Sunday, November 30, 2008

Snowing In Jefferson City

A light snowfall began last night around 11:15. I watched it gently fall through the darkness just outside my third floor hotel room. Although I know it is nothing more than a common meteorological occurrence, there is also something almost magical about watching those white flakes drift out of the darkness above and slowly descend past you to the ground below.

Here's some pictures of the view from my room this 7 this morning. Right after taking a few pictures, I got back in bed and under the covers. Brrrr...just looking at it made me cold.

The snow stopped falling around 10 this morning, then began falling heavily again around 1:30 this afternoon. In fact, it's a LOT heavier with larger flakes and being blown at an angle like a blizzard! Still, most of it is melting as it lands on the streets and sidewalks, so hopefully it won't be an issue when driving to work tomorrow morning.

A Whole Lot Of Flickr'n Goin' On!

I uploaded a WHOLE BUNCH of photos from the past 3 months or so. Here are the sets that are new up on Flickr.

Cedar Falls, Iowa Eastside from August 2008

Balsam Mountain Inn, North Carolina Tour and Aniversary Dinner from October 2008

Sylva and Bryson City, North Carolin from October 2008

Magie Valley, North Carolina Fall Festival from October 2008

Lake Junaluska, North Carolina from October 2008

Waynesville, North Carolina Apple Festival from october 2008

Pisgah Inn, North Carolina from October 2008

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina from October 2008

EPCOT with the Grandkids from October 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I'm In Hockey Country

The rain started about 6pm tonight and I got wet when I went out about 8pm to watch my boss play in a pick-up hockey game and take some photos of the game. Although they were playing in a rink, I knew it would be cold. I just didn't expect it to be almost as cold as it was outside. But at least it wasn't raining in the rink. I wore my long underwear leggings, T-shirt, long sleeve shirt, lined windbreaker with hood and my heavy winter jacket and was still cold. My Florida blood is too thin for this, lol.

Due to the rain it has, of course, been wet outside and the roads were starting to get a little slick and slippery. I imagine by tomorrow morning there will be some ice. Snow is forecast for later tonight and all day tomorrow and perhaps part of Monday morning. If they're right, we shouldn't get more than 1-2 inches. I hope they're right.

Anyway, here's one of my shots from tonight. I took almost 500 but a quick scan through them tells me I'll only end up keeping a small fraction of those 500. A lot of them are garbage but it's ok, I learned some things tonight while shooting the game that will help me do better in the future.

Friday, November 28, 2008

E-Mail Euphoria

I love the day after a holiday at work, especially when other agencies or partner groups are closed in the midst of a 4-day holiday like Thanksgiving. Today I actually had an empty e-mail inbox by 11am. Of course more started pouring in at 11:02, but it was a nice feeling of accomplishment for about 2 minutes.

Gmail Themes

Has anyone else been using the Gmail themes that Google has in beta offering?

I decided on the mountain theme, since that's where I'll be living in the future.

And what a pleasant surprise! I thought it would be a static background image of the same mountain picture day in and day out, but it's dynamic; changing at least once a day.

Still, I may go back to the plain ol' Gmail because I'm just not all that much into themes in my email program.

How about you? Do you like them and use them?

What I Did Thanksgiving Day

Well, my cold left me finding it difficult to concentrate enough to write much of anything. As a result, other than a walk down to the lobby to get some turkey, dressing and candied yams, I spent the rest of the day lying on the couch in my hotel room watching "Dreamgirls", "Cloverfield" and "Hellboy II", reading a bit and napping off and on through the day.

The bright spot was a phone call from my grandkids. Hearing "Hi Granddad" always lifts my spirits.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

I have a lot to be thankful for.

I have a loving wife who makes my life absolutely fantastic; there are a lot of people who have no one or worse, have someone who makes them miserable. I have a job; there are a lot of folks that want one who don't. I have a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in; some people have an alley for a bed and a newspaper for a blanket. I have family and friends in my life that brighten my existence; some out there have no one to bring gladness and joy into their lives.

Do I wish I was home with my wife today? Sure. But at least I'm not thousands of miles away being shot at or bombed like those who serve our country. Would I like to be enjoying a sumptuous meal with my family today? Of course. But it won't be as bad as last year when I was stuck in a hotel room in Lake Charles, LA eating a nuked frozen TV dinner of turkey and dressing because no restaurants in that podunk town were open and it certainly won't be as bad as those who have very little or nothing to eat. Today I'll get to actually go enjoy a nice, hot prepared turkey dinner here at the hotel.

Before the family sits down to eat today, my mother-in-law will ask for everyone's attention and once they have all quieted down, she'll ask them to quietly remember the things they have to be thankful for, just like she does every Thanksgiving.

I hope you'll do the same.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Working Sick

At least 50% of the people in my office are sick. In between the noise of phones ringing, printers running and TVs tuned to the all-news channels are the constant sounds of coughing, sneezing, sniffling and moaning.

I have been doing my best to not fall victim. I've been doubling up my vitamin intake, eating healthy, staying hydrated, wiping down my work surfaces with antibacterial wipes, trying not to touch common areas with my hands and, when I've had no choice in touching them, washing my hands frequently with soap and water or Purell hand sanitizer.

Still, when the very air you're breathing is densely populated with all the nasty little buggers from people sneezing and coughing, your only viable defenses would be to wear a surgical mask, gloves and goggles or either just not come to work.

Not come to work. In most cases that would be the sensible answer and advice for people who are sick. Officially, we urge people who are sick to stay in the hotel rooms and get better, but realistically the fact is that most of us perform specialized tasks and duties. If we're not here, the work doesn't get done. And a lot of the time our work is deadline driven; if our work doesn't get done in a timely fashion it negatively impacts someone else's ability to get their work done in a timely fashion and so on and so forth. It can become a snowball of ever-growing problems. So, sick or not, if we can walk or sit upright in a chair for a sustained period of time, we show up for work.

Last night when I got off work and returned to my room, I finally felt myself succumbing to symptoms of an impending cold. My eyes were starting to feel like they were surrounded by grains of sand, my sinuses began simultaneously draining and feeling stuffed up, and a general malaise that I could not push off as just being tired was growing in my body. I immediately started taking some cold medicine, even going so far as to place a dose on my nightstand and setting my alarm to wake up at the 4-hour mark so I could take more in the middle of the night.

It may be working. I know I'm not feeling nearly as bad as most of my sick co-workers and my symptoms, while aggravating, do not seem to be as pronounced as the ones I have seen them display. Here's hoping I've been able to hit it hard enough and early enough to reduce the extent of its effect on me.

UPDATE: The office Thanksgiving luncheon was tolerable. The absolute best part was that there was so much food left over that we donated it to a local women's shelter to contribute to a better Thanksgiving Day celebration for them.

Older Than Dirt

This was surprising, because we normally don't allow staff to wear "slogan" shirts or pants, but yesterday morning I saw a worker walking through the office wearing a T-shirt I want.

It read, "Older Than Dirt-Genuine American Antique"

Economy Drives Book Sales Down

I receive a variety of book and book-business related e-mails and RSS feeds and they are all in agreement that the downturn of the economy has resulted in a likewise direction for book sales at all the major retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Borders and Books-a-Million. Even with all the 40% off coupons and offers I receive from various booksellers, it is still hard to justify the expense of a hardback (and sometimes even a paperback) book when personal operating funds are on the low side, especially for a "pleasure read."

Amazon offers some really good price breaks, but I always try to get that total over $25 to qualify for the free shipping. In doing so, I'm still shelling out more money than I'm comfortable with for anything other than a gift for someone else or a "professional" book that contributes to my writing.

But I think Cindy had the right idea a year ago when she asked me for a Kindle for Christmas; e-books are an economical way to keep up with your reading "fix", especially for those books we read only for pleasure. The MOST EXPENSIVE BOOKS Cindy has downloaded would be brand new bestsellers for $9.99, the majority of others are $5 to $7 each and some are even less. When you consider that a hardback bestseller can typically go for $30, it's easy to see the appeal of the e-book format, over and above the convenience of storage and transportation. I think her Kindle paid for itself after the 20th book download she purchased.

In addition, among writers there is a lot of discussion going on about moving from print and web formats to e-book formats and self-publishing. Quite a few writers have gone that route, selling their creations directly through their websites. It's not nearly as lucrative as having an in-demand print book on the shelves, but it's a more immediate positive feedback and not nearly as many roadblocks to getting out a dead tree creation.

What do you think? Would you consider utilizing a $350 Kindle or other e-book reader if it allowed you to enjoy your reading needs (or wants, lol) at a reduced cost in the long run? How about purchasing a writer's work directly from them in an e-book form?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Frozen Bird Poop On The Windshield

You've never lived until you've come out to get in your car on a bitingly cold morning and found frozen bird poop on your windshield. It's like it bonded with the glass somehow. I was tempted to take a crowbar to the splat of frozen feces, but I was afraid I'd break the windshield trying to get it pried off. What do they put IN that stuff anyway?

A Trip Back To Nostalgiaville

Last week I got to stop in at a really neat store just off the Interstate called Nostalgiaville. This store was chock full of pop culture memorabilia from the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's. Posters, T-shirts, key rings, mugs, license tags, pens, old TV shows on DVD, postcards, and thousands of other things.

They had stuff from The Three Stooges, Betty Boop, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, The Andy Griffin Show, the first Star Wars movie, Elvis, The Beatles and Superman!

I took a quick 20 minute walk through the store and had to keep telling myself, "Don't buy that, don't buy that and definitely don't buy that!" In the end, I walked out with a few postcards that I mailed out at the post office across the street.

But what a great place to relive some old memories!

The Dreaded Thanksgiving Office Party

Around mid-morning Monday the word came down that we were having a Thanksgiving Day party on Wednesday and whoever wanted to take part could donate a nominal amount and bring a beverage or dessert to share with the catered main course.

Oh joy!

I went ahead and paid and agreed to bring a beverage (non-alcoholic, darn it!) because it's easier than driving out to a restaurant for lunch, but office parties have never been my idea of a good time. Sometimes you have to take part, just because of job politics or a need to network, but usually if I can figure a way to gracefully get out of it, I will.

I've also observed that, typically, when there is an office luncheon the day's work output drops to less than half the usual amount. Logically, it would make more sense to just say "You have the afternoon off with pay" because at least then you would get a half day's work done and not have the distraction of the office party preparations.

I know, I know; I need to be more of a "people person."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Civics Quiz

Here's a Civics Quiz.

I never was a big history fan, but I always did enjoy what I learned about how our form of government operates (or at least how it is SUPPOSED to operate). I scored 29 out of 33 correct and the 4 I missed were those darn history-based questions.

Let me know how you score.

Walking With Lewis & Clark

Sunday morning I got up early and drove to downtown Jefferson City to take some photographs. I like going early as I get to use the early light in composing my photos, and I like to do it on Sunday mornings since it is always quiet and most streets are practically deserted.

I haven't processed all the photos yet or uploaded them to Flickr, but here's a couple that I thought looked good.

This first one is a close-up shot of a merman battling a sea serpent, part of an inactive fountain in the rear of the State Capitol building, the portion that faces the Missouri River, not far from where Lewis & Clark came ashore on one of their stops. Click the photo for a larger version.

From left to right: George Drouillard, civilian guide and interpreter; Meriwether Lewis; his dog Seaman; William Clark and York, Clark's manservant. Click the photo for a larger version.

It was a kick to see where Lewis and Clark had arrived in what would become Jefferson City and to walk the same ground where their expedition walked. I remember reading about them when I was in elementary school, but I never imagined I would one day follow their footsteps along a portion of their pioneering trail.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Win A Bathtub Full Of Cereal

Here's a crazy promotion that Ted Murphy, CEO of IZEA in Orlando is throwing that gives you the chance to win a bathtub full of your choice of cereal. Your chance to win ends tonight at midnight EST, so do something now before it's too late.

My favorite cereals are Cap'n Crunch Original and Corn Chex. What're yours?

My Favorite "Western" Movie

I spent Saturday just relaxing in the hotel room, reading, writing and watching some TV.

The "Western" genre of TV shows and movies has never been one of my favorites. My dad loved watching "Bonanza", "Gunsmoke", "Rawhide" and others, but growing up in the age of space travel and technological leaps, my passion has always been science fiction, fueled by TV shows from my youth like "The Outer Limits", "Lost in Space", and "Star Trek."

But there has always been one Western movie that I have loved watching, even though my first exposure to it was not the movie itself but rather through its theme music, and I got to watch it on AMC Saturday.

When I was 8 or 9, cigarette commercials were still a staple of TV advertising and Marlboro started using some western-themed music in their ads that grabbed my attention. I thought it was just some music written especially for the ad, but when I was 13 or so I found out that it was actually from a major motion picture score that had been written by Elmer Bernstein.

I was in my junior high school's band playing trombone and I was very good (first chair) because I practiced, not only the music we played in school, but other music on my own. At my request, my mom bought me albums from the "Big Band" era which had lots of brass instruments, but also more modern instrumental groups such as "Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass" (as a 13 year old I LOVED the album cover of "Whipped Cream & Other Delights"! lol). One day she came home with a "Great Motion Picture Themes" album that included a theme that was very familiar and as I played it on our huge console stereo, I recognized the music from the cigarette commercials and discovered that score was for the movie, "The Magnificent Seven." I've had the music on my computer and mp3 player for years now.

When I finally watched the movie for the first time in my mid-teens, I discovered that it wasn't only the musical part of the film that I enjoyed. The story and characters intrigued me. I found out later that it was an adaptation of Kurosawa's 1954 film, "Seven Samurai", with the setting changed to a western and the characters to gunfighters in the old West. I think the theme of all-too human yet selfless heroes defending and inspiring the defenseless appealed to me, but I also think the music made a connection that my general disinterest in Westerns could not overcome. Now, it is one of the few Western movies I can watch over and over and always enjoy.

The movie is full of great dialog. Here's one of my favorite lines, out of many, spoken by Charles Bronson's character when some young boys complain that their fathers are cowards because they are just farmers instead of gunfighters:

"Don't you ever say that again about your fathers, because they are not cowards. You think I am brave because I carry a gun; well, your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility, for you, your brothers, your sisters, and your mothers. And this responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. It bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground. And there's nobody says they have to do this. They do it because they love you, and because they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee anything will ever come of it. This is bravery. That's why I never even started anything like that... that's why I never will."

How can you go wrong with dialog like that?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm A Pepper, You're A Pepper...

I've never been able to stomach the taste of Dr. Pepper, though I remember enjoying this commercial from the late 70's.

But if you're someone who likes to drink Dr. Pepper, you'll interested in this offer of a FREE 20-ounce soda announcement:

LOS ANGELES (AP) Dr Pepper is making good on its promise of free soda now that the release of Guns N' Roses' "Chinese Democracy" is a reality. The soft-drink maker said in March that it would give a free soda to everyone in America if the album dropped in 2008. "Chinese Democracy," infamously delayed since recording began in 1994, goes on sale Sunday.

"We never thought this day would come," Tony Jacobs, Dr Pepper's vice president of marketing, said in a statement. "But now that it's here, all we can say is: The Dr Pepper's on us."

Beginning Sunday at 12:01 a.m., coupons for a free 20-ounce soda will be available for 24 hours on Dr Pepper's Web site. They'll be honored until Feb. 28th.

Be a Pepper, drink Dr. Pepper...for free!

A Picture Is Worth A Google Of Words

Google has announced that they are hosting the entire archive of LIFE Magazine's photos, even those that never were printed in the magazine. You can now search millions of photos stretching from the 1750's to present day.

It's official now. I can NEVER leave my laptop.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Just Go Where My GPS Tells Me

So I had some meetings to go to again today and since we were opening an assistance center near one of my meeting locations, I decided that I would drop by and see how things were going there on opening day.

I plugged the address into my GPS and headed for my destination. In due course, the charming voice (which pronounces "Missouri" as "Misery") informed me, "Arriving at destination ahead on right." Nothing unusual about that, it's what she always says when I reach the address I have entered, the only change being if it is on the left or right side of the road. Except this time the destination I had arrived at was...

...a huge cemetery.

Nothing else was in sight as far as the eye could see, taking into account hills and curves, just a big plot of land filled with gravestones.

I had a fleeting thought that perhaps I had died and was just too ignorant to realize it, so the universe was trying to get it through my now dead thick skull that I was no longer among the living by using my GPS to deliver the message (there's a good story device in there), but it seemed to me if that were the case then the voice would have sounded deeper, raspier and more sinister.

Fortunately, all turned out well, at least on the possible death score. For whatever reason, even though I plugged in 725 as the street number (yes, I checked) the GPS had mistakenly tried to deliver me to 925 and by driving another mile or so down the road I finally arrived at the correct location.

But wouldn't it be something if, when you pass from this plane of existence, a voice dutifully informed you that you were, "Arriving at destination ahead" like the Disney monorail or the airport tram?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meetings In Missouri

Spent yesterday driving to St. Louis for some meetings and then back to Jefferson City. I had hoped to see the Arch and take some photos, but ran out of time. It's really a shame when your work gets in the way of your leisure activities, isn't it? LOL

We did, however, at my co-worker's insistence, have time for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory located at one of the area's upscale malls, the Galleria. This was my first time eating at a Cheesecake Factory and I have to admit, the chicken Quesadilla I had was delicious. The waitress seemed truly confused when I declined to have their signature dish for dessert. I guess most people go there to enjoy the dessert and the entree is just incidental to reaching that point in the meal.

Then last night my laptop decided it needed to perform a 5 hour disk check of my 500GB external drive and I just could not stay up long enough to wait for it to finish so I could post an entry. It woke me up 2 hours after I went to bed when it rebooted and I heard the familiar Windows tones signaling a startup. It had tried to perform the scan the night before and I stopped the process, so I felt like I should let it finish...I just didn't expect it to take so long.

Since I couldn't write, for the blog or otherwise, I took the time to start reading a new novel I brought from home with me.

We had a heat wave here yesterday. The high was 57. Today it was 36 and tonight the low will be 13. No snow in the forecast yet, but one local TV station's meteorologist thought we might have a few snow flurries on Saturday morning. If we do I won't know because hopefully I'll be sleeping in (though now that I've mentioned that it might snow I'm sure Cindy will ask me to get up and take pictures, lol).

Today I spent the afternoon at the State Capitol here in Jefferson city. Luckily I was inside most of the time because, in addition to the near freezing high, we had very strong winds that made the cold cut through you like a knife. I'm glad I brought my thermal underwear and I am continually thankful for the nice winter jacket that Cindy's parents gave me for our trip to Scotland 2 1/2 years ago. It has kept me so nice and warm when I've been out walking in the elements here. I regularly wear my insulated gloves (because my hands, along with my feet, are the first part of me that gets cold) and though I haven't worn it yet, I also have my black knit cap with me.

Anyway, I took a few minutes to brave the cold and wind so I could shoot a few photos of the State Capitol building and some surrounding edifices. Here's one of the capitol, and you can see what a cold, gray day it was. Click on the picture for a larger version.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If You Could Do Anything.... the world that you wanted, what would you do?

I'd drink egg nog.

Damn you, pancreas!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Our New Baby

Here's a picture of our new baby. I'll let Cindy tell the story in comments if she wants.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Gateway To The West

Greetings from the state capital of Missouri, Jefferson City, which is named after our third President, Thomas Jefferson. In addition to being nicknamed "The Show-Me State", Missouri is also called "The Gateway To The West." It snowed here lightly last night, but the 10-day forecast says just cold temperatures are what we can expect for the next week or so. However, since I'm supposed to be here for at least a month, I brought the long underwear that I took on my trips to Scotland, London and France.

Cindy dropped me at the airport this morning around 7:45 EST, a little early for my 10 am flight but something we had to do so she could get set up at Eola Market on time. I'm pretty sure getting there early helped me get a seat assignment change so that I could have an exit row window seat for the 2 1/2 hour flight. With my long legs, that extra room always helps.

I arrived in St. Louis at 11:20 CST, waited almost 30 minutes for my one checked bag and then got my rental car. This is my first time using Budget (not my choice) and, as I told Cindy, I now know why it's so named. The people at their counters offer good, friendly service, but the car itself was unwashed and the interior MAY have been vacuumed, but not with any care. I imagine that, instead, they just sprayed a couple of squirts of some deodorizer and moved on to the next vehicle. I'm hoping very much that the engine has received better attention.

After driving 90 miles west and 30 miles south, I arrived in Jefferson City. I went straight to my hotel, Candlewood Suites, another first for me but a more pleasant one. When I check in, I always ask if they have a "top-floor-corner room" available and the desk staff smilingly informed me that they had already assigned such a room to me. BIG SMILE! The room is very nice and I have a stove top, microwave and full-sized refrigerator which means I can eat a bit more on the healthy side for breakfast and dinner, rather than having to eat out for every meal. The hotel offers free DVD's for viewing on the provided players in each room, free laundry in four washers and dryers, a nice fitness room and a friendly staff. Nearby are a mall, movie theater and grocery store, as well as fast-food and sit down mid-range restaurants. I probably won't find out until tomorrow or Tuesday if I am remaining here in Jefferson City or going somewhere else in the state, but I am thinking I would REALLY like staying here, lol.

Some quick random thoughts throughout the day:

It should be illegal for morons to fly with the general public (then again, such a law would undoubtedly cut airline traffic to nothing).

I did NOT need to see this News Alert on my Blackberry as I was boarding this morning's flight (thankfully I wasn't on that carrier).

After some time at home, I now have to get used to Central Standard Time again.

Is it "Missourah" or "Missouree"? (I DO know the correct answer. Do you?)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Heading For The "Show Me" State

A busy day of running errands and getting things done here before my scheduled departure for Missouri tomorrow morning. I'll be leaving Orlando at 10am and arriving in St. Louis at 11:30am local time. Then I have a 2 hour drive to Jefferson City where, I'm told, I'll be working.

More later.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shuttle Endeavor Night Launch

Drove up to Deltona to pick up my grandson Mikey after school and take him to see Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, a movie he's been wanting to see ever since he saw the previews on TV. We had a good time together. He always make me happy to be with him.

Got back home to Orlando in time to see the likely last night-time shuttle launch at 7:55 EST. Even from my backyard 50 miles away from the Kennedy Space Center, it was spectacular as, from my viewpoint, the Endeavor arced over the beautiful full moon in a bright, fiery trail.

Two New Widgets

I've added a couple of new widgets over on the right hand column and placed them right at the top so everyone can get a look at them.

The first is a badge that collects images from previous posts and displays them as graphical and clickable links to the post in which the image is found. The hope is that new visitors might be intrigued by an image and click through to the post.

The second is a badge that displays where visitors to the blog are coming from as city, state or country. It's been interesting to see readers from South Africa, Iowa, Atlanta, London and other places around the world. Thank you to all of you who stop in to read.

These widgets, and others, are available free from Wowzio.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In About 10 Years...

Every morning...I get up...look in the mirror and think...

"Who is that old man in my bathroom?"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My B&N

Book-based social networking sites like Shelfari, Goodreads, Bookcrossing and others are being joined by Barnes & Noble with the rollout of its new My B&N site. Like other book social networking sites, My B&N encourages users to create a personal profile (complete with pen name and avatars) and then to build preferences to fashion MyLibrary, a section which showcases your individual tastes in literature, music and cinema. You can post your own reviews and ratings, create lists in the My EssentiaLists section, keep track of events occurring at your local Barnes & Noble brick and mortar stores, and, like online book retailer Amazon, you can create a personalized Wish List of your most-desired books, movies and music.

My B&N is easily accessible on the Barnes & Noble homepage. The site will remind users of recent purchases so they may be added to the MyLibrary section, and users can share their My B&N lists with other social networks sites such as Facebook and Digg.

I'm working on setting up my profile and information as time permits, so if you join look for pen name jmwetherington.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

To all who have served and all who still serve, thank you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Value Of Listening Closely

An Irish girl returned home to her family after a five-year absence. When she walked through the door, her father cursed at her, "Where have ye been all this time? Why did ye not write to us, not even a line? Why didn't ye call? Can ye not understand what ye put yer old ma thru?"

The girl burst into tears and wailed, "I am sore sorry, Da! I...I became a prostitute, and I was ashamed..."

"Ye WHAT!!?" Her father roared. "Out with ye, shameless harlot! Sinner! You're a disgrace to this family!"

"Ye'r right, Da, I'll leave. I just wanted to give mum this luxurious fur coat, title deed to a ten-bedroom mansion plus a savings certificate for $5 million."

"Ye what?" Her father asked, astounded.

"And this solid gold Rolex for me little brother,"
the girl continued, "...and for ye daddy, that sparkling new Mercedes limited edition convertible yonder, plus a membership to the country club..." she started towards the door and added, "And if ye decide someday to forgive me, I wanted to invite everyone to spend New Years' Eve on board my new yacht in the Riviera."

"What was it ye said ye had become?"
her father asked.

"A prostitute, Da! I'm sorry." And she opened the door to leave.

"Oh, Jesus!"
Her father exclaimed. "Ye scared me half to death, girl! I thought ye said a Protestant. Come here and give yer old man a hug."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lake Junaluska, North Carolina

Above is my favorite of the 2 dozen or so photos I took of Lake Junaluska during our camping trip in North Carolina a few weeks ago. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Buying, Selling & Gifting

Spent a good portion of this morning working on continuing to clean up my office and downsize where possible. I took another 35 books off my bookshelves and added them to my Amazon Seller's List. There are some good deals on some books and manuals if anyone is interested.

And, just a reminder, if you're going to be ordering anything from Amazon, using my Amazon tower link over in the lower area of the right-hand column to get there will send a few pennies my direction.

And, of course, I would be remiss if I did not call attention to my Amazon Wish List button about halfway down in that same right-hand column, for anyone who may be searching for just the "right" gift for moi. :)

Speaking of gifts for writers, Jennifer Mattern of All Freelance Writing has an excellent "Top Ten Gift Ideas for Freelance Writers - 2008" post that goes way beyond the usual gift of books.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Frenzied Friday

Busy day today. After Cindy cooked an excellent breakfast, we put all the camping gear back up in the attic; brought down the Rubbermaid tubs of winter clothes from the attic, went through them and separated out what we were going to give to Goodwill and kept down what we thought we might need for the next few months; I worked some more on clearing things out of my office while Cindy created some of her wonderful handmade candles, then we both did quite a bit of yard work in the backyard.

After a shower, we drove to Goodwill to drop off those clothes and some other items we had to donate, went out to lunch, stopped by Michaels so Cindy could pick up some things she needed for her candle-making business and Office Max so I could get some banker's boxes for office material and file storage, then returned home and I spent the rest of the day working in the office while Cindy worked on more candles and then went to Starbucks to meet her friends for some tea.

We, like most of you, are struggling with the difficult economy and its necessitating the extra-careful watching of our finances. So I was happy to use a coupon for our lunch (not much of a coupon, but every bit counts, right?) and a special discount card Cindy received from her employer for our purchases at Office Max (which knocked more than 50% off our total there!) to keep our "paid outs" as small as possible.

I said a while back that I thought if Obama were elected it would have a positive effect on the economy, so his election this past Tuesday gives me hope that we can now begin to get out of this economical quicksand that Bush dragged us into. Obama's press conference today confirmed that the economy will be his main focus from the first day of his administration on January 20, 2009.

I hope we can all last until then.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bar Trekkin'

It's sad when TV pals like Captain Kirk and his Enterprise Helmsman Lieutenant Sulu don't get along in real life as evidenced here in William Shatner's YouTube video complaint about not being invited to a certain wedding and here where George Takei explains his side.

But this great "Bar Trekkin'" T-shirt captures a happier time of a possible shore leave when Kirk, Spock, Chekov and Sulu are about to unite for a bar brawl (through no fault of their own, of course).

"Bar Trekkin’" costs $18 and is available in all sizes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Brand New Day

As the sun rises on America and the world today, our long national nightmare of 8 years under the presidency of George W. Bush is coming to an end. Yesterday, America elected Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States and this morning we can all rise to a brand new day for our country.

Candidate Obama awakened in our country a hope for change; we will look to President Obama for leadership in all of us becoming agents of that change.

Good Morning, America...welcome to a brand new day!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Country Has Spoken...

...and the word is good. Not only can our country begin to awaken from our 8-year long national nightmare, but Vote 2008 has resulted in a major historical event taking place. For the first time in its 232-year history, a majority of the people in the United States of America have elected a black man to the highest office in the land; President of the United States.

The "Mac" has cracked.

It will be SO nice, after the past 8 nightmarish years, to have a President who has the demeanor, capable judgment and verbal skills of an actual head of state. Someone we can be proud of on the world stage and someone who possesses actual leadership skills in dealing with the problems in our country.

Congratulations President-elect Obama!

Dancing With The Presidential Candidates

Voters Heading To The Polls

Here's a photo showing thousands of voters heading for the polls to vote today.

Ok, not really. It's a photo of a train full (and I mean FULL; inside, outside, topside and side side) of travelers in India. But all indications are that today's numbers of voters will be a record-setting turnout.

If you haven't already voted, I hope you'll be sure to get out and do so today. As the website says, "If you don't vote, you don't count."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Polling Place Campaign Signs

Here is something that I have always wondered about and I thought I'd throw it out here on the blog and see if anyone has an answer or even a different feeling about.

Why are there campaign signs, bunches and bunches of campaign signs, in the areas immediately surrounding polling locations?

Because I'm not sure that there are people who arrive at their polling place and say, "Oh there's a nice sign, I'll vote for that person!"

I mean, I know that there are "undecided" voters out there (although I did not come across one until last week when my step-daughter revealed that she remains unsure of who her presidential choice will be), but I can't imagine that even an undecided voter will make their choice at the last minute as they arrive to vote based on the sheer number of signs for a particular candidate littering the area outside their polling place.

Can you?

When I go to vote, I know who I'm voting for and why. For some reason I tend to think that most, if not everybody, does the same. Signs do not play a part in that process, no matter how many there are or how close to my placing the actual vote they may be

If any readers have an explanation or a different viewpoint, I'd love to read it.

Early Voting

Cindy and I took advantage of the Early Voting opportunity last Friday to, you know, avoid the crowds of tomorrow's election day. Between the time that we stepped into the line that stretched around 3 sides of the library polling place and when we stepped out the door after voting, we spent almost 2 hours shuffling in line with hundreds of other early voters.

But that's ok. It was exciting to see so many people exercising their right to vote. I would much rather wait in line than see reports of low voter turnout on news reports.

If you did not take advantage of the opportunity to vote early or by absentee ballot, I hope that you'll be sure to go out tomorrow and do what so many in this world do not have the right to do and help put your mark on our city, county, state and country's future by casting your vote.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

National Novel Writing Month

Yesterday kicked off the 10th Annual National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as it is popularly known), and while I don't know how many writers and would-be writers are participating, Director Chris Baty did announce that the website weathered its highest traffic day in the history of NaNoWriMo.

For those unfamiliar with the concept behind NaNoWriMo, here's the explanation from the website:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

The goal is quantity, not quality, also known as "No Plot! No Problem!", the NaNo Handbook.

My best wishes to all participants.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Laptop Magazine Aggravates Me

This is not an earth-shaking problem, but it is on my list of small annoyances.

I happen to think that, when you subscribe to a monthly or quarterly print magazine, you should receive your issue in the mail BEFORE the magazine appears on the newsstand. Is that too much to ask? What good does it do (except for the reduced cost) to be a subscriber and see the magazine you want to read sitting on the shelf at various stores while you're still waiting for your copy to arrive in the mail?

I walked into Publix last Tuesday and glanced at the magazine rack as I entered the store. There was the November issue of Laptop, the November issue that I had not yet received. Today is Saturday and I STILL have not received my subscription copy. Lest you think I'm a little short-tempered, this is the second time this has happened with Laptop. I like their magazine. I enjoy the various articles and I usually get some good information from each issue...but not if my subscription copy doesn't arrive.

As I said, it's a small annoyance. But I just hate to see a magazine I subscribe to sitting on the store shelf before I get it in the mail. I think subscriber issues should be mailed in time to arrive in mailboxes before they arrive on store shelves.

What do you think? Am I in need of an extra dose of patience? Has it ever happened to you...twice with the same magazine?
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