Friday, December 30, 2005

Why Teenagers Can't Vote

Florida teen heads home from Iraq

Teen skipped school for experiment in 'immersion journalism'.

Uh huh. This is why teenagers can't vote. This is why what teenagers say in polls taken at their high schools don't matter. This is why parents need to supervise their teenagers, even the "good" kids.

And, one last question: how in the heck did a 16-year-old buy international tickets on several flights, without any parents knowing, or the airlines checking with his parents?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

NSA Wiretapping

Ok, so this isn't about the NSA or wiretapping, but about how hilarious it would be IF the NSA tapped a phone call I got last night.

This is a bit adult, so if any of you are younger readers, go here for now, and check back when I'm done telling the story.

So, I walk into my apartment last night, about 10pm, and get a call on my celphone. I don't have a land-line in the apartment, so my celphone is the only phone I have. The caller ID says, "private call". Normally I don't answer those: if you want to talk to me, unleash your caller ID and I'll answer, otherwise, leave a message. BUT it was late, and if someone from work calls on the county phone line it shows "private call", or, I thought, possibly one of my kids was out someplace and needed to call dad, so I went ahead and answered it.


Mutter mutter mumble mutter mutter.....

It sounded like a bad connection so I extended the antenna and tried again... "Hello?"

Mutter mumble gonna come and mutter mutter mumble your skinny little mutter mumble...

Ha!!! Did I just hear what I thought I heard? Skinny? Me??

"Hello? I can't hear you.... speak up..."

I'm gonna come and f*** you up, I'm gonna (yadda yadda, fill in all the expletives regarding homosexual rape you want, quite a little rant, really)....

I laughed. Honestly, I laughed. I have over 15 years experience talking to people on the phone, day in and day out, reading their moods and understanding how they think. This was probably a white guy, early 20s, not real bright, nervous as heck, trying really hard to disguise his voice and sound scary by talking as deep as he could.

So, bad, bad me, I thought, What an ass. I'm gonna play with him.

"You like boys, do you?" I asked in a high voice.

I'm gonna hurt you so bad, (put his penis places and all sorts of things, yadda yadda yadda), you're gonna love it....

"Oooh I'd like that... bring it on over, big fella.... maybe I can do you too....I bet you'd like that..." Ok, I know that was bad, but jeez!

Now, you have to understand, I'm not all THAT fast of a thinker on my feet. To be honest, I'm surprised I didn't just sputter at the first words out of this guys mouth and hang up the phone. But, when I DO try to think on my feet, for whatever reason, I affect a southern accent. I think its because it helps me think like someone who ISN'T me. Anyway.....

You sound like a southern boy.....

"You like southern boys, do ya? I bet you do.... I bet you like all kinds of boys, don't you... just love the boys...."

Silence a minute. This wasn't going at all the way the guy had figured it would. I know he was hoping to scare someone. He never once used my name, or anything about where I live, what I do, what I look like, anything.... it was clearly a random prank, and it wasn't going his way.

I'm gonna do you with some Louisiana hotsauce, little southern boy....

WTF? Louisiana hotsauce???

Mind you, I've left a lot of the conversation out, but I'm sure you can fill it in with your own imagination. But at this point, I just had to break.

"Your momma didn't breast feed you, did she, sonny?"

I'm gonna rip your blah blah blah....!

I interrupted him, and he actually stopped yelling. "Mmmm hmmm, whatever sonny... You are a sick, sad little man, and I feel sorry for you. I gotta go now... buh bye."

So I hung up. Naturally he called back about 30 seconds later, at which I simply answered the phone and hung up without saying a word. That way, he gets no fun by talking to me and trying to jack me up, OR leaving a message on voicemail. He didn't call back a third time.

At first I was amused and slightly agitated at the phone call. SOB. But then I got mad: what if that were one of my daughters that answered the phone. The sick SOB would have started going off on one of them, and damn it, that's just unacceptable.

Perverts on that level need to have their heads examined.... with a spoon.

Now, imagine the NSA putting that call into my file!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Music musings

I'm a big fan of music, and what with my new fangled computer speakers my daughter got me (Logitech 5.1.... very sweet), I had to get on my favorite music vehicle, Winamp, and search for some good streaming music.

I found, which I must say, I highly reccommend. Good quality stream, good songs, good sound!

Anyway, Merry After Christmas!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Fine Christmas

I have had what I must consider one of the finest Christmases I've ever had.

Yes, I had to work Christmas eve. Yes, I had to work Christmas day. But it's all good when the story is finally told. Lemme grab a beer and sit down a spell and tell ya about it.

See, my church, First Baptist Church of Fair Oaks, most always has a special Christmas Eve service. It's usually filled with carols, and bells, and candles, and all kinds of special Christmas music and Christmas eve type stuff. It's a beautiful service. But this year, things are different.

What with Christmas day being on a Sunday this year, church leaders were cognizant of the fact that they would be competing with family events and presents and dinners and... well, face it, they're competing with CHRISTMAS DAY on Sunday morning. The church decided to do things a little different, and have two, identical weekend services, one Saturday night on Christmas Eve, and the other Sunday morning for those that still wanted to attend church like a regular Sunday. That way the faithful could all attend the service of their choice, and not miss out on the special Christmas service.

So, about a week ago the music director at my church sends me an e-mail, asking if I would be available to sing for the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day church service.

Are you kidding? I thought, I'd love to sing!

Well, being as that I'm working on Sunday mornings, I told her I'd be happy to be a part of Saturday night's service, but I would have to work Christmas morning. She replied she'd love me to do Saturday night. So, she got me a copy of the song she wanted me to sing, and I set to work this past week learning "What A Strange Way To Save The World", by 4Him, I think.

After a very hectic week of work, helping my parents prepare their home for being tented and treated for termites, Christmas shopping and gift wrapping, Saturday night - Christmas eve - finally came. I picked up my girls at their mom's house (bless them for coming with me!) and we went to church. Normally I like to show up a few minutes early and go through a sound check for the music, but Saturday I was a little late for that, so I told the sound guy that I trusted him, and let's just do it when it's time! (He's done the sound for me enough times to know how I sing, and I was certain he'd adjust things just fine.)

I was so nervous at the start of the service, but as things got going and the carols rang out, and I felt God's presence among so many people, I became less and less nervous. When the time came to sing, after the reading of the Christmas story from Matthew, I'd given all the nerves to God. I find that, when I place my heart in the right attitude, and go up and sing for the purpose of ministry, God has ALWAYS been faithful. I haven't forgotten the words to a song in I don't know how long, and it's not my preparedness or my skill or my desire that makes me remember: I'm convinced God works things out for His will.

Well, the song went off without a hitch. The entire service was a blast, and I so enjoyed singing. My kids enjoy hearing me sing, and my kids telling me they liked it is just about the ultimate compliment for me.

After the service I took the kids home to their mom's house where we all (me, their mom, her boyfriend, my girls and their new baby brother) had a nice Christmas eve dinner.

Today, I woke up early. I had intentions to wake up early, but did so quite by accident. See, I set my alarm with the desire to awake at 4am, so I could get to work early. Too bad I set my alarm for 4pm. Dang glad the cat started scratching in the litter box at 4:03am and woke me up!

Gooooood kitty, kitty.

I got to work at hour early, at 5am, and let one of my co-workers from the graveyard shift go home early. About 10 minutes after I showed up, another of my dayshift coworkers, to whom I'd been talking the day before, also showed up, and she let another graveyard staffer leave. Merry Christmas to my co-workers.

The day was nice and slow with no major problems, save a fatal vehicle accident. What a day to lose a family member, huh?

Anyway, I got my kid's mom's house about 5pm with my gifts for the kids and everyone. I walked in the house and was just blown away! Seems my oldest daughter, Emily, had gone darn near hog-wild with Christmas gift-buying, and there were gifts EVERYWHERE! Half the living room was covered with wrapped presents, and a good half of them were from Emily! She bought her sister a 27" TV and TV stand! She bought me NICE new speakers for my computer! She got her little sister an IPOD shuffle! I'm telling ya, the girl just went gift-buying crazy!! I was just amazed at her generosity. She played Santa and just giggled and grinned as she handed out gift after gift to everyone.

After the gift unwrapping orgy, we settled in for ANOTHER nice dinner, of fresh pot roast, and left overs from the previous night's ham, potatoes, stuffing, etc... then the kids all retreated to unbox, cut open, put together, and otherwise try to utilize the new gifts.

All in all, I'm just dazzled, thrilled, proud, humbled, and joyous at the blessings I've had today. The material blessings are great, and I'd be lying if I said they meant nothing to me. I'm not that pious. But, I'm even more humbled by the family blessings, and the emotional blessings, and the spiritual blessings that have come out of this Christmas.

To see my shattered family, torn up by separation and the strife that comes with it, forge from that an unconventional family unit that gets along and works with each other, and even likes each other, and strives to make things the best they can for the children in that unconventional family unit, is a blessing I will cherish forever.

Yeah... I think this unconventional Christmas has been one of my best Christmases ever.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Holiday Cheer

Hello, fellow bloggers.

It's been a few days. I hope most of you are off doing Christmas things with family and friends. If you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you are STILL off doing things with family and friends, and enjoying the holiday season.

My life has mostly been filled with, well... work. 50-55+ hours a week for the past few weeks. The holiday season, unfortunately, is not a slow time for my profession. People stealing, fighting, arguing, shooting and stabbing each other.... gets tedious at times, but it certainly provides job security.

On the way to work this morning, I stopped at the local donut shop where I sometimes get coffee. There are two old fellas who meet there, just about every single morning of the year. They are both retired, probably both in their 70's or better. One fella rides one of those electric Lark or Rascal scooters, and has an oxygen tank with him. The other seems healthier, but still, quite old. They're always chipper and happy. I don't think I've ever seen them down or depressed.

They always say hello to me, ask me "hey, how's crime pay nowadays?" at least once a week. The older fella talks about his fishing trips with his grandkids, or about how much things cost nowadays. You know, old people conversation.

So, today I decided to wish them Merry Christmas tomorrow, without even being there. The donut store owner and his wife know me since I'm there enough. I gave the donut store owner $5 and told him that, the next time they come in (which I'm pretty sure will be tomorrow, Christmas), their donuts and coffees are on me. The donut store owner said they only spend $3.75 between them, every morning. I told the donut store owner not to tell them who did it, just wish 'em Merry Christmas. He smiled, nodded. You bet, mista. Merry Christmas.

Christmas, for me, is the time for being extraordinarily nice... out-of-the-ordinary nice. Gifts can be bought any time of the year, and for the most part, I AM nice most of the year. But there's something about Christmas which makes such gestures of kindness just a little bit sweeter to the recipient.

After all, Jesus gave his entire life, I think I can give $5, or an hour or two extra of my time.

I have to work tomorrow, on Christmas. Crime doesn't stop for holidays. I'm gonna go in an extra hour early and see if I can relieve a co-worker early and let them get home to their family just a little sooner.

God Bless you all, and I wish everyone who wants one, a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Day Tripper

I took a drive to the San Francisco Bay area in my new ride on Monday. Wanting to go someplace I'd never been before, I drove across the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and drove off on Yerba Buena Island, which is the anchor for the two spans of the Bay Bridge. This is an abandoned officers quarters house on the old Yerba Buena Coast Guard station. This one was last occupied by a Rear Admiral. Nice digs if you gotta live on a rock in the bay.

This was a Vice Admiral's house. I believe this was the station commander's home. The entire area is very well kept, almost like it's still active-duty housing. You can see the Bay Bridge behind the trees to the left of the house.

I worked my way to the eastern side of the island, to the CC Meyers company construction yard, where I could see the pilings and supports for the new span being build on the island. Eventually, this will replace the span you see, and meet up at the the Yerba Buena tunnel to connect to the western span leading into San Francisco.

These are bridge sections being floated on a barge to the construction cranes. They'll be hoisted up by the cranes and connected together to form the roadway.

You can really see just how big a project this is. I think, on the left pylon, you can see two construction workers walking on the very top. That will give you an idea of the size of these sections.

Here's the new span working it's way around toward the island, running parralel with the span it will eventually replace.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Magnum Size It, Please

So, I bought a car the other day. Not that I was planning to, but I did. It was completely on a whim without absolutely no forthought to the entire process. I dunno if I did good or not, but I'm really happy with it.

I bought a Dodge Magnum wagon. I'd been eyeing those things since they hit the road two years ago. I can even remember the first time I saw a cherry red Magnum wagon rolling down the street, all crouched down on oversized tires smoothly eating up the pavement.

It's not a brand new car, but it is a 2005. It's not the big ol' Hemi V8, but a simple 6cyl 2.7liter developing 190hp at the top. No leather seats or GPS navigation. Just a CD/Stereo and power windows. Not overly impressive numbers, but plenty for me.

I'd been wanting a minivan or something of that nature, for the room and versatility, and I think the Magnum is going to fit that bill nicely. The storage area in the back is very large, and the seating is very roomy, fitting three adults in the back seat quite comfortably, and man is it quiet inside!

I passed on my trusty Ford Focus to my daughter. It has over 100,000 miles on it, and I think it has at least another 100,000 more. For a 5-year old car, I think I kept it in pretty good shape. It still looks almost new.

I'll let ya know how I like the car as time passes, and how well it holds up, but so far.... I'm as happy with the Dodge Magnum as I've been with any car I've owned.

This advertisment brought to you by Daimler-Chrysler. Or at least it should be.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

My Final Word on Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

This is my last comment on this subject, I promise, because I think it's just such a non-issue.

The "controversy" over Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays.


I ran across quite a debate on the issue at a blog I read now and then, As Always... Rachael. She brings up some very good points regarding, who gives a flying crap about the "controversy" anyway?

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanza or WHATEVER.... I don't see how ANYONE, Christian (which I am, born-again Southern Baptist) or not, can take offense at a greeting given in good will during a celebratory time of the year.

It's like someone telling me "Have a great day", the me telling them, "F-off!". It just doesn't add up.

To me, this is ALL much adieu about nothing. I think this "controversy" is a fabricated straw-man designed to raise TV ratings. I love Fox News, but I think Bill O'Reilly and company are among the worst controversy mongers on TV. It seems like it's all done to give a very, very small number of people who have an agenda something to get up yell about from atop their soap box. Or sell cars during commercials.

Let's get real folks, and think about the issue.

Atheists don't believe in God. For them, God is a fable, a lie, a non-existent non-entity that does not exist. So, if God doesn't exist, then God is no threat. "Merry Christmas" should be considered the gentle greetings of addle-minded folks who misguidedly believe in some mythical higher power. How an atheist can get upset over someone who believes in something that does not exist, then wishing them good cheer in the name of that higher being that doesn't exist, is beyond me. It'd be like me getting upset over someone wishing me good luck from the Tooth Fairy. I'd say "thanks" and shake my head in wonder as I moved on.

For those agnostic, they're not sure and mostly don't care about God. If they're intellectually honest, they probably shouldn't really care either way. Just pick a greeting and go with it, and enjoy the season. They are truly the live and let live crowd.

Those of other religions all have their own religious and holy days. There are various religious celebrations and observations throughout the year. Some members of other religions join in with the American mainstream and celebrate Christmas because it's a lot of fun. Others abstain based on their personal beliefs. That's all fine!

I saw the revered comic Jackie Mason on TV the other day (yeah, it was on Bill O'Reilly, but anyway), he made the very good point that, he doesn't know of any Jewish folks who object to "Merry Christmas". Christmas, at it's root, is a Christian holiday, after all. I don't know of any Christians who get upset at Jews wishing them a "Happy Hanukkah" in return. It's all about the spirit of the season, and respect for our fellow human.

Lastly, for Christians, like myself, who do believe in God, then we need to remember that God, the creator of the entire universe, has got our backs and nothing ill anyone can say or do to us should matter. So someone wishes me "Happy Holidays". Hey, thanks! "Merry Christmas" to you, my friend.

I truly doubt we're gonna get in a rumble over inappropriate greetings, are we folks?

The God I believe in loves everyone. Everyone is deserving of a kind word. Jesus said, "They will know you are my followers by your love for one another".

Now, to my bigger point. I'm just not seeing a lot of love from the Christian side in this faked-up controversy, where it should be coming from! And I think herein lies the biggest, fattest lie in this whole thing:

If there is a Christian anywhere truly "offended" over the "Happy Holidays" thing, I have this to say to you, and I say it in love, brother or sister: Get over it. Be a Christian, and act like one.

Jesus never returned evil for evil. He always gave back good. Always. A kind word. A smile. A helping hand. A good deed. He didn't fight and argue with those who disagreed with him. He exposed the world's hyprocrisy with his behavior. He demonstrated that his way, God's way, has value because of the way he lived.

Words are shallow folks. Actions speak louder.

So, enough of this stupid, made up "controversy", especially from the Christian side. Defending God and defending Jesus and "defending Christmas" is not the Christian mission. God and Jesus can defend themselves just fine, I think.

The Christian mission is about showing the world a better way, the way to God, that God is real, and that Jesus' sacrifice can save everyone. This is the true Christmas message. Things that get in the way of that are bad and should be avoided.

So, I'm not gonna bring this subject up again this year. I'm done. Peace and love to you, Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a Blessed Holiday Season.

By the way, do you all realize Jesus never celebrated Christmas?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I caught this fellow at the Sacramento Zoo, too. I believe I had his full attention.

Worked 10 hours overtime today. Did my part to help keep the expanding economy going! Don't tell me the US economy stinks. It just doesn't fly anymore.

My brother sent me a couple of jokes:

1. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.

2. Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.

3. A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'll serve you, but don't start anything."

4. Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted.

5. A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: "A beer please, and one for the road."

6. A dyslexic man walks into a bra....

7. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him (oh, man, this is so bad, it's good).....A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Now I'm kinda pooped.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I Hate Job Interviews

I hate job interviews! I always come out of them feeling like a complete idiot.

"Tell us about yourself, and why you want this job?"

Well, after I finished high school I didn't have any real job prospects, so I got into government work. After I stop drooling on myself, I'll see if I can blow enough smoke up your butts with a stupid reason that you'll believe.

I swear, Napoleon Dynamite himself probably has a better chance than I do at this point. Sheesh.

I mean, I'm sure I did OK. But, I haven't interviewed for a job in, like, 5 years, and before that it was 10 years, and I felt like a blathering idiot.

"Tell us about a racial or cultural conflict you've had with a co-worker, and what you did to resolve it?"

What conflict? I don't HAVE conflict at work. But how do I say that?

I'm so freakin' smooth that I don't HAVE conflicts at work. Conflicts are for little people.

"u huh."

What? Why are you all staring at me?

"Tell us about a project or suggestion you made that improved working conditions in your workplace, and how you went about implementing it."

Huh? Uhm.... jeez.... I dunno. We don't get the chance to really do much to improve our lot in my dungeon-hell.... uhm, I mean... workplace, sorry.

Uhm.... I write neat memos, you want to hear about those?

"No thanks."

Lordie, just shoot me now. At least it's over.

What? Hey! What, the...How did this picture get here?

I dunno anything about it! Someone's hacked my account!

Oh, and this, today, too.

More Scientific

You have:
The graph on the right represents your place in Intuition 2-Space. As you can see, you scored about average on emotional intuition and above average on scientific intuition.Keep in mind that very few people score high on both! In effect, you can compare your two intuition scores with each other to learn what kind of intuition you're best at. Your scientific intuition is stronger than your emotional intuition.

Your Emotional Intuition score is a measure of how well you understand people, especially their unspoken needs and sympathies. A high score score usually indicates social grace and persuasiveness. A low score usually means you're good at Quake.

Your Scientific Intuition score tells you how in tune you are with the world around you; how well you understand your physical and intellectual environment. People with high scores here are apt to succeed in business and, of course, the sciences.

Try my other test!
The 3 Variable Funny Test
It rules.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 33% on Scientific
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You scored higher than 16% on Interpersonal
Link: The 2-Variable Intuition Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Just a pic

I caught this fellow at the Sacramento Zoo last week.

He had been laying down, contentedly watching the crowd watching him, until one of the zoo-keepers walked by. Then he crouched up and stared at the zoo-keeper without ever breaking eye contact as long as that zoo-keeper was in front of the cage.

Was kinda eerie. I'm glad he wasn't staring at me. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 25, 2005

Finally, The Christmas Season has started.

It's official, duly noted by throngs of shoppers waiting in freezing temperatures, or rain, certainly all in the dark, at retailers across the country, for stores to open insanely early to accommodate Christmas bargain hunters. Most retailers here in the Sacramento area opened at 5am.

But never mind the pre-Thanksgiving Christmas decorations. Ignore the post Halloween glitter and Veteran's Day "Pre-holiday sales". They were all premature, efforts by the retail establishment to garner ever more of your hard earned dollar. The glitz of twinkling green, red, and white lights, mingling with the amber and orange hues of fall "harvest celebrations" are a misbegotten holiday-hybrid, turning the shopping masses schizophrenic as they mash their apples and pumpkins into pies, which sit heavy in their uncertain tummies, unsure if they are enjoying a post-harvest goodie, or a pre-Christmas taste of things to come.

The posing is over. The pretending is done. The dress rehearsals have finished.

Christmas truly starts today.

Christmas, with all it's glamour, glitz, and glowing, twinkling bobbles. The glitter of ice, the crunch of snow, or the chill of a foggy December morning, all brings, to us in the Northern Hemisphere, a forshadowing of, and hearkening back to, wonderful times.

The sight of a decorated Christmas tree germinates memories of childhood holidays.

Coming from a large family, I always enjoyed watching the pile of presents under the tree grow, day by day, as my parents added to it gifts they bought, right up until Christmas Eve. I would poke and paw and caress each present that had a nametag on it addressed to me, trying to discern the contents of the wrapping. Most often I was completely surprised on Christmas morning, no matter the depths and detail of my previous sleuthing.

As an adult, I see the same phenomenon in my own children's eyes. They see the packages coming into the home, and they just KNOW there's something in there for them. They carefully gauge the size of the bags, catalogue the shape and sounds it makes coming through the door, and mentally tick off possibilities from the list of things they've asked for. My x-wife and I changed my childhood tradition a little, and made a habit of hiding all the presents until Christmas eve, when, after the kids had all gone to bed, we'd bring out everything and place it all under the tree, to watch with wide-eyed looks on sleepy-eyed children as they behold what, in recent years anyway, had become a wonderful stack of joy for the little kids.

But the beauty and joy of Christmas isn't all in the commercial gift-giving. Obviously, that's a fun and enjoyable part, giving gifts and seeing the joy your gift imparts. But there were years when Christmas for my girls was quite slim. And bless them if they didn't seem to enjoy Christmas just as much during those years of want as they have have during our years of plenty.

The Christmas spirit, I've found, is indeed alive and well, and I want to encourage each everyone of you to experience it, enjoy it, and pass it on; love your neighbor as yourself; do to others as you'd have them do to you; smile and say a kind word, every chance you get.

As a Christian, I refuse to get bogged down in the petty arguments over the PCness of "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas". To me, it will always be "Merry Christmas", and no one can change my opinion. To the neighbor who wishes me "Happy Holidays" as their way of passing on good cheer, then thank you, and God Bless you for it! If Wal-Mart wants to wish me "Happy Holidays" as I pass through their doors, that's fine with me. I'm certain they won't throw me out for wishing "Merry Christmas to you" in return.

The good cheer and good grace is the important part.

So, to each of you as we Official Start The Christmas Season, I wish you Merry Christmas. I hope your holidays are warm and happy.

If you ever have a hard time finding your Christmas Cheer, remember, Christmas Cheer is one of those things you find only after you give it away to someone else.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Day

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner tonight, over at my kids' mom's house. My girls (from left), Lindsey, Cameron (holding their new baby brother), and Emily, all pitched in to cook a wonderful meal. Emily, my oldest, did the lion's share of the work, but man, did she do a good job.

Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, potato rolls, candied yams with marshmallows, green bean casserole with french onions on top, devilled eggs, and stuffing (tons of stuffing!) rounded out supper.

For dessert, 4 different types of pies; apple, peanut butter (yes, and you have to try it before you say anything! It's awesome), pumpkin, and lemon meringue.

Every last bit of it home made. Their mom even said she stayed out of the kitchen most of the day. Emily stepped up to the plate and, with a little help from her younger sisters, and hit a home run!

So, I hope all of you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving day. Remember, friends and family is what it's all about. Hug your kids. Hug your spouse. Kick the dog if he eats turkey off the table, but not real hard.

Drive safe, designate a driver, and arrive alive!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving, and A Look Back

Happy Thanksgiving to all you celebrating the holiday. It's a uniquely American holiday, this Thanksgiving we celebrate. Not that many other countries and cultures don't have their own thanksgiving days, but Thanksgiving Day, our Day, is uniquely American.

This coming from my brother (who is a baby-boomer), take a look at MSNBC's "Take 3", a look at the 60's, today baby-boomers (many in their 50's, like my brother, and closing in on 60), and what made that generation, today's leaders, who they are. A very interesting report.

God Bless Everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Playing Checkers

I need to be as vague as I can because this is a semi-public forum, and I never know who will read it.

I'm smitten. Honest. It's like a little, warm, fuzzy ball in my brain. I can't help it.

There's a checker at the grocery down the street who has just stolen my heart. Well, not really all of it, but enough that my little heart goes pitter- (not quite -patter, but just pitter-) when I see her working. I will wait in long lines to go through HER line.

She outrageously cute, with long dark hair, very dark eyes (just makes me melt), always smiling, always remembers me, and definitely talks to me in a way I'm certain is different from how she talks to all the other guys. No, really, she does.

(Ok, that last part made me laugh just writing it.... but I digress)

Since I have far to large a sense of propriety about these things, I shall quietly pine for her in my heart, and keep my quaint little fantasies to myself. I shall not cross the unwritten boundaries between customer and checker, for once crossed, such a line is never re-drawn, and the prospect of shopping elsewhere unacceptable, for that would be a shop where she is not.

I shall, however be a faithful customer, enduring the long lines, and dutifully redeem my 2-for-1 coupons with her, and her only, for as long as I shop.

I also bought a new celphone today. I dropped and finally busted my other one. So I wandered down to my trusty MetroPCS store and bought a Motorola V262. Sounds impressive, huh?

Well, it is to me. I've never had a "flip-phone". My phones have always been the mundane, trusty, boring old straight, flat phones.

Now I've got a sexy phone! Well, a little sexier, anyway. For me.

Funny, though, it doesn't DO anything better than my old phone. I've got a good camera, so I don't need a camera in my phone. It still has the same old people in my phone list (I was hoping for someone new). It's sure small though!

I know this: I'm gonna break this one a lot faster than the last.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

If I Die Before You Wake

My brother sent me this link. It's a power-point set to the song If I Die Before You Wake.

Grab some tissue.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Good Deeds, Good Day

I had an interesting day today, on three very different fronts.

First: my wife delivered a healthy baby boy.

Yes, my wife, since we're not actually divorced, but we've been separated for over 2 years. The boy's not mine, of course; her boyfriend of two years is the father. I'm very happy for them, and my daughters, who have a new baby brother.

I talked to my daughters, and they are just happy as bugs-in-a-rug over the whole thing. I even got a phone call from the father, to let me know everything went well, and the boy was healthy, and momma was doing well.

People ask me if I'm "OK" with it. I tell them, of course I am. We're married in paper only, and the father is a good man. Its an unconventional situation, but it works for us. The boy is an innocent new life in the world, and I wish them all only the very best. After all, he is my daughter's brother.

But, even though I'm OK with it... it's still just kinda odd, ya know? OK, but odd.

Second: One of my daughter's friends is being evicted from her apartment. I know she and her mom have been having a tough time of things, and being evicted is a tough thing. My friend's mom seems to have some issues (homelessness in the past, drug use, drinking, minor mental issues, etc), but she's a dedicated mom, and trying very hard to get on her feet and straighten out.

I got a call last night from my daughter's friend. She said hello to me, and after a moment of hemming and hawing, said it was difficult to ask, but did I have a credit card?

Yes, I said.

Seems she and her mom have been having a hard time renting a U-Haul truck. Obviously, without a credit card, U-Haul won't rent to you. The girl said all her mom's friends either didn't have a credit card, or had turned them down since they didn't know them well enough (read "trust" well enough). The girl had even called a few of HER friends' parents to ask. All turned them down. I got the feeling I was a very last resort. I really don't know the girl very well, and have never met her mother, either.

But, her voice. Man... how do you say "no" to that true, last ditch sound of desperation? So, I didn't. I said of course I'll help.

I got on the web and made reservations for a truck this evening, and called the mom back. Again, the sound of her voice when she found out someone was going to help convinced me I was really doing the right thing. Even if I never see the cost of the U-Haul in return (she said she'd pay for it, just had to get someone to reserve it for her), it's worth it.

I picked her up this evening and took her over to pick it up. She was very appreciative. She talked about how her boyfriend was in jail (a parolee on the run for over a year... sigh), and how things were tough, but she had just enough to pay for the truck and get moved tomorrow. Sigh. I wished her good luck.

Third: After I go the U-Haul for the lady, I went to the grocery store. I bought groceries and didn't even look at the price on the register. I just swiped my card, punched the ATM buttons, collected my groceries and the receipt, and left.

If you know me and money, you'd know.... that is downright out of character for me. I'm the type that adds prices up as I'm putting things in the cart, and I'm usually within a buck or two at the checkout. If I'm not, I dutifully check the receipt for errors, and will politely argue over a buck if I think I'm right.

But today I didn't even look, and as I was driving away from the store and realized I don't know how much I paid for the groceries, it just struck me as so freakin' odd! I just laid out a potential $100 for a complete stranger for a truck (I'm fully prepared to lose the money, in case she skips out on the bill) , and bought groceries without a care to how much they cost.

That's just not like me! It's a good thing, I think, but just not like me!

Anyway, a good birth, a good deed, and a good bill. I think I'll have supper and a beer, and enjoy my fire tonight.

Monday, November 07, 2005

From Fires to Friends

I lit the first log of the season in my fireplace tonight.

Sacramento isn't exactly known for it's freezing weather, and I feel almost guilty having a fire when it's 72 degrees in the apartment without even turning on the heater (I'm upstairs, so I think I benefit from the heat generated in the apartment below me, which is a showcase model so no one lives there, but it's always kept heated). But tonight is a cool evening, with the skies trying their best to rain, and a fire just seemed like a good idea.

I slept in late this morning, then got a call from a dear friend of mine. She's having some family and marital problems, and because of that, I've been keeping my distance. It's so uncomfortable to be around or visit a family where you just know there's all this strife simmering below the surface. I was her friend long before she met her husband, and I'm still her friend, but to be honest, I hadn't talked to her in several weeks, exactly because it's just so uncomfortable. This, by the way, is the dear friend I wrote to back on February 18th, here in my blog, on the eve of her marriage, with my concerns, most of which have sadly come true exactly as I predicted.

I also understand just how sensitive things get when the marriage is rocky, and I don't want to be an additional source of irritation (the "guy friend" that comes between the wife and her husband, that's just wrong). I remember back when I was struggling to keep my marriage together, my wife-at-the-time had a couple of male friends, and just the fact of the friendship used to drive me nuts. I don't want to be the one to inflict upon my friend's husband the kind of pain and frustration I felt.

But (and there's always a but, isn't' there?), my friend needs a friend, and I am that. Don't misunderstand, dear reader, there isn't and never was any intimate relationship between this woman and I. We talked about the possibility of such things long ago, and I made it clear that I'm not looking for that type of relationship. I don't want a girlfriend or significant other at this point, and she completely respects that. I just don't have the energy or desire to do what it would take to make the kind of relationship I eventually want to have.

So, she called and I met her and her daughter for lunch. We had a good talk (2-1/2 hours worth), and I felt that I let her vent as much as I could, without judging or say "I told you so" too many times. She left and took her daughter back home to continue her day.

I was struck by the similarities that occur in just about all broken marriages. The resentments. The anger. The depression and frustration. That sad resolve, realized when one comes to the point where the desire to stay is outweighed by the relief that will come by leaving.

I remember so vividly going through the exact same emotions. The strange thing now is, I can really see both sides of the relationship, and how they feed off each other, and until one or the other really steps back and is willing to take a step or two in the other person's shoes, nothing changes, and the downward spiral continues.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons I'm in no hurry to get into another relationship. Although I'm well past the emotional upheaval that comes with separations, I know in my heart I'm still healing; still a bit sensitive to some things. It has nothing to do with missing the marriage, because that was and always will be irretrievably broken. I guess I feel like I failed at something. Not everything in life can be conquered or fixed, and I sure gave my marriage the ol' college try (actually, to be fair, my x-wife did, too), and neither of us gave up easily. But, whatever I tried, it didn't work, and eventually, it failed.

I guess that's why I'm in no hurry to return to a relationship. I look forward with anticipation, one day, to meeting someone that will kindle in me the desire to put my energy into a relationship. I know she's out there, and God's timing will dictate when we bump into each other.

But right now I'm happy being a Dad. Truly happy.

I just wouldn't feel right giving anything less to my kids than all I have, especially right now. They are still so young, and need so much guidance.

My eldest is spreading her wings, working fulltime, and although my relationship is nowhere as close as I'd like it to be, I think she and I have developed a respect for each other - a genuine liking of who each other is. I think that is a good base to build a father/daughter relationship not as father/child, but as friends.

My other two are still in high school, and I think it would be a crime if I were to put time into a relationship when right now is one of the most important times in their lives that I be here for them. The time I've spent with them in the past two years since their mother and I broke up have paid off wonderfully. My relationship with them is very close, and again, we have a healthy respect for each other. I can't see doing anything to harm that.

So... it's a choice.

My friend asks me "I've worked so hard all my life, being a single mom, raising my daughter, working hard to make a life... when is it my time to trust someone, and let someone else do the heavy lifting?" An understandable question.

I tell her "You might never get that time."

There's no guarantee that any of us will ever get "our time". Life is what it is, and you have to make the very best of what you have; not constantly looking over the horizon, waiting for something better to come along. That leads to frustration and resentment at what you don't have.

Live life today.

Work hard for tomorrow, yes, but live life today.

Enjoy today.

Hug your kids today. If you don't have kids, hug you parents. Or a friend. Or a neighbor. You get the idea.

I find my Christian faith gives me a lot of comfort in this arena, too.

Matthew 6:27 could be my life's motto: "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not."

Then on down in Matthew 6:33-34, "Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."

Live today, love today, and enjoy today.

Which I will do in front of my fireplace, with my little guilt-free fire.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Mike Being Long Winded: Beware

My doctor said something to me the other day which got me to thinking.

When I was in the office on Monday, getting my BP medicine, he was explaining how high BP is really nothing more than a risk factor, and not something fatal in and of itself. He explained how some people live for years and years with very high BP and die happy and very, very old. He also pointed out that some otherwise very healthy people keel over at young ages, having shown no symptoms of any problems at all.

His point was not to make me worry, but to encourage me to just keep on truckin’, and do what I can to mitigate the risk factors that present themselves in my life. After all, he said, “biology doesn’t really care at this point whether you live or die. If you’ve procreated, and nested with your offspring, you’ve fulfilled your biological imperative. After that, it doesn’t matter to human biology if you die immediately or 50 years later.”

Wow. So what is this drive I have to live onward? I got to thinking about it, and the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that the drive to live on, well past the fulfillment of whatever it takes to ensure the survival of the species, is a uniquely human trait, which sets us apart from the rest of nature. Let me explain.

Think about all the species that live on our little planet. Insects, plants, animals…. all of them have one imperative: procreate with the express intent to ensure the survival of the species. Absolutely everything Mother Nature does is geared toward that purpose.

Every plant that lives does so with the sole purpose of flowering and seeding so that another plant can take its place when it dies. The vast majorities of plants wither and die in one season, after flowering and seeding. The next season, replacements sprout from the seeds to repeat the cycle and continue the species. They accomplish this is many different ways, but the biological mission is the same. Farmers remove plants that no longer flower or seed, because they no longer have a biological purpose. They do not produce fruit, from which come seeds, and therefore their purpose is over.

Humans place an esthetic value on plants, and they have uses beyond seeding, such as lumber for building and medicinal uses, and just plain beauty, but those are human values, not nature’s biological concerns. I love to look at a rose, and enjoy the scent, but those are by-products of the biological mechanisms the rose uses to procreate. The rose doesn’t care that it smells good or is pretty. In fact there is a flower which produces one of the most hideous aromas known to mankind, but it does so because that it the scent that attracts the insects which pollinate that flower. Humans would never have one of those flowers in their homes, but biology doesn’t care. The flower procreates, and fulfills the mission.

Insects are the same way. They exist, many of them for less than one day, to procreate. They hatch, grow, consume, and lay eggs, beginning the process anew. Most die soon after. The males of most spider species are killed immediately after fertilizing the female, their reproductive duty having been done. The females live on because they are the egg layers, and it is their job to lay as many eggs as possible to ensure the survival of the species. The female, egg-producing segment of any species is always the most numerous (humans included) because one male can usually fertilize several females (again, humans included, to the chagrin of many human females). There are always exceptions to the rule, such as bees, but their mission is the same: reproduce.

Even the animal kingdom; lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! Their existence is also driven by the biological mission of procreating. Think of your family dog or cat. Without population control (spay and neutering), the US would be overrun with dogs and cats. They give no thought to how many offspring is enough, or to how they will be cared for. They just do it because nature drives them too. We’ve all seen dogs and cats in heat: they lose their minds and become different creatures than the ones we’re used to, and the males go nuts over it, because biology drives them to. Its how they survived as a species, before human intervention.

With Mother Nature, it’s usually a numbers game: the more offspring, the better chance some will survive. Think rabbits. Think fish! Just about every non-predatory animal species survives by having large numbers of offspring, because they are always going to lose some population to predation. But not a single one of them does anything with their lives that does not contribute to the biological mission: procreate and ensure the survival of the species, unless humans intervene, such as the case with household dogs and cats.

Even predators, like lions or bears, seem to exist solely to fulfill this mission mandate. They don’t have large numbers of offspring, but they ensure survival differently: by raising and protecting their young until they are able to care for themselves. Then what happens? Do the new adult children hang around and become friends with mom and pop? Not usually. With few exceptions, the new adult males are usually run off from the family unit to start their own unit. Why? Continued existence of the species. They gather their own group of females and begin the process over. There is no other reason.

I’m convinced that every form of life on this planet exists with the sole mission to procreate and fulfill that biological mandate. Every form with one large, notable exception.


Humans, being a part of nature on this planet, do of course have a desire to pro-create. I’d be silly to say we don’t. We are, though, the only species that will take a perfectly healthy and viable unborn offspring, interrupting a perfectly normal pregnancy, and kill it before it’s born, for the sake of convenience. There is no other species on earth that does this. Not one.

Abortion is just not biologically good sense, so mother nature makes no provision for it. Miscarriages, of course, occur in all species, and some animals even eat their young (again, rabbits anyone?), but that is biology at work, not human desire. Not human choice.

Humans are truly unique on this planet. We operate by a different set of rules than the rest of nature. Everything nature does is to ensure the survival of the species. There is very little extraneous behaviour or activity in nature that doesn’t help achieve this goal.

We however, obsess on immortality, when the rest of nature has no inkling of the concept.

We dream of living forever, when most of nature doesn’t even give conscious thought to tomorrow.

We can live lives we consider fulfilling without ever accomplishing the biological mission that is so imperative for the rest of nature.

We can appreciate art, beauty, heroism, and love.

We detest horror, ugliness, tragedy, and hate.

Yet these are things the rest of the inhabitants of our planet do not care about, much less have a concept of.

Why is that? Why, if we are only biological organisms evolved from previous versions of our selves, do we even have an awareness of art? How does art contribute to the mission of procreation and survival of the species? It does not, therefore there should have never evolved a need or appreciation or even awareness of art.

What about heroism? To appreciate the concept of heroism means that we must place value on another person’s life. A hero is someone who has gone above the normal activities of human life, and done something that positively affects the live or lives of other humans, usually by placing themselves in direct danger to do so. How is it biologically efficient for one human to place their own life in danger to save that of another?

Biology would dictate that the would-be hero keep themselves safe so as not to risk two or more lives (think of a herd of elk running through a river: Elk don’t stop to help each other out, they are out for themselves, and will readily climb on top of another elk in order to save themselves). But humans don’t think that way, do we? We value other humans, and many, if not most of us, would willingly place ourselves in danger to help rescue another human. It’s not biologically sound, but it’s what we are driven to do.

How, if we are randomly evolved biological organisms, would anything like the appreciation of a sunset, or the enjoyment of music, or the indefinable, completely unexplainable and indescribable feeling of love, ever “evolve”? They serve no natural purpose, except to help us our enjoy life.

In order for one to enjoy something, there needs to be an awareness of the fact that the thing is finite. No one enjoys air. We breathe it because we must, and it is always there. We enjoy different aromas, or fresh unpolluted air, because it is what? A finite, fleeting experience. Like working in a coffee shop, eventually you stop “enjoying” the fresh smell of coffee all the time, because you become accustomed to it. The finiteness, the fleetingness of the experience is gone.

We humans experience, feel, think about, and do so many things that have absolutely nothing to do with the biological mission of procreation.

We foster friendships simply because we like being with certain people. Animals do not. They form relationships based on a societal hierarchy that has nothing to do with whether they like another animal or not.

We educate ourselves beyond the basic need for life, because of the desire to learn and explore. Animals do not do this at all. Animals do not go over the next hill just to see what’s there. They go over only if they are driven, looking for food or some other basic necessity. There is no curiosity.

Humans are set apart on this world. We are different.

In fact, the very foundation of our nation is contingent on this idea, that humans are set apart, “endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights”. In 1775, the King of England was all powerful in his domain. He granted rights and privileges, and delved out punishments, via the authority of the English throne. The US founders essentially went over the King’s head, appealing to the supreme authority, the Creator itself, and claimed that the inalienable rights, which we all hold so dear to our hearts and would never willingly recant, were granted not by the King, but by that same Creator from which the King derived his authority. Our founders claimed the Creator gave them the right and indeed the authority to stand among the worlds nations as equals, and that no one but the Creator had the authority to take that right away.

Interesting that we live in a nation whose very bedrock foundation is built, indeed is absolutely standing solely upon, the concept that we are created; and that there is indeed a god who grants us the rights we claim so dearly; and that we are indeed different and set apart. If these claims are not true, then there is no responsibility or appeal to a higher power, and the bedrock of our society is a false claim of authority. Without these claims being true, American law, indeed the Declaration of Independence and the very Constitution itself have absolutely no authority. Without an implied personal responsibility to, and a receipt of rights from a higher authority, our society would collapse.

And yet, we live in a nation desperately trying to kill off the concept of a creator, by those who insist that the complexity of human existence is the end result of random chance.

The more I look around at the simple evidence in nature and life, the more I am convinced that there is more to this life that meets the eye. There is so much evidence for a creator that it staggers the mind. I wish more people would open their minds and be willing to look at and honestly consider the evidence around them, then reason and judge for themselves, instead of driveling out what someone else tells them to believe.

This all, naturally, given as my ever humble opinion.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

DL Security

I get a lot of spam and jokes in my e-mail from friends. Most of the time I just chuckle at the jokes, but I rarely forward them. This was disturbing and I thought it was worth telling people about.

Here's the e-mail, I encourage you not to ignore it:

Protect Your Driver's License!
This is upsetting, thought I should pass it along. Check your drivers
license. Now you can see anyone's Driver's License on the Internet,
including your own! I just searched for mine and there it
was...picture and all! Thanks Homeland Security! Privacy, where is our
right to it? I definitely removed mine, I suggest you all do the
same.... Go to the web site and check it out. Just enter your name,
city and state to see if yours is on file. After your license comes on
the screen, click the box marked "Please Remove". This will remove it
from public viewing, but not from law enforcement Click here: Driver's
License Search


I have always refused to grow up. I tell my kids I'm probably the oldest teenager they know. I'm definitely their dad, but I sometimes feel not much older then they are. I enjoy some of the same music, the same TV shows, get along well with their friends. I find myself able to connect with teenagers, and not be shut out like an un-cool adult, ya know?

My mental image of myself doesn't fit the mental image I had of my parents when I was a teenager.

But I got a big wake-up call yesterday that there are some area of life where I need to begin acting my age.

I went to the doctor yesterday, to check on what I thought might be a minor ear infection. I get bouts of vertigo on a semi-regular basis, and I had a pretty good bout Saturday night into Sunday morning. Seeing as how I called in sick for work and had to get a doctor's note anyway, I went ahead and had my ears checked, because sometimes an infection is associated with my vertigo. Most usually not, but sometimes.

I walked out of the doctors office about an hour later, my ears just fine, but carrying a prescription for high-blood pressure medication.

Me? I can't have high blood-pressure.

I'm not that old!

What's that you say doc? I'm right at the age where high blood pressure begins to show itself? What the heck age is that? Middle aged?
But I'm not that old! I'm only 41!

Oh, wait... 41 is middle aged, isn't it? Sigh. I hate that.

My bp was 148/82, not exactly sky high. The doc wasn't really very concerned over it, and to be honest, neither am I. I feel the same today as I did yesterday, but... as the doc put it, it's a risk factor that I should watch and take care of since I'm aware of it.

The doc said they used to called my bp range "mild high blood-pressure" but they don't call it that anymore, because people seem to think anything with the name "mild" can't be important, and people wouldn't take it seriously. And they're right.

So... I guess I have to face up to the fact that I'm not actually a teenager anymore, dang it. I'm not gonna get suddenly old or anything, but I do need to acknowledge the truth, and start taking better care of myself. If not for myself, then for my kids, and grandkids I hope they give me one day.

Can you just see me, 80 years old, button down blue shirt, green shorts, white socks pulled up to my knees, and black hush-puppies?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

100,000 Miles

My Ford Focus turned 100,000 miles today. It sits in my parking lot at the moment with a grand 100,009 miles on it.

I know it's not that big of a milestone for some folks, but this is huge for me. My Focus is the first car I'd ever purchased brand spankin' new. I actually set out to take relatively good care of it, doing oil changes every five- or six-thousand miles (or so... you know how it is).

Certainly beats the 30,000 miles I let my old Tempo go without an oil change.

Did you know that changing the oil is absolutely essential to maintaing a car's engine? I did not know that!

I discovered that not changing the oil is a bad thing with that car. My father-in-law pulled the valve cover one afternoon (it was making strange clack-clack-clack noises and I didn't know why), only to discover I didn't have oil in my engine, so much as I had a thick tar that really didn't do much to lubricate anything. Needless to say, I learned a lot with that car.

I also learned a lot from my 1989 Ford Taurus that burnt to the tires in front of my daughter's elementary school back in 1996.

Did you know that power steering fluid is flammable? I did not know that!

My x-wife (we were still married at the time) comes home one afternoon, telling me the steering wheel was awfully hard to turn, and there was a lot of smoke coming from the engine. Hmmmm. I checked the power steering fluid, and sure enough it was low. So, naturally, I filled it up, which of course just added fuel to the fire when I went to pick up my daughters at school later.

I rolled up across the street from the school and parked. I noticed a small waft of smoke coming from my windshield defroster vent - INSIDE the car, so I got out, and noticed a small waft of smoke coming from under the engine hood. Silly me, I wanted to see what was going on, so I opened the hood.

Did you know that, if you have an engine fire, the LAST thing you want to do is open the hood? I did not know that!

So I opened the hood, and the small waft of smoke make a gigantic "whooooosh" sound, and became an inferno in about, oh... 5 seconds. To the amazement of parents and kids alike, my car burned down to the tires, passenger compartment and all, in the space of about 10 minutes. The fire department got there and put out the fire, leaving my now thoroughly baked car a blackened hulk of smoldering, twisted metal. It was really cool the way the tires exploded (all four of them), sounding like shotgun rounds. The fireman said I was really lucky that I'd just filled my gas tank before picking up the kids, because a full gas tank is less likely to EXPLODE than a less-than-full tank, because it's the fumes that explode, not the liquid.

I did not know that!

The kicker to the burning Taurus story is, I was in the process of taking out a new insurance policy with a different company, and the day the Taurus burned was THE last day it was covered under the current insurance policy. How's THAT for timing? I was amazed that the insurance company didn't bat an eye, just paid up. I think it was All-State. Good hands, ya know?

So, anyway, I'm proud of my little Focus. It's been a really good car. The only major thing I've had done is had the clutch replaced, and that goes out with normal wear and tear on most manual transmissions. Oh, and the starter had to replaced back at 36k miles. Other than that, it's been a sweet little ride that gets almost 27mpg around town!

I was thinking about trading it in for a mini-van back before Katrina hit, but I think I'll belay that. 27mpg in town, and about 38mpg on the highway is nothing to sneeze at now!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Trashing the 24-hour News Cycle

I think the 24-hour news cycle is about the worst thing American has ever done to itself. As a result of our never ending thirst for profit, a very smart man tapped a very deep vein of American voyerism and paranoia, and created CNN. I think the creation of CNN was one of the most cruel and mis-guided, if not truly destructive media events in the history of our nation, and quite possibly the world.

Ted Turner truly had a hand in transforming the world. The launch of CNN brought news from around the globe into our homes at all hours of every day. What CNN launched has been imitated and even surpassed by the likes of Foxnews, Skynews, and other news powerhouses around the world. Now, with very few exceptions, many of us welcome crime, disaster, war, politics, terrorism and devastation into our homes on a daily basis.

Very, VERY rarely are the good things in life invited into our homes. Very rarely are the heroic events of everyday life brought to the forefront on our evening news. It's sad to think that the lovely things of life aren't titillating enough to satisfy America's voyeuristic need to see pain and devastation.

Think about it! How many of us, myself included, were watching just a few weeks ago when the airplane with the broken nose wheel landed, live on CNN and Fox, at John Wayne airport here in California. We all cheered when the plane landed without incident, and said "good job" to the pilot, then turned back to whatever diversion was on before. But how many of us were secretly disappointed that the plane didn't burst into flames and wreak havoc at the airport? I'm sure we would have watched longer.

Today, I when I left work, I turned on the radio, and Mike Savage's show was on. I know a lot of people like his show, and that's fine. It's a personal taste thing. But he was just droning on and on about how sheepish the American people are, how Bush is doing the wrong thing, how America is being sold down the river by so and so...... it was just too much.

I turned the radio to The Fish, our local Christian music station, and just let my mind go.

I get so tired of the constant drone about how horrible things are, when outside my window the sun is shining, the weather is nice, and I've had a good day. I know bad things happen, but I'm refuse to allow myself to wallow in garbage I have absolutely nothing to do with. I have my own share of garbage and I'll deal with it, with the help of family and friends, just as people all around the world do.

I think the Apostle Paul had it right, in Philippians 4:8: " whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue in them, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Seems like good advice to me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Parental Pride

I've been working 55 and 60 hour work-weeks lately, so needless to say the blog kinda get short shrift. I could post each day "worked hard, long hours, very tired", but I think that would get... well.. tiresome... very quickly.

Ok, so my daughter Lindsey has a couple of friends over after school today. They are discussing book reports they wrote about the book "Native Son", the contents of which I have absolutely no inkling of. However, I gather from their conversation that the protagonist somehow murdered two women, and they are having a fairly deep conversation about whether or not the protagonist, based on his actions (murder, namely) can be considered "a fiend" or not.

Hmmm.... Murder in my book makes you a fiend, but the point I'm making here is, my daughter and her friends are actually discussing the ethical and moral implications involved in the story, and looking beyond mere circumstances to try to get a great understanding of the protagonists motives! Racial motives, childhood wounds, circumstances and emotional drive! What fun!

He IS a murdering fiend, but the discussion is wonderful! Who says kids don't get an education today. Some do, I'll attest to that. My children and their friends make me proud.

On the other end of the parental spectrum......

My dad and I went to lunch this afternoon, after my short shift of overtime at work, and had a wonderful conversation about his experiences with the Sacramento Society for the Blind. He's been teaching/mentoring at a live-in school designed to encourage more blind seniors to become mentors to other blind seniors.

I marvel at his transformation.

My dad is 79 years old. He's had glaucoma for years, since being diagnosed at about 40 years of age, and macular-degeneration as he's gotten older. About seven years ago, he had to quit driving, and face the fact that he is going to become completely blind.

He became, for a season, a very bitter, angry, depressed man who's life in retirement he was hoping for had been taken away and replaced by a handicap and darkness.

After my mom literally dragged him to a Blind Society meeting, where he discovered just how much assistance is available, and how much of life there was left to experience, he began learning and challenging himself. He attended a 10-day Senior Intensive Retreat (SIR) where he was introduced to cane-travel and the basics of living life blind.

For instance, how do you cross a busy street?
How do you grocery shop?
How do you order a meal in a restaurant, and figure out where the food is on your plate?
How do you find your way around a shopping mall, a coffee shop, or buy a pair of pants?

It was probably the best experience of his retirement. Now, this very old man walks miles, visits coffee shops, McDonald's, rides the bus to Arden Mall, and teaches other seniors how to do the same. He has turned his disability into a chance to do new things, meet new people, and influence lives for the better.

I love this man. He's been a wonderful dad, and I'm glad to have gotten to know him as well as I have.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Coupla headlines

While I was away camping, I did listen to my little transistor radio a bit.

Talkshows are all a twitter about Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court (yawn). She'll be confirmed or she won't. Partisan bickering in Washington will continue either way. Everyone just simmer down.

New Orleans is laying of city workers. Yeah? Is there anyone in the entire United States of America who is truly surprised at this? There is NO city government in New Orleans, really. There's the mayor, the cops, the firefighters, and the clean-up guys, that's about it, and very little tax revenue coming in to pay for any of it. So, who is surprised about layoffs? Sad? Yes. Shocked? Get a grip folks.

Oh, and here's a couple of more headlines from my, "Huh?" department.

From the "Shocked? Get a grip" file, Virginal Katie (Holmes) breaks vow, Tom's baby on way. Another Hollywood starlet renigs on her "vow" to be pure until her wedding. And, the strapping, older man (nearly father-figure) Cruise has no problem helping her break her vow. Yup, classy Hollywood folks once again prove they are the arbiter of personal respect, morals and ethics in America. If Tom Cruise were a real man, we'd have told Katie that he respected her vow, and would have done anything to help her keep it. Way to go, Hollywood. Way to go, Tom. Way to put that scientology stuff to work, bud.


And from the "What were they thinking" file, Scientists resurrect virus that killed 50 million. What? WHAAAT? We don't have enough flu viruses in the world to study, they had to go and resurrect one? GEEZ! Ok, so it was bird flu. You now have a connection between it and today's virus. IT KILLED 50 MILLION PEOPLE! Can you imagine the conversation that conjured this up?

"Hey, Joe, we've got this new bird flu thing that's threatening to become a pandemic, and I was thinking - that flu back in 1918 was pretty nasty, and I wonder if it is related to this flu today?"

"Good question, Jim. So what if it related?"

"Well, I'd like to cook up a batch of it, see if we can find out HOW it's related."

"Uh huh. And tell me, Jim, what would be the point of that?"

Blink. Blink.

"Just seems like a cool thing to do, Joe."

"I like your thinking, Jim. Run with that and tell me how it goes. Oh, by the way, stay far, far away from me for the rest of your life after you come out of that little containment center, mm-kay?"


That's my rant for the day. Peace.

I'm Baaaaaaaack

Oh, wow, Doran County Park in Sonoma County is really nice! It's on a spit of land about 2 miles long and maybe 200 yards at its widest, that makes up the southern side of Bodega Bay.

One side, the ocean side, is a 2-mile long fine-sand beach (perfect for sand castles) that is completely protected from the ocean surf, with just small waves washing up on shore. The rangers all made of point of saying it's perfect for kids, because there's almost no undertow, and it stays shallow for quite a ways out. These shots were taken the afternoon I arrived.

The other side is Bodega Bay and harbor. It's a lot shallower, more of a dredged estuary at low tide.

These two photos (they're not stitched, but they are side by side, and you can kinda tell how they should overlap) show the southern spit of land that comprises the park, taken from Bodega Head, on the north side of the bay. It's not much, but it's pretty neat.

The weather, as you can see, was just spectacular. Mornings were still and cool, but not cold. Breezes come up in the afternoon as the land heats up and the air rises, drawing in the ocean air, and can get quite chilly, but it was just lovely.

My little tent withstood the winds OK, with just a little bit of re-enforcement needed.

The day I left there was a really high tide, higher than usual I think. The difference in the bay was just amazing.

Seeing as how the sun sets early this time of year, I usually sat up with a fire till about 9:30 or 10pm, then read a book in my tent for a while. I slept in till about 9:30am both mornings, getting up to make a nice cup of hot coffee, then relax and listen to the waves and the seagulls flitting everywhere. It was a nice trip, and I must say, I feel much, much better.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Well, it's happened. I hit the end of my rope. I'm frazzled. I'm frayed. Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

So, I hear the call of the ocean and the roar of the waves, and I'm going to go visit them for a few days. I'm gonna try a new spot, Doran County Park, just south of Bodega Bay. Photos look pretty neat, they have showers, and the campsites look like they right next to the beach.

Hola, ciao, see ya'll in a few days.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Reading Is Fundamental

Ok, so there's times I just don't even feel like writing, or messing with the computer.

Sometimes I feel like I'm way too entwined in the electronic world. I work with computers every work day, 10 hours-a-day. I come home and sit at the computer and look at blogs and web-pages of interest to me. I scan the news on Google, and check my mail. I respond to a few things. Then I look at a few more webpages. When I'm done, I watch some TV.


Before I know it, I've wasted.... yes, wasted.... 2-3 hours sitting in front of the computer screen! What am I doing?? I sit in front of computer screens for a living!! Then, I watch TV! Why the heck am I giving this much time to it at home?

TV is also pretty much a waste. I am so burned out on politics and disaster coverage. I don't even want to watch Fox News, or O'Reilly, or any of those shows that I usually really like. It's all so predictable. Democrats complain about Republicans. The poor are downtrodden. Blacks are disenfranchised (what the heck does that mean, anyway?). Bush is evil (WTF? I wanna smack the next person who says that - that's one of the single stupidest things I've ever heard. I've you've ever actually uttered the words "Bush is evil", then you're a crowd-following lemming, and an idiot.) .

I think I've about spent the little emotional reserve I keep. I think I need to get out and unwind.

TV entertainment programming is just as bad. Yes, including Desperate Housewives, cause I know there are folks who just LOVE that show. I don't think much of a show about bored, selfish, shallow, neglected wives who all happen to look like models and think there's nothing wrong with infidelity, crudeness and seducing the pool boy. Just not my idea of quality TV. In fact, the show has no admirable qualities at all unless your life is so shallow that you get off reveling in the sheer decadence of the show.

I know there are those that disagree with me. You are entitled to be wrong.

(Ok, one caveat - Battlestar Galactica and SG-1 are NOT wastes of time. They are my rechargers, my escapes and my relaxation. Not to mention BSG just kicks butt!)

But, I stray from my point. I'm kinda burned out on the big issues. So, I've been doing a lot of escapist reading lately. Peter Hamilton's space-opera-saga called The Dark Night trilogy. I'm on book 5 of 6. He originally wrote them as 3 large, nearly 1000 pages each, novels that have been broken down into 6, more manageable 500+ page novels. Of course, 6 novels costs more than 3, so there's probably a financial incentive.

But anyway...

This is what's going on right now. I'm just kinda mind-burned on the big stuff. This will probably last a week or so until something else just burns me up and I have to spout off.

Until then, read a book!

Feel free to roll your eyes at my ever-so-humble opinions.

Or flip me off.