Thursday, July 31, 2008

In The Land of Make Believe

Dad used to say that quite often. Usually it was when we were watching some TV show.

He wasn't much of a fiction fan. So he was quite fascinated that so much energy and effort was expended by others on making up stories and then more energy by those who watched. I sometimes get involved with my books and my TV shows and kind of move a little with the action in fight scenes - if you can imagine me doing that. Dad thought that was just hysterically funny although he wasn't exactly the guffawing type himself.

I was reminded of this the other day when I was visiting with my brother and my son. My brother's computer had crashed and all my efforts to revive it had proved futile. So we were at Starbucks for what I suppose was a kind of computer wake. We were enjoying our respective drinks: Raspberry Mocha for my son, Cafe Mocha for my brother, and black coffee for me (with a shot of course).

I think my brother mentioned a book he began reading and the author's political commentary right at the beginning angered him so he stopped right there. It was some book about the revolutionary war or civil war or some such. My brother loves history.

We used to joke about his love of history manifested in his need to stop by any cemetery on the way to where he was going. He especially loves Civil War and Revolutionary War cemeteries but nearly any cemetery will work. Now, I, too, have an appreciation of cemeteries and have been known to stroll through one on occasion. That's just an aside - some color I guess.

Back to my story. I probably countered with the telling about some work of fiction I was reading but I've forgotten exactly. Anyway he mentioned that he didn't really enjoy reading fiction. My son said he didn't like fiction much either. That made me repeat Dad's often said statement. Then I was more surprised that my brother did not recall Dad saying that.

Dad said it a lot. I can hear him saying it and in my mind's eye I can see him saying it: "In the land of make believe" with a kind of puzzled, bemused expression on his face.

So I wanted to blog about it in case I forget it. Because I thought it was kind of cute then and it seems even cuter now.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Present, Past, Future

Not too long ago my mother-in-law had to visit an ophthalmologist about her vision in one eye. I was the designated driver and moral support staff for my wife.

Just to find the building which was "conveniently" located at a hospital (and identified by letters on a map - never a good sign); and then, to navigate the valet parking; and then, to find the office in a high rise; and then, to complete the forms and so on was not a small, simple task.

Yes, I know that was a needlessly long and complex run-on sentence and I did it deliberately.

When you find yourself at age 60 being the youngest person in a waiting room it is a bit unnerving. I wondered how those other (older) people found the place given the complication of location coupled with the problem of vision.

I observed one new patient tell the receptionist he would have to have someone read him the questions on the SEVEN page entrance form with especially small font type. She seemed surprised. I thought to myself, "it is an ophthalmologist office after all" and the font is about the size on a medicine bottle label.

Back to my patient though. The ailment I think was pretty serious but apparently treatable. Did you know they can give you an injection in your eyeball? Well they can - with a long syringe.

The eye condition was just the beginning though because a few days later it was joined by a broken wrist. It turns out that a wrist is a fairly important part of the body for doing quite a bit of stuff. And the doing of that stuff is considerably hampered by the addition of a rigid, fiberglass cast to the said wrist.

So we've been helping out. I will offer a few examples of said helping.

Something I had kind of forgotten about caregiving returned to me fairly quickly. And that is that caregiving is nearly all about pleasing someone else. This leads to some interesting exercises.

For instance, let's consider tomatoes. In my world they either come from a grocery store or a restaurant in the rare instance that I might actually require some. But in my alternate world they come from a garden. In my world they are washed and eaten. In the alternate world they are peeled. I do not enjoy peeling tomatoes. I do not think the tomatoes enjoy it either.

In my world there is one old cat which is not mine but which seems to appreciate me feeding her. Feeding is opening a can and plopping the contents thereof into a bowl. The same bowl resides in the garage and the cat is responsible for any cleaning. In my alternate world there are three dogs. There is a detailed SOP for feeding them - each one has a different plan. And I have to clean the bowls but without washing. Water is dispensed for the dogs by the gallon bucket by the way. Dogs also have ticks - lots of ticks - notwithstanding treatment of dogs and environment.

Also in this alternate world there are different, strange rules about trash. Cans go one place but paper goes another. Trash bags have their own place of safekeeping not necessarily logical to my view but definitely safe - at least from me.

Grocery shopping is similarly detailed both as to brand and size.

I admit to enjoying every minute of this experience. Maybe enjoy isn't exactly the right word - maybe more like appreciate.

For one thing it reminds me of taking care of mom and dad and especially so in the "good" earlier times. It does make me miss them both so much. Especially Dad but Mom, too.

For another there is something peculiarly rewarding about doing something for someone that makes them happy and helps them and for no other reason than that. There is a sense of reward in helping those who require it.

There is a future element. It bothers my spouse more than me I suppose because she wonders if this is the beginning of her next phase of caregiving and it is her mother after all. And the pressure is on her and not me and there is pressure make no mistake about that. Caregiving in many ways is about responsibility more than it is about the work itself. It is the responsibility that it is the more powerful I think but is sometimes lost amid the sleeplessness and the tiredness.

Then there's the hopefully more distant future when I glimpse myself being the one who needs the help. Still, that's always with my mind intact. I just can never bring into focus what it might be like for me to be the Alzheimer's patient.

I had to get new glasses myself the other day. I think it is funny that I somehow never qualify for the 2 for $99 or whatever it is special. Mine always cost more. Not that I went there for the price in the first place. He's the son-in-law of a friend who used to be a neighbor before her home's location became a bank. Her daughter was my "senior shopper" for a long while - even before I, myself, became a senior. Since I do my own shopping now I suppose I must be considered a senior shopper. A little humor, very little.

I was sitting there for the fitting of my new spectacles (cool word you seldom hear) and there was this little plasticized sheet of print of various sizes. On the left side it had the performance level for your sight (like 20/200 or something) and then there was the same sentence in that corresponding size and then there was something on the right side but beats me what. And it ranged from big print at the top and little tiny print at the bottom.

Of course, I, being still somewhat competitive, looked at the bottom where the line for 20/20 appeared. Barely appeared that is. I said to the girl helping me, "Am I supposed to be able to read that line?" She said, "Well, almost no one can." I moved the paper until I could read it. It said I was supposed to hold it at 40 cm. If I recall correctly that's about 16 inches. I had to get it closer than that to read it. It said that was medicine bottle size type.

Good grief.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Estelle Getty

Estelle Getty, who played Sophia on The Golden Girls, died July 22, 2008. She suffered from Lewy Body Dementia that had previously been diagnosed as both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Those of us who know something about Alzheimer's and Parkinson's also understand how the Lewy Body could be diagnosed as either.

I'm blogging about this because I have read several articles that included reports criticizing her Golden Girl costars for not attending her funeral.

I became so irritated at reading these reports.

I think that anyone who has lost someone close to dementia can very easily understand not attending a funeral for the person.

That's all I'm going to say about it but I am still fuming.

Empty


When a cabinet or closet is entirely empty,
my daughter puts a little sticky note on the door.


Says it all pretty much.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Randy Pausch: The Last Lecture

Randy Pausch (October 23, 1960 - July 25, 2008)

He died Friday, July 25, 2008 of pancreatic cancer.

He is known for The Last Lecture which was (maybe is) a series at Carnegie Mellon University. The idea for the series was if you knew this was your last lecture then what would you say.

Except that for Randy Pausch the lecture he gave on September 18, 2007 was his last because he knew he was dying and knew he had a relatively short time.

His lecture was entitled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." One reason he wanted to do it was so his kids could see him in action doing what he loved and was good at and have something to remember him. They are so young that at best their memories will not be very great. I'm certain in future years that they will be very interested in the video of their father's lecture.

You've probably heard about it the lecture. It is worth watching.

He wrote a book along with Jeffrey Zaslow titled "The Last Lecture." I just finished reading it.

I was surprised that there were 12 negative (well 1 star is the lowest you can give) ratings on Amazon's reader reviews.

Okay, I'll grant that his book is not great literature. But I personally found it inspiring and entertaining and informative and an all around good read.

I'm trying to think of just a few things about the book that I want to blog: things that made the book memorable for me and that I will likely carry with me for a while.

Certainly one thing is a chapter about Randy the child asking his parents permission to decorate the walls of his room. He was given that permission and the first thing he did was to write the formula for a quadratic equation on the wall next to the door. On the other side he painted an elevator door with lights for 6 floors and illuminated the 3rd one - in a single story ranch! The quadratic equation is something I might have done had I enjoyed my own wall. Heck I might still put up a quadratic equation. Or the function symbol - I like it a lot.

I enjoyed the chapters about his becoming a Disney Imagineer and achieving his dream of being weightless and the courtship of his wife. I also enjoyed the chapter about his football coach. And the chapters about his children.

Chapter 60 (I guess I recall that number because of recent events in my own life) was about his wife as caregiver, kind of. I was particularly interested in that one.

There's a chapter where he learns the cancer is back and has metastasized. He and his wife have been called to the hospital and are sitting in this examination room waiting on the doctor. There's a computer there and Randy is a computer guy. So he looks at it and recognizes his scans. He understands and tells his wife, "My goose is cooked." He starts counting the tumors on his liver. She says something like "Don't tell me you are counting tumors" which, of course, he was. They collapse in each others arms crying and the doc walks in.

I was fascinated with that chapter because he was balancing the emotional involvement of knowing he was dying on the one hand with the detachment of the curious observer on the other. I bet every Alzheimer's caregiver can appreciate that chapter or at least I certainly can.

He was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association but was raised Presbyterian. There is an interview here if you are interested in reading his thoughts on faith.

They put him in hospice on Thursday and he died on Friday.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fort Blanket

My daughter is cleaning out the house for us.
While she's doing that her kids are playing in a fort made
of mostly hand sewn blankets and coverlets.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Misanthrope

This is a cool word.

Are you ready?

Someone who dislikes people in general.

Is that cool or what?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What Is A Blessed Life?

Someone took a camera and went out on the streets here and began asking random people "what is a blessed life?"

The first guy said he thought it was when you could fail and then get back up again. Another person said it was when you had achieved the "American dream." And yet another said it was when you had plenty of money and someone else said it was when your life was full with friends and family. There were a few others as well but everyone had an opinion.

I thought it was an interesting topic for me to think about. And when I think I have to blog.

I know this fellow who will answer to the question "how are you?" with the phrase "blessed and highly favored."

Then there's a song I listen to sometimes where the author says he's blessed but all of God's children feel the same way and there's no waiting in line.

The Bible has a good many references to bless and blessing and blessed. In fact there are really too many for my blog entry.

Jesus uses "blessed" in His sermon on the mount. It is pretty interesting and called the beatitudes:

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
This doesn't seem to support the idea of current successes or rewards constituting the blessed life.

I've known people who were rich beyond imagination and thought they were cursed rather than blessed. Then I've known some others who were really, really poor and they thought they were blessed beyond measure.

We were talking the other day about a book we read in school years ago. It was Silas Marner by George Eliot. I remember that George Eliot was a woman although I do not recall her real name. (Don't have to remember as long as I have Internet access.)

Silas Marner has a tragedy befall him early in the story. As a result he becomes kind of a hermit and a miser. But then he finds this toddler whose mother has died. This was before the Department of Human Services so he just kept the baby. She, the child, grows and becomes the apple of his eye and the pride of his community. His life is tremendously changed for the better because of this little girl.

So was the death of the girl's mother a blessing or a curse? Were the bad events that befell Silas blessings or curses?

In my own life if I had not married early I would not have my children and they would not have their children. If I had not divorced I would not have cared for my mom and dad and I wouldn't have met and married my wonderful Judy.

Kind of depends upon the perspective doesn't it?

I know my life is blessed.

Maybe it is one of those things that people say "I can't define it but I know it when I see it."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Owls - My Photos


Owls

I saw two on Sunday, July 20, 2008.

It was in the late evening and it was dusky. I think it was about 8:30 p.m. perhaps. I was taking a bucket containing pieces of vegetables and some old fruit down to the creek north of the barn.

As I was approaching the area near the old silo the first owl flew from the barn or from a tree near the barn to another large tree north of the road. I thought it was a hawk at first.

I disposed of my burden over the fence and began to walk back to the house. The second owl swooped down in front of me then and landed in a tree just north of me. I turned and looked at him (I'm pretty sure because he was smaller than the first) for several seconds. He just looked back at me.

Then I walked on back up the hill towards the house. I heard a squawking of a Mocking Bird and turned my head back towards the barn. Just in time I saw my owl swoop from his perch and catch something from the yard over which I had just seconds before walked. I could not tell what he had. He landed in the tree just against the barn. The Mocking Birds were going crazy and eventually drove him from that tree.

Later when we were leaving the house and walking to the car I saw him again.

I had to borrow the image from Wikipedia.

So the next day I took my camera with me and went down to the same place but no owls were to be seen.

So I walked inside the old barn and stood very, very still for a few minutes.

It was dark and my eyes adjusted after a bit. Finally, I saw him in the highest possible rafter at the north end of the barn.

It was very dark there. If he had not been white I think I would not have seen him. I took six images but they are not so good. I found the one to the right on Wiki. These guys are called Barn Owls or Monkey Face Owls.

I read that they are among the most common vertebrates on the planet.

I walked down on Tuesday to see if he was still there and he was. But as soon as he saw me he flew away. I felt kind of bad about it actually.

Silver Anniversary

Not my Silver Anniversary.

That band across the left top of the washer says "Silver Anniversary."

This is a 1976 model washer but I have no real idea what the silver anniversary is celebrating. Maytag began in 1907. Alas, Maytag is owned by Whirlpool.

Anyway it died the other day. We had the repair guy out - not the Maytag guy either. A local guy.

He said he could get a new motor but there was no way to get a timer and we needed that as well. So I guess 32 years is pretty good for a washing machine.

The matching dryer is still going though.

Did you know you could watch videos on YouTube about Maytag washers?

Amazing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thoughts on Prayer

I was sitting there on the pew in church last Sunday. I began thinking about prayer. That in itself isn't so strange as I often think about prayer, and other stuff for that matter, while sitting in church.

Thinking and day dreaming have never been that far apart for me. Church is often a good time for me to fall into the thinking-day dreaming-praying-zoned out state of mind. I suppose it isn't very spiritual but it is better than sleeping. That makes me think of Pollyanna.

I suppose what prompted the thinking was maybe the act of praying or something was said about praying. I don't know what it was exactly.

Do you get asked for things?

I do sometimes. I guess the main thing I am asked for is money. I get asked for other stuff, too; but, I was thinking more about getting asked for money for this blog post. I think I used to be asked more for advice than I am now. It always irritated me when people would ask for advice and then not take it. So maybe it's better to not be asked for advice since no one ever took it anyway. I think it is a good idea to keep advice to yourself most of the time. It's taken me 60 years to figure that out so those of you who are younger can have that advice for free (HA HA).

But back to my topic.

Now I'm kind of making this up in a literary sense - borrowing here and there from fact and imagination.

So someone rings me up (sounds English doesn't it?) and a lot of times I haven't heard from them in a while. So there's some "catching up" conversation first. Then, often, there is a description of some general stuff about life that kind of sets a context. That's followed by the description of the crisis event. Then there's the "obvious" solution to the crisis which is something like "can I borrow $$$?" which is the sum needed to fix the crisis, at least in the mind of the asker.

Anyway I was thinking about how similar sometimes my own approach to prayer:

Oh God?

How you doing? Sorry I haven't been around in a while. Been really busy and all. You know how it is.

Speaking of which my life has just really sucked the last few weeks - just one problem after another - and some of these people in my life - good grief - could I use some help with them. Not sure what you were thinking when you made them. Not that I'm being critical mind you because I love them to pieces and thanks for them - anyway.

On top of all that the other day the car's transmission went out and Janey's house needs a new roof and Billy's wife filed for divorce and Abner has been arrested for DUI and Peter lost his job.

Then yesterday I found out I have to pay a credit card bill I didn't realize I owed.

Could you maybe get me $53,252.33 to get me out of this little mess? If you could just have it materialize in the mail box that would be lovely.

Oh, yes, I ask it in Jesus' name. Thanks Lord. And see you later.
Something that always occurs to me when I'm asked for things is why I wasn't consulted before the crisis. If I had been then, maybe I could have helped the person avoid the crisis in the first place. But afterwards is a little late to think about that.

Then I think it would be nice to have someone call me before they need something - you know - just to visit a few minutes ever once in a while. You get kind of leery about even answering the phone when the only time someone calls is to ask you for something or another. You kind of get the idea that it isn't you the other person is really interested in.

It doesn't hurt to ask how I'm doing either ever once in a while. I have problems.

Also I find it useful to discuss the crisis so I can help the person arrive at a solution rather than just be told what the solution is. For instance, let's discuss that 20 year old car you want to spend $5K on for that transmission. According to the KBB site the thing in mint condition is only worth $500. Now does spending $5K really seem all that prudent? Maybe we can find some alternatives if we think about this together for a bit.

Another thing is that if you really don't intend to repay the money then don't call it a loan. A loan is something you repay. If you can't or won't then it's a gift and we might as well be clear about it right up front.

Another thing that occurred to me is that prayer is kind of like having some really important person's cell phone number. For instance let's say you were really good friends with (I'm going to try to keep this from being political) Jay Leno. In fact, you are such good friends that he gave you his personal cell phone number and you can just call it anytime and Jay answers it by saying your name. I bet most of us can't do that. Even if we knew the number the chances of getting our call answered are relatively low given the fact of caller id. But that's what prayer is like - having God's cell number and being in His circle and Him recognizing your caller id.

That's pretty much it - all I thought about - before the sermon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tamar

The Tamar I am writing about is a daughter of King David. I'm paraphrasing and probably pretty badly. But you can read it yourself in 2 Sam. 13 if you want.

King David's oldest son was Amnon. Amnon became obsessed with his beautiful half-sister, Tamar. He claimed to be in love with Tamar and because he could not have her he made himself sick. His friend noticed something was wrong and finally Amnon told him the truth about his "love" for Tamar.

The friend had an idea. Amnon was to go to bed and pretend to be sick and when his dad, the King, came to see about him then he would ask the King to send Tamar to come to his place and make his favorite meal for him and that would make him feel better. (Well first of all you can see right off that this isn't love but lust. And secondly the whole plan is nutty. And thirdly "favorite meal to make him feel better - OMG!!!" And fourthly these guys sound like escapees from some awful animal house fraternity.)

King David did come to see his sick first born son and Amnon asked for Tamar and the King commanded it to be done. (King or not I think David was a fool and I also think he was a misogynist.)

So Tamar came in and fixed Amnon's favorite meal - apparently dumplings. (Actually my mother wanted me to fix chicken and dumplings for her one time. I had never fixed dumplings so I found some at Black Eyed Peas and brought them home. So maybe it isn't so crazy after all.)

When she was done then Amnon made everyone else leave and asked Tamar to bring the food into his bedroom. She did and he raped her. (So his idea of love was definitely lust. Also I left this out but he made a big deal out of her being a virgin which may have meant that she was young and virginal. Creep.)

It was forcible, too, because it is noted that Amnon was much stronger than Tamar. (It says that in the account that he was much stronger - double Creep.)

King David finds out but does nothing. (Triple Creep!!!)

Absalom, Tamar's full brother, also finds out and he tells Tamar to keep quiet about it. Absalom is not very sympathetic though because he tells Tamar not to take it so hard. (Quadruple Creep!!!!) Regardless, Tamar ends up living with Absalom and the account says she was bitter and desolate. (You can't really blame her much. What a family.)

Later on Absalom throws a sheep shearing party and invites all this brothers including Amnon. When Amnon gets drunk then Absalom orders his servants to kill Amnon and they do.

Absalom hides out for about 3 years.
Not that is one terrible story. There are just any number of things one could write about from this story.

One thing that struck me was that Amnon had been so in love with Tamar that he was sick over it. But then he rapes her and instead of being happy about it his so called love turns immediately to hate.

You know that does happen, too. People claim to be madly in love with each other and then they go to divorce court and say the most awful things about, and do the most awful things to, each other that can be imagined.

Anyway that's the story of Tamar.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Parking Meter

We had the first one apparently. It was installed July 16, 1935 in Oklahoma City.

I should have posted this about 4 days ago but that's the way it is I guess.

It had been patented a little earlier by Carl C. Magee who had been appointed in 1933 to the Oklahoma City Traffic Committee.

Magee was an editor of a newspaper from what I can determine. He put up $500 for a contest to create the meter and Oklahoma A&M professors H. G. Theusen and Gerald Hale apparently did just that.

It appears that Magee and Hale and others formed Dual Parking Meter Company and then it later became Magee-Hale Park-O-Meter. It was sold to Parkometer Co. of Russellville, Ark., now known as POM Inc.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Zero Hour Bomb Company

I was interested in an article I read the other day and thought I'd share it.

The article was about the Zero Hour Bomb Company out of Tulsa, OK. I had never heard of this company, at least by that name.

It seems as though in 1932 the Zero Hour Bomb Company had a patent for electrical time bombs used in the oil patch practice of fracturing. This is where a bomb is set off against a formation of oil bearing rock thereby shattering or fracturing the rock and allowing the oil to be recovered.

Sometime after the war the company was looking for new things to manufacture. This fellow, Jasper R. Dell Hull, came along in 1949 wanting a job or so the story goes. Anyway R D Hull had invented a fishing reel of sorts by essentially putting a couple of tin cans together so that the fishing line could unwind between the two faces and thereby avoid tangling.

Everyone was pretty impressed I guess because they changed the name of the company to ZEBCO and began manufacturing the reels.

Who'd a thunk it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Far Infrared Sauna

I bought one of these and put in the new house.

It really is a nice piece of equipment. The temperature is a maximum of 140. Usually I've been starting at 120 and staying for 15 minutes and then waiting 15 minutes and repeating at 130 and then resting again and finally going for 140 at 15 minutes.

It is really invigorating I think.

Since it is infrared it doesn't really heat up the room its in and doesn't seem to use a terrible amount of electricity.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Satire

This is a picture of the cover of the July 21st issue of New Yorker magazine.

It is supposed to be Barak Obama dressed as a Muslim giving his wife a knuckle touch. (I've heard some people call this a knuckle bump but I looked in a couple of sources and a knuckle bump appears to be different than a knuckle touch. The bump has something to do with cocaine apparently whereas the touch is a gesture of affirmation and celebration. And you all thought I was too old to know about popular culture - ha!) (Actually I've never ever given anyone a knuckle touch)

Michelle Obama is dressed to remind one of a young Angela Davis with an afro and an AK-47 slung over her shoulder. Angela Davis gained significant notoriety in the late 1960's and early 1970's in case someone might not know about her. Just suffice it to say that she is an iconic, very far left radical dissatisfied with the United States and willing to support organizations committed to radically changing the government of the United States.

The setting is apparently the White House and there is an American flag burning in the fireplace. Over the fireplace is a portrait of Osama bin Laden.

You have to admit those are pretty extreme symbols.

This is supposed to be satire according to the magazine. It is further explained that the cover is making fun of those who believe that Barak Obama is a Muslim and that Michelle Obama is a radical, anti-American activist.

Satire works when whatever is being communicated is so extreme that it is obviously incorrect. Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal is an often used example where Swift suggests the Irish can improve their economy by selling their children to rich Englishmen for food. Well, no one would sell children for food (or so the argument goes) so obviously Swift is making fun of the idea and at the same time he is highlighting the plight of the poor Irish and the callousness of the English.

The thing is that about 99.99% of people believe you shouldn't sell or eat children.

Now the problem with this cover is that somewhere around 35% of the voting population support Mr. Obama. They don't really care what he does or doesn't do they are going to support him. And another 35% are actively opposed to him and they don't care what he does or doesn't either because they are going to oppose him. So those who are for him look at that cover and think to themselves "how clever that is to poke fun at those stupid people who oppose Barak."

But those who oppose him look at the cover and think to themselves "yep those guys really are far left and he probably would burn a flag in the fireplace." Seriously they really don't think it is so far out of the realm of possibility that Obama would burn an American flag and they are pretty sure his wife is more like Angela Davis than Patti LaBelle. And they will mention Reverend Wright if pressed. Doesn't seem a stretch even to me that Reverend Wright would burn an American flag. Heck I think he probably would burn the entire White House.

That leaves about 30% of the people who supposedly are neutral or at least haven't made up their minds. (Do you really think it is that high?) So they might get the satire or maybe not. I say maybe not because if they haven't made up their minds or are really neutral; then, I have to at least wonder if they really get satire period?

After all one has to somewhat question why someone hasn't made up their mind about voting for either Obama or McCain. It's not like they are close on the major issues. They are opposites. Good grief. I don't really understand how anyone can be undecided. It's a choice between two guys. That's it - Obama or McCain. Just pick one.

Now the people at the New Yorker are supposed to be of above average intelligence. I mean they are using satire for goodness sake. And they are supposed to be more or less in favor of Barak.

Do you think they really thought this cover might help?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I've Been Reading Again

The Broken Window by Jeffrey Deaver

The man who knows everything is the nemesis to Lincoln Rhyme's heroic band in this interesting novel. After reading this one for a short time I immediately wanted to sign up for identity theft protection. Also made want to go off grid as soon as possible. Too late of course - especially given a year's worth of blogs!

Basically there's a murder and the murderer covers it up by using computer data and planted evidence to frame another person. Except the guy he frames is Lincoln's cousin.

Darn interesting book though.
Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais
I like Robert Crais and I was not disappointed in this effort. Some good twists and turns in this one and well paced. Elvis Cole helped clear a guy who ends up 3 years later an apparent suicide. But he has an album of death photos of victims including the one he was found innocent. Cole is blamed by the family of the subsequent victims and has to hunt for the truth.
Infidel (The Lost Books Book 2) by Ted Dekker
First time I've read this author. I would have read more except they aren't available for my Kindle yet. A little youngish for me but I am adaptable.
Chosen (The lost Books Book 1) by Ted Dekker
Same as above. Really I am not that much into fantasy but I did enjoy reading this.
The Sleeping Doll: A Novel by Jeffery Deaver
This is a Kathryn Dance novel. I enjoyed it a great deal, too. Dance is a kinesics expert - body language - which is intriguing to me in itself. This one is a good effort by Deaver. (Note to self: no need to explain in the title that my novel is a novel as far as I can tell)

I would like to better understand the entire kinesics idea. One time I was at a social gathering and this guy was kind of invading my space and I was backing up. He went on and on about my body language giving away my thoughts. He wasn't wrong.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bourgeois

Noun: bourgeois
1. A capitalist who engages in industrial commercial enterprise
2. A member of the middle class

Adjective: bourgeois
1. (according to Marxist thought) being of the property-owning class and exploitive of the working class
2. Conforming to the standards and conventions of the middle class
3. Belonging to the middle class

Synonyms: burgher, businessperson, conservative, materialistic
Wikipedia has:
a classification used in analyzing human societies to describe a social class of people who are in the upper or merchant class, whose status or power comes from employment, education, and wealth as opposed to aristocratic origin.
...
In common usage the term has pejorative connotations suggesting either undeserved wealth, or lifestyles, tastes, and opinions that lack the sophistication of the rich or the authenticity of the intellectual or the poor. It is rare for people in the English speaking world to identify themselves as members of the bourgeoisie, although many self-identify as middle class.
Well, my ancestors, at least those I know about, definitely were not aristocratic. By and large they definitely gained what status and power they possessed (ant that was not much) nearly all from employment.

A few of us have benefited from education but it hasn't done much to help my status or my power. I have none of either as nearly as I can tell. I can't even influence people who like me.

We are pretty much middle class culturally and politically, too. We've owned property since about the 1760's as nearly as I can tell. Dad did really well buying his property.

I think we have not been exploitive of the working class although we have hired a few people. Mostly they've said nice things about me but there have been a few who not only said some bad stuff but offered to help me find heaven early.

There are plenty of people that believe I have undeserved wealth. They confuse land and debt with cash apparently because they ask for cash.

No one has ever accused me of being sophisticated that I can remember. To be fair I used to enjoy wine that came in bottles with screw on lids.

I haven't been accused of being an intellectual either. I have been called both geek and nerd although not for a while because apparently you can't be either of those at age 60.

I once was told I did not sufficiently love money. I think that's still probably true but I'm trying to learn to like it more. Love may be a stretch. Someone else once told me I gave too much money away. I think that's still true as well but I'm trying to do better.

Someone indirectly called me bourgeois the other day. They meant it pejoratively. I took it that way, too. But after actually looking it up and reading about the subject it doesn't actually seem all that bad to me.

I definitely have been called worse.

I am starting a new category of posts that I'm labeling "interesting words."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Oklahoma Birds

We are listening to a Bobwhite quail as I write this. They have a very distinctive song of course and it sounds exactly like "bob white" with better diction than most of us Okies.

The one we heard was sitting out on top of a fence post near the propane tank. But he left before I got the camera so I borrowed.

Revised 714/2008: (I had used images from the site, Birds of Oklahoma, and I really do like those a lot. But I was afraid I was in violation of the copyright restrictions on the site and substituted from Wiki Commons)

I think they are just magnificent birds and I do enjoy hearing their song although I admit it becomes a bit annoying after the first few dozen repetitions.

Still they are just marvelous creatures.

Hunters love them, too, of course. We have this Grand National Quail Club that sponsors the annual Grand National Quail Hunt (what else). A lot of famous people have participated. There are quail hunts and hunters though all over Oklahoma. Selling hunting leases is quite a business in fact. I've thought about doing it on some land we have near Marlow. It pays pretty good actually.

I was talking to a friend about it the other day and he does it on his land. They have guided hunts though. The guides take the quails and put them in a sack and twirl the sack around in a circle overhead. Then when the birds are removed from the sack they plant them and the birds just stay there. Then the guide kind of takes the hunters around in the general area.

One time I was at a quail hunt like that in Mississippi. It was at the Longleaf Plantation not too far from New Orleans and very close to Hattiesburg. The first evening I was there was the day that Operation Desert Storm began so it must have been January 16, 1991. We all gathered around the TV in the lodge and watched CNN report live from Baghdad. That was the first time I had actually seen CNN. I was so impressed that when I returned home I bought a satellite system just so I could get CNN myself.

I was really afraid for us entering that war. I felt like we had to do something when Iraq invaded Kuwait. But after my experience with the army in the early 1970's I just didn't have much confidence in our ability to conduct a war. I was certainly wrong.

By the way I didn't shoot any quail.

When I was a small boy one Christmas I got a BB gun. Of course I had to go hunting with it. It was cold and had snowed that day. I saw this beautiful yellow bird. I don't know what it was. I aimed and didn't really expect to hit it because I was pretty far away. But my pellet hit it square on and the bird died right there in front of me. I thought my heart was going to break within my chest. I've never killed anything since with a gun and have not wanted to.

I did enjoy eating some quail though at Longleaf.

This is a Roadrunner.

One crossed the street in front of me when I was driving home on Friday, July 11th, 2008. I was so surprised that I stopped in hopes of getting a picture but he was way too fast for me.

This is out near Judy's where it is still pretty country.

He (or she - and I don't know the difference) was going across the road FAST. Head was down so that the tail and body was just about horizontal to the ground. They move really fast.

I used to see Roadrunner fairly often especially down around our old place at Marlow. But it has been years since I've seen one. I was so happy!! Down there near Marlow they'd race along in front of you on the sandy roads.

This is a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. It is our state bird. Some people are offended that we'd have a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher for our state bird. Honestly I have no idea why they are offended. I know they say it seems really too "hicky" and makes them kind of ashamed of us. I guess for some reason they think it is unsophisticated and simple to have a state bird like this.

But I think they are just beautiful birds. I don't know exactly why we need a state bird but this choice seems pretty good to me.

Doesn't seem any reason for shame for sure - but maybe it is because I am unsophisticated.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Birthdays - I am Six-OH

I posted last year on my birthday. I read that post just now. It contained a blurb about my previous birthday, too.

My daughter and her family gave me the nice gift bag in the image. My grandkids handcrafted that card for me. Pretty cool don't you think! (It was an Under Armour tee shirt in that bag by the way - also pretty cool - although I wish my physique was like the Under Armour models.)

This is one of the OH birthdays. I don't know if One-OH should count or not in the list. Maybe even Two-OH should be omitted because I've never heard anyone say the big Two-OH. But the others definitely remain on my list: Three-OH, Four-OH, Five-OH, Six-OH, Seven-OH, Eight-OH, Nine-OH. I think at one hundred you start on a new list as well you should, too.

Assuming my list of 7 is correct and it is, after all, my blog; then, I am exactly at the half-way mark on my list. According to one actuarial table I checked I have a 50% chance of enjoying two more OH's and a 25% chance of three more. So maybe I am a little farther down the road than the half-way marker after all.

My son and his family gave me an Amazon gift certificate. He wanted to buy me books for my Kindle but couldn't do that even after talking to someone at Amazon. But a gift certificate is a good thing!!

I can really use both my gifts. I needed a new exercise shirt and this Under Armour one is perfect. The $50 Amazon certificate will be good for 5 more Kindle books so that's excellent since I've been reading like crazy lately.

Plans are kind of minimal so far. I'm writing this the evening before. I intend to exercise early and then go to church. Judy and I will make scrambled eggs for lunch - one of my favorite things. We might do something later but right now a nice, relaxing day sounds pretty good to me. After all I'll be Six-OH.

I'll update this post after my birthday - maybe.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cleaner skies explain surprise rate of warming

Happened across the article carrying this title.

Had to read the headline twice. Article follows:

GOODBYE air pollution and smoky chimneys, hello brighter days. That's been the trend in Europe for the past three decades - but unfortunately cleaning up the skies has allowed more of the sun's rays to pierce the atmosphere, contributing to at least half the warming that has occurred.

Since 1980, average air temperatures in Europe have risen 1 °C: much more than expected from greenhouse-gas warming alone. Christian Ruckstuhl of the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Switzerland and colleagues took aerosol concentrations from six locations in northern Europe, measured between 1986 and 2005, and compared them with solar-radiation measurements over the same period. Aerosol concentrations dropped by up to 60 per cent over the 29-year period, while solar radiation rose by around 1 watt per square metre (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2008GL034228). "The decrease in aerosols probably accounts for at least half of the warming over Europe in the last 30 years," says Rolf Philipona, a co-author of the study at MeteoSwiss, Switzerland's national weather service.

The latest climate models are built on the assumption that aerosols have their biggest influence by seeding natural clouds, which reflect sunlight. However, the team found that radiation dropped only slightly on cloudy days, suggesting that the main impact of aerosols is to block sunlight directly.

Climate Change – Want to know more about global warming: the science, impacts and political debate? Visit our continually updated special report.

From issue 2663 of New Scientist magazine, 09 July 2008, page 16

Friday, July 11, 2008

Planning and Zoning

My brother was waiting in his car in the parking lot when I drove in just a few seconds behind my son.

We are moving at the pace of a glacier (I understand they move slowly) towards the closing for our land sale to our Target developer. The process is over one year old now. There are steps that are required and one of them is to rezone from agricultural to commercial. And that event itself has many steps of which one important one is gaining the approval of the planning and zoning commission.

The application was filed a few weeks ago and nearby property owners, of which there are rather few, were notified. A sign was posted and ads placed in the papers so others might be made aware.

The City staff reviewed the application and recommended approval and it was placed on the docket for the public meeting at the city hall.

The developer representative and the engineer flew up from Dallas to meet us there. They were a little late but showed up just in time. The application shows it is filed in my son's name.

You never know if there is going to be opposition or not. In some places there is always opposition to anything and everything. But here in our area we haven't faced much because we have a large piece of land and everything we've done so far has been more than welcomed. But you never know.

There was a fairly large crowd and the "packet" for the meeting was 47 pages long and contained a number of other applications. The minutes of the previous meeting were approved and the first item was offered for consideration. It was a final plat for some land just a little more than 1/2 mile from us and was going to be a little office park. It passed with no opposition.

Then our application was presented by Ms. Elizabeth Jones who is director of community development for the City of Moore. Then Mr. Stedman, the chairman, asked if a representative were present and our engineer stood and walked to the podium. There were a few questions from one member about how we were going to buffer some land on the west side against an apartment complex and about how detention of run off water would be collected and distributed. Then Mr. Stedman asked if anyone in the audience wanted to address the issue and no one did. So they voted and we passed.

Then we all left the chambers and talked for a few minutes.

One more step taken, several more to go.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stonehenge of Moore

The hay was cut today. "Today" is July 7th by the way. This will be posted on July 10th thanks to the wonders of Google's Blogger program and the Internet. But I'm writing on Monday afternoon in a few minutes of free time. So today isn't really today.

Mostly the hay was baled (originally I had haled was bayed) while we were at lunch although they had already cut and raked the pasture. We have 160 acres here except for the area where the house is. That isn't much land anymore as it relates to farming at least. It's quite a bit if you are trying to do something yourself, by hand.

When I was a kid it would have taken us a week or two to cut and rake and then bail that much hay. That wouldn't have gotten it stacked in the barn either. That took a while with a couple of high school kids and our old 3/4 ton truck. The equipment we used then was about like toys compared to the equipment in use today. We didn't have a tractor that would have lifted one of those big bales. The guys that farm for us all have other jobs and still do about 3,000 acres of land like ours - just bits and pieces here and there. They claim it is for money but I think there's more to it than that.

Those big bales strewn around the pasture like that remind me of Stonehenge. I'm not sure exactly why they remind me of Stonehenge. Something to do with the size of the bales and the roundness may have something to do with the feeling.

In a way it is strange that something made possible only by new technology reminds me of something so ancient.

By the way those crystal skulls that I blogged about a while back have been proven to be fakes. Not that anyone is counting fakes with it being political season and all. The Mayan's might still be right of course about the end of the world. That wasn't proven to be fake.

Starbucks is closing 12 stores in our area. We have 29 stand alone stores so that will leave us 17. I can probably get by with that many. Although I have been going over twice some days since I tried the blended lemonade drink and it has been really hot in the afternoons. I've violated my rule about just having coffee every other day so soon I will pay a price when I decide to break my addiction again.

Seaking of which, addiction that is, we have a big drug bust in town. It was synthetic steroids of some kind.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

One Year of Blogs

I posted my very first blog entry one year ago: Alzheimers care for me Part I.

That was in the midst of my most difficult year of caregiving. I didn't know it then but things were going to get much more difficult in the ensuing weeks. I didn't know it was my last year of caregiving.

I thought I was prepared for about anything that could happen but I wasn't. Looking back I know it is not something you really can anticipate. I was prepared in the sense that I knew how to adapt to new situations and solve new problems and even take care of myself a bit while taking care of someone else. That's the only thing you can prepare for in caregiving. Maybe that's what you can prepare for in life.

I was worried that I might not live long enough to take care of dad. He was already 90 and I was just a few days from 59 then so that seems odd to some. But his care was taking a toll on me physically and emotionally. I knew it, too. I've seen people of all ages die and it is not always very predictable. I worried about who would take care of dad if I couldn't. I wore my Safe-Return bracelet in case I had an accident and couldn't get home. Funny the things you think about when you're caregiving.

And I was worried about my wife and my kids and their kids and a bunch of other people. Because I knew I was not being much of a husband or a father or a grandfather or handling business issues or much of anything else for that matter. If I tried to be better at one role then it seemed I had to neglect something else.

The financial part was worrisome, too. There was a time that year when I felt like I was between the jaws of a vice.

My Lord was with me all throughout and even until the end. How can I explain the emotion of knowing His presence? I can say it just like that in a few words and people that know it can and will understand it and appreciate it. But I can write libraries of books and never get it across to those who do not know His presence themselves.

I suppose in a secular sense someone will think about me that his religion or his faith or his superstition or whatever they think it is helped him get through a difficult time. It is so much more than that I am continually awed and amazed by it.

Even so I asked for help and received it from any number of people. Caregiving for me was both a solitary endeavor as well as a team project. Always there was that need for balance between the one and the other.

But that was the context of that time when I started blogging.

That first post was written because I had read a question on one of the Alzheimer's forums: "If you were the one with AD, how would you like to be cared for?" So I was wondering about my own arrangements for Alzheimer's care. Finally I decided it was going to be a 2 part essay. But I never have written the 2nd part.

So I answered in a circle really and finally realized it and just stopped. I said I wanted to live independently as long as possible. Duh. But the question is what do you want to have happen when you can't live independently?

I still don't know the answer. I don't want to be dependent. I'm procrastinating again, too, because I don't have a clue how to answer it yet.

I've done some future planning though but I never have Alzheimer's in any of my scenarios nor am I dependent. I have to think about this more. It is strange that it is easier to think about sudden death or physical disability than about being intellectually dependent.

I'm kind of surprised I'm still blogging after a year and nearly 9 1/2 months after dad's death. I'm certain in no small part it is because of those dear and gracious souls who befriended me by commenting on my blogs and allowed me the same privilege. I don't know how to measure all the different kinds of help I received but I know my blog friends were and are an important part of my support.

Reading back over the blogs of the last year is interesting and sad and happy and just about every other emotion I can conceive. My posts certainly covered a wide range of subjects.

One year of blogging at an end.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Investing Philosophies

I have been studying different philosophies about investing in the stock market.

What I've learned is that there are pretty much two opposing viewpoints: active and passive.

The one most people seem to practice is called active investing. It is the idea that one can maximize return through various hands-on, management techniques. These are generally ways of answering the questions of what to buy or sell; when to do it; and, how much to pay for it.

One active strategy is trading or attempting to buy low and sell higher. There are various means of doing this and nothing that anyone guarantees to work every time.

Another active strategy is called dollar averaging. This method is usually connected to mutual funds and requires investing regularly and periodically. Some people think it is passive but I classify it as active.

Yet another is called value investing. This is the Warren Buffet approach kind of. You hunt "good" companies and buy them and hold them. Some people think this is passive but apparently they've had an easier time finding "good" companies than I have.

The opposing idea is passive investing.

This is pretty much the idea that it is not possible to predict the market either for a bunch of stocks or for an individual stock. There's a concept called "Efficient Market Hypothesis" that holds that it is simply impossible to predict the price of stocks. Period. It also holds that the market itself contains all the possible information about pricing for both individual stocks and entire markets.

I've been thinking about this quite a bit. I especially have thought about it when I've been watching the business commentators on the cable channels. I find it very interesting that they all say things like "the market reacted today to the shortage of goldfish in Peru" or some such thing. But the day before they didn't predict that the market was going to react to the goldfish in Peru problem. It is only afterwards.

Then I think of the Efficient Market Hypothesis and say to myself "hmmm."

So in this system you just buy all the stocks there are and you do not worry about timing and what not. Now it would take a lot of money to buy all the stocks individually so people have created these so called index funds and ETF's (exchange traded funds) and probably some other names. They are kind of like mutual funds except there isn't any stock picking involved.

Well, that's pretty much all I've learned.

One more thing actually that I will mention:

Someone asked an Oklahoma oil man how to make a million dollars in the oil business.
He answered "Start with ten million."

Monday, July 7, 2008

What Did Gneral Clark Say?

I heard some discussion the other day of something that apparently General Wesley Clark said in an interview on one of the Sunday programs. I searched for a transcript and found what follows posted on General Clark's web site: http://securingamerica.com/node/2993:

Bob Schieffer: Well you, you went so far as to say that you thought John McCain was, quote, and these are your words, "untested and untried," And I must say I, I had to read that twice, because you're talking about somebody who was a prisoner of war. He was a squadron commander of the largest squadron in the Navy. He's been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for lo these many years. How can you say that John McCain is un- untested and untried? General?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Because in the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of understanding risk. It's a matter of gauging your opponents, and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in Air- in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, 'I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle it-'

Bob Schieffer: Well-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: ' -it publicly.' He hasn't made those calls, Bob.

Bob Schieffer: Well, well, General, maybe-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: So-

Bob Schieffer: Could I just interrupt you. If-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Sure.

Bob Schieffer: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President.

Bob Schieffer: Really?!

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: But Barack is not, he is not running on the fact that he has made these national security pronouncements. He's running on his other strengths. He's running on the strengths of character, on the strengths of his communication skills, on the strengths of his judgment. And those are qualities that we seek in our national leadership.

Bob Schieffer: Well, let me ask you this. Senator Obama announced yesterday that he's going to Europe and to the Middle East. Most people think that he'll probably stop off in Iraq where he hasn't been in more than two years. Why now?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I think this is a good opportunity. It's a window of time. The Convention is late in the calendar this year, and he's got the window of time to go overseas, meet with foreign leaders. You know, we were meeting with him the other day and as he said he doesn't want to count his chickens before he, before they hatch. But he recognizes this country is in such a plight, both at home and abroad that no one can contemplate taking the office of the Presidency without having some very good ideas about what needs to be done from the get-go. There's not a learning period in this job. The next President's going to have to step right into the job. He's going to have to have the policies there. And I think Barack is taking a, a very sensible view of this by going abroad and meeting firsthand the leaders at this critical moment in, in times of America's needs abroad.

Bob Schieffer: General, what do you think would be the impact, let's say on Iran, on the neighborhood around Iraq if in fact Senator Obama is elected and he does announce that he's going to bring back the troops on a specific time schedule? As Senator Lieberman said, he's totally discounting things that could happen along the way. Would he follow that schedule no matter what?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I don't think Barack Obama is discounting things that have happened along the way. I think the critique is more like this, Bob, that the Bush administration and Joe Lieberman in the forefront have from the beginning relied excessively on military force as the answer to all the nation's security problems. And what Barack Obama understands is that military force may have to be used as a last resort, but it's not the first resort. So, let's take the case of Iraq. This administration went to a war it didn't really have to fight. Barack Obama called it like it was at the time in a speech early on before we went into Iraq. And once there, the administration relied excessively on the men and women in uniform. It failed to put in place the overarching diplomatic strategy and the regional strategy that was necessary to deal with Iraq's neighbors. It more or less invited Iranian incursions by threatening that Ira- Iran and Syria were next on the hit list in military actions and, and efforts in the region without having an effective strategy in the region. So, when we talk about troop withdrawals from Iraq, yes, I think the major muscle movement for the United States needs to be less reliance on military power and more reliance on all the other tools of U.S. power, including diplomacy. So, it's within that vein that Barack Obama is talking about pulling troops back from Iraq. It doesn't mean that he's not going to be sensitive to other actions in the region. He's going to be much more sensitive to those actions than the kind of mechanistic, militaristic response that John McCain has habitually given. What I can foresee- ...
I think Clark will not be the Vice-Presidential candidate but probably Secretary of Defense or maybe Secretary of State.

My guess is that the Obama campaign knew and approved Clark's comments.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

My Maternal Grandmother

Yesterday was her birthday. I believe we would have required 118 candles if we had been buying candles.

She died more than 20 years ago but July 5th is still her birthday. I don't think it's correct to say "would have been her birthday." Your birthday doesn't change at death just like any other fact about you. It is just that you don't celebrate it anymore - here at least.

I think one of my older cousins had already named her when I came along. We called her "mah maw" in my best-but-insufficient way of trying to write it the way we said it. I never did know how to write it.

Dad and Mom cared for her in their home for a long while. I don't remember when she came to live there. I think she lived there at least 5 years though.

She never learned to drive. I don't know why.

She and her husband did a lot of things. They were very much depression era folks. The poverty of that time in general was worse for them because they were in the ministry. My grandfather was a carpenter before he was a minister. His particular calling was to go to a town and physically build a church building, pastor for a while, and move on to the next town.

My grandmother was extremely resourceful and must have been very smart I think. Because she managed to keep a loving home during all those moves and under the most difficult of circumstances. I recall my mother talking about how she was able to make a scrumptious meal out of just about nothing.

My mother also liked to remember her candy making ability. I remember eating candy from my grandmother's stove. My favorite was called "Aunt Bill's" and I have no idea who Aunt Bill was. But that was some good candy. It was a kind of brown color and was a little crumbly - not gooey like fudge and not very cake like either. But she made all sorts of candy. Mom said that she would make candy and sell it for cash during the harder times.

My brother researched her family line. As I recall her ancestors had moved from somewhere in the deep south to Texas before the Civil War. Apparently a lot of people did.

She was also a caregiver. Her husband had a stroke when he was pretty young. He died when I was 12 so it is hard for me to remember how long she took care of him but it was several years. They had a farm when he had the stroke and they had to sell that and move to the city.

Mom would drive into the City once each week and pickup her younger sister and they would then go to their mother's. The sister stayed with my grandfather while mom took my grandmother shopping for groceries. Neither the sister nor my grandmother could drive.

After my grandfather died my grandmother moved into a small quad-plex apartment. She loved African Violets and had many of them. They apparently loved her because they grew like crazy under her care. She lived alone a long while.

Then she started forgetting to eat and forgetting to take medicine and leaving the burners on and wearing too many clothes or sometimes not enough. So mom moved her down to the farm with them.

She loved to fish. I don't think I've ever known anyone who loved to fish as much as she did. Her favorite place was on the farm she and her husband owned over in Tuttle. It had a pretty, little creek on it and they also built a pond which they stocked. But the creek was her favorite place. She like to use a long cane pole. I mean long, too, as in 12' or longer. They were so long, those poles, that they had to be stored overhead in a garage or shed. Heck, maybe they were 16' even because they were nearly as long as a car. They were too long for me to handle very well. She had this little stool deal that she could sit on and she'd stick that pole out over the creek and let down the line with the baited hook. She always caught fish, too, and knew what to call them.

When she lived at the farm with mom and dad she would try to fish in the pond that was down below the house.

I've sold that area to Chick-Fil-A by the way. We haven't closed yet but will soon. In a year it will be built and operating and there will be thousands of cars per day going in an out of there. People really like Chick-Fil-A though and are really happy that we are getting one in our area. I've only eaten once at a Chick-Fil-A and I thought it was pretty good.

Anyway that's the spot where the pond was and my grandmother would go down and sit by the pond and fish. Only there really weren't any fish in the pond and dad kind of let it dry up several times. He said if he had it to do over he would have rigged up a well to have kept water in the pond and kept fish in it too just so my grandmother would have been able to catch something.

Before the pond there was a kind of depression there in what we called the meadow. Inside the depression had been this huge Cottonwood tree that had lived there much of my life. But between lightening and age it had become mostly dead and dad cut it down one year and then built the pond later. Mom used to take me and my brother down below that old tree for a picnic. She'd throw a blanket out and we would eat hot dogs with relish and mustard. I still remember that all these years later.

Another thing my grandmother did after the dementia set in was to write her name in everything. I've wondered about this. Dad did something similar but not to the same extent. Anyway you can't pick up a book at the house without finding "Myrtle" scribbled on the inside somewhere. Frequently she wrote "Myrtle's book" in fact. I wonder now if it was an attempt to hold on to her identity a little longer.

She was always wanting to go home. She was extreme about it. She was one of those wanderers you read about. Mom told me often that she would be awakened in the middle of the night to find her mother fully dressed and all her bags packed and ready to go home.

Near the end she would take off all her clothes and try to go home. Once dad caught her out in the road in front of the house and she was totally naked except for shoes. He got her back inside and put this old, red, Owens-Corning windbreaker on her until mom returned home to help him.

At the very end it became too difficult for dad and mom to care for my grandmother and they put her in a nursing home. She escaped from a couple of homes though and then they would have to move her. She would be so frail and bed ridden and you would think to yourself that she couldn't possibly walk let alone run off. But then suddenly she would gain strength from some unknown source and out she'd go. Once she climbed a pretty good gate as I recall.

Dad always regretted he didn't keep her at home so she could have died there with him and mom around her. He worried a lot about that. It was one of his big regrets.

Another thing I remember vividly about my grandmother is going to her house over in Tuttle. On the way we had to go over this really narrow bridge that had the steel sides and arcs. It was really narrow and scary when we met another car. It's still there but has been closed since I was in High school. We'd drive through the town of Tuttle. There was an old fashioned drugstore there that had the best chocolate ice cream. We'd cross this railroad at the end of town where the paved road would end. Then we drove a little farther down this sandy road and their place was on the right. It had a long driveway with Poplar trees framing both sides. The house was a tall one story with a dormer window (I think) on front and it had asbestos siding. They mowed their lawn with an electric mower. I thought that was funny. I think in the summer it was hot and I'm uncertain if they had air conditioning or not. I think maybe not but that's kind of in the time when we didn't really have air conditioning except in stores.

I also remember eating Thanksgiving dinner at their house in Tuttle. What I mainly remember though is this heater they had. The way I recall it, it was kind of tall and shaped like a cylinder of sorts and burned wood I think. And it put out heat like crazy. Everyone liked to gather around that heater in that room. My Uncle Clarence would tell stories about Texas or Minnesota (or was it Michigan - can't remember). My Uncle Ed would tell stories about Georgia. My oh my he loved Georgia. I've known other people from Georgia and they all loved that state. My uncles were good story tellers. The women would be in the kitchen and at the table fixing food and stuff and some of us kids would be running here and there. The women got louder and louder and louder. I remember that still and sometimes it would be so loud dad would holler out. I think he was more sensitive about the loudness. I've seen that since though where a big group of people just gets louder and louder.


It's better to remember the Thanksgivings on her farm I think.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
This is a verse of The Star Spangled Banner that I have not often heard. At first glance I thought it might have something to do with the signers of the Declaration of Independence but that notion was rather quickly displaced.

Rather the reference is about the other side. I think we too easily forget that conflicts have two sides. History tends to emphasize the winners. The American Revolution was no different in this regard. Of course it was the British government that was being changed and the British military was sent to prevent it. But the Revolution was not unanimously supported by those who lived here.

They were called "Loyalists" and "Tories" and "King's Men" and probably other, less flattering names. I read that historians have estimated this group at about 15% to 20% of the population, or some 400,000 to 500,000 individuals. Another 35% to 45% were neutral. It is also interesting that 62,000 loyalists actually left the country after the war. The number of actual patriots or rebels (depending upon your viewpoint) was probably never more than 50%.

I guess the neutral group would be something akin to the undecided of our modern polls.

This verse seems to me to be about those who chose the active avenue of war as a means to settle the conflict. I thought for a while that the part about "their foul footsteps" might indicate just those foreign to the country but I think it is better understood in the sense of those willing to take action. That's as opposed to the neutrals.

Vauntingly is an interesting choice of words. It conveys the sens of bragging or boasting. Since the British army at the time was probably the best army in the world I am uncertain just how boastful it was though to expect an easy victory.

Better to not boast about how easy it will be to win a war. This lesson seems to elude us all regardless of our time. Whether it is a real war with bullets and guns or a lawsuit war or a dust up with the neighbors, invariably it turns out that wars are harder to stop than they are to start.

Anyway there are always two sides. At least two and sometimes there are more.

Really the American Revolution was the first Civil War. The Civil War was the second one.

People were loyalists for several reasons. Some simply felt a sense of loyalty to the King and the traditions of homeland. Some had economic concerns. Some had family ties or friends. Some simply disagreed with the idea of republicanism. One has to remember that the British Empire at the time was the most liberal government the world had seen in terms of individual freedom and liberty. Some were against war. I suspect it was much as now that people were pretty principled in their views and that there were more reasons than one that entered into thinking.

The loyalists were hated by the time the war ended. They generally suffered greatly for their losing allegiance. Many of those that fled did so to save their lives. It wasn't a good time to be a loyalist.

There just is not much evidence in human events of victors being magnanimous to the losers after conflict.

Friday, July 4, 2008

E PLURIBUS UNUM

"Out of Many, One"

I like the Great Seal of the United States of America.

The eagle clutches an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 olives. There are 13 arrows opposite the olive branch and the eagle looks to the olive branch.

There are 13 stripes on the shield and there are 13 stars above the eagles head. But there is one shield and the 13 stars combine to make one.

Of course the 13 is symbolic of the original 13 colonies. The olive branch symbolizes peace and the eagle turning to look at it symbolizes preference for peace but the arrows symbolize preparedness for war. There are several other 13's.

The back of the seal is interesting. Annuit Coeptis means "He Approves Our Undertakings." Novus Ordo Seclorum means "New Order of the Ages." The MDCCLXXVI is 1776.

'The August 20, 1776 report of the first Great Seal Committee describes the seal as "Crest The Eye of Providence in a radiant Triangle whose Glory extends over the Shield and beyond the Figures."'

As you might expect there is some controversy over what some of these symbols mean. Seems more reasonable to me to accept the simpler explanations rather than look towards conspiracy theories.

E PLURIBUS UNUM is not the official motto of the United States. That is "In God We Trust" which was officially adopted in 1956.

I like the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, too:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
And I like the Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key, too:
O! say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Recently I've heard some people that are not proud to be Americans. Several people this year suggested we did not deserve to celebrate.

I don't agree with them but the fact they can say stuff like that also makes me proud to be an American.

My first ancestor on my dad's side that came here arrived in 1738. His son fought in the Revolutionary War. He was murdered after a battle by Tories.

There are a lot of things I love about my country. I am proud to be an American.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Team Hoyt

I am about 5 years younger than Dick Hoyt and I suppose it was the closeness in our age that first interested me about his story when it was brought to my attention a while back. Recently the GodTube video below was sent to me as a link and that made me decide to blog about it.



Dick has a son, Rick, who is 46 this year. Rick has MS. Rick has accomplished things that many people thought impossible. But his dad and family didn't think it was impossible and they supported him beyond any measure I can imagine.

Dick and Rick have participated in an amazing 224 Triathlons and 25 Boston Marathons and many other events totaling some 958 as of January 1, 2008.

They have a web site - Team Hoyt.

The video made me cry.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Half Full or Half Empty

I read a post the other day about my city and state. The author had nothing good to say about either and plenty of bad.

Some negatives in his list had some elements of factual basis. It was the extremely vitriolic nature of the post that was wrong. The author knew it and even apologized. But then he excused his diatribe because of his passionate opposition towards Oklahoma City.

I've lived in Dallas and Kansas City besides Oklahoma City. I think it was a privilege.

I am certain there were many problems. But I really cannot recall many right now. In Kansas City I recall that the river was a bit of a problem in that you had to cross a bridge and your choices were limited. In Dallas the traffic was always heavy and unpredictable. I'm pretty sure there were lots of others but I can't remember them.

On the other hand there were so many good things about living in Kansas City. I took a tour once of the fountains in Kansas City. Another time I visited the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. I had coffee with friends at the plaza. Many great restaurants that we tried and enjoyed. My favorite was this little place that had a pasta bar a couple of times a week. It was a great experience for me.

Dallas was great, too. It was different than Kansas City and Oklahoma City. There's a pace of living in Dallas that's different. There are unique businesses and shops all over Dallas that are amazing.

My church in Kansas City (actually Gladstone, MO) was Sherwood Bible Church. I had many friends there. I also had many friends from my work there and even after we stopped working together we got together a couple of times. In Coppell I attended Sandy Lake Road Baptist Church. I was really new there but was already being made to feel right at home.

The places were great but the people were better.

I've known people who complained about where they lived. It didn't really matter where they had come from but that place was the best place they ever lived and this new place was the worst.

I guess I'm not like that. Every place I've lived has been great.

I think it is the old half-full versus half-empty perspective things.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ruth

I was reminded the other day of the story of Ruth.

It is a beautiful story from beginning to end and in many different ways.

In particular I am impressed with this part for this post:

But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me."
Ruth 1:16-17 NIV

I think that is just so incredibly beautiful.

Later on in the story a man named Boaz reveals that he also thought it was beautiful. He apparently is much older than Ruth. At the instruction of her mother-in-law, Naomi, Ruth goes to the threshing floor and lies down at Boaz's feet because he is kinsman-redeemer to her. He awakens surprised to find her there. He tells her that this action on her part is more kind than the kindness she showed to Naomi. He adds that she did not seek the younger men. So that's why I suspect he is much older.

I like Boaz, too. He has already expressed a great deal of kindness towards Ruth and Naomi. He arranges with his men that she can glean the grain in his field and find plenty. Ruth must have been a proud woman but not prideful. I thought the way that Boaz handled this situation was remarkable because he is concerned both with Ruth's dignity as well as her material well-being.

We would do well as a society to remember that our race requires sustenance on both fronts.