Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holy Roman Empire Invades Honolulu

Now that I have your attention, I'll bet many of you missed this section of your history books.  Well, this little ditty has to do with the last of the special state quarters issues by the U.S. Mint.  

The credit union where my wife works has many customers who come in to buy their presidential gold coins and state quarters.  One of the customers was asking about the final state quarter, the one for Hawaii.  One of her co-workers was trying to describe the design on the back by telling the person that it had one of those old Roman warriors on it.  He had the big cape and the fancy helmet.  I am sure that she was describing King Kamehameha, the man who established the kingdom of Hawai'i.  While his ceremonial outfit may be confused with Roman battle dress, it is hard to picture the Romans rowing across the ocean to the islands of Hawaii.

Anyway, she turned to another coworker, who majored in history, and asked her when the Roman Empire extended that far.  She replied, with a straight face, right after Troy sacked Guam.  Now, given that the Trojan Horse was made of wood, that tactic might have worked on Guam.  Although, seeing a giant horse swimming up to the shore might look a little suspicious.  Don't know, wasn't there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"A Pox on Negative Campaigning" or "I Vote Therefore I Rant"

I don't know about the rest of you, but I am getting tired of the ads on the television telling me how bad the other candidate is. Each time one of these ads are played, it reminds me of my elementary school days; when kids would sling insults back and forth across the playground at recess. Of course, these folks take it to a whole new level.

In Alabama's 2nd Congressional district, one of the candidates promised he would not run a negative campaign. To his credit, I can't think of one negative ad that has the new sound bite-of-the-day stating who he is and that he approves this message (yes, my eyes roll each time I hear that). However, it sure didn't stop his national party (or his opponent's for that matter) from doing just that. These groups are stretching the truth to a point that it is about to snap. For example, one group states that the other guy, labeled a "restaurant multimillionaire" in the ad, did not provide health care to 80% of his employees. Of course the screen has a great deal of small print at the bottom, a disclaimer of some sort I’m sure. But, since I can't afford a television big enough to read the small print I did a little research on my own. I found out that he owns approximately 16 Subway sandwich shops, 80% of his employees are part-time, and part-time employees are not eligible for employer provided health care. While it is completely truthful, it is quite misleading.

Politicians, and the people who make their ads, rely on the fact that many people take much of what they see on television and the Internet at face value. They won't take the time to learn the stories behind the statements. Instead they just get angry about the information that is fed to them. Which brings me to my next point.

If you don't like the way something tastes, check the ingredients!! There is so much information available, in the form of public records, that there is no excuse for us to be in the dark about who or what we are voting for. Learn what the candidates stand for because they are not likely to tell you directly. Read information from both political views so you understand how they spin the facts to make them appear better or worse than they are.

Remember this; the people who make these advertisements are the same people who try to convince us that we can get rock-hard chiseled abs if we use their exercise machine or diet pills, while putting fine print at the bottom of the screen that explains how you have to modify your diet as well. They try to get us to buy their products, or vote for their candidate, because that is their job; and we all know what happens if we don't do our jobs well.

Bottom line - VOTE!! But vote smartly. Don't vote for the person with the best hair, the most charisma, or because someone tells you to. Do some research and make your own decision.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Homophones are knot equal

So many times eye am reading an e-mail or posting on a bulletin bored and I am confronted with a person who uses the wrong homophone. Sure, the words sound the same, but they don't mean the same thing. I am sure they meant two use the write word, but are just being lazy and relying on there spell-checker too tell them when they dew something wrong. Wee are used too the technology we have, two a point that part of the brain that learned how to reed and right just stops working.

Aye wonder how many of these people have reached a point where they are thinking of the wrong word as well? Is it possible that they ewes these words when they talk? I wood hate to think that this problem has gone that far. It's know wonder that people who dew knot use English as a first language get so confused. Words that sound the same, but have different meanings make it hard to learn hour language.

Won thing that I can say for these least they are still using hole words. The up and coming generation thinks it is gr8 2 use shortcuts when they write and type...KWIM?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Where is my house going when I am not there

We needed to order a new bathing suit for our daughter. To get it before the big party we requested next-day FedEx delivery. Days went by and no suit arrived. I did get the replacement motherboard for our computer (via FedEx) without any problems. I checked their website and noticed that they attempted delivery twice, but were unsuccessful. I finally called FedEx to find out what was happening.

When I gave the tracking number to the customer service person, she burst out laughing. When she settled down to a simple giggle, I asked her what was so funny. She told me that there was a note on the account reporting that the house was not at the address. I assured her the house was here and I was currently in it. She gave me directions to the place where it was being held and I made plans to drive down there the next day.

When I got to the site, the person wanted to know what color door tag was left at my house. I told her that there was no door tag since the driver couldn't find my house. She insisted that I tell her what color the door tag was because that would help her find the package. Does anyone else see the vicious circle forming? Anyway, I gave her the tracking number and she found the package and showed me how the address was impossible to read, so the driver guessed at the address. Much to their surprise, last February's tornado did remove the house at 108 E. Teri Court from its expected location, hence the "house gone" problem.

Lesson learned from this, make sure you secure your house when you leave so it can't hide from the delivery people.

Monday, May 5, 2008

General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín is Spinning in his Grave

Now many of you are probably thinking, "Who is General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín ?" I guess it is time for little history lesson, courtesy of Wikipedia. While the US was fighting its civil war, France was trying a little settling of their own in Mexico. General Seguín led an army of about 2000 against an army of about 4000. The Mexican victory, in this battle on May 5 1862 in the city of Puebla, Mexico was significant for but a moment. The French soon returned and occupied Mexico City until 1867. This date, Cinco de Mayo, is a regional celebration and not the date of Mexico's Independence from Spain (September 16 in case you were wondering) as so many people think. To make it our own (and to cover the confusion of those of us who have difficulty with history), it heavily celebrated in the US as a date to recognize Mexican heritage.

I'm sure most of you are wondering, "Why would General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín spin in his grave?" Who cares what Americans have done to the original meaning of yet another holiday. Well, there is one bunch of Americans in particular, the staff of one of Montgomery's radio stations. I only listen to the station for the syndicated morning show, Rick and Bubba, but am still inundated by the stations commercials.

Their idea of celebrating this day is with the "Sink O de Mayo" contest at one of the local Tex-Mex restaurant chains. They fill a giant sink with mayonnaise and put prizes in the bottom. Contestants have to fish for their prizes. Sounds kinda gross to me, but then again I like mayonnaise on my french fries and some people think that is gross.

Feliz cinco de mayo!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

What a difference an 'S' makes

So I get a call from my doctor's office telling me they are referring me to an orthopedic surgeon to take a look at my knee. They give me the time and date of the appointment, tell me I need to pick up the MRI films from the VA hospital to take to the doctor, and the address of his office. The office is located at 488 St. Lukes Drive in Montgomery.

I head off to my favorite mapping site, Google Maps, and enter the address. Only problem is that I entered it as St. Luke Drive. The results it gave me is this map. At first I noticed that the location is on the route that I use when I go to Maxwell AFB from the Gunter Annex. I didn't remember seeing a hospital or doctor office on the drive so I zoomed in. Much to my dismay, it was pointing me to the middle of the cemetery where Hank Williams is buried. Not that I would have any problem visiting a cemetery, especially one with a famous resident, but I don't think that a tear to my mid medial meniscus is fatal.

Anyway, I added an 'S' on the end of Luke and tried again. This time it wants to send me to an area just across from Baptist Medical Center East. I think this is a better place to look for a doctor, don't you?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hey y'all, watch this !!!

I'm sure many of you have heard the following joke...

Q: What was the last thing the redneck said before he died?
A: Hey y'all, watch this!!

Anyway, I actually found my self in the middle of one of those moments this evening. My neighbor (who doesn't actually live here, but lets his brother live in the house) has a collection of rusting things in his back yard. One of those thing is an old electric golf cart. The people working to repair the damage caused by the tornado decided it was time to clean most of this stuff out; before he came back to town and noticed his stuff was gone.

They backed the truck into the backyard, connected a chain to the golf cart and dragged it (none of the wheels were round anymore) out to the driveway. As we are standing there trying to figure out how to get the cart into the back of the truck, one of them thought that flipping it end over end would be a good idea. Who was I to argue...."Hey y'all, watch this!!" started running over and over in my head. That should have been my first clue. We pushed up the front end of the cart until the four of us had it up high enough to get into the back of the truck. Unfortunately, it was pointed the wrong way. One of the guys said that if the truck were pulled up, we could try to get the front end in first. "HEY Y'ALL, WATCH THIS!!!" It was getting louder, but I still ignored the voice.

The guy who drove the truck let go and headed for the cab. Now I did a little math. If it takes four men to life the front end of this cart, and one lets go...I'll let you finish the equation. The cart started to gain momentum until all of us finally let go and let it drop the last couple of feet. It missed everyone's toes and we all just looked at each other with that, OOPS look.

At least I survived my first, and hopefully last, "Hey y'all, watch this" experience.

The importance of thumbs

So, I'm out in the backyard shortening some plastic pipes with my trusty box saw. Just working on a project to make things fit in the house we just bought. I'm cutting the last piece when suddenly the saw jumps out of the little groove and lands on the end of my right thumb.

I get it cleaned up, get authorization from our insurance to visit the local urgent care clinic and get it all fixed up nice and pretty. While I'm sitting at the clinic I have a sudden realization. . .

That is what I use to mash the 'X' button on my PS2 controller!!! I guess I have to give the video games a rest for a few days. Oh well, at least I will still have a thumb to mash buttons with when the healing is over.

On the way home from the clinic, my wife said something about never letting me turn on my new power compound mitre saw. Might be a good idea if I want to keep my thumb attached.

Helping others

Yesterday my family and I participated in a community-wide event called Caravan of Hope. This event offers assistance to anyone who comes to the event. There were doctors and dentists giving free checkups, barbers and stylists giving free haircuts, games and fun for the kids, a free meal, free groceries (including turkeys), and most importantly prayer and spiritual support. The planners expected about 5000 people to come through, but the final count was over 9400 guests with more than 600 decisions to follow Christ. It was a long day, but a rewarding one. Getting out and helping people face-to-face means so much more than sending a check somewhere.

Give it a try, you just might like it.

Back in the USSA

We finally made the trip across the ocean to return to the US of A. What an interesting trip. The computer on the airplane lost the flight plan so the crew had to rebuild it before we could leave. That and loading delays got us out of the gate almost an hour late.

The flight was smooth, plenty of food and watchable movies, but it was the time after the landing that was the icing on the cake. They parked at the gate furthest from the terminal. We got through the first passport check, collected our luggage and got in line for customs. They just put a big A on our customs form (we are carrying cats) and sent us to another line.

We waited there for a while before they realized that we only had cats. We also watched a bunch of kids leave the line when they discovered they had all checked the box for visiting a farm (but never walked through manure) and didn't need to be in that line. We went to a line with no one in it and checked in the cats. Then the agent asked if we had brought any food for them so we showed him the bag of food we brought. Since we didn't have the original bag he wanted to take all of it, but he finally agreed to leave them a few days worth of food. Good thing since it is prescription food that you can't buy at stores.

The next corner we came around had someone telling us that we needed to put our checked luggage through a second screening and they would send it to the domestic baggage claim. Then go through another x-ray screening. This time we had to take the cats out of their bags and carry them through the metal detectors. We finally caught up with our luggage, the second time to find out that the capitalist society we live in doesn't believe in free luggage carts (first thing to miss about Brussels). Walked the half mile to the hotel shuttles in nearly 100 degree temps and finally boarded for the trip to the hotel.

Now it is 6:15 in the morning, the sun has yet to come up over the horizon. It almost feels like winter in Brussels, except for the temp. Anyway, hope you enjoyed my burbling.

Moving is beginning to suck

Hello everyone..hate to disappoint but this one isn't about our cats. We are in the midst of moving back to the states, Alabama to be specific. It has been three years since we moved and that was long enough to forget what a hassle moving can be. Most of our stuff was packed and wrapped last week and sent on its merry way. Some of it will probably arrive before we do, that is always good. Our van is crossing the Atlantic and will be there before us as well. You may think, what is so bad about that, it all seems to be going smooth. You are right, that is going smooth. Time to turn the page....

In order to get the rent deposit money out of the bank, we had to move out of our house a month before we leave. Still good since we get to move into a furnished apartment. However, in order to clean the house and have a place to sleep we needed to move in with our neighbor Pete, still good, but that is only for one week, then we move to the apartment. Still good, but now we are up to two moves in a week. The final straw was the notice I got yesterday at work. They are moving my office across the hall. I asked them to hold off for a few weeks, then I wouldn't care, but once the NATO wheels get spinning they just can't stop. Granted, that is only three moves in about two weeks, but it can get tiresome after a while.

Thankfully we only have to stay at two different hotels, when we get back to the states, before we move into our new home. There is some comfort in that.

Hope you all have a great week, and remember that moving can be fun; just not this time.

The cat in my computer

Well, here we go with the continuing tales of what our cats are doing now. This actually begins with me getting frustrated with my notebook computer. I am just minding my own business, playing a game when it just shuts down. No warning, no error message, just 60 to 0 in an instant. This was frustrating because it only happened when I was playing my game. When I was doing problem. Checking my problem.

After a couple of weeks I finally contacted the online tech support. The technician told me it was probably the computer overheating from playing high-end games. Last time I checked, Runescape is not a high-end game. I played along by flashing my BIOS, modifying the power settings, yada, yada, yada. The problem continued after only ten minutes of play. This morning, I get an e-mail from tech support with things they forgot to tell me the previous evening. I went through all the steps methodically, repeating some of the steps from the previous night.

I reached step 7...something I never thought of...vacuum the vents for the fans. I turn on the vacuum and started to suck clumps of cat hair out of my computer. No wonder the fans were working so hard. My cat was hiding inside the computer. Based on the color and texture I determined it was our little Belgian driver (see previous entry). Now things are running quietly and coolly again.

Back to the gaming

My cat thinks he is a Belgian driver

For those of you who have never driven in Brussels Belgium, let me tell you a few stories about my cat.

Each morning when I go upstairs to wake up my daughter, he races from wherever he is, up the stairs (passing me on the way), and to her bedroom door. One time I was about a quarter of the way up before he passed me, but he passed me just the same. That is the basic philosophy for driving here. If I can get ahead of just one more car then I win.

Another strange habit of his is to not walk in a straight line. I can be sitting on my bed with him right next to me, on the edge. If he wants to leave the room he just doesn't jump down to the floor and run out. He will circle around behind me, go across the bedside table, then jump to the floor and leave. That is the second philosophy of driving in Belgium. You cannot drive anywhere directly or in a straight line. This happens all the time since roads are so narrow and people park on the side of the road. You can almost compare it to slalom skiing on some streets. Maybe my cat is training for the 2010 Olympics.

The last habit is when he is going somewhere and I happen to be walking behind him. He may stop for no reason at all. I try to go around him and he changes direction into my path and I almost step on him. Rinse, Lather, Repeat. This brings me to to the last philosophy of driving in Belgium. I own every inch of the road.

For all of you in the states, I hope you appreciate your wide, SUV accommodating streets, it could be worse....much worse.

All cats should wear nametags

The subject says it all, just ask the other members of my family. They were walking home from the school bus and noticed "our cat Merlin" on the sidewalk in front of our house. My daughter hands her books to my wife and calls "our cat Merlin" and he comes running. Lets her pick him up and starts purring. They have a discussion the rest of the way about how "our cat Merlin" got out of the house. They get in the house, put him down and he starts running through the house. Suddenly, they both notice he doesn't look exactly like our cat, just extremely similar. They pick him up, notice he has claws on his front paws. Hmmmmmm, when did those grow back ??? Next thing they know, our other cat, Tux, notices the one they are holding and starts hissing. They quickly, but gently set the cat back outside. Finally, the real Merlin comes trotting down the stairs wondering what is going on.

So, in case you are visiting us sometime, please use the following identification guide for determining if the cat you see is Merlin or not.

  1. Beady little eyes
  2. Short, pointy ears
  3. May come when he is called, but will not purr when you pick him up. He doesn't like to be held.

What were they thinking ?!?!?

So, my cat decides to bit me repeatedly on the hand. Ok, I was pulling him by the tail. But, he was going out the window to fight another cat and that was the only thing left to grab. I may have deserved it.

Anyway, I go to the clinic (run by the Army) and they fill out an animal bite report. It gets forwarded to the nearest base and the vet there call me to talk about my cat. He understood that he is domesticated, has had all his shots, and is most likely not to have rabies (there are no rabies in Brussels). Yet, and here is the kicker, I am told to quaranteen my cat (he suggested in our house) for 10 days then take him to the vet to get an official "your cat doesn't have rabies" for the records. So 25 Euro later, when our vet looks at the cat and declares him free of rabies the Army gets an end to their paper trail.

On the plus side, the cat has a new nickname....."he who must not have rabies"


Welcome to my new blog. I've been doing this on MySpace for a while now. Putting my thoughts and observations down for the world to see. Problem is, the features there don't allow for sharing much outside the MySpace world.

A friend of mine blogs here, so I thought I would give it a try and determine if I should give up my day job and take up residence here. Chances are that I won't hang up my uniform quite yet. I plan to copy over what I have written there so far. Wouldn't want anyone thinking I was trying to hide anything.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the reading. And as Bill Cosby said a few years ago, "If you're not careful, you might just learn something."