Tuesday, December 29, 2009

1965 St. Louis Cardinals

Back in the 60's, my brothers and sister used to write major league baseball teams to ask for free stuff. Usually, the teams sent nice packages in return. In 1965, they scored sets of Yankee and Cardinal glossy photos. I'm not sure what happened to the Yankee photos, but the Cardinal photos were stapled to the paneling on my parents' basement office. Long ago, I took them down and put them somewhere long forgotten until I stumbled upon them today. So here are those 1965 Cardinals, 45 years later.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Difficult Times

I haven't been posting much lately. As most know, I had hernia surgery back in early December. That seemed to go well. I'm still not back 100% from that yet, but I'm good enough to get back to work. I've developed another medical issue that I won't detail here, but it is something with which I'll have to deal. On top of all that, I've been battling a persistent cold for the last couple of weeks that is now threatening to go deeper into my chest.

More important than all that, we've been monitoring my father. He suffers from COPD (emphysema) which has become quite advanced. He had a breathing episode on the 26th that forced him into the hospital. It took quite a lot of powerful medicine before he could recover his breath. However, they stabilized him and he was set to come home today. When I went to pick him up this morning, someone else was in his room and I was told he'd had another respiratory distress and was sent to ICU.

Again, he received a lot of intervention, but he was again stabilized. So that's where we are right now. He's resting comfortably, but is living on the edge.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Keeping Score

I frequent a political message board that is dominated by many, many people who are ultra-conservative. I decided to take the posts one of them made for an entire week and edit the titles down to phrases and idea snippets. Without changing the order of the posts, I laid these chunks out to create a stream of consciousness poem.

Keeping Score

Jim DeMint
"Real" conservative?
Opinion piece
Hit job
Calling pubs racist???
Redefining what it is
Advocating making legislation
Stating his own beliefs.
You may not agree
The Red Avenger
Obama's Marxist ideology....
They SAY
No public option
Medicare expansion
No Liberal media...
A more wretched hive of scum and villainy
The climate is in the noise.
Wasting your time.
Media can impact elections.
Speaking out against people
Speak ill of the dead?
Obama's Marxist roots
Claim to be libertarian
Support government expansion?
Choose to ignore history
That’s your choice
TEA party movement?
Bush’s low approval
No effect
But seriously…
Complain about incumbents
A serious movement comes
Dropping lower each day
Global Warming is NOT man-made...
Stubborn Facts
Laughing at that fool.
Garbage troll posts
Waiting with baited breath
No hate here.
Ron Paul
Ben Bernanke
TIME 'Person of the Year'
Senate Chaos
Tom Coburn
Forces Removal
Single Payer Amendment
Climategate Fallout
There for a reason
Manipulate data
Ulterior motives?
Say it ain't so
Considerable influence
$1.1 trillion
Federal Government
'Will Go Bankrupt'
I dont know about "love"
Many men
happen to be black....
The most radical left-wing POTUS ever
The 'war' within the Republican Party..
Pro Innocent Life
People really are guilty....
Murdered the unborn.
Complaining about juries.
Anti BIG government
Arguing with an idiot
The law of the country
Slavery was OK.
Not a deflect at all.
The law is on your side..
Justify slavery
Makes you uncomfortable
I understand.
About as innocent as you can get **
Protect unborn babies.
Agree with Dean?
Less than surprised.
Jobless claims
Rise unexpectedly....
Smarter-than-thou leftists...
Sit back and wait.
Throughout history
Mass murder and genocide
They are human
Use history as my guide.
Did you have anyone in mind?
Didn’t see that
A reason for his
Proud Flag-Waving Communists
March in Copenhagen
Stop Global Warming.....
The Public Option
41 Seconds
Are stuck in our head....
AGW alarmists,
Support the cause of the soldier
"Fags go to hell"
Give them any
The Debt Limit
Made Simple
Robert Byrd?
Communists and AGW promoters
Connected at the hip.
Pretty easy to see.
Makes no sense.
Communists fled
Obama uses a lot of communist rhetoric
Communists have moved
The "Green" Movement?
Chris Rock
Certainly something worth
"Social justice"
"Spread the wealth"
Demonizing anyone
There's no comparison!
People dominated
Communist rhetoric.
Demonizing profiteering
Communist rhetoric.
Primarily communists.
Was that not obvious?
People waving Hammer and Cycles [sic]
"Spread the wealth around"
Joe the Plumber ring a bell?
Hard definitions
Have a conversation just to ask stupid
Communism believes
Command and control economy.
Bad lip syncing!
Nine Months After Stimulus
49 of 50 Have Lost Jobs
Chris Matthews
Change Constitution
51 Votes in Senate
Why do libs always get so angry
Launch person attacks
Policies fail
Purpose of using the pejorative?
An emotional reaction.
Vengeful or petty?
"Keeping score"

Monday, December 07, 2009

Monday Extra

Monday Extra

The Extra (Entertainment) section of the Monday newspaper is usually good for a laugh or two. Chief on the laugh parade is John Rosemond. Mr. Rosemond’s weekly column appears on “The Old Farts Page” of the paper right below a column by Ben Beagle. Ben usually writes in a morphine-induced, semi-conscious stream about new-fangled technologies like computers or telephones. Rosemond likes to write about how rotten parents are these days.

Today’s Rosemond column was true to form. In it, Rosemond rages against those gushy parents who misguidedly tell their children that they can be anything they want to be in life. He believes in the tried and true methods used by his parents and his grandparents. “My parents never told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. They told me what all parents should tell all children: I was blessed with a finite set of strengths. It was my primary responsibility to discover what they were, develop them, and use them for the benefit of my fellow citizens.”

Rosemond goes on to rage about the wave of hapless and rudderless kids that are entering adulthood with no clue what their special purpose might be. These mush-brains, products of hovering parents who fulfilled every childish whim or need, are destined to be unhappy, unfulfilled, failures, divorcees, and bad parents themselves. According to Rosemond, “…good intentions pave the road to perdition.”

So “The Old Farts Page” can be quite exciting, but I get my greatest laughs from what I call “The Nurturing Parents” page. In Monday’s edition, there were three gems, “Minn. Day care centers beating the flu so far,” “Take the perfect holiday photo,” and my favorite- Be Good Food Models For Kids.”

Brenda Guiterrez from McClatchy-Tribune wrote Be Good Food Models For Kids, an informative piece that shares healthy eating and exercise tips for nurturing parents. From her article, I learned that children today are getting fat and that eating healthy foods and getting plenty of exercise can help arrest this tubby epidemic.

Here’s what Guiterrez suggests parents do.

1. Eat at the table, as a family: I can see concerned parents everywhere thinking out loud, “Honey, read this. She makes so much sense. Why didn’t we think of that? We could even use that time to have meaningful conversations with our precious children and each other.”

2. Don’t eat in front of the television or computer: “Honey, that’s on you babe. She has your number. We have to become better role models. I think that maybe we should set a timer for television viewing and computer use.”

3. A treat a day is OK: “That just makes so much sense. I’ve always loved desserts. Pies, cakes, Jell-O. Kroger has some fantastic deli cakes and pies. Who says trimming our tummies can’t be fun?”

4. Don’t give up on fresh fruits and vegetables: “Obviously Brenda has been around my picky children. Honestly, every time I serve them fruit or vegetables they just turn up their noses. This one’s going to be difficult, but I’ll keep trying.”

5. Don’t be a short-order cook: “Isn’t that the truth. I have to say that I’ve gotten really good at making chicken fingers and French fries!”

6. Make meal times pleasant and relaxed: “I remember when my mother wouldn’t let me leave the table until I cleaned my plate. I hated that, and I vowed that I’d never have such silly rules at my table. I’m glad Brenda agrees. Chalk one up for us! Yes!”

7. Always add something fresh: “Hmmm that’s a good idea. Tossing some extra pepperoni on the frozen pizza sounds like a great idea!”

8. Bring the kids into the kitchen: “That’s such a great idea. I can let them develop their menu and go to the grocery store with me to select their foods. What a rich learning experience and good for us to boot!”

9. Set limits: “I’m not sure I understand this one…wait…Brenda says ‘Children have a natural ability to self-regulate when it comes to eating habits.’ I get it now, we should just relax and let the children decide what and how they should eat.”

10. Get the whole family involved: “That’s right sister because a family that eats together…stays together! And my kitchen will be healthier as well. I just love this article.”

11. If you’re trying to undo unhealthy habits, start slow. “That is soooo true. I can see how if we did all these things, the children might be distressed.”

Brenda Guiterrez also believes that no amount of healthy eating is any good without corresponding exercise. She wisely tells readers to keep those children away from computer and television screens. Get them active. There are tons of options for healthy exercise. Little Gym is one example. You can enroll in classes with your child as early as four months. Together as an engaged parent couple, you can guide your child in play activities every step of the way. It makes great sense. The family that exercises together is fit and trim!

Guiterrez spends some column time writing of “Free workouts!” Apparently, your child can participate in free activities right at your own home. “…Hide-and-seek, tag or jump rope also burn calories and improve fitness.” She even suggests that families go for a bike ride around the neighborhood or celebrate a birthday or holiday with a physical activity. Shoot you can even go for a family hike or have a family snowball fight. The possibilities are simply endless.

“Wow honey, I’m sure glad I read that article. It was filled with so many wonderful tips to help us stay fit and trim. Armed with this information, our children will be happy and healthy and able to do anything they want to do in life!”

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Forever Heroes

Forever Heroes

Heroes, heroes, husky men of war,
Sons of all the heroes, of the war before.
We're all heroes up to our ear o's,
You ask the questions,
We make suggestions,
That's what we're heroes for.

All good heroes love a nifty fight,
Open up the bomb bays, brighten up the night.
We earn laurels solving your quarrels,
You throw the roses,
We punch the noses,
That's what we're heroes for.

What's a hero do?
We're never gonna tell ya
Cause we wish we knew.
That's why we heroes are so few.
We've got a slogan,
From Colonel Hogan,
And Colonel Hogan's a hero too.

Never flinch, boys, never be afraid,
Heroes are not born, boys, heroes all are made.
Ask not why, boys, never say die, boys,
Answer the call, remember we'll all be heroes forever more.

Hogan’s Heroes is on every day somewhere on television. The show, a half-hour situation comedy based on prison life in a German stalag during World War II, starred Bob Crane as the unflappable Colonel Hogan, Werner Klemperer as the bumbling Colonel Klink, John Banner as “I Know Nothing” Sgt. Shultz, Robert Clary as cute little LeBeau, Ivan Dixon as the clever Kinch, Richard Dawson as slick old Newkirk, and Larry Hovis, as the goofy Carter. Amazingly, I remembered that off the top of my head.

I came upon Hogan’s Heroes today as I drifted in and out of sleep, medicated and recovering from hernia surgery in the morning. Immediately upon the first muzzled trumpet note from the opening, I was watching with earnest attention. In this afternoon’s episode, the insulting General Burkhalter (Leo Askin) appeared in Klink’s office and told Klink that he would be in charge of organizing food and security for a high-level dinner meeting of Germany’s greatest military leaders. Ever curious, Hogan and the boys listened to the entire conversation on their secret teapot radio receiver, the audio beamed to them through the magic of a secret microphone dangling in the air just above Klink and Burkhalter’s heads.

Stunned! That’s how I best describe my shock as I considered how foolish Burkhalter had been by suggesting Klink, a man he loathes and considers to be incompetent, be in charge of the MOST IMPORTANT SECRET MEETING IN THE HISTORY OF WORLD WAR II! Why have a high-level dinner meeting catered by a group of Allied prisoners of war? What was HE thinking? What was Burkhalter thinking? It was a recipe for disaster, one that could have easily brought him before the Führer’s firing squad. I can just hear the conversation he would have later with Hitler.

The Führer: General Burkhalter, waren, was denkst du? Wie konnte können Sie Oberst Klink die alliierten Gefangenen verwenden, um die Einfuhr-Führer in Deutschland dienen?

General Burkhalter: Aber mein Führer ...

The Führer: Dumb Scheiße, ist es der Russischen Front für Sie! Jetzt!

Hogan, meanwhile, had Kinch radio the info to London, and they sent word back immediately that Hogan and the boys needed to blow up that meeting and kill all the leaders. Dangerous mission, no doubt. In all the episodes of Hogan’s Heroes, I can’t ever recall seeing Hogan kill anyone. This mission, he intoned, would be voluntary. Of course, they all accepted the challenge, but Newkirk hemmed and hawed a bit, before finally joining the guys in a unified front. That’s just Newkirk’s English way; however, everyone knows he’s a real sport deep down.

Plans were soon developed. Carter, the explosive guy, was commissioned to create exploding table decorations on a fixed timer. Kinch radioed London to send a French-speaking dinner party organizer to take charge of the affair from the inside. Newkirk, the forger, created authentic looking documents establishing the plant. Hogan and the boys then signed on to be the wait staff.

Sneaking our team of heroes into a high-level invasion planning dinner party, would theoretically be just as hard as crashing a Presidential State Dinner. I mean, Secret Service would be on imposters or interlopers like flies on garbage.

Things didn’t quite go as planned; they never exactly do on Hogan’s Heroes. However, in the end everything worked out well. Hogan found out at the last minute from London that the top allied under-cover spy had been a late addition to the guest list. He was after the top-secret invasion plans. London said that the dinner blast must be called off. The agent MUST be saved at ALL costs. With the timers rigged to go off any moment, Hogan had to scramble and devise a plan that would save the agent, snatch the plans, and evacuate the building before the bombs went off. No problem.

Here’s how he did it. Hogan had LeBeau and the French-Speaking dinner party host get into a heated French-speaking argument in the kitchen. He figured that since none of English-speaking German generals understood French (Who does?), the German, English, and French speaking secret agent could be summoned to get to the bottom of the ruckus. So when the fight broke out, Hogan suggested to the top English-speaking generals in Germany that only the new guy on their guest list could speak French and possibly stop the fight. Once the poser was ushered in to the kitchen and Hogan directed Klink and the other German generals to leave, the boys convinced the agent that they weren’t double-double agents, and that he needed to evacuate the building pronto.

Here’s a sample of what might have been said in that fake fight and the clever way in which Hogan got to the agent to believe them.

LeBeau: Je me bats avec vous, mais c'est tout simplement faux.!

Dinner Party Host: Vous êtes un petit homme avec un drôle de chapeau!

LeBeau: Oh oui, bien vous avez obtenu ce creepy, moustache crayon qui ressemble à une visqueuse Peter Sellers dans la Panthère Rose.

Dinner Party Host: Écoutez vous LITTLE crétin! VOUS N'AVEZ PAS LE DROIT DE FAIRE PLAISIR DE ME! Ma mère aurait CRY à vous entendre parler de moi dans UNE TELLE MANIERE RUDE.

Secret Agent: Quel est le problème? Pourquoi vous battez-vous?

Hogan: You’re in danger. We have to get you out now. Come with us.

Secret Agent: Okay, but we must save the plans.

The plans though…how to save the vital plans….

Hogan cleverly told the generals in the room that the room they were in was about to explode and made them evacuate immediately. They complied quickly as they all seemed terrified. After all, when prisoners of war tell you something like your room is about to explode, you’d better pay attention. If anyone knows about explosions, it’s prisoners of war. The secret agent evacuated as well, but he, again cleverly, left his copy of the secret invasion plans behind. LeBeau, meanwhile, took the dumbwaiter up from the basement, sneaked into the room, snatched the plans, and made his way back down just as the table decorations exploded.

Once again, Hogan’s heroes completed their mission, and no one was killed.

Never flinch, boys, never be afraid,
Heroes are not born, boys, heroes all are made.
Ask not why, boys, never say die, boys,
Answer the call, remember we'll all be heroes forever more.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

So Let me explain...

Last Thursday, we received about seven inches of rain over 36 hours. Unfortunately, I didn't have one of my downspouts channeling water far enough away from the house. Thus, our basement was flooded, including our very nice family room. The carpet was destroyed by the seeping water, but we saved most of the furniture.

Unfortunately for us, a call to my insurance agent yielded disappointing news. Our policy (an HO-3) does not cover water seepage and associated damage. Now if a tree limb had fallen on the roof and punched a hole in it allowing water to enter the home, that would have been covered. We called ServPro, and they arrived late in the day to rip out the carpet, spray for mold, and set up their drying systems.

That morning, I also wasn't feeling well. I've been experiencing soreness in my belly button area for some time now. It comes and goes. I'm not sure when it started, perhaps six months ago...maybe more. Moving furniture on Thursday, however, really sent the belly button ballooning. I tried to take it easy as we emptied the contents of the basement into our garage and shed, but by the end of the day, I was feeling pretty intense pain.

The pain continued as I went to school on Friday. So I called the doctor. The doctor was quick to diagnose an umbilical hernia. She said that I need surgery as soon as possible. This doctor, who hails from somewhere in Africa I would expect, had a great smile and quirky sense of humor. I asked her what caused my hernia, and she replied, "Look at you! Look at what you're carrying around the middle. " "You're right," I replied. :)

So I'm in waiting mode now. The kind people at the surgery place are trying their best to call me to schedule a surgery with some surgeon. They haven't managed to complete that call yet. The ServPro people, after stellar initial work, have done an excellent job leaving us alone as their machines blast away in the basement.

The dog, forced upstairs at night thanks to the muddled basement, smells bad.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Not so good

Have you ever had a not so good week?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Seeking Dragon Lady

Seeking Dragon Lady

Soon after moving back to Roanoke back in the late 1990’s, I began working BINGO in support of one sports endeavor or another for my children. Soon after that, I met “The Dragon Lady.”

She sits by herself and is always there. BINGO is a weekly pastime for her. My BINGO life moved into my family life the first time we went to visit The Red Palace Chinese Restaurant at Tanglewood Mall. As we walked in to the foyer of the restaurant, there she was, “The Dragon Lady,” dressed is a silk gown –smiling and ushering us firmly to our seats, “You sit here.” In the few times we’ve been there since, she’s always been there ushering us to our seats with a regimental precision. Every time I work BINGO, she’s there, sitting alone in a corner.

A few times, I’ve crossed “The Dragon Lady” and found her to be surly and combative. These were times when the BINGO caller may have misspoke a number or when the program may have been edited unbeknownst to her. “She not call N42. Then she call N44. But she no call N42. So I get BINGO. No call.” Yes, I’ve brokered such conversation with “The Dragon Lady.”

Today, I went to BINGO as an outsider. My daughter graduated from high school last June, and I no longer have any children that require me to have a BINGO obligation. Yet today, I went anyway because I thought there was a need. It turns out that there were a lot of people there, so I wasn’t really needed. But before I left, I decided to go out on the floor to sell a few instant scratch tickets.

There she was…”The Dragon Lady.” She was just unpacking her stuff for the long evening of BINGO ahead. So I decided to engage her in conversation.

“Hello! How are you?” I asked.

“Okay. Long time no see.” She replied.

I explained that I don’t get to work BINGO so much these days.

She then launched into her litany of complaints.

“These people are driving people away by raising prices on the games. I pay $130 to play today. These computers cost too much (computer BINGO machines) and they keep making them cost more and more. It’s not right and people talk. That’s why this place got no people here no more. People whisper and talk.”

“I hear you.”

I work at “The Red Palace. And we know how to treat our customers.”

“I know…I’ve been there. You were the hostess at the Tanglewood restaurant?”

Yes, but we sold it so we have just Valley View restaurant now. That one bad food but use our name. Not good. Valley View good Red Palace.”

“I’ve been to both. I didn’t realize that they both were from the same people.”

“I own it.”

“I knew you worked there, but I didn’t realize you owned Valley View and Tanglewood Red Palaces.”

“Sold Tanglewood. They use our name. Not good food. Go Valley View. Snow crabs on Thursday and Friday. Very good.”

“I really didn’t realize that. “

“Yes. Grandson start restaurant in Moneta called Jonathan’s.”

“No way…Jonathan’s? I had no idea. Jonathan is your grandson? My mother-in-law lives right there. And everyone there knows about this restaurant.”

“Jonathan’s good place to eat.”

I guess it just goes to show you that even though you may be acquainted with someone for a long time, unless you actually engage him or her in a real conversation, you most likely won’t uncover his or her story. I feel like I’ve only just scratched The Dragon Lady’s story. Where did she come from? How did she get to America? How often does she play BINGO?

It’s possible that I’ll never find out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Anthony Ryder and Dorothy Ryder

This evening, I mark the passing of two great people. Anthony Ryder and Dorothy Ryder.

Uncle Tony died on Monday at the age of 95. He was my father's oldest brother and an amazing man. I have many great memories of Uncle Tony. My favorite happened back in 1984. My wife and I had just married and we went on an adventure across the country in our affordable Ford Escort (no air-conditioning). Our first stop was at Uncle Tony and Aunt Bea's house in Massilon, Ohio.

We had never been there, and Uncle Tony was anxious to show us his town. First he drove us in his plush sedan, by Massilon Tiger football stadium. He explained that high school football in Massilon is something of a mania with over 14,000 people showing up for Friday night games. Then much to our amazement, he took us onto his golf course, in his luxury sedan...I mean right down one of the fairways! He said that he could do whatever he wanted since he was a charter member! I'll never forget driving down that fairway and Aunt Bea saying, "Tony...what are you doing." he pretended not to hear her.

Aunt Dot was my Godmother. She was preceded in death by her husband, my Uncle Stan. Aunt Dot and Uncle Stan were quite close to my mother and father. In fact, when my mother got her first job teaching, she and Aunt Dot became fast friends. They went to dances together and enjoyed hanging out. My father was the youngest in the large family and Stan was the next oldest. Unfortunately, he passed away in the late 70's from throat cancer.

Aunt Dot (82) was always fun to visit. As I got older, the cooler she became. She would take me dancing at the local American Legion Post. Sometimes, she'd just sit me down and talk to me and find out how I was doing as a young teenager. I'll never forget her.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Richard Thompson Favourites

Richard Thompson Favourites

I came to Richard Thompson rather late in life. I had never really listened to his stuff until 2003. My sister gave me a copy of Mock Tudor. I loved it. Since then I’ve gone back and listened to all of his solo work. I still haven’t delved back to his collaboration days with Linda Thompson nor have I listened to very much Fairport Convention from the early 70’s. I saw him when he came to The Jefferson center a couple of years ago, but I missed his appearance with Loudon Wainwright in Charlottesville last week.

A friend of mine saw him in 1988 at Roanoke’s Iroquois Club. That was a unique concert. He had just started a low-key tour of America and was playing very small venues in very small cities. At the concert, he worked alone playing his new electric guitar. It may have been one of his first electric guitar concerts. My friend ended up with the soundboard recording, and I treasure listening to it to this day.

These are a few of my favorite Richard Thompson tunes by album. I found a lot of them at Grooveshark and Sonza

Daring Adventures 1986

· Valerie

Amnesia 1988

· Waltzing for Dreamers

· Jerusalem on the Jukebox

· I Still Dream

· Turning of the Tide

· Can’t Win

Rumor and Sigh 1991

· I Feel So Good (Top 100 Hit)

· 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

· I Misunderstood

Mirror Blue 1994

· Beeswing

· Easy There Steady Now: One of my favorites.

· I Can’t Wake Up to Save My Life

· I Ride in Your Slipstream

· Taking My Business Elsewhere


Mock Tudor 1999

· Cooksferry Queen

· Hard On Me

· Crawl Back

· Hope You Like the New Me

· Bathsheba Smiles

· Sibella

The Old Kit Bag 2003

· Gethsemane

· A Love You Can’t Survive

· I’ll Tag Along

· Jealous Words

· Outside of the Inside

· She Said It Was Destiny

Front Parlour Ballads 2005

· Let It Blow

· When We Were Boys At School

Sweet Warrior 2007

· Dad’s Gonna Kill Me: This is a true protest song for the modern age. Thompson delves into the Iraq war.

· Mr. Stupid

· Poppy-Red

· Johnny Far Away

Miscellaneous Tunes

· Dear Janet Jackson: A complete goof on Janet Jackson’s “Wardrobe Malfunction” -warning it may not be save for radio.

· Oops I Did It Again: Laugh if you must. This song, popularized by Britney Spears is brought to life by RT.

· Woodstock: The song by Joni Mitchell is mournfully sung by RT. This one may only be available on video.

· Smiffy’s Glass Eye