Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Oh. It's Wednesday, Not Thursday

My week just got one day longer.

All day yesterday, I racked my brain to try to come up with things for Thursday Thirteen, since it seems the rumors of it's demise were greatly exaggerated.

Every non-smoke break I took, I tried to think of stuff for the subject I decided on, and I get up this morning and realize...'s only Wednesday.

I had prepared for Thursday, but nothing for Wednesday.

And y'all have been reading here long enough to know that when I'm out of ideas, I post pictures. I have enough of them for the next two or three decades. Even if I never pick up a camera again.

All of these were taken in the summer of aught six, just after I bought my digital slr. All are in either Palm Bay, or Melbourne, along the Indian River Lagoon (intracostal waterway).

This is at a marina in Melbourne, Fl. A really nifty place to walk around.

A piece of fiberglass, presumably from some old boat, all encrusted with barnacles or whatnot. Someone had poked it into the sand along the Indian River Lagoon in Palm Bay.

So that's what the inside of a boat looks like. Deck shoes ready to work.

A flag on a back road near Castaways Point Park in Palm Bay.

A boid poses with the Melbourne Causeway in the background.

[P.S. I'm not a smoker, but noticed that the smokers at work take A LOT of breaks. I tend to get lost in what I'm doing and will zone out in my work for hours. So now I make myself take a break now and then, which I call non-smoke breaks.]

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Congenital Dislocated Hip

Anybody ever heard of that?

Both of my daughters were born with it. Basically it's where the baby develops so quickly in the womb that one or both hip sockets don't form or only partially form.

We found the problem with Number One Daughter when she was four months old, and her left hip socket hadn't formed. The cup one should have on the pelvis wasn't formed, and the ball on the end of the leg bone that should be in that cup on the outside of the pelvis wasn't there either.

It turns out they are formed mostly from pressure of the compact space of the womb forcing the leg bone to be in there. Her left hip hadn't formed. At all. The first x-ray was very frightening to us, but to make a long, long, long, story short, congenital dislocated hip is not life-threatening, and it's fixable, the more so the earlier it is discovered.

All of the ways in which Lovely Wife and I are convinced that God moved in dramatic ways with these two girls as babies is the stuff of a very long post. Probably several.

Both girls were patients at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital For Children in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Roach, their pediatric orthopaedic surgeon was one of the best in the world, and every appointment had about 7 or 8 of us in an examination room because he had 4 or 5 observing pediatric orthopaedic folks from all over the world with him. Every single time. They came to learn from this man. Believe me when I tell you, if something's wrong with your kids, YOU WANT THE DOCTOR THAT EVERYONE WANTS TO LEARN FROM.

Since Number One Daughter was four months old when she was found to have this condition, she had to go through more stuff getting fixed than Number Two Daughter did. Number Two Daughter was x-rayed at only a week or so old and they were able to help her by only requiring her to wear a Pavlik Harness for a few months. The photo to the right is Number One Daughter wearing her Pavlik Harness. (I blew the exposure and almost whited her out, but you can still see the harness.) It basically held their legs in a position like a sumo wrestler squatted down ready to charge. This, and the natural figety-ness of infants caused the legs to be held in the perfect position to cause the pressure to form the needed cup and also the ball to make up a single hip socket to form on its own.

For Number One Daughter, the Pavlik Harness didn't work. The next step was that she had to be in traction for several weeks and then they put her under anesthesia, and prepared to place the hip socket surgically. While under anesthesia, they first try to manually place the leg into the proper place, and for her this worked and Dr. Roach said it felt nice and sturdy, so they didn't have to open her up in surgery. They just placed a cast on her from her waist to her ankles with an opening in the cast for calls of nature. That photo on the left is Number One Daughter in traction. We took her out to bathe and sleep, but the rest of the day for several weeks she was in this contraption to loosen up the tendons and ligaments of her hip sockets for the (possible) surgery.

Number One Daughter was in this first cast for about three months, if my memory is correct. They removed the first cast (she's in it, pictured here with me on the floor) took x-rays and were floored with how fast she was developing bone. It was happening really fast by Doc's account. So they put her in a second cast which went from her waist to her knees. She was in the second cast for about two months. After the second cast was removed, they were pretty much through, the hip had formed, and to Lovely Wife's and my untrained eyes, the x-rays looked the same from one hip to the other.

When Number Two Daughter came along a few years later, we took her to the Scottish Rite Hospital and they checked her out and found that she too had the dislocated hip. Her's was found at only about a week old, and her's wasn't as dramatically malformed as her sister's had been, so a few months in the Pavlik Harness was all Number Two Daughter had to suffer through. This photo is of NTD in her Pavlik Harness.

After they were released, we would return to the hospital with them for checkups on their hips every few months until we left Dallas and moved to the Atlanta, Georgia area in the summer of 1989.

Neither girl has had a hip problem since then.

I have to say a few words about Texas Scottish Rite Hospital For Children. I had never before, and certainly not since, been to a hospital where the people were so upbeat and positive and helpful. Hospitals have come a long way in care and simple common courtesy that didn't used to happen, but back in the mid and late 1980s the Scottish Rite Hospital was above anything I have ever seen as to quality personnel and treatment and facilities in a hospital. Not only was it the most incredible hospital and personnel I will ever see, they also handled the most horrible conditions and heartbreaking childhood orthopaedic problems you could imagine. Our girl's dislocated hips were easily the least threatening type of problem these people would see in a day's work. I'll always be grateful to them. Always.

Well, since I was on a roll scanning stuff, I thought I'd show y'all these two photos. In the first one Number One Daughter is "reading" to Number Two Daughter. NOD was at the age where we had read these books to her so many times that she would "read" them to NTD, even though she couldn't actually read yet. She would basically narrate the story, here it's about Baby Jesus, and... the appropriate time, show the "readee" the pictures before she continued reading.

ADDED Saturday, September 3, 2011:
Thanks to all who have commented over the past few years. I still get occasional comments about this post and a few others on this blog. It lets me know that these few items struck a chord and that folks have had similar experiences. It's nice to hear from you, I still read new comments! Regards -- John M.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Gonzo! Photography Carnival Today! (Monday)

I'm participating in a photography blog carnival today (Monday) and if you have some time, go on over to Points Of Light and check out some other blogs with photos.

I also have a regular blog post for Monday below.

Something I Wonder About...

(another frightening look inside my noggin)

A few days ago, when I got home from work, Lovely Wife related to me the harrowing tale of the mole she saved from our cat.

She had come home and saw Sassy out on our back patio playing with something. Depending on what kind of animal her victim is, you can hear them squealing from the rough treatment.

She would let it run or throw it, and let it try to run, and the pounce again.

Since the thing was so mobile, Lovely Wife thought it might be possible for it to survive. She went out and shooed the cat away and got the little guy, who turned out to be a mole.

There was no blood or any visible damage, though, like she told me, the thing might be brain damaged from the beating it took, so she took it out in our back yard to a spot where she could let the mole go under our fence. She hit the fence a few times to try to scare it into running farther away.

Here's what I wonder. If this mole makes it back to his family, will he be treated with awe, because they know he survived being taken away by a cat? Will he grow old and the little grandbabymoles ask him repeatedly to tell the story of being caught by a big gray cat and how he was saved by a human?

I like cats and dogs both. But the "gifts" that our cat has brought us over the years have always broken my heart. Not so much the lizards, but the baby rabbits and other cute little things she leaves on the front or back doorstep, many times crippled but still alive, kind of get to me.

I know that she's just being a cat and helping to feed the family where she lives, but I could do without cute little half-dead baby bunnies with their entrails hanging out.

Cats like to play, but even their playing is serious practice for the kill.

I learned as a kid that life can be cruel, and that nothing about life is "fair." In fact, I hate the word fair when used in the "hey, that's not fair!" sense. I remember how cruel kids can be, and I wouldn't want to relive childhood if I could. Sure there are some things I would like to go back and change, but more like surgically precise changes; not to live it over again.

But the world keeps turning and although man has created some amazing technical advances in the last few hundred years, it's still a brutal world, for both man and beast.

I guess dead and/or wounded animals left on my doorstep is part of the price of having a cat. I think she's just trying to show us some love, but I wish I could communicate with her enough to make her understand it isn't necessary.

Tom at It's Kind Of Confusing Right Now has a pretty profound post from last week called "Life Lessons From A Three-legged Dog". It's short, powerful, and says a lot of what I'd like to say here.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday February 25, 2007

Some random stuff from the slide archives today, folks.

Sometimes you take a photo that pierces your heart every time you look at it. It captures someone or something at a perfect instant. This is a picture of Number Two Daughter when she was just a couple of months old. This is the look of a child who recognizes her mother who is talking to her. Kids don't look at ANYONE else like this. This kind of undivided attention is reserved only for Mamas.

From the same roll is this one of Don C. (my Dad) and Number One Daughter on the back patio of our apartment in Irving, Texas. I wish I had more candid photos of my Dad with the girls. With everyone actually. (I thought I might have posted this photo on here before, but I couldn't find it anywhere.) I had to work with this one a bit in Photoshop Elements because I had taken the photo through the glass of our sliding glass door so I wouldn't disturb them. This version is actually better than the slide because the glass had lessened the contrast a whole lot and I punched up the contrast to counteract that, and presto.

This is a British Airways Concorde at the gate at DFW airport in the late 80s. Last summer I posted a bunch of other photos I made of the Concorde, if you care to see them. I still think this is one of man's most awesome machines, even if they sucked money into a black hole. I certainly see why they were flown despite being money losers, the prestige and cool factor is still there even after all this time. (Remember, these were 60s technology.)

This is the Atlantic Ocean beach just south of Sebastian Inlet, in Indian River County, Florida. Looking south. We love to go to the beach here. This is a shot I took a few years ago after a storm and the beach was cut into by the waves in the storm.

This final shot is a slide I took at Turkey Creek Sanctuary a couple of miles from our home here in Palm Bay, Florida. I am woefully ignorant of the names of plants, flowers, trees, birds, etc. So all I can tell you is that this is some flowering thingy next to the paths in the sanctuary. Any horticultural geniuses out there, feel free to chime in on what this thing is. And if you know this one, maybe you can tell me what these flowers are at the bottom of this old post. Thanks, I 'preciate it.

I have to say, working with scanning 35mm slides again, that I LOVE slide film. There is a quality that slides have (and scanned negatives too) that digital cameras just haven't caught up to, though I have no doubt they someday will. It's like the difference between a facade and an actual building. The slides and the scans of them result in images that seem to be dense with color, as if it truly has thickness. As much as I love my Nikon D70s, and the whole digital thang, I think my slides are better. Digital images, which I love too, seem "thin" by comparison. Just my opinion after working with both decent slide and negative images that have been digitized as well as the output from my digital slr. I'm not going back to film, well I still have all of my film cameras and lenses and will still use them, but I think that digital technology has nowhere else to go but up, or better. Kinda makes me want to load up ye olde Canon AE-1 and A-1 and go on an old school film shoot. [An example of what I'm talking about here is in the two photos embedded in this paragraph. The lower-left photo is a slide scan, while the upper-right photo was taken with a digital slr. They are of the same area of Melbourne Beach, Florida, and while I love them each for different reasons, I'm trying to get you to see how the lower photo looks "thicker" than the upper photo. Maybe it's because the first one is a scan of an individual 35mm slide that physically has thickness and layers of chemicals giving it the colors to make up the image. Do you see what I'm talking about?]

Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Gonzo! Photography Carnival in Two Days (Monday the 26th)

Photo Carnival

I'm a member of Blog Village (that button at the top of my side bar will take you there), where there are a whole bunch of family friendly blogs, and they're having a Photography Carnival on Monday, February 26.

The guidelines say that there's supposed to be a pic of me, a family member, or a friend on the post. The post I chose to add to the carnival is one of my older Sunday Picture Posts that has one of my very favorite photos of Lovely Wife, when we were merely engaged (many moons ago).

If you get a few minutes to spare on Monday, you might click on the banner above. It will take you to Points of Light, the photo blog of an photographer who does amazing work and is the actual host of the carnival.

But you can go to Points of Light right now and see Mr. Jordan's work. He's an amazing photographer, and I'd like to be as good as him when I grow up.

Lazy Saturday

Meaning, it's Saturday and I'm feeling lazy. Y'all are gettin' pictures.

I just liked the colors of this one, the green of the building and palms and the blue sky. The wispy cloud is a nice touch too, though I'm thinking that may be a jet contrail.

Cool old building in the old downtown section of Melbourne, Florida.

A little better look at some of the details on the building. You just don't see stuff like this on new buildings very much. Too labor intensive/expensive I guess.

The Union Jacks caught my eye, but I liked all the lines all over the viewfinder too.

Intel Inside.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Lay Off Britney Everybody!

OK folks.

Enough is enough.

Lay off Britney Spears, OK?

I am a low key guy. I try to stay calm in all situations, but sometimes the result is that everyone wants to be cool like me.

I don't say that to brag; it's just a fact I'm throwing out there.


Me when I was a little kid. I had no choice in the matter, but I definitely rocked the bald head look. Right? (Also, can you dig them racing stripes on my walker?)

I have to tell y'all that I have one whopping head of hair. Yes, both. Both a whopping head, and a whopping lot of hair.

And then, a couple of years ago I had another two back surgeries.

Now with a cranium of such massive proportions, there's just GOT to be a couple of brain cells in there that work, and I figgurd that I would just save myself the trouble of trying to keep the 14.68 trillion hairs on said massive cranium clean and combed when I knew I wouldn't be moving very well for a while.

I went to the barber I use and had him cut it all off. I told him to pretend he was a barber at Paris Island and to cut accordingly.

This is me a couple of years ago, about a month after my fourth back surgery. It is the only picture of me after the haircut that I could find. I was in the back of the group and cut myself out and tried to make the photo a little more viewable. My hair's already growing out in this picture, but it's the only photo I have.

So I walked out of the barber shop, rubbing my almost shaved dome, a la Britney Spears.

When the barber had finished and I looked at myself the mirror, that picture of me in my walker as a baby up top there, popped into my mind.

I thought, "my head still looks just like it did when I was a little feller and hadn't grown any hair yet!"

I'm not exactly sure why, but I thought the shape of my head would have changed somehow, and I was truly surprised that it was still as round as a basketball.

So, all y'all need to lay off of Britney about her hair.

It's obvious that she must have seen a picture of me as a baby on my blog.

Now that the truth is on here, everyone is gonna want to do it.

You just watch and see.

Since the photo of me from 2004 was so disappointing, I used the wonders of modern computer enhancement to artificially age the baby version of myself in the walker from the top, so that y'all can get a more accurate view of what I looked like a couple of years ago after I left the barber shop from getting my buzz cut.

Of course, I had to add my glasses that I wear most of the time, and also my John Bolton autographed model bushy mustache (Our esteemed United Nations representative).

See what I mean? Britney just wants to be like ol' JAM!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #28

Thirteen Of JAM's Loves and Hates

1. Love. That feeling you get, when you wake up and think "aw man, it's probably just a couple of minutes until my alarm sounds," but when you look at the clock, it's only like 11:45pm and you realize you still have over FIVE HOURS of sleep time left. I love that.

2. Hate. Waking within thirty minutes before the the alarm will sound.

3. Love. The way I felt, walking out of school at the end of the last day of the school year; the beginning of summer break.

4. Hate. Animal documentaries. The ones where they've filmed hours of tigers, killer whales, spoon-billed dweezleplops, or whatever, and edited all the footage and overlayed it with an instructive narrator's voice. The ones parents seem to want their kids to watch so they can learn about nature. No thanks. I learned all I need to know about nature on the "mean streets" of the grade school playground.

5. Hate. When people at work leave the restroom without washing their hands. I especially hate when people run the water for about 1/3 of a second (literally), and then dry their hands. Yeah, like you really soaped them babies up and washed 'em. And don't offer to shake my hand for any reason later, OK?

6. Love. Pizza.

7. Love. Cool, low humidity days. Florida is humid, but not even in the same ball park as Louisiana. We're having some 70-something degree days with cool nights right now and it's wonderful.

8. Love. A fast internet connection.

9. Love. The Best Worst Case Scenario CD by the group Fair. My all time favorite CDs are invariably ones that, on first listen, I liked, but wasn't blown away. Then as I kept listening to them, the melodies and words just kinda get into my heart. The melodies and gentle guitar and lyrics on this CD blow me away even more, every time I listen. I know musical taste is such a personal thing, that's why I totally disregard the words of music critics, but this CD has grown to be one of the ones I find myself humming the songs of and trying to figure out the guitar parts on. It's starting to get to me like the Seeds Of Love CD by Tears For Fears, one of my deserted island CD picks.

10. Hate. Rude actions of fellow drivers. Big Duh-Huh, right? Who doesn't hate road rudeness? But then, I could actually list 13 rude driver traits that I hate. Let's just say that today's focus of hatred is not using turn signals. (There. I got my point across without ranting. ***Deep breath***)

11. Hate. Feeling overwhelmed. Work, back pain, needed home repairs, etc. (I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.)

12. Love. Our critters. They really help with #11 above.

13. Hate. Trying to come up with Thursday Thirteen lists. I'm really scraping the bottom of the barrel these past few weeks. Hmmm. I wonder… Would anyone notice if I started re-running my Thursday Thirteens from the beginning?... Woops! Did I type that out loud?!

Bonus! #14: Love. Completing another Thursday Thirteen. (Trips over finish line and falls on face.)

UPDATE! Leanne is closing down Thursday Thirteen, so this is the last week for them. Strange, I've been complaining of running out of ideas for this, and go out to the main site and find out it's ending. Oh well. It's been a good run, though I have to say, Thursday Thirteens took me longer to write and configure than any other posts I did during the week.

Goodbye All!

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, February 21, 2007

Major Matt Mason and Callisto

Christmas 1969
As a kid, I totally got into the whole U.S. space program.

I remember sitting in Don C.'s lap and watching Neil Armstrong step onto the moon, although I must admit that my memory doesn't provide the detail of whether this was the first showing, or if it was on the news.

I suspect it was on the news. In the central time zone, the news comes on at 10pm (which is something I miss in the Eastern time zone, Central time zone is great for TV watching and still getting to bed at a decent hour), and I think, think, mind you, that I was in my PJs. I have the sense that they had let me stay up long enough to see it on the news.

At this time in my life, I could have TOTALLY lived on Pillsbury Food Sticks and Tang, simply because that's what I heard that the astronauts ate and drank in space. Alas, my parents didn't make enough money for me to eat three meals a day of Food Sticks and Tang, but I still remember liking the chocolate as well as the peanut butter flavored Food Sticks. Tang? We all remember what Tang tastes like.

That Christmas, we received space related toys. Big Brother got a Major Matt Mason, and I got the alien, Callisto, from the same series of toys. Big Brother got the Uni-Tread Space Hauler thingy for the Major, and I got a massively cool XRG-1 Reentry Glider for Callisto.

Big Brother tended to get the "first line" toy, if we got something similar to one another, and I would get the "sidekick" action figure. But like I mentioned in my old post, Only Girls Play With Dolls, I'm the type who would have picked the clear-green-headed alien over the Major anyway. I was a happy camper.

According to the box in the photo above where I'm kneeling, you can see the box for this rocket, an Apollo 11 Battery Operated Space Rocket.
Half the fun of looking at old Christmas photos is the stuff in the background that you forgot about until you took a close look at the photos after all those years.

Our tree looked particularly sad that year, but it was real! (I haven't had a real tree in my adult life.)

You can still buy mint condition, and even still-packaged Major Matt Mason figures on ebay, but the ones still in a blister pack sell for $200-$300 each. A little too pricey for me.

P.S. Oh. Yeah. I assume Big Sis got some stuff that year, but I didn't have any pictures of her scanned.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Betty Boop And The Prowler

Today's forecast: Intense lumbar back pain with flashes of shooting pain down the left leg.

Y'all are gettin' pictures...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mom and Dad Monday

This is beginning to become a pattern here on Mondays, but I worked on a few more print photo scans of my parents this past weekend.

These first three were taken at my maternal grandparent's home in Jena, Louisiana, on the day of my parent's marriage. That would make the date to be December 15, 1952.

Here's the happy couple.

Here's Don C. with his parents. His mother, whom us kids always called Mamaw Eunice, laughed a lot, but you would never know it from the pictures of her. She hated the way her mouth looked when she grinned and could cut from huge laughter to stone face in 0.0000673 seconds. We would sometimes point a camera at her just to see the switch.

Here's Don C. with his new father in law, on the left, and his dad, on the right. To us kids, they were Papaw Hinton and Papaw Masters.

This is a pic of Sainted Mother and Don C, in the early years. I'm not quite sure, but I think I remember Mom telling me this was in their apartment in Philadelphia, where he was stationed for a while. This photo pretty much captures them, him doing something silly like making a face, and her laughing.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday February 18, 2007

Fort Walton Beach, Florida. December 1984.

Lovely Wife and I were married in August of 1984, and moved to Ft. Walton immediately after. I was an assistant manager for Johnny's Pizza House, based in West Monroe, La., and they had a unit in Ft. Walton that they needed management personnel to work in.

I may have told the story on this blog before, but in short, they closed the restaurant down for the winter, and ended up not opening it back up the next year. They sold the building.

Consequently, Lovely Wife and I lived in Ft. Walton Beach for only a little over three months. But that's ok, we enjoyed it, and since I worked nights and Lovely Wife didn't have a job while we were there, we would get up most mornings and spend a few hours at the beach before I had to be at work.

The Ft. Walton Beach, Destin, and Panama City Beach area of the Florida panhandle has some of the most fantastic beaches you will ever see. The beach is almost as white as sugar. In fact, on a cold winter day like the one pictured here, you can let your mind almost be convinced that the dunes are huge snow drifts; the sand is that white.

These pics are from the last time we went to the beach. We then headed back to Louisiana to try to catch up with the movers in Bossier City, La., where we moved to from Ft. Walton.

Like most east coast and Gulf coast areas, Ft. Walton Beach has a barrier island. This pic was taken from the bridge over Santa Rosa Sound, and the buildings you see are the hotels and condos that line the beach out on this barrier island.
Sea oats on a dune, against the red-orange sky.
I had climbed up onto a lifeguard platform when this other couple walked onto the beach. They add life to what would have otherwise been a pretty, but static shot.
The sun disappears on our last beach sunset as citizens of Fort Walton Beach.
Our final sunset here was a doozie. Looking at, scanning and preparing these slides for today filled me with a strange mixture of emotions. Seeing Lovely Wife and me from back then, the reminder of the beauty and just how cold it was that day. I'm so glad we took the time to spend one last evening watching the sun go down. It was a fitting end to what was essentially, for us, a three month+ honeymoon. Not many people are so blessed.

Driving all through the night to meet the moving company truck, was one of the most miserable, cold, and difficult nights either of us have ever spent, even up to today.

But that's a story for another blog post.

P.S. Did y'all get a load of Lovely Wife's and my humongous, round, 1980s glasses?