Saturday, March 31, 2007

Too Much Information

Thursday, I followed Scribbit's advice, went over to to the blog Mental Tesserae, and specifically this post: This Little Piggy and learned something about myself. (Her post is a hoot, y'all need to read it.)

It turns out that I have a condition known as pes valgus. No, it isn't fatal, but it can cause problems.

What, you ask, is pes valgus? It's also known as Morton's Foot, after the podiatrist that studied the anomaly in the 1930s.

It means that my second toe, the one next to my big toe on each foot, is longer than the big toe.

I know. I'm a freak. What can I say.

But in the post I linked to above, the author looked into this trait and found out that the ancients thought that people with a longer second toe had god-like attributes. Now hey! I wish I had known this as a kid.

I was picked on in a minor way for the length of my toes. I get this from Sainted Mother who also has pes valgus.

I could also amaze people with how dextrous my toes were; I could pick up (still can) and throw small items with my feet.

This might explain why I like chimps a lot, our feet are just plain more useful than most folks's feet. I'm disappointed though, that I cannot peel a banana with mine. THAT would be a neat party trick!

You know how in A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown has to explain to one of the girls who is to portray the Inn Keeper's Wife in the Christmas play that Pig Pen's dirt shouldn't be looked down upon? He asked her to think of Pig Pen's dirt as possibly the dust of an ancient civilization, maybe the dirt had been trod upon by Solomon, etc. Pig Pen looks at the girl and says, "Makes you want to treat me with a little more respect, doesn't it?"

I henceforth will be requiring all family members to treat me with new-found respect since I have long second toes. Just being god-like, just bein' me, ya know?

I will also henceforth memorize what I have learned about pes valgus so that any future jokes about my monkey toes will be swiftly and severely rebutted by giving the jokester a stern talking talking to. Replete with a mind numbing array of facts and and the names of people and works of art displaying folks like me with longer second toes. My coma-inducing lecture will be just the come-uppance they deserve. I'll have a no-tolerance policy on this. (I can't wait! I'm gonna start going barefooted today.)

None other than Michaelangelo's massive "David" statue in Florence, Italy has long second toes. I'm immediately taken from the depths of ridicule and thrust up to the heights of glory! I no longer have to be ashamed to wear a size 14 shoe!

"Dang JAM! I never noticed how big your feet are."

"That's ok. I forgive you. I have pes valgus, the feet of the gods. You may now throw flower petals in my path, knave."

This is going to be fun.

True Story

When Lovely Wife and I arrived at our apartment in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, after our honeymoon, we had our first goofy/funny thing happen as a married couple. (Don't worry, it's a clean story.)

In our first week as a married couple, we laid down to sleep one night, me on my left side. Lovely Wife then scroonched up against my back, "spooning", with her legs up against the backs of my legs. My legs were bent up some, so hers fit behind mine perfectly, with even her feet coming just under mine so that even our feet "spooned."

I lay there for a couple of minutes, then slowly stretched out my monkey toes and wrapped them around her toes and squeezed her toes real hard with mine.

She JERKED back away from me, sat up and turned on the bedside lamp and said, "WHAT WAS THAT!"

When I stopped laughing, I had to explain to her what I had done. My long toes and my years of practice in grabbing things with them had come in quite handy in giving Lovely Wife her first "freak out" of our young marriage.

Good times, good times.

I still use my feet to pick up and throw small doggy toys that are on the floor. They're also great for picking up socks and other errant items of clothing that have fallen to the floor.

Friday, March 30, 2007

A New Car!

For Number One Daughter, that is. Well, not actually a new car. It's a used car. But it's new to her, so there.

This is a picture of her previous car, Pugsley, back in better days. Pugsley was a 1995 Honda Civic DX. We bought her in 2002. I drove it for a year, and then Number One Daughter started driving it. Pugsley was totalled last month. R.I.P. Pugsley! (Hat's off! What, were you raised in a barn?)

This is a 2002 Accord. She hasn't been named yet. 64K miles. This past Saturday, Number One Daughter and I went to Southeastern Honda in Melbourne, Florida to look at their used cars.
Number One Daughter is 21, has a decent paying job, and since she totalled Pugsley, we told her she was on her own in getting another car. Trying to finance a car on her own, we weren't going to co-sign either.
She was approved for a loan at loan shark rates (just kidding, high, but not ridiculous), but the payments are affordable and she finally signed her life away Tuesday evening.

These photos of her and the car were taken on her maiden voyage to work on Wednesday.

Accord, may you live long and prosper. And get a nice name.

Funny Story
Tuesday night after she got the car, we all went for a ride in it. We drove through Chik-fil-a and got a drink.

Number Two Daughter drank some of her Coke and burped real loud and said, "First burp in the new Accord."

I said, "Well, I wasn't going to say anything, but I let out an SBD while ago. So, first fart in the new Accord!" (I didn't really, just trying to make a funny.)

Lovely Wife said, "I'm drinking the first iced tea in the new Accord."

I said, "I'm drinking the first Dr. Pepper in the new Accord."

Number One Daughter said, "I'm drinking the first chocolate shake in the new Accord."

At which point, Number Two Daughter burped again. "SECOND burp in the new Accord."

We threw our straw wrappers on the floor, "First trash on the floor of the new Accord."

Well, you get the picture. It went downhill from there.

I told Number One Daughter that, years from now when she's taking it to a dealership to trade it in, someone will burp, and say, "71,366th and final burp in the Accord."

Do we know how to have fun or what?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #32

13 Thought's And Questions On JAM's Mind

1. Thought: Our navel orange tree is blooming. The. BEST. smell in the world.

2. Thought: I need to get the air conditioner in my Taurus fixed. It's getting hot already down here.

3. Question: Why is Anna Nicole Smith still topping the news? It really and truly causes me to have an even lower opinion of news reporters and news organizations than I already had. I didn't thing that was possible.

4. Question: Did y'all know that Iraqis celebrated the Kurdish new year IN BAGHDAD last week? Yeah, I didn't think so.
Encouraged by the latest U.S. and Iraqi security crackdown, Kurdish and Arab families thronged to Zawra Park to celebrate Noruz, a long-standing national holiday also celebrated in Iran, Afghanistan and other nearby nations.

Since the security plan began last month, new police checkpoints and patrols are readily evident across the city, providing people with more of a sense of safety.
How about them apples? People in Bagdad going to the park to have fun. I saw a ferris wheel in one picture and a kiddie train in another. Our news organizations make it sound like everyone in Baghdad has been in a bunker and hasn't seen the sun in four years. And the "surge" has hardly begun.

5. Thought: We finally had some of the indoor drywall damage from hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in summer 2004 repaired yesterday. Wuhoo!

6. Thought: Swimming pool and hot tub repairs are lined up, too! Then I can get out there and get some sun on my Casper The Friendly Ghost white legs.

7. Thought: I couldn't even begin to imagine a better wife than Lovely Wife is. She's the best.

8. Thought: Been reading a little about physics lately. Been trying to wrap my brain around the Higg's Field concept. It's almost as if the concept of ether has been reborn, though with some indirect evidence for it's existence. A Higgs Field is what theoretical physicists believe causes particles that make up atoms, to have mass. In short, no Higgs Field, nothing has mass. No mass=no matter. Like trying to run in a swimming pool. The drag on objects of different materials and size create the sense of mass. I don't like video games, but I like rasslin' with learning stuff like that.

9. Thought: I hope England doesn't "Jimmy Carter" their Iranian hostage situation. I hope Blair shows some Thatcher-like backbone.

10. Thought: I saw my first '08 Presidential campaign sticker the other day. It was a Hillary'08 sticker on a massive SUV in Melbourne, Florida. I was looking my first Democratic Candidate sticker sighting to be on a Prius, but I was wrong. I was surprised.

11. Thought: If former Tennessee Senator, and Law And Order actor, Fred Thompson runs for President, I'll vote for him in a heartbeat. I'll finally retire my W'04 bumper sticker that still have on the Taurus, and replace it with a Thompson'08 one. Maybe it's because I'm a plain-spoken southern boy and would love to watch his Presidential press conferences. He wouldn't even have to have a press secretary, he's so good. Every press conference would be like a no-holds-barred WWF Smackdown.

12. Thought: Did y'all see the photos of that hexagonal cloud formation at the north pole of Saturn, that was taken by the Cassini spacecraft? That is weird.

13. Thought: These things are SO cute. (AP Photo/Paul Miller)

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, March 28, 2007

Mamaw Eunice's Legacy

Her full name was Eunice Katherine Ann Williamson, and she married my grandfather, Malone Roswell Masters. (That's Malone and Eunice holding Big Sis and a baby Big Brother in 1959 in the picture.)

When I would write letters to her over the years, I would write her complete name, Eunice Katherine Ann Williamson Masters when addressing the envelope, starting out with normal sized letters, and soon I would run out of space, and would complete the whole name, the letters getting progressively smaller and end at the right edge of the envelope by curving the last bit of her name down along the side of the envelope and writing really small. I wrote it like that on most letters to her.

She always got a kick out of that.

When Lovely Wife and I were living in Bossier City, Louisiana in the mid 1980s, I had spoken to Mamaw on the phone one evening. She asked me what, if anything, of hers would I want her to leave me when she died.

I told her that what I wanted more than anything from her was some of the stories of her life and how she met Papaw and her life while growing up. I asked her to get a pad of paper and write my name at the top, and when she felt like it, to just start writing things about her life.

I told her it didn't have to be a complete autobiography; just some of the things like I mentioned above, various stories from her life. Whichever ones she felt like writing about on any particular day.

She died in 1989. When my Aunt Gayle went through her stuff after her death (Papaw had already died in 1983), she came across a stack of 59 hand-written pages with my name on top of them.

She had written what she could. It's one of the most precious things I own.

Last night I started scanning them into JPEGs on the computer to have a digital copy of them.

(That's Eunice on the left, with her cousin Florence on the right. This is the only teen or young adult picture I've ever seen of her.) Mamaw Eunice tells in the pages about how as a girl she desperately loved to play basketball. She was a tall woman, and apparently as a girl, she was really tall compared to the other girls.

One problem. It was the late 1920s in rural central Louisiana and her moonshiner father, Dock Williamson, forbid her to play basketball because the girls had to wear what she called "bloomers", basically some of those part short pants, part skirt thingies.

She tried the old bait and switch for a while, wearing a dress to school and hiding and changing into a pair of bloomers after school to practice basketball. And walking home, before she got to the house, she'd step into the woods and change back into her dress.

Well, her Dad caught her one day while still wearing the bloomers, and punished her by making her quit school altogether.

So Mamaw Eunice only made it part way through the eighth grade.

Her writing is like one continuous sentence. Little to no punctuation and not capitalizing the first letter of the first word of the next sentence. Makes reading her writing a bit slow, but she had no problems whatsoever expressing herself and making you feel her pain. And joy. And embarrassment. Whatever emotion the story stirs in you.

Anyway, here's a sample. The first page she wrote. Click on it, hopefully it's big enough to read if you care to do so.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I worked at DFW Airport in Texas between May, 1986 and August 1989.

One of the most memorable people out of the many that I worked with there was a man named Vernard.

Vernard was a black man, about 6' 5" or 6' 6" tall (1.98m), about 240lbs (109kg), broad-shouldered, long arms and legs, and slim hips. He was built like an oversized swimmer.

Vernard was about as outgoing as a human could be. Not scared or intimidated by ANYONE. He was nice looking, and he was one of those people with a mouth full of perfect white teeth, and when he grinned, you saw every single one of them. Booming voice too. He could yell so loud when we were out working that you could hear him over the constant roar of jet engines and our ear protection. That was kind of a handy ability actually.

He was also a Christian. This is where an outgoing, outspoken, large, loud person could tend to rub his co-workers the wrong way. He tried to talk to everyone about Jesus. Period. He got cussed at more than any person I have ever witnessed being cussed at in my entire life. Hands down.

It never upset him.

He was large and loud but somehow came across as caring and serious about to people, so though they might cuss him and tell him to get away from them, it didn't bother him, and if they turned him away, he still treated everyone with respect. He was a very kind person; I can't think of a better word to describe him.

So overall, Vernard was well liked, except for among the most curmudgeonly among the old timers there. But they pretty much didn't like anybody.

He was a very hard worker too. It's hard to imagine someone that big being hyperactive, but if Vernard wasn't hyperactive, then I don't know the meaning of the word I guess.

Vernard, me, and another Christian man named Bill would sit and talk during our breaks between the flights we handled. We read the Bible together, talked about it, argued about it. In short Vernard, Bill, and I became good friends and I learned quite a bit about the Bible from sitting and talking with these two during our hours of reading and talking.

But in the minds of the Delta employees who worked the ramp, Vernard was seen as being a bit strange. For one big reason.

Vernard NEVER wore a jacket or coat.

Now the weather on the DFW Airport was really fast moving. For example, one winter day started out cool, about 55 degrees in the mid morning. The weather was predicted to drop during the day by 40 degrees F. We had a flight come in out on an auxiliary "pad" because all the gates were filled, and we had equipment, stairs, and buses to unload passengers and cargo. We went out, and it would be at least 45 minutes before we could hope to get back to our break area for a short break before loading the planes back up. In that 45 minute period, we SAW the front coming south across the open expanses of the airport, and the temperature dropped over 30 degrees F and we were working in 15-20 degree F weather for a while. Crazy.

That kind of weather change happened all the time.

What did Vernard do? Pretty much nothing.

He wore Delta's short sleeved uniform work shirt year 'round.

If it was below say 20 degrees F, he would sometimes have on a long john shirt under his short sleeved work shirt. But with Vernard's impressive arm reach, these long john shirts only reached a couple of inches past his elbow.

Consequently, everyone on the whole ramp waited for Vernard to get deathly ill.

Didn't happen. In fact, in the time I worked at DFW and saw Vernard out driving around on a Tug, the little baggage pulling tractor thingys, Vernard didn't call in sick once.

People would ask him, standing there in their thermal coveralls over their uniform and coats, "How can you NOT wear a coat in this weather?!"

Vernard would always yell over the sound of the planes, "THE LORD KEEPS ME WARM!"

Talking with him privately, he knew that people waited for him to get sick, and he knew if he called in sick, he would not only get in trouble from his supervisor, that the curmudgeons and the people who despised him for his outspoken Christianity would never, ever let him live it down.

Vernard knew he could not afford to drive around in short sleeve shirts in winter weather way below freezing, with wind chill from the wind and the speed of the open Tug he was on, and then call in sick.

But he told me, that he used to get sick just like everyone else. He missed several days per year due to sickness. It just came to him one day, that the hard, physical work we did there caused him to sweat in his coat, despite her cold outside temperatures, and he would end up sick a couple of times each winter. He decided to try going without a coat or even a jacket, and from then on, he never got sick in winter again.

He said he felt the cold, but he just put it out of his mind and did his work. And I remember seeing goose bumps on his arms, so I know he felt the cold, but by golly, the man never got sick in the time I knew him. Which is amazing in itself.

Those who expected him to die of pneumonia were proven wrong, day after freezing winter day. Year after year.

Vernard was a healthy eater too. He ate quality food, lots of fruit, no candy or chips, and he bought expensive, high quality time released vitamins for himself, his wife, and kids.

So, he did all the right things for his health, but his short sleeved outdoors work in what could often be brutal Dallas winters had everyone flummoxed.

I lost contact with Vernard after I moved to Atlanta, but I think about him and wonder where he is now, and how he's doing. He's probably long retired from Delta, but I'm sure he hasn't slowed down any. He was just to energetic for that.

Monday, March 26, 2007

My Life Changed This Past Weekend

There are certaing things that happen in the average person's life that, even when they happen, you know that things will be different from then on.

High School graduation.

College graduation. (If applicable.)


Birth of children.

Etcetera, etcetera, so forth, and so on.

This past weekend, I encountered one such change in my own life, and in Lovely Wife's life too I guess.

I did a careful, rough draft of our income taxes for the calendar year 2006.


For the first time in our lives, and certainly the first time in our 22 year marriage, we will have to PAY federal income tax to the IRS.

Oh, the humanity!!

The kids grow up, and one by one start dropping off the list of dependents for tax purposes. Regardless of whether they still live with you, if they've reached a certain age and/or are no longer in school...

Poof! No more yearly tax refund.

There are basically two trains of thought on federal income taxes, one, like us, would rather be sure to pay a little more than we need to so that at the end of the tax year we will get money back instead of being hit with a nasty unexpected bill.

The other frame of mind on the subject, was how my Father In Law always thought of taxes. He HATED the very idea that the IRS had even one non-interest-drawing dollar of his in their posession. He would always make sure he had to pay every year, and I remember him going to the post office at 11pm on April 14th every year to mail his taxes. I kid you not. The post office would be open and have personnel on hand to stamp the envelopes to the IRS as being mailed on April 14th. He was determined to hold his own money, and to wait until the very last moment to send what he owed to the IRS. I mean that literally; he would take his tax form and check to the post office at 11pm on April 14th every year.

Maybe that's why I suck with money, but my attitude was always one in which I would rather overpay, because the IRS scares the snot out of me. Probably just exactly what they want me to feel like.

So, it's a sad, sad time in the Masters's houshold.

Today, there shall be weeping and knashing of teeth. And dying visions of spiffy things we could have bought with a hefty tax refund.

I need a tissue.

This is a weak post so I'll throw in a couple of photos to fluff this chicken up.

500 Horses

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday March 25, 2007

Been playing around on Photoshop Elements a little bit, and tried to do that nifty, some-things-in-color-some-things-in-black-and-white thing with a couple of pics. Here's one where I liked the result.

This store is one of those places full of unique items that you can be pretty sure none of your friends have. Exotic and whimsical stuff, but a little more upscale than your normal nick-nacks. One of those places you'd like to have a spare $400 in your pocket to blow on stuff.

This looks like an upscale, hip little bar in Melbourne, FL, but the name caught my eye. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but me thinks the owner was being funny when he named this bar.

This sign listing the businesses in this building looked pretty interesting. I thought the Mr. Chips Computers was a cool name.

Tried to find some of my photos with gentle, magic hour sunlight and pretty colors.

Y'all have a good day, now, y'hear?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Something Spiffy

OK, a decent Photoshop person could do this with their eyes closed, but I've been learning this stuff slowly as I need the various tricks and tips.

This is a photo of Don C. when he was in the Navy in the mid 1950s. I've always loved it. I never saw him with a handlebar mustache in my life, so this picture would always grab my attention for a minute when I passed by it.

When we went to Louisiana after Christmas and I used our flatbed scanner to scan as many old family photos as I could, this was one Big Sis had handy. It was one that Don C.'s mother, my Mamaw Eunice had in her house. She had cut the photo into a rough oval to put into an oval picture frame. Of course I had to remove it to scan it. I've posted it before as it appears in the first form below, but I'm posting it again to show the difference. Click on the photos to enlarge.

I took the scan and burned in the edges with Photoshop Elements, creating a vignette effect.

Here's the result. Like I said, spiffy.

Also, I worked on a photo of Don C.'s mother, whom we called Mamaw Eunice, as a little girl. I had spent a little time on the photo part, but the outer "framing" of the blue and gray surround were dirty and had spots from the years. She was born in 1913 I believe, so this photo was taken around 1917 or 1918.

Here's the original, after I had cleaned up the photograph part only. The photograph part still needs work, but it's much better than it was, believe me.

Here's the photo after I also cleaned up the surrounding part as well. Makes the whole thing look much much better not having the spots and stains of ninety-something years of people handling it.

The one of my Dad in his Navy uniform (and handlebar mustache) was easy. The vignetting effects is easily done, and I have a good book that shows how to do it step by step. Literally 10 minutes of work.

The cleanup on the surfaces surrounding my grandmother's childhood photo on the other hand took several hours. There might be easier ways to do it, but I just enlarged it to mammoth proportions and worked on it tiny section by tiny section and eventually had "cleaned" off most of the spots. Good enough anyway. Now I can go back as I have time and learn new things to try to improve the photograph part even more in the future.


In the early eighties I took a photograph of the above photograph of my grandmother and developed it in a school darkroom. This was before anyone could have imagined the advance of digital technology we enjoy today. I scanned and posted that twenty something year old "copy" I made in the early days of my blog (bottom of post), HERE.

But when we went to Louisiana and I scanned what photos I had time to scan, I was able to scan the original. And with software like Photoshop Elements, it's like having your dream darkroom to work in.

Weird how stuff comes back around again.

I'm posting this early and going to bed.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Invisibility. Probably one of the top five superhero traits I would wish for if I could actually get the ability.

Seems weird for someone as big as I am to hate to be noticed, but I pretty much have always preferred to be behind the scenes than making a scene. I don't do crowds very well, and at my best just muddle through.

As a kid growing up, and in high school I just as easily made friends with and hung out with the nobodies as well as some popular kids. Didn't matter to me. I didn't mind being the nobody of the group when cruising on Friday nights. I didn't mind spending time with friends who, like me, didn't aspire to be in the popular crowd.

I guess the bottom line for me is, that I like people, but I'm also perfectly happy spending time alone. I like down to earth friends, and popularity and acclaim are meaningless to me.

Both parents were like this too. I've never been Mr. Self Confidence; I guess I'm just a pretty average person. Lot's of folks that are smarter than me, and lots of folks dumber. I like 'em both.

My junior and senior (11th and 12th) years of high school, I developed a friendship with someone that I'd gone to school with for several years, but hadn't really had opportunity to get to know as a friend.

And I still can't remember how we got added to each other's list of pals. Our senior year though, we were both on the Tiger Crew at Neville High School in Monroe, Louisiana. I wrote a post about Shasta, the live male tiger that was our high school's mascot here, if you want to read about something crazy.

Something about being peed on by a full-grown tiger and having to stop by one another's houses to shower and change clothes before going back to school helped us to bond, maybe.

You can tell pretty quick after meeting someone whether or not you're going to get along. Robert and I hit it off pretty good and became good friends.

Robert was the oldest of five kids. Their house was the kind you could walk into and feel right at home. The whole family was nuts. The good kind of nuts. Laughing, joking, and baseball. Lots and lots of baseball.

I've never liked baseball all that much, but Robert's dad had actually played briefly as a major league pitcher once upon a time. So with the addition of WGN from Chicago, and WTBS from Atlanta to the cable TV list, there was always a baseball game on in their house. The pace of the game allowed lots of time for talking and for Robert's dad to analyze the game for us and to just sit and talk.

Robert had a personality that was as big as Montana. The boy flat loved having an audience. And he had so much down-home charm and good looks that within minutes of arriving anywhere, pretty much had everyone's attention.

For some reason, I've been thinking about him a lot lately and also something he used to love for us to do.

Back in the dark ages, when McDonald's first started serving breakfast, Robert and I would go now and then for some vittles. You know how the inside of McDonald's operates, right? You walk toward the counter and cashier while looking up at the menu behind them above cooking area. They say, may I help you, and you start telling them your order while looking up at the menu for clues.

I always ordered my meal normally, but Robert was incapable of doing this. He did something similar to this in every restaurant. He would walk up, serious as could be and order: I'd like one, no make that two beef burritos, extra spicy, and a large coke, please, then he would smile that disarming smile of his.

Every single time he did this, the guys would stare for a second, and then start laughing. But the girls he did this to would blush and start giggling and tell him that he couldn't get burritos at McDonald's (or whichever restaurant we were in).

He would act SO shocked and surprized and say he could have sworn he'd eaten burritos there just the other day or some other such nonsense. Again, Robert was a handsome boy without a doubt, and this kind of kidding and flirting would have almost every girl or woman working there temporarily in love with him.

It always took him forever to order anything at any restaurant because of this, but it was fun to watch. I love watching people and Robert could have sold them the Brooklyn Bridge if he'd wanted to.

Eventually we'd get our food and eat.

One of his other favorite things to do was discovered one day when he and I went to Baskin Robbins for a milk shake. Back then, Baskin Robbins was the only game in town for ice cream in Monroe, or at least it was on the side of town we lived on.

But they were famous for having 31 flavors of ice cream and Robert would walk back and forth, maybe trying a new flavor or two on those little bitty spoons they would give you a sample on, and finally order some peanut butter, tuti fruiti, strawberry milk shake or the like.

Me? I either wanted a plain vanilla shake, or a chocolate shake made with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.

Then Robert would step onto the stage and LOUDLY exclaim: VANILLA? You come into Baskin Robbins, world famous for having 30-onederful flavors of ice cream, and you order vanilla?! And he would continue his fake tirade as long as he could.

Everybody in there, workers and customers would be laughing at him, and me his victim, and by the time we left everybody in the place would be smiling and laughing and joking.

Robert was the kid of man, even in his teens who was a natural story teller. He could make the most mundane story or the corniest joke so funny that you would get a stitch in your side from laughing so hard.

He was a groomsman in Lovely Wife and my wedding. At the reception after the wedding and especially during the photographer's taking of the photos of the wedding party, he had every bridesmaid and any other women in the room totally charmed and laughing. They were eating out of his hand.

When we think back and talk about our wedding, Lovely Wife and I invariably bring up the show that Robert put on at the reception. The whole place was laughing and having a great time.

There's just not enough people like Robert in the world, that can walk into a dead room and have everyone smiling and launghing whether they wanted to or not.

I miss the old boy, and was just thinking about him lately.

The ability to be invisible is something that wouldn't appeal to Robert.

This is a picture of Robert (left) and me (right) pushing Shasta in his cage onto the stage in the Neville High School auditorium.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Mighty Mississippi


Scans of some of my old slides today folks. Taken in June of 1984, when Lovely Fiance and I took a day trip to Natchez, Mississippi.

This first one was taken of the bridge between Vidalia, Louisiana where I lived for 9 years as a kid (far side) and Natchez, Mississippi (close side). When Lovely Wife was growing up and they made trips that happened to cross the Mississippi River, her Mom made sure everyone was awake. Needed to be awake to look at the Mighty Mississippi.

A nice soothing photo of the lush landscape in the Natchez Trace Parkway. I can smell the rich earth, hear the crickets and locust, and feel the sweat running down my back from the incredible heat and humidity.

There are still sections of the actual original Natchez Trace, the road itself that is, within the park. The Loess, or wind blown dirt in the area, is soft and over the centuries the road was worn down into the ground.

A sign explaining Emerald Mound within the Natchez Trace Parkway. If you look at the lower part of the sign, you see the shape of the mound that the indians built. Look at the smaller mound on the upper left part of that mound drawing. It has a ceremonial hut on it.

This photo is from the base of Emerald Mound looking up at the upper mound I asked you to look for in the above photo's drawing of the mound.

This is a great place to visit. Great for picnics and interesting too. I've put photos on this blog and talked about the Natchez Trace Parkway before. If you care to visit the previous posts, they are HERE, and HERE.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wednesday's Pics

The are all scans of negatives from a few years ago.

Taken at the entrance to a beach access at the Sebastian Inlet, the closest major access to the Atlantic Ocean from where I live.

I call this guy Little Rammy. He's one of the dog's toys that got left outside one day.

Some of Lovely Wife's plumbagos.

I liked all the textures in this one, and the contrasts made it look better in black and white, but ultimately I'm not to jazzed about it. A burned palm tree stump. Wooopee.

Some purple and yellow flowers on the dunes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Number Two Daughter has to make a scrapbook of her life for a project in school. She's a senior at Bayside High School here in Palm Bay.

She pulled out some of our print photos of her through the years, and some with various family members as well. Last night I began to scan them for her, some have faded and the colors shifted, and I wanted to try to give them new life.

Once I'm finished, all we have to do is to print out the scanned and improved photos for her to put into her scrapbook.

The pics I'm posting today are ones I scanned and worked on last night.

Awww. Isn't she cute up there on my shoulders? Nope. Actually, about 10 seconds after this photo was taken, she threw up on my head! No lie. I've never had a bird to dive bomb me with poop, but I have had a baby's vomit in my hair.

Number Two Daughter is like me in that she doesn't mind being alone. This was way back when we lived in Georgia, probably around 1990. She'd go in her room, surrounded by stuffed friends and "read."

Number One Daughter got a tent one Christmas when we were in Georgia. This is Number One Daughter and me in the tent, with Number Two Daughter behind the tent on the left. We'd set it up in the garage and they could play in there.

This is of her when she began kindergarten in Monroe, Louisiana after we'd moved back there for me to attend Louisiana Tech in nearby Ruston. She's all dolled up and ready for some learnin'.

For several years after we moved to Palm Bay, Florida in 1996, we would take pics of the girls on the beach or somewhere really Florida-ey looking, have Christmas cards made and that's what we would send as cards to our family and friends. This was the very first photo for a Christmas card from 1996, taken in November.

Now that they're both pretty much all growed up, Number Two Daughter is a couple of inches taller than Number One Daughter.

Monday, March 19, 2007

That's How I Feel

I don't know about all of you out there, but in my life, just like seasons in the world, I go through various repeating phases.

For example, I go through periods where I'm not very creative. Not writer's block or anything like that, just that the ideas aren't flowing. I'm taking in more than I'm putting out.

Other times, I have little scraps of paper, usually post-it notes, filling my pockets with ideas for stuff to write. Only problem with having a blog is that the days just keep on rolling by. And eventually, all my little scraps of paper and notes turn into blog posts and I find myself like this morning, with nothing.

Work is kind of intense for me right now, and that drags on my creativity and desire to write, because my mind is always working on ways to get different things done at work.

It just hit me as I write this, that one thing that has worked for me in the past was to sit and brainstorm for ideas, which usually results in at least a few post ideas, but again, as I sit here this morning I don't have any cool memories or political rants that I want to write down.

When I get in this type of mood, I tend to think of these periods as ones wherein I just absorb. I'm having to learn new things all the time for work, and eventually I get so wrapped up in that, that my "background processor" which usually taps me on the shoulder with cool post ideas, is being used to wrestle with solutions for issues at work.

So I'm in one of those modes, and probably will be for a couple or few weeks where I have to take stuff in and not much comes out. Like stoking the furnace I guess.

I hope this makes sense. It's really an explanation of why I might just be posting photos for a few days, or even a week or two. If I can brainstorm a few ideas, I'll certainly write some posts, but until then, I'm just warning y'all that the stories and actual thought is going to be kinda thin here for a little while.

Do any of you understand and have this happen to you too? I go through cycles where I read everything I can get my hands on, and also periods where I don't read anything unless I have to for work, and that's usually a data sheet for a gate array, or a RAM chip, or a single board computer; not exactly things that spark the muse.

Then I'll go through periods where I work the local librarians hard, because I'm blasting through books faster than they can check 'em in and out for me.

Heck, I even told a friend that I would read his unpublished novel a couple of months ago, and I still haven't finished that, nor writing up my thoughts on it.

I went to the library last Thursday to pay a small fine and to see if anything there looked interesting enough to check out, and saw that I hadn't read any library books since October of 2006. That's the longest I've gone without library books in recent memory.

I'm going to try to put some thoughtful posts on here, but if you come back day after day, be warned that you might be getting photos for a while.

I'm just in a mood right now, with not much being produced, at least as far as writing is concerned. Plus, I want to finish Nate's book and get back to him on that, I'm embarrassed that I've taken this long to help a friend.

That's my stab at an explanation. I hope yoose guys understand.

But hey, enjoy the pictures! And I'll try to surprise you with written posts as much as I can, OK?

Here's a couple of photos to get things started.

Someone had this flying on their sailboat at a local marina.

I'm feeling kinda like this old trap this morning, rusty and crusty.

Yesterday, I posted a photo of me laying on the couch, with Angel and Rosie sitting on me. This is a photo of Spike, the black poodle in the front, and Lilly, our other two spoiled rotten dogs.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday March 18, 2007

From the archives.

Before I bought a Nikon digital single lens reflex camera last summer, we used a Sony DSC S-75 that we bought in 2002.

Point and shoot digital cameras tend to be slow, but if you learn what it can do as well as it's limitations, you can make some really good photographs.

A 14 year old kid with his grandfather's old Pentax K-1000 and a bit of vision, can out photograph someone with $5000 worth of camera equipment. What's in his heart and mind matters more than having the latest camera equipment.

That being said, I love my Nikon D70s, for the speed at which it operates if nothing else.

Here are a few photos from the archives, all taken with our Sony digital point and shoot.

In Orlando, near the theme parks, Disney built a nifty shopping area called Downtown Disney. These first four photos were all taken there a few years ago, when Big Sis came down to visit from way up there in Louisiana.

This first one is of The Guitar Galler, one of my must see stores at Downtown Disney. This guitar shop has guitars and basses from $200 to $25,000. A small store, but really cool.

Big Sis will kill me for this one, but that's me pointing out a Sting autographed model Fender bass for Big Sis. She was obviously in awe. This is inside the guitar store pictured above.
A sign over the entrance to the Pleasure Island section of Downtown Disney. Restaurants, clubs, etc. I just liked the colorful sign. In fact the whole place is colorful and shiny. I like shiny things.

This was taken in a store that sold Disney art. It is a beautiful place with beautiful but expensive stuff. They had a beautiful Peter Pan and Hook's ship painting that I wanted, but it was hundreds of dollars. Oh well.

About 20 or 30 miles north of Palm Bay, is Port Canaveral, Florida. The city of Port Canaveral that is. If you go on a Disney Cruise, chances are you will leave from here. Well, it's one of the origin points of Disney cruises. This is the inlet from which the cruise ships come in and go out. This is a public park called Jetty Park. The evening we took Big Sis, this beautiful sailboat came into port.

Some sea oats at Jetty Park. The sand has blown up on the monstrous rocks forming the jetty and made a dune.

See? Even our old 3 Megapixel camera can take great photos.