Wednesday, March 28, 2012

$100,000,000 !!!!!!! .......

A long-standing dream of mine---and most people, I suppose---is to be wealthy.  I guess the easiest way to insane wealth is to somehow win the lottery.  I mention this because the Mega Millions lottery drawing scheduled for this Friday has reached $476,000,000.

Now, let us say you won this amount of money, and you chose to take the lump-sum payout, and you ended up with $100,000,000 in your bank account.  In other words, you are now insanely rich.

What to do?  Ahhh....there's the problem.  Truly, THERE is the problem.

"But Oh!", you say, "That is a problem I could handle!"

Could you, now.......

Incredibly, it seems a very high percentage of winners go on to have miserable lives after winning a huge payout.  They somehow cannot handle it.  I think a part of that is the emotional overload that occurs when an enormous change happens in one's life.  It seems not many folks calmly secure the services of a really good investment firm and conservatively obtain strong holdings.

No, apparently folks generally go wild and make emotional mistakes that lead to ....... bankruptcy, divorce, heartache, destroyed friendships, etc.

I really don't know how I would spend/invest that money.  But I do know this---I would want to give a goodly portion of it to a favorite charity/cause.  I just am not sure what that would be.  I would really have to think about that.

And, the fact is, while I don't have near enough money in retirement (who does?), I do have all I really need.  I have love.  I have happiness.  I have health.  I have Jesus.  I don't need more than that.

Here is what I would do immediately:

---change our phone numbers
---change our internet contact information
---set up a methodology for exploring which causes to support and other investment possibilities
---Get out of town for a couple weeks to escape the hoopla surrounding our newfound status as wealthy folk.  Ha.

How would you spend your $100,000,000?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dear Diary.......

Well, here we are in late March and the weather is balmy when it is supposed to be blustery.  We missed out on winter.  Not even one snow or ice storm.  Mother Nature is just as unpredictable as any other woman, I guess.  Ha.

How is it that I continue to work out, lift weights, do my cardio and still manage to GAIN weight?  Must be old age.  My grandmother used to say "old age is a terrible thing".  She only lived to be a hundred years old, so I suppose she knew a thing or three about it.  I dunno---is it possible to be fat and in shape at the same time?

I see where more guns were sold in the last three months in this country than in all of last year.  A high percentage of the new gun purchasers are women.  I think I'll be more careful when I talk to the fairer sex from now on.  Ya never know, ya know?

Grandson Canyon is spending the day with us and I never saw so much energy in my life.  My gosh I'm glad my child rearing days are long since over.  I love my grandson but dogs are a lot easier.

I still haven't met one set of next door neighbors.  Wouldn't know 'em if I saw 'em at the grocery store.

While we're talking about neighbors, we've certainly got an eclectic grouping around here.  There are a couple of retired couples on our street---one couple spends their time gossiping about everyone else.  The other couple spends their time talking about all their possessions---their sun room, their boat, their new cars.  Gawd.

The next-door neighbors on the other side of us are so nice.  Their kids have MANNERS---totally unheard of in this day and age.  Same thing is true of the family across the street from us.  It's a joy to be around unassuming, accomplished and humble folks.

As I type this out, Canyon is going full speed ahead in the kitchen, yelling non-stop---sounds like jibberish to me---running all over the place.  He has driven Cindy into a state of exhaustion.  Ha.

I was embarrassed over the past three weeks...the unseasonably warm weather caused the lawns in this area to sprout like they are on steroids.  Especially the weeds.  Yikes!  I was the talk of the neighborhood, I am sure.  I called Tru-Green to come out and DO SOMETHING, but they haven't been able to apply any chemicals yet because it has been raining every day.  I will say, however, that we have some of the finest specimens of dandelions ever seen.  I may donate a few to the Knoxville Botannical Society.

I should do a post sometime on our bird feeder out back.  I keep it stocked with a blend of wild bird seed, and it has become the favorite watering hole in these parts.  It's great to sit there, not six feet away, from inside our den, and observe the shenanigans as the feathered creatures feed.

We got every kind of sparrow, dove, cowbird, blackbird, red-winged blackbird, grackle, downy and hairy woodpeckers, bluejay, oriole, wren, bluebird, cardinal, robins (the robins won't get on the feeder but instead feed on the ground underneath it), and so on and on.....  I love watchin' 'em.

Woman says we're having chicken casserole tonight.  Man, can she cook.  Her casseroles are just great.  And I saw her makin' some corn bread to go with it.  Oh, Lordy.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Get the picture:

I made myself a shrimp po-boy sandwich for dinner in the kitchen as Cindy busied herself by putting together her own dinner---a salad with shrimp and some garlic bread.  As yours truly finished the construction of said sandwich (which was delicious, I might add), I moved to my comfortable leather chair for a gander at the evening news as I prepared to make love to my shrimp-tomato-mayo-lettuce-green onion and rye bread masterpiece.

Ahhhhh.....sitting down, I draped a bib over my chest and slowly took a small bite, testing the flavor.....perfect!  Next, a swig of cold green tea washed the mouthful down into my innards and I was in heaven.

AHHHHH!!!!   FIRE!!!!  My eyes shot kitchenward and I saw a burst of flames erupt from the toaster where the Cinderoo was preparing her garlic bread.  I started to spring from my chair to address the problem, but the flames immediately died down as she closed the toaster door. 

She immediately unplugged the toaster.  I figured there had been some sort of a malfunction of its heating element, because the toaster was about ten years old and had been used extensively over the time we had owned it.

Just as I settled back down for another bite, thinking the crisis was over, flames again erupted from the implement.  Well, I thought, Cindy can handle it...she was standing right there.  But, there was a wife had gone into panic mode and did not seem able to think.  This time, the flames had no intention of dying down, as they were obviously feeding off the bread Cindy had put into the toaster.

So, as I watched this drama unfold before me, I had to make a decision.  Now, please realize that I was in the middle of eating a really delicious shrimp po-boy and the last thing I wanted to do was get up from my comfy perch in my favorite chair.  The flames were growing, now licking the bottom of the cabinets above the toaster.  It was not a pretty sight.

For those of you not in the know, it only takes a few seconds for a hot fire under cabinets to quickly involve the entire house in flames.

So, again I had to make a lightning-fast decision:  Do I ruin my delicious meal and get up to put the fire out, or do I use this as a "teaching moment" for my wife, who was wringing her hands in a stupor as the house was beginning to burn down.

I chose the latter course of action.


NOTE:  the fire extinguisher was 18 inches from the toaster on the countertop where we always keep it. 

Now shaken from her immobility, the Lady of the House grabbed the extinguisher and quickly doused the flames.

This Is How Close The Toaster Is To The Fire Extinguisher...
By now, a thick white smoke filled the house and every fire alarm we own was screaming bloody murder.

The fire now extinguished, woman began opening doors and windows to clear the smoke.  Meanwhile I continued to make love to my po-boy.  Man, that was a good sandwich!

Woman was not so fortunate with her own dinner, however.  It seems she ruined her garlic bread, shrimp and salad when she turned the fire extinguisher loose on aforementioned fire.  She ended up eating some cereal for dinner. 

It was a little later that I found out that wife thought I had behaved very badly in the crisis.  She actually thought I didn't care if the house burned down as long as I got to eat my delicious po-boy uninterrupted.  Well maybe there is a little truth to that  (just kiddin')........

I tried to explain to the dear lady that I do care about preserving our happy home, but that I also thought she needed to learn how to respond to a fire.  After all, maybe the next time I wouldn't be present to take care of things, and this was a perfect time to help her learn how to use a fire extinguisher. 

It took a few hours for her to begin to agree that maybe it was indeed a good idea that she responded to the crisis by herself because she DID learn what to do if it ever happened again.

Some time was required to clean up the mess from the extinguisher.  We are now in the market for a new toaster.  We replaced the fire extinguisher yesterday.

We Are Now In The Market For A New Toaster

I think she still loves me.

Seriously---if you do not have a fire extinguisher in your home, please get one.  When you need it, YOU NEED IT.  A good one costs about $20.  There is no excuse.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Editing History.......

I am a student of history.  That, plus the fact that I am considered an "old guy", having graced this planet for three score and seven years, gives me a certain perspective on changes in our society.  Some changes are good and necessary; many are not.

This subject came to mind the other day when I sat down with my trusty guitar with the intention of singing some well-known American songs from the 19th century.   In their day, and for many generations afterward, these songs were considered staples of American folk music.  They were much loved, and sung at gatherings of all types.

The first song I started to sing was Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home"---also known as "Way Down Upon the Suwanee River".

Well, it turns out that the great Stephen Foster made a mistake when he used the word "darkies" to describe negroes in the song.  Little did he know that a century later, this great song would no longer be sung because society had evolved in such a way as to judge the term "darky" as offensive.

Same thing with another favorite song by Foster---"My Old Kentucky Home".  There's that "darky" word again.  This song has been the official state song of Kentucky since 1928; but, in 1986, the word "darky" in the song was officially changed to "people".  When you think about it, this does change the sentiment of the song in a significant way.

In 1861, James Ryder Randall, a professor at a Louisiana college, penned a powerful poem which was put to music.  It became the state song of Maryland.  "Maryland, My Maryland" was an appeal to the citizens of that state to join the confederacy.  This followed riots that occurred in Baltimore when Union troops fired on citizens who were protesting their presence in that city.

It is a most beautiful tune ("Oh Tannenbaum") and the poem itself is strikingly meaningful.

But today, elements of society in Maryland are saying that the song is racist.  I don't see it by any stretch of the imagination. 

So, here again we have a state song that is under attack, even though it is much loved and has been around for almost a century and a half.

Then there is the case of the former state song of Virginia---the beautiful and wistful "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny", authored by James A Bland.  This story is particularly delicious because Bland was a black man who was an accomplished songwriter and musician.  The lyrics to "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny"  refer to an old slave who longs for the old days when  "Massa and Missus" were still alive.  The song was judged Politically Incorrect in 1997 after being the official state song since 1940.  I could not tell you what song replaced it as the official state song.  I could look it up, but as Rhett Butler said, I don't give a damn.

Then there is the case of editing history by excluding works of literature.  When I was a school boy, I studied the works of Joel Chandler Harris.  Mr Harris created a character named Uncle Remus who told stories to children.  These stories were wonderful tales much like nursery rhymes or fables---but told by the African-American Remus in southern negro dialect.

Joel Chandler Harris
Harris' book was published in 1881, and served as a delightfiul teaching and entertainment vehicle---through folk tales, animal stories and songs.  His characters Br'er (Brother) Rabbit, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear and the Tar Baby were loved far and wide.  Until around 1970, that is, when Harris' works were judged Politically Incorrect and began to disappear from libraries and book stores.  I'm so glad I was able to become familiar with these wonderful characters before they became a footnote.

In 1876, Mark Twain published "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer".  It received universal acclaim.  For generations this book was required reading for American school children.  Not any more.  It seems that the words "nigger" and "injun" appear hundreds of times in the book, as well as the 1885 follow-up publication, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn".

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)
Publisher New South Books has agreed to republish these works this year with one change---the "N" word and the "In" word will be replaced with the word, "slave".  Somebody shoot me.

NOTE:  I did sing the above songs accompanied by my guitar...with the original lyrics intact, as the authors intended.  I am not a racist and neither were the authors.  But I do love history as it really happened, without the misguided censorship of a misguided age.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Random Thoughts.......

---Writer's Block is a terrible thing; and, when it occurs, there ain't nuthin' gonna get written.  It's kinda' like a slump.  You just can't get yourself properly motivated to write anything that sounds remotely interesting.  The only cure is time.

---Trains and their whistles are wonderfully enchanting and haunting.  Throughout our nights here in north Knoxville, we hear the trains as they pass through the east Tennessee darkness.  Their destinations are unknown.  Their cargo is unknown.  The tracks run about a mile from our neighborhood---just close enough for us to hear the gentle rumbling of the rails and the moaning, spectral wail of the whistles as the trains approach the Dante and Merchant's Road crossings.

Interesting observation---each engineer has his own, unique fingerprint of blowing the whistle.  Some use a series of long blasts....WOOOOOOOOOOOOO......WOOOOOOOOOOOOO.... WOOOOOOOOOOOOO........

Others use a series of short blasts....WOOO...WOOO...WOOO...

Some use a combination of the two....WOOO...WOOOOOOOOOOOO...WOOO...WOOO...

I think it would be possible to tell the identity of each engineer simply by listening to the unique series of identifying whistle blasts.

---There is a situation going on in professional football right now that has me scratching my head.  It involves Tim Tebow, the quarterback of the Denver Broncos and Denver Bronco management.

Tebow, you may recall, led the Broncos---an otherwise mediocre team---to a series of "miraculous" wins last year, and even guided the team to a playoff win over the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers.

Well, management of the Broncos is trying to replace Tebow as quarterback with legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, who is a free agent. 


---If the Broncos sign Manning, do they keep Tebow, the most popular player in Denver?  How do you put the most popular player on the bench?  Do you trade Tebow if you sign Manning?  How do you trade the most popular player?  What if Manning reinjures his neck, which has had 5 operations?  What if he cannot play after an injury and you have traded Tebow?  What then?

Let me insert here that I did a blog a short time back on thinking outside the box.  Denver management is obviously incapable of doing that.  If they were only able to see that improvement of their team can be spectacularly accomplished by designing an offense to complement Tebow's unique abilities, they would be unstoppable.

---Why can't anybody design elastic that will not wear out immediately in underwear?

---Had a doctor's visit yesterday.  Had to wait 45 minutes in the waiting room and then another 30 minutes in the exam room.  Doctor finally appears.  I'm not happy about the wait.  I guess when you make an appointment, it is for me, but not necessarily for HIM

He said he was sorry for the wait---said there was a mixup---said he should have seen me before the other patient, but made a mistake and went into the wrong exam room.  Sigh.

---My wife, Cindy, is an accomplished artist.  One of the things she does is portraits.  We decided to advertise her business in the local paper.  Yesterday, we went to the newspaper office to see about placing the ad.  I was so impressed by the newspaper staff---they were so friendly and helpful.  It's funny, I guess, but it seems so unusual that people are friendly any more.  Usually, it is like they are doing you a favor if you try to do business with them. 

---I was making myself an egg sandwich the other morning.  I had some trouble getting one of the eggs out of the carton.  Finally got it out but it slipped from my fingers and splatted on the tile floor.  I was upset.  So upset that I did the same thing with the next egg I extracted from the carton.   I knew then that it wan't gonna be a good day.

---Was reading the bible this morning and came across that admonition---"Thou shalt have no other gods before me".  

Now, be honest---what other gods do you put before Him?........  Money?  Power?  Sex?  Pornography?  Blogging?  Possessions?  Drugs? Politics?  Food? Work?  Internet?  Electronic Games?  Physical Fitness?.......

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ahhhhhh.......The Joys of Flying............

I recall my first airline flight.  I was 21 years old and I got to fly from Atlanta, Georgia to my college in Greenville, South Carolina.  It was a thrill.  Heck, it was a distance of only 135 miles, but what an adventure!  I had my face glued to the window as I marveled at the world racing past 20,000 feet below.

Gosh, the flight attendants (we called them "stewardesses", or "stews" back then, as this was the age just before political correctness) were nice and polite and always smiling. 

After I got into the work force, my duties soon required me to fly on a weekly basis.  Sometimes, I would fly to several places during my workweeks.  I became very schooled in flying, scheduling, rescheduling, etc.  I knew the major airports like the back of my hand.  I knew how to navigate most efficiently to obtain the best car rentals and where all the best airport lounges were located.

Up until around 1980 or so, flying was great.  But then, things started to change.  Suddenly, it seemed, all the flights were crowded.  And there seemed to be more delays than ever before.  And the issue of smoking on planes and in airports became a somewhat contentious matter that spilled over into everyday discourse.  The service on the flights began to be cut back.  Meals that once were tasty had morphed into a bag of peanuts or a few pretzels. 

Flight attendants became something between businesslike and surly.  Soon, I wasn't enjoying flying all that much.  Soon after that, I wasn't liking it at all.  It was a chore...something to be endured so that I could remain employed. 

Then, when the events of 9-11 occurred, the "friendly skies" truly became decidedly UNfriendly.  Wait in line, take off your shoes, boot up your computer, take off your belt, empty your pockets, hurry up!, spread your arms, spread your legs, show your driver's license (what would someone do if they did not drive?), etc, etc...

I could no longer stand to fly.  I began following a self-made rule:  if I could drive to my destination in an 8-hour time frame, I would drive instead of fly.  Sometimes, this meant I would leave on a weekend when before I would fly out on a Monday morning.  And that was OK.

But my truly worst moments while flying over the years were these:

---Flying from Atlanta to Dusseldorf, Germany.  Changing planes in Paris.  A Frenchman, nicely dressed in a business suit sat down next to me.  All was fine until he took off his shoes.  O.  My.  God.  I didn't know feet could smell that bad.  I cannot even describe the odor.  It was the worst thing you can imagine...times six.  I gagged.  Thankfully, he got up to go to the restroom and left his shoes there.  I got a towel and covered them up while he was gone.  It didn't completely eliminate the odor, which was beginning to peel the paint from the plane's interior, but it helped.

---On a domestic flight at the end of a hard week, I flew home late on a Friday evening.  A grandmother sat down next to me with a baby of about two months in her arms.  The baby had deposited a huge load into its diaper.  The woman had no intention of changing said diaper and the odor was intoxicating.  I had to sit there for three hours, asking God why He was doing that to me.  I guess He's got a wicked sense of humor.

---On another domestic flight, again at the end of a tiring, hard workweek, I found myself sitting next to a man who weighed 500 pounds if he weighed an ounce.  His body spilled over from his seat into mine.  He raised the arm rest between us so his frame could fit into the seats.  I couldn't breathe.  There was nothing I could do but "enjoy" my flight. 

---On another flight I inexplicably got hit with the ole diarrhea bug.  I was able to get to the restroom time after time after time after time after time, but it made for a less than fun flight.

---Got hit by lightning somewhere over New York state while flying from Canada.  We were in a winter storm at the time, and when the lightning hit the plane, it manifested itself as an explosion and a fireball in the plane's galley, which was right behind the cockpit.  The passengers went completely silent.  Of course we did---we all thought we were going to die immediately.  It took the captain an eternity to come on the intercom and announce in a folksy drawl..."Ahhhh, sorry about that, folks........everything's seems we were hit by lightning........enjoy the rest of your flight".

Yeah, right.

Friday, March 2, 2012

But.....What About Leather?.......

It is politically incorrect these days---even to the point of violence---to wear natural furs such as mink.

But...what about leather? 

coats, shoes, belts, handbags, jackets, boots.......

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Have You Actually Read The Bible?.......

Cindy and I were talking over dinner last night, and the conversation turned to some of those incredibly interesting stories in the bible.  These stories always have deeper meanings than appear on their surface, and contain timeless lessons for those who ponder them.

I wondered aloud how many people have actually read the bible cover to cover.  The more I thought about it, the more interesting that question became.  I mean, here we have this book of deep, deep wisdom.....and my guess is that 95% of American adults have not read it in its entirety.

OK, OK---maybe I'm not talking about the "begats" and some of the esoteric stuff in books like Leviticus.....but I am referring to the bulk of the Old and New Testaments.

I saw a poll that was done a few years ago where 80% of Americans call themselves Christians.  How can that truly be if I am right and 95% haven't read the bible?

Thoughts, anyone?