Tuesday, September 30, 2008

15 or 16 Things Most People Don't Know About Me

I was "tagged" by another blogger with this one. It sounded kinda fun to tackle.

First_Grade(1) I was born March 9, 1958 in Tulsa, OK…it was a Sunday morning as I recall. **smirk** I've lived my entire life in Oklahoma—the first five years in Tulsa, then we moved to Collinsville, OK when I was five. Other than the time I was in college, I lived in Collinsville until 1992 when my wife and I moved to Owasso.

(2) I got into a fight with Les Glover in First Grade during reading period. I was making fun of his name--sorry, Les. We both got swats (yep, they gave those back then).

(3) I used to be an avid fisherman/hunter. I would pull my boat to work and take a short lunch so I could leave work early two to three days a week. From where I worked, I could be on several different lakes within an hour's drive. I loved to bass fish mostly. I gave up fishing when my oldest son was born and my wife informed me that I wasn't spending enough time at home (she was right). A group of us had a "lease" on about 1000 acres where we hunted deer, quail and RATTLESNAKES! We lost the lease and since I refuse to hunt on public land, that was pretty much the end of my hunting days.

(4) My first regular paying job, I was the custodian/janitor at the local health clinic where my mother worked. I made $75 a month.

(5) I rarely did homework in high school. I still managed to graduate with two extra credits and ranked 32nd out of a class of 135. I'm not sure if that is a testament to my ability to read, easily comprehend and retain information...or maybe the classes/system wasn't that tough.

(6) I graduated from a three year program (trade school) in Commercial Art in two years. Seventy-five people began the program; 12 of us graduated. I was number three.

(7) I love the taste of beer, but I don't drink ANYTHING any more--largely due to the fact that I have two family members that are alcoholics and after an embarrassing situation where I turned a 6-piece dining room set into a FIVE piece dining room set. Sad story; I'll spare you the details. If I start drinking, I don't stop and I not a "happy drunk." It's best for everyone that I don't drink.

(8) I used to smoke a pack to a pack and a half of cigarettes a day. Quit cold-turkey in March 1979. Then I started "dipping" Skoal/Copenhagen. Gave that up in August 1985. The main vice I have left is that I eat too much. (I have a lot of sins, but I'm not naming them here.)

(9) I don't have many close friends. I don't use the term "friend" as loosely as many people do. Just because I work with you doesn't make us friends. My friends know who they are--my closest friend is my wife. She knows stuff about me that would curl your hair; she's promised to keep those things to herself. Some of my best friends are some folks I've known since elementary school.

(10) I have owned three businesses--all of them related to art/sign making. The first business, a graphic design "studio," I started with a friend from college. We weren't good money managers. The second business was a silk screening setup. We did t-shirts, jackets, caps, etc. I merged it into the third business which was a sign shop I purchased. I had worked there for 12 years and the family that owned it made me a good deal on the place. I ended up selling off everything when I got so sick I couldn't work for three weeks. Got behind on some contracts and bills and my health was not good. I lost a lot of money on the deal. Took us about three years to pay off everything, but for us, bankruptcy was never an option. I pay my bills--and I learned some valuable lessons.

(11) When I was in Fourth Grade, I told my teacher that I was going to grow up and become a Baptist preacher. Didn't happen--the growing up or the preacher thing. After I was married, there was a point I seriously considered going into the ministry, but later came to the conclusion/realization that wasn't my "calling."

1977 College Class Photo(12) The first time I met my future in-laws, my hair was almost to my shoulders and I was wearing a pair of cut-offs, a t-shirt and "flip-flops." When I left their home that night, her father met her at the door and stated: "You will never date THAT!" We've been married 28 years. I'm not sure if her dad has forgiven me or not.

(13) A few people know this, but I always wanted to live in Macon GA. My dream was to move there right out of high school, walk into Capricorn Records and take ANY job--including floor sweeper--they would give me, just so I could get my foot in the door where the Allman Brothers recorded. I've never been to Macon, but I have a high school friend that lives there.

(14) I get teary-eyed at the end of My Dog Skip. I'm a sucker for a "boy and his dog" movie. (Same goes for Where the Red Fern Grows)

(15) I LOVE 70's rock and roll, particularly The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Foghat and Led Zeppelin. No big news. Secretly...I also like The Carpenters--other than my wife, Karen Carpenter was the ultimate woman: pretty, beautiful voice, AND she played the drums!

(16) My dream job: Hospital Chaplain. No kidding.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Economic Bailout

It's really pretty simple when you think about it:

  • I buy a house I CAN AFFORD.
  • I make the payments the bank and I have agreed to--I've never missed one.
  • I regularly save and plan for the future.
  • I pay my bills--including paying off my credit cards each month.
  • I don't live above my means.

I'll be the first to admit that I have had some breaks in my life, but no one has handed me anything. I've worked--gone to school--taken on responsibilities at work--and it has paid off. I have been blessed, but that doesn't mean I'm just "lucky" or "more fortunate" (versus "less fortunate") than others.

wallstreetOn the other hand, if you buy more house than you can afford, take out a mortgage for way more than the house is worth, PLUS live on your credit cards because you think you DESERVE a particular lifestyle...and then end up losing your house--no problem! The government, i.e. ME and tens of thousands of other responsible adults will bail you out. We don't mind paying our mortgages AND YOURS, too!

This whole economic crisis thing really ticks me off. And what really burns my butt is that the people that orchestrated this whole mess (bank CEOs, lawmakers, etc) will walk away unscathed. Someone needs to go to jail!!! By the way, I have to pay for that, too!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Marching Bands

I went to our local high school football game last Friday--we got beat--but that's not has me wound up. I've noticed a trend for some time now and that is this: marching bands DON'T MARCH anymore!!!

I'm sitting in the stands, waiting for the halftime "show" to begin, and what appears to be a host of band parents begin wheeling out all kinds of props, backdrops, ground cover, and a plethora of instruments that traditionally and physically were never intended to be part of a MARCHING band, e.g. timpanis, gongs, xylophones, assorted mounted percussion, etc. Then there's the assortment of flags that will be twirled, tossed, and waved by a sea of "support" personnel, i.e. the flag team.

THEN, the music--and I use the term loosely--begins...and I say that because I can BARELY HEAR IT!!! and it sounds like some kind of symphony or something. All I can hear are the flutes, a single snare drum and the timpani. And all the while, the band is doing some kind of flowing type of walking or something. Where is the high-step marching? Where are the blaring trumpets and trombones? Where are the booming sousaphones? Where are the strutting drum majors and fire baton twirlers?!!! And...what in the world are they doing with those "flags?!" They're not American flags. They're not flags from other countries. They're just brightly colored strips of cloth attached to an aluminum pole! I wouldn't salute that thing.

Why are you people just standing there? It's MARCHING band for crying out loud! What happened to March Grandioso or Stars and Stripes Forever?!

It just ain't right.

Monday, September 15, 2008


NCA_91_FerndaleWhenever I pick up a local newspaper, I read the obituaries. If the obits are broken down by town, then I look for particular towns, if not, I just scan the listings. I'm always thrilled when I don't read my own name; I guess that means I made it another day.

Death comes, for most, when we least expect it. One day you're here; the next day, people are reading about you in the paper. Some obituaries are short and to the point:

Bob Upslaker died last Tuesday, July 17. He was 84 years old. Services are pending.

Some obituaries are LONG.

Life-long Bochachita, KS resident Bob Upslaker passed from this life on July 17, 2006 after a lengthy battle with psoriasis. He was a pillar of the community, having served as a Deacon AND Elder in his church. He taught the 9th grade boys Sunday School class for 55 years and was on the Finance, as well as Building and Grounds Committees at Church of God in Jesus Christ Our Savior Independent Baptist Church (Est. 1912).

Bob was a member of the Kiwanis, Civitans, and was the Sargeant at Arms of the Bochachita Garden Club; he also served as Grand Marshal of the Bochachita Founders Day Parade. In 1998, Bob was named "Man of the Year" by the Sweetwater County Chamber of Commerce for his participation in their annual aluminum recycling drive.

Bob was preceeded in death by his wife, Bernice. He is survived by three adult children- Joe, John, and Jeremiah, two dogs- Pepper and Scotty of the home, and one cat- Mr. Whiskers.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday at 2:00 PM at Crosby-Still-Nash-Young-Merrill Lynch-Sakowitz Funeral Home Chapel.

Some obituaries don't go as planned. I remember hearing about a funeral/memorial service where the obituary was interrupted by the "mourners." It seems that the deceased wasn't a regular church attender, so the memorial was held in the funeral home chapel with a minister that was hired to do the service. Since the dead man was virtually unknown to the pastor, he did the best he could--given the situation--by interviewing a few "friends/co-workers" and relying heavily on the obit that appeared in the paper.

About half-way through the service, the minister stated something like: "In talking with some of his (the deceased's) co-workers, many of them spoke about what a kind, generous man he was." The words had no sooner left the minister's mouth when from the back of the sparsely filled room came: "Oh, bull crap! He was the most selfish &%*$#@ I've ever met!!!" Before the minister could gain his composure, one of the FAMILY MEMBERS stood up on the front row and shouted, "Yeah! He never was generous. In fact, he was the most selfish #$%*&^!!** I've every known!" From there, it was utter chaos as one after another, family members and attendees yelled and shouted some of the most vile, hateful things about the deceased man. After what must have seemed like an eternity, the funeral home director rushed to the front of the chapel, declared the "service" OVER and sent everyone home. I don't think there was a graveside.

I hope my obituary goes better than that...of course, not any time soon.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Photo

I took this picture in our plate yard at work. These are "dished heads" used in fabricaing shell-and-tube heat exchangers (refinery / chemical equipment).

Dished Heads

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Never Forget

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Small Town - Part 5

Elementary School FriendsI loved growning up in a small town during the sixties and seventies. Everyone knew everyone. There were only two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. Our graduating class still remains the largest--to my knowledge--with 143 (I think) graduates in 1976. One of the things that made those days so memorable were the friends I made. I still keep up with quite a few of them via email/phone calls. Several of us attended the same church; we still call each other to catch up on the newest grandchild, wedding, etc. not necessarily in that order.

Four of us have remained in touch better than most. Bart, Chuck, Robert and I have known each other since elementary school. Chuck was a couple of years older, but he's always been around. We spent many nights at each other's homes growing up. Double dated, hung out on Friday nights, "dragged" Main Street, went to concerts. We also got into trouble together at times--I'll spare the details. We all graduated and went our seperate ways for a while. I ended up at a "technical school;" the other three landed at a four year university, but we would come home on the weekends and get back together from time to time. After college, we were groomsmen at each other's weddings. My brother, Kelly, was the best man at my wedding, but I made sure Chuck, Robert and Bart were in the wedding party.


The other three have remained more in contact because they still live in our home town. Dana and I moved about eight miles down the road to another town in the early nineties. We've done a little better keeping up with each other with the advent of the internet/email (thank you, Al Gore). This past year, we've gotten together several times to celebrate FIFTIETH birthdays. Time flies when you're having fun! We created one of our better memories this past weekend when we all attended the Eagles concert in Tulsa. We met at Robert's house where he charcoaled steaks for us, then we headed to the BOK Center for "An Evening with the Eagles." All four of us have been Eagles/Joe Walsh fans since our middle school days. They rocked the house!! One of the best shows I've seen.

We're a little older, a little "grayer" --what hair we have left-- and hopefully a little wiser. Well, Chuck, Bart and I are wiser...we're not real sure about Robert. But that's just Robert. It's funny; we may not see each other for months, but when we get together, we just pick up right were we left off. Time doesn't seem to have diminished the bond that began over 40 years ago. I hope it never does.

High School Friends

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Friday Photo

Wedding Anniversary

My in-laws celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last weekend and asked me to be the "official photographer" (I own a camera and I was willing.) My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year.

Fifty years is a LONG time to be married these days. That's more years than lots of people stay married in MONTHS!

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Palin or Obama. There's your choices.
sarah_palin obama

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Northern California Trip - Pt 5

NCA_21_MuirBeachFrom the beginning, our intentions for this trip had been to see all or as many of the lighthouses along Hwy 1 as possible and to visit the Redwood National Forest north of Eureka. After a few days into our trip, we realized things probably weren't going to work out as we had planned. First of all, we hadn't counted on the amount of time required to get from Point A to Point B. A distance of 20 miles back home means about 20 minutes driving. Along the California coast? Double or triple that, due to the narrow highway, the enormous number of turns and switchbacks. Second, there's all of the breathtaking turnouts that overlook the Pacific ocean. You HAVE to stop! By mid-week we gave into the notion that we weren't going to make the National Forest, so we spent a little more time than planned on the Avenue of the Giants (see previous post).

Another factor in our "shortened" trip were the brush fires that had inendated Northern California. We saw lots of firetrucks on the highways, but had yet to really see any of the fires or their effects--except for a few areas that were a bit hazey. It wasn't until we moved over to Highway 101 heading into Eureka that we could actually smell smoke. We had planned on spending the day in the Eureka/Arcata area, then cutting across to Interstate 5 Saturday morning, then on in to Sacramento for our flight home. Friday morning we discovered that Hwy 299 was closed to traffic in a couple of places due to the fires. Our best bet was to backtrack on 101 to just below Fort Bragg--where we had been two days before--then cut across on Hwy 20. So, in light of circumstances, we decided to make a quick tour through downtown Eureka, hop up to Arcata and then start heading south.

Ingomar Club - EurekaEureka, California was founded in 1850 as a shipping center for the Trinty gold mines. The town is said to be one of the finest and largest collections of Victorian homes in the world. One of the most unique is the former home of William Carson, built in 1885. The Ingomar Club purchased the building in 1950. To my knowledge, the Club is not open to the public for tours.

NCA_111_ArcataWe spent about two hours walking around the "Old Town/Boardwalk" area. Lots of shops, art galleries, etc. and just enjoying the cool breeze coming of Humboldt Bay. Heading north, we made the short trip to Arcata--home of Humboldt State University. Arcata has been described as "California's northern hippie outpost," which became obvious to us as we made out way to the town's square. The square is a very nice little "park" surrounded by all kinds of novelty shops and galleries. The abundance of "Obama '08" signs let us know that we were in foreign territory. We sat on a park bench in the square and just watched the people, many of whom appeared to be in a 70's time warp based on their dress/hairstyles. One individual--we never could really determine the gender--entertained us with his/her version of some type of interpretive dance. We saw all we cared to see in Arcata and began the trek toward Sacramento...and home.

It took us the remainder of the day to drive from Arcata to Williams, CA which is about 45 minutes north of Sacramento. We hit several places where traffic was near stand-still due to smoke on the highway. We also passed a couple of "fire camps" where firefighters were staying. The smoke was so thick at one point that you could barely see 25-35 feet in front of the car.

NCA_115_OldSacSaturday morning, we made our way to Sacramento. Since our plane didn't leave until late afternoon, we drove to the "Old Sacramento" area of downtown. Located on the banks of the Sacramento River, this 28-acre Historic Landmark District features plenty of shops, restaurants, and attractions such as the Wells Fargo History museum and the California State Railroad museum. We spent a couple hours and a few more dollars on last-minute souvenirs in the area. After lunch at Joe's Crab Shack, we headed to the airport.

Our flight home was delayed about 4 hours, but we finally landed at Tulsa International around 1:00 AM! It was a GREAT week. Dana and I got to spend some much needed time together and we got to see a part of the country that neither of us had ever seen. Some day, I hope we can return to Northern California and visit Yosemite National Park.