Kelly Clarkson rocks!!
Check out her cover of
Walkin After Midnight.
Patsy Cline is still one of my favorite artists and
Video is no longer up.... if anyone knows where this can be located let me know!!!!


Monday, August 31, 2009

Rant and rave

Ok, I had this nice long rant going about the TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras. If you have not seen it, or any clips from it, suffice it to say it should be taken off the air. What these parents are doing to these kids is, in my humble opinion, borderline child abuse. The fact that TLC put this show on the air makes them complicit.

What they are doing is teaching these kids that in order to be somebody you have to be perfect. They are dressing little girls up, like prostitutes, and parading them up on a stage. It's no wonder girls/women have such poor self esteem. The parents should have their children removed from the home and be prosecuted. Simple enough.

I am through talking about that show. Simply thinking about it makes me want to hurt someone.

{rant on}

The problem is that we, as a society, have become too voyeuristic. We are so caught up in the collective need to spy on what everyone else is doing that we simply do not care about the possible consequences. As a nation we no longer give regard to our neighbors but insist on knowing every detail, about every facet, of their lives.

The paparazzi intrude on the private lives of celebrities because we demand it. We shout with glee when a new picture of Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton, doing something naughty, shows up in the tabloids or on television. If those photographers were to do those things to us we would be up in arms, asking for their heads set on pikes at the court house for invading, and violating, our privacy. Stop buying the rags and watching the gossip shows people. It is just one more contributing factor in the fall of our society.

This leads me to another problem. We have become just too thin skinned. We are stunting ourselves with the need to be politically correct. Listen, I am fat. I'm not thick, or big boned, or husky, or what the hell ever. For the rest of you that are fat, then suck it up and deal with it. If you don't like the word then do something about it. Don't tell me you have a glandular problem or it runs in your family. Get your fat ass off the couch, put down the cheeseburger and go for a walk.

Don't get me wrong, there are people out there with medical problems that make it hard (Steroids and MS for one). The vast majority of the fat people out there have no excuse other than lack of control, no will power, laziness, and just plain old fashioned stupidity. Yes, this country is rife with stupid people. Deal with it.

Also, on the topic of being overly P.C., stop with the freaking labels. Yes, you are of Asian or African descent. The thing is, and listen closely, if you were not born there then stop prefixing what you are with it. I am so tired of hearing about African-Americans, or Italian-Americans, or Polish-Americans. Just stop it.

If you were born here then you are an American. Plain and simple. Stop labeling yourself, as well as those around you, and step up. I am all for being proud, but not to the point of self-segregating. It perpetuates the problems and totally ignores the fact that we are a country of people first.

{rant off}

I'm done. Just something I had to get off my chest. I can't turn on the TV or browse the internet with encountering some of the biggest idiots in the world. It's time we started acting like citizens.

Be respectful.

You and I may not agree on politics, or religion, or even porn.

Be respectful.

You and I may not like the same kind of music.

Be respectful.

You and I my not like the same kinds of food.

Be respectful.

The bottom line is that until we get back to respecting each other, despite our differences, then nothing will ever get better. This country, and the whole world for all that matter, will continue it's rapid descent into the crapper unless we see people for who they are instead of what they are.

Hi everyone. I'm Mike. Nice to meet you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mindless drivel

I have not been able to get my mind to focus on anything worth posting. I have been doing a lot of studying for my Cisco class at school. Fun. I have sat down with the intention of posting but my mind would start to wander over a plethora of subjects. Some important, many just idle static in my mind. I thought I would put a few of them down and see how they look on the screen.

Pardon the sheer randomness.



Ideas to fix the country:

Fire all the politicians and start over. Maybe we could find some people who are interested in do the right thing instead of the politically correct thing. I would not mind putting myself out there but to be honest, I have too many skeletons in my closet and would prefer they stay there. A great many of them I am certainly not proud of. Be that as it may, the leadership we have is simply failing us. It's not just health care, but everything. I saw a story about projected deficits hitting record levels and how bad they will be over the next decade. I am honestly worried. Scratch that. I am scared. This is not a Democrat/Republican thing. We are being taken in a direction that I feel is completely counter to what our founding fathers wanted. There will be a reckoning and it's going to be ugly. Truth be told we are more like the Roman Empire in it's last 100 years of existence than the Republic we were 200 years ago.


Hollywood:

Well, what can I say. Most of the stars/elite/whatever are just getting on my nerves. I say most because there are a few that I respect because they just seem like normal people. Of course by normal I mean not being a stuck up, snobbish, whoring, waste of human cells. I get so tired of all the Hollywood trash and their drive to be famous, instead of being people. The poor girl that was killed by her husband, the reality star, is just another example of the excess that tinsel-town has created. Everything is about getting that 15 minutes of fame and there is no concern, at all, given to the possible consequences. What is truly sad about this case, and the hundreds or thousands like it, is that it did not have to happen. To hell with the fact this woman is dead. Forget the fact her family has lost a loved one. Lets turn it in to some kind of entertainment. Mark my words, there will be some kind of new reality show about the dangers of reality shows. I think my money will be channeled far less to the west coast of this country.


Multiple Sclerosis:

I could speak volumes on this topic. Most of you already know about it so I choose not to. I can tell you I have been dealing with some stiffness in my right side, headaches, and a familiar blurring of my vision (Still no word back from my insurance company yet. Not at all surprised!).


Exercise/Weight:

Yea. This is still a problem. I did about 45 minutes of tennis on Monday. Well, I can't really call it tennis. It was more like my classmate and I chasing down errant shots or watching the balls fly off in some random direction. I did a lot of moving. And sweating. And I felt better for it; at least until I woke up this morning. Can you say stiff, and sore, and tired. It also might have had something to do with me mowing the lawn after I got home yesterday but whatever. That chore is at least done. I am feeling really tired but I have to push through. Just like I did before I was diagnosed. Why? Because I have to. Tomorrow morning is my 2 mile walk. Lets see how that works out.


Money:

It's tight as hell. The $218 speeding ticket did not help (Yes, I was speeding. It was my fault. It does not mean I am happy about the cost.) my situation. I had to order more of my insulin the other day. That's another $70. My car insurance payment is due. $75 more. My health insurance is due in a week. There goes another $128. This is, by far, the biggest stressor in my life right now. There are no decent jobs available in the area. Makes it hard to consider options to be quite honest. Oh well, life goes on.


I guess that is all for now. I need to go run an errand for my dad. I might head in to school early today (My Tue/Thur class is at 6pm) and look into what classes I have left for my degree. Maybe I will double up next semester to try to graduate early. meh. Pipe dream.

I try to read through the blogs I follow every day (That doesn't hapen all the time either). I may not be commenting but I am still lurking. So on that happy note, I hope everyone is doing well and I will see you soonish.

Toodles!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I am just pissed today....

I have to be honest. I have not really been in the mood to write much. The Fall semester started so I have been kind of focusing on that. My PhyEd instructor is very nice and helpful. She is understanding of my situation and seems to truly want to help. That makes me feel good about that class.

Once again I have been disappointed by people. For the record, people suck. Strike that, I hate people. For every nice, honest, person I meet I seem to encounter 50 shit-for-brains. Why you might ask? I don't really feel like talking about it. Suffice it to say it got me to thinking.

What do you know about the ancient Roman Empire? Not the popular stuff but how the society was organized, the social and class structure, and all that stuff. Do some research. You might find yourself surprised to find out that our country, the USA in case there are non-American readers out there, is a lot like the old Roman state.

I do not want to go into a lot of detail, mainly because I just don't feel up to it, but take a close look at how the classes were broken down. The upper class consisted of the imperial family (ruler), the politicians, and the equestrians (the guys that ran the economy and had all the money). The lower class was everyone else. They used clothing as a definition of status, within all classes, and the ability to move from the lower to the upper class, while possible, was difficult at best and rarely happened.

I will leave it up to each of you to research the information for yourselves. The point I am trying to make is that this country is following the old Roman system so closely it is beyond scary. We know what happened to them. I guess we are going to allow this to happen to us.

All the bickering, name calling, heavy handedness, and what ever is fucking stupid and counter productive. When ever I turn on the news all I hear about is how the Democrats are pushing for Health Care Reform no matter what; the Republicans are against it because of a myriad of real and/or imagined reasons; the public that is speaking out are being called worthless and extremists, and so on. I am just sick and tired of it all.

I have gotten to the point that I hope the entire fucking thing melts down. I will pick up my shit and move to Ireland or Australia. Until this happens, I have a few words of wisdom to pass along.

To the politicians:
Sit down and shut up. Listen to what the people are saying. Address our concerns. The Republicans are spreading fear because they can. The Democrats are spreading lies because they can. All of you need to get a grip on reality, sit down with regular Americans, and figure out exactly what the problem really is. Obama says it's the Health Care system now so Pelosi, and her band of miscreants, tow the line and have said they will do whatever it takes to get his agenda passed. The Republicans are trying to stop it because it wasn't their idea and as such has no merit. Do we need Health Care/Insurance reform? You're god damned right we do, but not the way you want to do it. All you politicians are going to do is make a bad system worse.

To the people:
Sit down and shut up. Just because the person next to you doesn't hold the same opinion doesn't mean they are wrong, or a nazi, or a socialist, or whatever the fuck you want to call them tomorrow. On the other side of that coin, just because a person doesn't agree with the party in power at the moment doesn't mean they should be denied a voice. The backbone of this Republic is spelled out, primarily, in the Bill of Rights. In case you haven't read it, I would strongly suggest you do so. Until then you are merely a part of the problem and not the solution. Instead of yelling at someone about how bad the proposed system is then come up with an idea on how to improve it. As for the rest of you, just because a political party says it's the right thing, don't believe it. Do your own research before making a decision. Stop being a sheeple in the herd and stand on your own.

To the media:
Ok, just shut the fuck up. All of you are perpetuating lies, myth, and innuendo. Rarely do you present the entire story and thus no facts on which to base a reliable opinion. The liberal media shows Obama and the Democrats as near gods while the conservative media paints them as demons. You can see the same story on two different stations and you get two different themes. People like Maddow, Olbermann, Beck, Riley, and pretty much the rest of you are not doing anything to help. You continue to fan the flames of stupidity to help yourselves. Here is a novel concept for you all. Present HR3200 in a forum for discussion. Put together a panel consisting of politicians that are for and against it, industry experts from both viewpoints, and average Americans. Lets have an honest discussion about this bill. Lets get all the information out there for everyone to see.

The problem is, none of this will happen. No one uses common sense any more. We have crippled ourselves and we don't really give a shit. It's all circling the drain folks, and everyone of us pulled the handle.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Forgotten topic :(

Poop. I just can't seem to think of anything worth writing about. I have a lot of ideas but most of them will end up being lengthy posts that no one will really want to spend the time on. I don't blame them.

Well, school started back last Friday. I had gotten used to small numbers of people on campus. I had also not bothered to equate Summer semester with this. Friday morning came and the campus was packed! There were people every frickin where. I am glad my classes are at 8am and 6pm. This means that I get to avoid the majority of these people.

This morning was even worse. I guess a lot of classes didn't start until today. I won't say it was bedlam but it reminded me a lot of walking through downtown Indianapolis before a Colts game. Cars, people walking, people on bikes..... yeesh. I still feel fortunate to be able to return to school and get the education I should have gotten 20 years ago. The only thing is I hate crowds.

So my 8am (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) is PhyEd. Fitness I to be specific. I am looking forward to when we get in the gym. I spoke to my instructor this morning after class about my issues. We are going to meet Wednesday, after class, to talk it over and perhaps set up some ideas. We are scheduled to do nothing but classroom stuff until the first week in September. I told her I wanted to get a jump on that considering everything. She was supportive of that. I will fill you folks in later in the week on that.

I had homework over the weekend on my computer class (Networking for Home and Small Businesses - Cisco). We don't meet until tomorrow night, for the first time. The instructor sent an email about what he expected. Good thing I thought to check it. Easy stuff, but I got it done and don't have to worry about it. I also downloaded, and installed, the lab software. In addition i grabbed all the labs and did the first one. It took me a few minutes to get the hang of it but it worked ok. I am going to set up my home network on it and play around. It should prove educational (irony?).

On the MS front. I have had a headache for a few days now. My hand/eye coordination is a little off on the right side and I am fumbling though my sentences a bit. I recognize this. It is exactly how my major episode started that ended with me in the hospital and my diagnosis in January. I hope that it is just stress about the new semester starting. I have not gotten any of the other symptoms yet. If i do I will need to call my neuro but I have my fingers crossed. The last few Copaxone injections have been uneventful. Nearly pleasant as a matter of fact. Well, as pleasant as an injection can be.

I do know I need to make an appointment to get my eyes checked out. I just need to find the money for that. I may have to call my insurance company to get some details on what my plan covers and pays for. I know I don't want contacts. The thought I touching my eyes just kind of freaks me out. Squeamish much? I didn't used to be.

So that's all I have for today. I wanted to comment on something controversial but I am just so tired of all the crap. Maybe next time.

Later taters!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled internet.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Edumacation is fun (and dangerous)

Today we are going to perform a real world analysis of Newton's First Law. Bear with me, it is worth it.

Quite a lot of the stuff we did, in my youth, had great potential for massive bodily harm and/or death. It usually involved alcohol and/or medicinal herbage but not always. It kind of provides the reasoning behind the Jeff Foxworthy joke that starts off with; "Hey ya'll! Watch this!"

No good has ever come out of those words. I have a great many scars on my body. I can account for about 80% of them. Most of the rest can only be narrowed down to a time frame. There are a few I have absolutely no clue about. Assumptions have been made, fuzzy thoughts dwelled on, and in the end I just learned to accept that there are great chunks of my teen years that I will never recall. Probably for the best actually.

We, my compatriots and I, were always up for some sort of neighborhood infamy. We built a ramp at the end of the driveway one hot summer day. Not just an average ramp mind you. It was frickin' huge. We were trying to clear my mom's bushes she had planted at the end of the driveway. They stood about 6' tall. The ramp, at it's highest point, stood about 4' tall. That's big. There were about 8 or 10 of us trying to decide who should be the first victim, err, person to make the jump. We were busy nominating each other when my older brother, Richard, took it upon himself. None of us tried to stop him.

Climbing on my 3-speed bike he headed up to the end of the driveway and down the road. He was bound and determined to reach light speed. He did, but not like you would think.

We all stood out of the way. Many of us knew that something bad was likely going to happen and we certainly did not want to get mixed up in it if at all possible. Well, any more than we already were at this point. Pat stood at the corner of the house and warned us when Richard was incoming. We all took a deep breath as he came screaming into view. The bike was in third gear, Richards legs were pumping like steam hammers, and he was hunkered down over the handlebars to reduce drag. It took what seemed like only a second from him to travel the roughly 40' from the house to the base of the ramp. He was nearing the speed of sound when he hit the ramp.

And by hit, I mean the crunchy kind, not the Evel Knievel kind. Well actually now that I think about it....

KEEEEEEEEERUUUUUNCH!!!!!!

The front tire of the bike ran right between two of the boards and started digging into the underlying dirt. At the same instant the bike began to decelerate to subsonic speed. In another half second the front tire began collapsing under the strain and the front forks, yielding to the tremendous forces of gravity, speed, and the obligatory immovable object, quickly bent backwards pulling the bike further into the death wall. The bike stopped.

This is where our lesson for today comes in.

Newton's First Law states simply an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. Now all things being equal if you toss a baseball, it will continue to fly through the air until the effects of gravity and the atmosphere act upon it to pull it to the ground. The harder you throw it, the further it will travel. This information comes into direct play at this point.

Now, the event in question started with two objects in motion. The bike being object number one and my brother, Richard, as object number two. We have established, using Newton's First Law, that object number one was affected by an unbalanced force, the ramp. But what of object number two?

Well again I refer you to Newton's First Law. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. So, given the fact that Richard was traveling at near the speed of sound, in a stance on the bike to promote air flow, there are several, very safe, assumptions one can make. The first is that despite the act of an unbalanced force (the ramp) on object number one, it had, for all intents and purposes, no effect whatsoever on object number two. Since the unbalanced force had no effect on object number two, the object will, in keeping with Newton's First Law, continue it's motion at it's same speed and direction (forward with respect to the initial direction of travel).

A body moving at that rate of speed is simply begging for hurt. And he got his fair share.

Object two, screaming quite loudly, cleared the ramp. With no apparent reduction in speed, object number two then impacted the bushes at the end of the driveway at about 4.5' from ground level. The rather poor simulation of superman resulted in a rather spectacular explosion of leaves and limbs, and more screaming. Now that object two had slowed down considerably gravity took over and pulled him to the ground, very quickly. The initial impact was loud. The unmistakable thud of the human body on hard ground is something I, for one, will never forget. The haphazard way he rolled to a stop showed a potential for a large number of injuries.

The quiet that descended over the scene was quite noticeable. We stood frozen wondering if he was dead. I would like to say it was abject fear but I would be lying. Then the silence was broken. Not by cries of agony, or worry, or concern. Rather by the sound of unbridled laughter. Many of us fell to the ground while the guffaws took us over from head to toe. In mere moments our dust covered faces were streaked with tears of hilarity while my brother lay, unmoving, in the hot Georgia sun.

Finally, Richard began to move. He slowly sat up, face contorted in pain, and manged to summon the strength to glare at us all. Some of our group of blue meanies finally went to check on him. As he caught his breath, he slowly got to his feet and checked himself for serious injuries. Finding only scrapes, scratches, and some bruises he managed to offer us, collectively, a scowl of contempt as he went to check on the bike.

The impact of the bike did manage to move a large portion of the ramp about a half inch. Other than the crater made by said impact, it held up pretty good. The same can not be said for the bike. The front wheel was totally crushed, the front forks bent back past the frame that runs between the handle bars and pedals, the handle bars bent in several places, one pedal snapped off, and lastly the frame cracked in several places. We simply salvaged what parts we could from the wreckage and discarded the rest.

Richard fared far better. As I mentioned before just some serious scratches, scrapes and bruises. He was sore for about a week after that and, to the best of my knowledge, he did not volunteer for anything else like that again.

There are many events from my youth like this one. Some of them actually involve me as the guinea pig. Most of them not nearly as educational as this one. Not that lessons in morality or moronity (I made that word up) aren't educational. In fact, many people on the internet could use some real lessons in these two things.

If you doubt the voracity of this statement then I will only point you towards our friend, and resident lab rat, Bert. We have proven that you can not jump off a roof, with a plastic garbage bag as a parachute, and not expect large quantities of pain.

So there you have it folks. Another example of bored teenagers creating havoc on their own terms. Many of you might very well be wondering about parental involvement. We had it and there was, more often than not, some form of fatherly/motherly retribution for many of the things we did. Well, what we go busted for.

I think we need to cover the finer points of a dirt clod war and the unconscious ass wipe. Pat's finest work ever in my humble opinion.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled internet.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Can I be arrested for this?

So sorry for the continuing delay in postings. A number of things have conspired to keep me from writing. I could push it off on the MS but I won't. I could also say that I was not feeling too well. Actually, there is some truth in that but I had the strength to check my emails as well as log into World of Warcraft in order to unleash wanton destruction upon small furry, defenseless, critters.

Why?

If you know anything about the game you know why. If you don't... Well lets just say I could fill pages with how much fun it is to roam aimlessly through the game world obliterating things at random. To leave a trail of hurt and pain on a field of unsuspecting cows, the total annihilation of a Murloc encampment, or the random slaughter of squirrels and bunnies.

Pardon me for a moment. I am going to log in my Hunter and open a can of whoop ass on the Murlocs outside of Menethil Harbor. Talk amongst yourselves for a bit.

Ok, back. I feel better. Did i miss anything while I was gone?

Ok, so I have been exchanging blog time for game time. meh. I am back to blog. About what? Well, how about fireworks. Everyone is familiar with fireworks. It should come as no surprise that in my youth we played with fireworks.... a lot... and not in any matter that could even be remotely considered safe. In fact, we could have made a dozen or so safety videos on what not to do with fireworks.

(Editors note: The writer in no way condones the way in which items talked about in this post were used. In fact, he highly recommends that people do not attempt to repeat anything described below. If you do, you do so at your own peril and the writer can not be held responsible in any way.)

We played with a little bit of everything. Firecrackers, M80's, smoke bombs, bottle rockets, roman candles, and you get the idea. We are going to focus on bottle rockets. They were cheap and offered us more bang for our buck (Pun intended). Now we enjoyed making fruit and vegetable bombs using firecrackers and m80's (there were a few manure bombs but we can discuss that much later) but the costs were just more than we were willing to bear.

Most of the time. :)

So bottle rockets became the explosive of choice. We could pick up several thousand for next to nothing. And we often did.

Wars were fought. The battlefield always shifting around the neighborhood we grew up in. Many times it was fought in my backyard. Mortars were manufactured from coffee cans, pop bottles, and mason jars. Bazookas appeared in the form of short pieces of metal and pvc pipe (We preferred the pvc because it was much lighter). Hand held launches were not uncommon but we tried to avoid those because a fast fuse could, and sometimes did, result in a painful explosion.

(Note: On more than one occasion someone would injure themselves in an attempt to launch a bottle rocket from their hand. No hospitals were ever visited. Mainly due to the fact the fear of parental retribution was just too high.)

Areas were designated, artillery storage acquired, and teams chosen. The battle would start with each team staring at one another across 150 feet, or so, of open ground. No one wanted to be the first to fire but someone always did. The opening volley was impressive.

Bottle rockets would begin streaking back and forth, long streamers of fire and smoke. People dodging incoming missiles, all the while trying to return fire in an effective manner. Warnings were shouted, punctuated by small explosions and bits of debris raining down. People would be crouched over a launcher, trying to launch a counter attack, only to find themselves diving out of the way of an incoming projectile. Cursing and laughter flowed like wine at a Roman orgy. Attempts to aim were made, but usually providing no more benefit than just a random launch. Then it happened. The mother of all shots.

Our artillery storage was a garbage can, with a lid. Our opponents, that day, chose an open box. My partner, David, and I had given up trying to hit the enemy and opted for a denial strategy. If we could take out their cache of bottle rockets then we would win by default. Our feeble attempts at aiming did not produce any definitive results so we opted for alterations to our ammunition. We proceeded to reduce the length of the guidance stick on the fireworks prior to launch. There was a fine line between accuracy and total chaos on launch.

It took us about 20 shots to dial in the optimum break point. All the while the enemy was launching a most spectacular assault. Many times one of us would run by a launcher, loading it as we went, while the other followed behind with a lighter or lit cigarette. There were several close calls. A few times I could hear the whoosh of a rocket passing close by, quickly followed by the BANG of the detonation. David threw himself out of the way of more than one shot from his brother. They were trying to suppress us with sheer numbers. It was beginning to work. But we had had enough.

Setting up a 3 foot length of pvc pipe I managed to get off a few clean shots. They landed close to their, lidless, storage box. The plan was set. We loaded a couple of our mortars with about two dozen rockets. Using our lighters we lit as many of the fuses as we could, assuming the liftoff off the lit rockets would ignite the fuses of the rest, before retreating to our pvc emplacement. After a moment, the bombardment began. In less than 30 seconds a large barrage of bottle rockets were streaking downrange providing us the precious few moments we needed to strike.

As predicted, they scrambled for cover, leaving their ammo unattended. I lined up the shot and David lit the fuse. By now, David's brother had returned to his firing spot..... about two feet to our right of their box of bottle rockets. The fuse hissed angrily as it ignited the powder and sent our telegram of hate swiftly towards the enemy position. We could not have asked for a better shot. The rocket screamed in anticipation of it's impact. Randy only stood there as the world went into slow motion.

With only a smoke trail for us to track we watched as Randy simply turned his head to follow the incoming missile. Direct hit! The bottle rocket landed in their open box, of somewhere around 1000, bottle rockets. Randy looked up at his partner, my brother Pat. They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity, there was a small pop, then they dove away from the box of explosives like they had been yanked by a giant invisible hand. About a millisecond later the box erupted in smoke and fire.

David and I dove for cover behind a nearby tree as their bottle rockets began launching themselves in every direction imaginable. Smoke trails spewed forth like deadly tendrils of pain, seeking flesh to mingle with. Explosions began almost immediately. Pat and Randy both were moving away from the conflagration like their asses were on fire. Truth be known that was not far from being true. The din of the whistling rockets and explosions happening seemingly everywhere on the field was overwhelming.

Smoke began to settle over the battle field, the explosions becoming fewer. It was during this period that time seemed to return to its normal speed. The haze was thick and burned our eyes at it washed past us. After about 5 minutes it became quiet. Smoke laying over everything like a blanket. A voice was heard from somewhere nearby. "Son of a bitch!"

That battle was over. For now.

The next installment of this war was fought at night. While this was fun for us people in the neighborhood seemed a skosh put off by our battle. The fact that it took place at about 2am was not a deciding factor. Ok, maybe it was. But I will post about the battle for control of the not-as-abandoned-as-we-thought trailer next time.

I hope you found this story enjoyable. I so much like writing about things like this than how pissy I tend to get because of my diagnosis.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled internet.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New forums

I have created a forum for people to talk about MS and other chronic diseases. I hope to build a community where people can share, learn, support, and help sufferers, caretakers, and people who just want to know more.

It is small right now. I am hoping that with enough support we can make it a place that will be a go to place on the issues we live with every day. I will also gladly add new forums based on what the users want to see.

The forums are located here. Stop by, take a look and lets make it a community together.

I will be back by the end of the weekend with a new post.

Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gourds: Fact or fiction

*** WARNING: This post is insanely long. It rambles on in a few points and then grinds to a complete halt. Sorry. ***

Ok, here we go. Today's topic, if it can even be considered that, is on gourds. Perhaps a little history on the gourd. Please be aware that I am looking at Wikipedia and one other website for my information. Or in layman terms; If it ain't right, it ain't my fault!

So what is a gourd? I think we all know what a gourd is but I mean really, what the hell is it? We can take two different tacks on this. If we refer to Mr. Webster (He is such the know-it-all) then the primary definition is as follows:

Any of a family (Cucurbitaceae, the gourd family) of chiefly herbaceous tendril-bearing vines including the cucumber, melon, squash, and pumpkin

So a gourd is any one of a wide variety of edible plants. Many, if not all, of us have taken part in the mutilation of a pumpkin (Come on now, you know you loved it), the dissection of a melon, the drowning of a cucumber (Pickles Rock!), or the ummm... - dammit I am out of good verbs - consumption of a tasty squash casserole. No matter how many times I rewrite that last sentence I always fail when I get to the squash. Probably because it is not one of my favorite foods. Ah well, we can't win them all.

{Editors Note: The writer of this blog has an affinity (obsession really) with all things Halloween. It tends to spill over into other areas of his life (making court appointments tricky under the best of circumstances). The writer is not a violent person (unless you consider the way he attacked that bucket of KFC the other day) and does not condone or endorse violence in any way (except for the aforementioned bucket of fried chicken and the occasional Mississippi Mud Pie)}

But is that the only type of gourd out there? Of course not or this post would be done already. So moving on....

But Mike? - you might be saying - I thought a gourd was that dried out thing most commonly used as a bird house but also, historically speaking, used as a container, cup, ladle or any one of a thousand household items before the advent of pottery?

To which I could only reply; You are quite correct on that point, but it is not quite so simple. You see way back in the day (and by way back I mean a long time ago... and by a long time ago I mean some time before the internet, but after the time when T-Rex had a hard time brushing his teeth) the gourd was more of a tool and utility item.

Before we go on too much further I should ask Mr. Webster for the second part of his definition. Luckily he is quite compliant in this regard. He said:

Any of various hard-rinded inedible fruits of plants of two genera (Lagenaria and Cucurbita) often used for ornament or for vessels and utensils

Wow Mike! You seem to know a lot of stuff. What else can you tell me about gourds? - you would say -

You see mankind has always had stuff. Not stuff like we have today. I mean come on, if cavemen had ipods, would we have ever made it to the bronze age? I think not. Most likely because he would have been jamming out to Led Zeppelin or Judas Priest and never saw the saber-tooth tiger coming.

Unless he was listening to Britney Spears in which case, he deserves to be eaten.

So mankind had stuff. Food, water, and usually a healthy collection of bones, teeth, and assorted rocks. Now given the fact that pockets didn't really make an appearance until a wee bit later he had to have a way to carry all this stuff around. Enter, the Gourd. Now I have no clue how this came about but if i were a betting man I would think that early man stumbled into a patch and accidentally stepped on one that was dried out already. In fact he probably thought it was good for protecting his feet, at least until he tried to walk and the gourd fell to pieces (Early man was not noted for his overall intelligence. And before you ladies laugh neither were the women. How bright can you be to let a man move you into a cave full of dirt, bugs, rodents, and no air conditioning?)

Caveman 1: Ugh, Gortil mirguchuk.
Caveman 2: Huh?
Caveman 1: Sorry, was kinda surprised for a sec. So anyway, look what I stepped in.
Caveman 2: Wow. It covers your foot really well. Perhaps it will provide adequate protection while you move around.
Caveman 1: That sounds like a fine idea. Let me try it out.

After a few steps;

Caveman 1. Hmmm, it didn't work so well.
Cavemen 2: Well look at this over here. There are some seeds in this one. Perhaps we can use it for carrying stuff around?
Caveman 1: That is a damned fine idea. Carrying all these bones in my shorts is quite painful.


Ok, we know it did not happen quite like that. Cavemen didn't speak proper English. So it started way back when. In fact there is archeological evidence showing that early man used the inedible gourd for a variety of things including prostheses for wounds/surgery on the head. Of course that last comment begs the question, what did they use before settling on the gourd? I'll let you mull that one over in private. My ideas might be considered disgusting, crude, or downright icky (Dried bat wings!).

So gourds became a useful tool that would not soon go away. Even the discovery of pottery did not diminish the need for the gourd. Pottery was expensive and reserved for the well-to-do. As a result, the less-than-well-to-do continued to use gourds. I really can't begin to guess when they (gourds) moved from utilitarian to decorative. Given that pottery evolved during different time periods in different regions of the world (The oldest is from China dating back about 18,000 years) it is hard to say. Also, since I have done so little research on the matter I would not feel at all comfortable in throwing out something I totally made up (Editors Note: See the Caveman conversation a little earlier in this post).

I know as a kid growing up in the south it was not at all uncommon to see gourd trees. This was a large pole, stuck in the ground, with anywhere from two to as many as six cross poles at the top. On each of the cross poles were a number of gourds used as bird houses. You would always see a lot of birds in and around these 'trees'. It was interesting to watch the cats parked at the bottom staring intently skyward. Which then became interesting to some of the dogs in the area. The food chain in action. National Geographic could have run an entire season of shows on it.

Gourds also filled another need. You see, the south is awash with one particular animal... especially in the summertime. That would be the bored teenager. Now I am not at all familiar with how things work in the "big city" but here in the country we had to create things to do. Shooting fireworks at one another (Good sir. Bottle rockets at 10 paces!), building ramps to jump our bikes (not motorcycles) over the ditch (Note: The ditch should be defined. This ditch was around 8'-10' deep, 15' across and generally filled with large rocks, broken glass, and usually a healthy population of snakes), fishing, and shooting things.

(Looky, another editors note: They did not shoot any living animals, not for lack of trying but moving targets (Deer, Quail and the like people. Not non-food critters) were just to much trouble so they settled on things that could not get out of the way.)

We will cover the shooting of things. It did not matter to us. Fruits and vegetables worked best because there was an immediate, visceral representation of a hit (It might be noted a friend came into possession of a large quantity of Smurf dolls. They 'sploded real good). Gourds could be found all over the place so they were of high value. When the season was right watermelons worked well to. We also used fruits and vegetables as bombing targets. If you carved out the right size hole and inserted an M80 you were in for a real treat. Unless you were too close. then you were rather disappointed in the result. Carrots (Black Cat Firecrackers due to size constraints) hurt by the way. Little bits of orange shrapnel. MEDIC!

Ok, I seem to have gotten off topic. I hope no one minded too much because once I got into this I realized that gourds just aren't that funny. A little on the lame side to be honest. I mean they look funny but it would be like writing about how funny a brick is. Yea, loads of laughter there. And since I said I would write about gourds I felt like I had to do something.

GOURD!

The name looks funny.

GOURD!

The name even sounds funny.

I guess I was wrong on this. Such a long post for so very little payoff. I hope you are not too terribly disappointed. Well then I will ask you, what do you think I should write about next? It could be something from this post, from a previous post, or just something you want to see me struggle my way through. It can be completely serious or totally crazy. Leave a comment, send an email, or hire a skywriter (I would suggest strongly that you avoid that last option simply because of the expense involved AND because you don't know where I live). Or just ignore this post, leave no comment and leave me to fend for myself for a new topic.

I have tons of stories from my childhood and teenage years (Sadly the statute of limitations may not be up on many of them so I will have to be picky there) that I think would make great reading. I will have to change the names to protect the guilty but you would not know anyway. So let me know. I will post a response to the next topic by Friday evening in a new space to the side of this titled Upcoming Topics.

Ok, my 3rd latte just ran out, the coffee shop personnel are giving me strange looks, and the sky is turning black like a huge storm is about to break loose. Yay, lightning.

So I am off for now. Thanks for stopping by and reading this far (or skipping to the bottom here) and have a good day!

Later taters!

(Last editors note, we swear: This blog post was supposed to go somewhere else entirely. Due to the wandering nature of the writers brain the topic didn't flow as well as he would have liked. We will be taking him for some Electro-Shock Therapy in order to prevent this type of mishap again. We apologize profusely.)

(Writers note: The editor was mistaken with his last entry. He can not force me to submit to Electro-Shock Therapy. I will, however, send the editor out for a fatal beating. this should keep him in line for future posts.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Thanks!

I just wanted to say thank you to two very wonderful people.

Have Myelin? for the Golden Heart award. I am glad that I can make you smile, laugh, and feel the warmth of friendship.

for the Outstanding Bloggery Award. She has been most kind to me and never fails to keep me thinking.

Both ladies have been, and continue to be, a source of support for myself and many others. If you have never been to their blogs you are missing out. No really, I mean it.

A big thanks to both of you!

I have been having a bad couple of days. Between reading blogs I have been spending a lot of time sleeping. I have also been dealing with one hell of a headache and the ibuprofen just isn't cutting it. I finally broke down and took two of the 800mg pills I have. So now instead of my head feeling like a tournament ping pong ball it is down to a Michael Jordan basketball. That's good actually.

I have been mulling over a few ideas for a new blog post. My nephew has provided me with a few good ideas and I might well run with a few of them. If it matters we both agreed that gourds would make a good topic. That should be a good read. A few other things? Television and movies, MMO's, and possibly something on scaring easy (cause he does).

Ok, I need to try to get some sleep. I have a big day tomorrow. I should be back with a new post in a few days.

Later taters!!