Saturday, December 24, 2005

Almost ready



I have a tangerine tree in my back yard. Not a grove, just one. It is loaded with fruit this time of year and the weary branches are hanging low from the weight. I tried one this morning, but they are still a little sour. It will be about the first or second week in January when they are ready. The first cold snap somehow sweetens the fruit. I have so much fruit that I have to give it away. Tangerines are very good. I like like them better than oranges, they are sweeter, and easy to peel, the skin comes right off and they section into bite-sized pieces. Sometimes there is so much fruit that we squeeze it and make juice. The juice tastes so good.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Car lot

Matt got a truck. Actually, his mother got a truck - for him to learn to drive. Our yard is starting to look like a car lot. Four cars in the family now. It is a 1995 Nissan pick-up truck, very clean. Both boys are learning to drive. The teacher? That would be ME! I am now Mom, driving instructor, music facilitator, laundress, weightlifting coach, cook, counsellor, and money tree. Who said retirement was going to be easy? We decided that it would be good for our boys to have their own cars to drive. Most people think we are spoiling these kids, giving them too much. Most people would be right. We think that they will be better off in the real world if they drive to get there! Actually, when they are 16, they will take over the responsibility of paying for insurance, gas, etc. Preston bought his car with money that he had saved, and Matt will have to repay his mother for the truck. We only hope that the boys recognize and appreciate the help that we have given them. (yeah - right!)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Afternoon practice


Sounds like there is a moose in the yard when he practices every afternoon. A young kid road by on his bike and said, "I like your trumpet, it sure is a big trumpet!" Preston is wearing gloves, but not because it is cold. (it was 67 degrees) They are part of his uniform, and he has to practice with them. He gets better everyday.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I dig it! - Far out!

Yeah, that's the shit we would say in the 70's when we thought something was COOL. I just have to say that this blogging thing is WAY COOL, and I dig it, I really do. It connects you to people that you never knew before, and never would have met in a million years - and all of a sudden you feel like they are your friends (you know who you are - Laura, Hiro, and the little guy). We come into each others lives in a strange way, through a computer, but somehow I feel close to you. Even those of you who have moved away, or moved on with your lives (you know who you are - Lois, Steve) and I know you are still with me in spirit, and that you read this blog once in a while. Occasionally I surf the blogs, but I have three favorites, and I read them everyday - now they are my friends, even though I have never met them. I dig it - far out!

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Most of you who know me, know that I am a tech nut. This new toy is cool. It is a Kodak Easy Share Picture Viewer. It is a little storage card that you can carry with you instead of a picture album. It is supposed to hold about 150 photos (but I already have 158 in there) It will hold more if you want to add and SD card to the memory slot. I like it, I carry my favorite photos around with me, and show them to whoever will look at them! It comes in this cute leather

carry case. I got it at tigerdirect.com. There is a $20. rebate on it, so it was a good deal. Just a little present for my self. I deserve it. I have been good this year!

Surveillance moms

We were at the K-Mart tonight, killing some time and doing some Christmas shopping. Our teenage sons were at their friends "16th" birthday party, or so we thought. Leaving the store, we see the "party girl's" car pass us. I point, yell and wave. No reply. They drive past. I immediately revert back to "police mode" and drive to the back of the parking lot to observe. We see eight teenagers get out of two cars and go into the K-Mart. We hide in the shadows and wait. I felt like I was on a stake-out again. (by the way, the only reason I ever wanted to be a cop is because I thought that they had "steak out" - but I was incorrect as to the real meaning of this). Anyway, in about 10 minutes the little rebels came back out with one bag. All eight got into two cars and left. We followed (a loose tail!) them back to the party location. All is well that ends well, or so I thought. About 15 minutes later, my son called and asked if he could "spend the night" at the party location. At a girls house? Is he kidding? I said, NO WAY - I will pick you up at midnight! Times have changed since I was a teenager.
*We found out later that they bought "Twister Dance Party" (any excuse for teenagers to touch!)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Perfect practice makes perfect

My son is practicing everyday with his tuba. He has many exercises and songs to commit to memory before his next band camp on January 20th. We keep the tuba case in the garage (because it is the size of a small car!) so he practices in the front yard. Every afternoon we go outside with the horn, a black towel (to set it down on) and a music stand. I tell him not to just practice, but to "practice perfect." Keep going until he gets it right. We live in the back of our neighborhood on a dead end street, so you would not think there would be much traffic, but there is! People walk and drive by and stare at us when they hear the bellowing sound of the tuba. My son is quite self-conscious and embarrased about this, and says, "What are they staring at?" I tell him that he would stare too if he saw such a sight, and to just get used to it because soon enough a stadium full of people will be staring at him. He says it's not the same, there will be a whole band with him. We are also working on his physical strength. He does not want to go through another painful weekend of lifting that horn and holding out in front of him. We have been going to the gym twice a week and working out on the machines, then doing weight training, stomach crunches and push-ups in the evening. He is beginning to develop muscles for the first time in his chest and shoulders, and is very proud of this! Next week starts winter break from school, and we will really step up the training, adding jogging around the block. It is nice to see a teenager interested in something other than video games. I am proud of his progress and I will encourge him to keep up the good work.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Brrrrr! It is cold!

I live in Florida. While the rest of the county is freezing, we are still warm here. I have nothing to complain about. This morning I had to turn on the heat for the first time this year. It was 48 degrees this morning! That may sound nice to some of you - but that is cold for me. Some years the temperature doesn't even get down low enough to freeze here, I am hoping this is one of those years. It is almost noon, and now it is 66 degrees outside, with the sun shining - another nice day. This is the ideal climate for me. All the hurricanes we have had the last couple of years aren't so nice, but you have to take the good with the bad. I still think this is the best place to live!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Made it another year

I am so happy that I have made it through another year. This makes five years since my heart problem and I am feeling better every day. We all hope to live a long time and we should each cherish every day. My illness has caused me to think long about this, and everyday I am happy to be alive. I remind my son all the time how lucky we are, to have all that we have, but mostly because we have love in our hearts.

OOPS!

I was cleaning my travel trailer and I decided to put deodorant into the toliet. I poured the blue stuff in while I held the lever opening the trap - then I dropped the bottle in! Great. How the hell am I gonna get that out of there? I guess I was lucky that the tank is empty (except for the blue stuff) I will take it to the dump station and see if I can flush it out, after all, it was small enough to go in. I guess I will flood the tank with water, then flush it all out at the dump station. I hope the bottle does not turn sideways and plug up the opening. If that doesn't work, I will have to remove the whole tank - that sounds like fun! Who says that retirees are bored and have nothing to do?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Magic audition

I took some video with my fancy Nikon camera of the audition. I will try to publish it - if I can. It shows how much the kids learned in just three days. They are learning the show music, "Some day I'll fly away" from the movie "Moulin Rouge". The brass section sounds wonderful, and the music brings a tear to my eye, I know how hard they worked. I love the big brass sound, especially the lower brass. I also watched the snare drummers practice. There were forty drummers trying out for about eight positions. I felt sorry for the ones that didn't make it - they were all good. This is a big deal, he will be gone on tour for eight weeks this summer. What a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That is the only reason I will let him be away from me that long!

Monday, December 05, 2005

OH - YEAH! TUBA MAN!

"THE MAGIC" Drum Corps International
Audition camp
Tuba man! makes the cut and is now a member of "THE MAGIC"
He spent the weekend hoisting 30 pounds brass up to his shoulder
His mama is SO proud!
He almost quit on Saturday, said he wasn't good enough, that it was too hard. He was really depressed and exhausted. I told him to just hang in there one more day, and he did - so he made it. His summer tour schedule is posted on dci.org - click on 2006 schedule - then member corp - The Magic. More later, I am tired, haven't slept in two nights!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Here we go!

We are off today to Kissemmee, Florida for my son's audition for "THE MAGIC". I hope he gets in, the audition could be really tough. I think I am more nervous than he is. Keep your fingers crossed and pray a lot for us. I've got to go hook up the travel trailer, so I will post more when I get back on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Finally. . .

The tuba is here. . .finally. It was suposed to be here ten days ago, but "OH" they were "busy" and didn't mail it on time. (f**k-heads!) Now the boy only has three days to get used to playing with a 30 pound chunk of metal on his shoulder. Buddy says, "What is it?" and Ransome thinks something is hiding in the case - he keeps walking around it and smelling it. He will just "guard" it until something pops out. I can't lift the thing, good thing the case has wheels. I have no idea how the boy is gonna carry this thing on his shoulder all weekend, much less, march with it, play it, and hold it in front of him at parade rest. He is determined to be successful, and I am proud of him for trying so hard. Audition camp is this weekend in Kissemmee, and he will be "camped out" on a high school gym floor from Friday night until Sunday afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed that he passes the audition.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Now I understand

An old lady I know used to say, "I wouldn't have him for him", when talking about some useless person that she didn't like. I used to think this was a strange comment, and I didn't quite understand it. Lately, the comment has become crystal clear to me. It refers to the persons egocentric personality, and their attitude about how the world owes them a living. A selfish, self centered person, who always has to be the center of attention, and who can't get enough of themselves, who is always right. They are the smartest, best, most good looking person in the world - in their mind. This over inflated ego is further enhanced by the person constantly having to berate or belittle other people around them to make them look even better and more important to themselves. Most often this person does not know how they are perceived by others, how ridiculous they appear to the rest of us. To paraphrase R.D. Lang, "one of his problems, is that he does not know he has a problem".

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Lost elephant

You are not gonna believe this. In a previous post I told you how I bought a tuba, and how I was waiting by the door everyday for it to arrive. Well, guess what? Yup, lost in the mail. How do you lose a tuba? I have ordered almost everything in the mail, by UPS, FEDEX, DHL, and never (too late to knock on wood) lost anything. It was supposed to be here in five days. It was sent on November 17th. We NEED it by Friday next week to leave for the audition. When I talked to guy who shipped it, he said, "How could they lose it?, it is like losing an elephant!!!" He assured me that they would find it on Monday, or ship another one. The problem I have now is that my son has never even held this type of instrument, and next weekend he has to audition with it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Holy Crap!

Domino Bob was on Letterman tonight. He takes hours setting up dominoes just to knock them down in a matter of minutes. I guess that is entertainment. It seems like it is just more crap in the world. How much more stuff can we have? I cleaned out about half of my closet today. There were clothes in there that I don't even remember having. The older I get, the more annoyed I get with all this junk. Of course it is the time of year that we are all buying more "stuff" for each other. The Christmas shopping frenzy is about to begin, and we will all end up with more junk that we don't need. Several years ago I had a fire in my garage. It destroyed most of the extra stuff that I didn't need that was stored out there. About $2500. worth of stuff. When I got the insurance check, I bought new stuff. Now I have so much stuff, that I don't know where it all is, and when I need it - I can't find it! So, when I need something, I have to go out and buy it - even though I know that I have it here somewhere. If this sounds wasteful, it is. If this is sounding like I am working on a New Years resolution, I am. I am gonna need a dump truck to unload all this crap!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

"IF" by Rudyard Kipling - one of my favorites!

If you can keep your head when all about you
are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
but make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies;
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster,
and treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken,
twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
and stoop to build them up with wornout tools;

If you can make a heap of all your winnings
and risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
and lose, and start again at your beginnings
and never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
to serve you long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you,
except the will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can walk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes or loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
with sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Christmas tree


Most people do not put "the tree" up until Thanksgiving or after. Ours is up already, maybe because I whined last year that it wasn't up long enough. I love the holidays. I am thankful that I have a nice home and family. I am very content and happy with my life. I am lucky, good fortune has smiled on me! Let me be the first to wish you - "Happy Holidays".

The cost of things

I just purchased a used King convertible tuba. (I am eagerly waiting by the door for it to arrive) It occurred to me that my son's first car did not cost as much as the tuba. Maybe this is because the tuba is all metal, while cars these days are made of mostly plastic! Anyway, if he abandons the car, I can always drive it or sell it......but the tuba?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Just wait by the mailbox

If you haven't started Christmas shopping, you should get busy with it now. I sent my mother a new 6 ft., pre-lit Christmas tree. She was complaining last year that her tree was too difficult to put together so the new one has "hinged" branches, already attached, that just fold out. It takes about ten minutes to set it up - then you just plug it in and add ornaments. Anyway, I bought the tree online from target, free shipping, delivered in two days. I am a fan of internet shopping. You don't have to leave the house, and this time of year many of the online retailers have free shipping, and most have no sales tax. There are professional Christmas shoppers, who shop for people who are too busy/lazy/selfish to do their own shopping. This could be a great internet business - have them list their desired gifts, then you could search for the best deal, order for them and have the gifts send directly to them. You could charge for this service, and never leave your computer. Just another one of my "get rich quick" ideas.

Monday, November 14, 2005

HP is cool

Hewlett-Packard may sound like a 50's car, but it is a pretty cool company. I have purchased many products from them. I have gotten two digital cameras from them, a laptop, and two printers. Some of these items have been purchased from their online store. I love the photo print quality of both my printers, one is a scanner-printer. I print a lot of photos, for the band and for photo books I keep. I also give away alot of photos to people. I like ink-jet printers, they have always worked well for me. There may be something better, but I don't know about it. The ink for these printers is quite expensive, and you can spend up to $60. replenishing both ink cartridges. HP has an online special going on right now - color & photo cartridges, 100 sheets of 4x6 photo paper, and free NEXT DAY shipping - all for $39.99. I ordered this yesterday, and FEDEX was knocking on the door with it at 9 AM this morning! Great deal! (I think I will order another batch!)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Be the first on my "blog!".........


......to contribute to my son's tuba fund! Yes, you heard it here first. My son is auditioning in December to march with "The Magic", a DCI band that tours the county in the summer. For more info see www.dci.org and click on the left side blue button "about us". Only problem with all this is that he currently plays the sousaphone, and this band plays a convertible tuba (see photo). Instead of wrapping around you like the sousaphone, these tubas (affectionly known as "buicks" because of their weight and size) are carried and played on your left shoulder - all this while you are marching. The Magic will provide a tuba for him if he gets in - but he really wants one to practice with at home. These big brass babies start at about $5000. I have been shopping around and found a used one, only 2 years old for $2500. Any suggestions about how I can beg, borrow or steal money for this project will be appreciated. Also, to all my friends everywhere - if there is anything I own that you want - call me - let's make a deal. I have no idea how I will pull this off, but some how, some way - I will get that boy his tuba!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bird "whew"

Earlier today I was outside in the shed (which we call "the studio") which is adjacent to my homing pigeon coop. I had let the pigeons out to fly earlier, and some had returned, others were outside on the roof sunning themselves. Suddenly I heard a noise and wings flapping. I looked up and saw a flash, a hawk with one of the pigeons in his talons flying away. I ran towards the noise and the hawk dropped the heavy pigeon just inside the fence. The poor bird was stunned and not moving. It had a small spot of blood on it's head, and feathers missing, but no visable injuries. The pigeon appears to be recovering. I hope when it is my time to go, that it will happen that quickly; but I guess there is not a hawk big enough to carry me away - ha! I have about 30 pigeons now. I started about six years ago with 8. They are a lot like rabbits - if you get my meaning.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Endorsement

I am not one to endorse products, but I have found something that "does what it says". I am the ultimate slob. I love to be neat and clean, but lately, I can't keep food in my mouth. Maybe there is a hole in my bottom lip or something, but I can't eat anything without "wearing" it. I try to tuck a napkin in my collar (oh that looks good). Anyway, the other night I was in a restaurant eating a steak. Even though I haven't had steak in a while, I remembered that it is not usually sloppy. WRONG! Soon I had it all over the front of my shirt. I remembered that I had bought some "TIDE TO GO" stain stick, but had not tried it yet. I decided to try it on the greasy stain. It is the size of a pen, and you depress the marker type tip on to the stain. Unbelievable. It works. The stain on my white shirt COMPLETELY disapeared. I am gonna buy stock in the company. I will never leave home without it!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

. . . and one more thing

The uniforms are done, but before I go, I want to tell you about a bumper sticker that I dreamed up today. How about this-

"Holster your gun, comments or gestures made by this driver are for entertainment purposes only, and not meant to offend you - please - don't shoot!"

I have to think about these things, after all, I do live in the "Gunshine" state.

"Banding together"

We had an away game Friday night, and this is the band performing at the half-time show. The show is getting better all the time, too bad we are at the end of the season, it went by fast. Tomorrow is the last competition, so I am up this late because I am washing their uniforms. OH! the life of a band parent! I pull the equipment trailer to all the band functions. Tonight, when I pulled in, a parking lot lady with no sense told me to park it on the field next to the stadium. When I drove in with the "HEMI" towing that 24 foot trailer, I felt it sink into the sod. After the game, it was hell getting out of there. My tires kept spinning and throwing mud onto the trailer. I finally got out of there. The trailer was covered with spin off mud, or so I thought until I got to the carwash and saw this! Yes, that is green grass all over the trailer! I am glad I washed it off (grass stain) right away.The turf at that field must be really torn up. There is NO dirt in this photo, that is all SOD! I hope they didn't get my tag number!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Blogs I love to read

Since I have discovered blogging - there are several sites worth mentioning. I have surfed the blogs - mostly on blogspot, and now there are some blogs that I read everyday. There are some incredible writers out there. Some of my favorite are "Matthew's Blog", the daily story and photos of a very ill little baby named Matthew and how his parents are dealing with his illness - I check it out almost everyday, to see how he is progressing. His daddy reports on him daily, usually with photos of his smiley little face. Little Matthew brightens my day. Another great blog is "Epiphenita", a wonderful and witty writer of contemporary thoughts that will keep you thinking and laughing all the time. I have also discovered "texas2tennessee", the blog of a woman living at a retreat who is quite a descriptive writer and photographer. Check these out, they are worth the read. On the other hand, I have also surfed through some real crap, written by psychos.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

r-e-a-l-l-y part-time

My son quit his part time job this past weekend. He told me that he was really tired of smelling like fast foods, and that he really didn't want to work anymore. He only worked on weekends since last summer. He saved all of his money and put it in the bank. His argument was that he really didn't need to work, so he would rather not. Since I told him in the first place that I just wanted him to work for a while for the experience, I couldn't really argue the point. I explained to him that this was probably the last time in his life that he would have the "choice not to work". I reminded him how lucky he was that he didn't have to. Childhood is such a short time in our lives, I want him to enjoy it. I also want him to have a sense of responsibility. He knows he will have to keep a job when he is sixteen, that is - if he wants to have a car and drive. His sixteenth birthday is less than six months away - then he will have to join the rat race like the rest of us. I hope he enjoys the next few months off.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Is is just me or does this tree look like it has several eyes and a nose with a mustache and goatee? I parked in front of it the other day and looked at it for a while. Pretty soon it was looking back. I think I will shine a light on it for Halloween. Freaky huh?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Point of view

On the passing of Rosa Parks I was commenting to my son how she helped start the ball rolling in the civil rights movement in the 1950's. I have always tried to tell my son to look at the other person's point of view, listen to their argument, then make his own decisions. I have also always lectured him about obeying the law, doing what is right, even if you don't like it at the time. He told me that he had heard a commentator on television talking about Rosa Parks, how she was held up as a hero to young children. The commentator said that maybe this was not someone we should teach our children to look up to because, after all, she broke the law. I was happy that my son is exploring other opinions (than mine) but I was sad (in a way) that he is so young that he did not experience such intense racism. I have never questioned that Rosa Parks did the right thing by breaking the law, I never even thought about it. My son pointed out to me that if we don't like a particular law, that doesn't give us the right to break that law. I was befuddled. I am lucky that my boy goes to a school that has black, white, hispanic, and gay students. Interacting everyday with each other has made many of them color blind, and this is a good thing. This gives me hope that the younger generation are actually judging each other "by the content of their character" and not the "color of their skin".

Monday, October 24, 2005

Made it through another one. . .



Well, Wilma wasn't so bad for us. It passed south of us and we got wind and rain, but no damage or flooding. We did not even lose power. The worst was that I found a dead rat in the back yard, and had to race with the dogs to get to it first. I got it in the garbage bag before they could get it in their mouths. Truth be told, even though the rat didn't have any visable injuries, Buddy the "ratter" dog may have killed him. Buddy was out last night even during the rain, so he was after something. Thank God he didn't bring the rat though the doggy door. Now it is time to take the boards down from the windows. I hope this is the last hurricane this season. I am getting real tired of this. The weather has cooled down and it is 67 degrees today, feels nice for a change.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Hurry up.....and wait

We are boarding up the house, possibly leaving to evacuate hurricane Wilma. I went out to the trailer today, to jettison some stuff I won't need. When I took off the tire covers, I realized one of the tires was flat. It was split in the middle of the tread, about six inches long, catastrophic failure (glad it didn't happen on the road). I changed it, and I just went out there again to lock it up for the night, and I noticed that the spare is slowly going flat. These tires were new last year. Too late to complain now. In the morning, I have to get the trailer out of the yard, then take it to the tire place. Hope they have some trailer tires, I might just replace ALL of them. The trailer weighs 7600 pounds, I don't want to take a chance that the other tires are defective. Anyway, if we have to leave, it is nice to pull a place to stay behind you. I just hope I can escape the Florida pennisula without getting stuck in traffic. I am planning to take the back roads. If there is a gas shortage I will just go as far inland as I can. This is gonna be a bad one and I hope it passes quickly. I want to at least get as far north as Gainesville or Ocala. I believe that everyday of your life is an adventure. You can get through adversity with a strong will and a good attitude. I guess this weekend will be just another journey. I hope I will have as much strength as people of New Orleans. Easy for me to say, I'll just be driving down the road, not treading sewer water with no place to go.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

New camera

I just got my new camera yesterday. I didn't need a new camera. I just wanted one. That's the beauty of being my age, you can do whateverthehell you want! I justified it to myself by saying that I had to have a camera with a better zoom, since most of my photos are at band competitions in a large stadium. I got the NIKON COOLPIX 88OO! I already had the HP945, which is a nice camera with a effective zoom. The Coolpix has a 10x optical zoom, and VR (vibration reduction), so when you are "zoomed" on a shot across the stadium, you can hold the camera instead of using the tripod, avoiding blurry photos. This camera has 15 scene modes, including "fireworks" and "backlit" mode. Each scene mode is indicated by a little icon. I will have to study these so I know what to use. I am not a real photographer, so I just buy fancy cameras and use the automatic mode. The beauty of digital photography is that you can take as many photos as you want. Somewhere in there, you have to get a good shot! I will most likely carry both cameras with me, just in case! Soon, I will need a backpack to carry all my equipment.

Here we go again . . . .

Boards up, boards down, boards up - on the windows that is. We are again faced with another impending hurricane. There is so much to do to prepare, but we know the drill by now. We can have all the boards put up on the windows in about and hour. We have pre-cut plywood, with plylock clips. We put all the stuff in the yard away. Lawn chairs, clothlines, garbage cans, and anything that can fly into your house in a strong wind. Only problem is, if the neighbors don't put their stuff away, it flys over into your house. Then there is always the "when to leave". When you live on a pennisula like Florida, you need to leave about a day before they tell you to, to avoid the exodus traffic. Imagine being stuck in traffic in 100 mph winds! If you work, you have to ultimately decide between your job and your life. If you want to evacuate, you have to wait for some boss to give you the time off, and then it may be too late to leave. I am ready to leave on a moments notice, but now "Wilma" has stalled, and is gonna take a few more days to get here.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Amtrak auto train


Last summer my son and I took the auto train to Virginia. It was a really neat experience. The train runs everyday from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virgina. Lorton is just outside of Washington, D.C. You have to get to the train station about an hour before and they load your car in the special car carrier rail cars. These cars are "triple decker" and hold a lot of cars. The car carriers are backed up to loading ramps, and a team of loaders drive each of the cars on. They put a magnetic number on your car, so they can call it out at the other end when your car is unloaded. Our train had 148 autos loaded on it, and with the engine, dining car, coach cars, and sleeper cars, the whole train was almost a mile long. The train leaves at 4 PM and arrives in Lorton at 9 AM the next morning. We were in a two person sleeper (they also have bedroom & family sleepers) and our bathroom was down the hall. The passenger cars have two levels, with bathrooms and showers on the first floor and the bedrooms are upstairs, so you are about 25 feet above the tracks. Shortly after you get under way, the porter assigned to your car comes by to welcome you aboard, and tell you where everything is, and all about the lounge car and dining car. Our compartment was really cool. It had a large picture window, and sliding glass door (with curtains)on the hallway side. Two reclinder type seats face each other, and there is a fold down table in the middle. There is room to hang clothes, and bring a small carry on bag. There is a plug in (we brought the laptop and watched a movie) or you can go to the lounge car where they have two showings of a current movie. Dinner is served at 5:30, 7, or 9 PM, and the porter calls you on the intercom in your comparment when it is your time. The food was comparable to any good restaurant, and they have silverware, linen table cloths and napkins. You may choose from three different entres, but all were good. You may have wine with dinner, but we didn't - it is difficult enough to dine then walk on a moving train! At the time of your chosing, you can go to bed for the night. The porter comes by and turns those recliners into a bed, then pulls down an upper bunk, and makes that into a bed. Getting used to sleeping on a moving train is difficult at first, but soon the "clackiety-clack" lulls you to sleep. We awoke in the night because the train stopped, but we found out later that this was a normal stop to change engineers. We got up about 7 AM and headed down to the dining car for a continental breakfast, they had everything you could want from fruit to bagels, and GOOD coffee. When we finished breakfast we returned to our compartment and our beds were put away and back to our sitting room. Before long we were at the station in Lorton, and just had to wait for our car to be unloaded. It made a long trip more bearable, and it was WAY better than flying. Plus, we had our car with us when we got there.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Just like the real thing

I have a new screen saver called "Marine Aquarium". It is really neat. For years I had a real aquarium, and I considered getting another one. Initial cost was not the problem, but the fact that I would have one more thing to do, maintain the water quality, and have someone take care of it if I go on vacation. So this works out for me. I am amazed how lifelike and animated the fish are. You can decide on the kind of fish that you want in the tank, or the computer will pick them at random. It is really like looking at a real aquarium, bubbles, shadows and all. A lucite, see through clock can be added - that keeps the current date and time. Check it out at serenescreen.com. Now I am considering buying a larger monitor, so I can have a bigger "tank"! Hmmm, what's next? Animated children, that don't make a mess or cost you a fortune? And the best part, you could turn them off if they got on your nerves! I wonder. . . .

New Florida gun law

In a lot of ways I like the new Florida gun law. You are not required to retreat if a perpetrator threatens to do you harm, you may take the first agressive move toward him, before he can hurt you. For the law abiding citizen, this is a good law, but I worry about what is going to happen with the lunatics. There are people who believe that if you look at them funny, that you are a potential threat. They will be able to shoot you, with no fear of prosecution. A few weeks ago, I attended our local gun show. I was suprised to see the number and variety of people in the concealed permit class. There are a lot of people in Florida carrying guns. We have been dubbed the "Gunshine State". Please follow what I have always subscribed to, "be nice to everyone, don't give them an excuse to shoot you".

Friday, September 30, 2005

Dogs-a-runnin'!



We came home yesterday with some stuff from the store in our arms, so we entered the house thru the garage door. As we hit the switch to close the overhead door, we opened the door to the inside of the house. The schnauzer, closely followed by the airedale, ran like hell to get out before the door got down. They just squeaked under it when it closed. They were off, like bats out of hell, down the street to who knows where. I sounded the alarm to the boys, we grabbed leashes and all headed outside to find the runaway mutz. We all ran down the street screaming for the dogs. They ended up down the street sniffing the neighbor's butt and his dog's butt. So, but for the butt, they would have been long gone! It never ceases to amaze me that Mr. Woofie Airedale will bite a stranger's face off at home, but is nice to strangers on the streets.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Macro photography


Here is my little dog guarding my big mouse. The new mouse is cordless, he has to be watched so he doesn't run away. I really like digital photography. I am starting to photograph macro, small things like flowers and "raindrops on roses" (good line for a song, eh?). I really dig modern technology, using it that is. I have no idea how it all works, or how to fix it when it is broken. I recently had a sixteen year old computer wiz fix my laptop. It took him 5 minutes to change a setting - there was nothing else wrong with it. I have the Delorme GPS street finder on the laptop. When I travel, I can plot a trip on the computer, and it shows me where I am at all times. I don't know how this works either, but it is really neat. I might attempt a trip "out west" to see Phyllis next summer, if they fix the roads between here and there. Of course I will have to take out a second mortgage to afford the gas to pull the big rig.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Driving school

I took my son (the new driver) to the "Car Control Clinic". The course was $150. , but I knew it would be worth it. We went to a 90 minute classroom session, then to the 4 hour practical clinic on the driving pad. The course was invented by a retired race car driver, and was very informative and good. The parent had to be in the car with the new driver, and at times that was scary. It is difficult not to "over coach". I tried to just sit there and not say anything, but it was impossible not to at least cheer him on. We did several exercises involving turning and getting the car between the cones. The most interesting part is when they wet down the asphalt with water and vegtable oil, then we skidded around on it. We had to do controlled braking, and "on and off" braking to stop the car within a certain distance. It really tested your braking reaction time, and shows you how far your car will skid when you loose control. Once the brakes lock up, you go into a skid, and you have NO steering control. I recommend this course for all new drivers. It was fun, and may save my son's life someday.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Hey, I haven't blogged in a while

I found out tonight that an old boss of mine got hired in the local police department. This guy is older than me, and retired already from one police job. He is a big old fat guy who looks and acts like "Jabba the Hut" from "Star Wars". I warned all the police officers that I saw tonight at the football game that this ass clown is a back stabbing bastard, and that they needed to watch what they do. One time when he was my boss, I came to work real early in the morning and found him rifling through my desk drawers. He is the type that is always looking to screw someone over. If this small town police department ever had a chance before, it is flushed down the toilet now. SAD.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

All the stuff


I have been busy trying to clean out all the stuff that I collected during my 25 year law enforcement career. I have already gotten rid of holsters, uniforms and the big things. There is "stuff" that I don't know what to do with. There are countless manuals, books, outdated lists, instructions, handouts, certificates and other cop related stuff that I have no use for. Some of this stuff is hard to part with, and I feel a certain melancoly having to dispose of it. However, I live in a small house, and this stuff must go! I threw away the hundreds of business cards that I had collected. I cut out some of the neat card logos, take a look at the attached scan.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The boys in the band

Thursday night last was the first football game of the season. It was scheduled for Friday, but we had to change it at the last minute because of the hurricane. Matt is in the band this year, playing 1st bass drum. (that's him, last in line) He looks like one of those toy soldiers! But, as usual - it is all about the tubas! We are proud of the band boys! When kids join the band, then the parents are in the band too, whether they like it or not. We will be busy now until mid- December ...every weekend! Oh well, beats bailing them out of jail!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Dogs & Firefighters

Ever notice how dogs and firefighters are alike? They both lay around doing nothing, then all of a sudden jump up and run out with sirens blaring. If it is a false alarm, they come back and lay down again. In a second, they are alerted again, and head off outside running as fast as they can. It is usually the one with the most sensitive ears that hears the alarm, then he alerts the others, and everyone goes. They sniff around, trying to find the danger, then they take care of it or determine that it is nothing. Then it is back inside again. Both firefighters and dogs - ever vigilant.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Newbie

My oldest son got his learner's license today. It is the weirdest feeling. Him behind the wheel as on clutch my seat belt, trying to be cool. As he was driving and doing quite well, I could not help thinking about other milestones in his life, and how close he is to leaving us and making his way in the world on his own. It is a happy / sad time. I know that in a few short years he will be gone from my constant supervison. What will I do then? Most parents look forward to the time that their children will be grown and off on their own. (God knows when they are teenager-know-it-alls our patience is thin!) I waited a long time to be a parent, longer than most. Now it seems that our time together is racing by faster than I expected. While driving for the first time my son made the comment that he was glad he plays all those video games, he thinks it will help him be a better driver! I realized then that he will be a kid for a while longer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

They are dead

I, for one, did not even know there was a State Anatomical Board in Florida. It came as a suprise to me that they would be having an "emergency meeting" to vote on whether to allow the Bodies Exhibit this month at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. The "dead bodies" are dead, they do not and can not care. They are no longer with us, and they are no longer using those bodies. Reports are that the State Anatomical Board could shut down the exhibit. Maybe it is me, but what is wrong with this picture? Human beings are dying daily in Iraq, yet we seem less concerned with that than the rights of "already dead" people. Perhaps we should put on display the maimed, burned, blasted, bombed and shot up bodies of American soldiers and citizens of Iraq, to bring attention to the war. Maybe we should have an "emergency meeting" about this.