Thursday, July 31, 2008

Learn Something New Every Day

When I worked for the newspaper back in 1973 I had an old Royal manual typewriter with box of yellow paper that was one continuous piece from beginning to end. I considered this when I worked there wondering why we didn't use the regular white typing paper. Even though I don't consider myself the sharpest tool in the elevator, I figured out why all by myself.
After typing a short story, I would type the word END. I then then pulled on the top of the story and ripped the story off the old typewriter along with a few inches below the bottom. I then put the in the tray for the typesetters. If the story was longer, it would be typed on one continuous piece of yellow paper and then the story was handled like the short one.
Back then, all the words in the newspaper had to be retyped by a typesetter and printed on a special paper that you could then past onto template pages of the newspaper. These template pages would then be carried to a room where a special camera would take a picture of the finished page.
Then there was some kind of magic that took place in order to put the finished pages on the printing press and the end result was the newspaper that everyone read the next Wednesday (we were a weekly paper).
The reason they didn't use individual pieces of paper, is that it would have been a nightmare for the typesetters. If a stack of stories got dropped it would take forever to sort through all the pieces and put the pages of the long stories in order. Typing them on on long sheet solved this problem.
See there, who said reading Life 101 wasn't educational?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


We were talking at lunch today and somehow the discussion wound around to the ingenuity of folks living the life of crime. For example, I read where people who had been busted for manufacturing crystal meth in their home got an idea - why don't we rent one of those storage units and manufacture the drugs there. I guess things were going fine until some nasty chemical came together and caused an explosion and fire that destroyed the storage facility. I'm sure they quickly realized the flaw in that plan.
The meth folks learned the hard way that people in the community take a dim view of the smell, the traffic, and the clientele at a meth house. The neighbors usually call the sheriff which tends to hamper business. It was a problem that was begging for a solution.
So folks put their heads together and developed a new method of manufacturing meth by mixing the chemicals in a two-liter coke bottle, toss it in the back of the truck and let the chemical reaction take place in the small container while they drive down to the super store for more Sudafed and Red Devil Lye (chemicals used to make meth).
So my friend Pam says, why can't someone use the same type of ingenuity to develop an engine that gets two hundred miles per gallon on say pancake batter or maybe root beer. Her suggestion gave me something to think about. What if we could harness that brain power and make it do remarkable things for mankind.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dog Days

Dog Days have arrived here in Empire. I always thought the term Dog Days was a "southern thang". Dog Days are those days in the dead of summer when it gets hotter than Satan in a wool sweater but according to Wikipedia, they talked about Dog Days when Aristotle was learning his philosophical chops from Plato.
Fleas, tics and other critters love Dog Days. I walked down to check the garden just before dark tonight and a mosquito as big as a pigeon nailed me on the arm. I'm thankful the air was still this evening or he may have caught a breeze, hauled me off and drained me like a stuck pig.
I know I've said in the past that I like it hot but I was lying. I can't wait to see frost on some pumpkins.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I got a call from work about 12:30 a.m. this morning and I was on a call for about three ours. To me, that's when I do my best sleeping (that time of morning, not when I am on trouble calls). I got back in the bed at around 3:30 but the sleep was fitful and I felt like I was a little off center all day today.
Tonight was yoga night and I made it through all the postures without much trouble. But Jilda always ends class with about ten minutes of relaxation. Apparently after about two minutes I was drooling on the yoga mat and by the time the relaxation portion was over I was sound asleep. When class was over, my nearest yoga neighbor poked me with her toe and I bolted upright. I was dreaming about being attacked by midget ninjas with foam rubber numchucks....OK, I'm kidding about the midgets but I was dreaming. It will be an early bedtime tonight.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I posted a slide show on the blog and on the alumni website and I've gotten some good comments. I'm not sure what it is about old photographs, but each time I watch a slide show of old pictures it takes my mind to a different place. I don't even have to know the people in the photographs. It's the smiles, the funny faces, the tears, and sometimes the setting that touches me.
I have a good friend that I worked with for many years before he retired. He reads my blog and looks at the Dora Alumni website and he's even written a piece for the website. He told me once that the "Fields of Gold" slide show brought tears to his eyes even though the only people in the show was Jilda and me.
Anyhow, if you have fast access, click on the link below and let me know what you think. If you are accessing this blog via dial up, I'd wait until you do have fast access because it will take a long time to load.
It's back to work tomorrow. I've had a productive weekend.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tell 'em Rick and Jilda Sent You

We rode up to Cullman this evening to have dinner at Berkley Bob's Coffee shop. We had planned to go to Birmingham to see our friend Steve play but we were whupped. Berkley Bob's is only about 30 minutes away and we've had our eye on a Reuben sandwich that they server there.
We ordered up the sandwiches and were enjoying our tea when I overheard a young man there helping a young lady with homework. Wallace State Community College is not far from Cullman so I was betting there were students there. The young lady was asking about a beat generation writer and I asked if they studying Jack Kerouac.
We struck up a conversation with Kyle and his cousin Miranda. Kyle was an interesting young man who has traveled quite a bit. He said that he lived a year in LA but got homesick and came back to Alabama. He was there at Berkley Bob's helping his cousin with a paper.
It occurred to me as we sat that chatting with Kyle, his cousin and the waitress - I love small town coffee shops. Berkley Bob's not only has really good food and coffee, but every time we have ever been there they always make us feel at home.
If you're out and about, stop by Bob's and have a cup of Joe and tell him Rick and Jilda sent you.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Eating Fresh

I took a day off today. Not for any particular reason, just because I wanted to get a jump on the weekend. After coffee, I worked in the garden before the sun came up hot.
We got an eggplant yesterday that was about the size of a tea pitcher. The jalapeƱo peppers have been baring like crazy. I also got an eight-quart basket full of peas, two cantaloupes, and a bouquet of fresh flowers.
I've had to water this past week, but this afternoon a thunderstorm popped up and gave everything a fresh drink. When I walked down to look at things this evening, it looked like the okra had grown six inches. We've been eating fresh the last few weeks.
I updated my blog template today so things will look a little differently. until I get stuff added back. The new template is supposed to provide functionality like slide shows, polls, and other neat things that might be fun.
Hope you all have a great weekend

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Birthday

I looked back at my records for the website today and realized that the website is six years old this week (7/20/2002).
In the weeks after 9/11/2001 I did a lot of soul searching. I thought a great deal about the family I loved, my friends, and this place called home. As horrible as the attacks were on America, there was some good that came from it. It seemed for a while that we all looked to each other - grew a little closer - loved a little deeper. I found myself contacting people I had not spoken with in years. I called just to tell them they were on my mind and how much they meant to me.
The spirit of America had somehow weathered a disaster, stood up, dusted itself off, and made a conscience decision to move on.- changed.....but moving ahead.
It was during this time of contemplation and self examination that I decided to do my part to bring our little community together.
I had never even considered doing an alumni website. The fact is, I didn't know how. I had worked with computers for many years and was an early adopter of the Internet, I did not know the first thing about how to actually do it. I told Jilda and she thought it was a great idea.
I talked to my friend Steve who had been doing website for a while and helped me learn the basics. I bought software, and found a hosting service where the website has lived. I registered the domain name and started designing.
I had never tried to sell anything in my life, but I made appointments with several local businessmen and asked them to sponsor the site. Some businessmen did not see the value in it, others did and almost every one is still a sponsor today.
I learned by trial and error. I discovered early on that you don't have to have a lot of fancy bells and whistles to make a website successful. You have to keep the content fresh by posting good pictures, good stories, and useful information.
The idea was a little slow at first, but there were people that got on board early and have been cheerleaders for the site through the years.
I used Google Analytics to capture the number of hits and for a small high school that has probably had fewer than 5000 graduates through the years, these days the site gets two to three hundred hits a day. It has had over a quarter million hits since we first came online. I am amazed and humbled.
Last week a graduate of Corner High asked me what it would cost to do the things with their website like we've done with the Dora High site. I told him that it takes a lot of time, a lot of love and a lot of money to build a site like ours.
I won't try to start naming off all the folks who have helped me through the years by writing stories, taking pictures, scanning some of the yearbooks, and donating money - I'm afraid I might leave someone out. I will say this: I am truly grateful to the sponsors who have stuck with me through the year -. I will also say there would not be a alumni website if I had not "had a little help from my friends."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

911 Part Deux

OK, this is strange. This morning I headed to work at my regular time. I take a back-road for the first twenty miles or so. This morning I took a shortcut that I have not taken in almost a year. The shortcut is....well shorter, but there is an intersection where it can be difficult to see oncoming traffic.
I got behind a young boy in a truck that looked almost exactly like mine. I was sitting at the intersection behind him and even though it was not my time to cross the intersection, I instinctively looked for oncoming traffic. I saw an SUV coming from the west at normal speed. An instant later the boy in front of me pulls out and slams into the side of the SUV. I couldn't believe it.
I jumped out of the truck and ran to check on the folks. They appeared to be OK, but I found myself dialing 911- again. I could imagine the dispatcher saying - "hey Rick, what can we do for you today?"
The drivers were hanging around in the middle of the road and I told them to move to the yard so they wouldn't be hit by speeding vehicles coming over the hill driving into the sun that was rising to the east.
I made a management decision, I grabbed my camera out of the truck and shot some photographs of the vehicles and then instructed them to move them out of the road to avoid another collision. They seemed a little reluctant, but the lady who lives in a house by the intersection had called 911 too and she confirmed with the dispatcher that it was a good idea to move the cars out of the road and wait for the sheriff. I gave them both my business card and headed to work.
How often to you call for emergency services two days in a row?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I was sitting in the break area today drinking my last cup of morning coffee with my friend Cindy. A moment later, another coworker came out of the office area into the hall, waking toward the bathroom. All of a sudden, he collapsed a few feet away from the table where we were sitting.
I thought at first he had somehow tripped, but his coloring was all wrong. He was conscience, but he was unresponsive. He didn't know his name, the date, nor could he smile. OK, not sure if this is an urban legend or not, but I read in a chain email that if someone cannot smile, there is a chance they could be having a stroke.
I pulled out my phone and dialed 911. My heart was pounding but somehow my voice remained calm enough to describe the situation in detail. People started gathering around so I asked them to back away and they all did though they hovered nearby out of concern for their friend. One guy hustled down to the guards desk to direct paramedics to the area. Someone had the presence of mind to look at the emergency procedures and made calls to building security and others who immediately swung into action to ensure help arrived quickly.
Indeed in less than ten minutes, five paramedics from the Hoover Fire Department came in and took control of the situation. The guy who had collapsed had recovered a little but the firemen hooked him up to monitors, and did batteries of tests. A few minutes later, they whisked him away to a waiting ambulance and then to the emergency room.
I tried all afternoon to get an update from the manager of that group, but he was at the hospital and I assume he had turned his cell and pager off which is usually required in medical facilities.
I'm praying that he is OK.
I am amazed by my coworkers. Everyone worked together like a well oiled machine - as if we had all practiced this a hundred times. I'm not sure about the others, but it was the first time I have ever been close to anything like this. I hope I am never this close again.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Welcome To The South

It wasn't that hot today but Arizona standards. It only hovered around 98 degrees at the airport in Birmingham but out where I live it danced with 100 for most of the day. They humidity made the consistency of the air outside not unlike a nice meringue. I'm betting mosquitoes felt like they were trapped in a spiderweb just trying to fly around to find somebody to bite.
We had yoga class tonight and the community center was like a sauna when we when in. The center has a air conditioning unit the size of a Peterbilt Tractor Trailer rig and it struggled to make it cool enough inside to sustain life.
After class I walked down to check the garden and the unmulched plants were wilted. So before I ate supper, I gave everything a nice refreshing drink of water. Hopefully it will make it until the rain that is promised tomorrow evening. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


The Overalls had practice here tonight. We have a gig at the Birmingham Folk Festival on August 2ND so we are putting the finishing touches on our show. We've played these songs for some time so playing them is like visiting an old friend.
We started writing new material for a new CD but I'm not sure when we will seriously get to work recording. Our buddy Fred has a recording studio in his house and is chomping at the bits to start, but we still have work to do. Some songs haven't been written yet.
Anyhow, Steve and Judy enjoy eating as much as we do so we cooked up a batch of new potatoes and some fresh peas on the stove and then grilled crook-neck yellow squash, some patty pan squash, Vidalia Onions, and fresh eggplant.
For desert, Jilda whipped up up this blueberry pake. We named it a pake because it's a cross between a pie and a cake. All I know is, it is killer. We got some vanilla ice cream and put on the top and the result was so good, I'm finding it difficult to come up with words to describe it.
I've come to believe that if it weren't for the food they eat when they practice here, we would have been kicked out of the band years ago.
Hope you all have a wonderful week and do something remarkable.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Very Nice Day

I got up this morning before the sun and picked our first mess of black-eyed peas. Our great niece Cassie was getting married tonight and Jilda was helping with some of the food so she was getting all that together.
I sat on the porch and shelled peas. Dang that brings back memories. We had a big garden every year when I was growing up and EVERYBODY shelled peas when they started coming in. Not only did we eat them daily, but we canned, froze, and gave away mountains of peas. I did not enjoy shelling peas as much then. By the time I got through shelling, my fingers would be purple my hands ached including my fingernails. I do love to eat peas and always have so I guess I couldn't complain too much.
We often got help shelling peas back then. When the sun set, we'd sit on the porch until dark shelling. Oftentimes neighbors would wander over to talk a while to get caught up on any news. Usually they wound up shelling as they talked. Before you knew it, we'd go through a bushel of peas and have enough to eat for days - plus send peas home with the neighbors.
Today for lunch we had fresh peas, squash, okra, and tomatoes. Yum. I don't know if there is a better meal at any price.
Tonight we went to the wedding. It was a small affair with some friends and family. Afterwards we went up the the fellowship hall of the Dora Church of God and had cake and punch.
I'm whupped now and I plan to kick back and rest until bedtime.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Weekend

I won some points this evening. I worked from home and I took a little comp-time for working last Sunday. Jilda works on Thursdays and Fridays so she's usually whupped when she gets home on those days. I usually try to get baked chicken or some other meal so she doesn't have to fool with cooking.
This evening, I went up to the Piggly Wiggly and got a couple thick steaks, some yeast roles, and a bottle of red wine. I threw some potato's in the oven, went outside and fired up the grill about an hour before she got home. She had picked a bouquet of flowers for the table before she left today so the place looked nice.
When I heard her car pull into the driveway, I put Mozart on the stereo and threw the steaks on the grill. She walked through the door with a smile on her face.
We are going to veg out tonight and watch TV. I think we both need some time on the sofa with our feet propped up.
Happy Weekend.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Talking Grits

And while we're talking about grits, I'm here to tell you up there in Boston, they're "agin 'em". I was up there several weeks back in the mid 90's. The first day of computer school, I went down to the lunchroom for breakfast. They had hash browns, scrambled eggs beacon and sausage, but no gravy and no grits. When I asked the cook for grits, he replied in a very thick accent "we don't have grits." He sounded like Teddy Kennedy. "WHAT!!!!" I exclaimed. "no grits!" How can you people live without grits. He mumbled something I could not decipher so I took my plate and shuffled off to my table
There were six of us from Alabama in class at the same time. The guy standing right behind me and who had overheard the conversation with the cook, prompt asked for grits. "What???, are youz guys deaf?" Each of the other guys followed suit. It drove the cook crazy.
Next morning, same routine. By about the fourth day, he located grits and cooked them up just of us. We became close to the cook over the course of the school. He was a real character and he told us all the great places to eat around the area.
Before we left for home, we all went by the lunchroom to say our goodbyes to the cook. He confessed that he had tried the grits against his better judgement and he said "they ain't bad." But I could tell that he had rather pass a kidney stone than eat one more grit.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Black Gum Brush

My great grandmother was a gardener extraordinaire. She had some kind of beans that climbed a string maze on the end of her porch and when they "came in" she could pick "a mess" without ever having to put her shoes on.
She also had every space on her banisters filled with coffee cans, hub caps, and any other container where she could throw in some dirt and some seeds. Her porch was a kaleidoscope of color all summer long.
My favorite plant was the flowering moss. I'm not sure if that's the real name or not, but that's what she called it then and that's what I've called it ever since she told me. The blooms were almost electric. The red flowers were the color of those wax lips we bought as kids.
Jilda loves those little flowers too so we have a pot or two every year on our deck.
My great grandmother was as old as the Mesopotamia when I was about ten. She wore her hair in a tight bun on the back of her head and the years had turned it a shade of pale yellow. The same color of smoke that comes from pine straw when it burns.
She still had most of her teeth too. She dipped Bruton Snuff and brushed her teeth with a black gum twig that her second husband cut with his "Old Timer" knife from a tree in their back yard.
The twig started out about the length of a pencil and he would fashion the end to where it served as a brush. Each evening after brushing her teeth, she would trim off the brushes and fashion another brush for the next morning with the same twig....which was just a little shorter.
You may ask, "where in the world did that come from?" Well, I was sitting on my deck this evening thinking of a topic when I looked down and saw the flowering moss. Then one thing lead to another.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Jilda found out first hand....or I should say first foot, what I meant when I wrote that wasps know where to sting you. She was walking over to see our great nephew Jordan. She had on sandals and she felt something tickle for a second between her toes and then WHAM. It's like the little varmint shoved an 18 inch knitting needle right up through her foot and out the back just below the ankle. She had not made it the few hundred feet home before her foot started swelling.
She called me in distress. Luckily I had bought some Benadryl a few days ago and she popped one in her mouth.
She laid on the couch and elevated her foot. When I got home this evening, she had been lying on the couch for most of the day. Benadryl does that to you. She didn't have an allergic reaction which is good but she still wants to buy a gallon of gasoline and go hunting yellow jackets.
"Let it go," I counseled.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy 1003 Blog Anniversary

As I was logging into Blogger tonight to post an update I noticed a new header. It said 1003 posts, last updated July 13th 2008. A thousand and three posts. Wow!
I started posting in December of 2005 and I have not missed a day. There have been many days when all that got posted was drivel, but I was on a mission. I'm still not sure what the mission is, but I feel compelled to write. There were a few times that the power was off when I started to write an entry so I had to write it in Word on my laptop, and post "after the fact" but I've written every day for well over two years.
It's funny how you get started on a quest. I became interested in blogging and did a search for free blog hosting. The first thing that popped up was Google's Blogger. I thought I'll write a few things just to see what happens. The next thing I know I'm addicted. I invest a little piece of my life energy each and every day so that people can drop by and see what's going on in my life.
What's interesting is that the blogging gave me enough confidence to approach newspapers about writing a weekly column. One thing lead to another.
When I go to writing conferences, the main theme the guest speakers say is if you want to be a writer (this is profound) you have to write.
I was watching a writer's conference on CSPAN once and when the moderator asked John Updike how he wrote so many books, John said - "one line at a time."
I've got short stories rolling around in my head and that's what I want to do next. I may start a private blog where I write fiction and only invite the readers who visit this blog to read the short stories. This idea appeals to me because I can get feedback. I'll know fairly soon which ideas work, what story lines strike a chord and which ones to toss. If that works out, the next logical would be to write a full length novel online....changing and editing as I move through the process. I'm not sure if this would work or not, I'm really just thinking out loud. The beauty is, even if it doesn't work I will still consider it a success, because I will have identified something that does not work. It's a win/win.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

News Feeds

I subscribe to the Tree Hugger RSS feed. It's like a clipping service. I installed "Blogline" which is a service that collects news feeds on the topics in which you are interested.
For example I'm interested in writing, songwriting, music, photography and living green. Blogline then gives you a list of of blogs from which to choose. Unlike the email function where the news items come directly to your inbox clogging it up so that it's hard to get your email from the people you communicate with, the news items are collected by the various feeds you subscribe to.
Tree Hugger is a very prolific news collector. The stories you read on Tree Hugger run the gammut. You may see articles from automakers on new fuel efficient cars, or news from architechs designing "green" dwellings. It really is facinating. You would spend many hours searching for these tidbits.
This is a very small communter car that will get great gas mileage. It has the added advantage of looking like a cartoon. How cool is that.
Richard Horden of Horden Cherry Lee Architects, one of the designers of the Micro Compact home, has it easy compared to the others; at 2.6 meters square (8'-8") it was designed to go down any road, and he could just ship the unit to New York. "At a mere 76 square feet, this perfect cubic form packs a remarkable amount of muscle into its tiny envelope. The project is intended as a modern "machine for living," providing functioning spaces of sleeping, working/dining, cooking and hygiene for one or two people. URL: No, No, Nano: Micro Materials Could Pose Health Risks

This may be more that you signed on for this evening, but know that there is a way to stay up on the things in which you are interested.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

RIP Pokie

Pokie wasn't really our dog. Actually Pokie wasn't her real name. Her name was Persillia and she belonged to my nephew Haven, but she took up residence at our house a few years ago and she found her way into our hearts.
She was a kind dog that never got in a hurry. When ever we walked, the two labs, Black and Astro would tear out ahead of us at warp speed with Ol' Buddy. Persillia ambled along like a senior citizen on downers so that's why I called her Pokie.
She was not a big dog, but she was fearless. We have a part bulldog whose name is Taylor who is almost three times the size of Pokie. Taylor intimidates all the other dogs because of her size (105 pounds) but if push came to shove, Pokie would not back down. I think that always confused the big dog because they never actually fought.
In winter, Pokie lived for the fireplace. She loved those cold morning when we cranked up the old fireplace. I think if we had built her a ramp, she would have found her a spot somewhere between the logs and embers and went off to sleep.
Early this spring she started scratching uncontrollably. We took her to the vet and there were places on her ears that she had scratched raw. The vet gave us medicine which we gave Pokie religiously, but the condition worsened.
We bathed, dipped, soaked and treated her with several different medicines and ointments, but none of it worked. A few weeks ago she began to lose weight and she became listless.
We made the decision to have her put down. I hurts to lose a pet. And even though technically, Pokie didn't belong to us, we hated to let her go.
We brought her body back home to the farm and buried her out back in a place of honor next to Duke and Gibson - two of our beloved pets that passed on years ago. Jilda picked some fresh gardinias and laid them on her grave. This evening we have laughed and cried as we told Pokie stories. We are going to miss her.
RIP Pokie.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I'm reading a book by Jeffery Deavers right now that is scaring the crap out of me. It's a murder mystery but it's not the murders that is's the midis operandi - he uses data to find his victims and he uses data to frame innocent people for the crimes.
I know this is far fetched, but working with computers and databases and knowing what I know about RFID, data mining, and data collection, it brings into focus the topic of personal privacy.
Those supermarket discount cards that you swipe each time you check out tells a great deal about you and your family. Warranty cards are just a means of collecting data because the warranty is good whether you fill out a card or not. Any time you fill out a survey or divulge private information, that stuff ends up in a database somewhere.
Using sophisticated software, you can tell a great deal about people from data that seems unimportant. Data miners can ascertain whether you are likely to buy expensive brand names or generic, the kinds of food you buy at the grocery store could predict, to some degree, how healthy you are. Someone that buys a lot of sweets, snack food, meat, beer and cigarettes would probably have a tendency to be less healthy than people than people who buy a lot of fruit, vegetables, and vitamins.
I studied quantitative analysis in grad school and I know that numbers can be misleading, but they can also be very revealing.
So, what do we do? I'm not sure what the answers are, but I have to believe that the less people know about your personal business, the better.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

You Want Fries With That

You want to hear something interesting. There is a guy that attended Dora High School during the time I went there. He was a few grades behind me and we lost track when I graduated.
I saw him again back in April and he gave me a business card and said "let's do lunch sometime." I took his card and put it on my desk to file with my other business cards. This card somehow got mixed in with some other papers and filed away.
Yesterday I had a need for some information on the papers and when I pulled them out of my files, the business card fell on the floor. Nothing special here.
But when I got to work yesterday I was walking through the lunchroom and there he sat. This is called synchronicity. I think it happens more often than we realize.
Tonight we went to a Frog Festival planning meeting and afterwards we had dinner at the Chinese place. My fortune said: You are ready to let your creative talents blossom - in bed. Obviously the fortune didn't say "in bed" but as I've mentioned before, that's how I always end my fortunes. It's a holdover from when I was in college.
I have a friend that always asks "do you want fries with that?" You can ask to borrow his car and he will say "sure, you want some fries with that? It's like the email I saw a while back that gave ten funny things to do in a department store. One of the funniest things on the list was to go into a department store dressing room and when a sales clerks comes by call out "did you realize you're out of toilet paper in here."
I think I'll try that sometime. Have a great Friday.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Old Friend

My computer has been acting squirrelly for the past few days. I have mine setup to where the Microsoft updates happen automatically but I think I'm going to turn that off because it alway seems to act up each time I get an update.
I got an email from a childhood friend this evening Richard Parker's grandparents lived across the road from our family and I played with him, his brother, and all his cousins throughout our childhood.
He now lives in Texas but he was home for a family reunion a few weeks ago. They called from Rickwood Caverns Park to ask me to join them but we were out and about and missed the call. By the time we got the message, they had all dispersed like a dandelion on a windy day.
It's funny how interconnected people are. I told him in my return email this evening that his grandfather was my little league coach. I can close my eyes and hear his voice as clearly as if he were sitting here. His cousins Joe and Allan got me interested in playing music. They were from up north and when they came to Alabama the summer of 63 (or 64) they brought electric guitars and drums with them. They played for hours on the front porch. I wasn't that good, but it was loud. I'm sure we frightened every bird, rabbit and squirrel for miles around. A short time later, my old friend Donnie Pinion taught me a few chords and the rest is history.
It was good hearing from Rich. I'm not sure he realizes how much his family means to me.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

An Old Gold Watch

My grand daddy (we called him Pap) had an old gold railroad watch that he'd had for as long as I could remember. I asked him once where he got it and he told me a neat story.
It seems he and my grand mother moved to Hammond, Indiana in the 50's to find work because of an economic downturn here in Alabama.
He soon found work and each day he walked down the railroad tracks because it was the most direct route to the new job at the city dump. One morning the sun was coming up in the east and caught something shiny a few feet ahead of him. He bent down to pick up what he thought was a gold colored chain but he soon realized there was a watch attached to it. "I looked around but there was not a soul anywhere around there," he said. He wound the watch tight but the second hand wouldn't move. He thought that since it wasn't working, someone had simply thrown it away.
He put it in his pocket and walked on to work. On his way home he decided to stop by a jewelers shop to see if the watch was worth fixing. He explained that he had found the watch on the railroad that morning. The jeweler told him he'd look at the watch the next day.
The next day as Pap was walking home from work on the railroad tracks, he found a $10 bill lying on a cross tie. He was getting really encouraged about walking to work. When he stopped by to check on his watch, the jeweler had already made repairs and the bill was - you guessed it, $10.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hurricane Bertha

The weather has gotten hot and dry all of a sudden. Yesterday it rained all around us, but the wet stuff dodged Empire. I'll probably have to do some watering if something doesn't change soon.
I noticed in the news today that Hurricane Bertha is brewing out in the Atlantic. It's too early to tell what direction she will take but usually when they come into the Gulf of Mexico, we get significant rain here.
I'd like to get some rain, but I'd hate for the folks at the beach to get beat up again this year. We have some friends who are trying to sell their house at Blue Mountain Beach, Florida. It is a beautiful place. They started trying to sell it last year but the memories of a horrific hurricane season a few years before had people gun-shy so they haven't had any luck.
This summer, the buyers have been looking again. Hopefully they can sell before things get rough down there again.
Best case scenario, Bertha blows out before causing any damage. The only side effect is a band of showers that brings up the water tables in Empire an inch or two.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


I got a call from the hosting company today. There are space issues on the server where the alumni website is hosted. This little website is eight years old and I've still got all the pictures and stories up from the start. I don't know exactly how many pages it has but it's in the thousands. When I do a file count, it counts over 100,000 files...that's pages, pictures, sound files, slide shows, and other stuff.
They are currently transferring files over to the new server so I have no access. After they transfer the files, they have to redo the Domain Name so that it points to the new server. They said it could be unavailable for several hours. Hopefully things will get moved without a hitch. If not, a rebuild could take days.
It's back to work for me tomorrow. Vacation this week has been great! I'll have to be retrained when I get back to work. Y'all have a great week.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Maple On The Hill

We rode down to the river today to have lunch with our good friends Tom and Judy. The weather was not unlike Panama. For an instant I was back there in the jungle in 1972 hot as a candle with humidity that would qualify as rain in most places.
There were probably a hundred people there today swimming, boating, and enjoying the warm day.
After we ate, we pulled out the guitars and played under the gazebo. It was an old timey day - which means that most of the folks there wanted to hear the old songs. We played some Everly Brothers, Vern Gosdin, Hank Williams, and the Stanley Brothers.
An elderly gentleman sitting next to me leaned over and said "I love the old songs." I asked him if he played and he said he did not. But he knew an old song. I asked him to sing it and he did. People were lost in their conversations and his song did not ring loud, but it rang true. It put chills on my arm. I think I was the only person who heard the tune.
He told me that he had been married for many years and had lost his wife three months ago. She had asked him to sing the song at her funeral. He said it was hard but he did. The story put a lump in my throat.
Maple On The Hill
In a quiet country village stood a Maple On The Hill
Where I sat with my Geneva long ago
As the stars were shining brightly we could hear the whippoorwill
As we sat beneath that Maple On The Hill

We would sing love songs together while the birds had gone to rest
We would listen to the murmur o'er the hill
Will you love me little darling as you did those starry nights
As we sat beneath that Maple On The Hill

Don't forget me, little darling when they lay me down to die
Just one little wish, darling that I pray
As you linger there in sadness thinking darling, of the past
Lay your teardrops kiss the flowers on my grave

I will soon be with the angels on that bright and peaceful shore
Even now I hear them coming o'er the hill
So goodbye my little darling, it is time for us to part
I must leave you and that Maple On The Hill

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fun Day

Today has been a good day. We had folks from Jilda's family that came up for lunch and they stayed for most of the afternoon. Jilda cooked up a batch of her BBQ ribs and she also whipped up some of her world famous potato salad. I thought they were going to eat the bowl. I'm not sure what she does differently than other folks, but whatever it is, it works.
I got out the croquet set and laid out a par 4 course in the back yard. None of my great nieces or nephews had ever played croquet so I explained the rules and how to hit the wooden balls with a mallet. A few moments later there were balls heading in all directions. Attempts to have an orderly game were lost in the opening moments so the grownups did their best to dodge the little wooden rockets. I know for a fact that they hurt when they hit an ankle.
This evening we headed to my sister's house to howdy up with my family. The only thing they requested that we bring is - you guessed it, potato salad. So before we headed out, she cooked up another five pounds of spuds.
We looked at each other on the way home and I knew what she was going to say before the words came out of her mouth- tonight going to be an early night.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


I feel like I've been put through the wringer of an old timey Matag washing machine. We have company coming tomorrow for a cookout and we thought we'd spruce up a little.
One thing led to another and before long we were both sweating like prize fighters. By this evening the place looks great but we are both whupped.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Time to Shine

Carl Cannon Chevy is a sponsor of my website and today I stopped by for a moment to firm up their commitment to renew for another year. While they were cutting me a check, we chatted about what Chevy has to offer in the way of fuel economy. They currently have several models that get better than 30 miles per gallon but the sales manager, Tommy Fowler told me that Chevy is coming out with a type of battery/gas hybrid that will get 150 miles per gallon. It has a small gasoline engine that is only used when the battery gets low. It is still a year or so off, but that was exciting news to me.
I thought to myself, if we develop cars that can get over a hundred miles a gallon, that will in essence multiply our gas supply by five (assuming the average car gets twenty miles a gallon).
I truly believe that this is what it will take to live and be mobile in the future. It will take extraordinary circumstances to reduce the price of oil significantly so the only alternative is to use less....much less fuel.
I know we will go through some hard times, but sometimes it takes a kick in the teeth to shake us out of our apathy. We have some very smart people here in this country - I think it is time to let them shine.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Day Two

I put in some quality yard time today. Jilda had some errands and was gone most of the morning so I cut the grass in the yard and field and around the barn. I also mowed our walking path all the way to the bluff. I stopped for a moment on the way back and picked a handful of black berries and ate them slowly as I sat on a stump and admired the sky.
The weather today was grand. I fired up the old Troy-bilt tiller and weeded the garden. I also fertilized everything. Our peas are blooming so before long, I'll be on shelling duty.
We did a little spring/summer cleaning and I loaded the bed of the truck with stuff and headed out to the dump with Ol' Buddy. He absolutely loves the dump but it drives him crazy that I won't let him out of the cab when I'm unloading. I do roll down the windows so he can lean his head out and lust after all the foul smelling things he could roll in.
This evening my nephew Haven came over with his lovely wife Alesha and we sat out on the back deck and enjoyed the evening. They had to walk down and inspect my day's work.
So, day two of my vacation was very enjoyable.

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