first moved to the Dallas area in 1986, and I started working for Delta (again), I was, as all new hires were at the time, a temporary, part-time employee.

Basically this meant that I could only bid on shifts of less than 8 hours. I might end up actually working 60 hours per week because of how busy we were, but officially, I was temporary, part-time.

This allowed Delta to pay us a low wage with absolutely no benefits.

But I went into the job with my eyes wide open, and knew that. I'm not complaining at all. That's the situation I signed up for, and I dealt with it.

But us TPTs, as we were referred to, ended up not only doing regular ramp work, but every kind of 'scut' work the supervisors could imagine. I'm just thankful that most of the supervisors I worked under were decent, and that the ones who were morons/horse's behinds were for the most part unimaginative.

For example, the thing I remember as being the most menial, ridiculous task I was ordered to do, was to, on a 30 degree (F) day of misting rain and sleet, go out and fill 50lb sand bags, and then to retie the tops of all the ones that were loosened. Needless to say, within minutes my hands were hurting me miserably, because it proved impossible to undo and re-tie wet cotton strings with my leather work gloves on. I just did as many as I could until my next flight I was supposed to unload came in. But I was miserable enough to still have that at the top of my "worthless menial task" list.

Working at DFW airport (Hartsfield in Atlanta, too) was a learning experience for me. See, Delta was the only airline whose employees were not in a labor union. The pilots always have been, but the ramp rats like me, as well as the flight attendants, were not.

The result was, that whatever I was told to do, however dumb it seemed, I had to at least attempt.

Also, Delta's old timers were a crotchety bunch of guys, and if a supervisor told them to do something like that, they would refuse, and say, "That's what the TPTs are for."

If it was a nasty job, us TPTs were the cannon fodder sent to the front.

But, like I said, I went into the job with my eyes open. I didn't mind most things, because nothing was worse than sitting around one of the ramp worker's break rooms in the days of indoor smoking. Half a dozen smokers could make the large break room miserable for the other 70 or so guys in there, if you can remember the bad old days.

And a lot of the old timers resented us, though I was never able to truly work out just why that was so. Most of those guys appreciated having young, strong men around to do the really heavy stuff, but some, well, you just couldn't please them in any way. With all of Delta's troubles of late, I wonder how these older guys are fairing with their retirement. Seems like most companies who declare bankruptcy these days almost immediately seek to drop the burden of the retirement incomes of those who have retired. Oh well.

The bottom line, for us temporary part-timers, was that we wanted a good work record so that we could become permanent full-time employees. In my case, I was a TPT for about 20 months.

I did lots of grunt work during that 20 months, but then again, I was young and strong. This was way before my first back surgery.

My almost-44 year old bones shutter to think about doing the physical work I did with ease twenty years ago. I felt ten feet tall and bullet proof back then.

And though age and some physical problems have humbled me the past few years, I'm not ready for the grave just yet.

I'm grateful for what health I do have. I have a sorry back, but both knees and shoulders are intact. And I succeeded in learning the difficult things taught in engineering school, while in my thirties, so I know an old dog can learn new tricks. I guess my brain still functions.

I didn't really have a point to all of this, and therefore no clever ending.

I just think a lot about all those men and women I worked with during my tenure with Delta. It's kinda like thinking about high school and wondering how/where everyone is now.

Sometimes I guess I need to think about the things I've been through to remind me that I can also make it through what things I'm now going through.

This too shall pass.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Immigrant Song / Circuit Card Test

Yesterday, when I was coming home from work, the sun had just gone down and the sky was this blueish purple that I've only ever seen near the ocean.

It is such a pretty and relaxing thing to me, to see the sky like that.

And although it's still getting into the upper 80's (F) every day, the mornings and evenings are beyond perfect.

So I was driving home with the windows down. I was listening to a CD, but wanted to hear one of the other ones that I didn't have in the car with me. So I turned on the radio, and flip around, trying to find something to match the pleasant mood that the beautiful evening induced.

We have a smooth jazz station here, but the jazz they play is the more up tempo, complicated stuff that makes my blood pressure rise instead of the more mellow relaxing smoother smooth jazz. So that didn't work.

I finally turned on a rock station, right at the beginning of Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin.

Though it's loud and fast, it was the perfect song for cruising down I-95 on a stupendously beautiful Florida evening.

Rock On!

Have you ever had one of those days, where you really, really cannot trust yourself?

First, this is the first time in quite a while where I didn't post early in the morning, so I'm doing it at lunch like I did when I first started my blog.

And to give you an example of what I'm talking about:

I'm trying to test a circuit card this morning. I have to use a UNIX machine to do it. I'm using a particular program on this UNIX computer to do a certain test. One of the commands I have to enter into the program on this UNIX computer is "BERResult4 150000".

Now the thing about this is that each portion of the test takes about 10 minutes to run. So when I type BERResult4 150000 and hit enter, the test starts. If I screw up that command slightly, however, the whole test setup just goes off into the weeds somewhere and it takes a while to restart everything and get back to where I was.

All of that is to say this, I'm in the habit now, of pausing for a few seconds before I enter whatever command, to make sure it's right. This saves me a lot of time and frustration in the course of a day.

But today, several times, I've typed in things like: "the BERResult4 150000". That simple "the" that I added there would hose things up to where I would lose about 10 minutes just getting everything set back up.

I've caught myself making almost-mistakes like that all morning.

I'm just having one of THOSE days.

Is it time to go to bed yet?

Monday, October 09, 2006

It's A Wonder She Can Walk

When I was around 7-8 years old, we lived in a little town in Louisiana called Vidalia. It's on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi river across from Natchez, Mississippi.

We lived in a corner house on Charles Street across from Calvary Baptist Church.

The house had a big yard, especially on the side against the intersection of Charles and... well, I don't really remember the name of the intersecting street there. Hey, I was only 8, give me a break. It's not important anyway. (Big Brother would have been about 10, and Big Sis about 13.)

Big Brother was about 2.5 years older than me, but way bigger and stronger. So he got pretty bored playing games like football with me.

One of the few games we could entice Big Sis to play with us was kickball. But that was an iffy proposition in itself. She didn't want to do it that often.

One day, Big Brother and I came up with a great idea. (Well, I say we because I took part in the scam, but I think Big Brother came up with it.)

We got the shovel, and went out to the side yard, and dug a hole where we normally laid something to mark first base in our games. The hole was narrow, but a couple of feet deep.

Then we carefully laid some pieces of cardboard or something to mark three bases and home plate. Oh yeah, and to hide the hole at first base.

Now, the hard part.

We had to talk Big Sis into playing a game of kick ball with us. Since we were going to play Big Brother and I against Big Sis, we had to spot her some points and let her kick first, to sweeten the deal enough that, A. she would even play, and B. that we could get her to kick first and enact our nefarious plan.

Now normally when you 'pitch' the kickball to a kicker, you roll the ball in such a way as to make it bounce just a widdle biddy bit, so that hopefully the kicker makes a bad kick that would favor you and your team.

But this time, due to the hole under first base, Big Brother rolled her a nice, smooth, slow ball.

BAM! She nails it.

We half heartedly move toward the ball, mainly watching as Big Sis approaches 1st base.

Bloop! Her right leg almost disappears.

She starts yelling.

Big Brother and I are dying with laughter.

Needless to say, Big Sis didn't want to play any further.

I can't even remember if we got in trouble for this prank, but I have to assume we did. I can't imagine we got away with it with no repercussions.

And as an adult, I marvel that we didn't ruin Big Sis's right knee. I think that what saved it was that, as she approached first, she slowed down really slow to see if she needed to stay there or if she had a chance to advance.

If she had had a killer instinct and tried to fly around first to see how far she could get, we probably would have ruined her leg.

Adults always caution kids by saying, it's funny until somebody gets hurt.

As adults Big Brother and I always laughed about this event, shaking our heads about how lucky Big Sis was not to have a life long limp.

We were able to laugh, because nobody got hurt.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday October 7, 2006

Sebastian, Florida.

Sebastian, Florida. These squirrels were very tame. I can only assume they are well fed by park visitors, they come much closer than your average skittish squirrel.

This is the easy to miss dirt road that will take you to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the America's first NWR. It's low key, but well worth the effort to find it. I wrote a post about Pelican Island a while back.

At Castaways Point Park in Palm Bay, Florida.

At Castaways Point Park in Palm Bay, Florida.

Also at Castaways Point Park in Palm Bay, Florida. This little memorial was hidden among some trees. No names. There are a lot of homeless people down here, and this park is out of the way and therefore one of their places to bed down at night. Though I actually have no idea who, or what kind of person is remembered here.