15. July 2009 · Comments Off on Life is Good…. · Categories: Domestic, General

It’s 3pm on a weekday afternoon, a balmy 85-ish Farenheit here in the Hotlanta area, and as I sit here attending a webinar on my computer, I’m watching the birds exploring my back yard, and the dogs sleeping beside my chair.

I love being able to work from home, for the most part, and even though it’s a little muggy out here on the back porch, it’s not often I can indulge myself this way. It just happens that I’m attending today, instead of facilitating, so I don’t have to worry about extraneous noise going out over the audio channel.

Yeah, I have to listen to the sound of a neighbor’s lawn mower or weed-eater, but that *just* kicked in – for the most part, it’s been very quiet out here this afternoon.

Every now and again, a juvenile ruby-throat hummingbird will visit my feeder – it brightens my heart every time he shows up. In my 8 years in Georgia, this is the first time a hummer has deigned to accept my sugar-water. Unfortunately, the pictures I’ve taken are poor-quality – I’m taking them from the back porch, through the screen.


Earlier this summer, I got to watch the young bluebirds leave their house for the first time – the other day, I got to watch a couple young bluebirds thoroughly enjoying my home-made birdbath. I stacked several terra-cotta flowerpots upside down on each other, and glued a saucer to the top of it. The bluebirds were DELIGHTED. Again, that’s not something it’s been my pleasure to see before.


Not a day goes by that I don’t think of the previous owners of my house, and silently thank them for the screened-in back porch (complete with ceiling fan). I spend a couple hours out here each morning, with my coffee and either a book or a notepad. Friends who are accustomed to only receiving emails from me have been astounded to find hand-written letters in their snail-mailboxes.

Most of the letters have been long and involved, detailed descriptions of the changes I’ve made to my yard since buying this house in February. I’ve been living here for almost 2 years now, on a lease-purchase agreement, so I’ve had plenty of time to plan yard changes.

Since late March, I’ve planted 10 trees (8 are still doing very well), probably two dozen shrubs of various types, and uncounted seeds. My little Mantis Tiller and I have created a “wildlife garden” that is around 1000 sq ft in size. I’m trying to plant things there that will appeal to our native birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, and other critters. The butterflies haven’t shown much interest yet, but the birds seem to be loving it.

I had a Bradford Pear next to the house when I moved in – it was near the end of its lifespan in fall 2007, and gave up the ghost about 3 weeks ago. So for now, I’ve scattered sunflower seeds where it used to stand, and I’ll give myself until fall to decide on a replacement for it.

My focus is on native, non-invasive plants, that will look nice for the neighbors, and provide homes/food/shelter for the local critters. I have red-bellied woodpeckers living in the sweetgum tree in my backyard, cooper and red-shoulder hawks in the vicinity, and last spring I saw a pileated woodpecker in the trees behind my back fence.

My lot is just under an acre, mostly lawn, but there’s a bit at the back behind the fence that is still the original woodlands. I have 2 neighbors who share that wooded section, and we all do our best to just leave it alone, and let it be the critter-haven that it needs to be. Critters have a hard time in today’s urban environment — I’m delighted to share my little bit of Georgia with them.

I’m watching it rain, now – the hard, fast thunderstorms of a humid summer afternoon. And as I sit here looking for a gracefull summation of this stream of consciousness post, a way to tie the thoughts together in a coherent ending, all that comes to mind is a Louie Armstrong song:

“And I think to myself… .what a wonderful world.”

Indeed it is, Satchmo, indeed it is.

04. July 2009 · Comments Off on Resolved… · Categories: Domestic, General, History

…That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances. That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

The above resolution was unanimously passed in Congresss on July 2, 1776. On July 4, 1776, the following men pledged “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” to accomplish the resolution they approved on the 2nd. Remember them today, in the midst of your barbecues, car races, and family reunions. Remember their courage, and be grateful for the wonderful gift they gave to us, 233 years ago.

* Roger Sherman
* Samuel Huntington
* William Williams
* Oliver Wolcott

* Caesar Rodney
* George Read
* Thomas McKean

* Button Gwinnett
* Lyman Hall
* George Walton

* Samuel Chase
* William Paca
* Thomas Stone
* Charles Carroll of Carrollton

* John Hancock
* Samual Adams
* John Adams
* Robert Treat Paine
* Elbridge Gerry

New Hampshire
* Josiah Bartlett
* William Whipple
* Matthew Thornton

New Jersey
* Richard Stockton
* John Witherspoon
* Francis Hopkinson
* John Hart
* Abraham Clark

New York
* William Floyd
* Philip Livingston
* Francis Lewis
* Lewis Morris

North Carolina
* William Hooper
* Joseph Hewes
* John Penn

* Robert Morris
* Benjamin Rush
* Benjamin Franklin
* John Morton
* George Clymer
* James Smith
* George Taylor
* James Wilson
* George Ross

Rhode Island

* Stephen Hopkins
* William Ellery

South Carolina
* Edward Rutledge
* Thomas Heyward, Jr.
* Thomas Lynch, Jr.
* Arthur Middleton

* George Wythe
* Richard Henry Lee
* Thomas Jefferson
* Benjamin Harrison
* Thomas Nelson, Jr.
* Francis Lightfoot Lee
* Carter Braxton

14. June 2009 · Comments Off on June 14 – Flag Day · Categories: General

And leave it to a Marine to say it best.

I Am Old Glory

I Am Old Glory:
For more than ten score years I have been the banner of hope and freedom for generation after generation of Americans.
Born amid the first flames of America’s fight for freedom, I am the symbol of a country that has grown from a little group of thirteen colonies to a united nation of fifty sovereign states.
Planted firmly on the high pinnacle of American Faith my gently fluttering folds have proved an inspiration to untold millions.
Men have followed me into battle with unwavering courage.
They have looked upon me as a symbol of national unity.
They have prayed that they and their fellow citizens might continue to enjoy the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, which have been granted to every American as the heritage of free men.
So long as men love liberty more than life itself; so long as they treasure the priceless privileges bought with the blood of our forefathers; so long as the principles of truth, justice and charity for all remain deeply rooted in human hearts, I shall continue to be the enduring banner of the United States of America.

Originally written by Master Sergeant Percy Webb, USMC.

copied from usflag.org

23. May 2009 · Comments Off on Movies & Memories · Categories: General, History, Memoir, Military

TCM is showing war movies all weekend – right now is one of my favorites: “Battleground” about the Battle of the Bulge. As I sit here watching the 101st spend winter in Belgium, surrounded by Germans, with the fog keeping them from seeing much of anything, I remembered my own trip to Bastogne – not my first, but the one that meant the most to me.

It was November, 1988. I forget the exact date: either the 10th or 11th, a Thursday or a Friday. I know that I had graduated from NCO Leadership School the day before, at Lindsey Air Station in Wiesbaden. This was my travel day to drive back Florennes Air Base, where I had 60 days left on my tour, and I thought Bastogne was an appropriate place to visit at that particular time of year.

I didn’t pay much attention to WWII history before I was stationed in Belgium. In my high school history classes, we rarely got past the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt, if we got that far. I had heard of the Battle of the Bulge, but had no idea what it was, why it mattered, or where it was fought. Then I spent a year in Florennes, not far from the Ardennes Forest, maybe a 90 minute drive from Bastogne.

I learned about WWII history, that year. It was all around me, in my face no matter where I turned. Then one late-summer day, some friends & I stopped in Bastogne on our way to Luxembourg, and I learned about America. About determination, steadfastness, and courage. About a single word answer that an American General gave to a German emissary, when invited to surrender. My hazy memory is telling me that my friends climbed on the tank in the village square, and we took their pictures (I didn’t, but only because I have acrophobia, and it was too high off the ground for me).

But that’s not the trip I was reminded of when I saw the fog surrounding the men in the movie. It was the Veterans’ Day trip. The trip with snow on the ground, with fog. And a deep silence, which is why I think it was the 10th, not the 11th. I cannot imagine that the Bastogne Memorial would be empty and silent on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of any year.

I walked silently on that hallowed ground, thinking about the soldiers who had bled & died there. That day’s fog was their shroud, and seemed to also be a time-machine. I stood on one side of the road, and all I saw on the other side were the ghostly shadows of trees poking through the fog. I could almost see the frozen, exhausted, out-numbered GI Joes, mostly hidden by the fog, dodging from tree to tree, ducking & covering, with the weather as deadly an enemy as the Germans.

I said a prayer for them, those who fought and died, and those who fought & survived to fight again elsewhere, before I got back in my truck and headed towards home.

I pray for them again this weekend, a weekend that will be spent remembering them and all like them, and honoring their sacrifices.

30. April 2009 · Comments Off on Greeting Cards You Wish You Could Find at the Store… · Categories: General

1. I always wanted to have someone to hold, someone to love. And now that you’ve come into my life…
(Inside card) – I’ve changed my mind.

2. I must admit, you brought religion into my life…
(Inside card) – I never believed in hell until I met you.

3. As the days go by, I think how lucky I am….
(Inside card) – That you’re not here to ruin it for me.

4. Congratulations on your promotion. Before you go….
(Inside card) – Will you take the knife from my back?
You’ll probably need it again.

5. When we were together, you said you’d die for me…
(Inside card) – Now we’ve broken up, I think it’s time to keep your promise.

6. We’ve been friends for a very long time…
(Inside card) – What do you say we stop?

7. I’m so miserable without you…
(Inside card) – It’s almost like you’re still here.

8. Congratulations on your new bundle of joy….
(Inside card) – Did you ever find out who the father was?

9. You are such a good friend. If we were on a sinking ship and there was only one life jacket…
(Inside card) – I’d miss you terribly and think of you often.

10. Happy Birthday, Inside card ” Uncle Dad! ”

11. Looking back over the years we’ve been together, I can’t help but wonder…
(Inside card) – What was I thinking?

12. Congratulations on your wedding day!…
(Inside card) – Too bad no one likes your husband

12. April 2009 · Comments Off on He is Risen! · Categories: General

Matthew 28:1-7 (New International Version)

The Resurrection
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

05. April 2009 · Comments Off on My Burning Question of the Day — May 5, 2009 · Categories: General

How is it that the narrator of an audiobook can CORRECTLY PRONOUNCE INCHOATE and BADINAGE, yet cannot pronounce Rafe (raff), neural (neutral), and a host of other simple words that currently escape me? To make it worse, she is the only narrator of the unabridged audio version of Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta Series, which means I have 3.5 more books to suffer through.

She’s still better than Meredith MacRae, but that’s not saying much.

18. March 2009 · Comments Off on Which Girl Scout Cookie Are You? · Categories: General

You Are Peanut Butter Sandwiches / Do-si-dos

You are easy going and naturally happy. You don’t need a lot to make you smile.
You genuinely care about people and are a great friend. You’re always doing your best to make the world a better place.

Even though there isn’t an immature bone in your body, you still are like a big kid sometimes.
Why make life complicated when the best parts are actually quite simple? You enjoy the small joys of life.

12. March 2009 · Comments Off on How Sweet Potatos Can Ruin Your Day…. · Categories: General

You *have* to read this. It’s the funniest thing I’ve read in awhile.

Teaser excerpt:

Dog: I am starving.
Me: Actually, no. You aren’t starving. You get two very good meals a day. And treats. And Best Beloved fed you extra food while I was gone.
Me: I saw you get fed not four hours ago! You are not starving.
Dog: Pity me, a sad and tragic creature, for I can barely walk, I am so starving. WOE.
Me: I am now ignoring you.
Dog: Did you hear me? I am starving.
Dog: Are you seriously ignoring me? Fine.

[There is a pause, during which the dog exits the room in a pointed manner.]

[From the kitchen, there comes a noise like someone is eating a baseball bat.]

Me, yelling: What the hell are you doing?
Me: *makes haste for the kitchen and finds dog there*
Dog: *picks up entire raw sweet potato, which is what was causing the baseball bat noise, and flees for the bedroom*
Me: *chases dog, retrieves most of sweet potato, less the portion which has disappeared into dog’s gullet*

I kid you not. GO READ IT ALL. You will laugh yourself sick.

01. March 2009 · Comments Off on Godspeed, Paul Harvey. R.I.P. · Categories: General


Paul Harvey, the news commentator and talk-radio pioneer whose staccato style made him one of the nation’s most familiar voices, died Saturday in Arizona. He was 90.

Harvey died surrounded by family at a hospital in Phoenix, where he had a winter home, said Louis Adams, a spokesman for ABC Radio Networks, where Harvey worked for more than 50 years. No cause of death was immediately available.

“Paul Harvey was one of the most gifted and beloved broadcasters in our nation’s history,” Jim Robinson, president of ABC Radio Networks said in a statement. “We will miss our dear friend tremendously and are grateful for the many years we were so fortunate to have known him.”

Harvey had been forced off the air for several months in 2001 because of a virus that weakened a vocal cord. But he returned to work in Chicago and was still active as he passed his 90th birthday. His death comes less than a year after that of his wife and longtime producer, Lynne.

He was a staple in the radio of my youth. I will miss his gentle humor, and his stories. Farewell, sir, and thank you for 50 wonderful years.

14. February 2009 · Comments Off on Happy Valentine’s Day! · Categories: General

I don’t celebrate it personally, but in case you’re one who likes hearts & flowers, here’s a heart for you, courtesy of NASA. 🙂

heart nebula

update: for some reason, it’s showing up sideways. Sorry about that.

14. February 2009 · Comments Off on What GS cookie are you? · Categories: General

Hey – that’s one of my faves 🙂

You Are Peanut Butter Sandwiches / Do-si-dos

You are easy going and naturally happy. You don’t need a lot to make you smile.
You genuinely care about people and are a great friend. You’re always doing your best to make the world a better place.

Even though there isn’t an immature bone in your body, you still are like a big kid sometimes.
Why make life complicated when the best parts are actually quite simple? You enjoy the small joys of life.

h/t: Blonde Sagacity

13. February 2009 · Comments Off on Here come the personal bail-outs · Categories: General

Not really. But I don’t know what else to call it. The end of accountability? The end of personal responsibility for choices? The beginning of the end of capitalism? Or maybe it’s just plain old greed, and the thought of getting something for nothing.

news article

This might be old news, but it’s the first I’ve seen of it, so it’s news to me. It seems that a Florida jury has decided that a man who chain-smoked for 40 years was helplessly addicted to nicotine, and therefore Philip Morris is responsible for his death. Now they get to decide how much Philip Morris should give the grieving widow.

The article says he was 55 years old when he died in 1997. So he started smoking at 15, in or around 1957. By 1966, when warning labels appeared on all cigarette packages, he’d been smoking almost 10 years then, so I’ll cut him a little bit of slack. That was plenty of time to get addicted to nictoine, and I don’t know what kind of information was available then regarding the dangers of smoking.

So yes, the tobacco companies bear some responsibility in all this. But the ultimate responsibility rests with the human being who made a choice to smoke, and continued to choose to smoke even as medical evidence mounted that it was an unsafe practice. According to the article, he tried to quit on numerous occasions, but kept going back to smoking. Addictions will do that to you, and he was, indeed, addicted. But the original culpability belongs to him, not to Philip Morris. Philip Morris did not come along, tie him to a chair, and force-feed him cigarettes.

What’s next? Can alcoholics who die from the ravages of their disease sue the liquor/beer companies? What about morbidly obese folks who die from complications of being overweight? How about this one – can I sue the credit card companies because they kept increasing my credit limit and so I kept spending their money?

At what point does personal responsibility enter into this? Or have we as a nation moved away from the concepts of being responsible for our own actions, and moved into the concept of doing/saying whatever will give me the most free stuff, especially if it’s coming from a greedy blood-sucking corporation that is only out to advance its own agenda on the backs of the poor uneducated masses (in other words, any company that wants to make a profit). What will happen when they bankrupt the tobacco companies and all the folks who are currently addicted to nicotine can no longer get their cigarettes?

I should probably add that I am not a smoker. In fact, I am almost allergic to cigarette smoke, and hate the smell of cigarette smoke or stale cigarette smoke. That said, I firmly believe that as long as something is legal, then companies have a right to provide it, and people have a right to indulge in it. Cigarettes are legal, and it’s well-known that they are addicting. I don’t know when we first realized they were addicting, but it seems to me that anyone who started smoking after that became common knowledge has no grounds to sue any tobacco company.

21. January 2009 · Comments Off on Inaugural Speeches on Audible.com · Categories: General

For those of you who like audiobooks, you can currently get free downloads of inaugural speeches on Audible.com. You probably have to be an Audible member, but if you are, they have 14 speeches available, and go back as far as FDR’s 1933 inauguration.

They also have the complete 1/20/09 inauguration (with all speakers), and you can get the whole shebang in one download if you prefer to not download each speech individually.

The speeches they’ve chosen – FDR (1933)/JFK/LBJ/Nixon (1973)/Carter/Ford/Reagan (1981)/all 3 Bush/Clinton (1993)/Obama/Eisenhower/Truman

I’m not a political junkie, but I like *free,* so I downloaded them to listen to sometime. They’re all a part of my history, after all (well, my country’s history. FDR was before my time).

21. January 2009 · Comments Off on 19,232 People · Categories: General

have sent a thank-you message to former President Bush. In briefly browsing the messages, I saw comments from Holland, Canada, France, NZ, Australia, as well as the USA. Some were from folks who totally disagreed with President Bush’s policies, including his Iraq decisions, but they still thanked him for his service.

You can, too

h/t Baldilocks

31. December 2008 · Comments Off on Grandma 1, Naked Intruder, 0 · Categories: General


Seems a naked intruder thought to victimize an 88yr old lady. But she found something on him to grab hold of, and squeezed with all her might. He found out that 88 doesn’t mean frail. The intruder fled, but was captured by police.

I have to say, I’m surprised she found anything to grab hold of – if you’re going after an 88yr old woman, you can’t be very much of a man.

26. December 2008 · Comments Off on Farewell, Eartha Kitt · Categories: General


Sultry `Santa Baby’ singer Eartha Kitt dies at 81
By POLLY ANDERSON – 1 hour ago

NEW YORK (AP) — Eartha Kitt, the self-proclaimed “sex kitten” whose sultry voice and catlike purr attracted fans even as she neared 80, has died. The singer, dancer and actress was 81.

Family spokesman Andrew Freedman said Kitt, who was recently treated at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, died Thursday in Connecticut of colon cancer.

Dubbed the “most exciting woman in the world” by Orson Welles, Kitt’s career spanned six decades, from her start as a dancer with the famed Katherine Dunham troupe to cabarets and acting and singing on stage, in movies and on television.

She won two Emmys, and was also nominated for several Tonys and two Grammys.

To steal a line from Steve Martin, she was born a poor black child – mixed race, actually – in South Carolina, and became a legend. Rest in peace, Eartha Mae.

25. December 2008 · Comments Off on Christmases Past · Categories: General

Mom was always an early riser – I think she was incapable of sleeping beyond 5am on most mornings. Christmas was no exception. We kids would try to stay up late the night before, but she would chase us to bed, and threaten to cancel Christmas if she found us out of bed or on the staircase. Family tradition was to not put presents under the tree until after the kids were in bed, to keep the illusion that it was Santa bringing them. We could put gifts we’d bought or made for each other under there earlier, but that was all.

Christmas eve was Mom’s big cooking/baking day (on top of all the baking she’d been doing since Thanksgiving.. several 25lb flour tins filled to the brim with different types of cookies, assorted pies lining the back of the counter, stacked 2-3 high on makeshift shelves). So on Christmas Eve morning, we’d get to open our stockings. The big treat (to me) was the little box of cereal – we even got to eat it out of the box instead of having to use a bowl. There was always some type of toy in the stocking, as well. We would then amuse ourselves in the livingroom or the basement, while Mom cooked and baked.

Christmas day, she’d wake us up, and we’d go tearing downstairs to make sure that Santa had really come. The presents would be overflowing the space under the tree. But the rule was that Dad hands out the gifts – no mad rush to the tree like you see in so many tv shows and movies. Dad, of course, was still in bed, sound asleep (or so he pretended). So we would carry him a cup of coffee, stepping oh-so-carefully as we navigated the staircase to the 2nd floor. Knock on the bedroom door, tiptoe inside, set the coffee cup on the nightstand next to the bed.

“Wake up, Dad! It’s Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas, Dad!”

No response.

Timidly touching him on the shoulder, trying to shake him. “Daddy, Santa came! Come and see the presents!”

Mumble, mumble, roll over.

“Mom! He won’t wake up!”

It was his annual game, although deadly serious to us. He HAD to wake up – it was Christmas! The game went on forever, although that probably means about five minutes in real-time. Then he would wake up, and Mom would chase us out of the room so he could drink his coffee and get dressed.

When he came downstairs, we were all near the tree, excited and expectant. Still in our pajamas, heads uncombed, ready for Christmas joy. He would take one package at a time from under the tree, and read the name on it out loud, handing it to the appropriate recipient. He did his best to rotate it so that we each got one at a time, but that depended on how they were stacked under the tree.

Later there would be a dining table almost groaning under the weight of the food Mom placed on it, and maybe visits to or from our cousins, but it’s the Christmas mornings that I remember best, with Dad pretending to sleep while we grew increasingly agitated, needing him to come downstairs so Christmas could begin.

Those Christmas mornings are 30+ years behind me, but they live fresh in my memory, and in my heart. Here’s hoping that you and yours are making memories today that will last as long, and that you are also finding comfort in the memories of Christmases past.

Merry Christmas!

24. December 2008 · Comments Off on It’s Christmas-time… · Categories: General

I don’t know how it snuck up on me. I’m sure it’s somehow related to the constant rotation of the earth, and its journey through space around the sun. Be that as it may, it’s suddenly Christmas. And I’m not ready for it to be.

Yes, I’ve sent out some cards (did that last Saturday, in fact), but I have several left to send. Yes, I bought (and delivered) some gifts. But I still find myself surprised to realize that it is now, this very moment, Christmas Eve, and that tomorrow is Christmas Day (and my youngest dog’s fourth birthday).

It can’t be Christmas already – I’ve not baked my spritz cookies, or made my mom’s cinnamon rolls, or thawed the turkey breast. Oh, wait – I don’t need to thaw the turkey breast – I’ve been invited to a friend’s house for Christmas dinner. I’ve not watched “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”

And yet, thanks to the inexorable turning of time, it’s Christmas, whether I’m ready for it to arrive or not. And I find myself periodically shifting between a “bah, humbug!” attitude (this is, after all, the first Christmas that I won’t be able to call my dad and brighten his day by singing “Merry Christmas” to him), and a humble gratitude that the seasons turn regardless, and that Christmas comes again every year, no matter what our circumstances may be.

I’m missing my dad, and I know I’m not the only person who will be facing their first Christmas since the loss of a loved one. And I’m not the only person spending the holiday miles away from any family members. In my case, it’s by choice – for others it may be due to the vagaries of weather, or the call of duty.

It can be a bittersweet day, or even a bitter day, if I let it. But I learned a long time ago, while in the Air Force, that *I* determine how my day will be, and that even a Christmas that should by rights be a sad time can be a glad time instead, if I choose that option.

So yes, I will lift a glass to my dad tonight or tomorrow, toasting his memory and acknowledging my loss. And I will say a prayer for all those who are dealing with loss at this time. But that will only be a portion of my day. The majority of it will be spent celebrating the joy of friendships and family, strengthening the ties that bind (and sometimes gag), watching my youngest dog chase his new ball around the back yard (he didn’t get the memo about how greyhounds don’t play). And I will join my friends for dinner, and be thankful that I have friends who open their hearts and their homes to those who are alone, even if they are alone by choice, as I am.

I will also spend some time remembering those who are alone this holiday season, by choice and by duty. Those who have chosen to serve their country by serving in her armed forces, and are spending this holiday scattered around the globe. I will lift a glass to them as well, and pray that it will be a day of peace for them, no matter where they are stationed.

14. December 2008 · Comments Off on The current burning question in my life… · Categories: General

Background: My birthday gift to myself this year (yesterday was my 48th b-day), was a handgun safety and familiarization course at a local range. Class lasted four hours yesterday afternoon/evening, and I had so much fun that after class, I bought another box of ammo and went back into the range to play some more.

Today, I went back over for another hour of practice, hoping to try a different gun that someone else had been using yesterday (yesterday I used a Ruger SP101 revolver. Today, I used their GP100). I did alright yesterday, for a first-time shooter, but today, with the GP100, I almost demolished the center ring.

So here’s my burning question:

I told a couple friends about today, because I was so happy with my marksmanship, and it was so much fun for me. Each friend, when they heard I’d spent an hour at the range, and shot 200 rounds of ammo, said something along the lines of “Wow, taking out your frustrations, eh?”

**confused look**

Why do they automatically assume I was stressed/frustrated/angry? (one did mention anger) Can they not comprehend someone simply enjoying shooting?

07. December 2008 · Comments Off on “Air raid – Pearl Harbor. This is no drill.” · Categories: General, History

A peaceful Hawaiin Sunday morning. A world at semi-peace — there *was* war in Europe, after all, but the US was thus far mostly untouched by it.

All of that changed in an instant. The sound of airplanes, the whistling of bombs dropping from the sky, the destruction and carnage to battleships and airfields that was intended to decimate our Pacific presence, and instead awakened a sleeping giant.

You can see photos of the attack here, but we don’t really need photos to remember.

If you’re ever on Oahu, make sure and give yourself time to visit the museum, and the Arizona memorial. It’s time well spent. And make time today to remember those who died 67 years ago today, when a peaceful Sunday morning was torn apart by the machines of war.

Update: You can read eyewitness accounts here

10. November 2008 · Comments Off on Semper Fi, Dad – I’ll miss you. · Categories: General

William E. “Bill” Young
Nov 16, 1930 – Nov 10, 2008

dad and me

As long as I can remember, he was there. If not physically, then in spirit. My daddy. The big strong tough man who could do anything, fix anything, without even having to look up how to do it.

With him, I wasn’t afraid to ride the ferris wheel at the county fair. My daddy wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me. He loved me.

He wasn’t one for saying it, but I knew he did.

Son of a migrant farmer/coal miner, Marine Infantryman in the Korean Conflict (Frozen Chosin, et al), cement contractor, truck driver, dad, grandpa, husband, great-grandpa. He wasn’t perfect, but he was MINE, and he loved me.

In 1976, he had a stroke, and we would have lost him then, except that the stroke happened as he was on the operating table to have an aneurysm repaired, so the surgeon was able to contain it quickly.

I’ve always said that the remaining years with him were “gravy time.” Time we shouldn’t have had, but through the grace of God, we did.

I’m still finding out the details, but it seems he passed quietly in his sleep this afternoon, on the birthday of his beloved Marine Corps.

He’s in a better place, and pain-free, but I wish he was still here. I was going to surprise him with a visit on 11/20, after I sold my house. I mailed his birthday card this morning – he would have been 78 on this coming Sunday.

I had the best daddy in the world (for all his flaws), and I feel like the ground has disappeared from beneath my feet. He was the one I leaned on at family funerals. Who will I lean on now?

03. November 2008 · Comments Off on R.I.P., Madelyn Payne Dunham · Categories: General

No matter who you’re voting for, or what you think of the candidates, please take a moment to reflect on the frailty of life.

HONOLULU (AP) — Barack Obama’s grandmother, whose personality and bearing shaped much of the life of the Democratic presidential contender, has died, Obama announced Monday, one day before the election. Madelyn Payne Dunham was 86.

Obama announced the news from the campaign trail in Charlotte, N.C. The joint statement with his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng said Dunham died peacefully late Sunday night after a battle with cancer.

Senator, I offer you and your family my deepest condolences for your loss. I’ll be praying that God gives you peace and comfort.


14. October 2008 · Comments Off on I am now a politics-free zone (thank goodness for early voting) · Categories: Domestic, General, Politics

Yep, I believe in following at least half of that old political adage: Vote early & vote often. So today I found my way to the local board of elections and cast my ballot. I am now free to ignore all the political hype that will be inundating us in the next 3 weeks.

HOORAY!!!!! (I hate the political hype)

You know, when it comes to early voting, I think Texas does it best (well, out of Texas and Georgia, the only 2 places I’ve ever experienced it). In Texas, I could go to any of the early polling places they set up in San Antonio and cast my ballot. I’ve voted at a Wal-Mart near my office, 20 miles from where I lived, in a grocery store entryway, and in the hallway of a north-side shopping mall. I’ve even voted at my precinct, once, when I was out of town during the early voting time-frame.

In Georgia, at least in my current county, I had to find my local board of elections office. That’s actually not too hard to find from where I live – it’s about 20 minutes away, maybe, and easy to get to, although parking was almost non-existent. There were quite a few folks there at lunchtime today. Had I waited until the last week in October, I could have driven 3 miles to my local library and voted there. But I’ll be out of state the next 2 weeks, and busy on election day, so this was my best chance.

27. September 2008 · Comments Off on A Question… · Categories: Domestic, General, Politics

Last night during the debate, Senator Obama said:

The third thing we have to do is we’ve got to make sure that we’re competing in education. We’ve got to invest in science and technology. China had a space launch and a space walk. We’ve got to make sure that our children are keeping pace in math and in science.

And one of the things I think we have to do is make sure that college is affordable for every young person in America.

While I agree that we need to keep pace in Math & Science (or even, to move ahead in both), and while I think that affordable college is a worthy goal, not every job requires a college degree. Nor is every person a good fit for college.

So, Senator, my question is this. What about the young people who have no interest in, or desire for college? What about the ones who want to be plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, cabinet-makers, and the like? What will you do for them?

Will you be as generous in providing funding/financing for those who want to attend a trade school, or a 2-year college? What about grad school, for those whose chosen careers require post-graduate work?

And what about Americans who are NOT young, but finally have the opportunity to pursue a degree? Should it be affordable for them as well, or does your largesse only extend to YOUNG Americans? Which begs the question: at what point does a person stop being “young”?

I suppose, as long as I’m asking questions, I should also ask what you’re going to do about the young Americans who don’t qualify for college. Affordable college is great, but only if folks meet the entrance requirements. We can’t continue to dumb down the entrance requirements just to ensure that everyone can attend.

How will you make college affordable? Are you going to mandate tuition prices? I don’t understand how the federal gov’t has the right to mandate tuition fees for non-federal schools. Oh, you’re probably NOT going to mandate tuition – you’ll provide subsidies instead. But it’s an interesting fact that as federal aid increases, so do tuition prices, so increasing subsidies will have no real effect on the cost of attending college.

Notice I’m not asking you where the money’s going to come from – I know the answer to that. You’ll raise my taxes and make me pay for it. I suppose I should be grateful for having the opportunity to help others succeed, but somehow, gratitude isn’t the emotion that pops up when I think about this.

27. September 2008 · Comments Off on RIP, Mr. Newman · Categories: General

Paul Newman has passed away at age 83. Cancer.

Not only will we remember him for those deep blue eyes that any red-blooded woman could get lost in forever, but for his faithfulness to Joanne Woodward, his wife since 1958. Playboy magazine asked him one time if he was ever tempted to stray. His reply: “I have steak at home- why go out for hamburger?”

Newman’s Own Foundation has issued a statement.

“Paul Newman’s craft was acting. His passion was racing. His love was his family and friends. And his heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place for all.

Paul had an abiding belief in the role that luck plays in one’s life, and its randomness. He was quick to acknowledge the good fortune he had in his own life, beginning with being born in America, and was acutely aware of how unlucky so many others were. True to his character, he quietly devoted himself to helping offset this imbalance.

We will miss you, sir.

16. September 2008 · Comments Off on CONGRATULATIONS, AND THANK YOU!!! Day by Day Fundraiser ends early · Categories: General

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