Thursday, August 30, 2007

Are You Determined to Live in Poverty?

Then America is THE place you should be.

The US Census Bureau just released the poverty figures for the US in 2006.

I've looked on CNN and NBC websites who quote liberal think tank folks lamenting that the figures show even more people are in America without health insurance.

Smoke screen city, in my opinion. But hey, this is a blog. This is MY blog, so what you get here is pretty much my opinion, right?

I looked on the Heritage Foundations site and they have an amazing article about what poverty in America is like.

Here's some good stuff, quoted from the article linked above:
The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various gov­ernment reports:

Forty-three percent of all poor households actu­ally own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

Only 6 percent of poor households are over­crowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.

Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.

Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
As a group, America's poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consump­tion of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels. Most poor children today are, in fact, supernour­ished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.

While the poor are generally well nourished, some poor families do experience temporary food shortages. But even this condition is relatively rare; 89 percent of the poor report their families have "enough" food to eat, while only 2 percent say they "often" do not have enough to eat.

Lovely Wife and I have been so broke, we couldn't even pay attention, as the the old addage goes.

I do have sympathy for those who need help and can't seem to catch a break, but with most of the people under the poverty line in America live in homes larger than the average western European, NOT poor western European, but the average western European, period, I have to wonder about what we consider poverty in America.

I don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water here, but it's pretty astounding to think that what passes for poverty in America is a better life than many people in many countries.

No wonder people try to move here.

The numbers show that people do go hungry in America, but just not in the millions that some would have us believe.

I know any number of places within our immmediate area here where a person who is hungry can have some food for their pantry, or even get a hot meal or two, if that's all that is needed.

I'm not trying to lessen the plight of the truly poor and poverty stricken here, but the one thing that stood out to me most of all is that the average home under the poverty level of income averaged 14-16 hours of work per week.

That seemed to be a big part of the problem right there.

Anyway, I just wanted to bring this up.

There will always be poor people, but I don't think things are as bad here as many in the media make it out to be for the lower income people of America.

I sure as heck don't see the two Americas that Nancy Pelosi and her buds are harping about today.

If you disagree with me, so be it, but I cannot fathom someone in America not being able to raise themselves and their families out of the mire of poverty. I know folks who came from nothing and have good paying jobs and good lives; especially dramatic are the stories of people who came from nothing in other countries.

I still believe that America is a place where that could be anyone's story, if they want it bad enough and are willing to work hard enough.

My parents, grandparents, in-laws and grand in-laws all told stories of a kind of poverty they had experienced in their lives that today's American's that are considered to be in poverty couldn't even beging to comprehend.

They lifted themselves and also their progeny (us) up by plain old determination and the sweat of their brows.

Ok. I'm through. Go back up and follow the link and read the article. It's a bit of a shocker.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Warning: what I have to say here may upset you. Enter at your own risk.

I believe in individual responsibility. I've mentioned on this blog any number of times about being fat gravitationally challenged. But I do not blame Sainted Mother's and Don C.'s bacon grease seasoned offerings that I grew up with.

Not once in my life has anyone held a gun to my head or a knife to my throat and forced me to overeat. Over thousands of days, and a couple of dozen years, I incrementally overate, and ended up a 44 year old fat guy. Back in my younger days I could lose a pound per day for weeks on end until I got where I wanted to be. Simple. But I eventually crept back up in weight. But I can't do the easy weight loss any more. Middle age stinks in that regard.

I acknowledge that it's 100% my fault that I'm overweight. And like an alcoholic that just can't give up the bottle, I am still having trouble eating little enough to lose the weight I've gained in the last 20 years. I have no one to blame but me.

I will not sue Burger King because I tend to gravitate toward their double beef Whopper with cheese when hungry and I'm out and about in the car. It's all me, not them.

I will not sue the otherwise evil Krispy Kreme empire for tempting me with their flavorful confections. If I've eaten their stuff, it's because I chose to spend money that I earned myself on something like that instead of a nice, healthy salad.

I do not like salad. I never have. I have eaten many salads in my life because intellectually I know that it is a healthier alternative to the aforementioned double beef Whopper with cheese. But to my totally unrefined palate, the Whopper beats the best salad in the world as far as flavor is concerned.

Anyway, that's all to show that I take responsibility for my own health, or lack thereof. And if you knew me personally and saw my life, you would see that I'm slowly making steps to improve my health and to lose weight. But I didn't get this way overnight, and I won't look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime overnight either.

I will get to better health, but it's my job, my responsibility, to do so. No one else's.

So, why are the media and the people of New Orleans and the former residents of New Orleans still whining that the city hasn't been rebuilt in 2 years? If I was a cussing man, I would throw down some choice ones right here with regards to the idiots who think that a city of that size could have been rebuilt in this short a time.

Let me tell y'all something, I live in a danger zone for hurricanes. We've been directly hit by the north wall of two hurricanes, one a level 2 and one a level 3 (same as Katrina) within five weeks of one another in 2004. We finished all the repairs on our home from those two 2004 storms, less than three weeks ago.

If another hurricane comes at us, it is my responsibility to be ready as I can be for it.

Many of the people of New Orleans were not ready for ANY hurricane.

Remember hurricane Ivan in 2004? Well, for a while, New Orleans was in the possible track cone of Ivan. Less than a year later, Katrina comes a-callin' and what do the people of the area do?

Nothing. Or very little at best. Ivan didn't scare them into preparing; not one little bit.

When I started watching coverage of the aftermath of Katrina, after George Bush had ordered the levees to be blown up (according to Spike Lee) and parts of the city were flooded, I was astounded that the folks were standing around and whining to every camera pointed their way and wondering where the government was. I distinctly remember noticing how many people on the news where sitting or standing around smoking cigarettes.

I thought, what the heck were these morons thinking? If they could afford to buy cartons of cigarettes and thought enough about them that they carried these cigarettes out with them when their homes flooded, they could have just as easily, and for less money, bought bottled water and carried a few bottles of water each with them.

Humans can live many days without food if they have water, but these thousands of dim bulbs considered their cigarettes to be the valued possessions of choice and brought out their cigarettes and lighters when their homes flooded.

The disaster in New Orleans is the kind of natural disaster that has caused mass migrations of people since man has been on earth. Anyone with two brain cells left in their heads, rubbing together to cause a little warmth and a couple of basic thoughts knows this.

Heck, I know this, and I'm a product of Louisiana's public schools system myself!

Yet all I hear this week as today's dubious anniversary approached is how shameful it is that the Bush administration hasn't had New Orleans completely rebuilt by now.

If you think this, you are an idiot in my mind. The 67 Billion that the has been spent and sent is just a drop in the bucket to what needs to happen for this city to be back to the way it was before Katrina.

And you are 10 kinds of an idiot if you thing New Orleans will ever be like it was before Katrina. Ever. Well, maybe in 50-100 years, but two years? Come on people, use your brain. It couldn't happen regardless of how much money they throw at the city.

If you came to our home in Florida, we could put you in our Ford Taurus and drive you around places in central Florida where there are still oceans of FEMA trailers, with many of them still occupied by folks whose homes where too damaged from hurricanes years ago.

And you expected New Orleans to be rebuilt, all homes rebuilt, dispersed people to have been moved back in, and the city back to pre-Katrina ways of living in two years?

If so, again, you are 10 kinds of an idiot.

Also, what about south Mississippi an Alabama?

New Orleans didn't get the worst of the winds of Katrina, the levees broke and floods caused the most damage.

WHOLE TOWNS IN MISSISSIPPI WERE WIPED OFF THE EARTH. Where are the news reports about them? If New Orleans could have been rebuilt in this time, then small Mississippi and Alabama towns that got hurt worse than New Orleans surely could have been rebuilt too, right?

Where's the outrage for the small Mississippi and Alabama towns that don't even exist any more?

Why haven't Brad Pitt and Sean Penn brought their moronic selves and their ever present camera crews to show the devastation of south Mississippi and Alabama? Why aren't they outraged over the loss of whole communities and broadcasting their self-serving statements from places that were once thriving small American towns, but are no more?

The people of New Orleans bear the responsibility to the damage to their lives by having chosen to live in a hurricane-prone area.

Just as I and my family do here on the east coast of Florida. Just as people in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas bear the responsibility for choosing to live in tornado-prone areas. You get my drift.

Our home wasn't destroyed, but had many thousands of dollars of damage done in hurricanes Jeanne and Frances. We've had many tropical storms hit us and the outer edges of several other full-fledged hurricanes, but we did what we could, we paid others to fix the rest, and we had supplies and were as prepared as we could be for the hard living after each one.

We lost power for days or weeks on end, we struggled to find simple things like ice to help keep what food we had from spoiling in the 95 degree F heat and 95 percent humidity with no air conditioning.

In short, we dealt with it, because it's part of living here. It's a nice place to live and I have an almost dream engineering job here that pays half-way decent and we get to design and build some things that are completely unique in this world. Part of the price to live here is to deal with the tropical weather, such as tropical storms and hurricanes that WILL occasionally hit.

New Orleans is in an earthen bowl, mostly below sea level.

If people choose to live there, they have to deal with the occasional hurricanes that WILL hit them too.

Whining about the US government not doing enough makes the whiners look like idiots. Anyone with half a brain knows the government is slow and spotty. Always has been and probably always will be.

Besides, everybody hates whiners. Whiny kids are annoying, whiny adults are like fingers on a chalk board.

These people chose to live in a hurricane-prone area, therefore it was their responsibility to have supplies, an escape plan if necessary, and a little bit of guts and back bone.

I regret all the loss of life there, just as even around here a few people died in the hurricanes that hit our area.

But stop being such crybabies, pick yourselves up and get on with your life.

Quit sitting around and expecting others to swoop in and make things like they were before the storm. That will never happen, and you are dumb if you think otherwise.

I'll shut up now.

End of rant.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Rated PG-13 Post

I'm going to try to "keep it between the ditches" with this post, but there are so many different tangents on this subject that it's going to be difficult to stay on track.

What is it with today's elected Republicans and wanting to have sex in public restrooms?

I absolutely despise having to go into a public restroom. Even here at work, where engineering work is going on and people stay clean all day, I still have stressful times going to the bathroom.

My ideal trip to a public restroom is to get in there and to get back out of there after having, say, peed, and to do so without having to touch ANYTHING. But, being a compulsive hand washer, it's unavoidable, you have to crank that handle on the towel dispenser and turn the water knob and flush the toilet or urinal.

But my ideals in there are pure, and my goal is lofty. And I sure as heck don't leave a mess for the next guy. He might hate public restrooms more than me.

So while I'm in there it’s a tightrope walk without a net trying to stay sane and sanitary in a place were dirty things are done, ya know?

The absolute last thing on my wish list is to touch something while in there.

The thought of wanting sex with another man in a public restroom has never crossed my mind, but here in Florida, our local State Representative, Bob Allen, Republican, will go on trial in September for soliciting sex for $20 from an undercover cop in a public restroom.

Now, US Senator Larry Craig, Republican from Idaho has pled guilty for misdemeanor charges of a similar nature, that happened in a public restroom in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport!

The closest restroom to me here at work is a small one, two stalls and two urinals. If I go in there and need a stall, and one is occupied, I leave, and walk all the way across the building to the "big" bathroom or I wait and come back so that I don't get into a stall next to someone. Same thing with urinals too. I need at least one blank stall or urinal between me and the next guy.

But soliciting homosexual sex in a public restroom, by nature one of the least sanitary places on the planet?

I just don't get it.

We need to clean house. It's obvious that people were so hot to vote for a person with an R beside his name on the ballot for a number of years that a bunch of total scumbags got elected.

I propose we clean up both the US and state's congress and senates and also all public restrooms.

Now I'm really going to be avoiding them even more than in the past.

I hope my bladder doesn't explode trying to hold it in.

And another thing.

What the heck did these cops do on their job that was so bad that they were the ones assigned to spend their work days sitting in disgusting public restrooms hoping some pervert homosexual wanna-be will come in there and offer to pay them to give or receive homosexual sexual favors?

If I were such a screw-up as a cop that they assigned me to that duty, I would quit right on the spot.

Danny Glover and Mel Gibson screwed up so bad in one of the Lethal Weapon movies (I can't remember which one, maybe the second one, or was it the third fourth fifth , whatever) that they were busted down to walking a beat.

They blew up cars and knocked down buildings and had to walk a beat.

What level of screw up does a cop have to be to get pervert duty in public restrooms?

Why are our elected officials soliciting sex from them?

I just don't get it; it's yucky in there.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday August 26, 2007

Reaching back into ye olde 35mm slide files this week.

I consider Monroe, Louisiana to be my home town. Did y'all know that Monroe is where Delta Airlines was founded?

They started out as a crop dusting service that branched out into carrying mail and passengers in the late 1920s.

In the late 1980s I was part of a group of new-hires in Dallas that went to Atlanta to tour all of the hangar facilities and the pilot and flight attendant training areas.

It was very interesting, a total blast for me.

This first photo is one of their old crop dusters from the early years hanging in a museum of the company's history.

In the early and mid seventies, Delta briefly flew a few Boeing 747s in their fleet. They sold them all and for many years their biggest plane was the Lockheed l-1011. This is a model of Delta's 747s in the same Delta museum. Check out the hideous 1970s seat cover colorings!

We were told that Delta had the capability to recreate, on-site there in Atlanta, any part for any of their planes, with the exception of the tires, which are sent back to Goodyear to be retread. This is a work area for building new wing flaps; you can see one on the table closest to the camera.

This is our tour group in Delta's main hangar. At the time, this was the largest non-military plane hangar in the country. It would hold many of their biggest planes at one time to be worked on. What you see in the background is scaffolding built around the tail section of an L-1011 as it's readied to be repainted.

I'll try to scan a few more to show y'all later.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I Love This Girl

Last night was my first night to sleep with my new CPAP machine going.

I did pretty good with it, and was more alert than usual this morning, but I had a headache that kinda ruined the moment.

Lovely Wife said, "It's been so long since your brain got that much oxygen that it's probably freaking out."

Brilliant diagnosis dear.

Happy Anniversary, Babe. 23 years and counting.

Married August 25, 1984.

Photo: Easter 1982

Friday, August 24, 2007

Another Update on the Goings On Around Here

I'll keep it short.

Number Two Daughter is doing really well after her surgery, especially considering that due to insurance companies' insistence, the hospitals pretty much try to shove you out the door as soon as the closing stitches are put in.

Her surgery was considered as outpatient surgery despite it's duration being over four hours to complete.

She's sore and hurting a bit, but she says it doesn't hurt as much as she thought it would.

Anyhoo, she's at home and zonked on percocet in the comfort of her own bed.

Thanks to you all for your prayers and concerns.

Younger Brother had his nose rebuild after a few days ago. Physically and emotionally he's doing OK I guess, but he's miserable due to one thing.

His nose is packed with whatever it is they pack your nose with after operating on it, and has to squirt some saline solution up his nose every 20 minutes.

And using my amazing mathematical abilities, I figger that he can sleep at about 18-19 minutes at a time. Even a Louisiana public school edumacated boy like me just KNOWS in my bones that that HAS to suck.

It did start bleeding and wouldn't slow down or stop, the night after his surgery (another outpatient deal where the cut, operate, stitch, pat him on the butt and send him home) and had to go to the emergency room at 2am to let them unpack it and do something to stop it and then repack it.

I feel so bad for him I don't know what to do.

This afternoon I have two appointments, one with the good folks who are supposed to fix me up with a CPAP machine, and the other with my back doctor because I'm out of the good stuff and am in need of something stronger than tylenol and advil.

I only have one question about the CPAP machine. The one they used on me in the sleep study I did a couple of weeks ago fit over my nose, which worked fine for me because I'm a nose breather. What if I get one of those that fits over the nose and get a cold or sinus attack where my nose is all stopped up? What do I do then?

We'll just have to see what the experts say.

And I'm not leaving my orthopaedic doctor's office without a prescription for Lortab. This has been a bad week without anything to cut the pain, and I was struggling at work because of it. I can't think straight and make stupid mistakes when I hurt like this.

Other than all of that, life is grand.

Have a great day!

Oi Vey. (and I'm not even Jewish. But they have all the best expressions.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New Stuff

About three months ago, Lovely Wife and I spent a fair amount of time looking for new furniture. A lot of the stuff we had was hand-me-downs, even after all these years. (That's a Broyhill website picture of the style we bought above right.)

We bought a living room set which was delivered several weeks ago, and we also had a new bedroom set ordered but that hadn't been delivered yet.

Yesterday, Tuesday, they finally delivered the bedroom set along with two end tables for our living room.

One thing we learned about buying furniture, it's bigger in you house than it was in the showroom.

It makes total sense, but it's startling to see in place in the house.

The showrooms tend to have 20-30 feet high ceilings, and the area is about 60,000 square feet, so a large couch, love seat, and chair seem completely normal. And we measured things at home and tried to stay close to the size of the old stuff, which fit fine, but when the stuff was delivered and put into place, it seems larger than the old stuff.

It's weird too, to have everything match. Tables without scuff marks and years old warping from sweaty glasses and spills on wooden tables.

The bedroom set items are similar footprints to the old, but her dresser and my chest of drawers are both much taller than the old ones. We even have matching bedside tables now! What a concept.

The new bedroom stuff smells good too. The insides of the drawers are raw wood and you can see all of the dovetail joints and wooden sliders, and it all smells faintly like freshly sawed wood.

The last piece of the puzzle is for Lovely Wife to find some lamps she likes.

Number Two Daughter (18) is in surgery as I type this on break (11am). I'd appreciate your prayers for her safety and recovery.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Skinny Person Inside of Me

Even us fat folks have a skinny person inside. Here's a picture of mine.

This was when I was six years old and we were living in Vidalia, Louisiana at the time. That's a hefty set of arms, eh?

I got a kick out of seeing the pic and also finding the actual red hat in a box last week. I showed it to Numbers One and Two Daughter.

They weren't impressed that I still have the hat, but I thought it was cool. I LOVED wearing that thing around the house at night. I guess I considered it an old timey night cap, like Ebenezer Scrooge.

Here's a scan of the hat as it is today. The white part isn't as yellowed as it came out in the scanner; it's actually in great shape.

The massive cranium I ended up with is too large to try it on again, but it's still cool to have and hold.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Well, Here Goes Nothing

Miss a week of blogging and it's hard to write again. Truly, writing is something that should be done daily.

I mentioned a week or two ago about having spent the night at a sleep center to test for sleep apnea.

I got a call Friday from the doctor's office and the nurse told me that the results sent to them showed that I had EXTREME sleep apnea. And she emphasized the word extreme like that on the phone.

So I wisely said, "Really?"

And she said, "Mr. Masters, you had over one hundred apnea episodes per hour." She said it like she was amazed that I was still alive. And she proceeded to tell me that they were faxing the information over to the company that sells the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines.

I guess I'll be sleeping from now on with a machine that will make me appear to be an elephant.

Maybe I can scare the dogs with the new mask when I get it.

I'm actually looking forward to getting it. If it can help me get better sleep then I'm all for it.

That night in the sleep center I began to like the machine within a couple of minutes. It helped me breathe and it felt really pleasant to lie there and just breathe with the mask on my nose, gently forcing air inward. It made breathing much easier, and I was surprised, because hey, breathing is easy anyway.

Like tinnitus, which I've had since childhood, I can't remember ever waking up and feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. Morning fatigue is something I've always had. Sheer will power, what little of that I have, is all that has rolled me out of bed 999 out of every 1000 days of my life.

It's so rare for me to wake up energised that I can actually remember the last time it happened.

In spring of 2001, I awoke one Saturday morning at 6:15am, and was magically clear-headed. I thought that since it was Saturday, I could go back to sleep, but I didn't feel sleepy at all. I just lay there thinking of all the things I wanted to do, so I just sat up and got up and got going.

I'm being truthful here. The last time I woke up feeling like a million bucks was 2001.

Then again, that was before I fell and messed up my back and before the two back surgeries of 2004, but you get my drift.

It seems that physical problems are much like troubleshooting electronics.

You know from the symptoms that you should start looking in a certain area. If you find a problem, fix it, and test for other issues. Many times in electronics, one problem is hiding several others. So as you fix one problem, others may be revealed and you take them one by one and narrow down the point of failure and fix it.

I simply thought that my depression was the main problem with my bad sleep, and that depression caused my inability to wake up and mentally be ready for the day.

That may still be an issue, but I have definitive proof now that I have a physical sleep disorder that is a least part of the problem.

I'm hoping this CPAP machine gets me a step closer to feeling good.

It has been so long since I flat-out felt GOOD that I can't remember what it's like. All day, every day, is a series of efforts that I dread, regardless of how simple.

I won't expect too much from the machine, but I will take any break I can get, and if it helps me feel a little bit better every day, then that will be a huge blessing to me.

Especially if I can have just a bit more energy in the morning, it would change my life.

And as I continue to slowly lose weight, I know that I can improve my chances of not only being healthy, but regain the simple pleasure of feeling good.

On the subject of sleep, several months ago Lovely Wife and I paid a hideous amount of money for a Select Comfort Sleep Number bed.

I had slept on the floor or in my recliner since 2003, and I thought that if I could get a bed good enough to just get me off the floor, the price would be worth it.

First of all, after a couple of months on it, we just love the thing. Plain and simple, we love the bed.

We bought a king sized one, and Lovely Wife can set her side softer than I do, and both of us just lay there, luxuriating in the feeling of the bed and telling each other, "This bed is SO comfortable!"

Lovely Wife even joked about calling Select Comfort within the 30-day trial period and telling them to come take it away. She imagined they would ask what problem we were having with the bed and she was going to tell them it was too comfortable. That the bed felt so good that we never wanted to get out of it and couldn't get anything done.

As for me, I can harden or soften my side to "dial in" a level of firmness that gives my back relief on any given day. I literally change my side every few days until whatever pain is in my back starts to lessen. The pain never goes away, but sometimes having the bed a bit softer relieves some pain and other times I crank that baby up and it's super firm and that lessens the pain.

The beauty of this bed is that it can be any bed we want our side to be at any time. I haven't slept on the floor or in my recliner since we bought it, and that alone makes the hefty price worth it.

Just thought I'd give y'all a final report on the new bed.

Two enthusiastic thumbs up, both Lovely Wife and Myself, on the Sleep Number bed.

The only, and I mean only thing we've even remotely not liked about the bed is that it seems to be a hotter bed than our old one. I guess during the night the air chambers start to retain body heat. Not bad, but noticeable. If I lived where it was cold this would be a plus, but it never gets cold here.

OK, lunch time is over, gotta go.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday August 19, 2007

Younger Brother is doing OK. His facial surgery was pushed back from this past Thursday to this coming Tuesday, August, 21.

They are just going to repair his nose. To operate on and repair a broken cheek requires going into the head near the ear and working through the head forward to pushe the broken cheek back outward into place. It's apparently a horrible thing to have done, so since his is broken but isn't pressed back much, he's decided to not have the cheek worked on, and only get his nose rebuilt.

Thank all of you for you comments, thoughts, and prayers for him. I would also be grateful if y'all would continue to pray for him, the upcoming surgery and his recovery.

Number Two Daughter is having surgery this Wednesday and I would be thankful for y'all's prayers for her too. It's a surgery to correct a female problem, and it's supposed to be a pretty long surgery as well.

Thanks all!

Since I haven't been out doing any photography lately, I don't really have any new stuff for y'all.

I'm posting a couple of before and after photos. Each of these took me a while to get into good shape. They weren't as bad as some, but had a zillion dust specks and things that had me enlarging them to massive size and working on them one tiny section at a time to clean up.

This first one makes me laugh even after seeing it many times over the years. Too bad my Photoshop skills don't extend to replacing the stupid looks on my, Big Sis's, and Big Brother's faces. (And dig Big Sis's home brew haircut!)

This next photo is one of me when I was four years old. That's my little stuffed dog that was my constant companion and sleeping buddy when I was a wee lad. This was a really small photo, and was blurry, grainy, and had the remains of scotch tape on it. I worked to clean it up as best I could, but finally got to the point where I figured I was coming up against the law of diminishing returns and stopped.

Visiting others will probably be spotty in the near future with Number Two Daughter's surgery and work, but I haven't forgotten y'all and I'll make the rounds as soon as I can.

Have a great Sunday.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Update, Monday August 13

I talked to my Younger Brother yesterday, Sunday, for a few minutes.

He's in good enough spirits, which was a relief, I thought the trauma of what happened would have had him way down, but he didn't sound bad on the phone.

His nose is broken in several places, and his left cheek is crushed and will require surgery. That is supposed to be done this coming Thursday. The area around his right eye is cut and abraded, but the eye itself seems to be OK.

The young lady who was unfortunate enough to have been there too, was rewarded for being in the wrong place at the wrong time by being hit in the head with a brick, after they had stomped my brother repeatedly in the head and body on the sidewalk. She had a bad concussion and a big gash where the brick made contact with her head.

Big Sis and Sainted Mother went over there, and Big Sis said the sidewalk looked like the photos from the Nicole Simpson/Ronald Goldman murder. Apparently it was as if someone had a gallon of blood and just sloshed it all over the ground.

When the police had gotten to the scene, Younger Brother had already headed for the hospital with friends, and I think the young lady who took the brick in the head was out cold and being loaded into an ambulance, so the cop thought it was some minor squabble and wrote the thing up as a misdemeanor.

Big Sis was a bit put out that anyone, let alone a cop, could look at all the blood, hear what happened, and decide the thing was a misdemeanor offense.

They had pics of the two vicitims in the hospital in all of their bloody and swolen glory, and they were shown later to the police and hopefully, if there's any justice in the world, felony charges will be brought against the two men.

Also, such a hue and cry went up to find out the identity of the two men that phones all over town were ringing among all friends and aquaintances of Younger Brother and Young Lady, that word reached the two men that they were being looked for and they turned themselves into the police.

Without knowing the details of what happened at the police station, I can only assume that for now the two men have been processed into the system for their crime, though that stands as a misdemeanor right now.

We'll just have to see what happens.

Thank you all for your kind comments and prayers, it's something I believe truly works. Please continue to pray.

Younger Brother and the Young Lady are both out of the hospital and Younger Brother has a near future filled with surgery and recovery.

I'm marginally cooler, so I try to not think about it until I hear more. Stewing on it all just puts me back into revenge mode, and that's worthless for anyone, and only hurts me. (I'm still trying to decide if I need to buy me a good ol' Louisville Slugger wooden bat or one of them newfangled aluminum bats.)


Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Dark and Hateful Place

This morning, Lovely Wife woke me up.

She had just been talking to Sainted Mother.

It turns out that last night Younger Brother was at his girlfriend’s house, which apparently happens to be near a bar.

Some young woman from the bar had gone outside to have a smoke, two guys followed her out and started “messing with her”, I’m not sure how, but she was resisting enough that Younger Brother went outside to see what the commotion was about.

He saw the two guys giving the woman a hard time, so he told them to stop and leave her alone.

They came over and proceeded to beat the crap out of my brother.

He spent the early hours of this morning in the hospital, and has a broken nose, a badly bruised and cut eye that required stitches, and a crushed cheekbone that is going to require reconstructive surgery.

He had boot prints all over his body where they stomped him, and even on his face and neck.

So he’s probably in the worst fix of his life right now. Nothing life threatening, but it’s going to be a long slog of recovery and surgery and more recovery in the coming months.

I’m just sick about it.

I live a thousand miles from my relatives in Louisiana. Even if I were to fly to Monroe to be around, there’s absolutely nothing I could do.

Today I feel worse inside, than if the two guys had beat me up. You know how it is, it's easier to deal with life's knocks than it is to see someone you love go through them.

Helpless and frustrated; that's me.

When I was a kid, I would cry myself to sleep at the age of 5 because I realized that one day my parents would die. Things a five year old shouldn’t be worrying about, you know?

When I was seven, and Younger Brother was born, and they brought him home, I remember standing there looking at this baby and feeling this overwhelming sense of responsibility for him. At the age of seven, somehow I felt as if his safety and security were my responsibility.

So, even though we’re now 44 and 37, I’ve never lost that feeling of being his protector.

As a Christian, I’m having a tough evening. I so thoroughly hate the men that beat my brother, that I have thought of going to track them down and do the same to them, damn the consequences.

Of course, this is not fair to my wife, my daughters, Sis in Law, all of whom depend on me being relatively healthy and working to live their lives. Not to mention continuing a life of my own, outside of prison and as a productive member of society.

The upshot of it is, I won’t do anything but stay here and pray for him, and to pray both men are caught and brought to justice.

But part of me that I’ve kept constrained, closed off and hidden from the world most of my life wants to get out.

As a kid I had a hair trigger temper, to the point if I got in a fight with someone at school or on the playground, I “blacked out” in that the rage completely took over and I had to be told later what had happened.

As I became a very big man in my late teens, and after becoming a Christian, I knew that someone of my size could ruin his life by totally going off my rocker like that any more. As a Christian, I didn’t want to either.

Over the course of my adult life, I’ve made many, many, many careful steps to become a laid back, slow to anger man.

Part of my makeup has always been pretty laid back, but when my temper blew, it was never pretty. As an adult, I even have a reputation of being cool under pressure and a very diplomatic person in times of trouble.

But today, all of that is gone.

Today, I’m filled with anger and hate that I’ve never experienced in my whole life.

Why is the 6’2”, 300lb man the easy going one, and the 5’7”, 135lb Younger Brother the go-getter who doesn’t know how small he is and rushes into trouble when a call to the police would be a better choice?

I’m furious that I wasn’t there to defend the woman and Younger Brother.

This evening my heart and mind are so filled with anger and rage, I feel like striking out to Louisiana with only a change of clothes and a baseball bat.

I was always the type of person, who when I fought as a kid and teen, that I just let the world go, and though I might lose a fight, the winner was often as bad off as me. Once the bell rings, so to speak, I fight until I cannot fight any more.

Right now, more than anything in this world, I wish I could have been there for him and whomever the woman was.

In my heart and mind, I’m in a place darker than any place I’ve ever been. That little baby that has been my responsibility for 37 years just got hurt, and hurt real bad, and I wasn’t there to help.

I’m thoroughly screwed up.

I have no idea when I will post again, maybe tomorrow, maybe never. All I want to write is pure, deadly venom for the two men who did this. Writing and publicizing my hate doesn’t seem to me to be true to the reason I started this blog, so I’ll just back off until I can write on more pleasant topics, and with a little more peace and love in my heart.

If you’re the praying type, please pray for Mark. For his recovery, and for the men to be caught and brought to justice, he was truly trying to help a young woman in trouble.

If you have any left in you, pray for the whole family and for me too.

I know better than to hold hatred inside of me like this, but right now it’s all I can see, it's overwhelming me.

How can a person have such a complete, crystalline, and pure hatred for two people I've neither seen nor met?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Way Nicer Than Motel 6

I spent a night away from Lovey Wife last night.

It seems that I snore; at least that's what she claims, though I deny it.

But, since she's not a liar in other areas of life, I finally mentioned my snoring and that no matter how much I sleep, I am never rested to my doctor.

Result? I stayed in a sleep center last night, hooked up to about 30 electrodes very similar in nature to the ones I use at work to troubleshoot and repair circuit cards that are giving us attitude.

I watched a nifty video on the scourge that is sleep apnea.

I sat there thinking, "I seriously think I'm just a snorer, and don't have apnea."

I'm hooked up, laying down, and finally, after the poor guy having to use about 10 meters of tape on me to hold things down, the lights go off, and I immediately start to drift off.

I'm nervous too, despite the sleepiness, and spend a few minutes picturing myself sitting on the beach in a comfy chair and I lay there slowly taking long deep breaths.

I calm down quickly and drift off to sleep.

Next thing I know, the lights are on, the guy's leaning over me with a worried look on his face and shaking me awake.

"Mr. Masters, I'm gonna have to hook you up to the CPAP machine. You are having a terrible time trying to breathe, but I had to let you sleep like that for a full 2 and a half hours by insurance rules. I'm sorry to have let you go through that."

And I'm just amazed, "No problem. I didn't know any better, I was asleep the whole time."

So he fitted me with an over the nose mask and briefly went over the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine's operation and I got tucked back in.

I lay there in the dark for a few minutes, getting the hang of breathing with the mask and machine's help and start to drift off again.

Next thing I know, he's waking me up again, telling me it's 6am and that the test is over.

As he unhooks me from the electodes and CPAP machine, he says that I took to using it much faster and easier than most people. I told him that I am a nose breather anyway, so laying there breathing with the help of the machine was almost natural and that I actually thought that it was pleasant. It made breathing easier, which seemed amazing to me.

He went on to give me a few tips on using and cleaning and how to operate the machine when I get mine, right after he'd told me that he wasn't allowed to tell me anything about what their readings on me during the night showed.

But he acted as if me getting a CPAP machine to sleep with was a done deal, so I think they have electonic as well as video proof that I do indeed have sleep apnea.

The only problem is, it will probably be a bit before the results get to the sleep Dr. Then a little longer to get the machine.

Now that I know I'll probably be having to use one from now on, I want the machine NOW.

I'm ready to get the show on the road, ya know?

But the room was really nice, and as someone who has stayed in numerous cheap hotels over the years, it was pretty much a 3 star room in my book.

Way better than the average Motel 6 room, though this place wouldn't have allowed a dog like Motel 6 does.

And as I filled out the post-test paperwork, I realized that though I was still tired enough to sleep more, I felt pretty rested and very alert.

I'm not getting my hopes up too much, but I would love to have this thing help me get better rest. I'm tired of living my days in zombie mode.

The next hurdle is to start going to the gym with Lovely Wife regularly.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #50

13 More Stupid Questions and Answers About Me

Yet another batch of 13 questions stolen by stealth from all over Al Gore's creation.

Has anyone told you a secret this week?
Yes, and I was so excited about being trusted like that, that I immediately told the first ten people I saw. (The actual answer is no. No secrets this week, but I'm really hopeful about next week.)

Have you ever given someone a hickey?
….Um…. (No, I'm NOT blushing. My face is sunburned.)

Who was the last person to call you?
Lovely Wife, to remind me to leave the checkbook at home for her. Exciting, eh?

Do you think people talk about you behind your back?
No, I do not THINK so, I KNOW so! And I'm setting up cameras and microphones and I'm going to prove it. Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Did you watch cartoons as a child?
Of course. Buggs Bunny / Looney Tunes (Yosimite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, Daffy, Elmer, etc.); also Tom & Jerry, Scooby Doo, Spider Man.

How many siblings do you have?
Big Sister, Younger Brother. Big Brother passed away in 2001.

Are you shy around the opposite sex?
I’m pretty shy around everybody at first. I'm probably more shy around men than women though. I don't know baseball stats or football stats and I despise NASCAR, so to my own detriment, I assume that I have nothing to talk to other men about.

What movie do you know every line to?
Once upon a time, I knew Smokey and the Bandit pretty good. ("Daddy, look at that big, ugly alligator!" "That reminds me, I need to call your mama.") These days I just know a few lines from various movies. I saw Rocket Man again recently. I know a few lines from that. I like books better, I don't like my entertainment to be spoon fed so much.

Yet another way I'm boring.

Do you own any band t-shirts?
Yes, a couple of Disciple ones. I don't go to many concerts any more, the ticket prices are ridiculous.

What is your favorite salad dressing?
Ranch. More boring-ness, I'm afraid. And while we're on the subject, why don't restaurants have Thousand Island any more? That was the big dog before Ranch was invented.

Do you read for fun?
Oh Yeah. Now we're cookin' with gas. A mix of fiction to escape the bonds of this mortal existence for a while, and technical stuff, partly to keep up with changes in engineering for work, and partly because I'm simply a geek and like math and physics related books.

Do you cry a lot?
No. I haven't cried in a few days now. Really though, I rarely cry, but don't you feel all fresh and renewed after a good cry?

Who was the last person to text message you?
I'm 44, not 14; there are no text messages in my world. I hate ALL telephones, especially cell phones and use them as little as possible. I'm an electrical engineer who has to ask Number Two Daughter how to do the simplest things on a cell phone because I don't care enough to learn for myself. I hold the frazzlin' thing upside down half the time and you expect me to be able to retrieve and possibly respond to a text message? Not gonna happen.

Truthfully, Cingular AT&T texts me from time to time trying to sell me some service or another.

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, August 08, 2007

Ten Lies My Mother Told Me

I was tagged by Jessica at Life As I See It to do this meme.

I must confess, that this was pretty much impossible, and if Big Sis reads this she might be able to add a few I can't recall, but here's my attempt:

1. Your face is going to get stuck like that! when making a face at her or a sibling.

2. Sitting really close to a color TV is bad because they give off radiation. No, no simple ruining your eyesight for MY mother. Well, now that I think about this one, it was probably a convenient excuse to not replace ye olde black and white TV with a color TV. I guess it does give off radiation, but not plutonium or uranium type deadly radiation. Just think of how we're bathed in radiation all day long. Radio station's and television station's broadcasts, cell phones, bluetooth devices, wireless internet, satellite stuff being beamed down on us.

3. Eating chocolate or too much candy causes pimples. Boy. I'm glad this one wasn't true. I'd have been a human pimple otherwise.

4. Put some sleeves on or you'll catch a cold. "Put some sleeves on" was how Sainted Mother phrased "put on a jacket." As a smart aleck teen I would tug on one of my short sleeves and say, "I DO have on some sleeves. They're short, but they're sleeves." Plus, it was Louisiana, not Alaska.

5. Don't swim right after eating. You'll get cramps and drown. This one never made sense, but I was a self-taught, poor swimmer as a kid so I didn’t take chances. As an adult who knows better, I'll brazenly get in our pool right after eating. Of course, our pool is only 5 feet deep and I'm 6'2", so if I had some mysterious cramps while swimming, all I have to do is to stand up.

6. There really is a Santa Clause, Easter Bunny, etc. Pretty common lie, I guess.

7. You are the milk man's baby. Actually, this isn't as cruel as it sounds. When little, I was blond while everyone else in the family had dark brown or black hair. My parents said people would look at mom, then dad, then me, and get a strange look on their face, as if I weren't their's. As I got older, I found out that the inside joke between my mom and dad was that I was the milk man's baby.

8. Those pants look fine on you. As a quickly growing boy, I hated "high water" pants. Oh well. I survived the playground jokes. Sainted Mother was just trying to eek out a little more time before having to shell out more cash to buy me new pants.



I tag no one.

If you are in need of a subject for your blog one day, feel free to steal this and have at it.

I was pushing it here and still couldn't come up with 10 lies. I guess my family was more boring than most.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I'm No Business Man

We get a lot of kids selling things around here where we live. It's always to help fund a program to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble.

I have to admit to buying the worthless trinkets and half-melted chocolate on a 95 degree day just because one of the kids might be a good salesman. If he's presentable, clean, polite, etc., I just might buy something I don't need or won't eat, but the sulky ones can forget it.

When I was a kid in Vidalia, Louisiana, my best friend Rocky and I decided to open a Kool Aid stand.

We pooled what few dollars we had, went across the highway to the Sterling's dime store, which had a great candy section, as well as the grocery store, and bought Kool Aid, Super Bubble bubble gum, and a few other candies.

You know how there seems to be one house in every neighborhood that people only live in for a short period of time and then it's empty for a while, then the cycle repeats?

In our neighborhood, that house was next door to Rocky's house.

The previous tenants had left the small utility/storeroom at the end of the driveway under the carport open. It had a window facing out and down the driveway toward the street.

We made a small sign and put it out by the road, and as kids would come along they would either see our sign and come investigate, or we would yell at them.

They could buy a cold glass of Kool Aid from us, and they could save a trip to the store to buy their gum for the day by buying our Super Bubble for a mere 2 cents.

We sold a few cups of Kool Aid, but when we offered them the gum or other candy, our friends would say, "why should we buy gum from you for 2 cents when we can go across the highway and buy it from the store for only a penny a piece?"

They had a point, and, in the end Rocky and I sold all of our Kool Aid and candy, but we sold all the candy for what we bought it for ourselves, so that we wouldn't end up with a ton of unsold candy.

I think we made a small amount on the Kool Aid, but it sure wasn't enough to make up for all the trouble of buying the stuff, setting up our store and trying to attract customers. Especially our sour and cynical friends.

But, I guess that is a lesson almost every kid has to learn the hard way.

One thing was for certain. Our parents didn't help us. They didn't build us a stand. They didn't buy out our stash to sooth our feelings. It was a hopeful business venture that didn't make it; pure and simple.

I think that I'm fortunate that I lived back when a piece of Super Bubble or Double Bubble gum cost a penny each. And I still remember the horror we all felt when the price doubled to 2 cents per piece, cutting our take in half when we went to buy ourselves some gum and candy.

It was my first lesson in inflation. One day, ten pieces of gum for a dime, the next day, five pieces of gum for a dime.

Life can teach brutal lessons at times, can't it?

That's probably why I never went into sales.

I'm much better at selling my own hard earned skills and knowledge than I am trying to conjure reasons from thin air as to why someone should buy something from me that they need about as much as another hole in the head.

I have to admit, that I'm personally a soft touch for kids selling things.

Just after Lovely Wife and I got married in 1984, and we were living in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, we were leaving our apartment to go to the beach and we passed some kids in our neighborhood that had set up a Kool Aid stand on the street corner of their home's corner lot.

As we approached, the crushing disappointment of Rocky and me's Kool Aid failure hit me with unexpected force and I quickly told Lovely Wife I was going to stop.

I pulled the car off the road and hopped out and asked how much for a glass of Kool Aid. I think they were asking for 15 cents for a cup. I gave them a dollar, and they gave me a cup of luke warm cherry Kool Aid while they started digging through their meager earnings for my change.

I killed the whole cup of Kool Aid right there, gave a satisfying "Ahhh" and told them not to worry about the change, just keep it.

They just looked at me stupefied, and I told them that I'd had a Kool Aid stand when I was a kid, that I knew how tough it was to make a profit.

That small cup of luke warm cherry Kool Aid was one of the best single dollars I've ever spent.

And to this day, whenever I pass a Kool Aid or lemonade stand, my foot involuntarily lifts off of the gas pedal and I think hard about whether to stop or not.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Lust In My Heart / Slow Computers

My latest thing to want is this:

It's a Gibson Melody Maker with a "vintage sunburst" finish. It's a modern recreation of a guitar Gibson produced in the late 1950s. The original was considered a "student model", or something to learn with, but they became fairly popular because they were light, good sounding guitars in their own right.

As you can see, there is nothing fancy about them, and I like that lean, hungry look in a guitar. I like fancy ones too, but holy smokes, the fancy ones are so expensive. I'm not a good enough player to justify buying a $2300 guitar, but I think I could spend $379 without feeling too guilty.

I'm one of those weird guitar players that likes a fat neck on the guitar while most of the guitar playing world likes their guitar necks nice and thin. The fatter the neck, the better I like it, and I don't have big hands either. It's just more comfortable and I can play longer with a fat guitar neck.

This Melody Maker has the fatter "rounded '59" profile of their late 1950's guitar, same as my Les Paul Studio. I LOVE the neck on that guitar.

OK. I'm weird. I admit it.

Also, one time I tried to trade picks during a Disciple concert (my FAVORITE band) one night with my guitar hero, Brad Noah. Held up a pick like I use to trade with him, he nodded, and handed me his pick he had been playing with and took mine.

He turned it over and looked at it back and front, smiled, shook his head and handed it back to me. He walked over and got another one from his stage stash and started the next song.

See, I use a teeny-tiny jazz style, teardrop shaped guitar pick. Apparently I'm one of the few people on the planet who prefers them. I have to keep about a hundred of the things around, because I can't play well with a regular guitar pick, it just has too much real estate and it twists around in my hand.

At least I got to keep his guitar pick. Brad's my homey now, I've got the pick to prove it.

Seems like there's always a new lens for my camera, a guitar, or something to catch my eye.

Maybe if I had one single, unobtainable obsession, like Big Sis is with Keith Urban, it would be easier.

Hey, I'm 44, maybe I could claim "midlife crisis" and buy the Melody Maker.

It's way cheaper than a Corvette.

By the way, here's a gratuitous pic of Brad Noah in all out shred mode at a concert I attended.

One of modern life's great gifts is the advent of the home computer.

And as time goes on, the things I want to do, like digital photos and video editing, is harder and harder on a computer.

Our "family" computer is 4 years old, I think, and I bought it through Dell, and the guy on the phone assured me that Yes, it will handle video.

He was wrong. I was never, ever able to download video that wasn't choppy. It was just not fast/powerful enough.

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a brand new Dell XPS with 2GB of RAM and the speed of the thing is already being taken for granted.

That is, until I get onto the "old" family computer or any of the computers at work.

They seem intolerably slow in comparison to my new one.

Oh, the trials and tribulations of a spoiled man.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday August 5, 2007

It's All About Me

I was working on some photo scans last night. I found a few old prints of me, scanned them on the flatbed scanner, and spent a little time touching them up.

This one is me with my first two toofs. I was obviously proud of them, but if you notice on the left of the photo, I still needed Sainted Mother's hand to hold me up.

This next one, I'm a year or so older. Mama made our clothes when we were little, and in fact made a lot of my shirts until I was 12 or so. This was one she had made for me.

Here's proof I was once short. That's Big Sis with her hand on my head. Check out that six pack, baby!

Here I am again, in all of my diaperous glory. Obviously ready to hit the open road on my little push car there. I can't believe I was ever that little. Definitely a future junk food junkie hiding in that scrawny body.

This final one is me at the ripe old age of four. This is just after Christmas of 1966, because that's me with my Big Bruiser wrecker that I received that year. I was pumped to see that there was a picture of the truck, much less with me in there playing with it.

Well, that more of me than even I can stand, so I'll stop here.

With the computers unplugged and set aside for the painter for a few days, it really threw me off my blogging game. I still have tons of visiting and commenting to catch up on. I hope to be able to get back into the groove this week and will be paying everyone visits, OK?

Have a great Sunday.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

President Cheney (Acting)

I read this in the Weekly Standard. I got a kick out of it, maybe you will too.

What (Acting) President Cheney Did

Dick Cheney was acting president for about two hours on Saturday July 21 (while the president underwent a medical procedure). To the surprise of Cheney haters everywhere, he didn't seize the opportunity to start a war, pardon Scooter Libby, or ship Carl Levin to Gitmo for questioning.

So what was Dick Cheney up to during the two hours of his acting presidency? Our colleague Stephen F. Hayes, author of a terrific new Cheney biography (Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President), tells us that the man caricatured in the mainstream media as Darth Vader stayed home and wrote a letter to his grandchildren.

"Dear Kate, Elizabeth, Grace, Philip, Richard and Sam," he began. "As I write this, our nation is engaged in a war with terrorists of global reach. My principal focus as Vice President has been to help protect the American people and our way of life. The vigilance, diligence and unwavering commitment of those who protect our Nation has kept us safe from terrorist attacks of the kind we faced on September 11, 2001. We owe a special debt of gratitude to the members of our armed forces, intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies and others who serve and sacrifice to keep us safe and free."

The letter is written on Cheney's official letterhead and it closes with a personal request.

"As you grow, you will come to understand the sacrifices that each generation makes to preserve freedom and democracy for future generations, and you will assume the important responsibilities of citizens in our society. I ask of you as my grandchildren what I asked of my daughters, that you always strive in your lives to do what is right."

The letter is signed:

"May God bless and protect you.
Richard B. Cheney
Acting President of the United States
(Grandpa Cheney)"

He didn't call up his pals at Halliburton to see what he could do for them while President of the United States for two hours, he wrote a letter to his grandchildren in that period so that they could have a letter from (Acting) President Grandpa.

I like it.

And since the subject of today's post is Vice President Cheney, I thought I would post this picture that I found on the internet last year. I have no idea who put this together to give credit to them.

If you did this, you're a funny man/woman.

Sorry about having no post yesterday folks. We've been having house work done, and my computer was unhooked due to painting.

I finally got it all back together last night, and I took a circuit card for inputing video out of the old computer and installed it in my new one and finally found the driver for it.

So, I'm back up and running, and if I don't post, It will probably be due to pure laziness.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #49

13 More Stupid Questions and Answers About Me

Still stealing meme questions from other people's blogs to keep up with Thursday Thirteen. All thirteen of today's thingys are stolen without shame from SarahK over at Mountaineer Musings. (She's a super sweet lady and y'all need to go check her blog out, MMMMk? How can you not love a woman who loves that her husband gives her guns for Christmas?)

What curse word do you use the most? Crap. I need to come up with some funny alternates. Like fiddle-dee-dee, and so forth.

Do you own an iPod? Why yes I do. Lovely Wife surprised me with one for Father's Day, and being the anal retentive music guy, I'll probably be several more weeks in getting all of my music files set up like I want them. I want them to all have the file names in the same fashion, be associated with the proper album art, etc. I have 19GB worth of music on there. I haven't even started thinking about getting some pictures or videos on there yet.

Who on your MySpace “Top 8″ do you talk to the most?
I do not have a MySpace page. I pretty much hate going out there because people generally have a background that makes it almost impossible to read the text.

What time is your alarm clock set for?
Set for: 6 a.m. I'm not a person that opens my eyes and just pops out of bed. My Dad was, and Lovely Wife is pretty much. I have always envied folks with that ability.

What color is your room?
Yellow. A guy is painting the inside of our home this week, and he just finished painting our master bed room yellow, and our master bath baby blue. They look nice. Now if he'd just hurry and do the baseboards, door facings, and the doors, I could hook my new Dell back up. It's seriously putting a crimp into my blog writing and visiting, not to mention preparing photos for my photography blog.

Flip flops or sneakers?
Sneakers. It's Florida, and some places even allow flip flops at work, but with my monkey toes, I wear Nikes all the time.

Would you rather take the picture or be in the picture?
Take. I definitely don't like being in photos.

What was the last movie you watched?
DVD of Rocket Man, one of my favorite comedies.

Do any of your friends have children?
Yes. Pretty much all of them.

Has anyone ever called you lazy?
Yes, I call myself lazy. It helps to motivate me to move, pain or no pain. If others have called my that, it was behind my back.

Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep faster?
Yes. Tylenol PM is my friend.

What CD is currently in your CD player?
My portable CD player at home has Rock Garden by Ty Tabor in it.

As I type this, I'm listening to my ipod, and a song called La Futura from the CD Ultra Forever by Fold Zandura is playing.

Do you prefer regular or chocolate milk?
I prefer regular WITH stuff like cereal or cookies, but for just drinking, I prefer chocolate.

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, August 01, 2007

There's A Difference Between…

Having a big head, and being big headed.

I'm a big guy. And. I have a massive cranium. A big head isn't a bad thing to have, it kind of matches the rest of my body, ya know? (Isn't it strange to see a big person with a little bitty head?)

My personality is pretty much permanently stuck on aw-shucks-while-shyly-kicking-the-ground. I've always known that no matter how fast I am, there's somebody faster. No matter how smart I am, there's somebody smarter. So forth and so on, etcetera, etcetera.

I do have a thing about reading, and despite my complaints on this blog about being pitiful at remembering peoples names, I have stored up quite a collection of useless trivia in said massive cranium in my 44 years.

So, over the years, at home, when someone wants to know something, they ask me. If I say, I don't know, you're gonna have to look that one up, I get these shocked and amazed looks from my family, like, "YOU don't know what such-and-such is?!" as if they were true believers in the Wizard of Oz and he'd just admitted that there was something he doesn't know.

I kind of like being the go-to guy for useless information. If I get to share it with others, then it's not quite so useless, know what I mean, butter bean?

It's like my ability to untangle tiny women's necklaces. Women love me when I can untangle a snake pit of those itty bitty chains in about 40 seconds flat. Even I don't know how I do it, but I sure wish I could make money doing it. It's a useless skill until someone needs it.

Therefore, after a while, even a big headed guy like me starts to get the big head. This is usually after a long string of helping people's understanding by whipping out some useless trivia, unraveling chain knots, and amazing people in the middle of conversation by knowing the unknowable without having someone or some situation bring me low and remind me that despite my size, I'm a small fish in a big ocean.

For several years, Lovely Wife and I taught the youth Sunday School at our church.

That was both good and bad. Bad, because I don't have a natural rapport with kids or teens. If you don't believe me, just ask my daughters, I still don't know how to talk to them. But this was good too, because my wife and I had to stretch our own minds and spirits to try to reach and teach these young people something about the Gospel that they could leave church with on Sunday and use in their lives from Monday through Saturday too.

If I'm good at one thing in my life, it's being able to break down even the most complex issue or subject into easy to understand parts and verbally show people how they fit together so that they understand it.

I'm all about plain talk, and although I like to expand my vocabulary and I know lots of $5 words, I don't use them much. They sound dumb in my southern, country, red-neck accent, but it helps with all the reading that I do.

For a while, our church would go and pick up a bunch of kids from a low income housing area and bring them to church. They were a rough bunch of kids, but my heart went out to them, because despite being pretty rough around the edges, they got up early, got dressed and came to church on Sundays. That effort meant that they were searching for something.

One Sunday in Sunday School, I was teaching about something, I don't remember what, and I thought I was really getting to them.

This one young kid in particular, looked to be about 13, kept a half-smile on his face through my whole talk.

Later, when we were wrapping the class up, he turned to one of his friends, and in a stage whisper said, "Hey! Doesn't he sound JUST LIKE that guy on King of the Hill?"

The whole class busted up laughing.

I laughed too. Hey, it WAS funny, even if it was me he was making fun of.

God, or life itself, has a way of thumping me on the head when I start to think too highly of myself.

That day it was a 13 year old boy. Things like that help keep me from being big headed.

There's not much I can do about having a big head.