Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You're missing the point

My Dad left a lengthy comment on my last post about the upcoming voting issues. Since voting day is only a week away I thought I'd post again about this topic. My dad made some points I will be talking directly about, so if you are lost go read his comment so you'll know what I'm talking about.

I think it's funny that my Dad and others sharing his views are choosing to ignore the fact that what they are saying is almost supporting the other side of the argument. You have the choice to go or not to go to places that allow smoking. That choice has been around forever. I'm not imposing my beliefs on anyone when I acknowledge that we are a lazy society who wants someone else to make our decisions for us so we don't have to be bothered. You are not now, and you never have been forced to smell someone else's smoke. [I'm not talking about incidental smoke you may encounter b/c of the direction of the wind. If we were talking about that then we need to acknowledge that a single city-transit bus emits more carcinogen toxins per air density volume than 100,000 cigarettes.] You want what you want and you don't care who you bother. Funny, that's the same thing you're accusing smokers of isn't it?

Lets talk about smoking in public places. My father wants us to feel sorry for him that he gets sick when he smells smoke. Fine, I feel sorry for you. So did politicians when they banned smoking over 12 years ago in two of the three places he mentioned. In Ohio, Public Service buildings haven't allowed smoking since 1994. A very mute point Dad. And as for restaurants, well lets talk about that!

(I borrowed someone's research for this next part. Thanks Mark.) Here in Ohio, approximately 23% of adults smoke tobacco. That's just a bit more than 1 in every 5. In other words, smokers are outnumbered 4 to 1. In each of Ohio's eight major city/metropolis regions, there is on average 36,000 private businesses, of which 141 allow smoking. So more than 99% of all businesses are 'smoke free,' and the 23% of the populace that smokes can do so in .004% of public places. As for restaurants, more than 2000 are 'smoke free,' while 6 permit smoking. [These figures are pre-the ban on smoking in Columbus.] So the 23% of the populace that smokes can do so in .003% of all restaurants. In other words Dad, I'm pretty sure your favorite pizza dive will be safe to enter.

Despite what you are screaming, you are NEVER forced to participate in my stupidity! That's the beauty of freedom, you hold in your hands the power to make change. And I don't mean by voting yes on these issues. 'Cause lets be honest, are you really making an informed decision or are you just going along with the majority who frankly don't really care too much about the question? Like I've said so many times now, if you are dissatisfied with a business and what takes place there, tell the proprietor. Enough people do that, and the changes will be made. If enough people don't complain, then it must not be a big problem, and your issue will remain. You'll have to find another place to patronize. You know, the old-fashioned way to do things!

About this not being about freedom, you should do a little more studying before you attempt to declare fact. This IS in fact about freedom, yes even freedom on my own property. If my, or my friends porch or living area [including porches, patios, gardens, pavilions, gazebos, picnic tables, or any other place that can accommodate 2 or more people, which is considered a family] is within a certain distance of someone else's living area [same parameters,] under Issue 5 I would in fact be banned from smoking there. Make sure you read up before you make your arguments related to the issues.

One more thing Dad, you are contradicting yourself by saying you wouldn't mind separate rooms for smoking customers, not just a "half-wall." So are you saying you actually aren't for either of the two issues on the ballot, you're just against the ways that smoking sections are set up in the restaurants you frequent? I don't mean to pick at you, but that is exactly what I've been talking about; this issue is more about laziness than smoking. You actually admit you don't care about public smoking, you just care about it in your general vicinity. Like I began this post, you are making some really good arguments for the other team!

In conclusion I'd like to borrow another man's words, "...I am convinced that securing freedom and human liberty for us all is far more important than the forcible imposition of any one man's values, or any number of people's values, even my own, upon the rest of us, no matter how strongly held their convictions." And just for the record, I am not a regular smoker and when I do smoke it is not in public places. Don't you guys love my Dad? He brings out the best in me!

Monday, October 30, 2006


My barely 18 year old friend Evan just finished A-School for the United States Navy and is home for 2 weeks before he leaves for Bahrain in the Middle East. He flew in last night and his family threw a little party for him and his friends, bonfire included. As bonfires tend to encourage, there was a lot of storytelling to be had. I listened as story after story was remembered and reminisced around the circle. I watched as people reenacted scenes from their stories with exaggerated gestures and expressions and laughter. As I sat by the fire, I found myself taking a mental step backwards and analyzing the group of friends that were assembled there. Amongst the ten or twelve people cozying up to the flames, I saw so many different levels of emotion and angst. I saw old friends sitting across from each other and not speaking b/c of some feeling from who-knows-how long ago. I saw others attempting to care about Evan's stories only to interrupt him with some tale that they related to something in their own lives. And I saw still others genuingly happy to see Evan, but oblivious to the facts of what his future held. I watched Evan make his rounds and spend quality time with each person there; soaking in all they had to say and everything they did.

As I sat there watching, I knew that by default, Evan's death-risk ratio trumped his friend's by 1000%. And just as sure as I knew that, I knew that none of his friends were thinking about it. I knew that none of his friends were thinking that this short trip home could very well be the last time any of them would see him alive. I knew that none of those young adults had ever considered that the bonfire they were sitting in front of could be goodbye. In their defense, I'm sure thoughts of the danger of Evan's job had crossed their minds; but it was much easier to ignore those thoughts and enjoy their time with him while he was home. And hey, Bahrain isn't that dangerous anyway! While that's true, so is the fact that the plane rides he would be taking were dangerous. So were the patrols he would be on everyday. The countries with bombs aimed at his base are dangerous too. But who thinks about those things when you're 18 or 19?

I was already emotional at seeing my friend home, so I tried to shift my thoughts from his mortality and tried to remember what my life was like at 18 or 19 years old. I tried to think of how my brain worked and how I processed information. I had to admit that the scene I was witnessing was none-too-different from the life I had lived at that age. We shared common thoughts like....."The serious part of life is way out in the future, we're having fun now." Or, "That can't happen to me or to my friends. " Or the best one, "I'm invincible!" Another thing I had to admit was that even though those ideas and thoughts were what I was feeling at that age, I wasn't thinking about them very often. Even though they were my opinions, I never on purpose thought them. I can't even remember if they entered into my conscious thought stream at 18 or 19. I doubt any of those people around that bonfire were thinking about them either. It wasn't that they couldn't face reality, they just weren't taking the time to focus on it. Those things weren't issues to deal with or debate, they were just simple facts. And goodness knows, if someone had tried to sit me down and drill them into my head at that age, I probably would have zoned out and fluffed off what was being said.

Were feelings like that wrong? Were these young adults acting wrong? Should I have been enjoying the night and the friendships represented there, and not thinking such morbid and depressing thoughts? Or were those around the fire last night ignoring the facts of life in front of them and not taking the time to tell Evan how much they loved him? Life comes at all of us at different times and in different ways. We grow and learn and feel differently at each different stage of our life. How we deal with those things is our own business and no one else's fault. What if Evan went away and was killed on his first mission? If I had sat down his friends and forced them to listen to what I had to say would it make their grieving easier? NO. And if I hadn't said a word and it got out that I was thinking they should care a little more while they could, would they have resented me for not making them love him more while they could? I doubt it. Life is just life and you deal with it as it shows up.

I want so much for those young friends of mine, and it makes me crazy. I want them to know everything I know and not make the same mistakes I did. But I know I wouldn't have learned from those same mistakes if I hadn't experienced them firsthand. Those young friends of mine are going to get hurt and beat up, but the scars will be theirs. I would never take that away from them.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Funny

I don't really celebrate Halloween, never have. But I thought I'd share a good spooky funny since it is the season for those type of things.

A man was walking home alone late one foggy night. As he was walking he heard something behind him....
Walking faster, he looked behind him and through the fog he made out an image of an upright casket banging its way down the middle of the street towards him.
Terrified, the man began to run towards his home. The casket bounced quicker behind him.
Approaching his home, he ran towards the door. He fumbled with his keys and finally opened the door. He rushed in, slammed the door behind him, and locked himself in his house. The casket was still coming and it crashed through the door behind him, the lid clapping as it bounced through the door.
Terrified the man ran up the stairs, and locked himself in the bathroom. His heart was pounding, his head was reeling, his breath came in sobbing gasps.
With a loud crash the casket broke down the door and bumped and clapped towards him.

The man screamed and reached for something, anything, but all he could find was a bottle of cough syrup. Desperate, he threw the cough syrup at the casket...
The coffin stopped.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oh Dad, now you've gone and done it...

For those of you who don't read comments, my Dad has expressed a rather different opinion on the last two posts I made. Let me give you a picture of the man I call Dad......

My father, to my knowledge, has never put a cigarette or a cigar or a pipe to his lips. My father, to my knowledge, has never had any alcohol cross his tongue. [There was an incident with cologne when he was a teenager that I never understood, but I don't think that counts as drinking alcohol.] My father, to my knowledge, has never smoked, shot, snorted, inhaled, dissolved, sucked, or swallowed any illegal drugs. My father is an upright man with upright morals. He does not compromise on his beliefs or his morals. He stands up for what he believes in and does not waver in those beliefs. As such, he would have no problem with smoking or drinking or drugs being made illegal across the board. I am thankful I grew up in a home where I knew where my parents stood on things and would fight for those same things. That determination rubbed off on me and is why I am so adamant about the things I believe in. And that is where I am at on this issue.

I have to disagree with my father that this is not an issue of freedom. I am not now or have I ever denied that smoking is harmful and dangerous. I am also fully aware that second hand smoke is just as, if not more dangerous. And I would agree that a lifetime of smoking will most likely cause health problems and is a stupid thing to do. But so many other things that we do are just as stupid and dangerous. A woman is as close to death as she will ever be when giving birth to a child. A person that over-eats is killing themselves with every bite of food they eat past full. And people that jump out of airplanes and off bridges are 100% more likely to die from those things than people that don't. The point is that we have the freedom to do all of those things. Just because we can doesn't mean we should; just like my Dad's comment about guns and machetes. But these issues aren't about how stupid we can be, they're about the freedom to be stupid.

Like I said in my first post, if you fear second hand smoke, stay away from places where you'll encounter it. There are far more restaurants and businesses that don't allow smoking than there are that allow it. Those places have found out that they will get more business from families if they take out their smoking sections. If it works for them, that's great. And then there are places that have decided there is another group of people. Those people's money is just as green and spends just as fast. So those businesses have decided to monopolize on that and they allow smoking in their establishments. If it works for them, just as great! We as consumers now have a choice. What we choose is our choice and shouldn't be decided by someone else. If you don't like smelling someone else's cigarette smoke, tell the business owner. Enough people do that and he/she might change their mind. It's called capitalism, and it does work.

The Bill of Rights states that our freedoms and how we act on them are precious and protected as long as those actions don't impede on the freedoms of others. If someone else's smoke is bothering you, they would be impeding on your freedom to not want to smell it or breath it in. At the same time, a business owner's freedom of opening a business that drew in a diverse crowd and made him a lot of money, has the right to do that. Wouldn't we also be impeding on his rights to have the kind of business he wants if we made him run it in a way he didn't want to? It's not as pretty but it's still a freedom.

I thing the real issue is the point I made in my first post.....We live in a culture of pure laziness. People like my Dad don't want to have to take the time to find a place that doesn't allow smoking, they would rather it be outlawed altogether so they can go wherever they please and the world be exactly how they want it to be. We need to stop being so lazy and make informed decisions, and I don't mean the voting on these two issues. We need to be aware of where we eat, we need to be educated on what we buy and where it came from, we need to be aware of the poisons corporate farms put on our food, we need to be aware of the lies of the devil in our culture. [I may be getting off on a tangent.] Too many people just sit back and take everything they see or read or eat or drink and never question anything. Too many people want to take the easy way out. Not enough people are aware and conscious of everything around them. That takes too much time and they're tired of trying. Like I said, laziness.

How arrogant are we that we think our rights are more important than everyone else's? How arrogant are we that we think we can impose our beliefs on other's? How arrogant are we that we think that this little issue is about smoking and not the stripping of freedoms? There is nothing wrong with having beliefs and standing up for them, but there is something extremely wrong with demanding that others share your beliefs. I enjoy smoking my pipe Dad, and I am offended that you think your rights are more important than mine. I still love ya though! Thanks for making me think about this.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

One more thing....

I did a little research on the issues 4 and 5 after I did that last post. For the most part, I think that the politicians are really trying to confuse us when we go to the polls. Everything I've read says to vote NO on issue 5 and YES on issue 4. Issue 5 is the ban on smoking in "all" public places. Issue 4 is the ban on smoking in "90%" of all public places. Why would you place both issues on the ballot?

I guess the obvious answer would be so that people have a choice between bans on 90% or 100%. Does anyone else see what is happening here? Most people won't see that there is the option to vote NO on both issues; they will assume that they have to choose between the two. Why do I think that? Well, we live in a country where lawyers become politicians who write confusing legislation with language that seems to contradict itself. Then they present it alongside another piece of legislation that is equally confusing. The key to this deception is that they dumb down the wording for us simple folk with a basic explanation that only tells the details they want us to hear. They top it off by slamming the two of them together and inform us we have to choose. The truth is we don't have to choose; we can say NO to all bans.

This little deception may seem obvious to you, and if so I apologize. I just wanted to put it out there. But it's late, so maybe I'm just tired and none of this makes sense. I guess I'll read it tomorrow and see! :-)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Vote NO on issue 5

I was in the middle of writing something else when I decided to change directions and write about the upcoming election. In November, Ohioans are going to be presented with two issues, 4 and 5, that will attempt to ban smoking in Ohio. One issue has to do with banning smoking in "Family" settings and the other has to do with banning smoking altogether. I can't believe we live in a country that is even considering this. A free country should mean a free country. I know our rights have been slowly slipping away from the time we became a country, but this is getting ridiculous!

I smoke a pipe, but I am not a regular cigarette smoker. But just like I enjoy my freedom to not smoke, I have to respect the same freedom for those that do. The people who are screaming for the ban are using the argument that families with children shouldn't have to be exposed to someone else's cigarette smoke. I couldn't agree more. But guess what, our freedoms allow those people to get up and leave if they are being annoyed or bothered by that smoke. We live in a country that heralds the idea of capitalism. For just as long as we've had public restaurants, there have been restaurants and businesses that have banned smoking. If you want to smoke, you don't patronize those establishments. The same is true for places that do allow smoking. If I owned a business and I wanted to allow smoking, I would be at risk of no one visiting my place of business b/c of that decision. That would be a chance I would have to take, and a decision I would have to make. If parents wanted to shield their children from the harmful affects of second hand smoke, they wouldn't spend their money where I held court. It's a pretty basic principle. But then some people say, I didn't know they allowed smoking or I wouldn't have gone in there. Or they also say they don't want to have to travel and find a place that doesn't allow it. Both of those excuses are plain and simple laziness. If you can't take the time to care about where you going, you don't deserve a say in what they do.

The thing that pissed me off and made me want to post about this was an advertisement I saw last night. The first character was a made-to-look old, crotchety lady with a sign about the evils of smoking. The second character was a hip, wearing-all-the-right-clothes, young man who was trying to calm her down. While she was screaming that all who smoked should be jailed and smoking outlawed, he tried to calm her down. Here's where my anger kicked in. He told her that smoking should be banned in "most places" [quoted exactly,] but that we should do it in a common sense way and stop the government from pushing their rules and regs on us. Do you see what just happened? The focus of the piece just switched from the smoking issue to the ever-hot-topic of too much government. Who doesn't want to limit the government's role in our decisions? So of course I'll vote yes! I was furious, but not at the commercial or the slick marketing outfit that the anti-smoking people hired to make their point. I was furious that we live in such a pathetic country with oh-too-many gullible, naive people that will fall for it. There aren't enough people in this state or country that care about finding out what is really going on. They see a silly commercial and base their entire voting strategy on that one thing. And since it plays off their already annoyed lungs at "all those smokers" it makes perfect sense to them. Watch out, your recreational activities are next, you stupid idiots!

Now that I think about it, I guess the whole point of my rant is lazy people. People that don't or won't take the time to find out what is real or to make a stand for something. If you really wanted to make a point to a restaurant or business about your opinions on their smoking sections, you and all your friends could do it. But no one but wants to make the effort. It's just easier to ban it all over so you don't have to make an effort to support anything. I wish I had taken more time to make my argument clearer and more concise, but when I'm worked up about something the words just come out. All I can say is, make an informed decision, stop being lazy, and vote NO!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Funny

While I usually don't bother myself with lawyer jokes [I mean, it's just too easy,] this one made me laugh so I thought I'd share it........

An investment counselor decided to go out on her own. She was very diligent, so business kept coming in. Pretty soon she realized she needed an in-house counsel. The investment banker decided to hire a young lawyer and posted an ad in the city newspaper.

"As I'm sure you understand," she started off with one of the first applicants, "in a business like this, our personal integrity must be beyond question." She leaned forward. "Mr. Mayberry, are you an honest lawyer?"

"Honest?" replied the prospect. "Let me tell you about honest. Why, I'm so honest that my father lent me $15,000 for my education, and I paid back every penny the minute I tried my first case."

"Impressive. And what sort of case was that?" asked the investment counselor.

The lawyer squirmed in his seat and admitted, "He sued me for the money."

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

don't vote

That's a billboard I saw last week. It had a white background with just those two words across it in huge black lowercase letters. As I got right up on the sign I saw in tiny letters in the bottom lefthand corner the web-address dontvote.com Since I am a voter and I vote, I had to check it out. Turns out, despite it's rather negative connotation, the website's intention was to get people to check out the candidates and issues before they headed to the poles. Not a bad concept, but a rather poor delivery. If they actually wanted to get people to check out their site so as to make informed decisions, they should have put the .com after the big letters. The point, I'm sure, was to cause a sort of shock value when you saw the sign. Which is what it did for me. But by putting the website in itty-bitty font in the corner of billboard, you almost miss it. On the sign I saw, a small tree was blocking it until I was almost on top of it. Like I said, poor delivery.

I have another issue to complain about when it comes to political signage. I think there should be a law that outlaws all political signs except in business windows and in people's front yards. Cause when you see those signs in those private locations, you know those people have made a decision to support that candidate or issue. But when I see signs along highways or in empty fields or any other no-man's land places, all I can picture is cowardly people sneaking out in the dead of night, sticking those signs into the ground, and then speeding off in their cars. It makes me think that the candidates don't have any support from regular people so they have to sneak signs into places that no one will care. While I am fully aware that the majority of these signs are not put up by the candidates themselves, I am also as fully convinced that the candidates are aware this type of canvasing is happening. And I'm sure that their acceptance of this practice is to push a form of name recognition. If uninformed voters go into the poles and recognize a name, they are more likely to push that pin than some name they've never heard of. But I still think it's cowardly and pathetic. And in fact, it almost makes me not want to vote for them. Like I said, the candidates aren't placing the signs there, and it would be foolish to vote on emotion rather than on the issues. But it still annoys me something fierce. When you see a sign in someone's front yard, you know they are making a stand [of sorts] in support of what they believe in. And when I see a sign in someone's yard that I know and respect, it makes me want to talk to them and see why they believe in what they believe. All I'm saying is that I guess I'm hoping for a more perfect world where I can see a sign and know it was put there for a purpose, not to fill a quota. And as such, it will make me think a little more about what I'm doing when I vote. Is that too much to ask for?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Funny

Two Arabs boarded a flight out of London. One took the window seat and the other sat next to him in the middle seat. Just before takeoff, a Marine sat down next to them in the aisle seat. After takeoff, the Marine kicked his shoes off, wiggled his toes, and was settling in when the Arab in the window seat said, "I need to get up and get a Coke." "Don't get up," said the Marine, "I'm in the aisle seat, I'll get it for you."

As soon as he left, one of the Arabs picked up the Marine's shoe and spat in it. When the Marine returned with the Coke the other Arab said, "That looks good, I'd really like one too." Again the Marine obligingly went to fetch it. While he was gone the other Arab picked up the Marine's other shoe and spat in it. When the Marine returned, they all sat back and enjoyed the flight.

As the plane was landing, the Marine slipped his feet into his shoes and knew immediately what had happened. "Why does it have to be this way?" he asked. "How long must this go on? This fighting between our nations? This hatred? This animosity? This spitting in shoes and peeing in Cokes?"

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tagged Response

I was tagged by Cynthia a few weeks ago and I'm finally getting around to answering the questions that were directed at me.

1. What book are you reading? I am currently reading "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller.

2. What's the best book you read this year? Frontiersmen.

3. What's your favorite work of historical fiction? I have to say I didn't know that particular genre even existed before Elizabeth started talking about it. I know I've read a book or two like that in my life, but I have no recollection of the titles.

4. Pick a random book from your shelves and write down its first sentence. Does it make you want to read more? Almost all the gardeners I've crossed hoes with in the last thirty years are combing the classified sections of newspapers every Sunday looking for that ad. The book is called "Two Acre Eden" and yes, I want to read the rest of it very badly.

5. Have you ever read a book and wished that you'd written it? Not that I can recall.

6. What book on your shelves do you wish you'd never bought? Can't say that I buy too many books I ever regret. Some I don't find interesting anymore, but I know they meant something to me at some point so how could I regret their purchase?

7. Have you ever bought someone a book for BAFAB? I've bought many a book for people but never to celebrate that occasion.

8. What book do you really wish someone would buy you for BAFAB? I like to receive books from people b/c it shows me what they think is important to me. So the answer to that question would be any book you want to buy me.

9. Done.

10. Tag three people. I think everyone who cares about these type of things has already been tagged. Probably 'cuz I'm so late getting around to this.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My Weekend

Friday night I helped Ell get ready for her "Silent Weekend" camping trip. [She is taking some sign language classes as part of her nursing degree and part of the semester grade for the class she's in now was to take part in a camping trip with deaf people. Normally I wouldn't think of camping when it came to activities deaf people participate in. Wow, that makes me sound like a jerk; like I'm discriminating or something. Anyway, way off track...] So after I saw Ell off, I threw in a load of laundry and headed to Starbucks to see some friends. I got home around 10pm, put the clothes into the dryer, watched an episode, and went to bed.

At 3am some noisy thing on the other side of the room woke me from a great dream. After I threw it against the wall I realized it was my alarm clock; so I decided to stay up. After a shower and some packing, I headed to Columbiana to pick up my friend Chip who had gotten even less sleep than me. We headed out towards New York City where Chip had a library show that afternoon in Westhampton Beach. He just made it to the first RT. 80 sign, about 15 minutes into the trip, and then he crashed in the back seat. I drove the next 5 hours in almost complete silence. I stopped once for gas which turned out to be the only highlight of those 5 hours. The rest of the day in a nutshell.......

Saw the NYC skyline from Manhattan
Walked on the beach
Strolled through an Art's Festival in the Hampton's with all the pretty people
Helped Chip at his concert
Watched and heard him get mad when they didn't pay him
Had dinner, drinks and a pipe at a great Irish Pub in Stroudsburg, PA
Pissed off an Irish guy b/c we wouldn't give up our seat [And why would we? We were watching college football, smoking our pipes, drinking great Irish Ale, all while sitting in an Irish Pub. All we had to look forward to was driving......Why would we want to hurry that along?]

We never did make it to the city so nice they named it twice. We were supposed to meet up with this guy that ran the longest continuously operated Irish Pub in all of New York State. He was going to treat us to dinner and then we were going to take in the city nightlife. We had planned on staying at a hotel and driving home Sunday, but when the guy called and said he couldn't meet us, we decided to just head home.

I took a nap from 11pm to 1am in the back of the van. [Chip only made it one hour driving before he pulled over and fell asleep too.] After I woke up we got some bad Rest-Stop coffee and hit the road. We told jokes for an hour or more; the majority of which probably wouldn't have been as funny if we weren't so tired. I took over the driving around 3am and drove the rest of the way home. I was missing Ell pretty hard the whole trip. She didn't have any cell signal where she was, so we didn't talk from Friday night until she got home around noon on Sunday. And then we were both so beat that we ended up taking a nap instead of talking. I really don't like not being able to see her or talk to her for that long. It pretty much sucks let me tell you!!!

When we woke up we decided to go see our dearest friends Mike and Ginny, so we drove the 40 minutes to their house and spent the evening there. We had dinner, drank some really good seasonal beer, smoked for a while, discussed how to fix the world and the church in general, played some cards, and had a great time doing it all. Ell and I left around 12:30am and were in bed by 1:30.

I got up at 5:30am and took a shower and packed the car. As I told you last week my 99 year old Great-Grandma died and her funeral was Monday. After Ell got ready we headed to Starbucks for some coffee [actually I had a pumpkin smoothie with a double shot of espresso.....So tasty] and free wi-fi access to get directions from Mapquest. After Ell saved the directions on her laptop, we headed to New York. [The state, not the city.] Even with our fancy directions, we still got lost. It's a recurring theme with us when we travel, so we always leave a few extra hours in our plans. We ended up only being lost for 15 minutes, so we got to spend some extra time with my family. The funeral was simple and nice. She looked so nice laid out. They did a really good job making her look natural. Afterwards, we had a dinner at my aunt's church. Eventually all the camera's came out and we had good time with parents, children, grandkids, great-grandkids, great-great-grandkids, and a hodge-podge of other pictures thrown in as well. After the dinner we went back to my grandparents house and spent some more time with family. We hit the road around 7:00pm. Ell slept for a long time on the way home. Have I ever mentioned how dang pretty she is when she sleeps? She is one of those rare people who can wake up from sleeping and still look great. I never have to worry about a monster in my bed in the morning.

We had heard that a new Chipotle restaurant had opened in Niles, Ohio. Chipotle is probably our favorite place to eat in the whole world! So we took a little detour into Niles and had an amazing meal. [If you've never eaten at a Chipotle, you have got to try it. It's absolutely the most food you will ever eat for $5. They have salads and bowls and other stuff too, so everyone can find something they like. They also serve Nantucket Nectars which are hands-down the best juices made.] With full stomachs we headed for home. What a weekend!!! I tallied up the numbers and I was in a vehicle for over 1200 miles and 26 hours in just three days. I drove almost two thirds of those totals. Crazy, crazy crazy. But all-in-all it was a good time.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Funny

I borrowed this from Guy who borrowed it from someone else.

A baldheaded ole man was about two hours from San Diego when he was flagged down by a man whose truck had broken down. The man walked up to the ole man and asked, "Are you going to San Diego?" "Sure," the baldheaded ole man answered, "do you need a lift?" "Not for me. I'll be spending the next three hours fixing my truck. My problem is I've got two chimpanzees in the back of my truck which have to be taken to the San Diego Zoo. They're a bit stressed already and I don't want to keep them on the road all day. Could you possibly take them to the zoo for me? I'll give you $100 for your trouble."

"I'd be happy to," said the baldheaded ole man. So the chimpanzees were ushered into the back seat of his car and carefully strapped into their seat belts. And off they went.

Five hours later, the truck driver was driving through the heart of San Diego when suddenly he was horrified! There was the baldheaded ole man walking down the street holding hands with the two chimps, much to the amusement of a big crowd. The truck driver screeched to a stop off the side of the road and ran over to the baldheaded ole man. "What the heck are you doing here?" he demanded. "I gave you $100 to take these chimpanzees to the zoo."

"Yes I know you did," said the baldheaded ole man, "but we had money left over...so now we're going to Sea World!"

Have a great weekend everyone!

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Or maybe I should use the cliche, "When it rains it pours!" When it comes to stuff happening to Ell and I, all of our problems seem to happen at the same time. None of them are ever big things, but when they slam right into each other they sure do take a toll on us.

Ell's Jetta, which we've been nickel-and-diming for a while now, hit us again with a big one. Her heater core and the radiator both went last week while she was on her way to school. We have a very dear friend who loaned us a car, so our transportation worries were eased a bit. But the repairs were going to be around $400. The car was done and we were planning on picking it up today. Yesterday on my way home from work, some weird electrical thing started happening in my Volkswagen. When I got home I realized the brake lights were staying on. I'm not talking about staying on while driving or even staying on instead of the driving lights; I'm talking about staying on "ALL" the time. Even after the car was off and parked. I messed with the fuses a bit last night, but I hate electrical stuff. I can do basic mechanical repairs, but electrical not only baffles me, it scares the crap out of me. Electrical shorts in cars can be an easy fix or they can costs thousands of dollars. Many a car of mine has been sold for pennies of what it was worth b/c it had electrical issues.

Back to my story.......Since I couldn't undo the battery on my car due to all the new-fangled crap that would be ruined if I did so, it was too weak to start the car. I was ready for that until I realized that our jumper cables were in the Jetta at the shop. I mean, why carry jumper cables in a new car? That's just silly! So after AAA jumped the car I headed to the shop. Due to the fact that all we drive is VW's, we have gotten to know the service guy on a first name basis. I told him what my car was doing and he of course knew what the problem was and that he could fix it. All he had to do was order the parts. Here in lies my next problem........My 99 year old Great-Grandma died yesterday morning, and we need to drive to upstate New York Monday morning to go to the funeral. Now I have an old junky Jetta that I am already worried sending Ell out in everyday, and a new car that has an electrical problem, and I need to drive 4 hours into New York and 4 hours back probably all in the same day. I won't even go into the fact that we have no money to pay for any of this.

Like I said, not major issues, but they all hit at the same time. I need a beer. No make that two!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Carrot Flowers

When you were young you were the king of carrot flowers
And how you built a tower tumbling through the trees
In holy rattlesnakes that fell all around your feet

And your mom would stick a fork right into daddy's shoulder
And dad would throw the garbage all across the floor
As we would lay and learn what each other's bodies were for

And this is the room one afternoon I knew I could love you
And from above you how I sank into your soul
Into that secret place where no one dares to go

And your mom would drink until she was no longer speaking
And dad would dream of all the different ways to die
Each one a little more than he could dare to try

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My Cat Stories

This post is thanks to Kim who got me thinking about my cats. Since Ell and I have been married we have acquired some cats in some pretty strange ways. The first story is about my cat named Terrence.

In 1999, the night before Thanksgiving, Ell and I had just returned from grocery shopping. As I headed out to the car to get the last bag, I saw a car in our driveway with its door open. I started walking towards the car to see if someone needed help and the person jumped back in their car and sped away. I got the groceries and headed inside a little worried what that was about. I decided to go out and lock up my cars, and when I did this buff orange cat came walking up to me from the direction of the driveway. He was fixed but still had his claws. He had a definite collar ring around his neck, so I realized that the car had been dropping him off. I gave him some food and went to bed. He was still there in the morning, so I decided I'd name him if he was still around when we got back from our long weekend in Columbus. He was and the rest is history. I grew up around cats my whole life, and Terrence was hands down the best hunting cat I ever saw. He caught mice, rats, moles, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits bigger than him, flying squirrels (which I didn't know lived in Ohio until I saw all three of them dead on my doorstep,) hummingbirds, bats, and anything else he could find. I even saw him beat the crap out of a woodchuck that was easily 4 times his size. He took to me instantly. Which if you knew anything about me you'd know that was weird; I'm definitely more of a dog person. Terrence would stay with me for hours when I worked in my basement and would sleep with me during the winter. But my favorite memories of him are in the garden, where he would follow me around for hours every day. So I thought it was fitting that when he died last year, I buried him in the garden. I placed a cross in bricks in the the walkway over his grave. Pretty awesome cat for a stray.

My second story is about Cyclops. When I sold investments, I had an appointment one afternoon that I was leaving for right when Ell was getting home from work. She went inside and as I got into my car I noticed something brown and black crawling out of the engine compartment of her car. I thought it was a small squirrel but I couldn't grab it. I told Ell about it and told her I had to leave. When I got home, Ell held up this little burnt kitten. It must have crawled into her car at the restaurant and then got stuck there the whole 15 minutes home. All of her whiskers and face hair were burnt off and she smelled horrible. The vet told us that cats have this defense mechanism that releases this horrific smell. She ended up having to have her one eye taken out, so we named her Cyclops. We had her until last summer too.

The third story isn't really weird but it shows Ell's huge heart and my desire to make her happy. Last summer Ell sent me a text message one morning asking me if I wanted an orange kitten. That wouldn't be a weird question unless you knew that I had told her, "No more cats. Period." She was hoping to tug at my heart strings b/c Terrence had just died and I was missing him pretty hard. She sent me a picture of this 3 month old orange stray at the restaurant. I told her if it was still there that night around 10pm when we were coming through town, that we'd take it home. Famous last words, right? I was sure that it would be gone by then or that we couldn't find it. Sure enough it was there and we took it home. I named him Junior Terrence. I call him Junior and Ell calls him JT. Something Rob should appreciate since he's such a Justin Timberlake fan!!! He's only an indoors cat and not a great hunter, but he's still a cool pet.

My last story is from one month ago at the Columbiana Street Fair. We were walking back to our car and when we were saying goodbye to some friends, we heard a tiny little meow in some bushes. Ell and our friend Brad searched for about 10 minutes and finally found this tiny little gray furball. The owner of the house (which we know) came out and said take it before his wife saw it. Since I couldn't stand to see this little thing be left alone in the craziness of the Street Fair, we took it home. She was only about a month old and we've had to teach her how to eat solid food and how to use a cat pan. She is probably going to be an outside cat b/c she is already a good hunter, but we have her inside a few hours a day. Ell named her Ruby. She's a little sweetheart and she still fits into my hand when she's sleeping.

There you go.........Cat stories from a guy who swore he'd never own a cat.