dminmem

dminmem

28 December 2006

The Fourth Day of Christmas

Every time I come home I experience a myriad of emotions. It's like riding the Beast at King's Island.

After driving Cameron's truck in the rain with worn out windshield wiper blades for over six and a half hours on a trip that usually takes less than six hours, we arrived in Louisville at around 9:30 P.M. EST on Christmas evening. I called my mother's house and Christopher answered the phone. He passed me to Tina and then she passed me to my mother who I quickly explained that we didn't really have plans for the week, yet, but we did for Christmas night.

We continued through Louisville to New Albany to my Dad's house. We needed to go see him then because he was going to French Lick the next day and I wasn't sure when I'd be able to see him later in the week. As soon as we arrived, I had to take the dogs for a walk. I ended up standing in the rain for at least 20 minutes waiting for Billie to go. And, every time she'd get close to going something would distract her and we'd have to start all over again. A kid on a bike. Somebody walking by. An old maid coming out of her house with her dog -- I think demonstrating to me that she was watching me. I wanted to yell at her, "Thanks, cow. Congratulations. You, too, have a dog. And, no, I'm not casing your crappy house and am not interested in you. Go back in the house, clown." But, instead, I fussed at my baby girl, who then became more uncomfortable than she already was. Shame on me.

We eventually walked back to Daddy's house and visited for a couple of hours. We ate turkey and dressing, cheesecake and pickled-okra rollups. Those were fantastic. They're just like the rollups with ham, cream cheese and baby dill pickles but with pickled okra instead. We made plans to join him and his girlfriend for dinner Thursday (tonight) at Tumbleweed.

We left and got to Thom's new house in Jeffersonville at around 11:30. After catching up with Thom's roommate Reese, we got to bed sometime around 4:00 A.M.

Later Tuesday morning, I got up around 9:00 A.M. Reese had already taken the dogs outside and fed them, no doubt because Doris was whining at him while he tried to sleep. I spent a good part of the morning researching Louisville ad agencies. Typically, there are places with great clients and reputations to go along with it. And, there are others with sucky clients that seem like good places to work. My mother, stepfather and little brother have all worked in agencies around town. Doe. PriceWebber. Paul Schultz.

Cameron and I left the house around 11 A.M. to run some errands. Pep Boys for new wiper blades. The Home Depot for some gift cards. The liquor store. Another stop for a gift card. Around 6:30 we picked Thom up at the airport. He had finished several days flying and was arriving from Detroit. After we dropped him at his house we drove to Tina's for the evening. My youngest sister's house is always a beehive of activity. My nephews, Matt and Andrew, are members of a Christian rock band. They were practicing with their mates in the basement. Of course, I would be expected to say that they're really good -- but they are. My niece, Kayla, is growing so quickly. Or, perhaps that it seems that way because so much time passes between the times I see her. This is one of the reasons that I've been longing to return to Louisville. I missed out on the boys growing up and although I'm more involved with Kayla, I'm missing her, too.

We met Dan's brother who was visiting from outside Nashville. It was my first time meeting him and his two kids. He seemed perplexed, not fully understanding Cameron's and my relationship, but I'm sure that will be clarified for him sometime later.

Tina made a fantastic pork tenderloin. Because we had discussed how she might do it differently than she usually does while Cameron and I were navigating I-65 at a high rate of speed, I forgot to ask her how she ended up doing it. She explained that she usually roasts them in a bag, but thought she wouldn't this time. It was so tender, I'll bet she did. We talked for a bit. Ate dinner. Shared stories, photographs and Christmas gifts. We got to meet her new boxer, Daisy, and see Pebbles, her Bichon Frise. Sweet babies. Kayla showed me that she'd redecorated her room. We eventually left Tina's around 11:00 and headed back to Thom's. He had asked us not to stay out past midnight so that we could see him before turning in. He was only off work for one day during our visit. He's been one of my closest friends since sixth grade and we usually stay with him when we come home. If you knew Thom you would know that the new house is all he's talked about since we picked him up. I understand his excitement and am happy for him. But I don't have short-term memory loss. I usually only have to hear something once or twice before I'll remember it. Everything he's told me I've heard 4 or 5 times. Sometimes more. But, that's Thom and things wouldn't be right if they were different.

The next morning, after asking if my laptop was permanently attached to my body, Thom called Norma at Renslow's Bargain Barn to ask if we could get a special opening on a day she's normally closed. She agreed. So, after the battery ran down on my MacBook I took a shower and we left for White Castle. YIPPIE!

According to my mother, White Castle is the first restaurant I ever ate in. I was in a stroller and was given a cup of pickles in a paper condiment cup while she and my Aunt Barbara ate their small, hot, square burgers. That location was at Eastern Parkway and Bardstown Road in Louisville. (If you look at this excuse for a blog with any regularity I've probably told this story before). Unfortunately it was razed to make way for a lovely Valvoline Instant Oil Change a few years after I moved to Memphis. This trip would have us stopping at the Highway 62 location in Jeffersonville for 6 White Castles (with mustard, ketchup, pickles and onion), crinkle-cut fries and a large Big Red, each, for Cameron and me. Thom ordered four fish with cheese. A block away, we discovered only one fish in the bag and no straws. A U-turn and a few more minutes in the drive-thru lane, we had Thom's fish, two straws and were on our way to Vienna to see Norma and rummage through her store.

We visited with Norma for a little bit and scrounged around. I found a turquoise melamine tray with "cruising the Mississippi" on a banner that crossed the tray diagonally with small illustrations of St. Louis on both ends and a black metal tole tray with painted dogwoods I plan to put on the chest of drawers in the guest room. Lastly, I picked up a 12-sided mason jar with spring closure that matches the taller one we have at home to keep angel hair pasta in. This one will be perfect for shell or elbow macaroni. Thom was disappointed in finding only an old Taylor wall thermometer.

He went to take a nap while Cameron and I watched "A Prairie Home Companion" when we got back to his place. Before the movie started, we discussed what we might do for dinner. In case you can't tell, I have this thing for restaurants in which grew up eating. Among the few that haven't closed or been replaced with lesser institutions like Valvoline Instant Oil Change, we try to rotate our choices each time we visit -- except with White Castle -- it's an every visit stop. Kingfish for panfried oysters, Tumbleweed for anything good in TexMex, Moby Dick for good, fast seafood and fried okra. Kaelin's or the Bristol Bar & Grille every once in a while for a great burger. And in the case of the latter, artichoke fritters with remoulade sauce, California club salads with Harry's famous dressing, and Bristol burgers on English muffins with bleu cheese and grilled onions with burgundy sauce.

When it comes to pizza though, growing up, it was always Pizza King on Eastern Boulevard in Clarksville. Housed in a former drive-through convenience mart or drive-thru dry cleaner -- I think convenience mart and Thom thinks dry cleaner -- an oddly shaped building with angled wing-like awnings over an "A" shaped frame with sliding glass doors on either side, plate glass on the front and brick box in the back. It was barely large enough for two people to stand at the counter at the same time. But the pizza was incredible. Thin crusted, the sausage pizza was loaded with an even layer of rosemary-rich Italian sausage that had been properly broken up into a fine grain -- not like the sausage rocks that Pizza Hut and Papa John's use. It was cut into squares instead of wedges, and instead of boxes, the pizzas arrived on a cardboard disk inside a paper bag that had been folded in such a way to "tent" the pizza and keep it warm.

When I got a little older and moved to Louisville, it wasn't long before I learned about Impellezeri's -- home of the 35 lb. pizza. This became my pizza place until Mrs. Impellezeri died a few years back and the restaurant closed. So, now that Impellizeri's was gone and the Pizza King we'd always driven 20 minutes for as children was replaced with a car wash, I was on a quest for another of the original locations. A new location in a relatively new strip mall on Charlestown Road in New Albany has trains that deliver beverages to your table if you're sitting in a booth. But I was looking for a no-frills version like the one I remembered. It would be the sort of place with wooden disks attached to the wall to indicate the size of the 10, 14 or 16 inch-pizzas they offer. I found it a mile or so from Thom's house on Highway 62, again, in Jeffersonville. The pizza comes in a box now, but thankfully, the familiar "King" was on the lid and it carried the sausage pizza I remembered so well from my early childhood in the late sixties.

After devouring too much pizza, we watched "Confidence". It was a mobster/grifter/cheater type movie starring one of my favorite actors, Ed Burns. So handsome. The film seemed to drag along in places, but it was engaging enough. I've never seen Dustin Hoffman look so disgusting. His gums were green. He was gross and perfectly suited to his disgusting character. We got to bed around 1 A.M.

Today, we went to Bernie's Bargain Barn, which while it's name is similar to Renslow's, it's nothing like it. Where Renslow's is two barns where finding something is like finding buried treasure, Bernie's is a huge, clean, well-organized place. Although I found some great things at Bernie's I prefer the atmosphere of Renslow's. Plus, Norma is at Renslow's -- she'd make anyplace worth visiting.

Later, we met my mother and stepfather (who I sometimes refer to as "bonus" father) and sister for a few frames of bowling on the dryest lanes I've encountered in recent history, Blackiston Lanes. Talk about bad, my scores were consistently 40 to 60 pins below my average. But it was fun. It was the second time my mother has met Cameron. And, they actually appeared to be having a good time talking to each other. I have been waiting for this day for 14 years. And rather that go into all that now, I'm just glad it happened today.

After our goodbyes, I came back to Terrace Heights to shower and prepare to meet my father and his new (at least to me) girlfriend, Michelle at Tumbleweed for dinner. Cameron had eaten too much at the bowling lanes, and was tired, so he stayed behind. I really liked Michelle. We discovered during conversation that we not only knew many of the same people, but that we'd both worked at some of the same places many years ago.

I'll elaborate on the last two or three paragraphs later, but now it's 10:33, Eastern, my back hurts and I'm tired. I'm going to research the new bridges that are going to be built from Indiana to Kentucky over the Ohio River. Then, I'm taking my girls upstairs, kissing Cameron goodnight and I'm going to get more that 4 or 5 hours' sleep tonight.

Pleasant dreams and here's to a great fifth day of Christmas.

20 December 2006

God Bless You

This post is for Matt v2.0:

It's been a few days since I last checked in on you. I cannot tell you how much I admire your efforts to reinvent yourself and change the way you live life from this day forward (regardless of which day it is). I understand "one day at a time". I am galvanized by your spirit and your zeal for achieving everything that you can possibly achieve. Sometimes I have felt as if I needed to go down the same road you've chosen. Sometimes I try. In some ways I'm committed.

I am grateful to you for making me open my eyes. And, to you I say, do what you have to do to preserve yourself and the goals you are setting for your life. Bravo, you.

It hurts me to see that someone has said something in a response to one of your posts that might make you recoil. I know that we all go through change at our own pace and to be healthy we need to limit input from people that don't get it. And, there are people who will never "get it" who think it's perfectly acceptable to make comments whether they're appropriate or not.

To that, I say you are amazing. I figure that there are thousands of people who wish they could make the commitment to change that you have. Don't let anyone take that away from you.

Keep working toward what you know is best for you. I know God is blessing you. And, if ripping out all of your knit-one, perl-twos (now you know I don't know how to knit) causes you to start over (or look at a situation from a new perspective), it's what's meant to be. You can only become more brilliant from here.

xoxo d

Has the Ellipsis Fairy Cast a Spell on Me?

I'm not really fond of ellipses. Or exclamation points. Or, anything dramatic in copy. In fact, I lose commas when I can. Addresses don't need commas. Spaces suffice with the advent of two-letter abbreviations for states. Plus, graphically-speaking, unnecessary decenders just plain old suck.

So, in the interest of preserving my virtue, don't pay attention to the titles of the next two posts.

This message is brought to you by the sane half of dminmem's brain, trying desperately to take over both spheres. (The more creative side will always win, so this is a loser's lament.)

I Forgot to Mention...

The 9:30 A.M. presentation originally scheduled for this morning was postponed until 10 January 2007. No specific time, as yet.

No less harrowing, we're just deer in the headlights, now, instead of deer through the windshield.

Yippee!

There's a Light...

Remember Frank N. Furter? Hopefully you do.

We used to go the Vogue Theater in St. Matthews (Louisville) at Midnight on Saturday nights to throw hot dogs every time his name was mentioned. Or, rolls of toilet paper anytime anyone in the movie would say, "Dr. Scott." Pieces of toast, playing cards and many other items were tossed at other points during the weekly screenings of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

If you are too young to remember, don't watch the movie on a cable-accessed screening. Look for a theatre that's playing it. It's the only way to see the movie that pretty much launched the career of Susan Sarandon. Unfortunately, Tim Curry didn't get much of a boost, but he at least had some memorable roles (in my idiot opinion). And, apparently, according to IMDB, lots of voiceover work in animated roles and two yet unreleased features that are in post-production.

That was a tangent. Sorry.

The light I was initially referring to is the one where I believe I have addressed the last Christmas card I will address this year. Thanks to some encouraging words from my friend (I think it's OK to say this -- it's still new to us) GBoogie, it's time to let go. I have now had the time to clean up after myself. Since Cameron is gone I can blame nobody but myself for eating crap for the last week and having empty pizza boxes to throw out. When he's home I make sure to do my best to provide appealing, nutritious and different meals. God knows, eating on the road is no picnic. (No, I'm not wearing an apron and pearls). But, when he's gone I can fully sustain myself on leftovers and a bit of stir-fry. Lately, though, who has time to do even a little stir-fry?

After avoiding any type of fast food for the previous four months (excepting maybe 3 or 4 times), I have committed sacrilege on my well being during the last week by consuming Wendy's (twice), Pei Wei (twice), Burger King (today), Back Yard Burger (yesterday lunch) and finally a whole pizza (a small spicy italian last night from Papa John's). Talk about knocking the crap out of losing 15 pounds... and not needing any laxative the next day.

Sorry. Just had to say it. I feel like I've been sitting on the shop-vac.

Anyway, I am going to venture out to the garage and peek in the freezer. Surely I'll find something that resembles healthful eating -- I usually make extra of whatever for just such an occasion. And I can actually take a breath knowing that the remainder of shopping I have to do is minimal, that I have a few gifts to wrap, and, SURELY the packages I've been waiting for will arrive tomorrow.

Pleasant dreams. Cool Yule (more on that to come). Merry Christmas to all.

19 December 2006

The Table is Full

If you've spent any time looking at these posts you've probably guessed that I don't usually have anything really significant to say. Sometimes I do, though. This may or may not be one of those times.

It's a place where I come when I feel like writing, whether it's for joy or pain, love or hate, ranting or raving, remembering or forgetting. Or, voicing my opinion on a myriad of things all over the map.

Maybe this isn't an ideal use of my time or this space. But, for now, it's what it is.

Right now, I am on the verge of tears. Anger. Pain. Disbelief. I am begging for understanding on how any parent could do this to their child.

I followed a link from our internal website to the headlines on CNN.com:



I was reared in the Christian faith. I believe that the Church's teachings leave a lot on the table. Fortunately, in my early twenties I met someone who I encouraged me to look beyond the Church and understand the truth in God's message.

Fast forward a few years (don't ask) and I believe that in one way or another those of us who believe in a supreme being or higher power are more than likely worshiping the same God. We just call that God by different names. Outside of religious fanatics that believe that it's their duty to rid the world of evil (it is not -- the Bible tells me so), we all are instructed in whatever language to love unconditionally. It's something I struggle with in many ways big and small every day of my life. Part of what "unconditional" includes is forgiving.

When I see things like the story above, I cannot. I'll never understand how a Judge could sentence this monster of a parent to anything other than the maximum penalty allowed by law. She has altered the course of this little girl's life forever.

She should feel privileged that she was able to take parenting classes and vocational training. Unfortunately, her daughter paid for those classes.

I think she should spend the rest of her life making license plates and praying that her daughter can find the help she needs to function in society. I pray that my feelings are justified in that I am happy the appeals judges disagreed with the decision.

18 December 2006

Yep. Spazz.

How 80's is that? Doesn't matter. That's what I am tonight and here's why.

1. I'm not done Christmas shopping.
SPAZZ

2. I haven't wrapped anything that I've already purchased.
SPAZZ

3. I haven't finished mailing Christmas cards because my address book is stuck somewhere between Mac OS9 and OSX Tiger (which doesn't run OS9 applications like the OSX jaguar, panther, whatever version that I have at work that doesn't have the most updated Now Up-to-Date information like the old disconnected Mac G3 that lives in the attic now. I am having to go through at least two years worth of old filed e-mails to find up-to-date information -- and working while at work makes this difficult.
SPAZZ

4. I don't know whether the presentation we're supposed to make at 9:30 Wednesday is postponed until the second week of January, as it should be. There was talk of that, but no answer as yet. We have had less than a week to pull magic out of thin air. And those of you who know me know that I am only using that phrase to be polite. I am taking Christmas week off, so presenting later will be difficult enough to accomplish.
SPAZZ

5. I am still waiting for delivery of several gifts that I ordered well before the cutoff date.
SPAZZ

6. I have been awake since 4 a.m. (I got up to spend a few minutes with Cameron and to move my car so he could leave on a 5-day trip). Of course, neither of us had enough rest. Unfortunately for us, there was a call from scheduling, around 8:40 p.m., informing us that Cameron had been assigned a trip for which he was ineligible earlier in the day, due to seniority issues. Apparently the asshole who was initially assigned the trip called in sick right after their assignment. Then another dick pulled the same stunt. And, as I have mentioned in the past, Cameron does what he agreed to do when he accepted his job 17 years ago.

Wouldn't it be nice if, after being assigned a project, I could suddenly feign illness in order to pawn the task off on someone else?

"Oh. I'm sick. I won't be able to complete this crappy project for the moron who doesn't know the difference between good marketing strategy and his wife's opinion. Oh, she took an art class? Isn't that grand...
SPAZZ

Sorry. I'm just tired. It's midnight and I should be concentrating on the other things I've listed above. But my penmanship get's sloppy after hours of handwriting, and we can't have that. I should be in bed, but I haven't posted for a while. And after reading the rant above, perhaps I should have waited.
SPAZZ

But maybe it's good to get it on "paper" and clear my head.

So, in the interest of clearing negative energy and working toward the positive, one last bitch. Then I have to go to bed.

Last Sunday night (not last night but the week before) was the last week of the first half of the season for our bowling league. Going into it, we had been in first place for more than eight weeks and only needed to win 2 games to keep our ranking. We won the first game. But that was the only one.

Now, we're in second after losing by one game to let's just say a generally disliked team of dykes. (One of them is always nice and we like her -- I wouldn't call her a dyke. The remaining three are comprised of: a complete bitch, someone similar to Sally Field's character in the 1976 movie Sybill, and, finally, one whose disposition is about as engaging as yesterday's mashed potatoes.) And, talk about attitude when things don't go their way. While it may sound as if I am a blood-and-guts competitor, I am not. Nor is the rest of my team. While everyone likes to, we don't always win. But we don't let that detract from the camaraderie that we like to share. Not these chicks. They were very "un-fun" at the beginning of the second game. Whatever. (That's our team name, too.)

This, after the fact that we have more total pins than any other team on the league.
Anyway, last night was the first of the second half. And, we bowled very well. All of us. I am very pleased with my 196, 211, and 244.
SPAZZ


Pleasant dreams to all, and to all a good night.

07 December 2006

LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.

Not in the true sense of the word, but in as much as one can love an inanimate object, this arrived today.



LOVE IT.

04 December 2006

Monday, Monday

Oh, what I would give to be home in bed. I've been fighting sinus and upper respiratory problems since the day after Thanksgiving. Yesterday was my last Zithromax day. I'm still on two other prescriptions for a few more days and am keeping my fingers crossed that I'm over this soon.

It's Christmas and I need to be busy, yet I haven't had the energy. There are cards to fill out and mail. Gifts to purchase and wrap. Travel plans need to be made.

Maybe I should double up on my vitamins.

Today concludes my fifth week not smoking. The patches are starting to really irritate my skin to the point that I have what looks like small squarish chemical burns where the patches have been adhered. But it looks like those disappear after a couple days.

I'm going to do my best to have a great Monday. I hope you do, too.

28 November 2006

That's not how you're supposed to do it, is it?

Black Friday. Where did this term come from? Is it a reference to retailers' bottom line? It a reference to the color of shopper's eyes as a result of fighting over the last perfect gift on the shelf?

Either way, it sounds like a bad movie title from the seventies.

We opted to stay away from any retailer that day. Because I was having sinus problems, we chose to put off buying our Christmas tree until Saturday. John and I went bowling instead. This would be my first time to walk into the lanes with my new ball, shoes and bag to bowl. I was very excited until I went up to throw my first ball.

The shoes I had been wearing for bowling (for twenty years) had leather soles on both left and right shoes. They were ugly beige things made by Brunswick, but they were broken in. I could "shuffle" up to the lane in them. Because I am right-handed, my slide shoe is the left. These new shoes have rubber soles on the right shoe (read: NO shuffling), and microfiber on the left.

As I dropped my new ball at the foul line, I followed it for three steps past the line to keep from falling on my face. A man bowling on the lanes to our left asked, "that's not how you're supposed to do it, is it?". Um, no.

Needless to say, the Easy Slide came out of my bag and both shoes were liberally coated with it. I managed to pull a 157 out of that game -- only 30 pins below my average. Then I followed it with a 225, 202, 187, and 199.

Needless to say, I like my new ball.

27 November 2006

Being Thankful

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but I continue to be thankful.

I'm thankful that I am now starting my fifth week without cigarettes. Although these patches tend to be messy (adhesive) and make me have weird dreams, I have to remember the good it's doing me to wear them instead of smoking.

I got out of bed at 6:45 on Thanksgiving. It was a relaxing morning. While frying three pounds of bacon both for breakfast and later use in some recipes, I called my mother and talked for a while.

I baked a dozen biscuits. Thank you, Pillsbury for the frozen buttermilk biscuits that were as good as homemade. I needed two and a half biscuits to complete my ingredients for Cameron's cornbread dressing. We ate breakfast and began preparing other things for Thanksgiving dinner.

In the past, we'd gather around noon and begin Thanksgiving dinner at 1 or 1:30. But, this year we planned to eat at around 6:00. Since the mincemeat and pumpkin pies were baked the night before and the cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, mayonnaise and onions had been layered in a springform pan for the caviar pie, I could map out what I thought would be a relaxing day preparing our dinner.

After a little prep work was completed I made a pitcher of Bloody Marys to take over to my friend Cleo's house. She wouldn't be joining us this year as she had for the last several years. The extra number of folks she wanted to include for Thanksgiving dinner was more than we could handle in our humble home. Cameron's and my list alone was seven -- with her list we'd have been at 13. Our table seats 8, uncomfortably. So I pulled the Grand Prix out of the garage, top down, and drove over to her place. What a beautiful day it was: sunny and 68°.

After spending about an hour there, I was now about 40 minutes off of my predetermined schedule. Less than a mile from home, I had to call Cameron from the car and tell him that I had left my house keys at Cleo's and was on my way back to get them, and would he please fill a muffin pan with the frozen Texas yeast rolls so they could thaw and rise in time for dinner. Of course he was glad to.

I then called Cleo and asked, "are my keys lying in front of your microwave?" They, of course, were. We spent another few minutes on her front porch. I wiped away her tears because she couldn't be with us, I told her that I loved her and headed home. Now, I'm over an hour behind.

Cameron helped me peel potatoes. I cleaned Brussels sprouts, then peeled carrots for Copper Penny Salad. Our friend Nancy Fletcher brought this salad to a Thanksgiving pot luck at our fondly remembered friend Jimmy Davidson's house, years ago. I wanted them this year, for Thanksgiving, because she passed away in September after a long battle with cancer. Remembering how many times we talked about getting together over the years and never doing it made me feel sad. And in some twisted way, having her salad there meant something special to me.

As the clock neared 4:30, our friends began arriving. I finished the caviar pie and set it out for an appetizer and continued finishing up the other things. Dressings went into the oven about 15 minutes late. I couldn't figure out what John had been doing at the other end of the kitchen, but he knocked the receiver off of the phone and it landed on top of the Saran-covered yeast rolls, flattening two of them since they hadn't been baked yet. Cameron finished the mashed potatoes, and put cranberry chutney, baby dills and baby gherkins in serving dishes. We poured gravy into the gravy boat and he put it on the table. Because I oversteamed the carrots, they were just buttered and placed into a covered dish. Copper Penny Salad needs carrots that are not too soft. The oven roasted Brussels sprouts were transferred to an iron skillet and caramelized, then topped with chopped bacon. The ham had been glazed earlier in the day. The turkey was carved.

Since table real estate is limited, everything was served buffet style from the kitchen. We ended up sitting down to dinner at 6:45. Not my best showing with time, but definitely not my worst. With choices of Pinot Grigio and Penfold's Shiraz, dinner turned out pretty nicely.

Afterwards, I whipped the heavy cream for the desserts. Only a couple of people opted for pumpkin pie. I am pretty much the only person who eats mincemeat pie. Even though there isn't any meat in it, I don't think many people get past the name. My mother had always made it for us as children, and it's been a tradition with me ever since. The apples, dates, raisins and spices are fantastic. It's just not Thanksgiving without it.

It's taken me several starts to get this post written, and there's more to come, so stay tuned. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

21 November 2006

Jellied. No Berries, Please.

After I made cranberry chutney Saturday night I pulled a vintage Ball Freezer and Refigerator mason jar out of the cabinet to store it in. Since there was more than enough to fill the jar I filled another smaller jar and took some to our friends Gene and Cindie.

She said, "THIS is cranberry to me. Gene likes the crap in a can."

After I laughed out loud, I told Cindie that I like the crap in the can, too -- but the day after Thanksgiving, with a turkey sandwich on wheat with Hellmann's (even though they didn't take my advice and revert back to glass jars) and lots of baby dills.

Anyway, the recipe for the chutney came out of The Commercial Appeal many years ago. It's pretty easy to make. A bag of cranberries, two cubed apples, a chopped onion, brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, cayenne, black pepper, allspice and a microwave are all you need.

Outside of being excited about the approaching holidays, I am going to drive out East today for lunch. My new bowling ball should be drilled and ready for me to pick up at Bartlett Lanes. I can't wait!



The new ball.

I'm going to see if I can get a group of people together for some practice bowling on Friday afternoon -- prior to our annual pilgimage for a Christmas tree. I need to be ready for Sunday's league bowling. We're still in first, but only by one game now. It's time to step it up.

Happy Thanksgiving.

16 November 2006

Constipation

The parking lot and drive-thru lane at the Midtown Starbucks needs some Ex-Lax. I'm not endorsing a brand. Thankfully, a healthy diet (including plenty of fruits, vegetables and yogurt) and chlorophyll supplements alleviate any necessity for such. It's just what my grandmother always had in the medicine cabinet.

Anyway, I am sure that the persons responsible for planning the Starbucks site did the best they could with their limited knowledge (being out-of-towners, I presume) of how the intersection of McLean Boulevard and Union Avenue works. The intersection was busy when the practically out-of-business Panchos was there 10 years ago.

Now, with the Starbucks on one corner, a giant, hideous Walgreens across the street on the opposite corner, and people driving into the lot the wrong way from McLean and the drive through line extending several cars into Union, it's just a big stinky mess.

Like what Edith left in the cat box last night. Why on Earth is it that when you buy a litter box with a lid that your feline companion feels that he or she can forgo the covering of the crap ritual? She'd much rather scratch on the plastic lid for 45 minutes than take the few seconds to cover up the pile. And, the box is clean. Brand new litter -- two days old.

Speaking of days, I am on day 15. And, dammit, I just realized I forgot to put the patch on again. Perhaps it's a subconcious thing. The Band-Aid residue is gross. But, thanks to a helpful hint from GBoogie and a little experimentation of my own, I have finally figured out how to get the residue off of my skin. The witch hazel worked (with a little scrubbing). Now I'm using baby oil. It's all good.

Oops.

Nonfat-triple-venti-caramel macchiato on the #4 key. Gotta go. Have a great Thursday.

13 November 2006

Something's Not Working

I'm still not smoking. Good.

I'm still watching what and how much I eat. Good. Lost another percentage of body fat. Good. Still at 183. Good.

Haven't made it back to the gym yet. Not so good. Ditto Friday's overindulgence in martinis.

I went to a housewarming dinner party on Saturday. It was a nice, quiet evening with friends in their beautiful new home. Cameron didn't go -- didn't feel up to going -- we were having issues.

Went to league bowling Sunday. The standings sheet says our team is in first place. My average is back up to 180. Chris' is up, too: 215. Out of the four of us, our team's handicap is the lowest on the league. We ended up winning 3 against a team that pre-bowled. What's not working there is consistency. My first game was in the 150s, my second was 214, and the last was 143.

While I have been avoiding any shopping, (good) I am going to look for a replacement ball and shoes, today. Probably a bag, too. My shoes are 20 years old -- which when you consider that I wear them 28 times a year -- I've gotten good service out of them. The ball is at least 8 years old and saturated with lane oil -- resurfacing usually only lasts until around the second game of the week after the service is performed.

Anyway, I don't know if I am expecting too much of myself, too soon.

I guess that's my nature. But, that, in and of itself is the problem. Right now, I can't help it. It seems that when I gain momentum in a certain direction, especially if it's good, I want it across the board. NOW.

It's like that sometimes, too, when I gain momentum in a not so good area too. (Like the last couple of years' credit purchase extravaganza). I go until I can't anymore.

I've got to keep trying. It's Monday. I'm at work and really don't want to be. And, I suppose if I'm doing this instead of revising some design work, I'm making this morning's entry title come to fruition.

Need to get something working.

10 November 2006

Goodbye, Ed



I was sad to see the news yesterday that Ed Bradley had died. On Larry King Live last night his colleagues cemented all that I felt about him. He had always seemed like a great man. And, apparently, he was.

03 November 2006

Ah, Another Glorious Morning...

Remember when Bette Midler played a acerbic witch in Hocus Pocus? She followed the above statement with, "...it makes me SICK!"

Not me. Not today. It has finally stopped raining. It's a bit cool (38° F) this morning at 8:00 A.M.

It's a beautiful day. No cigarettes and and no booze since Tuesday.

And at 9:15 P.M. I left the office after having finished the 44-page layout for an annual report I've been working on for the last week and a half.

Yee haw. I feel great. Now, it's time to put out the fires I've been letting blaze as I've gotten this report done.

Have a wonderful Friday.

02 November 2006

Vivid Dreams

Under the heading "When using this product" on Nicoderm CQ package, bullet two states, "if you have vivid dreams or other sleep disturbances remove this patch at bedtime."

Since last night was the first night for me to wear the patch I didn't know if I would have sleep disturbances. I suppose not being able to go to sleep until well past 3 a.m. would be considered a sleep disturbance. And, I slept lightly. Very lightly.

I'll take the patch off tonight when I retire.

I need to get going -- today is the last day for early voting.

I'll promise to do my best today, but just in case -- LOOK OUT!

01 November 2006

Genesis

Today was a day of a lot firsts that have me pretty excited. This morning, at home, while I was getting old paperwork together for shredding I found myself reaching for a cigarette. Twice. Yet, I intentionally threw away the one cigarette I had left as soon as I got up because today was my quit date. So, after arriving at work I got settled, listened to voice mails and read e-mail. I opened the file for the project I have been working on for the last week and began plugging away at it. Knowing that I was going to be sitting inside Temple of Deliverance Church of God In Christ for an hour or so beginning at 10:30 meant that I had to get some work done before my early "lunch" hour and a half.

I ducked out at around 9:30, ran up to Walgreens and purchased my first box of Nicoderm CQ. While I was there, I found a bag of Popcorn, Indiana Kettlecorn Popcorn. The packaging was so "up my alley" that I had to buy it for the bag, alone, for my reference file. Even though I'd heard of Kettlecorn, I'd never had it and wasn't really that curious about it. I mused about how the company is called "Popcorn, Indiana," yet is based in New York. (There really is a Popcorn, Indiana. Growing up in Indiana I know, too, there's lots of corn.) I carefully removed the hideous chartreuse green "$1.99" sticker that the Walgreen's people stuck haphazardly on the bag and sat it on my desk so I could occasionally look at the simple, folksy design.









Great design gets me every time.


At 10:30, Patty, a former co-worker who's still a good friend, picked me up to take us to the Temple for a political rally for Harold Ford, Jr. The race for Senate between him and Bob Corker is pretty tight, from what I understand. On the dias were some expected dignitaries. Beverly Robertson, the director of the National Civil Rights Museum was on hand. And, God Bless her, two of the others mispronounced her last name as "Robinson". There was Gail Rose. Two other state senators. Bishop G.E. Patterson and his wife. The candidate's father, Harold Ford, former 9th Congressional District Representative. But the main reason I attended was that President Bill Clinton was speaking. So, the second first for me was seeing a President in person. He is still as charismatic, optimistic and insightful as he ever was. He talked about the difference between conservatives (be they Democrat or Republican) and ideologues, saying that conservatives will stop digging when they find themselves in a hole because they realize that they're looking in the wrong place for an answer. In Arkansas, he said, 2+2=4, just like it does in Washington, but that ideologues will test the facts over and over even if they continue getting the wrong result. He said an ideologue believes they know the answers before the question is asked. And, when they find themselves in a hole, and still haven't solved the problem they ask for a bigger shovel. There's more to how his speech moved me but that is totally another subject.

Back at the office, the third of the firsts was opening that bag of popcorn. What a surprise! I read the "story of the product" on the back of the bag while I ate a few delicious kernels. I didn't know that to make kettle corn, cane sugar was added to the kettle along with the corn and oil. At first I thought the popcorn was like a very light version of Cracker Jack, but it was more like the flavor of Fiddle Faddle -- not as dark and heavy as the former. The bag says, "crispy & crunchy, sweet & salty." And, I'm all over anything salty. I had to share it not only because I often go from office to office in the creative department with something new to share, but in this case if I hadn't shared it I would have eaten the whole bag. And, that goes against my renewed nutritional aspirations. Portions, portions. Calories, calories. (Thank you, Robert Harling, for giving Truvy the opportunity to sarcastically mock the woman carved from cream cheese while eating wedding cake at Shelby's reception.)


Give me a cookie.

After work, I went to Petco to buy cookies and Dentabones for Doris and Billie. Once back in the car, I contemplated how pleased I was at making it through the day without a cigarette. So to reward myself, I dialed Cingular directory assistance and called the celebrated Lotus restaurant (of which I'll write more later) to get a carry-out dinner of Vietnamese Vermicelli and Vietnamese egg rolls. I have some left for lunch tomorrow. Maybe I'll write about the virtues of Lotus' vermicelli then.

I hear Nancy Grace on the television. So, as this day of firsts draws to a close, I have not smoked 18 cigarettes. I have saved nearly $4. And, it's time for a good night's rest and looking forward to day two.

19 October 2006



Yo==

Don't you love when you place your hands on the wrong keys? I've gotten so flustered that I can't even remember what I was going to type for the title.



Anyway, time to say goodbye to my Kindergarten picture which has been my profile image, and hello to a more recent shot.

Cameron is home -- I'll have a happy Thursday evening and hope you do, too.

18 October 2006

Take This Card And Shove It

The transformation continues.

Starting several weeks ago I began exorcising the demon that is temptation to impulse purchase large ticket items on credit cards. It began with the payoff and closing of my Platinum American Express.

And so, it continues.

Last week I paid off Blue from American Express, Washington Mutual VISA, MBNA American Advertising Federation MasterCard, Furniture Row (Oak Express), Target RedCard VISA. As the amounts have posted to my checking account I have called and cancelled them, one and all--including other accounts that had no balances but were still open, like Pier 1 Imports and Macy's. How liberating.

I think it's funny that all but two of the victim institutions automatically sent me to the "retention department" where the first thing they say is "We're sorry to hear that you want to close your account, after all, you've been a customer since" the birth of Christ. They subsequently began throwing offers of lower interest rates, rewards points and anything but the promise of a life showered with love, wealth and and 40 virgins to keep earning my interest payments. One of the transactions happened the way it should across the board. "Press 3 to cancel your account." After pressing "3" the recording said, "your account is now canceled. Good bye." How short and sweet.

Those liberating experiences aside, I bought out the lease on my Passat last Saturday. It is another step toward fiscal sobriety. While I don't intend to keep the car forever--it wasn't really what I wanted in the first place. I got pissed off at the Lincoln-Mercury dealer over warranty issues with the Town Car and thought, "I'll be damned if I pay for this warranty work, and I'll be damned if I drive this car with systems inoperable. I'll show them." But, alas, I got shown. The Passat wagon I wanted was $45,000--just a bit ridiculous to me. So I settled for a Passat GS. I have only logged 30,000 miles in the four years I've leased it. On average, it should show somewhere between 48,000 and 60,000 miles.

This means I could have turned the car in and walked away upon the lease term ending, but that would let the dealer reap the benefits of my limited usage and exceptional care. Buying it out gives me a chance to sell it myself for better than average resale and walk away with a little cash. We'll see.

Next on the agenda? A campaign to snuff out butts for good. I signed up on QuitNet as I discussed in an earlier post. Now, Cameron and I have set Halloween as our last night to smoke. He's bought his Costco-sized supply of Nicorette. I am still trying to decide how I'd like to approach quitting this time because I want it to be the last time. I hate the gum. The patches are too strong (I smoke any where from a half-pack to a pack of wussarettes - Now Menthol - a day. They're practically not a cigarette at 2mg tar and .2mg nicotine when you compare them to 17mg tar of the Benson and Hedges my dear friend Cleo smokes). Thankfully, Cameron agreed to switch to Now regulars when we first met -- he just smokes a lot of them which is why he needs the gum. ICK. And if I'm not mistaken, the lightest dosage from a patch is twice the nicotine that I get from smoking. Why increase the dosage?

This time I'm determined to figure it out though. To alter the promise I recited on many a Tuesday evening in my youth, "on my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to quit smoking," (and here's where it gets tricky) "to help other people at all times," (might get tough even if I try not to be bitchy from withdrawal), "to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."

Yeah, I know. There could be implications from the morally straight part, but that's another subject completely. Who's concept of morally straight are we talking about, anyway? As far as I'm concerned I am living morally straight. But, I'm positive that BSA would take issue. To that, I say, whatever.

15 October 2006

Lucky 13

I lost 13 pounds and 4% body fat. I'll start the diet again tomorrow.

My goal is to lose another 10.

04 October 2006

Green Split Pea Soup

The Exorcist scared the crap out of me although I really liked Tubular Bells.

Today, I am beginning a week-long program to exorcise toxins and fat. The last time I did this I lost 15 pounds. I can't think of a better way to get fired up about getting back on my exercise bus. When I was going to Boot Camp religiously, I lost 24 pounds in 8 weeks. And, I went from barely being able to run a sixteenth of a mile during a session to running 3.5 miles per class. I felt great about my accomplishments but I let the holidays get in the way. Can't go tonight -- have to go buy food for Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, Thanksgiving week was a bust. Then it was Christmas parties. Then the first of the year.

I decided that I would rather work out indoors than outside. So I joined Peabody Athletic Club. It seemed to be less populated than the Downtown "Y", and the likelihood of being approached by someone in the wet area was pretty much negated. So I worked out there for two months. When parking became a hassle I quit that and went back to Boot Camp for a month.

That was right before my 25-year high school reunion. I looked and felt great. But, two years later, I'm back up to 185. My eating habits (read: portion control and meal times) have fallen by the wayside. I still eat well, choosing to cook fresh things for myself, avoiding fast or processed food.

30 September 2006

She Wasn't Really a Nazi

I've been in this weird place for a while. With all of the goings on in our lives for the last few months, Cameron suggests that we're depressed. The funny thing is that most of the time I feel fine. But, we have both been contemplating change. Or, growth.

Some of the changes are radical. Some are not so much. But, they're all for the good of us both individually and together. For many weeks I've been working on actually trying to plan financially, budget and invest rather than spend myself into interest-rate oblivion for the first time in my life. Of everything I do I believe that this is the most destructive but it's an ongoing process. It has actually become easier with time. The ridiculous thing is that I worked very hard in 2003 to become debt free. By November all of my credit cards were paid off and the only debt I owed was the mortgage and my car loan. I was so proud.

But we went to Amsterdam in April, 2004 and I was a little short on cash. I guess using that Platinum American Express just once broke the dyke. We were in Holland afterall. So two years later I'm back to wondering how the hell I get myself into this mess, working on getting out of it and moving on to better things.

Which brings me to the next step. We went to an outdoor concert last night to see Keb Mo and Bonnie Raitt. I had heard of Keb Mo but was unfamiliar with his music. If you like blues you have to check him out. Anyway, we arrived at the venue an hour and a half early to secure our place in line, which begets a great seat on the lawn. At these gatherings the people who learned how lines work in Kindergarten file in place as is standard. The others, who apparently were the ones cutting in line at the water fountain, gather on the opposite side and rush in front of those who did their time. This happened last year when we saw John Mayer and Herbie Hancock. But, not last night. Three times last night the event staff went to the front of the line and told everyone forming a clot at the head of the line to go to the back, including a former coworker that thought if she yelled our names and came up to give me an unwanted hug/kiss/whatever that we'd say "Come on in!" Um, don't think so, not only because I would then suck to the people behind me, but also because you are a backstabbing, two-faced nevermind.

After staking our claim on the lawn, Becca cleaned the dog poop off of her new shoes and we were off to a great start. She and Petey brought fantastic food like plank smoked salmon and grilled shrimp and asparagus to share with Petey's brother Danny, his friend Patsy, and us. While we waited the 90 minutes for the show to start, we mixed cocktails, ate, talked and watched slides on the large screens flanking the stage. Because I had read earlier that this was a smoke-free event I was prepared to tough it out for the 3-hour concert. And so was Cameron with his Nicorette (which he uses at work during those long flights). Much to my delight, however, one of the slides stated that smoking was permitted in the Port-o-let area. So Cameron and I went to the far reaches of the space and lit up.

Suddenly, some woman's voice shouted, "PUT THAT OUT". I'm thinking, "what?" There were several other people here smoking that had apparently seen the same slide. "PUT IT OUT, NOW". When I questioned her about the slide she yammered on about "Miss Raitt... blah, blah." I said, there is a slide in rotation that contradicts what you claim. Luckily, the young woman who was working the Will Call window during lunch yesterday recognized me and said she would correct the woman. But rather than make a crappy situation worse I thanked her for her concern and walked outside the gates to smoke -- where to a guard I referred to the "PUT THAT OUT" lady as a Nazi. He was much more gentle and told me I need to put those down anyway, but that I could go outside with my stub, get stamped and come back as much as I liked.

The second time I went to smoke, the first volunteer was gone, but now there was a very friendly young man working as a guard who bummed a couple of smokes as we talked. I'm supposing he was a friend of Dorothy, too. Not that it makes any difference, but it's nice to run into folks like us sometimes.

All this is to say that I'm tired of being in situations like "PUT THAT OUT" for the sake of a cigarette. So, they're next on the change agenda. I'm reading a book called "The Easy Way to Quit" which was given to me a few years ago by a friend in Nagoya, Nick. And after Matt's enthusiastic new post about quitting I'm going to visit Quitnet.com and register for support.

That said, the concert was fantastic. Cameron and I had a nice, relaxing date with friends. And we have some new music interests. Change. It's coming.

22 September 2006

For Matt v 2.0

After reading Matt's entry on multitasking I got back to work and started looking for an image for a project I am working on. My search terms on Veer.com were "just in time". This is one of the results of that search. So, Matt, this is for you.

14 September 2006

What Next?

This has been a weird week. Or, maybe I just feel weird this week.

Sunday was our first night of this season's league bowling. Usually my average is in the mid-170s. But, as I so often like to do, I started this season off with a bang and set my average at 200. Can we say, "no handicap"?

Monday, September 11, brought the barrage of "it's been five years" video recounts of our nation's tragic terrorist attacks. And with this windfall of emotional reminders I remember being stuck in Istanbul, desperate to come home, on September 11, 2001. As I have mentioned on this blog, my partner of 14 years is a flight attendant. On this same day the Today show demonstrated what flight crews are trained to do in interest of air safety. Yet Doug Steenland/NWA calls my guy a "glorified vending machine", cuts flight attendants' pay by 40% and suggests that they dumpster dive to make ends meet.

Tuesday, my baby sister had a hysterectomy. It's not something that she wanted to do, but it was necessary. Complications from a previous surgery required it. When I called to check on her, I got her husband, Dan. We weren't on the phone long before he asked if I wanted to talk to my mother. We talked a bit about Tina. We discussed that my mother was enjoying chicken livers from Kentucky Fried Chicken. (I don't understand why all KFC stores don't have them). During the conversation I mentioned that my friend Eric told me, "tell her not to grow a mustache." I guess I was ignorant. I thought that the hormone therapy would keep things pretty normal for Tina. Especially after she and I joked before her arrival at the hospital about her not having to go through menopause I figured it would be OK to try and add some levity to a heavy situation. So I told my mother Eric's joke. Let's just say it wasn't funny.

Wednesday, I took our friend Jerry, who was boarding a plane to Seattle with a one-way ticket, to the airport. (He was between jobs for about six weeks and stayed with us the majority of the time. Even though space occasionally got tight, I really enjoyed having him here.) As we approached the interchange between Democrat Road and entrance to the airport we saw what must have been about 15 police cruisers blocking all access to the interchange below us and a few officers crouched down next to a guardrail. We couldn't see any wreckage. And at 4:30 AM it was creepy. Driving home, I got a better look. I saw a man dressed only in shorts, lying on his stomach on a blanket next to the guardrail. No shoes. No shirt. I couldn't help but think about how he was there, away from his family, alone. Vulnerable.

Back at home, during the traffic report the newscaster only mentioned that it was a motorcycle accident and suggested that drivers steer clear of the area for an hour to an hour-and-a-half. He could have been on a wreckless joyride. Or, he could have been leaving his job at the FedEx hub that's about a half-mile away. That's about the time hub workers would be heading home.

Last night Cameron called to tell me that his schedule had been changed and he wouldn't be home for our anniversary. And knowing that she was one of the people I have admired most, he asked me if former Texas governor Ann Richards had passed away. He had seen some retrospective of her life but not the entire story upon arriving at his layover hotel. I didn't know. So after we said our "I love yous" and "sweet dreams" I went to bed and turned on CNN. Anderson Cooper was reporting from Afghanistan about Mike Spann, the CIA agent from Alabama, who was the first American casualty in that country. And at the end of his report I learned that Ann Richards had died at her home at the age of 73. And that Larry King Live was going to rerun a show from 2004 when Ann was the guest. While I watched I was reminded of why I adored her. I plan to read her book, "I'm Not Slowing Down."

So, it's 8:27 AM, Thursday, September 14. It's our anniversary, but Cameron won't be home. I am grateful to start year 15. I should be at work, now. Doris is outside barking. I need to feed the koi. Maybe I'll feel better after my 1:00 presentation. I hope.

05 September 2006

Ahh...

Labor Day Weekend. Usually, we spend it here with friends drinking piña coladas by the pool. Later in the evening we switch to appropriate cocktails and grill steaks or whatever sounds good at the time.

This year, Cameron, Doris, Billie and I drove to Troy, Alabama on Friday to visit with friends I hadn't seen in a long while. Unfortunately, Cameron had seen them a month earlier when he drove down for Shel's dad's funeral. After getting the dogs fed and settled, we spent the first evening catching up over a great spaghetti dinner. During the conversation we figured that it had been 10 years since we were all together. I was embarrassed. And, this is Cameron's best friend since before Kindergarten. They have remained in touch throughout their lives.

We promised that Labor Day from here on out was our time to get together. Next year, we'll see them up here.

They took us to the old square in Troy, Saturday, where we had lunch at Byrd Drugs. The place had the familiar scent -- sort of like the smell of Band-Aids, the hot grille and iodine -- that threw me back to the hot afternoons when my mother would pile my sisters and me in the Cadillac and drive to Walk's Drugs in Sellersburg for butterscotch milkshakes and grilled cheese. Or fountain Cokes and making straw paper snakes with a drop of soda ona crinkledd straw wrapper. I didn't see one of the old scales that would tell fortunes while reporting your weight. Playing on that scale was always a sure way to be reprimanded for misbehaving.

At Byrd's, the food was exactly as I expected. Because they only had enough bacon for one BLT (which had already been ordered by Leslie), I changed my order to a burger with everything. One of the women who ran the fountain -- I can't bring myself to call her a waitress because she is so much more -- brought various iced drinks to the table and told us that the shakes were coming up. Shel had ordered chocolate, and I requested vanilla. Hearing the blades on the old Hamilton Beach hit the sides of the stainless mixing glasses was a long unheard but comforting sound. When the shakes were ready she brought them over in the stainlesscontainers wrappedd in a paper napkin so our hands wouldn't stick. It was like two milkshakes for the price of one.

After lunch we walked next door to an antiques store. There were many items I was interested in, but none more than the one that seemed to say "you have to have me". It was a McCoy turtle sprinkler. I had been wanting one of these for years, but up until now they'd always been chipped just below the spout. This one was nearly perfect. No chip on the spout and most of the cold paint was intact. There wasn't a price tag on it but the man who was there gladly called the booth operator and got a price for me. If I remember the listing in the McCoy collectors pricing book, their initial price was right in line at $85. But, they offered to take $70 for it. So it now lives in my kitchen window, on one of the glass shelves, with many of my other pieces of McCoy.



Cameron also found some champagne glasses with open stems, which he's been on a quest for for many years. We have a nice cut crystal set of six given to us by our friend Thom, but that's never enough on New Year's Eve. So, now we have 12. Although they don't match exactly, everyone will be able to watch in fascination as the bubbles ascend from the foot of the glass up through the stem.

After we paid for our treasures we left for Brundidge, another old Alabama town that has been given a new lease on life with the addition of a Wal-Mart Distribution Center. We passed through what might be considered the main intersection of "downtown" toward what I might consider heaven on Earth. You wouldn't know that I am a freak about logos, brands, and signs because I haven't mentioned it in my profile or on this blog before. But I am a died in the wool fanatic about these things. I have always loved just about any vintage porcelain enameled sign. I have several authentic and reproduction signs, a Vendo 39 Coca-Cola machine and a strong desire to add more to my collection.

"Heaven", or our first stop, was City Antiques -- home of "The Sign Man." I had anticipated seeing this place from the numerous billboards beckoning us as we drew closer to town. From the parking lot I could see that this was much more than I had expected. I wish I had spent time talking to the man who built this mecca. I learned from our hosts that he retired from his career a few years ago and has made his hobby his livelihood. I learned a bit more about this place from an article I found online at southernliving.com:




"It's okay to call Oscar McDowell O.K. In fact, he'd prefer it. He'll even answer to Alabama Sign Man, his self-dubbed title. "I figured that since I had more signs than anyone else, I was just going to keep that name," O.K. says with a chuckle.

"You'll find all kinds of authentic tin signs, advertising everything from RC Cola to Goodyear Tires, in his five rustic buildings. O.K. built one and moved four here from the countryside in and around Brundidge. Of course, he also carries old gas pumps, metal gliders, antique heart-pine furniture, and other pieces."

We met the man who builds the heart pine furniture at our first stop in Troy -- he told us to be sure to stop there. The tables, some seating up to 16, are made from 100-year-old stock. There were freestanding gas station signs for Spur, Cities Service, Pure, Standard and other brands that have disappeared from the highways. I could have been lost in the place much longer than I was, but ultimately it was a bit overwhelming. While I would have liked owning many of these pieces of history, many were unmarked. As such, I assumed that they were part of his collection and "not for sale". Later, however, I would learn differently.

We tracked back to the main street through town and browsed through a few other antiques stores. In one, a young man asked if there were any questions he could answer. He was minding the store for his mother, who created many of the pieces in the shop which contained few if any antiques but lots of other things, including coiled clay vases and hand-decorated vintage furniture. We walked across the street to a couple more stores, including Charlotte's Web, where Teresa bought Leslie a small white doll's cradle for Brianna's room. We stopped in another store that was part antique mall, part junk store. There were lots of old electronics and other cast-offs here. After a while we continued away from town, past City Hall -- a white clapboard structure with long, sweeping porches that looks as if it used to be someone's mansion -- to the last stop on our antiques pilgrimage.

I can't remember the name of the place, but we wondered if this store was somehow connected or related to City Antiques. There were the same types of old signage and gliders, plus a fair amount of other things City didn't have. Like a curio cabinet packed full of vintage Fiesta and several long, low display cases with McCoy, Hall, Haeger, Roseville and other kinds of pottery. There were armoires filled with cast iron cookware and other cabinets filled with vintage Franciscan Desert Rose. When we asked if the resemblance was coincidental or intentional, the man jokingly said, he'd "taught him [O.K.] everything he knew". When I mentioned that I figured that many of the things at City Antiques weren't priced and assumed thatthey weren'tt for sale, he responded with, "see?" Here, everything was clearly priced. In fact, I wondered if some of the prices were a bit high even though some of the artifacts could be considered quite rare.

After our day of antiquing, we returned to Shel and Teresa's for a barbecue rib dinner complete with slaw and baked beans. It was a nice day. During dinner, we discussed the next day's plans and altered them a bit. We planned on playing golf. But after Cameron and I expressed an interest in seeing Shel's place of work, we added that to our morning.

The next day, Shel took us on a tour of the amazingly automated Distribution Center, where he works. For fear of leaking secrets I won't discuss details we discovered inside. But, it was awesome.

From there, we went back to the house for lunch and later drove to Tartan Pines for an afternoon of golf. As this was my first time to play anything more than miniature golf, I was at once excited and apprehensive. In the clubhouse we went to Shel's sister Christine's office in the pro shop. She runs the country club, which is situated in a neighborhood of multi-million dollar homes (at least by Memphis standards). I instantly liked her. She was happy to see everyone, but wasn't going to be able to join us for golf. She gave us keys to three golf carts and told us where to get a set of clubs for me. She has a building at the far end of the driving range that houses the equipment she uses to give private golf lessons.

After Shel began giving me some basics about how to stand, hold the club, and swing, we were surprised to see Christine ride up on a golf cart to give me a half-hour lesson. WOW. She was great. If I can get my butt out to the driving range sometime soon I'll probably remember everything she taught me. I started out with a 7-iron, and continued with that after we left the range and hit the course. We were playing a 3-man scramble with Shel's mother, Jeanne, Cameron and me. So I didn't completely suck. The one time I tried teeing off with a driver ended with my ball in the cesspool end of a pond, scaring some small frogs into the water. It's going to take some practice, but I can see me really liking this game.

The next day, we were packed and on the road toward home by 10:00 -- which should have put us back in Memphis around 5:30. However, much to my surprise, everyone on the road between Troy and Montgomery was driving 90 m.p.h. I am guessing that some were even driving 95. So, rather than be overrun I fell in. Imagine my surprise when we pulled in Memphis at 3:15. And in our driveway at 3:35.

25 August 2006

We are one, but we're not

http://www.kingdomcoming.com/index.html

17 August 2006

Ire

I knew it couldn't last. My positive day has now come to an end. For now, at least. Maybe if I write this I'll get this anger off of my chest.

God! I am furious.

I had heard a rumor the other day about Northwest telling some of their employees that they could "dumpster dive" as a means to cut costs during the wage cuts and layoffs at the airline. I thought, "surely not."

But, alas, I have been amazed again. A very good friend of ours sent me a link to an article on MSN that reports that Northwest apparently produced a booklet of 101 money saving tips for employees. You may wonder why I keep berating NWA on this page. My partner of 14 years (in less than a month) has dedicated his life to the airline run by greedy pigs for 17 years. He has been an exemplary flight attendant. He's earned hundreds of hours of sick time because he always goes to work unless he really is sick. He is always courteous to passengers and his coworkers. He works for a non-profit run by and for flight attendants to provide assistance to FAs who have financial problems due to medical problems. He has been dedicated to his profession and his airline.

Now he's getting screwed by Doug Steenland (the ugly freak) and the six other top brass there.

Do you think that for one second the seven-headed Hydra at the top of NWA, who took millions in bonuses before they filed bankruptcy (and later magically found an unaccounted for $300 million during the bankrupcy hearings) would consider dumpster diving or moving to a less expensive place to live to cut costs?

Here is the article:

"Try Dumpster-diving, airline tells workers

Baggage handlers facing layoffs get 101 money-savings tips from employer Northwest Airlines, like moving to a cheaper place or never grocery-shopping while hungry.

By MSN Money staff and wire reports

Northwest Airlines, which has slashed wages and jobs and is looking to lay off more workers as it exits bankruptcy, has apologized for distributing a booklet of money-savings tips for workers that includes advice that they go dumpster-diving.
The fifth-largest U.S. carrier put the tips in a booklet handed out to about 50 workers and posted for a time on its employee Web site. The booklet was part of a 150-page packet to ground workers, such as baggage handlers, whose jobs will likely be cut after their union agreed to allow the airline to outsource some of their work.

Prepared with the help of an outside company, the booklet encourages employees to manage their money better and prepare for financial emergencies. In one section, called "Preparing for a Financial Setback," Northwest suggests that workers can take "a date for a walk along the beach or in the woods." It also says they should not be "shy about pulling something you like out of the trash."

Also among the tips: No. 48: Move to a less expensive place to live; and No. 59: Never grocery shop hungry.

'A bit insensitive'

Northwest spokesman Roman Blahoski says some employees were offended by the suggestions. He tells Reuters, "We agree that some of these suggestions and tips ... were a bit insensitive."

The airline said the list was inadvertently published in the resource guide without being reviewed by Northwest management. The airline has removed the list from the booklet and its employee Web site, the Detroit Free Press said."



Let's backpaddle, shall we? Lying cheats.

Not Now

I was going to post commentary about an article from Sunday's St. Petersburg Times that discusses how Bush's policies are now allowing non-profits, like the Salvation Army, to discriminate even though they are largely funded by our tax dollars. It pissed me off. But, I am trying my best to have a positive outlook on today. So here is the link to the article:
  • Non-Christians Need Not Apply


  • Instead of wasting more energy on the religious zealot-buffoon, I have decided to post some of the results of analyzing my name and birthday on PaulSadowski.com:
  • Birthday Analysis
  • Name Analysis


  • My Name Analysis

    There are 19 letters in your name.
    Those 19 letters total to 91
    There are 6 vowels and 13 consonants in your name.

    Your number is: 1

    The characteristics of #1 are: Initiating action, pioneering, leading, independent, attaining, individual.

    The expression or destiny for #1:
    A number 1 Expression denotes the skilled executive with keen administrative capabilities. You must develop the capacity to be a fine leader, sales executive, or promoter. You have the tools to become an original person with a creative approach to problem solving, and a penchant for initiating action. Someone may have to follow behind you to handle the details, but you know how to get things going and make things happen. You have a good mind and the ability to use it for your advancement. Because of these factors, you have much potential for achievement and financial rewards. Frequently, this expression belongs to one running a business or striving to achieve a level of accomplishment on ones talents and efforts. You have little need for much supervision, preferring to act on your own with little restraint. You are both ambitious and determined. Self-confident and self-reliant must be yours, as you develop a strong unyielding will and the courage of your convictions.

    Although you fear loneliness, you want to be left alone. You fear routine and being in a rut. You often jump the gun because you are afraid of being left behind.

    The negative attributes of the 1 Expression are egotism and a self-centered approach to life. This is an aggressive number and if it is over-emphasized it is very hard to live with. You do not have to be overly aggressive to fulfill your destiny. The 1 has a natural instinct to dominate and to be the boss; adhering to the concept of being number One. Again, you do not have to dominate and destroy in order to lead and manage.

    Your Soul Urge number is: 5

    A Soul Urge number of 5 means:
    The 5 soul urge or motivation would like to follow a life of freedom, excitement, adventure and unexpected happening. The idea of travel and freedom to roam intrigues you. You are very much the adventurer at heart. Not particularly concerned about your future or about getting ahead, you can seem superficial and unmotivated.

    In a positive sense, the energies of the number 5 make you very adaptable and versatile. You have a natural resourcefulness and enthusiasm that may mark you as a progressive with a good mind and active imagination. You seem to have a natural inclination to be a pace-setter. You are attracted to the unusual and the fast paced.

    You may be overly restless and impatient at times. You may dislike the routine work that you are engaged in, and tend to jump from activity to activity, without ever finishing anything. You may have difficulty with responsibility. You don't want to be tied down to a relationship, and it may be hard to commit to one person.

    Your Inner Dream number is: 5

    An Inner Dream number of 5 means:
    You dream of being totally free and unrestrained by responsibility. You see yourself conversing and mingling with the natives in many nations, living for adventure and life experiences. You imagine what you might accomplished.

    My Birthday Analysis
    (I have eliminated how many days until Christmas and birth year statistics that isn't pertinent to my analysis)

    25 April 1961

    Your date of conception was on or about 2 August 1960 which was a Tuesday.

    You were born on a Tuesday
    under the astrological sign Taurus.
    Your Life path number is 1.

    Life Path Compatibility:
    You are most compatible with numbers 1, 5 & 7.
    You should get along well with numbers 3 & 9.
    You may or may not get along number 8.
    You are least compatible with numbers 2, 4, 6, 11 & 22.

    The Julian calendar date of your birth is 2437414.5.
    The golden number for 1961 is 5.
    The epact number for 1961 is 13.
    The year 1961 was not a leap year.

    Your birthday falls into the Chinese year beginning 2/15/1961 and ending 2/4/1962.
    You were born in the Chinese year of the Ox.

    Your Native American Zodiac sign is Beaver; your plant is Wild Clover.

    You were born in the Egyptian month of Epipy, the third month of the season of Shomu (Harvest).

    Your date of birth on the Hebrew calendar is 9 Iyyar 5721.

    As of 8/17/2006 1:34:12 PM EDT
    You are 45 years old.
    You are 544 months old.
    You are 2,364 weeks old.
    You are 16,550 days old.
    You are 397,213 hours old.
    You are 23,832,814 minutes old.
    You are 1,429,968,852 seconds old.

    Celebrities who share your birthday:
    Jacob Underwood (1980)
    Jason Lee (1970)
    Renee Zellweger (1969)
    Hank Azaria (1964)
    Talia Shire (1946)
    Stu Cook (1945)
    Björn Ulvaeus (1945)
    Al Pacino (1940)
    Meadowlark Lemon (1932)
    Paul Mazursky (1930)
    Ella Fitzgerald (1918)
    Edward R. Murrow (1908)

    Your age is the equivalent of a dog that is 6.47749510763209 years old. (You're still chasing cats!)

    Your birthstone is Diamond

    The Mystical properties of Diamond
    Diamonds are said to increase personal clarity to help one see things clearly as well as be straight-forward and honest. Supposedly, the higher quality the diamond, the better it is supports these qualities.
    Some lists consider these stones to be your birthstone. (Birthstone lists come from Jewelers, Tibet, Ayurvedic Indian medicine, and other sources)
    Opal, Quartz, White Sapphire

    Your birth tree is: Walnut Tree, the Passion
    Unrelenting, strange and full of contrasts, often egoistic, aggressive, noble, broad horizon, unexpected reactions, spontaneous, unlimited ambition, no flexibility, difficult and uncommon partner, not always liked but often admired, ingenious strategist, very jealous and passionate, no compromises.

    The moon's phase on the day you were
    born was waxing gibbous.

    All of the analysis results are copyrighted. Copyright © 2006 Paul R. Sadowski (http://www.paulsadowski.com)

    19 July 2006

    Miracles

    Isn't it nice that we have gifted scientists who want to make miracles happen in their quest to cure diseases like Parkinsons and Alzheimers? Isn't it wonderful that they have been blessed with foresight and optimism? Isn't a miracle that they see hope in stem cell research?

    In this country there are thousands of unwanted embryos being stored by fertility clinics which were created in an attempt to give infertile couples children. As often happens with in vitro fertilization several eggs are fertilized. The zygotes are monitored for a period of time and subsquently graded to determine which of them has a better chance of becoming a successful pregnancy.

    According to a Wikipedia article on embryo cryopreservation, "If multiple embryos are generated, patients may choose to freeze embryos that are not transferred. Those embryos are placed in liquid nitrogen and can be preserved for a long time. There are currently 500,000 frozen embryos in the United States (See http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2006/07/souls_on_ice.html) The advantage is that patients who fail to conceive may become pregnant using such embryos without having to go through a full IVF cycle. Or, if pregnancy occurred, they could return later for another pregnancy."

    While cryopreservation allows for long-time storage of unused zygotes, many will eventually be disposed of. A visit to the National Institutes of Health website, http://stemcells.nih.gov/, reveals a wealth of information about stem cell research and the possible results of it. Clicking on the link "Stem Cells and Diseases" brings up a page that states, "Studying stem cells will help us understand how they transform into the dazzling array of specialized cells that make us what we are. Some of the most serious medical conditions, such as cancer and birth defects, are due to problems that occur somewhere in this process. A better understanding of normal cell development will allow us to understand and perhaps correct the errors that cause these medical conditions.

    "Another potential application of stem cells is making cells and tissues for medical therapies. Today, donated organs and tissues are often used to replace those that are diseased or destroyed. Unfortunately, the number of people needing a transplant far exceeds the number of organs available for transplantation. Pluripotent stem cells offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat a myriad of diseases, conditions, and disabilities including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis."

    The promise of this research is vast. Unfortunately, the research is underfunded. And, thanks to "W", the scientists who wish to understand these things will have less opportunity to do so because stem cell research is against his religion, or he's simply pandering to the Religious Right minority on a stupid promise he made in his campaign for re-election. Whatever happened to seperation of church and state? Or better yet, what is worse: saving a life or disposing of two? Not only is he a religious zealot, but he can apparently do basic math as well as he can put together a simple sentence.

    Dumbass.

    The year 2008 cannot come too soon. Hopefully the idiots riding around in their gas-guzzling SUVs with "W" stickers on their back windows will be struck by lightning. Or, perhaps God himself will come down and create Burning Bush, Part 2. One can hope for a miracle.

    12 July 2006

    God Help Them

    While doing a Google search for inspiration on a piece I'm designing I came across The Westboro Baptist Church website: http://www.godhatesamerica.com/ghfmir/main/index.html.

    Because of the things I saw I thought of adding a sidebar section called "Freaks". Instead, I am calling it "False Prophets, Liars and Cheats."

    Welcome Westboro to the little space I've dedicated to delusional freaks, misguided so-called Christians and charlitans.

    04 July 2006

    One of Those Days

    It's the Fourth of July and normally Cameron would be here with me and perhaps a few close friends. We'd be sipping cocktails by the pool. Not like the Independence Day we decided to have a "red, white and blue" theme, of sorts. We did it with cocktails. Bloody Marys in the morning. Pina Coladas in the early afternoon while we languished in the pool. Then when it was time to start dinner we switched to Blue Hawaiians. We made it through dinner. We needed the steaks, potato salad and baked beans to absorb some of our patriotic enthusiasm. But because we were all in bed by 8, we missed firing a few bottle rockets and firecrackers and the pineapple upside-down cake waited until breakfast.

    This year, Cameron is working. So, I'm here with Doris, Billie and Edith contemplating my day. I've been awake since 6:30 after a fitful night of rest. The heartburn kept waking me up. We made spaghetti and fried green tomatoes for dinner last night. I know that fried green tomatoes are an odd accompaniment to spaghetti, but they were beginning to show signs of ripening and needed to be fried. I bought them to fry as a side to the barbecued ribs that we ate Sunday night. But I didn't make them Sunday because two extra people came for dinner and I wouldn't have had enough for all of us.

    15 June 2006

    This time, I left my sunglasses

    Many years ago, I left my heart in San Francisco. I love that place. And, apparently so do lots of other folks. The real estate prices out there are shocking, especially when I compare what we have here to what it would cost out there.

    We went out there so I could accept an award at American Advertising Federation's ADDY Awards. We won a gold ADDY for this poster:



    We started the trip with an early morning flight on Friday. We arrived at SFO around 11:00. At the Hertz counter, we picked up our Chevy Impala and drove to Redwood City where we met our friend Steven at his house. Thanks to the TripTik I printed from the AAA website, it was an uneventful drive without getting lost. After a relaxing couple of hours visiting, we headed into the Castro for a late Thai lunch. When Steven suggested this place, Cameron asked if there were drag queens working there. I suppose this question came from our having eaten at Lips in Greenwich Village the last time we visited New York. Everyone but the host and bartender were in drag. And there was a floor show that included "Supertragicmeanandnastyc*ntyb*tchydragqueens" sung to the tune of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". Steven said, "no". But, as we were walking into the restaurant, he said "I guess I was wrong." Funny, I didn't notice right away. But, upon futher inspection I felt like I was watching John Leguizamo "be a latin boy in a dress" ("To Wong Foo..."). I wasn't sure from which of the Asian countries our "waitress' " heritage was based, but if it weren't for the very strong jawline, she might have pulled off the look. Anyway, the food was great -- probably some of the best Thai I've had.

    After lunch, we walked in and out of some shops in the Castro, which has changed quite a bit since my last visit. Perhaps the time of day we were there caused things to look differently. But, I didn't notice as many clones in the vicinity. We walked several blocks up Market. When we passed a motel I had earlier considered booking us in, Steven said, "oh, no. You don't want to be there. This place is like a revolving door for hookups." Apparently there is all sorts of in and out activity, 24-7, including open doors for watching. Not our bag.

    When we had to cut our walking tour short because of my desperation for a restroom, we stepped into Midnight Sun to use their facilities and discuss meeting one of Steven's friends there. Rather than enjoy the experience that is Midnight Sun (big-screen TVs playing a variety of videos in a friendly neighborhood atmosphere where apparently all manner of "types" mingle), we decided to make our way back to Redwood City instead. After some discussion as to whether we'd stay in and grill steaks or go out for dinner, we drove to Kabul and enjoyed food from Afghanistan. The place was dimly lit and decorated in such a way that wasn't much different that many of the Mediterranean or Asian restaurants we've experienced — which according to some of the research I've done — is common. One source said that Afghan food was a melding of Turkish, Greek and other cuisines. The food was out of this world. And there was lots of it for the price. Aushak (steamed dumplings filled with leek and spring onions topped with yogurt and ground lamb sauce and sprinkled with mint) was one of the three appetizers we ordered. The lamb kebabs were very generous and quite good. Cameron had an entree named Sabzi Challow (spinach stew with huge chunks of lamb and seasoned Basmati rice). It reminded me of Palak Paneer from India Palace, which I think is irresistible. We got much more than our money's worth.

    By the time we got back to Steven's, I was beat and went to bed. Cameron stayed up and video taped Steven, his sister Cheryl and her friends' singing karaoke. Since I didn't wake up when he came to bed, I have no idea how late he was up — needless to say he was still tired the next morning — especially since we got up early and left for Napa at 7 o'clock. This is where the TripTik failed us. We ended up driving past his sister's house by about 25 minutes because the directions didn't match what we were seeing on the signs. No worries, though. Once we ditched the written instructions and made our own way using a map we were there in no time. Vicki, Cameron's sister, showed us around town and later took us to Napa Town Center where the exquisite mix of wood smoke and the scent of grilled steak permeated the air — which led us to Buckhorn Grill. Although Buckhorn serves food fast, it is anything but fast food. The place was more upscale than typical fast food restaurants. The prices for combos were comparable to those at any Wendy's or McDonald's.

    Buckhorn specializes in grilled tri-tip sandwiches and salads. I hadn't heard of "tri-tip" before. According to askthemeatman.com, "tri-tip was seldom marketed when carcass beef or beef quarters were delivered to retail markets because there are only two tri-tips per carcass. This meant that there was not enough for a case display. Consequently, the butcher would grind or cube it." It can be broiled, roasted or grilled.


    The way Buckhorn sears and chars the outside, leaving the center pink was delicious. I had my sandwich with flash-fried onions (I can't remember their name for them) and bleu cheese. Adding real horseradish sauce (not like the glop from Arby's) made it perfect.

    After lunch, we said our goodbyes and headed northeast to visit my friend Kathy and her partner Judy who live near Pioneer. I hadn't seen or talked to Kathy in a number of years, so I was looking forward to reconnecting with her. And this would be my first time to meet Judy. I'm so glad we had the time to go. We arrived at their home in the mid to late afternoon. Judy hadn't made it home from work yet, so Kathy gave us a tour and described all the work they'd done to the house. It used to be a hunting lodge. Now it looks like a home out of the pages of Architectural Digest.

    They took us to a pool party hosted by two of their friends where we met a whole community of people. They were all so nice. Some commuted to San Francisco a few days a week. Some still had homes in the city. But they all lived in or around the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It appears to be near perfect living to me. Except for the occasional snow during winter.

    After a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit with yogurt sauce and sundried tomato and goat cheese quiche the next morning, we headed back to San Francisco for the national American Advertising Federation's ADDY awards that evening. Joe Piscopo was the Master of Ceremonies. While the event was quite a bit like the local ADDYs, it was definitely a bigger deal.


    That's me between Joe Piscopo and Wally Snyder, President of American Advertising Federation.

    The ceremonies ran about two hours over schedule — which pretty much eliminated any after-event socializing — we needed to be up at 4 AM to prepare for our flight back to Memphis. And we still had the drive back to Redwood City ahead of us. It was 11:15 PM.

    So four hours of sleep later, I guess in the dreary-eyed rush to get to SFO and return the Impala, I either left my sunglasses at Steven's house, or in the car. Of course I didn't discover this until I had unpacked my bags and found the only thing to do with sunglasses — the empty case. Oh well. Sunglass Hut, I'll be seeing you soon.

    18 May 2006

    Give 'em Hell, Harry

    I received an e-mail from the supporters of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) that contained a letter from him asking me to sign a petition that will be given to our own Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) who has promised a vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment during this session.

    I signed the petition and added the following:

    "Senator Frist, you continually acknowledge that I have sent letters to you by having one of your aides stamp a letter with your "signature" on it and remind me that you will continue to work on the issues that concern me. Not once have you addressed my question, concern, opinion or viewpoint. Most often, I oppose your view and would encourage you to reconsider your proposals, as I am now.

    "I am writing to ask you to consider the ramifications of amending our Constitution with lack of understanding, discrimination and hate.

    "I am a gay man. I don't want to undermine "marriage". I simply want the same legal rights as as any couple who have a home and the subsequent mortgage together, who share dreams and work toward them, and who live through the ups and downs of life as each other's partners. I want to know that after working toward our goals together for 14 years that my partner and I will not be in peril of losing everything we've accomplished because our commitment to one another isn't recognized by a random family member who is also a religious zealot, or by the governments we support every day through taxes on our salaries and the products we buy, or by anyone who simply doesn't understand or appreciate our commitment to one another.

    "To imply that giving us these rights will undermine traditional marriage is misguided. Or at the very least it is an attempt to use extremist opinion to gain popularity politically. "One man and one woman" are doing a fine job of undermining "the sanctity of marriage" without any influence from homosexuals. Further, if we consider that the goverment of this country for the last 230 years has been based on the separation of church and state, our leaders' personal religious convictions have no place on the Senate floor."

    Wonder if I'll get the same kind of respone I have in the past? Perhaps I'll put this on paper and mail it. It's doubtful the response will be any different than before.