Thursday, June 30, 2005

Get Outta Town!

That’s what I plan to do tomorrow.

Carol has been diligent in preparing the camper, assembling food, doing laundry, watering our parched lawn, and similar fun activities to get us ready.

What? Of COURSE I helped with the preparations. Somebody had to call the golf courses we plan to play and reserve tee times, didn’t they? And somebody had to make reservations at the campground, right? Well, OK—I think Carol reserved our campsite. But I made the tee times!

What else did I do? Hey, I helped a LOT! I reminded her to fill up the gas tank on our van on Friday before I get home, so we won’t delay our departure. I helped her plan our meals while we’re gone. And that’s a BIG help.

The meals we planned? Well, I told her to just bring stuff for breakfast and lunch. I’ll take care of all the evening meals. I figure we’ll stop somewhere on the road Friday evening before we get to the campground to set up our “residence.”

Then for Saturday night I put a Pizza Hut coupon in the van so I can get carry-out pizza. For Sunday I’m thinking about a steakhouse restaurant right beside the campground. We’ve seen it before and thought about trying it, but never have. On Monday, we’ll drive home in the late afternoon and scrounge up something in Victoria after we get back.

There! That was a big help to her. I mean, this is supposed to be a holiday for her, too, right? Why should she have to cook dinners and clean up afterwards? See what a considerate husband I am?

Where are we going? Well, I’ll just say “Central Texas.” There are a number of golf courses we enjoy in the region from Austin north to Waco along I-35. I’ll stay away from Crawford, TX. I wouldn’t want one of my (many) stray golf shots to land on our President’s ranch. I’d probably have the Secret Service all over me, and I have enough other worries on the golf course without adding that.

The only down side is I will again be away from the internet and unable to regale my daily blog readers with my ramblings.

No, I checked. This campground does NOT offer “wireless internet access at your campsite,” as a lot of other campgrounds now do. I’m going to let them know at check-in that by this time next year I expect them to have it.

So, my apologies in advance to all (or both) of my regular readers, that there will be no posts for a few days. I’m sure that next week I’ll have some tales to tell about the travel/camping/golfing experience of the Independence Day weekend. But you’ll just have to wait till then to read about them. That’s the price we pay when I get outta town.

Whadayamean, “I ought to do it more often!?” Oh; for my own relaxation and well-being? OK. Thanks. I think.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Our servicemen and women

This will be a popular topic for blog posts today, I predict.

Did you catch President Bush’s remarks to the troops at Fort Bragg last night?

As you regular readers know, I try to stay out of politics on this blog. There’s little “romance” in politics, and I call this thing “Romantic Ramblings.” That said, I had to agree with some of the things I heard George W. say about Iraq and the war on terror.

First, timetables for withdrawal. I thought his reasons for refusing to establish a deadline were logical. We all want our troops home and out of harm’s way. To set a target for completing the transfer of responsibility for maintaining security in Iraq to the Iraqis is fine, but only if it’s clear that we have the resolve to stay past that target if we must.

If the insurgents were smart and knew we were leaving in, say, December, then they’d lay low until January. Once we were gone they could tear apart the local regime’s forces. With an indefinite schedule, they have to keep active (and thus exposed) for as long as it takes. Otherwise they’d lose what radical idealistic support they have.

I’ve been on military active duty during a war. I know that what the troops want is simply sufficient strength of numbers and weaponry to be victorious, plus the will to win and support from the people at home.

I predict the military will be overwhelmed with messages of support through the web site set up by the Depart of Defense. It’s

Some time over the upcoming July 4th weekend, I urge you to visit the site and send a message of support to service personnel. I know it will mean a lot to them. Many of them are well aware of public opinion here in the states. Check out Bill’s post if you don’t think so.

Also read some of Monica’s posts about her son in Iraq.

OK. I was in a serious mood today. Check back tomorrow for my usual irreverent treatment of something.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

My Coronation – the final chapter.

Today was the day. My permanent gold crown was installed.

That’s the one on molar number 19, for those of you not familiar with the “Crown Affair” saga, as I was calling it.

This will be my third molar encased in shiny yellow metal. At the risk of sounding sacrilegious, the old hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns” keeps coming to mind.

It certainly would NOT hurt my feelings any if this one were to be the last. But as the “tyranny of time” takes its toll (GREAT alliteration there! And I LOVE that phrase, “tyranny of time”) there will be more dental work in my future, I fear.

OK, for those of you who just can’t resist reading about someone else’s pain, here’s how it went.

The cheery dentist started with a discussion concerning whether or not I wanted to be numbed. I tried to get a laugh with Karyn’s “numb and number” quip, but I guess he’d heard it before.

Since he knows I’m a wimp, and since this tooth required the crown because it had become very sensitive, he suggested the Novocain. Since I also know I’m a wimp, and I didn’t want to be flinching while he blew drying air across this sensitive tooth before applying the adhesive, I agreed.

“You’ll feel a little pinch,” he told me again, grinning behind his mask.

“Jackass,” I thought, not grinning. “It doesn’t pinch, it sticks!”

Yeah, I know. That wasn’t very nice. Sometimes my private thoughts are pretty sarcastic. Not to mention caustic. Not to mention profane.

Fifteen minutes later he’s back. “Can you feel your lip?” he asks.

“What lip,” I mumble back, feeling like it must be swollen and sticking out in a huge pout.

“Oh-Kay,” he says, “Let’s get this crown on.”

The rest was pretty much a non-event. He popped off the temporary crown I’ve been wearing for the last 4 weeks, prepped the tooth with some sealant followed by the adhesive, and on went the gold. I never felt the first hint of pain after the “pinch.”

Now, at home in front of the computer, I’m just beginning to feel the side of my face again. It’ll be a real pleasure to be able to chew on the left side for a change.

I can now forget Jodi’s recent post, “Please Pass the Jello.”

Monday, June 27, 2005

Another meme?

Viki has tagged me with a meme entitled:

"What 5 things do you miss about your childhood?"

First: the rules to this meme game.

Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump every one up one place; add your blog's name in the #5 spot; link to each of the other blogs for the desired cross pollination effect:

1. Searchin' for a Rainbow
2. Aint it Amazing?
3. Spit Noodle & Joey
4. VikiBabbles
5. Romantic Ramblings

Next: select new friends to add to the pollen count. (No one is obligated to participate).

1. Candace
2. Michelle
3. Schnoodlepooh (I just LOVE that name!)
4. Anybody else! If you want to participate, just go ahead and do it. Copy that link list above, remove the one on the top, add yours on the bottom, and pass it around, okay?

Okay, so, on to the 5 things I miss about my childhood.

1. I miss the feeling of safety and security I had growing up in a home with two devoted, loving parents. No dysfunction in our family! Dad went to work in the morning and Mom stayed home and did all the Mom things. We were rich compared to some and dirt poor compared to others, but we never lacked anything we really needed. Mom and Dad had to forego a lot to put two kids through college, but they did it.

I’m glad Carol and I have been able to provide the same stability and security for our two girls when they were kids.

2. Family vacations were always special! We’d usually just take one week during the summer and go the beach somewhere. Cape May, New Jersey was an early favorite. We would drive, of course, and I still remember as a real little fella how excited I’d get when we saw a train. Later I became aware of airplanes and was just as excited when I saw one of those. Hey, this was back in the 1950s, y’all. Airplanes still had propellers then—even the big ones!

3. I miss the sure knowledge that my Dad knew absolutely everything and could do or fix absolutely anything. He was my idol, my superhero. He was stronger than anybody in the world and nothing could hurt him ever.

One summer he took the manual transmission out of our old ’52 Ford and rebuilt it in our basement. I can still picture the gears and shafts, gaskets and bearings, pins and other unnamed parts laid out carefully on the concrete floor. I was in total awe that anyone could possibly put all that stuff together again and that it would work!

I’m really glad I didn’t find out that he was mortal until I was an adult. It was still impossible for me to believe, even when I was almost 30, that he could suddenly die.

4. I miss the talks I had with my Mom as I went through the agonies of becoming a teenager, realizing that girls were different in a nice way (not just because they had cooties). She soothed my pains after my first crush went awry, and provided me with wise advice in subsequent romantic encounters. In fact, a little bit of that is in my novel.

5. I guess I miss the feeling that each day lasted for a very long time. A week was like a year, and a season was like a lifetime. Now the days fly past, the weeks are but a moment, and each year seems to be gone before I realize it has arrived.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A day of rest?

Not THIS Sunday.

Most Sunday afternoons, weather permitting, will find the two of us on the golf course. Today we have a project in the midst of completion. The next stage of it will take most of an afternoon to complete, and today is the last complete afternoon available for the next couple of weeks.

Besides, we played golf yesterday. Yes, the fawn is still there on the course! We saw him by himself near his usual spot. Each week he’s noticeably bigger. Soon he’ll disappear into the woods and brush to go do whatever adolescent deer do.

Oh, we also saw an adult doe in a different, distant part of the course. She came trotting out of a line of brush adjacent to a fairway. Right behind her came not one but two fawns of identical size, clearly twins. They weren’t running fast; just kind of jogging. We followed them with our eyes for a long way as they loped or trotted across open fairways, into and out of some trees, around other golfers, and finally disappeared into some woods in the distance.

Sorry—no pictures yet. Even if we’d had the camera yesterday we probably wouldn’t have been able to get it out and aimed in time to catch them.

What? Who won the golf match? Well, THERE you go, worrying about winning and losing, score, and all those things. What difference does it make? It was a beautiful day (if a bit hot), the deer were out, and we got some exercise.

OK, OK! If you insist on knowing, Carol beat me by 4 strokes. (And I was playing really well, for me.) But moving right along...

Our project today involves building an arbor at one end of what used to be our swimming pool until we filled it in. It’s now a beautiful landscaped area. I can say that in all modesty because Carol designed it and did most of the work.

What? Of COURSE I helped her. I offered praise and encouragement on a regular basis. After all, I’m a very dutiful husband.

The arbor will be made of pressure treated lumber, and will support some lattice that we hope will soon be covered by jasmine. The four posts are already in the ground and set in concrete. The next phase is cutting and bolting on a framework of two by eights that will support the “roof.” The roof will consist of two by sixes spaced at 18-inch intervals, with additional lattice on top for shade and to encourage the jasmine to cover the entire structure.

Today the roof support framework will go up, and one section of lattice installed to start the jasmine growing. Maybe at some point I’ll take some pictures of all of this to show you what I’m talking about.

Oh, I think I’d better close this post now. I see Carol (through the window) out at the arbor struggling with some of the heavier boards. Guess I’d better go out and offer some encouragement.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Short. Sweet?

Today’s post will be short. Maybe even sweet. Perhaps even a bit bittersweet. That depends on your point of view.

I have written a really sweet, touching novel. Hey, that’s a direct quote from someone who didn’t even know me when she read it! No, I didn’t make that up, and I’m not so vain that I’d make a claim like that on my own.

Well, maybe I AM that vain. But I didn’t THIS time!

I’m working on a sequel to that completed book, and have several other writing projects in process (somewhere between an outline and a bunch of chapters written).

I even have a literary agent who has agreed to represent me. He’s promoting my novel to a number of publishers right now! I have two rejections so far, but both editors had some very positive things to say about the book.

OK, maybe that’s just their way of being polite. But my agent assures me he thinks they’re being sincere in their praise. Of course I’d like to think so, so I do. Think so.

Now all he has to do is find an editor who falls in love with the story, recognizes the potential for profits in both that MS and all the others of similar style and better quality that will follow, and give it a shot in the bookstores.

That should be easy, right?


So where’s the problem?

Well, the problem resides with fiction readers. They’re not nice.

What do I mean, “not nice?” Well, since a picture is worth a whole bunch of words, let me show you a picture of a “nice” fiction reader.

Please click HERE to see how a “nice” fiction reader behaves.

There. If more people were like Zoe they would buy my book and read it just because I went to all the trouble to write it. (That comic strip is called Baby Blues, in case you don’t get it in your paper.)

That would be sweet. The truth is more bittersweet. Everyone responds differently to a book. Some love it, some hate it. Some have reported tears at a couple of places in mine. (And no, I don’t mean tears of boredom!)

That right editor is out there somewhere. If my agent can find him or her, maybe I’ll learn how many “nice” fiction readers there are out there.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A comment on Karyn's "Freaky Friday" Post

(Iambic heptameter, for those of you categorizing my attempts at verse.)


I knew today was Friday when I stumbled from my bed.
And only ONE THING kept me from my “final workday” dread.

You see, tomorrow’s Saturday! And it can’t come too soon.
I’ll do some projects round the house, then golf all afternoon!

But Friday means it’s off to work, with little chance for fun—
Like writing stories, blogging, reading, lying in the sun—

But Friday also is the day when Karyn’s blog contains
Her “Freaky Friday” sexy post, even when it rains!

I’d something to look forward to! No need for consternation.
I drove to work excited, and in great anticipation.

I waited for my morning break to see what she would write.
Would this week’s post be naughty? Must I keep it out of sight?

In other weeks she’s covered things from “What a Woman Wants,”
Viagra causing blindness, and a gay’s response to taunts,

To people having parties just to try to sell sex toys!
(These parties are for ladies only—nothing for the boys.)

So now I wondered what she’d say, the last day of this week.
Would I be titillated? Bored? Or just too shocked to speak?

With trembling hand I moved the mouse and clicked upon her link.
I read the post and sat there stunned, not knowing what to think!

She thinks the bride called “runaway” was running, not from fright—
About the wedding, or the groom—but of the wedding night?

OK, I guess it’s possible. She must have had some fears;
But couldn’t they have talked about it, maybe over beers?

Oh, wait. She says they’re “Born-Again.” Well, maybe over tea!
Assuming that he loves her (’least, it seems this way to ME),

They could have talked the whole thing out. Avoided all that mess.
Like Karyn says, she could have saved her parents untold stress.

A thoughtful post, and written well. I’m sure you’ll feel the same.
But somehow disappointing, ’cause I found it awfully tame!

So Karyn, when you write your Freaky Friday for next week,
I hope you’ll make it raunchy, not just something mild and meek.

Your readers now expect your Friday post to be so hot
That we can make embarrassed comments (even when we’re not!)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Card contest.

(Hallmark would love this.)

Of my two daughters, the younger is by far the more artistic one. She gets it from her mother, of course. I can draw a straight line, but only if I use a ruler.

I have referred to her in this blog as Elizabeth (her middle name, of which she is not particularly fond). In fact, I shortened it a few times to Liz, which really drew her ire. Her real name (now that she, like her older sister, is leaving Texas for another part of the country, and no longer needs to be shielded, I guess) is Amy.

Anyway, as all of you regulars here know, I think I’m pretty clever. I say that in all humility. (I can hear Amy hooting in laughter as she reads that.) Well, she thinks she’s pretty clever too. (Trouble is; she’s right. But don’t tell her I think so.) All of that cleverness (real and assumed) manifests itself in a contest to see who can select the cleverest greeting card for birthdays, anniversaries, Fathers Day, and so on.

An example: On her birthday a few years ago I picked out a card “from both of us” that purported to be from “The Jungle Stud and his Amazon Temptress,” with appropriate cartoon drawings of a Tarzan-like male and a tiger-skin-clad beauty. Carol and I signed it and sent it to her. That’s just so far from any hint either of reality or of her perception of her staid parents that she found it hilarious.

Well, for Fathers Day this year she sent me TWO cards. The first was a nod to my tendency to come up with horrible puns. It pictured a golfer, with a question on the front asking why golfers always take an extra pair of socks when they play. The answer, on the inside, was, “In case they get a hole in one.”

Yeah, I know, that’s an OLD, OLD joke. She wrote on the envelope that I was to open that one first, since she had found it first and thought it fit her punster Dad perfectly. The other envelope indicated that she had then found this second card, and just couldn’t leave the store without it. I was to open it second.

The card itself was kinda generic. On the front were two cartoon pictures with the message:

“For Fathers Day Fun:

Some guys like to golf… (picture).

Some guys like to fish… (picture).

You’re lucky!”

On the inside is a picture of a man holding a net, wearing waders and standing in a pond. On the bank is a golf bag on a pull-cart. The caption is:

“You get to do both!”

Yeah, yeah. Ha, ha. So I hit a lot of balls into the water hazards. What’s so funny?

But then my artistic daughter added to the picture a dotted-line outline of a figure standing on the bank with the words, “Insert Mom here.” Then she added a dotted-line outline in the water in front of the man with the net and wrote, “Insert Mom’s Robo-caddy here.”

Now THAT was funny!! (Here’s the card, for those of you who just HAVE to see a picture to understand.)

If you don’t get it, read THIS POST.

Okay, Amy wins this round. But stand by for her birthday and anniversary. I’ll be conducting an in-depth search for the perfect rebuttal!

(This is for Karyn: the DotM defines “Conduct” as a descriptive term for people who don’t like heating and air conditioning vents and passages.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Resume fraud.

My sorta whimsical parting shot in yesterday’s post mentioned resume fraud. As a human resources manager, I’ve seen quite a bit of it.

I’m not talking about people who are a little creative with their title of two jobs ago. “Managers” who worked alone, had no subordinates and little real responsibility, for example. Many resumes include a little “inflation” in terms of titles, salaries, and responsibilities.

(Reminds me of some of the creative accounting that occurs on the old 1040. But that’s the topic for yet another post.)

No, what I’m talking about is the outright lie.

Some of the lies I’ve seen have been really stupid. I mean, how hard is it to find out whether the applicant really did spend five years in a position of increasing responsibility with an accounting firm with a CPA certification, or sorted the mail there for a few months and finally learned what “C.P.A.” stands for?

One lady indicated that her CPA designation was pending.

“Pending?” I asked.

Oh, yes, (she finally admitted) it was pending her decision on whether or not to take classes, study up, and maybe schedule the exam in a few years. R-i-i-i-i-ight.

Then there’s the education prerequisite. One of our openings lists as a requirement either a high school diploma or a G.E.D. Of course all applicants claim to have one or the other. When I ask for a copy, the squirming begins.

One applicant explained that he’d lost his diploma several years ago. I offered to verify his graduation with his high school, only to learn from him that it had burned down and all records were destroyed in the fire. I asked what its name had been so I could check with the area’s school district. He claimed he couldn’t remember.

Me: “You can’t remember the name of your high school that burned down?”

Him: “Uh, no. Well, y’see, uh, that was a long time ago, and…”

Me: “OK. When did you graduate?”

Him: “Uh, I’m not sure.”

Me: “But I thought you told me you were in the class of 1994?”

Him: “Oh, yeah. That’s right.”

Me: “Well, where was your high school? I’ll call around and see if I can verify this.”

Him: “Where was it? Uh, you mean before it burned down?”

You can see where this conversation was going.

Even more insidious (to me) is the bachelor’s degree that comes with a nice certificate, an embossed gold seal, signatures and lots of calligraphy. It even comes from an institution you think you’ve heard of. But when you try to verify…

The most recent case I had was a gentleman who presented me with a Xerox copy of a degree certificate from Cal Southern. Looked very professional. But wait, I thought it was from the University of Southern California, abbreviated “Southern Cal.”

It took a little research, but “Cal Southern” is the name of a diploma mill located in the Bahamas. No buildings, no classes, and no course work. You just send them a check and a letter listing your “life experiences,” and they’ll issue you college credit for those experiences. If the check is at least a certain amount, they’ll issue you a Baccalaureate degree. For 30% more, you can have a Masters.

And guess what? For ANOTHER 50% you can have your very own PhD! And this is from an ACCREDITED university!

Accredited by whom, or by what agency? Oh, there are a number of them, but none is recognized by legitimate educational accreditation groups.

The gentleman with this certificate was not a liar, he was a victim. He admitted that he had never attended classes, but thought that his “life experiences” should legitimately entitle him to a degree. For an additional payment of several hundred dollars, he told me, Cal Southern would provide him with a fully certified transcript listing how they “converted” his life experiences into college credits.

This was simply a con game, and the unfortunate “mark” heard what he wanted to hear and convinced himself it had to be true. After all, he told me, his experiences OUGHT to be worth as much as hours spent in a classroom. He DESERVED that degree. And besides, they were ACCREDITED!

I did my best to let him down gently, explaining that we could only accept degrees offered by institutions whose accreditation came from certain groups. He was philosophical about it.

I heard later that he got a job elsewhere (near Houston, not too far from here) where his degree was accepted.

I hope he’s successful. For both his sake and the sake of those counting on his knowing what he’s doing!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Vice President? ME??!!

No, not of the United States. Good Grief! That’d be a hoot! (And then a quick BOOT.)

OK, let me explain.

I agreed a year ago to serve on the board of the local (Victoria, TX) workforce center. They call themselves “Workforce Solutions of the Golden Crescent.”

The “Golden Crescent” is one of those Chamber of Commerce supposedly descriptive names for this area of Texas. Other examples are: Corpus Christi — “The Coastal Bend;” Beaumont, Orange, and Port Arthur — “The Golden Triangle.” You get the idea.

The board consists of over 30 members representing both public and private sectors in each of the seven counties in the service area. One term on the board is three years.

Heck, the board only meets once a month for about 90 minutes. And they skip the months of July and December, so it’s not much of a time commitment.

Well, today I got a phone message from the head of the Nominating Committee for board officers. I’ve only been a board member for 10 months, and haven’t served on many committees, so I figured he wanted me to be part of the nominating group. That’s pretty easy, so I called him back ready to tell him sure, I’d be on his committee. When’s the next meeting?

Oh, no; SURPRISE! His message for me when I call is that the committee wants to nominate ME to be the V.P.! (That would be a good line in a poem… “me, be, V.P.” Great assonance, huh?)

(Karyn, do you know what “assonance” is? No, it’s NOT something you write about on Freaky Friday! And yes, I spelled it correctly. But thanks for asking.)

Well, I stammered a bit, trying to think of good reasons why I would NOT want to be the V.P. I came up with a couple, but they were weak and he had already thought of rebuttals for them. I gave up and humbly agreed to serve if the board so voted.

I know. This is boring, right? OK, I’ll stop writing about it.

Well, one more thing for the old resume, I guess.

Now if I could just put “Published Novelist” on there… (Without lying, of course. Resume fraud may be the topic for a later post.)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Who you callin’ fat!?

I had lots of comments (some nice, others not-so-nice) about my profile picture. So I’ve changed it.

For the last week or two I used a shot of a hippo just ankle-deep in water. (Do hippos have ankles? Well, you know what I mean!)

It is one of my favorite hippo pictures, and we took a lot of them! I particularly like that one because the hippo seems to be looking at the camera with a bit of an evil, menacing expression.

You don’t remember that? Click HERE. See what I mean?

So, the profile picture I’ve selected for the next couple of weeks is a bit more regal. Considering that next week I’m having my permanent gold crown installed, I thought it appropriate to use the king of beasts for a time.

I keep putting those pictures up one at a time as a teaser. I’m trying to entice you to browse through the “Africa Journal” on my web site. If you want to know what I look like (and Carol too, for that matter), there are pictures of us in the journal. Plus there are pictures of just about all the birds and animals we saw.

That 4-week trip was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to travel nearly half way around the planet and see creatures I’d only seen before in films or perhaps in a zoo.

I called it our “African Adventures,” but it wasn’t very adventuresome in terms of danger. Oh, there were a couple of tense moments. It was a little unsettling to be traveling to Uganda just a few days after a group of tourists had been robbed and killed.

The closest we came to any real danger was on the roads—but you can read about that if you’re interested. And if you browse through the pictures you’ll see that we didn’t exactly rough it either. Our accommodations were all VERY pleasant, including the “rustic” tent camp in the Serengeti.

Anyway, for all of you who told me I needed to go on a diet or made some snide comment about my big nose (based on the hippo picture), you may now refer to me as “your majesty,” as I look past you in royal disinterest.

At least until I put up a picture of a baboon. Then you can go back to your snide remarks.

I’m sure you will. (And I ain’t lion.)

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Most husbands would never admit to beating their wives, even if asked. Remember that old “gotcha” question to which there’s no good yes or no answer: “Have you stopped beating your wife?”

All you regular readers are already thinking, “Oh, he means at golf. Big deal.”

Well, on (rare) occasion I have shot a lower score than she did for one nine or the other, assuming we played an 18-hole round. But I can’t remember the last time I beat her for the entire 18 holes.

Well, actually I CAN remember the last time.


What? Who cares, you ask? Well I DO, for one!

Darn it, when we get paired up with other folks I get tired of being asked with a snicker after I dribble a tee shot, “Gee, does your husband play golf?”


Huh? How badly did I beat her? There you go, getting anal retentive again, worrying about quantity and relative size. Why does the actual score matter? Mine was better! Winning is winning, whether by a large margin or a small one.

Does the winning thoroughbred get a bigger purse if the margin of victory is six lengths rather than a nose? No! Does the Olympic runner get a bigger gold medal if he wins by ten seconds than if by 1/100 of a second? No!

So what difference does it make? You still want to know?

OK. It was one stroke.

There! Are you happy now?

What? You want to know if she played well? Actually she played very badly for her, and I played above average for me.


What do you mean, "Did she LET me win!?"

Why would she do that?

Oh, because it's Fathers Day? And she loves me and wanted me to have a happy day? Well...

(If she did, it worked!)

P.S. The fawn was there again today, similar spot, looking very healthy and well-fed.

P.P.S. I really like a comment made by BILL the Marine on his blog from Iraq: "Any male can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad."

Amen, Bill. Semper Fi!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A little more on “Christina”

If you’re a regular, you’ve followed the saga of “Christina” (who I’ve now identified as Joy, my older daughter) and her loss of a job and subsequent fight for unemployment benefits.

Yes, this is the same daughter who is now on her way to Florida with her husband, my grandson, and a car full of iguanas. They are moving there in search of better job opportunities.

I’ve written about her fears that she will get horrible references from her former employer, and thus have difficulty getting a good job in the “medical technician” field. The horrible references are a near certainty.

Before leaving Texas last Wednesday she asked me to fax her resume to about 15 medical offices in the Tampa area that had advertised openings in her field.

She called from somewhere in northwest Florida to tell me that she has already had phone calls from FOUR of those medical offices, all of whom are very interested in the experience she has and eager to interview her for openings!

In just a few days she has gone from anxiety about being able to find a job, to talking about waiting for the highest offer!

In addition, the opportunities for her husband Johnny look bright in that area, or at least brighter than they were in Corpus Christi.

Yes, I’ll miss having my one grandchild close by, but this move seems to be a very good thing for Joy and her family. (If you missed the link in and earlier post this week and would like to see the family AND the iguanas, click HERE to see Johnny’s web site and check out the “Pictures” link from the home page.)


Carol and I played golf today. In the heat. I couldn’t find the listing in the paper, but I’m guessing that the local “Hades index” is at least 100%. It sure FEELS as hot as Hell out there. (The thermometer says 96. That’s degrees Fahrenheit, for Michelle and you folks from other parts of the world who use Kelvin, Celsius, or whatever. Regardless of your scale of measure, that’s hot.)

ANY - way, with that said, I just had to tell you that Bambi was out on the course again today. He was lying in about the same spot as before under some trees between two fairways. He’s becoming such a regular sight; I’m going to miss him when he’s no longer there.

My point (for all you who wonder if I EVER have a point) is that he seems to be thriving. My inference is that either he found his Mama, or he’s old enough to browse on his own without mama’s help.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Happy ending!

They left Corpus Christi in mid-afternoon, wanting above all to avoid Houston’s rush hour traffic. (Or more accurately, rush three-hours-plus traffic. We’re talking HOUSTON, here!)

She was driving the U-Haul rental truck pulling their mini-van on a car dolly, while he drove his 1974 model Toyota pickup with a camper body—he refers to it as their “motor home.” All their worldly possessions were loaded into that caravan, and they were taking it slow.

She had their infant son in a car seat in the truck, while he had their four pet iguanas to keep him company as they drove. They communicated by hand signals and, when necessary, by cell phone.

Despite their fears, they made it through Houston without incident, turned east on I-10, and drove until they found a campground where they could plug in the motor home and sleep in air conditioning.

The next morning Squirt was missing.

I’m talking about my daughter whom you know as Christina, her husband, my grandson Trevor, and their iguanas known as Bonnie, Clyde, Stubby and Squirt. Since they’ve now left Texas, I think it’s time they came out from under my shield of anonymity.

Their real names are Joy and Johnny (“Christina” is Joy’s middle name). To get to know them, see what they look like, meet Trevor and the iguanas, click HERE. That’s a web site we created to promote Johnny’s business as an entertainer. Once you’re there, click on the “Pictures” link to see more of them.

Squirt is the youngest, smallest iguana. After my post of yesterday, I have to admit that Squirt has had some life-threatening medical problems, and that these were corrected by a veterinarian at some cost beyond what I probably would have paid. But I understand why Joy and Johnny are attached to him. He IS a cute little guy.

He had spent the night at the campground outdoors in a cardboard box that had some window-screen material duct-taped over a large hole in one end. In the morning Johnny found the duct tape pulled inward at one corner creating a hole just large enough for little Squirty to glide through.

He had his leash on. (Yes, these lizards have small harnesses and leashes.) Without the leash he might have had a chance to survive at least through the summer and maybe longer if the area had no freezing weather. But with the leash he was almost certainly doomed to being tangled in vegetation and unable to forage.

An extensive search of the campground revealed no trace of Squirt.

Joy called me in tears to report their loss, and assured me that they had left cell phone numbers with the campground management in case Squirt turned up alive. They drove their caravan out towards I-10 heading on to Florida.

The campground manager had given them directions to a nearby truck stop with a McDonalds where they planned to get some breakfast. They made a wrong turn and wandered around a bit before finding their way to it. Otherwise they might have been far down the road when Joy’s cell phone rang.

It was the campground manager. Squirt had been found!

Jubilant, they trekked back and retrieved their pet.

Joy refers to the incident as “a random act of kindness” by the campground manager. Once Squirt was found and turned in, he first drove like blazes to the McDonalds hoping to catch them there at breakfast. Finding no sign of them, he rushed back to his office and called (long distance!) to her cell phone to catch them before they’d driven too far.

Due to their wrong turn, they had just arrived at McDonalds and were only about a mile from the campground when his call came.

My daughter is convinced the manager went to the extra effort because he was concerned for them, and a nice guy.

My opinion is that he wanted to get rid of that ugly, frightening lizard as quickly as possible before it drove away customers. Plus, he didn’t want word to spread that a large reptile was reported loose in his area. Would you take YOUR kids camping there?

Regardless, what started as an anguished morning turned into a much happier day as the gypsies continued east.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

More on Pets

Yesterday’s post attracted a number of comments and emails. (What was the number? Sheesh! Don’t get so bogged down in details! It was a number, OK?)

Another of my alert readers drew my attention to the following article in USA Today on March 14, 2005.

The article begins:

“The patient had dental surgery, there were complications, and he died. Now his family members are accusing the doctor of negligence and claiming that the episode caused them emotional distress.

It's a typical medical malpractice case — except in this 3-year-old dispute, the patient was a sheepdog named Lucky.”

Ok, if that got your attention like it did mine, go HERE to read the article.

A key sentence in the article is: “In a reflection of the special place that pets have come to hold in Americans' hearts, U.S. courts are bucking centuries of legal decisions that have defined animals as property.”

Well, yeah. Pets DO hold a special place in the hearts of their owners. That’s why I cried when my canine companions died.

But even an old softie like ME realizes that there are limits when it comes to how much I’d spend to help a pet get well. And on how much I would award (were I to be seated on that jury) for mental anguish when a pet died.

There are those who will immediately think of all the children and other humans who desperately need medical care, and deplore the fact that (as the article points out) tens of thousands are spent to prolong the life of a pet.

I don’t know the answer. But I’m glad that in America I can spend my own money on what I think is important. Well, except for the part of it that the government collects as taxes and spends in any way my representatives vote to spend it.

But that’s a political diatribe and the subject for some other post.

Any opinions on that article?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

No Phone, No Pool, No Pets.

That’s from the Roger Miller classic, “King of the Road.” You knew that, though. Right?

What brought that to mind? I was browsing several of my blogroll blogs and noticed a number of posts about pets and other animals. (Yes, there IS a point to this. You’ll get there eventually.)

(DISCLAIMER: I love animals! I would swerve my car off the road to avoid hitting a lowly skunk or raccoon if I thought I could do so without serious injury to myself or strike damage to the car.)

We used to have pets. In fact, for most of my life I’ve had pets. When I was growing up we always had at least a dog and a cat at our house. Sometimes there were two cats and a dog. Seldom more than that.

Like many some people, I bawled like a baby when a pet died. I had just lost a very close friend.

Those early experiences with pets satisfied my craving for canine or feline fellowship. Well, let me rephrase that. Based on my childhood experiences, one (or maybe two) pet(s) was “normal” for me, and enough. My sister, like Mick Jagger, “got no satisfaction” along those lines. In senior adulthood, her “norm” has become from 3 to maybe 6 dogs, and cats whose number seems like the biblical sand on the seashore.

Maybe, “cats without number” would be closer to the truth, because the actual number could never be determined. She’s had cats in the chimney, cats in the heat and air conditioning ducts, cats in every room in the (huge) house she owns, cats all over the furniture, cats underfoot… you get the idea.

When I first married Carol we adopted a kitten. We named her “Ginny” because she was from Virginia. As the years passed and children came along, we acquired a dog, then another dog, and then another cat.

At that point I drew the line. No More Pets.

Our children became young adults and went off to college. We ended up with three dogs and no cats. Then one dog (Christina’s) died, essentially of old age. (Brought on by “the tyranny of time,” a quote I love from a poem by one of my blogging friends. Anybody recognize it?) I bawled, but Carol was stoic.

Not long after that, Carol’s all-time favorite pet, an English bulldog named “Marshmallow,” drowned one evening in our backyard pool. We bawled together in each other’s arms.

At that point we were down to one little miniature Dachshund we’d named “Wiener Schnitzel.” Since she was so short, we shortened her name to “Weenie.” It fit. By now the daughters were married and gone. It was just the two of us and Weenie.

The pool developed major problems and we had it filled in. (It’s now a lovely landscaped area adjacent to our back patio. You should stop by and see it sometime.)

Then Weenie began suffering the ravages of old age, and finally she also went to that great kennel in the sky. We both bawled again.

Not long after that we realized a great truth. Like many in this country we had been caught up in the debate concerning abortion; with a division of opinion between a woman’s right to choose, and a viable fetus’ right to life. One burning question that the medical experts and the philosophers wrangled over was, “When does life truly begin.”

One day we read the answer in the newspaper, and realized from our experiences that it was correct.

Life truly begins when the last child has left home and the last dog dies.

(Before you get angry, re-read the disclaimer at the top!)

We still have a phone—for now—but I’m mightily tempted to disconnect it and fulfill Mr. Miller’s song lyric.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More on Music

To my family and blog friends: yesterday’s post of assigning an old song to you as descriptive of one or more of your attributes was NOT intended as an in-depth psychological analysis and definition of your character. (Many of you ARE characters, but that’s another post.)

You should see the emails I got from some! You’d think I’d called them dirty names.

Well, I DID come down a little hard of Karyn. But hey, that’s what we DO to each other. (In a figurative sense, you dirty-minded people!)

I thought of some other possibilities for some, such as “Rockin’ Robin” by Bobby Day for Robin. I had some other plays on names. (Not for Schnoodlepooh, however. That name is a play on itself, I think.)

If you enjoyed the attempts and actually remember (or admit that you have heard) some of those songs, go to Mike’s blog and try his song title contest. There’s a link in his sidebar to the answers. I wonder how long that took him to write and chronicle!

Anyway, even though my post was a quick and shallow effort, it still took a lot of time. Made me glad my blogroll is as short as it is! I’ll keep adding to it, but probably won’t try to go down it again assigning song titles.

Viki wanted to know if I was making up a meme. Since I still can’t pronounce that word (I assume it’s “MEEM,” but at least one person told me it has two syllables, as in “MEE – MEE”) I don’t know WHAT I’ve created.

However, it IS a good idea. If you like it, I challenge you to pick, oh, say, 5 bloggers from your “frequent read” list, assign a song to them for whatever reason you like, put the list on your own blog and then tag each of them to do the same.

There! I just created a meme. (WOO – HOO!)

WARNING: Be advised that your participation in this meme may be hazardous to your blogging health if your targets disagree with your assessment of their “attributes” and your resulting choice of a song. You’re liable to get some nasty emails wanting to know why you didn’t assign them “You’ve Got What it Takes” (Brooks Benton and Dinah Washington) instead of “Kathy’s Clown” (Everly Brothers), or maybe “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” (Connie Francis).

Monday, June 13, 2005

A musical tribute.

Or maybe “attribute.” Or maybe a musical tribute to your attribute?


I’m a know fan of oldies. No, not people, SONGS. Maybe that’s because I am an oldie. Not song, person.

This is getting out of hand. What I intend to try is to ascribe a 60s or 70’s song (title or lyrics) to significant people in my life, and to my blogroll friends.

1. To Carol, my wonderful wife, and the MOST important person in my life: The Four Tops, “Ain’t No Woman Like the One I Got.” (Should be self-explanatory.)

2. To my older daughter, Christina (who I gave away in marriage in a wedding chapel in Las Vegas): Dixie Cups, “Chapel of Love.”
("Because we're, goin’ to the chapel, and we're,
Gonna get mar-ar-ar-ied...”)

3. To Christina’s husband, Johnny Conch (his stage name): Bobby Vee, “Take Good Care of my Baby.”

4. To Elizabeth, my younger daughter: The Turtles, “Happy Together.” (Double reference: she loves anything to do with turtles—always has—and she and her hubby will always be Happy Together.)

5. To her husband Tom: Elvis Presley, “Stuck on You.”

6. To my sister in Maryland: Judy Rodman, “Girls Ride Horses Too.” (I know, that was an 80s country song. But it fits.

7. To Robin, (you understand, right Robin?): Dusty Springfield, “Son of a Preacher Man.”

8. To Nicole (in reference to PQAL): The Temptations, “My Girl.”

9. To Tina: Jorgen Ingeman, “Apache” (a guitar instrumental).

10. To Brenda: The Beatles, “Paperback Writer.”

11. To Hamel, Lulu, “To Sir, With Love.” (If you haven’t seen the movie, find it and rent it.)

12. To Bill, Barry Sadler, “The Green Berets” (I know, the Green Berets are wimps to a real Marine, but it seemed to fit.)

13. To Peg, The Serendipity Singers, “Don’t Let the Rain Come Down.” (Washington State, natch).

14. To Joe Cool, Barry Manilow, “I Write the Songs.”

15. To Michele, The Beatles, “Michelle.” (Different spelling, but hey...)

16. To Monica, The Shirelles, “Soldier Boy.”

17. To Abi, Dion, “The Wanderer.”

18, To Candace, Mary Wells, “My Guy.” (Reference to Tomcat.)

19. To Jennifer, Jewel Aikens, “The Birds and the Bees.” (Let me tell ya ‘bout ‘em...)

20. To Viki, The Four Tops, “I can’t Help Myself.” (I get that feeling about her when I read her posts.)

21. To Karyn, Tommy James and the Shondells, “Hanky Panky.” Or maybe, The Trogs, “Wild Thing.” Or maybe, The Rebels, “Wild Weekend.” (After Freaky Friday?)

22. To Michelle, (The African Goddess), Paul Anka, “Diana.” (That song came out when I was really into the Greek and Roman mythology. I always related Diana to the Roman goddess of the moon and the hunt. So when I think “goddess,” I think “Diana.”)

23. To Tisha, Jeannie C. Riley, “Harper Valley P.T.A.” (A southern gal’s tale of the South.)

24. And finally, to yours truly? Well, I’d have start with Gene Chandler’s “Duke of Earl,” since it inspired my name. Next would be The Association and “Cherish” since it won over my wife, the love of my life (you GOTTA read my book!). Lots more, like The Capitols and “Cool Jerk.” (The "cool" part is questionable.)

That’s enough for today. If any of you would like to propose your own defining 60s or 70s song, let me know.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Christina’s further vindication.

I know that all of my MANY regular readers (both of you) followed with avid interest the tales of my daughter’s unemployment compensation denial, appeal, reversal, further appeal, and ultimate victory. (How’s THAT for a one-sentence summary of about 10 long posts, eh? And you both said I was wordy! HA!)

As you’ll remember, she worked at a medical specialty practice for 14 months before being fired for what seemed to be no good reason. When her unemployment comp. was ultimately upheld and approved, she felt vindicated.

Hey, wouldn’t you? A governmental agency (unbiased, by definition) agreed with Christina that there had been no misconduct, as alleged by the employer.

Well, here’s some follow up. That medical practice had four specialists working there when Christina was hired. Over the next 13 months, three of them left for other locations. One of them (I’ll call him Dr. T) moved to the part of Florida where my daughter is now planning to move. He had always seemed to appreciate her work, so she contacted him on Friday to ask if she could use him as a reference.

She called his current practice, expecting to just leave him a message. To her surprise he came to the phone when he learned who was calling. They had a very pleasant conversation that went something like this:

Dr. T: “I heard you aren’t working at (the former practice) any more.”
Christina: “That’s right. I was fired by Mr. Queen for something I said.”
Dr. T: “Oh, Christina, that’s ridiculous! You were always very professional.”
Christina: “Well, Mr. Queen thought that I——”
Dr. T: “Don’t worry about it. I had problems with Mr. Queen when I was there, too. In fact, I’m still having problems. I’ll be delighted to give you a reference.”

There was more, and that’s not word-for-word (I didn’t hear it, remember?), but you can imagine how good it made my daughter feel that at least one of the specialists at the practice thought very highly of her and will give her a good reference.

One of her biggest fears has been that she would not be able to get a good job because prospective employers would check with her former boss. Heck, I would if I were going to hire someone. In fact, I always check past employment. I’m an HR manager. That’s what we DO.

But now she can just list Dr. T as her former employer in Texas, and not worry about a bad reference. A good feeling!


Carol and I golfed again today, and at Michelle’s insistence we took the camera. Despite my protests that taking the camera would absolutely preclude any wildlife sightings, we saw the fawn (I’m accepting Karyn’s assurance that it IS the same fawn) again. This time it was lying under some trees in a different part of the golf course.

Carol put a tree between herself and the fawn and crept up quite close for what ought to be some EXCELLENT pictures. Trouble is, we used a film camera and have a bunch of shots still untaken on that roll of film. Some day (soon, I hope) we’ll get them developed, scan the good ones of the fawn, and show them to you. He’s a cutie!

Then we can all start the verse over: “Doe, a deer, a female deer...”

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The same fawn?

Remember my sighting of Bambi at our local golf course on May 28? (Click HERE to read it.) We were back there today and saw another one, or the same one (how can you tell the difference?)

Today’s fawn was larger (two weeks older?), but was lying in the same spot as before, under some trees between the same two fairways. We didn’t see it (good camouflage!) until Carol walked close and it jumped up and stared at her, ready to dash off.

Carol didn’t want to scare it so she managed to get my attention without shouting, and pointed.

The fawn just stood there, twitching its tail and staring at us as we moved slowly away from it. I’d guess it stood 16 inches high at the shoulder, and almost two feet high at the top of its head. Its belly and the underside of its tail were white; while the rest of it was a pale tan (I know—fawn color. I didn’t want to have to say it, but...) with lots of little white spots on its back.

Today there was no dash, no race with a car, no acrobatics or turns that defy physical laws. This fawn just looked around, moved slowly in and out of the shadows of the trees, and watched us walk away. When we later looked back we couldn’t see it, but Carol noticed a dark spot on the ground in the shade. We feel sure that was it.

So, for all of you who wondered if the fawn of two weeks ago was ever reunited with its mama or if it survived being spooked and racing into the forest, I think we can assume the best rather than the worst. I don’t know how fast they grow at that age, but the little one of the other post couldn’t have been older than a week or two. This one was still very small, but more mature.

I’d like to think it was the same fawn.

"And that will bring us back to doe!" (I never did finish that song last time.)

And for all you sports fans who really want to know, I had a lower score on the front nine than Carol! Yes, it’s true. No, I don’t care whether you believe it or not. The fact is; she was playing very badly at the start and my play was above average. So there! It CAN happen.

What? You want to know the score at the end of the round? Well, let’s just say that her score on the back nine improved by 12, while mine went the other direction. Okay, okay; if you MUST know, she won the round.

(But if we had quit after nine, I would have! So there!)

Friday, June 10, 2005

Freaky Friday? An old fogy’s lament.

See Karyn Lyndon’s blog. If you’re not already a regular there, you might oughtta be.

On Friday Karyn writes of sex (it must give her a rush),
But when I read that pers’nal stuff it kinda makes me blush.

Hey, I don’t mean to criticize, for that would be quite rude.
And now that I’ve confessed my angst, I’m sure I seem a prude.

She’s written books she calls “chick lit,” (it’s known as that by some.
To me that name has always sounded more like chewing gum.)

I s’pose the chicks who read her blog enjoy that sexual play.
At least she posts a warning sign to keep the kids away.

(Of course that’s kinda like the park-bench sign that says Wet Paint.
You know you should refrain from touch, but somehow you just cain’t.)

Well, back when I was growing up, in what I call, “my day,”
You didn’t write or talk of sex; you kept it hid away.

But then the revolution came, free love became the norm.
To speak of (or participate in) sex in any form,

Was deemed OK for anyone, as long as ‘twas consensual.
The pundits told us, “Just be cool,” and, “Don’t be gettin’ tense y’all.”

So now we watch it, talk it, think it. Many of us do it.
We treat it like it’s just routine, like there ain’t nothin’ to it.

It seems to me we’ve lost the thrill that intimacy brought
When sex became more clinical, more public than it ought.

I know I swim against the tide when I go on this way,
And most will scoff with ridicule, and some might even say,

“Grow up, old fogy!” “Get a life!” Or, “What’s your problem, man?”
But when it comes to open sex, I guess I’m not a fan.

Hey, sex is great! Don’t think I want to do away with lovin’!
But when the rubber meets the road, and pushin’ comes to shovin’,

I think I’ll keep it private, kinda hidden in the fog,
And not put forth for all to read, especially on my blog.

So Karyn, you can propagate, and blog about it weekly.
When Fridays come I’ll read YOUR blog and get my kicks discretely.

(Btw: “consensual” — People who are against anything “touchy-feely.” John’s Dictionary of the Moment (DotM), 2nd edition.)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A little more on love

After re-reading yesterday’s post and comments, along with a couple of emails, I think I may have given a more negative outlook on the possibility of “love at first sight” than I intended.

I am, with regards to basic beliefs and philosophy, a romantic. Thus I don’t discount the possibility of love at first sight. In fact, I believe there are cases in which two souls have sensed the presence of magic before they’ve met (on the basis of a description from someone else, for example).

Karyn’s example of meeting her husband and Hamel’s, “You can tell a person's personality from their appearance and mannerisms and fall in love with them,” are excellent points. (See yesterday’s comments.) (Yes, believe it or not, Karyn actually made a good point. Must be a blue moon.)

I believe that you can indeed watch a person enter a room and intuit a lot about him(/her) from movements, dress, and grooming (physical aspects). The “magic” I mentioned is more the “connection” between the souls that Michelle (the African goddess) spoke of.

I wasn’t trying to argue against “love at first sight.” I just intended to relate that in my experience it took more than a glance. Mine was “love at first meeting.” That meeting encompassed getting to know the person inside that great-looking exterior. I fell in love with the whole package.

And, of course, we’re still getting to know one another after decades. And the love just keeps on growing!

That’s probably why my glass is always at least ¾ full. I'm a romantic optimist—what can I say?

(Oh. This just occurred to me—speaking of souls that connect. A definition of “connect” might be, “Descriptive of people who do not like the cervical region.”)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Love at first sound

Today I’m leaving the topic of exploding toilets, unexplained plumbing “events,” and appliance conspiracies.

(As discussed in an earlier post, if the prefix “con” means “against,” then “conspiracy” must describe those who don’t like robbery on the high seas. I enlightened Karyn the other day on a derivative definition: “conspire” describes those who don’t like church steeples.)

(Oh, and in response to a number of requests, I’ll continue to explore various word sources and definitions as opportunities arise. How many requests? Well, it was a round number. Yes, “zero” is a number, and it’s almost round! But I’m sure that if one or two of you had thought of it you’d have requested more, right? Right? Hello? Awfully quiet out there…)

OK, to my topic for today:

Carol and I met at a dance. The whole story is described in my “romance novel” CHERISH IS THE WORD. I presented it as a novel because there are some fictionalized events added and the names of characters are changed, but it’s about 90% true. (Just ask her. She read it and liked it. And she NEVER lies!)

Soon a very perceptive editor at a publishing house will recognize the potential for this story and you’ll all see it on the shelves of bookstores, newsstands, even Wal-Mart. But for now, consider this a teaser to whet your appetite.

When she walked in (at the dance), I was immediately entranced. Why? Well, she’s gorgeous! Darn near breathtaking. In an uncharacteristic moment of bravado, I stepped forward and spoke before anyone else did, so she strolled into the ballroom with me.

(Btw, she has declined to state her first impression of MY appearance that night, except to declare that my Navy full dress white uniform was gorgeous. Clothes make the man, eh? What? No, I did NOT say that she thought I wasn’t good looking! But even if she did, what does she know? She claims she didn’t think SHE was all that great looking, and boy, was THAT wrong!)

Was it love at first sight? No.

But I just said she was (and is) gorgeous, right? What’s not to love?

She and I have discussed this many times. Yes, I was initially attracted to her appearance. At that moment, it was all I had to go on. But my emotions didn’t begin to move into the “love” zone until she opened her mouth and spoke.

What? I couldn’t have loved a mute person? Of course I could have. But when she spoke I heard intelligence. She was articulate, grammatical, and the topics we discussed—though not deep, philosophical positions—were of common interests and values.

There was no conscious thought process or logic telling me, “OK, lets see… Good looking? Check. Well spoken? Check. Solid values? Check.” But as the minutes became an hour or two I found myself swept off my feet. (No, in an emotional sense, not physical! She did not kick my legs out from under me!)

As I’ve thought about that evening many times afterwards, I’ve realized what happened. There are plenty of pretty girls and great looking guys out there. But while an attraction may begin with physical appearance; that alone is not nearly enough to know if true love exists (or may exist).

You’ve heard the expression “soul mates.” The soul consists of the mind, will and emotions. I believe that two souls must “connect,” or find a commonality of values and maybe interests, for love to occur and last.

Yes, opposite personality styles can and often do attract. But conflicting core values almost never do. And you can’t learn that from outward appearances, because, as we all know, appearances can be deceiving.

Love at first sight? Sounds good, but I’m dubious. In my experience love didn’t happen until the first hour or so of conversation and banter.

Your thoughts?`

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


If you’re a regular reader of Romantic Ramblings, you’ll understand this post.

If you’re not a regular reader; why not!? This blog has everything! As I’ve chronicled earlier, here you will find adventure, sex, romance, humor (OK, that’s subjective; I think there’s humor even if the rest of you don’t), religion, supernatural stuff, sex, emotion, drama, tension... uh... Did I mention sex?

Yesterday an alert reader pointed out to me an article in our local paper. I don’t know if YOUR local paper ran this story or not, but the headline read, “Man seeks $10 million in toilet explosion.”

(If you want to read the entire story, click HERE.)

Now I ask you; how many times have I pointed out in THIS VERY BLOG the obvious conspiracy of appliances and plumbing fixtures against human kind?

Remember my posts about the leaking toilet in my hall bathroom? Oh, and the water supply line bursting in my other bathroom? All of this was closely followed by the plugged-up sewer line in front of my house, backing up nasty stuff into my tub and shower stall.

It’s a known fact that my appliances and plumbing fixtures communicate with each other. (Well, it’s known by ME at least—regardless of what the rest of you think.) I suspect that the house wiring and the telephones are involved, but I don’t have proof of that. Yet.

But back to my point.

Can you see from the above referenced story how this conspiracy is escalating? Earlier the fixtures and appliances were merely creating nuisances with the potential to cause significant monetary damage.

What? You don’t think a flooded house would be a significant monetary expense? The plumber who un-stopped my front sewer told a story of a house which, when flooded by a burst sink supply line, cost $35,000 to repair! OK, that may NOT be significant to YOU, but it dang sure is to me!

But now the plumbing is increasing the severity of its attacks to the point of serious bodily injury and potential death!

I mean, all the man did was take his seat on the throne, light up his smoke, and BOOM!

I love the quote: "I can't tell you if it blew me out the door or if I jumped out."

Picture it—there’s a flash, an explosion, the top flies off of the port-o-can like a tin can with a firecracker under it, and then a guy is standing there burned and stunned with his, well, garments around his ankles.

And what about the reaction from the party being sued? An inside source tells me that private investigators were hired to determine if the burned man had eaten a large quantity of beans before the incident. However the official, public response was, “A man who answered the phone at Chisler's office in Fairview said the company would have no comment.”

Smart man. He knows that if he accuses the port-o-can, his own home fixtures and appliances will become active in an attempt to shut him up before the secret is out.

Mark my words: this conflict is far from over. How many more such incidents will it take before the public realizes that we are under attack?

I will continue to report such events until I too am silenced by the conspirators. Just remember, you read about it here first.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Ah! Monday...

Monday has a bad rap. Or is that “rep,” for “reputation?” What exactly is a bad rap, anyway? If anyone would like to fill me in on the etymology of that word usage, please feel free. My “DotM”(Dictionary of the Moment – an internal reference that rarely fails me) is silent on the matter (and there are damn few matters that it’s silent on).

Boy, digression happens easily on Monday! It hit me on the second sentence, and those were short sentences. Back to my theme…

Remember the old Fats Domino song, “Blue Monday?”

What do you mean, “Fats who?”

Yes, I know it’s an old song. Doesn’t anybody listen to oldies stations any more?

“Blue Monday, how I hate Blue Monday;
Got to work like a slave all day.
Here come Tuesday, oh hard Tuesday,
I'm so tired got no time to play.
Here come Wednesday, I'm beat to my socks
My gal calls, got to tell her that I'm out.
'Cause Thursday is a hard workin' day,
And Friday I get my pay.

Saturday mornin', oh Saturday mornin'
All my tiredness has gone away.
Got my money and my honey
And I'm out on the stand to play.

Sunday mornin' I'm feelin' bad,
But it's worth it for the time that I had,
But I've got to get my rest,
'Cause Monday is a mess.”

I still hear that song in my mind most Mondays. When I do, I marvel at the mentality that “Monday is a mess,” that the work week is full of drudgery, and that the best of life happens on the weekends.

What utter nonsense! If that’s your philosophy, you’re going to be stressed and unhappy for 5/7 of your adult, working life. Or maybe 4/7, if you count Friday as part of the weekend. And I guess a lot of people do, because it seems that not a lot of work gets done on many Fridays. At my plant, at least.

Man, if you’re that stressed out or unhappy at your job, find another one! Mondays can be fun.

Try going to work on a Monday smiling and whistling. Everybody will think you must have been propagating all weekend. (That was for you, Karyn. I knew you’d perk up at that!)

I take great pleasure in being murderously cheerful on Mondays. I’ve learned it can be infectious. At first the Monday doomsday gang will moan and complain and tell you to go away and let them suffer. But if you persist just a bit, they will do one of three things: a) ignore you; b) get caught up in your mood and start being cheerful themselves, or; c) commit suicide.

If “c” happens, at least their sour attitude won’t infect all those who reacted as in “b.” If “a,” try again next Monday. They can’t ignore you forever.

Monday’s rep, or bad rap, is getting better! Trust me.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

A good weekend!

We’re back from our camping and golfing weekend. I knew you’d be excited to know that.

It was a good little getaway. Good weather, great golf courses, and a camper that’s like a “home away from home” to come back to each evening.

You know, I feel guilty even calling it a “camper.” The word “camper,” to me, carries connotations of a tent, a campfire, the great outdoors; all those sorts of things. What we have is more like a “travel trailer.”

Yeah, we stay in a “campground.” And around our “campsite” are some in tents who are really doing all those things you associate with camping out.

But what do WE do?

We back the trailer into the paved slot between the trees, pop it up, hook up the 30 amp electric service and the water hose, turn on the air conditioner and the water heater, and finish “setting up camp” in air conditioned comfort.

What’s left to set up? Well, besides getting our clothes and food out of the car and into the camper, we have to set up the little color TV and the DVD player so we can watch a movie that first night.

Although our trailer has a little bathroom with a toilet and a shower, we prefer to shower in the campground showers if they are provided (and not gross). The shower in the trailer is pretty tiny, and it’s easy to splatter water around in there it you’re not careful.

Our biggest concession to real camping is that we sometimes sleep with the windows open. But not often. The typical nighttime lows in this part of the country during the summer are in the high 70s to low 80s with high humidity. It’s just much more pleasant to sleep under a light blanket with the air conditioner running.

You’re probably wondering why we don’t just stay in a motel when we go out of town, right?

Well, as I said near the beginning, our travel trailer/camper is like a little home away from home. We have a bedroom, a kitchen, and a living room, so it’s more like a suite than a motel room. And it just feels like us. We’re comfortable in it.

Of course, for the amount we paid for it we could stay in LOTS of motels for LOTS AND LOTS of weekends before breaking even financially. It’s definitely not all about saving money.

(And don’t tell Carol, but there’s another level of comfort for me in having that camper. If I ever get so wrapped up in blogging or other activities, as Karyn implied concerning wireless laptop use around the campfire, and Carol locks me out of the house... Guess where I’m staying! No dog house for me!)

Nah—that’ll never happen. After 37 years of happy marriage I’d have to do something REALLY stupid to make her that angry.

Next time I’m tempted to act like a smart ass around her, I’d better remember that.

Friday, June 03, 2005


Hello! Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you’re here. Otherwise, you’d be somewhere else. And that could be good or bad, or even neutral, depending on your outlook. But that line of thinking is going nowhere, so let’s move on.

(Ever notice how the word “nowhere” is constructed? It’s the combined form of “no” and “where,” and as we all know, means “not anywhere.” But it could be the combined form of “now” and “here,” meaning “right here, right now.” Curious.)

Moving on from either place (here and now, or not anywhere), today’s sermon is on the subject of attitude.


Ever notice how some people seem predisposed to a certain way of looking at situations and events—well, at life in general? They can be categorized as either positive or negative. (Yeah, some are always “charged up,” but that’s a different sermon.)

(Like the two hydrogen atoms: one says to the other, “I’ve lost my electron.” The other asks, “Are you sure?” The first one says, “Yeah, I’m positive.” Oh, you’ve heard that one? Sorry.)

A number of years ago I learned that, by a surprisingly small effort of will, I could change my attitude. No, I’m being serious now. I know, it’s hard to tell, but I am.

I learned I could CHOOSE to look at events or situations in a positive or a negative way.

Example: At work one day we had some VIP guests in for a visit and tour. We served them lunch (brought in food—we don’t have facilities to prepare food at our little plant), and everybody pitched in to serve and clean up afterwards.

I was carrying an armload of mostly empty Styrofoam food containers to the trash barrel after the meal. One of them began dripping greasy liquid down the front of my khaki pants. I didn’t notice right away, but an alert coworker did. She pointed out that I’d spilled grease on my pants, and they were ruined, and how horrible that I’d have to wear them with those awful spots and stains on them for the rest of the day, and wasn’t I terribly embarrassed?

I glanced down, saw the wet stains, and realized in a flash that there was NOTHING I could do about it. So I shrugged and said, “No big deal. They’ll wash.”

My coworker’s mouth flew open is disbelief. “How can you be so... so... unconcerned?”

I explained to her my philosophy about attitude. I could have chosen to focus on all those negative things she mentioned. But what good would that do?

Alternatively I could choose to ignore them and focus on other things. I couldn’t change the fact of the grease stains. I had no other pants there to change into. (And for those of you disposed to thoughts like this, NO, I couldn’t go without! I was at WORK, for Pete's sake!)

I hadn’t done anything wrong or bad, the stains were going to be there for the rest of the work day, and that was that.

So, I explained, I chose to go on about my business and ignore the pants. The key here is that we all have a choice to make.

This is nothing new. You’ve heard for years, “If life serves you lemon, make lemonade!” And that’s the essence of it.

Why am I rambling on about this obvious subject? Well, I guess it’s because a surprising number of people never seem to understand that they can choose how the react to things, and even how they feel about things. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard folks say, “I can’t help the way I feel.”

SURE you can!

And guess what? Given a choice, most people would prefer to be around folks who have a positive outlook rather than a negative one.

SO, the next time you feel dumped on and just want to be sour and complain about it, go right ahead! Feel free. It’s your choice.

Just remember that: it’s your choice.

End of sermon. That was free, by the way.

No, no, don’t thank me. Just quit complaining and do something about the things you can change, instead of worrying or griping about the things you can’t.

Thank YOU!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Time to get out of town!

Did I tell you about the pop-up camper we have? I didn’t? I need to fix that.

OK, here’s the quick background: For years (ever since the early 80s, back when our kid were, in fact, kids) we’ve owned a Coleman pop-up camper. Actually, we've owned two of them. After about 12 years we sold the original one and bought a bigger one.

We have pulled those campers all over the USA. We’ve camped from the Florida Keys north to Vermont, and west to California. We’ve camped at Las Vegas...

(A quick funny story about that. You’ve heard of the Vegas resort “Circus Circus,” right? In Las Vegas we stayed at the KOA, but one daughter told folks that she was staying with her parents at “Camper Camper.” She got lots of weird looks.)

(Well, it was funny at the time! I guess you had to be there.)

…and lots of other places too numerous to list. Well, not really too numerous. I’m just too lazy.

ANYway, about two years ago Carol (my wonderful wife) began lusting after a hard-sided pop-up camper made by TrailManor. This year we bit the bullet, sold the second Coleman tent pop-up, and bought a TrailManor camper.

It is REALLY nice! Like the ads say, it tows like a pop-up but opens up to be like a regular full-size camping trailer.

(Btw, we sold the Coleman on eBay motors. Fantastic deal! I set a reserve at full “blue book” value and ended up getting $500 more than that!)

You already know we like to play golf. So, what do you think we like to do on long weekends? And sometimes on regular weekends when our local course is closed for a tournament and other circumstances permit?

We go out of town, stay in our camper, and play golf!

Well, OK all you purists, Carol plays golf. I go around the course with her, hacking and muttering, swatting at the ball and trying to focus on the beautiful weather and scenery. Maybe the wildlife, if there is any. Most of the actual golf is played by Carol.

This Saturday and Sunday will find us near Bastrop, Texas. The state park where we camp doesn’t offer high speed wireless internet access at the campsite like some of the commercial campsites do, so I’ll be “off the air” after tomorrow.

Maybe that’s good. I can’t be a smart ass and make people mad when I’m off the air, can I?

Well, OK, MOST people can’t. But I probably can.

I’ll think up some really smart ass stuff to blog about when I get back home. So watch out—next week might be a booger-bear. (Is that a Texas expression? Robin, do you folks in New England say “booger-bear?”) It means… no, I don’t think I’ll analyze that expression from my DotM.

Somebody’d think I was being a smart ass and I’d get in more trouble.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Rain and fire ants

Last night, or early this morning, it rained. Well, more than that. It POURED!

As in:

Lightning flashing, thunder crashing, tree limbs trashing up my yard.
Unlike the rain in Spain’s dry plain, this thunderstorm came fast and hard!

Twas quite a show, I’ll have you know, unlike the snow on Christmas day.
The wind did roar, the rain did pour, and then came more! Till we did say,

“That’s quite enough of all this stuff. Our yard can’t slough it all away.”
Twas real, not fake; our yard a lake! For goodness sake, the sky was gray!

But now, tonight, it’s quite a sight, the water’s gone; the ground’s a mire.
And all around are found the mounds of those red ants that sting like fire.

OK, that was a weak effort. But you get the picture.

I went out into the yard after getting home from work, intending to pick up some of those downed tree limbs. I grabbed a few, carried them to the street and tossed them into a pile where the trash collection folks will pick them up for me. Then I slapped at my hands to knock away those !*#@#!!#&!* fire ants that were stinging me in six different spots all at once.

When the ground gets good and soaked, the ants all come up to the surface and cling to whatever is there. I didn’t notice them on the branches.

In the next 24 hours or so they’ll dig themselves new nests and create mounds all around the yard. So tomorrow when I get home from work I’ll take a sack of ant poison and sprinkle those new mounds to discourage them from breeding.

I know; it doesn’t really do much good. They’ll just abandon that mound and make another one 4-5 feet away. But at least I FEEL like I’m getting back at them.

On being a smart ass

About a month ago I was hurtful to my daughter Elizabeth.

I wasn’t trying to be. I told myself I was trying to be clever and funny. But the truth is I was being a smart ass.

She has forgiven me. And that’s very good. But neither of us will forget it soon. That’s also good, because I don’t want to repeat that. I hate knowing I’ve been hurtful to someone I care about.

However, in the last day or two I did essentially the same thing. In what I thought was an attempt to be funny and clever, I misinterpreted the innocent, pleasant comment of someone I respect and am fond of. I responded as a smart ass. It had the same effect.

I titled yesterday’s post on this blog, “Chastened, but unabashed.” Today I am very abashed, and will try my best to resist future temptations to be a smart ass. When I try to be one, I usually succeed half way, and it’s always the latter half. The parties involved understand what I’m talking about.

Viki said in a recent comment that it seemed a lot of people were demanding public apologies from me, and that ought to tell me something (paraphrase). How very prescient of her.