Friday, June 30, 2006

Just for Fun

Since I've been so serious lately, I thought I'd share something funny before the weekend. If I stole this from someone out there I apologize for not crediting you!

A blind man was going on a business trip to Texas. When he arrived at the hotel, he asked where he could get a drink. The cashier at the front desk escorted the gentleman to the lounge and led him to a seat at the bar. When he felt the stool he exclaimed, "Man, this a big stool!" The cashier informed him, "Everything is bigger in Texas."

The blind man sat down at the bar and ordered a beer. When the large mug was placed between his hands he exclaimed, "Man this is a big beer!" The bartender responded with the same statement, "Everything is bigger in Texas."

After a couple of the oversized brews, the blind man asked the bartender where he could find a restroom. The bartender answered, "Down the hall, second door on the left." As he felt his way along the hall, the blind man felt and passed the first door. He then tripped and fell, completely missing the second door. As he pulled himself up, he felt for the doorknob. The one he found opened into the hotel pool, and he fell face first into the water. As he came up, he flailed his arms and screamed at the top of his lungs, "Don't flush! Don't flush!"

Raw is Good (part 2)

First of all I apologize that I am longwinded. I have a feeling my uber-long posts tend to make people shy away. But hey, you should meet me in person, it's even worse! :-)

Rob left a great comment on my Raw post that I thought justified a response. If you haven't read either the post or the comment, it's good stuff! Plus, if you don't, what I'm about to say won't make any sense.

Rob, first let me thank you for making a good argument. But I'm afraid your knowledge is limited to just what you've been exposed to. I.E. horribly expensive Organic food at the grocery store. (Which btw I couldn't agree more. Most regular stores know Organic products are a hot item these days and in essence are raping the customers at the register. If this area had a completely organic store, you wouldn't notice a huge increase in your total bill. But the stupid economy in this area is for another post!) The economic plus side of chemically treated fields is actually becoming less and less a good thing. There is an alarming trend in the quality "and" quantity of commercial farm outputs. It is on a drastic decline in both areas.

Consider for a second the cycle of a typical farm field.
1. In the early spring a general herbicide is applied to the dormant field to kill the weeds.
2. Then a month or so later the seed is treated with another chemical to prevent soil-born diseases.
3. That treated seed is then planted into the field, followed shortly after by a artificial fertilizer that also eliminates weeds.
4. When the plants have their first true leaves, a general pesticide is added to destroy the bugs that are starting to hatch.
5. When harvest time comes the entire plant is cut low to the ground and removed.
6. The field is then sprayed again to kill the weeds that may start in the off season.

Now consider how these things are harmful.
1. The first green plants that will be killed anyway when planting happens if left alone would become a natural green fertilizer that would have benefited the new crop's propogation.
2. This is a silly process. Soil and dirt have no natural diseases. The guy pushing this stuff is one good salesman! He's selling rocks to a mountain. In other words, they don't need them!
3. This process is to done to get a quicker-than-normal harvest time. This fertilizer makes the plant grow unnaturally quickly which means a stunted plant body that can't hold up to a large crop that a naturally growing body could sustain. Stunted plant body=stunted yields.
4. This pesticide destroys "all" bugs and all animals. Even the bugs and animals that would eat each and every bad bug ever found.
5. This action, which was only developed about 15 years old, destroys the habitat of those bugs and critters just mentioned. And it also leaves no plant material to rot and replenish the soil for next year.
6. This kills all the green matter that would protect the soil from erosion as well as provide minerals and nutrients for next year's crops.

The end result of this vicious cycle? The soil on 90% of all commercial farms has almost 0% mineral content which is necessary to sustain year-after-year growth. This causes the fields to produce less and less each year which in turn causes the farmer to plant more and more fields each year. (And dropping prices due to chain-stores setting prices causes them to make less profit each year. Again, another post.) So Rob, your economic arguement about increased field production is less true every year.

As for your quality argument, that is also fostered by the absolute crap sold in the local stores around here. I would place either my own or the guy I co-op with's, beans, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, garlic, and almost anything else we grow, against anything in your local store. In size, taste, texture, and overall quality. Regular or organic. That's a hefty claim! If you want to test me on it, come to our big party in August and try out our food!

As for your last argument, yes if we eliminated all chemicals this nation's food supply would be in bad shape. In fact, I think we have already passed the point of no return. It would take years to return our once-fertile soils back to healthy natural levels needed to sustain growth. And no one is willing to make the sacrifice for that to happen. (I will enjoy watching the country scramble to survive when the next economic Depression hits and only the essentials can be afforded. Sorry, once again, another post!) We have grown into what could be only described as an addiction or a dependancy on chemicals. And I have to agree that it is a scary situation.

I'll close with this final comment, I think that even though Organic food is becoming a hot-item, I think the general public is being screwed again by big business. They are being raped at the register, the good stuff is going to the good stores, and the public is being tricked into the quality-quantity-too pricey mindset when it comes to the organic lifestyle. Ell and I spend about $20 a month on groceries and about $30 a year on seeds. And guess what, it's all organic. I call that economic and beneficial. Thanks for the thoughts Rob! Can't wait for that Cabin-Conference!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sorry OldTimers

My Dad says he has a hard time reading what I write because my lettering is in grey on a black background! So I'm going to try out a few different colors to see what looks the best!

Any feedback be appreciated.

WOW! It's hard totype with white font on a white background!!!

Raw Vs. Store Bought

I wasn't planning on writing about this topic until I had more information, but Guy's post on "Raw" milk got me all fired up. There are many reasons that Ell and I choose to live an organic lifestyle. The reasons are many, but the primary one is the fact that if I don't grow it or I don't know the person that does, I worry a lot about what I eat and drink.

Guy posted about growing up drinking milk straight from the cow. He and many others who grew up the same way, saw the cow eat the grass and hay from the fields. And knowing the grass was just growing the way God intended it, nothing added or taken away, the milk from that cow couldn't have anything wrong with it. And that is a safe bet. Sure the milk could have gotten a fly in there or maybe didn't get 'fridgerated soon enough, but besides a very rare bellyache, no harm done. Today though, cows are injected from birth with udder proteins to increase the milk capacity. Their feed is supplemented with steroids and chemicals to quicken the production age and output. And even though the milk we buy has been processed many times, it's impossible to block those substances from making it onto our kitchen tables. And since they stripped the milk in the act of processing, they have to add minerals to make it healthy again. Wouldn't common sense dictate leaving that stuff in there in the first place and not have to add synthetics to make up for their absence? Of course it would, but I guess the guv'met is smarter than me!

When it comes to food I have the same opinions. Under a law passed in 1997, (I apologize for not having details, I didn't expect to be ranting about this today) corporate farmers are allowed to enhance their produce with chemicals as long as it doesn't affect the makeup of the vegetable or fruit in question. What does that mean? As long as it looks like a tomato they can do anything they want to it? Well that makes me feel safe buying it and feeding it to my family! The guv'met surely wouldn't allow anything bad to happen to me. Hopefully you're getting my sarcasm, cuz I'm laying it on pretty thick. My biggest problem with this is that they can mess with my food, even the stuff I think is fresh and healthy, without even telling me! Where does that end? How is that right?

To avoid these issues, Ell and I do a few things. The first of which is we try to grow as much of our own food as possible. I am attempting a 12-month garden this year. It takes some work, but fortunately not a lot of money. We grow specific plants for food and specific ones for seed, which becomes a never ending resource to replant anything Mother Nature or I kill. Part of that process is eating what is in season. I think we have lost the joy of watching the seasons change and the different food each one brings. It is so much fun plucking and eating fresh cherry tomatoes, picking a fresh salad for dinner right out of the garden, and cutting a fresh melon or squash still warm from the sun. Which BTW, are things that if grown in their proper season, all happen at different times of the year. The second half of that is growing them organically. We add no chemicals whatsoever to our soil or our plants. We use no pesticides or herbicides. We let our resident toad kill the bugs, and we love weeds because they make the compost that naturally feeds the plants.

I understand that not everyone can, or wants to grow their own food. The answer to that is to buy from a local farmer's market or produce stand. You can talk to the people that put their own time into what they are selling. These markets are becoming more and more popular every year. I know here in NE Ohio, I can go to 5 different markets within 15 minutes of my house. Driving home last year during the summer I counted 9 houses selling their garden-wares by the side of the road with "honor system" pay cans. There's no shortage of places to buy fresh and un-messed with produce.

Since my sister informed me my posts are too long to read, I'll wrap this up. And against my better judgment, I am going to venture into the "might offend some people" area.........Let's be honest: Most people are too lazy to worry about any of the stuff I just wrote about. It's much easier to just buy whatever you want and not worry about where it comes from or what's in it. Kids, jobs, and life make us "SO" busy we don't have the time to care. So we fain ignorance and just go on our merry way. It can't be so bad if people aren't falling over dead! Right? Wrong. Consider this medical statistic: The rate of childhood diseases and the rate of cancer cases has risen in "EXACT" proportion to the use of synthetic food additives and commercial herbicides which began in 1968. If you really care about your family's health, you should care about what they're eating! 'Nuf said!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

National Friendship and Family Week

I usually hate these type of emails. Usually b/c they want you to send it to 15 people and because they are usually not written very well. But when I got this one today it was different for being exactly opposite those two reasons. So in the spirit of the week, I want to share this with you.

Too many people put off something that brings them joy because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming, or are too ridgid to depart from their routine. Just think about all those people on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. Maybe we should try to be a little more flexible.

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had thawed? Does the word "refrigeration" mean nothing to you? How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched 'Jeopardy' on television?

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said "How about going to lunch in a half hour?" She would gas up and stammer "I can't. I have clothes on the line and my hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, because I had a late breakfast." Or my personal favorite: "It's Monday." She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect. We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get junior toilet-trained. We'll entertain when we replace the living room carpet. We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids through college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of "I'm going to," "I plan on," "Someday when things are settled down a bit." My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.

Do something you WANT to, not something on your 'should do' list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call to make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told a child "We'll do it tomorrow." And in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just a call to say "Hi"? When you hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift...thrown away. Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.

I add this last part for my Dad.....
"Life may not be the party we hoped for....but while we are here we might as well dance!"

Monday, June 26, 2006

Is it hot in here?

I haven't talked about Global Warming to many people, but it is something I've thought about a lot. Since I sustain my life through the Earth, it is something I can't ignore. It is a serious subject that more people should care about. But I have a few problems with the idea that the Earth is growing hotter and hotter, eventually getting too hot to sustain life, and that it's all us human's fault. So I decided to look into the debate a little bit and try to figure out where I stand on the issue.

Let's start with Al Gore's recent ideas. For those of you who don't know, Al Gore has taken up Global Warming as his personal torch and written a book and a movie about the topic. And with someone the likes of Mr. Gore getting involved, finally the problem has been brought into the mainstream. Before I start, so has not to show favortism or wing-affiliation let me tell you I am neither a fano nor an enemy of Al. Although I didn't vote for him and I still feel he would have made a horrible president, I also don't disagree with everything he has to say. Al Gore is someone, whether you like him or not, that demands some attention when he speaks.

In his movie and book, Al shows two graphs that cause quite a bit of confusion. He shows a 1000-year graph that shows this recent rise in temperature isn't a result of a Flux (in and out.) Then he shows a graph that illustrates a continuous Flux over 600,000 years. Well which is it? Is this heating up part of a trend or isn't it? I am thankful there is finally someone talking about this issue besides the celebrities who only crawl down from their piles of money when they feel like whining! But I wish Mr. Gore would have included more substantial proof that didn't discredit the proof he already gave. I'm glad he showed both sides, but we're no further ahead than we already were. The rest of the movie shows some very important stuff we can all do to better this planet, but those just become nice public-service announcements without some proof that would cause us to act.

So since I was still wondering after Al's movie and book, I did a little research with NASA. Who better to discuss the planet than them? They report that the Sun has been putting out increasing energy for 20 years now, in exact parallels to the increases in the Earth's temperature changes. So much energy in fact, that some of the Polar ice-caps on Mars have also been melting. So wait, NASA is reporting something that would make this issue not human's fault after all. Which brings me to one final question.......

As a Christian I believe what the Bible has to say. It may not be right either, I'll find out in 30 years or so, but it's all I got and I believe it. In the Bible, God said he wouldn't destroy the Earth with water again but next time it would be with fire. So maybe God is heating up the Earth so it gets so hot one day that it bursts into flames. No; that can't be right either. God said he would protect his followers before he consumed the planet with the so-called fire. So that idea doesn't work either.

So do we really have a Global Warming problem that is a Global-emergency as Al Gore stated? Well, yes I think we do. I think we need to change some things that we are doing that are detrimental to the health of the planet. But can we really solve the problem with just that, or is this thing bigger than we can control? I think looking at the big picture we realize that we really have no control over anything on a planetary scale. One big meteorite could slam into us and ruin our orbit and kill us all in a matter of months. The sun could get hotter and hotter and finally burn us all to death. Those are things we can't control. Our 70 or 80 years on Earth are all we have a say on. Let's be careful with what God's given us so that we leave this place in a decent state for the next generations. If something catastrophic happens, oh well, at least we can say we did our part! And that is how I am going to look at this. I will do everything I can in my power, and hopefully everyone else will too. It may sound like a cop-out, but it will help me sleep better.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Red or Blue

I'm feeling very political today. I hadn't been able to read Guy's site since Tuesday, and since he posts more than anyone I know, I took an hour this morning to catch up. But now I think I may have some Charming overload. So hat's off to Guy for the following couple points.

Distorted Priorities
Five million of our older Americans have not signed up
yet for their Medicare, Part D, drug plan--they are old
and confused. We are not going to grant them an extension.

However, 12 million illegal aliens are in our country and
we are going to allow them to stay, protest, procreate,
receive support monies, attend schools, avoid paying
income taxes, have our teachers take 300 hours of ESOL
(English as a second language) training at our expense, etc.


I know this isn't my usual ranting, but this was too good to pass up. One added point of my own on this topic: I have a real problem with the language thing. As I was growing up I heard my Mom on many occasions talk about her grandparents coming to America on their honeymoon. They were Scandinavian. Once they learned the English language, they never again spoke their old language. And even though my Mom was a bit angry that she didn't get to learn it and hear them speak it, she realized that her grandparents were making their choice for a good reason. They had decided that they could have a better life here in the US than their life in Sweden and Denmark. They saw that America held more opportunity and promise for them and their children. And so they became Americans and raised their children as Americans. Not Danish-Americans or Swedish-Americans; Americans. I have nothing wrong with holding my anscestory or heritage high, in fact our family to this day still celebrates and enjoys many Swedish traditions and foods. But that doesn't make me Swedish by anything else than my background and bloodline. I am American and proud of it. And just like my Great-Grandparents would have wanted, I speak English. When people say they want to remember and respect their heritage and history, maybe they should go back and take a look at what their anscestors actually wanted for them. I think they'd have a real eye-opener.

The same goes for the Mexican people. I really don't have any issue whatsoever with them wanting to live here. It's a great country with a lot to offer. But if that's what they want they are to become Americans like the rest of us and that includes speaking our language. No exceptions. Period.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Innocent until proven Guilty

I was summoned this week for Jury Duty. The only day I had to go was yesterday. Even though it was an inconvenience on my day, I was happy to serve. I was amazed and proud to be a part of the judicial process. I was the last number in a group of 30 prospectives, so of course it never made it to me and I was not chosen for the trial. But it was a good experience nonetheless. I hope that if I ever need my fellow citizens to be there for me, that they will understand and be willing to sacrifice their time in the same way.

There was one funny incident that gave me a little comic relief I thought I'd share. After the initial twelve people had entered the box, the Judge and then the Prosecutor went over the responsibilities of a juror. Then the Assistant DA asked if anyone had any reason they felt they would not be able to carry out their duties. An elderly lady raised her hand and said she was hard of hearing and needed to be excused. The ADA asked the lady if she felt her hearing-difficulty would impare her ability to give the proceedings the required attention. She responded with an obstinate "NO!" Then the ADA asked her if she thought she would miss some questions or answers due to her hearing difficulty and as a result not be able to be fair in her final decision. Again an obstinate "NO!" The ADA reworded both questions a couple times with the same short response. The judge then asked the lady about her hearing and if it would be a problem in giving the defendant a fair trial. She said no she'd be fine. By this time the entire courtroom is sniffling and chuckling under its breath. This lady had no idea what she was even doing there, oh and btw her hearing was fine. The judge dismissed her. Once out of the room, everyone burst into laughter. I didn't want to make fun of the old lady, but it was hilarious.

Another thing that happened was not funny, it actually made me mad. Later on in the morning a middle-aged gentleman was called into the box. When asked if he felt he could do his duties as described, he stated he could not. When the judge asked him why not, he replied that he felt in this type of incident (it was an Under-the-Influence case that the defendant pled not-guilty to) the defense should have to bear some of the burden of proof. The Judge seemed a bit peeved when he responded by saying "Well maybe in some countries, but not in the United States. What type of freedoms and liberties do you enjoy now that would be possible if our justice system was ruled under the pretense of Guilty until proven Innocent?" This well-dressed, obviously arrogant man responded by saying "A BETTER Justice system! Any time a person drinks and drives they should have the book thrown at them!" Not a bad thought, but no evidence had been presented to show the defendant had been drinking anything at all! The man remained staunch in his opinions and told the judge he couldn't be fair because he "knew" he would vote guilty. He was obviously dismissed.

People like that make me want to scream. If this really was a just world, that man would be arrested at his home on a charge of child-abuse. And he would be charged right away as guilty. After all, isn't that a horrible crime that demands a stiff punishment? It doesn't matter that evidence hasn't been brought against him, the severity of the crime just automatically makes him guilty. Right? Well of course not, but that is what that ignorant fool was saying. He may have come into the courtroom with a lofty opinion of himself, but he left with everyone else considering him stupid and selfish.

All that said, I hope I have the opportunity to serve again soon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


In response to Kimmy's question on the Smug Cloud at I apologize for offending if I have done so. The "Blogs I Read" section is not a complete list of the places I visit, it is rather a list of places I visit every day. Simple as that. One day maybe I'll put my entire blogroll on there so you can see some of the crazy stuff I look at. But until that day, you'll have to be content to read the (too-seldom heard) musings of a musician from Ohio, peak in on the daily life of a mother in Colorado, listen to the musings and rants of a Guy in Florida, and look at pictures of my sister's family in Columbus.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fishing with Dad

After a weekend filled with all things 'Father's Day" and not getting to see my own, I was taken back to a really fond memory of my Dad I would like to share with you.

As far back as I can remember I have been interested in fishing. I got my first fishing pole from my Grandpa at age 6 or 7. The whole two hour ride home I bugged my dad for all the fishing information he could give me. I think I was annoying him, because as soon as we got home, he went out to his shop and found a heavy metal washer. He tied it to the end of my fishing line and taught me how to cast. In hindsight, I realize he did this for two reasons. One, he knew casting that line would keep me busy for hours. And two, he could never be accused of not encouraging my fishing hobby. I say the second thing because, from that day till this, that casting lesson was one of only two fishing experiences I ever shared with my Dad.

Even though my Dad was a great father and fun guy, he has never been interested in what I was interested in. My Dad grew up in the 'burbs and I'm sure was the inspiration for the term "City Slicker." He was and is talented in so many areas, but has never really been what you would call an outdoors-person. His walk out to his shop was the most he ever hiked. And one of his favorite responses to my fishing requests was "If I wanted to go fishing I'd go to the grocery store and buy some fish-sticks!" He claims to like small-game hunting, but in my 31 years on this planet he has never stepped one foot into the woods to "bring home some meat." He bought us a tent when we were kids, but not once did we ever do any camping that didn't involve a cabin with electricity. And those times I can count on one hand.

So imagine my surprise one summer day when I was 15, that Dad asked me to grab all my fishing stuff 'cause we were "going fishing!" He owned nothing for fishing besides his trusty fishstick-silverware, so I packed 3 or 4 poles, all the lures and tackle I owned, and some high hopes to show Dad a good time. We headed to a lake I had never fished, bought some nightcrawlers, and rented a rowboat. Now I would have been fine fishing from the shore or from a pier, but if Dad wanted the whole experience I was going to give it to him. We pushed off from shore and were soon stranded on what the locals called a floating island. After a few minutes of struggling, we got away and headed to what promised to be a great day. I taught my dad how to correctly hook a worm, how to side-cast, how to tie some knots, and so much more. It didn't matter that we weren't getting any nibbles, we were having fun.

As we rowed to a new spot I grabbed a new rod & reel I had just got as a present. I sent a beautiful cast out into the water and promptly got a snag. As any good fishermen knows, there are right ways and wrong ways to undo a snag. My dad assured me he knew one of those right ways. As he pulled and stretched, my line only got more stuck. As I was just about to ask him to cut the line, he gave the pole a sharp pull with the pole straight up and down. As the rod slipped from his hand and shot straight down into the deep blue of the lake, all we could do was glance at each other and erupt into laughter. Over the course of the next few hours, involving some from shore after we almost tipped the boat one too many times, we successfully lost every lure I owned, 2 dozen earthworms, a dozen minnows, a whole role of fishing line, and a $20 bill that fell out my dad's pocket. And through all of that, we had only two bites on our lines, and caught a grand total of zero fish.

When we look back on that day now, my Dad, in a gruff voice, reminds me that that is why he doesn't fish. But then he smiles and we laugh about the one crazy day we went fishing together. My Dad may not have been interested then or now, in many of my interests, but he supported me in all of them. Not in time or money, but in allowing me to try the hobbies I wanted to try. And when I succeeded in them, he was always the first to congratulate me and say he was proud of me. If I haven't mentioned it before, I have a great Dad!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Happy Father's Day Dad!

I dedicate this post to my "Dear 'Ol Dad" on the eve of one of Hallmark's biggest days. I won't be buying my Dad a card this year. I won't be buying him a gift either. He deserves more than for me to put money into some retailer's pocket. The thing he deserves most is a visit from his only son. And the thing that makes me sad this Father's Day, is that I will not be able to give him that gift.

Those of you that know me know that I was probably born in the wrong era. The desires of my heart are of simple living and all that go with that. Not for the romance or the mystique, but for the act of surviving. I think life held more value and worth when people's occupations were providing for their families primal needs. The fruits of their labors were immediately seen in their homes and in their fields and on their tables. For most though, it also meant a permanent seperation from their families. Usually never to see them again while on this earth. And that too is something I would take as part of the package.

The reality is that I live in 2006, and that I am subject to the very things I detest about that fact. And even though I don't live in a time than limits my travel, those 2006 things I detest are why I can not see my Father this weekend. I am involved in too much stuff that I can't get away even for a day to go see my Dad. And yes, that makes me greatly pissed off! But I didn't intend this to be a rant on life, I wanted it to be a tribute to my Dad. Sorry..........

I want to echo Rob when I say that I hold my father up as my greatest hero. My Dad was born into humble beginnings, grew up in the same, and became an adult with no promise otherwise. But despite all of that, I have heard my Dad say on many occasions that he has no regrets. He has pursued and lived out every dream he ever had. My Dad chose to not let anything get in his way when it came to what he wanted. But he chose one other thing that defined him as a person; he chose to allow God access to his plans, and we will never know the number of people who's lives have been changed because of that decision. My Dad sits in a wheelchair now, but he is still one of the strongest men I know. My Dad can no longer climb a flight of stairs, but his prayers can still reach the heavens. My Dad can no longer carry a sound system or an instrument into a concert hall, but his music still touches millions. My Dad is the bravest man I have ever met. I can honestly say I have never met a person I have been more proud to have known than my father. And on this weekend when we honor our dad's, I hold up for you the man that I love more than any other man on this planet; my Dad.

Dwight Elliott Shirey
Here is a small list of things he has accomplished, mastered, and in some cases excelled as the best I have ever seen or heard..........

Piano, Trombone, Trumpet, Guitar, Voice, Recording, Conducter, Song Evangelist, Pastor, Business owner, Master Cabinetmaker, Master Carpenter, Father, Grandfather, Husband, and Friend.

I wish I could see you this weekend, no I wish I could see you right now. I love you Dad.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Halfway There

A quick shout-out to all those still on the AT who will reach the sacred halfway point this month. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and then a little celebrated spot in Pennsylvania are your milestones this month. Congratulations on a job well done! I say with all that is in me: "Wish I were there!"

Thursday Update

Well, I'm alive. Tuesday night I was wishing I was in front of a computer so I could spout off on how stupid I was to say that getting a tooth pulled was no big deal. But now that it's Thursday, I remember it really isn't. Besides a big hole in my jaw, I am fine. No pain, no side effects, nothing. I will probably have to fore-go smoking my pipe for a while, but I'm sure I'll survive. My pipe-smoking buddy is going away for the summer, so I probably won't feel have any use for it until he gets back anyway.

As for other news, my entire family seems to have found the joys of blogging. Within a couple days, both my sisters and my Dad made their own blogs. For years I have been touted as the "Appalachian Hick" who refused to move to the big city. I was the hippie who drove Volkswagens and grew all his own food. My Dear Old Dad referred to me as his "Contented Child." The one who was "happy right where he is!" Well I have been blogging, if in a pseudo-role, for over a year. And my computer-savvy family is just now catching up. Excuse me for a second while I beam with pride in my little victory. I am aware I will be quickly over-taken by their technology (in fact both my sisters posted pictures on their first day) but for today I am king. If only of my tiny little universe. All hail the king!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Almost there

Last night I got 5 more beds planted in the garden. I put in my canteloupe, the buttercup squash, the black zucchini, a really cool heirloom zucchini that predates Columbus' finding of this country, an heirloom cucumber that I forgot I was planting, and I finally transplanted the tobacco. So that only leaves one bed to plant, and that is the short-season paste tomato that we just started. It should be up and ready to transplant by the end of the month.

OOOOOOO boy we are going to have some good eats out of the back yard this summer. I am really excited about the garden this year. It is going to be really good, I can feel it. Mostly in my knees from being on them all spring digging in the dirt!!! :-)

Well off to get the 'ol tooth pulled. Later.............

Monday, June 12, 2006

this will make an even 23

As Adrienne had the misfortune to do last week, I too shall be visiting the dentist tomorrow. Not for a cleaning or a filling, but to have a tooth pulled. This will be number 23. Here's my story.......

By the time I was 8 months old I had an uber-healthy mouth with almost all of my baby teeth. I don't have kids but I am sure that is kind of early. My doctor was fairly concerned and had my mom cut back on the boob-food because it seemed I was getting too much nutrition. Crazy, huh? Well the story gets better. By the time I had turned five I had only lost 2 of my baby teeth. When I turned six my parents started to notice a second row of teeth behind my front 4 teeth on the top and the bottom. The dentist referred to it as "shark-teeth!" Kind of tramatizing for a kid of six. Well the front row eventually fell out and I went back to "human boy" and all was well. That was until I started junior high and my parents came to the realization that besides those front teeth, I hadn't lost a single tooth since I was seven years old. In the meantime I had some minor braces put on my upper teeth while in fourth grade. (It may not seem relevant to the story right now, but it will matter when I get to why I'm going tomorrow.)

My parents asked my orthodontist if my mouthful of baby teeth was something to be worried about. As I look back on that now, shouldn't my parents or the orthodontist have taken that thought into consideration before the braces went on? Anyway, back to the story. He of course said yes and proceeded to take multiple x-rays of my mouth. When they developed, the sight was quite shocking. All of my new, adult, permanent teeth were jammed up into the roots of my baby teeth. And of course my baby teeth weren't dying. The only explanation was a higher-than-normal level of tooth-strength which was not allowing my teeth to die. It explained the fact that I never had a cavity, but it was now creating some big problems. So the now larger team of orthodontist, parents, and dentist formulated a new game plan. That plan was to remove all of those baby teeth. The total number that needed removed was 24! And let me say, that is scary for a kid! But it had to be done. And so over the course of the next year, I systematically had 3 or 6 teeth at a time pulled until all of my baby teeth had been removed. I managed to knock 3 loose on my own to lessen some of the torture. So the grand total of teeth I had pulled was 21.

Which brings the story to present day, well two years ago to be exact. I started to have a terrible toothache at the back of my jaw. Since my wife was undergoing her own metalwork to correct her crooked jaw, I shared with her the story I am sharing with you now. And I shared with her the fact that I still had the wrap-around brackets in the back of my mouth that held the wire for the braces that had been re-installed after my permanent teeth grew in. Yes, after almost twenty years I still had the original metal that had been placed in my mouth in fourth grade. Why they had never been removed is a mystery. So my lovely wife asked her orthodontist to take a look at my mouth, which he was generous enough to do. As he removed the brackets, he uncovered a horrible site. Both teeth that the brackets had been placed onto, were completely broken down. Since metal had completely surrounded the tooth, those 2 teeth hadn't been brushed for almost twenty years. The cause of the toothache also became evident as an infection had set into one of the broken teeth.

I made an appointment with a dentist and after an initial consultation, had the infected tooth removed. Due to the breakdown of the tooth, it came out in over fifteen pieces and took over an hour to remove. The dentist informed me the other tooth was even worse in its condition, but since it wasn't infected and I had already been under the knife for an hour, we would do it at another time. Well, due to calendar changes, new jobs, money issues, and many other things, the appointment kept getting pushed back. As luck would have it, the same pain and infection eventually set into the left tooth. So I have broken down and set an appointment, and tomorrow afternoon my magic number will be 23. Through all of this, I can truly say that I do not fear the dentist anymore. Since it always invloves pain of some kind, I've kind of gotten used to it. I know, I'm a freak. But a freak who will still have all but 2 of his teeth at 90 years old!

Friday, June 09, 2006

V (part 2)

I thought I would do a follow up on my V for Vendetta post. First, to add a little to what I said before, and second to share with you some of the discussions I have had with others who have seen the movie.

I have had 3 seperate debates/talks about the movie since I did my last post. One of the things that kept coming up was the fact that the Chancelor (the "bad guy" in the movie) was taking away people's rights. He was not allowing anyone the freedom of religion or speech. And for that reason, he was to be hated. My response to that was simple: if that makes you hate him, then the writers did their job. The writers made a character with some horrible traits that any person would object to. They made him mean, loud, and ugly. But then the writers added to the character and the story line by making what this Chancelor stood for be the very morals and beliefs that you and I live by. It is of course an additional part of the story and not the main plot of hate, torture, and murder. It is unspoken until you see it play out on "victims" of his hate. So as a result, you hate the guy from the get-go. But what are you hating? Well you hate what the Chancelor stands for; primarily Morality, Christianity, Patriotism. He pushes these things with a hard-line terror-inducing attitude that causes you the viewer anger. But those things are the basis of his political agenda. Kind of sneeky how they weaved that in there isn't it?

Another comment I heard (even though is wasn't from her I can hear my friend Kimmy saying this) was "You think way too much into things!" Which is of course true, but I like to see every side. I will try to lighten up next time I see a movie so that y'all can enjoy it! :-)


Thursday, June 08, 2006

How my garden grows

One of my greatest stress relievers is working in my garden. I love to go out every night after work and watch the new stuff coming up, weed a bed or two, pick a few things for dinner, or just sit in a rocking chair and smoke my pipe. It's hard work sometimes, but it fills me with pride when I get to show it off to company. Along that idea, I thought I'd share with you some of the things I am growing this year.

2 kinds of paste tomatoes for sauce and salsa
2 kinds of cherry tomatoes for eating and for color
4 kinds of hot peppers to make our famous Hot Mustard
2 kinds of mild peppers for eating and cooking
1 carrot variety
1 variety of leaf lettuce
1 mesclun mix for fresh salads
brussell sprouts for fresh veggies this fall
golden beets
white garlic for salsa, cooking, and next year's garden
giant white onions
1 variety of English leeks
1 new variety of edible sunflower
yellow wax beans for canning and eating
black beans for drying
black zuccinni
yellow zuccinni
2 kinds of fall squash

And the one thing I am trying for the first time and am most excited about: Shcerazi tobacco. It had pretty poor germination, but I have 4 healthy plants which I will be transplanting soon. Each plant produces up to 10,000 seeds, and tobacco needs a whole year to acclimate to the soil, so next years crop should be amazing.

We are growing a few other things I am forgetting this morning, and 10-20 herb varieties as well. Sometime in the future I will get on my soapbox and rant about how chemicals are ruining farming and how much healthier and cheaper it would be to grow organic, that is chemical free. But that is for another time.

The Curse, broken?

I think there is a cloud that hangs over my head when it comes to doing anything outdoorsy with the youth group.

First example, when I first started volunteering with this group, we had a camping trip scheduled. I went to the local State Park early in the day and rented 2 campsites. The weather was gorgeous and spirits were high. I packed up my classic 1966 Split-Window Volkswagen Bus with everything I owned that was camping related and headed to the church to meet with the kids and the then-leader. About halfway there, my Bus caught fire and it and all my stuff burned to the ground.

Later that summer we planned a bonfire at our house. As the kids arrived they were met with a smoking pile of wet wood that a freak rainstorm had drowned out. The evening was spent with 25 cranky kids tracking mud all through our house.

Last year when I took over the leadership of the group, I scheduled another camping trip. The first night we were dumped on in a horrible thunderstorm. That was followed by a 97 degree day with another thunderstorm that night. The day we left the weather cleared and we enjoyed 2 hours of 75 degree, cool breeze blowing, birds chirping weather as we prepared to leave. A nice slap in the face.

Since I didn't want the kids to hate camping forever, I scheduled another trip. The day we were to leave dawned with tornado warnings, lightning, and hail. Trip postponed.

Once more we attempted the elusive camping trip. We had a good turn out, but unfortunately it fell on the coldest September night in Ohio history accompanied by 55 mph driving wind that never let us start a fire. Another dismal failure.

And so I face another questionable year. One of my graduated seniors is leaving for the Navy in a few days and so I asked him to pick an activity or event he wanted to do before he left. He asked if we could have a cookout and go hiking. I thought that sounded like a great idea. So after watching the weather for a week and seeing nothing but blue skys and no rain, I scheduled a cookout and hike at the State Park. And wouldn't you know it, a wierd "weather anomoly" showed up overhead. The quacks on the local weather couldn't explain it. One minute it was clear, and the next it was raining. I felt like calling up the TV station and letting them know I planned a cookout and that's why it was raining. Since I figured they could trace the call, I didn't make it.

And so now I had to decide what to do. Do I continue with the plans and make the kids hike in a downpour, or do I risk it and hope the weird weather cuts us a break? I was determined to break this curse, so I forged ahead. With the rain hitting the windshield as we pulled out, we hoped for the best. And wouldn't you know it the rain was gone by the time we pulled in and we had a great time. And to top it off we had 5 visitors. What a great night!!! I think I may have broken the curse. I doubt it, but we'll see..................

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


The root of the word fanatic is the word fan, but they are two very different concepts. I have never really been a fanatic of or for anything. Even though I tend to learn as much as I can about what I am interested in, I usually don't bring it up unless the conversation is headed in that direction. And then I want to sound as knowledgable as possible so as to contribute to the issue at hand. Fan? Yes. Fanatic? No.

I have carried this idea over to all aspects of my life, including my faith. I doubt anyone could ever call me a Religious fanatic or a Jesus-Freak. I am in no way a pushover when it comes to my beliefs, but I am always available for discussion. In fact, in my youth group we had a summer event we called Hot-Topic. We would have a public discussion about a contorversial idea or issue so as to raise everyone's awareness and to test their own individual beliefs. As the leader I chose to not let my opinion be the final word because I doubt I have a monopoly on all the right answers. As a result, I was able to encourage the kids to think outside the box and to learn how to make informed decisions.

I say all that to say this, I watched a movie last night that had so much underlying political and religious rhetoric that I just have to say something. The movie was V for Vendetta. The movie was loosely, and I emphasize the word loosely, based on the DC comicbook of the same name. But the writers chose to stray away from the "masked man saves innocent people from the tyranical government" basis and instead fill the movie with direct attacks on anyone with any sort of a Christian background. The movie was set in Futuristic England, during which a Civil War was waging in the United States. The British Government was a police-state where they demanded that all people live within established Christian ethics and rules. The enemy was anyone who strayed from those beliefs. Among those attacked were the homosexuals and muslims; as most reading this would agree, two of the present-day hot-buttons we are dealing with in 2006. The movie showed these people beaten, inprisoned, experimented on, and ulimately killed.

So as a Christian, it would only make sense to like this idea and start to think of how great a society it would be without the gay-element and muslim-based terrorism. But as the movie progresses, you begin to see the horror that this type of government would bring, and the terror that each citizen would live in. And you begin to despise anyone who would believe in the things that this type of control would be based on. If you haven't caught my tone, or the agenda of this movie, these are the exact things we are being asked to accept and not discriminate against in 2006. Oh yeah, the church was also degraded when in a completely unrelated scene to anything else in the movie, a priest is shown that rapes a different young girl each week. And one more thing to make it a complete movie, Americans are stupid.

Now I do not stand and preach against homosexuality on a regular basis, in fact I have many friends who are gay. I have never made a spoken or written statement against the muslim religion or it's people, in fact I reprimand my kids if they make any type of racial comments. I am neither Catholic nor do I condone any of the attrocities that those priests did to those young boys over the years. But COME ON!!!!!!!! This is ridiculous! I went with a bunch of guys to see a super-hero action movie, and instead was attacked. My faith was belittled, my morals were questioned, and my patriotism was mocked. Any weak-minded fool that sees this movie will never stand up for what they believe in, will proably never step foot in a church, and will wonder whether America will ever survive. If I wanted this much insult, I'd move to Iran.

Like I said, I am not a fanatic. And I am not calling for a boycott or anything silly. But if you want to believe in the sexual morals you want to believe in, if you want to have a little pride in living in America, if you want to continue to not trust those muslim-terroists that have vowed to kill every US citizen, and if you want to know that your faith really does make a difference for good not evil, don't go see this movie. It is a direct attack on the fact that we have rights to make our own decisions, and it's two hours of your life you will never get back.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

anyone INTERESTed?

One of the blogs I read is and as Guyk explains, get ready for another hike in interest rates. Our wonderful gov't quacks think that this will solve everything. I for one couldn't disagree more. All this is going to do is get the old people to take their money out from under their matresses and bring it in to the bank. While you may think that as a banker I would like that, think again. Because it also means no one will be spending. No one will be buying houses or cars or anything else that needs financed. This country runs smoothly only when people spend money, not when they save it. So now is the time to refinance or lock in your adjustable rate mortgage or buy that new car. Don't wait or you'll be kicking yourself!

Why Now? (part 2)

Well it seems Blogspot is back up and running after a bad day yesterday. I posted twice and neither one worked. Well one time the title made an appearance but nothing else. So let's try this again...........

I wanted to let all of you know that I am starting this blog after much apprehension. Even though I am not a private person or an introvert of any kind, I was still hesitant to do this. The excusues were many. Things like: I don't want to offend my friends with my opinions, I don't want to come off as arrogant or ignorant, and does anyone really care what I have to say? All hold a certain amount of truth. I tend to offend on a regualr basis, I usually either sound like a know-it-all or an idiot, and most of the details of my life really are boring. But those really are just excuses. I'm sure I will have foot-in-mouth disease at times, and I'm sure I'll be boring at times, but this is supposed to be "my" online journal, no one else's. So if you don't like what you find here, don't come back. How's that for offensive? :-)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Why now?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Birth of a giant

Hello world. I would like to welcome you to the rants of a simple man. I may not have all the answers to all the questions of the world, but I will try my best to convince you that I do. This blog will be a work in progress, so please bear with me as I set it up.