Wednesday, January 28, 2009


John Updike, one of the premier novelists of the generation immediately prior to mine, has died at 76, from lung cancer, according to his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf. At least, that's the AP report in this morning's The Advocate.

I think Updike and Truman Capote were the first "adult" novelists I took note of in my early teens. He had a way about his words that just sucked me in and carried me along. I didn't understand all the nuances of his language then. But I did recognize the import thereof. That is getting to be a long time ago. Damn!

Rest in peace, John. Rabbit is finally at rest.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Life List: Have You Ever...

This meme was over at Patrick's Place and Simon's the Simian Farmer so I thought I'd give it a whirl, too. On second thought, change the first line to "Monkey See, Monkey Do"...

bold = done it
italics = want to
strikethrough = don't want to
Plus snarky comments

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars. I prefer a tent - usually there's too much dew (or frost).
3. Played in a band. Alto Sax in junior high - both marching band and orchestra.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland. But I have been to DisneyWorld...
8. Climbed a mountain. Several of them, in fact. Actually ran back down from Chimney Pond at Katahdin, too.
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning. More times than I care to count.
17. Walked to the top of The Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch hiked. Twice across the US and once across Canada.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. But of course, I was severely stressed, so really, they were "mental health" days.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb. I prefer to eat them.
26. Gone skinny dipping. In a farmer's pond next to US Rte 2, outside Plainfield, Vermont, in full view of the road.
27. Run a marathon.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. I've even done the "Maid of the Mist"!
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. Someday I'll make it to Ireland and Germany.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David.
41. Sung karaoke.
42. Seen the Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. I miss it, but with only one functional lung...
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre. My second time was in a drive-in.
55. Been in a movie. I was in some home movies as a kid...does that count?
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business. It failed.
58. Taken a martial arts class. Although, I'd like to do Tai Chi.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration camp.
67. Bounced a check. My own damn fault, too.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone. Several.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car. Only once ... that was enough.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby. Wrong gender.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a mobile phone.
99. Been stung by a bee.
100. Read an entire book in one day.

Feel free to participate, but feel no obligation, either.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Patrick, over at Patrick's Place, had an interesting entry yesterday about the proposal before Congress to delay implementation of Over-the-Air (OTA) digital television broadcasting (DTV). While I am in general agreement with his assessment, to a point, there are elements his entry doesn't address. Read this entry then come back...

The problem for the very poor is different than the problem(s) for the rural customer. As noted in other discussions, many rural and fringe area customers simply were unprepared for the not insignificant expense of installing an external antenna with rotor and signal amplifier in order to receive the distant station(s) they are accustomed to receiving now. Quite frankly, neither am I.

My camp is a case in point. There is no satellite window to the SW due to a thick forest cover and a ridge. Cable is unavailable. No broadband service is available. That leaves me with the choice of obtaining a zoning variance (fat chance) to install a 100 foot tower capable of supporting over 150 lbs of antenna, rotor and cables and then spending some two to ten thousand dollars for the antenna and all the rest, or, do without. In my case, there isn't a choice. I haven't got that kind of money to spend on television that I might watch for five months out of the year for one or two hours in the evening. What with Jay Leno leaving late night TV, that viewing time may be cut by another 5 hours a week (my wife HATES Conan and Dave).

I am sympathetic to broadcasters who must bear the burden of the additional expense(s) of operating analog and digital transmitters. I am also sympathetic to those facing the loss of OTA TV with no possible replacement, for whatever reason. In my case, I'd signed up for the government's discount card to be delivered last February. If you've been following my blog, you know that was a serious mistake - I didn't get back to my domicile until July. By then the card had expired. The expired cards went into the trash and I reapplied, only to be told that the guvmint wouldn't issue new ones. Then they turned around and rescinded the expiration. By then, they were long gone in the landfill -- SOL again. I ended up having to buy a converter box at full price or do with out any OTA TV at home or in my trailer. Suffice it to say, I only bought one box and swap them from the trailer to the house as needed. Watching from bed at night, from the kitchen in the morning or out in the shop will be impossible. Tough luck for the local broadcasters - another customer gone. And forget public television - those cows decided they'd concentrate only on the more populous areas to the south of us - we no longer get their signal. Sorry MPBN - there goes my contribution.

So, I selfishly applaud the idea of requiring dual broadcasting. It is, after all, the public's airwaves. Broadcasters must either provide for the needs of all of the viewing public or pack it in and start selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door.

Disenfranchising some 6.5 million citizens is politically unthinkable to Congressional Democrats and the new administration. Republicans with rural constituents will either provide more time for conversion to digital broadcasting or face a backlash at their next attempt at reelection.

There really isn't a middle ground.

And so it goes...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

And what would you do?

I'm trying to enroll in an EMT course at LSU I need to obtain a job with the local EMS. Doesn't look like it is going to happen. I graduated high school in 1968 from a small church school. Last time I actually used the diploma was to confirm graduation for a job I was hired for in 1989. Just about the same time that my school closed it's doors forever.

Flash forward about 10 years. I tried to find said diploma for a new job and made a horrifying discovery. Squirrels (yes, those nasty rats with fuzzy tails and a good P.R. firm) had invaded the box those documents were kept in out in the garage and amused themselves while nesting by chewing everything in the box into confetti! I was fortunate the last time I had a job requiring confirmation I'd graduated as the boss accepted my word on it. Faceless bureaucracies. like a college admissions department, don't.

Hence the dilemma which prompts the question in the title. EVERY job I have looked at lately requires certified confirmation of HS graduation. All the colleges and EMT courses down here require the immunizations record (I think this is a federal law geared primarily to prevent children from engendering an epidemic -- not to keep us over-the-hill-and-twice-as-moldy types from taking a few college level courses). Heck, even the Coast Guard wants certified copies of HS diploma or an original. And of course, they want a record of every freaking immunization I have had since birth. Certified by an M.D. no less.

I'm so screwed...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bad Bob and Handler

Texas Renaissance Faire
November 20, 2008
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

We Made It!

After the weather gods finally let us loose from the sub-zero blizzard followed by nearly Spring-like monsoons accompanied by extremely high winds, we had a false start involving missing trailer brakes that suddenly reappeared and didn't bother the rest of the trip, we would have made it to Maryland in near record time - except for the pea-soup New Jersey smmog that forced a layover for 12 hours. Nevertheless, we made it on Sunday. After a nice visit with my Uncle and Aunt, we took off on New Year's Day afternoon and arrived here in Louisiana this evening! We even squeezed in a nice visit to Mystic Springs Airstream Camp yesterday on the Florida panhandle.

Off to bed, I'm beat. More on the flip side.