August Goes Out Like a Lion

Thanks go to my top Frequent E-Flyers in August:

Untreatable's Blog
Thailand Land of Smiles
The Natural State Hawg
Monkey Fables and Tales
Freelance Writing
Symphony of Love
My Sweet Haven
So Now What?
Caption This

Interesting: 2 are frequent commentators, 2 are fellow Arkansans, and 3 belong to one! Thank you for all your drops!

Thank you everyone, for stopping by and commenting, dropping and commenting some more. You sure made August a fun month around here! This radar photo was taken at 11:35 a.m., we all watch as Hurricane Gustav heads toward the Gulf coast to hit land some time tomorrow. In the meantime, a little distraction is in order. Here's my monthly recap...

The month started with a bit of nostalgia in On the Radio, and it seems like I wasn't the only one who had a thing for DJs.

Quite a few times, people have asked me about how different some people can be in person compared to who they seem to be online. "Confusing Anonymity, Online and Off" sheds some light on what actually is behind that sentiment. "Do You Have High-Speed Internet" goes further into the subject by backing up a little and looking at how the Internet has changed our lives, and "What Was Then Isn't Now" reminds us to leave the past behind and focus forward again.

I wish I would take my own advice sometimes, but having not taken it, things worked out OK anyway. "Musicians are Just Weird About IT" talks about how different musicians approach their music careers, which had me reminiscing about my own years as a musician. The good thing was the chance to enjoy Kenny Loggins in Concert!

Of course I had to stick my two-cents worth in on the political scene. You don't think I'd actually pass up a chance to opine, did you? Check out "Politicians Run with Selective Vision," "It's Not About Race Already," which I dare say pissed off a few Liberals out there, and "Remember, Kindness is Inherent," hits on the illegal immigrant issue.

Talking about horses, I can't believe that a popular, relatively famous-in-that-niche TV horse trainer, Pat Parelli, is thoughtlessly giving out advice that could get people killed. I kid you not. I'm surprised he hasn't been sued out of his underwear by now.

Last, but not least, it's fracking allergy season again, and I am constantly saying "Pass Me the Box(es) of Tissues Please" all the time. That old doc swore I'd grow out of these horrific attacks!

Tomorrow is September already, and I can only hope Gustav finds something else to do besides rain down on a coast still recovering from the last Big One. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the line of Gustav's wrath.


Pass Me the Tissue Box(es), Please

It's that time of year again. The sunlight is harsher looking, what was green isn't so green anymore, the horse shed another coat of hair and is growing in another, the ground is harder, and the sun sets a lot sooner. I used to love this time of year. I'd always feel more alive and energetic with the cooler temperatures, especially after a sweltering summer. New is just around the corner.

Yep, that's the upside, but not the entire story. Oh, no. There's more...

Add to it all a nonstop progression of sneezes so hard that, if I wore dentures, which I don't, I'd have to retrieve them from the other side of the room several times an hour. Add to the sunshiny upside the constant, perpetual, irritatingly noisy runny nose that refuses to give up the gold until there's no tissue close by. And, the sandpaper eyes half swollen shut while trying to pop out and away from this miserable thing at the top of my neck that is supposed to be a head instead of the cement block that it is. I'll be like this until the first frost, which won't happen here in Arkansas until, oh, February 2009 or so. If I come out of my September to January hibernation long enough to growl, be careful of the bite that will soon follow. Harrumph!

Yeah, I'm miserable. This is the downside. The whole, complete, underbelly of miserability. Someone threw the switch this morning, bright and early, and my explosive sneezing scared the living daylights out of my two pups. They are the newest additions to the family, so this is their first experience. All the other animals already know to ignore all the theatrics.

You know those pseudo drugs they sell over the counter that are supposed to ease the symptoms of hay fever? Well, here in Arkansas, there is this really big meth problem, and allergy drugs are used in the production of meth. If you want to buy them, you have to ask the pharmacist. The stuff left on the shelves has everything in them but the stuff drug dealers use.

That's no problem for me because I won't take allergy medication anyway. All they do is dry out my mouth and my eyes and put me out cold for 20 hours straight. They don't get rid of the sneezes or the running faucet of a nose or the stuffed cement block. So, I can be miserably awake or miserably asleep. The OTC stuff doesn't even bother drying me out or putting me to sleep; it just doesn't work at all.

It takes awhile, but I do usually adjust to having an allergy flare-up. Honest, I do. Eventually. Give me a few weeks. Then I'll adapt.

I'll stuff tissues everywhere. I'll have them in every pocket, in my purse, in my camera bag, under my keyboard, by my monitor, in my desk drawers (all of them), on my nightstand, under my pillow, next to my pillow, in the glove compartment, in the seat divider thingy, in both door pockets, on the dashboard and sometimes right on that little ledge in front of the speedometer. I might even pick up some of that anti-allergy nose spray. That will work for a few days, start to burn like crazy, and then I'll only use it when it is absolutely imperative that I don't sneeze, sniffle or drip.

I can actually get to the point where I feel relatively OK. Then, I am fully adjusted to having the attack and life is back to a sort of normal state again. Until. Until… Someone has the audacity to wear perfume! Or, cologne. Or the ever-lethal after-bath splash that aged women drown themselves in. Or, scented hairspray or deodorant. Or, wear clothes washed in scented laundry soap. Or, use Carpet Fresh, burn a candle or clean with bleach. But the worst, the absolute icing-on-the-cake thing that throws me for a loop every time is when my idiot neighbor will mow his lawn weeks after the grass has stopped growing! I won't have smelled anything, nada, zip, zilch, ze-ro, for weeks already, but if one of these smells come anywhere near me, I'm set back to the beginning. Yep, miserable; entirely and completely miserable. Again.

I'm begging you, pleading with you, I'll even pay you! Just leave all that stinky stuff at home when you go to Walmart or the grocery store or the feed store or in to work. Please! For the sake of all the allergy sufferers out there, leave your vanity in the closet - at least until the first frost. OK?

Taking Parelli's Advice Could Get You Killed

There is no doubt in my mind that a horse is the most beautiful thing on the planet. Hollywood gave us "Black Beauty" and "The Black Stallion" and the horse's beauty becomes dreams that expand and push way beyond reality a hundred times over. Consider this: At least half of all first time horse owners will sell their horse within the first year of owning. Half of the rest sell within five years. Why? The reality is that a horse is 1,200 pounds of dangerous unpredictability, not "Black Beauty" or the "Black Stallion."

So, Rule #1 is to be safe while around a horse. To be safe right from the start means that you need the help of an experienced horseperson, and not one who's advice could get you killed. Let me give you a glaring example, taken right out of the Parelli News weekly e-newsletter...

Every newsletter features a question and answer section, presumably from a Parelli "student" to Pat or Linda Parelli. This example is overflowing with the Parelli lingo that always draws the person trying to learn horsemanship away from common sense and into insanity.


I got my very first horse last November. She was a rescue horse from the Humane Society, taken away from her owners because of abuse. Her name is now Mia, and she is a red roan Tennessee Walker with a very difficult Horsenality. She can switch very quickly from Left-Brain Introvert to Right-Brain Introvert. This last weekend, I went out to her stables to ride her. I played a few games on the ground with her before I rode her. She seemed fine, wasn't tense and she was focused on me. When I went to ride her she seemed fine and I couldn't feel tension in her body or anything. The only thing that I noticed was that she wanted to go faster. Usually I would love to go faster, but since it was her wanting to go and not me, I held her to a walk. Then all of a sudden, when I finally asked her to trot she reared twice! She has never done this before. So I got off and checked her feet and checked to see if anything from the saddle pad was sticking her. I couldn't find anything, so I got back on and tried it again. I did the same thing, held her to a walk when she wanted to go and then asked her for a trot. But she reared again. We checked everything again and I got back on (kind of stupid). This time when I asked her for a trot she seemed fine and so I took her down in the lower paddock. When I got down there, I asked for a canter and she freaked out on me! It was all of a sudden, she got tense and started rearing and bucking and kicking all at once. I managed to stay in my saddle, but got off after that one. I couldn't find anything that could be spooking her. Is she testing me to see if I'm in charge? Could she just be wanting to go? —JM


Dear oh dear, I'm glad you're okay! What you're describing is mounting panic and the main reason it built is because you held her back. Imagine yourself in her shoes.. you're wanting to go faster because you are a bit scared about being out there and feeling vulnerable to predators, think lurking LIONS! And now you're being held back and you just know when the lions will be nipping at your heels and your escape door is shut. Little by little the terror mounts and it's hardest to feel it in introverts. They seem to be handling it, that tension doesn't feel that bad, but then it all gets too much to bear and they explode. Even though she exploded once you got home, it's where the pressure was released but not where it occurred. Think about building her confidence at home with longer lines and creative extreme Friendly Games. When you do go on the trail pay attention to thresholds and do what it takes to overcome them. Finally, don't hold her back if all of a sudden she has trouble. Get off and direct that energy until she is calm. When prey animals get on adrenaline they need to move their feet in order to get it out of their system. Look to both the Right-Brain Introvert and Right-Brain Extrovert strategies to know what to do.

The Lone Ranger be damned, because the absolutely most dangerous behavior a horse can give a human is rearing, whether that person is standing on the ground or on the horse's back. Rearing is the severest show of aggression that a horse can do. Trainers, very experienced and real trainers won't bother wasting their time - or putting themselves at risk - to work with a horse that rears.

So, the answer that should have been given to this girl with no ability to handle such a problem horse follows. This is from an experienced horsewoman with years of training, riding and showing under her belt:

Lady, are you NUTS? For sure the horse is! Who knows what poor training (if any) a horse coming from that sort of background has had. The first thing you did wrong was buy a horse from a "rescue." They aren't "unwanted" horses without reason you know. Second mistake you're making is to think that with your lack of experience that you can safely (keyword safely) train this horse yourself, which your story has just now proved beyond doubt.

Either send Hi Ho Silver to a professional horse trainer for 3-6 months at $500 a month and HOPE you get something safe to use back, or shitcan the piece of shit and spend the $1,500-3,000 you would have spent on training on a GOOD LEGITIMATE horse that wont fall on you and cause you to admire horses from your wheelchair for the rest of your life (if you're lucky) THE END.

Like I said, there's a big, big difference between dreaming and reality when it comes to horses. I'm all for everyone owning one that wants one, but at least have the common sense to learn about horses before you buy. Most of all, be a bit more discriminating in who's advice you take -- before it kills you.

Update: March 17, 2012

Noting how popular this post is, visited by many around the world concerned that TV horse trainers may not be the best source of information, I felt it important to update. Today, I found an excellent article by Linda Parelli that outlines very good ways to keep yourself safe so that you can enjoy your horse: 

Keeping Your Horse Out of Your Space

Pact and Banner of Peace

"The cultural heritage of each nation is in essence a world treasure. The idea of cultural heritage is broadened to include more than just the physical remains of earlier cultures — the buildings and art, for example — but also the creative activities, the universities, the libraries, the hospitals, the concert halls and theaters. All must be protected from the ravages of war and neglect, for without them life would be nothing but a rude and ignorant time on earth."

Nicholas Roerich's Pact and Banner of Peace


Today's Family Photos

When my son was born in 1985, there was no such thing as a digital camera.  But, I took roll after roll of photos of him, even caught his very first step.  Once he turned 3, it seemed like the photos weren't as vibrant, and I lost interest.  How vibrant a photo looks is how alive it appears, to me.  When Nikon came out with a Coolpix 800 digital, I jumped on it, and it set me back close to $800 at the time. I went nuts with it, taking photos of everything.  My son was much older by then, in his teens, and he refused to let me take his photo!  I caught him a few times, but I can count how many times on one hand.  He's still the same way now that I have this Canon PowerShot S5 IS, and I have to work hard to sneak a few.  And I did.  So, here is a collection of "family" photos....including a few of my son.

There's two dogs missing from the photos and a few cats! It was miserably hot and humid, so not many came out to play. I'll get photos of them the next time around.


Remember, Kindness is Inherent

It's such a strange thing to think about, but it's true. To be kind and giving to others is something that is inherent in all human beings. Then why do we need to be reminded almost constantly of this, especially when it comes to skin color or nationality or citizenship status? I dedicated my career to helping others, and I still need a good swift kick in the butt sometimes, which I promptly give to myself when I notice I've been lacking in that department. It's a part of us, it's natural, yet we find ways to bury it. In what? What could be more important? Is it that we are all so self-important that we don't have anything left to give to others after we prop ourselves up?

One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind. I don't remember which astronaut stepping onto the surface of the moon for the first time said that, but it fits here too. Each act of kindness may be small, but it's a piece of the Big Puzzle and just as crucial as all the rest.

This was on my mind while reading the news this morning, scanning for today's post on eyebald, I ran across an article about yesterday's raid on a manufacturing plant in Mississippi that had 600 illegal immigrants working there. When the Homeland Security people broke in and rounded everyone up, the illegals' coworkers applauded. And they weren't just Mexicans. There were immigrants from Brazil, Peru, and Germany, to name a few.

Stop and think back a minute. After WWI, Endicott-Johnson Shoes went overseas to Poland, Italy, Ireland, etc. to recruit workers for their shoe manufacturing plant in upstate NY. Their passage was paid, houses and communities were built for them complete with company stores, and these immigrants happily grabbed up the opportunity to become indentured servants because all of this fluff had to be repaid to EJ Shoes by years and years of work. Piece work, grueling work, in horrible conditions, for a minimum of 15 hours a day. My paternal grandfather came here as part of that new workforce, and spent his life working for EJ Shoes, and so did his wife. He raised all of his children to be bi-lingual, with English as their first language, and to be American all the way.

You see, that kind of "deal" was the way many industries got around the highest cost of manufacturing to make their profits, the cost of raw material being the second highest cost of the process. The government's role in this was to protect the industrialists while they recruited and transported the immigrant workers to the US. In the meantime, American workers watched this and saw that their jobs were at risk, but didn't know why. They only saw immigrants coming in and getting hired. The American worker had no idea that their bosses had brought them here, nor that they were working for far less money than they were to do the same job. And the industrialists let them think what they would, knowing full well they kept a ready workforce available to them at all times this way, and were happy to have lowered their payroll.

So, it started. And it continued. And it's alive and well today. We blame immigrants for taking our jobs, and we resent them for it. But, it is completely misplaced! It's not the immigrants themselves that are to blame, it's the American industries that hold all the responsibility for America losing jobs.

Think about it. Most Big Businesses pay no Federal taxes on anything. Their profits are free and clear. The government exists to protect Big Business and their interest. That the INS is a government agency is a laugh and it always looks the other way when an industry wants to use illegal immigrant workers instead of Americans that are protected by unions and environmental and workplace laws. While hiring illegals means a lower payroll, less tax monies are collected which further waters down the government's ability to protect Big Business, but that doesn't matter because the concern is always for the short-term profit. I guess it's not an alternative to streamline the naturalization process for these imported, illegal immigrants, because if naturalized, they would then fall under US worker protection laws such as minimum wage, and that just isn't what it's all about.

Do you see what I'm saying? Illegal immigration is a product of American industry! It's not the immigrants themselves, it's our own businesses that are to blame! If that wall manages to go up between the US and Mexico, it won't make any difference. You'll still see the same number of "wetbacks" working in our manufacturing plants. And that wall will become a constant reminder of our major misunderstanding and ignorance of what is really going on. How embarrassing.

So, kick yourselves in the butt already and wake up and smell the coffee. Instead of blaming the victims, so to speak, throw your voice of displeasure at the ones that are truly responsible for American job losses - our industries and our government that serves those industries, instead of the American people.

You see, once you realize that this is what is really going on, you won't have to kick yourself so often as a reminder to allow yourself to be kind.

For a great discussion about Random Acts of Kindness, visit the Junk Drawer for "Anyone Need a Hug?". I think you'll see that it isn't so hard to be kind after all.

Pay it forward!


It's Not About Race Already

Darlene Superville, an AP writer, decided to ask the question, "What's wrong with Michelle Obama?" Superville wastes no time in identifying herself as "black" and her attitude points to race as the most important issue in the upcoming election.

I take issue with this.

What no one is able to comprehend, especially black people, is that the election is not about skin color. It is about choosing the best person to run the strongest country in the world during extremely troubling times. It's about selecting a person smart enough, wise enough, honest enough, strong enough to maintain the integrity of the office and of this country. It is not about the rise of the black man - and woman - through repression, depression and suppression.

You see, being black means you are a member of a minority, and that means there are far fewer people with black skin than with any other color of skin currently residing in this country. There are far more people with white skin that are repressed, depressed and suppressed - by 80% or more. Why is it that having black skin entitles you to more recognition, status, opportunities and legitimacy than anyone else? It's almost as if you, as a people, have bitched and moaned so much that you are enjoying far more by doing far less than anyone else has to.

Superville says that Michelle Obama "embodies the hopes and dreams of millions of black women, like me, who quietly have longed for the day when we'd see one of our own where Michelle Obama is now — this close (fingers pinched!) to measuring the White House for draperies and picking out a new china pattern."

Millions of black women? One of our own? What? What about all the other women with various colors of skin? And, since we all live in America, and we're all supposed to be Americans, why should it be acceptable that the Obamas can only be yours and not all of ours? By the way, it is a complete waste of time, effort and ridiculous amounts of money to redecorate the White House every four years! Not only that, it is an overwhelmingly superficial, inconsequential aspect of the supposed 'lofty status' of a president's wife. Is that all she plans to do if her husband is elected?

As long as you bleed red blood when cut, have bowel movements and have to urinate, you are no different - and certainly not more superior - than anyone else. What counts is, again, intelligence, wisdom, maturity, humility, patience, and all the rest of the attributes of a Damned Good Person; none of which have a damned thing to do with the color of your skin.

That race is so important to Obama means that he is working from a self-imposed, insurmountable deficit, and one that makes him an unwise choice to lead a country with an ethnically diverse yet predominately white citizenship. Until he and his wife can get over the fact that they have darker skin than the majority, he is unfit to lead this country.

Politicians Run With Selective Vision

I can't help but wonder about … well, things. At my age, it's a wonder I wonder at all. Yet, I do. A lot. The older I get, the less clear things become, and that doesn't help the wonder much.

Like, this presidential campaign. What is it that these turkeys do? I mean, really; can you tell me exactly what it is that a politician does? Besides the tall tale telling and spin-doctoring and wheeling and dealing, that is. I've always wondered about that. How can someone who just shoots the shit for a living make so much money?

Oh, and the breezes just get stronger and stronger as they flap those loose lips and with all the foresight of the ass end of a horse (pictured). In the process of all this flapping, politicians always, always seem to piss someone off, and it's usually the leader of another powerful industrialized nation that could blow us to hell and back again if they get enough flack.

I suppose we taxpayers pay them for their brains. None of us really know what is going on, right? We don't have the perspective or the background to know the difference between right and wrong in the political arena. Well, we pay them for their brains in an area we know nothing about because 1.) we're not told a damned bit of truth via the media, and 2.) a politician's version of right and wrong is entirely different than all of ours. When was the last time you could say for certain that a president had brains? Or, a conscience?

Ethical considerations aside, how can any of those yahoo politicians even think they have the perspective or the background or the experience to speak for me, to represent my interests and make sure those bad-ass commies don't come and get me? It's not the commies I'm worried about, it's the capitalists. Same thing, right? As far as I'm concerned it is. As long as a big business has more rights than I do, you bet that's what I worry about.

From what I can see, all politicians do is tour their constituencies at the expense of taxpayers and capitalist donators, and spout crap out of both sides of their mouths from a gigantic stage somewhere, stay in luxury suites in the best hotels and fly around in private 747s. They have people gathering information, handling the booking of all these posh gigs. These people handle all the money, call people all day and night, write their speeches, give them manicures and massages and tease their hair. I'd be surprised if a politician is even in the bathroom by themselves. One day's worth of money spent on one candidate's campaign would support me for years!

It just seems to me that with all the tongue wagging, sooner or later a politician would trip over that tongue and fall flat on his face. The law of probability almost guarantees it, right? They'd have to belly flop sooner or later considering they look through eyes that don't see and listen with ears that don't hear.

So, tell me. In what ways do politicians help me live the American Dream? What am I missing here?

By the way, if you want another, very-different-from-mine perspective on this circus of an election, check out The Natural State Hawg's "Sick of Obama and McCain? The Hawg's Got the Solution." Ol' Hawg's got a few ideas that just might fly.


Put It To Work

PJN July Promo

On Thursday, while I was enjoying my concert, Inc. 500 Magazine released its list of the 100 fastest growing, privately held companies in the US. Pepperjam ranked #70 with a three-year revenue growth of almost 2,450%, and this was before they launched the Pepperjam Affiliate Network in January. This year, the affiliate network has been the most significant source of revenue growth.

While our blog readers often ignore ads they have come to love to hate, Pepperjam's ads are different in that they allow you to choose the companies that carry products to match your niche and your readers' needs. I'm sure everyone would click on an eBay or 1-800PetMeds ad that takes them to a familiar, trusted site, and these are among the 500 quality advertisers within the Pepperjam Affiliate Network.

As a regular reader, you know I don't make program recommendations as a rule. But, Pepperjam has been my blogs' biggest source of income since I signed up, and that is something worth spreading the word about. And, if you click the Pepperjam banner at the top of this post, you'll get a $10 sign-on bonus.

How's that for spreading the Love?


Kenny Loggins in Concert

My review and photos!

This is Kenny Loggins while he sang Celebrate Me Home. These photos show the passion and total immersion into the music that is Kenny Loggins. It's amazing, considering his 40 year career, that what he gives in every song is all of him.

I'll add more to this tomorrow after I've had a chance to let it all sink in. Right now, I'm still very much caught up in the feel of it and not quite able to find words to describe the experience.

Ah, a good night's sleep does a body - and a brain - good. And so does going through all the concert photos on my camera. I have a lot of great ones! I'm surprised with how good they came out since I wasn't very close to the stage.

The venue was the Riverfest Amphitheatre on the bank of the river in Little Rock. We've had rain, a lot of it, for days, and it was still raining off and on when the gates opened for the concert. While the stage itself is covered, all the people in audience were not, and I'm sure that the crappy weather played a major part in the size of the crowd. If I had to guess, I'd say there was about 500 people there that braved the elements to enjoy Kenny Loggins. Most were middle-aged people that had followed from Loggins and Messina through his long and successful solo career.

Loggins started his show with a few acoustic tunes; with an invite to the audience to sing the choruses of Danny's Song. Crystal clear and pure, the man's voice was flawless - and strong. He is one of the rare musicians that is much better live and in person than his recordings, which are great.

When his band joined him on stage, the energy was non stop. Bass, lead guitar, keyboards and drummer set the stage for a set of rock and country rock and jazz that is the range of Loggins' music. He introduced a few songs, joked about how he was honored that others chose to do the songs he wrote, but there were times he wished they didn't put their stamp on them so much. He laughingly said that he had to steal This Is It back. Comfortable, relaxed and often grinning from ear to ear, the band was as flawless as he was.

The songs ranged from Loggins and Messina days through his new CD. Timeless as they all are, the choice of voicing covered them perfectly. I was very happy to hear Angry Eyes, one of my all time favorites. Before the last notes rang silent, the next song was started so that the music was non stop.

The weather had a major part to play in this concert as well. The high humidity caused the guitars to wander in their tuning quite a bit. The army of stage hands were busy tuning and swapping guitars throughout. And the night was cut short by the sudden "frying" of much of the sound system. The sound people were able to restore Loggins' microphone and the keyboards, so the concert ended with a beautiful song instead of the anticipated Footloose.

Loggins has a killer tour schedule with a lot of miles to cover each day. But you can't tell it by his performance. He and his band dig in deep, smile a lot and relate and communicate with each other while playing. Musically, they are a seamless unit. The set list changes for each tour stop, and every night is a different show (I looked on his site for previous set lists, and last night's was much different than the one he did two nights ago).

Kenny Loggins is the personification of music. His talent is unparalleled and timeless. He goes way beyond "star."


Musicians are Just Weird About "IT"

I haven't been to a concert in ages. I don't remember the last time I've been. I have several excuses for this. Most of my life, I was playing myself, so there wasn't many Friday or Saturday nights off to go. If I did manage to get a weekend off here and there, if there were any concerts scheduled, it was usually bands I had no interest in seeing.

I learned early on not to go to a huge venue like a 'concert' to hear, if you want to call it that, music that I wasn't excited about. I went to a Pat Bennetar (correct my spelling if I'm wrong) concert once that made me sick to my stomach, it was so loud and rank. Added to the killer volume was the fact that she danced around the stage, but to a very different drummer than the one hired to play in her band. How in the world can you sing if you can't keep a beat? Wow, did that suck.

Yep, musicians are hard to please; at least when it comes to music. Not much else matters so much to young musicians. I mean, there's the IT to chase. You start out playing and if even one person besides your mother thinks you're good and tells you, then that first step is taken down the long road of chasing IT, the dream, the making IT. And, therein lies the weird factor. It's not necessarily a bad thing; it's just weird...

In high school, if you play guitar, bass or drums, you are cool; very, very cool. "Wow, isn't it just so cool that he's good looking and plays in a band?" sort of cool. (No doubt I'm dating myself horribly with my choice of words here, but you get the drift.) The boy may not even be beyond the raging acne stage, he wears taped-together glasses and be as scrawny as a bean pole, but he's very attractive now that he plays in a band. It doesn't matter what he plays as long as he "plays in a band." To be honest, he doesn't even have to know how to play the guitar or bass strapped around his neck or the drums sitting in front of him. He's cool, and that's all that matters.

Don't worry moms. Even if your son thinks he's chasing IT well into his college years, it's probably just a phase. Probably. Maybe. Hopefully. By then, he'll have learned to play enough to be approached by other bands that ask him to play, and heaven forbid, all the 'fans' that follow him will follow him to the new band. He'll learn more and more of how to play his chosen instrument as he goes, and maybe his course grades will start to fall because there's no place to go that he isn't cool to study, not that he thinks that's all that important a thing to do anyway.

You see, very little of what this 'musician' is doing has to do with music. It's all about popularity and cool and doing whatever it takes to maintain that cool. Sooner or later, he'll actually have a girlfriend that he falls in love with and asks to marry. Once the wedding is done and the honeymoon is over, life will set it, and that usually doesn't include having other girls falling all over him. He will then grow up and out of his phase as a member of a band. Music was the vehicle for the ego, while the self went undefined.

That kind of thing is weird, but at least it's relatively short-lived. Hopefully, he'll never fall into "what if." What if he had kept playing, what if there was a label rep at the next gig, what if he could've made IT?

The story is a bit different for others, and even more weird. From a very young age, some can be bit, not by the popularity/cool factor, but by the beauty of music. Music is its own language. It is symbolic of emotions unnamed and unidentified. It has the power to drown out everything else but itself so that it becomes more tangible and alive than everything else. It's spiritual.

The full force of the sensitive, creative type is awakened just as soon as this kid touches a musical instrument, no matter what it is. The IT for this one is to produce that beauty heard at the moment of being bitten. This kid walks through life in a rush to get back to the world as it is when taken away by the beauty of music. The world of music includes a voice, an individuality that doesn't exist anywhere else. Music is fundamentally a part of this person more than anything else. And, rarely will you find this one without his instrument in hand, even while he sleeps.

Life has its dictates and demands, and this musician will do what's necessary to appease them, even do very well at them, but not with full heart. The musician won't be popular in school, he'll be too shy and seemingly withdrawn. No one else speaks his language, after all. He - or she - will play with many bands, but won't settle until a group comes together all speaking the same language.

It's the lack of social skills in the end that keep this musician a bit on the outside looking in. They'll marry, go through the motions, all the while feeling so much that it's impossible to speak. Knowing that beauty is music means that there's music everywhere. It's weird. It's another, very different world. All you hear is music. Ego is the vehicle of the music, the expression, the reality of the self.

Yeah, I chased the beauty. I chased it my whole life. And, I'm weird. I fell asleep playing a guitar and was still playing it when I woke up. I played music I would never listen to, and listened to music I'd never play. That beauty factor has to be there, and for me, that means whatever music I listen to has to come from deep inside, from the heart. All the rest is just noise to me.

I think it was late 1999 that I put my microphone in its case for the last time. I stopped listening to music except for the radio in the car. I have this kick-ass component stereo that collects dust. Dust covers my guitars and violin cases. The calluses on the ends of the fingers of my left hand are long gone. After 25 years of playing, it was just time to build the rest of life. The break had to be clean and complete. I can't let myself look back.

In all the years since, I've kept as busy as I could. It was difficult at first adjusting to being home on the weekends, and it never crossed my mind to go out. I bought a horse that has taken music's place. That works. There's still music everywhere; it's just not played with instruments. Nature is music.

This Thursday, two days from now, weather permitting because it's an outdoors concert, I'm going to break out of my silent world long enough to hear Kenny Loggins (pictured). Of all the recorded artists out there, he is the one I listen to over and over and over. When I want to hear music, it's only a matter of choosing which CD of his to put into the player. Live, he is even better. I'm excited, and I'm terrified of what I'll feel.

But, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it!


Get Out of Florida Before it Hits, Please

This is a photo taken during Hurricane Charlie back in 2004. It doesn't look good.

As unpredictable as tropical storms and hurricanes may be, please take heed.  The state of Florida is now under a state of emergency, and everyone is strongly urged to evacuate. A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch are in effect for Craig Key west to the Dry Tortugas. A hurricane watch is also in effect for the majority of the Keys and south and southwest Florida. Please, let's not have another disaster and fiasco like Hurricane Katrina! Just get to safety now!


What Was Then Isn't Now

I just read a great story over at Where the Walls Are Soft called "If a Car Hits a Tree in the Forest..." that got me thinking about comparisons and differences. You know, just the idle thought here and there. Les tells about the times she thought for sure her parents didn't know what she was up to as a teenager, then was caught red-handed. I laughed and laughed; mostly because I remembered thinking the same thing. Don't we all?

Lately, the differences between back then and now are pretty dramatic, and I don't even have to think back too far...

For instance. Take a look at this photo. Yep, those are fingernail clippers and toenail clippers and a fingernail file. What's also in that photo are nippers to trim a horse's hooves, and a rasp to file them down. Quite a huge difference in size -- and weight. Yesterday, I was out there wrestling with those nippers and rasp trying to trim my horse's feet. I managed to get one and a half feet done before I couldn't lift my arms anymore. What a weakling!

A friend of mine is out of town this weekend, having had to travel "home" for an appointment. She visited a relative, got the appointment out of the way, then looked up former coworkers. Glad to see her, they invited her over for a girls night out -- only, they're not going out, they're just meeting at one of the girls' home to sit and chat. All I could think while she was telling me her plans is that I was sure glad I didn't have to go anywhere. What a bore!

I've been looking in the mirror lately and contemplating whether to color my hair again, or let it show its true color, which is primarily gray at this point. How in the world do you ever decide something like that? True, my body feels its age more and more, but in my mind, I'm not much older than oh, say, 40 or so. No, let's say 39 instead. You don't expect people in their 30's to be gray. Honestly, I don't think I'll ever really grow up. That just wouldn't be fun. What a goof!

You should see all the stuff I have to go through to take a decent photo. I was running back and forth through the house for I don't know how long looking for my glasses. I need the bifocals to see the itty-bitty screen on my camera. I usually take my glasses off when I set my car keys down, but they weren't there. I found them in the bathroom next to the fingernail clippers that I was also looking for. But, I was bound and determined to get a photo, and there it is. Now, I'm exhausted. What a light-weight!

Thinking about Les's post a bit more, there's a lot to be said about who you are, how you are your set of experiences and adventures throughout life. If you made mistakes in the past, that's exactly where they are -- in the past. If you are remotely working on half a brain cell, you learned from those mistakes. Maybe you weren't aware of the lesson at the time, but now when you look back, it smacks you a good one right between the eyes. It's the lessons of life that you take with you into tomorrow. What a philosopher!

So, on that relatively heavy note, I'm going to head to bed. I've got to trim the rest of that horse's feet tomorrow!


Do You Have High-Speed Internet?

For someone that is allergic to math and a bit sensitive to all things mechanical (I don't like getting my hands dirty, what can I say?), I surprise myself by how fascinated I am with the Internet and computer technology. I look at it in terms of advances in the evolution of mankind and all the psychology and sociology that goes along with it. It's the freedom of speech, the access to information and the connectivity of the entire world that sends my mind spinning off into its own sci-fi fantasy and adventure.

But, a news story came out this week that threatens my imaginative contemplations. It seems that Broadband growth is at a standstill. On one hand, it's a bit ironic that these kind of things are always doomed if a business monopoly reports little to no gains. Sure, the world population is growing, and the US is expected to have 100 million more people by 2039 (up from the 305 million of today) so it's somewhat logical to think ahead like that. But to me, if a business doesn't lose money, then it's doing good enough! Anyway, I digress...

Now, don't forget that I'm allergic to math and that what I'm doing is throwing out numbers here to make a point, not a mathematical equation that computes. Right now, there are 65 million households with high-speed Internet access - roughly 35 million with cable and 29 million with DSL. Of all the adult Internet users, 10% use dialup to access the Internet. The number missing in all this is the total number of Internet users, no matter how they connect.

What all this implies is that those that are not jumping on the high-speed bandwagon are holding up the show. Some people adamantly say they will never upgrade, others say there is no high-speed access where they live, and some say that high-speed is just too darned expensive. It's ridiculous where I live, as a case in point. There is electric, analog phone lines and city water out in the middle of nowhere, but no cable or DSL. My only choice for high-speed is an aircard on the EDGE network because 3G isn't available here ... yet, or so they say. It's a little more expensive than DSL, but less than cable - at 3 times the speed of dialup. No gift horse here.

Computer technology is the fastest ever adopted new technological advance in history. It took the telephone over 50 years to be widely adopted and TV almost 30 years. Color TV was available for over 5 years before my parents bought one, and you could use both rotary and touch tone phones on the same line for 20 years. In contrast, computers advanced to the point where they fit on a desk's top and increased in power and capacity every business quarter since they hit the shelves! Software pushed hardware, hardware pushed software until finally the Internet became widely available, though it took a few years for doing business online to be trusted and accepted. The push is a trickle now with advances, though there will be a computer that will come out of sleep mode to answer Internet phone calls coming out in the next month or so, but will work with an Ethernet connection because WiFi won't wake up. Yet.

Like I talked about in my last post, we're still adapting to the Internet, both as a society and as individuals. And I'd have to say it's been a pretty tough and rough time. The news of broadband access slowing is probably the first hint of the poor economy's effect on the technology sector. Well, for once, slowing down may be a good thing.

I know this is a lot of gobble-de-goop for all you non geeks, but thankfully, computers are like cars: You don't have to know how they work, they just do when you turn the key.

So much has changed with the rapid advances and adoption of computers and the Internet. It all happened so fast that not only have we barely scratched the surface of its potential, but we don't have a clue about the impact on you and I and everyone else! What will this all lead to?

I yearn for the day when we can walk into a room and say, "Computer, where's the dog?" and get an answer back. I want to step on a round light panel set in the floor and be transported to wherever I want to go. (Talk about an answer to the oil crap going on now! Oil, who needs it?) I want to walk up to a panel and have a face-to-face chat with my friend that lives states away. And I sure wouldn't mind an android like Data around...

What will it take to get from here to there?


Confusing Anonymity, Online and Off

We live in an age where anonymity is growing in magnitude like a bomb going off.
~Jock Sturges

an�o�nym�i�ty a) The quality or state of being unknown or unacknowledged. b) One that is unknown or unacknowledged.

"Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society." ~McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission

The issue of anonymity has been swimming around in my head for awhile now, and I think it's something we need to explore a bit. What is not all that important to me may be a screaming issue to you, and that, I do believe, can make the difference between trust and safety. Help me hash this out, would you?

Fading into the crowd.

This is the part of the whole issue that really ruffles my feathers. No matter what part of life you look at, you are just one of many. You are a member of a family - the daughter, the son, the cousin, second cousin or aunt. You share the same last name, presumably, so this fading-into-the-family anonymity is one of those biology things. It's just worse for those coming from a large family.

This anonymity thing, right from the get-go since we're born into a family, starts working from Day #1 to squash individuality.

From the time I came screeching into the world, I'm pretty sure I fought like a banshee any time that my individuality has been threatened. Since I was a really shy and quiet kid, those outbursts were the equivalent of WWIII. Pink? You want me to wear pink? Not in this lifetime!  You want to do what with my hair? I didn't want toys, I wanted books, drawing pads, music instruments - and a horse. As anonymous as it already was, I couldn't imagine the horror of wearing the same thing to school that someone else had on, let alone an entire school of kids wearing the same thing like in a Catholic School. And then, the only recognition you get for getting straight A's across the board was an A on a little piece of cardboard to your parents. Whoop-de-doo.

Go to a store, a concert, sit on a city bus or subway and you become part of the crowd. Your individuality gets lost in the sheer numbers of anonymous people.

Flapping it in the wind.

On the other hand, there's no doubt that more than a few people have paid with their lives for putting it all out there, speaking out and standing up for what is right. MalcomX, Martin Luther King Jr., and why can't I remember more? It surprised me to learn that MalcomX went from fighting for black rights to fighting for human rights. When he grew to that point, he stepped out from behind the anonymity of being just another black troublemaker. He paid with his life.

So, we sacrifice our individuality for the sake of our life? That doesn't make sense to me. Individuality is our freedom! It seems to me that the problem is more that some people assume they have the right to declare themselves superior and dictate what individuals do and say. That is not society, that is totalitarianism.

The online world.

Every day, we walk through different parts of our lives that require that we focus on specific aspects which in turn alters our behavior. Just waking up and stumbling toward the kitchen for coffee, there is no focus, nor is there a need for it. Pillow head, bad breath and bags under our eyes greet those that live with us, and that's normal. It's the way we are. At work, focus kicks in, and that requires a specific set of behaviors to maintain that focus and do the job. Thinking about facts and figures kicks in a certain formality in our personality. And that's normal.

Driving home from work, another focus is needed, and for some, the behaviors can turn into a raging maniac behind the wheel, or a total goof singing badly at the top of the volume scale. Stopping at the store is yet another focus, and another set of behaviors, mostly patience. At home is dinner with the family as focus and yet another set of behaviors as our role demands. And, that's normal.

Psychology calls all these different sets of behaviors personas. These personas are our way of navigating through our lives in the best way possible for us. The personas sit between your ego and the world and helps protect your ego by filtering though the stuff coming at you. You slide from one persona to the next seamlessly as your changing situations dictate. This is all normal.

So, when we sit down at our computer and begin to do what we do online, there is a focus and another set of behaviors that is our online persona.

Take a second and think about that. The majority of what we do online is write. I have always been comfortable writing and expressing my thoughts and ideas through writing. In person, I speak the way I write. Or, I write the way I speak. But, the act of writing gives me the focus I need to cleanly and clearly express the thoughts and ideas in my head. There are times when I don't speak so cleanly and clearly, believe me. I am who and what I am, whether I'm writing or talking. That's the way I choose to be. "Me" is my online persona.

Everyone's online persona is how they navigate and perceive it as a part of their lives.

It's your turn.

I've opened a can of worms here. I get the feeling that until we all come to terms with the Internet and it becomes something more than a crazy library or source of entertainment to us, it will continue to be something adamantly accepted or controversial in its purpose and value. We, as individuals, need to look within and clarify to ourselves and for ourselves, our online personas.

There's a whole lotta worms in that ol' can, and I've just scratched the surface here. What role does the Internet play in your life? What are some of your concerns?


The Hawg Thinks I'm Kick-Ass

You is looking at a kick-ass blogger! Ah, I've been called many things before, many-a times, but never one that gave me a reason to take it like a... take it like a....um... blogger!

Hawg, over at The Natural State Hawg, has presented me with the dandy, the infamous, the illustrious, Kick-Ass Blogger Award.  The funny thing is, he even came up with reasons to present A Bumpy Path and I for this award.  Oh, I blush to read these words:
Very astute observations and commentary from another Arkansan. Did you know she was a singer in a band and is highly educated and articulate? Although Theresa is technically a carpetbagger in these parts, she's proud to call Arkansas home and she does her adopted state proud. Very entertaining blog and one of those on The Hawg's "must see" list.
He's such a doof! You don't have to agree with his opinions, but The Natural State Hawg will keep you rolling, and you should check out that ol' lawyer's points of view.  Boy, was he ever pissed when he learned that Budweiser is no longer an American beer!  And, he's the self-proclaimed best ever cat namer.  You can't pass that up.

Now a member of its ranks and listed on the list of Kick-Ass Bloggers, I now pass the honor on to:
  1. Functional Shmunctional Grandy has a way of turning the mundane into so much more!
  2. So Now What? This is the Monkey's place to call it like he sees it with his usual sharp keenness.
  3. My Dear Hard Drive Sebbie talks about the cool, the beautiful, the strange, the common and the not so common.
  4. My Sweet Haven Another fellow Arkansan, Jenn talks about her new life and job here in Little Rock.
  5. Pamibe From the Sunshine State, Pam talks about the antics of her dog Brea, along with politics, religion, kids... life in general.
You'll recognize all these people as a regular reader of A Bumpy Path as they've left numerous comments and are part of quite a few great discussions here.  They've made my bumpy path quite a bit more comfy and home-like.  I can't think of a better way to honor our friendship than by calling them Kick-Ass Bloggers!


300 Drops, Never Again

For the first time, I hit the 300 drop limit on Entrecard. It took me all day to do it. I managed to run an ad that brought a lot of new visitors here, and I couldn't help myself, I had to drop back. Thank you, everyone, for stopping by and I hope you'll come back to visit again.

I saw some fantastic, wonderfully designed, beautifully written blogs today! I wish I wasn't in such a fervor to get all my reciprocal drops in because I sure wouldn't mind reading a lot more and getting to know the people behind those great blogs.

For this reason, wanting to read and comment, I will never again push like crazy just for the sake of returning drops. The work you've all produced deserves much more than just a quick glance. I know I've ripped myself off today, and you too.

300 drops won't happen again.


Today is a Strange Day

Did you ever have one of those days where everything just seems strange? Today is not even half over, and it has been strange. Makes me want to go hide or something.

It started off normally, as far as my days go. I was out of horse feed, so my horse is angry at me, or so it seems, for not getting his breakfast. Ah, the joys of spoiling a horse silly. As much as I didn't want to go out into the sweltering heat, I had to go, so killed a few birds with one stone. Yep, I went shopping!

I came home with one of these Omnitech Flexible Keyboards. (No, it's not a paid review!) It comes in this little plastic, round can, and with a $10 price tag, I just couldn't resist! It's made out of silicone, and boy is it ever cool. I can't help it, I'm a Star Trek fan from way back, and strange gadgets just do something for me. In my defense, I did need a new keyboard since of a lot of the keys on my old one were sticking. I didn't get pink, but a neon blue color.

So, of course I'm going to sit down and write something, anything, just to test out this new ...thing. Scanning through the headlines for ideas, that's when it hit me that today is just a plain old weird day. Here's this weird keyboard, that is working so far by the way, and I run into these very, very strange headlines. Not in the Odd News, but right along with the rest of the headlines they're trying to convince us all is news...

DNA Test to Study Mummy Fetuses in King Tut Tomb. Now, they found these two female fetuses in the tomb way back in 1922. They are estimated to be 5 to 7 months along in the gestational cycle, and will undergo testing to see if they are related to each other and King Tut. Since King Tut was a king at age 12 and died mysteriously at age 19, I guess they're wondering if he was old enough to know about the Birds and the Bees.

Staying with the theme of messing around with famous dead people, "Country Stars Duet with Elvis on Christmas CD" is the next in line for weird articles. "They say it's the late icon's first duets album and the first Christmas compilation of its kind." If Elvis didn't do duets when he was alive, at least on his 1957 Christmas album, why have him "do" one now? They want to keep Elvis alive, enhance his image. Right. Good try.

Moving away from dead people, but staying with the bizarre theme is "Woman Riding a Donkey Fights Off Lion with Machete." The whole story is right there in the headline. This 500 pound lion goes after the donkey's legs, and the woman whacks at it until it runs away to eat two dogs and a pig before it is sedated and caught. I find this strange. No mention whatsoever about the fate of the donkey.

It must be a slow, slow news day if those stories are 'headlines,' but it is a nice change. They are all bizarre, but so is this strangle little keyboard. I guess they go hand in hand.

Well, it's time to head outside to see if my horse will "talk" to me again...


On The Radio

Deep, silky-smooth, calming yet passionate, Rick's voice used to come through the tiny speaker of my transistor radio, muffled by the pillow and blankets stuffed around it so that my mother wouldn't hear it in the middle of the night. Oh, how I loved that voice. Night after night, I fell asleep with that voice in my ear and dreamed the dreams of a puppy-love smitten teenager.

I imagined a tall man with dark hair and sharp, blue eyes. His nose was straight and his smile easy. He moved in a feral and feline way, highlighted by simple jeans and t-shirt. I imagined him sitting wherever radio DJs sit with one leg up and leaned back while he spoke into his microphone with large hands rifling through countless 45s and LPs.

By the time Rick moved from late nights to evenings, the prized spot, I was out on my own and able to call the radio station. At first, it was just to make song requests like "White Bird" or "C'est la Vie," always surprising myself that I was able to utter a coherent word, my heart would flutter so much. "Sure, will do," and click, he was gone. And when my song came on with his dedication to me; why, I swear I'd swoon.

After a few months of calling whenever I gathered up enough nerve, Rick started to recognize my voice. "Hi, Theresa, what will it be tonight?" I'd ask for songs not played often, typically Loggins and Messina; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; and maybe a Jethro Tull or Led Zepplin tune once in awhile, just to build a little variation and unpredictability into my requests.

"Stairway to Heaven?" he'd ask. "Why that tune tonight? Do you think it fits in with what I've been playing?" And that started the little discussions between us about my chosen requests. It was funny at the time, but his voice would change just a little while he was talking to me, compared to his "on air" voice. Not much, but somehow it just sounded more silky, more personable, more interested. And he was interested in me!

"Wait a second, let me get the next song on." He'd just lay the phone down, I assume, on his desk and introduce the next song and get it going. Sometimes, I'd get a loud screech in the earpiece of my phone if I had it too close to the radio I was listening to. Feedback.

"You're Mama Don't Dance is it? Good song. But, I think I'd better play a few more before I play that one. Do you mind waiting a little bit for it?" Instead of hanging up, he'd get to talking about something else, and we'd chat away. Sometimes my request would be played, sometimes not, and I didn't care. Not one iota.

I'd call every night. Sometimes he would be too busy for a long conversation, so I'd just make a request. No big deal. I'd about cry, but it was no big deal. I got to the point where I could tell if he was busy or not before I'd call. And we'd talk about anything and everything. It was nice, relaxed, accepting, anonymous friends just shooting the breeze. Sometimes it would be ten or twenty minutes, sometimes two or three hours. I don't remember much about those conversations, only that they were a sort of connection for me that I'd never had before.

Then, it happened. Rick walked through the door of a party. Turns out some friends of mine went to high school with the infamous DJ Rick, and there he was.

Yes, there he was. All of about 5'5, scraggly hair, pitiful patchy beard, brown eyes, Neanderthal eyebrows, crooked glasses, slightly mushy and flabby looking with his t-shirt half tucked into saggy blue jeans - and really hairy arms. I was totally repulsed. I couldn't believe this was the same person I talked to almost every night on the telephone, nor the silky smooth voice I heard on the radio. My heart fell. I never said a word, never introduced myself, and got out of there as fast as I could.

And, I never called the radio station again.

(No, that's not Rick's picture, but it's close to what I imaged Rick to look like.)


Flower Shoot

These exotic looking flowers are growing wild here in my hot and humid Arkansas front yard. They are huge and quite amazing; and they open in the morning and close up by noon.

Click on the photos to see 800x600 size. You'll see a grasshopper!


July: What a Month it Was

Here it is almost 11 p.m. and it's still 86 degrees.  We're looking for the first week of August to run well over 100 degrees every day. I'm wilting!  I guess I'll just have to stay inside and blog.

Here's my list of frequent visitors and highlights of July...

Frequent Visitors

July Highlights

A Bumpy Path celebrated a year of blogging existence, and I talked about the growing pains, the struggles and what did and didn't work in Milestones of a Year of Blogging.

Sharpen Your Thinking looks at the power of thought and thinking and offers ways to improve your clarity.

I talked about a childhood memory, an excursion into adventure with my cousin John in A Lesson in Fear.  I sure do miss that boy.

Camera in hand, I was able to capture a little story in photos in A Tail in the Sky.  I love this Canon!

There's nothing more misleading and troubling than to run into illnesses or conditions that just don't exist. It's all a scam! Someone is looking to cash in on convincing you of a condition that you don't have. I talk about the pseudo Internet Addiction Disorder in You May Be Crazy If... 

Rounding out the month is an article about understanding the simplicity and complexity of a common human behavior in What's Behind the Lies.

I 'met' a fellow Arkansan this month, and he invited me to join the All Arkie Army. This a blog of all Arkansas writers in one place, and a way to keep in touch with everyone in the state. Come take a look!

Many thanks and mountainous appreciation to my frequent flying readers and visitors and commentators. You are the life of this Bumpy Path!

OK, off and running to stumble and trip over a few more things in August! You're coming along, aren't you?