Saturday, December 30, 2006

Last Day In Louisiana

Today is our last full day here in Monroe.

We went down to LaSalle Parish yesterday, and put flowers on my family's graves. It was supposed to rain, but the afternoon turned out to be beautiful. It was a nice afternoon to go and pay our respects. I hadn't seen my Big Brother's headstone, so that was pretty wierd looking at that, seeing his name and the dates on it.

Anyway, today is just visiting family and eating as we psych up for our return trip tomorrow.

Here are a couple more scans that I have done while here. I have only color corrected them, I haven't had time to get rid of blemishes on the photos.

This first one was taken in the back yard of a house we rented when I was a kid. That's Big Brother, Big Sis, and me in the yard with our dog Snoopy. I didn't think there were any pictures of him, and seeing this really blessed me.

This one is a hoot, and Big Sis will probably throw us out of her house if she sees it before we leave of our own accord.

This portrait was taken when we lived in Vidalia, Louisiana in the early seventies. Big Sis was old enough to be ashamed to have a formal portrait taken with her siblings, right up in the front of the grocery store.

Yep, the photographer was set up right by the entrance door, so everyone walking in stared at the geeks getting their pictures taken in a grocery store.

Notice that us boys were all young and unaware enough to still smile when asked.

Big Sis looks pretty grim. Hee hee hee.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Trip Update, Friday December 28th

I'm finally sneaking in a few minutes on Big Sis's computer to post something.

We've been enjoying our trip to Louisiana, getting to visit with family and to eat some good home cookin'.

We arrived in Monroe at about 2am on Wednesday morning, and had a short night of sleep. The trip was pretty good, we drove straight through from Palm Bay to Monroe in about 13 hours. It's just over 900 miles.

We brought Lovely Wife's laptop and our flatbed scanner and have been scanning some print photos of Sainted Mother's and Big Sis's for which negatives no longer exist.

As we've been sitting around talking, I've been steadily scanning different photos and just want to get what I can while we're here.

Lovely Wife is doing pretty well, but I've been sick the whole time. My throat is really sore, it feels like my tonsils are swolen, and I've lost my voice. I sit and wisper. I'm a bit hard of hearing, so now I'm a semi-deaf-mute.

Yesterday (Thursday) was my worst day, but I've trudged along. I've waited too long to come here to spend the time sick in bed.

This afternoon, Sainted Mother, Big Sis, Lovely Wife and I are going down to the community of Amoch in central Louisiana to my Dad's and Big Brother's graves.

That'll have to do for now, but I'll throw a couple of scans that I have done the past two days at you here, before I go...

I have done only the most rudimentary touch ups here, mainly to correct the color shift of old prints that have yellowed.

These are a couple of scans of my Dad, who I usually call Don C. here, from when he was almost a lad and in the U.S. Navy. I've always loved the one of him with the handlebar mustache. This is one that was cut and put into an oval frame. Sainted Mother has a 5x7 rectangular version of it, but I haven't gotten my hands on it yet. These two photos of him would have been taken around 1954, when he was about 19 or 20.

This final one is of my Dad's Mother, Eunice Williamson (left) and her cousin Florence (right) when they were young. This is the only photo I've ever seen of "Mamaw" as a grown, but young woman. She looks very similar to Number Two Daughter in this photo.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins...


I just want to say happy birthday to Dr. Glenn B., an old and dear friend from my teen years and beyond.

I've always thought of you on the day after Christmas. Just know that I'm thinking if you today (if you happen to see this), and am wishing you the happiest of birthdays.

Well, we ain't left yet. (How's that for proper English?)

Lovely Wife and I have had so little sleep this week, and had so much to do for Christmas and to get ready for our trip, that we didn't go to bed until about 2:30am this morning.

We slept until 7:30 and THEN began to get everything together for our trip.

It's after nine as I write this, so I'm thinking we'll be on the road at about 10:00am. A mere four hours later than when we wanted to leave, and exactly when Big Sis thought we would leave. Good call. I guess I was an optimist and Big Sis was the realist this time.

Oh well.

Hope everyone had a merry Christmas.

We'll be on the road all day and way into the night, so I would appreciate y'all's prayers.

I will have a piece of paper and a pen with me at all times, because when I drive, I sometimes have good ideas. I'm hoping that, despite my sleep deprived state, to come up with a few good blog topics and then be able to squeeze in a little time at Big Sis's house on her computer to keep the blog posts coming.

I know how y'all count on me. (hardy-har-har-har)


Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day, 2006

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I have a couple of Christmas pictures after all.

They were an experiment with my Nikon D70s. I've always shot with it at the lowest ISO setting of 200, for best quality, but the thing goes up to 1600 for low light situations. Although at 1600, the picture isn't as clear. There's digital noise analogous to the grain one sees in higher speed 35mm films

The faster the film, the more prominent the grain. Likewise, turning the digital camera up to 1600 ISO (equivalent) cranks up the gain in the light sensitive photo receptors in the camera, but the cost of doing this is the generation of digital noise.

The digital noise looks similar to the graininess in fast film.

Anyhoo, I had never used my camera with the ISO maxed out like that, so when we were out at WalMart, I had my camera with me (doesn't everyone?) and turned the ISO to 1600 and took a couple of photos in available light, no flash, so that I could see how it does.

The photos are nothing to write home about, but I'm pretty impressed with how good the photos look, despite how the noise is noticeable in them. Plus, I could set the camera at 1600 ISO and -2 stops of compensation, and effectively have ISO 6400. I could open the RAW files and adjust them +2 stops. It's nice to know that I could have such a low light usable camera. The only cost would be some noise, but I'm excited, and wanting to try some serious available light photography.

I know this must be the most boring post in the history of blogdom, but I wanted to put a last little bit of Christmas on here.

Lovely Wife and I are planning to start toward Louisiana in the morning. It's a sixteen hour drive, but we hope to be able to drive straight through, spelling each other in driving.

I have no idea if I will be able to update the blog until we get back on January 1st. So, if you see something new, you'll know I was able to find time to write and/or post some photos.

Merry Christmas. God bless all y'all!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday December 24, 2006

I know it's Christmas Eve, and logically I should post something Christmassy, but I just didn't have any inspired Christmas themed photos.

So y'all are getting early morning Florida colors, created by an inspired God.

About five years ago, after an insomniac night, I went and took pictures before sunrise over the Indian River Lagoon. This was in Malabar, Florida.

The company I work for has a facility in Malabar, and I was working there at the time.

Since I couldn't sleep, I got out all of my camera equipment and cleaned and made sure everything on my cameras was in working order. I left early for work and set up on the banks of the Indian River Lagoon, looking eastward.

It was a beautiful morning, and made the sleepless night seem less painful.

Give 'em a click.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Slim Pickin's Saturdays

No, NOT Slim Pickens, the actor. Gyah!

Y'all, this whole Christmas shopping, getting things prepared for our trip to Louisiana, trying to get Diana's and Benjamin's wedding photos ready for them, well, I just haven't had the time or inclination to write anything.

I've also been loading Lovely Wife's laptop up with Nikon software, so I can use it to download my camera photos on our trip; also loading scanner software.

We're going to take our flatbed scanner with us and I'm going to be rude and insensitive and scan some of Sainted Mother's and Big Sis's print photos that are unique, while we visit. For instance, I'd like to scan the picture of the destroyer my Dad served on in the Navy, plus there's a picture of him that Sainted Mother only has this one print, in which he has a killer handlebar mustache. I want to be scanning some of this stuff while we're sitting around catching up and shooting the breeze.

I have been on the computer working on Diana's photos, plus a few scans of my own as well, so you're getting some of my scans of negatives today.

WHAT! Not 35mm Slides?!


I have, on occasion, actually used print film in Ye Olde Filme Cameras. It's a seldom thing, but I have done it.

I'm not sure of the dates I took these, but I'm pretty darn sure it was summer of 1999.

Anyhoo, on with the show. Give these a click for your visual enjoyment.

This little rubber alligator was a souvenir that Number Two Daughter chose on a trip when she was little. He doesn't look this healthy now, though he's still out in the pool area. The Florida sun and chlorine have aged him quite a bit.

This is my little buddy, Angel. If I'm at home, she's never very far away from me.

This was just a neat intertwining of some palm fronds on one of the palms in our front yard. I liked the basketweave look and the way the sun was shining on them.

I have no clue as to what plant this is. Something Lovely Wife planted. I just liked how contrasty they were, almost white to deep red/pink.

A couple of cheap inflatable floaties laying beside the pool. I liked the colors, and the textures of the concrete and the pool tiles.

Be back with more photos tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel.

Friday, December 22, 2006


In July of 1990 I went to Utah to visit my Big Brother.

Paul was a truck driver. That's what he had wanted to do since his early teens. In fact, he didn't stay around for his high school graduation in 1977 after his senior classes ended, he already had a job and it entailed driving a truck to Connecticut for the company he was hired by, and to live there and work.

Mom and I went to the Neville High School office the week after the graduation ceremony and picked up his diploma; Paul was in Connecticut.

Anyway, in 1990 Paul was living and driving a truck for a company in Salt Lake City. He had called to see if I wanted to come up and visit and to go on a run with him in his truck.

Now I've spoken on this blog about my aversion to things related to auto mechanics; but you can also add to this list driving and backing a tractor/trailer rig. Hats off to them men and women who do it, I don't think I have the guts.

I accepted anyway, because I was basically going to be a passenger and a road trip with Big Brother sounded fun.

My flight into Salt Lake City was in the evening and we got to his home around 9pm or so, if I remember correctly. At about 11pm we headed to the yard where his truck was to have been loaded with produce for the trip. Oh, and this was two trailers, a 53 foot trailer and a 27 foot trailer. A massive rig, heavily loaded.

I just kinda followed him around the place while he checked everything out and was amazed at the size of the operation there. It was a huge distribution point and the numbers of trucks and people at work at that time of night was surprising.

When he was finally satisfied that he had everything loaded and the matching paperwork, we headed out northward through Utah toward Idaho.

The plan was to drive up the eastern side of Idaho and drop produce off at various grocery stores in little places like Rigby, Rexburg, and St. Anthony, with our final stop to be in West Yellowstone, Montana.

I will never forget how isolated we were in the interstate highway (I-15) as we were driving northward in southeastern Idaho. It was the first time that I had ever been on an interstate highway where we might go ten minutes without seeing anyone coming from the other direction. Even that late at night, southeastern interstates have at least a few vehicles in sight the whole time.

We went on and started making the stops and deliveries at around 6am. Some stuff to this grocery store, some to that one, go to the next town on the list, etc.

This part of Idaho is potato country. Having grown up in Louisiana cotton country, farm fields to the horizon was no big surprise, but the lack of trees and the Tetons in the distance made for a nice change though.

I can't remember what the name of the town was that we bought lunch at, probably one of the three Idaho towns I mentioned earlier, but Paul had raved about this little restaurant's hamburgers.

We pulled into town and headed for the grocery store. This was the smallest store and delivery yet. Up 'til then I had been helping Paul unload at each stop, but this time he sent me next door from the little grocery store to get us each a couple of hamburgers at this cafe. He opened a side door on the refrigerated trailer, which he had pulled right up near the side door of the store, the owner came out and they started taking the stuff from the truck into the grocery store.

I went into this little, hole in the wall, free-standing restaruant, and looked around.

I had a total mental shift happen while standing there. It was lunch time and the place was pretty busy, people standing in line at the counter, the people cooking right behind the counter sorta like at a Waffle House, and there were about ten tables in the whole place, and they were all full. People sitting, people in line, people who had already ordered and were standing and waiting on their order.

It looked just like any small café/restaurant I had ever seen growing up in Louisiana. But my big surprise was that many of the men had on bib overalls and were wearing John Deere and Caterpillar hats and so forth. Only they farmed potatos, where in Louisiana it was cotton, soy beans, and rice.

Having grown up in the south, every movie with southerners in it makes it seem as if rednecks were a curious breed of folks who are all basically cousin marrying people from the South.

This day, I looked around myself in this restaurant and learned that there are rednecks everywhere. Except for the northern accents the people had, I could have been in any small eatery in the South.

So I waited in line and was thinking on the whole rednecks are everywhere paradigm shift I was having and it was then my turn to order.

I opened my mouth and ordered four hamburgers and two cokes, and the whole place came to a screeching halt. The cooks turned around and looked at me, the people in the booths and standing around stopped talking and turned to me, and to make the humiliation complete, the lady at the counter asked me to repeat my order.

And, since I was hungry, I obliged her (and everyone else in the place) by repeating my order in my north Louisiana/Texas/Georgia drawl.

I turn red easily, and I could feel the blood rushing through the veins in my face as everyone halted to hear me speak. You would have thought I had two heads the way they were staring, but then soon everyone lost interest and started turning back to their food and conversations.

I waited a few minutes and received our sacks of food and drink and headed outside, with a little bit more knowledge than when I had entered the place.

They were rednecks, but they didn't speak like any rednecks I had ever heard.

Paul was through and had the truck shut up and was waiting on me. I climbed into the cab and we ate our hamburgers there before heading out again.

While we enjoyed the delicious hamburgers (he was right, they were great) I told him what had happened and he got a good laugh out of it. He said his first time in there he had a similar reaction, and that was after having lived in Salt Lake City for five years, taking the rough edges off his accent.

My accent at the time was unadulterated, full-bore, southern drawl. It woke those folks up though. Maybe I made their lunches a little more interesting.

We continued our trip and finished up our last produce drop at a little grocery store in West Yellowstone, Montana. After that, we left the truck there and walked around town a little bit, just looking. I like cheesy looking tourist places like West Yellowstone, Gatlinburg, Tennessee and so forth. I'm weird like that.

We could only leave the store where the truck was parked in one direction due to the size of the truck, and went up the road to turn around and start heading back toward Idaho and Salt Lake City.

The place Paul used to turn the truck around was literally right in front of the Welcome To Yellowstone National Park Sign (or whatever it actually said) and I could have thrown a rock into Yellowstone Park from where we turned around and headed in the other direction.

We spent that night in the truck, at a truck stop in Idaho Falls, Idaho. We ate at the truck stop and slept in the sleeper of the truck. Then, when we woke up and went in search of a bathroom, the temperature was in the low 40s(F).

I couldn't believe it. Having come from a hot July in Atlanta, a crisp cool morning was awesome; a thing to be savored.

Paul was given another run to make, from some cheese factory in eastern Idaho, to be taken back to Salt Lake City. We were given permission to use the employees showers and cleaned up while they loaded the truck. Then we headed back into SLC.

I was only there for a total of three days, but that was a fun time. A road trip of a different kind with my Big Brother. We both brought favorite mix tapes to listen to in the truck and to this day when I hear certain songs, I think of that trip.

Now that Paul has died, I think about that trip from time to time. I wouldn't trade that bit of time spent alone with him for anything.

Plus, I learned something on that trip.

There are rednecks everywhere, not just in the South.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #20

Thirteen Christmas Decoration Photos

I've seen a lot of people do this, and I thought it was cool. So I took some photos of some of the Christmas stuff we put out every year.

1. Yukon Cornelius - As you'll begin to understand as you look at all of these photos, we love the characters from the old 1960's Rankin/Bass Rudolph. Yukon Cornelius is one of the greats. I always loved the supply list he wanted to buy, "Corn meal, gun powder, ham hocks, and guitar strings!"

2. 'Bominable Snow Monster - This is the Christmas ornament that is modeled from his fearsome look before his encounter with Herbie the dentist.

3. Snowman Pottery Candle Holder Thingy - This is something Lovely Wife bought, but I think is really cute looking. Plus he sits still very well for photos, so...

4. Rudolph Singing Characters - Each of these is battery powered and sings a song from the show. Santa sings "Jingle, Jingle, Jingle" and so forth.

5. Charlie In The Box - Younger Brother bought this for us several years ago, and it's one of my favorites. I love that line he has in Rudolph, near the end of the show, when Santa comes to The Island Of Misfit Toys. "It is! It's Santa! And Look, Rudolph's leading the way!"

6. Various Snowmen and Santas - In this one, you can see one of our picutes on the wall we wrapped. A few years ago, I was trying to come up with new ways to decorate, and I had a brainstorm. We took down most of our pictures on the walls and wrapped them like presents during the Christmas season, and hung them back up. It puts lots of Christmassy looks right at eye level. Try it! As for the other stuff in the photo, we've ended up with lots of things from over the years, and just set stuff out everywhere we can. I like it that way.

7. Snowman - The material this snowman is made from is an old chenille bedspread from my maternal grandmother's home. This bed spread was on the bed in their spare bedroom. I remember laying on it and just rubbing all of the little bumps on it. Several years ago, Big Sis had a friend cut out what usefull pieces she could salvage from the old spread and had her make us each a snoman. I thought it was a unique way to keep a little bit of our past with us a Christmas time.

8. Sainted Mother's Snowflakes and Izzy - Years ago, my Mother made us a whole bunch of hand crocheted snowflakes for tree ornaments. We keep them in a special box and put them all over the tree every year. The other ornament is Izzy, from the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games.

9. Lighted Santa - We've had this guy for years and years and set him out in the house somewhere every year. He's old, and we've had to change his bulb many times, but he's still lighting up.

10. Santas, Snowmen, and various things - More displays of different Christmas things. The Santa from Polar Express, our little flip-flop clad Santa with a manatee, etc.

11. Large Nutcracker - One of Lovely Wife's nutcrackers. She has a set of three that are about 18 inches tall each.

12. Wreath - This is part of one of our wreaths that we put out every year. I'm easily distracted by shiny things and like the glittery items on this wreath.

13. Tiny Glass Nativity - I like this little bitty item, and the Christmas doily with Peace On Earth written in it.

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, December 20, 2006

This Guy Has Guts. So Where Are The Americans?

British economist and former Lord Chancellor Nigel Lawson recently said something that no conservative politician in America has the guts to say. (To me, Nigel is the ultimate British male's name.)

In short, he called into question the notion in certain circles, including the mainstream media, that the whole issue of global warming, and why it is happening, is settled. He publicly castigated and called for the resignations of Senators Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, and Olympia Snowe of Maine, if they wouldn't allow for free speech by people and busineses like Exxon/Mobil that have differing viewpoints on the whole global warming debate.

This is a really complicated subject, but Mr. Lawson has released and 18 page document calling for open and honest debate on the matter instead of just allowing the left to shout us down when we question global warming as it is described by folks like Al Gore.

Can't deny global warming really, but it's little things that get under my skin. If the science indicates that the earth is as warm as it has been in thousands of years, then why did the past global warming happen? Why did the temperature drop after the last period of global warming? This was way before the industrial revolution, so how why is today's warmer temperatures considered to be man made?

Could it be that we are simply riding the next wave in the earth's natural rhythms of climate change? Personally, I think this is exactly what is happening.

Another example: Al Gore keeps showing a chart that shows that historical levels of CO2 in the atmosphere track closely with the mean rise in the earth's temperature. Mr. Gore further stresses that because man is putting out more "greenhouse gasses", their term for more CO2, that it is making world temperatures rise. That's why he flies around on jets all day warning us about the catastrophe to come.

I have two problems with this:

1. Al Gore doesn't practice what he preaches in An Inconvenient Truth. If he truly believed something like this, wouldn't his lifestyle show it? But his life doesn't show it.

2. What he doesn't show you in his spiffy little chart, and that you could see if you saw this correlation between CO2 in the atmosphere and the earth's increasing temperature in a nice form right in front of you, is simply that the increase in atmospheric CO2 FOLLOWS the increase in the earth's temperature by a hundred or two hundred years, all the way across the chart.

Think about that for a minute, and the implications of what's in the details of Mr. Gore's own chart.

Now, you have to understand that I went to Louisiana public schools, but even I can see that if we are producing too much CO2 as Mr. Gore proposes as the cause of global warming, why doesn't the rise in temperature follow the rise in CO2, which it WOULD if our old pal Al was being straight with us?

But it doesn't. The earth's temperature rise precedes the rise in CO2, not the other way around. If Mr. Gore is to be believed, then by his own data, he should see that the temperature rise causes the rise in CO2.

What Al Gore and his followers are saying is absolutely no different than saying that lung cancer causes smoking.

So now we have Nigel Lawson, who served the British government under Margaret Thatcher, saying what apparently no American has the guts to say.

Mr. Lawson is simply saying, let's not automatically buy what the Al Gores of the world are trying to shove down our throats and lets use a little logic and apply it to the scientific data.

You can read Mr. Lawson's paper in it's entirety here.

Like I said, I don't deny that the global temperature has risen, I just have problems with the premise that man is the cause.

The only thing you can say about the earth's climate is that it changes. Climate is change, by it's very nature. Are the Al Gores of the world trying to tell me that the earth's climate should stay steady? The earth's climate has never stayed steady and it never will. It has changed all over the place, way before the industrial revolution.

Plus, thirty years ago when I was at Neville High School, we were being given dire warnings about the impending ice age. That's right, thirty years ago, the scientists were all convinced that the downward slide into the next ice age had already begun.

Now, according to the Al Gores of the world, the earth is warming dangerously, and it's all man's fault!

But like Nigel Lawson, I'm certainly not convinced of this.

Go read his paper, it's eye opening and well written. (For me, well written means it's in plain English, not high minded gobbledygook and ten dollar words.)

That is all. Carry on.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Snake! (A Drama In Real Life)

When I was a kid, and we were living in Vidalia, Louisiana, I loved to go to the Sterling store. Sterling was a "five and dime" store, or similar to Dollar General.

I remember that their sign over the front of the store was: 5¢ 10¢ 25¢ STERLING 25¢ 10¢ 5¢

That's the way I remember it looking anyway, in big red numbers and letters.

I liked Sterling because they had a few toys all year 'round. If Sainted Mother went there, then SCORE!, I got to look at a few cheesy toys while she looked at material or dress patterns or whatever.

Add to this, that Sterling had a candy selection that was second to none, AND a popcorn machine, and this little boy was always up for a trip to Sterling.

One day, I talked Sainted Mother into letting me buy a rubber snake. I remember it being a dollar, and guess what? I had a dollar!

As soon as I got it home, I immediately proceeded to stick it into everyone's face. They knew it was fake, but the human mind takes at least one zillionth of a second to register this, so I could usually count on a little jump of fright, if not a big jump.

I don't know how long Mom and Dad let this go on, probably only a day or two, but finally I scared Sainted Mother one too many times and got my seven year old butt spanked and my new rubber snake taken away.

But for some reason, Sainted Mother didn't throw the snake away. Looking back, it was only a dollar, which wasn't going to kill someone, even in 1970 dollars.

What did she do with the snake?

She put it under some clothes on a shelf up in her and Dad's closet, to hide it from me I guess.

Then she promptly forgot all about it.

Of course several weeks later, Big Brother and I were in the living room playing with our Hotwheels, and we heard Sainted Mother let out a blood curdling scream. This was a real horror movie scream, from the diaphram.

She was pushin' some air, I tell ya.

Big Brother and me run back to their room and there's my old pal rubber snakey there on the floor. Sainted Mother had pulled down some clothes off that shelf in her closet, and dropped the snake right onto herself and almost had a coronary.

I laughed so hard at her that she spanked me again.

Which seemed quite unjust at the time.

But, looking back with the perspective of a 44 year old, I realize that, over the course of my childhood, I probably needed a lot more spankings than what I got, so I figure I'm still on the plus side of the transgression/spanking scales of justice.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Day Without Sunshine Is Like... Night

When my parents became empty nesters, they bought a piece of property south of Monroe, Louisiana, on the Beouf River (pronounced Beff).

Both of my parents were raised in the country and went to a small town high school. So this was 'getting back to their roots' in a way.

My Dad had retired from 'the oilfield', which means he worked in the oil and gas industry. He worked for many years on off-shore oil drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, but still worked at a part-time job in Monroe to suppelment his retirement income. Plus, Mama was still working and had some time left before she could retire.

The property was two and a half acres of cleared land, with some trees left along the bank of the river. It was a pretty place, in the middle of cotton farming country.

Soon they sold the house I grew up in, in Monroe, and replaced the small two bedroom trailer that came with the property with a nice, brand-spankin' new double-wide trailer mobile home. There was a little barn-like shed already on the property, so with the new house, they were set.

It was soon after this, that my family and I moved back to Monroe for me to attend Louisiana Tech in nearby Ruston.

And we went down to visit Mama and Dad at the new place.

We had a nice visit, not to mention some of Sainted Mother's superb vittles, and we mosied on out to leave.

Our girls were little, about four and seven at the time, and we were in my Mazda extended cab pickup truck.

When we walked outside their mobile home, they had the light on under their carport. When we walked out from under the carport covering, I looked up and said, "Wow! Look at how clearly you can see the stars down here!"

It was impressive, especially after having lived in the Atlanta area for three years and not being able to see the night sky very well. It was as if each star was super bright that night.

My Dad said, "Check this out," and turned off the light outside the trailer.

Instant. Absolute. Stygian Gloom. Complete. And. Utter. Darkness.

I was walking toward my dark blue little truck and it was as if I had gone completely blind. I was so light blinded from my eyes using the carport light, that I truly could not see my hand in front of my face.

Lovely Wife, the girls, and I all started giggling and leaning forward as we walked until our hands ran into the truck. It was so dark that we found the truck by feel.

My Mom and Dad were laughing, they knew that would impress us. Then he turned the light back on after a minute; long enough for us to stumble around blindly.

We said our goodbye's and drove up their driveway to the country road they lived on. I looked both ways, and seeing no one, there might not be anyone else come down the road for an hour or more, and pulled out and just barely crept up the road.

I said, "Watch this," and turned out the headlights and we were plunged into the total darkness again, but this time is was double weird because we were barely moving down the road. The slight movement and the instant total darkness was a shock to the senses.

The girls exclaimed with delight.

I only did it for a few seconds, but it was shocking, and after that, the girls begged us, "Do it again! Turn off the lights again!"

And a new tradition was started. From then on, after leaving my parent's trailer in the country, we would turn off the truck's lights for a few seconds while on the road, before we had gained any real speed.

It was a sensation that the adults liked as much as the kids did.

It was like being in a cave, if you've ever been in one.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday December 17, 2006

I was asked to take photos at a wedding at our church yesterday.

The associate Pastor's oldest daughter was getting married. They wanted me to take photos of the ceremony and at the reception.

The Pastor of our church is a very good photographer, and has a set of lights, and experience in taking the formal family shots, so he did that part.

Here are a few of the photos I took yesterday. I gotta tell ya, I'm loving this Nikon D70s more and more.

This first photo is of the Bride to be, her sister, her sister in law, and her mother, having just arrived at the church and exiting the limo.

The Flower Girl and Ring Bearer head up the aisle.

Our Pastor had set up his lights immediately after the ceremony, and took photos of the new couple and their families. I took a few pics of him taking pics. That's Diana and Benjamin up on the pulpit area.

Diana and Benjamin having their first dance as a married couple at the reception.

The Happy Couple, having changed clothes, are about ready to leave.

The top tier of their cake, with the Precious Moments wedding cake topper.

The whole thing went extrememly smooth, and was fun for me too. I'm hoping to get some time with the Pastor's lights, and would like to take the formal photos for someone in the future.

In decades of 35mm photography, I was asked to shoot one wedding, in the early 1980's. I've shot two in the last four months. Cool.

It was 78 degrees F here yesterday, that's why you see the bare arms on the women on December 16th.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hanukkah Rocks / 300th Post

Many mornings, as I'm getting ready for, and driving to work, I listen to Doug Stephan's "Good Day" program on one of our local AM radio stations.

It's for those mornings where I'm not in the mood to hear music, but I don't want to hear about politics and heavy stuff either.

The Doug Stephan Program is kinda like a radio version of Good Morning America without the pretentious hosts. Doug Stephan is a farmer and is really down to earth, and although I disagree with him on many points when he does happen to bring up politics, the show is really good.

Yesterday (Friday) morning, they had a gentleman on the show in honor of it being the first day of Hanukkah.

Their Jewish guest, Dave Schneider, and his friend Adam Gardener have put out a CD called "Hanukkah Rocks" and call themselves The LeeVees. They played a couple of songs from the CD and they were great.

Now, I'm not Jewish, but hey, Christianity shares much scripture with Judaism, and about the only song I've ever heard about Hanukkah was the Adam Sandler one.

They played a song from the CD called "How Do You Spell Channukkahh?" It was nothing short of awesome. Really funny.

Anyway, I know this isn't much of a post, but I thought if there were any Jewish folk out there wishing for more Hanukkah music, then these guys have your tunes. Or, if you're like me and just interested in stuff, you could check them out too.

Mr. Schneider said that his buddy Adam Gardener is in the band Guster, whom I've heard of, but haven't heard.

Mr. Schneider was so funny in his interview, he was talking about how the band he has been in for fifteen years finally got a recording contract with a company in Canada, but when he wrote these songs about being Jewish, The LeeVees got a contract in L.A. in a matter of days.

Well, go check it out and listen to the clips on Amazon. The songs are funny and informative.

300th Post

The only reason I'm mentioning that this is my 300th post, is that I actually saw that my 300th post was coming up and wrote myself a note.

I was oblivious as the 100th, 200th, and 250th posts blew by and didn't say anything, because they had already passed.

There are lots of bloggers who rack up four or five posts per day and reach 300 pretty quickly, but it has taken me a little over nine months.

Friday, December 15, 2006

International Space Station / Shuttle Discovery

I want to tell you about something super cool.

Wednesday evening, my neighbor over the cubicle wall at work, Dave, told me there was going to be a Space Station sighting at 6:51pm.

I got home about 6:30, and looked it up to be certain of angles and Number Two Daughter and I went out in our back yard, facing south, and right on time, what looked like a bright star scooting right to left and rising in the sky came across. It's slower than a shooting star, but the light is bright and steady. It finally winked out of sight after about a minute, or a minute and a half.

You know how, when the sun has already set, and the clouds are so far above you that for them the sun hasn't set and they are beautifully colored? It's the same principle at work here.

The space station and shuttle are 220 miles up and was being lit by sunlight, although the sun had already set for us on the ground. The sighting that occurred on Wednesday was from about 15 degrees above the horizon, SSW, and moved across the sky to about 30 degrees above the horizon, pretty much due south.

It's one of those things that, though it's not a spectacular event, it is really cool to realize what you are watching go across the sky.

Just wanted to share. Also, there's supposed to be three more opportunities for us here in Palm Bay, during this current mission to see it appear like that.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #19

Thirteen Things You Can Buy Me For Christmas

1. 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor - Offers broad 18 - 200mm focal range for use in a variety of situations (equivalent to a 27-300 lens in 35mm format)11x zoom coverage offers a perfect compact and lightweight, one lens solution. Price? Should be $700. Nikon can't make them fast enough, so you have to either happen upon one, or pay $1000 on ebay.

2. 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor - I could really use a good macro lens for taking ultra close-up photos of things. Although, of course Nikon has to be different and call their macro lenses micro lenses. They get it from the word photomicrography. But still to the rest of the world, they're macro lenses. Price? $400 at B&H

3. Slik Pro 700DX Tripod with 3-Way Pan/Tilt Head - No picture necessary, it's just a tripod. I know serious photographers who wouldn't trust a tripod that cost less than $350 - $400, but I don't use one that much. Plus, the $130 price tag for this one is enough pain for anyone. But the Slik 700DX can extend up to 73 inches, which would be nice for me since I'm a little over 73 inches tall myself. Price? $130

4. Agile AL-2900 BK (hollow bodied Les Paul copy) or Agile AS-1000 Semi-Hollow (Jazz guitar). I've stated on this blog that I really don't need a new guitar, but there is an insidious disease called G.A.S., and I have it. Guitar Aquisition Syndrome. And I could really use, if not outright need, a nice woody sounding, mellow jazz guitar. The Jazz pickup I have in the neck position of my Les Paul Studio does pretty good, but, well, It's Christmas! Price? $359 or $349, which is much cheaper than the $1500 to $2500 for 'real' Gibson jazz guitars.

5. Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush - U.S. President and Naval Aviator - 12" Doll Action Figure - Ok, I admit it. I'm the guy who voted for Bush. Twice. And what better way to continue with my crazy ways than with an action figure of him in full pilot's outfit? Really though, won't this be a cool thing to pull out and show people in twenty years or so? Seriously. Price? $30 - $40. [Shameless self-promotion: Go read my story, Only Girls Play With Dolls...]

6. A New Desktop Computer - Any decent brand will do, with dual core processor and at least 2GB of RAM. The one I use for scanning slides and negatives and Photoshop Elements work is pretty darn slow. It's plenty fast enough for the internet, but I can't even do basic video on it. It takes a painfully long time to work with slide scans. The dozens of photos I've put on this blog represent lots of hours at the computer, mostly waiting. Each photo you've seen on here is a testament to my patience. Price? $2000.

7. A Decent Set of Tools - I've talked on this blog about being mechanically inept. I have the brain power, but zero will power to learn to work on cars. Example: Yesterday morning I changed the tail light bulbs in our 2001 Taurus and I felt like climbing on top of the house, beating my chest, and letting out a Tarzan yell; such is the level of my automobile care expertise. Price? A Craftsman set for $300 - $400 should last me the rest of my life.

8. Cannondale T2000 Touring Bicycle - I would simply love to have a really strong, high quality touring bicycle. This Cannondale is all aluminum, which would be nice protection against rust since I live on the Atlantic Coast. Price? $1500.

9. One of Those "Sleep Number" Beds - Lovely Wife and I really need a GOOD quality, king size bed. This would allow her to have it soft and me to have it like a concrete floor for my back. They cost an awful lot though. Price? $2500. For the middle range one!

10. Extreme Makeover, Home Edition - I love our house, but it needs lots of work. So much that it's overwhelming. I'd like to have Ty and the gang over and let 'em have at it. Price? incalculable.

11. Dyson Vacuum Cleaner - I'm serious here, these things are just plain cool. Price? $600.

These last two are for Lovely Wife.

12. Puke Green VW Beetle - She wanted one of the old ones, and now that they have the newer ones out, she wants one of them. Plus, now that VW is advertising that with the purchase of a new car you also get a guitar, she says, "Look, Baby! I can get a car, and you can get a new guitar!" If only she knew how tempting that is... Price? $20,000 for a hardtop, $25,000 for a convertible.

13. A Big High Definition TV - Lovely Wife is the big TV watcher around here. A big TV, a DVR, and a remote control, and she's good for hours. Price? $2000.

What the heck, ya know? Might as well dream big. If you are insanely rich, and want to contribute one or more of these gifts, email me, ok?

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!