Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Gift

One of my most memorable Christmas gifts received: Gumby and Pokey (I was in elementary school). Most memorable Christmas gift given: Dana's engagement ring (30 Christmases ago).

What's your's?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Can't Afford Christmas

A lady on TV receiving free toys from a local charity just said: "We're paying for a new car and a new house and we just can't afford Christmas this year."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Luck or Providence

roadsideIt was the summer of 1990 and Iraq had just invaded Kuwait, although we didn't know it at the time. We had been camping in the mountains of Colorado for the past week with our Youth Group from church. Real camping--no radios, no TV, no newspaper. Just tents, sleeping bags, lanterns, our Bibles and beauty of the Colorado mountains just outside of Leadville (elevation 10,152 feet).

We were on our way home and as we neared Hays, KS, we suddenly lost power steering. It didn't take us long to discover we had thrown a belt on the van we were driving. Our caravan consisted of five 15-passenger vans at capacity and we were about five miles from town. We split the kids up into the remaining four vans and headed into Hayes in hopes of finding a replacement belt.

We pulled off I-70 at the first exit and found a convenience store that just happened to be right across the street from a service station. Sadly however, the station was closed. Now, at this time, there wasn't much in Hays. It's been years since I've been through there, so that may have changed, but at this particular time, our choices were the moment looking non-existent. We figured we might as well get something to drink, grab a local phonebook and start looking for garages that might have a replacement fan belt.

As we entered the store, I glanced at the headlines of the paper on the rack next to the cashier. "Bill! Iraq invaded Kuwait," I shouted to one of the other Youth sponsors. The cashier look at me with a puzzled look and said, "Where have you guys been? On a mountain somewhere? They did that yesterday!" "Matter of fact," I answered, "We have. In fact, we're on our way home and we've shredded the belt on our van. Any chance you know who owns the garage across the street?" "Yeah," the cashier replied flatly, "but Ron closed around 4:00; he closes early on Friday afternoons. Won't be back 'til tomorrow morning." Not what we wanted to hear...and then it happened.

As we stood there trying to decide our next move, a vehicle pulled up into "Ron's" garage, and a man we assumed to be Ron, walked over to the huge sign at the edge of the property and began to change the gasoline prices. We ran across the street...hoping...praying. Seems Ron figured with all that fighting in the oil countries, he stood to make a little profit, he told us. "What can I do for ya?" he finally asked. "We need a belt like this for our van that's sitting on I-70," someone stated holding out what was left of our shredded fan belt. "'Fraid I'm not going to be able to help ya," Ron said. "That's a Dodge belt and we don't carry that size. Everybody 'round here drives Fords."

"Could you at least look?" we asked, actually more begged. "Won't do any good," he said, "but I'll look." As we walked into the garage, we noticed the parameter of the building was lined with belts of all sizes and shapes. Ron explained: "Ya see, you need a "such-and-such" size belt and we just don't stock those. It's kind of an odd size." Looking up at one area of the wall, he continued, "If I did have one, it would be...right..." There was a long pause, then Ron nearly whispered: "There." Our eyes followed Ron's and hanging there all by itself on the wall was a belt. Our belt. "Well I'll be danged!" Ron exclaimed. "I've never stocked that size or style belt! How in the heck did that get there?!" "It was probably my part-time help," he said as he grabbed a long stick to retrieve the belt. "I had him do the ordering last week, and he must have ordered the wrong one."

"No," someone said. "He ordered the right one."

We paid Ron, left him scratching his head about the belt and counting his gasoline profits. We all piled into the vans, made the trip back out to our stranded van and a short time later, we were heading back home...with our new belt that Ron normally doesn't stock. We know Who was really doing the ordering the previous week...and He works full-time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What Will People Remember

mark-don-melI got the news this afternoon: a friend from High School had died. We were in the same graduating class and had gone to school together since grade school. We were in band together- she played the flute, I played the drums. We liked some of the same music/artists, one in particular: Grand Funk. For her birthday (I think) I drew a poster of Mark, Don and Mel. She loved it and told me she'd keep it so that one day when I became a famous graphic artist, she could tell everyone she had a "Keith Original." I never became famous, but at our last reunion, she told me she still had the poster...after over 30 years!

After I hung up the phone, I wondered about her. What had she been doing all these years? We saw each other at the class reunions, but like lots of High School classmates, we really hadn't kept in touch over the years. How many children did she have? What kind of work did she do? What hobbies did she have? Where did she go to church? Was she happy? Did she have lots of friends? Why?...just why?

I didn't know the answer to those questions. So...I thought about the things I did know, the things I remember:

  • We laughed a lot during those years; she had an infectious laugh.
  • She was a good friend. I'm glad I got to know here during those years.
  • She was one of the first females to go through the Drafting program at the local Vo-Tech. That was a big deal back in the 70s. I remember talking to her about it and how she was apprehensive and yet, determined at the same time. She made it through the program just fine.
  • She was the FFA Queen our Senior year. Don't why I remember that; I wasn't even in FFA.

Thinking about her death, made me think about my own. Let's face it, one of these days, we're all going to come to the point in this journey. One of my favorite songs by Grand Funk is "Closer to Home." Each day we're getting closer to "home." What will people remember about me when I'm gone? Was I a good friend? Will they remember the funny stuff? Was I a good husband, a good father? Life goes by pretty fast. I hope I'll leave some good memories behind...In the meantime, there are some areas I need to work on NOW, while I have the time.

Thanks for the good memories, Marci.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I don't fly very often, only when my job requires it. I really don't like flying--on commercial airlines that is. I have a couple of friends that own small airplanes and I enjoy flying with them, but that's different...mainly because I don't have to deal with other passengers.

airline_passengersLast week I had to fly to Houston for a 3-day conference. Southwest Airlines flies from Tulsa to Houston non-stop, which made it nice not having to switch planes, etc which would have been required flying with the other airlines. I just wanted to get on the plane and get there. Another thing about Southwest is they don't have assigned seating. You just board and pick a seat; at least that way you don't have to sit by someone that looks creepy.

Besides the creepy looking passengers, I also like to avoid the ones that look "chatty." I don't know what it is about being on an airplane, but I really don't want to be bothered when I'm flying. I don't like the close quarters, and I particularly don't care for the smell of onions belching from the breath of the person next to me as they let me--and all the other passengers--know they are on their way to [fill in city] to watch her son/daughter/niece/nephew/grandchild compete in the "America Has Only Three Talented People" competition "and my [relative] is currently in the lead! They're gonna win!!! All the other competitors suck!"

I like to find someone that is ALREADY reading a book or sleeping OR has the most disgusted look on their face that says: "Don't speak to me" and I plop down beside them. Mumbling a quick "hello," I stow my carry-on, insert the earbuds, turn on my iPod, and turn to the bookmarked page of the novel I've brought along for this very purpose. It makes flying tolerable and it seems to work out pretty well.

Now if we could just figure out how to deal with passengers that think the plane seat is a Lazy-Boy-RECLINER!!! I seem to always get stuck behind that clod."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

That Doesn't Make It Right

WARNING: The following post could be offensive to some people. You've been warned.

Take a look at the three graphics below. All three are available as window decals from all kinds of sources on and off the internet. Two of them are obviously crude and sophomoric--regardless of your political views. Why anyone would place them on a vehicle as a "statement" is beyond me. But to the matter at hand, ALL THREE graphics have the following in common: THEY ALL VIOLATE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWS.

calvin_bush    calvin_obama

Bill Watterson, creator of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, never licensed the use of his characters for t-shirts, decals, etc. "He refused to merchandise his creations on the grounds that pasting Calvin and Hobbes images on commercially sold mugs, stickers, and T-shirts would devalue the characters and their personalities." (Source) What that means, folks, is that every one of these images sold or used for commercial purposes is a violation of the law...better put, IT'S STEALING. Plan and simple.

The fact that the center graphic depicts the Calvin character praying (and not urinating on something) doesn't make it right. It's still not authorized by its creator; the person selling the graphic has taken something that doesn't belong to them and used it for profit. And if you have one of these on your car, you're contributing to the theft.

Funny thing: Bill Watterson is an atheist according to most bio websites.

Friday, September 04, 2009


I pray--nowhere near as much as I should or could, but I do pray. I believe when I pray, God hears every word and is actively involved in answering my prayers. I believe prayer works. I don't believe I "get" everything I pray for. Sometimes God says "no" or "wait;" those are the tough answers.

I pray in the morning because it helps me start my day better. I tell God about the things that are on my mind (like He doesn't already know). I talk to Him about the things that worry me, even though I know the Bible says "don't worry;" I still do sometimes. I pray for my wife and kids every day, that they will have a good day a work and school...and that God would be gracious to bring them back to our home safely that night. Every time we sit down together for our evening meal, I thank God for giving our family one more day together.

I pray at night as I lay my head on my pillow. I thank God for one more day. Some people woke up this morning and by the end of the day, their life had been shattered by a tragedy. God, in His mercy, spared me/us from any harm today. I thank Him for that. I also pray for rest. Peace. For the troubles of the day to be swept away from my thinking and God's peace, assurance of His love for me, to fill my mind as I drift to sleep.

Many years ago, I got into the habit of breaking down my daily prayers--usually in the morning--into specific areas throughout the week. On Mondays, I pray for the people in the Adult Sunday School class I teach. I pray for them and the prayer requests they've made known in class the day before. I pray specifically for each request. I know God is already aware of those situations, but it serves once again to remind me how much I depend on God.

On Tuesday, I pray for and thank God for people that are and have been Godly influences in my life. I thank God for:

  • Monroe Palmer- pastor of the church I grew up in.
  • Jim Carty-first youth minister I had. We still visit from time to time.
  • Sunday School teachers growing up--Mrs. Burnley, Mrs. Spyres, Mrs. Wright, Roy McGee, Frank Johnson, Charlie Miller, Estelle Williams, Phil/Kathy Cook.
  • Former and current pastors.

Wednesdays, I pray about needs in our church, i.e. people having or recovering from surgery, fianances (especially during this economic downturn), families going through difficult situations. I pray for the safety of our men and women serving in the military, our country's leaders.

I pray for unsaved friends and co-workers on Thursdays. Some of them I've been praying for over 20 years. I remind myself that God works on a different time table than I do. I have seen some of them come to repentance and be saved; others appear to be as far from God as the day I put them on "the list." I'll keep praying.

Fridays, I pray specifically for my family-- each and every member; brothers, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, parents, mother and father-in-law, and of course my own immediate family. Each one gets mentioned by name. I pray for their safety, their faith, their health, etc.

Over the years I've come to understand that it's not about me getting what I ask for/pray about. It's more about me leaning on God and Him changing the way I think to the way HE thinks. Psalm 37:4 says - Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. I believe that verse teaches when we "delight" in God, depend on Him--He in turn changes us to have the right desires. His ways become our ways. For the record, God is still working on me. So...I pray.

Monday, July 13, 2009


The past few years, Dana and I have taken the opportunity to go on vacation by ourselves while our youngest son is at church camp. This year, we decided to spend a few days in Branson, MO then drive down to the Buffalo River below Harrison, AR and spend a few days there. We got up Monday morning (07/06), saw the boy off to camp, threw our stuff in the pickup and hit the road!

In Branson, we stayed in a cabin at the Westgate Resort. Rather than staying in the lodge at the resort, we found some cabins located on the property that were owned by private individuals. We chose one of the cabins owned by Ron and Linda Blevins. We didn't know the Blevins nor did we know anyone that had rented from them, but the online reviews were all positive, the cabins looked we took a chance.

The Blevin's cabin we stayed in was A3 and it was PERFECT! Full-size kitchen, flat panel TV with DVD player, screened-in back porch complete with another TV and porch swing...and the piece de resistance--a king size Sleep Number ® bed! There was also a juccuzi tub. The cabin was tastefully decorated (as far as cabin decorations go) and furnished with the basic cooking utensils, plates, etc. We didn't cook, but did make use of the coffee maker. Even though we were inside the resort, we felt like we were off somewhere in the Ozark mountains; very private and quiet. Just what we were looking for. The really nice thing is the resort is located just off the "blue route"/Shepherd of the Hills Expressway in Branson which gave us very easy access to all the attractions we wanted to see, without having to drive on Hwy 76! You know what I'm talking about if you've been there. We stayed two nights in this cabin.

Tuesday we went to Silver Dollar City--west of Branson. SDC is like stepping back in time, when things were a little simpler and less hectic. The park features over 50 different crafts shops from wood carvings to candles to homemade candies and blown glass. The "town" is designed to look like a typical 1880's mountain settlement with the shop owners/craftworkers dressed in period clothing. There are 30 rides and attractions for kids of all ages. You won't get hungry there either--there's plenty of food! We spent the day just enjoying the various shops; no standing in line for rides for us this trip. We did make sure we bought some of the made from scratch candy and a bag of pork rinds!

DogwoodCanyon_10Wednesday was spent in Dogwood Canyon, south of Branson. We had heard about the park from family members and friends. The canyon/park was created by Bass Pro Shop owner, John Morris, and encompasses over 2000 acres of streams, waterfalls and pools teeming with brown and rainbow trout. The park also boasts herds of elk, deer and North American bison. The hiking/bike trail(s) in the park are paved and cover a little of 7 miles that wind through the canyon. You can see more of the pictures I took here. We rented bikes and rode some of the trails, took a break for a picnic lunch we had packed, then took their tram tour through the canyon and mountain ranch where the big animals were. A long day, but well worth it. I'd like to go back in the Fall and get some more pictures. That evening, we drove down to Ponca, AR and our cabin at Buffalo Outdoor Center.

Buffalo Outdoor Center (BOC) was started in 1976 by Mike Mills as a canoeing operation. Mike and his wife, Rhonda, have since added 18 cabins and a lodge. Area activities include canoeing, hiking, wildlife watching and camping. We like BOC because of its remote location and the shear beauty of the area. On our way to BOC, we stopped and picked up some steaks for grilling and a few other groceries for our two day stay. We had booked a cabin in the valley this time--we stayed at BOC in 2006 in their Mountain Sunrise cabin and figured we would try something different this time. The thing we really like about BOC is the quiet and solitude. There is no TV reception in Ponca and our cell phones had no was GREAT! We took some books, some DVDs (the cabins do have TVs and DVD players) and left work at home! They steaks were GREAT, by the way.

Thursday morning we slept in--8:30 AM! We had tickets to Noah - The Musical in Branson for that afternoon, which wasn't a really good plan since we had already been there earlier in the week, but that's just how the schedule/ticket availability worked out. The show was really good, even though I'm really not a "musical" guy. The stage sets/props were very impressive and they did a pretty good job of sticking with the Biblical text...for the most part. I won't spoil it for you by telling you if they made it off the boat or not. 8^)>

Whitaker_Point_02 Friday morning we got up early in order to beat the heat for our hike to Hawksbill Crag aka Whitaker Point. The dirt road off the highway is a 12-mile trek up a sometimes very narrow dirt road just to get to the trail head. The hike into the crag is fairly easy and about 1.5 miles through the woods. The view from the crag is breathtaking. We sat out there for quite a while just enjoying the view of the valley and enjoying the cool breeze. The hike back--although the same distance--was a little tougher since (a) the temperature had risen probably 10 to 15 degrees since we started in on the trail (b) our water wasn't cold any more, but we were glad to have it (c) the return trip is more uphill. Needless to say, we were sweaty messes by the time we made it back to the truck.

All-in-all, a great week--just the two of us. I love these kinds of trips where we can go at our own pace, stop whenever we want (or not), actually carry on a conversation without being interrupted, and eat at restaurants WE like. I also love trips like this that commemorate important stages in our lives--this was our "29th wedding anniversary trip." Who would would have "thunk" it?!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Catching Up

Wow! It's been over a month since I've posted here. I've been busy working on my office bookcases--I'm building and painting all the components before I install them, so that's taking a little more time than I would prefer. Hope to have that completed and have pics up soon.

Doobie_Bros_(11)I've let my photography fall by the wayside lately; gotten out of the habit of taking my camera whenever I go out. I did manage to take a few pics this past month. A couple of friends from high school and I attended the Doobie Brothers concert in Muskogee, OK earlier in June. Got some pretty good photos before security informed me that a "camera with interchangeable lenses was not allowed. The band considers that to be professional photography." Everybody else and their dog was snapping pics with their point-and-shoot cameras--in spite of the "no flash photography" signs posted everywhere. Oh, well. More Doobie photos here

2009 Hogs 'N Rods (Retouched)Also went to the Hogs 'N Rods Rally in Collinsville. There were a lot more vendors this year than in the past. I don't own a motorcycle or a "hot rod," but I love looking at the paint jobs. More Hogs 'N Rods photos here.

Let's see, in the world of politics, BO continues to be hell-bent on taxing the dog-snot out of those of us that chose to get off our butts and work for a living. Funny, I thought he promised not to do that. While the rest of the country/world was going nuts over Michael Jackson's death, our self-centered Congress passed the "cap and trade" bill. It still has to make it through the Senate, but I'm not so sure there's enough "No" votes to shoot it down.

It cracks me up to listen to all the global warming people talk about how we need to save the if we really could. I think we should be good stewards of what we've been given, but there's nothing--repeat NOTHING, we can do that will stop the inevitable. The book of Revelation says this place is going to be burned up and replaced with a new one when Jesus comes back. Why would we want to save this dump? The new one has GOT to be better...especially without the politicians!

Happy Birthday, America
In spite of all of the silliness and greed that goes on in America, I still thinks it's the best place in the world to live. Sadly, I don't think we are far from collapse thanks to the "hope and change" we got back in November 2008. I hope I'm not here to watch it happen. Until then, Happy 233rd Birthday, America! Thank you to all the men and women who have and continue to serve and protect us...military, police, fire, etc. You guys are the real American heroes.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


In 1977, I had just completed two semesters of college/technical school and was home on break before returning for the summer semester. The annual Tri-County Fair was coming up and I took the opportunity to earn a few bucks by painting "window splashes" announcing the event. Actually, this was what got me started down the road of sign painting, but that's another story.

I don't remember how much I charged for each window, but I could knock out about two or three of them in a day. A cartoon character barnyard animal and large bright letters "Come to the Tri-County Fair" was painted on just about every business window on Main Street. I was raking it in, doing something that came naturally. People would stop, watch and ask questions: "How do you make those lines so straight? Did you take drawing lessons to do that? Is that all free-hand?" Invariably, someone would tell me a story about a man they knew who painted signs. "His hands just shake like crazy until he gets a couple belts in him. Then, he can paint a straight line without even using a ruler! Do you drink?"

I had been painting for several days when one afternoon, a group of high school students came by. One of them lived behind us growing up; we had also attended the same church, so even though he was a few years younger than me, Raymond and I knew each other pretty well. There were about five or six boys and girls with Raymond, but he did most of the talking. He/they asked the same questions everybody else had; no one had a drinking story.

At one point in the conversation, I turned to face the group...that's when I saw her. She wore her blonde hair in a very short style. Her green eyes twinkled and that smile... For some reason I have it in my head she was wearing red shorts-very SHORT red shorts, which I'm sure helped in catching my attention. I actually knew her in name only because she had dated the brother of a former girlfriend, but we had never actually spoken to each other. I wasn't going to pass up the chance to talk now. I noticed she was wearing some of those "short socks"--you know the kind that barely come above the top of your shoes--so I blurted out what I thought would be a great opening line: "Hey, your socks fell down." Pretty corny, eh? As soon as I said it, I thought so too, but she laughed and that's all that mattered at the time.

The group stood around for a few more minutes and then left. I don't recall if she and I carried on any kind of conversation that day, but I vowed I was going to find out if she was dating anyone and if not, get her phone number. She wasn't (dating anyone) and I did (get her phone number). I called her some time later and she invited me over to meet her parents. You can read that story (in part) here.

Fast forward to May 31, 1980 -- our wedding day. By now, her parents had come to grips (resigned themselves) with the fact that we were getting married. I was 22, Dana was 19; just a couple of dumb kids madly in love. It's not that her parents disliked me; I think they just didn't like the idea of Dana getting married so young. Undeterred by theirs--or anyone else's--misgivings, we purchased a 900 square foot house in our hometown shortly after becoming engaged. I moved into the house, while Dana still lived with her parents. Dana and I would go to work everyday and then every night, she would come over and we would paint, hang wallpaper, etc. getting the house ready to become our "first home."

The Saturday of our wedding finally arrived. I had a couple of buddies over the night before just to hang out; no big bachelor party. We all fell asleep in the living room. That morning, they all went home to get ready for the wedding. I was home by myself...and that's when it happened: my ADHD kicked in. I was getting ready to go to the church--had my tux all ready, luggage packed and had a couple of minutes to kill, so I turned on the TV. Big mistake, because the St. Louis Cardinals were playing that day! I thought, "I'll just watch a few minutes of this, catch the score and then head out." Didn't happen. I sat down, became engrossed in the game and the next thing I knew it was SEVERAL innings later and HER DAD is knocking on the door! He had come looking for me when I didn't show up at the church. Not a good way to start a wedding or a relationship with the future father-in-law! I grabbed my stuff, rushed out the door and drove to the church in record time--her dad followed me, probably making sure I made it. He seemed to be very angry or concerned; I wasn't sure. I just knew I was late!


I arrived at the church in time to change and be ready to walk out with the preacher and groomsmen at the appropriate time. And the the rest is history! She said "I do." I said "I do." And "we have" ever since. Twenty nine years later, I still love her smile, and that twinkle in her eyes. She still thinks I say stupid things. I don't remember a lot of the details of the ceremony, but I do remember that our favorite song at the time was "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg. We had it played right before the ceremony started. It's still one of our favorites.

Longer by Dan Fogelberg
Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there've been stars up in the heavens
I've been in love with you.

Stronger than any mountain cathedral
Truer than any tree ever grew
Deeper than any forest primeval
I am in love with you.

I'll bring fire in the winters
You'll send showers in the springs
We'll fly through the falls and summers
With love on our wings.

Through the years as the fire starts to mellow
Burning lines in the book of our lives
Though the binding cracks and the pages start to yellow
I'll be in love with you.

Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there've been stars up in the heavens
I've been in love with you
I am in love with you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Supreme Court Nominee

PBO nominated appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court on Tuesday, making her the first Hispanic in history to be elevated to the high court. Judge Sotamayor is quoted saying:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

I thought the Supreme Court was supposed to APPLY the laws of our land, not filter them through their personal experiences. Silly me.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. I never served in the military; the draft had been done away with by the time I turned 18 and I didn't feel compelled to volunteer. There have been many times I wish I had. I love America; she's not a perfect country, but she's mine. I cherish the freedoms we have (for now) and the heritage we have in the this country. I love singing the Star Spangled Banner...REAL LOUD.

One thing I like about Memorial Day is watching the ceremony of laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington. We got to see it in person a couple of years ago. It was awesome. This year, however, I don't think I'll watch.

I don't like BO and what he is trying to do/is doing to our country. I don't like the way he has treated our service men and women. In my opinion, he isn't worthy to shine the boots of those valiant men and women who put themselves in harm's way to protect our freedoms and keep the peace around the world. The image of him on the same hollowed ground as those heroic, fallen soldiers is more than I can stomach. I won't watch--I can't. Instead, Dana and I are planning on going to a local cemetery where the local Civil Air Patrol will be reenacting the Changing of the Guard at a replica of the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Thank you to all of our service men and women. You are GREAT AMERICANS!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Giving as I Say, Not as I Do

PBO and Mrs. PBO spoke to college graduates this past weekend, basically encouraging them to get involved and give back to if these were NEW ideas. They may be with Democrats/Liberals and people like BO, but I've got news for the President and his wife: people have been "giving back" for quite a while!

Organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, American Red Cross, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters (to name a few) didn't just show up on the map yesterday and people have been giving their time and money to these organizations longer than BO ever thought about being a "community organizer."

Don't get me wrong--I'm all about giving, but not because someone TOLD me I should or have to. My parents modeled that attitude all during my growing-up years and they still do today. I grew up knowing that everything...EVERYTHING I have is because of God's grace and goodness toward me. Consequently, my life has been filled with giving to others in the form of my time as a volunteer coach for little league sports, youth sponsor at church, participant in community projects for those less fortunate--as well as consistently giving a predetermined, conscious portion of our family income to our church, as well as many other benevolent organizations on a local and national level. I do it because I want to. I'd do it even if there wasn't a tax break for doing so. I do it because it's right. Sadly, doing what is "right" seems to have fallen along the wayside for many.

The Obama's spoke to the graduates as if the concept of giving rested entirely on their shoulders and that through THEIR giving and participation in community affairs, the planet would be saved. Hallejuah!! It's actually sad to me that graduates have to be encouraged to "give back." I guess that means they (a) haven't been giving all along and/or (b) their parents did a bad job instilling a more generous/thankful attitude in their children. Obama talks a pretty good talk, but according to this source:

Up until recent years when their income increased sharply from book revenues and a Senate salary, Obama's family donated a relatively minor amount of its earnings to charity. From 2000 through 2004, the senator and his wife never gave more than $3,500 a year in charitable donations -- about 1 percent of their annual earnings. In 2005, however, that total jumped to $77,315 (4.7 percent of annual earnings), and to $60,307 in 2006 (6.1 percent).

The old saying "do as I say, not as I do" comes to mind.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Great Quote

"From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this...Despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled."

(Attributed to golf announcer David Feherty)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


This post is absolutely void of political correctness.
It will most likely offend some people. Tough!

There's a lot of talk/questions these days about torture. Should we do it? What defines torture? Is it effective? I have never been in the military, so from that perspective, I cannot speak from first-hand experience...much like most of the people that are asking all the stupid questions. But, here's how I see it, and like I already warned you, it ain't pretty.

The UN (not a fan, but their definition works for me) defines torture as:

Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. (Source)

In the case of war, whether against another country or organized group of terrorists (Al-Queda isn't a country with an official army, so I'm not so sure I'd afford them much to begin with):

  1. If we capture a run-of-the-mill-soldier, I say treat them decently. A couple of meals a day, a place to sleep--nothing fancy, and medical attention if needed. They don't need a country club; we reserve that luxury for convicted rapists, murderers, child molesters, and politicians in our own prisons.
  2. If we capture a known terrorist leader or commander of an army that has--what we believe to be--crucial information that could ultimately save American lives, stake them naked, spread eagle to the top of a fire ant hill and alternately poke them in the eyes with lit cigarettes and waterboard the dog snot out of them!!! Once we get the information we need, smear their sorry butts with honey, and unleash the three black bears that have not been fed for a week, that were conveniently brought in to "witness" the interrogation. Post the video on YouTube for good measure.

For those that would scream--"my gosh, you are sick/cruel/[fill-in-adjective here]," let me just say: You are right. That is sick and cruel, but "nice" doesn't seem to be working all that well. It's war. It's ugly.

The problem with Americans is that we are too stinking nice in war. Even more so in the way we deal with criminals and/or those who don't seem to think the rules apply to them. Case in point: remember the name Michael Faye? I'll give you a minute...

Michael Faye is the snot-nosed American brat that was caned in Singapore in 1994 for vandalism. Haven't seen his name in the papers recently, have you? Know why? HIS BUTT STILL HURTS!!!! See, a little pain goes a long way, and I bet little Michael doesn't get his jollies tagging cars anymore.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Road Trip

Eight days and a little over 2200 miles later, I'm back home. The past few years, I've taken the first week in May and gone to visit my parents in Florida. My mother was raised there in a small town, northeast of Pensacola named Baker. The first weekend in May is the family reunion for my mother's side of the family. This was the 24th year for the event, which has dwindled in size because of several factors: many of the family have died and quite a few have moved away from the hometown. I was one of only five cousins in our generation that made it to the reunion. One woman in attendance was over 90 years old!

It was good to see everyone--and as usual at those types of things, if you left hungry, it was your own fault. I hadn't seen one of my uncles since I was in Junior High. He traveled from Houston to be there. He has the beginning stages of Alzheimers, but he has such a positive attitude. He said something like: "This is what I have. I know what I'm up against. I'm grateful for the time I have left." Pretty powerful and humbling words.

When I've gone to my parent's lately, I've gone by myself. The time of year I go would mean the rest of the family missing work and/or school. Also, there's really not a lot to do there since they live in a pretty remote area, mainly agriculutural--not all of Florida is BEACH. They live about 30 minutes above the Fort Walton-Destin beach area, but I really don't care that much for the beach. So, I make the 14+ hour trip by myself, although this year, my younger brother flew in a few days after I arrived and we rode back home together. I like road trips like this because:

  • I like to sing real loud. When I travel by myself, I can crank up the sound and sing real loud. I am hopelessly stuck in the 70's and Dana isn't real fond of some of my musical tastes, so this is the opportunity to rack up the volume! Great "road songs" are anything by The Eagles or The Doobie Brothers--especially Rockin' Down the Highway. The route I take doesn't have a lot of decent (my opinion) radio stations, so I usually take the iPod and plug it into the auxiliary jack. My own personal "road mix" at max volume. Dana would hate it.
  • John MacArthur sermons. I have tons of MacArthur sermons on CD, so I will grab a handful and listen to those for several hours of the trip. Strange mix, eh? JM and 70's classic rock. This time, I took quite a few of the sermons he preached through the book of Luke. Good stuff. Also, a couple of sermons on the importance of expositional preaching. This is definitely one of those things you can't do with my whole family in the car.
  • Short and infrequent pit stops. I don't like to stop once I get on the road, but Dana can't go more than an hour or two without "going" (know what I mean?). Me? I'm a "urine camel;" I can hold it for a long time if I have to. When I finally do stop, it's run in--run out, back on the road. I don't stop to eat either, i.e. dine in. I zip through the drive-thru and get right back on the road. No need to waste time. Mental note: Pizza and tacos are hard to eat while you're driving.
  • No griping or complaining. There is no one asking: "Are we there yet?" or "How much further?" No one says: "This is boring. Why do we have to drive so long? Why can't we fly? Why does Grammy live so far away? When are we gonna eat (again)?" AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!
  • Time to reflect. For part of the trip, I turn the radio off and just reflect on my life, the blessings God has given me. I pray, thanking God for the incredible family he has given me. I ask God to grant me a safe trip. I ask God to watch over Dana and the boys while I'm gone. I think about the projects I have going on at work and at home. I take the uninterrupted time to mentally work through some things that have been on my mind lately. I've got 14 hours behind the wheel--there's plenty of time and plenty to think about.

It was a good trip. My brother and I got to spend some quality time during the week working on my parent's house--they're hoping to sell it and move back to Oklahoma. I also got to see my youngest brother that I hadn't seen in several years; he lives in Alabama. And I sang REAL LOUD...a lot!!!! And no one complained.

Mother's Day

Twenty-one Mother's Days ago, we were sitting in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. Our oldest son was only five weeks old, and nearly too late, had been diagnosed with pyloric stenosis. For the previous two weeks, he had been projectile vomiting nearly everything he ate to the point that he weighed less than his birth weight when then doctors finally pinpointed the problem. The condition is detectable with a simple x-ray, but our pediatrician, for whatever reason, didn't do one until Dana insisted.

Approximatley 15 percent dehydrated (not good for a five week old infant), Ryon was immediately admitted to the hospital with instructions for us to "call your pastor if you have one." They gave him a 50-50 chance of living due to his severe condition--definitely NOT good odds for new parents! For two days, we anxiously waited in the PICU while doctors and nurses worked to save our little boy. On Dana's first Mother's Day, it was determined that Ryon was sufficiently hydrated to handle surgery; he and and the little "plastic bubbly" that had been his bed/home for the past two days were wheeled out of the room. That was tough! About an hour later, we got the news: the surgery was a complete success!

Since then, Ryon seems to have been making up for those five weeks. That kid can EAT!!! We have two boys now and they are both the best kids a parent could ask for...most of the time. They got Dana a card and a gift--all on their own. After church, they'll take their Mom out to eat (I get to tag along). This will be a much less stressful Mother's Day than Dana's first one.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gone Fishing


Actually, I'm headed to Florida to visit my parents. They have a dial-up connection (yep, people still have those), so I won't be posting for a week or so.

I'm going down to do help with some clean up around their place and to attend a family reunion. One of my uncles will be there that I haven't seen since Junior High. He is in the first stages of Alzheimers, so this will somewhat of a bittersweet time for the family. Should be good though. I'll take a couple of books with me; also just spend time visiting with the folks. They are both in the their seventies--Mom's in pretty good health, but Dad has Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He's fought it off twice, but he doesn't have near the energy he used to.

Ya'll behave while I'm gone.

Pretty Simple

Stimulus Flowchart

Saw this on a sign at one of the Tea Parties.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lone Survivor - Marcus Luttrell

lone_survivor_coverI just finished reading Marcus Luttrell's account of "Operation Redwing" entitled Lone Survivor. From the back cover of the book (paperback):

On a clear night in late June 2005, four U.S. Navy SEALs left their base in northern Afghanistan for the mountainous Pakistani border. Their mission: to capture or kill a notorious al Qaeda leader. Less than twenty-four hours later, only one of those Navy SEALs remained alive.

The book begins with Luttrell's detailed account of the training he, and his fellow SEALs, endured in order to receive the honor of wearing the SEALs "Trident." Regarding the SEAL Trident: "The SEAL insignia is the only insignia in the United States government where the bald eagle is bowing his head. It represents the honor the US bestows to those willing and dedicated enough to persevere through the most difficult training in the world. (Source) After reading Lone Survivor...I believe that statement! SEAL_tridentAs I read of the day to day training these men went through, I found myself constantly asking myself: "Could I EVER have endured this type of intense training?", followed by: "Thank God there are men that can and DO!" (For the record, I've never served in the military. My father was in the Navy, as was my youngest brother. The government had done away with the "draft" by the time I turned 18. Looking back, I think I would have greatly benefited from at least a two-year military stint.)

For a large portion of the first six chapters, Luttrell jumps between the journey from Bahrain to the mission's drop site along the Pakistan border and biographical sketches of his SEAL team, including detailed sketches of the training that would prepare them for their assigned mission.

Without giving away the story, the mission goes bad and the team of four Navy SEALs find themselves in the fiercest battle of their lives against 100+ heavily armed Taliban fighters. I choked back tears as Luttrell described the intense battle and the almost superhuman bravery of his team as they fought for their lives, the honor of Navy SEALs trident, and the country they loved. In the end, the "Battle for Murphy's Ridge" as it would later be referred to, would take the lives of Petty Officer Matthew ("Axe") Axelson, Lieutenant Mike Murphy, and Petty Officer Danny Dietz. Just knowing these guys were on "our side" made me proud to be an American. They paid the ultimate price with their lives and to their memory, I say: "Thank you! Thank you for your unselfish service to America."

What went wrong on Murphy's Ridge? Well, several things that I won't mention so as not to spoil the story, but one thing was very apparent in the minds of those men, especially Marcus Luttrell: They never really had a chance because of the way American soldiers are forced to go to into combat.

On page 37, Luttrell states:

...each of [us] in that aircraft...had constantly in the back of our minds the ever-intrusive rules of engagement.

These are drawn up for us to follow by some politician sitting in some distant committee room in Washington, DC. And that's a very long way from the battlefield, where a sniper's bullet can blast your head, where the slightest mistake can cost your life, where you need to kill your enemy before he kills you.

And those ROE as very specific: we may not open fire until we are fired upon or have positively identified our enemy and have proof of his intentions. Now, that's all very gallant...the situation might look simple in Washington, where the human rights of terrorists are often given high priority. And I am certain liberal politicians would defend their position to the death. Because everyone knows liberals have never been wrong about anything. You can ask them. Anytime.

The language is rough in places; it's war. The story is gut-wrenching at times. As I read the last paragraph, I was sickened to think that three incredibly valiant men had died, mainly because they were not allowed to do the job for which, they were trained. I was also struck with the thought--our current President, along with the majority of our Senators and Congressmen, aren't worthy to shine to boots of these guys!

luttrell_navycrossMarcus Luttrell was awarded the Navy Cross for combat heroism in July 2006 by then President George W. Bush. The book's epilogue entitled "Lone Star" describes their meeting in detail. I had a lump in my throat as I read Luttrell's account of meeting "[the] very great United States President and my commander in chief."

Thank you, Marcus Luttrell and thank you SEAL Team 10. You guys are trully GREAT AMERICANS! To all the men and women who serve in our military: THANK YOU! There are still some of us that appreciate your service and continually pray for you safety as you endeavor to carry out a seemingly unwinnable task.

Monday, April 13, 2009


"From now on, if we capture foreign ships and their respective countries try to attack us, we will kill them (the hostages)," Jamac Habeb, a 30-year-old pirate, told the Associated Press from one of Somalia's piracy hubs, Eyl. "(U.S. forces have) become our No. 1 enemy." "Every country will be treated the way it treats us. In the future, America will be the one mourning and crying," Abdullahi Lami, one of the pirates holding a Greek ship anchored in the Somali town of Gaan, told The AP today. "We will retaliate (for) the killings of our men."

In case you miss the irony, Somalian pirates think it's wrong for countries to shoot and kill THEIR people, aka PIRATES, but it's alright for them to kidnap people from said countries and demand ransom. Makes sense if you're Somalian, I guess.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Liar, Liar...

liar_liarAt the beginning of the week, Chris Dodd (D- Conn) claimed he didn't know anything about the provisions in the bailout that would allow the AIG Executives their bonuses. Yesterday, Dodd admitted that he not only knew about the provisions, but that he was also the one that put them in the bailout--hence the name "Dodd Amendment." News is now coming out that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner may have also known of the bonuses as far back as Feb 28!

Now, Congress is considering a 90% tax on those bonuses in an attempt to make things right. What hogwash! I'm just as mad as the next guy that AIG received BILLIONS of dollars in bailout money, and then turned around and payed bonuses with it, but a retroactive tax isn't the way to go about fixing this mess. If Congress can do that (and it's questionable just how they could)...they can DANG SURE DO TO YOU TOO, BOYS AND GIRLS!

Oh and just to throw a little more fuel on the to guess who the two largest campaingn recipients of AIG's generosity were? CHRIS DODD and BARACK OBAMA! Nothing about this whole mess sounds shady to me...(***eyes rolling***)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Abraham Lincoln

So I said to him, "Barack, I know Abe Lincoln, and you ain't him."

Painting of "The Grand Ol' Gang" by Andy Thomas

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Growing Up Too Fast

WARNING : I've been thinking about this post for a while. Recent conversations/events have prompted me to "put my thoughts on paper." If I upset you --which I've been known to do-- just add this to the growing list.


child_pagaentIs it just me or does our society have some kind of fixation with wanting kids to grow fast as possible? When I was a kid, many moons ago, we looked forward to certain milestones: the Junior/Senior Prom and Senior Graduation for instance. Today, there's Kindergarten Graduation, Fifth Grade Graduation, Eighth Grade Graduation, and finally, Senior Graduation. I only graduated once. I'm pretty sure it "took" that one time.

We also have the Sixth Grade Dance, the...oh, heck--just Slap-A-Grade-In-Front-Of-It Dance or Formal and that should cover it. I even heard about some kids that arrived at their Eighth Grade Dance in a LIMO! Getting to go to the Junior/Senior Prom was a big deal at our school. And you had to be a Junior or Senior to attend. I went both years...had a blast.

Then you've got stuff like beauty pagaents for little kids. Parents dress them up in adult looking clothes, complete with adult looking makeup. Since when was a three or four-year-old dressed up/made up like a two dollar hooker or a 30-year-old model considered CUTE?! Actually, I've seen some teens that look like that, too. And while I'm at it, I'm really wondering what parents are thinking when they let their daughters leave the house with their bra straps hanging out, their cleavage pushed out, and their low-rise jeans emblazoned with some catchy phrase or logo across their backside? (NOTE: Our pastor said recently, "If it's not for sale, rent or lease...dont' be advertising it." Makes sense to me.)

What's wrong with kids just being kids? They grow up fast enough as it is. And, frankly, they don't need to "graduate" from every stinkin' grade they pass. What's wrong with having just one or two special formal/type events IN YOUR ENTIRE schooling, i.e grades K-12. What in the world is there to look forward to if it's a yearly event? And I'm not advocating everyone dress like June or Ward Cleaver, but for crying out loud---PUT SOME CLOTHES ON! I'm tired of seeing your underwear.

Funny thing is, we have our kids growing up, looking like grownups, dressing like grownups, attending all of these "grownup" type events...then we get upset when they do something "grownup" like [fill in adult behavior here]. I think we're sending some mixed signals here.

Friday, March 06, 2009

"I'm Gonna Git You Sucka!"

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is the first European leader to visit Obama since the Jan 20 inauguration. In honor of his visit, Brown presented Prez BO with the following gifts:

  • A pen holder fashioned from the oak timber of HMS Gannet, a Navy vessel that served on anti-slavery missions off Africa.
  • A framed commissioning paper for the HMS Resolute, a Royal Navy ship that came to symbolize British-American goodwill when it was rescued by the U.S. from icebergs and given to Queen Victoria. It is the sister ship of the HMS Gannet.
  • A first edition of Martin Gilbert's seven-volume biography of Winston Churchill, whose World War II partnership with President Franklin Roosevelt symbolized the U.S.-Anglo alliance.

BO gave the Prime Minister a set of 25 classic American movies to mark his historic visit to the White House. Brown reportedly tried to keep the present a secret, declining to say what movies were included in the set. ""One reason for the secrecy might be that the gift seems markedly less generous and thoughtful than the presents taken to Washington by the Prime Minister," London's Evening Standard newspaper reported.

According to another source, the movie set included ET, Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz. Now THAT is an historically significant gift.

Does anyone else get the feeling we've got a bunch of High School sophomores in Washington PLAYING GOVERNMENT??!! Where was the "Diplomacy Czar" on this one?! "Er, uh, Mr. President, with all do respect, I think a box set of DVDs from Blockbuster may be just a little bit...CHEAP!!!

Oh, and don't think for a minute that if George Bush had done the same thing, the media would have been ALL OVER this, talking about what a dope GW was. And by the way, Brown is NOT known to be a movie buff.


Monday, March 02, 2009

Last Year's Business

BO's Hope and Change

Associated Press (01.06.09) :: "President-elect Barack Obama vowed Tuesday to bar lawmakers' pet projects from his massive economic stimulus plan and to bring unprecedented accountability to federal spending." Source

TIME/CNN (02.26.09) :: "On Tuesday evening, when President Barack Obama declared before a joint session of Congress that "we passed the recovery plan free of earmarks," House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, popped out of their seats like jackrabbits for a standing ovation. On Wednesday, those same House Democrats, led by Pelosi, passed a budget with, by some counts, nearly 9,000 earmarks, worth an estimated $7.7 billion." Source

Associated Press (03.02.09) reported today ::

President Barack Obama will break a campaign pledge and sign a budget bill laden with millions in lawmakers' pet projects, administration officials said.

Administration budget chief Peter Orszag and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel both downplayed the $410 billion spending bill and signaled Obama would hold his nose and sign it. Orszag said: "We want to just move on. Let's get this bill done, get it into law and move forward.

Said Emanuel: "That's last year's business."


Translation: We lied. We know we lied; you know we lied. Now that that's out...let's move on. YOU need to get over it."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I Guess I'm A Racist

SecretNeverTold recently wrote a post about hidden racial bias. I took the test she referenced and I fell into the group that has a "strong preference for white people." In one way, I was a little surprised. One of my best friends is Hispanic and I have a sister-in-law that is Filipino. I get along great with both of them and have never had any ill or biased opionions about them.

I imagine that my upbringing in an all white community plays pretty heavily in the results. I had never had any personal interaction with a black individual until I took a part-time job in a neighboring city during high school. That was a positive exerience.

I've never really thought of myself as a racist, but I have to admit that, lately, I've become more and more aware of the different opinions I have --and ones that have obviously been supressed. We had a Hispanic/Black (mixed) family move next door several years ago. They were terrible neighbors, always playing their music loud--the walls in OUR house would vibrate from their stereo...and we don't live in apartments. These are single family homes on seperate lots! They threw trash in our yard, they were rude and vulgar, and they had no respect the property or privacy of anyone in the area. Their kids have since moved out and it's pretty quiet over there now, but as you can imagine, the confrontations didn't do much to help with "race relations."

Since the election, it's seems like EVERYTHING is a race thing, from the Post cartoon to using the term "black hole" when discussing astronomy. I work in an office that until last month, had never had a black person working in the office. I/we find ourselves being very much aware of our conversations, etc. We make it a point to never discuss politics around the "new guy." I guess it's biased/racist, but we all assume he voted for BO.

Maybe this is racist, but I think that BO's election has done more to fuel racism/racist talk than to heal it. It seems like the NAACP and other ethnic groups are waiting around every corner to complain about a word or image or something that they determine is racist.

I've pretty much quit watching the news or reading the newspaper since before the election. Here we are over half-way through the month, and I didn't even know it was Black History Month. I guess that's another thing that makes me a racist.

I'm guessing now would not be the time to push for a "Miss White America" contest.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

They Hate Guns

gangstaThe jackass lawmakers in Illinois are at it again. Illinois HB0687 was introduced by Dumbocrat Representative Kenneth Dunkin and would essentially require gun owners to carry $1 MILLION of liability insurance "specifically covering any damages resulting from negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person."

I hear that many of the state's criminals are anxiously looking forward to complying with the new law...should it actually become a reality. When interviewed by a local television station, career thug, Darnell Marquis Jackson* (shown in photo) stated: "I think it's a great idea. I'm very concerned every time I go to pop a cap in somebody's head. One stray bullet and BAM! You got youself a dead, innocent bystander. I also make it a point to purchase all of my guns and ammo from reputable gun dealers."

It warms your heart to know that people like Kenneth Dunkin are looking out for the folks in Illinois. Let's see: Illinois is one of only two states that DO NOT issue concealed carry permits. With continued efforts like this one (HB0687) and others aimed at hamstringing gun owners rights, we can sleep easier knowing that the "Darnell Jacksons" of the world can continue to mug, rob, steal, maim and kill law abiding citizens without fear of a victim drawing a weapon and BLOWING HIS SORRY, LOW-LIFE BRAINS ALL OVER THE PAVEMENT!!!

FYI: The Illinois State Police (ISP) reported the Illinois crime rate fell 3.6 percent in 2007 from 456,085 compared to 470,730 in 2006. Crimes included in the stat were murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated battery and aggravated assault. 68,582 of those crimes were classified as "violent;" reported murders were 752. Compared to other states:

  • Oklahoma - violent crimes= 18,072; murders= 222
  • Arkansas - violent crimes= 15,507; murders= 191
  • Mississippi - violent crimes= 8,502; murders= 208
I guess the real problem is they just have too many people living in Illinois, but it looks like they're working on reducing the population by significant numbers, so that's encouraging.

* Not his real name

Monday, February 16, 2009

Form 1040

I just finished filing my income taxes for 2008. This is the best year ever!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Quicken Customer Support

no_quickenI've been using Quicken® financial software since 1983--version 1. During this time, I've upgraded to the latest version when they've made the decision to quit supporting what they refer to as "legacy products," i.e. "we ain't makin' it anymore and we're not supporting it either."

The latest version I have is Quicken Basic 2006. A couple of weeks ago I received a letter informing me of yet another available upgrade and that they would no longer be supporting my current version of the program after April of this year.

I've got quite a few years invested in Quicken and I enjoyed the simplicity of the program in its early stages, but lately it seems they (Intuit) are bent on adding all kinds of features that I really don't need, then forcing me to upgrade in order to keep having the privilege of Customer Support.

But see, here's the thing: over the years, their Customer Support has really gone downhill. It stinks, actually! The last two encounters I've had with Intuit/Quicken Customer Support have been horrible. On hold, waiting on "supervisors," and attempting to understand the broken English of the support person--it'll drive you NUTS!

So a while back, I noticed a bug in program. The following email and Quicken's response speaks for itself. Does anyone else see the irony?

My original email to Quicken

At some point, the date for one of my transaction groups changed (exactly one month ahead) and now I can't edit it. I can override the date right before I write the transactions to the ledger, but the date continues to be a month off.

Apparently this is a problem many Quicken users are facing since I have seen this "bug" discussed on several user groups/blogs.

While I'm at it, I also resent the recent decision to abandon Quicken Basic and force me to upgrade to a version that I really have no use for. I have used Quicken since Version 1. In fact, after installing that version from a 5 1/4" floppy, I had a question and called customer support. Scott Cook himself answered the phone. He was articulate, spoke fluent English and was able to solve my problem in a very timely matter. Now when I call Quicken, my call is transferred to some boiler room in Damoh India (or similar location) where I am forced to interact with an individual that barely speaks English as a second language!

My most recent frustration was in ordering wallet style checks. I was shocked to discover the price was over $75 for only 250 checks! And you didn't get the order right. I'm done. I will continue to use Quicken as I always have--an electronic checkbook ledger. My bank offers online bill pay, so I don't need your checks. When the day arrives my current copy of Quicken will no longer install or run, I'll find something else.

Thanks Mr. Cook for what was once a useful product. Your customer service department however, has suffered because of your success.

One who formerly sang the praises of Quicken,
Keith Whitfield

Quicken's Response

Thank you for contacting Quicken Customer Care.

Keith, we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and frustration that you have recently experienced. We strive to provide the best possible customer service.

Thank you very much for your feedback. We will pass this along to the correct department, so that, it may help in improving our services in the future.

If you wish to provide feedback in the future, please refer to our feedback page on our support site, located in:

Mohit Sharma
Quicken Customer Care

Friday, February 13, 2009

Really?! there ANYBODY out there that voted for BO that REALLY thinks this "spendulus package" is a good idea?! If so--WHY?!

On a related note, the Drudge Report just posted this:

Rep. John Culberson, TX claims the "stimulus" bill must be urgently voted on today -- because Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leaving at 6:00 PM for an 8 day trip to Europe!


In the words of Captain Sulley: "Prepare for impact."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

SCHIP and My Responsibility **UPDATED**

marlboro_manYesterday, Prez BO signed into law, legislation that would expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as SCHIP, to cover an additional 4 million children. SCHIP is a program that was created by the federal government to cover individuals that have incomes too high to qualify for state medical assistance but cannot obtain private insurance.

The additional cost of this legislation will be approx $34 billion over the next five years. To pay for this program, the law will impose an ADDITIONAL 62 cent federal tax on cigarette sales, bringing the total tax to just over $1.

As Americans, we must do our part to help fund this new legislation. It would be unfair for current smokers to bear the entire cost of this program. Therefore, I proprose that non-smokers such as myself, pick up the habit immediately. If I can manage to acquire a pack-a-day habit, this will mean a contribution--toward the new legislation--of $226.30 per year. In five years, that's $1131.50. At that rate, we only need 30 million new smokers to make this thing work.

That's not a lot to pay or ask for the health of our children, is it? Come on, America! Let's get PUFFIN'!!!

(NOTE: Be sure to file this one under "sarcasm.")

PS : Does anyone else find it ronic that they want to fund SCHIP with a cigarette tax...and the "spendulus" package contains $$$$$ for smoking cessation programs?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Truth As I See It

One thing about the internet is you can remain as anonymous or famous as you want. You can post all of your personal information (not recommended) including your real name or you can come up with a screen name. You can tell the everyone all kinds of things about yourself or create a world/persona that exists only in your mind.

I encountered one of the latter type individuals the other day. How do I know? They used their real name and posted a picture; it was an individual I used to work with...BUT they seemed to have stated some things that, well, let's just say the individual in question handled the truth a little carelessly.

It was one of those "X number of things people don't know about me" blogs where you divulge all kinds of secrets or unknown facts about yourself. You know the stuff: "I'm scared of being buried alive." "I have six toes on my right foot." "I love chocolate sauce on spinach." One of the unknown facts this person posted was--and I'm not making this up--was:

At age 12 I could run the mile barefoot in 4 minutes...

Just for the record, Roger Bannister first broke the four-minute-mile barrier 1954. Since that time, the record has been broken several times by male runners. The current record is held by Hicham El Guerrouj, who set a time of 3 minutes 43.13 seconds in Rome in 1999. According to Wikipedia: "No woman has yet run a four-minute mile: the current women's record holder is retired Russian Svetlana Masterkova, with a time of 4 minutes 12.56 seconds." A New York Times article on January 21, 2001 states:

Alan Webb of Virginia became the first high school competitor to run a sub-four-minute mile indoors and the first to do so anywhere since 1967 when he clocked 3 minutes 59.86 seconds yesterday at the New Balance Track and Field Games at the Armory Track and Field Center. (Source)

So...let's put the previously mentioned blogger's comments into perspective. He/she claims to have run a record breaking distance while IN JUNIOR HIGH and yet, reliable sources state that feat was not accomplished by ANYONE under 21 until 2001. I'm thinking a four-minute-mile by a 12 year old would be pretty big news in the sports world, but I don't find anything, anywhere supporting his/her claim. Maybe there was some catostrophic world event the day of his/her record breaking accomplishment and it was simply pushed to the back pages of the news.

I read the blog and immediately thought of the following scene from a recent re-run of Sienfeld where George has purchased a very obvious hair piece, which he is convinced looks quite natural. In the scene, George and Jerry are talking about George's upcoming blind date and the conversation went something like this:

George: We talked on the phone for over an hour.
Jerry: Did you describe yourself to her?
George: Yes, I did.
Jerry: Did you tell her the truth?
George: Yes, I did.
Jerry: As you see it?
George: I see it.

I guess some people see things or remember things quite differently from reality. Oh, the picture at the right? That's me after a workout at the least that's how I see it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Better Plan

I received the following from a friend; I have no idea where he got it, but it dang sure sounds like a better plan than the bovine excrement that we got crammed down our throats today. Take the time to honestly read it.

When a company falls on difficult times, one of the things that seems to happen is they reduce their staff and workers. The remaining workers need to find ways to continue to do a good job or risk that their job would be eliminated as well. Wall street, and the media normally congratulate the CEO for making this type of "tough decision", and his board of directors gives him a big bonus.

Our government should not be immune from similar risks.

Therefore: Reduce the House of Representatives from the current 435 members to 218 members and Senate members from 100 to 50 (one per State). Also reduce remaining staff by 25%.

Accomplish this over the next 8 years. (two steps / two elections ) and of course this would require some redistricting.

Some Yearly Monetary Gains Include:

$44,108,400 for elimination of base pay for congress. (267 members X $165,200 pay / member / yr.)

$97,175,000 for elimination of the above people's staff. (estimate $1.3 Million in staff per each member of the House, and $3 Million in staff per each member of the Senate every year)

$240,294 for the reduction in remaining staff by 25%.

$7,500,000,000 reduction in pork barrel ear-marks each year. (those members whose jobs are gone. Current estimates for total government pork earmarks are at $15 Billion / yr)

The remaining representatives would need to work smarter and would need to improve efficiencies. It might even be in their best interests to work together for the good of our country?

We may also expect that smaller committees might lead to a more efficient resolution of issues as well. It might even be easier to keep track of what your representative is doing.

Congress has more tools available to do their jobs than it had back in 1911 when the current number of representatives was established. (telephone, computers, cell phones to name a few)

Congress did not hesitate to head home when it was a holiday, when the nation needed a real fix to the economic problems. Also, we have 3 senators that have not been doing their jobs for the past 18+ months (on the campaign trail) and still they all have been accepting full pay. These facts alone support a reduction in senators & congress.

Summary of opportunity:

$ 44,108,400 reduction of congress members.

$282,100, 000 for elimination of the reduced house member staff.

$150,000,000 for elimination of reduced senate member staff.

$59,675,000 for 25% reduction of staff for remaining house members.

$37,500,000 for 25% reduction of staff for remaining senate members.

$7,500,000,000 reduction in pork added to bills by the reduction of congress members.

$8,073,383,400 per year, estimated total savings. (that's 8-BILLION just to start!)

Big business does these types of cuts all the time.

If Congresspersons were required to serve 20, 25 or 30 years (like everyone else) in order to collect retirement benefits there is no telling how much we would save. Now they get full retirement after serving only ONE term.

Hope...With This Stimulus Package?!

How in the world does President BO expect me to have "hope" when he is proposing his current stimulus plan? $825 BILLION for what?! Much of the money won't even be spent for years, so how is that supposed to stimulate the economy NOW? Why not stimulate the economy via massive tax cuts that would almost immediately put spendable dollars in Ameican's pockets? Quoting columnist Thomas Sowell:

Using long, drawn-out processes to put money into circulation to meet an
emergency is like mailing a letter to the fire department to tell them that your
house is on fire.

Hope? I just hope middle class Americans like myself can financially survive the next four (maybe eight) years. What amazes me is to hear BO make comments like (paraphrasing here) "I want to make America a better place for my daughters." With this stimulus plan, I don't see it.

There is SO MUCH waste on things we don't NEED such as funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, not to mention money appropriated to organizations that actually already have a surplus of cash. And need I mention, the stimulus package includes money for BO's beloved ACORN!--why would we give those people another dime?!

So, just how much is $825 Billion (just shy of $1 Trillion)? Presient Reagan illustrated it best:

...the best way to understand a trillion dollars is to imagine a crisp, new stack of $1000 bills.

  • If you had a stack four inches high, you’d be a millionaire.
  • A trillion-dollar stack of $1000 bills would measure just over 63 miles high.
  • In $20 bills, a trillion dollar stack would be 3150 miles high. That’s about the distance between DC and Trujillo, Peru.

If you can stand it, here are some of the details of he stimulus package. WARNING: It ain't pretty.
How Big is Obama's Stimulus Package?
Breakdown of the Obama Stimulus Package
More Stimulus Facts

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stop Listening to Rush

rush_limbaughBarack Obama (BO) told a group of lawmakers on Friday (01/23) "...You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." Apparently:

  • BO has listened to Rush and doesn't like what he has to say.
  • BO is afraid other people listen to Rush.
  • BO is REALLY afraid that if people listen to Rush, they may quit listening to HIM.

I don't listen to Rush; not that I don't like him. I used to listen, but my schedule changed at work and now it's just not convenient. I do listen to Glenn Beck when I have time. I'm a Glenn Beck Insider, so I stream the broadcasts when it's convenient. I also listen to Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham on the way home from work. I don't agree with everything those radio personalities say--but I do agree with a lot of it. I don't need them to say things for me to have an opinion. I can read and I can listen to what BO says/is saying and the bottom line is: He don't think like me...nor any of the people I associate with.

I didn't vote for BO. I believe he will spend and tax us into the biggest mess this country has ever seen. I believe he will work fervently to limit or take away some of the rights we currently enjoy as Americans. I believe he will push (via The Fairness Doctrine) to quiet voices like Rush, Beck and Hannity. I think he is bad for America and that it will not be long before even those who voted for him will be asking themselves: "What have we done?" to which I will reply, "who's this we you're talking about?

Know what? I may have to start listening to Rush again...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama's Trojan Horse

trojan_horseIn a recent editorial, Dick Morris, states:

Now that Obama is the president, fasten your seat belts...We will enter his Administration as the United States, buoyed by an aggressive free market economy. We will exit his first year - and even the first hundred days - as France, burdened with massive government regulation, a vast public sector, and permanent middle class entitlements...

The most pernicious of his proposals will be the massive Make Work Pay refundable tax credit. Dressed up as a tax cut, it will be a national welfare program, guaranteeing a majority of American households an annual check to “refund” taxes they never paid. And it will eliminate the need for about 20% of American households to pay income taxes, lifting the proportion that need not do so to a majority of the voting population. Unlike the Bush stimulus checks, this new program will be a permanent entitlement, a part of our budget that can only go up and never down. Politically, it will transform a majority of Americans from taxpayers, anxious to hold down government spending, into tax eaters, eager to reap new benefits.

You can read the entire post here.

Just what we wanted/needed. More sponges sitting on their butts with their hands out to recieve their "entitlements"...paid for by those of us that will continue to work and give even more of our hard earned dollars to a government that apparently doesn't know the true meaning of the word "budget."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dear Mr. President

NOTE: Everyone and their dog seems to be posting their "Dear Mr. President" letters, so here's mine.

Dear Mr. President:
I didn't vote for you. Actually, I voted against you. I would have voted for pretty much anybody or anything that ran against you. I don't care for your stated policies or beliefs. I think you are very dishonest, which is probably what makes you such a good politician. I am sad for our country in that you were able to dupe so many people into believing you were all about "change."

I believe that God is in control of all things and for whatever reason, He has ordained you to be the President of the United States. He knows why; at this point, I do not and can only speculate that your election is His condemnation of America and a wake-up call that we would be wise to heed. You support abortion on demand and homosexual/lesbian lifestyles, things that as a Christian, I cannot condone. I believe these and other anti-Biblical positions your hold will be your downfall if you continue to endorse them.

I WILL pray for you, that God will change your heart, that you will be genuinely saved, and that you will be the President we really need...not the President you promised to be.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Programming Note

Please set your DVRs for a very special television event that will be taking place on Tuesday, Jan 20, 2008.


There is something else on the other channels, but for the life of me, I can't remember what it is. Must not be that big o' deal.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Brand New Used Stuff

I went to Lowe's yesterday to pick up a few things for the office I've added on my house. I was installing cabinets and needed some screws and an attachment for my Dremel ® for cutting out the cabinet backs where they covered electrical outlets.

I grabbed the screws, then headed to the Tool Department to find the Dremel aisle. Man, they've got a lot of neat stuff for Dremels. Anyhoo, I found the attachment I was looking for, but noticed it had been opened. Everything appeared to be in the package, but the clamshell container had been cut open, then taped back together. "Someone must have bought the thing and returned it because it didn't fit," I told myself. I noticed on the front of the package it stated "for models xxx, xxx, xxx." "Maybe they had a Dremel that wasn't listed and just failed to pay attention to the label."

I made my way to the self check-out and headed home where I discovered something very interesting: the Dremel thingy had been USED! It was obvious when I got it out of the package! Here's my theory: the person "bought" the item, took it home, used it, then returned it for a refund. Now, maybe they got the thing home and tried it out and it just didn't perform to their expectations...or maybe they went to the store, "pretended" to buy the thing knowing full well they were going to bring it back for a refund after using it. If the latter is the case, that ain't right!

I put the cutting attachment on my Dremel, made my cuts and put everything away, but I couldn't help but wondering how often stuff like that happens.

I've written about it before, but it reminded me of a family I know that, when they needed new clothes for a special event, would go to the store, "buy" the clothes, WEAR THEM being careful not to soil of tear them, THEN RETURN THE ITEMS TO THE STORE FOR A FULL REFUND! That's not even like renting!

Friday, January 16, 2009


I'm boycotting television on Tuesday, Jan 20. I'm sorry; I just can't stand to look at the guy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

1 Corinthians 13

I've been busy with several other projects lately and have neglected my photography hobby. I got my camera out this afternoon and played around with "lighting" different objects. I know this one has been done before, but it was fun setting up and just playing with different angles, light, etc.

1 Corinthians 13

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Fairy Tale

nce upon a time, there was a young and handsome king. The king was very popular with most of the subjects in his kingdom. The king promised to take care of them, to provide them with cars and houses...all for least that's how they heard it. The king promised to make everything right, for you see, the kingdom had hit upon some hard times. People were without jobs, and they were losing their homes because the mean ol' banks had loaned them money they couldn't have paid back on a bet.

There was also a lot of crime in the kingdom which the king vowed would be eradicated under his reign. The problem was the availability of rocks; the criminals were throwing rocks at innocent people. Some of the victims were just seriously injured while others were killed. Things were getting out of control, until the king came up with a plan.

"In order for people to feel safe in my kingdom, I must regulate rocks," he said. Rocks were already so much a part of kingdom life, the king knew he couldn't do away with them, but he could make them more difficult or expensive to obtain. "Beginning today, there shall be a 500 per cent tax on all rock sales," the king declared. "Once people cannot afford rocks, they will quit hurting people with them."

Miraculously, the king's plan worked. The criminals ¹ could no longer afford rocks and so they were no longer able to hurt people. Sadly, the rock manufacturers went out of business because no one was buying rocks anymore.

The End.

¹ It is a widely known fact that criminals are basically good people and would never think of stealing the rocks rather than purchasing them.

Monday, January 05, 2009

If There is a God...

Dave Matthews* is quoted as saying: ""I'm glad some people have that faith. I don't have that faith. If there is a God, a caring God, then we have to figure he's done an extraordinary job of making a very cruel world." (Source)

Isn't it interesing that when things go's always God's fault. It's like your insurance policy--a catasrophe is an "act of God." But when was the last time you heard someone refer to a sunset, a beautiful melody, or the birth of a child in the same way..."an act of God?"

It never occurs to people like Dave Matthews that depraved people just might be the problem.

* Wikipedia describes Dave Matthews as "a South African-American Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter. He is best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band..." To be honest, I am unfamiliar with any of his work.

Vacation Idea

Looking for a place to take the family on vacation or maybe to relocate? Try Illinois! I received the following information in an email today. Looks the data is right on.

  • Senators: Barack Obama & Dick Durbin
  • Representative: Jesse Jackson, Jr.
  • Illinois Governor: Rod Blogojevich
  • Illinois House leader: Mike Madigan
  • Illinois Attorney General: Lisa Madigan (daughter of Mike )
  • Chicago Mayor: Richard M. Daley (son of Mayor Richard J. Daley)
  • The leadership in Illinois? All Democrats.
  • Body count in the last six months: 292 killed (murdered) in Chicago (Just for comparison - 221 killed in Iraq during the same period)
  • State pension fund: $44 Billion in debt, worst in the country.
  • Cook County ( Chicago ) sales tax: 10.25% highest in country.
  • Chicago school system: Rated one of the worst in the country.

Of course, they're all blaming each other. They can't blame Republicans-because there aren't any. This is the political culture that Obama comes from in Illinois. And he's going to "fix" Washington politics for us?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Obama Health Care

As I look forward (he said tongue-in-cheek) to the Obama inauguration and presidency, I'm wondering about some things--one in particular: Obama's health care plan. From his own website, President-Elect Obama proposes:

Requir[ing] insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans regardless of their health status or history can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums. (Source)

So if you are prone to neglect your health AND common sense by setting things on fire and and sucking on them like a pacifier as well as consuming 6000+ calories a day, all while sitting on your big, fat lazy butt and most certainly guaranteeing your don't need to worry about being denied health care coverage!

Now, I'm not the epitome of health, but I certainly am smart enough to realize that: (a) smoking, eating too much, getting very little or no exercise, and generally not doing ANYTHING to better my health ain't a good idea (b) somebody's gonna have to pay for all these fat slobs that have the self-discipline of a gnat when their bodies begin revolting against all of the years of abuse.

I bet the insurance companies will simply feel sorry for us and just absorb any of the additional costs of this plan. Yeah...I'm sure they will.