Monday, July 30, 2007

Some Astronauts Take To The Bottle

News stories last week and over the weekend have had endless pieces about American astronauts and some of whom might have had or have a drinking problem. Of course this is my kind of story which requires that I wade in and give my two cents worth.

To date there have been over 350 astronauts in our space program flying everything from the old Mercury to the current shuttle. One would expect out of that many flyboys and flygirls there is bound to be one or two or more who like to belly up to the bar. What are the odds?

I have an intriguing question -- what does it feel like to be both drunk and weightless? Being a product of the 60's and young and sometimes wild, I can appreciate one of those feelings but not both -- that's got to be a real space trip. Sorry Wallie, but one has to be truthful.

How about crazy astronauts? We suspect that we had one -- the less than stable Captain Depends. There have been later reports saying that she did not wear a diaper for that long trip from Texas to Florida. Be that as it may, she appeared to be on the irrational side, we would have to agree. She just may have had or should have had a little nip out of the bottle to bolster her courage for the journey.

Do you suppose the Russian cosmonauts, manning the International Space Station for months at a time, keep a little stash of vodka behind one of the control panels? There cannot possibly be enough to keep them busy 24-7-365, so they've got to have a little partytime.

In looking back over our space adventures, had I been the one, rather than Neil Armstrong, who made that first step onto the moon surface, I might have needed a little bit of alcoholic beverage to steady my nerves to make that "giant leap for mankind." And another question -- do those spacesuits have little pockets for flasks? Or maybe they have to be creative like Bulldog fans sneaking booze into Scott Field.

As space technology has advanced, I think the time has come to put up an orbiting "First Chance - Last Chance" saloon where the shuttles could stop on the way out and again on the way back just so the astronauts could cool their heels and have a few to relieve some of the tension that they all must experience. Perhaps it would be cheaper to add a wing to the ISS and let the Russians be the bartenders.

You might typically hear this at the space watering hole, "Hey Ivan, give me two more vodka and tonic -- one for here, and one in a go cup."

Friday, July 27, 2007

August 16, 1977 -- Do You Remember?

To most of the readers of this blog August 16, 1977, probably has little or no significance unless you happen to really be into music. But to many fans around the world this is the 30th anniversary of an emotion-ridden event.

I will give you a little hint -- Tupelo, Mississippi, is already gearing up for a remembrance celebration for fans who will be there from everywhere, and Memphis will be the site of observances as well.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo Newspaper) is urging people to write in 350 words or less their remembrances of this fateful day. I am old enough to remember (the subject of this post would have been only a few years older than I), but I don't really have a lot of memories of that day because I was not a fan of this person even though I did appreciate the talent.

By now you have guessed that Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977. I am telling or reminding you of this so that you may appropriately commemorate the date.

Of course the King's fans from everywhere will come to Tupelo because of it being his birthplace.
The date of his birth was January 8, 1935 -- do the math for his age if he had lived. Would he still be entertaining? Would he have lost any weight -- he was getting a little puffy toward the end. Would he have approved of one of Lisa Marie's marriages? These and other questions we will just have to ponder.

A funny story (or maybe you would have to have been there) -- years ago I was attending a sales meeting in Memphis at what was then the airport Hilton (now the Holiday Inn Express -- like the commercial). Anyway the hotel was filled with Elvis fans, and most of the males were Elvis wantabees. Imagine what it was like to be in a huge crowd of Elvis look-a-likes -- the term look-a-likes should be used loosely -- some of them got close to the look, but some of them were absolutely pitiful. Even though the sales meeting was very stressful, we were able to get some laughs.

I also remember seeing Elvis' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. The camera would not show him below the waist because the censors thought his wiggle was vulgar. Vulgar has taken on a whole new meaning now.

I'm bringing this to your attention at this early date, so that you may plan to celebrate the occasion. You've got about 20 days to find a costume, borrow a guitar and practice your wiggle. Is 20 days enough time to grow sideburns?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Now I've Heard It All

Those of you who follow this blog know that I have written about cats before -- QT, Snape and Floyd, but Oscar is a very special cat whose story needs to be told.

Oscar is a two-year-old feline who lives in the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The only thing special about him is that he has an uncanny ability to predict when a patient will die.

It was reported that Oscar is really not a people-person -- he doesn't lie around all day just waiting for someone to pet him, but he climbs up by the patient as death approaches.

Oscar grew up on the third floor of the nursing facility where patients with Alzheimers and Parkinson's diseases are housed. He makes his rounds much as the doctors and nurses do, but get ready to notify the next of kin if he curls up next to a patient -- that patient will usually die within four hours.

In fact, to date he has been observed in 25 cases, and his accuracy is phenominal -- so much so that the staff uses Oscar as a barometer for notifying the patient's family of impending death.

The story goes that most of the family members are grateful, and they appreciate the companionship that Oscar provides to their loved ones in his or her last hours. And most do not mind his presence in the room, however, one family member wanted him out of the room while the patient was dying, and Oscar paced outside the door and meowed his displeasure.

"Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there," said Dr. Joan Teno, Brown University staff member who treats the nursing home patients and specializes in care for the terminally ill.

According to the doctors at the center most of the people to whom Oscar pays a last visit are not, because of their advanced illness, aware that he is the angel of death. They said most, but what about those few patients who are lucid and see Oscar making his way into their rooms? Imagine how they must feel when told by a cat that their hours on this earth are numbered.

Dr. Teno became convinced of Oscar's grim reaper abilities when she made the visit to patient number 13 in his list of successes. Teno thought the patient was near death because of the telltale signs, but Oscar would not stay in the room. As it turned out Teno's prediction was 10 hours too early, and Oscar came back to curl up with the patient for the final two hours of life.

No one has been able to figure out how Oscar knows when one's time has come, but he is definitely a special cat with a very special ability. It is such a strange, strange world.

Oscar was recently awarded a wall plaque commending his "compassionate hospice care."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Watch For Giant Squid

A report out of California warns commercial fishermen, who make their livings casting nets off the Pacific coast, that giant squid(s) (is it both singular and plural?) are invading the area and gobbling up a lot of our seafood supply.

These things can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh as much as 110 pounds. I smell a new adventure monster movie, "The Attack of the Giant Squid."

Probably Steven Spielberg has graduated from these types of movies since his epic, "Jaws" (1975). I'm not sure if he were involved in any of the several sequels. But we always have Toho Studios in Japan who gave us such memorable classics as, "Edirah" (1966 film about giant deep sea shrimp), "Gamine" (1970 thriller starring an alien-possessed crab), "Gezora" (1970 movie sticking with the alien-possessed theme but substituting a cuttlefish) and "Titanosarus" (1970 feature about an underwater dinosaur). There are, of course, many other movies of the monster genre, but these are a few of the more notable about specifically sea monsters. What? You haven't seen any of these? Shame on you!

As an aside, my only problem with these movies -- but on second thought it might have made them much more enjoyable -- was Toho Studios inability to synchronize Japanese mouth movement with dubbed in English. Surely that problem can be solved.

Anyway, the Dosidicus gigas (for you science buffs) or Humbolt squid is a very agressive predator which has the ability to change its eating habits dictated by supply. It is now consuming food favored by the shark and tuna -- two species that are part of this newly acquired diet are anchovies and hake. I don't care for anchovies on my pizza or in my Caesar salad, so their scarcity poses no problem for me, however, if I am not mistaken, the hake could be a relative of the whitefish or haddock, and its dwindling population might effect Captain D's and Long John Silver's -- let us pray for this not to happen.

In writing this post I have come up with an idea for a Japanese film starring the Dosidicus gigas -- the giant squid makes its/their way through the Panama Canal and into the Carribbean headed toward New Orleans and the mouth of the "Father of Waters." It/they adapt to fresh water (that's going to be a stretch for Mississippi River water) and add catfish to the diet. The South would be devastated -- it would be worse than the surrender of the Confederacy at Appamattox and the ensueing Reconstruction. A true Southerner cannot survive for long without fried catfish.

To make matters worse the giant squid could also go up the Warrior River in Alabama and into the Tenn-Tom. Columbus, Aberdeen and Fulton could be shown as positions where angry fishermen rally and attack the creatures as they climb over the locks and dams of the Tombigbee. At some point I suppose tactical nuclear weapons or some sort of laser would be used to finally stop the advance. Can you feel the excitement?

If we can get this potential Oscar-winner to the wide screen, I'm sure there will be co-starring roles, bit parts and cameos for the Southern citizenry, so brush up on your acting skills and take classes if necessary (as if good acting is necessary in a Japanese flick). It could prove to be a real opportunity.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Couple of Snippets of News

Bikini-Clad Mowers

I'm sure you have heard by now about the new lawn service in Memphis -- girls mowing yards in their bikinis. Fox News has reported the story the last couple of days and interviewed the creative owner of the service.

I don't think that he has broadened his scope of business yet into Olive Branch, but I am sure there is a demand.

One of my next door neighbors told me when we moved into our house that his lawn would never look as good as mine because he had rather drink beer than to mow. So far he has held pretty much to his word. He would be a prime candidate for this service, and I could get my lawn chair and watch and not have to pay the $65 to $85 the service owner is charging.

I had considered asking Melinda to mow our lawn in a bikini, but then I realized she doesn't even mow fully clothed, so that idea is shot to hell. And I'm sure that we have a neighborhood covenant against that sort of thing anyway.

Dawgs in Spotlight

As you know State will open its season on ESPN Thursday night, August 30 against the fighting Tigers of LSU. But in conjunction with that appearance before a national television audience the Dawgs will also be a prime focus of college night previews on the network on Wednesday night.

Chris Fowler, who will call Thursday night's game, will also be the Starkville set anchor for the Wednesday night affair. The broadcast will include a five-minute interview with Sylvester.

According to ESPN the college preview is a four-hour show with the anchors in Bristol, CT, periodically going to Fowler and the Starkville set for updates and Dawg news.

Should be good publicity for our beloved Bulldogs, but of prime importance is to beat the Cajun Coon-Asses from Baton Rouge.

I wonder if Larry Templeton has considered engaging the Memphis bikini crew to mow Scott Field right before kickoff. Sounds like a great idea to me.

Go Dawgs!!!!!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Soon "I LOVE MATILDA" Tattoo May Not Be Permanent

Some of my multitude (?) of readers may have tattoos, and that is their business and none of mine. But this blog is educational (?) and informative (?), and I report whatever seems to interest me.

A new tattoo dye will find its way into some tattoo parlors this fall which will be much more easily removed than the type of dye currently used. This dye has something to do with trapping dye pigments in microscopic beads coated with a safe, biodegradable plactic. I'll have to take the developer's word, Edith Mathiowitz, professor of medical science and engineering at Brown University, that this sort of thing is going to work. Understanding most chemical reactions in or on the body is a little out of my league.

For those who have the urge to get a tattoo that expresses their eternal love in a relationship and yet they feel that someday they may have regrets (three cheers for committment) they can opt for a tattoo that really doesn't have to be permanent -- makes for a great exit strategy for a partnership that goes south.

Apparently the removal process allows for the tattoo to be zapped away with a single laser treatment that is simpler and less expensive than the barrage of seven to fifteen treatments needed with the current dye. Sometimes it does require some time for the image to completely fade away. There is still a fairly steep cost for this process but not as much as the numerous treatments now required.

The report says that while the idea of a removable tattoo may be intriguing to some, those artists in the industry are somewhat skeptical, especially since the new dye is considerably more expensive. Jerry Lorito, vice president of the tattoo removal company, Tat2BeGone, says"I don't know anyone who would pay more for a tattoo where their thought is, 'Maybe one day I'm going to remove this.'"

According to a study reported in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatologists 36% of Americans between the ages of 18 to 29 get tattoos.

That statistic is not hard for me to believe. My favorite place to study the human race (?) is WalMart. Those of us who are really interested in the study of people owe a debt of gratitude to Sam Walden for providing not only a great commercial establishment but a place frequented by individuals of all shapes, sizes, economic status, races and looks. Next time you are there, and I know all of you go, check out the tattoos. Some sort of blue color seems to be the most prevalent. Maybe it is cheaper to get a one-color job, but I prefer a little more pizzaz when I get mine. Also, take a look at college and pro athletics, especially basketball players, because their uniforms allow them to show more skin. Again this blue color seems to be the one of choice.

It bears repeating that the problem of committment is going to rear its ugly head for some. I think I know how we are going to solve this problem, and if both partners in the relationship could agree that this thing may run into some snags down the road then we might just be able to start a new tattoo industry where the thing can be drawn on the selected body part with a semi-
permanent magic marker. When and if the bond between the two lovers seems to be getting to the breaking point, about three good showers with a strong soap should do the trick. The tatoo can always be reapplied if the relationship gets back on track.

Anyone who is interested in investing in my idea can contact me at this blog -- I really need the money.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dog Poop Reveals Cash

For all of the dog-lovers out there, and I apologize in advance for any weak stomachs that may not be able to handle this. When you try to post every day, material sometimes becomes hard to find, and you find yourself grasping at any straw you may see.

Pepper, a family pet of Debbie Hulleman from Menomonie, Wisconsin, is an 8-year-old black Labrador-German shorthair who has the habit of "gnawing on lipstick, munching on shampoo bottles and chewing on toothpaste." Apparently Pepper has broadened his horizons on his choice of items for his diet.

Hulleman found herself in a real mess recently because of Pepper's new-found cravings. Her mom was roped into baby sitting the pooch while the Hullemans were on vacation. One of mom's friends came visiting and Pepper noticed one of those cash-containing envelopes from the bank in her purse and proceeded to gobble up almost $750.00

Mom recovered some of the bills that Pepper had spit out, thinking she had it all, but when Debbie got back from vacation and started cleaning up Pepper's mess outside, she keenly observed a $50.00 bill enmeshed in a pile of poop.

Then as Hulleman sorted through Pepper's deposits and vomit (hope you are not eating while reading this) she netted almost $400.00 in additional bills. Add that to what had been painstakenly recovered and that accounted for $647.00. The remaining $100.00 bill had been chewed in half and only one half was found -- not enough to redeem.

Armed with rubber gloves, of course, Hulleman sat about soaking, straining and rinsing the "soiled" (much of an understatement) bills. She says that she just kept rinsing and rinsing. The weary pet owner was able to go to the bank and swap Pepper's poop-stained cash for fresh money. Hope the teller had some rubber gloves.

According to Hulleman, "Everyone said, 'I can't believe you did that.' Well, for $400.00, yeah, I would do that." she stated.

I'm sure the Wolfes, if Maggie got the urge to go on a money diet, would dive in for $25.00 or less. Others of my handful of readers who have dogs maybe should keep a watchful eye on your canines in case they start craving a little cash.

No need for me to worry -- Floyd the cat turns his nose up at anything that isn't Purina Cat Chow.

Have a nice weekend and be sure that when you scoop it up take a good look.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

World's Oldest Profession 101

I suppose that the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission, hereafter referred to as the TEC, has come up with a first for higher education.

Funding for courses in prostitution are being studied and have been brought to the attention of members of the New Zealand Parliament. MP's were told in hearings that courses in the world's oldest profession would have to meet the same criteria as other tertiary courses of study. Is this for real?

It is going to take all of the restraint I can muster to resist some very poignant remarks on this, but I will try my best.

TEC minister, Michael Cullen, has said that funding of all courses will be based on a three-year plan and not on the number of students who elect to enroll in specific approved courses. "These changes are aimed at increasing the quality and relevance of courses," he said.

I've got lots and lots of questions about what is going on in the educational bureaucracy of New Zealand.

National Party education spokeswoman, Katherine Rich, questioned as to whether this new plan of funding might lead to the proliferation of courses such as "Twilight Golf" which somehow got approved under the old plan.

I'm having a very difficult time with this story.

I can imagine this cute high school senior approaching mom and dad with the fact that she is torn between taking courses in prostitution or twilight golf. Either way it is bound to make these happy parents proud.

Or how about this senario -- the same cute high school senior confronts her parents with the old "good news -- bad news" announcement. The good news is that she has made up her mind to go to college after all, and you know what the bad news is. When asked about their daughter and her educational plans, the parents can enthusiastically say that she is studying prostitution.

Janice Shener, TEC chief executive, said that her organization could not dictate what courses the institutions of higher learning could offer, but those courses would have to "meet minimum quality standards, demonstrate genuine community need and government priorities. So what is the problem -- I would think courses in prostitution or twilight golf could meet that criteria -- particularly in what appears to be a crazy New Zealand. (I know what prostitution is but just what is twilight golf?)

I have major questions about professors and their training (you cannot let unqualified people teach), if the courses would be gender exclusive, types of tests and exams to be given and if it would be possible to audit the courses?

Even though I have a masters in education from State and was taught by, for the most part, some great teachers, I have always been suspect of the likes of NEA and bureaucrats in state and national education departments. They may be just as nutty as those in New Zealand. But surely they would not endorse this sort of curriculum -- but who knows?

Don't you appreciate how I restrained myself and kept this pretty much on the high road when I could have had so, so much fun with this post?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hurry Up -- I've Got To Go!

This truly is one of the funniest things that I have seen in the news lately. I wanted to share it with my multitude of blog readers -- yeah, that's right.

An 80-year-old woman in Fredericksburg, VA, stepped out of her house to buy a newspaper at about 5:30 a.m. She was gone only a short time but upon her return she saw that the bathroom door was closed. She opened the door to find a strange man who had made himself comfortable and was apparently busy about his "business" on her toilet.

Armed with the paper and probably planning to do a little "library" reading herself, the first question out of the lady's mouth was, "How long are you going to be?" Certainly would have been my question under those pressing circumstances.

When he didn't seem to understand and replied in his native tongue which she didn't understand either, she then used that familiar word "police" that seems to break all language barriers.

It was reported that the man left quickly. There were no details as to the progress he had made while he was in the lady's bathroom.

The lady gave the police a great description saying that he was an Hispanic male in his late 20's, wearing a sleeveless black shirt, dark pants and had a tatoo on one of his upper arms. She might have added that he had about 6 feet of Charmin hanging out of his waistband.


Then there was the would-be robber in Washington, D.C. who slid through an open gate to the backyard patio of a home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

A group of friends were having a late dinner of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp (um! sounds good) when this hooded fool puts a gun to the head of a 12-year-old girl and says, "Give me your money, or I'll start shooting."

As would be expected, everyone froze, but one guest spoke up and told the man that they were just finishing dinner and why didn't he have a glass of wine with them? Now I'm going to ask this armed idiot to have a drink?

The story goes that the robber, with his hood down, took a sip of the Chateau Malescot St-Exupery (bet that bottle didn't have a screw top) and exclaimed, "Damn, that's good wine."

Then the girl's father told the intruder to take a whole glass, and the guest who first spoke up offered him the whole bottle. This robber guy, who definitely should have taken up another line of work, took another sip and a bite of Camembert cheese (couldn't they have at least fixed him a steak and some shrimp?). He puts the gun in the waistband of his sweatpants and here the story turns a lot more bizzarrer (I made up that word -- it seems to fit the situation better).

This robber clown apologizes and tells the aghast family and guests that he thinks he has come to the wrong house. Now get this -- he asks them, "Can I get a hug?" The lady who offered the wine stands up and wraps her arms around the armed man, and four other guests follow suit.

"Can I have a group hug?" the would-be bandit asks, and the five adults comply. The man walks away a few minutes later with the crystal wine glass in hand. Damn that makes them one glass short of a set, and you know how difficult it is going to be to replace it. Oh well, nothing was stolen, other than the glass, and no one was hurt.

Once the robber leaves, everybody runs into the house, locks all of the doors and stares at each other -- absolutely speechless -- a most appropriate reaction. Upon the group's recovery the police were finally called. I guess the trail was cold by then.

Police classified the case as strange but true.

The moral of the story -- always keep yourself armed with a good bottle of wine.


Oh, and I must report that the 3 or 4-day hunt for Bigfoot that I mentioned in an earlier post has been held and concluded. It was deemed a success. No, they didn't actually see Bigfoot, but they did hear him howl late one night -- enough evidence for me. Wonder if they got a whiff of him/her or perhaps they were upwind? Anyway, I suppose the crew that went along on the chase got their money's worth -- they shelled out $300 apiece for the experience. Reinforces what Phineas Taylor Barnum once said, "There is a sucker born every minute."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I'm Going Nuts

Now the post is there -- I guess I didn't wait long enough for it to go to the moon and back. Sorry!

Technical Glitch

Don't understand what happened, but if you are interested in reading today's (Tuesday) blog click "search blog" at upper left, and it will appear. Weird stuff about computers I can't comprehend.

More Of No Little People -- No Little Places

It's ironic, but this comes on the heels of a post that I made last Thursday. It was my intent to post this on Friday, but other things came up.

This is the heart-warming story of Jessica Osborne, 20, an Angola, Indiana, Pizza Hut waitress who received a check for $10,000 from a family who wishes to remain anonymous to everyone but Jessica.

A mother and two sons frequented the Pizza Hut coming in at least once a week and sometimes more. They always asked for Jessica because she had been nice to them on their first visit. Jessica made it a point, as she had time from her duties, to interact with them, and they shared what was going on in each of their lives. In their chats Jessica had told them about enrolling in college twice but had to drop out both times because of lack of funds. She had been editor of her high school newspaper and had a burning desire to study journalism.

A couple of weeks ago the family came in as usual but told Jessica that they were going to move away to another city and probably would not be seeing her anymore. Saddened Jessica asked them to come back and say goodbye before they left town.

The Sunday after that they returned with some other family members. When all of Jessica's tables were taken care of she greeted her "regular" customers and prepared for her goodbyes. After the usual pleasantries and introductions to the additional family members, Jessica was handed a folded check. The woman explained that the money was coming from an educational fund that had been set up when a family member died.

Jessica declined the gift, they insisted and Jessica will enroll in college this fall to persue her dream of becoming a journalist.

If you remember last Thursday's post -- No Little People - No Little Places -- some would say that Jessica was an insignificant person in an insignificant restaurant. But Jessica acted out her "sermon" and apparently greatly influenced this woman and her two children beyond her wildest dreams.

We may not be able to give something monetarily, but what we do give people in kindness, thoughtfulness and caring may be worth lots more to them than we would ever know.

May God bless you and yours.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter Will Send Us All To Hell

Got your attention with the headline, didn't I?

I have several other things in my blog file, one of which is timely and I wanted to report -- will do later. But I have to get this Harry Potter thing off my chest.

After a nice early dinner at Carrabba's Saturday night (opt for the lentil and Italian soup for a starter -- you won't be disappointed), I took Melinda to see "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

I'll preface this by saying that I am not really a fan and have not read any of the books, but I do have an open mind and have an opinion, as I do on most everything else.

I went for three reasons:

1. Melinda is a big fan and has read some of the books.

2. I wanted to see this billion dollar kid from whom J. K. Rowling has amassed a fortune.

3. John Hagee, short and rotund senior pastor and fundamentalist televangelist at Cornerstone mega-church in Houston, said I was endanger of Hell if I went.

Thanks, Pastor Hagee, but the Hell part remains to be seen -- I haven't died yet. To back up his claim, Hagee is offering a DVD on Potter and other supernatural stuff for only $22.00 plus shipping and handling for those of us who may be interested.

Anyway, we go to the movie, and I think it is pretty good even though I'm not familiar with much of the background information that would be helpful to better understand what it is all about. But I do understand the basic concept of good versus evil. If I am wrong here, somebody, other than Hagee or the likes, needs to set me straight.

Harry Potter is good, but his reputation has been tarnished in the previous film, and Lord Voldermort is evil. Harry and his little band of students go to Hogwart where he teaches them about being a wizard, much of which is concerned with learning to wave this "stick" to knock people on their butts or levitate them. All of this is in preparation for fighting against the Dark forces. The small group of students name themselves Dumbledore's army. Professor Delores Umbridge, appointed by the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, is on a rampage to prevent Harry's and his proteges' efforts.

It looks like Harry saves his reputation, but the door is apparently open for another episode of this because I did not see the final battle of good versus evil. I need help here from Potter fans.

To date 330,000 people worldwide have seen the movie since it opened Wednesday. I don't know what the average cost of a ticket, but we are talking about tons of money. Hagee may be pissed because some of the money could have gone into his coffers.

I will report that I saw only one demon in the theater (expecting to see all kinds of witches, etc.)
This was a little kid who squeezed in front of us four times going to who knows where. I suspect he went somewhere to recharge his "stick." By the way he did say "excuse me" a couple of times.

Contrary to Hagee's thinking that kids who watched the movie are going to want to be wizards, practice sorcery or witchcraft or the like, leaving the threater I did not see one kid pull on his mom's coattail and say that he/she, upon growing up, wanted to be a wizard instead of a fireman or nurse.

I cannot comprehend the religious fundamentalist opposition to "Harry Potter" or Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" or C. S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" -- apparently they do not possess the depth of thinking of these great writers.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Why Didn't My Girls Shop At Target?

Fathers more than mothers are becoming more and more aware of the rising cost of the average American wedding. In fact, results of a study by Conde Nast Bridal Media (whoever that is) say the average cost of a wedding has reached $27,852. That's just about reason enough to pray for boy children rather than girls.

Because of the rise of nuptial-related items and activities many brides, with the blessing of their fathers, are "striking back, snubbing high-end florists, bridal boutiques and even jewelers in favor of bigger bargains at places like Target, Costco and WalMart" according to a report by MSNBC.

The report goes on to say, "Target, already known for its 'cheap chic' suits, t-shirts and other items, began offering wedding dresses on its Web site this year for as little as $89.99." Beats the hell out of the prices at that place somewhere in Alabama and another in Arkansas. It was reported that one bride got her dress at the prom shop in JCPenneys for less than that.

Target is also the place for "discounted wedding shoes, veils, gloves, flower girl baskets, guest books and other wedding accessories." They also say that WalMart's bakery is becoming increasingly popular for its wedding cakes. All cakes, regardless of the baker, have that icing straight out of the Crisco can, and who remembers what the cake tastes like anyway.

Costco's Web site lists a complete destination wedding package featuring a Tahitian ceremony and nine-night stay for as little as $4,080 per person -- hopefully there would be two people taking advantage of this. The happy bride and groom would have to get Mom's and Dad's congrats and best wishes at the airport 'cause Pops ain't gonna spring for another $8,160 just to make Mom happy.

Sam's Club reports that its jewelry sales have skyrocketed since it got into the engagement ring business six years ago. Its rings are somewhat reasonable, but the company did sell a Kentucky couple a rock for $185,000. I digress, but imagine that hunk of diamond in your buggy with the frozen chicken breasts, toilet paper and case of Corona. The cashier passes the items over the barcode scanner -- $11.99 --$15.46 -- $185,000 -- $22.97. Bells go off like you hit the jackpot at the casino.

Those same Conde Nast Bridal Media people say the average cost of an engagement ring is $4,435 -- Whoa! Take a look at yours and ask your loving hubby what he did with the rest of the money. Conde Nast whatever must be averaging in the likes of the 1/2 million dollar piece of ice that Charlie Sheen gave his new squeeze.

Anyway the point of the whole thing is that wedding costs can be moderated even though we do realize it is the most wonderful day in a girl's life next to the birth of that first child -- hope it's a boy.

Now if we can move the reception to Burger King maybe Mom and Pop can take advantage of the nine-night stay in Tahiti.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

No Little People -- No Little Places

I found this quote from Francis Shaeffer, an American Evangelical theologian and Presbyterian pastor, when reading Sam Shaw's blog. Sam is senior minister at Hope Church in Tupelo.

"May we remember throughout our lives that in God's sight there are no little people and no little places. Only one thing is important: to be concecrated persons in God's place for us, at each moment. Those who think of themselves as little people in little places, if committed to Christ and living under His Lordship in the whole of life, may, by God's grace, change the flow of our generation."

Shaw was quoting from a new biography of Shaeffer where the author was speaking of Shaeffer's compassion for individuals, stating that it was in stark contrast to how some contemporary religious leaders and professionals treat other people. "It is always revealing to watch such people 'off duty' and observe how they relate to those around them," he said.

Shaw writes of attending a major international Christian conference and found "it was rather disappointing to see that many of the speakers and leading figures were not even aware of the hotel staff, never mind thanking them for their service or making an effort to reach them with the gospel."

A favorite little quote of mine -- I don't even know to whom it should be attributed -- says, "I had rather see a sermon than to hear one." There is no better way than to be an example -- you never know who is looking to you for guidance and inspiration.

The Woman Rules

"Men might throw their weight around at the office, but at home, women are the bosses," so concludes a just released study led by David Vogel, a psychologist at Iowa State University.

The research finds that in decision-making and domination of discussions women exert more power in the home. So what else is new? If you get bored with this just skip to the end and get the results of my study.

Looks like the old "it's got to be 50-50" for a successful marriage has been debunked and apparently doesn't apply anymore.

Vogel and associates at ISU surveyed 72 married couples with an average age of 33 who had been married for an average of 7 years. Each of the spouses answered questions about "relationship satisfaction and overall decision-making ability." Then each of the participants picked a relationship problem which they felt had to be resolved with the cooperation of both partners.

You might be surprised that money and housework were the most popular picks by both, but the more intimate areas of marriage relationships didn't come up as a marital issue.

The couples were videotaped for 10 minutes as they discussed the relationship problems each had suggested.

Upon analysis of the tapes, the researchers found that wives were more demanding (it took research to find that out?) and they were more likely to get their way (same comment as the demanding part).

"Women were communicating more powerful messages, and men were responding to those messages by agreeing or giving in." I don't see a lot of difference between agreeing or giving in -- in either of the cases the man loses.

"Women are responsible for overseeing the relationship, making sure that the relationship runs, that everything gets done and that everybody is happy," one of the researchers said.

Where does that leave us men? Agree to everything, continue to bring home the bacon, do what you are told, pretend you are happy and slip off to the nearest watering hole with the boys for a mutual complaining session -- but things ain't gonna change around the old homestead.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Pope Is Wrong!

I have debated about writing this post because I am afraid that it might offend someone, however, I must defend my faith even when attacked by someone of the statue of Benedict XVI. Those of you who know me well will tell you that the quickest way to "light my fuse" is for someone other than Jesus Christ to assert in essence that his or her church is the one and only church and salvation comes through it. (Paragraph 3) "I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except by Me." John 14:6.

I would also say that I have the highest regard for the Catholic Church and those who truly profess the Catholic faith. Being Methodist I realize that my church is only two steps away from being Catholic. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was an Anglican priest and the Anglican Church came about as a result of a split from the Catholic Church in England in the sixth century under the papal reign of Gregory the Great.

For those of you who are unaware of where this is going, for the second time in a week Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church by saying other Christian communities are either "defective or not true churches." The assertion goes on to say that "Protestant, Lutheran and other Christian denominations are not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation." With all due respect it makes one wonder if Benedict's mitre might be a couple of sizes too small.

The assertion is further explained that other Christian communities "cannot be called 'churches' because they do not have apostolic succession -- the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ's original apostles -- therefore their priestly ordinations are not valid.

His Eminence might be reminded that there were papal successors of Peter who served as Christ's "emissaries" on earth with whom he might not want association, namely: Damascus I, Symmachus, Vigilius, Stephen VII, Julius III and even Pius XII. There are a number of other out of the over 260 who have served in the papacy whose characters have been said to be less than pure. A reading of the history of their services is quite an eye opener.

Great church leaders like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, John Wycliffe and others saw the wrongs committed within the Catholic Church and tried to right those wrongs to no avail. Luther was excommunicated by Leo X on January 3, 1521, and thence began the Protestant Reformation.

Church officials of varying Christian denominations have questioned the document and why the reassertion at this particular time. Despite the tone of the document it is said that Benedict remains committed to an ecumenical dialogue -- a rather strange method of encouraging an ecumenical movement within Christendom.

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's A Lawn Chair!

Just when I thought I had heard about every crazy thing in the world, here comes Kent Couch from Bend, Oregon, who flew 193 miles in a lawn chair. Now that is something I have always had a hankering to do.

To accomplish his feat Couch attached 105 large helium-filled balloons to his lawn chair, and it's off into the wild blue yonder. He took with him some snacks (of course), a parachute (I would hope so), instruments to measure altitude and speed, a GPS device and four 5-gallon plastic bags of water for ballast.

The "lawn chairist" was planning to get as far east as Idaho but was forced to land shy of his goal after nearly nine hours in the air. "When you are a little kid, and you are holding a helium balloon, it has to cross your mind," Couch told a local newspaper. Maybe I have a different mind, but the idea never crossed mine.

The 41-year-old gas station owner got his idea from Larry Walters who in 1982 piloted his lawn chair three miles over Los Angeles. Walters surprised , if that is a stong enough verb, an airline pilot, who radioed the control tower that he had just passed a man in a lawn chair. Had I been the pilot I think that better judgement would have dictated me to look out the other window and let some other fool report the IFO. Walters was fined $1,500 for violating air traffic rules.

Couch told KTVZ-TV that the flight was "beautiful -- beautiful" and described it as mostly serene and peaceful. Then comes the forced landing when he had gotten down to 8 pounds of water ballast, and I suppose the snacks ran out. After he sort of crash landed, he jumped out, got some rope burns, and the wind grabbed the chair with the remaining balloons, and his video recorder and swept them away. Couch says that he's hoping to get them back before his next trip.

His wife Susan isn't sure if there will be a next time. She thinks that Couch has probably scratched that itch, and she's thinking of saying no.

A lawn chair can't be the most comfortable thing for that kind of ride. How about if one doubled or tripled the number of balloons and attached them to a La-Z-Boy? Something to mull over.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Some More Whacky News

As you might have noted from past blogs, I love crazy and whacky news. There are some of the strangest people walking this planet -- it makes you appreciate that your close relationships are a little less dramatic -- or are they?

William Baumgartner, 86, has decided to drop charges against his wife, Kelly Campbell-Baumgartner, 47, denying that she stabbed him with a fork in a food fight altercation at a local restaurant.

Another diner has stepped into the fray and come forward with information substantiating the original charge by Mr. Baumgartner. Now the Canton, Michigan, Township police and the proscecutor's office in Wayne County have decided to file new charges. A judge has also agreed that there is enough evidence to bring Mrs. Campbell-Baumgartner up on felonious assualt charges, which upon conviction would land the loving wife in the big house for up to four years.

The witness testified that "She was waving her fork at him and yelling." He also stated that "She was taking food off his plate and flinging it at him." In her rampage she apparently nicked her husband's face with the fork and drew blood. Could the food possibly have been that bad?

On the witness stand Monday the aged Baumgartner insisted , "If I am the complaintant of this I have nothing to complain about" and "If I am the victim, I have nothing to be the victim of." But Judge Michael Rerou disagreed and said the the evidence warrants a trial.

The happy couple left the courtroom holding hands.

If Mr. Baumgartner, depending on the outcome of the trial, decides to continue this arrangement or if divorce is in the cards, I have some suggestions for him as to what he should have done or should do whatever happens:

1. Rethink this May-December marriage. Thirty-nine years stretches this May-December thing almost four decades.

2. Beware of marriage when the blushing bride inserts a hyphen on the signature line of the marriage license -- to wit Campbell-Baumgartner -- way too many letters anyway.

3. When going out to dinner with a less than stable spouce, ask the maitre d to seat you at opposite ends of a long table beyond reach of sharp objects.

4. Always order soft food -- no baked potatoes or hard rolls that could be used as missiles by an upset wife.

5. Or just stay home and take your chances.

Yall have a nice day.

Friday, July 6, 2007

What'll They Think Of Next?

As some of you know, in my retiring years I have taken a position of "Showroom Consultant" in a plumbing sales establishment. In the two years that I have been here I have seen many advancements in the plumbing industry.

As a "Showroom Consultant" I feel it is my duty and perhaps one of my missions in life to make my customers and you aware of innovations in plumbing fixtures.

All of you have been in commercial enterprises where the restrooms are equipped with touchless lavatory faucets and commodes that flush themselves. There are faucets on the market that rise up out of counters and then go back after use. Some bathtubs have both air and water jets, remote controls, mood lights and seating for two. There is really no limit to what is coming down the plumbing pike.

But Thursday I was visited by a toilet seat rep, and I was completely blown away. She showed me an incredible new toilet seat that is beyond ones wildest dreams. It is a first, and I don't understand why someone hasn't thought about it before.

The unit consists of a regular seat with a soft-close lid, a charcoal filter, a pleasant-scent dispenser and two "D" batteries. It is probably going to retail for around $129.00 and probably cheaper when bought in quantities.

This ingenious concept is that the device sucks up undesirable odors, passing them through the charcoal and releasing them though the dispenser as "vanilla essence" or one of three other "flavors." This is absolutely incredible and should be a required fixture in every WalMart, restaurant, service state and any other public restroom in the country.

Imagine how an unplesant experience becomes enjoyable and instead of delaying some bodily function until you can rush home, you'll have no apprehension of going public.

Have a great weekend.


I read yesterday and saw a report this morning on Fox of the most absurd thing I have recently read or heard.

A University of Arizona team has done some research on female vs male in the talking department. Many times it has been reported that the ratio in one full day of talking is about 20,000 words for the gals and 7,000 words for the guys -- almost three times as much gabbing on the lady side.

In my long experience I have found this assessement of talking ratio to being fairly close to accurate. I, for one, don't feel that I talk that much -- my motto in this area is "say what you intend to say and then shut up." Embellishment is not necessary if you made your comments clear and understandable the first time.

Now my house has always been filled with three women until Rob and Travis came into the picture and took two away. If my math is correct, using the 20,000 to 7,000 ratio, the talk around the old homestead should have been cut by 40.299% -- it wasn't. Melinda somehow picked up some of the slack.

This research team at Arizona, led by Matthias R. Mehl, an assistant professor of psychology, has shattered the "chatty gals and taciturn guys" stereotype. Can their study be on the mark, or have they just been smoking too much cactus?

According to the team's report, microphones were attached to almost 400 U. of A. students, and recordings were made of them for periods ranging from 2 to 10 days. Calulations were then made of the number of words spoken by each of the sexes.

Here's what these researchers, who should have received an "F" for the study, came up with:
Women 16,215 words compared to 15,669 for the men. A mere 546 words difference between the sexes.

Mehl said, "Still the idea that women use three times as many words as men has taken on the status of an urban legend."

I honestly think that the thesis of the research is flawed because they did not take into consideration what were the situations and circumstances of the individuals when they were wired. For instance, suppose the study was done with some of the ex-MSU students that I know.

Here's Caleb recounting in detail a game in 1952 with the New York Giants getting a scratch single scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth against the Brooklyn Dodgers while playing in a light drizzle with the temperature hovering around 40.

Or Rob explaining the gory successful extraction in the ER at Wake Forest of an entire place setting of silverware, including the seafood fork, from a body orfice.

Or Travis expounding upon finding an obscure Black musician singing Blues while blowing on a jug and strumming a washtub bass at some obscure music festival in an obscure town in the Delta.

These guys and lots of others can be kind of chatty about their passions, and this would skew the statistics.

On the other hand you might record Tricia, Amanda or Laurette when they have just gone through some traumatic emotional experience like losing their keys, and all they do is cry -- no talking -- just sobbing. This would skew the study as well.

In my many years, and I ain't no psychologist, I have learned a little something about the fairer sex. I have never met one that didn't like to talk, and most of them all at the same time. If you don't believe it, do your own research and stick a microphone in your house.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

God Bless America

Wow! Two serious blogs in row -- what is happening to me?

Yesterday we celebrated I believe the 231st anniversary of our Declaration of Independence from the tyranny of Great Britain, and this great and wonderful country was born.

What a wonderful document our forefathers wrote followed by a Constitution that was equally as brilliant. It would do all of us some good to read both of those every now and then to reaffirm our appreciation and respect for the principles upon which this country was founded and those who risked and gave their lives for our freedoms.

America as a nation is not perfect, but it is a damn sight more so than most. Because of our freedoms some of our citizens do and say things that many of us feel are un-American, but that is the strength of this country because we have the freedom to state what we think is wrong. If you weigh all of the bad against all of the good, the scales are definitely tipped very much to the good side.

I had the experience some 30 years ago of spending some time in Hungary, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. This was before the collapse of the USSR's Iron Curtain. I don't think any of us would have liked to have lived under those conditions. For the most part those and other countries that were under Russian control are free today because of American efforts. We can be and have been a good force in the world as a super power, but our leaders sometimes lose sight of what we should be all about.

American history is full of heroes -- too many to mention -- men and women who fought on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific and other places in the world to secure our and their freedoms from tyranny and oppression. Americans have taken to the streets in this country to arouse a nation to evils that have called for change. Leaders have spoken up in our state legislatures and in Congress against situations of unfairness that needed to be rectified. And we have made many of those changes and have become a better people for it. We still have problems and will continue to have them, but we look to those whom we have elected to have honest and sincere debates. This is where we the people need to become more vocal and insist that debates be held without rancor and meanspiritedness.

We are such a diverse nation -- a nation with people who have roots all over the world -- a nation with people of all political persuations. The diversity has contributed to our greatness. But we are America and we are Americans whatever our heritage -- somehow this must be instilled into our citizenry.

Be proud of America and be proud you are an American, but we all must try and make our voices heard when we see segments of our people trying to make this country something that our forefathers did not envision -- "they done good."

Now that is out of my system, so I can get back to the regular stuff.

Have a great day and God Bless America.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Disgusted and Fed Up

Some of you will not appreciate nor agree with this blog, but there comes a time when views need to be expressed and hypocrisy must be exposed. I have always been a political person from the sidelines and have very definite and strong views. I do not hide from my views which tend to be to the right of the political spectrum. I make no apologies for my views, and I think that I am a very rational individual and respectful of other opinions. Respectful of those opinions if they can be substantuated and backed up with facts.

Yesterday (Monday) George Bush commuted the sentence of Lewis "Scooter" Libby who had been convicted of giving false statements and lying to a grand jury. A commutation differs from a pardon in that only Libby's prison sentence is effected -- his other penalties remain -- $250,000 fine and two years of probation.

As would be expected all Democrat candidates for president decried the action by the President and labeled charges at him from cronyism, disgraceful act, beyond the law and many others.

Libby's conviction has been controversial and suspect from the beginning. Some have labeled it as a "witch hunt" and that the special prosecuter had to have someone convicted to justify the expenditure of the investigation and subsequent trial. Early it was determined that Richard Armitage was the one who leaked CIA information, and it was not Libby who had been the one accused. Subsequently Libby was finally convicted of "giving false information and lying to a grand jury" -- remember that phrase, you will see it again.

One of those Democrats who cried out the loudest was Hillary Clinton, leading candidate for the Democrat nomination for president. My what a short memory she and the other Democrats have.

At the very end of Bill Clinton's adminstration he pardoned 140 criminals who had been indicted by grand juries and been convicted of various crimes including "importation of cocaine" -- "income tax evasion" -- "bank fraud" -- "mail fraud" -- "forgery of U.S. Treasury checks" and I could go on and on, but you should get the point. To my knowledge the Libby commutation is one of only a very few commutations and or pardons that GW has issued in his two terms. I'm sure that he will issue some pardons at the end of his second term, but I would challenge you to compare the criminal convictions of those individuals with those pardons given by Clinton.

As I said above, I would come back to "giving false information and lying to a grand jury." The much adored Bill Clinton was guilty of both of these charges on more than one occasion, however, he was never convicted because of the power of presidency. He, of course, was impeached but was never convicted. For those of you who do not know, impreachment means bringing of the charges -- then you are either conviced or not in a trial in the Senate.

I am so tired and disgusted with many of our political leaders of all persuasions who will do or say anything to get votes or obtain power. Our lawmakers are supposed to be enacting laws for the good of the American people and not playing a constant game of "gotcha."

Please, please do what you were elected to do or get out, go home and let someone else do the job. It is akin to watching a bunch of children on a playground -- grow up!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Why Not the Moon?

For you who plan your vacations to exotic locals, A Vienna, Virginia, company is in negotiations with customers who will fly the first private expedition around the moon.

If, indeed, you are interested, there is no need to pack your bags yet, and you need to be informed that the price tag is going to be a cool $100 million. But not to worry you have time to raise the money for the very first flight is already booked. In case you had visions of a bus-load of happy, carefree passengers making this trip, my understanding is that there are acommodations for two passengers and a pilot. We would hope that nothing incapacitates the pilot on this little voyage of 238,000 miles -- one way.

The company, known as Space Adventures, is working with Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. No stranger to space, the Virginia company has already handled five private trips to the International Space Station -- all aboard the Soyuz and at a mere 2o to 25 million dollars each.

Eric Anderson, Space Adventures' president and CEO, says that sales are up in 2008 and 2009 for the short hops to the space station. "We're trying to talk to the Russian Space Agency about how to increase the numbers of Soyuz flights to the space station," Anderson says.

So if you cannot decide between the beach or the mountains this year, why not opt for the International Space Station or better yet a little swing around the moon -- depends on your budget. It will have to be a vacation only for you and your love -- no kids or dogs.

Or another possibility is that you might elect to send your mother-in-law on a nice trip to space for her birthday present. Depending on your relationship with her, you may or may not want to give her flight lessons for the Soyuz -- God forbid, something could happen to the pilot.