Feel the Fire: Bit and Lit

Have you ever had one of those days that, no matter how many times you check, you are certain, absolutely positively sure that you forgot to zip up your pants?

Yeah, I am "a girl" and I wear jeans. A lot. All the time, in fact. I'm only comfortable wearing clothes that would be, um, appropriate to get on a horse wearing. Anyway...

Seriously, have you ever had a day when you just had to keep checking your zipper just to ease your mind? Remember how crazy that felt?

Well, that's pretty much the way my mind has been working lately. Everyday. Shoot, some of my pants don't even have zippers and I keep checking...

The worst part about it is that I didn't realize that was how my mind was working. I'm going to go right ahead and blame it on gas prices and the screwed economy. I really think that's what it is.

I'm back in the newspaper business, and back into the mode of reporter and researching and writing. I love it. I'm meeting a lot of great people and digging into it hook, line and sinker. It takes my mind off my zipper.

That reporter-ness is how I've approached eyebald, my other blog. I scour the headlines every morning and look for that odd piece of news that could be the beginning of something the media picks up on and runs with, or it could be something that is there and then gone the next hour. Sometimes, those little tidbits are important, but get trumped in the Wall Street crisis or lost in the he-said-she-said crap of the campaigning candidates.

In the meantime, while I'm covering a story of my own for the paper, I sit there and watch and wait. Sooner or later, those same sorts of little tidbits come through, all on their own, without me hunting for them. I'm a good listener, thankfully, so all I do is listen attentively and I'll get pretty deep without even asking questions. I want to hear, really hear, the person behind the words, and that's what frames the story I write and submit.

That sounds purplish and gushy. No doubt about it. But, it keeps my mind off my zipper. So, where I get -- no, where I allow myself to get -- creative is when I'm taking photos.

I don't consider myself a photographer. I don't really know much (because I can't remember much) about all these bells and whistles on my camera. And when I take photos, about all I see on that little screen is about what people who are too blind to drive a car see. It must be time to get my bifocals updated.

I get lucky. I get lucky a lot. I take hundreds of photos to up my chances of getting lucky, keeping my fingers and toes crossed that one or two of those hundreds of photos are usable. The paper has used just about every photo I've submitted with my articles, which is amazing to me.

Lately, I've been bit and lit. I've been bit by the creative bug and lit by the fire of that creativity. I had to get beyond a lot of self-doubt, get beyond the fog of the days' headlines (and that frakking zipper), but once I did, things started flowing. Most of this creative "flow" is presented here, on this blog. I'm afraid if I let my hair down too much, I'd go way out of the box and into La-La Land instead of producing valid and well-written news stories for the paper. So, my Fruit Loops stuff is here, for all my favorite readers!

Which brings me to this photo. I've been wanting to get a photo with both the foreground and background blurred for awhile. I saw this technique used one time on the cover of an US Air Force publication, and I was blown away by it. Now, that photo showed a soldier siting down the barrel of his M-16, so the actual content of the photo was shocking in itself. With the tight focus of the fore and background blurred, the photo became a work of art.

The funny thing is, when I shot this photo earlier today, that's not what I had in mind to do. See that little black square thing at the end of the guitar neck? I had no idea what it was, and I was curious as hell about it. I've been out of music for quite awhile now, and I'd never seen one of those things before, whatever it was. So, I snapped a few shots of it, thinking that when I got it on the computer, I could then see it up close to find out what it was! It's a tuner, of all things. A guitar tuner. Who'd a thunk?

And there, before my very eyes, was the shot of my dreams. Foreground and background blurred with complete focus on the subject, right there before my very eyes. I have no idea what I did to get it, and it'll be luck if I ever manage to get a shot like it again.

But, that's ok. I'm bit and lit! Ya-hoo! I'll just keep trying.

This photo has managed to break through all of the crappy feelings of reading through the news every day. If there is anything at all that I've learned from this is that it is important to take your pulse every now and then, and honestly let yourself know that it's time to break away. Don't let life and the world stifle your creativity, not for an instant. Your creativity is your gift to the world, and giving it breaks through any mountain standing in your way.

Get bit and lit!

(Click on the photo to see it 1000x750.)


Which One Do I Pull?

Hi! You're early a bit. I was just putting the finishing touches on the bowls of chips and salsa. Have a seat and make yourself comfortable. I'll be right back.

So, did I get you lost with my directions? I know it's not every day that someone tells you to count fence posts and take a turn before the pine trees, but as you can see, that's the best I have to work with way out here. What's that? Oh, you found the dog toy I've been looking for. I bet that didn't feel too good when you sat on it. Just throw it on the floor.

Ah, finally off my feet. Oops! Feels like I found the other dog toy. Yep, I did. Now the two little dogs won't fight over them, if I'm lucky. Boy, do they ever remind me of our candidates!

Oh, I know! I saw that commercial on CNN too. I thought it was pretty crude to use black and white dogs. That dog wasn't white? Oh, gray hairs. It never crossed my mind to think of that. Once I saw his 93 year old mother at the convention, I knew it would be years before old age set in for him. But, they hit the nail right on the head by using dogs -- that's exactly what we have to choose from, don't you think?

I caught the tail end of O'Reilly Factor the other night and didn't see all of what that guy had to say. Was he any good?

He really said that the White House has to put words behind actions? What a novel concept! All I know is that they'd better think twice about Iraq and how they handle it. I think it's possible that if we leave Iraq, we'll have much bigger problems having to deal with Iran. You're kidding me! That guy said that too?

You know, it's getting to be so difficult remembering now which of what I heard was just rumor or if it was fact. There was something I thought was a good point about Palin, how being such an ultra conservative that thinks only preaching abstinence to her kids will stop them from having sex and wanting to ban abortion and all that and here she is with her own pregnant teenager. Sure, it's great that she loves her, but that doesn't change the fact that teen pregnancy is a big problem, and she has proof right in front of her face. If her way of thinking didn't work with her own daughter, what makes her think it would work with anyone else's daughter?

No, I'm not pro abortion. I'm pro choice. There's a big difference. If you give the right education at the right time and provide all the options, chances are no teenager would feel so helpless and hopeless about what to do and what her choices really are. It's bad enough dealing with the raging hormones at that age. Knowing all your options makes it easier to think things through, and having an abortion or not wouldn't then be the only choice to make. And no, I'd never have an abortion myself, but I damn sure wouldn't think the way I think about it gives me the right to take away someone else's choice. That's just wrong!

What? Obama's race? Yeah, it'll be an issue, and perhaps the one that will be unpredictable right up until all the levers are pulled. I know it feels that way for me. I mean, I have no problem that he's black, but that's not to say that a lot of other people don't. And then how effective would he be as a president with so much to work against? His race has turned usually Democratic southern states to Republican. Anyway, he'll have more than just the ire of the racists in this country to deal with, but the ire of all the rest of the world too. That's one heavy load I'm not sure any one man could ever handle, no matter what color his skin.

The things I'm looking for in a leader are totally missing in the two candidates we have to choose from. All this talk about change, and neither one of them will stand up to the establishment, the wealth of Big Business, and return this country to the people. Who knows? That may not even be possible to do. But, I'm sick of working my ass off to make someone else rich. Yeah, I know. I've been harping on that same thing for a long time.

I see your point. I thought for a long time that it would be more a race between vice president candidates than it would be between the two actual candidates themselves. But then Obama chose Biden and McCain chose a fundamentalist.

And that's my point. I like this about this one, that about that one, but neither have enough pros to outweigh the cons.

You know what would work? If they both were elected president. Yeah. They'd keep each other deadlocked for the entire four years, wouldn't they. So, that means we need an argument tie breaker. How about making one of those other parties president too, just to be the tie breaker. That could work!

No, I know it would never happen. Throw that baby right out with the bathwater. Might as well throw the economy out too.

How can you tell that what you heard is fact or lie? Even the media can't get down to much of the truth, and neither can investigators.

Do you really think what you see on TV is who that person really is? Oh, I don't. They are coached and taught how to read words written by someone else, they're given lessons on how to make the right gestures at the right time, when to smile, when to frown, probably even when to fart. People dress them and plaster makeup on their faces and fuss with their hair constantly. No, until I see one of them with morning pillow head, I know we're not even close to seeing who these people really are. Not even close.

I'm no more decided today than I was months ago. When I walk into that booth, I don't think I can honestly vote for either one.

What's that? Vote against? I suppose you're right about that. But still, I'm back to weighing things out, and neither has fewer negatives than the other, so I can't even decide who to vote against!

Hey, will the booth let me not vote for neither one? I know there's "yes" levers, but are there "no" levers too?

Who are you going to vote for? What? You don't know either? How are we going to do this? It's time to go vote now!


Foggy Morning in Arkansas

Scaring the living daylights out of me, the dogs started howling as soon as they heard my son coming home from work this morning. "Get up and grab your camera and go down to the end of the driveway. Right now!" I ran to the window to look out, and couldn't see a thing at the end of the driveway, the fog was so thick. "That's the point," he says, "the round bales in the field across the road look awesome in that fog. And you'll see all the spider webs out there too." My son has one heck of a good eye, so I grabbed the camera and headed down the driveway.

It was amazing. Not only were the round bales eerie and sort of surreal, the spider webs were too, and they were everywhere. But, the only reason you could see them was because they were covered with droplets of mist. Click the photos to see in a larger size, and you'll see what I mean.

I didn't have to work to get a shortened depth of field in this photo -- the fog provided it for me, blurring out the background and washing it all with a neutral gray that set off the flowers perfectly.

This is one of those photos you don't know you got until you get it on the computer and look at it in full size. I thought at first that I must've took a breath and made the photo fuzzy. But, when I looked closely, I saw that it was tiny drops of water coating each flower. Then, lo and behold, the camera caught two drips! That explained everything. And boy, did those tiny flowers ever give off a powerful, flowery scent.

The sun started to cut through the fog, so I headed back in for my first cup of coffee that I badly needed. I caught Odin by surprise and still quite asleep when I came around the corner of the house. He didn't care.

I took this photo the other day while visiting a friend. This is Cody on Tick, a two year old Quarter Horse, and this is the first time he's ever had anyone on him. I got a kick out of this horse. He literally looked exactly like this the entire time Cody was on him. He gave no indication at all of being nervous or breaking into a bucking spree. I took quite a few photos of this colt's first ride, and I just might put together a walk-through of how Cody works a colt to get him started.


A Symbol is the Key to Life

Symbols are everywhere and so common to us that we've come to pass them by without notice. Well, we don't just pass by the red octagonal symbol who's meaning is stamped STOP just in case we are in doubt of its intended definition. Symbols are everywhere, if only we would take note. The back of every dollar bill includes the Great Seal, a pyramid with a disconnected top emblazoned with the all-seeing eye. We handle dollar bills daily yet never see that pyramid and pass hundreds of road signs during our drive to work. And though we may unconsciously obey the command of symbols as a matter of rote in the instance of road signs, we have long ago forgotten their precise meaning, and have probably never learned the meaning of the Great Seal.

The Yin Yang symbol is one such symbol that has passed out of our frame of reference. I heard at a young age that this symbol meant male and female, and since it made sense at the time, I didn't question that explanation of its meaning. But, it is so much more than that, though that definition of male and female is a part of it. The larger meaning of the symbol is its representation of the inseparable, unconditional duality of all that is life.

This symbol is ancient, and it is believed to originate in Taoist philosophy of China or Korea. It has appeared on late Roman shields as a trace back to ancient European culture, as well as in Gnosticism and Zoroastrianism, and is now in use at the center of the Korean flag. It is a universal symbol predating modern organized religions, though the modern religions have chosen to exclude this universal symbol from their teachings, and therefore the concepts of Yin Yang.

What if this exclusion of the principal of Yin Yang from modern thought is behind science's attempts to understand "What Happens When We Die?" The heart stops beating and sending blood to the brain, and brain activity stops within 10 seconds. Yet some people brought back to life report consciousness and near death experiences, as they are called, to eerily recall exactly what was happening to their bodies while they were resuscitated.

In addition to the technology already in use to keep death at bay, new drugs are in development that will dramatically slow cellular degeneration to a crawl, giving doctors even more time to repair and reanimate the dead. This science is challenging people's definition of and beliefs about death, which is perceived to be a specific moment in time - you are alive, and then you are dead. Science is proving that the Newtonian laws of motion are too simplistic when motion is viewed at the quantum level, and the CERN particle accelerator is on the verge of defining spirit and soul, though scientists won't admit it quite yet. Quantum physics already prove the possibility and probability of consciousness beyond physical life and death.

This confusion on science's part may be due to the exclusion of the meaning of Yin Yang.

The outer circle of the symbol represents and signifies infinity. It is without beginning and without end. That everything else is within this infinite circle represents all of life existing within infinity. The black and white shapes, each inhabiting equal amounts within the circle, begin at the outer circle to signify infinity as their source. The tails of the white and black shapes within the circle both leading to their source means that they are one, and because they are one, they are conditions of each other. Without white, there can be no black, without female there can be no male and without life, there can be no death -- and visa versa. Carl Jung used this same symbol to illustrate his theory of conscious and unconscious - it is impossible for one to exist without the other.

Esoterically, the white shape signifies spirit and the black represents matter. Spirit without matter is undifferentiated and unpolarized and therefore without life. Matter without spirit is inert, unpolarized and without life. Both spirit and matter are only potentialities without the other. They are conditions of each other, unconditionally inseparable, and together make up one substance. That they are contained within the circle that is infinity means that everything is made up of the substance spirit/matter and is life.

The circle and white and black shapes together represent the familiar trinity of Science, Art and Religion; Guru, Guide and Master; and Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Only the latter Christian principle excludes the feminine Mother aspect, an absolutely necessary co-condition of the male, and therefore denies the true nature of all of life.

Science can't measure infinity and ultimately can't define it. Religions can't explain infinity either, so it tends to steer away from the concept of infinity and its meaning to the Whole Picture. Both science and religion call for a massive leap of faith and much cognitive dissonance when it comes to accepting Creationism or Evolution as the only answer to everything. Both have gaping holes and chasms in the logic behind their theories, and these insurmountable gaps exist because of the exclusion of ancient thought and wisdom.

Ancient thought and wisdom is within the meaning of the abstract Yin Yang symbol. There is more, so much more that would open up for us if we would reintegrate Yin Yang back into our thinking that it is beyond comprehension, yet it is exactly what we are meant to do. We are meant to explore, research and define all that is life. The door to understanding would be opened, if only we would just knock.


Arkansas is Natural: Life in a Small Town

This past week was spent visiting small towns in the county, meeting people and reporting the topics discussed at council and board meetings. It's nowhere near "politics as usual" in these communities surrounded by miles of cattle ranches and hay fields. It's about people with strong ties to home and each other in ways seldom seen these days. It's about life based on real, tangible values, ideals and mores that leave no one standing outside the reach of home.

This swing symbolizes yet another milestone of rebuilding a town mostly destroyed by a tornado several years ago; a tornado so severe that it laid flat everything in its path. The old school that was is now a beautiful, rambling campus of buildings and football, baseball and soccer fields. Somehow, the modernity of the new school only emphasizes the sense of small town community and a simple way of life. Though colleges tend to be a micro community within itself, this small town celebrates and applauds the successes of growth along with it, making the college as much a part of the town as everyone else. No one is left out. This swing and small play gym mark the beginning of a park snuggled in with humble, single family homes, giving the neighborhood kids a safe place to be instead of in the streets.

The two lane highway that runs through the center of town eventually meets up with other two lane highways, each intersection marking the way to get to other small towns. The countryside comes within inches of the solid line painted on the road. There are no shoulders, no room for driver error, yet they are the best maintained roads you will find. The road lines are always fresh, never faded, the weeds are bushhogged and the trees trimmed of loose branches. Between the network of paved, two lane highways are miles of gravel roads, painstakingly scraped and planed after every rain storm.

Soon, you'll come to another small town, this one with around 350 residents and no businesses to speak of, yet there is a town hall, a waste water system, a fire department and a police force of two part time officers. The tickets given to drivers speeding through the center of town results in enough revenue to keep its small infrastructure in place for the benefit of its residents. The town's mayor is a humble, quiet man with a sense of fairness and wisdom that would be the envy of any large city judge, if only those large city judges would take notice.

Mile after mile on these two lane highways is the beauty and wholeness of nature itself. As far as the eye can see is the size of graze for a herd of cattle with calves romping and cows grazing. A little further on is as large of a field dotted with hundreds of round bales of hay drying in the sun, waiting to be lifted onto flatbed trucks and hauled to huge storage sheds to be stored for the winter. Half mile driveways lead to the ranch homes and barns, with meticulously mowed lawns and tended gardens. Sometimes, what was a driveway becomes a dirt road that cuts between the home and barns to give access to more farms and ranches beyond. A glance toward the left or right while passing through a wooded area is often met by the return glance of ever watchful deer, herds of which sometimes join the cattle to graze in the open.

The C130s from Little Rock Air Force Base fly overhead several times a day, yet the loud roar of the engines doesn't detract from the serenity; instead they become part of it. The planes' competition are hawks, eagles and chicken hawks gliding on stilled, outstretched wings, and V's of geese passing through on their migration routes. It's not unusual to have to stare several seconds to decide if what is flying is a bird or a dragon fly or a monstrous, four inch horse fly.

Life is big here in Arkansas, and in ways that are far larger than life in any large city could ever be. Life surrounds you and makes you a part of it, makes you one with it. You are alive.


Join Me, Won't You?

Take a moment and join me over on eyebald. I ask the question, "My Money is Spent How?" Set me straight, would you?

After you're done reading my reaction to government fixes for Wall Street, head over to The Natural State Hawg to read "Why too Much Risk is Bad." The Hawg's ringside seat to the beginning of this economic mess we're in makes him a valuable source of clean and clear information, and he explains it all without bias or slant.

The more you know, the theory goes, the better able you will be to make the best decisions. If you find other sources of information (think "economics for dummies" here), please share them here. I'll continue to add more as I find good articles.


Goodbye, Ike: Don't Let the Screen Door Hit You

It's beautiful, isn't it? It's a welcomed sight; the moon coming up in the east through the last clouds of Hurricane Ike. I hope everyone that suffered through Ike's onslaught of Arkansas last night caught a glimpse of this wondrous sight. I'd like to think of this photo as one of closure to the wrath of Ike ...

Three years ago, when Hurricane Katrina was demolishing New Orleans, I sat glued to the TV. I watched hours of news footage of people standing on rooftops just feet from raging water. I saw unrecognizable remains of what used to be, and I felt a sense of great loss that the New Orleans I had heard about all my life I would now never see. It was gone. Most of all, I felt a great anger that news crews would go in and record, but the "help" stayed on the sidelines, safe and sound, apparently too afraid to dive in and get the job done. This was not something I wanted to witness, nor come to conclusions of cowardice and the horror of humanity's pitiful state.

When Hurricane Rita came through three weeks later, I stayed away from the TV. I never turned it on. When Rita came inland and hit Arkansas, I was caught unaware, and it hit hard. Horizontal wind and rain blew out windows and ripped tiles off my roof. I watched a wall bow in from the force of the gale. And it lasted for a long time.

Last night, the remnants of Hurricane Ike hit here. Tornado warnings were going off almost constantly, and it was impossible to tell the all-clears from the warning sirens. The wind would whip up and the rain would pound down for a few minutes, then die down, only to repeat a few minutes later. After a few hours, I fell asleep; in self-defense. I could no longer take the stress.

When I woke up in the morning, I ventured outside after noting that my alarm clock was flashing - the power had gone out during the night while I slept like the dead. There were dark, heavy clouds in the sky patterned in bands and moving east and at good clip. Watching the fast-moving clouds was dizzying. But, no visible damage. Everything was very clean and fresh, and the air was crisp and cool. Hurricane Ike would go out with no further flaps besides the occasional gusts of wind.

This evening, the clouds were almost all gone. Wisps here and there, a few chunks of dark storm clouds, but the banding was gone. The moonrise took my breath away. How perfect to see the full moon shine through the last clouds of that terrible storm! And the sunset proved Ike's demise even more.

It feels like a very marked, very emphasized ending and beginning. My thoughts are with everyone that experienced far more of Hurricane Ike's wrath than I did. I hope many hands reached out to you to help you through your terrifying experience.


Army of (Al)one

Everywhere you turn, whether on TV, the radio, or scanning the headlines, all you get is a constant litany of: McCain said this; Obama said that; Biden sucks; Sarah Palin is an oddball pick; McCain retorts; Obama slams McCain; McCain bites back. Bush said this; Kucinich pushes to impeach; FEMA responds this time; yet another hurricane; Georgia; Russia; oil, oil, oil; floundering economy; high prices; fewer jobs; Wall Street; housing crisis…

Lost in the incessant cacophony of oil, politics and economy is the fate of each and every person that has taken on the duty of serving our country. The toll is currently at 4,158 US military deaths in Iraq and 30,634 soldiers wounded. Last year, 115 US Army soldiers committed suicide, and 62 have committed suicide already this year. The high suicide rate barely falls behind the nation's total and the Army attributes it to "troubled personal relationships; legal, financial and work problems; and repeated deployments and longer tours in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Perhaps today, September 11, the focus will return to those that continue to serve our country, to bring our attention back to what our military selflessly gives us. Our soldiers deserve more from us than this neglect.


Keyboards, Shoes and Floppy Lips

I don't get it. I have to laugh about it, but I sure don't get it. Of all the crazy, half-insane, controversial stuff I've written since the beginning of the month, different sorts of search terms land people here on A Bumpy Path. I guess I'd better answer some of those burning questions that people come here for answers to, right? I will not disappoint my readers! So, here goes…

Omnitech Flexible Keyboard. I bought one awhile back. It was too cool of a product not to, and for only $10, who could resist? I love the concept of it! But, it's not a keyboard for a writer. The little table I'm using now for a desk (my BIG desk is in a different room) has two leafs, and even though they are in the up position right now, there are two seams in the tabletop. The flex keyboard had to lay across one seam or the other because of its length, and where that seam ran under the keyboard, the keys wouldn't exactly work reliably. My fault, not the keyboard's. The rest of the keys worked just fine -- as long as you consistently bang those puppies down hard. Like I said, it's not the optimal keyboard for someone who writes as much as I do. It's OK for a standby or portable, but not for everyday use.

Horse's floppy lower lip. It's pretty funny looking, isn't it? There are two things that get to flopping on a horse when its nice and comfy and relaxed, one more often than the other. Did you know that horses sleep standing up with their eyes open and their ears going every which way? The way to tell if they are awake or asleep is by that floppy lower lip. That will always relax and flop when the horse is asleep. On a male horse, you can guess which other part might be flopping, though it doesn't happen every time the horse sleeps, just sometimes. A-hem.

Psychology of a door greeter. Does there have to be a "psychology" behind the person standing at the door, charged with the task of greeting any and all people that come to Wal-Mart? The job itself is made very difficult because door greeters are not thought of in the same light as restaurant hostesses, though that is what they are. It is not the easiest thing in the world to stand there hour after hour on a hard concrete floor, trying to be cheerful and welcoming to people who won't even meet your eye, let alone return your greeting. I'd say it takes a pretty tough, secure type of person to subject yourself to that level of degradation on a daily basis, wouldn't you? There's more to this, and I talk about the untruth of it all here.

How to save an image. I was glad to see this, and that the seeker landed on the article I wrote about it. I must be a mind reader or something! Saving an image incorrectly severely effects download time and image quality, so for the best looking site or blog that won't make people cringe when they see it, read up on it. It's simple and worth the effort to do right.

EJ Shoes immigrants. This is part of the extensive history of Broome County, NY. Endicott-Johnson Shoe Manufacturing founded Endicott and Johnson City, two of the cities along with Binghamton that make up what is known as the Triple Cities. IBM started in Endicott as well, but ol' Watson only has a few streets named after him instead of whole cities. Some time after WWI, Endicott and Johnson would go to European countries and recruit people from Poland, Italy and Ireland to come to the United States to work in their shoe factory. As I talked about earlier, my grandfather and grandmother were two of those immigrants that spent their lives working off the debt to EJ Shoes for coming here.

A colt's first ride, a well trained horse and a horse backing into me. I wrote one synopsis of a clinic given by a professional reining trainer that illustrates a well trained horse. It was exciting and fun and just as fun to write up. It answered a lot of questions I had, and put things in a very clear and concise and easy-to-do-at-home-yourself kind of way. My next project is to start a blog about horses, horse care, horse training, and everything that goes with horse ownership. Until that happens, and to answer questions about horse bahavior, please read "Take a Moment, Listen to a Horse" and then keep on searching for more, ok? The more you learn, the safer you will be - and alive to come back here to visit!

See? You just never can tell what you can find here! Thanks for reading!


Fall Flowers Photos

I remembered to grab my camera as I ran out the door this evening to run errands. I managed to stop once and take these photos before the sun went all the way down and I lost this wonderful, warm light. As always, you can click on them to see 800x600 size and you are welcome to download if you like.

Update: Added three more photos on September 8.

(I had to throw one of Tux in there. He's so cute!)

I Just Had an Amazing...

...and long bout of sneezing, but that's besides the point.

...email, then phone call from a great friend. She worried that I had been blown away by Hurricane Gustav or something equally as tragic. I hadn't been emailing or posting here, so she thought the worst. Oh, I'm OK. Just a bit under the weather is all. No pun intended.

...epiphany after reading "The Conventions are Over, So Now What?" that it really doesn't matter who gets elected, it will still be S-S-D-D. (Stephen King readers will know what that means right away, but if he's not one of your favorite authors, that means "same-shit-different-day.") As detached from reality as politicians are, the only thing they're responsible for is making sure laws don't apply to businesses; and when have you ever heard of a business being socially or globally responsible?

...conversation with my son this morning. His generation as a whole may be dark, dreary and hopeless, but I don't think I've ever seen as much creativity and talent all at one time in one place. We, the now aging Baby Boomers, might've screwed things up big time, but his generation is the one capable of untangling it all. Whew! There is hope!


Great Buddies

I've met some truly wonderful people since I started blogging. Warm, welcoming, caring people that reach out and touch and share and give as soon as they sense a need.

Ethan, of The Natural State Hawg, is one such person, and one that I consider a friend. You wouldn't be surprised if you talked to him on the phone - just imagine a deep southern accent to go with the words he writes because he is as articulate a talker as he is writer. He has gone above and beyond for me, someone he's never met in person, and without reserve. And, he is the one that sent me the Great Buddy Award.  Ethan, I want to send it right back to you with all my sentiments to go with it!

There are only a few rules that go with this award:

* Save the image above to be forwarded;
* Choose several people who are buddies;
* Give the reason why you chose those persons.

I know there's a few people that view these kinds of awards as fluff, and that's fine. I look at them like really nice Hallmark cards given to someone to let them know they are thought of and appreciated.  In that light, I'd like to send the Great Buddy award on to:

Pam of pamibe and beannachd. She recently gave me a scare with Hurricane Fay, but thankfully, she was out of harm's way. Whew! Pam is a frequent commenter here, and I always find myself commenting on her posts too. Great thinkers think alike, right? (She wasn't the least put out when I privately asked her how to pronounce her blog's name, and I still can't get it!) As I worried about her, she is as worried about the people in the path of Hurricane Gustav.

The Commentator. I 'met' Mr. C. awhile back when I sort of confronted him on one of his posts, and he responded without qualm. That dialog turned into a major discussion that was quite enlightening as well as interesting. Since then, I've enjoyed his sharp mind and wit, neither of which ever wane at all. He's quite a character, and one you should get to know. He'll get you thinking!

Ethan, thank you again, and I sure do hope you get to feeling better soon. If you don't, with your wife's permission and help, I will rope you and drag you to the doctor!