Tuesday, October 31, 2006

PD and me

Imagine you’re cold. Your body is trembling from the cold, shivers making you shake to find the warmth. But you are not cold. You are just shaking. Then your jaw starts to move back and forth as though there is something caught between your lower lip and your teeth. But there is nothing there. Imagine the stiffness you get when you have worked too hard at an unusual activity and your shoulders and neck are tight and it is bothersome to move. Now feel like you want to move quickly because you’re in a hurry, but your legs just won’t get going, so you shuffle along as best you can, hoping that no one is staring at your clumsiness. Instead of running up the stairs to get something you forgot, imagine that you can’t get your foot to rise to the first step without a second or two of hesitation. Think about the last conversation you had with friends and how the words just tumbled forth keeping up with your thoughts. Now imagine what it would be like not to be able to get those words out, to finish a sentence, to remember the word you need. Remember the time you were restless and couldn’t get comfortable no matter what you did. Now imagine feeling that way all the time, your legs jumpy and your arms unable to relax. And then, after sitting too long, you get up and your leg shakes and trembles until your brain fiinally tells it to stop. Think about how much you enjoyed that bowl of soup at lunch. Now imagine avoiding soup because your hand trembles too much to get the spoon to your mouth without spilling it on the table and down your chin. Think about how easy it is to type a message on your blog, your fingers dancing effortlessly across the keyboard. Now imagine going back over that last sentence and correcting every other word because your fingers just won’t hit the key you want once, but hits each key two or three times. When was the last time you thought about signing your name to that check you wrote? Now imagine not being able to sign your name becasuse you can't grip the pen enough to control its movement while your hand shakes. Remember last night when you hit the pillow and fell right to sleep and slept soundly and woke refreshed and ready to start the day. Now imagine falling into bed after taking a sedative to help you relax, knowing that you won’t sleep more than an hour at a time, and that rolling over from one side to the other will require a huge effort to get your body to move. Now imagine spending hundreds of dollars a month on medication to help you cope with all that, knowing that this is just the beginning and that it will only get worse. And worst of all, imagine how hurt and upset your wife is seeing you like this and knowing that all those wonderful plans you made together for your retirement might not happen. That’s the Parkinsons Disease I face each day.

Support stem cell research in all its forms. That is the hope I, and others like me, have for the future. Imagine how normal your life is and then remember how mine is. Stem cell research shows real promise if we will let it continue and reach its potential good.

Monday, October 30, 2006

weekend past

There it was, Saturday early afternoon, late October, the sun was shining brightly, and I was sitting in the sunporch at the lake cottage. Sitting next to me was my daughter. And how is this for placing us directly in the middle of the new age—she was working on her laptop and I was writing on mine and the only conversation going on was a series of questions from me about this new laptop thingy I was hooked up to. Her responses to me were encouraging, telling me that it was just another computer, like my desktop Mac, only smaller, and that even I could learn a new trick, old dog that I am. Yet having her there next to me was good enough. I never in my wildest dreams could have envisioned the two of us sitting there like that, computerizing.

We were the fortunate recipients over the weekend of some of the best weather we have had for the past month. Up until now the weather around here has been gray and unseasonably cold and rainy. But Friday the sun shone brightly, the breeze was slight, and my son took the day off from work to join us at the cottage. He and I played what will probably be the last round of golf for the season, while daughter and mom finished blowing leaves and cutting the grass. I know there are those who will think that there is something wrong with that picture—dad and son playing while mom and daughter work—but it works for me and they weren’t complaining. At least not too loudly.

Saturday morning, after breakfast, I made a big pot of chili and then went outside to winterize the two lawnmowers and clean the leaves out of the rain gutters. The usual Fall chores. The only reason I mention all this is that all these things are so normal. I had my family around me doing normal things. Only too soon, Sunday in fact, my daughter had to fly back to California, my son will be too busy this week at work (he’s out of town) to talk to mom and dad more than once, Mary is back at school trying to reach her English students, and I am back to my daily routine, doing the daily household chores as listed by the boss, hopefully spending a few choice hours in my workshop, and coping with PD. So over the weekend I reveled in the closeness of my family, and the old time normalcy. It can’t get much better than that.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

my new toy

I have a new toy compliments of my daughter, She brought me a laptop. It’s an old Mac book, colored Halloween orange, that she got from a friend who no longer needed it. Jerry, Carrie’s significant other, who is to computers what van Gogh is to painting, made sure it was configured (I think that’s a computer type word) properly, installed a wifi (another computer type word) thingamajig so I can get on the internet (yep, another one of those computer words), and generally made sure that I would be able to string words together in proper sentences on the screen. Then Carrie dragged my sorry butt over to Best Buy to get a memory stick (that’s another computer thing that plugs into another computer and somehow through computer voodoo transfers what I write here to there).

So now I have no excuse for not posting here to my blog on those occasions when we are at the cottage or anywhere else away from my trusty desktop and internet connection. Am I on top of this computer stuff or what? I feel so empowered. And now you all will have no respite from my continuing efforts to bore you to death. You’ve been warned.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

family time

Today our daughter, Dr. Carrie, wild life veterinarian extraordinaire, is coming home for a weekend visit from California. We are really pleased that she is willing to take valuable time away from her studies and hectic schedule at UC Berkeley to come home to see mom and dad. What makes it even nicer is that she was able to use her frequent flier miles, many of which were accumulated on her several trips to Africa, to buy her plane ticket home. We would have been more than happy to pay the fare, allowing her to use her miles for some other trip, but she decided to use them for us. What a kid.

We will probably spend a say or two at the lake, so I won'tbe able to post here until Monday. Looking forward to a great weekend. Hope yours is just as good. Later.........

Monday, October 23, 2006

the world's greatest invention

I just came inside after a couple hours out in the cold, breezy, gray cloudy day. It's been a lousy Fall this year--the leaves have mostly fallen though they didn't bother with the color this year. We missed out on the usual blast of bright reds and yellows and oranges that Fall usually provides to make the transition from summer to winter more tolerable. Blame it on EL Nino or global warming or the hole in the ozone layer, but color was not on Fall's agenda around here this year. Still, color or not, the leaves have found their way down to the ground where, as a card carrying suburbanite, it is my sworn duty to clear them from the lawn so as not to look untidy, embarrassing my neighbors.

In the past, clearing the leaves from the yard meant hours of a back breaking, blister inducing dance with a rake. I would lead, the rake would follow. Two foot wide strip by two foot side strip my rake and I would scratch our way along until all those messy leaves were neatly piled at the curb for the city's vacuum truck to suck away. This chore generally extended beyond one day, since my yard is big enough for two men and a small boy to bring a concentrated effort to the job if it was to be done in a day. Since Mary is disinclined to waste too much energy in such an endeavor, it falls to me, sans extra man and small boy, to get the job done myself, with only the rake to help me.

Now, however, I have entered the modern age of leaf management. The rake of old has been relegated to spot duty around the yard, It's place has been taken by the greatest invention ever conceived by man (for surely it was a leaf raking man who invented it), the LEAF BLOWER. A powerful motor that generates winds up to 180 mph attached to a tube that directs that wind, brings those leaves to their knees. There isn't a leaf left in the world that can withstand the awesome power of the leaf blower. Even the natural breeze is no match for the onslaught of that directed column of fast moving air. Man has finally harnessed the wind. With a couple 100' long extension cords plugged into the garage, I can reach every far corner of the yard, so no leaf is safe from my blowhard friend.

With my new tool, what used to take several days can now be done in several hours. What does that mean in real terms? More nap time, of course. And there are other benefits to consider, the greatest of which occurs when the natural wind is blowing in the direction you want the leaves to go. When that confluence of phenomena, natural wind and man made wind, is brought together by the gods of yardwork, the result is nearly orgasmic (If I smoked, I'd be having a cigarette right now).

God bless you, leaf blower inventor man. I think I love you.

Friday, October 20, 2006

domestic points

It has taken me a while to sort this out, but I have finaly realized that we married men are basically endentured servants struggling to earn enough points to reward us with just a wee bit of domestic tranquility. At least I think that's what those points are for.

It works like this: wife leaves a note with a list of things that she feels needs to be done that day. Indentured servant (husband) reads list and figures if he gets everything done, she will reward him with lots of "points" for doing such a good and comprehensive job. But what really happens is that the LIST itself is only worth one lousy stinking point. Hubby vacuums, cleans the kitchen, washes the floors, takes out the trash, and prepares dinner. Total points earned: ONE. Failure to complete the list results in points LOST. So, say the poor guy forgets to take out the trash. What happens? He is penalized 2 points for being incompetent, lazy, or both. Net result: he's in the hole for the day and has to find some way to make up for the penalty the next day.

Now, being the brilliant strategist that I am, I came up with what I thought would be ways to get around the system. I call them strategems. You may call them excuses if you prefer. Whatever you decide to call them, it works like this: Honey, I couldn't wash the windows because it was raining/snowing/too cold/too hot/the earthquake/the tornado/the hurricane/the meteor shower. These "strategems" work for any outside task on the list like grass cutting, raking leaves, installing a new roof. Sometimes. It helps if the tornado or meteor shower actually materializes and can be corroberated on the evening news. Otherwise, talk fast and nonstop so she can't question you.

That takes care of one item on the list. Complete at least one other listed task and you get the one point for the day, without having to complete the list, and without incurring any penalty points, and save a task for another day and another possible point. The same kind of strategems (or excuses, if you prefer) work for inside tasks: Sorry, Honey, I couldn't vacuum today because the power went out/the vacuum bag was full and I didn't have a new one/my congressman called asking for my advice/I had to rescue the cat from the furnace ductwork. You get the idea. The whole object is to eliminate one or more taks from the list, saving them for another day and still get a point for the day. You do less and get the same reward. Some might call that fraud. I call it clever. Of course, eventually the guy has to do everything on the list, but by spreading out the time frame there is more time for the important stuff like golf, a ballgame, or a nap.

It is of paramount importance to not incurr any penalty points along the way, because of the difficulty of climbing out of the resultant hole. And she can impose a penalty for any number of ridiculous reasons that only members of the Association of Wifely Dictators and Tyrrants (AOWDAT) know about. Failure to empty the dishwasher, even though you ran it as the list dictated, results in a couple lost points because emptying the thing is IMPLIED. Letting the dog out regularly during the day (on the list) can result in lost points because cleaning up the dog shit in the yard (not on the list) is IMPLIED. Doing a load of towels in the laundry and stuffing them in the dryer (on the list) will result in penalty points because folding and putting them away (not on the list) is IMPLIED and you didn't do that, you dummy. There are any number of tasks on the list that have implied aspects to them that our poor peon will only discover when they jump up and bite him in the ass. By then its too late. The hole just got deeper.

This domestic battleground is surrounded by a minefield through which our beleagured man servant must tread very carefully. Trying to distract her from inspecting the jobs done or undone can be a usefull strategem, but one that is fraught with unnecessary risk. Greeting her at the door, when she gets home from a hard day of dealing with reluctant students, with a hug and a kiss and a glass of wine might sound like a wonderful caring thing to do. But, if that is any where near being out of the norm, you are screwed (and not in a good way), because she is going to immediately come to the conclusion that you are trying to hide something. Buy her a bouquet of fresh flowers and she will automatically assume you are guilty of something, and she is damned sure going to find out what. Roses? Don't do it. You might as well put 'em on your coffin, because she will suspicion you to death with her patented AOWDAT stare.

Domestic points are a way to keep tally of where you stand in the marriage relationship, but I still haven't figured out why we struggle so for them and what they are ultimately good for. You might think that I speak with some authority, but don't be mislead. After 37 years of marriage to my first wife, I still haven't discovered what those points are good for. And there is little chance that I will find out anytime soon, since after 37 years I am 3842 points in the hole. But I keep trying.

P.S. This news just in. I changed the bedding today as per the list, but apparently did it wrong. The top sheet is upside down (do sheets have a top side and a bottom side? Who knew?) and the extra quilt for winter was not included with the bedding change. Also, the cat had made a very comfortable, if hairy, nest in the middle of the quilt on the floor. Such a simple task and I managed to lose a whole mess of points trying to do it properly. So make that 3850 points in the hole.
I need a life line here people.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

no more politics as usual

I had something else in mind to write this morning , until I read Dr. Kate's offering on her blog. That got me to thinking about how our perception of our government has changed over the years and how we have strayed from the ideals the framers of the Constitution and the writers of the Declaration of Independence intended.

That isn't to say that we are on the verge of losing those ideals completely, only that it is getting more and more difficult to find them hidden in garbage pile that is politics as usual. We seem to have settled for mediocrity in our leaders. We seem too readily inclined to accept their moral turpitude and greedy agendas as the norm. Pork barrel politics and influence peddling are the accepted means of getting things done in Washington. PACs and lobbyists wield more clout and bring more pressure on legislators than do those office holders' constituents. The Representatives and Senators we elect seem more and more beholden to the purveyors of campaign money than to you and me, and we are the ones who cast the votes that put them in a position to represent our interests. We allow them to pervert our intentions when we elect them, and then we don't raise a commotion when they betray our interests in favor of political gain.

We are increasingly ignored by our elected leaders who feel they can ram down our throats anything they feel is right for the country, without incuding us in the decision making process. It appears that the louder we rail and rant about the course the Nation is taking the less and less they listen. Personal power and influence win the day with many of the legislators who are supposedly carrying our banner into the political fray. We, the electorate, are being systematically disenfranchised by the self serving actions of those we entrust with our national wellbeing.

Sexual scandals and financial shenanigans are so commonplace now that we barely raise an eyebrow at the latest allegations emanating from the power center of our country. The dung heap that is Washington is getting larger and smellier each day. And yet, despite our outrage, the pile gets bigger and bigger. There must be something in the water in Washington, or something in the air in the capitol building, that turns newly elected officials into the dreaded politicians that corrupt the governing process. Idealism gives way too easily to the lure of power. And yet, those officials conveniently forget where the power emanates from: the ballot box.

So it is time for all of us concerned citizens to take back that power by casting votes for candidates that have the moral backbone to withstand the onslaught of corruption and greed and power mania. It is up to us to hold our elected representatives to the ideals and principles set forth by the Founding Fathers, who saw the opportunity for a unique and shining example of the people's power to govern themselves. It is encumbent on all of us to exercise, in the coming elections, the voting power given to us by those wise men 230 years ago, and elect men and women who hold those principles and ideals dear. By doing so we will ensure that this government of the people, by the people, and for the people will endure into the next millenium.

Monday, October 16, 2006

homecoming

On Saturday we had the fun that only college football can provide. We went to the University of Wisconsin homecoming game in Madison. Mary, as an alumna of the UW School of Education, has the opportunity each year to purchase tickets for the game and for the "tailgate" party put on by the School of Education alumni. We had a lot of food, the band showed up at the Union for a pregame concert, and Bucky Badger roamed the crowd pumping up the emotion. This is the fourth time we've done this and it was every bit as exciting and enjoyable as the other times, especially since the Badgers made roadkilll out of the Gophers of Minnesota. The fact that the Badgers scored early and often, reduced the usual tension that accompanies a close game.

We had 4 tickets so we invited our good friends Pete and Judy, our next door neighbors at the lake, and who live in Madison, to join us for the day. Pete and Judy are dear friends and we never fail to have a great time with them, no matter what the occasion. The fact that Pete is as avid a football fan as I am, made the game all the more enjoyable. While Pete and I talked about the game going on in front of us, Mary and Judy somehow found enough to talk about other than football, which both can live without just fine, for the duration of the game. The only time they took a breath from their conversation was at halftime, when they were enthralled by the marching band. During the game, Mary would occasionally poke me in the side to enquire if we had scored any home runs yet, and then, assured that the game was well in hand, go back to whatever she and Judy found so interesting to talk about in the midst of all those screaming fans.

The day was sunny but cold, with enough of a breeze to make us thankful to have had the sense to wear 4 layers of insulation between the cold air and our old bodies. That clothing was, of course, mostly red and white, so we were well camoflaged in the crowd of similarly clothed fans. Four layers and a lot of jumping up and down kept us from suffering any long lasting effects of the cold.

It's been a real kick going to these past few homecomings, since, when we were students at UW, we only got to a couple of games during our time there. We couldn't afford the tickets, nor did we have the time. We were too busy working, and in Mary's case, studying, to afford the cost or time for the games. We now enjoy vicariously the antics and cheers of the students. In fact much of our attention is often focused on the student section of the stadium to see and hear what they've come up with that might get them expelled en mass from not just the stadium, but school itself. Great entertainment.

Anyone who has ever been to a college football game knows what the feeling is like when you have 80,000 fans all dressed in school colors, all cheering at the same time, the band blaring its encourgement, the cheerleaders jumping around, and most of all, the players giving their best effort on the field. If you have never had the experience, jump at the first opportunity you get to participate in this rite of Fall. There are few things in the world that can evoke the kind of shivers that you can get when the band plays the school song, the fans stand as one and sing Varsity, waving their arms with emotion, and the home team brings us all a victory to revel in. I can't wait until next year. Hope you all get the chance to cheer for your team, too, and have as much fun as we had.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I swear

I was always a good little boy. Then a good young man. I rarely used profanity or uttered a vulgar word. At least not out loud. I didn't want to have to confess it on Saturday when Father Hoeller would hold down the confessional and mete out extreme quantities of Hail Marys and Our Ffathers for even the most trivial of offenses. I think he thought he was God or something.

Anyway, I had a vocabulary devoid of those nasty words that good little Catholic boys weren't supposed to know. Even when I got to college I still didn't jump at the chance to lace my conversation with gratuitous profanities, despite the new found freedom to express how I really felt about something. I just was never comfortable with vulgar expressions. I may have proclaimed "damn" on occasionally receiving a lesser grade than I thought I deserved, or utttered a faint "shit" when I realized I had forgotten an assignment or something, but the nastiest words of the language were not part of my vocabulary. I was just not comfortable with them.

Then I joined the army. The Army Reserve to be exact. Long story short: I was dodging the draft and hopefully avoiding going to Vietnam. This was 1970 and when I graduated that year my draft lottery number was way past due and losing my student deferrment meant instant draft notice. So instead of going to my college graduation, I went home to my hometown and enlisted that same day in the Reserve. So there I was a newly minted Private with no idea what I was getting into. And the language spoken by the veteran soldiers in the unit made it clear that I was from another planet communication-wise.

Army language typically resorts to the basest form of communication. Words that I would never have dreamed of saying outloud became so normal that confessing them would have had me on my knees saying penance for all eternity. But to fit in and be one of the boys, I had to learn to set aside my squeemishness and join the party, or be labeled as an effete college boy. I found that I had a real knack for the baser aspects of the English language once I got over my initial reluctance to participate. I even found there is a certain poetry that applies to those profane, vulgar, and obscene words when they are strung together by the truly gifted cussin NCO.

I strove to become that cussin machine. And I succeeded quite well, thank you. Once I learned that the word "fuck" is the basis for all military communication, I was home free. As a noun, a verb, an adjective, and an adverb, "fuck" has no equal in the language. It is the derivative from which all else flows. You can add any other word to that root word and be understood by anyone wearing a uniform anywhere in the world. "Mother" has certainly been a favorite add-on that can cover a multitude of circumstances. And once I became comfortable using "mother"' and "fuck" together, all the other formerly forbidden words just gushed out of the reservoir in the back of my brain, where they had been stored, awaiting permission to salley forth into the light.

However, my new found fredom of expression didn't necessarily transfer to the civilian side of my life. I found that I was essentially bilingual, even though English was the chosen language. There are just some words that don't cross the bridge between military and civilian usage gracefully. Too many times, when I'd forget where I was, the wrong form of English would find its way into the conversation, much to my embarrassment and to the chagrin of those receiving my bombardment of filth and vulgarity. The inlaws didn't always know what to say or how to react when the fine and decent young man who had married their daughter suddenly turned into a filth-spewing monster. My dear departed mother was scandalized the first time she heard me drop an f-bomb, and immediately started a novena in an effort to save me from damnation. The occasional slip up at work usually resulted in flushed cheeks and averted eyes and a hasty retreat from my presence. And that was the guys. The women fairly swooned.

I gradually learned to control my impulses to inject the more colorful phrases into the conversation when with friends and family. But there were still no rules at home, where I felt free to let loose with whatever made me feel better about the current situation. I stayed well in practice at home, never losing my profane edge. However, the consequences of my disdain for polite discourse when at home began to show in the development of Mary's more diverse, shall we say, way of expressing herself. I'm ashamed to admit that I taught her everything she knows when it comes to swearing like a trooper. But I refuse to take the blame for her apparent enthusiasm and her delight in using those words. She is after all, an English teacher, so language is her stock in trade. How she chooses to use her new vocabulary is her responsibility. Don't shoot the messenger.

Typically, how she chooses to express herself when on one of her rants--usually precipitated by something I said or did--is to string together every nasty, disgusting, vulgar, obscene word or expression she has ever been exposed to in an unending flow of uninterupted filth. She can't seem to separate each word into its own little identity when she gets going. Nor does it make much sense--at least not to me. It just makes me laugh, which , of course, only encourages her to let loose with a futher bombardment of vulgarity. I must say she can be quite creative when she gets going. Her generally prim demeanor gives lie to the serpent beneath. And I suppose it is all my fault for corrupting her. She didn't bargain on getting such an expressive partner when she said, "I do." Neither did I for that matter, so I guess we cancel each other out.

The real jolt that my usage of the vulgar and profane aspects of my language had an effect on those within earshot came when my two children first surprised me with their knowledge and ability to mimic their father. When I first heard my daughter use a naughty word (and she was an adult at the time), it was nearly as shocking as seeing her first tatoo. My son didn't surprise me nearly as much when I first heard the cuss words coming from him, since he was involved with sports all through school and we know that athletes are second only to soldiers in their colorful language. Still, hearing my little boy (by now a grown man) spew forth with the common language of the courts and playing fields made me realize that he felt it was ok, because dear old dad had set an example.

I am happy to say that I am making a concerted effort to reform myself and return to the innocent language of my youth. I only occassionaly resort to vivid espressions of profanity now. I try to restrain myself when I feel the urge to let fly with the worst verbiage I know. I still fall into the garbage pile when I am particulary upset, but my flopping into the waste dump of language is less and less frequent. Now if I can only get Mary to follow my lead again. She is becoming a bad influence on me. No less than I deserve I guess.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

diy and save and satisfy

I figure I saved at least few hundred dollars this week.

While doing some routine window washing last week, Mary discovered that one of the big (approximately 5'x5') storm widows on the dining room was rotting a bit at the bottom rail. She requested that I look at it to determine if it could be fixed without too much fussing around. You know, a little wood filler here and a little wood filler there. Slap some paint on it and be done.

I, being the do-it-yourself-or-die-trying one in the family, determined that just repairing the window was a stopgap measure unworthy of my talents. Anyone can slop some wood filler and paint on a window and call it a day. In my defense, however, I did take the storm window down and examine it closely to see the extent of the rot. There was a wee bit too much to fill and expect it to look ok and perform as a good storm window should. So I relegated it to the trash pile and set out to make a new one.

Making a window is no easy task. This particular window has four glass panes divided by a cross mullion. For the uninitiated and uninformed and uninterested, that means that there are two pieces of wood, one vertical, the other horizontal, inside the outer frame separating the glass panes. Getting those mullions and the frame all connected together, where everything is square, is the challenge. And of course it all has to fit back into the window frame on the house, which isn't necessarily square either. Lots of fussing around which is what Mary wanted to avoid. But how uninteresting is life if we don't do some fussing around now and then?

After a trip to the lumberyard (one of my most favorite destinations in all the world) to select the clear pine for the frame, a stop at the hardware store for a router bit (I had a bit that would work, but I just craved a nice new shiny sharp one) and some glazing compound (again, for those of you who wish to be educated, that is the stuff that holds the glass in place and seals out the weather), and an hour or so getting the work area in the garage (I needed the extra space to accomodate the size of the window) ready to go, I was in business. It took awhile to get set up because I had to haul one of my three table saws (don't ask) up from the basement workshop.

I am in a state of bliss when I have such a project to work on. The time flies by unnoticed when I'm wrapped up in the measuring and cutting and fitting of all the pieces that go into such a job. I love the whine of the saw as it cuts into the wood. I love making the cuts accurate to within a hair. I love when the newly cut pieces fit together like they were always meant to be. I love the crisp clean groove cut by the router. I love making sawdust. I even love cleaning up the sawdust when I'm finished for the day.

The window is nearly completed as I write this. It is sitting on the sawhorses out in the garage waiting for a second coat of paint. The glass will go in tomorrow and the window will go back into the frame on the dining room where it belongs. The whole thing took only a few hours in real time, but was spread over 5 days. Of course, this cold weather we're having makes the paint dry slower, but I do like to prolong the pleasure as much as possible.

Now that it is nearly finished, I have to find another project to fill the gap left behind by the completed window. It will be back into the workshop/studio now to work on those sculptures I have stored in my brain. Or maybe some new tables for the living room. Anything that will allow me to make another trip to my beloved lumberyard and hardware store.

And, oh yea, making the window myself is where the few hundred dollars saved came from. My outlay for materials was around $70. Having a new window made by someone else would have cast a minimum of $500. Add in the cost of keeping me content for 5 days, satisfied with myself, and I saved a small fortune. I'm cheap and easy.

Monday, October 09, 2006

what's in a name

Don't get me wrong. I love college football. It's those team nicknames that have me wondering, confused and amused. Whose idea was it, anyway, to attach nicknames to our athletic teams? Why couldn't they be left alone to be known simply by the institution's name that they represent?

Granted, some of the names are ok, even inspiring. Some of them aren't embarrassing. Some of them even inspire dread among their opponents. Like Spartans and Trojans. But there are still some that are decidedly politically incorrect like Seminoles, Souix, Aztecs, and maybe Illini, although that could go either way. You'd think that in this day of rampant PCism, that that horrible warchant that spoils the autumn air in Florida would cause the Natives to rise up a smite those idiots with a real war axe upside their collective heads.

Using the name of a verocious animal, or at least a tough critter, seems to be the way a lot of teams like to go. You have your Huskies, Razorbacks, Longhorns, Bulldogs, Tigers, Lions, Panthers, Wolverines (though my guess is that there hasn't been a real live Wolverine spotted in Michigan in at least a hundred years), Badgers (again, if anyone has actually seen a Badger of the animal variety anytime within the past 150 years or so in Wisconsin, please contact the DNR immediately), Hawks, Eagles, and an assortment of other fearsome beasts that have a local flavor or meaning. But you also get some Ducks (ooh, ooh, here come the cute little duckies) and Gophers (damn those petty little nuisances in my lawn). And let's not forget the made-up names that are somewhat animalistic, but not real, like Hawkeyes (I guess they can just see you coming really well) and Wildcats (look out, honey, here come those awful Undomesticated Pussies).

Of course we can't really find fault with the names that show some respct for the history of a particular region like Sooners, Cornhuskers, and Boilermakers, although if I was attending Oklahoma, Nebraska, or Purdue, my career goals would probably not include being a wagon driver, a farm hand, or a sheetmetal worker. But that's just me.

I'm not totally sure what a Buckeye is other than it originated in Ohio. Somekind of nut I think. So Ohio State players are a bunch of nuts. Or just nuts. That pretty much explains Ohio.

But the really weird names that have no satisfying explanation or ascertainable origin are what make me wonder if these are really institutions of higher learning we're dealing with. Can anyone satisfactorily explain the derivation of Hoosier? I get hoosier confused a lot of the time with hosery, so I tend to think of Indiana's players as a bunch of guys with really nice socks. And please, someone, anyone, explain to me what a Nittany lion is. Is Nittany a place (as in, I went to Nittany yesterday, but it was closed) or a description (as in, oh, Bruce, you look so nittany in that outfit)? I'm dying to know who came up with that one. Penn State probably awards graduate credits to anyone who can offer a clear explanation of Nittany.

Just some things to think about while you watch the next round of games this weekend. I know I'll be looking forward to the
Badgers turning those pesky Gophers into roadkill.

Friday, October 06, 2006

this instead of that

Earlier inn the week I sat down here at the computer intending to write about the outrageous violence that we were swamped with in the news. But I found it too difficult to find the words that could adequately express my horror and outraage at all that mayhem. I needed room to breathe, to get away from the horrible thoughts that were crowding my brain. So I escaped for a couple days to the cottage in central Wisconsin and met a good friend there, who joined me for two days of golf and good companionship.

While on the golf course I got to thinking about the contrast between what I saw before me and what I was running away from. See if you don't agree that this picture is a better image to hold onto than the image of 5 young Amish girls shot to death by a raging lunatic.

Isn't this view better than the mind's eye view of a high school principal shot to death by a disgruntled student as happened in a small Wisconsin town last week?

Would'nt you rather look at this picture than imagine the obscene emails sent to young boys by a pervert of a congressman?

I realize that sustituting pretty golf course landscape pictures for the horrendous images we have been subjected to this past week won't make the bad stuff go away. But at least it can camoflage the filth and violence for at least a little while, so that we can face the next onslaught of violence and perversions, knowing that there is still beauty to behold in our world if we just take the time to look for it.

Please, everyone, take the time to see the beauty in your fellow man and in the world. In this time of year, when the trees are in thier most colorful glory, we can better appreciate the goodness around us if we just take a moment away from the inunndation of garbage to realize that all is not lost to the dark side. As we said back in the '60's, "peace and love, brother."

Monday, October 02, 2006

a year gone by

It has been a year since I started posting on this blog. A year that has vanished before I realized it was even moving on by. In looking back over some of the writings I left here in the past months, it seems that I wrote them all just yesterday. Or maybe the day before.

During that year I heard from some interesting people, was lead to read some interesting blogs, made, I hope, some new friends, and established an identity of my own that makes others want to hear what I have to say. My hope is that I've been at least a little amusing at times, opinionated enough to spark a reaction in others, honest about how I feel about whatever subject came up, and able to write in a way that you all can appreciate.

For me, the writing is the important thing. The fact that my blog page is unadorned with any of the doodads and bells and whistles that so many others create for their pages, just shows that either I am only interested in writing, or that I am thoroughly incapable of creating any of those bells and whistles for myself. I suspect that while I love the writing part, I would gladly prettify my blog if I could figure out how to do it without having to spend the next year learning all that computer stuff. I am, and will probably remain, a complete technophobe. It truly is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Especially when he doesn't want to learn. So don't expect any majorly creative changes to what you see here. I might try a new template, but only if I can do it without undo mental anguish.

So now as I embark on a new year's worth of drivel, opinion, amusement, insight, revelation, questioning, autobiographical maunderings, and just plain nonsense, I hope you will continue to accompany me through the next year, leave a comment on occasion, and invite others to wonder at the idiocy this writer has the audacity to commit to the page. After all, if I can waste the time writing it, it's only fair that you continue to waste a little time reading it.

I'll check back with you in a year. Until then, read on, as I intend to continue providing something for you to read.