Friday, September 28, 2007


I love Hummingbirds! Do you know anybody who doesn't like them? They are truly amazing creatures. Even the lady I recently heard talking about "humblingbirds" likes them. The next 4 pictures are from a lady who began standing close to her feeders until the birds became accustomed to her and then went out one day with a cup of sugar water and the birds literally ate from her hands.

How cool is that? Thanks, Laura, for forwarding the pictures. And thanks, Helen, for forwarding the great close-up pictures. I wish I could take credit for the outstanding photography, but these were taken by someone with a much nicer camera than mine.

Aren't those amazing pictures of these incredible little birds. I have always found them fascinating, but the appreciation has grown in recent years. Some of that can be attributed to the natural process of getting older and slowing down to enjoy such simple pleasures. But part of the appreciation goes beyond that. It is tied to the time when my dad was battling prostate cancer. For a while he was in considerable pain and could not do much but sit. This was before he was confined to bed and while his mind was still sharp. When we would visit, we would spend lots of time on their carport and the hummingbirds would buzz all around, running each other away from the feeders. It was amazing to have them buzzing all around your head. It was a time when my reasoning told me that dad was going to die soon but my emotions refused to accept that fact. Lots of thought processing went on as we sat on that carport and comment on hummingbird behavior. While my emotions battled my reasoning, I knew these were just unique little birds but part of me began to see them as little angel-messengers. It seemed like little angel-messengers were constantly hoovering around and standing at the ready for when dad needed an escort to his new home. I know that is not very good theology nor logic but regardless of how illogical it is, I still sense those times near the end of dad's life whenever I see hummingbirds. And I have become MUCH more attuned to them. I now often hear the unusual "chirping" sound they make and turn to spot one approaching a feeder or flower. I even watched one last week hoover at the back of a Maxima and check out the reflection of the sun in the tail-light lense (have you noticed how much it resembles a hummingbird feeder?). So I just wanted to share these great pictures of little angel-messengers to brighten your day.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fast Track

This news item is a classic description of how to fast track to a new career;

INDIANAPOLIS — A laboratory technician was fired after the parents of a 3-year-old boy claimed she bit his shoulder during a blood test, a hospital spokesman said.
Faith Buntin took her son Victor to St. Vincent Hospital on Friday to have blood drawn because of recent recalls of toys involving lead. She said she saw the worker put her mouth on Victor's shoulder as she restrained him so another lab worker could draw the blood.
"I looked at her like that was the craziest thing that I'd ever seen," Faith Buntin said Tuesday. "She looked at me and smiled and said, 'Oh, it was just a play bite. He's not hurt.' "
Buntin said she saw teeth marks on the boy's left shoulder after they went home, and her husband drove the child back to the hospital, where he was prescribed antibiotics.
No charges have been filed.

Now this playful lab tech gets to say "Would you like to supersize that combo?". What was she thinking? These are obviously paranoid parents if they are there to have blood tests because toys have been recalled. They are NOT going to be o.k. with a stranger putting her mouth on their toddler--even without the teeth marks!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tailgating in the South

This just in;

MAIDEN, N.C. — A man who bought a smoker Tuesday at an auction of abandoned items might have thought twice had he looked inside first.
Maiden police said the man opened up the smoker and saw what he thought was a piece of driftwood wrapped in paper. When he unwrapped it, he found a human leg, cut off 2 to 3 inches above the knee.
The smoker had been sold at an auction of items left behind at a storage facility, so investigators contacted the mother and son who had rented the space where the smoker was found.
The mother, Peg Steele, explained her son had his leg amputated after a plane crash and kept the leg following the surgery ``for religious reasons'' she doesn't know much about.
``The rest of the family was very much against it,'' Steele said.
Steele said her son, John Wood, plans to drive to Maiden, about 35 miles northwest of Charlotte, to reclaim his amputated leg.

Wow! The questions are flooding my mind right now. The question racing to the front is "What religious reasons could there possibly be for saving an amputated leg?" If you fail to pay the rent on the storage facility where you are keeping your amputated leg IN A SMOKER, would that be considered a religious short-coming?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

NASCAR--Is it a sport?

I have mostly quit watching NASCAR racing because I just do not have time and I must confess--it is sometimes a little boring. Never-the-less, I appreciate the skill and stamina that is required to control an 800 horsepower vehicle traveling 190 miles per hour around a track just inches from other cars on all sides of your car. I have discussed with several unhealthy individuals whether car racing should be considered a sport at all. It seems funny to me that this argument persists in this time of football mania. Let's face it, football is divided into four 15 minute quarters with a break between each and at half-time both teams disappear to be motivated and pampered while the band and pretty girls in sequins entertain the crowd. Even during the 15 minute quarters, almost NOBODY plays the entire time. That is why a highly recruited lineman can weigh 300 pounds and look like the night manager at Krispy Kreme. Some sports, like soccer, require constant running and top-notch conditioning. Soccer has long been less popular in the USA because there is little contact and brute strength involved. Every sport has strengths and reasons to make fun. NASCAR is no exception. However, for those who claim that car racing is for ignorant hillbillies with beer bellies that only need to be smart enough to remember to turn left, I invite you to tell that to Carl who won today and does a backflip from the window of his car after a victory.

Let me know how it turns out.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Annual Physical

Yesterday was the day for my annual physical. Only it hasn't been exactly "annual" since I was fired by my doctor. That's right, the year before last I received a certified letter from my doctor telling me I had been fired. O.K., those weren't the exact words. One of the doctors (physicians assistant, actually) had retired from the practice and they were cutting back on the patient load. SUPPOSEDLY, they had randomly chosen patients to terminate. It is a little humbling. I had always felt like I was just tolerating doctors, but really liked Dr. Tolentino. It was all about professional skill and personal demeanor--it had nothing to do with the fact that she was female and cute. It took me a while to become serious about finding a new doctor and eventually followed LaWanna's lead in considering Dr. Hendon. The process of becoming a new patient was eye-opening as well. Times have changed and many doctors now are very selective about accepting new patients (better have good insurance). Thankfully, both LaWanna and I were accepted so she had her physical on Monday and I had mine on Wednesday. The ordeal of getting a few hours off work is for another blog, but suffice it to say that it should not be that difficult for someone who has been at a company for 35 years and has accumulated over 2000 hours of sick leave AND had not used a single hour of sick leave for 5 years to get a few hours for a doctors appointment.

I could write a lengthy post about a physical and the indignities of prostate and hernia exams and how silly it seems to chat about college football while turning to the side, shirtless, and holding both arms over your head for chest x-rays. But allow me just this one funny observation about the beginning of the exam. First, kudos to Family Practice for getting patients in when they are scheduled. Finally, I feel like my time is appreciated. Then on the way down the many turns of a winding hallway, we stop at the scales. I know it is silly, but I wore dress shoes instead on my more comfortable hiking boots because they weigh so much less. What a ripoff to weigh with pocket change, cell phone, clothes, and a wallet stuffed with loads of cash. As if that is not bad enough, when the nurse had recorded my weight, she said "What is your height? Or we can measure you if you take off your shoes." "Heck no," says I. "If I take my shoes off for you to measure my height, we are doing the weight again sans shoes!" "And if I can just tell you my height based on the last time I measured (which may be high school), why couldn't I just tell you my weight?" What's up with that? Why deny me the 3/4 inch height boost from my shoes if you aren't even going to note that the weight includes 26 pounds of clothes, pocketknives, electronics AND that was before my haircut! I bet I got a pound of hair cut off later. I have a good mind to go back by first thing in the morning, strip naked and get a true weight for that chart. THEN she can measure my height without shoes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Readin' and Writin'

This is a quote from part of an essay on Emerson by George Sheehan. I believe it captures much of the reason that I choose to blog. Some will say that I, and other bloggers, just like to hear our own voices (or see them in print). I suggest that there is a higher purpose to writing, whether it is the next great novel or a brief, humorous perception of the day's activities. Can you see your thoughts in this passage?

"We need books. First, to be educated. Emerson knew Shakespeare by heart, and read widely in the classics and Eastern philosophers. He knew his world and he principles that governed it. The great thinkers begin by knowing what others think. Wisdom comes after information and knowledge. Books provide the scaffolding that allows us to build our own system of thought. In the end, our lives depend on that. We must think for ourselves. There is no precedent for you or me. Each of us is different from anyone else. So others can be no more than guides. They tell us what is successful for them. We must find what is successful for us. Emerson expresses our own ambivalence toward books. In one essay he tells us we must read. He even gives us a list of the books he finds most valuable. Then on an equally convincing essay he tells us there is no need to read. In one piece he has quotes from other thinkers in virtually every paragraph; and in the next he says, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you think." That is what writing is. Telling people what you think. Telling other people certainly, but primarily yourself. That is why we must write. To find out what we think. To discover what we believe. Until we say it or write it down we are unaware of what is actually at the root of our lives. Good, honest, frank speech goes a long way, but writing is best. Writing permits of revision and revision aids precision. Spontaneity is good. Sincerity is better. But what we want to attain is veracity-the truth as best we can put it into words. This is by all accounts hard work even for the best. We should know that the catalyst for this process is often someone else's writing. How many a man had dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book. Perhaps not so much from reading a new book but from coming upon a person who sees life in a slightly different way-and that way a sudden opening to your own hidden or unexpressed thoughts on the matter. We must be civil to books. It is worth reading 400-500 pages to find a few golden sentences that can change our lives."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I really appreciate all the help I have received on the issue of following the trend of covering the gray. I have decided to put that off for a while. Turns out the cost of that much hair color is greater than the cost of a new laptop. Still, there is that lingering, nagging feeling of being average. You know what I mean. Everybody needs some area where they can stand out--be noticed. Well, I have decided to plop down a huge chunk of money to do just that. Save your sermons about how shallow and vain it is to spend lots of money to get noticed. I have already made up my mind. Instead of preaching, you can help me make one final decision about this life-changing purchase. Here are the two choices; I will either a] buy a really great car with all the bells and whistles (this baby is sporty, dependable, AND economical) or b] buy a 32-year-old junker and spend my money on 24" rims. Man, this is the toughest decision ever! I mean, I no longer like to work on my car every time I want to go somewhere but those 24" rims are PHAT! And I can just see me standing by my '76 with the giant chrome numbers shouting 24".
I bet people will notice me now! Actually, I don't exactly have the money right now. But I do have a job and in a couple of days I will have $199. That would put me in a nice ride. But I really want the rims so I am probably going to rent a set of 24's. Oh yeah, you can rent rims on the N.E. Bypass. Why don't you join me and ditch those tired old stock rims. You too, can be noticed and admired.

Perhaps I should add this quote you may have seen on a t-shirt somewhere;


Tuesday, September 11, 2007


On this date 6 years ago I was going about my normal routine as a supervisor at the Lagoon Park Post Office in Montgomery when an employee told me a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers. We rolled out a t.v. normally used for safety videos and relied on the rabbit ears to pick up a local affiliate. I remember the shock and confusion as the second plane appeared and crashed into the second tower. I remember the rest of the day--the phone calls to family--the questions about friends who were visiting New York--the feeling that life had changed forever in the United States. The conspiracy nuts are appalling to me and our short term thinking causes me great concern. Here are a few pictures to remind us all.

Monday, September 10, 2007


I am in a delimna and really need the input of you faithful readers. Here is the problem; As most of you know, LaWanna and I are the same age (o.k., I'm 9 months older). That is not the problem--the problem is that she looks 20 years younger, like a trophy wife. This has been fun for a while but now I am growing concerned about people's impressions. I have considered different techniques to make myself appear younger but never was serious about it until seeing a recent video. In this just-released video a popular celebrity with a cult-like following had clearly colored his beard to hide the gray and, boy, does he look younger! Now I have to seriously consider following his lead. After all, he is a powerful man with a world-wide following. Who am I to say he is vain or out of touch with the latest trends. Take a look at his before and after pictures and let me know if you think this is a move I should make.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Put on the New Man

This week's U.S. News includes a thoughtful article about the obesity epidemic in the USA and especially among children. Many questions are asked and few are answered. I submit the following excerpt from Dr. Sheehan's book "Running and Being" as a thought process that might provide some answers;

" The people who think they know say that given a second chance a man will make the same mess of his life he did the first time. Playwrights and novelists over the years have never given us hope that reliving our lives would have any different result the second time around. Our scientists and psychologists seem to agree. Even such disparate thinkers as Bucky Fuller and B.F. Skinner are together on this. ""We shouldn't try to change people," wrote Skinner. "We should change the world in which people live." It is a thought Fuller often expressed. Some, of course, take an opposing view. The people who deal in Faith, Hope, and Charity seem to think that one day is as good as another for changing your personal history. Philosophers since recorded time have recommended it. From Pindar to Emerson they have told us to become the thing we are, to fulfill our design, to choose our own reality, our own way of being a person. What they didn't tell us was how to do it, or how difficult it would be. When Paul said to put on the New Man, he reminded us of the unlimited potential of man, but the lives we lead constantly remind us of the obvious limits to this potential. Clearly the Good Life is not as accessible as the books say. And yet it is not from want of trying that we have failed. We start our new lives with almost as much frequency as Mark Twain gave up smoking (thousands of times) and with about the same success. Can tomorrow be the first day of the rest of our life? And can that life be completely different from the mess it is today? The answer, of course, has to be yes, or all those great men wouldn't have said so. But how do you go about it? The first thing to do, it seems to me, is to retrace your steps. To go back to that period of your life when you were operating as a successful human being (although you most likely weren't aware of it). To go back to those times when your soul, your self, was not what you possessed or your social standing or other people's opinion but a totality of body, mind, and spirit. And that totality interacted freely with your total environment. Somewhere past childhood that integration of self and that response to the universe began to dissolve. We came more and more to associate who we were with what we owned, to judge ourselves by other people's opinions, to make our decisions by other people's rules, to live by other people's values. Coincidentally, or maybe not so coincidentally, our physical condition began to decline. We had reached the fork in the road. We took the well-traveled path. One who took the path overgrown with weeds and rarely used was Henry David Thoreau. The world knows Thoreau as a man of intellect, a shrewd observer, a rebel against conventional values. What has not been emphasized was that he was an athlete, and a fine one. He was, of course, a great walker. This kept him in prime physical condition. "I inhabit my body, " he wrote, "with inexpressible satisfaction: both its weariness and its refreshments." It would not be too much to say that Thoreau's other activities derived their vitality from the vitality of his body. That the self that was Thoreau depended on being as physical as he could be. And that no life can be completely lived without being lived completely on a physical level. If Thoreau was right, the way to find who we are is through our bodies. The way to relive our life is to go back to the physical self we were before we lost our way. That tuned-in self that could listen with the third ear, was aware of the fourth dimension, and had a sixth sense about the forces around it. That tuned-in self that was sensitive and intuitive, and perceived what is no longer evident to our degenerating bodies. This may come as a surprise even to physical fitness leaders. Physical fitness programs have long been based on the desire to lead a long life, to forestall heart attacks, to feel better generally or to improve your figure. No one ever told us that the body determined our mental and spiritual energies. That with the new body we can put on the new person and build a new life, the life we were always designed to lead but lost with the body we enjoyed in our youth. Now, common sense will tell you that you'll never see twenty-eight again, but the facts on fitness show that almost anyone can reach levels of vigor and strength and endurance equal to most of the twenty-eight-year-olds in this country. Given the good fortune to find an athletic activity that fits him, a man can recapture his youth and a second chance to listen to what his total self held important at that time. If you think that life has passed you by, or even worse, that you are living someone else's life, you still can prove the expert's wrong. Tomorrow can be the first day of the rest of your life. All you have to do is to follow Thoreau. Inhabit your body with delight, with inexpressible satisfaction; both its weariness and its refreshments. And you can do it if you'll just go back to that fork in the road."

George Sheehan, M.D.